The Scamp’s 20 things for 2020

Last year I only published four posts. Four. In 365 days I only managed to write for fun (well okay, not fun, mostly for therapy) four times. Almost a month into 2020 and I am not really feeling the fun writing either. I am 10 posts away from 500 and have had the Scamp adventures as my constant companion for almost ten years. Sometimes I wonder if I have run out of things to say.

Sometimes I wonder if the PhD killed my love of writing. Today I had a fight with FedEx. That fight and the frustration that comes from a week-long back and forth battle with them led me to lash out at the people around me and picking fights with people for absolutely no reason. One of those people has been a toxic existence in my life for the last four years. The thing is, I wanted to get rid of him a long time ago but I wasn’t strong enough. It is not easy to get rid of a manipulative sociopath when you are already beaten down emotionally by life.

The edits for my thesis are due in one month. I’m not done. I’m getting there, but not close enough to keep me from stressing. The final draft is due to the examiners by the 13th of March, and I have that marked on my calendar as the day my life begins. It is has been five years that I have been chained to the PhD, three of those in less than ideal circumstances, and two of those feeling utterly worthless and broken by the system. But on the 13th of March, I get to start living again.

I’m supposed to be on a flight to China that day, but with the given health warning, I am not sure that is going to happen. Regardless, I get to live again.

So, because I have not done things outside the PhD in way too long, I have decided to bring back one of my favourite things: making a list of things that I would like to do in during the year.  I did this before my 30th birthday and it was a lot of fun. It also gave me great pleasure to do the things on the list and cross them off. I love do love crossing things off a list.

In no particular order:

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

I’m hoping that by writing the list down I can stay accountable and actually complete these things. I also hope that it means that I will be a lot happier in 2020 than I was in 2019.

The Scamp Plays a Game

I’ve been tasked from a fellow blogger to play a ‘get-to-know-you’ game. I have to answer 31 questions (because I’m old as shit) from a list of 198. I usually hate these, but it has been a while since I wrote anything that wasn’t thesis related, and I think this might be more fun then another post about how miserable I am in the current thesis phase…because let’s face it, everyone is miserable at this stage.

1. IF SOMEONE NARRATED YOUR LIFE, WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO BE THE NARRATOR? I think it would have to be Anthony Bourdain. There is just something about the way he narrated his own life was quite brilliant. He’d say all the snarky things I was thinking as well which would be nice. 

2. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ? God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant

God Went to Beauty School

He went there to learn how
to give a good perm
and ended up just crazy 
about nails
so He opened up His own shop.
“Nails by Jim” He called it.
He was afraid to call it
Nails by God.
He was sure people would
think He was being
disrespectful and using
His own name in vain
and nobody would tip.
He got into nails, of course,
because He’d always loved
hands--
hands were some of the best things
He’d ever done
and this way He could just
hold one in His
and admire those delicate
bones just above the knuckles,
delicate as birds’ wings, 
and after He’d done that
awhile,
He could paint all the nails 
any color He wanted,
then say,
“Beautiful,"
and mean it.

3. IF YOU RECEIVED A SALARY TO FOLLOW WHATEVER PASSION YOU WANTED TO, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I would start my own literacy foundation and help people learn to read. I’d set it up all over the world. People would learn to read in their native language and depending on the location, another language that would be useful. For California, people would learn English and Spanish or English and Korean. I think raising the literacy rate of the world is important and that it can be done if people are willing to make it happen.

4. WHAT’S THE COOLEST THING YOU’RE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? I am working on a project that would allow me to use the research from my PhD to actually help a university with their assessment and feedback procedures. I’m really buzzing about this one and hope that I can make it happen. 

5. WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN’T AT YOUR CURRENT JOB? I want to be a travel writer for Lonely Planet. 

6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SMELL IN THE WHOLE WORLD? Red Door by Elizabeth Arden 

7. NACHOS. WHAT WOULD YOU PUT ON YOURS? I’m a purist. I want a lot of cheese, really spicy salsa, guac, sour cream and jalapenos.  

8. WHAT IS THE SOUND YOU LOVE THE MOST? My nephews laughing 

9. IF YOU COULD GET AWAY WITH A CRIME, WOULD YOU? IF YES, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I would. I would evade paying my student loans

10. WHAT’S THE OLDEST THING YOU OWN? My very first stuffed rabbit called Bun

11. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY AND WHY? Any holiday that brings my family all together. Usually, that is Christmas Eve, Passover, or if I make it to California to celebrate my birthday. 

12. WHAT’S THE BEST CONCERT YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO? The first time I saw the Mighty Mighty BossTones and getting to see JD McPherson in Glasgow.

13. IF YOU COULD PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT YOU AREN’T ABLE TO NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? I want to play the trumpet. I don’t know anyone who can play it, and I think that I would enjoy it.

14. WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE CARTOON CHARACTER AS A CHILD? Velma from Scooby Doo.

15. WHICH FAMOUS PERSON WOULD YOU LIKE TO BEST FRIENDS WITH? Anthony Bourdain.

16. IF YOU COULD LIVE IN A BOOK, TV SHOW, OR MOVIE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I’d live in the Dresden Files

17. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHOUT ONE OF YOUR FIVE SENSES, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU GIVE UP? Smell. It would make public transportation more tolerable

18. IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANY ONE PERSON, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD THEY BE AND WHY? My mom. It has been almost a year since we have seen each other and I’m not enjoying it.

19. IF YOU COULD MASTER ONE SKILL YOU DON’T HAVE RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I want to have an easier time learning languages.

20. IF YOU COULD ASK THE PRESIDENT ONE QUESTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Who does your hair?

21. WHAT SINGLE MESSAGE WOULD YOU SEND TO AN ADVANCED ALIEN SPECIES? Don’t waste your time here.

22. WHAT ANIMAL WOULD BE CUTEST IF SCALED DOWN TO THE SIZE OF A CAT? A giraffe.

23. IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE? Brea, California

24. WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR BIGGEST ADRENALINE RUSH? Jumping out of an aeroplane when I turned 28. It was such a rush that I almost puked when I landed. I had to lay on the ground for half an hour

25. WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IN LIFE? I want to help people in some way.

26. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT THIS CITY? All of the people from all over the world who have chosen to settle here.

27. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS? I’d take care of my family first. Pay off debts, set up college accounts for my nephews, get my sister a house. I would then invest a couple million in stocks and keep a couple million for myself. The rest of the money would be divided between charities that help with education, environmental conservation, and making the world a better place.

28. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU MISS ABOUT BEING A KID? Not worrying about money or paying bills.

29. WHERE IS THE MOST RELAXING PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN? Any place where there is a beach and a sunset.

30. DESCRIBE ONE EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD WHERE YOU TOOK A HUGE LEAP OF FAITH. I moved to Scotland on my own to pursue my PhD.

31. IF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT TITLE WOULD BEST FIT? A Series of Unfortunate Events…..wait, that’s already taken. hmmmm. Tales From the Little Black Rain Cloud

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.