The Scamp is an In Debt, Sexually Active, Tattooed, College Educated Rebel

This rant brought to you by Lori Alexander’s post: Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins without Tattoos Really Offensive Article. The title alone is the exact opposite of me, so I should have just kept scrolling.

But I didn’t.

Actually, the first thing I saw was a response that a fellow blogger wrote in response to the post by Mrs Alexander. The 25-year-old woman responded to the absurdity of thinking that propagates the blog post (Well Written Response). I agree with a lot of what Alyssa says. In 2018, it should be ‘my body, my choice’ and not ‘my body simply created to push out babies and meekly serve a man’.

I am a  Jewish woman (and not the best one at that) and have no battle with the Christian religion or those who follow any religion for that matter. My complaint is not about religion (although, I have a feeling that God wouldn’t have given women free will, a mouth and a brain if He didn’t want them to use it).

But Mrs Alexander, fuck your standards. You clearly do not understand women (Christan or otherwise). It is also extremely doubtful that you understand men. As you write:

There are many more reasons why Christian young women should carefully consider whether or not they go to college, especially if they want to be wives and mothers someday. Secular universities teach against the God of the Bible and His ways. It’s far from what God calls women to be and do: it teaches them to be independent, loud, and immodest instead of having meek and quiet spirits.

So, go to college and you can kiss motherhood goodbye? Really? Have you been out in society at all in the last oh 100 years? Women were not simply created to please men and the fact that you still think this way, and try and indoctrinate young impressionable women into this line of thinking is criminal. I’ve been to four universities, and not one of them taught me to be loud of immodest. They taught me to value education, to value learning experiences and gave me the chance to meet, interact with, and learn from all kinds of people. I am a better person because of the learning and growing that I did whilst attending university.

In 2018, I also fear the notion of having a ‘meek and quiet spirit’. The world isn’t perfect. Women (and men) should be able to disagree with what they see and hear and should be encouraged to have a conversation. They should not be silenced until they conform, and should be encouraged to be individuals. The only way that change can happen, and that some of the chaos of our current society can be calmed is if women (and men) are willing to speak up and work towards change.  I think Alyssa says it best when she writes:

Many of the brightest, most level-headed, youth in this country are girls. These young ladies are going to shape our world and help to make it a nurturing and supportive place to live. They’re going to find the cures to deadly diseases, make progressive changes in political offices, AND be the most badass mothers yet. And you want to deny them (and the world) the chance to do that? For what? So they can find a partner who sees them as “less-than” and good for nothing but giving birth? I don’t think so.

Don’t even get me started on the idea that women only get a job to pay off their debt and to make use of their degree. Not only do I know women who went to university and then decided to become stay at home moms until their kids are in school, but I know many women who busted their asses to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers and went to work in jobs they love not out of a sense of obligation, and not to pay off their debt, but because they love their work. Two of those women have kids, and one is currently pregnant. Shocking. Even more shocking, they met their husbands during college, or completed their degrees and pursued careers with the full support of their spouse. I even know a stay-at-home dad who loves his time at home with his kids (he also happens to be a Christan, but I promised to keep religion out of this). That being said, not everyone wants to go to college, and if a woman decides that it is not for her, as long as it is her choice, and she is happy with it, I have no problem with it.

Debt. No one (man or woman) wants to enter a marriage in debt. It is ridiculous to think otherwise. That being said, I can’t imagine many women who are excited to marry a man who has a lot of debt. That seems to be missing from Mrs Alexander’s backward and misguided blog post. I also have a problem with college debt being seen as bad debt. I would be more upset if the debt was from frivolous spending or poor money management skills rather than from furthering my education. Having recently paid off a student loan, I hated having the debt but loved the reason (and the university degree) that came with it.

Now let’s talk about sex. A woman who chooses to be sexually active is not a bad person. A sex worker is not a bad person. Women with free will and brains make choices for themselves. Now, I don’t want to slag off a woman who chooses to wait until she is married to have sex. I have some friends who are choosing to wait because it is important to them, and not because a man has told her she needs to. I happen to like sex (sorry mom), but I waited until I was in love (and in my 20s) before I lost my virginity. I don’t regret my choice at all, and any of the choices (minus one creep named Dan) that I have made since then. No one has ever asked me how many people I’ve slept with (and it is no one’s business).

As for the tattoos…..well, all 25 of them tell a story about who I am and where I’ve been so I regret nothing. I happen to think they make me more attractive. This one doesn’t bother me as much either because I know plenty of people, both male and female that aren’t into tattoos, but a majority of the people I have had the pleasure to meet do not have a problem with tattoos in the slightest. Even the good Jewish boy I almost married was okay with the tattoos that I had when we met (although, I probably would not have gotten any more out of respect for his religious preferences in regards to tattoos).

So, in a nutshell, I am Lori Alexander’s worst nightmare. I’m a 31-year-old single woman who does not currently want kids, has $21k of student loan debt to pay off, enjoys sex and collects tattoos the way most people collect art or stamps (or a number of other things that people like to collect). I’m also independent, living on my own and do not need a husband or my father to explain anything to me. I have no doubt that if I changed my mind about marriage one day I will find a really great guy who loves me, quirks and all.

So who are these men? Where are can I find (and avoid) them? Do I have to start wearing a scarlet letter so they can identify me or are my tattoos enough?

 

I cannot wait to read the comments that this post generates from my friends and family.

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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 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 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 Wants a Superpower

I don’t think I know anyone who has not wished for a superpower at one point or another. The person sitting in traffic wishing they could fly; the child who lives far from home wishing they could teleport; the slightly pervy guy who wishes he had X-ray vision. Kids who want to be like Batman, Superman, Captain America, or one of the X-Men. No matter what the age, I think that most people can agree that it would be really cool to have a superpower. The challenge for this week (week 43 already? Seriously?!) is to write about what super power I would like to have.

If someone had asked me this question last week, I probably would have said I would like to be able to fly or teleport. I’d love to be able to get to California to see my family for dinner, and then back to work in Edinburgh the next day. My life would be so much easier that way. After this week though, I have a new superpower that I wish I could have. I want the ability to understand and speak any language. I usually teach advanced conversation classes for the language school I work for, but this week, I was with students whose levels of English ranged from basic to intermediate. I thought it would be fun to do a Halloween themed activity, and even had Candy Corn that my mom sent me from the US to share with the students. They were all from Spain, and I know that Halloween is not celebrated there, so I figured it would make for good conversation and would be fun to see what the students thought of the candy.

One of the students I was working with had a very basic understanding of English and was finding it quite difficult to keep up with what was going on in class. I understand Spanish, but it is not good enough, and I am not as confident in my ability to explain concepts to someone who doesn’t understand English. The student was not a fan of my class, and I could see him getting increasingly frustrated as the class went on. Two hours is a long time to sit in a room where you don’t really know what is being said….especially since you are paying to be there. If I had the ability to speak and understand any language, I would have been in a better position to help him enjoy the class, lack of appreciation for the Candy Corn be damned.

This is not the first time this has happened to me while working at the school. Several months ago, a woman came to the school to do her initial assessment, and she spoke no English. We tried to muddle through a conversation while I gaged her skill level, and explained what the classes would entail while she was a member of the school. Somewhere in my explanation, the student thought I was telling her that I was not going to be working with her, not because my boss handles the students’ assignments, but because she was Polish and I didn’t like her. I was mortified. I would never want to do anything to jeopardize the reputation of the language school, but I also never want to offend people on purpose (well, some people, but they are jerks and they deserve it). If I had been able to speak Polish, I would have been able to help her, and help her with the start of her English training.

I’m hoping that one day someone will make this little dream a reality. In the meantime, I am going to try my best to not offend any more people, and brush up on my Spanish skills.

 

 

The Scamp Plays a Get to Know You Game

I saw this on another blog, and decided that with the sudden influx of new readers (hello everyone!) that I have, it might be fun (not to mention a good break from my PhD) to answer some questions.
About Writing
How did you start your blog?
I started this little beauty 7 years ago because it was cheaper than therapy. When I got accepted to the University of Edinburgh, I decided that it would be a way to tell my family and friends about what I was doing.
What made you decide to begin blogging?

I liked writing, and knew it would be easier for people to share my time in Scotland with me.
Are there other types of writing you enjoy doing?

I love all types of writing. I am working on my 4th degree, so I’ve gotten very comfortable to academic writing, but storytelling, creative writing, travel narratives, I love them all. 

Why do you write?

Because it is cheaper than therapy. Because it is the way I process what is going on in my life. Because I have a lot to say, and yet spend a majority of time alone. Because my mom told me I’m good at it. 
Personality
Do you see yourself as an optimist, pessimist, or neither?
100% pessimist. 
Leader or follower?
Leader….but only because I am way too impatient with how slow people walk to be a follower
Talker or listener?
I’m a little bit of both, depends on who you ask really. 
Broad-minded or opinionated?
I have really strong opinions, and I always think I am right, but I would like to think that I am open enough to listen to people and what they have to say before I then try to convince you that I am right and I know best. 
Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. Don’t you dare ask me to dress up for a themed night out, and if you even try to sing happy birthday to me when we are out to dinner, I will kill you with the dessert spoon.
Travel
What’s your next adventure?
I’m headed to Switzerland in November, and then to Denmark in January. I’m sure I will try and fit a few more city breaks in there as well because not travelling makes me antsy.
What’s your favorite place in the world to be?
At the dinner table with all of my family. 
If you could live anywhere in the world for 3-6 months where and why?
Australia or New Zealand
Beach vacation or mountain retreat?
Beach. Give me some sun, sand, clear blue water and a surfboard and I would be a very happy girl.
What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
I don’t think that I have ever been anywhere that I haven’t enjoyed in one way or another….well, maybe Albania. I think Riga, Latvia stands out, as well as Sydney. 
Mindfulness and Happiness
What do you do in the evening to ensure you’re in the swing of self-care and feeling super duper mindful?

I don’t. I’m supposed to. For awhile I was really good about doing yoga and mindfulness meditation. I battle crazy depression and anxiety, so it is worth it for me to keep going with it, but when I’m stressed it is hard for me to focus on anything other than eating bad foods and taking extended naps.

How do you inject happiness into those days when you’re not feeling as positive as you’d like to?
Baby animal videos. Photos and videos of my nephews and my cat. Talking to my friends. Hugging strangers’ dogs.
For Fun
What is your favorite time of day?
Anytime that I can sit down and get some writing done. I have a lot of words that need to get on the page right now, so anytime that I can sit down and get some of them from my brain to my Word doc I am a happy girl. 
The world ends in 48 hours and you’ve lost your bucket list. What two things would you like to do?
If the world is going to end then I don’t really care about my bucket list. I just want to get home to my family.
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Mark Twain and Harper Lee
What is your dream job?
Trophy wife. professional napper. I’d like to be a travel writer. I’d love to get paid to travel all over the world and tell people about it. I’m also not giving up on my literacy foundation to help people all over the world learn to read (in their native language and then in English or another language should they choose).
Do you have any pets?
In my mind I have a small farm of pets. In reality, I have a cat who lives with my parents. I’m not sure he remembers me. 
What book(s) have made you cry?
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. The Velveteen Rabbit. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
What’s your favourite poem?

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


― Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

What is your favourite song?