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.

Slow Schedule and Holiday Highlights

It’s been another quiet week at Inkreadable, dear reader. The only teaching that I did this week was with Isabelle on Tuesday. And even for that one, there was no prep because I had already prepped a lesson for her, and as ever we discussed an article. We also talked about our plans for Christmas and I checked in with her as to how she’d like the lessons for this package to proceed. We’ve been doing mostly conversations with syntax corrections if needed and trying to build her vocabulary. I think my next lesson will be about using idioms with her as we haven’t actually done that. In terms of English Center work everything else is in person and has to be completed when I get back to the Netherlands.

It’s not to say that I didn’t do any work for The English Center. In fact, I did quite a bit of scheduling work and trying to find rooms for various students who are doing intensives and the like. Scheduling work seems to be ramping up quite a lot as they have an influx of new students. It’s unfortunate however that they’re only using about 1/4 of their teaching staff to teach these students. I have figured out that they want to keep new teachers happy. I know this because that was how it was for me in 2019. Of course, the pandemic affected everything, but things are getting back to normal, at least in the Netherlands and there should be enough work for everyone. Unfortunately, there isn’t. And that means that the teachers who have been with schools for a long time are the ones that are being shafted and new teachers are being led to believe that they will have the volume of work that they have now for always. And I think that is across the board.

My Private Client world is also pretty slow with only Shinwei doing online lessons while I’m here. My Chinese kids are on hiatus as is Odhran. In fact, I won’t be seeing him until I get back to the Netherlands, and then we will have to do twice the work to account for the break. It gives us two weeks to get him ready for our trip to Greece on the 20th of January. In other news, the parent who contacted me for lessons for her son finally got in touch with me. We are going to set up a meeting when I am back in the Netherlands to see if I can start teaching her son. In true Dutch fashion, however, she has already asked me for a discount. I don’t think I can go much Beyond 20% off for both children. That means working with each child for 40 euros an hour. I think that is more than reasonable. Of course, it may come to nothing so it’s not something that I’m banking on.

There are some other things in my teaching pipeline but what I’m realizing is that given that The English Center feels mainly negative things about me and is trying to keep me happy with an administrative position, my conclusion is that I need to leave English language teaching completely. This isn’t a very easy realization as English language teaching was my career change. But I’m realizing more and more that if everything that is thought about me by the people that I work for is negative then there’s no point in doing the job. I am not going to take any action until I have another job and in order to do that I am going to start by getting some help from HR professionals who might be able to point me in the right direction in terms of resume and skill set help. For the moment I’m going to bide my time and see where things take me, but I’ve been feeling more and more that aside from the clients who have come to me of their own volition, English language teaching is starting to dry up. But it’s not just that, dear reader. I recently discovered that a friend of mine thought that I had taken someone’s job at English Center and that was not the case. While it was a misunderstanding I now feel that I cannot trust the friend who felt these things about me and as she is also an English language teacher, it’s time to go.

I’m not actually looking forward to looking for other work in an economic downturn, and certainly, I’m not going to let anyone know that I’m looking until I have something else that is not English language teaching. I’m not sure how this will affect the blog but of course, you guys will be the first to know once things change. I figure it’s better to look for a job from a position of having a job rather than leaving and trying to find a job without a source of income. The best of all worlds would be if I could make more passive income and not have to work as hard as I currently do with lesson planning.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day were both pretty quiet and spent with family. Christmas Eve was with Jasper’s family and that was a do-what-you-like kind of Christmas. My own family is a little bit more outwardly social and you always have to be on with them as opposed to being able to read a book like you can with Jasper’s family. I like both but I have to say that I do prefer that people don’t look at me funny in Jasper’s family when I want to read a book.

A belated Merry Christmas to you all dear readers. 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.

Schedule Shifts and Writing Woes

I have been back from Greece for nearly a week and I can’t say that I have settled into a routine. Because we’re traveling in less than a week it feels like the last couple of weeks have been rather surreal. It hasn’t helped that I’m not able to control what happens on my schedule currently. It had been set before I left for Greece but as with most business people, a few of my clients have had to cancel our lessons. One of them was Yana. We were supposed to meet on Thursday but she was called into a business meeting and so she could not meet. That meant that I had to find her a substitute for her final lesson in the package as she did not want to do a double lesson on the weekend. Luckily I was able to do that because Emily, the teacher who helped me out on November 26 was available on December 17th so I went ahead and booked a room. So it worked out, but not without consequences for me. Because of course, it is a financial loss. But since I tend to be really optimistic about teaching, something else will come up, and the bright side was that I got to go to my writer’s group on Thursday. I didn’t have any of my clients for English Center with the exception of my pronunciation client who I saw while in Greece because it was an online lesson. Our final lesson will be in person later today. I am going to miss our lessons because he’s quite a nice student. He really does listen to the advice that I give. Our final lesson is going to be spent going over pronunciation mistakes that specifically Dutch people make because up until now we’ve been trying to isolate and get him to say the th sound both voiced and unvoiced. Accordingly, I prepared the lesson over the weekend for him with all of the mistakes that Dutch people tend to make including some incorrect word used mistakes which he doesn’t tend to do but I have to fill up an hour and a half with him anyway. Isabelle and I are going to meet on Thursday this week as I have a book club tonight. And I haven’t had Slava in what seems like a million years but has really only been about 3-weeks. We met last night and worked on expressing the time and expressions with time as well as higher-order numbers. I am sharing him with another teacher, and sometimes that can be difficult, but it’s nice when you’re given concrete things to work on. It makes lesson planning much easier.

In my private client world, it’s been almost dead. While I was in Greece I didn’t have anyone on my schedule. But once I got back I made sure to schedule Shinwei on Friday and then with my kids from China on Sunday as per usual. This week I am meeting with Odhran twice to make up for the loss from last week. These are fairly easy classes to prep for. With Shinwei we’re working on wine terms. With Odhan we’re working on functional phrases in Greek that he can use when we go to Greece in January.

What wasn’t great this week was my Writer’s group as I actually had to prep a lesson so I wasn’t doing any writing of my own. And I don’t like when that happens. It gets very frustrating because Thursdays are kind of sacred and when I have to give them up for students it really messes with my week. It is especially difficult now as I will be away starting next week in the US and so won’t be attending any meetings at all. So I would have liked to connect with my characters before being in the US and not really being able to write. Maybe I’ll get a chance to write while I am in the US. But I think that is a bit too much optimism.

That’s all she wrote 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.

Course Coordinator Conundrums and Writing Wrinkles

With most of the English Center management team away for the better part of the next couple of weeks, it falls to a couple of us to pick up the slack. Or I should say not slack, precisely because we are in communication via email, but answering client emails in a timely manner. I have been able to answer most emails quickly as well as do follow-ups, but where I’m finding it difficult is with tasks that aren’t necessarily clear. I’ll give you an example. I was asked to spearhead a project for a super cool foundation called Dignita, which I think I mentioned a post or two ago. They are a chain of three restaurants in the city that are fully nonprofit. Their profit goes back into a foundation where they repatriate people back into mainstream society after having been trafficked. I think it’s a super-worthy enterprise and I’m really excited to be a part of it. My function is more as a liaison between the English Center and the foundation. On the 14th of November, we had the intake and there were 35 people in attendance. It was decided that the courses would be 15 and 16 people respectively on a Monday and Tuesday evening, and we were trying to divide the people into two groups, one for lower-level learners and one for upper-level donors. Or more accurately beginner and slightly less beginner. Most of the people in the classes are Ukrainian, but there are a few other nationalities mixed in. One of the tasks that I am in charge of for this group is making sure that they get the books that they need. I have been communicating back and forth with English Center and them and thought that I needed to go ahead and order the books. This was further confirmed when the teacher of the course told me that the manager of the foundation would get in touch with me to get the books delivered. I contacted her first and got the address for the book delivery. She let me know where to send the books and I set up the order. Over the weekend, she let me know that she would check whether the books were shipped to the location and that she did yesterday. They have gotten the books. But here’s the problem. On Sunday, I woke up to an email from Kerry, asking Paul (the course instructor) and I to confirm that Dignita would actually pay for the book budget. I then had to send another email to Dignita, kind of a mea culpa email taking responsibility for the mistake and asking if Dignta was going to pay for all the books or whether some students would foot the cost themselves. I also contacted Waterstones where I ordered the books and made sure that I would be able to return the books if I needed to. I have done all that I can, but I feel very bad that I did not get the correct information from the back-and-forth on the emails. Last night I received word that the company would pay and the student would be offered the choice to pay for some of the cost. SO all’s well that ends well but it was a bit fraught for me.

The above was not the only occurrence of me feeling stupid. The second one was a little bit more interesting. We have an email where all of the communications from customers come in and we can all see it. I woke up to an email from a former student of mine asking about private intensive lessons. So I approached the email in the following way. I said that it was really nice to hear from her again and I asked her for clarification asking if she was looking for more private lessons, like the ones we had in the summer, or whether she was looking for an intensive Group course. What is interesting is that she asked the question as if she had never taken classes with us before, but she has and so she should know how we work. The last time I saw her was in September. The courses haven’t changed since then neither have the prices. It was a bit of a strange interaction, but we will have to see what happens.

It isn’t often that my writing group and my book club collide, but this week they did, in a very interesting way. The book that we are reading for the December meeting is Atomic Habits by a guy called Jeff Clear and it tells you about how to succeed. It outlines how to make positive habits and how to break negative habits. What’s nice is that it’s short and clearly written. I took away from it a couple of things that were useful and I was anxious to try them out in the writing group. Basically, the author of the book says that habits are formed by small sustainable changes that you can do your whole life. One of the steps that he gives is to make a list of all the habits that you do in a day and mark them whether good or bad. He says that you should make good habits easy to do and accessible. Bad habits should become inaccessible. I wanted to try and put into practice a word goal for each writer’s meeting. I have not to date been able to do that. Somehow I feel that people around me are doing much better than I am and it stops me from actually doing any writing at all. Thereby it feels like the two hours and 45 minutes of the Writers Group for me is a waste of time. As you might imagine that is not a very good feeling and I do not enjoy it. I feel that even a small goal has been beyond me lately. And it isn’t going to get any easier but more on that in my next post.

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

Load Lightening and Writing Return

While it hasn’t been a quiet week, I have rather figured out how to manage my time. It helps that certain classes have ended over at the English Center. Sanne will not be doing any more classes. Neither will Carlien. This means that four hours of time are freed up because I won’t be going to Amstelveen until next year-ish.  For our last lesson, Sanne and I talked about holidays and we played three games in the course of the hour. I have a feeling that this was her favorite class. but really, dear reader, that’s not exactly my fault because she did ask for more grammar. And she really wouldn’t bring me her English homework either. With Carlien, because she pays for her lessons herself, I think that the budgeting is not there for her to take more lessons. Which is a shame because I quite like her and we got on very well. Currently, on my English Center roster, there remain three students. There is Isabelle with whom I am doing article-based teaching and conversation. There is Roy who is a pronunciation student. He and I are doing accent reduction but what’s interesting about him is that he was recently diagnosed with asthma and feels that he is losing words both in English and in Dutch and he also loses his breath as he speaks. That’s not actually in my preview, so I very gently directed him to maybe go to a speech pathologist to help him out. That was the consensus with my colleague who does pronunciation and is also the English Center’s English central coach, which is a software that allows you to work on your pronunciation in the context of video-based lessons where you listen and repeat. Finally, there is Slava, with whom I have to start a new 10-hour package. This 10-hour package will extend into the first half of January as I am going to the states and there will not be time to finish his lessons before I leave. I was very gratified that he tested as an A2 level which is what his company wanted from him. So now it’s a matter of getting him more confident in his speaking. I am sharing him now with another colleague because he wants to do four hours a week, and I am not in a position to do that at the times that he wants. He is not happy about that, but I am not about to compromise on my Thursday evenings anymore than I already have.

Speaking of Thursday night. I was finally able to go back to the Writers Group this week and get some decent writing done. I do find that my concentration is not where it needs to be, and I frequently find myself spacing out. I’m not sure if anybody else is experiencing this because they’re all typing away seemingly without trouble. But this week I am working on a scene where my main character is actually learning how to do magic.  It is in the 34th chapter of my book, and that’s about 170 pages in. I found myself continually, wondering whether I wasn’t leaving the magic teaching until too late in the book. It’s a question for a beta reader, I suppose, but I’m also finding that I’m having a hard time figuring out where to send my characters next and how to structure the climax of the book and the eventual resolution.

On Saturday I went on a scavenger hunt in the city of Haarlem that was Alice in Wonderland-themed. While this doesn’t really have to do with teaching or writing, I got to say that Lewis Carroll was a trippy individual. The questions were mostly chess themed which was a little bit difficult, but we managed to get most of them. There were a couple of stupid ones, like the one that said “I am taller than all and I rhyme with hoof”. So we thought roof, but the word was actually chimney. I’m sorry but that doesn’t rhyme with hoof so whoever wrote that riddle was an idiot. The other notable event from this particular scavenger hunt was the fact that my partner in scavenger hunts Lola and I met by chance at Centraal Station and got on the train. We nearly missed our stop for Haarlem however and were forced to literally jump off the train. This led to a very delayed PTSD reaction from me in the evening as I started hyperventilating at the thought that I could’ve really gotten hurt by jumping like that. Still, it was a fairly lovely afternoon and while I don’t think we will do the next one as it is Smurf themed, we might do another one in the future.

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

Cold Consequences

Sometimes, dear reader, things happen unexpectedly. They can be so pervasive
that they affect every facet of life. At least, in the short term. Such was the
case with me this week. The week started out well enough with me doing all of
my routine things for The English Center like my two-star leads that I contact
on a Monday and then contact again by telephone on a Friday. I am also fully in
the swing of things with taking over projects for them, at least in the short
term. They include a project to re-patriot people into mainstream society after
being trafficked or having been sex workers. Which I think is a really worthy
endeavor. I was able to give Odhran a private lesson on Tuesday as well as an
in-person pronunciation lesson. And I even gave Isabelle her weekly lesson that
evening. On Wednesday, I headed over to The English Center to do admin work
with them and to teach Sanne, for our penultimate lesson. That evening I was
struck down by an insidious cold that I’ve either had for three weeks and it’s
just reared its ugly head again or this was yet another, separate cold. Either
way, it was ridiculous because the rest of the week was quite difficult.
Thursday and Friday are typically fairly light days because I don’t really
teach. Instead, I have other things going on. This week it would’ve been a
mortgage broker consultation for Jasper and I to talk to them about purchasing
a house. Luckily or unlikely, I’m not sure which guy flaked out and got the
time wrong. He thought we were meeting at 11 and we thought we were meeting at
10:30. We were ready to go at 10:30, but then Jasper had to go to work so they
wouldn’t have been time to wait the half hour until 11 am.

What I noticed, dear reader is that by Thursday I wasn’t really firing on
all cylinders and I was making stupid mistakes. Like the fact that I sent an
email to someone with the wrong name and no subject. I don’t typically make
those mistakes and realized that because I wasn’t feeling at all well, and I
wasn’t as cognisant as I could be, I wasn’t as efficient as I could be either.
As a result, I actually pulled everything off of my schedule that wasn’t online
and kind of put myself to bed. except that I really didn’t. I kept doing online
work as much as I could until one of my colleagues told me that I needed to
slow down and take a break. It’s just as well that my schedule is about to get
much lighter with the completion of both Carlien’s and Senna’s lessons. Neither
of them is going to renew. Which is fine. what is not so fine is that my
student Marco is once again on hiatus for the month of November because he is
also ill. His immune system is very badly rundown after a virus that activated
the symptoms of his chronic illness. I sent him a revised schedule, telling him
that he didn’t need to lose all of the lessons, but rather that we would
suspend them and I would add them to the end of a package that would take us
into March 2023. He hasn’t responded as of this writing, but I am assuming that
that is what he wants to do. I also had to give him a revised DC schedule
because by the time we are ready to begin, I will have to give him a few
lessons in the US and because I already have some commitments I had to figure
out when I was available.

But, dear reader, there was another reason that I had to really be careful
with my health over the weekend. I hosted a friendsgiving on Saturday and did
not want to get anyone sick, but also did not want to get even sicker. it was a
very small intimate Friendsgiving we were only about nine people and so were
able to sit at my table, which was great. The previous Thanksgiving had been in
a Dutch circle style where we all sat on a big circle and atet on our laps. I
have to say that I really like having a sit-down situation but my
850-square-foot apartment doesn’t have a lot of space to be able to do that. So
I had to turn my living room into a dining room. Still, it was a rousing
success, and we did not have any leftovers, which is always a good thing.

While I did not get any writing done this week, I did poke my head in virtually
to the meeting just to say hi and make sure that new people were being noticed.
I also poked my head in very briefly on the discord meeting on Sunday. The
upside to not having Marco on Fridays is that I can actually go out for drinks
on Thursdays now.

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