Ludicrous Lockdown

The week, dear reader, started out well enough, with me being quite busy just managing to keep to my time management schedule. By Wednesday of last week I had planned half of the lessons for the week and by Saturday was completely done. And that included the two-hour lesson for Mohamed in The Hague. But really, that was for the best as there wasn’t anything to do. On Friday night, the Dutch government announced a new lockdown that started on Saturday and will continue for three weeks. At that time there had been no word from the English center as to whether we would be holding lessons. I took the precaution of moving what lessons I could online.

ShinWei was easy because he and I sometimes meet at a café but the cafés here are all closing at either 6 o’clock or 8 o’clock depending on whether they are considered essential or not. Rather than taking the chance, on Saturday, I contacted him on WhatsApp and we agreed to move online for the duration. It’s a pity because we were planning on going to a Chinese restaurant where I would get to sample some authentic delicacies that I might not otherwise try if I wasn’t with someone who was native to the cuisine. With my lesson planning done by 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, all that was left to do was read a book and chill out. At least until I had to go to a birthday party.

While I did not stay long at the birthday party, I wanted to go and see if the balloons that I had ordered looked amazing. My friend had asked for a large number balloon delivery. So I contacted our mutual friends and we went in on a group and we bought her 33 balloons, one for each year of her life. She loved it. While it was a surprise, I had asked her straight out what she wanted and that’s what she told me. She had ordered balloons for other people but had never received them herself. So that’s exactly what I did.

This lockdown makes me angry. I am angry because this lockdown did not have to be a lockdown. If people had followed directions and maintained social distancing, and worn masks instead of acting as if the pandemic had never happened, we would not then have 16,000 cases in one day in the Netherlands from Wednesday into Thursday. I am angry at the government that there was no foresight taken for people who did not vaccinate. For the last few months, it’s been a free-for-all in terms of access. While it’s true that you have to show a QR code for vaccination status, apparently people have been showing fake QR codes. And that is insane.

I fully agree with people making the choice not to vaccinate. But then they should have to deal with the consequences of not being vaccinated. In Germany, they have started stricter measures called 2G, But those measures are still being debated by the government here in the Netherlands. With some major family trouble in the states, Jasper and my travel plans are up in the air. You see, I may have to go to America at a moment’s notice because a family member is ill. Terminally so. So the plan for the next few weeks is to do as little as possible in person. I will still have to go to the shops as Jasper shouldn’t. But most social activities will be online, and any in-person social activities will happen both distanced and outside.

I have also decided in conjunction with Mark that it’s best if we take the writers group online for the moment. We still have some people who are not vaccinated and Jasper has asked me not to have people who are unvaccinated in the house. It’s a small enough ask that I am happy to comply with. Still, it makes me sad that all of this could’ve been avoided if people had just thought about anyone other than themselves. After all, it’s just a small jab and will protect you in the long run. While I do believe that you have the right to make any choice that you wish for your body, you also have to deal with the consequences when it doesn’t conform to the rest of society. I just wish having complied with the rules, I didn’t now have to pay for other people’s stupidity.

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

Planning Problems

It is unusual for me, dear reader, to have a single title for a blog post. But this week at Inkreadable, was nothing more than an epic fail in time management. I had 10 hours of lessons with the English Center this week, and generally I am pretty good about planning the whole week and sometimes even a couple of weeks in advance. But this week proved a little bit difficult as my friend Stella was staying with me. Don’t get me wrong. She is the easiest of visitors. She was quite content to stay in her room and do some learning. So I didn’t really have to commit too much. I did manage to take her out a couple of times during the week, but that was also about taking myself out. What that meant for lesson planning was less time, however. The previous weekend I had been pretty good about planning and I planned through Tuesday of last week. And then the weekend just got away from me and I couldn’t do any more planning. As a result, I found myself rushing on Tuesday night for Wednesday, which bled into planning on Wednesday for Thursday and on Thursday for Friday. Thursday into Friday wasn’t so bad because my student planned the whole lesson herself. She had some objectives and brought articles and a presentation that she is making. But the rest of the week taught me a lesson. Lesson planning on the weekend is a must. No matter what I am doing. And if that means saying no to friends for coffee and staying home for the weekend, that’s what’s going to have to be done.

This past weekend was a little bit better as I sat down on Saturday and planned almost the whole week. This past weekend was a little bit better as I sat down on Saturday and planned almost the whole week. I stopped planning for the night at about 5 o’clock. At that point, I had gotten Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday completely planned. That left two lessons on Wednesday to plan for and two lessons on Friday. Which meant that I was able to go do one thing fun on Sunday morning. And no, that was not a trip to the gym. I have not managed to do that in a few days and it does take a toll on my mental health. The reasons for that are twofold, planning as you have seen, but also the rules in the Netherlands changed with regard to Covid. And I was waiting to see what the changes would be before I actually went to the gym. Luckily by Monday I had sorted myself out and was able to go on yesterday morning.

By far the most time-consuming planning of the week was for The Conversation Playground. The plan for later today is to do a game called “Cross the river” where I put down cards with different verbs on them and the kids have to try and make a sentence to get to the next Card. The kid who does it first is the winner. Needless to say, writing verbs on cards took a lot of time. The second game took even more time. We are going to play what is called articulate in British English but taboo in the US. That is an extremely fun game where you have to describe a word that you see on a card without using the actual word. I am going to keep this more simplified format with the kids because I don’t think they can handle how we actually play the game. The real taboo has a word on a card and five words that you cannot use to describe that word. I think this is too much for the kids at the school because their level isn’t high enough. So this was my compromise. Just get them talking.

I have four lessons left with Claudia and two lessons left with Ellemieke. I get the distinct feeling that neither of them is going to continue. With Claudia that is OK because her English is so advanced that my planning struggles are quite acute with her. I’m simply running out of things to teach her. So what I have found is some IELTS Academic description work on graphs as that’s what we’ve been working on through her package. But that takes about 30 minutes of the class and then we end up talking for the last 30 minutes. When I first got Claudia as a student I was really intimidated because she has no cancellation policy and can basically change her schedule anytime she wants. I also found what she wanted to learn a little bit difficult to teach. But we hit our stride and it’s been a great 14 hours. I’m a little sad to only have 4 hours left with her. I will also be sad to lose Ellemieke, And in my heart of hearts, I hope that she decides to take some more lessons. I did let her know that we had two more lessons left in the package so she has some time to decide. ShinWei has decided that he wants to take 10 more hours of lessons with me. We will have to see how that works out because there’s a possibility that he will go to California for a project. That means he’ll be nine hours behind me and so timing is going to be difficult if he actually goes.

I start with two new students this coming week. I find myself in Amstelveen on Wednesdays for my fashion student and a new Japanese couple who want an introductory lesson before we actually start the 20-hour package. I’m not reLLY happy to be in Amstelveen but it’s money. And as I’ve said before, self-employment is all about the hustle. If I can keep my time management steady over the weekends, then I shouldn’t have a problem doing other fun things. You’ll notice, dear reader, that my time management does not actually have a slot booked in for the gym. One of the reasons is because it changes, Also because between private clients and English Center, I’m working about 20 hours a week. Right now, I’m just looking at each day and seeing if I can feet a gym session in. Fingers crossed.

The writer’s group met at my house on Thursday and we had a new member join us and pepper us with questions about our processes. While it was distracting and we got less writing than usual done, I enjoyed hearing about my fellow members’ processes. And bonus, Stella enjoyed the actual process of writing in a group as well. I was pleased with the results of the writers’ group as I got some interesting ideas about how to keep the writing flowing.

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

Pronunciation powerhouse, daunting dilemmas, and writing wrangling

It’s been a decent week at Inkreadable. For the rest of my teaching friends, it’s been an emotional week because they have had to say goodbye to students that they have been teaching for years. You see, this is the last week that teachers could book for the final week of VIPKid, at least with the kids. That’s right, a definite shut down date has been given and it is 5 November. Because I haven’t been involved with VIPKid for over two months, I don’t feel the same anxiety. I could frankly care less. I have the WeChat accounts of the ones that I have a relationship with and that is enough for me. What has changed for me, is that my availability for the English Center has increased. And while I am not working the 20 hours a week that I would need to feel secure in Amsterdam, I am doing that between English Center and my private clients.

Over at English Center, I have one Greek girl that you know about, Eleni with whom I am working on pronunciation. And tomorrow I will have a second student for pronunciation. This one is Dutch. So it’ll be interesting to see and compare what kind of mistakes Dutch people make versus Greek people. I already know of one. The TH sound in Dutch is pronounced like a hard T. And there is no sound like in the word think or in the word then. In addition, the F and V sound are so similar in Dutch, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish them. Greek doesn’t have these problems because are all of these letters are pronounced on some level. Where Greek has a problem is the S. The Greek S is pronounced somewhere between the American S in serpent And the sound in sheet. It is both too soft for the S in serpent and too soft for the SH in sheet. Another problem with Greek speakers is the I. The word hit most of the time will sound like heat. So it’s been interesting trying to isolate the sounds and work on them. Other problems include the TION sound and how we pronounce the X sound. For the Greek speaker, H is also a problem..

The week opened up a couple of dilemmas. Over at the English Center, a potential client was offered on the WhatsApp group to the teachers but the catch is you have to go to The Hague. I received an email from the owner of the English Center telling me that I would be a really good fit for the student as I have an MBA and I am fairly experienced in talking about real estate. The problem is it’s location. The English Center does not pay for time but it does pay for transportation. Still. The dilemma was do I travel nearly 3 hours round-trip for an hour and a half class? Some of you might think that it’s a no-brainer and would say no. But in this economy where you’re strapped for cash, you actually think about it. The pressure led to me agreeing to teach two Thursdays in November. Because Brenda offered the group rate and is trying to convince the student to do two hours instead of an hour and a half to make it more worth it for the teacher. I am sharing the student with a teacher who is already located in the Hague but either cannot or does not want to do all of the lessons. They are having a really hard time finding people for the rest of these student’s lessons. You see he wants an hour and a half every day in November. I do not necessarily find it the most effective way to learn English, but I need the work.

This week at the Conversation Playground was a little bit difficult. While classroom management was not an issue, I still feel that the kids are not having any fun nor can they have any fun when their level is too low. If you don’t have the language to play the game how is the game fun? In last afternoon’s class we did a mystery-solving game and a Verb relay race. For the mystery, we divided into two groups of three. While these games worked reasonably well I am not necessarily convinced that the kids are learning anything. There is still a hell of a lot of Dutch being spoken between them. More and more as I teach these courses, I realize that the owner of the conversation Playground likes to micromanage everything and I’m also conscious that I could not do this for more than one or two hours a week. Because I can keep my mouth shut only so much. If you don’t allow the teachers to teach how are the kids learning anything? Lingueo has kind of fallen by the wayside. I had a one-off lesson with a student last week but have since closed off the schedule. My plan for them is to open on a week-to-week basis and see if I can get anything. At least until I come back from Christmas. I’m still not sure whether I should work from the US or not. I’ll be there for almost a month. And the only way it will work is if I can have my students change their schedules so that I work in the morning but not at 3 AM.

Jasper was quite sick this week with a cold. It wasn’t Covid, he tested. I had to quickly pivot and find a location for the Writers Group. We went to the library where it all began. It’s like coming full circle. Things I learned at the library this week: I have gotten old, People are stupid, and there’s no such thing as Covid. Or at least that’s how it felt. You see, the library was open as it had been pre-pandemic. There were no mask requirements, there were no QR code requirements. You could just walk in and sit at a table and write. While I am all for the world opening up again, it was not very nice to be sitting at a table where many people were coughing and sneezing. There was not a mask in sight nor was there any social distancing. All of this is in advance of a new press conference scheduled to take place this evening y and to possibly reinstate some of the measures of the pandemic. I am hoping that the measures are for people who have not been vaccinated. After all, it’s your choice to be vaccinated or not but then you have to comply with the rules based on that choice. This week the writer’s group will meet at my house. I have a friend with me this week who I met at the Edinburgh Writers Group so it’ll be interesting to see how she feels on Thursday when all we do together is sit and write. The Edinburgh Writers Group was a critique group. I am not sure how she will feel about it but it will be interesting to hear her thoughts.

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

Marvelous Museums and Light Lesson Week

This post, dear reader is going to be fairly short. With my sister and her kids in town for a week, I only worked for about 2 1/2 hours this week. The rest of the time was filled with playing tourist in the city. A word of warning, dear reader, if you decide to come to Amsterdam, book your tickets in advance for museums and attractions as things tend to fill up quickly as they’re using reservations most places.

Of the museums that we saw, I think all of us got a kick out of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibition. Ripley’s Cabinet of Curiosities here in Amsterdam is a repository of random items collected by the famed explorer over his career. I did notice that many of the replicas in the museum are post his passing. I am enough of a cynic to have been amused by the whole experience. We also got a chance to go to the Voorlinden museum which is just outside of The Hague. The Voorlinen, like Louisiana Museum in Denmark, is an old estate filled with artwork. We also got a chance to see the Singer museum in Laren, which presents the collection of William Henry Singer, the American artist. Our last Museum of the week was the shipping museum. What I like about all of these experiences, is that all of the museums make sure the kids are actively involved in looking at paintings. At the art museums we went to, the kids were able to do a scavenger hunt looking for a different paintings. While at the shipping museum, they had lots of tactile things to play with.

My new student Eleni, is a bubbly, smiley young woman. She was wonderful to meet and she really liked my lesson. What’s interesting is that Greek people aren’t normally so bubbly. She is taking the course because her Dutch boss told her that she is difficult to understand when speaking in English. You all know how I feel when Speakers of a second language actually criticize other speakers of a second language about that language so we won’t go into it. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of tongue twisters, some conversation and quite a bit of reading. To that end I have asked her for ideas on what she would like to read about and interestingly enough, she wants to read about pharmacology and epidemiology as that is her current line of work. Since I don’t have any experience with either of those, It will be an interesting experience indeed.

The Conversation Playground was on hiatus last week because of the fall break. We are meeting tomorrow in a different room instead. The plan is to do the past tense focusing on using went and go through bingo, doing a game called reporters where you tell stories using verbs on cards, For the second game we gave three verbs in the last class I taught, but I think for this one I’m only going to give two because we’re going to run into The paradox of choice and the kids are going to have too hard of a time. In addition, the bingo game I will also hand out bingo cards rather than having the kids picked their sentences. I think it’s the best way forward with this group because they take too long to pick stuff.

I also had my last Lingueo lesson with Karine, I now I only have one student on Wednesday and that is only a one hour. We will have to see if I get more lessons as the plan is to open up a week in advance and not more. VIPKid announced the setting up of a global platform. The base pay for all teachers will be seven dollars per class. Which means a nearly 30% pay cut for me. We will have to see what happens. I will probably just sign the contract and then not open anything.

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

Playground Problems and Student Swansongs

It’s been a fairly busy week here at Inkreadable . I have a new student on my TEC schedule. She is Greek and starts this coming Friday. I started planning the lesson before my sister’s arrival so that I would be able to spend more time with her and her children doing fun stuff like going to museums, the zoo, and various outdoor spaces. I did not get as far as I would’ve liked, as I was sent a lot of resources from TEC and I did not have as much time as I wanted to take a look at them. The fact that this package is with a Greek girl, I’m kind of excited about.It will be interesting trying to figure out how to correct her pronunciation. So the first step I took was looking online for a database of sorts or a blog article about what kind of mistakes Greek speakers make. I also got access to her English central classes. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned English Central before, but it is an English language tool that the English Center has access to that has lessons where are you can also practice your pronunciation. It always amuses me because even I don’t get 100% for pronunciation. It must be something about the algorithm.

I finished up with Vicente last week, and I’m close to finishing up with another student week after next. I am hopeful that I will get more students, but what I really would like is a course. Not only is that more money but it’s also more steady work. Which is always important. Most of my students decide not to renew, so a course makes up for the loss. One of my TEC students, Ellemieke, is trying to improve her English so she can go and teach it in the Dutch school system. I’ve gotten some very interesting perspectives from her both as a prospective teacher and as a parent who has children in the system. It’s interesting because English is taught by Dutch teachers to students starting at the age of nine. And it’s mostly theory. Apparently the children don’t actually use the language in the classroom. Which to me is silly because, what’s the point? If you’re not going to use the language why bother learning it at all? I’ve had the thought that if I could get people interested, maybe I could go and teach Dutch teachers how to teach English. Ellemieke thought that was a good idea and so I think that we’re going to have more conversations over the next few lessons. She and I also bonded on a rather tragic note as well. She lost her husband four years ago to melanoma. It was all I could do, dear reader not to cry in front of her. I wasn’t particularly successful because she noticed and thankfully, she understood. Claudia, after an absence of forever, was back on my schedule this week. We have six lessons left and she still wants to focus on writing reports. I hope that I can find enough interesting material to help her. It’s a little scarce. ShinWei and I have met in person once now and we’ve had a great time, as they were conversational Our online meetings are devoted to classes but our in person meeting was just talk. It was easily the most fun of my lessons. But also the most challenging because it’s hard to keep somebody talking for an hour. Our next lesson will be in person as well so I need to up the conversation game.

By far the most challenging portion of this week was Conversation Playground. Adam, one of the children in the group, gets very upset and acts out when you don’t pick on him every time to do some thing. He also has a tendency to invade other children’s personal space a lot. In the last class, he actually pushed one of the girls. She was horsing around and so she laughed it off, but when confronted, Adam admitted that he had only pushed a little bit and not too hard. I did tell the whole class that pushing was not acceptable. I also took the precaution of telling Amardip, the owner of the conversation playground, and he instructed me to wait and see what happens next class. If there is any other misbehavior I am to tell him and he will contact the parents. It’s going to be a long Six weeks. I am very much looking forward to 29 November which will be the last class. Paradoxically, I am looking forward to continuing with the conversation playground because one hour or two hours a week is enough real classroom time with children. I don’t think I need more.

My private clients or a little bit scarce as my sister and her kids are here for a week. I have therefore cleared my schedule as much as I can. I will have George and Jerry later today, I also have my last class with Karine over at Lingueo. Unfortunately, I lost a student with Lingueo because their schedule changed. I did take the precaution of contacting the student to see if she wanted to book other lessons with me and told her that I had a fairly flexible schedule if she would like to change. But there has been no response. Karolina, who is in Finland recovering from a throat illness, was on my schedule on Thursday last week. She was a little bit distracted because she had received some texts from her work saying that they needed to have a talk. She is concerned that her bid to stay in Finland has been rejected. Apparently Finland suits her very well and she really doesn’t want to return to Poland. Xander and I had a wonderful first lesson for this package and I’m really glad to have him on my schedule. I was able to connect his lessons with another TEC client of mine who also works in real estate so it’s been interesting trying to make lessons for them.

I had the Writers Group at my house again this week. I managed to both host and get some work done. It was nice because we had two new people who seem to like how we work, and I was able to balance hosting with actual writing. I noticed some plot holes and was able to fix them. Fixing the holes actually helped me figure out where the writing is going to go and where the next couple of chapters are heading.

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

Conversation Connections and Lesson Lags

Generally, getting back into the swing of a routine in Amsterdam when back from a trip is pretty easy. But over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that while I’m able to maintain certain types of routine, the same cannot be said of my schedule. I often keep track of my students progress through their packages using my Google Calendar app. But it seems that I do not know how to count because I thought I had seven lessons left with Freek, but it turns out we only had one. He has decided to let the last lesson go, and because he told me well in advance, that means that the English Center keeps the money and I do not get paid. Which as we all know, is not a policy I am particularly enamored with. Claudia has jumped back on my schedule for our last seven lessons, and for this dear reader, both English Center and I agree that that is the remainder in the package. Ellemieke and my new student Frank are also on my schedule this week. But Marco, sent me an email saying that he is having medical issues and cannot take lessons at this time and has asked that we post phone for eight weeks. But in eight weeks, I will be in America. It’s not that I am unwilling to work, but I’m not sure that I want to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and to be able to accommodate both Marco and a client that I have later today named Martijn. Marco is ok with starting in 2022. I’ll talk to Martijn later today.

The Conversation Playground is going quite well. We managed to get Yousef the student who was taking us as a trial last week to sign up. I am quite happy about that. What I’ve noticed about this group of kids is that Adam is going to be the instigator and the two girls are very giggly because they’re very nervous about their English. I am not entirely sure how to deal with that. I have a feeling that Lawrens whose dad is American, is going to prove instrumental in helping me bolster everybody else’s confidence. The plan for this week is to do telephone, least in common/most in common, and likes and dislikes at the kids have in common. I think that Lawrence is going to be this class’ Aamani. She was a wonderful Dutch girl of Indian dissent at the Karel Eichmann School who’s English was off the hook. Truly extraordinary. And while Lawrence doesn’t think that’s gonna be the case for him, I disagree.

Xander is back on my schedule on Monday morning, and we had our first lesson yesterday and it was great to see him even if it was online. I have decided to take that week by week and see whether he’d like online or in person. I am OK with either, but it all honesty I do prefer being in person because I’m bored of my house. I only saw George and Jerry on Tuesday this week, and the pattern will be repeated next week and the week after. The Conversation Playground did not realize that there was a free day on 25 October as well as the 18th October so we had to shift 25 October to 26 October so that I could be finished by the end of November. Jasper and I typically leave in the beginning of December for the US and I don’t want to mess with that timetable. Unfortunately it’s George and Jerry and to some extent Odhran, who get to pay the price for that.

The Writers Group again met at my house this past week, and Marijn was there as usual, but I actually got some work done. I’ve been thinking that given I have more time, I should make it a point to do a half an hour of writing just like I make it a point to go into an hour of cardio every day. That was a little bit difficult in the pandemic, because I simply cannot write at home but now that things are opening up maybe I’ll be able to find a place that suits me each day to do some writing.

My sister is coming this weekend with her kids and is staying for a week. I have been firmly engaged in trying to clear my schedule so that I don’t have very many lessons. It looks like Tuesday is going to be my most difficult day. We will also have to see about my new student on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Martijn because maybe I won’t be able to cancel his lessons. Fingers Crossed. I have already talked to Ellemieke, and Xander is always OK with taking a day off. Claudia was OK with taking Monday and Wednesday off as well.

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

Schedule Shortage, Conversation Commencement and a Hoxton Hangout

I’m not sure why is, dear reader, that adult students seem to want the same days and times. Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be extremely popular days. So much so that I am concerned that I do not have enough time to accept more lessons. I have a student who wants to meet online from 11 to 11:30 in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The problem is I have another student who wants to meet in person on one of those days. The in person client is Freek who is now back on my schedule. The problem is I have to add an hour and a half each way to my commute to get to Amstelveen. I also have Ellemieke who I’ve been meeting on Thursdays as well. My dilemma is how do I accommodate all of these clients and still have room for more. On Mondays, I have Xander from 11 to 1230 and then the Conversation Playground from 2:45 to 345. I could potentially do the class from 9 to 1030 on a Monday morning, and then again from five onwards. Right now in the evening I have one client, but when Claudia jumps back on my schedule next week, that’s going to cause a problem because she also likes Monday at 5 PM. I’m also waiting to hear on a new client starting on October 7. It would be no problem if Freek wanted to be online, but his company will not allow it. A potential solution is that I schedule Freek in the evening, but the last time we met he said he wanted a morning lesson. With about 10 hours of work a week total between all of my assorted platforms and clients, it feels like a lot of shuffling and agonizing.

Conversation Playground started yesterday, and it’s a small group 6 students total. It’s also a little bit more convenient than the Karol Eijkman school. I went to the wrong Campus as there are two but only one of them is listed by Google. I got lucky and a teacher told me where to go, so I arrived in time, but the stress was annoying. With Freek back on my schedule, that means that I’m traveling out to Amstelveen twice a week. The English Center pays for the commute but the Conversation Playground does not. The owner of The Conversation Playground, Amardip, has said that I can use the classes from our summer session so that makes it much easier because then there is very little prep. Will have to see how it goes, but the group is easy to handle and the size makes it easy to remember everybody’s name. We also tested out the Escape Room App that Amardip is building and it seems to work quite well as least in theory, the reality in the classroom was a bit different. the students in this class are at a lower level and there was a lot more Dutch. The boys are at a higher level than the four boys but they’ll get there. The best of the bunch was a kid called Laurens whose dad is American. But I said to Amardip that I think it’s going to be a long two months.

Many hotels in Amsterdam had an open day on Thursday, so the writer’s group found itself back at the Hoxton. This was thanks to Marijn who gave us the tip. I was a bit surprised that she was able to get into the Hotel as she has not been vaccinated and they are requiring your Coronacheck app at the door. She said that is because she’s very tall and is able to make herself disappear using her invisibility power. The girl is cuckoo for cocoa puffs. She also has no idea about social etiquette and niceties. In the WhatsApp group when we were talking about whether people could go to the hotel if they were unvaccinated or no.t, she said that she was not participating in the apartheid and would go anyway. The comment blew everybody’s mind. She was using the term to mean being kept apart and classified. It’s bad enough in Dutch, it’s much worse in English. I had people come up to me at the meeting saying That they almost did not come to the meeting because of her. I am not really sure what to do about it. On the one hand she has nice tips and wants to be helpful, but on the other hand she could potentially be extremely divisive to the group. It is a conundrum to be sure. Even so, being at the Hoxton was very nice even if I didn’t get a lot of writing done. It’s always nice to meet new people and this time with no exception.

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

Amsterdam Arrival and Playground Postponement

Greetings, dear reader, from Amsterdam. I have been back for a little under a week and I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. But all it was not as happy a homecoming it should have been. I returned to find that all of my outdoor plants had died and that the gallery outside my door was full of dead leaves that I had to clean for my neighbors, as that is just good manners.. This is what happens when I leave Jasper in charge of watering my plants. I choose to think that there was an illness in the rose that spread to the other plants. But it was still sad because I managed to keep the things alive for about three years. Over the weekend, we therefore went to a garden center to get the pots ready for planting. in the spring.

I am still enjoying my VIPkidless schedule. I now have six clients for English Center, four clients of my own learning English, and one learning Greek. I won’t say that I’m not tempted to open up slots for VIPid to see what I can get, but we learned last week that VIPkid is trying to sell AI classes to parents. What they’re doing is they’re saying if you have 20 classes with a teacher left in your package they will convert that 20 classes to 60 AI pre-recorded classes. That right there is enough to stop me from giving classes. Over the weekend, I contacted some of my students to let them know that I would not be opening us any more slots. They’re Just going to have to find another teacher or go private with me.

For my part, I am going to try And fully open either Lingueo or Italki. I might also uploaded a new video to Preply and also give Colanguage a try. I’m not sure if any of this will make a difference but it couldn’t hurt certainly. There was no reponse from the company in France that contacted me even though I sent them a resume, so I’ll instead try to contact them this coming week.

The Conversation Playground did not get enough sign ups to begin on 27 September and instead is going to keep advertising until 4 October. They are also running a Boot Camp which I am not teaching for the fall break which is later in the month. Instead the glorious Erica, who is a good friend of mine, will be running it if they can get signups, which I am OK with, because I believe there is enough English language teaching work to go around. Also I’m not a very competitive person. I hope for her sake, it works out, because she really likes being in the classroom with kids.

The Writers Group met at my house this Thursday. I did get a bit of time to do some writing myself which is great, but one of the members of the group took my phone by accident. What happened was this: Once everybody had left, I cleaned up the house and was looking for my phone. I used find my phone from my computer through iCloud as it’s in an iPhone. And it showed my phone somewhere in the center of the city. I quickly got on WhatsApp web and found out that a member had accidentally put it in her own bag. We arranged for her to return it to me on Friday. But this member is a little bit helter-skelter and scatterbrained and I was waiting around until 2 PM for her to come and bring me my phone. Which I thought was going to happen at 10:30. I got really sick of waiting and went to visit my friend Rose who also works for the English Center. It was a very novel experience trying to find my way to a new house without Google maps and GPS. Although, it isn’t strictly true that I had no directions. I had taken the precaution of printing them out when I left the house but didn’t realize that Google gave me directions to the street Rose lived on but that the building number. I figured that it was 24, but once I got there it was really difficult to find. It took me about 20 minutes and a nice Dutch person asked me if I could find what I was looking for since she had passed me twice already. It all worked out for the best as Rose found me wandering around near her house. But the moral of the story, dear reader, is this: our phones are now our appendages and being without them is tantamount to losing a limb.

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

TEC Takeoff and an Email Enquiry

It is time, dear reader, to go home. I leave tomorrow and while I love being in Chania and every time I come back I feel more and more at home, I am very conscious that I could not live here and try to make a life within the system. In the first place, English language lessons do not command the same salary that they do in the Netherlands. Of course, the cost of living here is quite low. If VIPKid was still an option I would be living like a queen here in Chania. And in the second, this town is too small for anything but thoughts of retirement.

Speaking of VIPKid however, I have been enjoying not giving classes at all. There have been no annoying students, and no ridiculous parents. It has been glorious. So much so that I have decided not to open up any slots unless there is an emergency. What that means for me financially is that things will be quite tight for a while. But I will somehow muddle through. It’ll get better because my apartment in the States is in the process of being rented for October. And I think I have enough savings to figure everything else out. As I was writing this post on Sunday, I received news that my other apartment in the US is vacating so that will be some thing I need to deal with in a couple of months. But at least my tenants gave me the courtesy of letting me know they were vacating and even offered to help me find tenants if they could. Which was very kind of them because I didn’t expect it. It certainly is above and beyond the call of duty for the landlord tenant relationship.

The English Center seems to be revving up quite nicely. I now have six clients on the books, though I have not seen all of them for quite a long time. Claudia has asked that I do an editing project for her instead of a lesson and I sent a message to English Center asking them if that was OK but have not heard anything as of this writing. My newest client is a Dutch guy called Marco and he wants some help with vocabulary and Business English. He’s a little bit like my student Jochem so I may be able to use some of the same material. I also have to set up classes with Freek in Amstelveen and I am not sure if I’m able to do that. I thin that the Covid restrictions are going to change completely starting on 25 September, but the issue is that I’m still waiting to hear from the Conversation Playground as to whether we are getting started on 27 September, 4 October, or not at all. I received an interesting Email from a company called Upper Level in France that is looking for teachers. They do both virtual and in person lessons. I took a look at their website and sent them my resume telling them that I’d be interested in virtual lessons. As always, dear reader, you’ll be in the know as soon as I do.

I’m also waiting for Xander to tell me if he wants to meet in person or online starting on 27 September. I did send a communication to find out what he wanted but no response as of this writing either. As ever my life is full of limbo and I find it a little bit difficult to handle. As always, however the best way out is always through and that is what I’m trying to keep telling myself. But it was interesting because the theme of this weeks weight watchers meeting was time management and I almost feel like I was telling a bit of a lie when I said I’m a really good time manager. Because it hasn’t been feeling like that lately.

On balance it’s been an amazing trip to Greece and I am quite happy to have spent the month here but I do think also that it’s time to go home. My sister and brother-in-law have been all that is kind and my niece and nephew are cute as buttons. But they also moved into their house scarcely six weeks ago and they haven’t had a moment alone to enjoy it and that’s quite hard when you’re talking about a new house. I have resolved to come for shorter stays but more frequently so that I can get my fill of Chania, without overstaying my welcome. Because as much as you love someone having them for one month under your roof is never easy.

With my return to the Netherlands, the Writers Group comes back to my house at least on 23 September and we will have to see what happens from there on out. The inconsistency of our locations is proving to be a little bit troublesome as is coordinating the people who want to be in the WhatsApp group and the people who do not. It makes for a little bit of stress for me. I’m going to have to figure out a solution post haste.

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

China Calling and Writers Group Wrangling

What with working about two hours a day if that, I’ve been able to spend time enjoying the city of Chania. While I don’t like breakfast, I do very much enjoy brunch. Particularly if it’s not a workday. What surprised me about Chania is that there are a lot of places to go and have brunch. So I tried a few of them. It was on one of these walks to get brunch, and also to walk my sister’s dog, that I received a very perplexing phone call. Or rather it was a voicemail. When I went to listen to it as I was sitting down, the voicemail was in Chinese. But, it was from a Dutch number. I called the number back and then sent a text. There was no response either way. Needless to say I was very curious about the message, but I realized that it didn’t sound very happy. In fact, the person was emphatic. I started to suspect that it was the parent who had given me a bad review. I texted my student ShinWei and asked if I could play him the message in our lesson on Monday and he agreed.

I tried to have him listen to the message while I was giving him a mobile lesson on my phone. We had agreed that I would give him a tour of Chania in the last lesson of his package, but we could not because it was pouring most of last week. He did end up renewing for another ten lessons so I was able to do the tour in yesterday’s lesson. During the zoom call that was his lesson, I did try to play him the message but was largely unsuccessful. I guess we’ll just talk to remain a mystery. But it will eat at me for a while.

On Friday last week Marike at the English Center texted me to ask if I wanted to take on a student. Which of course I said I could do. So that’s one more on the books. As of this writing we had not scheduled any classes as yet. Jochem is not on the schedule this week as he is away in Portugal. I am looking forward to seeing him next week and hearing all about his trip. I have noticed in the last two years teaching for the English Center, that Dutch people do not know how to talk about their trip with any but the bare minimum of answers when you ask them how the trip was and what they did. The usual answer is it was fine. They are not overly effusive about their travel. Trying to get them to use adjectives? Forget it. It can be quite frustrating trying to get people to talk to you. The contrast is stark between people from northern Europe and people from other places. ShinWei for instance, loves to talk about where he’s been and what he’s done.

One of the things that I have not been very good about is my blog post writing exercise for the English Center. My excuse is that I’ve been sick for about a week. Jasper left me with some sort of a cold that he could have picked up some where. But I hope to do a bit of work on that today. I do feel very guilty but I think that Brenda will understand that it isn’t actually intentional. Also she will probably understand doing writing with toddlers in the house is also quite difficult. I will explain all of this and we will see what happens. She has given me a blog post to finish and since I’m pretty good emulating people styles it’ll be much easier than starting from scratch. I’m still a little concerned because I did not find it easy the last time I tried it so I have a little bit of insecurity when it comes to writing a blog post for someone else.

The Writers Group did not meet last week as Vondelkerk was not available. Instead of stressing everybody out or figuring out if people wanted to do an online meeting, we simply canceled. We will have to see what happens this week. I think it will be much easier once I’m back in Amsterdam. I can offer my house on the regular and be ready to host each week. Jasper might not be happy about that, but since he’s not home on Thursdays anyway, he doesn’t get a say.

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