The Scamp and Confidence

I took an extended break from the Scamp Chronicles.  I didn’t mean to do it, but I have 6 jobs and very little free time so instead of writing for fun, I have been hiding under the covers binge watching bad TV and freaking out about the future.

I am 30 days from turning in another draft of my thesis. At this point, I have done no work on it. I keep putting it off to do other things. People keep coming to visit. I have too many projects on my plate. I cannot sustain this lifestyle, but for now, it is what I have to do to pay the bills (seriously, can someone just hire me already?). I am relieved to finally have a submission date, even if it means that I have to work through Christmas. I am so close to finally finishing my thesis that I should be happy, and writing away, but I am tired, and when I am tired, I doubt myself.

The writing challenge for this week (although, who am I kidding, I haven’t been following that at all) is to write about my confidence in my ability in the workplace. If you asked me two weeks ago I would have said that I have no confidence in the work that I do. I recently applied for a lecturer post in the office that I have been based in during my three years at Napier. The post advertised was an entry-level position doing all the work that I am currently doing. I felt like I had a really good chance, and felt like the office would be stupid not to hire me.

They didn’t even shortlist me for an interview.

It really sucks to be told that you are not good enough for the job that you are currently doing. I have a feeling I am also going to have to give up my desk when they hire someone, which leaves me out in the cold again. It was a tough blow. A really tough blow.

Move forward a week and I have snapped out of my stupidity. I have recently started a major project at the University of Stirling. I spent last week meeting with programme leads and discussing my ideas for improving feedback at the programme level. The work is based on my thesis and based on the last three years slogging through the mess that is Napier. The five people that I met with listened, and by the end of my pitch were more than willing to work with me and help me actually put my thesis into action.

It is more than Napier was ever willing to do.

The fact the Stirling is letting me run this project and giving me carte blanche to do as I please renews my egotistical thoughts that I am good at what I do and that I have chosen the right field. I am really good at developing curriculum for teachers, and really good at teaching new teachers. One day I will actually be known for it. People will follow the Wilder Way of feedback and curriculum design. I will have a single office (with a window that opens and a comfy chair) at a reputable university and co-workers I like. I’ll have a nice steady income and be able to start paying off my student loan.

I’ll be living the dream….and then I will get a puppy….and a car.

But first, time to finish my thesis edits, book chapter, conceptual article, quick guide, project admin work, student meetings, GTA training and feedback initiative.

oh, and job applications. Lots of job applications.

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The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 45

I’ve just eaten an entire large chocolate bar that is making me sorta want to barf, and I am about to say something that I never ever ever ever thought I would say:

I’m ashamed to be American right now. As a general rule, I try not to talk about politics on social media, but in this case, I have to say something. Look, Donald Trump is not my idea of a president. Hilary Clinton wasn’t either. But, democracy has made it so Mr. Trump is now the president, and as much as I may not like it, it isn’t going to change. My shame is not about that. My shame comes from the way people have been acting for the past few days. I’ve been staying off social media for the most part because all I see are hateful people spewing hateful rhetoric. My liberal friends are now assuming that anyone who did not vote for Mrs. Clinton is of the mindset of Trump, that white people can’t be sympathetic or afraid of the possible changes in the country, and chants of ‘not my president’ when four and even eight years ago if someone would have said that then they were racist. My conservative friends are getting resentful of having to defend their choice, of trying to get people to see beyond who they cast a vote for. They are starting to be hateful about people being upset over the results, and being afraid for the future. I am sick to my stomach over the stories, from my friends and in the media, about racial slurs, religious insults, and homophobia running rampant. No one should have to give a fake name at Starbucks because they are afraid of what people would do if they know they are from the Middle East. I’m equally as disgusted with the rioting, looting, and violent protest. Do you really think that is going to help your cause? Destroying your city, making people look at you like you are an idiot instead of a person who is worried about the future of the country and the people in and want to make sure their voices are heard?

The worst is universities cancelling exams, offering pizza and other forms of comfort rather than giving students a space to grieve, and then making sure that they educate them on the  election process and the system, and remind them of the ways they can be helpful and productive in this time of crazy uncertainty. This is what happens when you give everyone a participation trophy. They don’t learn about hard work, fighting for what they believe in, or how to be gracious winners or losers. Right now America looks ignorant, spiteful, mean, and to be honest, is getting exactly what they deserve.

But it still leaves me sick. I’m an expat. I do not plan to move back to the States, but I have never been ashamed of where I came from until now. I’m hoping that people settle down and focus on the things that matter, and that maybe Mr. Trump will not be as bad as people seem to think given that he hasn’t done anything yet. I’m hoping that people remember that showing love to others, volunteering time, and maybe money to programmes like Planned Parenthood and other federally funded programmes of that nature is what is going to help get through this.

On to something better….the writing challenge for the week. This week is dedicated to the job I would have if money was no object. I can talk about this all day. I would love to be a travel writer. My dream is to spend my life living in different places for three or four months at a time and writing about what life is like there. I would also like to be able to start my nonprofit literacy foundation and help people learn to read. I always saw it as an organization that helped people learn to read and write in their native language, and then learn to read, write, and speak English (or another language that would allow them to interact with people around them). I would love to work with different cultures and different people helping them enjoy books as much as I do. I also want to bring the Reading with Rover to more libraries. Everyone should get to read to a puppy. My wanderlust is always there, and so is my love for books and learning, so being able to do all of those things at once, and maybe even make some lives better in the process sounds all right by me.

So, who is going to judge me if I find a sugar daddy to help fund some of these projects? Anyone? No. Good.

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’s Last Day of Her 28th Year

Tomorrow (Well, today in Scotland and Australia) I turn 29. The last year of my 20s. The year before I become a real adult. The year I finally get my shit together.

This time last year I had just found out that I had been awarded the position in Scotland, I was getting ready to jump out of an airplane, and I was finally starting to see some hope for my future. Let’s face it, 27 was a really shitty year. The upside of hitting rock bottom though is that you have nowhere to go but up.

28 was a pretty darn good year. I jumped out of a plane, I moved back home to Scotland, started my PhD, reconnected with some of my best friends, made some pretty incredible new friends, and spent more of the year than not really loving life. I got to visit Spain and Portugal, went to England, and got to return to Ireland. I laughed more than I cried, cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner, and finally moved into my own place after two years of living with my parents. I learned the delicate art of negotiating bus timetables, worked on improving my Spanish, and pushed forward as an academic.

Today I started the day with waffles and puppy love by the beach. I got to snark with truly one of the greatest women I know, and the walk along the beach was just long enough for my face to get sunburned. I then spent the rest of the day with my nephew. He’s perfect. I cannot gush enough about this little guy. He let me feed him without a fuss, he slept solidly for a few hours and let his parents get some sleep, and he went for a walk in the sunshine without much of a complaint. I left them before the next feeding and enjoyed a big piece of chocolate birthday cake (I am an adult after all).

I’m looking forward to all of the things that 29 has to offer. I’ve decided that I would like to do 30 new things before I turn 30. I want to make sure that I stay out of the dark and twisty as much as possible. I want to make great strides with my PhD. I want to be a better friend, and a better girlfriend. I want to see some more of the world. Luckily I have 365 days to make these things happen.

 

 

The Scamp at 300

Congratulations! You are reading my 300th post. I think that it is very fitting that number 300 comes on my last night as a resident of the United States. This is the day I thought would never come. This is the day I have been trying to get to for two long years. This is the day that makes the emotionally abusive relationship worth it, the bullying, abuse, and eventual expulsion form CSUF worth it, and all of the therapy very very worth it. In the year and some change that it took me to get from 200 to 300, I learned so much about not only myself, but the world around me.

I learned that I no longer fit in in California. That was a hard lesson for me to learn. I spent almost a year trying really really hard to like it here and be happy, when it just isn’t who I am anymore. I have had some times here, and will carry some great memories with me, but this is no longer home. It took me almost another year to come to terms with it, and realize that it is okay that I no longer fit here. I always say that I am a Flamingo in a flock of pigeons. I use to say it to make people laugh, but I always saw it as a bad thing. I thought I should want to be a pigeon. I should want to be just like everyone else.

That is the dumbest thing I have ever admitted to the public (there have been a lot of things I have done, said, or thought that are really dumb, but a girl has to have some secrets). It has taken me a long time, but I am learning to embrace my inner flamingo. When I am in Scotland I can be a flamingo, and since I don’t know of another bird that can do yoga, I am going to rock the shit out of being a flamingo. That includes wearing colorful yoga pants, finishing my sleeve of colorful tattoos, and rocking flowers in my hair.

I learned that sometimes life sucks. I know that I will never see justice for what happened to me at CSUF, but that is how the real world works. Sometimes bad things happen to (mostly) good people. I will have to pay back the $30,000 in loans, and I will have nothing to show for it. My mom told me that everyone has bought a lemon, or invested in something that has failed, and that CSUF is my lemon. Pretty much everyone knows what happened to me now, and it still makes me mad, but I have to trust that there is a lesson in that experience that I will be able to use one day. I’m not 100% certain what that lesson is yet, but I have faith that it will become clear someday. I learned a lot about how to play the political game, how to stand up for myself and what I believe in, and that if you do not stick to your values then they are just hobbies.

I learned the power of therapy. I’m pretty sure therapy saved my life. Had I not had that available to me for the last year, I do not know if I would have survived the CSUF experience. Thursday mornings were my coping. I spent a lot of time trying to work through what was happening to me, and work out ways to cope with how I was feeling. My depression would have gotten a lot worse, had I not made the decision to get some real help. That program broke me. I spent much of this last year crying and hiding under my covers hoping that the storm would crash. My therapist helped me get out of bed, helped me not become an actual racist, and helped me realize that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my character. I used to think that therapy was something that I needed to hide, like it was a dirty little secret, but I have to say, I feel like a much stronger person than I was two years ago, and I think a part of that is because therapy kept me out of the dark and twisty.

I learned that I am willing to fight for the friendships and connections that matter. I’ve kept in touch with most of the people I was in Scotland with, and I am now seeing the long list of people here that are worth the effort to keep in contact with. I also feel like I am about to meet a whole bunch of new people, and those are the people that I will keep around for a long long time. I’m always worried about making friends because I am not really good at being social, but I am no longer worried about that. I know that I will become that obnoxious person who introduces myself to people, and before I know it, I will have sweet-talked my way into a lord’s heart and will get the castle wedding and the title that everyone here wants me to have (ok, I will get a puppy, talk to him, and pretend that is being social).

Most importantly, I learned that sometimes you need a fresh start to really become who you are supposed to be. Scotland is my fresh start. I never would have made it there if I had not gone through all the shit of the last two years. Scotland is my chance to really grow and become the person that I want to be (and the scenery, history, and people don’t hurt either). In three short years I will be Dr. Scamp, and in five short years I will be a permanent resident of the UK.

Most people say that it is bad luck to say “goodbye”, and that you should say “see you later.” They say that “goodbye” is permanent. Well, today, I would like to say goodbye to my life here, and to the person that I was. Tomorrow I start fresh being the badass flamingo that I am.

“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Adventure here I come.

The Scamp is Umemployed

in the United States anyway.

As of 8 pm Pacific Standard Time on May 13, 2015, I completed my contract with the community college. It is the last of my three jobs.

I got fired from the first one in January, except, no one told me. I worked hard as a research assistant, and now someone else’s name will go on the work. I quit the second job last week when I realized I spent more time hating the rude and horrid 13 year olds than helping them. They put me in a bad mood week after week, and I was unable to shut off my hatred of them and just do my job.

So I quit.

I only feel bad about quitting because my mom could use the help. I will say though, the yoga classes this week were a lot better because I wasn’t already frazzled when I got there.

The teaching job is a little different. I was actually a bit sad to see this job come to an end. The last time I was done with a job, it was to take the teaching job, so I was not the least bit sad to leave it. With this one, when I dismissed my students for the last time, I was sad to see them go. Many of them came up and gave me a hug, and a few of them who I have really gotten to know over the last year brought me gifts and really thoughtful cards. When a friend of mine asked me how I was feeling, and I gave him the honest answer.

I felt like I wanted to cry. I should be happy because now I have free time to sort out the packing and shipping, and really get into the literature I have found for the new project I am about to embark on, but when I was walking to my car last night, I was sad looking at the buildings and passing the library where I have spent the last month working with my students. I got an exit form, and when my grading is done, I will turn in my keys and the form. and be officially done with the campus. This job was my bright spot for the last year. Even when the rest of my world was falling down around me in flames, this job remained a bright spot. I liked my students for the most part, liked the people that I was working for and with, and thought that I was doing a pretty darn good job and teaching students how to write.

Earlier this week I got the written review of the class evaluation that I got in April. I was profoundly disappointed when I realized that I had simply been deemed “satisfactory.” I’ve never been just satisfactory at anything in my professional life. The thing is, nothing in the comments on the evaluation were bad. The couple of areas that needed to be improved were areas that I knew I was going to get dinged on (I mean, really, I have never used a rubric in my life). Satisfactory is good. Satisfactory is 80/100. The thing is, I do not feel like I am an 80/100. I’m a 100/100. I’m not sure why people do not see that. I know that the chair of the department was only in my class for an hour, but I have to say, I thought it was a pretty good hour. My mother patiently reminded me that I am a part timer, and that they had already offered me two classes for the fall, so I should be more than happy with my review. I was still smarting about my review at 8 pm last night when I let my class go for the last time. One of my students who I had both last semester and this semester came in and brought me a note that she had forgotten to give me when she saw me earlier in the day. This is what it says”

Dear Ms. Wilder,

    I wanted to write (type) you a few words before you leave overseas. Well, to start off, congratulations on getting a full-time job in Scotland! I am truly happy for you. You have told us many times that you wanted a full-time job, and now you have it, although I am sad about it as well. You are the best English teacher I have ever had! I have learned so much in your class. I was so nervous when I started attending school because I had not been in school for so long, but you were helpful, and guided us throughout the semester. I am so thankful that I was able to attend your class this semester too. When I first started coming to college, I knew that I wanted to major in English, but plenty of people tried to talk me out of it. The reassurance I needed came when you told us that that you had majored in English, and all of the experiences you had encountered on your way to achieving a higher education in Scotland. Learning all about your achievements in general made me realize that I should pursue something that I love. So, I thank you for that. You are an extraordinary professor, and I want you to know that: I love the way you teach, the communication that you have with your students, the way you organize your lectures, the clarity of your explanations when getting into a new essay, the comments you write in our journals and our essays to help us improve our writing, your dedication to each and every one of us, even the fact that you play music before class starts. That is what makes you stand out from other professors, the time you take to do the small things for your students that make a huge difference for us. You are original in everything you do. Wherever you go, please do not lose your unique style, both in teaching and in fashion. I am really going to miss you Ms. Wilder, I believe that I speak for the entire class when I say that. Those Scottish students are lucky! Good luck with your upcoming job.

Sincerely, 

Your English 100 student

That is all it took to remind me that I am anything other than satisfactory. This student has a bright future, and is going to do well in life, and I am going to take a little bit of pride knowing that I had a little hand in helping them along.

The Scamp and Beantown: Day 4

Three words: Boston Public Library

I’m in love with libraries. Outside of teaching, working in libraries is the only job I have ever had. The Boston Public library is really a thing of beauty. According to their website:

Established in 1848, by an act of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library (BPL) was the first large free municipal library in the United States. The Boston Public Library’s first building of its own was a former schoolhouse located on Mason Street that was opened to the public on March 20, 1854. The library’s collections approximated 16,000 volumes, and it was obvious from the day the doors were first opened that the quarters were inadequate.

In December of that same year the library’s Commissioners were authorized to locate a new building upon a lot on Boylston Street. The present Copley Square location has been home to the library since 1895, when architect Charles Follen McKim completed his “palace for the people.”

In the latter half of the 19th century, the library worked vigorously to develop and expand its branch system. Viewed as a means to extend the library’s presence throughout the city, the branch system evolved from an idea in 1867 to a reality in 1870, when the first branch library in the United States was opened in East Boston. Between 1872 and 1900, 21 more branches began serving communities throughout Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.

In 1972, the library expanded its Copley Square location with the opening of an addition designed by Philip Johnson. Today, the McKim building houses the BPL’s vast research collection and the Johnson building holds the circulating collection of the general library and serves as headquarters for the Boston Public Library’s 24 branch libraries.

The entrance to the library is a grand marble staircase with two lions on guard.

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Sus and I were able to wander around and see the murals and the art that seems to be around every corner, and made it to the rare book room that houses some letters and correspondence from famous authors.

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In addition to the books, the library had some maps on display. I would love to find some prints of them and hang them on my wall.

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The library was not the only place of beauty we ventured into though. We also went into Trinity Church. Recognized as one of the most significant buildings in America, Trinity Church took shape on marshland in Boston’s Back Bay in the 1870’s. It really is beautiful building, and the pictures that I took really do not do it justice.

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Our next destination landed us at the Skywalk Observatory 55 floors above the city. We had a 360 degree view of Boston, and learned some interesting facts about the immigrants that choose to settle in the city.

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We ended the day at the Parish Cafe. They are known for sandwiches made by celebrity chefs. I had a couple of ciders and an amazing chicken sandwich while Sus and I debated education, Obamacare and Israel. We found an H&M (Sus’ Mecca) and shopped some sale items.

This was the first day that the cold and all of the walking really got to me. My joints were stiff and sore, and I was in a little bit of pain. I try not to complain about my Lupus too much, but four days of nonstop walking really got to me.

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I have never been so happy for layers in my life. I ended the day preparing for a very important interview and trying not to be nervous about the future.