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

21 June 2017

My work star is on the rise.

I recently got my first writing gig (articles on psychology for a foundation based in Chiang Mai), and subtitles work is flowing in. I’m on the fourth episode of my first Korean drama, and I was asked today whether I’d be interested in editing other translators’ work (Surely that must mean my translation isn’t too bad, right?).

I’m slightly concerned what it’ll be like come 3rd October when I begin my CELTA course. I’ve finished my application but have yet to submit it. I’ll do it soon. Now I’m wondering how it’ll be like time-management-wise. I’ll be working four days a week, studying three days a week. Granted, most of those are half-days. But there’ll be homework from CELTA. On top of that there’s the writing and the subtitles. And teaching my one private student. It’s going to be a tough 10 weeks.

I’m preparing for it though. I’ve started cutting down my sleeping hours to a maximum of 8 (from 9-10). I want my body to get used to sleeping less, and I think 8 hours is a pretty solid amount. I’ve also cut down on my nap time. No more long naps, 30 minutes maximum.

I’m also trying to not be lazy and get on the treadmill. I want my body to be in better condition. Plus, my weight has been creeping up these past months. So it’s a win-win situation.

Overall, I’m pretty happy though. I’m doing something that I really like. The subtitles job has truly been a blessing. And I’m enjoying it even more now that it’s a Korean drama. For some reason, it’s much easier to translate. The first time I watch the video, I already have a running commentary in Thai in my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many of them that I know how they work. Plus, this drama is really fun. It’s a medical investigative drama. The production and acting is solid, and the storyline imaginative.

So yes, I’ve been doing well. Slightly iffy about the future, but you never know until you try, and I’ve been pretty easy on myself these past few years. Time to buckle up and push forward.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Love,

Val

 

10 September 2014

Did you know that, in swimming, freestyle actually means free style?

I just found out. It’s fascinating. I’ve always wondered why it’s called freestyle. I mean, you see where the breaststroke or the butterfly stroke comes from. But freestyle? That’s hardly evident.

Turns out freestyle actually means free style. So if you enter yourself in a freestyle competition, you can actually swim however you like. You can even do the breaststroke (aka froggy style), the butterfly stroke, or the backstroke if it’s a stand-alone event. (According to Wikipedia, of course.)

And the swimming stroke commonly adopted in freestyle competition and leisure freestyle swimming is actually the front crawl, which is supposedly chosen for being the fastest stroke of all. No, the irony does not escape me either.

And, unsurprisingly, since virtually everyone chooses to do the front crawl when ‘freestyling’, the front crawl ended up being known as freestyle. Poor front crawl, it should really do something about freestyle unceremoniously taking all the credit.

How about that – an informative entry on my blog. You might have just learnt something new! O Val, the disseminator of knowledge. *chuckles*

Anyways, enough about things that might interest people. Time to talk about me! Weeeeeeee.

So I went for a swim today, froggy style. 1k. You’ll tell me that’s nothing, but I’m quite proud of myself. I feel like 1k is a good benchmark. I’ll try to do 1.5k next time. Or divide my 1k 50-50 into breaststroke and front crawl. Decisions, decisions.

I haven’t done lap swimming in a really long time – since November last year, I think. And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Which is really good news. I do like running, and it’s a great way to get that endorphin rush, but it is a high-impact sport. I don’t want to run my young body to the ground, so it’s good to have swimming as an alternate exercise. Plus, I might be getting into scuba diving in the intermediate future, and I think being a strong swimmer might be a plus. Just might.

Exercise is great. I’m feeling great. I really should exercise more. Would it be excessive to go for a run now?

It probably wouldn’t.

But then I could watch Big Bang Theory.

Let’s watch Big Bang Theory.

Have a great day!

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 April 2014

Val’s list of priorities as of 6th April:

1. Revise.
2. Exercise.
3. Socialise.
4. Write.

It’s my last week in Bangkok before I jet off to London, where my final undergraduate exams will begin in less than a month. *shivers* Given this imminent departure, I’ve tried to schedule in seeing all my good friends this past and coming week. And since I can’t do two things at once, I’ve had to revise my priorities list from 25th March.

To be completely honest, though, in my head, the priorities seem to be: revise, revise, revise. At some point this week, I suddenly realised that I’ve officially entered the final stretch of revision.

It’s funny. The middle stretch never arrived. One day I was in my early stretch (25th March would be one of those days), then suddenly I was in the final stretch. There doesn’t seem to be a middle stage where you’re just revising merrily along. You’re either super cool and collected, thinking ‘I’m way ahead. I started so early’, or a wreck of nerves, with ‘OMG I’M NEVER GOING TO FINISH REVISING IN TIME. THERE’S LESS THAN A MONTH LEFT‘ on repeat in your puny, overworked, and overstressed brain (which pretty much describes the me of the past week).

My solution for this surge in anxiety has been to exercise like mad. I’ve gone to the gym more often this week than any other week. Having my imminent departure as an excuse to spend more time with friends also helps. The exercise and the company distract me from the stress of revision, but the latter is never far from my mind.

I wonder what it’ll be like once I arrive in London. I can already foresee my stress levels shoot right up. It’s a good thing I’ve got that Lake District trip planned. God knows I could use some away time to clear my head.

On the other hand, though, it’s four whole days where I won’t be able to revise. And there’s a lot you can revise in four days.

This is really not a productive train of thought, so I’m going to stop myself there.

Objectively, I’ve done a lot this week: substantial revision progress was made, visa was acquired, friends were met, body was subject to rigorous exercise. I just don’t feel like it.

And that’s the problem.

It’s all in your mind. It’s all in my mind.

If only the mind were easier to tame.

Maybe I should start meditating.

But now I should get started on that French exercise, so I have time to wash my car before it gets dark (and the mosquitoes come out to play).

Thanks for reading,

Val

p.s. I meant to write a post about how flexibility and duty are inherently incompatible concepts. I’m not sure what happened. I started writing and this came out.

p.p.s. This is quite therapeutic. I should really write about more substantial things though, more concrete topics, with analysis and insight. And there goes the over-exigent mind again.

 

 

25 March 2014

I must admit that I find the British accent very sexy.

Or at the very least extremely alluring.

So I’m sitting by myself in the café at my sports club – yes, I go to a sports club. Please don’t judge me – having a full-on revision panic attack (more on which later), when this group of ladies comes in and sits down at the next table.

A wave of curiosity washes over me. Which is entirely ordinary – I am fascinated by people: how they interact among themselves and with their external environment. And this group is quite a striking bunch. Clad in bright colours, each sporting a different style of clothing, all exuding confidence. Genuine confidence of a kind you only acquire in later life (I’m thinking mid-thirties).

Then one of them starts talking, and boom! Not only does she speak perfect English (bilingual-style), but she also has the most wonderful British accent. Not quite the Queen’s English, but thick and proper enough to make misplacing her accent a crime. Either she has spent a considerable part of her (likely early) life in England, or she has a true knack for adopting accents.

For minutes I sit. Eyes fixed at my laptop screen. Hands poised over the keyboard. Still. Mesmerised by the smooth flow of the British accent from the next table. The apparently indifferent next-table neighbour actually straining to catch every word, every syllable.

And, once I’ve had my fill of her British accent (thank you, female stranger), I return to my revision.

Now, about that revision panic attack.

First of all, apologies for exaggerating. It wasn’t a panic attack. Merely a flash of panic intense enough to focus and stimulate. I’ve had panic attacks before (twice, to be exact), and today’s revision-induced panic is not of the same magnitude. Nowhere near.

What brought on this mini panic thing is a close friend of mine who – earlier today – asked me if I was “on course” with revision. Two words: on course.

I moved to answer her (on the messaging app). And while my brain went over the past two weeks’ progress and the number of days left until Day One of examination period, the question hit home: Am I on course?

I typed in some irresponsibly vague answer citing lack of exam schedule (to be released this Friday) bla bla and pressed ‘send’. But the panic had set. Am I on course?

How does one know if one is on course with revision? The economist that I am, I imagine this piece of knowledge (whether one is on course) to depend on three factors: 1) the amount of revision time left, 2) the rate of revision, and 3) the amount of material left to be revised before time is up.

I know 1). I can have a guess at 2). I have no idea about 3).

Hence the panic.

I came back to my laptop and proceeded to pull up all the information I have on all the three Economics modules I am revising for. (In case you’re wondering, I have 5 exams: 3 econ – in student lingo – and 2 French.) I went over all the course programmes, revision guidance, lecturers’ tips, and recent past papers to suss out how much more I need to know in order to be able to do the exams.

And turns out it’s quite a lot.

I know it’s only 25th March, and exams won’t begin until 1st May. But what if I have all my exams in the first week? The exam schedule is released this Friday, but between now and Friday are 3 full days. If I’d learnt anything at university over the past 4 years, it’s that complacency is the most dangerous enemy.

So I started devising a revision programme for each of the three modules. They’re in no way comprehensive. But they’re indicative – and that’s good enough for now. I know what I have to do next. I know how to prioritise. I know how much more time I need to allocate to revision (than I already do) on a daily basis. Another thing I learnt at university: if you don’t have enough time to do something, allocate more time. Don’t speed it up. Doing things in a hurry is no better than not doing them at all.

Armed with the above information, I feel the panic slowly subside. Expectation is important, all the more so that it’s about something so subjective as revision (subjective in the sense of being completely dependent on the standard you set yourself – a student aiming for a First will revise significantly more than one hoping for a Pass). And I’ve revised my expectations to more realistic levels.

Do I still want a First? Yes. Do I aim to provide perfect answers to every question? No. Do I aim to know all the material inside out? No. Aren’t my responses inconsistent? No.

You don’t need to know everything to do well in an exam. You just need to know enough. And if you don’t have time to revise everything? Well, that’s OK. Time is limited. As with any limited resource, it must be allocated. Priorities must be assigned, and expectations adjusted to reflect your priorities.

I’ve spent the past 4 hours this afternoon revising, and 3 hours this morning. Can I revise more? Yes. It’s only 5pm. Will I? No. I need to revise. I want to. But not all the time.

Val’s list of priorities as of 25th March:

  1. Revise.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Write.
  4. Socialise.

I have my Battle Beat class at 5.30pm. Then my dance class at 6.30pm. And I’ve been writing this post since 4.45pm. Today’s activities reflecting priorities so far. One golden star for me.

After dance class is another matter. I might go see a friend. Or, if that falls through, revise some more. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If only I’d learnt all this 4 years ago when I was revising for my first university exams, then my second, then my third… All the anxieties, all the frustrations, all the fears that could have been avoided.

Well, as they say, better late than never!

Gotta rush to go kick some air now,

Until tomorrow,

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 March 2014

According to CardioTrainer, I burned over 1,000 calories today. Which is a lot, by my standards.

So, apart from the 5.7k outdoor run this morning (see how proud I am? I’m still boasting about it), I did a one-hour Battle Beat class, which is basically a boxing style super intense class where you kick, jump, and punch a lot, and continuously. (It’s really tiring. Oh trust me it is.)

Then another hour of Danxercise which, after Battle Beat, was like a walk in the park. A very fun walk though. One hour where I get to do all the silly moves, shake my head, shake my [insert body part of choice], and just laugh and not worry about how ridiculous I look. Because everyone is doing the same. It’s a great stress relief.

Well, actually, both classes are great for relieving stress. Battle Beat has you concentrating so hard on your body movements you invariably end up not thinking about whatever it is that’s stressing you out in the first place. And Danxercise just makes you feel silly and happy, sometimes enough to make your stress and worries disappear.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t. I actually use my Danxercise class as my stress gauge. If I feel better during (and after) the class, my stress level is in the green zone. If I feel better at various points during (but not after) the class, my stress level has gone into yellow zone. And when I do not enjoy the class at all is when alarm bells start ringing in my head: code red, code red.

That’s what happened last week actually. I was so stressed I couldn’t enjoy the dance. And realising how stressed I was in this particular instance just made me even more stressed: the vicious cycle of self-fulfilling stress! Ha.

As you can see through my cheery tone, though, this week I had the most amazing fun in my dance class. Stress level back to normal.

Now are you curious to know why I was so stressed and why I no longer am? No? OK.

Oh I’m being ridiculous aren’t I. I’m obviously still in my silly, happy mode.

Which is good. Very good.

Maybe I tell you more about why this is later.

I’m sure you feel sufficiently bombarded by unwanted information about my day by now.

Until tomorrow,

Val

p.s. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Did I tell you a pigeon pooed on me during my run this morning? Yes. That totally happened. I just shook the excrement off my arm and kept running. Such a dedicate (and totally gross) runner.

p.p.s. Yes, I scrubbed my arm really, really clean afterwards. You can feel less disgusted now.