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

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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

23 May 2018

Hello stranger.

Or to be more accurate, hello from a stranger. I’ve been away from my baby (this blog) for so long that I feel like a stranger on my own page.

I’ve been thinking about writing an entry for many weeks now, perhaps even months. And one thing has held me back: the most significant change in my life these past months is one I want to keep private. So every time I thought about updating my blog, I couldn’t answer the question of what I’m going to write about.

But here I am, not to tell you about the change, but to check in on other aspects of my life and re-connect with the blogger in me.

I am sitting in the training room at my company, DKSH. It’s been almost six months since I officially started in my role, and I feel increasingly like a fish in water. I am in today’s training as an observer. The fact that I am able to give valuable feedback both on delivery and content I consider an achievement. And I am taking meticulous notes, which I’ll consolidate (I use this word a lot now) and share with the facilitator over lunch, which I’ll organise in the next two weeks.

Except that, of course, right now I’m not listening and am here writing you guys. In my defense, the participants are sharing findings from their group discussion and the content here is of limited value to me.

In my last post, I mentioned signing up to the gym. Well, the gym is closing down at the end of the month. I have only a few classes left so I’m not too bothered. I’ll miss the community aspect and the nice ladies at reception (shame on me for not knowing their names), but one very positive thing came out of my subscription: I now have a personal trainer. He was one of the trainers I was having classes with, and I have now engaged him as my personal trainer. He is trained in many types of exercise and is pretty responsive to my body condition and requirements, so I’m pretty happy.

I’ve been very bad with exercising in general though. For about a month I was doing a stellar job: going to classes, swimming, running. But it petered out and I haven’t had the discipline to get back into it.

On the whole though, life is good. I am enjoying work at DKSH. The few students I’m teaching I enjoy interacting with. And the subtitles jobs keep coming. Not on their own, but – and I’m proud of this – because I’m proactively asking for them. I’ve got a regular show every weekend which I enjoy watching and translating, and am beginning to get some other stuff during the week. It’s a bit of a crunch to do subtitles during the week, but I’m able to do them fast enough now that it’s possible.

There’s one thing that I should change in my life though. I might be spending more money than I should be. Well actually I do know that I’m spending more than I should. I still save up a few 10ks every month, but I can do much better. If I’m more restrained in my spending, fewer fancy meals at restaurants. There are perfectly acceptable, much cheaper options in my neighbourhood.

But overall I’m happy. Life is good. I was thinking this morning while walking to work: “I’ve got this. I’ve (to an extent) figured it out.” And that felt good.

How have the past months treated you? Where are you now in life?

Until next time.

Much love,

Val

4 February 2018

2018! One month in and it no longer feels weird to write “2018” in dates. I no longer live in the past! Weeeeee

I hope the beginning of 2018 has been good to you. It certainly has been to me. I made a lot of positive changes, of which I’ll mention the most important: I subscribed to the gym!

To be accurate, it’s not really a gym, but a cardio gym with only classes. I’ve been struggling for (and I checked my dates) a month now to get back into exercising. Though my condo (which now feels like a home away from home) has a gym and a pool, the number of times I’ve been to use both (gym: 2; pool: 1) is abysmal. What happens is that when I get home, I feel all sweaty and have an irresistible urge to shower. And once you’ve showered and had dinner and feel all full and sleepy, then… you know the story.

So after many weeks of raking my brains for a solution to this self-created problem, the solution presented itself in the form of a brochure by the coffee machine in the office which two weeks ago caught my attention. It’s the brochure for said cardio gym. The price (though not low) is reasonable. And it solves the “get home feel tired shower then sleep” issue because I can go straight after I get off work! I went to visit the premises. All is new and clean, so I signed up.

And I’ve been twice (one BodyCombat class, which was a bit boring but good nonetheless, and a BodyJam class, which is basically a dance class and was amazing). The classes were practically empty (I was the only one in the BodyJam class), which I like, and the instructors were good. So I’ve sorted out my exercise issue and am optimistic going forward. I plan to go twice a week (which is how often I need to go to use up all my classes before my package expires), and at least once if I have a particularly busy week. My only fear now is that the gym, empty as it is, will close down before my 4 months are up. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!

My next issue to solve now is that I’m completely useless after dinner. That’s problematic because I have to teach some nights and (starting tomorrow) will take Korean classes myself on Mondays. Because I have dinner as soon as I get home and am showered, the rest of the evening (a good two hours) is completely wasted in a haze of sleepiness. I mentioned this to my dad this morning and he suggested going downstairs for a walk by the canal to digest, which is a pretty awesome idea. I’ll implement that starting Monday and see how it goes. Another issue solved!

Last time I checked in with you guys, I talked about my concern about not being able to manage time effectively. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem anymore. In January, I had (if I remember correctly) six big subtitles projects for the two companies and though the stress level was high in some weeks, I survived fine. Going forward the workload will actually be less because one of my subtitles company changed its policy and will no longer be giving work to freelancers, which works in my favour. So now I can focus my efforts on the one company and can take more projects from them. A slight issue now concerning that is that my project coordinator changed (this is the third person now), and he still hasn’t assigned me any projects. I’ll give it a few more days then write him on Wednesday to see what’s going on. With my high expenses (rent and living in the city and social taxes and all that), I do need the subtitles if I’m to save up for the future.

So yes, 2018 has been good to me. I hope you are also having a wonderful start to the year.

Until next time!

Love,

Val

 

26 December 2017

I’m writing this post from my condo. I’m not sure how to call it yet – room, condo, home. It feels like a bit of everything. Home is still a bit of a stretch, but we’re getting there.

I’m very happy with myself for choosing this room. Of all the rooms I went to view, this wasn’t the best-looking, the most well-decorated, or the most well-situated, but probably the most “homey” room. I didn’t even think it was the most functional room, but it has turned out to be. This was one of the only rooms where the table isn’t in the kitchen, and now I’m very glad that this is the case. It’s so much nicer to work in the wide space of the living room, with light streaming in through the large bedroom windows, rather than in the cramped and not well-ventilated kitchen.

I was initially a bit skeptical because the table is right next to the shoe cabinet, but smell hasn’t been an issue at all. In fact, the room smells very nice thanks to the scent I bought from Bath & Body Works (where I properly splashed a considerable chunk of my money on my first visit – sure to be the first of many).

In short, life at the condo – at least the beginning of it – has been very nice. There have been spells of loneliness in between work and in the evenings when I come home and no one is there. But I’m sure that will change soon as I get used to the solitude of living on my own. So far I’m loving having the space all to myself.

I mentioned in my last post that a visit to IKEA was in order. And visited IKEA I did. 6,602 baht later, my room is now equipped for living. I didn’t feel like I picked up that many items while browsing, so when the cashier lady announced the sum I had to ask her to repeat it one more time. I’m particularly happy with my cushion (I have a big thing for soft, cushy cushions) which I’m now using as a bum-support (I don’t have a better word to describe it) for my work chair which is super hard.

I had my first visitors yesterday. My closest friend and his girlfriend came by and we celebrated Christmas together over (almost) a bottle of wine. We spent half the afternoon catching up (we hadn’t seen each other for a while), then went for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant at the community mall. Oh boy was the food good. My beef stew served with a fresh, warm baguette was delicacy to a T (I looked up how to write that).

I’m looking forward to the New Year when I’ll start working full-time. I’m slightly dreading it too because I’m not 100% certain of my ability to master time management. I’m going to be working at DKSH, doing subtitles work for two companies, teaching my private students, and on top of that I’ll have to find time to spend with myself and (ahem) my significant other (this is another new development), and my family and my friends. Now that I see it in writing, I’m dreading it indeed. It’s going to be a crunch but mankind has accomplished much more!

Did I mention my condo has a garden at the back that opens onto the canal? It’s a great space for relaxing, and possibly jump-roping in the mornings/evenings. (Yes, I bought a jump rope in the (hopefully not misguided) belief that I’ll dedicate a significant portion of my day to regular exercise – yet another thing to add to the list…)

Speaking of the list, I’ve got to get back to subtitles. I’m translating a documentary on African wildlife now. Not the most entertaining project I’ve had so far, but the process itself is fun.

I hope you’re all well.

Happy Boxing Day!

Love,

Val