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.

The Scamp Crosses One off the List

It has been a long time since I got to cross anything  off my list, but the time has finally come. It is one that I should have crossed off the list awhile ago since I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, but I hosted yet another dinner party. This time the group was smaller (there were only three of us) and the meal was a lot more relaxed (I wasn’t cooking for 14, so it was a lot easier), and I had enough alcohol to meet my sugar quota for the month.

The menu? Chicken fajitas, nachos with homemade queso, and cactus and tequila infused strawberry and banana smoothies.

The result? A drunk Team America and the best commentary of Jurassic Park ever.

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I love cooking Mexican food, and this time my slow cooker was put to good use, and actually cooked the chicken properly.  We listened to 90s throwback songs, cooked together, and generally enjoyed the afternoon/evening. Team America makes me laugh, and we get together often enough that now we can do silly things like narrate Jurassic Park and have a good time.

Part of my treatment in therapy is doing more things that make me happy. Having dinner with Kelsey and Errol makes me happy. Team America dinner parties with cactus booze and Mexican food makes me happy.

So now I have one more crossed off the list, and I am working toward crossing a few more off the list. I have been making some progress with my research, and finally have the draft of the paper is almost complete, so I’m starting to feel a little better about the work front. Now if I can keep that momentum going and survive the next two weeks, then I will be able to take a quick break in California and spend a lot of time with my muffin.

  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 35

I left work early today. I left work early because I was pouting because I feel like I am invisible. I’ve been sitting on my couch munching on salt and vinegar crisps and feeling sorry for myself.

The challenge this week is to think about the things that scare me. I guess this can be taken a lot of different ways. I am terrified of elevators. They freak me out so much. The one in my building is something out of a horror movie. It is small with a lot of graffiti and because it doesn’t make a lot of noise, it is hard to know if it is at the correct floor or not. I’m always so relieved when the doors open and I can escape to the freedom on the correct floor. The lift at the hotel in Malta was even worse, but it was way too hot to climb the stairs to the fifth floor. I take the stairs whenever I can, and try not to cry/panic/sweat when the lift is unavoidable.

The stupid death traps are awful…but so necessary.

I guess my one big fear is that I am never going to get a handle on my depression. I do not enjoy being depressed. I do not enjoy the up and down of my emotions, and how the depression interferes with all the other aspects of my life. I have a hard time with motivation to do my work, I have a hard time maintaining friendships, and being in a relationship with me is stressful at best. I take my meds, go to therapy, and do the homework that my therapist gives me, but I am scared that I won’t be able to get a handle on the dark and twisty. It doesn’t help that I compare myself to people around me, and see them succeeding while I am struggling. I am very lucky that I have a really strong support group, and I am self aware enough to know that I have to work hard to maintain my health.

I’m also terrified of being stagnate. One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up in ten years and being in the same boring routine and not know where the last ten years have gone. It is part of the reason that I move every couple of years, part of the reason why my wanderlust is so bad, and part of the reason why I am scared of what happens when I am not a student anymore.

All of this talk about what scares me makes me want to eat chocolate, which is not on my list of things to eat, so I am going to try and do some yoga.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 33 and 34

So, it is actually week 35, but I am way behind thanks to vacation and I like to fall behind on things, I am playing catch-up and avoiding the work on my thesis and other work related things. I have to say though, I do feel like I have a renewed energy for my work. The sunshine was good, and a visit from an old friend who went to UC Merced with me have left me feeling a lot happier. I got to play tour guide, and got to be around her wonderful energy. She is about to embark on a master’s degree, and her excitement, passion, and overall love for life and all of its adventures made me feel a lot better about life. I even got to meet one of her fellow cohort members who was equally as lovely, and her youth and love for travel and adventure remind me a lot of myself and how I feel when I am in a new place.

Plus, both of them were such great sports about sleeping on my moderately comfy couch and the floor.

And now on to the challenges. Week 33 is dedicated to my favourite books and why I like them. It would be almost impossible for me to list all of my favourites, in fact, I am pretty sure I have never hated a book….well, War and Peace. I’m still trying to read that. I have managed to think of a few books that I can always go back to.

God Went to Beauty School

According to the Amazon Review:

Cynthia Rylant takes teens on an invigorating spiritual journey as she explores what God’s life on Earth might be like. Rylant’s reflective and often humorous verse follows God as he tries out human activities such as getting a dog, writing a fan letter, and making spaghetti.

God Went to Beauty School combines the awesome with the everyday in an accessible, thought–provoking, and intelligent manner.

I love this book. I’m not especially religious, but the idea that God writes a fan letter, that he goes to a hardware store, even that he takes the bus is hilarious to me. The charm in the writing is the bits of cheeky commentary about these everyday activities and what it is like when the ultimate creator tries to navigate them. I first read this book when I was 15. I checked out from the La Habra Public Library. I found it again when I was 20 and taking a creative writing class, and now have my very own copy tucked away in a box at my parent’s house. If I was going to religious, this is how I would like to imagine God.

Tender Buttons

Gertrude Stein is my hero. I love her poetry, love her spirit, and love the fact that she gave zero fucks about what people thought about her. Her innovative writing emphasizes the sounds and rhythms rather than the sense of words. By departing from conventional meaning, grammar and syntax, she attempted to capture “moments of consciousness,” independent of time and memory.

Here is my favourite poem of all time

ASPARAGUS.

Asparagus in a lean in a lean to hot. This makes it art and it is wet wet weather wet weather wet.

I owe my love of this poem to Jared Stanely. He taught me a lot about poetry. He taught me a lot about poetry that didn’t follow the rules, that was a little bit odd, and was a whole lot of my personality.

Savage Art

Death was his art. She would be his masterpiece. They called him Leonardo-a master skilled in the art of murder. One year ago, Cincinnati was his canvas. A scalpel was his tool. And women were his works-in-progress. FBI profiler Casey McKinley was one of them, a victim of Leonardo’s twisted genius. She has the scars-and the nightmares-to prove it. For Casey, a new city means a life far from the one she left behind in Cincinnati. In San Francisco she finally feels safe. Until a series of eerily familiar slayings plunges her back into Leonardo’s game. Now she must catch this clever killer before he can unveil his ultimate masterpiece. Only this time she’ll play by a different set of rules-hers.

I read this book in two hours. I couldn’t put it down. In fact, in thinking about this book, I went on Amazon and bought a copy.

To Kill a Mockingbird

I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. Beautiful writing.

Anything by Mark Twain. 

I’ve read everything he has ever written. I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.

Wow. Now all I want to do is go home and curl up in my window box in the sun with a book. Not good for the rest of my workday.

Week 34 is dedicated to my best friend

This one is tough for me. If I call someone my friend, then I consider them my best friend. I don’t spend a lot of time maintaining casual friends. I’m not really good at it, so the people in my life are all pretty freaking fantastic.

I’ve also spent a lot of time talking about the people in my life who are important to me and I’d rather go find a book now that will keep me entertained on my hour and a half commute home.

The Scamp in Malta

I’ve been trying to get to the island of Malta for five years. I first got it in my head that I wanted to be there when I was in San Diego and having a hard time getting into PhD programmes. There was a Fullbright opportunity to live there for a year and teach English at the university. I had the application filled out, but the two references that I needed stopped me from finishing the application. From then on, I wanted the chance to visit, and had it in my mind that I would love to be there. Every time I thought about travelling, it was Malta that I wanted to go to.

The last few months here have been a challenge. I haven’t been happy, and I’m self aware enough to know that I should be doing some more to help get myself happy. I’ve been moaning on for the last two months that I need some time away, and at the beginning of the month I had finally had enough and booked a five day trip to the island. For those who are geographically challenged like myself, Malta is made up of three islands in the south of Europe. It is situated between Sicily and Northern Africa. It has about 450,000 people, and has three things I love: water, sunshine, and sunshine that can be enjoyed in the water.

Being that Malta is so close to Italy, I made the assumption that the people there spoke English and Maltese, and that Maltese was similar to Italian. I learned while I was there that the Maltese language is based on Arabic, and actually has a lot of similarity to Hebrew. Once I learned that I tried to pay closer attention to people when they were speaking, but because there were so many tourists, it was sometimes hard to pick out the different languages.

My plan for the holiday was to lay on a beach and get as much colour back into my skin as I could. I had originally planned to go by myself, and part of me really wanted to go with the boy, but one of the best mates really needed a holiday, and since we get on like gangbusters, it was the perfect chance for the two of us to get away. Most of the people we work with thought it was odd that the two of us were going on holiday without our partners, but to be honest, I wasn’t too fussed about it. We stayed in a hotel that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and we soaked up the island.

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We spent the first day on the beach….and both got sunburned. It was glorious. I was happy. The hotel we stayed in was a bit sketch. It wasn’t clean to Kim standards, but it served its purpose. On the second day I wandered around Sliema while the bud worked on his book and happily sweat off a few pounds. In the afternoon we took the ferry to the capital city of Valletta and wandered around aimlessly for a bit.

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Valletta is full of history, and full of amazing architecture. My only problem with the city was that everything closed at 7pm.

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We found some gardens, found a kitten that I wanted to keep, and managed not to get sunburned again. We had a picnic dinner of meats and cheeses and rum, and really enjoyed the day.

We spent most of the next day on the balcony of the hotel room. We moved the couch outside and I napped in the sun while he worked. Because I went without a plan of what to do every day, I was feeling a bit lost on what we should do to see the city. We decided to walk to the University of Malta and see the campus. While we wandered to a different part of the island, we passed a store with memory blocks. There was one that caught my eye.

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The guy at the store said that people buy them to remember certain events of their lives. This is a special edition, 7 Seas print. The artist signed it, and the quote that comes with it is about the journey you take through life. It was like it was made for me. I love  an octopus, and a good journey through life. My bank account wasn’t too happy with the purchase, but I am.

Our last day was a guided tour of Gozo, one of the other islands. I love a good guided tour. We started with a mini train ride through the slat flats, and seriously, I would have stayed on that beach all day. It was stunning.

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It was the bud’s first time on a large boat, and I’m not sure he enjoyed it as much as I did. After the slat flats we went to Ġgantija (Maltese pronunciation: [dʒɡanˈtiːja], “Giants’ Tower”). It is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. The Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BCE), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world’s second oldest manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe.

The temples are structured like a person, with a head, two legs and two arms. You entered through the legs, and left through the legs. It was said that these short, but very strong men made the temples to honour the goddess of fertility.

So we walked through a vagina temple made by gorilla people.

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From the temple we went to the worst lunch ever. We had a nice chat with an English couple on the tour though, so that was nice. After lunch we went to the Azure Window. The water here is so clear that it is almost like you aren’t really in it, and apparently it has been used in Game of Thrones. I would have loved to spend more than 15 minutes there, but it was a good 15 minutes.

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We ended the trip with a trip to Victoria, the capital of Gozo. We were able to see a woman hand weaving lace, and I bought a necklace. The bud and I ventured into the Citadella, a city within the city. It was pretty, but I got scolded in the church because my shoulders weren’t covered. Opps.

Overall, the trip was a massive success. I’d built up Malta to be this mythical place that I was going to be in love with, and while I wasn’t quite as in love with it as I hoped, I enjoyed the time I spent there. I have recharged a bit, got some tan lines, and spent 5 days not feeling depressed. It is also a chance to work on crossing one more thing off my list. I am not looking forward to going back to work, and back to the mountain of things that I have to get done for the next 30 days.

On the upside, in less than 30 days I will be making a quick trip to California to be a bridesmaid and to teach my nephew to say Aunty Kimmy. Those are going to be his first words, you best believe it.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 31

In my quest to make it to the office at least three days this week, today I decided to stay home. I got up early, I was going to make it 2/2 in the work week….I really was. Then I got a text confirming that my two favourite people weren’t going to be in the office and I lost all motivation to go in.

I did not go back to bed though….even though I was really tempted. I sat on my couch and tried to make an outline for a paper I don’t think I have time for, and shop for vacations that I cannot seem to make myself commit to. I got cocky. I crossed a bunch of things off my list yesterday and I thought I could parlay that wave of success into the rest of the week, but as usual, instead of enjoying my mini success, I’m already disappointed that I didn’t achieve more.

It’s a perk of my personality and it keeps my therapist in rent money. You could say my neurosis is good for the Scottish economy.

The challenge for this week is to think about the pros and cons of my job. I feel like this list is going to be a bit one sided.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. I can work from anywhere. On days I don’t feel like going to the office (and let’s face it, that is most days lately) I can work from my couch, from my buddy’s couch, the library, or the boy’s kitchen table. I like the freedom that I have to work where it suits me best. It has come in real handy lately.

2. The people. I’ve made some great friends since I started working for the university a year ago. Unfortunately a few of them no longer work there, but the friendship remains. When I do go into the office, they keep me laughing, encourage me to keep going, and make the office a little less gloomy.

3. Publishing opportunities. In the US, academia is sink or swim. In a lot of the PhD programmes you have to meet a publishing or presenting quota….and you have to do a lot of it solo. In the UK, the more authors the better, and the co-authors are your biggest champions. I may be on draft 47 of this paper up for publication, but I know when it does finally make it to a journal it will be a good piece of work.

And I will be this [————-] close to being famous. I’ve also presented at three conferences this year, and thanks to the university, I will get at least two more next year. The amount of publicity my work is getting is great, and hopefully it will make the rest of the data collection a much smoother process.

4. My job is in Edinburgh. We all know how I feel about that.

5. I get to be a doctor at the end of it.

and then an adult.

Now for the cons:

  1. This life is a lonely island. Even though I have a good circle of friends, some of who have successfully made it through this process, it is still something that I am 100% in charge of. I have this horrible problem of equating my the work that I produce with who I am. When that work isn’t going well, it means that I am not doing well. If I get negative feedback, I take it to me there is something wrong with me (which is ironic considering my research is entirely dedicated to feedback, and how to use it successfully). I sometimes feel like no one understands what I am doing, how much work it takes to make this happen, and how much I have riding on this research. This feeling sometimes keeps me in the dark and twisty, and that is a spiral I do not like being in.

2. I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure. I’ve talked about the fact that I am currently the only educational pedagogy PhD on campus. Heck, the university doesn’t even have a school of education. All eyes are on me, and they are all dying to know if my research can actually be used to help inform university policy. This project is the brain child of my main supervisor, so I also get a lot of pressure from him in terms of his expectations and my ability. I’ve also added an extra level of pressure because I feel  like since I sat in this boat before that I should be doing better, be further along in the process.

This has led to a lot of tears, a lot of days hiding in bed, and a lot therapy sessions.

3. Most days I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve turned in drafts of my paper and most of the time I feel like I’ve done all that is asked of me and then the feedback I get asks me to do something completely different. I’m getting edits on things that they told me to edit, spent a lot of time going north and I am now being asked to go southwest, and generally feel like I am wasting my time.

I hate feeling like I am wasting my time.

4. I have to depend on others for my research. I hate that. Especially when people do not put in the effort, react, or care as much as I do. I wish I could control every little thing around me, and I can’t. That frustrates me to no end. I hate depending on other people, and I hate that my crazy expectations are often crushed because no one is as bat shit as I am. I’m really trying to learn how to be better about my expectations, and how to best work with others, but that is such a slow slow slow process.

At the end of the day though, I love my job. I knew the process was going to suck, I know that their will be days that I cry and hate myself (and the work), and I know when this job is done I will have something amazing to show for it (and hopefully British citizenship).