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 Writing Challenge: Week 13

…or, The Scamp is a Reluctant Statistician.

I don’t like the writing challenge for this week, so I am just going to make this one up as I go. I’ve been back in Scotland for more than a week, and I finally had to have the conversation that I have been dreading for months. I have spent almost two years collecting survey data and interviewing the staff and students at the uni as part of my thesis research. Most of the surveys were passed out in classes, and then entered into the dreaded SPSS software system. I have just been playing around with the software to see if I remembered how to use it, but I have been putting off doing anything more than finding averages and simple standard deviations within the data.

I hate statistics. Those who know me, and who were with me through the two semesters that we studied it (hey old study group, I’m looking at you and our old Google Docs) know that you often had to drag me kicking and screaming through an explanation of the relationship between the numbers, and I had to sit with a very formulaic fill-in-the-blank sentence structure so I could just plug in the numbers into the template. I only passed that class because I had people way smarter than me sitting next to me helping me understand what I was doing. I’m a qualitative researcher. I’m more concerned with the hows and the whys, with talking to people or observing phenomena. I like interviews and focus groups. I like interacting with others, and spending time going through documents to learn. I do not spend my time with large data sets.

My director of studies loves numbers. He is a scientist. He loves big numbers, he is very uncomfortable with emotions (which I can see every time I cry in his presence), and he does not think that Grounded Theory is really a thing. We’ve clashed a bit on the theory for my thesis, and in the last few months he has been pushing me to sit down with the statistics and really start to create questions and hypotheses (hypothesi? I’m not sure) to explore for the analysis chapter. He has been after me to meet with him, to create charts and spreadsheets, and to get some hypotheses written on paper.

I’ve been avoiding him and making passive aggressive comments about not wanting to work with the numbers. When that didn’t work, I straight out told him that I was worried that I have no idea what I am doing with the stats, and I am really afraid that I am going to have to do complicated bivariate correlations and ANOVA tests and then have no idea how to explain the results and the numbers that are produced from it. He kept saying that things would be fine, that he would sit down with me and we could do it together and everything would be fine.

Meanwhile, I’m stressing out over stats and the never-ending edits to the paper. I had my 6 month review this week and cried in front of my external supervisor who has met me exactly one time 6 months ago. It is my physiological response to frustration and stress (or anger or embarrassment, or sadness). My external was really nice about it, and did her took her job wonderfully and tried to mediate the situation. She helped me get a really good compromise, and I think my supervisor finally understand where I am coming from.

I also think I will be able to handle the stats I have to do for my thesis.

I know that this is all part of the process. I know that I am not going to always agree with my supervisors, and that I am going to have some bumps in the road, and that there would be some learning that I would have to do. I haven’t been able to meet with all of my supervisors at once in a long time, and sometimes I feel like I am a one woman show. I’m currently the only person working on an Education based PhD, and it is not always fun being a lonely island. It doesn’t help that my depression is up and down and I have killer anxiety. I enjoyed my time in my in California, but I have a stop start relationship with my work, and see it as a waste of time when I take a break, rather than a chance to clear my head and center myself before I continue. Thank the sweet baby Jesus I have a therapist that helps keep me on track.

I hate that cry when I am in situations like that, but I do feel better that things are out in the open. I’m hoping now that my plans to spend the summer with my data will not be as stressful.   In the meantime I will binge listen to My Favourite Murderer and try not to think it is weird that I enjoy listening to tales of murder and two super neuritic women telling me to Fuck Politeness! and Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 42

October is over next week. Really? I have no idea where this month went, and I am not sure that I got everything done that needed to be done. All of the commuting has pulled me off track, and the cold weather just makes me want to stay in bed and watch old movies all day….or drag queens. I love me the drag queens.

The writing challenge for this week is to write about the last time I broke the rules. I’ve been trying to think about this for the last few days, and I really can’t think of any rules I have broken. I’m too afraid to break rules here because I don’t want to get deported and have to go back to California. I did get pepper spray into the country, and had a mini moment of panic at the airport over a year ago when I thought TSA would find it and I’d be arrested. I had another moment of panic on my first date with the boy when I mentioned it to him and he told me he would have to arrest me because it was illegal. I really only dated him so that I could bribe him with my wares and stay out of jail (at first I was kidding, but now I am not so sure that that isn’t the reason).

Lately though, I toe the line a lot better. There is only one rule that I can think of that I really broke, and that rule comes from my therapy sessions. I overshare here way too much, but this one I am going to have to keep to myself. Partly because I am ashamed that it has to be a rule for my life, and partly because it is one that I was quick to break in a moment of weakness. It is really easy for people to tell me to be strong, and that I can just choose to be happy, but what I don’t think people understand is that part of my illness keeps me comfortable in my self destructive behaviours. I like being here. I’m comfortable here. I know what to do and what happens here.

I’m not proud of the slip, but tomorrow is another day, next week is a new week, and next month is a new month, all chances for me to keep moving forward and stop breaking rules that don’t need to be broken.

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.


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.


The Scamp and Construction


Right now it seems like everything in my life is under construction. I live about 30 minutes from the library, and there are four routes (well, three, because I don’t want to get on the freeway at 7:30 am) that I can take to get there. I used to take a new route everyday just to keep myself from getting bored. In March my favorite route was closed to fix some pipes in the street.

The best part of that? It is closed for the next two years! I will just about in the defense stage of my dissertation before the road is open again!


Okay, not a big deal, I still have two more routes to work.


Route three was quickly axed because it takes more than 30 minutes to get to work with trains and traffic, so I gave it up so I could be on time to work and still sleep in a little bit. One route left.

For the last few weeks, everything has been great with that route. I’m getting to work on time, there is no crazy confusing detour, and I’ve only waited for the train to cross once.

Now there is a sign on the main street I take on my last remaining route that is advertising a construction project and warning of possible delays.



To top it off, the City of Walnut has started a construction project on the street in front of the library.

Shoot me now.

If I have to resort to the freeway to get to work, I will quit my job early and sign up for

I’m not even kidding.

The only upside to all of this is that I will not have to be at the library much longer (fingers crossed that my classes at the college don’t get cancelled again) and some of the routes will be open again within the next month.  All of the construction also allows me to catch up on all the podcasts I haven’t had the time to listen to lately. Adam Carolla ranting about traffic, people, and the general lack of common sense in the world makes me feel a little better about starting my day in traffic.

The roads in the city are not the only things under construction. I have friends getting married, friends getting ready to have babies, and friends getting ready to make big moves and adult decisions. All of them are under construction for the better.

I am doing none of those things, although, I guess you could say I am under construction. I’m trying to rebuild myself into Kim 2.0 (except, I think I am version 2.0 now, so it is more like 2.5….or 4.0?). It is a slow process. There are no blueprints, no plans, and I am not sure I even have any tools. Luckily the second semester of the program is winding down and I will have a little bit of time before the third semester starts to take a breath, find my center, and work on getting ready for the comprehensive exam in August.

The Homesick Scamp

I’m homesick.

Horribly horribly homesick.

Considering I am sitting on my couch watching my TV, this presents a bit of a problem.

The last couple of months I have been pretty mopey. I’ve been a lot busier this semester between classwork and the third job, which means I have had less free time, and less time to see my friends. I feel tired all of the time, and I’ve now entered that sad restless state that has me convinced that not only am I going to die alone as a spinster cat lady, but I am going to do it stuck in a job that I hate, surrounded by people that I hate.

The last time I felt like this I was in a dead end night job, in a miserable relationship, and spending more time alone than interacting with people.

The last time I felt like this, I applied to the University of Edinburgh and moved to Scotland 6 months later.

That was still the best choice I have ever made, but I now find myself incredibly homesick for the life that I had there. I wasn’t working, I lived two doors down from my friends, and a quick walking distance from the others. I walked everywhere, explored everything, and even though I had my heart broken there, I healed there, and really took my time to find myself. It was my first time completely on my own in a new place, and it was just the sort of adventure that I needed.

I can’t seem to recreate that adventure here. I have great friends (some old, most new, some back in my life after a long absence, some who will be in my life for a very long time), but it just isn’t the same. I have to get in my car to see them, try and find time between work, school and homework, and the busy lives and schedules of those around me.

The problem is, I am locked in here. I am making money now, but not enough to pay my bills and live alone, and the program does not allow for study abroad. I have a year and some change before I can actually start working on my dissertation, and the more time I spend alone, the more I wish that I was completing this research in Scotland.

For the last couple of weeks I have been daydreaming about dropping out of the program, packing a bag and my cat, and moving to New Zealand. I miss accents, miss the sense of adventure, miss the person that I was when I was overseas.

This restless, mopey energy has led to drastic changes (haircut anyone?), a lack of sleep, and an intense desire to sleep all day.

I have a lot of good things ahead of me. I have a great research opportunity that will lead to a publication, I am employed (and can almost pay all of my bills), I am making great connections that may lead to a teaching gig, and despite not having insurance, I have been in reasonably good health. The problem is, I can’t seem to focus on all the good stuff. The only thing I can focus on is how badly I want to run away and start a new adventure where no one knows me (preferably a place with free healthcare). Depression is a messy thing, and being run by my stress and depression is even worse.

I’m glad that spring is here and I will be able to sit outside more. Maybe the Vitamin D will help my mood. I’m also going to actually sign up for insurance this weekend. I tried the website, and that didn’t work, but hopefully an agent will be more successful.

Then it will be doc appointments and check-ups galore.

and the hunt for a new therapist….because a few more sessions couldn’t hurt, could they?


*On a completely unrelated note, in the middle of typing this there was a small earthquake. I’m home alone, and while the earthquake was small, I am still shaking (pun intended). Looks like the cat and I will be sleeping under the solid wood table tonight, just in case.

The Scamp Gets Overwhelmed

I’ve become THAT girl.

I’ve become that creepy girl that sits at the back of the room rocking and chewing on her hair.

Yesterday I imploded in the middle of class. One minute I was in class listening to book report presentations, and the next minute I was sobbing uncontrollably and hastily running out of my class before too many people noticed what was going on.

I cried for the next 40 minutes. I cried so hard I gave myself the hiccups. I cried on the phone with the boy, and while he was nice about it, it was not exactly what he should have been doing at 7 pm on a Tuesday. I was a mess. This has been building for months, and it sure chose the worst time to come through. I’m not exactly good with my feelings and emotions. I like to keep things bottled up and pretend that things don’t bother me when they do. For the last few months I have been trying to juggle three jobs, school, homework, a social life and the boy, and my juggling skills have finally run out.

There is a reason that the program told us at the beginning to not be in relationships, to take a sabbatical from work, and to kiss our social lives goodbye. This program sucks the life out of you. It will consume you. The reading, the studying, the writing, the prepping for the qualifying exam, and then for my dissertation….it never ends. I expected it. I knew that I would be busy, I knew that it would be hard, but to be in the middle of it now while trying to juggle other things. While the program was slowly sucking the life out of me, I let myself fall into old habits. The sucky thing is, when I get into these bouts of depression, I tend to ruin relationships. I can already feel myself doing that. Without insurance though, I cannot afford to see a doc, and some of the affordable options have not been a good fit (I guess that is a good enough reason to sign up for insurance).

The problem is, I’m selfish. I may want to quit the program at this very moment, but I am not going to. I may want to quit one or two of my jobs, but I am not going to. The library pays my bills for the moment, I love working with the junior high kids, and the professor I work for is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She is also giving me the opportunity to publish, learn, and immerse myself in research. I should not go to SD and see the boy, or hang out with people for happy hour, but I am not going to give those up. I love my friends and family, and I love the boy the best way I know how, and I don’t want to let any of that go.

The problem is, instead of doing everything that I learned to do while I was in therapy in Scotland, I reverted. I don’t know how to keep that from happening. I don’t know how to reconcile what I know I need to do with what I am doing.

Luckily I have some amazing friends and family to help see me through. My BFF has been giving me just the kick in the pants I need (and enough daily reminders that I am not in fact a broken toy) to keep me from crawling too deep into the hole. I’m also getting to the gym and getting some weekly yoga classes that are helping me work off some of the tension, and I am really hoping that I can make a lasting change, rather than just a change I thought was lasting.

I hate admitting that I failed….well not failed, but suffered  a setback. I like to think of myself as strong and perfect, completely capable of taking care of myself, but I am slowly learning in my old age that that might not be the case.

….and that is completely okay.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 26th Year

I did a post last year to mark the end of my 25th year. It was a lot of fun to write, and I was in a good place when I wrote it.

This year is a little bit different. I am feeling extremely stressed under the weight of three jobs, I have been staring at a paper for three hours and have barely managed to write two pages, and the only thing that I want to do tomorrow is sleep all day so I no longer feel bone dead tired.

Last year I felt good about where I was. I was in Scotland navigating the city, enjoying the adventure that came with living overseas, and built a very solid amazing group of friends. I was planning a day full of Mexican food with one of my favorite people, Skype chats with my friends and family at home, and a night full of karaoke at my favorite pub. A relationship I thought would last the next 70 years failed, but I was in therapy and focused on making myself a better person.

I was excited for 26, and excited for what that meant for me as one year older, and one year much much wiser.

This year I am looking forward to the end of my 26th year for a very different reason.

I’m not sure if 26 was a good year for me. There were a lot of good moments, I traveled around Scotland, wrote the best piece of writing in of my academic career, and graduated, started a doctoral degree and managed to get a teaching job, but for all of the good things that I accomplished, I made some missteps and had some hiccups. I left Scotland feeling really good about myself. I learned how to reach out for help when I needed it, reconnected with old friends and strengthened my bond with new friends, and I had a plan. I had a plan for how I was going to readjust to life in the US. I was going to take my great new attitude and be Kim 2.0, a newer, stronger, better version of the girl who packed all her stuff into four suitcases and spent almost a year living in my own created version of paradise.

I came home and threw all of that out the window. I buried myself in my dissertation and did not reach out to the people here who extended a branch of friendship, I had a hard time finding a job, and I quickly dwindled my savings. I let myself fall back into old Kim habits of negativity and insecurity, and I spent way way too much time in the negative. I have let my dedication to school slide, have not tried to find the good in each of my three jobs, and often let old insecurities cloud my new relationship. I still don’t have insurance, and while I have access to therapists through the school, so far, none of them seem like a good fit.

Basically, I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain I made with myself before I left the land of kilts and haggis.

27 is my chance to start over. Tomorrow I get a clean slate. Tomorrow, I get to start over one year older, and maybe not obviously wiser, but having learned a lot about what it means to make mistakes, admit you don’t know everything, and start working on going back to being the Kim 2.0 that I started to become in Scotland.

The best part of tomorrow is that I get to spend it with my family, and it is not over Skype. I still have a mountain of work to do and two jobs to go to, but at the end of all of that, I get to have dinner with my family, and have a few drinks with some of my friends. Even my students, who more often than not drive me crazy, made me a card, brought me balloons and chocolate, and did their best to respect me today.

My mom just brought me a bowl of ice cream and cookies in my favorite bunny bowl.

This may not have been how I pictured I would spend my last day as 26, but let me tell you, that ice cream went a long way to making it better. I have hours and hours before I sleep, and have 50 years of educational legislation to sort through, but I have a belly full of cookie dough ice cream, so suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

As promised, tomorrow will be a fun post full of pictures of the last 26 years of birthdays….I’ve seen the pictures, trust me, they  will make you laugh.

A lot.

The Scamp Reaches

Today I sound like a strangled goose. The cold came out of nowhere, and I feel icky. I think the boy gave it to me, but in truth, I am sure the stress of the last few weeks didn’t help. I tried to muscle through work today, but I did not get as much done as I would like.

The problem with feelings like this is I tend to get sucked into the negative. I throw a little pity party, and wallow in my feelings until they drive me crazy. I’d like to say that it is just the winter blues, but since California has yet to have a cold day.When I was in Scotland, I recognized that I needed some help, and I was strong enough in my surroundings to get the help. The little wellness center tucked between the walls of a souvenir shop and an Indian restaurant helped me discover that not only was I not crazy, but I wasn’t broken either.

I don’t have that support system here. Sure, I have my family and a few really good friends here, but without insurance, I have been reluctant to seek the help, even just for a check in and a reminder that I am not as batshit crazy as I think I am.

My class being cancelled, lapses in planning and organization, and the overwhelming urge to stick my head in the sand has made me rethink that reluctance.


Luckily I am surrounded by people that encourage me to do what I need to do to get through the days. Two of my best friends have been more than willing to talk to me about the benefits of professional help, and that hiding in bed all day is not a good idea.

In the meantime, a little snuggling with my cat will have to get me through.