The Scamp Crosses One off the List

It has been a long time since I got to cross anything  off my list, but the time has finally come. It is one that I should have crossed off the list awhile ago since I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, but I hosted yet another dinner party. This time the group was smaller (there were only three of us) and the meal was a lot more relaxed (I wasn’t cooking for 14, so it was a lot easier), and I had enough alcohol to meet my sugar quota for the month.

The menu? Chicken fajitas, nachos with homemade queso, and cactus and tequila infused strawberry and banana smoothies.

The result? A drunk Team America and the best commentary of Jurassic Park ever.

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I love cooking Mexican food, and this time my slow cooker was put to good use, and actually cooked the chicken properly.  We listened to 90s throwback songs, cooked together, and generally enjoyed the afternoon/evening. Team America makes me laugh, and we get together often enough that now we can do silly things like narrate Jurassic Park and have a good time.

Part of my treatment in therapy is doing more things that make me happy. Having dinner with Kelsey and Errol makes me happy. Team America dinner parties with cactus booze and Mexican food makes me happy.

So now I have one more crossed off the list, and I am working toward crossing a few more off the list. I have been making some progress with my research, and finally have the draft of the paper is almost complete, so I’m starting to feel a little better about the work front. Now if I can keep that momentum going and survive the next two weeks, then I will be able to take a quick break in California and spend a lot of time with my muffin.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (1/3 done with my trip to Malta)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 30

I’ve hit a wall this week. The never ending edits to a 10 page paper are killing me, the statistical data I collected this academic year show an overwhelmingly neutral attitude towards assessment and feedback practices, and the only thing that I want to do is read a trashy romance novel while curled up in my bed.

This is not a new feeling for me. I have not felt all that productive for months. The less productive I feel, the more overwhelmed I feel, and the less work that I actually get done. The frustrating thing about all of this is that I know that I am stuck in this loop, know what I have to do to get out of it, and yet, I’m not actively working to try and stay out of it. One of the hardest things about my depression, and my crazy good self awareness, is that I can often see the mistakes I am making, and even understand why I am making them, but I can’t always stop them. Right now, because I am feeling a little bit stuck with my research, it is keeping me in a nice little depressive loop.

The challenge for this week is to write about what I love about this season of my life. I thought that this would be a hard one to write, but really, it is pretty darn easy. I’m currently sitting in the waiting room of my 30s (thanks Kelsey for that one), and I have to say, despite my ongoing battle with depression, this season of my life is pretty darn great. Once I started thinking about all of the things that I love about my life right now, the list got pretty dang long.

  • I’m sitting on my couch, in a flat that is perfect for me, in Edinburgh. Two years ago I was sitting in the office at my mom’s house studying for the qualifying exam for the EdD programme. I was stressed, but knew that I would pass that hurtle and be that much closer to finishing my degree. This time last year I was filling out customs forms and trying to ship off three boxes of my stuff to meet me here. Yesterday, the sun made a rare appearance and I sat in my window box and soaked up the heat. I wore my bathing suit in hopes that the really white parts of me would get some much needed colour. I’m one year down on my PhD, and although lately the process has led to more tears than smiles, I am really proud that I have made it this far

 

  • I’ve finally figured out how to maintain friendships. I always joke that I am a shitty friend but an excellent pen pal. I spent a lot of time in California by myself, but wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to go out or do the things that many of the people I had been friends with for a long time wanted to do. Here, I am surrounded by people who also think tacos, beer and movie nights are a good thing. People who will go to the symphony with me, laugh at my puppy videos, and keep me away from chocolate. The few friends I still have in the US have sent me care packages, Skype with me regularly, and text me all the time. I love that technology is so easy to use now that I can text and send pictures as often as I want, and see their faces just about whenever I want. They never make me feel bad about the time difference, and they are always willing to fit me into the schedule.

 

  • I’ve stopped apologising for my personality. I used to get really defensive about wanting to live in Scotland, my love for traveling and cat videos, the fact that I love flamingos and ultra bright yoga pants. I like to crack jokes when making presentations, I think sarcasm and passive aggressive comments fix everything, and I have shoes for every occasion. I love bad reality TV. I’m a little bit weird. People seem to like that. Even the boy humours me on occasion with the puppies, the yoga pants, laughing at my own jokes. It took awhile, but I am finally comfortable with who I am.

 

  • I’m a more honest person. I’ve been working on this blog for 6 years. In that time I’ve discussed my struggles with money, the horrible relationships I’ve been in, my lupus, and more recently, my ongoing battle with depression. 6 years ago I wouldn’t have admitted to the world that I was struggling. I wouldn’t have been open about what I was going through. I would have bucked up and pretended everything was okay. I would have worked hard to maintain friendships and relationships with toxic people, and I would never do anything that would show any form of weakness. Now I cry a lot, ask for help, and let people in a little bit so they can help. I’m really trying to make progress with therapy and I’ve set ridiculous goals for myself to try and stay out of the dark and twisty.

All in all, I feel pretty darn lucky to be in this stage of my life. It’s not perfect, and right now it isn’t as much sunshine and roses as I would like, but it is pretty darn good. Speaking of crossing things off my list of things to do before I turn 30, I was able to cross another one off the list. I just about completed a book that is more than 500 pages. I’m at page 900 of a 1200 page Stephen King book about the assassination of President Kennedy. I’ll eventually finish it, even if I find it really strange, but for now, I am going to say it meets the requirement.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 27

The challenge this week is to make my bucket list.

I am currently working my way through my 30 things to do before I am 30, and right now, that is serving as my bucket list. When I complete that I will make a new list of things to do.

Here is my list as it stands now:

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

I’m working to finish a book that is more than 500 pages, and to create something original. I still have 25 to do and time is getting away from me.

The Scamp Crosses One off the List

Saturday I quit my job.

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I had enough. I’ve been miserable for months, but feel that I had to keep working there so I could pay my bills. With my depression as bad as it is lately, the only way I have a chance to get better is to get rid of the stress in my life.

That is one major stress that I cannot wait to get rid of. Unfortunately the centre requires 30 days notice. The end is in sight though.

In a perfect world they will tell me they don’t need me. In a perfect world I won’t have to work six hours and have to beg for a break.  June 25th cannot come soon enough.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp Crosses One Off the List

It is the first day of May. I’m not sure where the last few months have gone, but my calendar tells me that it is already May.

On the upside, I have been collecting interviews all week and I was able to knock two more things off my list of 30 things to do before I am 30.  After a few tears and a wait list, and some phone calls, I have finally found a therapist. That was some much needed good news, and while the financial investment is stressing me out a little, I am so relived that I can finally get the much needed help that I needed.

The second activity I got to cross off the list was going to the symphony. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra presented Stravinsky’s Symphony in C. Led by guest conductor Thomas Søndergård, the orchestra delighted my ears for almost three hours. Thanks to my status as a student, I was able to get really great seats for a super discounted price.

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(Don’t worry, this was before the show started)

I learned a few things at the symphony.

  1. People do not know how to dress for a night out. Errol and I got dressed up real fancy, and most people in the concert hall were in jeans.

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2. I have no idea when you are supposed to clap. The orchestra was amazing. I wanted to clap after each movement, but no one clapped until the end of the entire piece. Then, each time the conductor left the stage and came back, people behind the scenes clapped to make sure that the audience did.

3. Conductors, good ones, get really into their craft. Thomas Sondergard is a really good          conductor. He was super entertaining to watch.

4. Your mind wanders when listening to music. I found myself daydreaming a lot. I loved the music, but it lulled me into a sleepy state and I started to think about all kinds of random things.

5. I would go to the symphony again. It was a great way to spend a few hours listening to music and not thinking about work, people, stress, anything. It was fun to get dressed up and be an adult, and it was really fun to watch people who clearly love music.

Here was the running order for the evening:

Schubert Symphony No3
Stravinsky Symphony in C
Schubert Symphony No4 Tragic
Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements

 

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was truly a gifted composer. According to his Wikipedia page:

Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by theimpresario Sergei Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). The last of these transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure and was largely responsible for Stravinsky’s enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary who pushed the boundaries of musical design. His “Russian phase” which continued with works such asRenard, The Soldier’s Tale and Les Noces, was followed in the 1920s by a period in which he turned to neoclassical music. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue and symphony), drawing on earlier styles, especially from the 18th century. In the 1950s, Stravinsky adopted serial procedures. His compositions of this period shared traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells and clarity of form, and of instrumentation.

The symphony was definitely one of the more fun activities to cross off the list. I am 20 days away from completing number 10, and I am thinking to combine part of 5 with 6 and go to Turkey to ride in a hot air balloon. I’ve also been fantasy planning a million different trips, but hope to get at least one in the books for June or July….even if it just a quick weekend away.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp Collects Some Data

I finally get to write about something related to my research! It has been a bit of a struggle, but I have managed to get some surveys out and today I spent the day inputting the results into SPSS.

The last time I used SPSS was for the grad program at CSUF. I worked with three other people to write notes and put together a complicated semester worth of data sets and questions. We made step by step notes on how to do everything from simple regressions to comparative factor analysis. At the time, I couldn’t tell you what I was doing. When writing up the results, I copied the wording from my handy dandy manual and just plugged in my numbers. I’m a stubborn qualitative researcher; I just don’t care about the numbers. My supervisor is a scientist, so he is quite insistent that I have some quantitative data to back up all the hippy dippy feelings (he hasn’t quite said those words, but I know that this is something that he would say).

After a quick trip to YouTube to refresh my memory on how to properly set all of my variables, I was able set up all of my questions and create a set that can now be analysed for all sorts of fun connections. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel having to use SPSS again, but all in all, I am happy that I remembered as much as I did. I will probably have to consult the internet for the proper language to use when describing the trends, and will probably have to look up the proper way to create the charts and graphs that I will need, but it seems a lot less scary than I thought it would be.

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and just for fun, here is proof that I actually worked on my surveys today.

I’m excited because this means that my research is finally underway, and I am making progress with my PhD. I have a couple of months left until I advance to full on PhD status, but with this underway, I know that that meeting will be a cinch.

Update on my 30 things to do before 30: I bought tickets to the symphony, and made my way up a little higher on the list for a therapist. I can’t wait to be able to cross some more things off my list.

The Scamp Crosses One Off the List

For my 29th birthday I made a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. It includes everything from learning to drive here to cooking an exotic meal.

This week I got to cross one off the list. Number two on the list: Present at an academic conference has now been completed. I will be able to cross this one off the list for a second time in June (and fingers crossed a third time in December). I got to peddle my wares at the first annual School of Life, Sport, and Social Science Postgraduate Research Conference. I am the only educational pedagogic theorist in the school, and I like to toot my own horn over that. The conference was a chance to get my feet wet, and a chance to master the Pecha Kutcha style of presenting.

After a few weeks of stressing I was able to present my 20 slides with just 20 seconds a slide. I’m properly chuffed with myself about that. I was really stressing over the format, but by the time I stepped on the stage, I forgot about being nervous and just talked to the crowd for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I was even asked some really great questions, and the programme leader for a programme I am working with emailed me to tell me that he enjoyed my talk. One of my supervisors was able to make it, and my desk mate and friend came to support me as well. I forgot to have him record it or take pictures, but all in all, I think the day was a success.

Not bad for knocking the first one off the list. I am in the process of doing a few more of these, so it is only a matter of time before I can cross some more off the list.

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp’s 30 Before 30

I have been 29 for two weeks now, and am just now getting around to posting my list of 30 things I would like to do before I turn 30. Part of it is because I am sick right now and leaking so much snot that it is hard for me to focus on anything, and part of it is that I am trying to play catch-up with work after my three week break in California. I made a massive error and waited too long to schedule some of my data collection. My supervisors have told me that I have to be pushy and get what I can, and they have added a due date for the draft of the first chapter of my thesis. I am trying really hard not to stress, but I have a feeling that I am about to be a basket case.

I wish I had not given up eating chocolate.

The list is a good mini distraction from all of the work that needs to be done this week.

So, in no particular order, here are the 30 things I would like to do before I turn 30:

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

I have 349 days to make this happen. I’m excited because on the 6th of April and the 30th of June I will be able to cross number 2 off the list, and I am two weeks into number ten. I’m not holding out much hope for number 20, but hey, stranger things have happened.