The Scamp Takes a Snow Day

Snow has fallen on the city. It happens, but usually it doesn’t stick. For the last couple of days it has been like living in a snow globe. Snow is still a novelty to me, so I have been braving the lack of double glazing and leaving the curtains open so I can see the snow as it falls. I even bundled up and took a wander through the woods to look for snowmen and try to pet as many pups in sweaters as I could (Unfortunately, I only got to pet one beautiful Doberman, but I did lots of colourful sweaters and lots of snowy paws and noses).

I also went for the walk so I wouldn’t send angry emails to people who are questioning my ability to do my job and my knowledge of the subject material. I don’t have my new visa yet, and I am not looking to get fired right now.

The walk in the fresh air helped…a little. Until I got another email questioning my skills. I was polite, but there was some rage screaming into a pillow that reads ‘I fucking hate people’.

I am tired. We are all tired. A year of the pandemic and the lockdowns, isolation, ever changing rules and inability to hug people really has taken a tole on my mental health. I am grouchy about everything. All the time. I was even annoyed at the fact that dogs were well behaved on their walks so I couldn’t pet them. I hate that people on the path where I walk can’t respect social distancing. I’m grouchy that my masters student is having a hard time with recruiting participants for their research because the pandemic means no paper surveys. I hate that I am questioned on my ability to do my job, and I hate that I have to bite my tongue and be a good little minion even though it goes against good practice.

I have decided that tomorrow I am going to take a snow day. I have one meeting and then I am going to turn off my email and work on some things for me. I have a paper that I want to write based on my PhD, and since scholarship is technically part of my job remit, I am still working. But I am not taking any bullshit. It will be a bullshit free zone after the meeting. I get to pick the structure of the paper, it will be written the way I want, and it is something that is going to advance my career and make me feel better.

I may even go out and build a snowman.

Mental health days are important. Looking after yourself is important. Acknowledging your feelings is important. Not sending angry emails full of cuss words to your boss is important. Putting aside your feelings of what is right to keep the peace over trivial matters is important. Having a good support system is important.

Rage screaming into a pillow will make you feel better. So will a walk in the snow.

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 Laughs

I have been running around like a mad woman this week trying to get the chapter edits done and make some headway with my thesis. I’m not sure how much luck I am having, but I survived the week, so at least that is something.

All the running around means that I have been too lazy to cook. I stopped at Subway on my way home this week, and while I was waiting for my sandwich, the guy behind the counter asked me if I was headed to work or headed home from work (it was 4). I told him I left one job and was headed home to another one. This is the conversation that followed:

Him: another job?! What is it that you do?

Me: I work for a university, but I am headed home to work on my PhD.

Him: (sceptical) what are you working on?

Me: I study how students respond to the feedback they receive from lecturers and whether or not they learn from it.

Him: Feedback?

Me: Like the comments on an assignment, or if you write an essay and get notes written in the margin.

Him: You can study anything…

Me: I mean….there is a guy studying how takeaway trauma effects people. Like how anxious you get waiting for your pizza to arrive.

Him: See, that is a worthwhile study! That is important!

Me: ……….

That’s it. I quit! I’m done with academia. I had a really good giggle over that because it reminds me that my work, as important as I think it is, is really only important in my corner of the world.

I’m okay with that though. Even though I am massively behind schedule and freaking out about the future, I am happy that universities will fund almost anything so that I have a chance to try and help people in my little corner of the world. I also really needed the laugh.

Plus, the guy looked so serious that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the takeaway trauma study was probably bullshit.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 14

….or, the Scamp is a lazy writer.

The weather in Scotland has been very very very nice lately, and that really makes it hard for me to do anything than take my book to the park and lay in the sunshine. I now understand my cat as he moves through the house following the sun. I’m crossing my fingers that this is not the only bit of good weather we have until next year, but in the meantime, it is not really making me want to sit down and get my work done.

I’m still suffering from a little lack of motivation. I need someone to kick me in the butt and glue my fingers to my keyboard and my back to my chair.

The challenge for this week is to think about why I have a blog. There are two answers to this. The first answer is that I started this when I first got accepted into the University of Edinburgh. I wanted some way to document my time living in Scotland where all of my friends and family could find it and keep up with my adventures. When I moved here 5 years ago, everyday was an adventure, every day a new experience. I had a lot to share, and was able to do a lot of new things. It was the first time I lived in another country, the first time I did substantial traveling alone, and the first time I could not just run home if something went wrong. I shared a lot of my life with the world, including being cheated on, and the very painful break-up that followed.

The second answer to why I have a blog is that this is a space for me to sort out all of the crazy things that run through my mind. I kept it going when I moved back to California for a little while, and used it as an outlet while I tried to deal with my reverse culture shock, while I tried to navigate a race war and very strict political game in higher education, and my eventual breakdown and slide into deep deep depression. This is a place where I am way too honest about how I’m feeling, what I am doing, and what I would rather be doing. While I am back in Scotland, and back to my wandering ways, life now is a lot more routine, a lot more settled then it was when I was only here for a year. I don’t always have a lot of new experiences to share, so now the writing challenges help me get my brain flowing and help me get some words on the page. I enjoy the challenges, and enjoy sitting down to work with them each week, even if I sometimes fall behind (I’m a week late with this one, and last week I did three weeks at once). When I started the Scamp Abroad 5 years ago, I never thought I would still be working on it, much less that some many people would be reading it. I’m routinely humbled when people talk about it, or mention that they’ve read it, or tell me how much they like it.

Sometimes people ask me how much longer I will keep the Scamp going. The simple answer to that is: until it stops being fun.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 20s

Tomorrow I will enter the next decade of my life. I’m currently horribly ill complete with fever, cough, sore throat and snot.

But I’m happy. While I was unable to cross all 30 things off the list, I did manage to do 21 of the 30 adventures, and I am just going to keep going until I can cross them all off (I really want to make a good budget so I can pay off my student loans). Today, on the eve of my 30th, I am able to cross two more off the list.

The first one that is coming off the list is number 29: Stop holding grudges. This one was a really difficult one because I love holding grudges. For the last few years I have been holding some serious grudges. I decided to let them go. I was able to mend some friendships, and I was able to walk away from one and I no longer miss the friendship or hate her for being so selfish and stupid. Letting go of those grudges has allowed me to make room for some new and amazing friendships (I’m looking at you Flamingos) and allowed me to really focus on the friendships and the people around me that keep me out of the dark and twisty. I also feel a lot better about the way I handle most situations because I am not as angry as usual and not as consumed with my grudges and perceived personal slights.

The second thing I get to cross off the list is number 28: Fall in Love. Now, before you get too excited, no, I did not fall in love with a boy. When I added this to the list a year ago, I was hoping that I would fall in love with the boy and move into a different phase of my disastrous relationships. But alas, that was a dud. The person that I fell in love with is way more important though. I fell in love with me. I’ve spent the last year working hard in therapy to sort through all the weird things that go on in my head. I’m learning how to take care of myself, how to find the balance between work and fun, and how to manage my expectations (That is number 30 on the list, but I am nowhere near ready to cross that one off the list, so it is staying unchecked for the moment). There was a moment earlier in the week that I was a little sad about not completing the list before my birthday, but then I realized everything that I was able to do, and how far I came in the last year. Really starting to love myself is a big thing though, and I think it is one of the things that is going to help make my 30s be just as great as I have been picturing them in my mind. Because, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”

Can I get an amen?

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 40 and 41

I’ve had a really bad cold for the last two weeks and it has made me extremely lazy (and the U.K.’s largest producer of snot). I have fallen behind with PhD work, with writing, and with anything remotely related to not being a zombie. One of the joys of working with little kids three days a week is that they are mini perti dishes of new and wonderful germs.

My body does not like germs.

So while I am playing catch-up this week, all the writing that I actually want to be doing has fallen by the wayside. The gratitude challenge for last week was focused on my greatest accomplishment. This one is really hard for me. I’m not sure I have a specific moment that would qualify as my greatest accomplishment. The one thing that I can think of is surviving my first encounter with a PhD program and not letting it completely destroy me. A mere two months after that all fell apart I had an interview for my current position. While there were a lot of tears, a lot of hiding in bed, and a lot of therapy, I did not completely sink into the dark and twisty, and was able to find a program that I am better suited to, and I got to return to Scotland. Now, I am two months into my new life here and I feel like I never left. Even though my days are not always sunshine and rainbows (Because really, the sun doesn’t shine here), I am happier than I have been in a really really long time. I’ve been reunited with some of my favorite people, made some pretty kick ass new friends, and am well on my way to settling into a great life here.

The gratitude challenge for this week is hobbies. I have a lot of hobbies that I enjoy, but there are a couple that I am extra grateful for. I often get mocked for my love of yoga pants and brightly colored yoga mats, but this is one hobby that I am seriously grateful for. I took up yoga about 15 years ago to help stay flexible for swimming, but it has become something that I really enjoy doing when I am stressed, having a bad day, or when I want to show off for cute boys. I have been lucky enough to meet some great people who do yoga, and even got to help one of my friends as she went through certification to become a yoga teacher. It is a hobby that has a lot of benefits for my health, and keeps me from punching stupid people on a regular basis. I’ve been majorly slacking on my practice lately, but I am going to make a conscious effort to do at least 20 minutes a day. Scorpion pose is in my future.

The other hobby that I am grateful for is my love of reading. That hobby has not only allowed me access to some wonderful books, but has kept me gainfully employed since I was 14 years old. I’ve worked in every type of library you can imagine, and have been a student of words since I was 18. Most recently my love of reading helped me get a job at a learning center. The extra cash is nice, and the kids are a fun break from higher education. I love it when they tease me about the way I say tomato, or when they get excited about being assigned to my zone. The kids have even started drawing me pictures to put on my desk at work. My favorite is the purple dinosaur with a blue tail and face.

2015-10-11 12.59.45

The best part of the job so far is a little man named Angus. I’m not 100% sure what Angus has, but I am guessing undiagnosed ADD, and some emotional issues. Angus and I met last week, and it was a struggle to get him to do anything. When he came into the center yesterday, he asked to be put in my section, gave me a big hug, and I got him to sit through one and a half of his tasks (no small feat, trust me). He even made me a picture before he left for the day. I know that it really isn’t a big deal, and I am not going to solve his attention issues, but it is nice to think that he is not hating the hour that he spends in the center. He hates reading, so I am going to try and find some really funny books that he can read so that maybe he will hate it a little less. If I can share that hobby with him, maybe, just maybe, I can get him to sit through a whole session.

Life goals.

The Scamp Battles the Bitchy Biddy Brigade


I’m still at war. It has been raging for more than three months now. For those who do not know of my battle, you can find it here:

Things just keep getting better. I made my move and talked to the dean, and at her request, did the part of the inventory that was assigned to me. Faculty evaluations have come and gone, and since I try and keep my nose out of the gossip, I have no idea how the B cubed took the news that I was not their personal punching bag.

No one has come sniffing around my desk, or magically appearing in the stacks while I work, and the boss hasn’t forwarded any more emails of my perceived shortcomings, so I claimed a small (albeit important) victory.

Yesterday they retaliated. I have a post-it marking where I left off in my work everyday, and it is just about the finish line (suck on that old women). Since the boss monitors the progress of the project, it was brought to the attention of the group that I was just about done with my section… they tripled my workload. Apparently I was too efficient, which is a big no-no at this library, and because of that, I get to do their project.

It was a valiant effort,  but, really? You think that ordering me to do more work than the boss assigned me is really going to work?


I’ve got plenty of my own work to get back to, and although I had the help of a really awesome student worker, I still have a lot of books coming in and shelf cleaning to do.

and by Friday, I will be back at it. I did what was asked of me, and now I will go on back to my work. The next 68 days, 11 hours and 12 minutes will be spent doing my job to the best of my ability and then proudly march into the bosses office and quit. I’ve already decided on the cards I am going to give the Bitchy Biddy Brigade when I leave.


I am greatly looking forward to that day.

Next week all of us lowly classified staff have a meeting with the boss. I have decided that will be the stage for my next battle. A little public shaming to make my work days more fun.

Summer school still sucks, studying for the qualifying exam is making me crazy, and I am behind on my research.

In 50 days all of that will be over, and life just might settle down.

Probably not.

The Scamp and Passover

This week marks the Jewish celebration of Passover.

For those who don’t know anything about the holiday, here is what Chabod says about it:

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

So now that you’ve had a history lesson, you can get the Scamp’s interpretation of Passover. For me, it is a chance to get together with my family and take pictures like this one:


Plague sandwich anyone?

Last year I didn’t celebrate Passover in Scotland. I was trying to deal with heartstompapoolza, and trying to make the most of the time I had left in the city. This year, I am spending the day in class. I spent the first night at a baseball game, and accidentally ate a hot dog. While I am not kosher, I’m sure that eating pork on a Jewish holiday is frowned upon somewhere. I was appropriately greeted with locust. We laughed and had a great time at the game, and with the fact that I am a bad Jew, and that would not have happened if we were at a formal seder.


I’m spending the second night in class. I fact, I am writing this from class when I should be paying attention to leadership styles and human resources.

While I am not spending the holiday at a big family dinner the way we usually do, I have to admit that I am not sad about it. I often feel a little fake at the family dinners because I do not consider myself religious in the traditional sense, and lately, I have not been feeling particularly interested in mixing with more than my immediate family. In fact, I didn’t feel bad about being passed over on the invite list for the family dinner. I have four weeks left in the semester and have enough on my plate.

I got to spend last night with my family, and at the end of the day, whether we did it around a table with a formal seder, or in the bleachers at a baseball game, so I consider the holiday a success.

Chag Sameach everyone.