The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 38 and 39

I should be writing.

I should be writing emails and notes for my dissertation.

I should be working my butt off to get a paper ready for editing in just four short months.

I should not be sitting on my couch, still in my pjs watching Top Chef and pretending that having the articles open is the same thing as working.

I should get back in the habit of doing yoga everyday.

I just want to crawl back in bed. I picked up a second job (3rd if you think of the PhD as its own job) and having worked all week learning the ins and outs of the center left me dead.

I just keep rereading last week’s post and reminding myself that I am really stinking happy in Scotland, and once things settle down with the new job I will get back in the groove of a routine and that will hopefully up my productivity.

Week 38 in the gratitude challenge is all about my favorite music. This one is an easy one. I love music. I will give anything a try, and have everything from Ska to country to electroswing on my ipod, and my favorite thing to do is to make song based playlists for my commute to work and back. Music  helps me work, helps me move through yoga routines, and helps make me feel better when I am sad. One of my faults is that I tend to be very negative about situations, and think the worst of myself and situations I get into. When I spend too much time in silence, my brain goes crazy, and I get into the dark and twisty. I currently live alone, so I always have music playing when I am at home. When I can feel myself going to the dark and twisty, I put on some of the most upbeat music I have on my ipod and dance around my place while I clean.

It always makes me feel better.

I am going to put together a mini playlist of some of my favorite songs, since it is much more to listen to them than have me ramble on about them.

While there are plenty more to chose from, I feel this gives a bit of an idea of my go to songs to make me feel better. I have about 20,000 songs on my ipod, so I am never short of good music.

Week 39 is a harder one for me. This week is all about heritage.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines heritage as:

Valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations:Europe’s varied cultural heritage

This one falls on an interesting week as it is Jewish New Year. It is tradition that is important to my heritage and reminds me to reflect and really think about who am I am and the choices that I make in life. This last year has been really difficult and really horrible, and really fucking fantastic. I am grateful for my heritage and my values and traditions, but I often feel like I do not fit into that mold. I consider myself a gypsy soul, and because of that, I feel like I do not have a real set heritage. I just want to wander the world and learn as much as I can. That does not really lend itself well to tradition.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to meet a real gypsy. He was born in the French Alps, but has lived all over the world. He hates being called French, speaks with a mix of Scottish and French accent, and his idea of the perfect place to live is western Australia. We met by chance, but he is one of the first people I have ever had a conversation with who really understood the need to wander, and reluctance to be defined by where you are born, or where you grew up. We had some great conversation, and I think it could really be the start of a great friendship.

I think that is one of the things that I am most grateful for about my adopted gypsy soul heritage. It is allowing me to meet so many interesting people and live this pretty funky life. I cannot wait to see where I move to next, and the type of people that I will meet when I do. As for the heritage of my youth, I feel like some of the Jewish traditions that I observe and practice allow me to really reflect on myself as a person, and really remember that I have the strength and perseverance to move through  life doing the things I love.

…and that works just fine for me.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 27th Year

I’m going to go on record and say 27 has by far been the worst year of my life. I think I cried 300 of the 365 days since my last birthday, and I am not sad that it has come to an end. I spent the day avoiding work and judging a speech and debate tournament at the community college. It was not the most exciting day, but it was not a bad day.

Normally I would list all of the horrible things that happened to me while I was 27, but instead, I am going to choose this moment to do Week 10 of the Gratitude Challenge. It is a much better use of my time. The challenge for this week is to list 5 things that I like about myself. I’m not completely sure I can think of 5 things that go beyond the superficial, but I am going to give it a shot.

1. I like that I have found a way to make my students enjoy grammar. Last semester it was touch and go, but with a little humor (and some cat videos) I have managed to really get the concepts through to my students. They give me the courtesy laugh when my jokes are corny, and a few of them actually ask questions during the lectures.

2. I like that I can read trashy detective novels and watch bad reality TV without actually losing brain cells. I watch a lot of reality TV when I am stressed, and the last year has been extremely stressful. Despite all of that, I still feel like I have a good amount of intelligence left.

3. On the superficial level, I really like my nose. When I was younger, I thought my nose was huge. I thought that it was long and gave me a horrible profile. Turns out, my refusal to pose normally is what gives me a horrible profile.

4. I like my sense of adventure. For the past two years I have been trying to figure out why I wasn’t content to just stay in one place in the same routine. My gypsy soul has taken me to some crazy places, and allowed me to meet so many amazing people. I love traveling, and have been very fortunate lately to go all over the globe. The sense of adventure, and the constant traveling has taught me how to plan, how to be more curious, and how to be a more patient person. I used to get frustrated when I got lost, or when things did not go as planned. I would cry a lot over it. Now, I am a lot more easy going, and a lot more willing to go with the flow if there is traffic, delays, and even if I get lost.

5. I like my fortitude and perseverance. As much as this sucked (thanks to the break-up, getting kicked out of grad school, being bullied), I did not give up. I took the abuse and harassment from the program for almost a year. I was willing to stick it out to get the dumb degree and go back overseas. I tried to fight the good fight, I did not compromise my values for them. I did a lot of yoga, watched a lot of kitty and puppy videos, and shed a lot of tears in the process, but I never quit. Although they ended up winning that battle, I won the war. I am mostly emotionally intact, and I am happy to say that I am moving on to bigger and most certainly better.

I am happy to announce that starting at the end of June, I will officially be an expat again. I secured a position at a university in Edinburgh that will allow me to earn a PhD, and do some very important research. The position is fully funded, and provides a stipend that will help offset living expenses. This position could not be more perfect for me. I’m so glad that the supervisors of the project felt the same way. To them I am not a racist who plagiarized for academic gain, to them I am a capable woman with excellent research and communication skills. To them, I am the perfect member of their team, and someone that is going to help shape their research.

This position is a fresh start. I get to move back to Scotland. This is the happiest that I have felt in a really long time.

Securing this position is a pretty darn good way to end the worst year of my life.


Scamp Rant

I should be working on a paper that is due next week, but I am mad.

Really really mad.

My mom works hard. Really hard. She spends a lot of time developing curriculum, planning, scheduling, and running events, and making sure that her students leave her room at the end of the year better people. She does most of this as a committee of one, and often does it without ever being thanked or acknowledged for all of the work, time and effort that it takes to run the events, develop the curriculum, and make sure that her students are getting where they need to be academically. She works in an environment where she is belittled by the administration, singled out for mistakes she is not making, and often taken advantage of by some of the other members of the staff.

Today was no exception. She has spent this year learning how to use IPads in her classroom. She has learned how to use programs that would allow her students to make movies, presentations, and other creative activities in class. She has some pretty talented kids, and the projects they have made are pretty great. Her students have a chance to present at an upcoming technology showcase, and today another teacher told my mother’s students that they will present for her at the showcase instead. As of now, the principal is allowing this, putting my mom’s students in a difficult position, and causing my mom to pull out of the showcase and not get recognized for all of the work she has done with her students.

The problem is, this makes my mom doubt her value. She feels that she is not good enough to go to bat for, or to be allowed to showcase all the work that she and her students have done this year.

Everyone who knows her, knows that is complete and utter bullshit.

Here is my rant:

What message is that sending to the students? In the golden age of entitlement that we currently live in, the kids are now being shown that it doesn’t matter who worked hard to put together the presentation, if you think it is something that will make you look good, go ahead and take it. There is no value in doing your own work if you can take it from somewhere (or someone) else, and if you are not one of the popular pretty people, you are not worth defending.

Of course, most of the kids are so self entitled that they won’t even notice this is happening, but it still makes me angry to think that this is what students are being taught. One day these kids will be running companies, working as doctors and lawyers, or raising their own kids. I don’t want a doctor that cheated his way through school, a business owner who stole from someone else, or a lawyer who thinks they are entitled to all of my money without doing any work for me. I know that it is easy for me to sit on my high horse and judge people just because I wouldn’t do any of this to others, but I really worry about what life is going to be like when I am older and need to depend on people who don’t understand the value of being honest, working hard, and acknowledging those around them who work hard.

mini rant over.


The Scamp and the New Year

With three days into the new year, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that it is 2014. The last year went by in a blur of good, bad, and everything in between. I got to live in Scotland, fell in love, got my heart broken, and learned how ask for help while I heal. I earned a degree, wrote my best piece of academic writing, and started the process of earning a doctoral degree. I made a lot of new friends, got the chance to reconnect with old ones, and learned to let go of a lot of negative energy (and people for that matter).

I’d say 2013 was pretty darn good to me.

I have high hopes for 2014. So far it is off to a good start. I got to start the year bowling with the boy and our friends, and then lay by the pool and soak up some sunshine while they nursed hangovers. I am more relaxed then I have been in awhile, and although I have not gotten as much homework done as I should have, I am feeling quite accomplished. The only thing I have yet to tackle is the financial aid issue that has been plaguing me since October. By Monday I hope to have that resolved. I have a teaching job that will hopefully lead to something more permanent, and fate is being kind to me while I don’t have health insurance.

In an effort to keep this year in the positive, my mother and I have taken up a challenge.


At the end of the year we will crack a bottle of rum and read all of the funny/wonderful/memorable things that happened to us. So far my notes have yet to be awe inspiring, but since it is only day 3, I am optimistic about the quality of notes that will go into the jar.

In the meantime, ,I will continue to drive my parents crazy, drive the boy crazy, and work my butt off in my program and with my students and get ready to embark on my crazy research adventure. I look forward to all that 2014 has to bring.