Archive | January, 2012

just a wee post tonight

28 Jan

Because I am tired after a long but lovely week o work.  Today was the final day of the session and so there was a gathering of all the students and each class did a little presentation.  Mine have the lowest level of English, so I had us do (after a great suggestion from another teacher) a little Canadian trivia.  I had each student practice a question, i.e. ‘What is the westernmost province in Canada?” Westernmmost is hard to say when you are from China and have a speech impediment, poor fellow.  But all of  the students had fun with the trivia.  Another class did a song I’d never heard of, I guess it was after 1980.  I think I shall have my next class sing Dancing Queen by ABBA if they want to.  The third class did a review of the session with slides and the whole bit.  We handed out certificates and each student shook all of our hands like a receiving line. 

My lovely Kazakh student gave me yet another wee Kazakh souvenir and a brochure for his school there.  He really, really wants me to go there and teach.  I have to tell you that after 4 months of no one wanting me to do anythng and mass ignoring my resumes, this was lovely.  No, I am not going to Kazakhstan to teach.  I mean really though, it’s like pendulum swinging and night and day.  From months of being ignored or getting an interview at a (crappy) downtown school where I am told things like yes, you do get breaks but you must spend them with the students and we will pay you kinda minimum wagey, to a situation where my boss has my sense of humour, where students like me and it’s a lot of work but quite supportive, it is quite a difference.  I hope I can hang on to the feeling of being valued. 

Oh!  I got a hold this morning of the mysterious, “Office of Client Satisfaction.” Part of Service Canada (oxymoron), they promise to call you back within 5 business days (used to be two, now I’m told that being called back within 10 days is an actual amount of time.)  I phoned around to get their number and knew from what I’d read in the Globe and Mail, that I’d have to be very specific in order to get the number.  “How do you know about that office?” I was asked.  And upon reaching them was asked, “how did you get our number?”  Shockingly, they answer the phone, probaby not too busy as very few folks KNOW THEY EXIST since employees are told not to tell anyone.

“Does anyone still actually work there and process claims?

‘Uh, yes,” said the employee.

“Fabulous,” I said.

I figured I get the process going so that hopefully in four weeks time when the being valued runs out, I’ll get a little EI.

Speaking of which, a whole bunch o people at my former place of employ got laid off yesterday.  Ouch, but they had to have seen that coming.  But from experience, I kow for the power of denial and magical thinking.  Can only imagine what the remaining few are feeling, perhaps a bit Titanicky.  Or relieved or who knows.  Yikes, why am I still thinking about this almost five! months later?

oh and Demi Moore?  yikes-o-rama.  Seems Kabbalah isn’t as grounding as one might think.  The power and privilege of Hollywood is gross and Moore is said to be worth $300 million.  And yet, I felt kinda bad for her, since the long 911 call to get an ambulance for her is being played on a continuous loop.  I think a higher power might come in handy here for her.  Twelve steps, Demi!  Twelve steps!

Rumour is her daughter Rumer was in the house that night.  Not sure about Scout and Tallulah Belle.

Gonna read, gonna sleep (I hope).  After another early start on Monday, I’ll be able to sleep in the other days!  Glory be.

I will continue to enjoy it for four more weeks

27 Jan

Sigh, I wish I could get a longer contract at UBC.  It has taken me two weeks to really feel like I’ve got a groove going and a new session is starting up on Monday (well,, Monday meetings and testing and then really, Tuesday).  I’ve got a great schedule on this one – I will start at 10:50 and finish at 3:45. I’ll have an hour for lunch in there and three of the Friday afternoons off, so that’s nice.   So I can come in early to do my prep and still sleep in to a decent hour.  For an insomniac like myself, that is great.  Super great.  I’ve been basically wasting the afternoons off anyway. I am splitting the morning class with another teacher and will have my own afternoon class.  All will be in different buildings as space is apparently at a premium up at UBC.    The splitting the class is an interesting idea; apparently they do it so everyone can have what are considered full time hours.  Nice. 

My head teacher told me today that the final session of this in March is looking unlikely for me – lots of teachers coming back from leaves and what not.  There may be something for a month or two come summer but they won’t know till the last minute.  Sigh.  Well, I knew from the beginning that this wouldn’t be a long term gig but sniffle.  It is spoiling me for anything else I have to say.  And I notice that I’m finally stepping out of my unemployed depression (not to be confused with my usual depression, ha) and that feels so nice.  It is a great feeling to feel valued and needed in the workplace.  We had some guests for the students to talk to today in groups and ask questions, etc and at one point I somehow ended up being one of these guests and I had a great time regaling the students with some stories and they were laughing and asking questions.  Really fun.  I was in my element I must say.   I have a great rapport with the head teacher too – same kinda quirky senses of humour.  I’ve really enjoyed the seven students I’ve had – next session it will be 16 students in the class and quite multi-level too so a challenge indeed.  The afternoons focus more on pronunciation and fluency so that’s going to be good.  I quite enjoy teaching pronunciation now, having done it for about two years straight awhile back.  And field trips in the afternoon too so that is great.  Not sure what I’ll do for that yet.  So I’m quite engaged and challenged and there is a place to put my brain for awhile.  I’m going to do an upcoming post on the differences between teaching ESL at someplace like a university versus at an international school.  I shall attempt to be humourous so it won’t be too too dry.

Oh and the head teacher said that she really noticed a great improvement in my students’ fluency – partly due to me, she said, as she thinks they felt very comfortable in my class.  That was nice to hear I have to say.  Every class is different, of course,, and sometimes they just don’t like a teacher but these last two weeks were awesome.  When I first started teaching ESL lo so many years ago, I had a hard time I guess developing a teacher persona and so the students didn’t always so much like me.  That changed (and I did) a number of years ago but still, this was nice to hear.

Wow, this blog entry is so positive, so unlike me, ha.  Hmmm, four more weeks!  Well, better than say, one more week.

I see my fanbase has gone down to about 10, must work on that!

Pancakes

25 Jan

My computer is acting all virusy.  Feverishy even.  Let’s hope not.

Well, hours after I ate many pancakes and waffles that the students helped to make, I’m still full!  As it is a Culture and Language short term class, they jam a bunch of stuff in.  This morning was going over to a nearby teacher’s house and making and eating pancakes et al.  Other than adding too much salt to one of the batches, it was tasty, especially the chocolate chip pancakes.  I was full, sat by the fire and felt relaxed.  And got paid for it!  Glory be. Goodness knows I’ve paid my dues type thing.  Twas a fine time had by all. One Korean young man took at least 8,000 photos, that camera never left his face.  I may not have to eat until tomorrow so full am I.  My lovely student from Kazakhstan, who speaks Kazakh and Portuguese (lived in Angola for awhile) asked me today, via his translator to get the right word, what my salary is.  “Interesting,” I said.  he thinks I should move to Kazakhstan.  “Are apartments well heated there?” I asked.   Apparently it gets cold like Winnipeg there.  He is a principal in a huge school in Kazakhstan.  “Borat?” I said.  “Oh, Borat!” he said.  He is absolutely lovely.  The young Turkish student, Ata Can (pronounced basically Atajan) generally looks bored.  But he discovered  backgammon game at the brunch house.  Did I know how to play, he asked.  Did I know how to play?!  I love the game.  Well, uh, he is very very fast and very very good and didn’t really want to wait as I counted things out and kept trying to get me to change my moves to better ones.  “I want to lose honestly,” I said.  I asked him to slow down but alas, not.   He is often on his phone too.  Oh, how I pine for the days of old where students had to search out pay phones. 

I did a very bad thing for an insomniac – I took a nap. I don’t feel better from it either so aaargh.  I think I was having tense dreams about cabbage.  Weird.  Aaargh, now I’ll sleep even worse tonight.  Silly, silly me.  I could get a car co-op car and go to the pool but it is cold and blustery out!  Mnd you it is cold in here but out there, brrrr.  Hmmm.  If you don’t suffer from insomnia, I tip my hat to you.  Tip, tip.

Seems more and more likely that my little job search column will appear in Friday’s Courier but I will keep you posted.  If so, my blog stats could go into the millions!  I could hold fundraisers and fan meetings.  I could be asked to appear on the View and The Talk and Live with Kelly.  I could do a cameo on the Young and the Restless!  Stephen Harper might call me for advice or Obama!  The London Guardian might offer me a full time permanent position along with a lovely (and well heated) flat in London!  I could buy a swimming pool!  Mitt Mormon Romney might ask me to join his campaign team!  The Sister Wives might ask to meet me!  I’m telling you, this could be big.

My latest edition of the New Yorker  is like 4 days late.  I need my New Yorker!

 

 

okay

24 Jan

So the editor of the magazine where my piece will run has come out of e-mail hiding.  Turns out she was super sick this weekend.  I believe it, lots of people have been getting some nasty viruses.  The editor of the Vancouver Courier (seems they might just run my column after all!  And with only minor edits, imagine!) was quite ill for a week, he said.  I can’t get sick since I only have a temp. job and no work = no pay.  And I think it looks bad when you are only working for 6-10 weeks to be sick for a week of it or some such.  Hmmm, they are bringing in several new teachers for next session – eeek!  They could have a Masters and trump me in subbing and such.  Uh well, tis life.

Me thinks I don’t want a Masters in TESL or language education.  Uh . . . no.

So back to my magazine piece.  Back and forth e-mailing has resulted in slight movement on the editor’s part.  I can now edit the part that is in the first person as well as the conclusion, while keeping most everything else.  Okay, okay.  Hands in the air, I give up.   Well, it is now some of my words and phrasing and my idea and research, so that is something.  Think I’ll let my name stand on it.  Really, after all of this work, you’d think that I’d be getting a nice big cheque out of the deal.  Ha! I say ha!

Well, I shall know for next time.  I want to cook up some more freelance ideas or places to submit my creative non-fiction.  My fiction I don’t feel confident enough about yet.  Gee, I wonder if I could get a Masters in creative writing and that would be acceptable to UBC’s ELI?  Mind you, I have a three year degree from the University of Manitoba – one of the few universities to offer that – so I’d have to do some upgrading first.  Hmmm, I shall check into what Masters they require.

Tired, of course of course, so off to bed early once again.  I feel so wimpy, like I have chronic fatigue syndrome or something.   Hmmm.  My friend who is the same (advanced) age as I am, works 10 hour days as a social worker in the ER in Nanaimo and so lives in Nanaimo four days a week and back to Courtenay three days a week.  At the same time, she is also doing her Masters.  Wow.  I am humbled.

The course that we are doing is called Language and Culture – so no homework or tests, just lots of speaking and, well, culture.  So tomorrow we go from UBC right over to another teacher’s home near UBC and the three classes all have brunch together.  Pancakes, waffles, probably bacon.  Excellent.

A new session starts next week, I’ll have a new level.  Cool.

If my piece goes in the Courier, I could have a whole new fan base for the blog.  Be ready, people, be ready.

 

Sheesh

21 Jan

So remember the freelance article I’m doing on the changes to employment services in BC?  Hmmm.  I’m most definitely less gung ho on the editor there now.  In the latest edits,  she has changed things so dramatically that was has happened basically is that I provided the story idea, I did the research and she did most of the writing.  It is in first person too so it sounds like these are all my words.  I know how editing works and that things must be torn apart and put back together and all sorts and that is what we were doing – she had some great and necessary advice and I followed. 

Because the issue I’m writing about is so complex and tricky to understand, it had to be super super clear.  My drafts weren’t and I realize that – lots of repetition, still some confusion and etc.  I get that.  I expect and want to be told how to work with it.

I don’t expect to have most of my phrasing, words and ideas changed to hers.  I didn’t want a huge anti-government slant (or pro gov’t) but that’s what it is.  She’s a good writer so it all sounds good but it is not mine.  I told her she had some great sentences in there, that her writing is great but that it’s not my writing, not the story I wanted to tell.  I want my concerns about what the government is doing in there but what I don’t want is it all written in such a way that it so blatantly points in that direction.  Sigh.

I think she simply found my writing too sloppy, too repetitive and not comprehensible to a reader who knows nothing about the system in BC.  Fair enough.  And I think we ran out of time so she jumped in and re-wrote it herself.

What remains of me in the piece – and I’m still trying to negotiate – is not much at all.  Yet it will have my name on it.  I’ve asked her to add her name to it as well – since it’s more her piece than mine now.  I don’t say that bitterly – it’s just the reality.

Our loving relationship of almost instant turnaround e-mails seems to have disappeared.  She gave me the new draft on Friday morning (three days late) and said she needs all the changes by Monday.  Interesting, since it involves calling folks who don’t work on the weekends.  I told her I’d do what I could. I told her I didn’t like that it is all her words and made several suggestions. I told her I don’t like the slant.  She’s not so receptive anymore.

Uh well, I’ll do what she wants, get a meagre cheque for it and my name on a story.  But the thing is, I’m not so excited for anyone to even see that story anymore.  Might not even show it to anyone.

Yeah, writers are oversensitive about their work, of course.  But the thing was, I wasn’t here, I was thrilled to have edits, thrilled to have direction.  But to use a poor analogy, I’m not thrilled to have her kick me out of the drivers’ seat and actually out of the car all together.

Live and learn, people.  Live and learn.

heat

20 Jan

Well, the owner  has had someone put in a new thermostat and a lock over it.  Ooops.  It is in the hallway.  Well, she promised to keep the temp at a regular 72F and kept it at 62F and I would change it to what was promised so we all wouldn’t freeze.  Hence the lock.  Aaargh.  I nearly lost my mind last winter freezing and fighting her on it and I’m not going through that again.  I do pay for hydro but space heaters it will have to be.  The person who has the key is the nutty landlady’s niece who lives for free in the landlady’s suite as the landlady is in a nursing home now.   She seems to want to impress the owner by keeping the heat off completely.  No one in the other 11 suites complains because apparently they are afraid of losing their lovely small apartments in Kitsilano.  One woman even wrote me a note last year saying, “I’m scared and I can take this no further.” Seriously, I was taking photos of the temperature on the thermostat and all sorts. Aaargh.  Aaargh.  Uh well.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain about feeling EXHAUSTED since I have  new temp job.  Nonetheless, tis the case.  Oh but I found out today I do get to teach another four week session so I’ll be there to Feb. 24.  There is one more session after that of this program so hopefully I will get that too.  Then maybe the sub list which would be just fine indeed.  And maybe a few months in the summer.  All very good as I put off, I mean think about, what I want to do next.    The head teacher came in for an hour to hang out with the class and turns out to see if she could recommend me to stay on.  Guess it worked out!  I will be formally evaluated next session.  Eeeek!!!!!!!!!!!  We are also de-briefing tomorrow on what she observed in the class today.  Probably could have done it today but I came home right after class and prepped at home so I could lie semi-comatose and do it.  Oh, the drama.  I’m getting lots of photocopiable stuff of the internet which is good.  Who knew you could print out pics of all the types of drinks they serve at Starbucks. 

This morning for part of the class we took the students to UBC’s Museum of Anthropology.  That was a nice perk – normally about $17 admission fee.  A lovely museum and the students loved it – my Chinese students really liked the Chinese artifacts. 

There is also a motorcycle made out of material of some kind, fascinating.  And the First Nations sculptures and totem poles are astounding.

Anyone have any mid-morning snack ideas?  I am always starving and then vaguely comatose by 12:30.  Kindly.

This weekend I think Fiona and I are going to try and get into the matinee of the pay what you can play at the Playhouse.  It was sold out last time, hopefully not this time.  The rains are a-coming to wash away all the snow and ice, so they say.

Had a lovely Skype chat with Luce in Brighton, England today.  Funny – I was his husband Dale’s friend first but now Luce and I are closer.  Dig it.

blog neglect

19 Jan

Yeah.  Well, it seems now that my teaching gig will only be two weeks as teachers on leave are coming back or some such seniority related situation.  I’ll find out for sure next week.  Uh well, perhaps they’ll keep me on the sub list.

Actually, I think it will take me two weeks to get used to working again!  Tis true.  I’m a tired two-week teacher.  Tis true.  And I haven’t quite figured out the what to eat in the morning so I’m not about to eat my arm at 12:30 pm and zombied from low blood sugar.  Nuts during the 10 minute mid morning break may help.  Hmmm.

Geez, in Abbotsford, only an hour from Vancouver, is like -25C.  The Fraser Valley is a valley I guess.  Brrrr.  It is really cold here too – and snow and ice on the sidewalks similar to say, winter say.  They do not sand the sidewalks here after all.  Oooh, Friday they say more snow and freezing rain.  Goodness.

Stay off the road!  They are saying. Indeed.

My wee temp job is going quite well.  I enjoy the students although they do require constant hovering as their level is so low.  One fellow is quite a bit lower than the others and I realize he doesn’t understand a thing we are doing, poor fellow.  We’ve been working on directions, giving them and asking for them.  Around 11:30 I notice that the students’ energy flag (and mine too, let’s be honest).  Perhaps I should play a little ABBA as a cultural experience.

Tomorrow (Thursday) all three classes are heading over for part of the class to the Museum of Anthropology on campus (although a chilly walk for the students!).  I’ve made up a fairly simple question sheet for my students.  I’m looking forward to it – haven’t been there since they re-did it.  On Tuesday we are all apparently going to one of the teachers’ nearby homes for brunch, Canadian culture and conversation.  Bagels!  Pancakes!  So that’s very nice.

I think when my two week gig is over, I need to still keep getting up early so the shock to the system is less next time.  Hmmm, gotta think about that one.

Good thing I got a little teaching, my EI claim is supposed to have been decided by now, but the story is now that it can take two months for your claim to be decided.  Yikes!  So a cheque from working Jan. 31st will be most welcome.  This new information was given by an EI employee who was laid off and is having to apply for EI herself.  She knows for what she speaks.

I need to go have fun and laugh until I pee my pants.  This is what I need.

I blog, therefore I am.