The Scamp Makes a New List

It’s that time of the year again where we all scramble to pretend that we are still going to meet our New Years Resolutions, and we pretend that we are going to follow the ones we plan to make for the next year. I made one of those lists. This time last year, sat in the downstairs area of my parents’ house and I made a list. I was stressed beyond belief. I was officially no longer a part of the living in the US. I had finally asked my dad to adopt me. I had three months left to finish a complete rewrite of my PhD. I made a lot of plans for what I was going to do in 2020.

This was supposed to be my year! I was going to graduate. I was going to start being social. I was going to travel and go on adventures without having to take work with me. I was going to be slutty. I was going to kiss strange boys in public and go on bad first dates. I wasn’t going to be lonely anymore. I was going to be happy and reduce my stress. So I made a list.

Then March happened. The day after I turned 33 I got adopted and changed my name. I told the world about it and only three people understood. I turned in my thesis edits and the next day the world went into lockdown, and with it, all the things I wanted to do got flushed down the toilet. I did manage to get some of the list crossed off, and to be honest, some of the ones that weren’t crossed off were not crossed off because I lost focus. That list looked like this:

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

Being that I make these list so that I can feel accomplished when I cross things off them, I’d say I am less than satisficed with the way the 2020 list turned out. That’s the problem with making lists, when you can’t cross something off, you feel unfulfilled or like you failed. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like a failure because I didn’t lose any of the weight and that I didn’t manage to stick to simple things like doing yoga twice a week, or making time to write about fun things, random things, anything that is not related to my work. These are things that require focus and discipline, and to be honest, that is not something I much of since I finished the PhD. It is hard for me to stay motivated when I am all alone and stuck in solitary confinement. 45-60 min of outdoor time a day is not enough for me, but it is the best I can do right now. At least with the vaccine out now there is hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. I really hope 2021 finds a new normal that allows me out of the house a bit more…oh and allows me to hug people. I am going to hug the shit out of people when this has all settled into a new normal.

And that brings me to the list for the new year. I’ve thought a lot about what that list should look like, what things should be on it…what I wanted to accomplish. The thing is though, I am starting wonder if making a list like this is just setting me up for failure. What if I don’t lose the weight? What if I fail the driver’s test again (and WHY is it so difficult here?) What if I only kick the toxic people out for a little while and then let them back in? I don’t want to make any promises that I can’t keep.

So there isn’t a list yet. but I still have one more day to think about what will go on it….

The Scamp’s 20 things for 2020

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

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

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

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

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

In no particular order:

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

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

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 3

I love music related posts. I am about to get fired from a job that could keep in Scotland because my visa got messed up (Apparently it was incorrect from the start, but no one noticed for almost 3 years) and the other 4 jobs I have are keeping me so busy that I have yet to even touch my PhD in awhile.

I’m stressed. Beyond stressed. Every day that I don’t get my results down on paper is another day I am convinced that I am not going to finish my PhD on time.

It is not a good time to be me.

So, having just completed a really relaxing yoga class and cheating on my diet with chocolate, I am more than happy to take on the challenge this week. My task, and I have chosen to accept it, is to put my Ipod on shuffle and write about how the first ten songs make me feel. Now, if my results chapter was as easy to get down on paper as this, I would be done in no time.

First up…

Sheppard: Geronimo

I like this song. I use it as an alarm occasionally so that I can start my day with a little pep in my step.

Second Choice

Matt and Kim: Wires

I could listen to Matt and Kim on repeat. I think they have a funky sound and I got to see them live many many many years ago when they opened for Blink 182. I wished I was that good on the drums.

Coming in third

Sean Hayes: Powerful Stuff

This song actually makes me sad. I think Sean Hayes has a great voice, but I used to dance in my kitchen with David to a Sean Hayes song. It’s been five years since he ripped my heart out and these songs still make me a little sad when I think about the kitchens and Bar exam prep and a future that is now just one of those things that you grow out of.

Four on the door

Kaiser Chiefs: I Predict a Riot

When this started it made me laugh because I saw them play live with David. We hadn’t really been dating that long, and not many people knew, but he invited me to go when a friend of his couldn’t go, and most of his law school friends were there. They called me library girl, tried to get me drunk, and made me dance around like an idiot with them because they said I was far too serious to be at a concert. It was a fantastic show.

Alive with five

Lake Street Drive cover of: Rich Girl

I first heard this song in a Starbucks in Scotland when the lifemate and I were doing uni work together. Now I listen to it on repeat. Constantly. I love this cover. For me, it is better than the original version.

Six in the mix

Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood: Something Bad About to Happen

My life motto.

Seven is heaven

B.B. King: The Thrill is Gone

Soul. Every playlist needs some good soul.

Eight is great

House of Pain: Jump Around

I have a huge love for 90s rap. I know all the words to this song and sing it as loud as I can in my car, in the shower, and in pubs.

Devine Nine

George Baker: Little Green Bag

I only know this song from one of my favourite movies. I think it also happens to have one of the best soundtracks of all time. I like to listen to the soundtrack when I am on my way to the airport for an adventure.

and finally TEN

Rachel Platten: Fight Song

Fitting. When I was really at a low point last year, I downloaded this song after seeing a video of Rachel Platten singing it with a pint sized cancer warrior. I figured if that little girl could be strong then I could try and be strong as well.

Bonus songs:

The Scamp’s 100 Things

The challenge this week is to make a list of 100 things that I am thankful for. Since I have been in the dark and twisty pretty hard core this week, I am going to enjoy making this list and focusing on all of the amazing things in my life that make me grateful. I have been a pain in the ass. I’m anxious, mopey, and have spent too much time by myself to be a good person. I am gearing up for Christmas, and I hoping that some fresh air, time out of Scotland, and time away from all things academic will do me some good. The weather has been crazy warm here lately (55 degrees!) so I am hoping that it is that way in the Emerald Isle as well.

So, I have a glass of wine, I’m wrapped in a blanket, and I am going to try and create a list of 100 things that I am grateful for. Some will be silly, some will strange, and most will be exactly what people expect from me. I do not expect people to read all 100. In fact, this is mostly for me. There is only one challenge left after this one, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem like it has been 52 weeks since I started the challenge. Talk about time flying. I think I am going to find another challenge to work through to make the next year pass just as quickly. I liked that this challenge was focused on reminding me what I have to be grateful for, so I may look for something that is similar to keep the dark and twisty at bay.


  1. My family. This should come to no surprise to anyone. My family makes me laugh, stood by me when I was going through some serious shit with CSUF, and has never once made me feel guilty about packing up my life and moving 5,143 miles to start a life. They are by far my favourite people, and while it was extremely difficult to move so far from them, I am lucky enough that we text, Skype, and message each other enough that it doesn’t really feel like we are separated.


  1. My friends. Again, no one should be surprised by this. I have some pretty amazing friends. They have sent me presents, jokes, laughs, good vibes, and provided me a lot of comfort when I have been at my lowest. With the exception of lately, I have not been lonely here in Scotland. When I have though, I have people who have dropped everything to help me out, check on me, and distract me from how I am feeling. It is my Irish bestie who offered to take me home for Christmas to be with her family since I am not going back to California until the end of February. I think part of the reason my move back to Scotland was so smooth was because I had a good circle of people who were already here.


  1. Scotland saved my life. Literally. The first time I came here in 2012, I knew that I was going to live here. I have felt more at home here than any place I have ever lived. I cannot really explain what it is about this island that makes me feel so at home, but even on my worst day here, and even when the dark and twisty sneaks in, I can go for a walk to the city centre and see the castle, hear the mix of accents, and surround myself with history. When I went back to the US in 2013 I never found a way to readjust to life there. I spent two years feeling like I was a zombie just drifting through my existence. I was in a horrible programme, I did not have much of a social circle, and I barely had enough money to pay my bills. While I am not living like a queen here, I am pretty comfortable for the moment.


  1. Travel. If I do not get to travel then I get itchy. Really really itchy. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world. My mom has funded some of it, I have saved and scrimped for some, and because I have the most amazing friends, I have been offered places to stay and tour guides around their cities. I am the happiest when I am traveling. I love the adventure, and I love the way I feel when I am wandering around a new place.


  1. Technology. Being able to stay in touch with everyone through texting, skyping and FB has been amazing. It is a large part of why this move has been so painless.


  1. Mark Huxham. He is my supervisor for the PhD. He took a chance on me, and made it possible for me to come back to Scotland. He might have saved my life.


  1. Modern medicine. I have Lupus. But, if I did not tell people, I doubt anyone would know. I get checked by doctors regularly, I take my meds, and stick to a good diet. I have been very very very lucky that I have not had any major issues so far.


  1. National Insurance. It may not be perfect, and I may get frustrated with it sometimes, but man am I grateful for it. Not paying for medication is a huge stress off my shoulders.


  1. Yoga. Enough said.


  1. Sunshine. I may be in the land of no sun, but man oh man do I love it when it comes out here. I will also love it when I am in California and Texas and get to enjoy it.


  1. Tea. Hug in a cup.


  1. American peanut butter.


  1. Trail mix. Even when I am not hungry, a handful of that makes me feel better.


  1. Solid public transportation. I rarely miss having a car. I also enjoy the view from the top of the double decker bus.


  1. Books. When I get sad, I curl up with a book and I can escape a bit.


  1. My kitties. I miss them all the time. I wish I could have them here with me.


  1. Cat videos. Kinda like the next best thing when I can’t have mine with me.



  1. Ice Cream. I haven’t had any in a while, but the beast bar (a chocolate bar dipped in chocolate ice cream, covered in chocolate) is the best pound I will ever spend.


  1. My Ipod. It makes my commute so much more bearable when I can listen to my favourite songs or a podcast.


  1. Loveline. Someone is going to read this and laugh, but man oh man do I love this show. I listen to the old shows with Adam Carolla, and the current day ones. People are crazy, and I always feel a little less crazy listening to the show.


  1. Therapy. This really should be higher on the list. The only reason I survived for two years in the States was because of weekly therapy sessions.


  1. Flower hair clips. I have a collection of flower hair clips that I wear when I am feeling homesick, or when I want to stand out a little.


  1. I love each and every tattoo that I have. There is a good story behind each one, and I feel like they make me a whole heck of a lot more interesting.


  1. Strawberries. Possibly the best fruit ever. I love that you can get them all year round here.


  1. Tortillas from California. Seriously. Heaven.


  1. Easy Mac. The ultimate comfort food.


  1. My space heater. It has been cold here, but I have to say, it hasn’t been horrible yet for me thanks to my little portable heater.


  1. Yogadownload.This is an amazing collection of yoga classes in all types of styles, lengths, and skill sets. I may be lagging on my practice, but I will never run out of options for classes to take.


  1. My camera. I bought it before I moved back to Scotland, and it was totally worth every penny.


  1. Pirate Rubber Chicken. It may have started as a joke, but I really love taking chicken places and sending him to my friends to do crazy things. Most people really get into it and have a good time being ridiculous with PRC.


  1. Naps. Sometimes it is the only way I get through a day.


  1. Inside jokes with the wombmate.


  1. Who am I kidding…..the word wombmate. It is so much better than just calling her my sister.


  1. Tugboat. The very first car I ever bought. I love that beast.


  1. Swimming. I miss being in the water, but I love the peace I get when I have a chance to swim.


  1. Student discounts. Sometimes it is nice to save a few pounds on a movie ticket or a meal.


  1. Care packages from home. Getting mail always makes my day a little better.


  1. Second chances. I have had my fair share of second chances from people and from life, and seriously, sometimes that is all I need to get it right.


  1. 2 minute rice meals. I am a lazy cook sometimes. I can pop one of those in the microwave and add some cheese and salsa and have a meal


  1. Bagels and cream cheese. Perfect breakfast for the ultimate lazy eater.


  1. I may regret this, but I am enjoying the rain as it comes. I’ve been pretty lucky so far though.


  1. My job at the tutoring centre. I may grumble about going into work on a Saturday afternoon/evening, but I really like being with the kids. They make me laugh and it is impossible to be in a bad mood when you are with those kids.


  1. Warm socks. My feet get cold very easily, but plenty of warm socks have been purchased for my survival.


  1. Boots. I can never have enough pairs.


  1. Slippers. Because sometimes I don’t want to wear socks.


  1. Anti-depressants. One day I hope to get off of them, but for right now, I am glad I have something to help me with the dark and twisty.


  1. Oversized jumpers. Am I wearing a bra? Am I just wearing a sports bra? Have I gained 50 lbs when no one was looking? You don’t know when I have the jumper on.


  1. My blog. I have a steady following, which is nice, but even more than that, I like that I can write things down and store it in a place that I can come back to. To be honest, I don’t often go back to read past posts, but it is nice that they are there should I ever want to.


  1. My hot water bottle. Lamby keeps me warm. He is also big enough to cuddle.


  1. Travel posters. The art that I have collected adds colour to my walls, and makes me feel like I am traveling all the time.


  1. Surf videos. For the days when I miss the beach.


  1. Fiji lotion. The smell reminds me of my mom, but also makes me tropical.


55. Hummingbirds.

  1. Yoga pants. Because I hate real pants.


  1. I love celebrity gossip, and I love the sass and snark that comes pops up on that site.


  1. Having braces when I was 16. I think I have a fantastic smile, so thanks mom and modern dentistry.


  1. My neighbours. The poor couple who live opposite me get to sign for the million and a half things that I order off of Amazon. They have been nothing but nice about it. They just got a puppy, and joked that I can babysit whenever I want.


  1. Romance novels. Because sometimes I need to read about hot steamy sex and happy endings.


  1. My sound machine app. I can’t handle silence, so I can fall asleep to the sound machine and not my racing thoughts.


  1. I have not really had much success yet, but I am grateful that I have so many options to try out and keep myself entertained.


  1. My mom’s love for taking pictures of everything. I’m going to want those memories one day.


  1. Red Door # 5. It reminds me of my grandma.


  1. Clementine scented candles.


  1. Bubble bath. Best time to read romance novels.


  1. The chance to go to college. I’ve been a student my entire life, and I have been incredibly lucky for the chances that I have had because of it. Being as lucky as I have been has made me want to stay in education.


  1. The work of Paulo Freire. If I had not found his work, I am not sure if I would have been able to really explain my view on life.


  1. The boyfriends that I’ve had. Some of them sucked, but I learned a lot from each of those relationships, and I have become a better person because of having been with them.


  1. Reality TV. Toddlers and Tiaras anyone?


  1. Horror movies. I love being scared by something fake rather than something in real life. I have the hardest time not talking to the movie as it plays out, even if I have seen the movie 100 times.


  1. My passport. I love being lucky enough to have one and to be able to travel and see the world with little to no restrictions.


  1. Motivational posts. I love the Berry and their “Don’t worry, be happy” posts. Sometimes I need the little reminders to stay positive and that life is not as bad as the present moment.


  1. Online shopping. I can get everything I need while sitting on my moderately comfy couch. My anti-social nature loves this.


  1. Adult colouring books. I have been zenned out for the last two weeks thanks to some colouring books and coloured pencils from my feisty Texan.


  1. Culture. One of the things I love most about living here is all of the different people that I come in contact with on a daily basis. I get to learn a lot about people and places. A lot more than I would learn if I was still in California.


  1. My flat. It may seem like an odd thing to be grateful for, but it is nicely furnished, I can afford it, and it is in a nice little neighbourhood. It is nice to be living on my own, and it was luck of the universe that I was able to find it.


  1. Jumping out of an airplane. I’ve never felt freer in my entire life.


  1. Matzo ball soup. A hug in a bowl.


  1. Lazy Sundays. I like not having to be anywhere on Sundays.


  1. Publishing opportunities. My supervising team believes that I can get published, and believes that what I have to say is important. I grateful even for their support.


  1. My 6 year visa. Just in case. I cannot be American if Donald Trump wins.


  1. People who offer to help me. Sometimes all I need is the offer to make me feel better. Sometimes I need someone to offer because I am not good about asking for help.


  1. Baseball games. If I am watching it live it means an afternoon with my mom. If I am watching it on TV it means I am going to get a really good nap in.


  1. Walks at sunset. I like closing out my day in the fresh air. Even though the sun sets at 3:30 right now, come summer, I will have more time to wander to the top of Arthur’s Seat to watch the sunset.


  1. Google Maps. Because I am hopeless with directions


  1. My little black address book. I like being able to send postcards and gifts to people in the States.


  1. Libraries. They provided employment since I was 14, and any place with that many books is alright by me.


  1. Used bookshops. Edinburgh is full of them. They are all amazing.


  1. Puppies that walk off leash. Strangers hate it when you hug their dogs, but when a puppy wanders up to me, it is all but asking for a bit of a cuddle.


  1. That I inherited a good sense of humour. I crack myself up, but I am glad that I can laugh as much as I do.


  1. Sour gummy worms. Even when they give me nightmares


  1. Peach rings.


  1. Snuggles. Sometimes I just need a hug while curled up in bed.


  1. UC Merced. A lot happened for me there. A lot of the opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have have come from work I either did, or started there.


  1. Home cooked meals. When my friends invite me over for a meal I am in heaven.


  1. My mom paying my bills. Again, this should be a lot higher up the list. She has been paying my bills since I was 18, and if she wasn’t helping me out, and didn’t co-sign my loan for my first trip to Scotland, I don’t know where I would be.


  1. Autocorrect and spellcheck. I cannot spell prerequisite (I spelled it wrong and used spell check to fix it) to save my life. I’m also still learning British spelling, so the helpful hand is making sure I do not look like a complete fool.


  1. My persistence. Who knew I had it in me?


  1. The EdD programme at CSUF. If I had not gone through everything I went through in that programme, I would not be sitting on my couch in Edinburgh. That makes every tear I shed, every pound I lost, and every dollar I wasted completely worth it.