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

 

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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

9 December 2017

Today is the last day of my CELTA course. Ten weeks have flown by, like a dream. I’ll really miss doing the course and seeing the other trainees, the tutors, and the students. I was already feeling a bit teary at our last feedback session on Thursday. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel today. I hope I don’t cry…

Actually, in the end I’m not so sure if I’ll get an A. My performance in the last 2 TPs which are the most important was subpar. But somehow it’s not so important anymore. For a very important and possibly life-changing reason.

Suffice it to say, I feel very lucky. Very very lucky.

Back on the work front, I started my job at DKSH part-time a month ago. And things have been going swimmingly well. The best thing is I love the team I’m working with. They’re such talented and nice and helpful people. No office drama or anything like that. I’m also in a very good place in a very big organisation, a big step up from where I was before. The cherry on top is that I feel the work is meaningful and I enjoy it. I’ve finished one project so far. It was daunting at first, but turned out to be just the right level of challenging.

And with the new year will come another big change: I’m moving to the city. I went condo viewing yesterday, and after 15+ rooms I found ‘the one’. Not a flashy room by any count. Just a simple one but spacious and well-equipped. It’s not ready to be lived in yet; a visit to IKEA is in order. But home-shopping is the fun part! Going to sign the contract this Thursday and if all goes well I’ll be moving in in just under 2 weeks. 

So yes, that’s where my life is. All is good and well. Life is pretty enjoyable right now, and I’m happy. 

I hope all is going well for you too.

Love, 

Val 

28 October 2017

I handed in my first CELTA assignment last week, and am about to hand in the second one today. There are four assignments overall, so it appears I’ve reached the half-way mark.

This Tuesday I will be teaching my fourth assessed lesson of eight. This course has gone by in a flash – it’s crazy.

So far, I’ve been pretty happy with the course and my performance. Observing other trainees’ lessons has been eye-opening, and the input sessions on Saturdays have all provided much information that can and will be applied to my own teaching. Having learnt all this, I almost want to turn back time so I can re-plan and re-execute the many classes I had at Wall Street English. In retrospect, they could have been much better. 

We received our global evaluation after one-third of the course last week. I’m off to “a good start”, which pretty accurately sums up how I feel about how I’m doing. I’ve put care and effort into my lesson plans, and they have borne fruit in class. We’re getting our first assignment back today. I’m excited to find out what the tutor thinks of it. I was very detailed in completing it and reviewed it many times. I hope he is pleased.

A pleasant surprise is that so far the work has been manageable, even with the amount of subtitles work I keep heaping onto myself. Apart from working on Asia’s Next Top Model Season 1 for iflix, I took on a 6-episode French crime series La Mante for Netflix. Which I probably shouldn’t have. And I did reject a project previously – one much shorter and more manageable than the French series. But getting to listen to so much French and putting my French to good use (for pronouns and nuances), as well as working on a whole series, that was too good to turn down. I’ve managed it fine so far though. I can work at a speed now where I can finish two episodes in a day if I really sit down with it. So I’ve been able to work through them alongside my CELTA work.

A good thing happened yesterday actually. My Netflix project manager wanted to assign me another French series, a famous one this time, Marseille. I knew I couldn’t possibly handle one episode every two days, so I asked for three because “I’m working and studying at the same time”. Then in a very nice way she said that it was okay, that I’d better not take the risk since the show seems complicated. Then she said that there are other shows and if anything comes up she’ll definitely let me know. That was very nice to hear. I guess putting in a lot of work to maintain a high standard is bearing fruit. It feels nice to know that she sees me as a trusted hand.

I start my new job this Thursday. I can’t believe it’s happening so soon. I went in to sign the documents last week and boy was there a lot to get through. “Learning and Development Specialist” – it doesn’t roll off the tongue yet and if you ask me I still have only a tentative idea of what I’ll be doing. I hope to solidify that vision over the course of the next few weeks. It’s a new beginning, and I’m excited. Not too excited because I don’t generally get that excited about anything anymore, except maybe for coming up with an awesome translation for my subtitles work. But yes, excited nevertheless.

Thank you for reading another long post. Much is happening in my life, for a change. I hope you are all well and busy doing what you love.

Much love,

Val

12 October 2017

Today is my fifth day on the CELTA course, and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it. 

I went into it not knowing much about what it would entail, except that there will be a lot of lesson planning and assignments and that I’ll be working late into the night. 

There has been no burning of the midnight oil yet, thankfully. And I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. 

I’ve taught one get-to-know-students class. It was twenty minutes of setting up and playing a game. Then this past Tuesday I had my first 45-minute assessed teaching practice – TP in CELTA lingo. I think it went really well. Barring that I couldn’t do all of the activities (I had to shelve two), I felt I achieved most of my lesson aims. The students learnt something, and most of all they seemed to enjoy themselves.

That’s how I’ve always assessed my classes: the laughter. Maybe I shouldn’t do that, but the classes I’ve felt have gone better at Wall Street English were all classes where the students were relaxed and laughing. It’s especially satisfying when we can share jokes as a class.

I’ll be teaching one class a week from now until the end of the course – 8 TP in total. Lesson plans are provided for the first two, but after next week I’ll be on my own (ahem, “free to explore”). I’ve looked at my lesson plan for next week. And already the guidelines are less specific and leave much room for imagination, which is a good thing I guess?

One annoying thing about doing the course though is having to lug my laptop around. I’ve requisitioned my dad’s laptop backpack, thank God for that. But it’s still a pain to carry. I’d buy a lighter laptop but that’s not really a necessity no matter how I look at it. As for the commute, I don’t actually mind it. It takes about an hour and a half, which for me is bearable; I’m sitting down for the whole journey and it’s air-conditioned.

Now that I’ve tackled my first TP, the next thing on the agenda is the assignments. I’ve got four in total, and the first one is due in a little over a week. It’s a language analysis task. I’ve looked at it twice. Today before class I’ll have another scrutiny of the examples and that will probably give me a much better idea of how much work I have ahead of me. But from what I’ve seen it’s nothing unmanageable.

If there’s one thing in my life that’s semi going out of control (apart from my eating), it would be my subtitles work – I’m having a hard time keeping the hours down. I do really like doing it but most of the time I wonder whether I’m taking on too much. I don’t want to rush through my assignments and have my quality drop. I just finished a series of documentaries on the wonders of the flesh (yes, I’m talking about sex), and was promptly assigned Season 1 of Asia’s Next Top Model. I’ve done Season 3 so I’m used to the style and sequencing and vocabulary, so it will be easy work, but 13 episodes are still a lot to get through. Also, I want to keep some time free on the side for Netflix. I’ve asked to solely translate a Japanese show for them and new episodes come out every week.

But I’m not complaining. It’s something I really enjoy doing. I’m learning loads. And I’m getting paid for it! *Mini fireworks erupting*

Anyways, back to the CELTA, I’m learning so much. It’s awesome. I’ve met some really cool people on the course – trainer, trainees, students. I hope over the course of ten (nine now) I’ll get to know them better as people. We don’t really get much time to socialise but we get a few words in here and there. And I’ve been trying to go in early so I can speak with the others before class. That’ll change next month though because I’ll have to work until 5pm and it’ll take me some time (hopefully not more than 40 minutes) to get from the office (in Bangchak) to the school (in Silom). We’ll see. If it doesn’t work out I’ll change one of my working days to Wednesday.

That was quite a long post wasn’t it? I began writing this when I got on the MRT train and now I’m only 3 stations away from my stop. Seeing that yesterday I was busy texting my dad and missed my stop, I should probably put down my virtual pen here.

I hope you’re all doing swell. Until next time.

Love,

Val

28 September 2017

It has been exactly 20 days since my grandpa passed away.

It was very sudden, and I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.

I got the phone call from my mom that he was in hospital on the morning of Friday 1st September. “Grandpa admitted himself again. I’m going to visit him on Sunday,” she said. I didn’t think it was anything serious. It’s not rare that grandpa checks himself into hospital. He has a weak heart and is going on 88 years old. Every time he bounces back and is home in a few days.

I didn’t plan on visiting him with my mom on Sunday. I had subtitles to translate and I thought it would be like every time. Thinking back, I feel a little guilty for that.

Then, around 3pm, I was sitting at home with my mom, about to start watching Music Bank, a Korean pop music show, when my mom’s phone rang. It was my uncle calling. He was on his way to the hospital. Grandpa had acute renal failure and was in critical condition. I knew things were seriously wrong when my mom, still on the line, folded the newspaper she was reading, getting ready to leave.

The whole family, my mom, dad, and I rushed to the hospital. The sight that greeted me in the communal patients’ room was shocking to say the least. My grandpa was in bed and was clearly in the most critical condition out of everyone in the room taking into account the swarm of Medical students around his bed. For probably the second or third time in my life, I couldn’t breathe. It’s as if someone sucked all the air out of the room. I felt faint. I had to go to the bathroom and eventually had to leave the room. I couldn’t be in there. It couldn’t be grandpa on that bed.

That day, his heart stopped beating for 15 minutes. The doctors brought him back and by that evening he was tucked into his bed in the ICU for cardiac patients. He was in a much better condition. More peaceful. And he recognised all of us. I went home still feeling apprehensive, but there was a glimmer of hope.

The next day was Saturday. I went to visit him in the evening. He saw me and smiled. He seemed like grandpa again, but he was very weak. His hands were in gloves to prevent him pulling out his life support tube, so I couldn’t hold his hand. He was on the special dialysis machine. His right leg was connected to the machine that was purifying his blood via a long tube. Tubes, there were tubes everywhere.

On Sunday, I went early in the day. There were 2 periods where we could visit ICU patients: the morning session between 11am and 1pm, and the evening session between 5pm and 8pm. He was much more ‘alive’. He was fidgeting a lot, and kept mouthing that he was thirsty. The nurse gave him a few drops and suggested that I put lip balm on him. So I went to the 7/11 downstairs and bought Vaseline, which I put on his lips. At one point he managed to pull the glove out from his left hand, so I got to hold his hand. Admittedly, it was to prevent him from pulling out the life support, but still. I held his hand tight and he held mine. The strength in his arm was surprising. He was pulling my arm close to his face and inspecting it. The bad news was he was also inspecting his glove-free hand, which by this time was pretty swollen and purple. I could see disbelief in his eyes. I guess that should have told me something, but I chose not to see. I left the hospital on Sunday feeling very optimistic. We started talking about when he’d be able to go home.

On Monday, I woke up early. My dad was waiting to speak with me. “Grandpa may have passed,” he said. I didn’t know how to respond. He had successfully taken out his life support tube during the night and his heart stopped beating for half an hour. They managed to pull him back, but there was no guarantee in what state he would be now. Save for a miracle, it seemed he could pass any minute.

I initially didn’t plan on going to the hospital that day because I didn’t think grandpa would recognise anybody anymore. But then my uncle called and said that he thought grandpa could recognise him. So I got dressed and got ready to leave for the hospital with my mom. When we got to the hospital, my uncle was sitting in front of the escalator, waiting for us, all smiles. “He’s exactly like yesterday! It’s a miracle!” Grandpa was fully conscious and as alive as ever, but he was full of complaints. He was thirsty. His legs hurt.

Then he stared at me and mouthed “close”. It took me a while to understand what he wanted to say. He looked up at all the tubes and machines surrounding him, and mouthed the word again. He wanted me to switch everything off. He wanted to rest in peace, not suffer anymore. I pretended not to understand and made silly jokes. He looked at me with imploring eyes and nodded. It was okay to let him go. I smiled. The decision was out of my hands. “Wait for Uncle. He’s flying from the States. He’ll get here tomorrow,” was all I could say.

Tuesday was the last day I saw grandpa alive. He was much weaker that day, but I had a mission. I wanted to say goodbye. And said goodbye I did. I told him not to worry about me, that I was really okay. He tried to say something to me. I put my ear next to his lips. I could hear and feel his breath coming out, but couldn’t make out the words. His last word to me will forever remain a mystery. My mother and I stood by his bedside. I held his hand, which by now had no strength left. It was so swollen and purple, so weak. I held it softly. I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. Grandpa smiled when he saw that, but at one point it seemed as if he was starting to cry too. I asked my mom if she wanted to go home. And we left.

On Wednesday I went to the hospital, but I wasn’t feeling well that day so I went home without seeing grandpa. It was okay, I told myself. I had already said my goodbyes. No regrets.

On Thursday my mom went alone to the hospital. Later she told me how he was in pain, how he was fidgeting so much, trying to free himself from the tubes and restraints. Thursday was the day the relatives were given the bad news and a lot of them went to say their goodbyes. My uncle had arrived from the States on Wednesday and my grandpa’s three children had agreed to stop the dialysis and let him go in peace.

On Friday, according to my mom, grandpa slept peacefully. He was unconscious, but he didn’t seem to be in pain. His face looked ‘better’. My mom said that gave her a a little hope that he would get better. It was on that night, around 9:30pm, that he passed. I found out the news in the morning from my dad. I didn’t feel anything. I guess I was prepared from the moment I first saw him the Friday before.

On Saturday, I went to work as usual. I found out when I was about to get off work that the funeral would begin that evening. Family and friends would gather to send my grandpa off, pouring blessed water onto his corpse. After work I rushed home, got changed, got myself into a cab and headed straight to the temple. I made it. I looked at him, sleeping peacefully, lifeless. I poured the orange water (why is it orange anyways?) on his hand, lightly squeezed it for the last time and told him to sleep well.

I went to the prayers session on Sunday – exactly one week after I had to fight to keep grandpa’s hand away from the life support tube. The praying was quick. Then I went to have dinner with my uncles and aunts from Uttaradit – my father’s older brothers and their wives had come down for the day to attend the funeral.

That whole week, my mom went to the temple every day. I wanted to go with her, but I had a lot of subtitles work on my hands. It was the next Saturday that I went to the temple again, for the cremation ceremony. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my younger cousin, handing out the commemorative books which had photographs of the family – one of which was of me and grandpa that I’d taken a few years back when I visited him alone at his house and posted on Instagram. A moment of happiness captured for posterity. I put the paper flower in the cremation chamber and told grandpa that I’d see him again. After all the family had said our goodbyes, the officials closed the door and lighted the fire. And like that, grandpa’s body was cremated.

On Sunday, we went to the temple early to collect his remains. The tiny pieces of bones were neatly arranged in the form of a miniature human body. We picked out some pieces to keep in the family ancestral chamber at Chanasongkram temple, and the rest we took out to the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand and dropped to the bottom of the sea. We finally laid our grandpa to rest.

Grandpa had battled for years with coronary diseases and diabetes, but in the end we lost him to a simple viral infection from – our guess is – a shrimp and zucchini stir-fried dish that he ate for dinner at home the Tuesday evening before he admitted himself to hospital.

Life really is unpredictable.

This post was written so I don’t forget every minute of what happened, but I hope it also serves as a reminder for you all that those we love will not stay with us forever. Let’s make our time with them count so when the time comes to part we have no regrets.

Love,

Val

 

 

 

 

27 September 2017

Today is the first day of my last week at Wall Street.

It has come, the beginning of the end.

Strangely, the overwhelming feeling is excitement. I don’t know whether I’m excited to go to work or to not have to go to work anymore. In any case, I’m buzzing.

I start the CELTA next Tuesday. For that I feel more dread than excitement. For now. I’m sure it’ll be okay… I think?

So I’m working today – half-day – then tomorrow – a full day – then half-days on Friday and Saturday, and that’s it. I’ve organised to have lunch with some of the people from work this week, and I’m looking forward to those.

Saturday is going to be weird. I end my working life at Wall Street with a class actually. I’m teaching high-level students about aliens. I haven’t planned it yet. Wow, my last class at Wall Street already. There have been many – good and not-so-good ones. I’ll miss them all, the challenges, the laughs.

People move on and life goes on. Though I may be missed for a time, Wall Street will be just fine without me.

One week to go. I’ll do my best to get things done right this week.

Love,

Val