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14 August 2017

Today’s a momentous day. Well, actually, last night was a momentous night.

A major decision was made, and I’d like to share it with you.

I’ve written about it in my other blog, and here it is: “The Life I Choose”

Love,

Val

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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!

11 October 2015

Boredom is a curious thing.

You get bored when you do nothing. And you get bored when you do too much of something. Isn’t that weird?

For me, boredom comes from monotony. It’s the brain’s way of protesting that it is being used too monotonously – doing nothing all the time and doing something all the time.

Most curious indeed.

Why am I suddenly speaking of boredom? It is because, three weeks into writing my novel, I have reached that curious state of boredom. It’s sad but undeniable. Each day I find myself procrastinating, thinking “this evening I’ll do some writing” and, when evening comes and I cannot find the inspiration to write, “tomorrow morning I will feel refreshed and then, I will write”. Needless to mention, the same train of thought continues the next day, and the next.

The novel has been frozen for a week now. I have almost finished the second chapter; there is one scene left.

I wonder why I’m suddenly bored of it. I don’t usually get bored of writing. When I started writing my main blog back in 2013, I was writing every day and yet I always found something I wanted to write about. I remember my brain overflowing with entry ideas. In fact I had so many of them that two years later I still have a long list left.

For some reason, stringing words together to create my fantastical universe no longer gives me the thrill it did one chapter ago. I have two theories to explain the situation. One, the quality of my writing has dipped and I am no longer satisfied with what I am producing, hence the boredom. Two, I am dreading having to come up with new ideas. As I write, I am inching closer and closer to the point at which I stopped writing nine years ago. As it happens, the one scene I have left in chapter two is a pivotal one. Maybe I am scared of writing it, in fear that I would make a fatal mistake and set the novel on a course I cannot see through. Maybe.

So yes, for either of these reasons or for another unknown to me, I have been procrastinating. It does not help that I have been glued to a novel I’m re-reading, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind one of my favourite novels of all time. So instead of writing my own novel, I have been happily immersing myself in another’s. I’m currently on page 593 of 1011. It’s a long book – perfect for the purpose of procrastination.

You know what I need to get the novel going? A gentle yet persistent daily warning like Duolingo‘s. I find the mechanism highly effective. I am currently learning German (you guessed it – another way to procrastinate from my book) on Duolingo, and I am doing the exercises every day without fail. The more days I accumulate in my streak (I am currently on ten), the more determined I am to keep going. It’s really quite fascinating how easy I am to trick.

Öffentlichkeit

That’s the most difficult word I’ve had to learn so far. German is notorious for long words, and though this is not the longest word I’ve learnt (that’s privatunterricht I think), it’s the trickiest. I find the arrangement of letters extremely unintuitive. I mean, what kind of a word is that? (It means public or the public sphere, by the way.) If only German words could be short and easy like English (it’s such an easy language I cannot help but think that people who find it difficult are just extremely lazy).

So yes, I think I need a system like Duolingo’s to get my novel going again. I wonder if anyone has thought of it. It could be a very useful tool for undisciplined writers everywhere, moi included.

Hmm… I should read a French novel next. There’s this book an old friend bought me from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (a strange location for buying a book, I know, but he was only passing through). It’s called La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert. Not the most enticing title, but I’ve flipped through it and it seems like a fun novel. Now and again I pick up a French book to keep the language fresh in my mind. Plus, I really love the flow of French and reading anything written in French always puts me in a good mood. I hope to be able to do that one day with German – that’s the plan. It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means out of reach. I am certainly as enthusiastic about German as I am of French; I have been for a long time.

But then again I just dug up my third copy of Catch-22 (I lost the first copy, and I don’t know where I put the second one). I might read that instead. I’ve been reading it for three years, and still I have not finished it. Not that I find it boring (ha! how about that for going back to my supposed topic). I really like the book. It’s not easy to read, but it’s so laugh-out-loud funny I put in the effort to follow the novel as it jumps back and forth in time in the most random way. Or maybe I’ll just read both at the same time. I’ve been doing that lately. After a while I get bored of one book and jump to the other, then I get bored of the second book and come back to the first one. It works for me. Stops me from being bored.

Coming back to the novel, maybe what I need is to start writing a second one so I can jump between the two. Oh God no. That would be a nightmare. I can hardly muster up the effort to write one. I can’t imagine doing it for two.

So yes, boredom. It’s a curious thing. I’m hoping that at one point I will miss my novel and come back to it naturally. Maybe I just need a break, break the routine a bit and indulge my brain in a little diversity.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my novel (the one I’m reading, not the one I’m writing). I’ve done my German for the day (die Öffentlichkeit, das Publikum, der Bürger, etc.) and I think it’s now time I enjoy myself a little. (German is fun, but reading is even more fun.)

I’ll be back to let you know what happens with the novel (the one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading). Most likely when I’ve got it going again. I really don’t want to come back a second time and report on my ineffectiveness. I like to think of myself as disciplined, and writing this entry is shattering that self-image.

I hope you’re more disciplined than I am and succeeding in your endeavours.

Love, as always,

Val

 

27 September 2015 (Part 1)

Dear reader,

It has been almost a year (well, ten months) since we last met. I am deeply sorry for my absence. I hope you have been leading pleasant lives, full of pleasant encounters and pleasanty things.

A lot, and nothing, has been happening on my end. Let me give you a summary:

  • First real job ended two months after it began. For a variety of reasons. You could say we were incompatible. I did not find meaning in the ups and downs of marketing, and the company did not find a suitable employee in me. I simply could not make myself passionate about the work I was doing, and this proved fatal to our match. In any case, I retain pleasant memories from my short tenure; and valuable lessons in sociology and psychology were learnt.
  • I went crazy. Literally. I don’t remember if I ever told you about my depressive episodes, which occurred recurrently in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014. (2012 was an entirely happy year, thanks to the wonderful offerings of Paris where I was spending my Erasmus exchange.) Anyways, I swung to the other end in late 2014, around the time I was leaving my job as Internet Marketing Analyst. By mid-January I was entirely out of it. I was deluded and I believe at one point hallucinating. My brain had gone haywire.
  • So, I was hospitalised. This was late January. To say ‘hospitalised’ is a bit misleading; I was forced to enter a mental hospital, where I was confined to the company of other crazy people for a month and a half. It was entirely traumatising, though the food was excellent. I gained weight and a disease: officially becoming a sufferer of bipolar disorder.
  • Reeling from the myriad effects of my medication (drugs that made my brain not go crazy), I was released from hospital in mid-March, from which time I have been home (hence the ‘nothing happening’ on my end). The drugs’ side effects wore off one by one. Apparently, for weeks after leaving the hospital I walked like C-3PO. Then the neck ache (never understood what that was about; my head was fine, it was the neck that hurt) disappeared. Gradually, the morning naps became shorter until, very recently, I was finally able to go the whole day without feeling sleep deprived. So yes, many months went by without nothing much happening. I watched Korean TV, Korean series (this one was my favourite), and Korean singers. I became something of an afficionado. (Like my mom, I must add. One of these days I shall surpass her knowledge of South Korea’s entertainment industry!) Apart from that I ate and walked. My father had kindly bought me a treadmill which I used daily to hill-walk in the (ever desperate yet futile) attempt to lose my hospital weight (the stress of being confined behind locked doors having been thoroughly relieved through overeating).

Recently, however, I have been writing. And that is why I am now here updating my precious baby. For many months I had planned on picking up a novel I had begun to write when I was seventeen. And finally, at the gentle yet firm urging of my doctor (whom I like very much) to find something more substantial than Korean entertainment to occupy my time, I opened the eight-year-old file and started writing. It’s a fantasy novel, a cross between Star Wars and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire (ah yes, I forgot to tell you I have also been spending my time digging up old novels to read), with just a hint of Pop Economics and International Relations. It’s tentatively named The Gems of Azora and takes place on, you guessed it, the planet of Azora.

I’ve been writing everyday, but the book is advancing at a snail’s pace; I swear time disapparates (random reference) when I’m writing. I had left the book at 114 pages when I stopped writing eight years ago, and now I’m at 14. Wait… what? Yes. Sadly, I’m having to rewrite most, if not all, of what I’ve written. It turns out one’s command of English and general writing skills do improve over time. I shudder thinking back to my first reading of the sloppy, grammatically-inaccurate, and overly-complicated 114 pages I had produced as a teenager. Anyways, I’m rewriting it, and if I may I have to say the book is looking much better than it did before. I read and put the finishing touches on the first chapter yesterday, and I must say it is good fun. Fingers crossed, when the time comes, publishers will agree. I won’t tell you anymore just now, but I’ll surely be back to report on my progress.

That’s it for now. I hope you found this entry entertaining.

Much love,

Val

p.s. I’m thinking of taking up a part-time job as a waitress. There’s this trendy little restaurant near my house. I really like the atmosphere and the waiting staff is polite and efficient. I think I could have a good time working there while I finish my novel. Yes, maybe I should. We shall see…

 

 

 

23 October 2014

I’ve missed you.

I’ve missed us.

I’ve missed this.

Work has exceeded all areas of expectation so far.

Course still going swell.

I’ve been so busy though.

And now I have to get back to it.

Just wanted to come by to tell you how much I miss my baby.

And casually insert some in-site links for SEO purposes. (There – that’s my work talking.)

I will be back with a longer, juicier post.

Soon.

Promise.

 

 

3 October 2014

I was going to prepare for the interview. But obviously I’m not doing that, because I am here writing to you, my lovely readers.

As you might have gathered, I have an interview. As you’re about to find out, it’s happening in exactly 3 and a half hours.

And I’m nervous as hell.

It’s not a typical job. Certainly not one I planned on doing. But not one I can’t see myself doing. Did that make sense? Of course it did.

It’s a job I’ve done before and have enjoyed to a considerable extent. Not something I see myself doing as a lifelong career (though I wouldn’t be surprised if I do – it wouldn’t actually be too bad). But certainly a good opportunity, and one where I see myself (potentially) learning a lot.

I will give my CV another read-through in the cab. Or when I’m there waiting. Yes, I’ll do that. There will be time. I plan on arriving well and early. No rushing around on these heels. I am no interview expert, but I’m pretty sure a sprained ankle and/or sweaty palms won’t make for a good impression.

I don’t believe in being too prepared for interviews. It doesn’t work well for me. Of course, I read up on the company and the role, and make sure I understand what I am applying to do and what will be expected of me. But I don’t rehearse my CV or prepare stock answers to interview questions – you know, those questions.

Why? I believe in spontaneity. I believe in a good night’s sleep. I believe in a full stomach (I’m stockpiling as I type). When I go in to an interview, I don’t want to come across as ‘well-prepared’; I want to exude confidence.

I think that’s the best thing that can happen in an interview. Anyone can be prepared. Not anyone can ooze confidence and appear in control.

That’s why I’m here writing to you guys rather than hunched over my CV preparing answers to questions about my past educational and professional experience. This is my confidence pool. At no other times do I feel more relaxed and assured than when I’m writing here. For reasons fellow writers would understand, and which I’ve abundantly enumerated here.

Wish me luck.

Love,

Val

p.s. I got the job.

29 September 2014

This blog is my baby.

I realised this a few minutes ago while updating my LinkedIn profile.

I mean… I always knew this was going to be my most intimate blog. But I never quite realised how much I would come to cherish it. Until a few minutes ago, that is.

When you incorporate your digital footprint into your professional profile, you have to be careful how you portray yourself on your platforms. That’s the price I am having to pay on my two other ‘serious’ blogs, which I have now LinkedIn to my LinkedIn profile (the wordplay doesn’t look as good on screen as it did in my mind… but I’m just going to leave it).

It’s not that I am super professional and serious on those blogs and dumping all my dirty laundry here. I mean, come on, if you really want to dig, you’re going to find this blog in a heartbeat. I’m not exactly keeping it locked away in a safe. All those hashtags on twitter aren’t there to keep people from finding this blog (though they don’t appear to be having the opposite effect either – oops).

Which, strangely, is exactly why I love this blog so much. It feels like my corner on the Internet. It feels intimate. I know it’s nothing like the privacy of my home, but not having that many visitors puts less pressure on me. I can write whatever I want here. I can trial different styles. I can talk about random stuff. I can ramble on, and on, and on, without ever having to worry about losing my followers or appearing fickle.

Not that I don’t cherish each and every one of you reading this (thank you for reading!)… but not having so many of you just takes the pressure off. The pressure I constantly feel when writing a featured post on Living Time, or on my shiny new blog A Squared Journey (a.k.a. the promise-breaker). I write so much faster here. The thoughts flow. The words just fall out of my hands. It’s great.

I am happy I have this baby to write on.

Thank you all for reading it.

Love,

Mother Val