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 44

Last night I broke my bed….like the leg of the bed snapped off. For those who don’t know me other than through my writing, I am not a big girl. I’m 5’3 and 126 lbs. But, sat down on my bed, and broke it. If I wasn’t aware of what I looked like, I would seriously think I was fat. Even worse, there isn’t a cool story behind it. I’ve decided though that if anyone asks, I am going to tell them it was a wild night with the boy. He’s 6’5 220 lbs, so it is less of a stretch to imagine that. The thing that has me in a huff though is that when I called the landlord she told me she didn’t care about the bed, but she wasn’t in a position to replace it. She acted like she had no idea what I wanted her to do about it. She finally agreed with much suffering that she would try and replace it by the weekend, but that I shouldn’t expect anything fancy.

Like I am a super high maintenance person who needs a massive four poster bed that costs hundreds of pounds….seriously. I told her I neither expected, nor needed anything fancy. I just need a bed frame that keeps the mattress off the floor and is high enough for me to keep my shoes and giant suitcase under. (Edit, she got me a bed, and apologised for coming off as huffy. She lost her job and hasn’t been working steadily and was a bit freaked about money….which now makes me feel bad for being miffed at her because they really are good landlords and I love my flat).

So, now that I feel like a jerk, it is time to get to the writing challenge this week: where do I see myself in five years?

I’m not going to lie, this question freaks me out a little. One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up in ten years and be doing the same thing every day like a robot. I’m worried that I will wake up and nothing has changed and I won’t have noticed that all that time has passed. I do not like the idea of being stagnate, can’t stand the idea of some sort of boring routine. It was recently pointed out to me though that that is exactly what I am doing with my depression and the cycle of negativity that I sometimes find myself in. I did not have a reply for that.

So, here is my best shot for where I see myself in five years: I hope that since I will be post PhD (oh good lord, I hope so anyway) that I am working for a university designing curriculum, and fingers crossed, in the classroom teaching. I’ll be well into my 30s, which means I will be in the prime of my life. I hope that I am making enough money to pay all of my bills on my own without the help of my mother. I’d like to have a puppy. and a kitty. and a bunny. and a goat. and a penguin. I would love it if I was still living in Scotland, but if I wouldn’t be opposed to living in Australia or New Zealand. I don’t see myself living in the US again, unless there is a serious emergency that takes me back…or the wombmate has triplets. I see myself spending as much time as I can with my muffin over Skype and with visits to California. I hope to have a nice little social circle of people that makes me laugh. I see a lot more stamps in my passport. There are so many places to visit, so many beaches to lay on, so many tattoos to get. I don’t see myself giving up traveling, but hopefully in the next five years I can cross a lot of places off my list. I see myself having a lot better handle on my depression (I hope).

The one thing I know for sure is that my MSc will be paid for. I have about a year left to pay on that, and man oh man am I getting excited about seeing that balance drop every month. I’ll be starting to make payments for CSUF, but I’m trying not to think about that right now.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 42

Ten weeks left in the year 2016. I for one can’t say that I will be sad to see it go.

I spent a majority of this week on the bus commuting between the campuses to see the students I tutor, so I am a little grumpy about the lack of my own work that got done, a little tired from all the time on the bus, and now that the weather is getting colder, I am finding it hard to get out of the house without a few layers.

But, I’m trying to stay positive, and trying to see the good in things, so I will not get bogged down in some of those things. The challenge for this week is to describe my day in five words. Because Sunday is the day I don’t get out of bed until I absolutely have to, and then clean my flat from top to bottom, I will write about my Friday….I meant to write this on Friday anyway.

Frustrating. I was supposed to have a meeting Friday morning, and after waiting for a week and a half for confirmation on the meeting time, I heard nothing until the moment we were supposed to meet. The email asked if we were still meeting, and said sorry if you were waiting for me to confirm…..thanks. I also got several emails from the office about my impending move into the storage closet. I’ve spent the whole week off campus, so I packed everything on Monday since I knew I wouldn’t be in. I then got an email about the fact that I still needed to pack my desk. Really it meant I had to travel an hour one way on a Saturday to create a cardboard box for my computer. It took me longer to walk up the stairs to my office than it did to do anything else. I’ve still never been told I was moving. I just got the paper that you have to fill out when you move. It really does not make me want to go into the office at all. I already know that I am not a part of the office, but the lack of communication and respect is starting to make me feel bad about myself.

Confusing. I blame the boy. He fucks with me on so many levels that running into him on my way to therapy left me confused about how I feel about him. I’ve been struggling to get out of the relationship, and making good strides to not keep getting sucked into his emotionless selfish life, but when he kissed me hello and waited for the bus with me and mentioned going on a date to the Royal Botanics like we did last year, I saw that little glimmer of hope that he could be the boyfriend I wanted, even though I know that is not true.

Emotional. I see my therapist every Friday, and the sessions always leave me feeling emotionally wiped out. I also blame the boy for this.

Unexpected. While waiting for the bus, I ran into a friend of mine who was also on his way home. We were able to ride the bus home together and trade tales of our PhD life. I don’t mind riding the bus home by myself, but it was nice to run into a friendly face. It makes me feel like I really live in the city now.

Social. I know, me, social. Crazy. One of the most lovely humans I know was celebrating her birthday. She organized a group to meet at the Royal Botanic Gardens to see the annual light show followed by drinks and dancing. I love spending time with the special special unicorn, so a chance to celebrate her birth seemed like a great idea to me. I was not disappointed. I worried a little because I am not good in social situations when I don’t know anyone, but all of the people I met on Friday night were wonderful creatures. I had a lovely chat with a police officer who let me try and convince people he was a small animal masseuse, met sweet couples, and found a partner in sarcasm. There was no awkward moments, no feelings of being an outsider, and only a little teasing when I refused to go dancing at the end of the night. It was absolutely wonderful.

I was able to end the day on a good note, able to forget about the struggles from the missed meetings, the encounter with the boy, the emotional hour in therapy.  It reminded me that I am not completely hopeless at making friends and enjoying an evening around other people, and that there is hope for me to get a handle on my depression and go back to being my lovely little flamingo in a flock of pigeons.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 41

I have countless posts detailing the numerous reasons why I love living in Edinburgh. I fell in love with the city four years ago, and returned to it like a beacon in the night when I hit rock bottom. Now, as I sit on my moderately comfy couch in my nice and tidy little flat watching the rain fall and the leaves change colours as Autumn blooms, I remain happy with my choice to return.

There is a lot to love about this city, but here are a few of the highlights;

    1. The people. This is a highly international city, and for the most part, people are really friendly. I’ve never felt unsafe living here, and have had some really nice conversations on bus rides to and from work. People here are polite, they let old people on the bus first, will stand to give them a seat, they don’t hesitate to give directions to lost tourists (something I still don’t like to do). If you go into a shop, a cafe, or even the grocery store, people will smile, ask how your day is, and are quick to offer help should you need it. I know that a lot of it is hospitality training, but since I live far enough outside the toursity part of the city, I feel that it is genuine.

     

    1. The culture. This city is dripping in culture. Between the museums and monuments, the castle and old buildings, you can see history everywhere you look here. Even the building I live in has a history. It used to be a warehouse hosing goods that did not pass customs inspections. Now there are warehouse conversions from 1 bedroom cozy flats to three bedroom really spacious top floor flats. I am constantly learning new things and finding new places to visit. I’ve been to the castle many times now, and spent many a rainy afternoon in the art galleries and museums, and have never been disappointed.

     

    1. The pace of living. Things are a lot simpler here. People move slower, relax more. I walk most places, and can take the bus most everywhere else. While the commuting sometimes gets to me, the fact that people here enjoy walks in the park or a cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon makes me feel more relaxed. I’m usually burning the candle at any end that can burn, but there is something nice about living in a place where just about everything is closed on a Sunday.

     

     

    1. I feel like me here. I’m not really sure what it is about this city, but it is the first place in eleven years that has really felt like home. I feel like I fit here. It is not something I can totally put into words though. It is just a settled feeling I have when I step off the plane in Edinburgh. I’ve had this feeling since my very first visit just before my 25th Even on my lowest days (and there have been a lot of them lately) I am still happy that I am here trying to sort myself out. I hope that when my visa is up and I can stay here and really make this place my home.

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 and the Writing Challenge: Week 37

Week 37 is a good week for writing. I think it is a topic that I can really find a lot to write about: something I am good at. I happen to think that there are a lot of things I am good at: being negative, overly critical of myself, stressing out, self doubt….the list goes on. I’m also good at napping, finding ways to avoid most social situations, and having odd reactions to medication.

No. In all seriousness, I have many talents that I am actually proud of (well, the napping is something that I am proud of). I think one thing that I am very good at is research. Maybe it was my years as a librarian, maybe it is my love of education and being a student, but doing research, finding articles and sources to support my claims, things of that nature do not make me want to cry. When I worked for the University of San Diego Law School, I was able to track down an obscure Japanese article that had not been translated into English. That was a proud moment for me (and a life saving moment for the Law Review student who had to verify the source in an article). For my thesis I have been able to track down the first use of the word feed forward, and track down specific survey results from ten years ago. I have every confidence that my research skills will help me out has I get deeper into the writing of my draft chapters.

I also think that I am a good traveler. I think my wanderlust and love of visiting new places has made me a good person to travel with. I’ve only cried in one airport four years ago, and I think that was more about my lack of sleep, four heavy bags, and how ridiculous London Heathrow is to navigate. I’d like to think I am a very versatile traveler. I like a good plan and can have a week’s trip planned with all sorts of great things to do and see (I love me the Lonely Planet guide book), or I can go with the flow and just wander in a new place and see what I can find. I like those days, or the days on the beach. Days on the beach are my favourite. In my old age I have become more easy going about hiccups, bad hotel rooms, plans changing, weather, and dealing with tourists. I’d also like to think that I am fun to be around.

I’m sure there are more things that I am good at, but for the moment, I am way too tired to think about it, and I’ve wasted almost an hour and a half on this and drag queens when I should be working on my methodology chapter. I’ve also realized that I can cross one more thing off my list: Start a new tradition. I cannot go home at Christmas and my birthday, so my mom comes to visit me at Thanksgiving. When I moved back to California I had a tradition of spending Thanksgiving in another country, and now my mom is helping me keep that tradition alive. This year she is meeting me in Paris, and next year we are thinking that Amsterdam. I cannot wait to have my favourite travel buddy with me in new countries. She is really the only person who will take photos with Pirate Rubber Chicken.

I will be sneaking into California next week to participate in the ultimate JEW wedding and to teach my muffin how to say ‘Aunty Kimmy’. I promise you, by the 1st of October that little bundle of perfect will be speaking his first words, and they will be ‘Aunty Kimmy’ (or I will settle for immy, as it will be easier for him to say).

  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 36

Today I tried to organize my shoes. I bought some hanging show racks to put in my closet…trouble is, my shoes are too heavy to keep them fastened to the bar. I’ve managed to get them under my bed, but I have a feeling it is going to be a struggle for me to keep them organized when I pull the racks out to get the shoes I want. For now though, they are organized and underneath my bed no longer looks scary.

But my struggle with limited closet space and an inability to keep things neat are not the point of the challenge for the week. The challenge for the week is to think about my dream job. The flippant answer is my dream job is marrying a rich guy who will buy a house with lots of land and let me adopt as many stray puppies and kitties and rabbits as I want. A job that I seem to want lately is professional napper. I am always tired, and I am really good at naps. That would be the perfect job for me. All I need is a comfy bed, or a hammock, or a lounge chair on a sandy beach in the sun….and enough money to pay off my student loans.

I suppose I should say that my dream job is one that I can wake up every day and be excited about. Something that makes me happy, helps some people, and maybe leaves the world in a little better shape then it was the day before. I like to think that I will be able to do that once I complete my degree and someone is crazy enough to let me work for a university, but that remains to be seen.

If I get to spend a little time in fantasy land, I think my dream job would be one of two things: a travel writer, or the mastermind behind a world wide literacy programme. I’d really love the second one. I’d love to travel to places and help kids (and maybe adults who never had the chance) fall in love with reading. I’d love to go all over the world and get to meet all kinds of interesting and wonderful people. It wouldn’t be about a focus on teaching people English, but teaching them to read in their native language (I mean, obviously, for some of those people it would be English), and teaching them English if they are interested in learning. A selfish part of me would love it because then I would get to visit all sorts of interesting places, and learn about all kinds of different people. It is another thing I think I would do if I married a rich man. Get him to provide some seed money to start that nonprofit.

Being paid to travel, and then write about my adventures is the ultimate fantasy. I’d love to be able to wander the globe and experience new things. I am happiest when I am travelling, and being paid to do it would be amazing. I wonder if I could sweet talk Lonely Planet into hiring me to write for their guide books. Maybe I should join a tour company and be a guide.

Wait….I hate people. Scratch that. I’d never be able to hide my resting bitch face, and rude tourists drive me crazy. I’ll just stick to writing or sharing my love of books with the world.