Paused Potential, Marketing management, and Writing Resume

A happy Valentine’s day to you, dear reader, if you celebrate. I myself do not celebrate the holiday as such, though I am not averse to getting chocolate, of course, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day. It can be a Tuesday. This week at Inkreadable was full of surprises, both in terms of Inkreadable’s potential as well as over at the English Center. I will start as I always do with TEC. I now only have two students with them as both Slava and Isabelle are no longer on my schedule. In Slava’s case, I think this is a permanent happenstance as I don’t think his work is going to pay for more hours for him. In Isabelle’s case, it’s definitely a pause rather than a finish. She is going to come back to me in the spring and we are going to resume our private lessons, but also there is a potential for an in-company from her as well, as she actually has several coworkers who would like to take lessons. And of course, she wants me to be the teacher. It’s always nice when loyalty is exhibited by your students. That certainly doesn’t happen when you work for a school. The school is going to be loyal to its bottom line. It’s one of the reasons that I want to do my own thing without the middleman.

Remember how I once said that there was no real English language emergency? It seems, dear reader, that I was wrong and that there are many. The latest one from the English Center is a woman who wants to do conversation lessons in preparation for her English-speaking boyfriend, who is coming to stay with her in The Netherlands. She is a Polish woman who comingles Dutch and English in her sentences. There’s very little preparation to be done. Sounds like a great gig, right? But there’s a catch: it’s in The Hague and while the English Center will pay for the commute, they do not pay for time. And that is three hours of potential teaching income lost. I told you it wasn’t such a great deal. But as it is, I took 7 of the hours because I have the time and I might as well. Hopefully, I can put my excellent time management skills to use and do some lesson planning on the trains. It’s the first time that I haven’t actually done any preparation for a lesson. I was with Kerry from TEC on Friday and it was she who told me that there wasn’t much preparation needed. I decided to try and engage her with our shared Polish history or at least I’m going to play it that way. Because you and I both know, dear reader, that my Polish roots are second-generation and that I don’t know very much about that side of my family. It was amazingly easy and starting with my polish roots worked wonders. I think I made a friend and not just a student. I also started Heleen, who is the replacement for my client Marco Verbeek and his partner Loekie who I never even taught. . There was an instant connection and I was able to always give her advice related to music and her accent reduction with regard to singing and the like. So I think that is going to be a very good client for me. While I don’t think that she is going to continue with me as these lessons were free to her and I don’t think she can afford more, I will at least be able to keep in touch with her. I had my second lesson with my Brazilian client, and I get the feeling that he too is quite happy with his lessons. He is quite advanced when speaking and doesn’t make many mistakes but I have to be careful because we have a tendency to get sidetracked.

I finally heard back from Fuse, the digital marketing firm in Greece, and they have given me a proposal for marketing which is not too terrible. They want €120 a month for about ten search terms. My next step is to figure out how to get my website translated so that the terms appear when people search for them. You all know how I feel about SEO marketing. I’m not actually that experienced and I find it quite difficult. We will have to see how it all works because I’ve noticed that they don’t have business English as some of the search terms and that is the market that I really like. I got together with a friend for dinner over the weekend and she was also an English teacher though she is now out of the industry. She was telling me that it was ok that my search terms include the search terms for primary school kids because that’s where the money is for English. If you can get 5 or 6 parents you are all set. I am pleased with the direction and the vibe that I’m getting from digital marketing and generally how I’m feeling about striking out more firmly on my own.

It was a good week for writing as well, as I got quite a bit done in the riders group on Thursday. I’ve also had a lot of interest in the writer’s group from new people and that is always good. I have somewhat resigned myself that I am not one of those writers who can write 2000 words in 3 hours like many of the writers that I sit with on Thursday nights but I’m also ok with that.

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

Calm Crossing, Jetlag Jinx, Advertising Anomalies and Flu Felled

Greetings, dear reader, from Amsterdam. The flight back was uneventful, though neither Jasper nor I were able to sleep at all. That is not unusual for either of us as neither of us is able to sleep in planes. I managed to watch a movie and spent the rest of the flight reading. The only problem with the flight was that I lost a brand new battery pack and as of this writing have not heard whether it was found. It’s a little annoying because I spent good money on it. I also lost a charger but I was able to replace that quite quickly on Sunday.

Maybe it’s the fact that we hadn’t traveled for 2 years, but I felt that the jet lag was quite a bit worse this time than previous times coming back from the States. Generally, I can get back into the swing of things in about 3 days but this time that was not to be. On Sunday we ran a couple of errands and I noticed that I was very foggy through most of Sunday. If this is going to be a recurring theme for travel then maybe travel is no longer for me. Jet lag really is the pits.

My last week in the States was pretty uneventful. I hung out with my sister quite a lot and managed to get some things done for my dad which was good. I didn’t do much teaching that last week. I had Odhran, Shinwei, and Isabelle for the English Center. My schedule was full of doctors’ appointments both the dentist and the eye doctor but I had to cancel them as I was felled by the flu. And it wasn’t just me. One of the other teachers at The English Center was also likewise sick. There’s apparently something going around. Sunday into Monday I had a fever of 40 and really was not doing very well yesterday. I did manage to write this blog post, however. The only other thing of interest for the week was that I registered with Google to start advertising Inkreadable to see if I can get some interest and new students. I have decided that I’m going to invest in my business a little bit more this year and see if that helps. It was interesting though because I made the ad and then was promptly put into Google ads jail for unacceptable business practices. I’m not sure what that meant but I did get a chance to resolve it though it took about a day and a half. Since then I haven’t done anything in terms of advertising because I’ve been too sick.

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

Admin Anxiety and Book Brouhaha

First of all, dear readers, Happy New Year! Let’s hope that 2023 is a better year than either 2022 or 2021. That is not to say that 2021 was terrible as we all started traveling again, but it became apparent that after 2 years of the pandemic many things have changed. I speak, of course of, the difficulties that most people have had traveling. Or going to a restaurant. We might have a labor shortage in the Netherlands but it seems that the industries that suffered the most, are travel and hospitality for obvious reasons. What’s interesting is that we still have a labor shortage in both the Netherlands and the US. But enough about that. The week in the run-up to New Year’s was quite quiet, I had finished up most of my stuff on Friday fully expecting that there would be a quiet weekend ahead with family. And there was. Mostly. I went to see my sisters and I spent the night with my sister Alex and her kids at my dad’s house on New Year’s Eve. Of course, we did not manage to see the new year in as we were all asleep. Alex by about 8:00 and myself about 9:00 30 or 10:00. On New Year’s Day that meant that we woke up well refreshed for a journey to the outlets which is fast becoming a tradition for my sister and me. Our mom is buried in a cemetery close by and so while I myself did not go to the cemetery we have decided that that might be a nice tradition to institute. Say hi to Mom and then go to the outlets. Though I am a little bit conflicted about all of that because going to visit someone at a cemetery really isn’t such a wonderful thing to me. But it’s not about me.

Still, as nice as the family time was, there were things that were left hanging over the weekend partially because I was waiting to hear from teachers and not expecting to hear from them over the New Year’s holiday. So I wasn’t as responsive as I could have been to certain emails. The upshot was that I received two emails in a row from a student who was very uncertain about whether I received her emails. I managed to wake up quite early and send her the email on Sunday. Yesterday I woke up to an ocean of constructive criticism, (or maybe it was just criticism) that I shouldn’t have said as much in the email as I did. Oh well, live and learn. The scheduling SNAFUS continued throughout Monday morning. In addition to sending an email with too much information, I had to try and coordinate switching out a class for a teacher who is sharing the student with another teacher. That was a flurry of emails but I am hopeful that this will resolve after this post publishes. Working six hours behind the Netherlands is not always that easy.

By far the most stressful incident of the week was trying to make sure that a particular class had books. Here’s the situation: back in December I ordered 17 books for a class that takes place on Monday evenings. I had ordered six copies to be delivered within a week, and 11 to follow at a later date. While I was in the Netherlands we had some trouble getting the books from the bookstore to the location because of address problems. Once we finally sorted that out the books were supposed to get there the following day. I think this was a bit before the holidays even started. Thinking that everything was okay I assured the people waiting for the book that they would be there the following day. Only to wake up yesterday morning saying the books had not arrived at the location at all. And then saw a subsequent email that they had arrived. Once again I thought that everything was on track. Only to receive a text at 12:00 p.m my time yesterday from the teacher saying that they didn’t have the books at the location where she teaches. So I had to contact the person who actually delivered the books to the location and ask where they went. She told me who picked them up and where they potentially are in the building. I related the information to the teacher, who let me know at 17:00 that the books had indeed been found.

But the above fracas caused me no small end of anxiety so I sent an email to the bookstore that we work with for large orders to make sure that the large orders that still remain including the 11 books expected for the class above, as well as 10 books that are expected for a course that will run in January, are on the radar of the bookstore and myself. I even took the precaution to contact the owner of The English Center to make sure that she received the two books that she ordered some weeks back. Thankfully, she had. Is it any wonder that I spent most of Monday panicking? So much so that I was not able to finish most of the tasks that I had set for myself, including lesson planning, my own admin work, and this blog post.

In terms of students for the week, I am only seeing Isabelle, Shinwei, and Odhran. All of whom are pretty easy to prepare for. In fact, my prep for both Isabelle and Odhran is complete. Shinwei is not yet complete but I’m doing a little bit of research about photography and the terms associated with it so it’s taking me a little longer than I thought to prepare. I also contacted my English Center pronunciation student Roy to see if we could schedule our last lesson but I have not heard anything as of this writing. All in all, I think I need to work on not being so anxious when things don’t work out as easily as I need them to.

The Writer’s group is once again on hiatus on the 5th as neither Mark my co-organizer nor I can attend the meeting. We have let everybody know that they’re welcome to meet but there will be no admins and there will be no new people day after tomorrow. Things will go back to normal once both Mark and I are able to attend meetings.

That’s All She Wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Teaching Tempered and Holiday Hiatus

It’s been a very quiet week here at Inkreadable with zero teaching. I have only been doing administrative work for The English Center the whole week and since Jasper and I are maintaining Dutch hours, has been a bit of a challenge. I have been waking up with more and more difficulty around 5:00 a.m. and working from about 6 to 10:00 in the morning US time. The most challenging thing about that is not being able to schedule students as easily with teachers not available to work during the holidays.

In terms of classes, I do have Greek with Odhran and I have Isabelle at The English Center. This schedule is probably going to include Shinwei towards the end of my trip as he is on vacation at the moment. But h will be easy as we can just talk about his trip and his thoughts on Germany and the places he has visited. For me, the holidays falling on a Sunday are great as I would feel guilty about not working if they fell on a weekday. Of course, I also feel guilty not working on a weekend or holiday, but that is remaining PTSD from VIPKid days.

The writers’ group both on Thursday and on Sunday is right now on Hiatus until the beginning of the year. I will not attend the writers’ group until the 12th of January and I think this will be the longest time that I have been away from them. I did not realize how difficult that would be but it also feels like time is passing very quickly and I will be back in the swing of things in no time.

I am sorry my post is a little bit short this time but I don’t really have much to report as I’m not doing much anyway. As ever, thanks for reading my blog. I wish you and your families the best of the holiday season.

That’s All She Wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Covid Conscious Crossing and Fond Farewells

Greetings, dear reader, from the US. We arrived yesterday afternoon and it’s been a flurry of trying to settle in and get acclimated to the timezone. The first is actually pretty easy but getting accustomed to the timezone is a little bit more difficult. Not to mention being back in the States. For Jasper is a vacation but for me, it’s mostly trying to finish up problems that as yet remain. One of the things I’m here to do this time is pick up my Christmas ornaments and ship them to Crete to my sister so she can have them. I also want to go through my books which are at a friend’s house and consolidate them into something that I can take with me or at least get rid of. These types of things really do stress me out, because instead of having nothing to do there is a bunch of stress. The flight was uneventful, but the world seems to have forgotten that we’re still in a pandemic. When I travelled to Greece a couple of weeks back I did not wear a mask, figuring 2 hours and 15 minutes was a reasonable risk to take not to mention the 35-minute flight to Crete. But I’m not so sanguine about being on a plane for 8 hours and 40 minutes. That is too much of a risk so Jasper and I have decided that we will both wear masks for most of the flight. So I’m not looking forward to it, but better safe than sorry as we are going to visit older people and who wants to get them sick. Even though we’ve both been fully vaccinated. The week leading up to the trip was quite full of events and English Center work. And it’s not as though I won’t see some of my students while I’m away.

In fact, the only students that I won’t see at all during the vacation, are George and Jerry because the timing is too difficult as I don’t want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning and luckily Christmas and New Year’s Eve are both on Sundays this year. So I went ahead and canceled with their mom before I left for the States. Apparently, this was just as well because they are having exams over the Western Christmas holiday. So I did offer that if they needed help with something for the exam I could be available via WeChat. I think that is the most humane thing to do both in terms of time and in terms of getting them help if they need it. But I suspect they won’t need it at all because these two kids are quite good at English.

The week leading up to my trip was full of fond farewells to friends, lots of FOMO with missed writers’ groups, and even some fond farewells to my students. I had originally thought that I would have to teach Yana on Saturday but it turned out that she was going to Germany so I had to find a sub for her final lesson. Luckily my colleague Emily stepped up and Yana’s lessons have been scheduled. She will finish her package on the 17th of December which is just time enough as she is flying home to Russia on Christmas Day. So on Wednesday evening this past week, we had our final lesson about idioms and bid each other a nice farewell with promises to remain in touch and maybe go have a coffee in the new year. I find it a satisfactory ending to a class. My pronunciation student Roy was sick this week and so we did not get to have his final in-person lesson. It remains to be seen what will happen once I get back but it’s up to him whether he wants a remote lesson or an in-person lesson. This Final one should be in person but he is a quite copacetic person and would not have a problem going remote. Slava and I will pick back up for lessons for the final 3 2 hour lessons when I come back we should take us to February. comes back on my schedule when I am back as well.

There may even be some new students on the horizon but even though I have sent emails I have not heard anything from them. I received an email from a woman who wants lessons for her kids, but I have sent several emails and not heard anything from her. I sent her several emails and that’s how I fugured out my website and my email were down. I have had a call into the person who hosts my website me but he hasn’t responded as yet. It’s a little bit annoying. I have another student that will start in January and she wants about 68 hours. We’ll start when I get back in January and we will have to finish by the end of June 2023 as that’s what her company expects.

The Writers group was really badly attended this week on Thursday with only two people meeting and of course, the Sunday meeting online has a few people but let’s hope it gets back to normal levels post-holiday season. We have decided to suspend the group after the meeting this Thursday. And we will meet back up on the 3rd of January.

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

Modals Mania and Crete Confusion

Greetings from sunny, warmish Crete, dear reader, but before I get to the whys and wherefore of that, a teaching update. As you might imagine, it was a very difficult couple of weeks here at Inkreadable. I say a couple of weeks because even though I did a blog post last week, I could not talk about everything that was going on in terms of teaching because it was directly connected to the reason I’m actually in Crete. A couple of weeks ago, my dad offered me a ticket so that both of us could come and surprise my sister here in Crete for Thanksgiving. After talking to The English Center and agreeing that I could go because I could work from there, I decided to buy the ticket. The past couple of weeks were spent trying to shift everybody off my schedule.

Almost everybody on my schedule was okay in terms of switching lessons or not having lessons at all but Yana, my consulting student is very particular about what she wanted and did not want to have too long of a break between lessons. The last time I saw Yana was on the 5th of November. I was supposed to see her on the 13th, but she was sick, and then she had a commitment on the 19th. On the 26th I was going to Greece and so I was trying to figure out how to get her scheduled. Originally I was going to give her up to another teacher, but nobody wants to work on Saturdays. I also don’t want to work on Saturdays but I will sometimes make exceptions if it’s a consistent enough package. Or if they have nobody else. It was damnably difficult, trying to find someone to take her lessons permanently. I was getting so fed up with the back-and-forth and the emails, and the fact that she just wasn’t flexible that I wanted to give her up completely money be damned. But alas, it was not to be, and I had to find someone to substitute instead. It happened like this, dear reader. Yana and I started our package in October, and we had three lessons completed by the 5th of November. There were five lessons to go. Because Yana wanted to complete our lessons before I left, I offered a Wednesday evening as well as a Thursday. So as it stands, we now have lessons scheduled on the 1st of December, the 4th of December, the 7th of December, and the 10th of December. In addition to these changes, however, I also had to switch out Thursday, the 8th of December to teach Isabelle instead of going to Writers Group. This makes me kind of sad because my Writers Group is important to me, and I do not like to teach on Thursdays. And now I find myself having to teach on both Thursdays before I leave for the US.

To say that I am annoyed is an understatement. I also had to move all of my private clients off my schedule while I’m in Crete because it was a little too difficult to teach. The kids are everywhere. or at least that is the excuse that I am using to justify not doing any teaching at all. Luckily, my private clients are a lot nicer and a lot less difficult than my English Centre clients. Or at least a lot less difficult than Yana, who by the way is all sweetness and light when you meet her in person. Or at least a lot less difficult than Yana. I suppose she’s not so very different from everybody else, I guess. Since my sister reads my blog, you might imagine that all of the shenanigans were very difficult, and trying not to talk about it in the context of my post last week was very taxing. It made posting in chronological order very difficult.

But at last, everything was organized in terms of scheduling. What was a little harder to organize was homework correction. You see, dear reader,  Yana sent me some homework via WhatsApp that I had asked her to do and it took me about two hours to correct. Based on the corrections, however, what I noticed, and she did as well, is that she struggles with using the past participle in conjunction with the modal verbs as well as the difference between used to and used to be. So I spent yesterday and today trying to figure out how to teach her that. Luckily, I have a bit of time to kind of make a lesson and figure things out since I’m going to be on planes tomorrow and have a very long layover in Athens. But she, like Claudia a year ago, is my current most challenging student. I am looking forward to not having to stress about her lessons after the 10th of December. I will always be available for her if she has questions about writing reports and such but I think she is going to be one of those students that I’m happy to not have to plan lessons for.

So now dear reader, we come to the crux of Crete confusion. With my ticket sorted and my classes somewhat sorted, I was able to go to the airport this past Wednesday with very little stress.I was initially worried that I would have trouble at security, but it took about, an hour into being at the airport. I was seated at the gate, connected my laptop to Wi-Fi, and working. Once I got to Athens, everything changed. The Athens airport Wi-Fi is a little bit better than it was the last time I was at the airport, but I was still only able to work for about an hour without interruption before it got too difficult. The B level of the airport is not particularly wonderful and there isn’t much to do. so I spent a very boring few hours, never realizing that I could’ve actually gone upstairs and hung out in a much more cozy area of the airport, more fool me. Not being able to work and not feeling like reading at the moment, I gave my dad a call. His response to the call was strange as he said “looking forward to seeing you I have so much to tell you.“ I thought it was a very strange response, but I thought it had to do with his business or something from home that he remembered and wanted to talk to me about it. Never ever did I assume that it was about the surprise.  I got on the plane and had an enjoyable half-hour flight to Crete on a Brand-new airline sky express. Once I landed in Crete and had gotten my bags which went very smoothly, I called Jasper to let him know that I had arrived. I wasn’t sure if anybody was coming to pick me up at the airport but as I was talking to Jasper I saw my dad outside in the visitor pickup area.   and said okay I got a go and I went to meet my dad and that is when the proverbial surprise shit hit the fan. You see my sister had found out about the whole surprise through a comedy of errors, that was quite ridiculous in scope. What happened, dear reader, was this. Apparently, a friend of Alex’s had seen my father on the plane in the morning from Athens to Chania and asked her if my dad was on the flight. My sister said no, and it would’ve been fine if the friend then hadn’t sent her a picture of my dad on the plane and said “yes, he is on the flight and he’s surprising you but does tell him because it will ruin the surprise”. Foolish, foolish friend. Rather an idiot actually. They could’ve just said no, it wasn’t your dad and that would’ve been the end of the matter and the surprise we have proceeded as normal. but no. My sister was tired of waiting for my dad throughout the day and so she went to his house to surprise him. She woke him up in fact, and he was so out of it, that he said “where is Tina”. Thereby ruining the surprise for even me. Anyway, I get to the airport and there is my dad. As I have very bad peripheral vision on the right I don’t see my sister until she jumps in front of me. To which I responded. Nope. Nope. Nope nope. nope go away. This was supposed to be a surprise from me to you. I was so annoyed.  To which my sister said just give me a hug so that people don’t think that you hate me. But all is well that ends well, in this instance, but the moral of the story is when you try to surprise, someone don’t do it for someone who is so famous on the island of Crete that everybody knows her.

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

Inkreadable Intensives, Library Love and a Plotting Powerhouse

The week began dear reader, on a note of extreme fatigue. I had forgotten how tired one can get when they are teaching for 6 hours straight as in the halcyon days of VIPKid. Teaching for two-and-a-half hours beyond that turned me into a bumbling idiot at the end of the day. So much so, that when I went to change, I asked Jasper for help with a zipper only to have him tell me “but there was no zipper on the back of your dress”. Such was the level of my exhaustion. Now imagine that was only the last 7 hours of a 21-hour intensive of which I only did 14. I don’t even remember how I got home that Tuesday evening. I certainly don’t remember how I got home without being killed by some bike somewhere. The location I was at is only a 17-minute walk from my house but I don’t remember any of that 17 minutes. I started the second set of intensives yesterday where I am teaching 25 hours of the 32-hour course. I am quite happy to be working with the teacher that I worked with on the last intensive. We work quite well together and are able to complement each other’s teaching styles as we have much the same thought process when it comes to learning. While Laurien was a fairly advanced student, we did not know the student’s level for the next intensive that started yesterday. From the intake that she did, it was apparent that she was quite a low level in English and so that’s how we planned. It’s a very nerve-wracking way to plan not having enough information because you’re always dealing with the problem that you might not have enough material for the student. I planned all four of my days for the week over the weekend. The only day of the intensive that I didn’t when was the final day =, which is next Monday figuring that I would be able to plan that over the following weekend. I thought about it in terms of things she needs to know. She is a stylist and is competing in some master class competitions here in the Netherlands and Italy. I designed the course to follow a vocabulary book and then supplement it with other materials. The plan is to get her to talk about herself, to get her to use some verbs that are common in speaking, to get her comfortable with describing other people, as well as talk about her job. Marike and I went over the plan on Sunday evening and she agreed that it was a good idea and then she would give the student a base of phrasal verbs, idioms, and collocations. Which I think worked out quite well. I had to call the English Center and the owner commented about all the hours I am working. I am not sure whether I should take that negatively or not. Still, I’m grateful for the paycheck. I really like Intensives even though they make me tired and I sometimes doubt their efficacy. Maybe the point of an intensive is just to get you speaking in English for enough time that you get comfortable with it whether or not you get the grammar or teaching points in the day.

Late on Sunday evening, I got an email from another of my students asking to change our Tuesday afternoon lesson because it was going to be too hot. I got the message at 10:30 in the evening and felt very guilty texting the English Center so late but I was afraid that they would not be able to cancel the room on Monday. Technically, my student sent me the email within the 48-hour notice window that The English Center requires for their cancellation. If the student cancels it’s a lost lesson to the student and the teacher doesn’t get paid. I do not like the policy and so I am always willing to reschedule but the issue is will we have access to a room. In this case, I was able to cancel the room. I emailed my student to let them know and suggest an alternative time to meet. We went back and forth as I wanted to meet on Monday and Tuesday of next week, but she requested Thursday. I never work on Thursday evenings, dear reader. That’s writer’s group time and is sacred. We agreed to move the last lesson in the package to after she comes back from a summer break in Turkiye, so All’s Well That Ends Well. But trying to match up the time and accommodate everyone is a bit of a juggling act. As the teacher, you have to coordinate with English Center and with the student. Sometimes, I find that to be quite difficult. In more positive events, Yuka and I liked the library in Amstelveen much better than we like teaching over at the English Center. It’s a little closer to town for one and is a transport Hub as well. So with Dutch transport being as unpredictable as it is right now with roadworks seemingly on every system, I think the library is a better bet for both of us, especially since she lives right on the same square as the library complex. The other nice thing about the complex is that there’s a shopping mall and so there is something to d if I am early.

The Thursday night writing group has been a bit torturous for me because I’m not really writing as much as I am trying to figure out whether I have filled in all the various plot holes that I feel that I have in the novel. We have been planning to meet in real life on a Saturday but because I couldn’t this Saturday I asked if we could meet on Sunday. This we did and we were planning to meet at the location that we normally meet at which is somewhere near Amsterdam Central Station. As I was walking there, there was a flurry of texts asking if we could meet instead in a cafe in my neighborhood. I was grateful for the change as I hadn’t started walking yet. We met and instead of doing any writing, I actually started plotting the novel out chapter by chapter, in addition, I started figuring out plot points for a future book in the series. I was able to do the first five chapters of the novel and so it was quite a productive day. I even feel like I can do that outside of the reading group itself. This, dear reader, is a big deal for me because for a long time I have felt that I can only deal with my novel when I’m actually in the writer’s group. It’s nice to feel like I can go to a cafe and just sit to work on my own. It also helps that I got a letter from a friend in the States who also misses our writing sessions and her letter is galvanizing me to get to work again. Ceridwen, I promise I’ll answer the weather this time.

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

Class Conclusions and Writing Recess

Greetings, dear reader, from sunny Grease. The lead-up to leaving for Greece was a little bit hectic with classes that I was trying to finish up before I left. I finished up my classes with the Palestinian girls on Wednesday before I left, and I’ve got to say that it was really difficult. You wouldn’t think that 15-minutes makes a difference for either job but in fact, I had a really hard time teaching them for a total of 2 hours. They are going to continue with me in August and while I’m not really happy about it, I need the work. . Their father asked me for a progress report after each class. For the last progress report, I also contacted him via WhatsApp and sent him a message saying that it would be helpful if they practiced their English outside of our lessons otherwise nothing is going to stick. We will see what happens with that. I also finished with Galini, but as with ShinWei, she and I are going to keep in touch so I will likely see her in different situations. In wonderful news from the English Center, I will be teaching an intensive in July. The total intensive is 21 hours which I will be teaching 14. I will be teaching with my friend and colleague Marike who used to be the scheduler for the English Center but now is just teaching for them. We have decided that we will meet by Zoom on Monday after I come back to talk about how best to approach teaching the intensive. And this will include assigning homework before the class even begins.

In my private client world, I am completely on hiatus from my Chinese client though I have contacted her to see if she is nervous about her upcoming teaching competition. A’s not so much a hiatus as it is a vacation. We will take a week off. I did not want to have to teach as they are frequently rolling brownouts on Crete to conserve electricity. There is nothing worse than trying to teach and having the electricity go out. It’s the same deal with George and Jerry, and Odhran in Ireland. I simply did not want to take the chance that there would be a lack of power to be able to teach and frankly, it’s nice enough that I don’t want to stay in the hotel room teaching when I could be outside.

In terms of writing, I have a little bit more flexibility with writing my own stuff while in Greece because theoretically, I could do it if I wanted to. The problem is I just don’t want to. While in Greece, I was keeping abreast of what was happening in Amsterdam via the WhatsApp group. We have some members who meet on Sundays via discord. I do not have time for this one as I already have Sunday commitments and I don’t feel like being online. Since Sunday is usually a work day that is absolutely fine. I am very happy when my group meets in person on a Saturday because then I can also meet.

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

Computer Kaput, Floriade Fun, and Complicated Classes

Well, dear reader, it happened once again. I’m not sure if you remember from my US posts in February but just before I left my computer died and I did not have enough time to fix it in the States. Once I got back to the Netherlands, the repair was scheduled, and I got a new motherboard. palm rest, and audio jack. In essence, a new computer. Everything was fine until Friday. At least I thought it was. On Friday, I went to teach my penultimate class with Harumi in Amstelveen. I didn’t use my computer with her as we did conversation and a bit of grammar that didn’t require the computer. Once I got back home, I had a bunch of time to kill before I had to pick up a friend from the train station and so I thought I would get some work done. I went to turn on my computer and nothing happened. There were blue lights on my cooling laptop stand and the backlight remained lit, so I knew that the computer was receiving power but it wouldn’t turn either on or off. I managed to get it to turn off and then never got it working again. This is the third time that I have had a problem with my Dell in two years. But this is also why I got the super expensive repair package. Basically, with my warranty, Dell has to come to me no matter what happens to my computer. I called tech support and spent 20-minutes on the phone explaining what was going on and they diagnose a bad motherboard. At this point I think I should be getting a fully new computer, as I’m convinced they’re using old or bad parts. They would have been able to get to me on Saturday but unfortunately I was not going to be home as Jasper and I and some friends went to see the 2022 Floriade Expo which is to horticulture what the world’s fair was to technology. It only happens every 10 years in the Netherlands is definitely worth it.

When I first started working for Vipkid, I started a Facebook group for teachers working for the company in the European Union. That Facebook group grew to about 870 people. In that time, I had hosted several teachers to stay at my house and slowly got to know a bunch of teachers in person. During the pandemic, I formed an additional group of teachers who meet every Sunday evening from about 8 just to catch up. One of those teachers came to visit me and especially to see Floriade. So we met up with a couple of other teachers who live in the Netherlands. who are also part of the Sunday group. I didn’t take a lot of pictures figuring that I would go back and there would be plenty of time to take pictures. Below are a few of the pictures of the flowers near the Chinese and Indian Pavilions.


Teaching has proven to be quite difficult since my computer’s not working. I do not like being on my backup because it really is much worse in terms of the screen then the one that I normally use. My girls in Palestine continue to be a challenge. I got some great tips from a teacher at the English Center regarding the British Council and their websites for children and teens. I kind of had to wing it with the younger of the two girls and see if she could handle the lessons. The kids lessons were too easy for and I suspect the teen lessons are going to be too difficult but I will try to make a lesson for Wednesday and see how it works. The plan is to do the thing with her sister and maybe only focus on the exercises for teenagers. I also have a new student starting this week and she is business English client who needs help with writing. I wrote her an email asking her for a writing sample, but as of the writing have not gotten anything. I’m going to have to do my own intake with her even though she’s done an hour-long intake with the English Center. It’s always this way with a new student. You don’t quite know what to prepare and just have that the lesson you do prep matches what the student wants.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. 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