The Scamp Crosses One off the List

17 days into the new year and I already get to cross one off the list from last year. This year has already started off a bit bumpy on a personal level, but on the professional level, you are now looking at the newest member of the Assessment and Feedback Working Group for the University of Glasgow. That’s right, after 2 years of begging, your girl is now on an academic committee! This is my chance to really help shape university policy and hopefully do some good on campus. I’ve spent my first week back running sessions for the different colleges to help them with their most pressing assessment and feedback concerns, and if I have learned anything from these sessions, it is that sometimes university policy, student and staff expectations, and reality do not match. I’ve never been more frustrated than when I am sat in a meeting and people are asking for help that I just cannot provide. Being a part of the working group will allow me a chance to have a better understanding of the policies, as well as help people who are way above my pay grade understand the needs of the students.

Then I will take over the world.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep a low profile on social media and stay relatively silent about politics and all that is going on in the world. I’ve never been too vocal on social media about my beliefs anyway, although that is more to do with the fact that I like to remain somewhat of a mystery. That being said, something happened at the start of the month that, 1. I never thought I was see, and 2. has pushed me over the breaking point of the things that have been happening in the US. The Wikipedia summary of the events can be read here:

The storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the United States Congress on January 6, 2021, carried out by a mob of supporters of U.S. PresidentDonald Trump in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.[2] After attending a Trump rally, thousands[33] of his supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was beginning the Electoral College vote count. Many of the crowd breached police perimeters and stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the formalization of President-electJoe Biden‘s election victory.[34][35] These rioters occupiedvandalized,[36][37] and looted[38] parts of the building for several hours.[39][40][41] The riot led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol, and five deaths.

Things have been really bad in the US for a long time, but this was a whole new level of bad. I have friends who live in DC and friends who live close enough to DC that I was really worried. To add to the horrendous events, there were people in the mob wearing Camp Auschwitz sweatshirts, or shirts that read: 6MWNE (6 million was not enough). I don’t know how you feel, but personally, I don’t feel like anyone who has that sort of attitude can ‘Make America Great Again’….not to mention that I hardly buy the premise that you have to look to the past to make America great. That is a tangent for another day though. I posted an article about the anti-Semitic rhetoric that was prevalent among the ‘protesters’, and my Trump loving family decided that this was the perfect reason to condemn me for my beliefs. It started innocently enough. A comment by my mother about the people in a lot of the pictures being linked to terrorist or hate groups. My mother and I do not see eye to eye politically, but our exchange was calm, and respectful. A friend of mine also chimed in, and again, her comment was respectful.

Then the Wilders decided they needed to get involved. Long story short, they are right wing ultra conservative Qanon types (or right-sided as my cousin wrote) who don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, think the election was rigged, and think the FBI is not a valid and trustworthy source of information. While I know I should not have engaged, I did. I schooled my cousin in the difference between fact and fiction, and in doing so, was told that I was sanctimonious, over educated and must be a terrible teacher who will only have discussions with my students when they share (or I can force them to share) my beliefs. I was called an ignorant American as well. I was told to stay in Scotland, and that they were embarrassed for me. All of this on what they thought was my mom’s page, and in fact was about how horrible it is that people still want to kill all the Jews. I was embarrassed, and am still embarrassed that I am related to those people….and even more embarrassed that people saw the exchange and know how little those people actually think of me.

To be fair, I am not the least bit shocked by this. The Wilders used to have a favorite game when I was a kid….who could make Kim cry first. They used to pick on me and gang up on me until I cried….then belittle me for being upset. They once told my mom that my sister and I would spread our legs for any man that crossed our path because my mom chose to divorce an abusive alcoholic who did terrible things to her. This is the family that told me I was an ignorant American when I called out horrendous behavior on a train in Belgium. This is the family that made me want to get adopted out of it since I was seven years old. I know that it shouldn’t bother me what a bunch of people who know nothing about me think of me, but the fact that they attacked me on my own personal social media after not talking to me for years to defend a horrible incident has really left my shackles up.

It also triggered some long repressed feelings of being expelled from a PhD programme because I would not change my beliefs to suit the wants of the director of the programme. I was so completely destroyed at that time in my life that it was hard for me to do anything. My mom had to make up errands for me to run to make sure I got out of bed. I thought my life and career were over before they had even begun. I thought I would never get back to Scotland. Now that a week or so has passed, I’ve really been able to think about the importance of family, and the fact that we get to chose our family. My immediate family is great, and the rest of my family is made up of some incredible people from all over the world. They called, messaged, and made sure that I knew that no one associated me with the people that I am embarrassed by.

This also means that I have the time to reflect on those things they said to me to make sure that I do not become a sanctimonious, overeducated snob who only listens to people who believe the things I believe. I hope that being part of this academic committee and running more of the workshops I am currently running with the colleges and my CPD events for staff and students that I can become a better listener and really not let me beliefs and my degrees get in the way of open dialogue and discussion.

Because let’s face it, the only BS I need in my life right now is beaches and sunscreen.

  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
  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 (I have two left, my US driving license and my visa)
  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)

The Scamp’s 500th Post

This post brought to you by a moment that I never thought would happen. When I started this blog 8 years ago, I never really thought about how many posts I would write, or how much of my life I would end up sharing with the world. This became my diary, my therapist, my love letter to Scotland and to my wanderlust.

It took a long time to get from 400 to 500. Number 400 was written in 2016. A lot has happened in the last four years….most of it not captured on these pages. The PhD killed my love of writing, and to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of fun and positivity to write about it. Even now that the PhD is done, I’m still not sure there is a lot of good in my life right now to write about.

I always want the milestone posts to be something special, something big. I didn’t have anything really big to share until about a month ago.

On March 9, 2020, just two days after my thirty-something birthday, I got adopted.

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I really debated whether or not I was going to share this. I have family that are not going to understand and probably  not be happy with my choice, and to be honest, I am still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of having to explain such a personal choice.

But in the spirit of the 500th post, I’ll give it my best shot.

I’ve been joking about being adopted since I was a kid. I always wanted to move from the back of the alphabet to the front. Because my biological father is still alive, my mom always said she thought that would be disrespectful to him as long as we were in contact with him. I haven’t had contact with him in almost 10 years. I have no desire to change that.

I shelved the idea and went on to build a name for myself as a Wilder. That’s always been my name. I get jokes, got a job interview solely because that was my surname, and funny looks when I introduce myself. There is nothing wrong with the last name Wilder.

I just didn’t want it to be my last name anymore.

For the last few years, when I think of the Wilders, I do not think of family. Every year that passed since I have been back in Edinburgh has just solidified that feeling. The last straw was this past summer when the Wilder’s all gathered in California, and the only reason I knew was from pictures posted on social media. Not once did anyone try to contact me, or ask my siblings about where I was or what I was doing. It was like I had been completely erased from the family….which is impressive since I am an identical twin.

That’s when I really thought about what it meant to be family and to be part of a family. A family supports you, a family makes you feel safe, makes you feel like you belong. A family is more than just blood.

I’ve called Rick Davis my dad since I was 18 and it was easier to introduce my parents to my friends while I was at uni. But the truth is, he’s been my dad for much longer than that. He’s the one who went to all the school plays, the swim meets, the graduations. He’s the one who helped me buy my first car and taught me how to check the oil, change a tire and not get scammed in a deal. He’s the one who met boyfriends, let me cry in the backyard with him when I got expelled, told my mom that it was okay for me to move to Scotland, and has funded my wanderlust. He’s always rolled his eyes when I get a new tattoo. He’s always treated me like his kid.   He’s always offered his support, always looked out for me, and always made me feel like I belonged somewhere.

He’s my dad (and now when I say I am his favourite daughter, it is true in more ways than one).

We’ve both had it pretty rough the last couple of years. Me with the PhD journey and the lack of feeling like I belonged anywhere and him dealing with the loss of my brother and my grandpa. I felt like we both needed something good. So a few months before Christmas I found an attorney that specialises in adult adoptions and then ambushed my dad on a Wednesday with a video chat. It wasn’t one of those viral videos that you see floating around social media, no big surprise or big speech. I didn’t let my mum say anything publically for months (and I know it is killing you, so you can tell people now mum). I wasn’t even going to tell anyone other than my brother and sister. I didn’t want to have to explain myself to anyone. I’m still not sure that I do. People in Scotland know, but not many people outside of my little bubble here know, and I am not sure there is anyone outside of this bubble that even wants to know.

When I was in California for Christmas, we met with the lawyer, filled out all of the paperwork, and waited for a court date. The judge didn’t allow technology, and I had to have a lawyer stand-in for me, and the whole thing lasted for three minutes, but I am finally a Davis.

I even have a new birth certificate to prove it.

That was the unexpected part of the adoption. A completely new birth certificate. My new place in my chosen family complete. I am now a Davis….although professionally I am a Wilder-Davis because I started my career as a Wilder and already published under that name. The cool thing is everything was official before I turned in the thesis edits, so my hyphenated name is on the front page.

And hopefully, in a few short weeks, everyone can officially call me Dr Davis.