The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 17

The writing challenge this week is a really fun one. I’m tasked with answering this prompt:

Wall to wall What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?

I love this. I love art. I collect vintage travel posters (although they all live in California right now) and love funky and colourful art. I’m a little bit weird, and I feel like the art that I have on display says a lot about me. None of it really matches, some of it is weird, some of it offensive, but all of it together somehow works. I want people to feel at ease when they come visit me, and also have something to look at other than my off white walls. I don’t do well with empty and blank spaces, so I’ve always had a lot of posters and photos on my walls. My desk at work is also decorated and covered with family photos, a mini drum kit, and pictures of my friends. While I could show you everything in my place, I think I’ll stick to sharing my favourite wall with you.

I spend a lot of time in my living room watching TV or working on my couch. The wall that the couch faces is the most decorated in the place. I happen to think it is the best view in the flat.

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The painting of California was the first thing I ever hung on my wall here. I know that I spend a lot of time writing about how I don’t want to live there and how California and I had to break up, but the rest of my heart is there, and it is where I started life, so I like to have the little reminder with me. The photo underneath it was my maid of honour present from the wombmate when she got married. She had it made for me, and I think it really speaks to my personality. The rest of the art displayed is from local artists.

Strike that…the two photos of France I bought in Paris, and the nesting doll I bought in Budapest, but the rest of the artwork comes from Scottish artists. The photos all seem to be a bit crooked, and to be honest, I really like them that way. It seems more honest that way. I can’t really pick a favourite piece, they are just all so good.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 20s

Tomorrow I will enter the next decade of my life. I’m currently horribly ill complete with fever, cough, sore throat and snot.

But I’m happy. While I was unable to cross all 30 things off the list, I did manage to do 21 of the 30 adventures, and I am just going to keep going until I can cross them all off (I really want to make a good budget so I can pay off my student loans). Today, on the eve of my 30th, I am able to cross two more off the list.

The first one that is coming off the list is number 29: Stop holding grudges. This one was a really difficult one because I love holding grudges. For the last few years I have been holding some serious grudges. I decided to let them go. I was able to mend some friendships, and I was able to walk away from one and I no longer miss the friendship or hate her for being so selfish and stupid. Letting go of those grudges has allowed me to make room for some new and amazing friendships (I’m looking at you Flamingos) and allowed me to really focus on the friendships and the people around me that keep me out of the dark and twisty. I also feel a lot better about the way I handle most situations because I am not as angry as usual and not as consumed with my grudges and perceived personal slights.

The second thing I get to cross off the list is number 28: Fall in Love. Now, before you get too excited, no, I did not fall in love with a boy. When I added this to the list a year ago, I was hoping that I would fall in love with the boy and move into a different phase of my disastrous relationships. But alas, that was a dud. The person that I fell in love with is way more important though. I fell in love with me. I’ve spent the last year working hard in therapy to sort through all the weird things that go on in my head. I’m learning how to take care of myself, how to find the balance between work and fun, and how to manage my expectations (That is number 30 on the list, but I am nowhere near ready to cross that one off the list, so it is staying unchecked for the moment). There was a moment earlier in the week that I was a little sad about not completing the list before my birthday, but then I realized everything that I was able to do, and how far I came in the last year. Really starting to love myself is a big thing though, and I think it is one of the things that is going to help make my 30s be just as great as I have been picturing them in my mind. Because, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”

Can I get an amen?

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and the 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 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 30

I’ve hit a wall this week. The never ending edits to a 10 page paper are killing me, the statistical data I collected this academic year show an overwhelmingly neutral attitude towards assessment and feedback practices, and the only thing that I want to do is read a trashy romance novel while curled up in my bed.

This is not a new feeling for me. I have not felt all that productive for months. The less productive I feel, the more overwhelmed I feel, and the less work that I actually get done. The frustrating thing about all of this is that I know that I am stuck in this loop, know what I have to do to get out of it, and yet, I’m not actively working to try and stay out of it. One of the hardest things about my depression, and my crazy good self awareness, is that I can often see the mistakes I am making, and even understand why I am making them, but I can’t always stop them. Right now, because I am feeling a little bit stuck with my research, it is keeping me in a nice little depressive loop.

The challenge for this week is to write about what I love about this season of my life. I thought that this would be a hard one to write, but really, it is pretty darn easy. I’m currently sitting in the waiting room of my 30s (thanks Kelsey for that one), and I have to say, despite my ongoing battle with depression, this season of my life is pretty darn great. Once I started thinking about all of the things that I love about my life right now, the list got pretty dang long.

  • I’m sitting on my couch, in a flat that is perfect for me, in Edinburgh. Two years ago I was sitting in the office at my mom’s house studying for the qualifying exam for the EdD programme. I was stressed, but knew that I would pass that hurtle and be that much closer to finishing my degree. This time last year I was filling out customs forms and trying to ship off three boxes of my stuff to meet me here. Yesterday, the sun made a rare appearance and I sat in my window box and soaked up the heat. I wore my bathing suit in hopes that the really white parts of me would get some much needed colour. I’m one year down on my PhD, and although lately the process has led to more tears than smiles, I am really proud that I have made it this far

 

  • I’ve finally figured out how to maintain friendships. I always joke that I am a shitty friend but an excellent pen pal. I spent a lot of time in California by myself, but wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to go out or do the things that many of the people I had been friends with for a long time wanted to do. Here, I am surrounded by people who also think tacos, beer and movie nights are a good thing. People who will go to the symphony with me, laugh at my puppy videos, and keep me away from chocolate. The few friends I still have in the US have sent me care packages, Skype with me regularly, and text me all the time. I love that technology is so easy to use now that I can text and send pictures as often as I want, and see their faces just about whenever I want. They never make me feel bad about the time difference, and they are always willing to fit me into the schedule.

 

  • I’ve stopped apologising for my personality. I used to get really defensive about wanting to live in Scotland, my love for traveling and cat videos, the fact that I love flamingos and ultra bright yoga pants. I like to crack jokes when making presentations, I think sarcasm and passive aggressive comments fix everything, and I have shoes for every occasion. I love bad reality TV. I’m a little bit weird. People seem to like that. Even the boy humours me on occasion with the puppies, the yoga pants, laughing at my own jokes. It took awhile, but I am finally comfortable with who I am.

 

  • I’m a more honest person. I’ve been working on this blog for 6 years. In that time I’ve discussed my struggles with money, the horrible relationships I’ve been in, my lupus, and more recently, my ongoing battle with depression. 6 years ago I wouldn’t have admitted to the world that I was struggling. I wouldn’t have been open about what I was going through. I would have bucked up and pretended everything was okay. I would have worked hard to maintain friendships and relationships with toxic people, and I would never do anything that would show any form of weakness. Now I cry a lot, ask for help, and let people in a little bit so they can help. I’m really trying to make progress with therapy and I’ve set ridiculous goals for myself to try and stay out of the dark and twisty.

All in all, I feel pretty darn lucky to be in this stage of my life. It’s not perfect, and right now it isn’t as much sunshine and roses as I would like, but it is pretty darn good. Speaking of crossing things off my list of things to do before I turn 30, I was able to cross another one off the list. I just about completed a book that is more than 500 pages. I’m at page 900 of a 1200 page Stephen King book about the assassination of President Kennedy. I’ll eventually finish it, even if I find it really strange, but for now, I am going to say it meets the requirement.

  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
  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 20

On this day three years ago I was greeted at the airport with a sign that said “Welcome Home Shithead”

I’d finished my coursework for my MSc, had three months to write my dissertation before starting the EdD programme, and had a lot of sunshine to catch up on. My dissertation became my full time job, with breaks for the pool and the gym. I was experiencing reverse culture shock in a major way, and coming off the terrible break-up with David, I was very unsure about my future.

Flash forward to today: I’m sitting on the window ledge in the flat of one of my best friends in Scotland. We have been doing buddy work from home Friday for the last few weeks. I’ve finished a second draft of a paper for my thesis, I have a therapy appointment in a couple of hours, and a study date with the boy this evening.  In 30 days I will celebrate my 1 year anniversary living in Scotland, and will be getting ready for my official transfer of title making me the very first PhD in education at Edinburgh Napier University.

The writing challenge for this week is to think about the ways I have changed in the last year. To be honest, I am not sure I have enough time or space to write about how I have changed in the last year. This time last year I was getting ready to say goodbye to the US. I was packing for Spain and Portugal, I was shipping boxes to Scotland to be here when I arrived, and I was not feeling depressed at all. I thought that all of my problems were solved because I was moving back to the one place in this world that I ever felt like home. I thought I had worked through my issues with the EdD. program, thought I was done with therapy, and thought that I was ready to tackle the world on my own. I was cocky, and living in a bit of a fantasy land.

Today I know that moving doesn’t always solve all your problems, but that they are much easier to deal with when you are happy where you live. I’m not as cocky, and while I still think I can tackle the world, I’ve learned that it is a lot more fun to do with the help and support of others. I’m more open about my depression, and the work that I am doing to manage my symptoms. I’m more open about needing help. I’m learning that it is important not to stop therapy when you feel like you are feeling better, but rather keep going, and keep working on myself so that those good feelings last a lot longer than the bad ones. I learned how to play the political game, which is serving me well this time around.

I’ve changed physically as well. I’ve added 5 tattoos to my body, I’m whiter than I have ever been, and I weigh more now than I ever have. While those last two bother me a bit, I am hoping that with summer just around the corner I can add some color to my skin. The weight bothers me, but as the boy has pointed out, he clearly likes the way I look, and that means I am probably the healthiest I have ever been. While I am very much still a work in progress, I am definitely headed in the right direction. I’d say that have learned so much about myself and the world in the last year that I have undoubtedly become a better person.

I really like the idea that I become a better person with the passing of each new year. I can get behind an idea like that.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 28th Year

Tomorrow (Well, today in Scotland and Australia) I turn 29. The last year of my 20s. The year before I become a real adult. The year I finally get my shit together.

This time last year I had just found out that I had been awarded the position in Scotland, I was getting ready to jump out of an airplane, and I was finally starting to see some hope for my future. Let’s face it, 27 was a really shitty year. The upside of hitting rock bottom though is that you have nowhere to go but up.

28 was a pretty darn good year. I jumped out of a plane, I moved back home to Scotland, started my PhD, reconnected with some of my best friends, made some pretty incredible new friends, and spent more of the year than not really loving life. I got to visit Spain and Portugal, went to England, and got to return to Ireland. I laughed more than I cried, cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner, and finally moved into my own place after two years of living with my parents. I learned the delicate art of negotiating bus timetables, worked on improving my Spanish, and pushed forward as an academic.

Today I started the day with waffles and puppy love by the beach. I got to snark with truly one of the greatest women I know, and the walk along the beach was just long enough for my face to get sunburned. I then spent the rest of the day with my nephew. He’s perfect. I cannot gush enough about this little guy. He let me feed him without a fuss, he slept solidly for a few hours and let his parents get some sleep, and he went for a walk in the sunshine without much of a complaint. I left them before the next feeding and enjoyed a big piece of chocolate birthday cake (I am an adult after all).

I’m looking forward to all of the things that 29 has to offer. I’ve decided that I would like to do 30 new things before I turn 30. I want to make sure that I stay out of the dark and twisty as much as possible. I want to make great strides with my PhD. I want to be a better friend, and a better girlfriend. I want to see some more of the world. Luckily I have 365 days to make these things happen.