The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 49

It is 2 pm on a Friday. I’m still in my pjs, I’ve eaten a lot of cheese (which is not on my diet) and all the plans I made to finish Christmas shopping today so I could send out presents has not happened. In fact, this week has been really tough on me. I’ve cried more this week then I have in the last month. Probably because last month I was looking forward to my visit to Paris, and while I have a trip booked for two weeks time, I am a lot less happy now then I was.

When I am depressed I have the urge to run. I decide that the best way to make myself happy is to pack up and move elsewhere. Now, since I want to finish my PhD, I am just planning a lot of trips to amazing places instead of doing the writing and making sure that my degree stays on progress. I’ve got three trips planned, and have yet to even finish one chapter of my PhD.

But, in an effort to feel like I haven’t wasted the entire day, I will look to the writing challenge for this week: One way I would like to grow in the coming year.

I would like to turn this into some sort of funny comment about wanting to grow boobs, or get an extra few inches, but I just don’t have one of the muster to be funny today.

I think the one way I would like to grow in the coming year is to be more confident in myself. After CSUF my confidence took a hit, and I feel like for the last three years I have been fighting to be respected by people for who I am. I’ve lost friends, been called a lot of nasty things, and been completely demoralized. I’ve settled on a life path that most people do not understand, and I often feel defensive about my want to live overseas, to still be in higher education, and to not really have any desire to return to the US.

In the next year I hope to build my confidence in the choices that I am making, and be okay with the fact that I am not living what many people would see as a conventional life. I’m not married, have no kids, and would rather collect stamps in my passport than buy a house, settle in a city and live a ‘traditional’ life. Part of the problem I am having is that I have been so trained that I since I am almost 30 I should have a career, some babies, and a husband. Since I have my foot in the career bath and nothing else, I keep thinking that I am doing something wrong. I’m largely insecure about it…even staying in a horrible relationship with an emotionless robot incapable of doing more than hurting people (I’m really starting to understand why his last girlfriend cheated on him).

I also spend a lot of time being disrespected in the workplace, but because I am afraid to rock the boat and have a repeat of CSUF, I am not currently excited about going to the office. In fact, I avoid it at all costs and work at the other campuses. There are some great people in the office, but the snide comments about me never being in, the disrespect with a lack of communication and consideration of my needs as a member of the office have really ramped my insecurity and low self esteem. I’m still seeing my therapist regularly and trying to work on the issues, but it is a lot more slow going then I thought it would be. Every time I feel like I am making progress, I get knocked back on my ass. This time it was the boy and an incident at work, but next week it could be something else.

I am starting to feel like a burden to my friends and family that constantly see me in this depressed state, and tell me to do things that seem very simple to them, but actually, are almost impossible for me. I’m hoping in the next year I can fix all of that and get some of my spunk back. By then I will be almost finished with my PhD (fingers crossed) and will have a new niece or nephew, and hopefully a better understanding of how to get my groove back.

On the upside, I can cross some things off the list as time is running out

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

I’m crossing off learn to drive in the UK since I drove in Ireland and do not currently have the funds to get a UK driver’s licence. That will go on my list of things to do next year when I have a bit more of a budget. I’ve also been able to cross off mastering British spelling and punctuation. I had a student turn in an assignment that I proof read, and not grammar or spelling mistakes! Thank you UK spellcheck and the grammar book I bought online. I’mm about halfway through and have about three months left to complete this list.

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The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 20

On this day three years ago I was greeted at the airport with a sign that said “Welcome Home Shithead”

I’d finished my coursework for my MSc, had three months to write my dissertation before starting the EdD programme, and had a lot of sunshine to catch up on. My dissertation became my full time job, with breaks for the pool and the gym. I was experiencing reverse culture shock in a major way, and coming off the terrible break-up with David, I was very unsure about my future.

Flash forward to today: I’m sitting on the window ledge in the flat of one of my best friends in Scotland. We have been doing buddy work from home Friday for the last few weeks. I’ve finished a second draft of a paper for my thesis, I have a therapy appointment in a couple of hours, and a study date with the boy this evening.  In 30 days I will celebrate my 1 year anniversary living in Scotland, and will be getting ready for my official transfer of title making me the very first PhD in education at Edinburgh Napier University.

The writing challenge for this week is to think about the ways I have changed in the last year. To be honest, I am not sure I have enough time or space to write about how I have changed in the last year. This time last year I was getting ready to say goodbye to the US. I was packing for Spain and Portugal, I was shipping boxes to Scotland to be here when I arrived, and I was not feeling depressed at all. I thought that all of my problems were solved because I was moving back to the one place in this world that I ever felt like home. I thought I had worked through my issues with the EdD. program, thought I was done with therapy, and thought that I was ready to tackle the world on my own. I was cocky, and living in a bit of a fantasy land.

Today I know that moving doesn’t always solve all your problems, but that they are much easier to deal with when you are happy where you live. I’m not as cocky, and while I still think I can tackle the world, I’ve learned that it is a lot more fun to do with the help and support of others. I’m more open about my depression, and the work that I am doing to manage my symptoms. I’m more open about needing help. I’m learning that it is important not to stop therapy when you feel like you are feeling better, but rather keep going, and keep working on myself so that those good feelings last a lot longer than the bad ones. I learned how to play the political game, which is serving me well this time around.

I’ve changed physically as well. I’ve added 5 tattoos to my body, I’m whiter than I have ever been, and I weigh more now than I ever have. While those last two bother me a bit, I am hoping that with summer just around the corner I can add some color to my skin. The weight bothers me, but as the boy has pointed out, he clearly likes the way I look, and that means I am probably the healthiest I have ever been. While I am very much still a work in progress, I am definitely headed in the right direction. I’d say that have learned so much about myself and the world in the last year that I have undoubtedly become a better person.

I really like the idea that I become a better person with the passing of each new year. I can get behind an idea like that.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 6

In 30 days I will say goodbye 28 and hello to 29. I’m excited about it. 28 was an amazing year for me, and I am finally headed in the right direction. It took me ten years to become comfortable with who I am, and every year I get closer to 30, is a year I figure my shit out.

Or, at least, that is what I tell myself.

The challenge for this week is to write about something I would like to change about myself. I think that on any given day there is a lot that I would like to change about myself. I’d love it if I wasn’t so tired all the time. I’d love it if I had a little more motivation to sit down and write without super strict deadlines. I’d love it if I wasn’t swimming in debt. That last one isn’t really something that I can change about myself. Plus, that debt got me to Scotland, so as much as I stress about it, it really is a good thing.

I guess the one thing that I would change about myself is my negativity. When I’m tired, when I am stressed, when things don’t go the way I want them to with other people, I go right to the dark and twisty. I automatically think the worst, and those thoughts spiral out of control every now and then. I know that I am a major pain in the ass for my friends, family, and the boyfriend every now and then. I would love it if I could override the part of my brain that automatically makes me see the world as glass half empty. Therapy has done a lot to help with it, but for some reason my brain is resisting the new programming. I hope that it is one of the things that I can change before I turn 30. I think I am going to need a lot more therapy to help with that though.

While I ponder the nature of my negativity and how to fix it, I have 12 days before I head back to the United States for the birth of my nephew and the wedding of one of the besties. I’m excited for those events, and to see my family, but I have no real desire to be back in the United States. A seven month break just does not seem to be long enough. It will be interesting to see how I fare once I am there. Hopefully I don’t take the wind and rain with me. I could really use some sunshine.

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 in Limbo

lim·bo
noun
  1. (in some Christian beliefs) the supposed abode of the souls of unbaptized infants, and of the just who died before Christ’s coming.
  2. an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

I’m Kimbo in limbo.

I have 27 days left in the United States. I no longer have a car, have sold almost all of my old books, and the books from the program from CSUF, and have sold the dishes that I have owned since I was 19. The goal this weekend is to try and sell my desk, some fantastic pots and pans, and a very impressive Tupperware collection. This is just the start of my strange time in limbo. Friends I have had since I was 14 are suddenly strangers, and I have failed to keep up correspondence with my friends overseas. People all around me are making plans, and very few of them remember that I am moving away.

My plans in Scotland have been a bit derailed as well because of a mix-up with dates, so I have to rent a room before I can make it to my place. This means that I will not have my stuff shipped right away, so I have to make due with what I pack for Spain, and that means I have to pack more than I thought I would.

Basically I am throwing myself a pity party. I want people around here to miss me. I want someone to notice that I am leaving and be proud of the fact that I am finally getting back to Scotland and earning a PhD. Then I remember that I have done nothing but complain about living in the United States, and have done nothing but mourn, pine, and feel homesick for Scotland. I have done nothing here to warrant people missing me.

No wonder no one will miss me. It is an odd feeling to have everything that I want right on the horizon, and want to mourn the loss of the life I have here. I hate it here. I’ve been counting down the days until I can leave since I landed in Los Angeles almost two years ago. All the same, it is becoming very real to me that I am leaving and not coming back. So, while I do not quite belong in Scotland, I no longer belong here in California. I’m a stranger in a strange land, I’m living in limbo between two places.

I once told David that if we ever broke up I would never come back to the US again. Funny enough, he was the reason I came back, accepted a spot at CSUF, entered into a disastrous relationship with someone who emotionally abused me, and have gone to a deep deep deep dark and twisty place. Now I sit in limbo because of the choices I have made, and hope that the Scottish version of sunshine and rainbows is waiting for me when I get there.

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.”
Brooks Atkinson

A Scamp and the Springtime

Today marks the first day of Spring (well, not really in California since it has basically been like summer since last summer). Spring is a time of rebirth, a time to clean out the old and make room for the new.

It is a time for change.

But who gets to determine where the old ends and the new begins? Is it a day on the calendar? A birthday? A new year? Is it an event?

That change, ideally, should be something that gives us hope. It gives a new way to view the world, a new way to view our world. It is about letting go of old habits, bad memories. It becomes vital that we never stop believing that we can start over, that we can create a new beginning. It’s important to remember though that sometimes, amongst all the shit, bad habits, and bad memories are a few things worth holding on to.

I have been saying for the better part of a year that it is time for a change. I’ve been saying it, but the change I am seeking has yet to really happen. I’ve been trying different things, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I am now one year removed from heartstompapolooza, but I am not quite sure I have changed and matured enough. At times, for every one step forward, I took three steps back. For every little mountain I climbed, I tripped and rolled off a cliff. I’ve been lucky enough to have a good support system to help me through the backsliding, but it leaves me to wonder: why is permanent change so scary?

I was recently asked why I constantly say I am going to change some of the more negative aspects of my personality. but then fail to really do so. That made me think of a quote from one of the Grey’s Anatomy episodes I continually binge on:

 Change… We don’t like it, we fear it. But we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow. Anybody who tells you it doesn’t, is lying. 

Anyone who really knows me knows that I hate hurting. I take a lot of medication to keep myself from hurting. I avoid emotions and keep myself closed up to keep from hurting. I stubbornly refuse to change aspects of my personality because I do not want to go through the pain that comes with breaking down old habits, and trying to build new ones (for me, that usually involves a lot of tears, and let’s face it, I am a messy crier).

A year ago, I weathered the pain to make some very necessary changes. I spent the last few months in Scotland happier than I had been in years. I had the help of a professional, but I was finally (and somewhat painfully) learning how to break old habits and change my way of thinking.

Spring means the fast approaching deadline to sign up for insurance.  Even though I am less than thrilled about my options on that front, I am looking forward to having the option to see a professional for more than the four sessions the school gives me to put me back on the track I was on in Scotland.

Because in the end

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