Intensive IELTS and a Resume Rewrite

This week at Inkreadable was pretty quiet in terms of hours worked, but difficult in terms of prep. Generally, it takes me about half an hour to prep for current students, but this week was a little bit difficult with the quick addition of a new student who wants resume help and interview prep. His name is Bjorn and he is located outside of Frankfurt. While he trained as an engineer, he is actually the CFO of a company that supplies bed linens and other white goods to hospitals. What’s interesting about him is that he is my age, possibly a little younger, but has been with the same company for the last twenty years. I had gotten used to IT Executives who had moved around companies over the 20 years of their career at least 10 times if not more. Bjorn has run his course at his company and feels that it’s time to move on. He contacted the English Center and they gave him to me. We had a great first lesson on Thursday but I was not able to convince him to do all of his lessons while I am still here in the Netherlands. As a result, we are going to do one lesson while I am in the States. Thankfully, he agreed to switch the timing of that lesson to the afternoon. His afternoon not mine. It will be my late morning. He sent me his resume and I did a little bit of commenting and corrections, although these were a little difficult as he sent it in pdf and I couldn’t actually edit the document. We spent most of the first-class talking about his resume and the things that he has done and I got the chance to get to know him a little bit. I also had some executive-level interview questions that I wanted to ask him and so I asked him a few of them and corrected his syntax on the spot as he was speaking. I think he likes my style of teaching but it’s going to be hard to challenge him in the next couple of lessons. I have decided to continue my lessons while I am in the States with all of my clients. They have thankfully agreed to switch their times if they meet in the morning here in Amsterdam. My clients were understanding that I didn’t necessarily want to work at 2 in the morning and most of them agreed to switch to central European time in the afternoon so that I can teach in the US late morning. ShinWei will probably be in the United States at the same time as I am so they will have to be some adjustment there as well.

In terms of private clients, Sander has decided to take a hiatus and I will not see him until the 7th of March. I have hit my stride with George and Jerry again after their hiatus for midterms. They informed me that they did ok but not as well as they would have liked. Jerry said that she got a 94 on her English exam but that is not considered a good score in China. I often wonder if anything less than 110% on an exam is acceptable in the Chinese school system. Certainly, the Dutch idea of just enough is just enough and that the average is ok would not be acceptable in China. It amazes me that with an attitude like that the Netherlands has one of the strongest economies in the world. But maybe that’s my American heritage coming to the fore and maybe I also have a little bit of American exceptionalism. Odhran and I are plodding through useful Greek verbs and I’m having him make sentences with those verbs. I am not sure how effective that is, but his parents seem happy and he continually wants to take my class. I have also hit my stride with Karina, the student that I negotiated a 10 hours package for €40 an hour. This past week I taught 4 days of IELTS review for reading, writing, listening, and speaking, then Friday we did an ESL lesson having to do with the definition of art. The plan for this week is to do more of the same, keeping the format constant. I did check in with her at the end of Friday to see how she was feeling about English generally, but she says that she’s been spending a lot of time alone so there isn’t very much opportunity to practice some of the vocabulary that she’s learned with me because she doesn’t go out.

Since she doesn’t know the details of the package, as she’s not the one paying, I am not sure that she is going to be able to remain a student. I will leave the offer open by saying that she should keep in touch and if she wants help with English to contact me on WhatsApp but I honestly hold little hope of that happening. I have to be philosophical about being an independent contractor and continually think that’s something will come up.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable but stay turned. As always, there is more to come.

Cancelation Confirmed, New Negotiation, and a Standby Struggle

It’s always difficult, dear reader, to come to terms with the end of a lesson cycle. Karolina did not get back to me with any news regarding her work so I have to assume that she has decided to cancel my lessons for the foreseeable future, if not forever. That makes me very sad as we have been working together for almost two years. It isn’t simply that we had a business relationship, I like to think that we were becoming friends as well. I was charging her half of what I charge in the Netherlands and that tells me something about Polish salaries namely, that they are very low. I have had all kinds of feelings over the last few days as you might imagine. I am surprised at the loss of a student but I’m equally sad that for Karolina it was a foregone conclusion that our lessons will stop, as that meant that she knew her salary was going to be low. Ever the optimist, I choose to believe that Karolina will come back on my schedule once she has her job situation sorted. I have not heard whether she would like to talk to each other once a week as I do with Delphine in France.

All was not lost, however, as my friend Erica gave me a lead from Facebook. The woman, who works for a consulting firm, wanted thirty hours of lessons for a friend of hers and was willing to pay €300 for 30 hours. The lessons were to take place three hours a day over the next two weeks. And they were to be in person. Of course, I said no as I think that that is ridiculous and I might as well sit online and wait for people to call me on Cambly with no prep for that kind of money. She came back to me on Thursday evening asking whether I’d be willing to work for €40 for a 90-minute class. Again I said no and then she came back to me asking if I would work for €40 an hour for a 10-hour package. I said yes to that and the student was to come to me. She asked me if I would be willing to have a Zoom with the student to talk to them before we started lessons, and I said yes. I was also able to get her to agree to pay me each week in advance. I had a Zoom meeting with the student on Friday to find out her goals and expectations. I was pleased that it’s to be IELTS help as I have lots of resources and materials.

Over at the English Center, I and finishing up packages with several students. I am retaining Harumi who would like to continue lessons but thankfully it will be once a week for an hour and a half on Friday mornings. I am losing my one pronunciation student and I’m uncertain about the other one. I hope that I get to keep her as she and I have a great rapport, partially because of both being Greek. On Thursday last week, the English Center was looking for a potential substitute for a teacher who may have been exposed to Covid from someone in her daughter’s class. Had it happened, it would have been a 6 hour class for me. While the idea of that much work was appealing, I was happy, of course, that she wasCovid negative on Sunday morning. I was then able to spend a very quiet weekend writing and reading as I had planned my lessons through the Wednesday of this week. That result also gave me the opportunity to move a Saturday class with my new, though temporary, student to Monday, My takeaway from my experience with that I’m not sure that I would want to substitute very often unless I had all of the information about the student and did not have to do any prep myself.

With the resurgence of the Sunday morning writing, I’m able to get quite a bit of stuff done. The writing proceeds will and I am quite pleased with the result. I only wish that Thursday nights were as productive. This comes in direct conflict with the fact that I miss my in-person writers’ group quite a lot. I even miss hosting. I am still conflicted about those in the groups who have not been vaccinated. I am not sure that there are that many of them. But it is still a concern and I am conscious of Jasper’s ask that we don’t have unvaccinated people in the house. Another dilemma is when to cancel the meetup subscription. The conflict comes because we have a thousand members and I’m not sure I want to lose contact with that kind of base. But, it’s a dilemma for Thursday.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable instrument. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Twinkletoed Teacher and (another) Looming Loss

Sometimes, dear reader, you have to be really quick to adapt as a teacher. That was the case this week when my Amstelveen student brought her kids to our lessons. The first lesson of the week, which was on Wednesday, didn’t go as well as I would have liked as I didn’t know the kids were going to be there in the first place. I was able to engage the older child a little bit by talking to him but the younger one, as sweet as he was, did not have enough language to participate. I had forgotten, that school was out for an extra week due to Covid. Friday was a bit better as I spent half the class time with the kids playing two truths and a lie, Simon Says, and Rory’s story cubes. Games are not that easy to do when you have low-level learners across the board. Still, Simon Says worked well. The other two games that we played were a bit of a challenge but I think that the kids had fun and that was the point. I am pretty sure Harumi was also appreciative. We spent the rest of the lesson going over functional language for going to the pharmacy. I am not sure how useful that will be here in the Netherlands, as Harumi generally brings her own medications from Japan. I can relate completely, dear reader. There are things that I bring from the US every time I come back to the Netherlands because they just don’t have the same things here.

ShinWei otherwise known as my student from Taiwan has received praise from his Dutch-speaking boss that his English is getting better. I hope that translates to at least 10 more hours of lessons. We are in the middle of our third package and I would be quite happy to continue with him even to the point where I will work with him while in the US. I am a little conflicted about both Sander and Martijn. Both of those happen too early in the day for me to want to wake up at the corresponding time of their lessons while in the US. It’s a double problem because I will be in the states for 3 weeks from the 29th of January until the 20th of February, and while I might not want to wake up at those times, not having any income for those weeks is quite difficult as well.

On Thursday, Karolina let me know no that she may have to end our lessons at least temporarily though possibly permanently. Both of us were quite upset. We have been working together for nearly 2 years and she has come a really long way. So much so that I offered to meet with her once a week for half an hour if only just to converse for free. All of my freelancer friends will probably shudder, but it’s not in my work ethic to let someone lose their language simply because they can’t take lessons for me temporarily. Also, I have to look on the bright side. With a pending trip to the US and lots of work when I get there, maybe trying to schedule lessons will be a little bit too much. In true freelancer fashion, I just have to deal with it when it comes up.

It was not a good weak writing-wise. I got online to write but found myself exceedingly tired by Thursday and could do absolutely nothing. Mercury must be in retrograde again because Zoom did not want to work for the Writers group after I had left the meeting they had to set up another link. On Sunday the writers group got together to do some writing but I ended up going for a walk instead. It was one of those funny Amsterdam days raining one minute and literally sunny the next. Still, it made for an interesting outing. Let’s hope this week is a lot more productive writing-wise than last week was.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come

Restful Return and China Canceled

A very Happy New Year to you, dear reader, from Amsterdam. Our flights back to Amsterdam were relatively uneventful. I will say that these flights are more tiring than the ones going to Greece. I’m not quite sure why because although our Crete flight left early earlier than our Amsterdam flight, we woke up much later. Chania Airport is much smaller than Schiphol. It might have been because we had much shorter layovers in Athens and Munich. While the flights were uneventful we did have a little bit of a hiccup in Munich. Apparently, we had been called of course we didn’t know it because we arrived at the gate the flight to Amsterdam as they were boring period I got to say I don’t think much of Lufthansa efficiency.

George and Jerry are in the middle of midterms over the next couple of weeks and so we have canceled classes. They are back on my schedule as of the 16th of January. Karolina is back on my schedule as of this coming Thursday. Sander comes back on my schedule on January 10th. And most of my English Center clients are also back on my calendar the second week of January. The only person I am unsure of is Claudia who is still in Colombia.

Yesterday was supposed to be a restful relaxing day. But it didn’t turn out that way. I got a message from Brenda who wanted to do a mailing to all of the English Center. So I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to isolate using filters the different types of contacts that she wanted and where to put the subsequent list. Kerry was able to help me in so save me a little bit of time with the task. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how to isolate the rest of the mailing list that had no filter on it into its own list, but wasn’t able to get to it until later in the evening when I was able to get answers to all of my questions.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

A Cretan Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas,  once again, dear reader from Crete.  This time it’s a belated one, where in the last post the wishes were early. Greece’s main holiday is not Christmas, but I was pleased to see that some restaurants and cafes were decorated in old Town Chania.  So what do you do, in a country where the main Holidays are  Easter  And August 15th which is the assumption of the Virgin Mary? Why, have the most fusion Christmas ever. My brother-in-law was adamant that he wasn’t going to do any cooking, which is fair enough as he does most of the cooking normally. So of course, my sister volunteered my services and asked me to make a Southern meatloaf like my mom used to make. It has become a bit of a specialty for me. We had about  16 people, 12 adults, and 4 kids. Since I thought I was the only one cooking, I planned for no other main dishes but mine. Two kilograms of ground beef and 2 kg of potatoes would have been just enough. Really it would have. But, dear reader, I told you that this was a Cretan Christmas.

One of my sister’s friends brought spinach pie, green beans, and some Christmas cookies. But there was another friend of my sister who really took the cake. And I mean that literally. He decided to make a salmon starter, a traditional British Christmas pudding from the previous year. But the kicker was 6.5 kg of pork. I was surprised that my meatloaf was the hit of the party and there was none left at the end. In contrast, there was a lot of pork.

In terms of presents, dear reader, it was a bit of a sparse year in terms of volume for me but I got a really nice new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Flip 3. I am currently trying to dictate a blog post to you on that phone, and I’m finding that switching from Apple to Samsung is a challenge. You’ll probably remember that the Tuesday before we left for Greece my phone fell on the ground and the screen cracked. I had been using jasper’s old phones until Christmas eve, which is when the Swedish Santa comes to bring one present to each member of the household. Mine was the phone. The functionality is much better than the one that I was using. And is different from my Apple. It is definitely going to take some getting used to. But all in all, I’m pretty happy with it. The only downside is that I still have six months left to pay off my Apple and I’ll also have to pay a deductible for the repair.

A mark on this perfect Christmas vacation is the lack of my sister Tatyana. And that’s even more so than my dad, who was the instigator of Jasper and I coming to Greece in the first place. The other mark on Christmas was the fact that I got a cold and lost my voice. Let me tell you, dear reader, dictating a blog post is not easy when you have no voice. This particular post has taken n hour to dictate. Voice to text is not accurate at the best of times, but it’s even worse when you can’t speak. I will say in comparison to Apple, Samsung is more accurate.

It really was a bit of a working vacation this week, but only 6 hours of teaching total, and most of those on Tuesday. I had to teach because I wasn’t going to take the chance that I was going to lose students. The teaching went well though it was a little bit difficult when there was a lot going on in the house, like trying to get ready for Christmas My sister’s house is pretty big, until, well, it isn’t. Such was the case when I was trying to teach on Friday when Jasper was getting a massage which I had bought him for Christmas. I had to move into the playroom so that he wouldn’t get in my way, nor I in his. And my student I suspect, would not have looked too kindly on that. Or last night’s student, who had to sit through my niece and nephew playing in the room while I was trying to teach. Luckily, it was ShinWei and he has a sense of humor and is a copasetic kind of guy.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Tech Top Up and COVID Consequences

It has been a rather quiet yet fraught week here at Inkreadable. I have been slowly learning the two pieces of software that TEC is using to keep track of our schedules and payments, a Google extension called TimeNavi. It took a little bit of getting used to, but I was able to figure it out. The most difficult thing to remember is that you actually have to access the software from your calendar and not your email. It does save a hell of a lot of time when trying to create a timesheet. Where it used to take me about 40 minutes to create a timesheet, it now takes about 5. The functionality of Moosend was a little bit more complicated.

You’ll remember that I was asked to take over the management of TEC’s various mailing lists. The first list that I was asked to do was their newsletter. TEC was able to give me a list that I was able to format into Excel and upload. I sent an email saying that I had done my work and asked if there was anything else that I needed to do. I was assured that there was nothing else to be done, but scarcely an hour after my email, I got another email from TEC, that I needed to now edit the newsletter. After I had asked was there anything else I need to do. so that was a little bit stressful. But I managed to spend another hour making sure that the pictures were ok and the buttons clicked to the right places. Thinking I was finally done I sent another email, and this time, all was well. The next list I was asked to do was the business-to-business Christmas cards. Again, a list was sent and I again uploaded it into Moosend and sent out another email. Only to find out that I still wasn’t done. Six of the addresses that I had put into the list would not be recognized. I to spend another half an hour with my boss trying to figure out why the addresses were ignored. Eventually, with the help of Moosend we were able to figure out what was happening with the lists. wit turns out that the email addresses that were not populating had been unsubscribed from the mailing list. Since Brenda knew who they were, she was able to send them a personal Christmas card. It’s actually a pretty good strategy because that touch of personalization will make them feel like they are special, and bring them back to the TEC mailing list.

But my tech journey was not over yet, dear reader. On Friday, I was contacted to do a Christmas card list for the teachers. Again, they gave me the list of teachers but I had to put in the extensions on my own. So that took another half hour. Then I had to migrate the list to Moosend and thankfully that worked without problems. Of the 28th mailing addresses that I imported, not a single one was ignored. But I think it will be quite a lot of getting used to and a lot of adjustments before I am sufficiently comfrtable enough to use Moosend with no trouble. but I’m being paid and it’s a little bit of consistent work which is always appreciated. As is the trust in my tech abilities.

Saturday brought a press conference in the Netherlands and the news that we would be going into a full lockdown once again. In addition, Greece required a cover test to enter so I had to spend the weekend getting all of that sorted out. We were able to book our PCR tests on Saturday evening a 7:00 pm. We went and both Jasper and I were surprised to find that it was quite busy. After we got home, I decided to check my email. Upon checking I found an email from Lufthansa saying my flight for tomorrow is ready to check-in. I freaked out, dear reader. I looked at my ticket and confirmed with Jasper that we had in fact booked a flight leaving at 6:20 in the morning on the 20th and not at 6:50 in the evening on the 19th. We then had to spend our Saturday date night on the phone with Lufthansa: 30 minutes getting nowhere with Lufthansa in the Netherlands and then a further 2 hours with Lufthansa in Germany where we were able to get a ticket through Frankfurt leaving an hour later than our original flight, which flew through Munich. From Frankfurt, we flew to Athens. In Athens, we had a four-hour layover and then we got to Crete three hours after our original flight.

Yes, it was exhausting, but we have arrived safely on Crete. There was no rest for the wicked, however, as there was only enough time to get to my sister’s house, greet my niece and nephew, then we were off again. My sister was working on a new project, a bistro/art gallery/artist studio when I was there in the fall. The grand opening was last night. It was a lovely opening and I’m convinced it will be a great success. More importantly, my sister is living her dream. If you are ever in Chania, you should check out Maiami, which is the greek way to spell Miami, which is the name of the bistro as it’s located in a fabulous art deco building that does remind one of Ocean Drive. It’s a working vacation for me, and I have to go and prepare for today’s lessons. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and a festive holiday season to you all.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable instrument. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Family Funeral, and TEC Tech tales

Fall in the Netherlands is composed of short gray days and long dark nights. It is a rather sad prelude to more of the same in winter. I think everyone gets more or less affected by the winter blues, but for me, that means that lesson planning is in jeopardy. If I do not lesson plan during the day, there is no way in hell it’s happening in the evening. It’s been a challenge trying to stick to lesson planning even during the day lately, as the winter blues have been more present than other winters.

My aunt passed away on Monday due to complications of cancer. She was the oldest of my dad’s sisters. My dad is the second to last of the kids. My aunt Mary was a force of nature. She was full of love, but she also had enough respect for people to tell them what she thought straight. I am pretty sure that over the years that lead to quite a bit of conflict, but, as I’ve had a week to think about the impact of my aunt Mary on my life, I can only be grateful.

Mary was the one that my sister Taty and I were left with when our parents traveled. I am not sure her children would agree, but for Taty and I, we experienced an aunt with a very level head on her shoulder. As I grew from a child into a teenager, our relationship grew as well. Aunt Mary was brilliant. Had she had the opportunity to be more educated, she might have been one of those women in tech or the sciences. She was that smart. She had a sharp mind for debate. Talking to Theia Mary was stimulating in a way that I find with few other people. She dispensed advice freely, and whether you took it or not you came away the richer for it. I am glad that I got to see her one last time, and indescribably sad that I could not be there in person for her funeral. I’m also grateful that my cousins gave those of us far away a method to participate. It was surreal watching a live stream funeral this past Saturday. The only thing that remains to be said is that a great light has gone out of the world and we who remain are poorer for it.

The English Center contacted me about doing some of their database management for their mailing list. This past Wednesday, I stayed a bit later at Amstelveen to learn just how to do that. The two programs that I learned about were Moosend and HubSpot. Up until this past Wednesday, I did not know that these programs even existed. I would consider myself pretty tech savvy on a basic level. It was pretty easy trying to learn both programs, though I did run into trouble when I was playing around with it on Thursday evening. Yes, dear readers, instead of writing like I should’ve been, I was learning how to use two new pieces of software. To be fair, I also did a bit of writing, but I tend to get very distracted on Thursday evening. I was playing around trying to move through both HubSpot and you sent, when I realized that I didn’t remember I was playing around trying to move through both HubSpot and Moosend when I realized that I didn’t remember how to download a mailing list from a particular day. Hence the text to my trainer. She is currently in the United Kingdom so it was 9 o’clock for her. But I still feel guilty because I don’t like contacting people late at night. The problem is that I would’ve lost sleep over it if I didn’t ask at least for help. In the morning, cooler heads prevailed and I was able to figure out the problem on my own. I remembered that I had a video showing exactly what to do in both pieces of software. So all’s well that ends well. Yesterday I got a chance to do a mini importation for the next newsletter rollout for TEC. Turns out I had been making mountains out of molehills and it wasn’t all that difficult at all. Now I just need to remember to put when I do these importations in my calendar so I know where to start from in subsequent mailings. I am also part of a number of teachers who were asked to test out a new invoicing system that keeps track of your hours directly in your calendar. I found it easy enough to use, though I wish that things like travel time did not have to be a separate calendar entry as that can get a bit confusing.

My issues with jet lag seem to regulate a couple of weeks after I got back. I am in a more normal rhythm, But I don’t think I’ve ever experienced jet lag for that long. With the jet lag behind me, my thoughts are now turning to my upcoming trip to Greece. That’s right, dear reader, I will be coming to you from Crete from next Tuesday. Jasper and I will be there until 2 January. For me, it will be a working vacation. I cannot afford to lose clients just because I went away for a week.

That’s all she wrote for thisInkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Scheduling (Sort of) sorted, tech trials, and weekend work

I have been back in the Netherlands for about a week and a half. While I am slowly getting back into the swing of things, I have learned a couple of things that were unexpected. The most important of which is that the saying age is just a number is frankly. bullshit. At least when it comes to getting over jetlag. I am finding that it’s taking me quite a bit longer to get into a sleep pattern and that is even for me because I am not the best sleeper normally. It’s also been tough trying to get back into a gym routine. It also doesn’t help that twice a week I am in Amstelveen teaching Harumi and one of those is quite early. That is a tough wake-u. It’s been tough trying to get back into a gym routine. It also doesn’t help that twice a week I am in Amstelveen Teaching Harumi and one of those, though not unreasonable at 9:30 am, means I need to be out of the house by 8:00.

On the positive side, I very much enjoyed not having to travel to Amstelveen for the Conversation Playground. I have to say that’s one of my most stressful commitments. The kids are wonderful, but I did suggest to Amardip that he exclude the group 6 classes from participating as they simply don’t have enough language. Or, if he wants to capture the group six market then the games are structured in such a way that they learn chunks of language and vocabulary. It would be more lesson than game format.

Over at the English Center, I have pretty much scheduled all of my classes with the exception of one of my students, Martijn who does want continue, but was unsure that what that would look like. He wasn’t sure whether his level had improved in our classes. I had to explain, that in the context of private lessons improvement is measured differently. We can always test him to see how he has improved in his level. I also had to explain that the English Center is only giving lessons that are business-focused. I think that Martijn would do quite well in the intermediate business English class, but he feels that he does not want to be with business people who are much faster than he. So it looks like he’s going to stick with me. Harumi and Eleni both have scheduled their lessons. The two of them take me well into January. By far the most challenging student in terms of scheduling currently, Is ShinWei. He has decided to renew for another 10 hours, and that takes me to the end of February. At that point I will be in the states. The challenge is that we don’t know what his schedule will be like. There is the possibility that he will also be in the states and if I’m in the states at the same time it will be quite easy, but if I am back in the Netherlands then we have to adjust for that time difference. Because under no circumstances will I be waking in the middle of the night to teach. Those days are over.

My private clients are both a little bit easier, and a little bit harder. I have to schedule Sander because my unexpected trip to the US has knocked us a little bit off course. Since he paid me for the whole package in advance, it took me a little while to figure out where we are in the 15 hours and how much we have left to go. I sat down to figure this out on Sunday. With Karolina I bill her at the end of the month and she only pays for lessons that she’s taken. So that’s just a matter of counting from the calendar. George and Jerry are similar except that I get paid in advance into PayPal and deduct the invoice amount at the end of the month. With Odhran, the student in Ireland whom I teach Greek, the challenge is not the package, it’s four hours which makes 8 half-hour lessons, which theoretically should be used up in one month. The challenge here has been both my travel and theirs. Just before I left for the states they went to the states so that the kids could get vaccinated. Then I was in the states and they came back to Europe. I came back to Europe and taught two lessons this week. And then they went back to the US. So the ping-ponging of our lessons has me in a tizzy. I cannot figure out where in the package we are very easily.

The English Center is changing its payment system and I and several other teachers have been selected to be their Lab rats. I will find out tomorrow what that will entail. I hope that it is not terribly difficult because just as I’ve gotten into the swing of weekly invoicing, it may now change. I am not all that good with change. And I get really stressed out having to learn new things.

The Writers Group has been meeting online on Thursday evenings. We also meet on at least one weekend day. This weekend was Sunday. While I do actual writing and creating on Thursday evenings, Sundays had become devoted to lesson planning. It’s been quite difficult because of jetlag. I haven’t been able to plan a full week’s worth of lessons in one day. I think I want to get back to that place. I made a valiant attempt on Sunday during the time I was supposed to be writing, but I didn’t quite manage to get all eight of my hours planned. Still, I am confident that I will get back to that.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Rushed Return and Weekend Write- In

Greetings, dear reader, from the Netherlands. I arrived back home on Saturday. The trip was uneventful, but I must say that I don’t really like traveling in Covid times. It’s particularly difficult trying to figure out what each leg of a journey needs in terms of documentation for Covid. In addition, the new strains that are popping up seemingly every day are causing the end of anxiety for me and everybody else. Things I learned this trip: Do not transfer through Heathrow if you can help it. It is a terrible transfer airport. The layovers are way too short and the signage in the airport is way to unclear for you to ever figure out where you’re going.

I got back to the Netherlands to find that the rules have changed again, and a more severe lockdown is now in place. All stores with the exception of supermarkets, are to close at 5 PM. Essentially the lockdown is A 5 PM to 5 AM business curfew. All but essential stores have to close at five and they cannot open until 5 o’clock in the morning the next day. I’m not sure how effective this measure will be, however, it seems a little bit like they are just trying to give lip service to the idea of lockdown, Rather than any measures that are actually effective. While the European Medical Authority has approved vaccinations for ages 5 to 12, the Dutch government has not started putting anything in place to get kids vaccinated. I do think that would go a long way to stopping the spread of Covid. It would be nice if the Dutch government could make some concrete decisions and quickly. With a new variant in southern Africa, Jasper and I are reconsidering both our trip to Greece which is booked and our trip to America which is not.

My last class with Conversation Playground went online as well because of the regulations. The schools are now allowing people from outside the school to come in. I was a bit nervous about the class as I have not taught kinds online in a group. It’s always been one on one. It went really well, but I forgotten how hard it is to manage a group classroom. We used Teams and I don’t like it as much as I like Zoom. But I did get to hear positive feedback from the paents in the background.

My English center classes are mostly online, with the exception of one, which is in person at Amstelveen. I sent emails to everyone and confirmed lessons with most of them. The in-person lesson will still be going to go through as the English Center is open for business. At least until The government says otherwise. The consequences of my trip were rather severe. I lost one student because she said that she did not want to switch between teachers and did not want to wait for me to get back from the US. The other student seemed to be willing to wait, but he did not respond to the two emails that I sent him. He then contacted the English center to also switch permanently. I sent him an email wishing him well that he never responded to. That did not make me feel good.

The Writers Group had their first weekend Write-In a while. We met on Sunday from 10 to 1 and about eight people showed up. We will have to see if the Thursday night online session has as many people. This will continue for at least three weeks if not longer, what with the restrictions changing so quickly.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Schedule Shutdown and a Traumatic Trip

It’s been quite a busy week at Inkreadable this week. With things deteriorating Covidwise in the Netherlands, we took the Writers Group online at least until things calm down a bit. Since Jasper is diabetic, I have also decided to ask that only people who have been vaccinated come to my house once things open up. I think it’s an easy enough ask. What I am not sure about is how the unvaccinated people that I know will take that. One person in my Writers Group has used the term apartheid to talk about vaccinations. While I am not concerned about friction now, as this past Thursday’s meeting went online and there was no issue, the lockdown ending may have a different result. But it looks like I may have some time, as I’m not convinced the lockdown is going to end after three weeks.

Looking back over the week now, I’ve been wondering if the beginning of the week wasn’t a harbinger. On Monday, I arrived at Piet Hein To find that all but two of my students weren’t going to be in the class. I learned that one of the kids In my class had tested positive for Covid so the whole of his class, which included two other kids in my class, was in quarantine. My fourth student has only shown up to two of the sessions. I let Amardip know and he advised me to ask the teachers at the school about the student so that we can at least cover our bases. But things were about to change rapidly.

We had recently learned that my aunt was quite ill with cancer. They did not have a diagnosis of the type as yet, and I was waiting to hear about a possible prognosis. On Tuesday we received word that In all likelihood she would pass away either that day or the next. Knowing that I started making arrangements to head to the US. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it was going to be. I was not able to find any tickets that were direct to Washington from Amsterdam and everything else I found with connecting flights, was in the thousands of dollars. My sister contacted me and she was able to find me a ticket for quite a bit less. The catch? I either had to fly to London or Dublin. I chose London as I am a bit familiar with the airport. The next step was to figure out what I needed in terms of Covid for each leg of the journey. For London, I need a passenger locator form and proof of vaccination. For Washington, I needed proof of vaccination, an attestation form, and a rapid test. The time running short, I made a reservation for a rapid test at 8 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday.

The next step of course was to rearrange my schedule. I knew that most people would be willing to cancel and wait for me to get back. But one of my students wanted a substitute teacher and so that needs arranging with the English Center. Because I had prepped a lesson already for Friday, I was able to give it to the teacher who would do the substitution. The student also wanted to continue with the other teacher. While I am upset at losing a student, the customer experience is what matters. And I will probably get more students. I also had to arrange my other English Center students which were easy enough. A little bit more difficult was The Conversation Playground, But I was able to enlist Erica’s help and get her to take the class for me. We also had a conversation early on Monday morning to go over what she needed to expect.

On Wednesday, I ran to get my PCR test and then go teach in Amstelveen. It was a fraught morning worried that I wouldn’t be able to get to the lesson in time. But I was there with about 10 minutes to spare. Harumi decided that she wanted to wait until I got back. While I know that I traveled due to circumstances beyond my control, and most people are understanding, I still have a lot of guilt. I think I have come up with a way that everyone gets their lessons when I go to to Greece in December (which is the source of my guilt). I am going to offer online lessons to those students who wish to continue while I’m on holiday. Since most of my students are online anyway it shouldn’t be a problem, the only worry is my in-person Student in Amstelveen. Still, it’s a problem for when I get back.

I got to the airport on Thursday and presented my documents to the airline. I had filled in the incorrect airline number on the UK form, so I had to redo it. Once I got to London, the layover was so short that I got to the gate in the middle of boarding. When I presented my boarding pass and passport, I was pulled aside because my passport had been flagged. It was either a random check or they thought I was a person of suspicion. Lesson learned? Avoid Heathrow, whenever possible. On balance, I am glad that I came and was able to spend a little bit of time With my family, and of course, I got to see my aunt. It was also nice to see my sister and my dad who I haven’t seen in two years. The trip was the right thing to do. The bonus was that I was able to get some things done with my apartment here in DC. I am looking forward to returning to Amsterdam at the end of the week,

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadabe installment. But stay tuned. As always there is more to come.