The Scamp in Belgium Day 2

I’m not going to lie….I decided on day 2 that the conference was a waste of my time. I’m officially too old for an early researcher designation, and I struggled to find presentations that I wanted to listen to. I met a fantastic woman from Melbourne who actually grew up in California. She had developed an Aussie accent to help her students! It gives me hope for developing an accent living here (I mean, that probably won’t happen, but a girl can dream). She is similar to me in snark and research beliefs, so it was nice to have a friend among the aliens.

I ditched the conference at lunch though to enjoy the sunshine and get a little culture. My first stop was the main square to see the Brabo fountain. Unfortunately, most of the buildings are under construction so I could not see much.

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The statue gets its name from the legend of the city. According to Wikipedia:

The reason is the legend of the name of the city, in which it is said that the giant Druon Antigoon cut off a hand to all the ship captains who moored in the area and refused to pay toll, then throwing it to the Scheldt. The captain of the Roman army Brabo cut off the giant’s hand imitating what he had done. The fountain reflects the moment when the Brabo throws the giant’s hand into the river. According to this legend, the etymology of the name of the city Antwerp is a composition of the Dutch words “(h)ant” (hand) and “werpen” (launch).

However, John Lothrop Motley argues, and so do a lot of Dutch etymologists and historians, that Antwerp’s name derives from “anda” (at) and “werpum”(wharf)to give an ‘t werf (on the wharf, in the same meaning as the current English wharf). Aan ‘t werp (at the warp) is also possible. This “warp” (thrown ground) is a man-made hill or a river deposit, high enough to remain dry at high tide, whereupon a construction could be built that would remain dry. Another word for werp is pol (dyke) hence polders (the dry land behind a dyke, that was no longer flooded by the tide).

Brabo’s hand will become important for me later in the day.

I decided to keep walking to the MAS. It is on the port and used to be a storage depot in the 16th century.

Each floor of the building held a different exhibit. My favourite was the one dedicated to celebrations. It was bright, it was weird, it was cheerful. The last room had an amazing electric band. It was colourful, the music was a cheery circus/jazz music. There weren’t a lot of people in the museum, so I had the chance to wander at my leisure, which I love.

I’d walked myself to blisters along the harbour, and on the way back to the hotel, I decided to stop by Brabo’s Hand Tattoo (https://www.facebook.com/braboshandtattooshop/) to see if they could help me out with a souvenir to mark my time in Belguim. When I first walked into the shop, I was less than impressed. No one acknowledged me and give that it was 30 degrees outside, and about 40 degrees in the shop, I did not see myself lasting long. When the shop assistant finally did acknowledge me and I asked about walk-ins, he mentioned that he had an artist with an opening. The guy was fantastic. I told him I wanted a brightly coloured cactus and within 15 min he had something simple drawn up for me. He also worked really quickly, which I appreciate.

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The cactus sums up my personality. Prickly, but still pretty, and if you can get past the needles, there is a soft nice heart….not to mention I thrive in warm weather and I’m fairly low maintenance.

The music in the studio was amazing, but there was one song that my artist played a few times while I was there that really got stuck in my head. It is hauntingly beautiful, and unfortunately shortly after the video was made the rapper was shot and killed.

I walked home humming this song and thinking about travelling, my struggle with mental health and my horrible sense of direction. I got myself turned around on the walk back and Google maps failed me to the point where I was texting the wombmate practically in tears about being lost. I was so happy to find the hotel by accident.

The work and the motivation to work was still almost nonexistent. Every time I sit down with my laptop and the chapter, I hear my supervisor in my head telling me I am doing it wrong and that I am just going to have to redo what I am writing. It is hard.

I quickly made up my mind that I was going to ditch the third day of the conference to try and get some writing done because none of the papers seemed interesting or worthwhile. There was only one thing that was going to save day three: WAFFLES.

 

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 20s

Tomorrow I will enter the next decade of my life. I’m currently horribly ill complete with fever, cough, sore throat and snot.

But I’m happy. While I was unable to cross all 30 things off the list, I did manage to do 21 of the 30 adventures, and I am just going to keep going until I can cross them all off (I really want to make a good budget so I can pay off my student loans). Today, on the eve of my 30th, I am able to cross two more off the list.

The first one that is coming off the list is number 29: Stop holding grudges. This one was a really difficult one because I love holding grudges. For the last few years I have been holding some serious grudges. I decided to let them go. I was able to mend some friendships, and I was able to walk away from one and I no longer miss the friendship or hate her for being so selfish and stupid. Letting go of those grudges has allowed me to make room for some new and amazing friendships (I’m looking at you Flamingos) and allowed me to really focus on the friendships and the people around me that keep me out of the dark and twisty. I also feel a lot better about the way I handle most situations because I am not as angry as usual and not as consumed with my grudges and perceived personal slights.

The second thing I get to cross off the list is number 28: Fall in Love. Now, before you get too excited, no, I did not fall in love with a boy. When I added this to the list a year ago, I was hoping that I would fall in love with the boy and move into a different phase of my disastrous relationships. But alas, that was a dud. The person that I fell in love with is way more important though. I fell in love with me. I’ve spent the last year working hard in therapy to sort through all the weird things that go on in my head. I’m learning how to take care of myself, how to find the balance between work and fun, and how to manage my expectations (That is number 30 on the list, but I am nowhere near ready to cross that one off the list, so it is staying unchecked for the moment). There was a moment earlier in the week that I was a little sad about not completing the list before my birthday, but then I realized everything that I was able to do, and how far I came in the last year. Really starting to love myself is a big thing though, and I think it is one of the things that is going to help make my 30s be just as great as I have been picturing them in my mind. Because, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”

Can I get an amen?

  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 (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  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