The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 7 and 8

Week 7: Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

I got the year 2015. Hmmmm. Two years ago at this time I was in Boston with one of my favorite Scotland girls. We were there during one of the worst snow storms of that year, and we had an amazing trip. She was very supportive with all that was going on at CSUF, and she left our hostel room so that I could interview with my now supervisors. She kept telling me I had nothing to be nervous about, that I would be great during the interview, and then she took me out to celebrate on our last day in Beantown.

2015 was the year my life changed. It sucked. Parts of it were really hard, and really made me question everything that I was doing with my life. My depression was really bad, and there were a few days that were a struggle. I was able to see a really good therapist at the local community centre, and I know that she had a major hand in helping me get healthy.  My 28th birthday changed all of that. I jumped out of an airplane and got a job in Scotland.

2015 was the year the wombmate got pregnant, and tomorrow we will celebrate my muffin’s 1st birthday. I was lucky enough to get to be there for the birth and his first few days in the big bad world. In three days we will be reunited for mischief and mayhem.

Week 8: When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?

I like to joke that I am not really an adult yet, but I am sure I am. I’m not really sure about the first time, but the day I bought my Ford Escape was definitely a day that qualifies as an adult day for me. When my cute little Civic was totaled, I had a rental car until I got the insurance money. When I took the rental car back to the dealership, my brother-in-law and I decided to wander around a bit. A man came out to help us, and when he started talking to my bro-in-law, and when I saw Estelle, I knew I wanted her. Through the process he talked to my bro-in-law like he was in charge, but I asked to see the engine, talked about the oil changes and maintenance, and any previous accidents. Eventually he figures out that I am in charge, and although he talks to me the way a dad would talk to his daughter, he was nice. I usually let my dad handle these things, but after a quick call to him to see how low I could go on the price, I went in and negotiated everything on my own. Again, they talked to my bro-in-law first, and since that made me a little mad, I just held fast to the price I was willing to pay and then I drove home in a car that served me well for a year, and is now in the care of a good family friend.

While it seems like a silly thing to make me feel like an adult, when my dad said I did alright when he saw the car for the first time, I knew I was golden. Next year when I pay off the first of my student loans will really make me feel like an adult.

I am now getting ready for the long trip to California and the last few days of my 20s.

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I’m a week late. I have not been motivated to write lately. I’m tired and have been running around for data collection, meetings with students and teaching in the evening. All of this is good though. Things are progressing nicely in all of those areas, and I am feeling much better about where I am in terms of my work compared to last year at this time, and I think I am finally on a steady path. I didn’t like the writing challenge for last week, and today marks my 30 day countdown to turning 30, so I thought it was time to update the list.

16. Create a budget to pay down my student loans. Unfortunately this one involves my mom helping me out for right now. There was no way I could afford to pay that and go to therapy, so I am burdening her for a bit longer. The loan is getting paid though, and I am a couple months away from being under $10,000. I’m really excited about that.

18. Create a solid workout routine. Even though the sleep doc couldn’t really help me with my sleep issues, she did give me some ways to help my joints during the day that forces me up and around, and I found a couple of yoga classes to do before bed. My phone also has a help app that guilts me into walking around more during the day. It works, as I try to get at least an hour of walking in a day.

22. Learn to cook a fancy meal. I made my own Chinese food! Orange chicken, chow mein, and egg fried rice. The rice I cheated on, but I made everything else.

The chow mein was a little bland, so I will have to keep working on that, but it wasn’t bad for my first attempt.

With 30 days left, I still have some big things to cross off the list. I’m working on the rap song, but finding a horse and hot air balloon here is super difficult. I’ve managed to get 20 things crossed off and still have some time to work on the rest. There is one thing on the list that I realize might be hard to cross off, but I am going to remain hopeful.

20 days until sunshine.

  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, next up, France in November and Hungary in December)
  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 2

I have debated keeping this one private because the challenge this week is to write about 5 weird things that I like. Since I am weird, it is not difficult to think of weird things that I like.

  1. When I am running errands with my mom (or really in the car with anyone) and she is about to open the door to get in the car, I like to lock it so she can’t get in. I love the satisfaction of getting the lock done before she can open the door. I’m not sure why it makes me laugh so much, but it does. I laugh just as much when someone locks me out.
  2. Dogs in sweaters. I love cute dogs in tiny sweaters.

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Even better when they are wearing shoes too.

3. Rubber ducks. I collect rubber ducks from the places that I have visited. I’m currently at 35 ducks ranging from the Loch Ness Monster, a Beefeater, a cowboy from Tennessee, and model of Rosie the Riveter from Texas. They make me laugh. They are on my bookshelf and anyone who comes to visit can see them….or feel free to get me one.

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Here are just a few of them.

4. Crazy yoga pants.  The brighter and stranger the better. Day glow, space, kitties, crazy patterns, I love them. I wish I could wear them in public, or that there was a yoga studio close enough to me that made it okay for me to join so I could wear them where people would see me.

5. Pirate Rubber Chicken. He started out as a joke in the family, and sat on top of my TV for a long time, but now he is a travelling companion, funny ice breaker and semi Facebook famous. I love taking photos of him when I travel and sending him to my friends as a way of keeping in contact. He hasn’t been a house guest in awhile, but if anyone is interested, I’m sure he would be happy to make the trip. If you want to be a part of his journey, you can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/piraterubberchicken4

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There are a lot of other weird things that I like, but no need to show all my crazy in one day. We are only in week two of the year, and since it seems to be going alright for me, I’d like to keep it that way….at least until I figure out how to watch Toddlers and Tiaras in Scotland, then all bets on my crazy are off.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 52

I felt that it was fitting to write the last post of the challenge on the last day of the year. It’s cold and rainy here, and I am going to hide in my pjs until it is time to brave the city and meet some girls for a night on the town. A few weeks ago I was dreading New Years. With most of my friends out of town or busy with other plans, I was banking on spending the night locked away in my place with bad TV and perpetual loneliness. I’m not that great at making or maintaining friendships, but joined a meet-up group full of amazing girls and when one of them mentioned wanting to make plans for New Years, I thought I would do the opposite of my natural instinct and join in the plans. So, now, I have a date with 6 cool chicks and a pub that is well situated to see the fireworks and enjoy a night in town without actually being in the craziness of town.

While I would usually be less than thrilled about going out, I am actually looking forward to this and meeting these girls. I’m very happy to leave 2016 behind and start fresh in 2017.

So, the writing challenge for the week….this one is a hard one. It is dedicated to the ways in which I am making the world a better place. I have been thinking about this all week, and to be honest, I am not sure I am making the world a better place, but…..and it is a big but (because I like big buts and I cannot lie)

I don’t think I am making the world a better place yet, but I am surrounded by amazing people that are definitely making the world a better place and like attracts like, right? So that means that I can’t be all that far off from doing some real good in the world. I am working on finishing my thesis, working on making new friends and becoming a better me before I can really add some serious value to the world.

I’m optimistic though. I’d like to think that the research I am doing, and the paper that I am currently working on will help universities that are interested in changing the way they give feedback, and I think that as I become a healthier and better person then I will really start to make a positive impact in the world.

Plus, I still have my literacy foundation to get up and running, so there is great great potential for me to do good things. So, I wish you all a wonderful 2017, and thank you for the support, love and friendship that you all provided in the last year as I swung in and out of the dark and twisty, as I struggled with the boy, with my job, and people around me. I want to thank you for all the love and support and kind words when things went well for me and I had cause for celebration. Tomorrow I am going to hunt up a new writing challenge for the year because I’ve found that I quite like doing them, and spend 2017 trying to do lots of things that will make me and the world a better place.

 

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 51

Day four and my love affair with Budapest continues. Today is the very first Christmas that I have spent on my own. For the last few days I have had very very limited contact with other people, and tonight I sat in an Irish pub and had a burger and some stew with a large glass of wine and watched tennis. The world around me swirled and twirled and danced with lights and mulled wine, but I sat in a balcony in a pub watching tennis.

I hate tennis. I have no idea how the flippin sport is scored, and there was no sound, so it was really just an odd series of interpretive dance.

The day wasn’t all bad. I spent most of it walking around the Christmas markets with a hot chocolate and a muffin. When the rain got to be a little too much, I wandered back to the hotel and watched bad Christmas movies. I went back out at sundown so I could see the menorah at the Great Synagogue lit. I wandered down to the Danube so I could see the castle lit up. I couldn’t figure out what was being served in the market (and I don’t eat pork) so that is how I ended up in a trusty Irish pub with my red wine and tennis.

My beacon in the night. Plus, they had a menorah outside. My friends and family text me through the meal, so I wasn’t exactly alone either.

The writing challenge for the week is to write about something that I’ve created. I’ve had almost a year to think on this….and create something.

I’ve come up blank. I think in the last year I have created a lot of good memories. I’ve been to weddings, birthings, new countries and new cities. I’ve met some amazing people, let go of some not so amazing people, and have tried to work on creating a better me. I guess for right now that is the best I can do.

So, my lovely readers, family and friends, have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and happy almost end to 2016 and that however and whatever you celebrate, you do it surrounded by love and happiness.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 50

Week 50. 50/52. Where has the time gone? Why don’t I feel like it is almost the end of the year? It is almost Christmas, almost the end of 2016, and almost the end of my 20s.

But I don’t feel any different than I did a few months ago. I’ve been having a bit of a down cycle lately, and between a bad breakup, a less than stellar doc appointment, and some petty work drama, I have been a bit of an ostrich with my head in the sand. I haven’t been leaving my place, or really even my bed for the last week. Basically I am being a mopey sad sack of shit instead of being an adult and dealing with my problems. I’ve also been watching a lot of Tattoo Fixers and wondering why the men and women of the UK like to go on holiday and then get a tattoo on their bum that then needs to be covered up….seriously people, think before you ink!

Hopefully the Christmas adventure I have planned at the end of next week will cure me of some of these things.

The writing challenge for this week is to write about my favourite way to spend a Friday. My Fridays are usually pretty tough because that is when I see my therapist. I’m emotional, I’m tired, and by the time I walk home from the session, I am usually ready to call it a day. A lot of times I do.

So, I’ve decided to switch it up and talk about my favourite way to spend a Saturday. Yesterday is a good example of how I like to spend my free time.

Team America celebrated Christmas early and spent the day cooking dinner, making cocktails and watching Christmas themed episodes of TV shows. It was perfect. There was laughter and jokes, good food, and no pressure to do anything other than just be ourselves. The musically inclined played songs while I sang out of tune and pretended not to feel slightly irrelevant to the jam session. I got the bright idea to track how drunk we got through and series of photos, and those are still making me laugh a day later. We called my mom and Skyped with the Muffin. This is all I really need to feel like I’ve had a successful day…a little family, a little food, quality time with my friends, and not sitting on my couch alone left to mope about people and things that don’t matter.

Here are the photos of Team America drinking responsibly.

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The blurry picture of me is pretty much the most accurate of me when I’ve had a little drink and lot of fun with my friends.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 47

The challenge for this week is to write about something that I am proud of. Right now I am not proud of the fact that I am still in my pjs and have yet to look at the draft of my paper that needs to be finished, but I do have a lot of other things that I am proud of.

Instead of being a snarky bitch and saying that I have nothing to be proud of, I am going to focus on something that I am actually really proud of. Yesterday a post on Facebook showed that the woman I shared a room with my first year in college got engaged. That means that all the Calaveras girls except me are married, engaged, have careers, and have families. Those girls weren’t the greatest to me, but that first year made me think that I had made some friends for life. I’m not always happy with my memories of them, but that is getting off point.

The point is, my usual response to seeing a post like that would be to immediately feel bad about myself. I’d start comparing myself to them, start wondering why I am still in a crappy situation with the boy, still in school, trying to make it through my depression, anxiety, and workload. I’d look for chocolate, figure that I am going to be a spinster and that I am doing something wrong with my life. Yesterday was different. While those thoughts came, they were fleeting, and then replaced with the thought that she looked happy, and that was a great thing. I then immediately got off of Facebook and went back to planning my trip to Budapest for Christmas.

I’m proud of my reaction. Yes, the comparisons were there. Yes, I felt a pang of jealousy and guilt over the choices that I seem to make that have led me to be where I am right now, but then I was able to really sit with those thoughts and compare what these people are doing with what I am doing. I noticed that I just got back from an amazing trip to France. That I have two more trips planned in the coming months. I noticed that I am making progress with my research, and feel good about the way that it is shaping up. I noticed that I have really great friends who I get to see or talk to everyday. I have an amazing family who only complained a little when I moved 6,000 miles away. I realized that I may not be where everyone else is, and I may not have enjoyed every second of getting to where I am now, but I have had an amazing adventure so far and not many people get the chance to do what I am doing.

I’m proud of my reaction because although it wasn’t perfect, it was a start toward something better. I’m getting better at not comparing myself, not feeling bad that I have picked a path for my life that a lot of people don’t understand, and making real progress staying out of the dark and twisty.

That is not to say that I do not wish those three girls and their families the best. It has been 11 years since we met and we are all very different people. I want nothing but good things and happy lives for them. I look forward to the day though, when my immediate reaction is happiness for good news like that for people who are outside of my family, but in the meantime I am going to keep being a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.

The Scamp in Paris

Bonjour de Paris! J’ai pris une semaine de congé et rencontré mes parents dans la ville de l’amour pour jouer au touriste et cracher au sommet de la Tour Eiffel.

And that took me a long time to figure out in French, so I am going to switch back to English. I’ve spent the last six days in France hanging out with the parental units and soaking up a little culture. While the parental units usually go for the guided tours, this trip we decided to do it on our own. My mom found a hotel, we made a list of things we wanted to see and then we dragged my dad around the city. It was a much needed trip, and a good chance to see my parents. It was the start of a beautiful tradition of traveling for Thanksgiving.

Paris. The capital, and most populated city in France and is home to the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and amazing wine and cheese. My mom and I had never been, but my dad spent a weekend there 40 years ago while he was in the Army and stationed in Germany. Armed with a Lonely Planet guide book, the GPS on my phone and my sense of adventure, we made the most of the 6 days we had together.

Highlights of the trip:

The Louvre

Perhaps the most famous museum in the world, the Louvre is now housed in what was once a fortress turned palace. The museum opened in 1793 and features works of art from Egypt, Greece, France, the Middle East, Britain and America. Highlights include Winged Victory (190 BC)

The Mona Lisa, which according to Wikipedia:

The painting, thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797.

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Liberty Leading the People

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and the Venus de Milo

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We spent Monday climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Arc de Triomphe and strolling down the famous The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. We wandered through a Christmas market, and I had the chance to catch up with an old friend from UC Merced. There was a lot of walking involved, but, I enjoyed every minute of it.

After a bit of touring on our own we joined a walking tour that focused on WWII and the Jewish quarter of Paris. Religion is a tricky thing in Paris, and WWII was not a shining moment for the French. According to the guide, France is deeply embarrassed by bits of their history, but it became clear walking around that they really have taken the time to honour the dead with beautiful monuments and tributes throughout the city. I enjoyed all of the smells of fresh bread and kebabs while on the walk, and we had the chance to meet some really great Americans who also wanted to enjoy a bit of history. I was able to find a really nice mezuzah from a shop in the quarter, and sampled a very tasty bagel with my mom. According to the Art of Living Guide:

“The city’s most famous Jewish neighborhood is in the Marais and is known as the Pletzl – Yiddish for little Place. This 4th arrondissment district (Metro: St. Paul) has been home to Jews on and off since the thirteenth century. Today, though gentrification has made this one of the city’s most fashionable quarters, it is still heavily Jewish and has been for nearly one hundred years.”

If you are ever in Paris, I highly recommend the tour with Localers. The guide that we had made three hours breeze by and gave us a mix of history and current secrets and hidden gems in the city. Ask for Edward. Here is his bio:

Edward is a Franco-British guide and a proper local – born and bred in Paris – a French soul trapped in the body of an Englishman! After working several years in hospitality and hotel management in Normandy, he decided to embark his clients along with him on an adventure. Totally bicultural, he shares a breadth of information on Paris. Whether outdoors or in a museum, he knows his turf like the back of his hand and still, Paris never ceases to amaze him. Like in magic, there’s always something there that you never saw. Promoting Paris in a fun and eclectic way, Edward often goes that extra mile to provide a well-rounded Parisian experience. In his spare time he likes treading the cobblestones, exploring lesser known parts of Paris. And when he isn’t in the city, you’ll find him hiking in the Pyrenees.

Wednesday was an early day filled of rain, a large double decker tour bus and trip out of the city to the beaches of Normandy. My dad is a huge WWII buff and he, my uncle, and my grandad all served in the Army, so this was his one request of the trip. We set off in the pouring rain, but at the end of the three hour bus ride we were met with clouds, but no rain. We started at the Memorial de Caen dedicated to WWII and the Battle of Normandy. This was one of the most beautiful museums I have ever been to. It was well presented, very detailed, and very respectful of all sides. What struck me most was the treatment of Jews, the severity of the battle, and the propaganda on display at the time.

After the museum, we went to Omaha beach where the Americans landed. The beach was beautiful and tragic, and it was overwhelming to think about what it might have been like on that fateful day. After the war, France gave every one of the allied countries a plot of land to be used as a memorial and cemetery for those who died in battle. We went to the American cemetery. It looks a lot like Arlington, and the government has done a great job to make sure the land is beautiful and a great tribute to the soldiers.  Many of the men buried there were not even out of their teens. The magnitude of that, being 19 and dying for your country, is something that I cannot even imagine. These men died for a cause, died so that I could say that I am embarrassed to be an American right now, died so that I can be a practicing Jew without being afraid of what people would do.

This was the trip I didn’t know that I needed to go on. It was nice to get out of the city, but it was also nice to put some things in perspective. I’ve heard and read about all the protests and people feeling like they are getting shafted. People are being petty and hateful and not focusing on real issues like Standing Rock, and terror threats. I can protest, complain, celebrate the system because these men stormed a beach willing to die for America. It makes the grief counseling, safe spaces and colouring books seem a bit daft, but hopefully people remember what these men did for our freedom and will think about fixing a long broken system.

We met a lovely family from Wisconsin during the tour. They were fantastic. Funny, curious, and educated. They were open to discussion and I enjoyed sitting with them when usually I hate interacting with other people in tour groups.

My last day in Paris was Thanksgiving. Personally, I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving in awhile. I cooked a meal for my friends and family here last year, but for the last few years I have been traveling. My mom and I spent the day hunting out the home of Gertrude Stein and Shakespeare and Company. Armed with a map and the Lonely Planet book, my mom and I wandered outside the bounds of tourists and had a good time wandering around laughing at each other, and trying not to get lost. Gertrude Stein is my favourite poet, so seeing where she wrote some of her best work was amazing. We then spent Thanksgiving in an Irish pub drinking beer, eating fish and chips and lox and bagels and enjoying both a Scottish bartender and a guy from New York. My mother has a tendency to lose her gloves wherever we go, and we had ourselves in a fit of giggles when she left them on the table and then dropped them in the bathroom. I went back to get them and then my mom and I laughed all the way back to the hotel….of course, we were the only ones laughing.

I made it home feeling like I got a very good feel for the city of Paris and an urge to see other parts of France. I came home with art, a little more culture and feeling boosted by being with my parents. I’m grateful for everything I have, and every day that I get to go on adventures. I’m hoping that feeling keeps me warm for the next couple of weeks so I can finish some reports, complete the draft of my paper, and finish the draft of my methodology chapter.

I’m happiest when I am traveling and France gave me the chance to reconnect with an old friend, see my parents, and take in some really great sights. I cannot wait for my next trip in a month. Budapest, get ready for me.

 

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.