The Scamp is Restless

Day 400, 615 of lockdown and I have lost the plot. I’m tired of being inside, tired of having my holidays cancelled and tired of only having myself for company. I am lucky that people video chat, call and even stand outside my window so I can make some human connection.

I miss my friends. I miss hugging people. I actually sorta miss my commute to Glasgow….okay, not really that last one. I do not miss being tired at night or up so early in the morning.

I’m feeling so restless that I spend a good amount of time looking for new places to live. I’ve been in my current flat for almost 5 years. This is the longest I have lived anywhere since I was 18 years old. That and the lack of actually being able to travel has made me really itchy and anxious to move. The problem is, I’ve really fit myself into this place. I compare everything I look at to this place in terms of space, location and safety…and not much compares for what I am paying.

But I am tired of living in a shabby place. I keep it clean, but the furniture (minus the bed and mattress) is at least 6 or 8 years old. The bathroom is out of date. The toilet leaks, the bathtub is sad and everything is just a depressing shade of beige (I’ve been hearing for 5 years that it is going to get redone, but it hasn’t happened). The electrical in this place is possibly illegal and of dubious safety and my washer is temperamental on the best of days. Right now, with 50 mph winds, my curtains are blowing in both rooms and I can feel the breeze (both windows are closed and locked, but are single glazed and need some work). None of these things really bothered me until I was forced to spend 23 hours a day here.

Which makes me want to move. I want something new, something fresh, managed by people who are interested in caring for their property and the furniture. I want something bigger. Something I am not embarrassed by. If you have ever tried to find a new place to live during lockdown, let me tell you, it is about as easy as trying to read a book in language you don’t speak while you are blindfolded in the dark.

I hate this feeling. I hate feeling restless, I hate not being able to really go outside, and I really hate not being able to travel. These feelings are all being compounded by my favourite place in the world: Napier.

After all of the fun with Napier while I was trying to work on the PhD, being screwed over waiting for the viva date, the horrible viva, and then rewriting an entire PhD in six months, I have yet to hear whether I have passed or not. One of my examiners is over a month late in reading my work, so no graduation for me….at least not for now.

This waiting, this limbo has kept me from enjoying anything. There is a chance they will reject my new work and I don’t get a PhD. There is a chance that they give me another 6 months of corrections, and there is a chance that they finally see that the first thing I published was a piece of shit written at the direction of someone who has no business supervising students on PhDs. To say that I am angry is an understatement. This feeling is keeping me from feeling motivation to do my job, to write some articles for publication, and do really do anything that I thought I would be doing at this point post PhD. I have weight that is not being lost, sleep that is not restful, and an attitude that is not positive.

I don’t like this feeling. I want to be happy. I want to do yoga. I want to write for fun. I want things that I’ve worked hard for to be recognized. I’d like a permanent contract at work and a promotion so I can make my loan payments, not have to pay heaps of money every 6 months for a visa and the uncertainty of this temporary contracts.

The one thing about this is that the weather is getting better, it is lighter later which means I can go for walks and avoid most people, and there are baby animals everywhere! The swans have had a successful batch of babies (7 little swanletts bopping around) and today’s walk was 2 different set of mini quacks learning to dive for food. There is nothing better than seeing little fluffy baby ducks learning to be ducks.

9 weeks down. 5 weeks to go.

Some of you better start preparing for the massive hugs you are about to get….you’ve been warned.

The Scamp and Mental Health Awareness Week

As social media gears up to celebrate mental health awareness week (14-20th of May) in the UK, I am gearing up for the onslaught of cliche inspirational posts that make me want to bang my head against the wall. This year the focus of the week is on stress and whether or not we are coping well.

I can already tell you that I am not coping well. Anyone who has ever undertaken a PhD will tell you that the end of the write-up is no picnic.

I saw a post the other day that said, “You are not your mental illness”.  Maybe you aren’t your mental illness, but I am very much mine….and I don’t think I am alone in that thought.

I am sad more than I am happy. I struggle with crippling self-doubt. I find it hard to leave my flat for days at a time because I am worried about the what people see when they look at me. I’m anxious about my future and often find sleep elusive. I cry out of frustration when I can’t do things well the first time. I constantly feel like the universe is shitting on my head while a little black rain cloud follows me around. I am extremely hard on myself and the people around me, and they often bare the brunt of my moods and feelings.

But, just as I am my illness, I am part of my treatment. I take my medication every day. I see my therapist every two weeks. I do yoga and practice mindfulness to slow down the negative thoughts and racing heartbeat. I wear bright colours and crazy prints so that people focus on my clothes and not my face. I work hard

I watch a lot of baby animal videos.

I’m one of the lucky ones though. I can afford to get my meds, afford to get help and have a really great support system.

Today is American Mother’s Day, and I called my biggest supporter to wish her a good day. I haven’t seen her in 6 months, and haven’t even really been able to Facetime with her in the last couple of weeks. She still checks in every day, tells me it is going to be okay and reminds me that there is a lot of good that comes from working hard and occasionally asking for help.

She also funds some of my adventures.

So, for mental health awareness week, I am going to embrace my mental health challenges and continue to work towards learning how to keep my depression and anxiety from running my life. It is a process. Last week was a really great week for me. Everything went my way and was smooth sailing. The two weeks before that were stressful and draining. It’s a balance that I am still learning to navigate. I don’t often get it right, but I have a therapist and a clear plan of action to help manage the bad days.


If you are struggling in the UK, here is a helpful site to get help:

If you are struggling in the US, you can find help here:

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 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.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 14

Today I taught myself how to sew. Turns out, it really isn’t that hard.

Well, threading the needle was a bit of a challenge, but once I got my hands working properly, and all the knots in place, it was not the scary undertaking I thought it would be. half an hour and three buttons later, my jacket is wearable again.

I am counting today as a success.

The challenge for the week is to discuss something in my life that is stressful. It might as well have been a challenge for me to write about something that is not stressing me out. I’m so good with stress, that most of the time I don’t even realize that I am stressed. To be honest, the one thing that is stressing me out the most right now is my mental health. I’m not managing it well right now, and because of that, I am worried about everything from my relationship, my friendships, and my work. While I’ve been working with my depression for awhile, lately I have been having a hard time making the good stretches last.

This stresses me out because I know that I have a problem, but I can’t seem to come out on top of it. People are always telling me that happiness is a choice, and that I can wake up everyday and choose to be happy. Unfortunately for me, it just doesn’t work that way. I know that I have a good life, I know that ‘on paper’ I have no reason to be depressed, but I am all the same. What stresses me out is the never-ending cycle. I know what I need to do to be healthy, I know what I should avoid doing and saying, but lately, I can’t seem to help myself. I feel like I am writing about the dark and twisty every week, and feel like when I get a handle on it, I then fall back into my negative thoughts.

If I could put half the energy into my work that I do to the dark and twisty, I would have an amazing paper right now.

On the plus side, I have started my adventure to cross another thing off my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. I have found a series of yoga classes that will help me with scorpion pose. I really wish that I had picked an easier pose. My neck and back hate me right now. I’m glad that I have a whole lot of time between now and my 30th birthday.

The Scamp Blows a Fuse

The universe was certainly not throwing me any bones this week. I had to spend one day this week learning how to be a salesmonkey for the tutoring centre, and got sent home from the same centre after the care inspector came to accredit the centre and it was discovered that I still had some pending paperwork, and I spent the better part of Friday at the doctor’s office having half my blood drained from my body, and having to expose myself to a nurse so the UK can be sure I don’t have cervical cancer.

Usually I have a two dinner minimum before someone can get that up close and personal with my cervix…..just saying.

In my rush to get the doc appointment sorted, get to the tutoring centre on time, and generally not be a cranky pants, I blew a fuse in my flat. I was lucky enough to only blow the ones that control the overhead lights. My power, heating, and cooking appliances all still worked.

The bad news is that I only have overhead lights.

Have you ever tried to pee in pitch black? It is scary.


A little mood lighting on a Friday night.

The problem with my flat is that it does not have a circuit breaker box. It should have been as simple as flipping a switch, I could flip a switch. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to text my landlord to actually find out where the circuit box was. I have been starring at it for months without actually knowing what it is….because it was outdated in the 1960s.

2016-01-30 12.21.14

Luckily the circuits were labeled, so I knew what needed to be fixed. I wasn’t super comfortable with fixing it on my own though. I text my landlord, and she basically told me I was on my own and to have fun fixing it.

I did what any self respecting girl does when she is tired, ill, and doesn’t know what to do with electrical problems: I called my mom and cried. Luckily she was nice enough to let me cry, and reminded me of some things to do to make sure I didn’t blow up the flat.

I then used my research skills to find a hardware store near mines, and set off this morning on a trip to find a new fuse. The first place I went did not have what I needed. The guy who runs the store laughed when he saw the fuse because no one uses them anymore. He suggested that I might need a man to help me out, and then pointed me in the direction of a vacuum repair shop that he thought might have what I needed.

I love that vacuum repair shop. When I walked in I was greeted by a woman in her late 50s. She laughed when I told her I was a fish out of water and not really sure what to do. She was super nice and explained that I needed to replace the fuse wire, and how to do that before sending me on my way. She told me she had faith that I would be fine.

I made it home with a mission. I checked Youtube for a video just in case I forgot anything, and then I got to work.

2016-01-30 12.15.45

I was surprised that once I had the fuse wire I actually had all of the supplies that I needed to restring the fuse.

2016-01-30 12.19.21

I was able to get the wire into the fuse and trimmed and wrapped appropriately.

2016-01-30 12.20.11

Viola! A fixed fuse!

2016-01-30 12.23.14

And then there was light!

Considering I cried when I was told I had to do it myself, I was all about the victory dance when I got the lights back on. In the end, it wasn’t a hard thing to do at all, but it was the fact that I was able to do it on my own without screwing anything up really made me happy. I was expecting it to take more than an hour to fix. While I was at work my landlord dropped off some fuses, and while it was too late, I appreciate the gesture.

I also have a new found appreciation for lamps. I am going to invest some lamps.

The Scamp Hates Packing

I hate packing. Hate hate hate it. Most of clothes are currently in my shower. Yep. The shower. What isn’t there is littering my floor, stacked outside my room, and generally reminding me that I have only nine days left to get everything organized before I leave for Spain and then return to Scotland. I have three boxes packed so far and about six more to go.

I’m overwhelmed and stressed. I still have so many things that need to make it into a box. Things like shoes, bags, pens and bathroom supplies, chapstick, my wallets, rubber ducks, and family photos.

I have no idea where all of this stuff came from, and I have no idea how I am going to get it all to Scotland….or when. I want the packing and moving fairy to come and take care of everything for me so I do not have to. I’m going to have to buy the apartment I am hoping to rent so that I never have to move again. Not having a car makes things a little more challenging, and I know that everything will come out alright, but in the meantime, I am tired, and very, very overwhelmed.

The Scamp Encounters Self Doubt

The day I have been dreading is fast approaching. I’ve been studying, outlining, practice testing, and talking it out with my study group. I’ve been telling myself everyday that I am going to pass if I put the right amount of time in. I’ve kinda been remembering to take some days off.

And now that the day is almost upon me, I am doubting my ability to succeed.

Two weeks ago I took a practice test. I answered a question about promoting diversity on campus. I outlined a plan that looked at diversity as more than just the color of your skin, and made a plan that would help students of any color, gender, age, socioeconomic status and the like succeed. I left the practice exam feeling good about myself.

I got the comments back from the grader, and all that changed. She all but called me a racist, and all but said that because I am white, I am in power and therefore do not notice that people of color suffer in higher education. She didn’t tell me I would pass the test if I had turned it in as a real response.

It was then that I was painfully reminded of the glaring (yet unmentioned) problem with the program I am in. They do not value diversity. I am one of the few white people in the program, and I might as well sit in the back silently with a sign around my neck that says “white devil”. The idea of diversity and equitable education in this program means that white people are bad and do not need to be included in the help that is provided for students struggling in college.

In this program, I am a racist. I don’t understand struggle because I am white and never had to work hard for anything.

This completely discounts the fact that I grew up in a single parent household with a mom that worked her fucking ass off so I had a roof over my head. Sure, I didn’t struggle, but it is only because she slaved away so we wouldn’t have to.

This does not take into account that I worked hard to get good grades so that I could qualify for scholarships because there was no way that my mom could afford to pay for three kids to go to college.

This does not take into account the countless scholarships I have been turned down for because I am white.

This also doesn’t take into account the three jobs that I consistently have so I can pay my tuition.

I feel like all of that makes me sound whiny. I hate sounding whiny.

What’s worse, is it makes me think that no matter what I do or what kind of educational leader I want to be, for the next two years I will constantly told I am wrong.

This program is killing my spirit.

All of this self doubt makes me regret the choice I made to come home. To get through this program I have to just give the professors they want to hear, and keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. The only thing I am learning from this program is that it is shaping leaders who do not truly value diversity, and will only ever help a certain population of students. The only thing I am learning from this program is that I do not want to be a part of it.

If I did not have so much money invested already, and didn’t need the fancy letter after my name to get a good teaching job overseas, I would have already quit.

The self doubt is starting to affect my studying for the test. I am excited that the test is almost over and that one of my favorite people is about to land on my doorstep for a few days of pure California tourist fun.

Studying sucks, but it sucks a little less the closer I get to the test.

Qualifying exam is in three days…that means three days until FREEEEEEEDDDDDDDOOOMMMMM!


The Scamp Gets By

With a little help from her friends.



22 days until the exam.

Summer school is starting not to suck too much.

Studying is not feeling that painful

When this is all over, I look forward to writing something that doesn’t have anything to do with budgets, organizational theory, philosophy, or how miserable and stressed I am.

The Scamp’s Escape

Today I found the perfect car.

So I bought it.

Estelle is a 2005 Ford Escape.

2014-06-30 14.46.54




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.