The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 36

Today I tried to organize my shoes. I bought some hanging show racks to put in my closet…trouble is, my shoes are too heavy to keep them fastened to the bar. I’ve managed to get them under my bed, but I have a feeling it is going to be a struggle for me to keep them organized when I pull the racks out to get the shoes I want. For now though, they are organized and underneath my bed no longer looks scary.

But my struggle with limited closet space and an inability to keep things neat are not the point of the challenge for the week. The challenge for the week is to think about my dream job. The flippant answer is my dream job is marrying a rich guy who will buy a house with lots of land and let me adopt as many stray puppies and kitties and rabbits as I want. A job that I seem to want lately is professional napper. I am always tired, and I am really good at naps. That would be the perfect job for me. All I need is a comfy bed, or a hammock, or a lounge chair on a sandy beach in the sun….and enough money to pay off my student loans.

I suppose I should say that my dream job is one that I can wake up every day and be excited about. Something that makes me happy, helps some people, and maybe leaves the world in a little better shape then it was the day before. I like to think that I will be able to do that once I complete my degree and someone is crazy enough to let me work for a university, but that remains to be seen.

If I get to spend a little time in fantasy land, I think my dream job would be one of two things: a travel writer, or the mastermind behind a world wide literacy programme. I’d really love the second one. I’d love to travel to places and help kids (and maybe adults who never had the chance) fall in love with reading. I’d love to go all over the world and get to meet all kinds of interesting and wonderful people. It wouldn’t be about a focus on teaching people English, but teaching them to read in their native language (I mean, obviously, for some of those people it would be English), and teaching them English if they are interested in learning. A selfish part of me would love it because then I would get to visit all sorts of interesting places, and learn about all kinds of different people. It is another thing I think I would do if I married a rich man. Get him to provide some seed money to start that nonprofit.

Being paid to travel, and then write about my adventures is the ultimate fantasy. I’d love to be able to wander the globe and experience new things. I am happiest when I am travelling, and being paid to do it would be amazing. I wonder if I could sweet talk Lonely Planet into hiring me to write for their guide books. Maybe I should join a tour company and be a guide.

Wait….I hate people. Scratch that. I’d never be able to hide my resting bitch face, and rude tourists drive me crazy. I’ll just stick to writing or sharing my love of books with the world.

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 33 and 34

So, it is actually week 35, but I am way behind thanks to vacation and I like to fall behind on things, I am playing catch-up and avoiding the work on my thesis and other work related things. I have to say though, I do feel like I have a renewed energy for my work. The sunshine was good, and a visit from an old friend who went to UC Merced with me have left me feeling a lot happier. I got to play tour guide, and got to be around her wonderful energy. She is about to embark on a master’s degree, and her excitement, passion, and overall love for life and all of its adventures made me feel a lot better about life. I even got to meet one of her fellow cohort members who was equally as lovely, and her youth and love for travel and adventure remind me a lot of myself and how I feel when I am in a new place.

Plus, both of them were such great sports about sleeping on my moderately comfy couch and the floor.

And now on to the challenges. Week 33 is dedicated to my favourite books and why I like them. It would be almost impossible for me to list all of my favourites, in fact, I am pretty sure I have never hated a book….well, War and Peace. I’m still trying to read that. I have managed to think of a few books that I can always go back to.

God Went to Beauty School

According to the Amazon Review:

Cynthia Rylant takes teens on an invigorating spiritual journey as she explores what God’s life on Earth might be like. Rylant’s reflective and often humorous verse follows God as he tries out human activities such as getting a dog, writing a fan letter, and making spaghetti.

God Went to Beauty School combines the awesome with the everyday in an accessible, thought–provoking, and intelligent manner.

I love this book. I’m not especially religious, but the idea that God writes a fan letter, that he goes to a hardware store, even that he takes the bus is hilarious to me. The charm in the writing is the bits of cheeky commentary about these everyday activities and what it is like when the ultimate creator tries to navigate them. I first read this book when I was 15. I checked out from the La Habra Public Library. I found it again when I was 20 and taking a creative writing class, and now have my very own copy tucked away in a box at my parent’s house. If I was going to religious, this is how I would like to imagine God.

Tender Buttons

Gertrude Stein is my hero. I love her poetry, love her spirit, and love the fact that she gave zero fucks about what people thought about her. Her innovative writing emphasizes the sounds and rhythms rather than the sense of words. By departing from conventional meaning, grammar and syntax, she attempted to capture “moments of consciousness,” independent of time and memory.

Here is my favourite poem of all time

ASPARAGUS.

Asparagus in a lean in a lean to hot. This makes it art and it is wet wet weather wet weather wet.

I owe my love of this poem to Jared Stanely. He taught me a lot about poetry. He taught me a lot about poetry that didn’t follow the rules, that was a little bit odd, and was a whole lot of my personality.

Savage Art

Death was his art. She would be his masterpiece. They called him Leonardo-a master skilled in the art of murder. One year ago, Cincinnati was his canvas. A scalpel was his tool. And women were his works-in-progress. FBI profiler Casey McKinley was one of them, a victim of Leonardo’s twisted genius. She has the scars-and the nightmares-to prove it. For Casey, a new city means a life far from the one she left behind in Cincinnati. In San Francisco she finally feels safe. Until a series of eerily familiar slayings plunges her back into Leonardo’s game. Now she must catch this clever killer before he can unveil his ultimate masterpiece. Only this time she’ll play by a different set of rules-hers.

I read this book in two hours. I couldn’t put it down. In fact, in thinking about this book, I went on Amazon and bought a copy.

To Kill a Mockingbird

I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. Beautiful writing.

Anything by Mark Twain. 

I’ve read everything he has ever written. I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.

Wow. Now all I want to do is go home and curl up in my window box in the sun with a book. Not good for the rest of my workday.

Week 34 is dedicated to my best friend

This one is tough for me. If I call someone my friend, then I consider them my best friend. I don’t spend a lot of time maintaining casual friends. I’m not really good at it, so the people in my life are all pretty freaking fantastic.

I’ve also spent a lot of time talking about the people in my life who are important to me and I’d rather go find a book now that will keep me entertained on my hour and a half commute home.

The Scamp in Malta

I’ve been trying to get to the island of Malta for five years. I first got it in my head that I wanted to be there when I was in San Diego and having a hard time getting into PhD programmes. There was a Fullbright opportunity to live there for a year and teach English at the university. I had the application filled out, but the two references that I needed stopped me from finishing the application. From then on, I wanted the chance to visit, and had it in my mind that I would love to be there. Every time I thought about travelling, it was Malta that I wanted to go to.

The last few months here have been a challenge. I haven’t been happy, and I’m self aware enough to know that I should be doing some more to help get myself happy. I’ve been moaning on for the last two months that I need some time away, and at the beginning of the month I had finally had enough and booked a five day trip to the island. For those who are geographically challenged like myself, Malta is made up of three islands in the south of Europe. It is situated between Sicily and Northern Africa. It has about 450,000 people, and has three things I love: water, sunshine, and sunshine that can be enjoyed in the water.

Being that Malta is so close to Italy, I made the assumption that the people there spoke English and Maltese, and that Maltese was similar to Italian. I learned while I was there that the Maltese language is based on Arabic, and actually has a lot of similarity to Hebrew. Once I learned that I tried to pay closer attention to people when they were speaking, but because there were so many tourists, it was sometimes hard to pick out the different languages.

My plan for the holiday was to lay on a beach and get as much colour back into my skin as I could. I had originally planned to go by myself, and part of me really wanted to go with the boy, but one of the best mates really needed a holiday, and since we get on like gangbusters, it was the perfect chance for the two of us to get away. Most of the people we work with thought it was odd that the two of us were going on holiday without our partners, but to be honest, I wasn’t too fussed about it. We stayed in a hotel that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and we soaked up the island.

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We spent the first day on the beach….and both got sunburned. It was glorious. I was happy. The hotel we stayed in was a bit sketch. It wasn’t clean to Kim standards, but it served its purpose. On the second day I wandered around Sliema while the bud worked on his book and happily sweat off a few pounds. In the afternoon we took the ferry to the capital city of Valletta and wandered around aimlessly for a bit.

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Valletta is full of history, and full of amazing architecture. My only problem with the city was that everything closed at 7pm.

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We found some gardens, found a kitten that I wanted to keep, and managed not to get sunburned again. We had a picnic dinner of meats and cheeses and rum, and really enjoyed the day.

We spent most of the next day on the balcony of the hotel room. We moved the couch outside and I napped in the sun while he worked. Because I went without a plan of what to do every day, I was feeling a bit lost on what we should do to see the city. We decided to walk to the University of Malta and see the campus. While we wandered to a different part of the island, we passed a store with memory blocks. There was one that caught my eye.

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The guy at the store said that people buy them to remember certain events of their lives. This is a special edition, 7 Seas print. The artist signed it, and the quote that comes with it is about the journey you take through life. It was like it was made for me. I love  an octopus, and a good journey through life. My bank account wasn’t too happy with the purchase, but I am.

Our last day was a guided tour of Gozo, one of the other islands. I love a good guided tour. We started with a mini train ride through the slat flats, and seriously, I would have stayed on that beach all day. It was stunning.

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It was the bud’s first time on a large boat, and I’m not sure he enjoyed it as much as I did. After the slat flats we went to Ġgantija (Maltese pronunciation: [dʒɡanˈtiːja], “Giants’ Tower”). It is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. The Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BCE), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world’s second oldest manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe.

The temples are structured like a person, with a head, two legs and two arms. You entered through the legs, and left through the legs. It was said that these short, but very strong men made the temples to honour the goddess of fertility.

So we walked through a vagina temple made by gorilla people.

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From the temple we went to the worst lunch ever. We had a nice chat with an English couple on the tour though, so that was nice. After lunch we went to the Azure Window. The water here is so clear that it is almost like you aren’t really in it, and apparently it has been used in Game of Thrones. I would have loved to spend more than 15 minutes there, but it was a good 15 minutes.

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We ended the trip with a trip to Victoria, the capital of Gozo. We were able to see a woman hand weaving lace, and I bought a necklace. The bud and I ventured into the Citadella, a city within the city. It was pretty, but I got scolded in the church because my shoulders weren’t covered. Opps.

Overall, the trip was a massive success. I’d built up Malta to be this mythical place that I was going to be in love with, and while I wasn’t quite as in love with it as I hoped, I enjoyed the time I spent there. I have recharged a bit, got some tan lines, and spent 5 days not feeling depressed. It is also a chance to work on crossing one more thing off my list. I am not looking forward to going back to work, and back to the mountain of things that I have to get done for the next 30 days.

On the upside, in less than 30 days I will be making a quick trip to California to be a bridesmaid and to teach my nephew to say Aunty Kimmy. Those are going to be his first words, you best believe it.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 32

We are officially halfway through August and I have no idea what I have been doing with myself. I’ve seen one fringe show, still haven’t finished the draft of the paper from hell, and still have not taken a vacation. I’m back to the States in 5 weeks for a short visit, and the new school year starts in two weeks.

But I am a week behind,  so I will not waste anymore time. The challenge for the week is to write about how I have been spending my time lately. That is actually easy.

I’ve been avoiding responsibility.

Okay, not really, but sorta. This month has sorta spend by. I’ve been making time to see my friends, whether it is movies, dinner at my place, or comedy shows at the Fringe. I’ve really been putting in the effort to be more social and not just spend my time at home moping and watching bad reality TV. It’s been nice to be busy, and to be social. It keeps me from thinking about my depression, from all of the work that I am being asked to do at the university, and from all the ways I wish that I was different.

I’ve been subbing at a language school. One of my friends got married this weekend, and so I have been covering her classes while she is away. The classes have been great. One is a one-on-one conversation class where I can pick the topics we discuss and all I have to do is ask questions to get the conversation going, and the other class is a test prep class that is a lot of writing. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening.

I got to get out of the city and visit Ireland and watch my friend get married. the wedding was lovely. It was very intimate, and I felt very VIP for having made the cut to witness such a beautiful day. I was also reunited with one of my favourite people. We hadn’t been in the same timezone in about a year, and we got to catch up on life and figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. This weekend I not only mastered driving on the left, but I mastered the art of going through a roundabout. One of the goals of my list of things to do before I am 30 is to get my UK driving licence. I now know that I can drive a car on the left side of the road, and make it through a roundabout without anyone honking at me.

So really, I’ve mastered the most important parts of the test.

The last bit of my time has been spent actually trying to get words on a page that are related to my thesis. While there are bits of the paper I am working on that will eventually become part of my thesis, as they stand now they are not part of it. I have been feeling like the last year has had nothing to really do with my PhD, and that is starting to stress me out. I only have about 3,000 words so far, and chances are they will change a lot by the time it actually becomes my thesis, but it makes me feel better that I have something written, and something that sounds like me and has my voice in it.

Perhaps the most exciting bit though is that once I survive this week I get five days on a beach in Malta.

And really, that is all I ever really want out of life.

The Scamp Crosses One Off the List

When you walk through a storm,

 Hold your head up high,
 And don’t be afraid of the dark,
 At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky,
 And the sweet silver song of a lark.
 Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Everyone knows that my first sporting love is the UFC. I live in the UK now, and while UFC is popular here, there is one sport that is a way of life: football (soccer for those of us from more civilized parts of the world). Pubs, clubs, flags and scarves, people here are known by which team they support. I never really watched football when I lived in California, and really didn’t watch it all that often when I moved here the first time. My best friend here is a massive Celtic FC fan, and always tries to get me into supporting his team. I joke that I could become a hooligan when my academic career falls through and I am too old to be a stripper….so far he isn’t buying it.
A little background on the team. Wikipedia has summed up Celtic history better than I could:

The Celtic Football Club (/ˈsɛltɪk/) is a professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland, that plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887[nb 1] with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow. They played their first match in May 1888, a friendly match against Rangers which Celtic won 5–2. Celtic established itself within Scottish football, winning six successive league titles during the first decade of the 20th century. The club enjoyed their greatest successes during the 1960s and 70s underJock Stein when they won nine consecutive league titles and the European Cup.

Celtic have won the Scottish League Championship on 47 occasions, most recently in the 2015–16 season, the Scottish Cup 36 times and theScottish League Cup 15 times. The club’s greatest season was 1966–67, when Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, also winning the Scottish League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, and the Glasgow Cup. Celtic also reached the1970 European Cup Final, and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

Celtic have a long-standing fierce rivalry with Rangers, and the clubs have become known as the Old Firm. The two clubs have dominated Scottish football, winning 101 league titles between them since the inception of the Scottish League in 1890.

The club’s fanbase was estimated in 2003 as being around nine million worldwide, and there are in excess of 160 Celtic supporters clubs in over 20 countries. An estimated 80,000 fans travelled to Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

That is a massive set-up to say that one of the things on my list of things to do before I turned 30 was yell at a football match. The bestie’s love for Celtic, and a match against Astana provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. I treked up to Glasgow with the best friend and some of his friends, and thanks to a very tense match, got to yell at the players. I had an amazing time. The atmosphere was electric. The stadium was full of loyal fans chanting, cheering and yelling at the game. It was impossible to not get caught up in the feelings. Celtic won with a penalty shot at the very end of the match.

They also earned a new fan.

 

  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 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 Experiences the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Festivals are a big thing in Edinburgh. A really big thing. For the last week the Edinburgh Jazz Festival has taken over the city showering us with good music, interesting band names, and tourists.

I’m not a huge fan of the last one.

According to the official website:

Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Mike’s initial focus was on traditional jazz and a host of events taking place for free admission in pubs. By the mid-80’s the Festival had added ticketed events, and had broadened its musical policy to encompass swing and mainstream jazz and occasionally some more modern groups.

The festival supports Scottish artists, but also supports musicians from around the world, giving them the chance to showcase their talents and share their music with the masses.

Lately I have been trying to do things that will make me feel better, so I decided that it would be worth seeing what the festival  had to offer this year. My selection process was simple: the day and time had to fit in with my schedule and the name of the group had to be fun. I selected two groups based on those criteria: Bratislava Hot Serenaders and Alligator Gumbo.

First up: Bratislava Hot Serenaders

I’m ashamed to admit that while I knew Bratislava was a place, I had no idea where it was. Turns out it is the capital of Slovakia and has one kick ass orchestra. They started in 1991 and have 19 members, including 2 male singers and three women known as the Serenader Sisters. They rearrange and reconstruct old jazz tunes and focus on American Jazz and music from the 20s and the 40s. They also fuse Slovak dance music with jazz. They are dress in 1920s fashion and have a really awesome vintage vibe.

I saw them on a Wednesday afternoon, and was the youngest person in the audience by about 30 years. This show was a good test for me in a couple of ways. The show was in a small tent in St. Andrew’s Square. It was hot, we were packed in like sardines, and I was forced to keep my claustrophobia in check. I was surprised that I was able to make it through the show with only a mild panic. The other test was to go and do something on my own. It has been a long time since I just went on an adventure by myself. When I walked into the tent one of the volunteers asked me if I was alone, and when I said yes, gave me a pity pat on the shoulder and told me there were plenty of seats for singles at the front.

Bitch.

Besides that, the show was great. The music was good, and even though British people don’t really move to the music, I enjoyed myself.

Second up: Alligator Gumbo

According to their website:

 Alligator Gumbo have been playing together since the summer of 2011. Based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, they have played extensively around the north of England to rave reviews. Playing jazz from the hey-day of the New Orleans swing era, in particular the “roaring 20s”, where Jazz music featured instruments such as the violin, clarinet and accordion particularly amongst the Creole musicians based in the city who helped to define this style. Before the time of the jazz big bands, swing music was raw and largely improvised with melodies and solos happening simultaneously which has now become defined as the ‘New Orleans’ sound. Alligator Gumbo strive to keep this style alive in their renditions of popular songs from this unique time and place.

This was another show I went to on my own. This was a Saturday afternoon show, and once again, I was the youngest person in the audience. They had us packed in tightly again, but I managed to sit on an end, so it wasn’t so bad. This group. Let me tell you about this group. They were so nerdy and endearing. They were also super talented musicians.

I would see them again in a heartbeat. It was again odd to me that no one was dancing to the music, but that didn’t stop me from my offbeat clapping and bobbing in my seat.

Bonus: Rob Heron and the Tea Party Orchestra

This is a group from Newcastle upon Tyne, which also happens to be the birthplace of a certain English muffin that I currently call my manpanion. He had seen them play at a pub in Newcastle, and when he saw they were here, thought it would be fun to see them again. We’ve been having some differences of opinions on what a relationship should be like, so when he wanted to go and make a night of it, I jumped at the chance. We had a couple of drinks, walked to the show and had a great time. Again, not many people got up to dance and move, but we did in our seats, laughed and had a good time. We had a couple of drinks after the show and then some very greasy chips with cheese and garlic mayo while watching a Brian Cox documentary. I made my way home at 2 am because sleepovers can only happen if I remember to bring all my medication with me.

If only our relationship was that much fun all the time.

Overall, 3/3 on successful jazz festival shows. It was a good way to spend the week. Now the art festival is picking up and before I can blink it will be time for the Fringe.

Oh how I love festival season.

 

 

 

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 29

Scottish summer came and went this week. It was a good Tuesday. I wore a sundress and flip flops. I sat in the park by my house until 8pm. My nose got sunburned and my legs look a little less white.

Not a bad summer.

The challenge this week is to write about the last person I said I love you to. I say I love you a lot to a lot of people in my life….okay, to be fair, the only people in my life in any real meaningful way are people that I love.

I think the last person though was my BFF. Because of his super secret spy job I am not allowed to post pictures of him on the internet, but we met here in Scotland and have been besties ever since we went to Belfast a few years ago. He supported me through two bad break-ups, exile from the US, and has offered to marry me so I can become a Scottish citizen if they are successful in gaining their independence from the UK. He worries a lot about my depression, so he drags me out of the house and takes me on adventures around Scotland so I don’t sit around and mope.

Last weekend we took the train to Linlithgow and spent the day walking around the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots and soaking in some culture. We pretended that we were hip and watched golf, and laughed our way through the ridiculousness of my love for puppies and my efforts to touch a swan (or a duck, or goose, and any dog that came close to me).

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We’ve made plans for other excursions around Scotland, and even though he is ditching me for Leeds Leeds Leeds and a PhD, we’ve made plans to meet and explore England as well. I’m not exactly sure why he puts up with me, but I love him all the same.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 28

It is raining again. Shouldn’t be a surprise. It has been raining off and on since I moved here. The rain is starting to drive me crazy. When the sun does come out it is for about five minutes, maybe ten, and then the clouds blow back in and the rain starts.

I need a weekend away. I need lots of weekends away. I’ve been avoiding the office for two weeks. I went in yesterday for a couple of meetings and today I went back to hiding out at my house. I had a meeting with the supervisor I can relate to the most, and she said that the main supervisor asked her to have a chat with me because the last time he gave me bad news I didn’t take it well. My report has been turned in and hopefully it won’t be kicked back, which means I can be an official PhD student.

We shall see though.

I felt a lot better after the chat with my supervisor, she is really good at making me feel better, but by the end of the second meeting, my main supervisor dashed my hopes again by telling me that the paper I have been working on since November is nowhere near ready to be considered for publication. After all of the edits, the comments, the back and forth between the four of us, now he tells me that the paper needs a lot of work to be good enough. Where was this 4 drafts ago?  I have no idea what is expected of me, or what I can do to read their minds.

and the sucky part? It is starting to make me doubt my ability. I have this horrible problem of attaching my worth to the things that I create. These papers, they are a part of me, a measure of me….and right now, they are not good enough….which means I am not good enough.

But I digress. The challenge for this week is to write about 5 major goals I have for my life. No big deal.

Goal 1: I want to get healthy. I am having a tough time staying mentally and physically healthy. I’m trying to get a handle on my Lupus, and so far, things have been pretty good. I’m hoping that in the next 6 months or so I can go off some of the medication. I would like to get down to less than 10 pills a day. I want to be able to overcome the dark and twisty and the self doubt and CSUF and be able to enjoy my life and all the good things around me.

Goal 2: I want to stay in the UK. Okay, by UK I mean I want to stay in Scotland. This is the only place I have ever felt at home. Leaving once almost destroyed me, and I am sure leaving a second time would. I love it here. I love the people, I love the way of life. I love that I can walk almost anywhere, and take the bus when I can’t. I love that the buildings are old and have a history, love all of the different accents that I get to hear on a daily basis.

Goal 3: I want to start my literacy foundation. I want to spend part of my days helping people learn how to read. I want to travel the world and set up programmes that teach kids to love books and allow them to be opened to a whole world of possibilities. Libraries are dying. Bookstores are dying. Curiosity and storytelling are dying. I want to bring that back. I want to bring it all back with paper books and not tablets and e-readers. I’m also going to make Reading with Rover a mandatory thing. Because nothing is better than books. Except puppies and books.

Goal 4: I want to get out of debt. This one speaks for itself.

Goal 5: I just want to be happy. All of the other goals are really to meet this one. I want to be one of those people that makes you sick she is so happy. If I was in a cartoon the sun would shine when I walked outside and flowers would bloom and sing.

And I want a puppy. Someone get me a puppy.