The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 32

We are officially halfway through August and I have no idea what I have been doing with myself. I’ve seen one fringe show, still haven’t finished the draft of the paper from hell, and still have not taken a vacation. I’m back to the States in 5 weeks for a short visit, and the new school year starts in two weeks.

But I am a week behind,  so I will not waste anymore time. The challenge for the week is to write about how I have been spending my time lately. That is actually easy.

I’ve been avoiding responsibility.

Okay, not really, but sorta. This month has sorta spend by. I’ve been making time to see my friends, whether it is movies, dinner at my place, or comedy shows at the Fringe. I’ve really been putting in the effort to be more social and not just spend my time at home moping and watching bad reality TV. It’s been nice to be busy, and to be social. It keeps me from thinking about my depression, from all of the work that I am being asked to do at the university, and from all the ways I wish that I was different.

I’ve been subbing at a language school. One of my friends got married this weekend, and so I have been covering her classes while she is away. The classes have been great. One is a one-on-one conversation class where I can pick the topics we discuss and all I have to do is ask questions to get the conversation going, and the other class is a test prep class that is a lot of writing. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening.

I got to get out of the city and visit Ireland and watch my friend get married. the wedding was lovely. It was very intimate, and I felt very VIP for having made the cut to witness such a beautiful day. I was also reunited with one of my favourite people. We hadn’t been in the same timezone in about a year, and we got to catch up on life and figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. This weekend I not only mastered driving on the left, but I mastered the art of going through a roundabout. One of the goals of my list of things to do before I am 30 is to get my UK driving licence. I now know that I can drive a car on the left side of the road, and make it through a roundabout without anyone honking at me.

So really, I’ve mastered the most important parts of the test.

The last bit of my time has been spent actually trying to get words on a page that are related to my thesis. While there are bits of the paper I am working on that will eventually become part of my thesis, as they stand now they are not part of it. I have been feeling like the last year has had nothing to really do with my PhD, and that is starting to stress me out. I only have about 3,000 words so far, and chances are they will change a lot by the time it actually becomes my thesis, but it makes me feel better that I have something written, and something that sounds like me and has my voice in it.

Perhaps the most exciting bit though is that once I survive this week I get five days on a beach in Malta.

And really, that is all I ever really want out of life.

The Scamp Crosses One Off the List

When you walk through a storm,

 Hold your head up high,
 And don’t be afraid of the dark,
 At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky,
 And the sweet silver song of a lark.
 Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Everyone knows that my first sporting love is the UFC. I live in the UK now, and while UFC is popular here, there is one sport that is a way of life: football (soccer for those of us from more civilized parts of the world). Pubs, clubs, flags and scarves, people here are known by which team they support. I never really watched football when I lived in California, and really didn’t watch it all that often when I moved here the first time. My best friend here is a massive Celtic FC fan, and always tries to get me into supporting his team. I joke that I could become a hooligan when my academic career falls through and I am too old to be a stripper….so far he isn’t buying it.
A little background on the team. Wikipedia has summed up Celtic history better than I could:

The Celtic Football Club (/ˈsɛltɪk/) is a professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland, that plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887[nb 1] with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow. They played their first match in May 1888, a friendly match against Rangers which Celtic won 5–2. Celtic established itself within Scottish football, winning six successive league titles during the first decade of the 20th century. The club enjoyed their greatest successes during the 1960s and 70s underJock Stein when they won nine consecutive league titles and the European Cup.

Celtic have won the Scottish League Championship on 47 occasions, most recently in the 2015–16 season, the Scottish Cup 36 times and theScottish League Cup 15 times. The club’s greatest season was 1966–67, when Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, also winning the Scottish League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, and the Glasgow Cup. Celtic also reached the1970 European Cup Final, and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

Celtic have a long-standing fierce rivalry with Rangers, and the clubs have become known as the Old Firm. The two clubs have dominated Scottish football, winning 101 league titles between them since the inception of the Scottish League in 1890.

The club’s fanbase was estimated in 2003 as being around nine million worldwide, and there are in excess of 160 Celtic supporters clubs in over 20 countries. An estimated 80,000 fans travelled to Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

That is a massive set-up to say that one of the things on my list of things to do before I turned 30 was yell at a football match. The bestie’s love for Celtic, and a match against Astana provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. I treked up to Glasgow with the best friend and some of his friends, and thanks to a very tense match, got to yell at the players. I had an amazing time. The atmosphere was electric. The stadium was full of loyal fans chanting, cheering and yelling at the game. It was impossible to not get caught up in the feelings. Celtic won with a penalty shot at the very end of the match.

They also earned a new fan.

 

  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
  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 31

In my quest to make it to the office at least three days this week, today I decided to stay home. I got up early, I was going to make it 2/2 in the work week….I really was. Then I got a text confirming that my two favourite people weren’t going to be in the office and I lost all motivation to go in.

I did not go back to bed though….even though I was really tempted. I sat on my couch and tried to make an outline for a paper I don’t think I have time for, and shop for vacations that I cannot seem to make myself commit to. I got cocky. I crossed a bunch of things off my list yesterday and I thought I could parlay that wave of success into the rest of the week, but as usual, instead of enjoying my mini success, I’m already disappointed that I didn’t achieve more.

It’s a perk of my personality and it keeps my therapist in rent money. You could say my neurosis is good for the Scottish economy.

The challenge for this week is to think about the pros and cons of my job. I feel like this list is going to be a bit one sided.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. I can work from anywhere. On days I don’t feel like going to the office (and let’s face it, that is most days lately) I can work from my couch, from my buddy’s couch, the library, or the boy’s kitchen table. I like the freedom that I have to work where it suits me best. It has come in real handy lately.

2. The people. I’ve made some great friends since I started working for the university a year ago. Unfortunately a few of them no longer work there, but the friendship remains. When I do go into the office, they keep me laughing, encourage me to keep going, and make the office a little less gloomy.

3. Publishing opportunities. In the US, academia is sink or swim. In a lot of the PhD programmes you have to meet a publishing or presenting quota….and you have to do a lot of it solo. In the UK, the more authors the better, and the co-authors are your biggest champions. I may be on draft 47 of this paper up for publication, but I know when it does finally make it to a journal it will be a good piece of work.

And I will be this [————-] close to being famous. I’ve also presented at three conferences this year, and thanks to the university, I will get at least two more next year. The amount of publicity my work is getting is great, and hopefully it will make the rest of the data collection a much smoother process.

4. My job is in Edinburgh. We all know how I feel about that.

5. I get to be a doctor at the end of it.

and then an adult.

Now for the cons:

  1. This life is a lonely island. Even though I have a good circle of friends, some of who have successfully made it through this process, it is still something that I am 100% in charge of. I have this horrible problem of equating my the work that I produce with who I am. When that work isn’t going well, it means that I am not doing well. If I get negative feedback, I take it to me there is something wrong with me (which is ironic considering my research is entirely dedicated to feedback, and how to use it successfully). I sometimes feel like no one understands what I am doing, how much work it takes to make this happen, and how much I have riding on this research. This feeling sometimes keeps me in the dark and twisty, and that is a spiral I do not like being in.

2. I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure. I’ve talked about the fact that I am currently the only educational pedagogy PhD on campus. Heck, the university doesn’t even have a school of education. All eyes are on me, and they are all dying to know if my research can actually be used to help inform university policy. This project is the brain child of my main supervisor, so I also get a lot of pressure from him in terms of his expectations and my ability. I’ve also added an extra level of pressure because I feel  like since I sat in this boat before that I should be doing better, be further along in the process.

This has led to a lot of tears, a lot of days hiding in bed, and a lot therapy sessions.

3. Most days I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve turned in drafts of my paper and most of the time I feel like I’ve done all that is asked of me and then the feedback I get asks me to do something completely different. I’m getting edits on things that they told me to edit, spent a lot of time going north and I am now being asked to go southwest, and generally feel like I am wasting my time.

I hate feeling like I am wasting my time.

4. I have to depend on others for my research. I hate that. Especially when people do not put in the effort, react, or care as much as I do. I wish I could control every little thing around me, and I can’t. That frustrates me to no end. I hate depending on other people, and I hate that my crazy expectations are often crushed because no one is as bat shit as I am. I’m really trying to learn how to be better about my expectations, and how to best work with others, but that is such a slow slow slow process.

At the end of the day though, I love my job. I knew the process was going to suck, I know that their will be days that I cry and hate myself (and the work), and I know when this job is done I will have something amazing to show for it (and hopefully British citizenship).

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 30

I’ve hit a wall this week. The never ending edits to a 10 page paper are killing me, the statistical data I collected this academic year show an overwhelmingly neutral attitude towards assessment and feedback practices, and the only thing that I want to do is read a trashy romance novel while curled up in my bed.

This is not a new feeling for me. I have not felt all that productive for months. The less productive I feel, the more overwhelmed I feel, and the less work that I actually get done. The frustrating thing about all of this is that I know that I am stuck in this loop, know what I have to do to get out of it, and yet, I’m not actively working to try and stay out of it. One of the hardest things about my depression, and my crazy good self awareness, is that I can often see the mistakes I am making, and even understand why I am making them, but I can’t always stop them. Right now, because I am feeling a little bit stuck with my research, it is keeping me in a nice little depressive loop.

The challenge for this week is to write about what I love about this season of my life. I thought that this would be a hard one to write, but really, it is pretty darn easy. I’m currently sitting in the waiting room of my 30s (thanks Kelsey for that one), and I have to say, despite my ongoing battle with depression, this season of my life is pretty darn great. Once I started thinking about all of the things that I love about my life right now, the list got pretty dang long.

  • I’m sitting on my couch, in a flat that is perfect for me, in Edinburgh. Two years ago I was sitting in the office at my mom’s house studying for the qualifying exam for the EdD programme. I was stressed, but knew that I would pass that hurtle and be that much closer to finishing my degree. This time last year I was filling out customs forms and trying to ship off three boxes of my stuff to meet me here. Yesterday, the sun made a rare appearance and I sat in my window box and soaked up the heat. I wore my bathing suit in hopes that the really white parts of me would get some much needed colour. I’m one year down on my PhD, and although lately the process has led to more tears than smiles, I am really proud that I have made it this far

 

  • I’ve finally figured out how to maintain friendships. I always joke that I am a shitty friend but an excellent pen pal. I spent a lot of time in California by myself, but wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to go out or do the things that many of the people I had been friends with for a long time wanted to do. Here, I am surrounded by people who also think tacos, beer and movie nights are a good thing. People who will go to the symphony with me, laugh at my puppy videos, and keep me away from chocolate. The few friends I still have in the US have sent me care packages, Skype with me regularly, and text me all the time. I love that technology is so easy to use now that I can text and send pictures as often as I want, and see their faces just about whenever I want. They never make me feel bad about the time difference, and they are always willing to fit me into the schedule.

 

  • I’ve stopped apologising for my personality. I used to get really defensive about wanting to live in Scotland, my love for traveling and cat videos, the fact that I love flamingos and ultra bright yoga pants. I like to crack jokes when making presentations, I think sarcasm and passive aggressive comments fix everything, and I have shoes for every occasion. I love bad reality TV. I’m a little bit weird. People seem to like that. Even the boy humours me on occasion with the puppies, the yoga pants, laughing at my own jokes. It took awhile, but I am finally comfortable with who I am.

 

  • I’m a more honest person. I’ve been working on this blog for 6 years. In that time I’ve discussed my struggles with money, the horrible relationships I’ve been in, my lupus, and more recently, my ongoing battle with depression. 6 years ago I wouldn’t have admitted to the world that I was struggling. I wouldn’t have been open about what I was going through. I would have bucked up and pretended everything was okay. I would have worked hard to maintain friendships and relationships with toxic people, and I would never do anything that would show any form of weakness. Now I cry a lot, ask for help, and let people in a little bit so they can help. I’m really trying to make progress with therapy and I’ve set ridiculous goals for myself to try and stay out of the dark and twisty.

All in all, I feel pretty darn lucky to be in this stage of my life. It’s not perfect, and right now it isn’t as much sunshine and roses as I would like, but it is pretty darn good. Speaking of crossing things off my list of things to do before I turn 30, I was able to cross another one off the list. I just about completed a book that is more than 500 pages. I’m at page 900 of a 1200 page Stephen King book about the assassination of President Kennedy. I’ll eventually finish it, even if I find it really strange, but for now, I am going to say it meets the requirement.

  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
  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 Experiences the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Festivals are a big thing in Edinburgh. A really big thing. For the last week the Edinburgh Jazz Festival has taken over the city showering us with good music, interesting band names, and tourists.

I’m not a huge fan of the last one.

According to the official website:

Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Mike’s initial focus was on traditional jazz and a host of events taking place for free admission in pubs. By the mid-80’s the Festival had added ticketed events, and had broadened its musical policy to encompass swing and mainstream jazz and occasionally some more modern groups.

The festival supports Scottish artists, but also supports musicians from around the world, giving them the chance to showcase their talents and share their music with the masses.

Lately I have been trying to do things that will make me feel better, so I decided that it would be worth seeing what the festival  had to offer this year. My selection process was simple: the day and time had to fit in with my schedule and the name of the group had to be fun. I selected two groups based on those criteria: Bratislava Hot Serenaders and Alligator Gumbo.

First up: Bratislava Hot Serenaders

I’m ashamed to admit that while I knew Bratislava was a place, I had no idea where it was. Turns out it is the capital of Slovakia and has one kick ass orchestra. They started in 1991 and have 19 members, including 2 male singers and three women known as the Serenader Sisters. They rearrange and reconstruct old jazz tunes and focus on American Jazz and music from the 20s and the 40s. They also fuse Slovak dance music with jazz. They are dress in 1920s fashion and have a really awesome vintage vibe.

I saw them on a Wednesday afternoon, and was the youngest person in the audience by about 30 years. This show was a good test for me in a couple of ways. The show was in a small tent in St. Andrew’s Square. It was hot, we were packed in like sardines, and I was forced to keep my claustrophobia in check. I was surprised that I was able to make it through the show with only a mild panic. The other test was to go and do something on my own. It has been a long time since I just went on an adventure by myself. When I walked into the tent one of the volunteers asked me if I was alone, and when I said yes, gave me a pity pat on the shoulder and told me there were plenty of seats for singles at the front.

Bitch.

Besides that, the show was great. The music was good, and even though British people don’t really move to the music, I enjoyed myself.

Second up: Alligator Gumbo

According to their website:

 Alligator Gumbo have been playing together since the summer of 2011. Based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, they have played extensively around the north of England to rave reviews. Playing jazz from the hey-day of the New Orleans swing era, in particular the “roaring 20s”, where Jazz music featured instruments such as the violin, clarinet and accordion particularly amongst the Creole musicians based in the city who helped to define this style. Before the time of the jazz big bands, swing music was raw and largely improvised with melodies and solos happening simultaneously which has now become defined as the ‘New Orleans’ sound. Alligator Gumbo strive to keep this style alive in their renditions of popular songs from this unique time and place.

This was another show I went to on my own. This was a Saturday afternoon show, and once again, I was the youngest person in the audience. They had us packed in tightly again, but I managed to sit on an end, so it wasn’t so bad. This group. Let me tell you about this group. They were so nerdy and endearing. They were also super talented musicians.

I would see them again in a heartbeat. It was again odd to me that no one was dancing to the music, but that didn’t stop me from my offbeat clapping and bobbing in my seat.

Bonus: Rob Heron and the Tea Party Orchestra

This is a group from Newcastle upon Tyne, which also happens to be the birthplace of a certain English muffin that I currently call my manpanion. He had seen them play at a pub in Newcastle, and when he saw they were here, thought it would be fun to see them again. We’ve been having some differences of opinions on what a relationship should be like, so when he wanted to go and make a night of it, I jumped at the chance. We had a couple of drinks, walked to the show and had a great time. Again, not many people got up to dance and move, but we did in our seats, laughed and had a good time. We had a couple of drinks after the show and then some very greasy chips with cheese and garlic mayo while watching a Brian Cox documentary. I made my way home at 2 am because sleepovers can only happen if I remember to bring all my medication with me.

If only our relationship was that much fun all the time.

Overall, 3/3 on successful jazz festival shows. It was a good way to spend the week. Now the art festival is picking up and before I can blink it will be time for the Fringe.

Oh how I love festival season.

 

 

 

 

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).

IMG_0983IMG_1001IMG_1016

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.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 28

It is raining again. Shouldn’t be a surprise. It has been raining off and on since I moved here. The rain is starting to drive me crazy. When the sun does come out it is for about five minutes, maybe ten, and then the clouds blow back in and the rain starts.

I need a weekend away. I need lots of weekends away. I’ve been avoiding the office for two weeks. I went in yesterday for a couple of meetings and today I went back to hiding out at my house. I had a meeting with the supervisor I can relate to the most, and she said that the main supervisor asked her to have a chat with me because the last time he gave me bad news I didn’t take it well. My report has been turned in and hopefully it won’t be kicked back, which means I can be an official PhD student.

We shall see though.

I felt a lot better after the chat with my supervisor, she is really good at making me feel better, but by the end of the second meeting, my main supervisor dashed my hopes again by telling me that the paper I have been working on since November is nowhere near ready to be considered for publication. After all of the edits, the comments, the back and forth between the four of us, now he tells me that the paper needs a lot of work to be good enough. Where was this 4 drafts ago?  I have no idea what is expected of me, or what I can do to read their minds.

and the sucky part? It is starting to make me doubt my ability. I have this horrible problem of attaching my worth to the things that I create. These papers, they are a part of me, a measure of me….and right now, they are not good enough….which means I am not good enough.

But I digress. The challenge for this week is to write about 5 major goals I have for my life. No big deal.

Goal 1: I want to get healthy. I am having a tough time staying mentally and physically healthy. I’m trying to get a handle on my Lupus, and so far, things have been pretty good. I’m hoping that in the next 6 months or so I can go off some of the medication. I would like to get down to less than 10 pills a day. I want to be able to overcome the dark and twisty and the self doubt and CSUF and be able to enjoy my life and all the good things around me.

Goal 2: I want to stay in the UK. Okay, by UK I mean I want to stay in Scotland. This is the only place I have ever felt at home. Leaving once almost destroyed me, and I am sure leaving a second time would. I love it here. I love the people, I love the way of life. I love that I can walk almost anywhere, and take the bus when I can’t. I love that the buildings are old and have a history, love all of the different accents that I get to hear on a daily basis.

Goal 3: I want to start my literacy foundation. I want to spend part of my days helping people learn how to read. I want to travel the world and set up programmes that teach kids to love books and allow them to be opened to a whole world of possibilities. Libraries are dying. Bookstores are dying. Curiosity and storytelling are dying. I want to bring that back. I want to bring it all back with paper books and not tablets and e-readers. I’m also going to make Reading with Rover a mandatory thing. Because nothing is better than books. Except puppies and books.

Goal 4: I want to get out of debt. This one speaks for itself.

Goal 5: I just want to be happy. All of the other goals are really to meet this one. I want to be one of those people that makes you sick she is so happy. If I was in a cartoon the sun would shine when I walked outside and flowers would bloom and sing.

And I want a puppy. Someone get me a puppy.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 27

The challenge this week is to make my bucket list.

I am currently working my way through my 30 things to do before I am 30, and right now, that is serving as my bucket list. When I complete that I will make a new list of things to do.

Here is my list as it stands now:

  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
  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

I’m working to finish a book that is more than 500 pages, and to create something original. I still have 25 to do and time is getting away from me.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 26 Part 2

This time I am actually going to cover the focus of the writing challenge for last week: My family. I spent the day writing, so pictures and a few words will have to do the trick.

family 1

This is the only full family photo we have. It isn’t even all of us as the oldest of the step brothers is not in the photo. This is the last time we were all together in one place. It was the last time that we could be all together in one place. I was 20.

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This is the most current family photo. I left for Scotland not long after this, and Kelly was weeks away from finding out about muffin.

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We have a lot of fun together. We are pretty much the only ones who think we are funny (And really, it is just me and my mom that think we are funny)

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This is my favorite picture of us. It has now been coined the “typical Wilder kids” photo, but it really does speak to our personalities. 156326_1786513862898_6319278_n225433_10150164218316887_2747822_n270678_536612843455_6557935_n295388_10150850791826887_1607862510_n

This is one of the best family photos of us. We were in Ireland for the first family vacation in ten years. Kelly and Mondo had just celebrated their first anniversary and I was getting ready to move to Scotland for the first time. We drove everyone in the tour group nuts on that trip.386455_10150360625751887_2066315557_n557297_10151118103296887_60246554_n

I’m sad that I am no longer part of Christmas day photos. We usually make my mother mad by not smiling, not looking at the camera, and generally bitching about the fact that she wants a decent group photo. Now they just hold one of my graduation photos in the picture like I am there with them.10003362_10151843283321887_2054048463_n10386905_10204516103322856_496174025055853131_ovcm_s_kf_representative_360x480 (3)

Now we have the muffin in the mix as well. He is my favorite little dude. I don’t see him nearly enough, but I am still hoping his first words are “Aunty Kimbo”

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My family constantly reminds me to stay out of the dark and twisty, to make sure that I have a travel buddy, and that no matter what I do, I will always have someone in my corner fighting for me.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 26

It is July.

Seriously. July. I survived the month from hell, became an official PhD student, and made it out of Scotland for a quick jaunt into the world of academic presentations.

I’m not sure I was entirely successful.

I turned in a report last week to justify my becoming a PhD student. It took me two and half weeks to write, and I was terrified the entire time. I had a really hard time putting into words why my work is significant and what made me a good candidate for the transfer of title. It really freaked me out. If I cannot explain what I am doing and why it is important, then why should the university move me on?

Which led to a whole host of other problems. If I do not get to advance and complete the degree, then it is back to the land of Trump and Hilary. A land where I have no job, no money, no insurance, and more importantly, no identity. I cannot go back there.

A rather large problem that I have navigating life is that I tie my entire self worth to the things that I produce. I saw this report as an extension of me. If my supervisors don’t like the report then it means they do not like me. I know that this is absurd. I know this, I write about this in terms of students and the feedback they receive, yet I can’t help but be stuck in that quicksand.

The report was just as bad as I thought it would be. My supervisors ripped it apart. They told me as it was, the report would not pass the committee. I had spent so much time being crippled by self doubt and the impostor syndrome, that I produced a really shitty report. I missed a few typos, the report seemed rushed, and I misinterpreted a  question. It was bad. While the team signed off on me becoming a PhD student once I edit and do some heavy revision, I still cannot look past how defeated I feel. I can’t help but think that I am a huge disappointment to my supervisors. None of what I have turned in so far as been good quality work. I’m not a bad writer. I know that. I usually enjoy writing. Lately I have not been enjoying myself. I’ve been stressed. I’m worried what people will think when they read my work, wonder if I have done enough to show that I am worthy of all the things that I have been given in the last year.

I’m also trying to live up to the pressure that my position brings. I’m the first education based PhD, the first one based out of the Department of Learning and Teaching, and I am the living example of why pedagogy is important to a university. With great power comes great responsibility….and a supervisor who is incredibly hard on me, and expects a whole hell of a lot from me. Unfortunately right now I have hit my breaking point. I am a bit burned out.

Luckily I have people around me who believe in me, and a couple who have gone through the process. They talk me off a ledge, send me goats through the mail, and remind me that I am not defined by the drafts that I produce.

This week I had the opportunity to present my paper at an assessment and feedback conference. Last year I got to go to the conference as my introduction to the university and to the role that I was soon to play. I heard a lot of good talks, met some interesting people, and saw a little bit of England. This time around I got to give a 3 minute presentation to a room full of experts in the field. I knew a few people who were there, and I got to sit between two men that I reference in my paper. It was brilliant.

My presentation…..not so much. I went first, and seeing as this was the fist time that the conference had ever done these nano presentations, I was once again the guinea pig. My paper is based around a food metaphor (and I don’t want to give it away yet since it is not complete, and has not been published), but no one laughed at my jokes, and no one asked any questions or had any comments for me. The other seven presenters all had questions and comments. I had silence and a joke that the picture that I used to illustrate my point was only good because it had a bottle of wine in it.

Yeah. Not really my best showing for my first time out, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? I’m feeling pretty beat up about it. So beat up that today as I tried to sit down and make the edits and that I ended up watching a lot of E.R. and then sneaking over to Dan’s flat to nap with him since he is on night shift. This was after I was a massive pain in the ass with him and extremely passive aggressive for the last couple of days. He told me to come over and tucked me into his side for a nap. Then we ate Chinese food and watched Top Gear  until it was time for him to go protect the Queen (yep. She is in this lovely city and he is on palace patrol tonight…hopefully it doesn’t rain tonight).

So now I sit on my couch trying to pretend that I don’t have a million and one things to still do complete my paper for next week and get back to feeling like the badass flamingo that I am. There is always tomorrow, right?

I didn’t even make it to the writing challenge for this week: my family. Tomorrow. As it is almost midnight, I will come back to that tomorrow.