The Scamp’s 500th Post

This post brought to you by a moment that I never thought would happen. When I started this blog 8 years ago, I never really thought about how many posts I would write, or how much of my life I would end up sharing with the world. This became my diary, my therapist, my love letter to Scotland and to my wanderlust.

It took a long time to get from 400 to 500. Number 400 was written in 2016. A lot has happened in the last four years….most of it not captured on these pages. The PhD killed my love of writing, and to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of fun and positivity to write about it. Even now that the PhD is done, I’m still not sure there is a lot of good in my life right now to write about.

I always want the milestone posts to be something special, something big. I didn’t have anything really big to share until about a month ago.

On March 9, 2020, just two days after my thirty-something birthday, I got adopted.

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I really debated whether or not I was going to share this. I have family that are not going to understand and probably  not be happy with my choice, and to be honest, I am still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of having to explain such a personal choice.

But in the spirit of the 500th post, I’ll give it my best shot.

I’ve been joking about being adopted since I was a kid. I always wanted to move from the back of the alphabet to the front. Because my biological father is still alive, my mom always said she thought that would be disrespectful to him as long as we were in contact with him. I haven’t had contact with him in almost 10 years. I have no desire to change that.

I shelved the idea and went on to build a name for myself as a Wilder. That’s always been my name. I get jokes, got a job interview solely because that was my surname, and funny looks when I introduce myself. There is nothing wrong with the last name Wilder.

I just didn’t want it to be my last name anymore.

For the last few years, when I think of the Wilders, I do not think of family. Every year that passed since I have been back in Edinburgh has just solidified that feeling. The last straw was this past summer when the Wilder’s all gathered in California, and the only reason I knew was from pictures posted on social media. Not once did anyone try to contact me, or ask my siblings about where I was or what I was doing. It was like I had been completely erased from the family….which is impressive since I am an identical twin.

That’s when I really thought about what it meant to be family and to be part of a family. A family supports you, a family makes you feel safe, makes you feel like you belong. A family is more than just blood.

I’ve called Rick Davis my dad since I was 18 and it was easier to introduce my parents to my friends while I was at uni. But the truth is, he’s been my dad for much longer than that. He’s the one who went to all the school plays, the swim meets, the graduations. He’s the one who helped me buy my first car and taught me how to check to oil, change a tire and not get scammed in a deal. He’s the one who met boyfriends, let me cry in the backyard with him when I got expelled, told my mom that it was okay for me to move to Scotland, and has funded my wanderlust. He’s always rolled his eyes when I get a new tattoo. He’s always treated me like his kid.   He’s always offered his support, always looked out for me, and always made me feel like I belonged somewhere.

He’s my dad (and now when I say I am his favourite daughter, it is true in more ways than one).

We’ve both had it pretty rough the last couple of years. Me with the PhD journey and the lack of feeling like I belonged anywhere and him dealing with the loss of my brother and my grandpa. I felt like we both needed something good. So a few months before Christmas I found an attorney that specialises in adult adoptions and then ambushed my dad on a Wednesday with a video chat. It wasn’t one of those viral videos that you see floating around social media, no big surprise or big speech. I didn’t let my mum say anything publically for months (and I know it is killing you, so you can tell people now mum). I wasn’t even going to tell anyone other than my brother and sister. I didn’t want to have to explain myself to anyone. I’m still not sure that I do. People in Scotland know, but not many people outside of my little bubble here know, and I am not sure there is anyone outside of this bubble that even wants to know.

When I was in California for Christmas, we met with the lawyer, filled out all of the paperwork, and waited for a court date. The judge didn’t allow technology, and I had to have a lawyer stand-in for me, and the whole thing lasted for three minutes, but I am finally a Davis.

I even have a new birth certificate to prove it.

That was the unexpected part of the adoption. A completely new birth certificate. My new place in my chosen family complete. I am now a Davis….although professionally I am a Wilder-Davis because I started my career as a Wilder and already published under that name. The cool thing is everything was official before I turned in the thesis edits, so my hyphenated name is on the front page.

And hopefully, in a few short weeks, everyone can officially call me Dr Davis.

 

The Scamp is Accidentally Funny

Today I finally got an email from a supervisor that I am excited about.

I am a handful of edits away from a complete draft of my theory chapter. Considering the last draft I submitted was ‘confusing’ and ‘unclear,’ I am so chuffed that I am almost done. Of course, I would not have been able to get that far without having sent the draft to my mom as an extra set of eyes. Turns out, I am not as bad a writer as I thought.

I may actually finish this thesis.

That aside, I have been dipping my toe into the festival. I went and saw Ari Shaffir do a set on being Jewish and it was the best thing ever. I laughed the entire time. He’s in the city this month to prepare for a Netflix special, and I cannot wait until the final set is done. It probably won’t be half as funny though when it isn’t done in front of a room full of people who know nothing about Judaism.

Since one of the besties is in theatre, and working during the festival, when she mentioned that she was out and about, I knew I had to detour in her direction. She introduced me to the writer for the show she is working on, and to a casting director and I felt like my job is borning in comparison so I blurted out the most outrageous thing I could think of: I was an accidental Jewish guest at a white supremacist wedding.

The story was a big hit with the crowd, and I think maybe it is time I shared it with the world.

The rest of this is the how the big day unfolded to the best of my recollection. I am going to try and avoid using names, although most of my family and friends from California will have an idea of who this is.

When I was 21 years old, I was dating a very sweet guy who lives in Hollywood. The house he grew up was the house that his dad grew up in, and his dad knows everyone and anyone. He has amazing stories that he likes to tell (often on a loop. I heard the same ones a lot in the two years I dated his son) and was often collecting strays that would live at the house for anywhere from a few days to a few months, to a few years. It was one such stray that had been cared for by the family that asked if he could have his wedding in the giant front yard of the Hollywood house.

It was summertime (I think it was June) and I spent my time going back and forth between my parent’s house in Orange County to the boyfriend’s house in Hollywood. I got to the house in the late afternoon for the rehearsal dinner. The first thing that I noticed was the motorcycles and muscle cars. I have an El Camino and the boyfriend has a classic Mustang (I loved that car), so I was immediately interested in the cars.

Unfortunately, that was the last thing I was interested in for the rest of the weekend. I walked into the house and felt like I had walked into a Klan meeting. The groom was a tall dude covered in tattoos. He was wearing jeans and white undershirt with the sleeves rolled rockabilly style. His tattoos showcased his love of his heritage….including the swastika on his neck. The bride to be was also covered in tattoos and piercings, including the SS lightning bolts. Their friends looked much the same. During the course of the party, the two got more and more hammered and then shared how they met. They had met through MySpace (which tells you how long ago this happened) when they each thought the other was someone else. They talked for a couple of weeks before they realised the mistake that they had made, and after a few laughs (and not a lot of time) they decided that they couldn’t live without each other and decided to get married.

Strong foundations for a good marriage, right?

The next day my boyfriend and his friends helped put out chairs, make sure the front yard was clean and went about helping set up for the BBQ after the ceremony. The best man, my boyfriend and I went to get as much ice as we could for all of the booze that was now sitting in the driveway of the Hollywood house. During this outing, I learned that the best man was married, he liked muscle cars, and he had a habit of lingering a little bit too long when he touched me. I changed into a nice sundress and tried to stay out of the way while everyone got dressed. The wedding party had been drinking since about 9am, and by the time guests started arriving, the wedding party was beyond three sheets to the wind. Even my boyfriend’s dad was drunk….and he was the one in charge of officiating the wedding!

The best guest of the day was the mother of the groom. She showed up with her very fake boobs spilling out of a very tight dress that was better fitted to someone half her age. She was very theatrical and dramatic and did not really act the way that you would expect a mother to act. The wedding was delayed for a couple of hours, although I can’t for the life of me remember why. People showed up in jeans, baseball hats, leather. Their tattoos were crude and slightly offensive, and I decided that it was best if I just made myself scarce. When it was finally time to start, one of the groomsmen had lost his shirt, and his very large tattoo of the word ‘thirsty’ across his stomach was on display. He sported a backwards baseball cap and several beers. The groom could barely stand up straight and the officiant was in shorts and a black shirt with a paper collar to make him look like a priest. He was swaying slightly as well.  The bride walked down the aisle to some hardcore song, but she looked stunning in her white strapless mermaid gown and tiny net veil.

The ceremony was short, the kiss at the end sloppy.

And then the fun began. BBQ and booze flowed. I felt very uncomfortable in a crowd of people that proudly displayed their racist ideology, and even asked my boyfriend at one point if I had been invited to the wedding as a ritual sacrifice. He failed to see the problem, so I hid in his room for an hour or so and text my mom about the ridiculousness of what was going on. When my boyfriend neglected to come to find me, I decided to venture back out. One of his friends was sitting on a couch on the phone arguing with his girlfriend. It was obvious that she was mad at him, and while I started to move out of the bedroom, the mother of the groom came tumbling in dragging the best man by his tie (yeah, he was wearing a tie, go figure). The two of them disappeared into the bathroom together. I looked over at my boyfriend’s friend, and both of us were shocked and confused….so much so that he interrupted his girlfriend and asked if they could pause the fight so that he could tell her what we just saw.

Needless to say that a slutty mother of the groom having sex with the married best man is a good way to end an argument.

They came stumbling out a few minutes later and I went outside to find my boyfriend and tell him what I had just seen. I was waiting for them to cut and serve the cake, but by 11 or so I was tired of waiting and went to bed.

At some point after that, the groom learned that his friend had slept with his mom. They got in a massive fight in the front yard and the best man lost a tooth. The bride and groom then got in a massive screaming match and she threw her wedding ring over the fence and into the middle of a very busy street in front of the Hollywood house (It was never found). They slept separately and were still not speaking the next day.

I learned a valuable lesson that day….always look at the wedding invitation first. If it has a swastika on it, respectfully decline.

As I write this, I wonder if it is as funny as it was when I told it to a shocked audience last night in an effort to make them laugh. They joked that I could have my own fringe show, and said they could not write a better scene. I hadn’t thought about that in years, and now I wonder if those two are still together and whether or not they have started their own little Hitler Youth group.

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 12

The challenge this week is to write about a word I overuse.

Easy. The word I overuse is: fine.

I must say at least 50 times a day that I am fine.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how I feel.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how my work is going.

Fine seems to be my go-to when I have to make sacrifices to do what other people want, regardless of if I want it.

I’m in a mood this week after accidentally stumbling on a wedding photo of an ex. I’m not upset that he is married. He cheated on me six years ago. I do not want to be the one in the photo with him. I’m upset that I had to see it and therefore acknowledge that he exists. I’d rather live in ignorance, and pretend he no longer exists. Out of sight, out of mind. Now he isn’t.

And during a month when I am worried about my future; when I’ve gotten rid of people that are bad for me; when I tried really hard not to lose people who are bad for me; when I was stuck in cold Edinburgh instead of visiting my nephews in warm California.

So I say that I am fine, but I am not really fine.

On the plus side, I saw the sun today and went out wearing a jacket not made for snow, and I watched the sunset at 7:30 this evening….which means it is finally spring.

I like spring. Everything comes back to life in spring.

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 18

I’m a week late. I know. I know.

Same story, different day. I have found myself with a distinct lack of motivation and a profound sense of wanderlust. Thank God by this time next week I will be on an adventure through the Balkans. 7 countries, 5 different currencies, and plenty of sunshine. I’m not taking my laptop with me, but I am going to take my travel journal, so I’ll write it all up when I get back.

The challenge for last week was to look through my couch cushions and find the first coin that I could. I was to then write about what I was doing on the date on the coin. My couch has a lot of strange stains under the cushions, and a lot of crumbs (note to self, hoover the couch), but no coins. Next to my couch though is a little table and on it sat a rogue penny and ten cent euro. The euro was dated 2000 and the penny 2006. I was in the 7th grade in the year 2000, so I decided that 2006 would be more fun to write about.

In 2006 I was in my second year at UC Merced. I was living in my first apartment with two girls I had shared a dorm with, and I was well into my literature degree. I thought I had made friends that would be a part of my life forever.

I spent a lot of time in the sun, and learned the hard way that it is hard to have an odd number of friends, especially girls, and that my low tolerance for drama would leave me feeling isolated and alone. I went to a lot of parties at the start of the year, and then hid away for the second half so that people would stop talking about me. The people I worked with at the library became my really close friends, and the boys often dragged me out for poker nights. I watched the movie Waiting way too many times that year. I didn’t date, but was okay with it, and spent a lot of time watching Grey’s Anatomy in my bed on the weekends. I learned a lot about myself that year.

In 2006 I didn’t have Lupus, didn’t have chronic depression, and didn’t have trouble sleeping. My self esteem had taken a bit of a hit, but I still went on conquering academia. I took a literature class that year with a well respected professor of Spanish literature who told me he was impressed with me because I made a connection between the visual image presented in a play with the actual image of the dialogue. The fundamentals of literature I learned in that class would later help me with my MA at SDSU. I was still driving the Tugboat, and only had 1 tattoo (I know, I don’t even remember me with only one tattoo).

In 2006 I hadn’t figured out how to quell my wanderlust. I had no idea how much fun I’d have with my passport, and how much better life would get once I figured out that not everyone sucked and that it was okay to not want to immediately go back to the place I grew up and become an ‘adult’. I grew a thicker skin, got ready to leave my teen years behind me, and started doing yoga. All in all, not a bad year for me.

I have no forgotten that I still have activities to cross off my list of things to do before I turn 30. I’ve made tentative plans to ride a horse and I am hoping that I can go on a hike while in Croatia, learn to dance in Greece and continue to work on Scorpion pose.

 

  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 and the Writing Challenge: Week 7 and 8

Week 7: Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

I got the year 2015. Hmmmm. Two years ago at this time I was in Boston with one of my favorite Scotland girls. We were there during one of the worst snow storms of that year, and we had an amazing trip. She was very supportive with all that was going on at CSUF, and she left our hostel room so that I could interview with my now supervisors. She kept telling me I had nothing to be nervous about, that I would be great during the interview, and then she took me out to celebrate on our last day in Beantown.

2015 was the year my life changed. It sucked. Parts of it were really hard, and really made me question everything that I was doing with my life. My depression was really bad, and there were a few days that were a struggle. I was able to see a really good therapist at the local community centre, and I know that she had a major hand in helping me get healthy.  My 28th birthday changed all of that. I jumped out of an airplane and got a job in Scotland.

2015 was the year the wombmate got pregnant, and tomorrow we will celebrate my muffin’s 1st birthday. I was lucky enough to get to be there for the birth and his first few days in the big bad world. In three days we will be reunited for mischief and mayhem.

Week 8: When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?

I like to joke that I am not really an adult yet, but I am sure I am. I’m not really sure about the first time, but the day I bought my Ford Escape was definitely a day that qualifies as an adult day for me. When my cute little Civic was totaled, I had a rental car until I got the insurance money. When I took the rental car back to the dealership, my brother-in-law and I decided to wander around a bit. A man came out to help us, and when he started talking to my bro-in-law, and when I saw Estelle, I knew I wanted her. Through the process he talked to my bro-in-law like he was in charge, but I asked to see the engine, talked about the oil changes and maintenance, and any previous accidents. Eventually he figures out that I am in charge, and although he talks to me the way a dad would talk to his daughter, he was nice. I usually let my dad handle these things, but after a quick call to him to see how low I could go on the price, I went in and negotiated everything on my own. Again, they talked to my bro-in-law first, and since that made me a little mad, I just held fast to the price I was willing to pay and then I drove home in a car that served me well for a year, and is now in the care of a good family friend.

While it seems like a silly thing to make me feel like an adult, when my dad said I did alright when he saw the car for the first time, I knew I was golden. Next year when I pay off the first of my student loans will really make me feel like an adult.

I am now getting ready for the long trip to California and the last few days of my 20s.

 

The Scamp and a New Writing Challenge: Week 1

I survived 2016!! I am no closer to world domination, but I am in one piece after stumbling home at 5 am on the first….all that proved is that I am old. I slept for three days after.

I’m hopeless.

It was a top night though filled with rum, amazing girls, and a handsome bearded man who did not try and get in my pants, but did appreciate my sarcasm. I may not have really kissed anyone at the New Year, but I actually made some new friends, I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself in public, and I did not think about deadbeat boy at all.

Although he is sneaking in here and there and it makes me a little sad.

So, new year, new writing challenge. I’m having a hard time finding one that I like, but I think I am going to pick through a few and answer prompts that catch my fancy. I’m also going to start the year by saying I will complete each weekly challenge on time, but we all know that that is going to be real touch and go. The first prompt of the new year is: What are you most excited about in 2017?

I started with an easy one. I think I am looking forward to everything about 2017. I have some good trips planned, I now have a good social circle to do fun things with, and by the end of this year I will have some good solid draft chapters of my thesis written. I really see this year being all about getting healthy and becoming a better person.

I will also turn 30. Finally. I know that for the last couple of years I said that by the time I turn 30 I will have all my shit together and be an adult, but now I just think that when I turn 30 I will be starting a really great phase of my life….possibly the best years? I’m just really excited about my 30s. I will complete my studies, hopefully get my career in full swing, and get a dog (I’m putting that on the list. I want a dog more than most girls my age want a child). I’ll get to be an aunt again.

I’m hoping that 2017 is the year I finally really get a handle on my depression as well. The last few weeks have not been bad, but that was traveling, having a good night out and hiding from reality. I eventually have to go back to the office, I have to finish editing this damn paper, and keep my motivation up for this round of data collection and report writing. I see a lot of cups of tea in my future and a lot of written kitten to get me through that.

In the meantime, I think I am going to enjoy the way 2017 started and hope that it keeps on just like this.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 42

Ten weeks left in the year 2016. I for one can’t say that I will be sad to see it go.

I spent a majority of this week on the bus commuting between the campuses to see the students I tutor, so I am a little grumpy about the lack of my own work that got done, a little tired from all the time on the bus, and now that the weather is getting colder, I am finding it hard to get out of the house without a few layers.

But, I’m trying to stay positive, and trying to see the good in things, so I will not get bogged down in some of those things. The challenge for this week is to describe my day in five words. Because Sunday is the day I don’t get out of bed until I absolutely have to, and then clean my flat from top to bottom, I will write about my Friday….I meant to write this on Friday anyway.

Frustrating. I was supposed to have a meeting Friday morning, and after waiting for a week and a half for confirmation on the meeting time, I heard nothing until the moment we were supposed to meet. The email asked if we were still meeting, and said sorry if you were waiting for me to confirm…..thanks. I also got several emails from the office about my impending move into the storage closet. I’ve spent the whole week off campus, so I packed everything on Monday since I knew I wouldn’t be in. I then got an email about the fact that I still needed to pack my desk. Really it meant I had to travel an hour one way on a Saturday to create a cardboard box for my computer. It took me longer to walk up the stairs to my office than it did to do anything else. I’ve still never been told I was moving. I just got the paper that you have to fill out when you move. It really does not make me want to go into the office at all. I already know that I am not a part of the office, but the lack of communication and respect is starting to make me feel bad about myself.

Confusing. I blame the boy. He fucks with me on so many levels that running into him on my way to therapy left me confused about how I feel about him. I’ve been struggling to get out of the relationship, and making good strides to not keep getting sucked into his emotionless selfish life, but when he kissed me hello and waited for the bus with me and mentioned going on a date to the Royal Botanics like we did last year, I saw that little glimmer of hope that he could be the boyfriend I wanted, even though I know that is not true.

Emotional. I see my therapist every Friday, and the sessions always leave me feeling emotionally wiped out. I also blame the boy for this.

Unexpected. While waiting for the bus, I ran into a friend of mine who was also on his way home. We were able to ride the bus home together and trade tales of our PhD life. I don’t mind riding the bus home by myself, but it was nice to run into a friendly face. It makes me feel like I really live in the city now.

Social. I know, me, social. Crazy. One of the most lovely humans I know was celebrating her birthday. She organized a group to meet at the Royal Botanic Gardens to see the annual light show followed by drinks and dancing. I love spending time with the special special unicorn, so a chance to celebrate her birth seemed like a great idea to me. I was not disappointed. I worried a little because I am not good in social situations when I don’t know anyone, but all of the people I met on Friday night were wonderful creatures. I had a lovely chat with a police officer who let me try and convince people he was a small animal masseuse, met sweet couples, and found a partner in sarcasm. There was no awkward moments, no feelings of being an outsider, and only a little teasing when I refused to go dancing at the end of the night. It was absolutely wonderful.

I was able to end the day on a good note, able to forget about the struggles from the missed meetings, the encounter with the boy, the emotional hour in therapy.  It reminded me that I am not completely hopeless at making friends and enjoying an evening around other people, and that there is hope for me to get a handle on my depression and go back to being my lovely little flamingo in a flock of pigeons.