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

Advertisements

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

30 August 2017

Another big news: I went in for a second interview yesterday at what I’ll now call the company, and I really liked what I heard. So this morning I shot the managers who interviewed me an e-mail saying, word for word, that “I’d really like to take on this challenge if you’ll give me the opportunity”.

I had turned down said opportunity once before, in an e-mail from what seems like light years ago. This was after my first interview for a Coordinator role. They hadn’t given me the job, but I withdrew my application before I could find out either way.

I thought long and hard this time, and finally decided to go with it. It’s a scary new journey (if they take me), but ultimately I believe it’s one worth taking. The position I interviewed for this time is a crossover between a project manager and an analyst role. I’d be in charge of – and I’ve said this a million times to a million people in the past 24 hours – coming up with and implementing measures to ensure effectiveness of training, within and outside the classroom. The job would be project-based. I come up with them. I run them.

Sounds good, right? I’m not sure if you know this, but I’ve always been interested in behavioural economics. I could say I was ‘obsessed’ at one point. Game theory and all. I used to tear through volumes and volumes of ‘pop economics’ books and lap up theories about how people make decisions and what influences them. And now, in what appears to be a culmination of my studies, I’ll get to apply the science in a real-world situation. A mass experiment, if you’d like. And get paid for it.

So it’s a pretty sweet deal from the personal interest side of it. The downside of it is that I’ll have to work in a quiet partitioned office (which I hadn’t been so keen on in the past). On the (literally) bright side, the office is nice and small, airy, and I can have the table by the window (according to my would-be boss). The glare from the sunlight will be horrible there though, so I don’t know. Whoa, slow down. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The real downside of it is that I’ll have to give up a large chunk of my subtitles work. I think I’ll be okay with Netflix. But the other company I’m not so sure about. There’s a set requirement of how many programme hours their freelancer has to undertake per month. It’ll be really difficult, probably impossible, to reach that requirement, so I may well have to give up being their contracted freelancer.

In any case, it’s decided. I’ve sent the e-mail. There’s no going back. Now what’s left is to sit tight and wait for their call, be it the heralder of yes news or no news. The wonderful thing in all this is that there is no bad news. There’s just one scary path, and a comfortable one. If I don’t get the job, I’m perfectly happy with what I have. If I get the job, it’ll scare me to death but I’ll learn a lot along the way, wherever that way may lead.

So, let’s wait and see. We also never got round to discussing the salary. I’ll be happy if they don’t skimp and offer what I asked for. But I also can’t help hoping for just a little bit more…

Humans, what greedy creatures we are.

With love,

Val

25 August 2017

Big news: I quit my job two days ago.

And I realised one thing about myself: I make major decisions pretty quickly.

The decision to go part-time was made over the course of one evening, and this one was too, well overnight if you count the time I spent in bed calculating how much I can earn from only translating subtitles.

Here’s how the decision came about.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, I was at home working on my subtitles (a Turkish historical series that’s a right b*tch to translate). Then I started having a conversation with my subtitles supervisor at my new company (I’m officially freelancing for two media providers now, yey!)

We were negotiating my monthly workload, and it became blindingly clear during the intense discussion that it’s just not going to work. I’m starting my CELTA teacher training course on 3rd October, which is going to be 13 and a half hours per week, then there’s homework on top of that. Then there’s the ten hours of show that my supervisor and I agreed on, then there’s my teaching (I got 3 new students hooray!). And then I still want to continue working for my first subtitles company. The shows are varied and interesting. I get to translate Korean content (from an English source though). Plus, the new project coordinator is super nice and I don’t want to disappear from her radar.

And that with 20 hours at Wall Street English on top? I might die, or go crazy, which is entirely possible.

So on the morning of the 23rd, I called my manager and informed him that I am resigning at the end of September. I’ve filled in the resignation form and will tender it first thing when I see him today.

Life without Wall Street English will be strange. It’s become a big part of my life in the past year and a half – the people, the place, the atmosphere. But life must go forward, and something’s gotta give.

Hello freelancer life! May the Gods be kind.

Love,

Val

7 August 2017

The beginning of a post from 2 August 2017:

I’m sitting in an air-conditioned café, sipping an over-heated americano. 

It’s been a long morning. 

I woke up at six. Got ready. Had muesli for breakfast, then left the house around seven.

Oh how things change.

On the morning of the 2nd, I was waiting for my subtitles translation interview and testing session at iflix, where a former manager at Wall Street English is now working.

I had the interview, did the test, got the job. My future in the subtitles translation world was looking rosy.

Then my universe was turned upside down when, a few days ago, I was approached by the former National Service Manager of Wall Street English regarding a job opening.

As you may or may not know, I am not currently looking for a full-time job. I’m happy with my part-time and freelance work. 

But – and you’re going to think me shallow for this – it pays so well. So, so very well. Well actually if you take into account all the revenue I get from my freelance work I’m currently earning higher than the base amount. But salaries can be negotiated and the high base salary is an indicator of the significance of the position.

And that attracts me.

So I expressed my interest, sent off my CV and cover letter, completed the online personality questionnaire, and this morning finished my 10,000-word long interview answers. (Overboard? That’s me.)

The more I prepared for this interview and though about it, the more I want it (which is probably a good sign). The job is a coordinator position in a large multinational. It will be challenging. It will utilise all my skills. It will expand my business horizons and grow my potential. And hopefully I’ll be working with competent, passionate people if the HR department have been doing their job properly.

I think I can do it. I really do. I think my skills set is a good match for the position. I think it is about time I had a challenging job. I’ve been coasting along for the past few years, time to buckle down and do some serious work.

The interview is tomorrow, at 8:30am. I’ve arranged to meet my grandfather – a corporate veteran – in the morning to ask for his advice.

The rest of today will be me reviewing my answers and trying not to think about the interview. I’m on my way to three appointments: coffee with a dear, dear friend, an interview with a PhD student/university lecturer who’s doing research on subtitles translation for her dissertation, then dinner with my group of friends from school. Which I think is perfect. 

I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’m glad it’s happening sooner rather than later though. 

Phew.

*Deep breaths*

Here goes…