Unequivicable Unbelonging

I’m not sure when it happened, but I have discovered several things both about myself and about my dual life. Thursday marked the last time I would be at my writers’ group here in DC. I was a little late to the meeting as my sister wanted me to come out to dinner and I haven’t seen very much of her, so family first. I remember walking into the meeting, and feeling like I was disrupting them. But the paramount feeling for me was not feeling as though I belonged. This is no longer felt like MY group. It wasn’t anything that anyone has done or said. Everyone was kind and welcoming, it was more that I felt out of place.

I think I’ve been feeling that for a while but have noticed it very sharply since being back here. It isn’t just the writers’ group that doesn’t feel like home. DC doesn’t feel like home. I feel like a tourist in the city that I spent 36 years of my life. And I don’t really feel like I belong in Amsterdam. Again, it’s not anything that anyone is doing. Everyone is kind and curious and wanting to find out about me there as well. But it does not yet feel like home.

I think I’ve been experiencing a general sense of being in the world, but out of it. And I think that is affecting my writing. Maybe the fact that I can’t connect to the place where I live or with a place that I called home for so long is in part, why I cannot connect to my own writing. Most of the time, in Amsterdam, I can barely get words on the page. I’m not sure if it’s because I get distracted by the people around me writing or if I’m distracted by the people in the bookstore who are browsing. I consider it a good day of writing if I can get a page done. And I think that was part of my problem during Nanowrimo back in November. I think it’s a contradiction for me because while I am galvanized to write by the people tapping away around me on their own computers, I am not able to sustain the word counts that they have. One of my members can easily write 1500 to 2500 words in half an hour. I am not sure how he does it. But maybe it goes deeper than just a simple distraction. Maybe this constant feeling of “I don’t belong” pervades everything.

It actually scares me quite a bit, this feeling of not belonging. Because if I don’t belong in Washington where I grew up and I don’t belong in Amsterdam where the love of my life is, and I don’t belong in the Washington Writers Group nor in the Amsterdam Creative Writers’ Club, then where is my place? I have read that home is the place that we stop trying to escape from. I’m not sure if I feel like I want to escape, but comfort in my surroundings is not something that I have felt, perhaps since leaving Edinburgh.

In spite of these feelings, I do choose to find something to be happy about. While it has been a very tiring trip, it has been nice to catch up with people who I haven’t seen in the last year. I am also kind of looking forward to being back in Amsterdam, even though sometimes I don’t feel like I belong there. Let’s face it, most of the time I don’t feel like I belong there. Nevertheless, it will be good to get back into my routine, especially one that doesn’t make me tired and cause me to fall asleep at 7 o’clock in the evening.

Speaking of which, it is my bedtime as it is 7:30 Eastern standard time and I haven’t been sleeping well. Until today that was due to the fact that I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every morning. But this evening my sleeplessness is due to the fact that I travel back to Amsterdam tomorrow. I will of course be waking up at 5:30 in the morning to do some teaching before I fly out. I will see you on the flipside, And my next post will be coming to you from Amsterdam. That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

New Year Nonresolutions

First, let me start by wishing everyone a happy new year. I hope that 2019 is a fabulous year for all of you. I also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate all the support and the likes, Both here and on Facebook.

It seems that everybody starts out New Year’s by making resolutions that they never actually keep. I too was guilty of that until a couple of years ago. Then I started making promises to myself that I thought I could keep. They would be small things, like committing to eating more vegetables or decreasing my consumption of meat to do a small part to decrease the production of methane gases in the air. Usually, those small promises for me take the form of: “I’m going to go to the gym three times a week.” Or “I’m going to try to walk more”. Those types of promises I’m quite good at keeping. When it comes to writing, however, I am not quite as good. I find that the only time that I write is on Thursday nights at the bookshop. And even that, is very sporadic.

I do find that I write when it’s me and a friend at a café. So maybe that’s the promise that I need to make. I need to find a friend with whom I can write consistently. I have one friend that I’ve written with and it was a wonderful experience. I got more done in that hour and a half that we met that I did in the three hours the previous Thursday.

I’ve also never been good about more typical New Year’s resolutions. You know the ones. “I’m going to lose X number of kilos by Y month.” Those also never work for me. I find they are counterproductive.  I would love to say that I am going to teach less and write more in the New Year but that is one promise that I am sure I am not going to be able to keep. What are some of your resolutions, or as the case may be nonresolutions? Do you keep them? Or do they fall by the wayside two weeks into the new year? I would love to read your comments!

I am off to a family brunch, where no one will be looking to lose weight. At least, not until tomorrow. Thanks again for reading my blog. That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned, as always there is more to come.

Potent Potential

I think I’m just about getting used to the schedule here. I find that I am waking up in time for my classes. My students’ parents sometimes can’t take no for an answer and ask for priority booking times in timeslots that I am not available. I have repeatedly told them that. Today, I had a student no-show. No big deal as I am getting paid to sit around. BUT this kid is always late. And we’re not talking about one minute or two. We’re talking this kid is coming at minute 20 of a 25-minute class. That is significant. And it is every class. After I waited for the required 25 for the student to show, 20 minutes into my next class, the mom requested a priority booking for two weeks out. I refused. I just couldn’t face a class where the kid would be late again.  And it’s funny because it’s not about the kid doing a bad job in class. When she bothers to show up she’s fine. But she’s literally been on the same class for the last five weeks because she can’t finish it because she never comes in on time.

In other teaching news, it looks like I have two new students. Both of whom are in Amsterdam. The one you all know from a previous post, is a kid that I’m going to be teaching math and reading in January. For this one, the mom didn’t bat an eye at my price tag. I was quite happy about that. But if I do a little bit of math it’s interesting because it doesn’t make it worth it at €45 an hour when you consider prep time and travel time. It’s not the hour that you’re teaching that you’re being paid for. It’s the two hours of prep that you do for the class and the two hours of travel you do for the class. But still I like the student and I’m very happy to have the gig. And it looks like it will be multiple.

The next one is more interesting. The final Thursday Writers Group in Amsterdam that I attended before coming to the US, a man stopped at our table asking if we were working English teachers. I think I mentioned him in a previous post as well.  He contacted me via email and would like to take classes four days a week when I get back to the Netherlands. While I am not thinking that this is going to be a long-term thing, it will be nice to have an adult student in real life. You all know how much fun I had with my previous adult students.

It seems that my readers were not particularly enthused about my tech issues in my last post. They have resolved somewhat as I have my computer back, but they continue to rear their ugly head to cause me a little bit of panic still. My Mac sometimes does not want to register a charge. Fiddling with some buttons takes care of that but man, Mac get your crap together. My back up computer works in a pinch, so this isn’t true panic but  the backup is actually difficult to see because it’s almost foggy in terms of color. I haven’t figured out how to fix that yet. It will come.

In the meantime, making space for all the friends that I want to see here is starting to feel a little bit difficult. I want to see so many people and do so many things. We’ll see if I can manage. Currently, I am not writing much but I am reading of friends grueling, heartbreaking, and wonderful memoir of her time in that place we both feel most at home. She and I met in Scotland, a.k.a our soul country and I am reading that story. I am a character in that story and though I haven’t got to that part that too intrigues me. I am also trying to figure out the children’s book project that is in the back of my mind. But I’m finding the holidays to be disruptive for that. Maybe it will be better when I get back to Amsterdam.

I wish you all Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and happy holidays for whatever you celebrate. Thank you for reading my blog in the last eight months. I appreciate the support.

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

American Angst and Computer Kaput

I owe my readers an apology. That is, I owe them an apology in advance. I’m coming to you from America where I’d forgotten how bad the teaching hours are. And true, my VIPKid colleagues will say “At least you’re not on the West Coast. Those hours are killer, man.” They’d be right. However, coming from harmonious, happy Holland, where the hours are a regular school day, the last week and a half has been tough. My tech troubles continue. Somebody decided to switch around the Internet in my father’s house, and I’m on the third floor. Needless to say, I don’t really get very good Internet up there. I can watch TV on my computer, but teaching English is another matter entirely.

Speaking of computers, or rather writing of them, my Mac experienced battery issues and so I had to take it for repair. I don’t have a car. This is important in America as nothing is particularly accessible by transport. At least, nothing important. Including the Apple store where I needed to take my Mac. I think in the last week I have single-handedly increased the revenue of Uber by at least 10%. But my Mac decided to give up on me after I had started teaching. And that means after I had scheduled classes. So I had to find another solution while my Mac is in the shop. In true entrepreneurial American style, I went and bought another computer. A refurbished $300 HP laptop. That meant that I had to learn how to use all of my software all over again. Including Manycam which I use for VIPKid and other classes. I have Figured out how to download rewards through Manycam, but I cannot figure out how to take a screenshot on the computer. Nothing works. Not alt plus print screen, not function plus print screen, not alt plus print screen plus function. I am fortunate in that I haven’t had to use it but I really would kind of like to figure out why it doesn’t work. Like Mac, the print screen function is supposed to have the sound of a camera shutter clicking. This computer doesn’t.

By far the most stressful aspect of the trip, is never being sure whether your Internet is going to work enough so that you can teach easily. It’s fine right now when there’s no one in the house except me. It means I’ve been going into the room with the router and connecting via Cable. Jasper and I have tried to work out several solutions. I went and bought a network extender that didn’t. In fact, the extender was so bad that it was worse than actually just teaching from my computer alone. I now have a router that will connect wirelessly to my signal and that I must connect to via cable to use. I’m hoping that is a viable solution for teaching up on the third floor. I really can’t take much more of that stress. In addition, going to Jasper’s house is not much of a solution either. He will literally have no space. There are three bedrooms one for each of the Floor children and their significant others. But also Jasper’s niece and nephew will be camping out in the living room. So there literally is no place to teach. I am up so early that I can’t teach in his parents’ apartment because I will be disrupting them. While it’s not necessarily putting a true strain on Jasper and I, the separation is a bit difficult.

In addition, the timing of lessons means that I can’t really do very much fun stuff with people. And that I’m very tired when I do do it. Thursday marked a return for me to my writers’ group here in Washington. I was very happy to see many old faces and some new ones. But I will say that I felt a little bit like an outsider. It was no longer my group. I think I’ve been away too long. Speaking of writing, I haven’t been doing any. But I was very inspired to go to the group and hear their poems and stories. It put me in the mood to write. If only I weren’t so tired. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to acclimate enough to be able not to be tired in the middle of the day.

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

Tech tension and An Awesome arrival

After a rather bumpy start, the trip to America was fairly uneventful. Of course, I mean that literally. The first hour and a half of the trip was played by a bit of turbulence. Other than that however it was a fairly peaceful trip. I always find the traveling to the United States is easier. I don’t react to jetlagged quite as much and can recover faster. The trip back to Amsterdam is always much more difficult. Nonetheless, I love flying. My personal challenge is always to see how many books I can finish in the eight hour ride. This Wright was three. I was not particularly interested in the movies, though Jasper probably watched about three. I’m not certain though as we don’t sit together because we both like I’ll seats. My time at the airport was not as auspicious. I lost my favorite scarf in the world. Can you tell the title of this post is a little bit facetious?

My arrival at my dads was fine in and of itself. Jet leg however Cosby wake up every morning at 2 o’clock. I’m happy to report that Saturday was a little bit better. I went to bed at nine and woke up at seven. So it took me a little time to recover but not as much as going the other way. I decided to teach on Thursday and open upThree hours to teaching. One and a half of which were booked. I gave two of the classes and I couldn’t hear the students very well at all. I am not sure if it was me or them as I am able to watch Netflix on the lake in my bedroom with not much of a problem. But this does not bode well for the rest of the trip. On Saturday I went to Jasper’s house and managed to teach Sunday and Monday without a problem. But was a little bit stressed out about that as well as Jasper has been having issues well at his parents.

If this is how I’m going to spend the next month here in America it does not bode well for my stress level. As you all know I got a teacher IT on the 22 November when both my Internet and my hotspot went down for 20 minutes. Happy Thanksgiving to me! I’m trying to figure out what options I have as America doesn’t give very much mobile Wi-Fi with pay as you go plans. $85 gives you mobile hotspot usage of 10 GB. In the Netherlands it is illegal to dictate how one uses onesData. I can use my 50 GB of mobile data anyway that I want. Apparently this is not the case in America though I am not certain of the laws. Is it too late to go home to Amsterdam?

The good news from the other side of the pond is that I have a new student in Amsterdam. He is seven and needs help with math and reading. His mom did not bat an eye when I quoted a 45-year-old price tag for my lessons. I am extremely excited about that.

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

Wrimo Wrap Up

The last official Nanowrimo Thursday was a very quiet one. We were Seven people at the table that evening. To say that we were tired would be an understatement. Well, most people. There were a couple people who weren’t tired because of Nanowrimo but because they are students, and her absolutely inundated with work. For me, tired means baseline. I am always tired. I teach online six hours a day plus my extra student switch them out to another two or three hours a week. But on Thursday, there was also quiet determination, and an allusion that hadn’t been there the previous week. Nanowrimo was nearly over. And well most of us went and rebellious, that to takes work.

For me personally, the last official Thursday night meeting in Hernando MO was bittersweet. I leave tomorrow for the United States. I am full of mixed emotions about my trip. I’ll only be gone just over a month but it will feel like forever. I’ve come to enjoy my Thursday night meetings, NY sometimes lenses into the culture here in Holland. But I am also excited. Because I’ll get to see my first DC child, the Washington creative writers club. I am very happy to be able to connect with those riders. I am not sure that I will be able to read out loud but I will do my best.

Going home for me is a conflict always. Last year at this time I went home and did not work. I found that that was too difficult to do and I spent six months panicking about the loss of income. In order to stave off some of that, I am going to work seven days a week but only for three hours a day or so. From about 530 in the morning until nine. That way I can maintain a schedule where I can see people and not have to go to sleep at 6 o’clock in the evening in order to beat up at 2 AM to teach from 3 to 9. I did that in 2017 for four months until I came back to the Netherlands and it was terrible. Going home is also a conflict because I don’t really love home now. I love my family, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t quite feel at home in America. Almost from the incident but I land, I am yearning to come back to the relative normalcy of your app.

Thursday nights meeting was also interesting because as we were wrapping up for the evening for a man came up and asked if we were working English teachers. When he found out that I was, he asked for my card for a friend of his who needs English help. I Gave him my card and hope that he will contact me to set up lessons via Skype, because I can do online until I come back from the states. And then I can switch it to in real life lessons. In my last post I mentioned that I was meeting with a Greek adult who wants English lessons. I met with him on Monday and we contracted to do three in real life sessions until I leave tomorrow. We set up lessons for the next day which was Tuesday, Thursday afternoon, and Monday, 3 December. I gave him the Tuesday listen and we had no problems. On Wednesday he contacted me via WhatsApp to tell me that he was canceling all of the lessons and was moving to Britain for permanent. I was a little disappointed because you all know that I like when my lessons are adults and in person and I don’t need a dog and pony show. But that’s the way the cookie crumble’s I guess.I still have my in real life student on Monday afternoon out in the middle of nowhere in the south of Amsterdam. He is seven years old And goes to the British school. I am looking forward to that and yesterday went and bought a book to see if I can do some level testing. My weekend will be spent preparing for Monday’s lesson. I’m trying to figure out the parking situation as well. I also have a houseguest from Saturday to Monday. Another VIP kid “colleague”. She here is here purely on vacation for two days and I hope that I don’t make her life difficult because I need to teach. She assured me that that would be fine. Another VIP kid “colleague”. She hears hear purely on vacation for two days and I hope that I don’t make her life difficult because I need to teach. She assured me that that would Be fine. I will see you all on the flipside, otherwise known as the United States, where I am sure to report on interesting happenings In teaching, in writing, and from the swamp.

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

Nano Not Really

This past week was a very unproductive one in terms of Nanowrimo. It was only possible to write a little bit in the Thursday night meeting. I got no work done in terms of word count at all beyond that day. And even on Thursday, my account was at 500 words. Why, you ask? Because I was so busy talking about the book project with my friend who is going to illustrate it. We want to have the ideas cemented by the time I leave next week so that I can start writing and she can start drawing. It’ll be an interesting collaboration as it will be mostly on Skype. Actually, it’ll probably all be on Skype. I do feel quite a bit of  Nanoguilt because I haven’t written very much. I don’t know if my readers who are also writers feel the same, but I bet you all know where I’m coming from. It’s so hard to write one something else gets in the way. And for me, there are many somethings that get in the way. They usually happen to be in the United States and there are fires to put out and follow up to do with various things having to do with my family, Over the last week I have gotten not one, but two in real life clients here in the Netherlands.

I start with the first client this afternoon. He is a Greek adult who has no English language level at all and no ability whatsoever. He also has no access to online so we will not be continuing lessons while I am in the United States. I will see the student a total of three times before I leave. I hope he doesn’t forget what I teach him as I’m going to teach him functional language that he needs to get around Amsterdam and get things done, as well as some basic job related “read: kitchen language” material. I think this one will be easier because I have Greek language skills and can communicate in that language to help out.

My second student, however, is a child of Middle Eastern descent who goes to the British school whose English level is a little bit advanced but he has trouble focusing on reading. This will be an interesting conundrum for me because I have not taught someone who has specific reading issues. I am not a teacher, I am an English language teacher. Which you may or may not know, is a horse of a different color entirely. Still, I am very excited by all of these possibilities.

To be honest, my writing has been suffering quite a bit since I started teaching English as a Foreign language. I mean, let’s face it. I am online for most of my day. The last thing that I want to do is turn on the computer and have to create. It is hard enough getting other people to create in a language that is not their own. And after 6 to 7 1/2 hours of teaching, I am almost incoherent with fatigue.

But that’s why I particularly look forward to Thursday night Writers Group. It is my one chance during the week to be able to write uninterrupted and my ideas flow freely and unreservedly. Also helpful, is the social interaction that I get when we go out and, like the great Ernest Hemingway, get our drink on.

Next week’s post might be a lot shorter than normal. I leave for the States on Wednesday and I will be away a month. I will do my best to keep posting once a week like I have been doing since May, but I apologize in advance if I don’t get to it.

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