5 May 2017

I was up at 4:30am yesterday. To do – you guessed it (or maybe not) – subtitles work.

My work coordinator wrote me earlier this week to ask if I’m now available to take on assignments, to which I happily replied with an affirmative. So she gave me a project to work on, a Korean variety show which is being aired by Netflix. (I didn’t know Netflix does Korean programmes.)

It’s fun. It’s different. There’s a lot of on-screen text – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve watched Korean variety shows. And the style of translating is different from the American shows I’ve worked on, though I can’t describe exactly how. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched many more Korean shows with Thai subtitles; that’s why I have a clearer idea how the mood and tone should be for this kind of show.

I woke up at 6am today to continue working on it. 6am is now considered late for me, which I think is a good thing. I’m generally an early bird when my laziness isn’t preventing me from getting up. I feel fresh and work best in the mornings. So by getting up earlier my productivity should go up.

I had my first part-time day at work yesterday. Damn 4 hours is short. I arrived and left before I got bored. Today I’m working the whole 8 hours though so we’ll see how I feel towards the end of the day. I’m not looking forward to doing the full day, though I’m looking forward to picking up my old duties and seeing how much I remember. This Coaching job is primarily about execution. Not much creativity and planning go into it. Bad in some ways, but good for me to work on my recently lacking discipline.

One alarming thing I want to mention though, is that although I woke up at 4:30am yesterday and only left for work around 3:30pm, I managed to get in only 3 hours of subtitles work. Yes, I did have a class to teach, but it was a one-hour class and I only spent one and a half hour preparing for it. Let’s say I spent 30 minutes eating and another 15-30 getting dressed. I would still have had 4 and a half hours, which I managed to spend doing God-knows-what.

I need to be more careful with my time if going part-time (and cutting my salary by more than half) isn’t going to go to waste.

Talking about time, I should get back to my programme now. I was working on it for a little over an hour and wanted to take a break. I figured writing a blog entry is a much more productive use of my time than scrolling through Facebook, so here I am.

Here’s to productivity and Korean shows! *raise invisible glass*

Val

p.s. I had the talk with my boss by the way. It went well. I don’t think he grasped the gravity of the situation from my point of view, but I was straightforward and I think we both gained something from it.

p.p.s. I was teaching in the Speaking Center yesterday and it was great. I hadn’t ‘taught’ so much at work for a long time, and I really did feel that I was making infinitely more impact helping students in the Speaking Center than sitting in my room planning students’ studies and giving advice on how to practice using English. I used to hate being in the Speaking Center but I’m seeing it with new eyes now. I hope I can keep up the enthusiasm as the months roll by.

p.p.p.s. I’m really struggling with my beanbag. I was sitting on it for many many hours yesterday, with the result that I woke up today with an ache in my back. My dad and I had gone to pick out a desk and chair. The problem is though that the desk in the colour that I want (black) was out of stock; they had only white ones which didn’t look nearly as good. We’ve been waiting on the black for over a week (maybe two) now. I have no idea when they’ll be re-stocked but I’m not about to cop out and go for an inferior model. If I’m going to spend 3k on something, it’d better be something I can’t take my eyes off!

28 April 2017

Yesterday was a momentous day.

Something happened which made me extremely upset. Angry upset, not sad upset.

I didn’t write about it yesterday. I didn’t think of it. I’m glad I didn’t. I was too emotional and would have written something extremely accusatory. That’s not cool. Not even when you’re angry upset.

I learnt yesterday that I had been excluded from discussions concerning the future of my soon-to-be-vacant position at work.

A little background: I decided to go part-time starting in May, which means one of two things – either someone takes my position or it is scrapped entirely.

When I had talked briefly to the big boss after making my decision known, he had mentioned that my immediate supervisors would discuss what to do with the position.

I hadn’t brought up the topic with either of my two immediate bosses, because it’s the end of the month and there’s pressure to reach service and sales targets. I thought better to wait until the beginning of May to sit down and plan what to do together.

Until I learnt yesterday that all had pretty much been decided, without my knowledge nor involvement in any form. I heard it mention in passing from a few other staff that someone is going to take my role, so I went to one of my immediate supervisors and asked her. She confirmed the news.

My reaction at the beginning was muted. The news made me feel down, but I didn’t quite know how I felt about it. After a short while though I realised I was really upset about it, and while chatting to a friend I figured out why I was so upset: I felt that by not seeking my input, I was being unceremoniously cast aside.

Not asking the person who piloted the role and worked at it for five months what she thought should happen to it after she left? Uncool. It shows how little I am valued by the team. And I am – as my friends and even parents agree I should be – extremely hurt.

So I asked to leave work early yesterday. I started crying a little bit in my supervisor’s office. She was concerned, but I didn’t tell her anything. I didn’t feel the time was right.

Cried with two of my friends at work in the supermarket after while waiting for my dad. They were supportive of my rage.

Then having got to a different mall (I couldn’t leave the mall I was working at fast enough. I wanted to get away so badly I went to sit and wait for my dad in the parking lot), I decided I wanted a day off work. So I called my supervisor and asked if it would impact the sales team too much if I didn’t come in the next day. Her answer made me even angrier than I already was.

She mentioned that they had meant to have the colleague who’s replacing me start calling the next day anyways. So I calmly told her what list to call, expressed my relief (genuine relief) that someone was helping finish my work, and thanked her for letting me take the day off (bless her she never asked me why – she probably knew).

The reason I got angrier was that her answer showed the decision to keep the position and replace me was pretty solid. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t have made plans for my colleague to start calling. And when were they going to tell me? On the day? Not at all?

So I didn’t go in to work today. I went and watched a movie, a very fun movie (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) with my dad. Had a generally good day. Inevitably thought about the situation at work from time to time. OK, fine – a lot of times. But I’ve cooled down.

Still upset. Still angry. But no longer emotional.

I hope I can find half an hour, fifteen minutes even, tomorrow to sit down with one of the bosses who were in the decision-making process. I want to officially let him know how pissed off I am. Calmly, politely, firmly.

I don’t know how that talk will go, but I really hope I can have it tomorrow. He knows something’s up. He said this morning that he was worried about me. Maybe he has an idea why I’ve asked to take the day off, what I’m upset about.

Anyways, I’m not feeling any surge of emotion (positive or negative) writing this, which is a good sign that I’ve overcome my feelings. If anything I feel determination to make my stance known.

All is good. All is good.

Hope this doesn’t happen to you guys, because in the event it does make one feel like shit.

Love,

Val

UPDATE: As it turns out, today is also a momentous day. I finished revising my short story about a dragon and a boy, “Cara”, just now. MY VERY FIRST SHORT STORY. Yey. Now it’s time to get feedback from my immediate circle. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they like it…

18 April 2017

This time last week, I was waiting for the van to pick us (my dad, mom, and me) up to go to the airport. The van would arrive in a quarter of an hour, my dad’s side of the family in tow.

We would fly to Japan on the night of the 11th, or rather, the morning of the 12th. We would spend four days in sunny, snowy, then rainy Japan. Now the four days are over, and we’re back in Thailand’s boiling heat.

In Japan, time seemed to go by at different speeds. During the first two days, it went by very slowly. On our second night, sat in my hotel room, I was surprised that we had only reached half of the trip. So much time seemed to have gone by. We had two nights more – there was plenty of time.

But the third night came and went, and before I knew it I was in our last hotel room – our time in good old Japan had run out.

Was it a good trip? Difficult to say. It was very nice to be in Japan. Japan is generally a very nice place to be in. But the nature of our visit (we went with a tour group, a tour group so large it filled a chartered flight) was such that we couldn’t really see, or do, much.

Most of the trip was spent riding on the bus. Granted, it was a very nice bus. But it’s not really the kind of traveling I prefer. I guess you could call it a road trip; that wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

Did I rue the fact that we had only roughly 30-45 minutes at each tourist attraction? Yes. Do I regret going on the guided tour? No.

I wanted comfort. Thoughtless traveling. And I got what I bargained for. So I guess I can’t complain.

Won’t be joining another tour group any time soon though! The heart calls for more hands-on traveling next time.

Missing Japan already…

Love,

Val

7 March 2017

I had a training on translating subtitles for Netflix yesterday with a localisation company I’m freelancing for.

It was nice. I got to meet a handful other freelancers (essentially my competitors for work though the atmosphere was very amiable), and learnt some important technical stuff and translation techniques.

I’ve had 3 projects to translate since the New Year (I was signed on as Freelancer in September last year) and it seems my career as Subtitle Translator is finally kicking off.

Hopefully, their investing in giving us a training is an indication that they will be trusting us (me specifically) with more projects in the future. Once a month isn’t exactly a handful and I’m anxious to be doing subtitle translating on a regular basis.

It’s fun – translating subtitles. Puts your brain in a real spin. Plus you get to watch a series/programme while working, which is nice.

Translating for Netflix is an added perk. Since it’s such a well-known content provider, I feel a puff of pride every time I tell people I translate for Netflix. To be honest I had no idea when I applied that I’d get such good work.

Good here doesn’t mean financially rewarding though. The rates are abysmal and I’m earning much more teaching English. But it’s worth it. When one of your childhood dreams is seeing your name at the end of a movie in the cinema, any rate is worth it. 

I did however apply to freelance for another company which pays triple the amount my current one gives. So there’s apparently a discrepancy in remuneration in the subtitle business. I sent in my test stream two weeks ago and on Sunday finally emailed the guy I’d been corresponding with to ask when I can expect to find out the results. He replied to say a few weeks. 

I was going to wait until I get this job (hopefully) to beef up my CV before I apply for another. But the way things are I’d better not hold my breath. So I’ll be sending out another application in the next day or so. One at a time. I don’t want to overload myself with test streams.

Not to mention the regular work that I’m hoping to get from my company. And prepping for lessons that I’m giving online. And napping on days off. It’s very important, napping – by far the hi-light of my weekends.

We’ll see how it goes with the subtitle work. If I’m lucky I’ll be signed on to another company or two and will have more projects to work on. If I’m really lucky I’ll be able to quit my day job, or do it part-time. I do eventually have to leave to do my CELTA (English language teaching certificate) so it’ll be good to have a backup income source.

We’ll see. We’ll see.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll keep you posted.

Wishing you luck in your endeavours.

Love,

Val

27 February 2017

Today is a very special day.

It’s Oscars day.

Image result for oscars 2017

The 89th Academy Awards is being held at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre as I write.

For the first time in years, I am up at the early(ish) hours of the morning, watching the festivities. This used to be my yearly ritual. I’d be glued to the screen from the red carpet arrivals to the giving of the last award, sleepy yet starry-eyed.

I realised just now that I’ve blogged about the Oscars before here. Please allow me a few minutes to read it. (I recommend you do the same.)

Done!

Wow. I haven’t read much of my previous writing, but whatever state of flow I was in, I like what I produced.

Reading the entry, I am struck by three things:

First, my coffee habit. There is no cafétière for me today. I do have it in the cabinet, but I rarely use it these days. It’s not that I don’t appreciate good coffee anymore, but the one I’d stocked up on at home just doesn’t taste as good as I remember (note to reader: not a good idea to stock up on coffee). These days, I content myself with Moccona instant coffee. Not all instant coffee is good (I have yet to reach that stage; Nescafé in particular I find undrinkable), but this one is – it’s smooth. But today I am sitting with a 3-in-1 coffee; I was in the mood for something sweet. Also Moccona. This brand seems to suit my taste buds. Later I’ll have my instant coffee. Or maybe not. I’m trying to cut down on my coffee intake. But yes, my coffee habits have changed. I’m not sure what that says about myself or whether that’s a good thing. Change is change, I guess.

The second thing that stood out: my prediction about having to get up early once I start working until my retirement. I had no idea back then that I’d be working so close to home. Before I got this job, I did work in the city and getting up at 5 to avoid the morning traffic was every horror I imagined it to be. I wouldn’t get home until late (10-11pm) and after two months I was so burnt out I almost fell asleep behind the wheel on the expressway one night. That was the last straw for me. When I was looking for work in 2015, location was a key criterion. And I was lucky enough to find my current job. It’s a mere 15-minute drive from home, so I am no longer up at 5am every morning except the odd day when I have a meeting in town (and today for the Oscars!). I never imagined I’d be able to leave the house 40 minutes before work and get there with plenty of time to chill and prepare for the day ahead. It’s wonderful.

The last thing is, I had no inkling back then that I’d come to want to live a life away from home, which is what I decided to do earlier this year (I started to document my journey on this blog). And reading the old post I am imagining myself from that day, thinking of a life as an event organiser and what-not. I did mention writing for a living (it’s a career that’s always been on my mind), but I had not thought of being a writer abroad at all. I would never have imagined that being on a 6-day holiday in Vietnam would lead to me making such a momentous decision. It’s funny how the smallest things lead to the biggest changes. In any case, I’m happy I made the decision. I certainly feel more direction in my life now that I’ve decided to work toward a life abroad.

I’ve been tuning in and out of the red carpet and now I look up to see Viggo Mortensen being interviewed. It’s unbelievable how much he has aged. Seeing him is making me nostalgic again; I was so small, so young when I saw Lord of the Rings for the first time. How I have grown. How things have changed.

Like the last time I saw it, I won’t be only watching the live broadcast today. I’ve got things to do. First, I am writing this. Then I’ll be planning my writing lesson for later today, at 1pm to be exact. I’m giving lessons to a university professor. It sounds impressive when I put it that way, but really he’s just a guy who went to the same university (Cambridge) as a scholar friend of mine. I’m looking forward to it. I enjoy writing and I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to work with him to make his writing better.

Last of all, and most daunting, I have to plan a conversation lesson I’m giving tomorrow morning. The student is an acquaintance of a friend, someone she met through work. It’s daunting because, unlike writing lessons which I’ve done, I’ve never given conversation lessons before. I have an idea of what should work from what I’ve learnt at Wall Street English (my current workplace). But I’ve never planned a conversation lesson before and the first time is always the hardest. The student has also placed a lot of trust in me; she really wants results as speaking English is crucial to her advancing in her work (true for a lot of people). She mentioned as much and thanked me several times for taking her on (my friend must have talked me up a lot – bless her) when we spoke on the phone. So I want to put into this everything I’ve got.

OK. Time to go look at the professor’s writing. I set him a homework piece that we’ll look at together in class. Then I’ll finish planning the lesson, take a break, and start working on the conversation lesson. Who knows, it may not be as difficult as I’m expecting it to be. Fingers crossed.

It’s been a pleasure writing to you. I hope you’re enjoying your morning, as I am mine.

Love,

Val

21 February 2017

I finished my short story today. *confetti*

I had been writing – rather putting off writing – the first of a series of novels for over a year when the idea of this short story came to me.

A friend and I were going to participate in NaNoWriMo last November and I needed a story to write. And it came to me in the shower, which is where all good ideas are born.

We ended up not doing NaNoWriMo, but a few months later as I was looking to re-start writing as a regular hobby I remembered the idea, and decided to put my novel aside and get started on it.

It was going to be a book, but then I thought of how I was struggling to motivate myself to finish a novel and realised a short story might be more realistic. Writing short stories, apart from being easier to finish, also has the added advantage of allowing me to practice different styles and get feedback on multiple pieces of writing.

So I decided to make it a short story.

I also decided to write it online (Google Docs) rather than on Word (my chosen medium) so I could work on it on my phone. This turns out to be a wise decision as I ended up writing most of it on my commute to town. I owe this story to the purple line; it is so slow I can usually finish a chapter before I reach the end of the line.

The short story is about a dragon and a boy. It’s 12-page long and is divided into bite-sized chapters. The aim is to explore the relationship between the two without directly reporting their interaction. The story is told through the voice of the boy. The challenge here was to develop the characters – a major flaw that has been pointed out by an experienced author of my unfinished novel.

I’m not sure if I like the finished work. Some days the story flowed and the dots were miraculously connecting to one another (today was one of those days), but some were a real struggle (yesterday was one) – I just couldn’t string the words together or control the direction of the story.

It’s only the first draft though, and knowing me it will go through many more until it reaches the first external examiner. I’ve asked a good friend to read and comment on it.

Once it’s truly finished, all varnished and shiny, I’m hoping to publish it somewhere. My first thought was to put it on my main blog – it has been dead for too long. But on second thought I’ll ask my experienced writer friend for recommendations on how to get a story out to the public. The ideal would be to get it published commercially, as part of a collection of short stories. I have no idea if it is that good, but you never know until you do.

But first, revisions!

Oh joy.

To all the writers out there, I hope today is one of the good days.

Happy writing!

Love,

Val

22 November 2016

These days my Facebook feed fills up with posts from our students at Wall Street. I don’t really mind having them as my Facebook friends, and as the Online Community Representative it seems appropriate to, though perhaps not necessary.

Since most of these students are high school kids, each time I go on Facebook, I am transported into the tumultuous world of teenagers – the highs and lows, the drama, the attention-seeking. 

It’s pretty interesting.

I never had Facebook in high school. We used Hi-5 and there wasn’t an equivalent of a news feed where you fight for seconds of others’ attention – claim your space in the sea of status updates, so to speak.

It makes me wonder if I would have been like them had there been Facebook. Would I have bared every ups and downs in my emotional state for all to see in the hopes of getting a few likes or catching the attention of that one person.

I’d like to think not. But I’m not sure.

Looking back at my earliest posts from my late teens, I see similarities – the need for others to acknowledge my emotions, my thoughts, my “me”; the willingness to let my so-called friends into my innermost sanctum.

Is it that Facebook gives us a space to indulge this urge to be public? Or does it implant upon us this desire, intrusively imposing a habit that we otherwise wouldn’t have? 

These are interesting questions.

I lean towards saying yes to the first. I think we all have this strong, though sometimes hidden, desire to share. Friends, in my opinion, are individuals we share with – our time, our thoughts, our plans, our feelings, our insecurities. 

With Facebook, sharing becomes easier and debatably more effective: you can share instantly with more people. Granted, the attention your friends give to your status updates is likely more careless than one given in a face-to-face conversation. But presumably they’d still become aware of what you want to share with them and respond – be it via comments, chat or the next time you meet.

And the more you feel acknowledged, the more you share.

Is this a good thing? I don’t know.

I like it when my friends share, because it gives me a window into their lives, sets up topics of conversation.

I used to think me sharing on Facebook was a good thing, but not anymore. It’s not that I’ve become more private. It’s just that I began to feel I was sharing for the wrong reasons: I just wanted to be seen, to be heard. It’s not different from wearing a fluorescent bird suit and dancing in a crowded mall.

So yes, seeing my students’ hourly posts about their love lives and their school woes has led me on this train of thought, and I just wanted to share.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

Let me know what you think.

Love,

Val