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.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 3

I love music related posts. I am about to get fired from a job that could keep in Scotland because my visa got messed up (Apparently it was incorrect from the start, but no one noticed for almost 3 years) and the other 4 jobs I have are keeping me so busy that I have yet to even touch my PhD in awhile.

I’m stressed. Beyond stressed. Every day that I don’t get my results down on paper is another day I am convinced that I am not going to finish my PhD on time.

It is not a good time to be me.

So, having just completed a really relaxing yoga class and cheating on my diet with chocolate, I am more than happy to take on the challenge this week. My task, and I have chosen to accept it, is to put my Ipod on shuffle and write about how the first ten songs make me feel. Now, if my results chapter was as easy to get down on paper as this, I would be done in no time.

First up…

Sheppard: Geronimo

I like this song. I use it as an alarm occasionally so that I can start my day with a little pep in my step.

Second Choice

Matt and Kim: Wires

I could listen to Matt and Kim on repeat. I think they have a funky sound and I got to see them live many many many years ago when they opened for Blink 182. I wished I was that good on the drums.

Coming in third

Sean Hayes: Powerful Stuff

This song actually makes me sad. I think Sean Hayes has a great voice, but I used to dance in my kitchen with David to a Sean Hayes song. It’s been five years since he ripped my heart out and these songs still make me a little sad when I think about the kitchens and Bar exam prep and a future that is now just one of those things that you grow out of.

Four on the door

Kaiser Chiefs: I Predict a Riot

When this started it made me laugh because I saw them play live with David. We hadn’t really been dating that long, and not many people knew, but he invited me to go when a friend of his couldn’t go, and most of his law school friends were there. They called me library girl, tried to get me drunk, and made me dance around like an idiot with them because they said I was far too serious to be at a concert. It was a fantastic show.

Alive with five

Lake Street Drive cover of: Rich Girl

I first heard this song in a Starbucks in Scotland when the lifemate and I were doing uni work together. Now I listen to it on repeat. Constantly. I love this cover. For me, it is better than the original version.

Six in the mix

Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood: Something Bad About to Happen

My life motto.

Seven is heaven

B.B. King: The Thrill is Gone

Soul. Every playlist needs some good soul.

Eight is great

House of Pain: Jump Around

I have a huge love for 90s rap. I know all the words to this song and sing it as loud as I can in my car, in the shower, and in pubs.

Devine Nine

George Baker: Little Green Bag

I only know this song from one of my favourite movies. I think it also happens to have one of the best soundtracks of all time. I like to listen to the soundtrack when I am on my way to the airport for an adventure.

and finally TEN

Rachel Platten: Fight Song

Fitting. When I was really at a low point last year, I downloaded this song after seeing a video of Rachel Platten singing it with a pint sized cancer warrior. I figured if that little girl could be strong then I could try and be strong as well.

Bonus songs:

The Scamp Tries a New Writing Challenge

It is 2018. 2018 is the year that I finish my PhD (hopefully). 2018 is the year that I get a career instead of just a job. 2018 is the year that I finally get to Israel. 2018 is the year that I win $5,000,000 and pay off all of my student loans and buy my sister, brother-in-law and nephews a house, and pay my parents back for all the money they have spent on me the last few years (Ok, that one may be wishful thinking, but I’m putting it out into the world and I hope that it comes true).

Last year I was awful at writing for fun. I spent a lot of time dedicated to my PhD and had some trouble with the dark and twisty. I’ve been doing yoga every day though, and painfully cut all cheese and dairy out of my diet, so I am hoping that the dark and twisty will be a little less noticeable this year.

So, new year, a new challenge. I started a few years ago with a gratitude challenge as part of my therapy. I’d been kicked out of school, accused of racism and bullied. I was miserable living in the US and needed the reminder that there was a lot of good in my life, and a lot of good in me. That was a challenge I did faithfully every week, but last year, well, that didn’t go so well. I am going to try and be really good about it, just like writing my thesis and being finished by July.

So…..the challenge for this week is to write about something funny I heard today.

This one is great…it also makes me sad for the future. I went to campus to print a bunch of articles for teaching this week. I decided that while I was there I should look at the data for my thesis because I really need to get my ass in gear on the analysis. While I was in the library, I sat across from a guy and a girl who looked fairly young. I had my headphones in and originally thought that they were speaking German.  I could not for the life of me understand what they were saying. At one point I got up to get my printing, and when I came back, I didn’t put my headphones back in. Turns out they were speaking English. Most of it still sounded like mumbled gibberish, but out of the blue, the guy says, “I wonder how the throat works? Like, does it go up here (I couldn’t see, but I’m assuming he went up his neck and to his forehead)? The girl answered, “Not that high.” Then they went back to the mumbling language that I am still not convinced is English, and I decided that it was time for me to leave before I gave into the urge to tell them that maybe if they spent more time studying they would know simple things like the way the throat works.

On a less cringy note, the best thing I heard today was a video my sister sent of her oldest running around at the park while her youngest babbled in her lap, almost as if he was narrating the scene. She sends me a lot of baby videos and they never fail to make me feel better about everything.

The Scamp and the Writing Challnege: Week 51

Week 51. I’m not sure how that happened. It seems like just yesterday I was headed to the Amber Rose to meet four women that found themselves like me, in want of low key options for the new year, and a chance to meet some new girls. I was feeling depressed, had just returned from Budapest, and my therapist suggested that a good cure for my loneliness would be to go out and meet some new people, expand my social circle and realise that I didn’t need to dwell on the failure of a shitty relationship.

Turned out, it was a really great idea. Even though I went back to the shitty relationship in hopes that a clean start and compromise would make it better, I did keep and maintain a friendship with the new year’s ladies. We have the best group chat, travel together, have epic nights out, and they are some of my favourite people.

But, as usual, I digress. The challenge for this week is to discuss something that I know well: a source of anxiety.

It is fair to say that it would probably be easier for me to write about things that don’t give me anxiety (which at this moment are baby animal videos and chocolate). The challenge is to not only discuss the source of anxiety, but also the ways in which I am (or trying to) manage it.

I have a feeling this will be the most words I have put on a page in a really long time. The current source of my anxiety is words.  The words I am not writing for my blog. The words I am not writing for my thesis. The words being said to me by friends, family, and co-workers. The words being said to me by strangers. The words that I am not saying to anyone…even myself. All of those words are floating around in my head and driving me crazy. I constantly have music on, podcast, the TV, all of it just to drown out the words in my head.

Most of those words are telling me that I am not good enough. That I am not working hard enough to complete my PhD on time or find a fulltime time job. That my ideas for feedback and assessment practices don’t have merit, and that I am not a strong enough to make good decisions for myself. The voices are constantly telling me something bad is waiting to happen the moment I get too comfortable.

Some days I think it is probably terrifying for anyone to be around me, and that they would be even more freaked out if they saw what was in my head.

Now the part that is not so easy: how I am working through the anxiety. As I mentioned above, I keep myself surrounded by noise. I’m sure the ringing in my ears and my future self who can’t really hear are not thrilled by this, but it has been working so far so I might hold on to it for a little bit longer. I have also made sure that I have kept up with my therapy. Those sessions have helped me become more self-aware, and even though I sometimes hate that I understand what I am doing and why it has gone a long way to help me curb a lot of the negative thoughts. I do a lot of writing out of scenarios, and a lot of thinking about what those voices are saying, and whether or not they are based in reality, or if they are part of my dark and twisty. More often than not, that helps talk me off the ledge.

In addition to that, I have been trying to really get back to doing yoga regularly and practising mindfulness. The other day I did a yoga class that really helped me with a way I can make a change from the dark and twisty to the more light-hearted and grateful. Justin, one of the founders of Outlaw Yoga in Colorado created a space to practice gratitude by composing a challenging class and reminding us that we need to change our thought process from ‘got to’ to ‘get to’. In relation to the class, I get to try to hold a difficult pose, I don’t have to. I get to smile and be happy about not stopping when the sequence challenged me because I could have just turned it off and sat down on the couch to watch TV. The way I am going to try and apply this to my everyday life is stop saying that I have to work on the lit review, but that I am lucky because I get to work on it and try and make a contribution to the field. I don’t have to be lonely and in the dark and twisty because I get to see a therapist to help me through it, I get to go to events that allow me to meet new people, and eventually, I will get to a place emotionally where I am a little less stressed and anxious.

That’s not to say that I am successful at this just yet, but the great thing is, I get to keep practising and learning until my default habit is to think in terms of gratitude rather than negativity and self-doubt.