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?

 

The Scamp and the Writing Project: Week 15

The challenge for this week is all about making lists. It is written that I can be as serious or as funny as I want about the subject of said list, but I had to make a list.

I was going to list the reasons why I like naps, but then I spent Tuesday waiting for FedEx and binge watching 13 Reasons Why, and decided that maybe my list should be a little more meaningful.

For those of you who have not seen the Netflix show, mini spoiler alert, it is about a girl who records the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. It is really well done, but very very very hard to watch. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but one of the things that I really related to in Hannah’s struggle was the victim blaming. When all of that crazy stuff happened at CSUF, I was the one who ended up looking like the bad guy. I was the one that felt like I had done something wrong, and was the one forced to apologise to the people who hurt me. I was forced to listen to people label me a problem and accuse me of having no integrity. These people  told me I had created the situation, and I should apologise for the way things turned out. One of my really good friends told me that I had no right to feel attacked or discriminated against because of the colour of my skin, and that considering everything, it was best to just move on from the experience. People who were my friends froze me out, took sides, and eventually rendered me obsolete. Only one of them ever checked on me, and even then, I sometimes wonder if it was just for the gossip. I spent almost a year thinking the whole thing was my fault, and thinking that not only was my entire career over, but that I was going to become a racist because of it. That was the worst part, thinking that I was going to become the hateful monster that they all thought I was.

So in honour of the way that TV show triggered me, I thought I would make a list of 13 reasons why I am learning to be happy and love myself.

I had an amazing therapist who believed me. Not having insurance, I had to turn to other methods to get help. When I had run out of sessions at the uni, I went to the Brea Family Resource Center. For $10 a week, I could see a licenced therapist to help me work through my depression. I was really dark and twisty while I was at CSUF. I used to cry to class and on the way home from class. When it all ended, I spent most of my time in bed, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t go out, and barely got dressed to go to work. My mother used to pretend she needed me to do things for her so I would have to put clothes on and leave the house. The BFRC saved my life. I’m not sure if they realise it, but that Thursday appointment was sometimes the only reason I made it through the week. Laurie, the therapist I saw, never made me feel crazy about what I described in the programme, never told me I was wrong when I cried about how depressed I was, and reminded me time and again that as long as I worked hard to make sense of, and heal from what happened, I would not bare any permanent scars, or become a racist. She worked really hard to help me separate the people who hurt me from what I knew to be true of most people. She got me through some really really dark days, and she was one of my biggest cheerleaders when I got the position in Edinburgh.

My family. They hugged me every time I came home crying, teased me to lighten the mood, and never questioned my telling of events. They took phone calls, called the evil women bitches, and sat in meetings with me so I didn’t have to face anything alone. They offered support, love, and a chance to feel normal…or as normal as you can when you are majorly depressed and feel like a giant failure.

Sour gummy worms. This needs no explanation. They make everything better.

My cat. He gave unconditional love. He didn’t care what I did or didn’t do as long as he got plenty of snuggles and got to sleep on my bed every night.

The beach. I used to go sit at the beach a lot to watch the waves and calm down. There is nothing better than sitting with your toes in the sand and a sea breeze tickling your face.

My friends. I have some really good friends from California that stuck by me, and friends that I made while living in Scotland who used to send care packages and have Skype dates with me to remind me that I’m not alone. I still have group chats, constant texts and the occasional care package to remind me that they love me. I can’t wait for more of them to be able to have the chance to come visit.

My passport. While I was trying to heal, I used my passport to see the world and  feed my wanderlulst.

Edinburgh. This city saved my life. I fell in love with it the first time I moved here, and being given the chance to move back at just the right time has made all the difference. I know that everyday isn’t perfect here, but I feel at home here, so dealing with the bad days is easier.

My Edinburgh friends. The people I already knew when I moved, and the people I made friends with since the PhD started have made a huge difference in my life. I have made more friends in the last couple of months than I had in years. It is nice to have people to share a meal with, to play music with, have a drink and a laugh with, and to talk to when I am feeling insecure, sad, or angry. I love them a lot, and while I don’t always talk to them about the dark and twisty, they seem to like me and are willing to support me just the way I am…..even when I am being unreasonable.

My current therapist. She is expensive, but worth it. She has really helped me build my self-confidence and find ways to not only manage my anxiety and work through my depression, but she is helping me break my habit of the dark and twisty and slowly getting me to become more of a glass half full kinda girl

Yoga. Enough said.

My blog. I can get the crazy thoughts out of my head and onto the page. It is nice to get the words out of my brain, but it is also nice to feel like I am sharing a bit of me with the world. I don’t normally do that face-to-face with people, but it is pretty easy for me to do from behind my computer screen. I have met some lovely people through my blog, and it is nice to know that there are people out there that share my love for writing and travel, who struggle with depression and anxiety, and are generally interested in what I have to say.

Last, but not least, the knowledge that no matter what happens, I will be okay. I’ve managed to make it this far, so I think my chances of being successful are pretty damn good.

The Scamp Crosses One off the List

I have now crossed number 11 off my list! Yesterday I emailed a draft of my methodology chapter to my supervisors. I think it is pretty solid for a first draft, and I know that there are a lot of drafts to come before it is done, but I am pretty happy with how it came out. It also means that I have some words on the page in time for the halfway point of my programme. I’m going to celebrate this moment with a cookie.

  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 Crosses One Off the List

Technically I get to cross two things off the list. The first is number 17: Create something original. I have been working on a draft of a paper on programme focused approaches to feedback, and it is finally approaching that point where it is ready to be sent out for publication. I guess I can’t really cross it off the list yet since it hasn’t been published, but it makes me feel good that it is almost there. I’ve been working on the paper for almost a year. I’m ready for it to be done.

The other activity that I can cross off the list is seeing one of my favourite bands in concert. While I am still holding out hope to see the Mighty Mighty BossTones or the Fratellis, I was able to go to Glasgow this week and see Less Than Jake! I haven’t seen them live since I was 17 years old. I remember that I was with two of my friends, Lori and Mallory, and we drove to the House of Blues at Downtown Disney. I don’t remember any of the opening bands, but I remember it was raining really hard and after the show we drove through Del Taco and got snacks. This time around I took the train and some buses to get a little ska nostalgia in my life. We had tickets to be on the balcony so that I would not get overwhelmed by all the people, and from 6pm to 11pm Errol and I enjoyed the strange tendency of Scottish people to stand still at concerts, and three interesting bands before being rewarded with Less Than Jake.

The first band was awful. They didn’t know if they wanted to be a metal band or a pop punk band. I have no idea what they are called. The assault on my ears was bad enough.

The second band is called The Bennies. They describe themselves as ‘Australia’s #1 party band playing Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock from hell!’ Errol described them as:

Ok. So, The Bennies – Australian herb loving hair band that’s basically Andrew WK meets Saves the Day. I’m pretty in.

I’m not really into smoking weed, but they sure are, and they were the happiest band I’ve seen live that wasn’t geared for kids. They completely love what they are doing, and they are having a really good time doing it. It doesn’t hurt that they are from Melbourne. The lead singer was wearing these really crazy red yoga pants and a hat covered in pot leaves.
The next band hails from my original neck of the woods. They are called Marachi El Bronx. I really enjoyed them. They are a hardcore punk band from LA, that has a side project where they do their hits set to marachi music. I felt like I was a Sonora High School dance while they played. I wasn’t mad about it.
The last band that played before LTJ was the worst. They are a London based reggae band. They are all fake instruments and show. The lead singer is white and from London. He speaks like he was born in Jamaica, and wants to be black. He rubbed me the wrong way.
When Less Than Jake finally came on, Errol and I were ready to party. I really haven’t listened to them past their album Hello Rockview, but that did not stop my enjoyment of the show at all. Errol went down to the pit, while I enjoyed the show from the balcony. I sang along, danced like an idiot (afterall, I have two left feet and vertigo) and remembered my days as a ska kid. I miss those days. I didn’t get home until 1:30, and I was a mess of a human on Monday, but it was worth it.
Now to work on having a solid draft of my thesis chapter completed, and creating a sleep schedule that doesn’t involve me not falling asleep until 3am and not waking up until 1 pm. I am also now just two posts away from 400! I have to really start thinking about what 400 will look like.
  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 (1/3 done with my trip to Malta, next up, France in November and Hungary in December)
  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 Writing Challenge: Week 36

Today I tried to organize my shoes. I bought some hanging show racks to put in my closet…trouble is, my shoes are too heavy to keep them fastened to the bar. I’ve managed to get them under my bed, but I have a feeling it is going to be a struggle for me to keep them organized when I pull the racks out to get the shoes I want. For now though, they are organized and underneath my bed no longer looks scary.

But my struggle with limited closet space and an inability to keep things neat are not the point of the challenge for the week. The challenge for the week is to think about my dream job. The flippant answer is my dream job is marrying a rich guy who will buy a house with lots of land and let me adopt as many stray puppies and kitties and rabbits as I want. A job that I seem to want lately is professional napper. I am always tired, and I am really good at naps. That would be the perfect job for me. All I need is a comfy bed, or a hammock, or a lounge chair on a sandy beach in the sun….and enough money to pay off my student loans.

I suppose I should say that my dream job is one that I can wake up every day and be excited about. Something that makes me happy, helps some people, and maybe leaves the world in a little better shape then it was the day before. I like to think that I will be able to do that once I complete my degree and someone is crazy enough to let me work for a university, but that remains to be seen.

If I get to spend a little time in fantasy land, I think my dream job would be one of two things: a travel writer, or the mastermind behind a world wide literacy programme. I’d really love the second one. I’d love to travel to places and help kids (and maybe adults who never had the chance) fall in love with reading. I’d love to go all over the world and get to meet all kinds of interesting and wonderful people. It wouldn’t be about a focus on teaching people English, but teaching them to read in their native language (I mean, obviously, for some of those people it would be English), and teaching them English if they are interested in learning. A selfish part of me would love it because then I would get to visit all sorts of interesting places, and learn about all kinds of different people. It is another thing I think I would do if I married a rich man. Get him to provide some seed money to start that nonprofit.

Being paid to travel, and then write about my adventures is the ultimate fantasy. I’d love to be able to wander the globe and experience new things. I am happiest when I am travelling, and being paid to do it would be amazing. I wonder if I could sweet talk Lonely Planet into hiring me to write for their guide books. Maybe I should join a tour company and be a guide.

Wait….I hate people. Scratch that. I’d never be able to hide my resting bitch face, and rude tourists drive me crazy. I’ll just stick to writing or sharing my love of books with the world.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 32

We are officially halfway through August and I have no idea what I have been doing with myself. I’ve seen one fringe show, still haven’t finished the draft of the paper from hell, and still have not taken a vacation. I’m back to the States in 5 weeks for a short visit, and the new school year starts in two weeks.

But I am a week behind,  so I will not waste anymore time. The challenge for the week is to write about how I have been spending my time lately. That is actually easy.

I’ve been avoiding responsibility.

Okay, not really, but sorta. This month has sorta spend by. I’ve been making time to see my friends, whether it is movies, dinner at my place, or comedy shows at the Fringe. I’ve really been putting in the effort to be more social and not just spend my time at home moping and watching bad reality TV. It’s been nice to be busy, and to be social. It keeps me from thinking about my depression, from all of the work that I am being asked to do at the university, and from all the ways I wish that I was different.

I’ve been subbing at a language school. One of my friends got married this weekend, and so I have been covering her classes while she is away. The classes have been great. One is a one-on-one conversation class where I can pick the topics we discuss and all I have to do is ask questions to get the conversation going, and the other class is a test prep class that is a lot of writing. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening.

I got to get out of the city and visit Ireland and watch my friend get married. the wedding was lovely. It was very intimate, and I felt very VIP for having made the cut to witness such a beautiful day. I was also reunited with one of my favourite people. We hadn’t been in the same timezone in about a year, and we got to catch up on life and figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. This weekend I not only mastered driving on the left, but I mastered the art of going through a roundabout. One of the goals of my list of things to do before I am 30 is to get my UK driving licence. I now know that I can drive a car on the left side of the road, and make it through a roundabout without anyone honking at me.

So really, I’ve mastered the most important parts of the test.

The last bit of my time has been spent actually trying to get words on a page that are related to my thesis. While there are bits of the paper I am working on that will eventually become part of my thesis, as they stand now they are not part of it. I have been feeling like the last year has had nothing to really do with my PhD, and that is starting to stress me out. I only have about 3,000 words so far, and chances are they will change a lot by the time it actually becomes my thesis, but it makes me feel better that I have something written, and something that sounds like me and has my voice in it.

Perhaps the most exciting bit though is that once I survive this week I get five days on a beach in Malta.

And really, that is all I ever really want out of life.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 31

In my quest to make it to the office at least three days this week, today I decided to stay home. I got up early, I was going to make it 2/2 in the work week….I really was. Then I got a text confirming that my two favourite people weren’t going to be in the office and I lost all motivation to go in.

I did not go back to bed though….even though I was really tempted. I sat on my couch and tried to make an outline for a paper I don’t think I have time for, and shop for vacations that I cannot seem to make myself commit to. I got cocky. I crossed a bunch of things off my list yesterday and I thought I could parlay that wave of success into the rest of the week, but as usual, instead of enjoying my mini success, I’m already disappointed that I didn’t achieve more.

It’s a perk of my personality and it keeps my therapist in rent money. You could say my neurosis is good for the Scottish economy.

The challenge for this week is to think about the pros and cons of my job. I feel like this list is going to be a bit one sided.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. I can work from anywhere. On days I don’t feel like going to the office (and let’s face it, that is most days lately) I can work from my couch, from my buddy’s couch, the library, or the boy’s kitchen table. I like the freedom that I have to work where it suits me best. It has come in real handy lately.

2. The people. I’ve made some great friends since I started working for the university a year ago. Unfortunately a few of them no longer work there, but the friendship remains. When I do go into the office, they keep me laughing, encourage me to keep going, and make the office a little less gloomy.

3. Publishing opportunities. In the US, academia is sink or swim. In a lot of the PhD programmes you have to meet a publishing or presenting quota….and you have to do a lot of it solo. In the UK, the more authors the better, and the co-authors are your biggest champions. I may be on draft 47 of this paper up for publication, but I know when it does finally make it to a journal it will be a good piece of work.

And I will be this [————-] close to being famous. I’ve also presented at three conferences this year, and thanks to the university, I will get at least two more next year. The amount of publicity my work is getting is great, and hopefully it will make the rest of the data collection a much smoother process.

4. My job is in Edinburgh. We all know how I feel about that.

5. I get to be a doctor at the end of it.

and then an adult.

Now for the cons:

  1. This life is a lonely island. Even though I have a good circle of friends, some of who have successfully made it through this process, it is still something that I am 100% in charge of. I have this horrible problem of equating my the work that I produce with who I am. When that work isn’t going well, it means that I am not doing well. If I get negative feedback, I take it to me there is something wrong with me (which is ironic considering my research is entirely dedicated to feedback, and how to use it successfully). I sometimes feel like no one understands what I am doing, how much work it takes to make this happen, and how much I have riding on this research. This feeling sometimes keeps me in the dark and twisty, and that is a spiral I do not like being in.

2. I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure. I’ve talked about the fact that I am currently the only educational pedagogy PhD on campus. Heck, the university doesn’t even have a school of education. All eyes are on me, and they are all dying to know if my research can actually be used to help inform university policy. This project is the brain child of my main supervisor, so I also get a lot of pressure from him in terms of his expectations and my ability. I’ve also added an extra level of pressure because I feel  like since I sat in this boat before that I should be doing better, be further along in the process.

This has led to a lot of tears, a lot of days hiding in bed, and a lot therapy sessions.

3. Most days I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve turned in drafts of my paper and most of the time I feel like I’ve done all that is asked of me and then the feedback I get asks me to do something completely different. I’m getting edits on things that they told me to edit, spent a lot of time going north and I am now being asked to go southwest, and generally feel like I am wasting my time.

I hate feeling like I am wasting my time.

4. I have to depend on others for my research. I hate that. Especially when people do not put in the effort, react, or care as much as I do. I wish I could control every little thing around me, and I can’t. That frustrates me to no end. I hate depending on other people, and I hate that my crazy expectations are often crushed because no one is as bat shit as I am. I’m really trying to learn how to be better about my expectations, and how to best work with others, but that is such a slow slow slow process.

At the end of the day though, I love my job. I knew the process was going to suck, I know that their will be days that I cry and hate myself (and the work), and I know when this job is done I will have something amazing to show for it (and hopefully British citizenship).

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 26 Part 2

This time I am actually going to cover the focus of the writing challenge for last week: My family. I spent the day writing, so pictures and a few words will have to do the trick.

family 1

This is the only full family photo we have. It isn’t even all of us as the oldest of the step brothers is not in the photo. This is the last time we were all together in one place. It was the last time that we could be all together in one place. I was 20.

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This is the most current family photo. I left for Scotland not long after this, and Kelly was weeks away from finding out about muffin.

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We have a lot of fun together. We are pretty much the only ones who think we are funny (And really, it is just me and my mom that think we are funny)

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This is my favorite picture of us. It has now been coined the “typical Wilder kids” photo, but it really does speak to our personalities. 156326_1786513862898_6319278_n225433_10150164218316887_2747822_n270678_536612843455_6557935_n295388_10150850791826887_1607862510_n

This is one of the best family photos of us. We were in Ireland for the first family vacation in ten years. Kelly and Mondo had just celebrated their first anniversary and I was getting ready to move to Scotland for the first time. We drove everyone in the tour group nuts on that trip.386455_10150360625751887_2066315557_n557297_10151118103296887_60246554_n

I’m sad that I am no longer part of Christmas day photos. We usually make my mother mad by not smiling, not looking at the camera, and generally bitching about the fact that she wants a decent group photo. Now they just hold one of my graduation photos in the picture like I am there with them.10003362_10151843283321887_2054048463_n10386905_10204516103322856_496174025055853131_ovcm_s_kf_representative_360x480 (3)

Now we have the muffin in the mix as well. He is my favorite little dude. I don’t see him nearly enough, but I am still hoping his first words are “Aunty Kimbo”

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My family constantly reminds me to stay out of the dark and twisty, to make sure that I have a travel buddy, and that no matter what I do, I will always have someone in my corner fighting for me.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 26

It is July.

Seriously. July. I survived the month from hell, became an official PhD student, and made it out of Scotland for a quick jaunt into the world of academic presentations.

I’m not sure I was entirely successful.

I turned in a report last week to justify my becoming a PhD student. It took me two and half weeks to write, and I was terrified the entire time. I had a really hard time putting into words why my work is significant and what made me a good candidate for the transfer of title. It really freaked me out. If I cannot explain what I am doing and why it is important, then why should the university move me on?

Which led to a whole host of other problems. If I do not get to advance and complete the degree, then it is back to the land of Trump and Hilary. A land where I have no job, no money, no insurance, and more importantly, no identity. I cannot go back there.

A rather large problem that I have navigating life is that I tie my entire self worth to the things that I produce. I saw this report as an extension of me. If my supervisors don’t like the report then it means they do not like me. I know that this is absurd. I know this, I write about this in terms of students and the feedback they receive, yet I can’t help but be stuck in that quicksand.

The report was just as bad as I thought it would be. My supervisors ripped it apart. They told me as it was, the report would not pass the committee. I had spent so much time being crippled by self doubt and the impostor syndrome, that I produced a really shitty report. I missed a few typos, the report seemed rushed, and I misinterpreted a  question. It was bad. While the team signed off on me becoming a PhD student once I edit and do some heavy revision, I still cannot look past how defeated I feel. I can’t help but think that I am a huge disappointment to my supervisors. None of what I have turned in so far as been good quality work. I’m not a bad writer. I know that. I usually enjoy writing. Lately I have not been enjoying myself. I’ve been stressed. I’m worried what people will think when they read my work, wonder if I have done enough to show that I am worthy of all the things that I have been given in the last year.

I’m also trying to live up to the pressure that my position brings. I’m the first education based PhD, the first one based out of the Department of Learning and Teaching, and I am the living example of why pedagogy is important to a university. With great power comes great responsibility….and a supervisor who is incredibly hard on me, and expects a whole hell of a lot from me. Unfortunately right now I have hit my breaking point. I am a bit burned out.

Luckily I have people around me who believe in me, and a couple who have gone through the process. They talk me off a ledge, send me goats through the mail, and remind me that I am not defined by the drafts that I produce.

This week I had the opportunity to present my paper at an assessment and feedback conference. Last year I got to go to the conference as my introduction to the university and to the role that I was soon to play. I heard a lot of good talks, met some interesting people, and saw a little bit of England. This time around I got to give a 3 minute presentation to a room full of experts in the field. I knew a few people who were there, and I got to sit between two men that I reference in my paper. It was brilliant.

My presentation…..not so much. I went first, and seeing as this was the fist time that the conference had ever done these nano presentations, I was once again the guinea pig. My paper is based around a food metaphor (and I don’t want to give it away yet since it is not complete, and has not been published), but no one laughed at my jokes, and no one asked any questions or had any comments for me. The other seven presenters all had questions and comments. I had silence and a joke that the picture that I used to illustrate my point was only good because it had a bottle of wine in it.

Yeah. Not really my best showing for my first time out, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? I’m feeling pretty beat up about it. So beat up that today as I tried to sit down and make the edits and that I ended up watching a lot of E.R. and then sneaking over to Dan’s flat to nap with him since he is on night shift. This was after I was a massive pain in the ass with him and extremely passive aggressive for the last couple of days. He told me to come over and tucked me into his side for a nap. Then we ate Chinese food and watched Top Gear  until it was time for him to go protect the Queen (yep. She is in this lovely city and he is on palace patrol tonight…hopefully it doesn’t rain tonight).

So now I sit on my couch trying to pretend that I don’t have a million and one things to still do complete my paper for next week and get back to feeling like the badass flamingo that I am. There is always tomorrow, right?

I didn’t even make it to the writing challenge for this week: my family. Tomorrow. As it is almost midnight, I will come back to that tomorrow.