The Scamp Persists

2018 was not my year. In fact, it was one of the worst years I’ve had in a long time. I stumbled a lot. I had some of my worst lows. I thought about quitting the PhD. I thought about quitting Scotland. I quit on my diet. I quit on some of my friends. I quit making emotionally healthy choices.

There were some days that I felt 2018 quit on me.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

After 25 failed job applications, 2018 did me a solid. I got a full-time job in Scotland. I think it was quite poetic that I got the news while I was in the lift at Napier. I told my supervisor first.

No, that’s not true. I did a happy dance and cried in the lift. Then I told my supervisor.

He actually hugged me! I think I wanted to tell him first because he has been so hard on me and we spent most of 2018 not seeing eye-to-eye on my work.

The best in-person reaction was from my mentor. She is the only reason I got the job. She has given me work, let me publish as lead author and sent me a million and one jobs postings. When I told her, she jumped up and gave me the best mom hug ever. It is exactly what my mom would have done. She also told everyone in the office, including the two women on the hiring committee for the post in the office. Those women refused to even look at my application. I spent a week feeling bad about the fact that the place I worked for the last three years wouldn’t even consider me for my own position. I met the person they did hire on the day I got my acceptance letter….and I have to tell you, I did not engage with the new person at all. Didn’t introduce myself, didn’t make conversation, and did not care one little bit that I was being rude.

I have spent three miserable years in that office. People who work there still have no idea what I do or how far along I am in the process. Not too long ago, one of them introduced themselves to me thinking I was new. I have been taken off projects, removed from the staff page, been moved to a closet, had my desk taken from me, and have my every move tracked for ‘audit purposes’.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

I am very very very behind on my thesis. I don’t care. I’m very very very behind on work for one of my jobs. I don’t care. It is not the way I want to start the new year. I’ve scheduled a meeting with my favourite supervisor to get the kick in the ass I need to get everything finished in time. I want to start 2019 on the right foot by putting Napier behind me. It saved my life by getting me out of California after CSUF, but that is just about the only good thing I can say.

So, in an effort to make up for a rotten year, and to live up to the promise of this year, I will persist.

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The Scamp All Packed

but ready to go?

Today I moved the last of my things that will not be going with me to Scotland. All of my pots, pans, Tupperware, cooking utensils, forks, knives, and a desk that I barely used, but did serve as a secure place for all my bills, pay stubs, and kept all of my notes, textbooks, and school related things while I was working on my MA.

I haven’t actually looked at most of this stuff for the last three years, but when I was moving the box of Tupperware, it broke open and I was flooded with memories of the last ten years with some of those things. It seems so final now that they are gone, most of my clothes and shoes are packed, and the things that I cannot take now are already postmarked to be shipped for a later date. It all seems so permanent now. I am not coming back to live in the United States. By this time next week, I will be in London, about to get on a plane for Madrid for a little bit of time to relax before I make my way to Scotland to start my dream job, in my dream city, and finally reach my goal of completing my PhD. I’ve always wanted adventure, I’ve always been prone to wander, I’ve never been afraid to take a chance, to do things on my  own, or to march to the beat of my own drum.

I’ve had the dream of going back to Scotland for two very long years, and the goal to earn my PhD and work in higher education for the last seven years.

I am three weeks away from reaching all of my major goals….and I am fucking terrified.

See, the thing that nobody tells about reaching all of your goals is that it is the scariest thing in the world (and I’ve jumped out of a plane, I have multiple tattoos, travel by myself, and get in a car with my father). I am so terrified that I am going to wake up tomorrow and it will all be a dream. I will still be miserable at Cal State Fullerton, still not have enough money for real insurance, my own apartment, or my massive student loans, and still be profoundly depressed

To be honest, there is no way I could survive a cruel joke like that. Not to mention that I have already sold my car, and most of my possessions.

I know that this fear is normal, and the finality of the situation is starting to sink in, so I am having a momentary freak-out, but it is still a little bit scary.

I’m doing it though. I’m jumping in with both feet, and going to settle into Scotland, and I am going to be a kick-ass expat.

The Scamp on the Battleground

I’m sitting in the middle of my qualitative inquiry class and all I want to do is cry (okay, let’s be honest, I cried. I actually got up and left the room and cried. Giant hiccuping sobs Snot, hiccups, and embarrassment. I came home before the second class started and had a beer, french fries and onion rings). Since I started this program I have continually battled with whether or not I made the right choice.

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Days like tonight make the answer very clear: no. I made the wrong choice. I am now extremely depressed in a program that touts me as a racist, and today I learned that the program has never approved a proposal for action research. For anyone who isn’t aware of what action research is, here is a quick breakdown:

Action research is a practical approach to professional inquiry in any social situation. The examples in this component relate to education and are therefore of particular relevance to teachers or lecturers engaged in their daily contact with children or students. But professional practice need not be teaching: it may be management or administration in a school or college, or it may be in an unrelated area, such as medicine or the social services. The context for professional inquiry might change, but the principles and processes involved in action research are the same, regardless of the nature of the practice. (Water-Adams, 2006)

I believe as a future leader, and current practitioner that it is important to look at, and understand the practices in the classroom, and what needs to be changed in order to promote student success. I believe that my proposal not only lends itself to a dissertation, but it has merit and value in the field of basic skills writing. I also believe that as a future leader, I should be looking beyond race when I set out to help my students. I currently have 60 students, and I cannot, for the life of me, tell your the ethnic breakdown of my students.

In the program, that makes me a racist. I have made no secret to my displeasure in class, and my frustration with the mindset of some of the people. I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to deal with the boat I am in, but it is harder and harder for me to remember why I decided to stay in the program. Tonight I was told I have no critical consciousness, and therefore cannot be a good leader, because I do not look at the race, and I do not tailor my classes so that nonwhite students are given priority. I was also told that it is not my fault, I am white, and privileged, so I do not understand how to help students who are not white. I lack professional development which is just as much a problem of the college for not offering it, and me for not seeking it out.

Today I told my professor I saw no reason for me to continue in this program. Between hiccups I told her how attacked I felt, and how this program was only teaching me to be racist. I am not a quitter. I think anyone who really knows me knows that, but for the last year, all I have thought about is quitting. This program is one of the major reasons that I cannot wait to get back overseas. I was willing to just about break my bank to go to Estonia for a week at Thanksgiving, just so I don’t have to be anywhere near this program and these people. I’m seriously considering how bad it would be if I did not come home.

My friends have been pretty great. A few of the people in the program emailed and text me to make sure that I am okay. and my best friend sent me these words of wisdom:

It’s a long road. We’ll be 30 soon though, far smarter than our peers, angry at the world, paying of debt and having the times of our lives

He’s right. I just have to make it to 30. I will still be friends with the few people in the program I have really connected with, and I will never have to deal with the rest of them ever again.

The one thing that I have decided to do is fight this system. I am going to do an action research dissertation. I was the first person they ever allowed to defer admittance, so why can I not be the first person to do action research? I know I shouldn’t try and change the world right now with my work, but I want to do something I am proud of, and I will not be proud of anything less than the study I designed. This will be my giant “f-you” to the program. I haven’t decided if I am going to quit the program or not, but I have a meeting with the director on Monday to discuss my future. That gives me a few days to cool off and think about what I want, and how I am going to get it. In the meantime, I am going to ignore the classes, focus on my writing students, and figure out how to get myself into a clear mindset.

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