The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 46

Today I am thankful for the cold weather. I bruise really easily and for the last few weeks I have been trying to do yoga on a regular basis and for some reason think that I can do any pose out there. I’ve been balancing on my arms, using my knees, and falling. A lot of falling. Because of that, I am covered in bruises. My knees have it the worst. Very purple and ugly….they also happen to look like I spent some time on my knees on a hard surface (don’t worry mom, I’m as pure as the driven snow). Luckily it is so cold here that I have to stay well bundled up. No one sees these knees but me (and probably my neighbors if I wear shorter yoga pants and forget to close my curtains). I am almost done with the medication I am being weaned off of, and minus a few headaches and being tired, I am happy to report that most things in the land of Kim are progressing quite nicely.

But, to the task at hand. I know last week I was not really in a good mood about the election, and I have to say, that has not changed, but I am choosing to keep moving forward and stay off of Facebook as much as possible since it all seems to be a bit daft and people still haven’t figured out that there are some real issues that need to be addressed but that the media is going to make it difficult for anything to happen in a civil way. This week the writing challenge is to write a letter to my future self.

So, here goes:

Dear Kimberly,

I hope by this time in your career people have figured out how you spell your name in the UK. You can be Kim, but Kimberly might eventually have a more academic ring to it. Hopefully you have learned to stop getting annoyed when people spell it wrong when there are so many people in this world whose parents gave them impossible to spell names and yours can easily be shortened. In the grand scheme of things, an extra e isn’t really that big of a deal.

I hope that you learned to stop worrying about money. The loan will get paid and you will not regret any of those trips that you took, or the parts of the world you got to see. You will learn more about yourself and about people then you could ever learn being in one place all the time. I hope you have learned to see all of those adventures as investments in yourself and little bits and bobs that come together to make you a better person. All that hemming and hawing you do now about money is making your head hurt and not doing you any good.

Your stubborn ass better still be in therapy, even if it is just every so often to do general maintenance. Don’t you dare do that thing you did when you were younger and assumed that once it started to work and you felt better that you didn’t need to go anymore. That’s stupid and we both know it. You need to get a handle on some very deep seeded issues, but you also have a brain chemistry that needs a little extra help to stay balanced. Don’t put aside that process when you know you need it.

Keep pushing for the literacy programme, especially if you haven’t gotten it up and running yet. You know the value of it, and know what a difference being able to read can make for people. You want to make the world a better place, and the way to do that is give people the power to educate themselves and be involved in processes that effect them. The goal is not to teach people only English, so you aren’t just trying to make people fit a prepackaged idea of literacy, and whether everyone understands that or not is not your concern. You just need to focus on the people that you want to help and the best ways to do that. Also, you better still be sending books to Muffin.

I hope that you have figured out how to let go of toxic relationships and have faith in the bonds you have. You were surrounded by some really amazing people, and although small in number, they are the ones that matter, not the other ones. Stop trying to change the minds of people who don’t like you because in the great words of RuPaul: “What other people think of you is not your concern”. The ones that matter, the ones that are probably still in your life, those are the ones who know you, those are the ones who care, and the ones you should focus your love and attention on. They haven’t let you down, so don’t let them down.

And for God’s sake, you better have at least one dog. Seriously.

Sass and snark,

Kimbo

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 42

October is over next week. Really? I have no idea where this month went, and I am not sure that I got everything done that needed to be done. All of the commuting has pulled me off track, and the cold weather just makes me want to stay in bed and watch old movies all day….or drag queens. I love me the drag queens.

The writing challenge for this week is to write about the last time I broke the rules. I’ve been trying to think about this for the last few days, and I really can’t think of any rules I have broken. I’m too afraid to break rules here because I don’t want to get deported and have to go back to California. I did get pepper spray into the country, and had a mini moment of panic at the airport over a year ago when I thought TSA would find it and I’d be arrested. I had another moment of panic on my first date with the boy when I mentioned it to him and he told me he would have to arrest me because it was illegal. I really only dated him so that I could bribe him with my wares and stay out of jail (at first I was kidding, but now I am not so sure that that isn’t the reason).

Lately though, I toe the line a lot better. There is only one rule that I can think of that I really broke, and that rule comes from my therapy sessions. I overshare here way too much, but this one I am going to have to keep to myself. Partly because I am ashamed that it has to be a rule for my life, and partly because it is one that I was quick to break in a moment of weakness. It is really easy for people to tell me to be strong, and that I can just choose to be happy, but what I don’t think people understand is that part of my illness keeps me comfortable in my self destructive behaviours. I like being here. I’m comfortable here. I know what to do and what happens here.

I’m not proud of the slip, but tomorrow is another day, next week is a new week, and next month is a new month, all chances for me to keep moving forward and stop breaking rules that don’t need to be broken.

The Scamp at 400

It has been exactly one year and four months since 300. I’m quite impressed with myself that I have made it this far in the process. I’m not very good at sticking to projects, but I have stuck to this one for the last 5 years. I do the weekly challenges to keep me writing, but truth be told, this blog has been a good form of therapy for me.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few days because my 300th post was so full of hope and so upbeat. I wrote that post on my last day in the US. I was ready for my fresh start, ready for my life in Scotland to help me forget about the horrible two years I had in California. I was under the delusion that leaving my problems in California meant that I would be free of them.

Boy was I wrong. If I have learned anything in the last year and some change, it is that you can’t run from your problems if you really want them to be resolved. I avoided therapy for awhile, and my depression got the better of me. I’m working on getting better, but it is a slow road for sure.

So while I have been sitting here at a loss for what to write about for the big 400, I started thinking about loss. It seems like loss has been on my mind a lot lately. When I read my 300th post again, I was sad to realize that I had lost the exuberance and go-get-em attitude that I had about starting my life here. I’ve spent a lot of time complaining about how I feel, and giving into my depression. It has wrecked my productivity, my ability to socialize, and even kept me in a relationship that should have ended awhile ago.

I’ve lost that naivete that being in my favourite city means that all my problems would disappear. I realize know that while I may have worked through some of my issues, there is a lot I still need to work though, and just like the meds I take to keep me going, I can’t stop going to therapy when I feel better.

I feel like I have lost a lot of time.

That wasn’t the only loss I have been thinking about though. We are fast approaching the one year anniversary of my step-brother’s death. While his death was actually a release from his alcoholism, and something that the family had been expecting for a few years, it was still a shift in the family dynamics. My dad is the only person who was still in contact with him, I gave up on him five or six years ago, and it broke him. I think my mom still feels some guilt that she was in Edinburgh with me when it happened, but because my dad doesn’t talk about it much, it is hard to really say how he is doing. When I think about Eric, there is not one memory I have of him that did not involve him being drunk or strung out on drugs. I remember him ruining toasts at a wedding with his drunken shouting, being carried out of another wedding because he kept falling and knocking things over. I was always embarrassed by him. Always. I chose not to mourn his loss, even though it destroyed my dad.

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This is the last picture that we have all together, and we are still missing our oldest brother. Eric is behind me on the right. This photo was taken seven years ago. He was drunk. This year my mom and I will be taking my dad to Paris so that he doesn’t have to spend Thanksgiving alone thinking about the death of his middle born son.

I can only hope that it works.

When I think about not mourning the loss of my brother, I think about a loss that I mourn everyday. 20 years ago my grandma died in a car crash. I can’t remember the sound of her voice, but I can remember that I had gone out to get the mail and by the time I got back my mother had heard the message from my grandpa that she was gone.

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She was fashion plate. She loved everything in excess. She was a drug addict, compulsive gambler, and constantly obsessed over her weight, but to me she was just Grammy Fran. She was the one who took us to Hamburger Hamlet and had zebra print carpet in her TV room. She was the one who shared her love of Hummingbirds with us, and made sure that my mom could keep  roof over our heads when my biological father abused her and took everything but the $25 dollars she had in her wallet, and my brother, the wombmate and me. I have some of her purses and jewelry, and I cannot smell Red Door without thinking about her, but there is just so much I wish she had been around for. She would have loved coming to visit me here, would have had some very creative suggestions for how to handle the dude who cheated on me and broke my heart, and probably would have tried to set me up with the son of one of the women in her Mahjong club. Chances are he would have been a nice Jewish boy, most likely a doctor,and probably close to retirement age.

I still remember when she tried to set my mom up with a really creepy old guy that lived in the same conodo complex in Palm Springs….my poor mother. She was maybe 37 and this dude was 60 with a beer gut and hair in his ears. I’m sure she meant well though.

There is another loss that I feel quite hard all the time. That is the loss of my family. I am not around them all the time, I miss out on dinners, holidays, and moments with my little man.

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I mean, I was pretty dumb for moving 5,400 miles from this face. When I was in California for the wedding at the end of September, I did not even notice my depression. Granted, I had something planned everyday, did not get as much work done as I wanted, and was on major holiday mode, but it was nice to be around everyone again. I still have lingering feelings that I will become irrelevant in their lives, and end up here alone a crazy cat lady….minus the cats.

I think what I can learn from the last year and change is that I still have a lot of work to do, and I still have time to make some real changes before I turn 30. In just five short months I get to close the door on my 20s, and I cannot wait to be able to say that I survived a very trying ten years of my life. Who knows where I will be when I get to number 500.

Hopefully I’ll be on a tropical island with a fruity drink that has an umbrella with a hot cabana boy fanning me with a giant fan.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 38

I’m in California. It is 35 degrees. I’m wearing shorts, my feet are bare, and today I shaved my cat.

While my Odie is mad, I am happy. This weekend I got to be a part of my best friend’s wedding. She has never looked happier. I got to reconnect with old friends, hang out with people I haven’t seen in years, and spend some quality time in LA traffic. I started my time here with my Muffin. You can’t be mad when you are around that kid. I love when I get to Skype with him, but man, being in a room with him is so much better. I’m feeling a lot better than I have in months. While I am not getting as much writing done as I would like, I am making some progress, and I am counting that as one for the win column.

The writing challenge for last week deals with my bad habits. Let me tell you, I have a lot of them. I’m trying to work through them, and break them, but it is an uphill battle. I see my therapist once a week and she is helping me break the worst of them (I’m not sure anyone can break my love of cheese).

The  bad habits that really get me in trouble are my unreasonable expectations and my penchant for negative thoughts. I go into most situations thinking I know exactly what is going to happen, and when something bad does go wrong, I feel justified to have my negative feelings. I also get really upset when I have an outcome or scenario in my mind and then people do not meet my expectations. I do it all the time. I can feel myself doing it, I know it is wrong, but I can’t seem to stop myself. When people don’t meet my expectations I get upset, I blame myself, and I let my negative thoughts get the best of me. It is a viscous cycle.

The worst thing about having these unrealistic expectations is that it often keeps me from wanting to do things. Before I went to the wedding this weekend, I had concocted a whole scenario where I was going to be out of place, not have any fun, and have to confront someone who I hadn’t seen in three years, someone who was like a sister to me. I saw myself sitting alone, not really participating, and not enjoying myself.  I had convinced myself that it would be better to stay home, and that maybe I was doing something wrong by wanting to take part in this special day. I had convinced myself that I was no longer a part of life here and that no one would care if I was there or not.

That literally couldn’t be farther from what actually happened. I was greeted with hugs and laughter. I got to have a very special conversation with the groom, some good chat and some really good karaoke moments with the bride, and I got to see a lot of faces that I haven’t seen in years, but treated me like they just saw me yesterday. I got to share in a magical moment with people I love, like to think that I saved the bride by taking one for the team and getting stung by a bee, and had the chance to recharge a little bit.

And I was actually going to give that up because of the expectations I had built up in my head. That’s the thing though. The dark and twisty doesn’t go away overnight, and as hard as I am working to break these habits, it isn’t always successful. I’m lucky that I am surrounded by wonderful people who will Skype with me, visit me in Scotland, drive up to visit me while I am in California, and don’t make me feel guilty about sometimes forgetting to be a good friend.

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 35

I left work early today. I left work early because I was pouting because I feel like I am invisible. I’ve been sitting on my couch munching on salt and vinegar crisps and feeling sorry for myself.

The challenge this week is to think about the things that scare me. I guess this can be taken a lot of different ways. I am terrified of elevators. They freak me out so much. The one in my building is something out of a horror movie. It is small with a lot of graffiti and because it doesn’t make a lot of noise, it is hard to know if it is at the correct floor or not. I’m always so relieved when the doors open and I can escape to the freedom on the correct floor. The lift at the hotel in Malta was even worse, but it was way too hot to climb the stairs to the fifth floor. I take the stairs whenever I can, and try not to cry/panic/sweat when the lift is unavoidable.

The stupid death traps are awful…but so necessary.

I guess my one big fear is that I am never going to get a handle on my depression. I do not enjoy being depressed. I do not enjoy the up and down of my emotions, and how the depression interferes with all the other aspects of my life. I have a hard time with motivation to do my work, I have a hard time maintaining friendships, and being in a relationship with me is stressful at best. I take my meds, go to therapy, and do the homework that my therapist gives me, but I am scared that I won’t be able to get a handle on the dark and twisty. It doesn’t help that I compare myself to people around me, and see them succeeding while I am struggling. I am very lucky that I have a really strong support group, and I am self aware enough to know that I have to work hard to maintain my health.

I’m also terrified of being stagnate. One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up in ten years and being in the same boring routine and not know where the last ten years have gone. It is part of the reason that I move every couple of years, part of the reason why my wanderlust is so bad, and part of the reason why I am scared of what happens when I am not a student anymore.

All of this talk about what scares me makes me want to eat chocolate, which is not on my list of things to eat, so I am going to try and do some yoga.

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 and the Writing Challenge: Week 31

In my quest to make it to the office at least three days this week, today I decided to stay home. I got up early, I was going to make it 2/2 in the work week….I really was. Then I got a text confirming that my two favourite people weren’t going to be in the office and I lost all motivation to go in.

I did not go back to bed though….even though I was really tempted. I sat on my couch and tried to make an outline for a paper I don’t think I have time for, and shop for vacations that I cannot seem to make myself commit to. I got cocky. I crossed a bunch of things off my list yesterday and I thought I could parlay that wave of success into the rest of the week, but as usual, instead of enjoying my mini success, I’m already disappointed that I didn’t achieve more.

It’s a perk of my personality and it keeps my therapist in rent money. You could say my neurosis is good for the Scottish economy.

The challenge for this week is to think about the pros and cons of my job. I feel like this list is going to be a bit one sided.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. I can work from anywhere. On days I don’t feel like going to the office (and let’s face it, that is most days lately) I can work from my couch, from my buddy’s couch, the library, or the boy’s kitchen table. I like the freedom that I have to work where it suits me best. It has come in real handy lately.

2. The people. I’ve made some great friends since I started working for the university a year ago. Unfortunately a few of them no longer work there, but the friendship remains. When I do go into the office, they keep me laughing, encourage me to keep going, and make the office a little less gloomy.

3. Publishing opportunities. In the US, academia is sink or swim. In a lot of the PhD programmes you have to meet a publishing or presenting quota….and you have to do a lot of it solo. In the UK, the more authors the better, and the co-authors are your biggest champions. I may be on draft 47 of this paper up for publication, but I know when it does finally make it to a journal it will be a good piece of work.

And I will be this [————-] close to being famous. I’ve also presented at three conferences this year, and thanks to the university, I will get at least two more next year. The amount of publicity my work is getting is great, and hopefully it will make the rest of the data collection a much smoother process.

4. My job is in Edinburgh. We all know how I feel about that.

5. I get to be a doctor at the end of it.

and then an adult.

Now for the cons:

  1. This life is a lonely island. Even though I have a good circle of friends, some of who have successfully made it through this process, it is still something that I am 100% in charge of. I have this horrible problem of equating my the work that I produce with who I am. When that work isn’t going well, it means that I am not doing well. If I get negative feedback, I take it to me there is something wrong with me (which is ironic considering my research is entirely dedicated to feedback, and how to use it successfully). I sometimes feel like no one understands what I am doing, how much work it takes to make this happen, and how much I have riding on this research. This feeling sometimes keeps me in the dark and twisty, and that is a spiral I do not like being in.

2. I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure. I’ve talked about the fact that I am currently the only educational pedagogy PhD on campus. Heck, the university doesn’t even have a school of education. All eyes are on me, and they are all dying to know if my research can actually be used to help inform university policy. This project is the brain child of my main supervisor, so I also get a lot of pressure from him in terms of his expectations and my ability. I’ve also added an extra level of pressure because I feel  like since I sat in this boat before that I should be doing better, be further along in the process.

This has led to a lot of tears, a lot of days hiding in bed, and a lot therapy sessions.

3. Most days I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve turned in drafts of my paper and most of the time I feel like I’ve done all that is asked of me and then the feedback I get asks me to do something completely different. I’m getting edits on things that they told me to edit, spent a lot of time going north and I am now being asked to go southwest, and generally feel like I am wasting my time.

I hate feeling like I am wasting my time.

4. I have to depend on others for my research. I hate that. Especially when people do not put in the effort, react, or care as much as I do. I wish I could control every little thing around me, and I can’t. That frustrates me to no end. I hate depending on other people, and I hate that my crazy expectations are often crushed because no one is as bat shit as I am. I’m really trying to learn how to be better about my expectations, and how to best work with others, but that is such a slow slow slow process.

At the end of the day though, I love my job. I knew the process was going to suck, I know that their will be days that I cry and hate myself (and the work), and I know when this job is done I will have something amazing to show for it (and hopefully British citizenship).

 

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