The Scamp Says a Fond Farewell

Last night, after five wonderful years together, I said my final goodbye to my trusty laptop. My mom and dad bought me the laptop before I moved back to Scotland fulltime (I think, although it might have been a bit before that, I can’t really remember). It is the third or fourth Dell that I’ve owned, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of all of them.

That laptop has been through a lot. Countless train rides, trips on the bus, flights. It has helped me mark hundreds of papers, answer who knows how many emails, and write quite a few posts on my way to 500. I’ve had many skype chats, instant message exchanges and therapy sessions using that laptop.

I wrote the entire first draft of my PhD on that laptop. I did 85% of the research for my thesis on that laptop.

It was a good piece of equipment. There were only two times I can think of when something went wrong with it, and one wasn’t until about a year ago when the battery quick and it could only be used if plugged in.

I am stuck in lockdown at the moment so I have yet to recycle it. I wish it could be fixed and then donated somewhere to help someone who needs one given the current lockdown situation, but unfortunately, it would cost more to repair then it is worth.

So for now, while everything is closed and I can’t leave my flat it is a very large paperweight collecting dust in the corner.

The Scamp Swears like a Sailor

I always knew my penchant for swearing and my love of a well-timed insult would come in handy one day.

I just didn’t know that that day would be in an evening Advanced Conversation Class at Simply English Edinburgh.

I love my job there. I have the chance to help some really lovely and amazing people improve their English skills. One of my favourite people owns the school, and has graciously hired me for to teach some classes, and act as a sub when needed. It puts me back in the classroom (which is something that I miss), and I get to meet really great people.

I have been working with a student who is in Edinburgh for a few months for work, and is at the school to improve their English Language skills while they are here. So far, their time here has been less than ideal. My student works in a horrible department, spends most lunch breaks eating alone, and is dealing with a major setback with work.

By the time my class rolled around, my student was not in the best of moods. Luckily, the other students in the class were not about to let a bad work environment ruin the magic of the city. I gave them the option of what the focus of our class would be, and somehow, we ended up talking about cuss words and insulting people in English. The students took notes on the sayings and insults, and then we looked up the best Scottish insults and I translated them from Scottish slang to English they could understand.

Now, to be clear, this is not something I would normally do. I know that as a teacher, I have a responsibility to be professional, but right at that moment, this is what the student needed. All of the students in my class are in their 30s, and before we started, I made sure that everyone was going to be comfortable with the subject matter. Everyone was laughing and chatting away in English and sharing where they learned some of the more creative insults.

I think I was more embarrassed explaining it to them then they were hearing the insults. This is not going to be an everyday thing, but when I left the class, my student who is struggling was laughing and felt better (they even had a list with all the insults written down to take to work for when the co-workers start to act like jerks again. The hour and a half of laughter was worth it for me. Just in case anyone was wondering, I worked in grammar, new vocabulary, and how to structure the insults in the best way possible, so learning was taking place.  It’s amazing how good a little swearing can make you feel.

In the interest of fairness, here is the article that I used for the Scottish insults. If you are easily offended, please don’t click the link. I’m not going to post the ones that I gave to them, just trust that they were really nice and colourful. Twatscile was one of them (okay, you get one from me).

Feel free to share your favourite swear word or insult with me, or just scream it out loud in an empty room when you are having a bad day.

The Scamp and the Writing Project: Week 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yoga. Enough said.

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

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

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 46

The weather is turning cold here in lovely lovely Edinburgh. It is currently 10C (50 F) and rainy. The sun is setting earlier, and the leaves are disappearing. It is the type of weather that makes me want to curl up under blankets, drink hot chocolate, and watch Disney movies. I’m not smart enough to figure out if the heating in my place actually works, and for the moment it makes focusing on my work a bit hard. I spent all last week pouting about the way my job is going, and unfortunately that has put me behind in my work for the PhD. I have a friend who made a schedule, worked diligently every day was able to stay on a strict timeline. I have the best intention to do that, and somehow I never quite make it. I have things to do, but all I can think about is the fact that I am not really making progress in my work beside reading literature. I have a conceptual paper that needs to be written, but I feel like what I have written so far is not good enough to meet the standards of the PhD. I have academic writing PTSD and I am not sure how to get past it. I’ve been trying to just write for ten minutes a day, but even most of that is just complete and utter pish. I need a drill instructor to yell at me whenever I stop working, or fail to open a word doc.

Something that has been helping me is technology, which happens to be the focus of the gratitude challenge this week. Thanks to technology, I am able to Skype with my friends and family in the States, and just those little bits of time with them make me laugh and feel better on an off day. Technology is allowing me to stay current with the wombmate’s pregnancy, and will allow me to be present at the birth if I cannot make it back to the States in time. I can send photos, emails, and see people face-to-face thanks to technology. It is one of the reasons that my move here was pretty easy. Instead of having to wait a week to send a letter through the post, or make a phone call once a month because it is expensive to call international, I can get an almost immediate response to text, email, or picture message. This week I went to the National Museum of Scotland and wandered through the exhibit on Victorian photographs. It was really interesting to see the way that photography was done in that era, and how it has changed over time.

While the technological advancement was interesting and the photographs on display were amazing, it was fun to get dressed up and go to the museum after hours to see the exhibit, and then stay for a Victorian themed party. The people watching was incredible, the music was interesting, and the drinks were tasty. It was a fantastic date with an even more fantastic man, and one of those fun, non-touristy things to do in Edinburgh.

Perhaps the best thing about technology to me right now is the fact that in less than a week my mom and brother will be getting on a plane to come see me. They will be here for American Thanksgiving, and it has been almost five months since we have been in the same timezone, and I cannot wait to see them. It is my brother’s first time in Scotland, and I cannot wait to show him all of my favorite places.

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 22

Week 22 is something that I use everyday.

There are a lot of things that I use everyday that I am grateful for, but the one thing that I can think of right now is my laptop. Right now, I’m using my laptop to write this post, I’m watching a movie, and pretending to work on some research for my dissertation (I mean, I am working on it, the tabs are open and everything). In a month I will use my laptop to watch TV, listen to music, write, and videochat with my family. It is going to become an important part of my life.

Who am I kidding? It already is an important part of my life. I’m currently on laptop number 4.

Laptop number one was a present from my parents when I graduated high school. It was a Sony Vaio.  It didn’t have a webcam, it had a detachable battery with a two hour lifespan, and it was heavy as shit. I use to sit at my desk in Calaveras Hall and write papers and send my mom endless and endless amounts of email. I watched movies on it, listened to music on it, and put together my senior thesis on Mark Twain, and my applications for grad school. the battery finally gave out after 4 years of constant use, I got an upgraded model as a graduation present.

Number 2 was still heavy, had a pretty crap battery life, but had a webcam for Skyping, had better speakers, and had a wood-grain type finish that made it a little fancier. I wrote my MA thesis on that baby, and took it with me to Scotland. Of course, when I got robbed on Christmas a few years ago, it was taken from me. I lost everything. Pictures, music, papers. I failed a class because of that stolen laptop.

Number 3 was a gift from David to make up for the fact that 2 got stolen. It was a Dell, and I loved it. We had matching laptops. It had Windows 8, a flashy webcam, internal battery, and was super light and easy to carry. I toted that thing all over Scotland, to Estonia, Latvia, and California. I wrote my best piece of academic writing on it, used it for everything, and it helped me survive Cal State Fullerton. I loved it.

Two weeks ago, Number 3 blew up. A fan broke, and it made what the Geek Squad guy called the “Rattle of Death”. So now, I have number 4. It is a bit bigger, lacks a CD drive (apparently I am a dinosaur for still wanting one), but is a touch screen, which makes life interesting. I am doing my research for Scotland on it, I will very shortly write my 300th post on it, and it will house all of my memories of my new life in Scotland.

My grandma, and now my mom always says that things happen for a reason. I believe that Number three blew up so I would not take anything that was connected to my life with David, or Cal State Fullerton with me back to Scotland.

I’m going to take as a sign that my life motto has yet to steer me wrong.

“Breathe in the good shit, breathe out the bad shit”

My laptop is my good shit, and I am extremely grateful for it.