The Scamp Fights the Winter Blues

Thanksgiving has passed, but the post turkey day depression has not. It doesn’t help that the sun sets here at 4pm and I have to wear extra layers when I leave the house.

I  used to love Thanksgiving. I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes and gravy, go crazy for stuffing, and love the fact that it was one day where all my family gets together and hangs out. After my MSc, Thanksgiving was a weeklong getaway for me. First it was graduation, then it was Estonia, and since I have been back in Edinburgh full-time, it was a chance to see my mom and dad. Last year we were in Switzerland. 

This year I was at my desk by myself.

I made up for it by eating my weight in what Tesco calls ‘Asian inspired snacks’. I haven’t seen my parents in over a year. I haven’t seen my brother, sister, brother-in-law and the babies in 2 years. I miss my family.

Thanksgiving now sucks.

When I am by myself and not on an adventure it also reminds me that 3 years ago on Thanksgiving my dad found my brother dead from alcohol-related complications.  I had just thrown my first (and only) Thanksgiving dinner at my flat for the people that I worked with (and the lying cheating scumbag Dan). I started getting my parents to go on adventures on Thanksgiving so my dad wouldn’t have to be at home. 

He had to be at home this year because I am not graduating on time. I haven’t seen my family because I am not graduating on time. I’m sad because I am not finished with my PhD yet which means that I am an undesirable candidate for jobs that I am completely qualified for (including a job in the office where I currently work). I’m burned out from the 6 jobs and I feel like the only thing I am doing well right now is procrastinating. 

Well, that and eating chocolate. I’m really good at that right now. 

I am about three weeks away from submitting a new draft of my thesis to my supervisors and about a 6 weeks away from sending a draft to committee to put me in position to my viva. I am looking forward to that. I cannot wait until that little monster is someone else’s headache. There is nothing I love more than giving someone else a headache. 

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The Scamp Remembers

 

The woman in these photos is Frances Ann. Today is her 80th birthday.

Or, it would be if she believed in wearing her seatbelt. When I was in the third grade she died when she overcorrected her car on the highway. The car flipped and she went through the windshield. Her best friend was in the car with her and survived. Before the funeral, her friend insisted on telling the story of what happened. I remember the crazy curved couch that everyone was sitting on. She was sitting with her husband, my mom, aunt and grandpa sat and listened.

Sometimes I think it would be better for my mom if she hadn’t heard the story.

I can’t remember what her voice sounds like. I can’t remember the way she felt when I hugged her.

I can remember the way she smelled. Sometimes I go to the cosmetic counter at the shopping centre near my house and spray the sample of Red Door into the air just to trigger a memory.

I can remember where we stood when we spread her ashes in Indian Canyon. I’ve only been there one other time since then, and it was to spread my grandpa there after he died.

I can remember the horrible photo she drew of me when I had to go to the emergency room for an ear infection. The picture was me in a hospital gown with my butt exposed and a doctor with a very very large needle ready to give me a shot. In the butt. I have a few scarves that belonged to her with me now.

They smell like my mom.

When my mom smiles, she looks like my grandma….or at least how I remember my grandma in my head.

It is a smile that involves teeth. I know this because it is the same smile that I have (most people tell me they know I am Amercian because of my smile…all those teeth).

This is a hard day for my mom. She can’t call her mom and wish her a happy birthday. She can’t call her when one of her children (cough the oldest one cough) drives her crazy. It is a hard time for me because I have to think about the day when I won’t have my mom.

and that terrifies me.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with my great uncle who was in town on holiday. We haven’t seen each other in 10 years or so, but he knew exactly who I was when I met him for brunch. He gave me the best compliment that anyone could ever give me: he told me I look and act exactly like my mother.

2015-06-30 18.52.19 Since my mom sometimes looks and acts like my grammy, and I look and act a lot like my mommy, it must mean that I am a little like my grammy too.

I’d like to think that she would enjoy what I am doing with her smile.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 10, 11 and 12

Can you tell I’ve been in California for three weeks visiting my family?

I should be finishing my taxes. I should be fixing the statistics that my supervisor doesn’t like. I should be working on my theory chapter. I should not be eating chocolate, binge watching Sons of Anarchy and staring at a blank Word Doc. That Word Doc has been blank for three weeks. I haven’t even thought about writing. Haven’t even been motivated to sit down and try it. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t do well with the stress of not being motivated.

So, because I am not feeling motivated to write, enjoy my life for the last three weeks in photos. It is hard to be depressed when you are surrounded by family.

I know. All of the photos involve me with my Muffin. That is pretty much how I spent the three weeks. Making sure that he knows who I am since he will be 2 before I can see him again.

I  managed to beat the worst of jet lag coming back, so I’m thinking that by next week I will be back in fighting shape.

I’m going to need it since I am going to have to tackle statistics and my thesis.

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

The Scamp and the New Year

L’shanah tovah! Or, have a good new year for you goys.  Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, has finally arrived. It started sundown on the 1st of October, and ends at sundown tonight. As Kristie McCrum writes:

Mentioned in the Torah – in the book of Leviticus – as Yom Teruah, it’s translated as the Feast of Trumpets, or the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar.

It’s a traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and the Jewish Mishnah, from the Oral Torah, says it’s a “day of judgement”.

Jews believe God balances a person’s good deeds over the past year against their wrongdoings, so the day marks a time of reflection and penitence, and worshippers ask God for forgiveness.

It’s also the start of the agricultural cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest.

It is a time for families to come together and reflect on their year, as well as eat wonderfully sweet foods to envoke a sweet new year. The next five days lead to Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. This is the holiest day in the Jewish religion, and the time when Jews are closest to God, and to their own soul. It is the day of forgiveness, and a clean slate for the new year.

I’m celebrating the new year by laying on my couch feeling crappy. Traveling is really hard on people who have Lupus, and I am feeling it today. While I have been hold up on my couch, I have been reflecting on the past year, and all that came with it. I think my wrongdoings outweigh my good deeds, but I am hoping that with a little help from my friends, family, and therapy that this next year will be different.

So I wish you all a good and sweet new year, and hope that my time of reflection over the next few days provides some clarity for the year ahead.

The Scamp and Scottish Fest

While I should be soaking up the last few days of American culture, I was amercing myself in my new culture. It was a great way to spend a Sunday. Clans were lined up in booths, there was jewelry and  trinkets from Scotland, scotch tasting, sheep herding, and of course, highland games. People were decked out in kilts and their clan finery, and it made me excited to go home.

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I’m not so excited about all of the packing that I have to do. I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I have so much stuff that needs to go, and it is more than I thought it would be originally. I’m so overwhelmed that I have no idea where to start or what really needs to get done.