The Scamp Fights the Winter Blues

Thanksgiving has passed, but the post turkey day depression has not. It doesn’t help that the sun sets here at 4pm and I have to wear extra layers when I leave the house.

I  used to love Thanksgiving. I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes and gravy, go crazy for stuffing, and love the fact that it was one day where all my family gets together and hangs out. After my MSc, Thanksgiving was a weeklong getaway for me. First it was graduation, then it was Estonia, and since I have been back in Edinburgh full-time, it was a chance to see my mom and dad. Last year we were in Switzerland. 

This year I was at my desk by myself.

I made up for it by eating my weight in what Tesco calls ‘Asian inspired snacks’. I haven’t seen my parents in over a year. I haven’t seen my brother, sister, brother-in-law and the babies in 2 years. I miss my family.

Thanksgiving now sucks.

When I am by myself and not on an adventure it also reminds me that 3 years ago on Thanksgiving my dad found my brother dead from alcohol-related complications.  I had just thrown my first (and only) Thanksgiving dinner at my flat for the people that I worked with (and the lying cheating scumbag Dan). I started getting my parents to go on adventures on Thanksgiving so my dad wouldn’t have to be at home. 

He had to be at home this year because I am not graduating on time. I haven’t seen my family because I am not graduating on time. I’m sad because I am not finished with my PhD yet which means that I am an undesirable candidate for jobs that I am completely qualified for (including a job in the office where I currently work). I’m burned out from the 6 jobs and I feel like the only thing I am doing well right now is procrastinating. 

Well, that and eating chocolate. I’m really good at that right now. 

I am about three weeks away from submitting a new draft of my thesis to my supervisors and about a 6 weeks away from sending a draft to committee to put me in position to my viva. I am looking forward to that. I cannot wait until that little monster is someone else’s headache. There is nothing I love more than giving someone else a headache. 

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The Scamp and Thanksgiving

Last night was the first time I celebrated Thanksgiving in three years. Usually I spend this time escaping the US and visiting new places. Last year I was in Estonia, and one of my best friends made me a feast of yummy food as well as provided me with a week of fun and adventure. The year before that I was graduating from the University of Edinburgh and enjoying my time in Scotland with my mom and sister. I spent the holiday meant to be all about giving thanks in places and with people that make me feel really thankful.

This year I was lucky enough to have my mom and brother visiting me in Scotland for Thanksgiving. My brother has never been here, so I had an amazing time showing him around all of my favorite places, and going to see things that I had never seen before. I decided that this year I would celebrate Thanksgiving with all of the new friends that I made. Most of them had never celebrated Thanksgiving before, and I had never made a complete dinner by myself, so I decided that it was a good chance for my mom to meet my friends, and to actually use my little kitchen to create a meal.

For my first attempt at a Thanksgiving dinner, it could not have gone any better. I was about two hours later than I thought I would be in terms of serving dinner, but the turkeys looked good, the potatoes, green beans, and stuffing were incredible, and the gravy was able to be saved (thanks Errol), and even though I really did not have a chance to sit and hang out with everyone, given all the laughter I heard, I think that everyone had a good time. I was so glad that my friends got to meet my mom and my brother (I wish the wombmate could have been here) since they are some of my favorite people, and I am glad that my mom got to see that I am surrounded by an amazing group of people.

I know that Thanksgiving is a time for people to think about what they are thankful for, and this is going to sound really strange given that for the last two years I have been writing about how miserable CSUF made me, but I am really thankful for that horrible horrible program. If it was not for that program, I would not have applied for the program here, and would not be back in the one place in the world that I feel at home. If all of that stuff hadn’t have happened, I would be graduating in a few months, but I would be miserable. Being Scotland would not even be on my radar. I’d be depressed, alone, and unhappy for sure. While there are things I miss, okay, really just my family and a few of my friends that I consider family, I wouldn’t trade any of that for where I am now. I’m grateful that the shitshow of a program led me to a program that I love, a job that I enjoy, and people that I love to be around.

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 44 and 45

 

Today I did something that I very rarely do: I called in sick to work and refused to leave my bed…well, sorta. I made a trip to the post office to get some packages, but that took about ten minutes. Then it was back to bed with my laptop, water, and candy corn. I’m tired. It might be a precursor to getting sick, it might be the start of a down cycle, or it might just be that I have been juggling way too much this week and after a little mindfullness, I decided to take the day off. I’m feeling so good about that choice that I might just take tomorrow off as well.

The day off has given me a chance to catch up on the gratitude challenge. You would think by week 45 I would have gotten better at completing them on the week that they are meant to correspond with, but in true Kim form, I am always a step or two behind.

Week 44 is my favorite holiday. This one is easy, and quickly approaching. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I don’t like it in the “let’s celebrate the fact that British settlers left their home, went to the new world and then killed all the Indians,” but more in the “I get to hang out with my family” kind of way. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love eating turkey and mashed potatoes, eating way too much dessert, watching football, and hanging out with the family unit. Thanksgiving at the Wilder-Davis house of Chaos includes liberal use of the word “fuck,” inappropriate dinnertime conversations, and singing off key to songs while doing the dishes. It is also my favorite holiday because for the last two years I have used the break at Thanksgiving to get away from the U.S. The first year it was to return here to Scotland to attend graduation, and last year it was to visit Estonia, Latvia, and Finland. Thanksgiving gave me something to look forward to while I was at CSUF. It offered me a light at the end of a really shitty tunnel. This year my mom and brother will be here for Thanksgiving. My brother has never been here, so I am excited to show him around and for him to experience my home. 2 weeks from now I will be reunited with a little bit of family.

I can’t wait.

This week is dedicated to what I do for fun.

What is fun again?

There are a lot things that I do for fun. I like to hang out with my friends, listen to music, read romance novels, and spend time outside. I like to travel, and I like to have silly Skype dates with my family. I like gossiping, and shit talking with my sister, and taking ridiculous photos of PRC in touristy places. Lately I have been having a lot of fun spending time with a boy watching David Attenborough’s The Life of Mammals. Overall, since I moved back to Scotland I have been having a lot more fun with the everyday little things. It is hard to believe that the challenge, and the year will be over in just seven short weeks. There are a lot of interesting things happening in the next few weeks, and this is the first time that I will not be home for Christmas, so I am both excited and nervous for the things to come.

The Scamp and Thanksgiving

Last year at this time I was in Scotland receiving my MSc in Education. I spent Thanksgiving showing my sister my favorite parts of the city, and really feeling good about being back in Edinburgh. I was extremely homesick for my life there, and I had not yet processed and mourned the loss of my life there. I didn’t eat turkey. I didn’t eat mash potatoes. I didn’t have to watch football. I dragged my mom and sister to my favorite pub and made them watch karaoke with the cast of regulars I used to watch every Thursday. It was magical.

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To continue my tradition of being overseas for Thanksgiving, I came to Estonia. I have had a very rough few months in the doctorate program, and the only thing I wanted to do was put as much space as I could between me and the United States. I spent yesterday being a tourist and wandering around the old part of the city and enjoying the snow flurries.

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I had a home cooked meal of turkey burgers, mashed potatoes, and a pear and parmigiana salad. Susanne cooked the entire meal, and she filled me with wine, filled me with good food, and we chatted all night. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. There was no drama, no one calling me a racist, and no stress. I was able to end the day with a Skype call to my mom, and some yummy dessert.

This year, I am thankful for Estonia. I know that I should say I am thankful for my friends and family, and trust me, I am, but I am thankful for them every day, and not just on one of my favorite holidays. This year though, I am thankful for not being in the US, and have some much needed distance between me and the source of my stress and anxiety. I came here to get some clarity on whether or not I want to continue in the program, and whether or not the degree is worth the program breaking my spirit.

I have been to three different countries in 5 days, walked so many miles I lost count, and have successfully battled the language barrier here. Not once was I depressed, anxious, or stressed. I was a bit lonely on my trip to Finland, but that is to be expected when traveling alone.

This year, I am thankful for my little break from reality, from an adventure to curb my wanderlust for a bit, and for a chance to heal a little. The 365 days since last Thanksgiving have been a roller coaster of good and bad, and I am hoping that because I survived them mostly in tact, that in another 365 days I will be in a better place.

If Brittany Spears can survive 2007, I can survive this.

The Scamp Plans a Visit

In 54 days, 11 hours, and 29 minutes I will be on a plane to Estonia.

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This caged bird is getting a week of freedom. My credit card is sad, but my heart is happy. I will get to spend a week with one of my best friends, and get to explore a new country. I don’t care if it snows, or if none of my other friends can make it, the week long break from all that is going on in my bubble here is worth it.

The countdown keeps me going. None of the drama of the program, my frustrations with the research job, or any of my feelings about being home seem that bad when I know that in 54 days I get a break.

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This marks the third year in a row that I will not be home for Thanksgiving. I am extremely thankful for the chance to escape my gilded cage. I cannot wait to plan my adventure. I have already decided to visit Helsinki, and Latvia. My family is from Latvia, so I think seeing my roots for a bit might do me a bit of good.

The only thing that would make this trip perfect is if some of my friends from Scotland can come along as well. A year without seeing each other is far too long.

The Scamp Graduates!

Never have I been more excited for a graduation. This wasn’t just a celebration of my accomplishment, but it was a chance for me to get to return to Scotland and recharge my batteries. 

This was by far the best graduation ceremony I have ever participated in. Everything about the check-in and seating was easy, the hall was beautiful, and the pomp and circumstance was brilliant. Luckily I was seated next to one of my best friends in the program, and the good banter and the laughs through parts of the ceremony made the hour and half go quickly.

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This day almost didn’t happen. 10 months ago I convinced myself that I didn’t need to go back for graduation. I knew that I would be just about done with my first semester of my doctoral degree, and I figured I couldn’t afford to take the time off. I told my  mom I had been through enough graduations, and didn’t need to sit through another one. After I finished my dissertation, I decided that I needed to go back and fully celebrate the hard work and everything that my nine months meant there. She was on board from minute one, and was overjoyed that my graduation fell over Thanksgiving weekend and she wouldn’t have to take any time off of work. Since I only got two tickets for the ceremony, I decided that Kelly needed to go. She has been to all of my graduations, but she had yet to visit Scotland and experience the magic of one of my favorite places in the whole world. 

The week we spent there was perfect. I got to show Kelly all of my favorite places, got to see a lot of my friends, and got a much needed break from school, work, and all of the stress of the last few weeks. 

I had two fears before I left: the first was that I would get no work done (which I didn’t…unless you count the 500 words I wrote in the airport the day we left) and that I would return to the States depressed that I was no longer in Scotland. While I was extremely happy to be in Scotland, and didn’t exactly rush home, I came home feeling recharged, and ready to finish the semester strong (of course, I still have one paper to work on, and have no idea how to finish it, so we will see how long those good feelings last). The only sad thing about coming home this time is I am not sure when I will get to see my friends again. Video chats with them are great, but do not compare to being able to see them face to face. 

While this is not my last graduation, I am sure that it will be my favorite. 

A Scamp and Thanksgiving

I have been in Scotland for three days now and have yet to write anything down. I have been so excited about being here, that I have not been glued to my computer. I’ve walked Kelly all over this city. I showed her the tourist areas, the not so tourist areas, and all of my favorite spots in the city.

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Today is Thanksgiving. Today, I have a lot to be thankful for. Last year at this time I was in Scotland, and after going to class, I shrugged off a Thanksgiving party to stay in and Skype with my mom and the asshole. I was thankful for the new friends I had made, the boy I loved, and the family that allowed me to go on a crazy adventure that turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.

This year, I am lucky enough to be back in Scotland, this time to graduate. This year, I am thankful for second chances, learning how to find what will make me happy, and the family that allows me to continue all of my crazy adventures.

In the last year, so much has happened to me (all of which is chronicled in these posts), and while not all of it has been sunshine and roses, I feel like I have come out on top.

Today I spent Thanksgiving wandering around my favorite place in the world with my two favorite people, and then sat in my favorite pub with two more of my favorite people watching karaoke. It was the perfect way to spend the day (minus being with my entire family). Tomorrow I graduate , and get ready to properly close this chapter of my life.

My wish for all of my wonderful readers is that you all have a very happy Thanksgiving, and that you all continue to have much to be thankful for.