The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 44

Last night I broke my bed….like the leg of the bed snapped off. For those who don’t know me other than through my writing, I am not a big girl. I’m 5’3 and 126 lbs. But, sat down on my bed, and broke it. If I wasn’t aware of what I looked like, I would seriously think I was fat. Even worse, there isn’t a cool story behind it. I’ve decided though that if anyone asks, I am going to tell them it was a wild night with the boy. He’s 6’5 220 lbs, so it is less of a stretch to imagine that. The thing that has me in a huff though is that when I called the landlord she told me she didn’t care about the bed, but she wasn’t in a position to replace it. She acted like she had no idea what I wanted her to do about it. She finally agreed with much suffering that she would try and replace it by the weekend, but that I shouldn’t expect anything fancy.

Like I am a super high maintenance person who needs a massive four poster bed that costs hundreds of pounds….seriously. I told her I neither expected, nor needed anything fancy. I just need a bed frame that keeps the mattress off the floor and is high enough for me to keep my shoes and giant suitcase under. (Edit, she got me a bed, and apologised for coming off as huffy. She lost her job and hasn’t been working steadily and was a bit freaked about money….which now makes me feel bad for being miffed at her because they really are good landlords and I love my flat).

So, now that I feel like a jerk, it is time to get to the writing challenge this week: where do I see myself in five years?

I’m not going to lie, this question freaks me out a little. One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up in ten years and be doing the same thing every day like a robot. I’m worried that I will wake up and nothing has changed and I won’t have noticed that all that time has passed. I do not like the idea of being stagnate, can’t stand the idea of some sort of boring routine. It was recently pointed out to me though that that is exactly what I am doing with my depression and the cycle of negativity that I sometimes find myself in. I did not have a reply for that.

So, here is my best shot for where I see myself in five years: I hope that since I will be post PhD (oh good lord, I hope so anyway) that I am working for a university designing curriculum, and fingers crossed, in the classroom teaching. I’ll be well into my 30s, which means I will be in the prime of my life. I hope that I am making enough money to pay all of my bills on my own without the help of my mother. I’d like to have a puppy. and a kitty. and a bunny. and a goat. and a penguin. I would love it if I was still living in Scotland, but if I wouldn’t be opposed to living in Australia or New Zealand. I don’t see myself living in the US again, unless there is a serious emergency that takes me back…or the wombmate has triplets. I see myself spending as much time as I can with my muffin over Skype and with visits to California. I hope to have a nice little social circle of people that makes me laugh. I see a lot more stamps in my passport. There are so many places to visit, so many beaches to lay on, so many tattoos to get. I don’t see myself giving up traveling, but hopefully in the next five years I can cross a lot of places off my list. I see myself having a lot better handle on my depression (I hope).

The one thing I know for sure is that my MSc will be paid for. I have about a year left to pay on that, and man oh man am I getting excited about seeing that balance drop every month. I’ll be starting to make payments for CSUF, but I’m trying not to think about that right now.

Advertisements

The Scamp on the Battleground

I’m sitting in the middle of my qualitative inquiry class and all I want to do is cry (okay, let’s be honest, I cried. I actually got up and left the room and cried. Giant hiccuping sobs Snot, hiccups, and embarrassment. I came home before the second class started and had a beer, french fries and onion rings). Since I started this program I have continually battled with whether or not I made the right choice.

morning_coffee_39_photos19

Days like tonight make the answer very clear: no. I made the wrong choice. I am now extremely depressed in a program that touts me as a racist, and today I learned that the program has never approved a proposal for action research. For anyone who isn’t aware of what action research is, here is a quick breakdown:

Action research is a practical approach to professional inquiry in any social situation. The examples in this component relate to education and are therefore of particular relevance to teachers or lecturers engaged in their daily contact with children or students. But professional practice need not be teaching: it may be management or administration in a school or college, or it may be in an unrelated area, such as medicine or the social services. The context for professional inquiry might change, but the principles and processes involved in action research are the same, regardless of the nature of the practice. (Water-Adams, 2006)

I believe as a future leader, and current practitioner that it is important to look at, and understand the practices in the classroom, and what needs to be changed in order to promote student success. I believe that my proposal not only lends itself to a dissertation, but it has merit and value in the field of basic skills writing. I also believe that as a future leader, I should be looking beyond race when I set out to help my students. I currently have 60 students, and I cannot, for the life of me, tell your the ethnic breakdown of my students.

In the program, that makes me a racist. I have made no secret to my displeasure in class, and my frustration with the mindset of some of the people. I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to deal with the boat I am in, but it is harder and harder for me to remember why I decided to stay in the program. Tonight I was told I have no critical consciousness, and therefore cannot be a good leader, because I do not look at the race, and I do not tailor my classes so that nonwhite students are given priority. I was also told that it is not my fault, I am white, and privileged, so I do not understand how to help students who are not white. I lack professional development which is just as much a problem of the college for not offering it, and me for not seeking it out.

Today I told my professor I saw no reason for me to continue in this program. Between hiccups I told her how attacked I felt, and how this program was only teaching me to be racist. I am not a quitter. I think anyone who really knows me knows that, but for the last year, all I have thought about is quitting. This program is one of the major reasons that I cannot wait to get back overseas. I was willing to just about break my bank to go to Estonia for a week at Thanksgiving, just so I don’t have to be anywhere near this program and these people. I’m seriously considering how bad it would be if I did not come home.

My friends have been pretty great. A few of the people in the program emailed and text me to make sure that I am okay. and my best friend sent me these words of wisdom:

It’s a long road. We’ll be 30 soon though, far smarter than our peers, angry at the world, paying of debt and having the times of our lives

He’s right. I just have to make it to 30. I will still be friends with the few people in the program I have really connected with, and I will never have to deal with the rest of them ever again.

The one thing that I have decided to do is fight this system. I am going to do an action research dissertation. I was the first person they ever allowed to defer admittance, so why can I not be the first person to do action research? I know I shouldn’t try and change the world right now with my work, but I want to do something I am proud of, and I will not be proud of anything less than the study I designed. This will be my giant “f-you” to the program. I haven’t decided if I am going to quit the program or not, but I have a meeting with the director on Monday to discuss my future. That gives me a few days to cool off and think about what I want, and how I am going to get it. In the meantime, I am going to ignore the classes, focus on my writing students, and figure out how to get myself into a clear mindset.

morning_coffee_39_photos37

A Scamp and the Breakfast club

Today I got to introduce one of my favorite people here to the movie The Breakfast Club. She had never seen it, and the movie was referenced in another movie that we watched not too long ago, so I felt that it was my duty to introduce her the magic that is a Brat Pack film. She of course loved the movie, and we laughed at how American it is in terms of representations of high school students. One of the reasons that I love this movie is the famous dance scene. That scene has been recreated many times, including a fan challenge for a band I really enjoy. Here are two of my favorite versions:

and

I always have the urge to make my own version…at least until I remember that I suffer from Jewish White Girl Rhythm and no one wants to see me dance.

The movie made me think of my breakfast club. Last semester my breakfast club was me and Adam Carolla. That was on days that I managed to wake up on time for breakfast. I’d eat alone most times because my friends here ate early so they could get to class and to keep the strict study/research schedule. This semester it started out the same way, but once classes were over and people no longer had classes to get to, they started eating breakfast later. I have not eaten breakfast alone in weeks, and as much as I love Adam Carolla, it is a lot nicer to wake up and get going in the morning with my little breakfast club. We couldn’t be more different, no two of us are from the same country, and as of right now, I am the only person whose native language is English. I enjoy it. I get to tease one about his love/addiction to coffee, the amount of sugar that one consumes in the course of a breakfast (6 packets of sugar in his milk every morning, 3 in his coffee, and sometimes 3 with his butter and toast…you know who you are….try eating some fruit once in awhile instead of all of that sugar), and one about trying to eat healthy even though the only option is tasteless oatmeal.

There is a scene in the movie when one of the characters asks what will happen when they go back to school on Monday. He wants to know if they will continue to be friends outside of the library. I sometimes wonder that about my little breakfast club.  Will we still be friends when we all split up? I know that I will still talk and be friends with my favorite French girl, but we have been friends since the first day we moved into Lee House, but we didn’t really start hanging out with the rest of the 4th floor until a few weeks ago. Sometimes we would hang out with them after dinner and watch them play ping pong, but now we all have breakfast and dinner together and hang out and play ping pong (okay, I just sit and trash talk, but I watch everyone else play). I like it. The conversations are never dull, and hanging out with them is way better than sitting in my room watching bad talk shows (someone put every episode of Dr. Phil on Youtube….). I hope that once I return home I will still be able to keep in contact with them, and maybe even see them again at some point in time. I wouldn’t mind visiting Mexico, or Canada, France or India.

Luckily in the age of Facebook and Skype keeping in contact will be easy, but I also know it will take a little bit of work on my part. Good thing I am an excellent pen pal.

Little Lost Scamp

8 months ago I decided that I no longer wanted to live in San Diego. I had finished my master’s degree and was ready to move on and put  this place behind me. Thanks to the economy, and my desire to work in a field where English teachers are a dime a dozen, I was forced into taking a full-time gig in San Diego and abandoning my escape plans. I had put the idea of a PhD. on hold and settled for a crappy night job in hopes of having the time to hunt down permanent teaching gigs and working my way out of San Diego. The longer I was out of school though, the more I itched to be back in the classroom. For the first 23 years of my life I had staked my entire identity on being a student. It was the only thing that I knew how to do really well (besides sarcasm) and I found myself getting lost in a world of routine schedules and lonely night shifts. Five months into the new job working nights and I felt like a zombie. I didn’t get to see my friends, I wasn’t learning anything new, and I slowly losing my sense of self. When it became clear to me that a full-time teaching gig was not on my horizon, I decided that the only way I was going to become a better candidate for jobs was to get another degree.

My family likes to joke that I am a perpetual student, and if I could be one, I would, but I honestly felt like adding another skill set to my bag of tricks would make me stand out in a job interview. I began to hunt for programs that I could complete onlline, and in a short amount of time, so that I could teach a wider variety of classes and make myself more marketable. At first I wasn’t looking for PhD. programs, I was just looking at certificate programs and classes that would allow my to teach reading or ESL classes. None of the programs I found seemed that interesting, and as people around me settled down to get married, have kids, or start their careers, the only thing I found myself wanting to do was run as far away from here as possible. I started looking into teaching English abroad, and possibly going to school. The first place I looked at was New Zealand. It is a well known fact to those who love me that I have a thing for sheep farmers, and New Zealand seemed like the perfect place to go to find a hot sheep farmer to sweep me off my feet. While I was thinking about school, I was also thinking about the upcoming family vacation to Ireland. They have sheep farmers there too, so I figured applying to school there wouldn’t be so bad either. Further research into the schools there and the types of programs they have led me to believe that I wouldn’t be a good fit, so I googled “Colleges and universities in the U.K.” University of Edinburgh was one of the returns, and once I saw that they had a literacy program, and that the application process was free, I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose by applying. I didn’t really know anything about the school, and I had never been to Scotland, but I figured it wasn’t costing me anything more than 500 words to apply, so I would have nothing to lose.

I submitted the application at Thanksgiving, and didn’t give it another thought. I applied for a handful of full-time teaching jobs in Orange County and I started working with my mom on a new way to teach developmental writing. It wasn’t until the end of February when U of E emailed and asked for some more details that I even thought about the application. The only thing that I said when they emailed me offering me a place in the program was “I got in” The first person I called was my mom, and when she didn’t answer, I left her a rambling message that made no sense, and then I called Kelly. After that I text everyone I could think of telling them I got in. I could not sit still. Work no longer seemed important. I got in. I had my escape route.

When I finally did talk to my mom, she immediately started talking about all of the things that practical people think of when applying to school. How was I going to pay for it? What was the cost? Where was I going to live? When did I have to give an answer? How did I know I could live there? I didn’t have any answers beyond “I got in” and at that moment, I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had gotten into the University of Edinburgh and I hadn’t been that happy or excited about anything in years. I knew that there was no way I was going to turn down the offer, so, despite my mom’s misgivings, I accepted the offer, site unseen.

So now I have six months to nail down a place to live, find funding, get a job, and make a list of the all of the places that I want to visit and all of the things I want to see while I am living in the U.K.