snow you say

“Winter has arrived on the south coast,” the newcaster is saying tonight.  Not so much in Vancouver but more so in the Fraser Valley.  Tons of snow out there and a prediction of more snow for Metro Vancouver.  Wow, from the pictures, lots of snow out there in that there Fraser Valley.  Like Winnipeg amounts.  When it hits Vancouver proper, all heck (hell, for anyone over 19, 18 in Manitoba) breaks loose.  Many folks don’t have snow tires and it seems the solution for some is simply to drive faster and more erratically.  So while it is pretty pretty, it is treacherous, treacherous.  Oooh, the weather guy is saying that for the next week we will have winter like weather.  The buses still need to go to my new job! 

I have a friend who uses a wheelchair to get around and the snow basically shuts her in her home.  I hadn’t really thought of that in that way.  Eeek. 

In my hometown o Winnipeg, I hear it’s about -30C there right now.  And then there is the windchill situation of course.  In other words something like:  it’s -30C but with windchill will feel like -800C.  I always enjoy telling my ESL students this – they always recoil in shock.  “Learn the present perfect perfectly or I will send you to Winnipeg!” I threaten.  I don’t actually do that.  I wonder how those with limited mobility cope in more snowy/icy conditions in the rest of the country? I’ve never given this deep thought before.  Shame.

It’s so interesting to me how much my self-esteem/general more even type feeling comes from having a job, even a part-time temporary one.  I think it is also simply the sense of belonging – I’m part of a small team of teachers at UBC teaching this particular program now and so I’m needed.  If I don’t show up, there will be seven low level ESL students wandering aimlessly on Monday morning.  I’m going to get a UBC e-mail address (seems odd for such a short time but why quibble), I had to pay a $20 deposit for a security card to get me into the teachers’ area (apparently it can get me into the bldg on evenings/weekends but if I do it wrong, alarms will go off.  Hmmm, maybe not) and they put my name on a cubicle (that is someone else’s who is on sick leave but still!).  I get a classroom and etc.  I get e-mails.  I am someone!  And the fact that I’ve been focussing on lesson planning, etc, has taken a lot of brain energy, actually leaving less for nihilistic thinking.  I find that fascinating – it’s like I have tons of brain energy and when it has nowhere to go, it goes downhilly.  Interesting.  But hey, shockingly, I’m no Pollyanna and know that this one short job doesn’t change me into happy happy joy joy but it is a good thing. 

And it gets me out of having to decide whether or not to take the career transitions course – well, if I’m asked to stay for the full 10 weeks it does because the program will be finished by then. 

My teaching will be observed already this week or next and that is a huge and never lovely thing.  They stay for the full time of the class I think.  That is 3.5 hours!  Yikes.

I must go cut up pictures from a story now.I am not a great cutter/paster, tis true, tis true but you gotta do what you gotta do.

tired, but a good tired, as Laurie Partridge said to her mother in the Partridge Family

Not much to say tonight.  I’m a tired temporarily employed person.  I knew that the first day back would be tiring but I am okay with that, I pushed through it because that it what I do, ha.

Oh the germs I was exposed to – on the bus, with the students.  I shall live.

In a nutshell I met with two other teachers downtown and we watched the students skate at Robson Square, then went up Harbour Tower – something I hadn’t done like ever and then back to UBC where I had lots of orientations and finally prepped a bit.  I basically need to figure out the whole curriculum but it is only 10 mornings with this class at 3.5 hours each.  I met some of my students and they are super sweet, as the low level of English often are I find.  Four of them speak Chinese though so I have to be careful they don’t speak it in class, tis a strong temptation which I totally understand.  We are going to start with introductions “Nice to meet you!” and eventually get them to asking other campus dwellers for directions.  They are a bit of a mixed level so should be interesting.  I was thanked several times for taking over at the last minute which was nice.  And the other UBC ELI-ers seem quite nice as well.  I recognized a few from when I was there nine years ago, wowza.  Wow time flying and such.

So two weeks at least with the possibility of 10 weeks.  It’s quite a well run institute, with lots of admin staff and CA’s who come to the class once a week and help out which is great. 

When my brain has something to focus on I can focus and focus – I keep looking at more and more resources online and thinking about other things I can do.  I’m also still working on my freelance piece and have to get a bio ready for the webpage of the Tanzanian school, a volunteer project I took on before I knew I would be working.  Tis okay though.  Work work work stop and etc.

Phew, off to bed.  Many typos I’m sure since I’m a tired tired person.  Fatigued.  Next week will be shorter days though – 3.5 hours teaching, an afternoon meeting or two and prep. time.  I’m looking forward to it.  I knew today would be quite intense and maybe Monday too when I actually start teaching.  Oooh, gotta go grocery shopping so I can pack lunches, just like in days of yore.

I can still write on here

Even though I have just gotten a little temporary job.  ESL does suck out my soul at downtown international schools but it does not suck out my soul when it is at the University of British Columbia’s English Language Institute.  Monday-Friday, 9-12, with the odd meeting, etc.  It”s their  “Language and Culture” program that runs 12 weeks a year.  Two weeks in, they discover that they need to split a class and need someone immediately.  I’m available!  I go in for the rather gruelling interview and bing bang boom, do I want the job.

I start tomorrow, Friday.  On Fridays they do a field trip and they want me to meet my students.  The three L&C classes are going together and I’m meeting them for skating and then going up to the top of Harbour Tower.  Good times. 

My eight students I’m told are very very low level, which is funny since I speak fast and prefer higher levels.  But the low lows are great in that they just love learning anything at all and I can spend a whole morning on like learning how to say, “Hello, my name is ____________”

It’s a two week and one day gig with the potential for 8 more weeks.  I worked at ELI 9 years ago and liked it.  It’s a university people!

Because I don’t have a Masters degree, I can’t work more than 36 out of 52 weeks at ELI.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I’m just going to get right into the next two weeks and go from there.  Getting up early!!!!!!!!!!!!  But even with all of the prep. I should be home early afternoons and will be able to uh, sleep or you know, work on my writing.

And blog, I shall blog.

I am still one of  you.

Still here

Hmmm.  A few days have passed since I last blogged.  Go figure.

Yesterday and tomorrow are the days I’m substitute secretary at my wee church.  It’ s a very relaxed atmosphere to say the least which is an awesome way to spend my time.  Today it was pretty much the minister and me.  I worked on the bulletin, did some filing and eeek!!!!!!!!!!!!  some Excel stuff.  I managed to mightily mess up the Excel stuff which somehow I thought I might.  Nothing unfixable and I’m happy to get the exposure to the program, not that I want to do administrative work full time.  Hmmm, no.  Actually, these days it’s not so easy even getting an admin job – seem you have to know every program and its dog. And it’s not me, not my interest and not my areas of strength.  But I’m loving this substitute secretary at my wee church stuff.  Tomorrow my plan is to make far fewer mistakes in Excel. Live and learn.

Admin. work to me still means pink ghetto and sitting in front of a computer all day.  I admire those who can do it though, although it does seem to be predominantly women still.

Which brings me to ESL (and I don’t actually put this blog on any of my resumes or mention it at interviews. I’m not using it that way).  Yes, they can always track me down of course with their spidey senses I realize.  Big Brother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went for an interview yesterday at yet another downtown-ish international school.  The pay and the hours were simply not a liveable wage.  Although they may say 25 hours a week, what they really mean is all day, every day.  No chance to do anything else, no chance to develop anything else.  If you are reading this and haven’t taught ESL, particularly at a for-profit ESL school, you may be thinking that I should be thankful for any job in this economy.  But before and after the interview (during it I was all smiles and happy happy, really.  Hard to believe perhaps but indeed I was) I just felt quite literally sick.  This is not a game I want to get back into right now. It is exhausting and it is all consuming.  I fully realize I may have to again at some point in the near future because savings don’t last forever of course.  But for right now – it just made me feel literally ill and like my soul was being sucked out of my body.  Dramatic?  Certainly.  Always.  Always.  I’ll see what happens if they offer me work.  It’s hard because I feel like I’m not allowed to turn anything down but can’t cope with the school I was at yesterday, at least. And the director was perfectly nice and the teachers looked nice and the students looked nice and the building looked nice and the computers looked nice.  No one was evil. 

“You’ll need to spend your breaks with the students,” the nice academic director said, “But on your (unpaid)lunch hour – that  is your own time – you can even leave the building if you want to.”  Glory be.

Now I know that some folks I used to work with are reading my blog so I hesitate to write about this because it may help them to think ‘wow, I’m glad I’m still at the company because at least it is a job that I know and that isn’t sucking my soul from my body.”  Phew and relief and etc.  And that would bug me because that is not my point.  Karen, you say, stop trying to think that you know what people think.  True that.  True indeed. 

Jeez, insomnia is really rearing its ugly head even more than usual lately.  Yucky, awful, makes me even more emotional.  My (also fairly) emotional friend and I were on the phone earlier tonight and we kinda snapped at each other and I got teary, that kind of thing.

Oh to sleep well for a whole bunch of nights in a row.  I wouldn’t recognize myself.

On a political note, seems Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate.  What up with that?  Uh well, at least Obama will get another four years.

Oh and I’m going to start a volunteer gig with the Educator Volunteer Network.  I’ll be doing the content for a website for a school in Tanzania.  The EVN works with schools in areas of poverty or war to help raise money, to mentor educators and to write press releases, websites, etc.  I had to prove I could write to even be considered so I’m quite excited about this. www.educatorvolunteer.net. It is quite internationally respected and a super opportunity for me.

And finally, I worked on the great edits my editor wanted on my freelance piece and I just now sent her the 5,307 word piece.  A couple of more edits and it will be done.

Not a resume-able talent really

My ability  to sit around for hours and do absolutely nothing is rather remarkable in some ways, me thinks.

Take today. Today is Sunday.  For some reason, I had absolutely no desire to go to my wee church today, possibly partly because I slept rather poorly.  But also I was just feeling blah and couldn’t be bothered was  how I was feeling.

Now at least if I go to my wee church I would have interacted with other humans today.  I knew that if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t.  C’est la vie.

I stayed in bed late then did some writing and some laundry.  Watched a bit of TV.  Watched soap opera bloopers on the internet (I know, I know).  I like all kinds of TV bloopers, not just soap opera ones,  people!

It’s been gray and raining for a few days and I didn’t want to go out necessarily because I knew that whereever I went, I would inevitably spend money.

Now I’m in my bedroom, CBC radio on – I have this little portable radio/CD player that I bought last year because a couple of years ago someone stole just the faceplate from my 1986 car’s CD player.  I figure they got caught before they could steal the whole thing.  It was an old CD player and cost me about $100 at the time so I’m not thinking big money for them.  Anyway, I now use it in the bedroom.  It was never very good in the car – the CD player worked erratically as did the radio.  I’d be driving down the road in my 1986 vague death trap and looking at the passenger seat to fiddle with the portable radio.  Hmmm.

I obviously need a hobby in addition to writing, reading, internet surfing and obsessing.  Obviously.  The thing is, here is the thing.  I am creative in writing but the other artistic stuff completely passed me by.  Can’t draw a straight line with a ruler type thng.  My hands aren’t steady enough for knitting and the like and I don’t have the patience to figure out sewing, although I desperately admire those who can.  I find the sound of knitting needles, well, knitting, soothing.

C. continues to be supportive.  I called her yesterday and eeek and whine and worry and the like.  She offered supportive words (and sentences) as per usual.  If I ever actually get a job, I shall buy her a large cup of specialty coffee or probably an alcoholic beverage would be her preference.  I am not implying that she is an alcoholic!  Goodness no.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I’ve thought about getting into drinking myself.  Believe it or not at my advanced age I have never been drunk and don’t really feel like starting now.  But you never know. Could be a hobby of sorts.

Seems some folks have been reading my blog and taking it all quite literally and will probably now worry that I intend on becoming a drunkard.  No, no, no, no, no.  It’s mostly vague humour of a sort.  But you don’t want to become too incredibly cynical in humour I feel.  I recently found the Knots Landing actress, Claudia Lonow (she played Diana Fairgate on the great and late Knots Landing) on Twitter.  Her bio says she is a ‘former cocaine enthusiast’ so it is that kind of humour.  She is a TV writer now.  But wowza her tweets are constantly  incredibly cynical, bitter but funny.  It’s just too intense for me and gets exhausting.  I would find her exhausting to be around although she may be more chilled out in person, who knows.  I think I will probably not ever meet her to find out.  Anyway, I don’t want my writing to be exhausting for people.  Mind you, everyone has different tastes and some like and some don’t.  Stronger personalities like mine seem to have people really liking it or really not.   Tis how it goes.  I’m not demur.  I don’t know how to be demur.  I have allowed this to bother me.

Sometimes the extremely laid back get on quite well with me.  Case in point is Maggie May or Michelle.  Or if they are strong personalities but in a different way – like Tracy say. 

I used to work with a woman who was extremely loud and strong personalitied (not a word, I know) and I loved it, loved it.  Others thought she was too loud but I thought it was super duper.  Folks like that add a little spice.

There’s been a lot of talk in pop culture/Hollywood/schmolyWood recently about Demi Moore.  She’s been quoted saying how massively insecure she is about herself, her body and feeling that no one will ever ever love her.  This of course has all come more to the forefront because of the whole Ashton Kutcher thing.  Demi Moore is almost 50 years old, I think.  And it seems so sad to me that she still seems to be basing her self-esteem around what men think about her. Not sure how that will affect her three daughters, although they seem quite together but who knows.  Demi has gotten so skinny after the whole Ashton thing that she looks quite sickly.  She had to go to Hawaii to recover.  That is kind of where my sympathy ebbed.

I realize that most if not all women in Hollywood are incredibly insecure, how else to explain Knots Landing actress Joan Van Ark’s plastic surgery and resulting huge plastic surgery mistakes.  Google a before and after if you are bored.

Oh, Knots Landing.  Loved that show.

Cycling in the rain

Long days, sometimes.  The rains are here, the cold, the low hanging greyness.  Darkness early each day or all day.

I want one of those spectrum lights – but they are rather pricey – you know, the ones that people in Vancouver get to fool their brains into thinking they are getting sunshine.  “Don’t kill yourself lights,” is what I call them.

Met Christine (a new name in my blog!) for a wee snack at the Starbucks not near my house. I’d say it’s a Starbucks about halfway between my house and where I walked to East Van the other week.  I decided to take my bicycle and my bike light that doesn’t really give off any, well, light.  Uh well.

Took the 8th Avenue bike route (where there are still cars, of course). It began to rain heavily and I wasn’t really dressed properly, although the wool socks were a good idea.  Nice to see Christine.

“It will take me a few minutes,” I said, “To get used to speaking again.  I’ve been alone a lot.”

But the groove came back and we chortled and shared things in our lives. I think I’ve known Christine for at least 15 years.  One of those comfortable friendships.

I gotta tell you, the Starbucks turkey and cheese (!) sandwich was expensive and not very good but I needed a little protein.

The ride back was freezing and rainy but with these odd pockets of warmth that I was grateful for.  No reason for the pockets of warmth, they didn’t have anything special about them.  I stopped at a library (of course!) the Firehall library (shockingly, situated next to a firehall) and it was warm and packed with people.  It’s a small wee branch.  They sell used mags for 25 cents a pop and they randomly had the weekend magazine insert from the London Times – someone must have dropped it off.  AWESOME!  It’s stuff like that and pockets of warmth that’ll keep  you going, I tell you.

I had an interview last Tuesday for an (eeek) ESL job and have one this upcoming Tuesday.  I’m doing it, I think, mainly for the practice.  The pay is often shockingly low, something I usually don’t find out until the end of an interview.  It is the only field of work where I would ask before an interview the hourly wage (and employers are not shocked by that, some seem to respect it) so that we can all save time.  It is also the only field I think where years of experience doesn’t affect your starting salary.  I have 12 years of experience but it doesn’t matter. Some would say, as T. suggested, that some salary is better than no salary.  True in some ways but I need to make at least enough to cover my expenses because even though I’d only be paid for 25 hours a week, I”d be there for at least 40.  It is not a grind I want to get back into yet, especially at a very low salary. It makes no sense.  The world of ESL international schools I think is only really understood by those who have been there.  Still, it was nice to actually hear back from companies.  On Friday morning, I randomly sent out about a dozen resumes to different ESL schools.  Within 20 minutes,  I’d heard from two.  Seems my resumes are getting through, who knew.

I want to write more about the ESL world but feel that I can’t – don”t want to bite the hand that may feed me again.  Not that the hand knows about my blog, but you never ever know.

The Glenda is popping over so that we can write for a little while – nice!   I’m reading at my writing group on Monday evening and need to have something ready.

Oprah and such

So apparently Oprah’s OWN network was floundering.  Had Oprah called me, I could have told her why this was.  Too  much repetition, too many shows about women chasing ghosts or some such, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, the Judds reality show and on and on.  Although Chaz Bono’s documentary was interesting in its bizarreness, they replayed it way too many times.

Most women who like Oprah and her Oprah wisdom seem to like to see, well, Oprah.  She seems to be figuring this out.  She is now replaying episodes of her show with Oprah giving updates.  Yes, Oprah, that is the ticket.  Women want to hear only you and your glorious wisdom.  In tonight’s show, part of it is dedicated to young women becoming Catholic nuns.  Right now they are marrying Jesus Christ.  Now two of them are talking to Oprah discussing how they can now where black veils.  Good, Oprah, good.  One of the nuns just said, ‘hill of beans.’  Oooh, next is rare footage of the nuns’ wedding reception.  Seriously though, I think this will improve her ratings.  Also, if she has the Sister Wives on and maybe the Little Couple.  And someone who has lost say 862 pounds.  I will watch, Oprah.  But I will not bow down to you unless you send me money.  Thank you.

This morning I went to see minister Beth or, I guess, Beth.  We hadn’t visited for awhile so it was nice to hang out.  She offered me a chocolate but I did not feel like having one, oddly.

“I wish I could get you a job,” said she.

“Could I have your job,” I asked.  She rightly said no.  She’s right.  While I would enjoy the perks, I don’t think I could handle being compassionate and caring to so many people, some of whom are not as enjoyable as I am.  Plus, you have to know and enjoy the bible, apparently.  Although in the United Church that is becoming less necessary it seems.

I don’t think I will become a nun.  My aunt is a nun and that is how I have forever referred to her – ‘My aunt the nun.”

When I got home around noon from my little ministerial visit, there was an e-mail with editing corrections I needed to make on my EI article.  Massive corrections but excellent corrections.  It is really great having a great editor.  Great, great, great.  Her ideas enable the article to flow so so so much better.  I am very pleased.  We have a phone meeting tomorrow morning – I have a meeting!  It’s at 9 am (she is in Toronto where it will be noon) so I’d better set my alarm (really).  My corrections aren’t due until next Friday but I set to work on it today, spending about three hours just working, working.  That is so good for me – it focuses my mind.

I’m trying to be a bit more upbeat in the blog today – I may not necessarily feel so upbeat but I’ve read a few really negative blogs, which I totally, totally get and respect, but they were just depressing and brought me down further.  It’s difficult though sometimes to be realistic without beng negative.

I was Facebook chatting with my friend Debbie in Australia the other day.  I knew Debbie when she was a nanny in Vancouver 25 years! ago.  She is now married with 6! kids and living kinda in the outback.  She has set herself some New Years’ goals.  I have no goals so I tried to make them up on the spot.

“My goal is to have a nice box to live in when I live on the street,” I wrote.

“May I make a suggestion?” she asked.  “Try to set some positive goals.”

Oh, I said, oh, yes, good idea.

We reconnected on FB a couple of years ago and it’s great – we really enjoy FB chatting.  If it didn’t cost so much and take 10, 252 hours, I would go and visit her.  I visited her in 1991 but much has changed, like the six kids.  She was just freshly dating her husband when I was there. Our lives are so different but we really enjoy each other.  Nice.  And maybe because we live so far away from each other, we can tell each other things about our lives that we wouldn’t if we were closer geographically.

Does anyone work for EI anymore?  I need someone to hurry up and decide on my new claim.