The Scamp Makes a New List

It’s that time of the year again where we all scramble to pretend that we are still going to meet our New Years Resolutions, and we pretend that we are going to follow the ones we plan to make for the next year. I made one of those lists. This time last year, sat in the downstairs area of my parents’ house and I made a list. I was stressed beyond belief. I was officially no longer a part of the living in the US. I had finally asked my dad to adopt me. I had three months left to finish a complete rewrite of my PhD. I made a lot of plans for what I was going to do in 2020.

This was supposed to be my year! I was going to graduate. I was going to start being social. I was going to travel and go on adventures without having to take work with me. I was going to be slutty. I was going to kiss strange boys in public and go on bad first dates. I wasn’t going to be lonely anymore. I was going to be happy and reduce my stress. So I made a list.

Then March happened. The day after I turned 33 I got adopted and changed my name. I told the world about it and only three people understood. I turned in my thesis edits and the next day the world went into lockdown, and with it, all the things I wanted to do got flushed down the toilet. I did manage to get some of the list crossed off, and to be honest, some of the ones that weren’t crossed off were not crossed off because I lost focus. That list looked like this:

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

Being that I make these list so that I can feel accomplished when I cross things off them, I’d say I am less than satisficed with the way the 2020 list turned out. That’s the problem with making lists, when you can’t cross something off, you feel unfulfilled or like you failed. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like a failure because I didn’t lose any of the weight and that I didn’t manage to stick to simple things like doing yoga twice a week, or making time to write about fun things, random things, anything that is not related to my work. These are things that require focus and discipline, and to be honest, that is not something I much of since I finished the PhD. It is hard for me to stay motivated when I am all alone and stuck in solitary confinement. 45-60 min of outdoor time a day is not enough for me, but it is the best I can do right now. At least with the vaccine out now there is hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. I really hope 2021 finds a new normal that allows me out of the house a bit more…oh and allows me to hug people. I am going to hug the shit out of people when this has all settled into a new normal.

And that brings me to the list for the new year. I’ve thought a lot about what that list should look like, what things should be on it…what I wanted to accomplish. The thing is though, I am starting wonder if making a list like this is just setting me up for failure. What if I don’t lose the weight? What if I fail the driver’s test again (and WHY is it so difficult here?) What if I only kick the toxic people out for a little while and then let them back in? I don’t want to make any promises that I can’t keep.

So there isn’t a list yet. but I still have one more day to think about what will go on it….

The Scamp’s 20 things for 2020

Last year I only published four posts. Four. In 365 days I only managed to write for fun (well okay, not fun, mostly for therapy) four times. Almost a month into 2020 and I am not really feeling the fun writing either. I am 10 posts away from 500 and have had the Scamp adventures as my constant companion for almost ten years. Sometimes I wonder if I have run out of things to say.

Sometimes I wonder if the PhD killed my love of writing. Today I had a fight with FedEx. That fight and the frustration that comes from a week-long back and forth battle with them led me to lash out at the people around me and picking fights with people for absolutely no reason. One of those people has been a toxic existence in my life for the last four years. The thing is, I wanted to get rid of him a long time ago but I wasn’t strong enough. It is not easy to get rid of a manipulative sociopath when you are already beaten down emotionally by life.

The edits for my thesis are due in one month. I’m not done. I’m getting there, but not close enough to keep me from stressing. The final draft is due to the examiners by the 13th of March, and I have that marked on my calendar as the day my life begins. It is has been five years that I have been chained to the PhD, three of those in less than ideal circumstances, and two of those feeling utterly worthless and broken by the system. But on the 13th of March, I get to start living again.

I’m supposed to be on a flight to China that day, but with the given health warning, I am not sure that is going to happen. Regardless, I get to live again.

So, because I have not done things outside the PhD in way too long, I have decided to bring back one of my favourite things: making a list of things that I would like to do in during the year.  I did this before my 30th birthday and it was a lot of fun. It also gave me great pleasure to do the things on the list and cross them off. I love do love crossing things off a list.

In no particular order:

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

I’m hoping that by writing the list down I can stay accountable and actually complete these things. I also hope that it means that I will be a lot happier in 2020 than I was in 2019.