1 July 2019

Sooooooo, as it turns out, buying the Unlimited package at my gym was not an absence of due consideration, but a stroke of genius.

Yes.

I had been cycling and doing hot yoga only, which would have rendered my new Unlimited package somewhat overpriced since I’m missing out on the Pilates which is the most expensive class offered at the gym.

But the wonderful Spaghetti Gods are kind.

For whatever reason, my favourite hot yoga instructor no longer comes to my studio – so it’s bye-bye Wednesday hot yoga!

And since I don’t want to do cycling three days in a row (I want some diversity. Plus, I’d just get bored), guess what I’ve had to re-start doing!

You guessed it… Pilates!

So I’m a few weeks back into my Pilates now. Still don’t enjoy it as much as cycling or hot yoga, but I feel my muscles ache a few days after, which I guess is a good thing.

Who would have thought I have abs hidden underneath all that flesh… well now I do! And I’m somewhat regularly working them out.

Pilates once a week, alternating between abs & arms and butt & thighs won’t miraculously turn my body into a toned statue I’m sure. But at least I’m getting to work the muscles that I don’t use otherwise.

So yes, buying that Unlimited package turned out to be a good decision after all!

And I’m just so proud of myself for still sticking to my exercise regime after a month. I’m about to start a long holiday with my boyfriend, so won’t be going as much (I have been going three times a week in the past few weeks). But I plan to go still once a week. Stopping entirely for a month just doesn’t seem right.

Ah, life is good. I hope it is for y’all too!

Until next time.

Love,

Val

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3 June 2019

Good morning Bangkok! Or should I say Nonthaburi, since that is where I’m writing this post from.

Some significant events have happened since my last post. Fingers crossed I have good news to share in a few weeks, maybe a month or two.

It’s funny how things happen over a longer period of time when you’re an adult. I think when I was younger, if things happened over a period of several weeks, that would be considered a long time. Now though, if something can be concluded in a matter of weeks, that’s pretty quick.

I wonder why that is… (note to self: a post on my main blog on the relativity of time or some such obscure and important sounding topic might be in order – I’ve left that blog dormant for too long now)

One thing did happen, by adult time standards, at light speed yesterday though: my credit card application. Finally, after years of being content with having just a debit card, I decided to bite the bullet and enter the world of temporary debt.

For two reasons: sometimes my hotel booking site requires payment to be made via a credit card. Which means that last time when we went to Lipe I had to borrow my dad’s card, which just seems wrong. Secondly, I will most likely be moving country next year, which may entail big purchases. So having a credit card might actually come in handy.

In any case, I decided to get a credit card. Me being me, I went for the devil I know and applied for The One card with Central. And the process was simpler than simple. Faster than fast.

I had called beforehand to check what documents I needed. Once I arrived at the service counter at Central and announced my intention to apply for a credit card, I was efficiently and politely whisked away to the financial centre one floor down. All my documents were then taken and processed. About two hours later, my credit card was approved and ready to be mailed to my mailing address. In 7-10 working days I should be in possession of a shiny new card that will open doors to fickly hotels who wouldn’t take my debit!

Oh so simple.

How did I get onto this topic? Ah yes, adult time.

Another good thing that’s happened recently (I’m categorising getting a credit card as a good thing) is that I’ve gotten back to exercising regularly. With all the travel and stuff happening back in April and early May, I hardly had time to go to Absolute, which is my gym in On Nut.

But once I got back from Hanoi in May (the trip after the one I was writing about in my last post), I promptly registered for classes, and now I’m back as a regular going 2-3 times a week. I also bought a new package to extend my membership beyond October. I had been thinking of renewing and there was a pretty good deal, so I went for it.

Typical of me though, I decided on the spot (rather than take the night to think it over like my sales rep suggested) and ended up spending more than I needed to. My initial package was an unlimited package where I can cycle and do yoga and pilates. However, I don’t really do pilates. I’ve got my regular cycling on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and hot yoga on Wednesday. And that’s pretty much it.

So really, I didn’t need to get another unlimited package. But because I didn’t take the time to properly think it over, that’s exactly what I did. Ah well. On the bright side (there’s always a bright side), this will give me impetus to find time to go do pilates! Maybe some weeks I’ll go four times. The more, the healthier! (Is that not how the saying goes? Ah, who cares, language evolves all the time!)

So, if I could only get my eating in control… I’ve been eating particularly unhealthy foods recently. Ice cream, various kinds of carb-based desserts. So, so yummy. My thinking has been: I am exercising, hence am allowed a few treats. But if I’m to actually get my weight down and lose that flab… anyhow, it’s not a big issue. Weight loss is a by-product, not the driving goal. Really, I just want to get healthy and feel fresh and strong.

So yes, back to regular exercising, talking about which I should probably sort out my next Monday’s schedule and book my cycling class.

Until next time!

Love,

Val

13 April 2019

Happy Thai New Year!

I’ve been thinking of updating this blog for a few days now, and finally found some time to sit down in front of my laptop and do it.

In the shower just now, I was thinking of how to position this post. And I came up with this opening sentence: I was always told that change is constant, but only now I am beginning to experience it in my own life.

As is my custom, I went back to read my previous post before beginning to write, and lo and behold! The first sentence in my last post:

Change is kind of nice.

Strange that the theme of last post was also change. I guess it only proves my point: change is constant.

So, why am I saying that I am experiencing change? If you remember, back in December last year many members of my team were laid off due to cost savings. Then I had that tumultuous period at work which I told you about in my two previous posts. And then, just as I thought the dust had settled, a few weeks back – maybe a month by now – my boss told me that she’s leaving the company.

Shock! Horror! My boss is somewhat of an institution at my company. She has been there for 6 years and there was previously no indication of her leaving. But she is. When she told me the news, I was shocked for a few brief instants, but then it sank in. There was also panic as I thought: shit, are they going to hire someone from outside to head the team? I didn’t like the sound of that.

Thankfully, they are moving someone internally to head the team, and guess who that someone is: my previous boss! So, I’m back in my old nest. My two bosses (past, present, and past-cum-future) are very different in management style, but I think I’ll adapt just fine. I’m just relieved they didn’t put in someone completely new. I know I should know better, but uncertainty still scares me.

So that’s the big change. And I have come to accept now that there will undoubtedly soon be further changes at work. Not that I know of anyone planning to leave. It just always is that way. (nods sagely)

There has also been a change on the personal front. Me and my boyfriend (can I call him long-term now that we’ve been together for over 8 months?) – oops – dad has arrived (he’s driving me to the airport). Well then, writing shall resume at the airport!

I’m back! So yes, me and my boyfriend were talking about where we could live from next year. And where previously we were only talking about Hanoi, now we’re also considering Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh city. It’s not my favourite Vietnamese city but I’ve decided to keep an open mind. We’ll scout it out one weekend later this year. So yes, personal life-changing plans also change!

I’m at the airport now about to fly to Hanoi on my third visit to my boyfriend since we started dating. I love Hanoi; for some inexplicable reason it’s one of my favourite cities. So I’m excited to be there for a few days. Tickets were rather expensive as it’s the long holiday (Thai New Year innit) but worth every penny.

I should go and get started on my next book. I’ve been reading regularly. I’m onto my fourth book of the month now, which is pretty good considering we’re only two weeks in: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled. He’s one of my favourite authors and I’m just whizzing through his books. They’ve all been enjoyable so far. I wouldn’t say they were all “fun”, but certainly very immersive, which is what I look for in a book. Fun is overrated anyways.

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the constant change of life.

Until next time.

Love,

Val

18 February 2019

Change is kind of nice.

The reason I’m saying this is I just read my post from 9th January and I’m realising how much things have changed, and how good I feel about that.

I’m not saying all change is good for everyone. Just that I’m rather fond of the the kind of change happening in my life right now.

So I just came back from an eight-day beach vacation with my (now six-month-long) boyfriend (confettis!). We spent twelve days together (counting the time we were in Bangkok), which is the longest we’ve ever been in each other’s presence. And it was fine! More than fine, in fact. It was absolutely wonderful. So we revisited the idea of moving in together (which requires me to quit my job and move to Hanoi).

Over the course of that conversation, we discussed what I’d be doing in Hanoi and what I should do regarding the job situation. The conversation was a short one, but where things stand after are miles apart from where they were before, hence the “good” change I’m talking about.

To give you a bit of background of the events of the past month post-talk with boss (mentioned in my previous post), I did feel better after sharing with her my plan to leave. She made some good suggestions, and the talk gave me perspective on my situation. With that new perspective and a new practice of reviewing my progress and development in our weekly meetings, I have been feeling better at work – re-engaged.

Whereas six weeks ago the thought of staying in this job for another eleven months was difficult to stomach, now it seems fine. More than fine, in fact. I’m enjoying what I’m doing again. It’s still not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life – that much hasn’t changed – but I’m choosing to look at the positives and there are enough to justify staying in it. For now.

So, going into the conversation with my boyfriend ten days ago, my feelings about my job were much more positive than what they were when I burst into hysterics mid-call back in January. And as we discussed my options regarding the move, I asked myself: why do I have to leave at the end of the year? After all, I only plan to move to Hanoi in July next year. Why not stay in the job for another six months and get a solid income, save up some funds for the move?

Initial reasons for leaving the job at the end of the year were two-fold: a) it gives me time to “prepare” for moving to another country and b) my housing contract expires in December. Looking at them again, b) is kind of silly as of course I can extend my contract at the end of the year for another 6-7 months (at least I think I can…).

And as for a), over the course of the conversation we began to look at the move differently. This doesn’t have to be the “be all, end all”. We’re not going to buy a house with a picket fence in Hanoi and settle down. The move may well be temporary. He doesn’t know yet where he wants to be long-term, and neither do I. Hanoi is good as a base for some time, but nothing binds us to it.

So I’m now looking at the move as a transition period. And I don’t think I have to leave my job six months before to prepare for a transition period. I can just leave, then transition, then during that time prepare for what’s coming next. Hanoi can be a place for me to pause and re-evaluate the different pieces of my life, and work out where I want to go next country-wise and professionally.

And now that I’m thinking like that, I’m not so stressed anymore. I don’t need to figure out between now and July 2020 what to do for the rest of my life. In fact, now it seems silly that just a month ago that’s exactly what I expected myself to do. And with the burden of stress now lifted, everything seems lighter. I’m enjoying my job more. I’m less confused, and no longer frustrated. And this is such a big change from just six weeks ago. The state I was back then and now… light years apart.

So yes, I’m happy. This has been a pretty drifty post. I’m in a drifty mood. I just wanted to drop by and check in with you guys. Now it’s time to focus and get back to work.

Lots of love and until next time,

Val

9 January 2019

It’s the new year!

I can’t believe so much time has passed since my last post. And so many things have happened I don’t know where to begin.

To help you catch up on recent important events, I suggest you go here and give it a three-minute read (yes… I have multiple blogs which serve slightly different purposes – don’t ask me why!).

So… I’ve continued to ask the question of where my future lies. And I think I’ve found the answer.

Yesterday was kind of the watershed moment. I had what my boyfriend aptly calls a “young life crisis” (I think I have to be closer to 40 to qualify for a mid-life crisis). For some reason (I’m not sure what), yesterday I felt like I’d reached the end of the straw, so I had two open-heart conversations after work with my former boss in whom I confide a lot and my boyfriend, in which I laid out my thoughts, questions, and fears. First the tears came in trickles, and by mid-conversation with my boyfriend I was in hysterics.

Those two conversations helped me organise my thoughts and verbalise the tangle of mess I currently find myself in, and finally today I came to a decision. And you’re the first to hear about it. My boss will be the second – I’ve asked to have dinner with her after work today.

I’m going to leave my job.

It’s not an easy decision, but I’ve made it. I will leave at the end of the year when my housing contract expires, and today over dinner I want to share with my boss the reason why and work out with her an exit plan to minimise disruption to the projects I’m handling.

My boyfriend also had a great idea last night for me to go part-time in my remaining months at the company – something I hadn’t thought of previously but, if it works, would… well… work for me very well! (Apologies for my clunky English) So I also need to talk to my boss about that.

Why am I leaving? There are a number of reasons. But I think the better question is, “Why do I want to leave?”

And the answer to that is clear: this is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve pondered this for a long time (since July of last year to be precise), and I have come to the conclusion that this is not for me.

What I want to do is subtitles. And – just like I said in my last post in October – I’m not doing enough of it. In fact, I’m doing even less now than I was then. In the past week I already turned down two projects… two! Just because I don’t have enough time.

Each time I turn down a subtitles project, I get the feeling that this is not right. Why am I turning down something I love and dedicating 80% (rough estimate) of my waking hours to doing what I don’t want to be doing. It doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t.

I don’t like to admit that I’m frustrated. I like to be calm and in control. But in recent weeks, if not months, frustrated is what I’ve been, and increasingly so. I’m not happy. And as I realised yesterday, I don’t know if I can do another eleven months of this.

Okay, I realise that if I leave in December, eleven months is exactly what I’ll be doing. But at least after I speak with my boss it will be official – there will be a finality to it that will hopefully sooth me. Plus there’s the part-time option which I’m hoping she will agree to. That will enable me to dedicate more time to subtitling, and also explore other options of what I am good at and might be happy doing.

In fact, since yesterday I’ve been helping a close friend organise logistics for her bridesmaids (of which I’m one, yey!). And I was thinking, “I can do this! I can be an organiser” – a thought with which my friend today concurred when she wrote me, “You could be a wedding organiser,” before adding, “And a great one”. Yes, I think I agree. I think I can be a great wedding organiser.

And the thing is, I’ll never know until I try. And if I don’t make the time to try, I’ll never know.

My former boss was asking me yesterday if me wanting to leave my job is me wanting to jump ship, avoid the challenges, and get back into my comfort zone? And I told him it’s the opposite. My job is my comfort zone. I’m good at it and most of the time I know what I’m doing.

What’s scary for me is out there. It’s jumping off the security of the big corporate ship into turbulent waters. It’s going freelancer full-time. I know it will be difficult. I’ve kind of done it before – and the instability that comes with it is oftentimes crippling. But I think it will be worth it. In fact I’m almost certain it will.

So, as of today, I will start the countdown clock to my moment of truth, when I will finally step off the ledge into the unknown. Subtitles freelancer, part-time writer, maybe part-time teacher, grabbing whatever opportunities I find.

Yes, it’s scary. Do I feel ready? No. But will I ever? Probably not.

So here goes nothing.

Love,

Val

28 October 2018

I am sitting in my room on a lazy Sunday afternoon (haven’t had one of these in a while – lazy Sunday afternoon I mean, not my room – my room’s always there… ha ha). I finished this week’s subtitles project this morning. My room has been semi-cleaned (the bathroom is due for a big cleaning next week, as for the dusting… bleh). My wardrobe is airing (minor mould mishap – you don’t want to know about it). So I decided to sit down and get started with what I’ve been meaning to do for a while, which is to type up my “little black book”.

My little black book is the journal I began in 2013 to document my battle with depression. Actually, “battle” is too strong a word. More like a constant, drawn-out argument which ebbed and flowed with every single day, often hour. I want to type it up for safekeeping. Also, if I ever choose to share parts of it, I will have it ready to share digitally. I typed up the first few days. I’ll continue with the rest in small batches. It’s not depressing or anything. I just get bored typing it up. The entries don’t make for riveting reading. A large part of them is checklists and me rambling on and giving myself pep talks. It’s nice to revisit the past though. Reminds me of how far I’ve come.

There is also another diary I keep which I want to type up one day. It’s my five-year diary which I bought from Japan and started early last year. It’s a smart little thing really. Right now I’m onto my second year. Each night I write down my entry, I look at the next day’s entry from last year. It’s very interesting to see how my life has changed so much in the space of exactly one year.

Talking about entries, I looked at my last entry for this blog before writing this: 1 August 2018. How fitting. Considering that the next day I would meet the man who changed my life. Life is funny that way. One day you’re blogging about a relationship that has fallen apart, and the next you begin one that is far more significant and powerful than any that you’ve ever been in. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful. It’s incredible.

So yes, life has been good. In part because of the new relationship, but also because I’ve been working on myself. I’ve been hard at work (I got a promotion – pop the champagne!) I’ve been nurturing my friendships. And I’ve actually started exercising regularly. Until last week, I had been exercising at least every three days, and usually more often than that. I did sign up to the gym which I mentioned in my last post, though I decided not to start going yet. I will do that in January. So what I’ve been doing is swimming and running at my condo. Which works just as well. I haven’t seen any change in my body. I doubt that I will considering I’m only working out for 30 minutes at a time. But I already feel much better. Fresher. More relaxed. I did drop off this past week, but it’s not a big deal. I’ll get back on the bandwagon either today or tomorrow. Whichever works. I’m feeling quite languorous today so most likely will get back on the treadmill tomorrow.

Oh! One more thing. I started watching House of Cards again and got addicted in a big way. I just binged on the last few episodes of Season Two today (almost emptied out my phone battery) and will start on Season Three now. I think last time I saw it I actually stopped at the end of Season Two, so it will be good to finally watch the part I’ve never seen before.

On a final note, now that I’ve ticked the exercise checklist, I want to work on more subtitles. My quality has been steadily improving, and my editor has commented on that. For one of my episodes in my latest project, a comment actually read “flawless”, which of course put a wide grin on my face. But looking at my work log, I realised how much less work I get these days compared to just a couple of months ago. I actually only worked on three episodes this month, which is no good. The fewer hours do allow more relaxation time, but I think I should ramp it up a little. I don’t know if I want to – it’s so nice to have more time to myself – but I probably should.

That’s it from me today.

I hope you’re all well.

Love,

Val

1 August 2018

Good morning from Luang Prabang.

I’m sitting at Saffron Café overlooking the Mekong River. I have a book in front of me, but am taking a break from the slow reading to check in with you guys. (It’s really quite labourious reading a book when you don’t connect with the way the author is writing – it just doesn’t flow.)

So I want to finally share about the significant change that I mentioned previously: I had met a man and gotten into a secure, loving relationship. But as things go, the relationship ended three weeks ago.

So here I am, alone and boyfriend-less in Laos. It was difficult at first. But after a call with said man (we happily remain good friends) and happy events of last night, I am now truly content and enjoying my solo, relaxing holiday of books and cafés and spa (singular) and cocktails.

I have always enjoyed traveling alone, though I have to admit the prospect of being alone in Luang Prabang for four days having broken up with my boyfriend only three weeks ago was initially daunting. But all is fine now. I am happy. Truly happy.

Life is funny. It throws curveballs at you when you least expect them. On the morning of the big fight, I had no idea events would take such a dramatic and unfortunate turn.

Well, unfortunate is not the right word. As someone once said, good or bad, you have to wait and see.

In any case, what happened happended. I cannot take back what I said in that moment of flash anger, and in a way I don’t wish to. I want to take responsibility for my actions, and deep down I believe things happen for a reason. Our decision to break up was a sober one. Whether good or bad remains to be seen.

Since the break-up I’ve felt like a different person. More… grown up in a way. It’s hard to explain. I have truly surprised myself with how well I have handled the break-up. Yes, there were tears. But in general I have held up and continued to function effectively at work and in my personal life.

This break-up has also stirred up my long latent desire to get into shape. I have re-engaged my personal trainer, and as soon as I’m back in Bangkok I will go to the (somewhat pricey) gym near my condo and sign up to their Pilates and cycling classes – see, I’ve put some thought into this. Now all there’s left is to put the plans in motion. I want to be fit. I want to look fit. I don’t necessarily feel bad or ashamed about my body, but I want to feel excellent. It’s the only area in my life now that I’m not 100% happy with, and getting a body I’m proud to parade around (for lack of a better phrase) is now next on my to-do list.

A side note before I get back to my not-so-enjoyable book, I discovered a new favourite author: Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve read three books by him so far: Never Let Me Go, When We Were Orphans, and The Remains of the Day. All three are excellent. Writing of the highest calibre. Strongly recommended. Too bad I only brought one book by him which I already finished in three sittings. Now I want to labour through the one I’m reading and hope that the other three I have left are more engaging.

So that’s my check in. How have you guys been? No unhappy break-ups on your end I hope. (Happy ones are okay.)

Until next time

Much love,

Val