The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I’m a week late. I have not been motivated to write lately. I’m tired and have been running around for data collection, meetings with students and teaching in the evening. All of this is good though. Things are progressing nicely in all of those areas, and I am feeling much better about where I am in terms of my work compared to last year at this time, and I think I am finally on a steady path. I didn’t like the writing challenge for last week, and today marks my 30 day countdown to turning 30, so I thought it was time to update the list.

16. Create a budget to pay down my student loans. Unfortunately this one involves my mom helping me out for right now. There was no way I could afford to pay that and go to therapy, so I am burdening her for a bit longer. The loan is getting paid though, and I am a couple months away from being under $10,000. I’m really excited about that.

18. Create a solid workout routine. Even though the sleep doc couldn’t really help me with my sleep issues, she did give me some ways to help my joints during the day that forces me up and around, and I found a couple of yoga classes to do before bed. My phone also has a help app that guilts me into walking around more during the day. It works, as I try to get at least an hour of walking in a day.

22. Learn to cook a fancy meal. I made my own Chinese food! Orange chicken, chow mein, and egg fried rice. The rice I cheated on, but I made everything else.

The chow mein was a little bland, so I will have to keep working on that, but it wasn’t bad for my first attempt.

With 30 days left, I still have some big things to cross off the list. I’m working on the rap song, but finding a horse and hot air balloon here is super difficult. I’ve managed to get 20 things crossed off and still have some time to work on the rest. There is one thing on the list that I realize might be hard to cross off, but I am going to remain hopeful.

20 days until sunshine.

  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, next up, France in November and Hungary in December)
  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’s Escape

Today I found the perfect car.

So I bought it.

Estelle is a 2005 Ford Escape.

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She was priced below the money that I got for the Civic, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances of finding a car. I took her for a test drive, and I was hooked. She drives well, had very low mileage, and had a really clean bill of health. My dad told me before he left for vacation to just wait for him to come home before I did anything, but I saw Estelle, and I knew that she would be just what I need for the next couple of years. I called my parental units to let them know what was going on, and ask my dad what I should ask for in terms of pricing. He gave me a number, and wished me luck.

I went in to the negotiation knowing that if it didn’t feel right, then I could easily walk away and keep looking. I set the price that my dad gave me, and the salesman brought out another sales dude to try and work me over. I was prepared for that, so I stuck to my guns, and told him I was holding firm on my price. He came back with a number that was slightly higher, and I countered with a number in the middle, told him to fill the gas tank and pay the tags and we’d have a deal. He looked me in the eye, told me I was tough, and then shook my hand. The original salesman told me I was strong and he liked it.

I smiled like I do that all the time, but to be honest, I was doing the happy dance in my head. I have been really worried for the last two weeks that I was not going to be able to afford a car, or the ones that I could afford would not be something I wanted to drive. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do this without anyone’s help, and that I was adult enough to buy a car that was completely mine….of course, I think it helped that the people at the dealership were really really nice, and have a good reputation for fair prices and good cars.

Today was the first time in over a year I felt like me. I knew what I wanted, I didn’t take crap from anyone, and I didn’t let myself get taken advantage of. I was snarky, wasn’t stressed, and I left feeling really good about my choice when I left the dealership. She may not be as good on the fuel as the Civic, but my commute is about to get smaller, and I think I can do without any new shoes for awhile. I feel good about the purchase, have a little money left, and actually feel like an adult.

So now, while I am stuck in the current cycle of work, school, homework, repeat, I have my little white Escape to get me through.

Summer school still sucks, but there is less than month left.

Studying for the qualifying exam sucks, but the director of the other program gave me some good study tips, and I know that I will get things done.




Little Lost Scamp

8 months ago I decided that I no longer wanted to live in San Diego. I had finished my master’s degree and was ready to move on and put  this place behind me. Thanks to the economy, and my desire to work in a field where English teachers are a dime a dozen, I was forced into taking a full-time gig in San Diego and abandoning my escape plans. I had put the idea of a PhD. on hold and settled for a crappy night job in hopes of having the time to hunt down permanent teaching gigs and working my way out of San Diego. The longer I was out of school though, the more I itched to be back in the classroom. For the first 23 years of my life I had staked my entire identity on being a student. It was the only thing that I knew how to do really well (besides sarcasm) and I found myself getting lost in a world of routine schedules and lonely night shifts. Five months into the new job working nights and I felt like a zombie. I didn’t get to see my friends, I wasn’t learning anything new, and I slowly losing my sense of self. When it became clear to me that a full-time teaching gig was not on my horizon, I decided that the only way I was going to become a better candidate for jobs was to get another degree.

My family likes to joke that I am a perpetual student, and if I could be one, I would, but I honestly felt like adding another skill set to my bag of tricks would make me stand out in a job interview. I began to hunt for programs that I could complete onlline, and in a short amount of time, so that I could teach a wider variety of classes and make myself more marketable. At first I wasn’t looking for PhD. programs, I was just looking at certificate programs and classes that would allow my to teach reading or ESL classes. None of the programs I found seemed that interesting, and as people around me settled down to get married, have kids, or start their careers, the only thing I found myself wanting to do was run as far away from here as possible. I started looking into teaching English abroad, and possibly going to school. The first place I looked at was New Zealand. It is a well known fact to those who love me that I have a thing for sheep farmers, and New Zealand seemed like the perfect place to go to find a hot sheep farmer to sweep me off my feet. While I was thinking about school, I was also thinking about the upcoming family vacation to Ireland. They have sheep farmers there too, so I figured applying to school there wouldn’t be so bad either. Further research into the schools there and the types of programs they have led me to believe that I wouldn’t be a good fit, so I googled “Colleges and universities in the U.K.” University of Edinburgh was one of the returns, and once I saw that they had a literacy program, and that the application process was free, I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose by applying. I didn’t really know anything about the school, and I had never been to Scotland, but I figured it wasn’t costing me anything more than 500 words to apply, so I would have nothing to lose.

I submitted the application at Thanksgiving, and didn’t give it another thought. I applied for a handful of full-time teaching jobs in Orange County and I started working with my mom on a new way to teach developmental writing. It wasn’t until the end of February when U of E emailed and asked for some more details that I even thought about the application. The only thing that I said when they emailed me offering me a place in the program was “I got in” The first person I called was my mom, and when she didn’t answer, I left her a rambling message that made no sense, and then I called Kelly. After that I text everyone I could think of telling them I got in. I could not sit still. Work no longer seemed important. I got in. I had my escape route.

When I finally did talk to my mom, she immediately started talking about all of the things that practical people think of when applying to school. How was I going to pay for it? What was the cost? Where was I going to live? When did I have to give an answer? How did I know I could live there? I didn’t have any answers beyond “I got in” and at that moment, I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had gotten into the University of Edinburgh and I hadn’t been that happy or excited about anything in years. I knew that there was no way I was going to turn down the offer, so, despite my mom’s misgivings, I accepted the offer, site unseen.

So now I have six months to nail down a place to live, find funding, get a job, and make a list of the all of the places that I want to visit and all of the things I want to see while I am living in the U.K.