The Scamp at a Loss

Today I woke up in a world without my Odie. He has been one of the only constants in my life for the last 15 years.

I hate the idea of being in a world where he no longer exists.

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I remember when my brother brought him home. Matt was a pain in the ass 18 year old who is the reason that my mom has grey hair. He left a note on the kitchen counter that just said “Mom don’t be mad”. When she raced up the stairs to his room and threw open the door, she was greeted with a tiny hiss from a little puff of fir in the middle of the bed. Matt had rescued a tiny kitten. He had a lot of names. My brother named him Odin. My sister and I called him Pepe because he was found in a dumpster outside a Mexican restaurant. I called him smooshy because he liked to be smooshed up against you when slept next to you.

He had a head like granite. He had no concept of personal space. He would steal your seat on the couch if you got up for any reason. He had awful kitty breath. He liked to drink from the toilet. He was obsessed with boobs and would often sit with his paws resting on them. He drooled. If you wanted him to come in for the night so you could go to bed, he would escape and evade you like a pro. He would leave out the front door and then magically appear at the top of the stairs. He liked to sleep on his back with his feet in the air.

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He was a pain in the ass. He was a great source of comfort. He was the only man in my life to never disappoint me. He slept on a special blanket on my bed when I moved back to California for a little while. He slept with me every day I was back for a visit.

He used each of his nine lives in the last 15 years. He survived being poisoned. He survived a bee sting.  He survived trying to hump a coyote. He survived me bathing him. The last few years were tough. He slowed down. He had to have his eye removed. Eventually, he developed cancer. Yesterday the vet said that it was better to gently end his life rather than put him through any more treatment.

I wasn’t there. I didn’t get to tell him I loved him one more time. I didn’t get that one final cuddle.  I did not have a chance to prepare myself for this moment that I knew was coming. I’m going to miss the cuddles, the headbutts, the curling up on my work so I had to pay attention to him.

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This little face offered me unconditional love, occasional love bites and constant reminders of how to enjoy the little things in life. I will miss him a little more now, but I know he is headbutting angels and that he is happy.

 

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The Scamp and the Writing Project: Week 15

The challenge for this week is all about making lists. It is written that I can be as serious or as funny as I want about the subject of said list, but I had to make a list.

I was going to list the reasons why I like naps, but then I spent Tuesday waiting for FedEx and binge watching 13 Reasons Why, and decided that maybe my list should be a little more meaningful.

For those of you who have not seen the Netflix show, mini spoiler alert, it is about a girl who records the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. It is really well done, but very very very hard to watch. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but one of the things that I really related to in Hannah’s struggle was the victim blaming. When all of that crazy stuff happened at CSUF, I was the one who ended up looking like the bad guy. I was the one that felt like I had done something wrong, and was the one forced to apologise to the people who hurt me. I was forced to listen to people label me a problem and accuse me of having no integrity. These people  told me I had created the situation, and I should apologise for the way things turned out. One of my really good friends told me that I had no right to feel attacked or discriminated against because of the colour of my skin, and that considering everything, it was best to just move on from the experience. People who were my friends froze me out, took sides, and eventually rendered me obsolete. Only one of them ever checked on me, and even then, I sometimes wonder if it was just for the gossip. I spent almost a year thinking the whole thing was my fault, and thinking that not only was my entire career over, but that I was going to become a racist because of it. That was the worst part, thinking that I was going to become the hateful monster that they all thought I was.

So in honour of the way that TV show triggered me, I thought I would make a list of 13 reasons why I am learning to be happy and love myself.

I had an amazing therapist who believed me. Not having insurance, I had to turn to other methods to get help. When I had run out of sessions at the uni, I went to the Brea Family Resource Center. For $10 a week, I could see a licenced therapist to help me work through my depression. I was really dark and twisty while I was at CSUF. I used to cry to class and on the way home from class. When it all ended, I spent most of my time in bed, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t go out, and barely got dressed to go to work. My mother used to pretend she needed me to do things for her so I would have to put clothes on and leave the house. The BFRC saved my life. I’m not sure if they realise it, but that Thursday appointment was sometimes the only reason I made it through the week. Laurie, the therapist I saw, never made me feel crazy about what I described in the programme, never told me I was wrong when I cried about how depressed I was, and reminded me time and again that as long as I worked hard to make sense of, and heal from what happened, I would not bare any permanent scars, or become a racist. She worked really hard to help me separate the people who hurt me from what I knew to be true of most people. She got me through some really really dark days, and she was one of my biggest cheerleaders when I got the position in Edinburgh.

My family. They hugged me every time I came home crying, teased me to lighten the mood, and never questioned my telling of events. They took phone calls, called the evil women bitches, and sat in meetings with me so I didn’t have to face anything alone. They offered support, love, and a chance to feel normal…or as normal as you can when you are majorly depressed and feel like a giant failure.

Sour gummy worms. This needs no explanation. They make everything better.

My cat. He gave unconditional love. He didn’t care what I did or didn’t do as long as he got plenty of snuggles and got to sleep on my bed every night.

The beach. I used to go sit at the beach a lot to watch the waves and calm down. There is nothing better than sitting with your toes in the sand and a sea breeze tickling your face.

My friends. I have some really good friends from California that stuck by me, and friends that I made while living in Scotland who used to send care packages and have Skype dates with me to remind me that I’m not alone. I still have group chats, constant texts and the occasional care package to remind me that they love me. I can’t wait for more of them to be able to have the chance to come visit.

My passport. While I was trying to heal, I used my passport to see the world and  feed my wanderlulst.

Edinburgh. This city saved my life. I fell in love with it the first time I moved here, and being given the chance to move back at just the right time has made all the difference. I know that everyday isn’t perfect here, but I feel at home here, so dealing with the bad days is easier.

My Edinburgh friends. The people I already knew when I moved, and the people I made friends with since the PhD started have made a huge difference in my life. I have made more friends in the last couple of months than I had in years. It is nice to have people to share a meal with, to play music with, have a drink and a laugh with, and to talk to when I am feeling insecure, sad, or angry. I love them a lot, and while I don’t always talk to them about the dark and twisty, they seem to like me and are willing to support me just the way I am…..even when I am being unreasonable.

My current therapist. She is expensive, but worth it. She has really helped me build my self-confidence and find ways to not only manage my anxiety and work through my depression, but she is helping me break my habit of the dark and twisty and slowly getting me to become more of a glass half full kinda girl

Yoga. Enough said.

My blog. I can get the crazy thoughts out of my head and onto the page. It is nice to get the words out of my brain, but it is also nice to feel like I am sharing a bit of me with the world. I don’t normally do that face-to-face with people, but it is pretty easy for me to do from behind my computer screen. I have met some lovely people through my blog, and it is nice to know that there are people out there that share my love for writing and travel, who struggle with depression and anxiety, and are generally interested in what I have to say.

Last, but not least, the knowledge that no matter what happens, I will be okay. I’ve managed to make it this far, so I think my chances of being successful are pretty damn 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 52

I felt that it was fitting to write the last post of the challenge on the last day of the year. It’s cold and rainy here, and I am going to hide in my pjs until it is time to brave the city and meet some girls for a night on the town. A few weeks ago I was dreading New Years. With most of my friends out of town or busy with other plans, I was banking on spending the night locked away in my place with bad TV and perpetual loneliness. I’m not that great at making or maintaining friendships, but joined a meet-up group full of amazing girls and when one of them mentioned wanting to make plans for New Years, I thought I would do the opposite of my natural instinct and join in the plans. So, now, I have a date with 6 cool chicks and a pub that is well situated to see the fireworks and enjoy a night in town without actually being in the craziness of town.

While I would usually be less than thrilled about going out, I am actually looking forward to this and meeting these girls. I’m very happy to leave 2016 behind and start fresh in 2017.

So, the writing challenge for the week….this one is a hard one. It is dedicated to the ways in which I am making the world a better place. I have been thinking about this all week, and to be honest, I am not sure I am making the world a better place, but…..and it is a big but (because I like big buts and I cannot lie)

I don’t think I am making the world a better place yet, but I am surrounded by amazing people that are definitely making the world a better place and like attracts like, right? So that means that I can’t be all that far off from doing some real good in the world. I am working on finishing my thesis, working on making new friends and becoming a better me before I can really add some serious value to the world.

I’m optimistic though. I’d like to think that the research I am doing, and the paper that I am currently working on will help universities that are interested in changing the way they give feedback, and I think that as I become a healthier and better person then I will really start to make a positive impact in the world.

Plus, I still have my literacy foundation to get up and running, so there is great great potential for me to do good things. So, I wish you all a wonderful 2017, and thank you for the support, love and friendship that you all provided in the last year as I swung in and out of the dark and twisty, as I struggled with the boy, with my job, and people around me. I want to thank you for all the love and support and kind words when things went well for me and I had cause for celebration. Tomorrow I am going to hunt up a new writing challenge for the year because I’ve found that I quite like doing them, and spend 2017 trying to do lots of things that will make me and the world a better place.

 

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 51

Day four and my love affair with Budapest continues. Today is the very first Christmas that I have spent on my own. For the last few days I have had very very limited contact with other people, and tonight I sat in an Irish pub and had a burger and some stew with a large glass of wine and watched tennis. The world around me swirled and twirled and danced with lights and mulled wine, but I sat in a balcony in a pub watching tennis.

I hate tennis. I have no idea how the flippin sport is scored, and there was no sound, so it was really just an odd series of interpretive dance.

The day wasn’t all bad. I spent most of it walking around the Christmas markets with a hot chocolate and a muffin. When the rain got to be a little too much, I wandered back to the hotel and watched bad Christmas movies. I went back out at sundown so I could see the menorah at the Great Synagogue lit. I wandered down to the Danube so I could see the castle lit up. I couldn’t figure out what was being served in the market (and I don’t eat pork) so that is how I ended up in a trusty Irish pub with my red wine and tennis.

My beacon in the night. Plus, they had a menorah outside. My friends and family text me through the meal, so I wasn’t exactly alone either.

The writing challenge for the week is to write about something that I’ve created. I’ve had almost a year to think on this….and create something.

I’ve come up blank. I think in the last year I have created a lot of good memories. I’ve been to weddings, birthings, new countries and new cities. I’ve met some amazing people, let go of some not so amazing people, and have tried to work on creating a better me. I guess for right now that is the best I can do.

So, my lovely readers, family and friends, have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and happy almost end to 2016 and that however and whatever you celebrate, you do it surrounded by love and happiness.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 46

Today I am thankful for the cold weather. I bruise really easily and for the last few weeks I have been trying to do yoga on a regular basis and for some reason think that I can do any pose out there. I’ve been balancing on my arms, using my knees, and falling. A lot of falling. Because of that, I am covered in bruises. My knees have it the worst. Very purple and ugly….they also happen to look like I spent some time on my knees on a hard surface (don’t worry mom, I’m as pure as the driven snow). Luckily it is so cold here that I have to stay well bundled up. No one sees these knees but me (and probably my neighbors if I wear shorter yoga pants and forget to close my curtains). I am almost done with the medication I am being weaned off of, and minus a few headaches and being tired, I am happy to report that most things in the land of Kim are progressing quite nicely.

But, to the task at hand. I know last week I was not really in a good mood about the election, and I have to say, that has not changed, but I am choosing to keep moving forward and stay off of Facebook as much as possible since it all seems to be a bit daft and people still haven’t figured out that there are some real issues that need to be addressed but that the media is going to make it difficult for anything to happen in a civil way. This week the writing challenge is to write a letter to my future self.

So, here goes:

Dear Kimberly,

I hope by this time in your career people have figured out how you spell your name in the UK. You can be Kim, but Kimberly might eventually have a more academic ring to it. Hopefully you have learned to stop getting annoyed when people spell it wrong when there are so many people in this world whose parents gave them impossible to spell names and yours can easily be shortened. In the grand scheme of things, an extra e isn’t really that big of a deal.

I hope that you learned to stop worrying about money. The loan will get paid and you will not regret any of those trips that you took, or the parts of the world you got to see. You will learn more about yourself and about people then you could ever learn being in one place all the time. I hope you have learned to see all of those adventures as investments in yourself and little bits and bobs that come together to make you a better person. All that hemming and hawing you do now about money is making your head hurt and not doing you any good.

Your stubborn ass better still be in therapy, even if it is just every so often to do general maintenance. Don’t you dare do that thing you did when you were younger and assumed that once it started to work and you felt better that you didn’t need to go anymore. That’s stupid and we both know it. You need to get a handle on some very deep seeded issues, but you also have a brain chemistry that needs a little extra help to stay balanced. Don’t put aside that process when you know you need it.

Keep pushing for the literacy programme, especially if you haven’t gotten it up and running yet. You know the value of it, and know what a difference being able to read can make for people. You want to make the world a better place, and the way to do that is give people the power to educate themselves and be involved in processes that effect them. The goal is not to teach people only English, so you aren’t just trying to make people fit a prepackaged idea of literacy, and whether everyone understands that or not is not your concern. You just need to focus on the people that you want to help and the best ways to do that. Also, you better still be sending books to Muffin.

I hope that you have figured out how to let go of toxic relationships and have faith in the bonds you have. You were surrounded by some really amazing people, and although small in number, they are the ones that matter, not the other ones. Stop trying to change the minds of people who don’t like you because in the great words of RuPaul: “What other people think of you is not your concern”. The ones that matter, the ones that are probably still in your life, those are the ones who know you, those are the ones who care, and the ones you should focus your love and attention on. They haven’t let you down, so don’t let them down.

And for God’s sake, you better have at least one dog. Seriously.

Sass and snark,

Kimbo

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 29

Scottish summer came and went this week. It was a good Tuesday. I wore a sundress and flip flops. I sat in the park by my house until 8pm. My nose got sunburned and my legs look a little less white.

Not a bad summer.

The challenge this week is to write about the last person I said I love you to. I say I love you a lot to a lot of people in my life….okay, to be fair, the only people in my life in any real meaningful way are people that I love.

I think the last person though was my BFF. Because of his super secret spy job I am not allowed to post pictures of him on the internet, but we met here in Scotland and have been besties ever since we went to Belfast a few years ago. He supported me through two bad break-ups, exile from the US, and has offered to marry me so I can become a Scottish citizen if they are successful in gaining their independence from the UK. He worries a lot about my depression, so he drags me out of the house and takes me on adventures around Scotland so I don’t sit around and mope.

Last weekend we took the train to Linlithgow and spent the day walking around the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots and soaking in some culture. We pretended that we were hip and watched golf, and laughed our way through the ridiculousness of my love for puppies and my efforts to touch a swan (or a duck, or goose, and any dog that came close to me).

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We’ve made plans for other excursions around Scotland, and even though he is ditching me for Leeds Leeds Leeds and a PhD, we’ve made plans to meet and explore England as well. I’m not exactly sure why he puts up with me, but I love him all the same.