Private Client Pickup, TEC Top Up, and Wicked Writing

It was a decent though quiet week at Inkreadable, dear reader. In terms of private clients for the week, it was just my student from Taiwan. While from the English Center I had a student no-show. I stayed online on Thursday for 15-minutes of a 1-hour online lesson to see if the student would show up. But they never did. It was a bit of a problematic student in the first place. Apparently, they had never confirmed to the English Center that they were going to do the lesson at all. They also never responded to the email that I sent with the Zoom link for the lesson. The nice thing is that the English Center paid me for the lesson. I also had my last lesson with one of my English Center clients who has decided not to continue for personal reasons. She did leave me a nice review saying that if she came back to the English Center she would want to have lessons with me again, which I appreciate. She did give me private feedback in that she felt that our second lesson of the series was not as effective for her. But she had asked me for interview prep and that’s what we did. She was much happier with our last lesson of the series. I am happy to receive feedback like that because it allows me to really think about what each student needs and try to stick to that to the best of my ability. That is always a challenge because clients have definite ideas of the things that they want to learn in classes. I have gotten two new private clients from recommendations from former students. I was quite surprised at the recommendations because they were from students that I haven’t heard from in quite some time. One was from the Greek woman who comes from my former TEC clients whose focus was pronunciation. The other is a client from the Middle East who was given my information by a client that I had at the English Center about a year ago. I will have an intake with this client this coming week. My Greek connection client will not start until the third week in July.

Over at The English Center, I am gearing up for the Intensive that I mentioned a couple of posts ago. I also have two new clients from them besides the intensive. One is a Japanese student and of course, I have to go out to Amstelveen on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 4:30 pm. The other client is a semi-intensive near my house which is great. There are also rumblings on WhatsApp of different intensives that are coming up for the summer that I’m going to try and throw my hat in the ring for, but of course with 60 teachers that will prove a little bit difficult. We will have to see what happens.

With the return of a beloved OG writer, we have started doing things that we haven’t done for quite a while. We have started doing things like word sprints and word Wars we will see if we get into doing prompts again, but people seem to be quite happy writing their own stuff. The word wars and sprints are good for me because it takes me out of my almost pathological need to look at the internet, which I do instead of write. What’s good is that I’m able to get quality words even if it’s only500 with these word wars. The problem with novel my is that I feel like it flows very well and it’s very hard to figure out where to throw stuff out. The Old adage of “kill your babies” tends to be quite difficult.

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

A Greek Goodbye and Lesson Planning Load

Greetings, dear reader, from Amsterdam. It was a relatively uneventful trip back but I will say if you’re trying to travel post-Covid, factor in extra time. On the trip back, like the trip there, the lines for check-in were quite long. It took an hour, but security was a joke and took barely 20 minutes. Still, Jasper and I arrived at the gate to find that the plane was already boarding. I’m not sure that I like that style of travel but also suppose it’s the new post-covid world and this is how travel is going to be for some time to come. I also always leave Crete with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I love being in and having access to my friends and family there. I love fruit and vegetables with flavor which we don’t sometimes get here in the Netherlands even though The Netherlands is an agricultural producer. I even like the weather if it isn’t too hot. The problem is that 30 degrees Celsius is that line for me. And even 30C is ok provided you have enough air conditioning to combat that temperature. Unfortunately, our hotel did not have that. In fact, the usage instructions said that turning the AC down below 24 degrees was useless. I found that to be quite ridiculous. My take away from all of this is that I’ve confirmed that I definitely prefer Crete in the winter temperature-wise but I can also spend time with my sister more easily then, as the summer is her busy time.

After a rather restful Sunday post-flight, yesterday saw me getting back into the swing of things and planning the incentive I wrote about in my last post for Friday, July 8th, and Tuesday, July 12th. Luckily I am not doing all the work and was able to meet with my fellow trainer to do some planning so it wasn’t terrible. I also got a new student and so I planned her first lesson which happens on Thursday. As mentioned in last week’s post the rest of the load is quite small and so I’m not terribly busy so I am occupying myself both with reading and on occasion writing.

Tomorrow, dear reader, is my birthday and I have planned an evening out with friends at a restaurant that I would like to try. The restaurant is called Carter and has a little bit of a sidewalk terrace. Organized person that I am, I actually made the reservation before I left for Greece. Though in all honesty, it wasn’t so much organization, as it was the fact that in Amsterdam if you don’t make a reservation you’re not going out to dinner, and people reserve at least one to two weeks out. Not wanting to take the chance I did it early and got one of their terrace tables for me and Jasper and two other couples. I’m quite looking forward to it.

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

Summer Slow Down, Class Challenges, Resume Rewrite, and an OG Writer Returns

June in the Netherlands brings with it longer days and sunny weather. It’s a fun time of drinks in the park, and picnicking down to a science, as well as other forms of alfresco entertainment. The end of the pandemic has brought the multitudes of tourists back to the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, it feels like the pandemic never was. It’s nice to see people back in the city and it’s wonderful to have the stores open again. No longer do I have to worry about trying to find a bathroom on one of my many long walks. For me personally, June also brings the annual summer slowdown. This year seems particularly slow as there’s no VIPKid to fall back on. That’s not to say that I couldn’t open slots on VIPKid and see what I was able to get get, but I’m hearing from colleagues who are still with the company that they’re getting quite sparse bookings. And opening up my schedule for six hours to get me the one or two my teacher friends are getting hours seems a little silly. Also, those one or two hours may have long breaks in between, and that is exhausting. The breakdown goes something like this: I currently have six private clients three adults and three children. Two of my adults are going on a vacation and I will see them sometime in September. My third Adult will continue but he will continue online from Taiwan. He leaves in the middle of July and comes back in the middle of September. My client here in the Netherlands has said that he might want help for his son who may be going to the British School in September but as yet they have not made a decision. As I understand it, he will be interviewing at the British School in a couple of weeks. Once they make a decision they may need my help to get him up to snuff with English in an immersive environment. I don’t think that second languages anywhere in the world are type using immersion except for in an international school. And not all international schools. Maybe my experience at the Washington International School was different as we were able to learn geography and history in French as well as French class itself. My friends who took Spanish had the same experience with history and geography in that language as well. In most schools, second languages are taught by teachers, not necessarily by language teachers. I know that in the Dutch schools the English classes that are required are taught by Dutch teachers who teach the theory in Dutch and there’s not a lot of use of the English language. I think it’s the same whether it’s a French class or an Italian class or a German class. There’s just not a lot of speaking happening.

Over at the English Center, things are winding down as well. My Palestinian girls will have their last class of this package tomorrow but will come back in September as well. I had my last class with Harumi last week but we have promised to keep in touch when she moves to Paris so while it’s a goodbye in terms of teaching, I am hopeful that we will maintain a relationship when she goes to Paris in July. I thought Harumi was my biggest challenge in terms of my adults. But my new client from Palestine who is trying to get a job here in the Netherlands is proving to be a bit of a challenge in terms of bridging her perceived problems and the reality of interviewing in a language not your own. She does a lot better than she thinks she does and I’m not just saying that because she might read my blog. She has a good command of the English language, particularly in her field which is International Development. In yesterday’s class, I did notice some tense trouble and assigned some exercises for her to do to try and get it under control as well as trying to prepare her for her interview coming up later today. I also I found her homework and I gave four questions that we practiced for the interview as well as two extra questions that I found to try and get her thoughts more organized. Or at least organized in a way that she is happy with. It’s a little bit stressful for me because she is also trying me out as a teacher, as she wasn’t really happy with her interaction with The English Center. I thought I had shown her that I could do the job at the end of our first of three lessons. And the email she sent me after the class led me to believe that she was happy with our first lesson. But after yesterday’s lesson, she said she still hadn’t decided. I did tell her at the end of class what we worked on and told her to keep in touch via WhatsApp up and I took the initiative to contact her later in the afternoon yesterday and see how she was getting on. I hope it’s enough to keep her as a student after I come back from Greece. Gallini and I have our last class tomorrow and I think we are ending on a positive note. She has acknowledged that her learning is just a drop in the bucket so I have the feeling that I will see her again soon. Whether it will be in an English Center classroom remains to be seen. Wesam and Leen will continue after their holidays. I am both looking forward to seeing them again, but also feel like I will be starting over from scratch when I do see them. While the last couple of classes that we had were quite a bit easier than they have been in the past, I am struggling to both make it interesting for them as there is only so many classes on shopping that I can put together.

In other news, an interesting position came up for an ESL content writer for Twinkl which is an ed-tech company that provides resources to teachers and parents. It, like most of the other tech companies out there, does not actually specialize in one language but has platforms for multiple languages. I have found when looking at both Twinkl and ISL collective that there are a lot of translated worksheets so why might use them as a base I don’t necessarily use them in their entirety. I work from them and create my own material. When I saw the job for ESL content writer I figured I would apply and rewrote my resume to reflect both my teaching and my curriculum-building skills. We will have to see what happens as I submitted the resume on workable. As ever, dear reader, I will keep you posted.

Over in the writer’s world, we have the return of a founding member. Ellie, Mark, and I started the group in 2016 but Ellie left us because she was trying to complete her studies. I had kept up with her a little bit from time to time as we were friends on Facebook and I knew that she was doing some stuff with with a group that works toward getting more women in politics. But Amsterdam, dear reader, is a small world. I was minding my own business one morning last year at the English Center in Amstelveen when I walked into the kitchen to see Ellie preparing a morning cup of tea. It happens that she rented out Michael and Brenda’s garage. So we have run into each other over the last year or so whenever we were in the kitchen at the same time. One such time Ellie said that she wanted to come to the writer’s group. She did that this past Thursday and it was great. We got back to some of the original things that we had been doing pre-pandemic like writing sprints. It will be great to see more of her in the context of the writer’s group and not just in the kitchen at Amstelveen.

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

Ascension Antics Teaching Trials, and a Cataract Continuation

National holidays in the Netherlands are either derived from Remembrance or religion. Many of them occur in May and June. This week’s holiday was Ascension. I don’t normally have many students on Thursdays so for me this would have been a day off anyway. I got an invitation that I could not refuse from my former student ShinWei. We met at an IMAX theater to go and see Top Gun: Maverick. I was not expecting much but I got to say I was blown away by how good the movie actually is. It had enough of the elements of the old film to be considered a sequel but definitely told new stories. I highly recommend it. My other takeaway is that Tom Cruise is a vampire, and was turned when he was filming the first Top Gun. The fun did not stop there, however. Jasper also had the weekend off and I was surprised when he sent me a link to rolling kitchens, a food truck festival here in Amsterdam. H doesn’t generally propose doing interesting things and I’m frequently on my own for festivals and the like so I jumped at the chance to actually go do something that he suggested. I combined it with a visit to a jewelry exhibition with my friend Nico. The agenda there was twofold: go see shiny pretty rocks and deliver a few kilograms of moon pies to her son Stirling which I had transported from the US. I got the best thank you note ever. Please note that in the picture below moon pies have been given a very exalted status.

Stirling’s Thank You note

Sunday was a regular workday with both George and Jerry and the Palestinian girls on my schedule. Or at least it would have been if George and Jerry’s mom hadn’t mixed up her days with a cancellation. We were supposed to meet on Sunday as normal and then we aren’t going to have a lesson today as there’s too much noise in my house from some workers who are fixing my windows later on. The girls from Palestine continue to be quite a challenge and I am struggling to give them lessons that are appropriate for their level. They are both being trained in school at a B2 level but they are not nearly there yet. They simply can’t string a sentence together and it makes it quite difficult to have a conversation. I have tried some teenage-focused lessons but these girls haven’t indicated any interests at all, besides shopping. There was some progress as Wesam who is 15 has expressed an interest in design. I am going to try to find some lessons on design to pique her interest. She’s also a bit of a self-starter so maybe I will try to discuss starting your own business as a language topic.

The Writer’s group was canceled because the library was closed for the holiday and I haven’t looked at my laptop in terms of writing since the week before I left for the US. The good news is that we’re thinking to do a live session perhaps on Monday next week which is another holiday. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my characters once again this Thursday and possibly one other day this coming week.

There was some not-so-great news from the eye doctor yesterday. While my right eye is back to where it was post-cataract surgery, my left has gotten worse and sure enough, they have seen a baby cataract forming. It’s too early to do anything about that so it’s a waiting game to see when they can actually operate. Fun times are ahead.

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

Duty Done and Grizzly Grammar

Greetings, dear reader, from Amsterdam. We returned very early on Saturday morning. The last three days have passed in a haze of jet-lagged induced fatigue. This culminated in surprisingly waking up at 3:30 in the morning yesterday and not being able to sleep after that. this is not how it’s supposed to be. I should be waking up more than tired each morning as my body should think it is still on US time. But for whatever reason, my body has decided that it should acclimate to the opposite extreme.

I am happy to say that all of the things that I planned to do and some things that I didn’t plan were successfully completed in the States. So much so that I was able to visit with a friend. But the trip was not without its drama. The apartment I was dealing with had been rented furnished for 8 years and the new tenant did not want it, so I had to go and take it out. What I found out is that though all my furniture was good quality and some of it antique, no one wanted it, not even an auction company. So I had to find a junk hauler who would take it and dispose of it. I was able to coordinate much of this stuff while still in the Netherlands as I wrote in my previous post, and I found a company that was quite accommodating. I had a walk-through with the company and hired them once I had their quote. I didn’t have the luxury of doing a ton of research as I needed to be finished by the time I left the States. But there were more problems than I realized.

In addition, to having to move my stuff out, I also had to deal with a range and hood that weren’t working. Since I’ve been taking the easy way out from the beginning I thought there was no reason not to keep doing so. As a result, I decided to replace both the stove and the hood, rather than try to repair them. I had my tenant measure the stove and I ordered it. My brain said “OK I have a stove that is 30 inches wide so I need a hood that’s just as wide. I went ahead and ordered the hood but I did not measure it. I got to the apartment and started supervising the move-out. In the midst of this, the hood was delivered and I went to pick it up up from the package area. I brought it up to the apartment, put it in the kitchen, and then started to panic. I was not sure that the hood would fit. Neither of the people helping with the move had a measuring tape. Of course, I didn’t have one either. Luckily, a neighbor came by and was able to supply a measuring tape. Thankfully the hood fit. But you can perhaps imagine the state I was in before I got a hold of the measuring tape. Luckily I was able to call the installers and reschedule the install. It all worked out in the end but after I told the story to Jasper I had to ask if he was ready to be a landlord. His response was that if he didn’t have me he wouldn’t consider it in the least. I am not entirely sure how to feel about this.

I did not rest on my laurels for too long upon return from the US. In fact, I met up with a Vipkid teacher friend on Saturday after a couple of hours of sleep. I taught for three and a half hours on Sunday. It was quite torturous, as it was my girls from Palestine. Their being away for over a month really showed. With Wesam the older one, I helped with the conditional rather than doing my own lesson as that is what they are learning in school. She barely has the speech level for the present let alone the five forms of the conditional. Leen the younger girl, did a little bit better with the future continuous but I could tell that she was struggling as well. I’m going to have to sit down and figure out how to teach these two girls because this was quite difficult. While I understand that grammar is important, I can also accept Jasper’s assertion that grammar is not the only way to learn a language. Using language is key and these two girls aren’t using English nearly at all. It’s going to be a challenging 11 hours for this package and who knows if they will renew. The difference between what they are learning and what they can actually do is immense.

In terms of the writing group, this week was a little bit better than last week in terms of attendance. The only hiccough for me occurred when I arrived back in Amsterdam on Saturday and switched out my American SIM card. I missed a text from someone who was asking where the group was this past Thursday. They apparently no longer have WhatsApp, and when people leave the WhatsApp group I tend to delete them from my phone. Luckily, the person was able to link up with Mark, the co-organizer and they were able to attend the meeting. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out how to keep track of the group members who don’t have what’s app.

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

Lovely Lessons, Fraught Flight, and Stressful Stateside

While I love to travel, dear reader the lead-up to any trip can be quite stressful. Luckily the trip itself isn’t. Normally. In terms of work, I had two English Center lessons and my private clients in China. Greek is on hold until I go back to the Netherlands. Xander is on a hiatus until June, but my new client from Taiwan will start on Monday next week. I had my last lesson with ShinWei and continued lessons with Harumi and my Greek client Galini. Before I left I was able to coordinate with my Palestinian girl’s dad and they will be back on my schedule on Sunday. I hope I am not too jet-lagged. While I’m in the states, I only have two lessons scheduled, one with Lillian, which took place on Saturday, and one with Galini, which is scheduled for tomorrow.

We left on Thursday and while Schiphol Airport is usually efficient, you could see that they had staffing shortages throughout the airport. Usually, you wait about 15 minutes to go through security, but we waited for about 40. But the trials and tribulations weren’t to end there. Once at the gate, I had a text from KLM on my phone that said my information needed to be updated. When I got to the counter, it was not to update information, but rather I had been selected for a random security screening for explosives. This was my first experience with this kind of screening. They basically take a swipe of your hands and have you take off your shoes and do a pat-down like at security. But you’re not allowed to go back to your traveling companions. You are then boarded first. I can’t say it was fun but it was certainly interesting. Once the randomly selected people were boarded, on came the rest of the passengers. That still meant that Jasper didn’t appear for about 20 minutes after I had been boarded. The flight was fine for the first four or five hours and then things got surprisingly turbulent. I am not a frightened flyer, in fact, I quite like it, but this was just a shade too much. The other lovely occurrence on the plane was that I thought I had lost my wallet. You can imagine my sense of panic. Luckily Jasper’s preternatural calm helped me find it. But I spent much of the flight annoyed with myself. The annoyance only got worse when we landed.

The flight arrived on time at about 3:35 in the afternoon and then we discovered that the TSA was also having staffing issues. It took us three hours to get out of the airport. I was out of the passport control line sooner than Jasper and had to wait for him for 40 minutes. I felt particularly bad for my dad who was waiting for all of that time. I don’t remember travel to the US being as difficult when we came in February, or at any other time, for that matter. And that was in addition to all of the covid stuff that we still had to comply with for the US as they still have a testing requirement. Luckily, when we go to Greece in June we will not have this issue as it is EU and we can travel freely without a testing requirement. If you’re planning a trip to the US anytime soon and traveling through Washington be prepared for long wait times.

Of course, for me, the running around started on Friday morning having to deal with various issues at the two apartments I have here in DC. I had real estate agents help me rent my apartments and the first one went very easily but the second which is older and hasn’t been renovated in 20 years was a bit harder to rent. In fact, it took almost 6 months. The larger of the two apartments we had rented in October of 2021 needed to be registered as free of lead paint and so I needed to do an inspection so that was my first stop on Friday. Then I went to the smaller apartment to meet my tenant as well as take a look at what furniture was in there and how best to move it. To do that I found a junk hauling service and had them come and give me a proposal. We agreed on today as the move-out date because my tenant is moving in and we can share the elevator. I absolutely hate it when I don’t have all the information that I need when dealing with my Apartments. I had never had to test for lead in the seven years that I owned my apartment so you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from the Department of the environment for the state of Maryland saying I needed to do just that and that I had a deadline of May 23rd. Luckily I was able to coordinate everything from the Netherlands so that it was in place when I landed but for me, coming to DC is not a vacation. Hopefully, the move-out will go smoothly especially as I was able to find homes for some of the more interesting pieces that I own. It’s been said that moving is one of the most stressful things, on a level with divorce. I’m not sure how true that is but sometimes it certainly feels that way. I’m not looking forward to when I eventually have to find a house in the Netherlands with Jasper. Which by the way we may have a deadline for. My landlord tried to raise our rent by 200 Euros in defiance of the rental cap which is no more than the CPI plus 1% which puts you at about 3.4% in the Netherlands. He had been a fairly reasonable landlord in the past but I was angered by his attempt at trying to get more money than was allowed. As a result, I would like to have a place bought and moved into by the time the rent goes up again in May of next year. Because I don’t want to deal with his BS.

I kept tabs on the writer’s group a bit, and Mark was at the library all by his lonesome on Thursday. Not a single solitary person showed up. He was pretty positive as he got a lot of good writing done. We’ll see what happens this Thursday. That’ll be my last full day in the US as we leave on Friday. So the session on the 26th should be back to normal.

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

Course Conclusions and Saturday Starts

This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, was a busy one. Jasper and I set off for the US in a couple of days and so both of us spent the weekend running around trying to prepare. For him, that meant buying eight kilograms of cheese and various other Dutch delicacies to bring to his parents. For me, it meant setting up appointments to get stuff done in the US. His Preparation was much more fun than mine because it included a trip to the candy store. I was able to do a couple of fun things even with all the coordinating that I had to do.

Before I get into the fun stuff, my schedule is a little bit packed in the run-up to the summer holiday. There is a little bit of good news and bad news with regard to private students. I saw Sander yesterday and then I won’t see him until the 13th of June. We will have to see what happens on the 13th of June because I am away the following week. It is a variable ping pong in terms of scheduling, dear reader, which can be quite difficult to keep track of. I swear, reader if I didn’t have Google Calendar loaded on my phone I would be a basket case. As it is, every little thing I am doing goes on my calendar whether it’s work or not. Odhran has moved to once a week for the foreseeable future. Vocabulary and listening skills are quite good but he struggles to pick the right answers to grammar questions. I spent most of the weekend trying to figure out how to teach him grammar and I’m struggling. As the last resort, I might ask my friend Despina over at Lexis Amsterdam but I don’t like imposing on her time. George and Jerry are also quieting down a little bit as they have a couple of significant exams coming up in May and June. There are a couple of bright spots in the private world. Lillian my teacher in China wants to continue after the 16 hours are over and has decided to go to an hour a week. It’s a much better schedule even if I don’t have to do much prep in the first place. I am shortly getting a new student who coincidentally happens to be from Taiwan. It’s always interesting discussing the dichotomy between the two countries so I’m looking forward so not just teaching the student but also learning from them.

It is a bit of a sad time in terms of the English Center for me. I had my last lesson with ShinWei last night. I am sad because we have been together for 40 weeks almost straight. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year. I am pretty sure that we will keep in touch as we tend to socialize and that is quite fun. But I will certainly miss seeing him once a week in the classroom. I have been enjoying my classes with Gallini the Greek girl quite a lot. She is pretty easy to prepare for as she’s just pronunciation and we do a lot of reading and talking. My girls from Palestine have not appeared on my schedule as yet even though I contacted their father to try and make appointments before I go to the States. I had contacted him on Friday to let him know that I would be available on Sunday and Wednesday this week for lessons for the girls but he never got back to me. I spoke to Brenda about the issue but we were unable to figure out how to deal with it as the customer really is King and there isn’t much that I can do. I have spent the last couple of weeks during a review of Elementary English with Harumi and she seems to be really well with exercises. What continues to be a struggle for her is speaking but I don’t anticipate that will get better if she doesn’t use the language. I hope when she gets to Paris that she will use English much more frequently than she does here in the Netherlands. Luckily, I will get a chance to see how that works because I am definitely going to go to Paris to visit her. The Ukrainian beginner class wrapped up yesterday and I can’t say I was too broken up about it.

I did get a chance to do some fun stuff over the weekend. The writer’s group decided to meet in real life on a Saturday. We tried a coffee shop( not the Amsterdam coffee shop) but a Starbucks type of coffee shop that had a view of the water to the north of the city. I think this is going to have to become a regular thing at least in the summer. Although we did decide that maybe it would be quite a nice place to go in the winter as well. Now that the pandemic is considered over by most people finding different cafes to write in is probably going to become a staple weekend activity. Whether it’s raining or not.

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

Surgery Success and Lingueo Loss

I’m back to my new normal, dear readers. My post-cataract surgery new normal that is. The laser surgery was a success. At least for now. I am too much of cynic to think that there won’t be issues in the future. After all, I have the empirical evidence to prove it. But for now, my left eye is my reading eye and my right eye sees distance. I have hit the sweet spot with leading with both eyes if I can maintain a specific distance from my Kindle. The surgery itself was quite easy. The young doctor who did the surgery was alternately a bit annoying and a bit amusing. I think, dear reader, he was all of 12 years old. Of course, I exaggerate a bit but he couldn’t have been more than 25. He spoke impeccable English and when I complimented him on his English his response was “yes but I wish I sounded British, you know like James Bond”. I had to sigh at that. The day of the surgery was a wash and I spent most of it on the couch, andwhile I couldn’t stop myself from using my eyes, I didn’t notice much of a difference until the evening. Then I started noticing changes. I have spent the last week not doing much of anything active. I am giving myself a week to recover and then we’ll head back to the gym tomorrow. There was really no aftercare and there was no patch or anything but they did tell me not to do any strenuous activities for about a week. All in all, I’m happy that I went and got the surgery done despite the anxiety I felt for the week before the surgery.

I resumed my teaching activities as normal from last Wednesday. But my schedule is pretty light. I mean let’s face it. it has been a light schedule for months now. That’s what you want, I’ve been hearing from family. I wouBut it isn’t actually. l’d like a consistent 20-hour-a-week teaching schedule. But unfortunately, that’s just not possible. The pandemic took a bite out of the English language teaching market as I have explained. Ad nauseam, I’m sure. But the week brought another loss. It seems that Lingueo sent an email saying that our profiles will be deactivated for those of us who haven’t been on the platform for some time. I never got that e-mail. I have a friend who wanted to take lessons with me on the platform and registered. He was told that I could not give lessons as I was no longer on the platform. When I called Lingueo to find out why, they told me about the email and I said I had not responded when they sent out the email. I told them that I hadn’t received the email and asked if there was anything we could do. They said no because they don’t have enough work for the teachers on the platform currently but they would put in my file that I am willing and ready to work. I think I’m going to try and harass them about once a month so that they have me on their radar. Still, it is a bit of a blow as I was really looking forward to getting back on that platform. When I realised that I was not going to be able to continue with Lingueo for the moment, I also remembered that Italki was going to deactivate profiles. Yesterday, I sent an email to them to see if I was too late to keep that profile active.

I still have a few clients with English Center, but it only adds up to about 7 hours a week of lessons at the moment. I am always hopeful that there will be more lessons but competing with 30 different teachers makes that difficult. I haven’t seen my private students very much over the last couple of weeks.Xander’s family surprised him with a trip to Paris so I didn’t see him yesterday. That makes 3-weeks that I will not have seen him. It looks like Greek is going to be cut to once a week for the moment, but we have agreed to take it week by week in terms of how that plays out. A little bit of good news is I may be getting a new private student in a couple of weeks’ time.

I’m trying to stay positive and believe that these losses are for the best given that I’m going to the US in 10 days and I will have a lot of stuff to do when I get there. The most pressing of which is getting my furniture out of my apartment which has been rented. That’s a little bit difficult to coordinate from here in the Netherlands.

Writing on Thursday was a breeze post-surgery and I could actually see the computer which was great. The group continues the Sunday online write-ins. I also can’t stop myself at times from being a little smug when discord causes problems. I almost want to want to go haha told you so. Which is very petty of me but nobody’s perfect.

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

Cataract Complications and Schedule Shutdown

This week at Inkreadable started off with a little bit of stress and ended with quite a lot. It started off well enough. After last week’s post had already been published, I went to the doctor to have the eye exam that I’d been waiting for almost a month. They confirmed the optometrist’s 50% vision loss but told me that in fact, the lens has clouded. I couldn’t get a very complete exam because the scanning and imaging machines were having technical issues. Throughout the whole hospital. So the doctor, asked if they could call me Friday to discuss options. It wasn’t like I had much of a choice and so agreed. On Thursday, I missed a call from the doctor but luckily they left a voicemail saying that the scanning and imaging machinery was working and that they were able to see that my retina was ok and they would proceed with surgery. I figured it would be a couple of weeks before they even called me to schedule the surgery. But in this case, I was wrong. They called me about three hours after I received the voicemail from the doctor. We schedule the surgery for later today. The surgery is not actually a surgery at all, but rather laser surgery. They’re going to put a second lens over the first one and laser through some holes to see if they can fix the cloudiness. The doctor said that they also saw wrinkling in the lens and hopefully this laser surgery will take care of that as well. I have spent the intervening week trying not to think about it. It’s been surprisingly easy as I’ve been stressed out with the collaboration for the free classes that the English Center is giving to Ukrainian refugees.

The English Center may have offered English lessons to Ukrainian refugees in order to bolster relations with the Amsterdam City Council, but I have not seen a single student. Monday last week was Easter Monday so they canceled the Beginner class. Thursday last week no one showed up and it was decided that the Ukrainian intermediate-advanced class would be paused. In my cynical world paused actually means ├žanceled. But it could be proven wrong and six months down the road the English Center could restart the intermediate-advanced class. It’s a bit of a shame because I actually like that level and they were working through some very interesting things with English central which is an app that the English Center has access to. In the email, it was explained that intermediate-advanced students were welcome in the Beginner class, where they could help out learners at a lower level. Unfortunately, that’s the class that I am looking forward to the least. A lot of work went into making a deck for beginner students in the last couple of weeks. On the one hand, I hope they come and that we have these lessons because of the work that we did but on the other hand, I’m absolutely terrified because I will be teaching it with Brenda. I haven’t been getting a lot of work from the English Center. I’m wondering if there might be something wrong with my teaching. This might be the chance I have to find out if that’s the case but it doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous. It’s the cherry on top of the Sundae that’s been my life in the last couple of weeks.

The surgery is happening on a day when all I have is Lillian. George and Jerry are on hiatus because of midterms. Odhran is off my schedule for the week because I don’t have his preferred time slot. So my schedule was only shut down on Tuesday. The rest of the week will be as normal unless I am told otherwise by the doctor. I spent this past weekend alternately stressing out about the surgery, the Ukrainian beginner class, and various things happening in the US. As of the publishing of this post, I’ll either be snoring or tossing and turning, but the surgery’s only an hour of my life. I can do it.

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

Technical Trauma and Gratis Groups

It was a bit of a strange week at Inkreadable, dear reader. In the first place, it was quiet in the run-up up to Easter weekend. Some of my students were already off my schedule, and quite a few of them decided to take a few days prior to Easter off. As a result, I only had five hours teaching the whole week. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Adiana was not on my schedule the whole week because her computer was again out for repair. It’s something that I have now become resigned to, that we will either have one, or possibly two lessons a week, but never ever the three that she wanted. Still I block off that time on my schedule but my 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays is never a certain hour. This week’s computer problem was diagnosed as a video card issue and we had to cancel all three classes. I am more angry at myself than anything else, however, dear reader. Because I am not able to enforce my own policies. The problem is, I’m not sure how to enforce them. There are just too many issues with Adriana’s to figure out how how to deal with it. If this was an English Center class I would simply call the English Centre and have them deal with it. But it’s not. You’ll remember from last week’s post that George and Gerry were having technical issues as well, though this was an issue of connectivity rather than hardware. We had a little bit of a blip when we saw each other on Tuesday but we were able to get through the lesson. The next time I see them is the beginning of May and I’m hopeful we will not have issues again. But it could also be a Zoom problem. I had thought that you needed a VPN when using Zoom in China but it seems you only need it when you initiate a meeting in China not when you are being hosted by someone else as George and Jerry are. Greek continues to go quite well and this week we talked about the types of things that we could have knowledge of. The lesson was to use the verb I know no in Greek and it’s interesting because Odhran has trouble articulating things that he knows how to do. I gave him a little homework asking him to research the types of things that he can do. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.

The English Center was also pretty quiet this week. With both the Palestinian girls and Harumi off my schedule, it meant I only had Shinwei. This week I also did some work on the database management and learned that the aphorism no good deed goes unpunished is absolutely true. What happened with this: instead of waiting for Brenda to call me to tell me that she needed me to update the database, I took the initiative of calling her. In the course of the conversation, she asked me if I could substitute for two classes for a friend of mine who also works at the EnglishCenter but is away in Kenya. They were free classes that the English Center is giving two Ukrainian refugees here in Amsterdam. As it was only two classes I agreed. It was, dear reader, the worst possible decision I could have made. It is two classes being given on Monday and Thursday afternoons. One is for intermediate/advanced English speakers and one to very low-level beginner speakers. The advanced speakers class was easy enough to figure out as I was given a TED talk and materials for it, so that was just facilitating the class. The Monday class is much more difficult as we actually had to create material. Keep in mind that we’re doing this work for no money. Although, I did explain to Brenda that I thought that she was doing it for street cred with the municipality and I was doing it for Street cred with her. After all, it was only two days. Or so I thought. Once in the Thursday class with Brenda, and a couple others, I realised that I was expected to be in the class until Krys, the original teacher, comes back and that is going to be a matter of weeks. I will probably still do the month, but I wish it had been clear that it was not just a couple of days. While I have the time, I do not have the inclination to build a and then have to give up all my work because the other teacher is back. There were a couple of problems with course planning for the Monday course as we were all supposed to contribute to the PowerPoint. Unfortunately, with my eye being away it is, that was not going to be possible for me. So I called Brenda and we decided to write a drill slide that the class can then repeat. I am extremely nervous about this class though because Brenda will be there and it will feel like a test of my ability.

Over in the writing world, I have resigned myself that we now have two separate groups, a discord group with lazy people who do not want to come to the library and write in person and the regular group. I have decided that I’m going to ignore the discord group and I’m not gonna write on the weekend unless it is in person. I have better things to do with my time as the weather in the Netherlands is starting to warm up and the last thing I want to do is sit online at home. I’ve decided that if there are people who want to come out and write on a Saturday, they will be welcome to do that but my Sundays are spoken for.

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