The Scamp Eats Waffles

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If you say the word Belgium to an American, the first thing they will mention is either waffles or chocolate. I have a lifelong love of both of those, but waffles have a special place in my heart. I knew that there was no way that I could leave the country without trying one. After extensive research, I settled on the oldest waffle house in Antwerp: The Waffle House Van Hecke. According to their website:

Gustaaf Van Hecke founded the business in 1905.
Originally the waffles were sold at the door and especially in the pubs in and around the Sint-Andries quarter.

Later on in the Nationalestraat, formerly known as the “Boeksteeg”, a waffle house was established.

The founder Gustaaf Van Hecke 1873-1946

I made it to the waffle house when they opened which meant that I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the first waffle of the day. I was greeted by the owner, a giant friendly man who clearly loves everything about life. I seated myself outside in the sunshine and he made me a strawberry and mango smoothie while I waited for my waffle. When he brought out the plate he sat down at the table with me for a chat. He seemed worried that I was eating breakfast by myself, so he asked me what brought me to Antwerp, why I moved from California to Edinburgh, and how he grew up with the children of a Jewish family that his mom served as a maid for. He learned English watching American movies, and laughed with enjoyment at the way I pronounced words. Because there was no one else in the restaurant, the women who cooked the waffles came out to have a cigarette, and the owner acted as a translator when the women asked me if I was a tattoo artist.

They laughed a little too hard when I told them I worked for a university.

I only spent an hour there, but I have to say, I probably could have spent the rest of the day there. I don’t mind eating alone, I usually have a book with me, or I get my food to go and then find a nice park or somewhere near water to eat, but I really enjoyed having someone to chat with while I enjoyed my waffle.

One of my favourite things about having the opportunity to travel is getting to sit down across from people from different backgrounds and cultures and have meaningful chats. I love listening to different accents, hearing the stories people are willing to share, and getting to see the world through a different lens. Sometimes I wish I was better about taking photographs or recording these moments in some way because I feel like these little moments make me a better person.

I wish I could say that the waffle and the chat motivated me to get some work done, but it did not. I have the voice of my supervisor in my head telling me that I am doing it wrong every time I sit down to write. Between him beating down my self-esteem in regards to my writing, and the fact that I spent the last 2.5 years going back and forth with a sociopath who used me, and who knows how many other girls to cheat on his girlfriend have not left me wanting to do a whole lot more than just curl up in bed and binge watch true crime documentaries. It doesn’t help that I know what I need to write and just panic when I try and do it.

Oh, and people telling me to just get it done. Like I am just being lazy. That’s not really something that I need to hear. Thank God for therapy….and waffles.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 18

I like big books and I cannot lie. I have a really flimsy bookcase in my dining area that is full of books that I want to read, that I’ve read and that I want to hold on to forever. The challenge this week is to discuss the book I am currently reading, and one that I just finished reading.

I’m in the middle of trying to get my UK driving licence, so the last book I read was the Highway Code for the UK. I need to know that inside and out to help me driving here. I have my first driving lesson tomorrow, and I am going to attempt to learn how to drive a manual car for the first time (I already apologise to all those that will be on the road near me tomorrow).

The book that I am currently reading is Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. According to Goodreads.com:

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

Unfortunately, McNamara died before she completed the book. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt gave complete access to the lead researcher on the case and he finished the book so that it could be put out for publication. On the 24th of April 2018, the Golden State Killer was captured. I don’t want to say that the book is the reason he was finally found, but I don’t think all the attention that the book brought to the case hurt.

The book is well written but incredibly disturbing. I only read bits of it at a time because the GSK was a violent rapist and sadistic killer. I’d heard about the book from my favourite true crime podcast My Favourite Murder. They did a fantastic podcast detailing the capture of the killer and spoke to the man who completed the research.

It is worth a listen, and for those of you interested in true crime, the book is worth a read.

Alas, I must put all of this to the side for the moment so I can get back to my thesis and finish a draft chapter that should have been completed three weeks ago.

The fun never ends. Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 16

 

I’m really not good with the challenge this year. I have not come close to 16 posts, and while I would like to blame it on the fact that I am busting ass on my PhD, it is really because I am just lazy by the end of the day. I feel really bad neglecting this part of my world, especially since I started the writing challenge to help get me through my dark and twisty moments.

I’m also slowly creeping my way to 500 posts….not that I ever thought I would get that far.

The writing challenge for this week is a fun one for me. I’ve been tasked with writing about the podcasts that I like to listen to. I spend a lot of time on public transportation and die a little bit inside whenever I forget to charge my iPod. A few months ago I might have apologised for this crazy list of my favourite podcasts, but today, I am not.

I like to be entertained, I like to laugh, and I like true crime. There is a very very very very very strong language warning with all of these. If you don’t like explicit sex, then steer clear of one (you’ll know which one), and if you are not a fan of poop talk, stay away from You Mom’s House.

Here are the podcasts you can find on my iPod:

Your Mom’s House

http://www.yourmomshousepodcast.com/

This is a comedy podcast hosted by Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky. They are the power couple of comedy. Each of them is funny on their own, but together, they kill me. They are crude, lewd, and socially unacceptable, and I love them both. I want to be friends with them. The topics range from comedy to current events, and more often than not, they delve into the seedier parts of the interwebs to bring the bizarre to the forefront.

Here is an episode featuring the star of the next podcast on the list. Be warned. It’s graphic and might be offensive to some.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience

http://podcasts.joerogan.net/

Powerful Joe Rogan: comedian, UFC commentator, and believer of educating the world hosts a podcast that ranges from getting high and hanging out with his friends, to commentating UFC fights, to discussing current events with experts in the field. I can remember the first time I heard this podcast. My brother and I were driving to the wombmate’s rehearsal dinner. I was not looking forward to seeing most of the paternal side of the family, and my brother put it on for the drive. It happened to be an episode when they had all eaten way too many mushrooms, so I hated it. My brother insisted that I keep with it, and it was through this podcast that I was introduced to Joey Diaz, Bert Kreischer, Ari Shaffir (who I got to see perform in Edinburgh). There are times when the podcast is nothing but silly, and times when it is very serious. One of the best episodes lately was one with the ultra-conservative Ben  Shapiro. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, but this podcast was so good and made me respect him a lot more.

 

Here is a bonus of Joey Diaz. Explicit content. He’s wildly inappropriate. He’s a Cuban comedian who has lived quite the life that has included everything from kidnapping, jail, drugs, and running numbers.

 

My Dad Wrote a Porno

This one kills me. It is exactly as the title suggests. A guy is reading the porn that his dad is self-publishing. It is horribly written, and hilarious. I started listening to this with the heterolifemate, and we spent many a long bus ride through the Baltics laughing and dying over the crazy things (and people) Belinda does. I saw a live show this summer during the festival. I went by myself and in a moment of stupidity, I volunteered to go on stage and act like Belinda….of course it was to act out one of the sex scenes in the book to demonstrate that what was written was not humanly possible. I ended up getting felt up by a tiny Asain lady named Joy and regretting my life choices.

Here is the first episode. It is graphic, x rated, and horrible. On my worst days though it makes me laugh until I cry.

 

My Favourite Murder

https://www.myfavoritemurder.com/

My Favorite Murder is the hit true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I’m a major muderino. These two women are neurotic, riddled with anxiety and dependency issues, and like to play fast and loose with facts sometimes, but they are absolutely fantastic. Each week they present a murder, or survivor story. They are very pro victim, and often do a really amazing job highlighting the strength of the survivors by telling their stories in a very authentic way. They acknowledge that not all the victims are perfect, that they are not perfect, and that the podcast is not perfect, and because they seem so real and genuine, it makes you feel like you are in the room with them while they are sometimes stumbling their way through a story. They are very open about their struggles with mental health, and often remind listeners that it is okay to seek help and that things will get better. They also have the best catchphrases

Stay sexy and don’t get murdered

Call your dad you’re in a cult

Fuck politeness

Stay out of the forest

They tend to get really sidetracked at the start, so if you get tired of the nonsense and just want the murder, skip ahead about 15 min.

 

The Last Podcast on the Left

https://www.lastpodcastontheleft.com/

According to their site:

Last Podcast on the Left barrels headlong into all things horror — as hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski cover dark subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, iconic hauntings, the history of war crimes, and more. Whether it’s cults, killers, or cryptid encounters, Last Podcast on the Left laughs into the abyss that is the dark side of humanity.

They do a lot of research for each podcast and cover all kinds of strange and fascinating things. I like listening to LPOTL because I really feel like I am getting a history lesson.

 

True Crime Garage

https://www.truecrimegarage.com/

Each week Nic & The Captain get in the garage and talk true crime and drink beer. This is another one that feels like it has been well researched, and they often highlight little-known cases to not only honour the victims but in some cases, help solicit listeners for help new information to help solve the crimes. Like all the true crime podcasts I listen to, they are very respectful of the people in the cases that they present.

 

Loveline

Started in 1983, Loveline was a call-in radio show on 106.7 KROQ in Califoria. Callers would ask the hosts of the show everything from relationship and sex questions to questions about addiction recovery. Dr. Drew Pinsky hosted the show and his co-hosts included Adam Carolla and Mike Catherwood. The show ended in 2016 and is now a weekly podcast with new hosts. I really only like the Adam Carolla and Mike Catherwood eras of the show. The episodes from these eras used to be available for download, but when the show went off the air, so did the podcasts. I’ve almost worked my way through all the episodes that I had downloaded, and I will be really sad when I finish. I used to listen to Loveline on my way home from Cal State Fullerton…if I had it on loud enough, I couldn’t hear myself cry after class.

 

 

So there you have it. These are the voices that are between my ears when I am on the bus, pretending to run on the canal, or walking through the Royal Mile. If you aren’t familiar with any of these, take a listen. Just be warned, harsh language, extreme content and disturbing subjects abound in these.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 12

The challenge this week is to write about a word I overuse.

Easy. The word I overuse is: fine.

I must say at least 50 times a day that I am fine.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how I feel.

Fine seems to be my go-to for describing how my work is going.

Fine seems to be my go-to when I have to make sacrifices to do what other people want, regardless of if I want it.

I’m in a mood this week after accidentally stumbling on a wedding photo of an ex. I’m not upset that he is married. He cheated on me six years ago. I do not want to be the one in the photo with him. I’m upset that I had to see it and therefore acknowledge that he exists. I’d rather live in ignorance, and pretend he no longer exists. Out of sight, out of mind. Now he isn’t.

And during a month when I am worried about my future; when I’ve gotten rid of people that are bad for me; when I tried really hard not to lose people who are bad for me; when I was stuck in cold Edinburgh instead of visiting my nephews in warm California.

So I say that I am fine, but I am not really fine.

On the plus side, I saw the sun today and went out wearing a jacket not made for snow, and I watched the sunset at 7:30 this evening….which means it is finally spring.

I like spring. Everything comes back to life in spring.

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 9

Remember that time I said I was going to write weekly and be really good about sticking to the challenge?

(Please say no)

I currently have 4 jobs and my thesis to complete, and I am feeling a like a bit of a zombie. I haven’t been doing much other than collecting data and commuting, so finding some time to write, and write for pleasure has been sparse.

I had a rare evening off, so I thought maybe if I wrote about something fun and easy then I would be able to do the academic writing tomorrow. The challenge this week is to write about one of my favourite things: BOOKS! The challenge for this week is to write about the five books that I think everyone should read.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

This work by Brazilian educator and activist Paulo Freire changed my life.  The first time I read this I was 22 and working on my MA. It was the first time I had encountered Critical Theory and the first time that I really found someone who felt the same way as I did about the power of education. Freire calls for a new relationship between teacher, student and society.

In 1962, Paulo Freire created culture circles in Northeastern Brazil to support 300 sugar-cane workers to teach each other how to read the word and their world in 45 days, which enabled them to register to vote. These Culture Circles that began with Sugar Cane workers, catalyzed thousands more. Each with the purpose of not just literacy, but conscientization, or which involves people joining with their peers to name their world by reflecting on their conditions, imagining a better world, and then taking action to create it. This approach, developed as much by Freire as the workers he educated, was so galvanizing that he was jailed and exiled by the Military Government within two years (http://www.practicingfreedom.org/pedagogy-of-the-oppressed-what-is-it-and-why-its-still-relevant/).

Critical Theory, and the idea of giving a voice to those that are traditionally marginalised in education has become a driving force in my writing, my research, and my outlook on the world.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

This is a self-help book I can get behind. Fuck is one of my favourite words and I believe that this book should be required reading for everyone when they turn 18. Mark Manson is not subtle, although he does give a fuck. Some gems include:

Think positive?

“Fuck positivity,” Manson says. “Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.”

Be extraordinary?

“Not everyone can be extraordinary – there are winners and losers in society, and some if it is not fair or your fault,” Manson writes.

Seek happiness?

“The path to happiness is a path full of shit heaps and shame,” he remarks.

The Sound and the Fury

This book is not for the faint of heart. William Faulkner is one of the greatest American writers of all time (in my opinion of course) and the variety of narrative styles and the complexity of this story just make me want to read it over and over again. There is something about the stream of consciousness writing style that I love. There is something about the tragic fucked up family that I understand. There is something about writing a book in the way you want to regardless of whether people understand it that makes me want to keep writing.

“…I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”
― William FaulknerThe Sound and the Fury

To Kill a Mockingbird

This speaks for itself.

God Went to Beauty School

Cynthia Rylant did something really interesting with this book. It is a collection of vignettes about God as a regular ordinary, everyday man.

God Went to Beauty School

Cynthia Rylant

He went there to learn how
to give a good perm
and ended up just crazy 
about nails
so He opened up His own shop.
“Nails by Jim” He called it.
He was afraid to call it
Nails by God.
He was sure people would
think He was being
disrespectful and using
His own name in vain
and nobody would tip.
He got into nails, of course,
because He’d always loved
hands--
hands were some of the best things
He’d ever done
and this way He could just
hold one in His
and admire those delicate
bones just above the knuckles,
delicate as birds’ wings, 
and after He’d done that
awhile,
He could paint all the nails 
any color He wanted,
then say,
“Beautiful,"
and mean it.

 

Bonus book: Tender Buttons

Gertrude Stein is my favourite poet. Her poems are weird, her life was full of adventure, and she gave zero fucks about convention. As Wikipedia notes: it is a book consisting of three sections titled “Objects”, “Food”, and “Rooms”. While the short book consists of multiple poems covering the everyday mundane, Stein’s experimental use of language renders the poems unorthodox and their subjects unfamiliar.” I first read this book for a poetry class I took in Merced. That was the class that taught me I could be a poet without having to worry about convention, and it is the class that strengthened my bond with some of my favourite people. The book sits on my shelf now….next to The Sound and the Fury.

It is also home to my favourite poem.

Asapagus

Asparagus. Asparagus in a lean in a lean to hot. This makes it art and it is wet wet weather wet weather wet.

It is currently snowing quite hard for Scotland, so I think I am going to pull Tender Buttons off the shelf and enjoy the cozy night in.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 6

Or, the Scamp gets a Ticket to Ride.

I currently have four jobs. I never really know what day it is, or how much sleep I’ve gotten, or even which job I need to be at and at what time. For the most part, I am not sure what work I am getting done, what work needs to be done, or if I have been paid for everything that I’ve done.

I’m tired. I want to sleep. I want someone to hug me and tell me I’m doing a good job. I want my kitty.

Speaking of my kitty, he made an emergency trip to the vet this week and unfortunately lost an eye. He was poisoned when he was a youngster and has been blind in that eye for a long time, but it seems that it got infected, or something bad happened, and my mother was worried and took him to the vet. He’s fine, he doesn’t look like a monster, and I know when he gets home, he will be back to rolling in the dirt in no time.  I just wish that I was there to hang out with him and cuddle him and hand feed him turkey and cheese.

But back to my poorly placed reference about a board game. On Thursday nights I teach an English exam prep class. I try and have fun things for them to do that allow them to practice their speaking, read, and write. It does not follow the regular exam class format, but I’d like to think that there are still some good things about it. A couple of weeks ago we watched a video of people playing the board game Ticket to Ride. I wanted the students to have a chance to listen to different accents, and I knew they would have to focus on listening to figure out how the game was played. The students really struggled with it, one because the rules of the game are a bit complex, and because a lot of the jokes went over their heads.

I thought since they had seen the video of the game being played, it might actually be fun to play in real life. I love the game, so I bought a copy and took it to class for game night. I had two new students, and I am not sure that game day was a good class to start with.  It took a few rounds for the students to figure out what was supposed to happen in the game, and then once they did, the new students weren’t that impressed. I know that language was a part of the problem, not letting them speak Spanish while they played was an issue, and the fact that it was not a class that was giving hints and tips for passing the exam (and one of my new students really wants that).

I was sad because I thought the game would be a good chance for the students to speak to each other, and a fun thing to do at the end of the week. I was wrong. I don’t like when my lessons don’t work, and I don’t like feeling like I am not helping my students. I am going to have to go back to the old format of teaching, which I am not super excited about, but at the end of the day, their learning is way more important.

But man, I really wanted them to enjoy the game and have fun with it. If you are curious about the video I showed them, and or if you just love the idea of watching Wil Wheaton play boardgames, here is one of the greatest things on Youtube.

and here is the version of the game that we played.

I now have my own copy of the game, so anyone who wants to play, let me know. It is a really fun game, I like to think I am really fun company, and trains.

Seriously.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I can’t remember if I did one for week four, and technically it is the start of week 6, but 5 is my favourite number, so I am going to do week 5 now and week 6 later in the week.

I like the challenge for week 5. I get to spend my time discussing one good thing from last week.

Easy. My visa and passports came back. I am now nice and legal again. The photo on my visa makes me laugh. It is awful. I look dead. But it makes me laugh, and it guarantees that when I have to show it at checkpoints and to the uni, people will think I am that much more attractive. I can live with that. It means I can start planning a quick weekend away somewhere around my birthday since I can’t make it to California this year.

I was also able to keep all of my jobs. Now if one f them could turn into something permanent I’d be even happier.

The rest of this month is going to be a blur of writing up the results of my thesis and conducting interviews for the department research project. I really love the project lead. She asked me first since I am supposed to be based out of the office and is going out of her way to find ways to keep me employed. I’m not sure she will be able to find the funding to keep me around, but the fact that she is willing to do that for me means a lot. I’m excited for the project to begin and I really hope that some good things can come from it. I am fast approaching the end to my 30th year, and while it did not quite go as planned, I am hoping that I can get a lot done this month and start 31 on a sure path to finishing my PhD. July will be here before I know it and I am still about 50,000 words short of where I need/want to be.

Not that I am freaking out about that or anything. No. Not at all.

I sat down with my supervisor today to go over the statistics, and he was really great and showing me what needed to be done and writing up the first part with me, so I think I am all set now to do the first part of my results chapter. The goal is to have this chapter written by the end of February, and with four jobs, I am not sure when it is going to get done…..but it will get done.