Archive | April, 2012

I want to ride my bicycle

30 Apr

And so I do.  The weather is becoming more fair-weathery, which is when I’ll ride my bicycle – so like April to October, if I’m lucky.

Up and down the hills, particularly the rather brutal W. 8th Avenue hills just past Highbury.  Up, up, up, up and then finally, up.

Huff puff.

Today my wee United Church was having a combined service with four other churches in the area in an effort, I think, to get us used to the whole amalgamating thing.  I needed to be around folks so I decided to go.   Taking the bus would have been not direct and annoying, so biked.  The church (less wee than mine) was right at the top of the hills.  Wowza, challenging but I did it.  Good good.  I can feel my body (if not my pounding heart yet) getting used again to the hills so that’s nice.  Not that it’s easy.  I huff and I puff and I huff and huff.  And finally, huff.  Muscles tense up – not so great but I can do it, darn it.  Etc.

So I walked into the church rather sweaty, rather huffy puffy.  I was late, so it was already very very full.  I found a seat.  After, there was a wee lunch so that was nice.  Cycling back home was much, much easier!  The coasting on the downhills is like the reward really.

Well, this week I’ve got a few things up.  I’m reading at my writers’ group tomorrow (Monday) evening and I’ve half completed (and I’ll read just the half) yet another Georgia story.  I’ve described the Georgia stories on here before – based on an old roommate, I began to write around this character 8! years ago.  The stories are absurd and sardonic and funny, frankly.  Publishable?  Well, I’ve submitted one of the stronger stand alone stories a few places in the past but meh.  What I want to do is get together the stories – edit quite harshly the earlier pieces and then finally put them together as, “The Georgia Chronicles.”   I might put one or two of them on here.  I did that on my old blog.  Georgia, she has been good to me.

What else?  I’m observing an ELSA class on Tuesday afternoon at that unnamed two-zone away place (probably not the place you may think, although you may not be thinking about it at all!) for free but uh well.  There is also to be an interview early in the week (don’t know when yet) – quite a brutal one I hear and from the information sent to me, oh yeah, brutal –  for 10 weeks of work that would start May 22nd.  And then I’ve been told that I almost certainly have three more weeks at UBC’s ELI in August so that would all work out quite well.  Yeah, short term contracts again and yeah, being bounced at at the end of August will be a tricky time to look for work yet again but the 13 weeks (with one week off before the ELI gig) would not be bad.  The 10 week job would be a challenge to be sure and would involve morning, afternoon and evening work.  Going, going type thing, lots of prep.  Hours.  But I’d like it, I think, great experience.  The first step though, is the interview.  Trying not to put too much pressure on myself as I figure if I don’t get it, well . . . something else will come up and I’d be a bit relieved, frankly, since it is one tough gig!  In the spirit of honesty, I’ve e-mailed the coordinator of the ElSA thingy to let her know that I might have that interview this week and that that would affect my subbing availability obviously.  She’s asked me to let her know these things and frankly, realizes that I’ve gotta go where the work is.  Anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself.

Jump jump.

And, if nothing else comes up, I’ll have that 3 day (well two half days and one full day) ‘career exploration’ course at the ‘new and improved’ employment centre.  Busy, busy.

Oh!  On Friday I had the honour! of babysitting wee 16 month old Rosie while G. had a phone thingy. We went to the park.  She’s recently taken an interest in bringing her baby doll everywhere so she went down the slide and then the baby doll went down the slide.  And then the baby doll got dropped on the sand.  I so respected that.  Cute little girl and I so enjoy hanging out with her.  G’s phone thingy ended earlier than she thought, so after about 20 minutes she came to the park.

“I’m exhausted,” I said.

She laughed.  The biggest laugh, the uproarious hysterical laughter, happened when I handed Rosie a plastic baggie of fish crackers and somehow expected her to know what to do with it.

“Okay,” I said after the 18th minute, “That is enough.”

“Sorry,” snorted G.

We went inside, Rosie went to bed and G. let me watch two episodes! of thirtysomething on Netflix.

“This is so whitebread,” she said.

“Have you been talking to Maggie and her mother?” I asked.  “Look, it’s Miles Drentell!  I’m going to have to IMDB this episode to see what all the guest actors are doing now.”

G. feeds me grilled cheese, lets me watch thirtysomething and play with Rosie.  This gives me a reason to live.  Oh, the drama.

Watch these pages for updates on my exciting week.

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here I am

25 Apr

Well, here I am.  Yup.

Yesterday, I headed over to one of the new Work BC employment centres or whatever they are now called.  You have to go to the one closest to you, which for me is about a 25 minute walk/10 minute bike ride/5 second helicopter ride.  I got a new case manager.  Had I not had a case manager in the past, that would apparently have proved much more difficult to get one. 

She was better than the last one, so that is good although really, not saying much (government, etc.) She only works two days a week and has another job to supplement her income.  Case managers tell me these things when I ask.  When I mention I’d written an in-depth article on the whole thing, she clammed up a bit but also wrote her name on a piece of paper (no business cards yet, the gov’t is behind on these things apparently) and told me to make sure I spelled it right when I wrote about her.  Ha, I said, no, I’m done with that.  (Still haven’t gotten the cheque in the mail for that article, go figure).  Anyway, I found out that I have to re-apply for the targeted wage subsidy, something I wasn’t told.  The fellow in charge of it seemed a mixture of bored and confused and said nothing would be up and running for at least a month.  Oh, I said.

The office itself is nice – nice computers in the resource room and not a soul there to use them except a little boy (really).  The resource centre employee also looked bored.  “It gets busier,” my case manager assured me and then showed me the water cooler of which she seemed quite proud. “I’d like to be your case manager,” she informed me.  “Should we speak once a month?”

I signed up for a 2 day career exploration  course spread out over 3 days next week.  I did this mainly so that I can be around other people because as we all know the isolation and boredom is doing my head in.  The course takes place right in the office.  Before the cuts, such a course would have been 3 weeks and taught by specialists in the field.  Now, it’s a crap shoot really and I know that.  I’m pleased that it is a much shorter course, however.  And obviously if I get a job interview or subbing or some such, that would take precedence.

I will also be observing an ELSA class (unpaid, sigh) next week at that 2 zone bus ride location but that should hopefully  lead to a few (paid) sub gigs there.  So wow, next week is just jam packed. 

I said to G.  (not the Glenda but another G. person) last week that maybe I just should have put in the money and stayed at the corporation.  She looked at me with an expression that said, “no, really, really?”  And then she said, “No, REALLY?”  She’s right, I wouldn’t have survived all the beaten down stress that followed.  It seems to be settling down a bit but, eeek.  And again, when you have to fire that many people to keep something going – yikes.  I think in addition to all of the stress I would have felt like I was working because other people got fired. Yuck.  I’m obviously still processing this almost 8 months later.

 I still believe that there is something else out there for me but it is just taking awhile to show up.  Sigh.

In other news, it seems that a gay woman in Ohio has been removed as den leader (I think that is the title) of her son’s Boy Scout troop because she is gay.  The Boy Scouts have issued a statement basically saying that because she is gay, the boys would have to learn all about, well, gayness, and that the Boy Scouts is not the place for that.  This is in the U.S. of course, I believe in Canada the Boy Scouts considers gay people to be human.   So this mother of four children, had to tell her 7 year old son that she could no longer be involved in scouting with him.  Parents of some of the other boys are outraged and their children are shocked and confused.  Ironically, this will result in having ‘those kinds of conversations’ that the Boy Scouts of America wanted to avoid.  Here’s the petition –http://www.change.org/petitions/boy-scouts-of-america-reinstate-cub-scout-leader-who-was-removed-for-being-gay# along with some more information.    Seems that as treasurer of her pack, she had found some inconsistencies in the finances, reported them and a week later was removed because she was gay. 

Okay, I can’t imagine being gay and reading about this kind of stuff all of the time.  My head would explode (well, more).  I’m not gay, but I write and read about the issues a lot because, mainly, I find them so shocking and disturbing and I wish unbelievable.  In another story (remember I have LOTS OF TIME TO SURF THE NET) it seems that four women were travelling through Texas and stopped into the only bar in a tiny town of 500 that served alcohol.  They were playing pool and such when they were told to leave.  Once outside, three of them were beaten by men who told them basically if they wanted to look like a man, they should be able to fight like one.  Okay, I ask naively, what is the reason for all the beating up?  Canada is generally more enlightened and certainly Vancouver is.  But having said that, a man named Aaron Webster was beaten to death in Stanley Park about 10 years ago and other gay bashings still go on.  What is it that makes some men (and the physical beatings are almost exclusively done by men)  get all “I’m gonna punch your face in”?  Can’t they just, I don”t know, spit on the floor or something instead?  Or break a toilet? (not sure why that came to mind).  Can’t they just do all their hating in their own homes, by themselves with say a punching bag?  I mean, I’ll confess, I may not understand it all either – the whole Chaz Bono thing is a bit odd to me but I don’t actually want to beat him up.  Let me think.  If I see Chaz Bono walking down the street in Vancouver, will I want to beat him up?  Will I want to take a bat and hit him in the head with it until his head is flat and he is lying on the ground?  Do I have a desire to do this? No.  But I do have a desire to tell him that his mother is so interesting and could chll a bit on the plastic surgery.  Anyway, stream of bored consciousness.  I’m not saying I am so much more enlightened than the beater uppers – was it not I who stared at the elder hand holding women the other evening?  Indeed it was.  I wonder if they had gone into that bar in Texas if those men would have punched them too. 

But just LET THAT WOMAN BE A BOY SCOUT LEADER.  I have a friend in (rural-ish) Virginia who I’ve sadly lost contact with (mainly because I’ve lost her e-mail address).  I met her about 11 years ago when I wanted to do an article on the actress Thea Gill and she was able to get me in touch with her.  A few years later, I did a great trip to NYC, Washington DC and then Richmond, Virginia, where I had (have) a friend.  She also lived out there with her then partner and their two children and I stayed with them in their little country town for a few days.  She played guitar in the church band, something I found interesting because I figured that a small rural town church would not go for the likes of her.  But she took me to a rehearsal and all seemed happy.  I was still fascinated that I was wrong. Well, turns out I wasn”t wrong.  A couple of years later the band leader kicked her out, basically saying that ‘her kind’ were not welcome to be in the band.  I don’t remember a lot of the details but I remember that she was very hurt and humiliated.  The thing is, in every other way she was as ‘conservative’ as those other people in that church band.  She was just raising her children and loving her country type thing. 

okay, back to me.

Wow, it is May basically and high ESL season but I’m not hearing from the schools that I expected to hear from.  I’m not even sure that I am still guaranteed the 3 weeks in August at UBC.  All very up in the air which, coupled with the isolation is not so great.  As such, I’ve contacted a small theatre in Vancouver that I used to volunteer for during the day way back in 1995 to see if they might need some help just to get me out of the house and back into the land of the living. 

Oh, wee wee fan base, remember back so many months ago when I thought I’d actually be able to switch careers?  Oh, the salad days of vague optimism.  

It’s raining and the roofers, who I thought were finished, are now back right outside my bedroom window.

12 roofers roofing

23 Apr

Well, actually, far fewer today, thank goodness.  They have moved the noisy air compressor to the other side so it is much more tolerable.  And they are banging less.  Their ladders and such are all in front of my bedroom window though which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that I am entertaining guests in the bedroom.  I joke, wee fan base, I joke.

Oh, just now it is loud again with those loud drilly things.  Oh, we had been doing so so well.  They are either speaking Spanish or Tagalog.  Sometimes I think Tagalog, sometimes Spanish and sometimes I think like maybe a dead language like Latin.  Why would the roofers be speaking a dead language like Latin?  True.  But why not?  I’ll stick my head out in a minute and ask if they are speaking Latin and if so, I will ask them to come inside and perform a traditional Catholic mass but not with communion by intinction as we all know that is how I got that never ending virus from that communion time at my wee United Church. 

“That is not how you got it,” insists Rev. Beth, since she notes that I no longer partake in the monthly communion.

“Is too,” I say.

Rev. Beth is in Seattle this week with Mr. Rev. Beth (also a minister) as they are taking a course.  If I have a spiritual emergency (or if anyone in the congregation does), they are just supposed to ‘suck it up.’  Ha, I joke.  Actually, the Wed. evening Hebrew scholar bible study minister that I enjoy is the emergency contact.  Good, good, comforting.

I woke up this morning (for which I am thankful for) and was all in a twitter because I knew it was going to be another long unemployed day.  Oh, now the roofers are suddenly making a whole new loud noise.  Anyway, I paced for a few minutes.  I sent out a few more resumes, obsessively checked my phone to make sure it worked and etc (actually, it broke down for a few minutes this afternoon, horrors).   Pace, pace, a welling of panic.  My teeth throbbed, my heart throbbed (as a youth, my main heart throbs were Shawn Cassidy, Leif Garrett, John Travolta (eww) and Anson Williams.  Oh and Matthew unspellable last name from Little house on the prairie (he played Albert).  I sent him a long fan letter I remember but it came back, address unknown. Sniffle.  Oh and Richard Dean Anderson!  Pre-Macgyver days, General Hospital days. Apparently I wrote him some poems because I remember getting a postcard back with his pic on it, some generic typed stuff and IN HANDWRITING HIS I AM SURE  ‘great poems!’ I remember this so clearly.  Wish I’d kept the postcard.  Heart throb throb), etc.  It’s tricky this week after week after week, never knowing when it will end, when an actual job that lasts will turn up.

So I biked up to UBC and had coffee with my ELI former great boss, S.  We are very similar in our love of yakkity yakking.  And I thank her, because I had a whole lot of yakkity yak stored up which she let me, well, yak out.  We even talked a little celebrity gossip!  And our mutual love of Johnny Depp, although I pointed out that I think he’s gone off the rails as of late.  Man-child type thing.  She didn’t know of the Jolie-Pitt engagement so I filled her in.  It’s not often that you can yakkity yak with a boss.  I enjoy this boss even though she has zero pull in getting me more work.  That’s true boss love, people.

Tomorrow morning, oh the excitement, I am going to one of the new employment centres and getting a new case manager.  I even have an appointment time.  This case manager can’t actually do anything for me but an appointment!  I put it on my calendar in case I forgot that I have an appointment!

The Latin roofers’ drilling sounds like a dentist’s drill. Mass shall begin at 5.  Come on by if you like.

oh, teeth

23 Apr

Eeek, wee wee fan base, eeek.  Eeek.  Well, my front two teeth have long been horribly ground down – due to ice chewing and well, grinding. I got a mouth guard to wear at night a few years ago.  But recently, I’ve noticed more ground down-ness (the two teeth are almost shorter than the teeth around them) and chipping!  And the gums around there kinda ache.  eeek, this will be expensive, people.  No idea what to do.  So I’ll go get a cleaning ($200!) and then ask about the teeeth. eeek.

and I say, eeek.

Still enjoying the Kobo.  And the bus, apparently.  Last night, I two-bussed it over to the West Van. library for the evening portion of the North Shore Writers’ Festival. First up was the great writer, Anita Rau Badami and then Marina Endicott, who has written a historical fiction book about vaudeville in Canada in 1912.  She showed photos from her research.  Quite interesting.  I find listening to writers inspiring.  And then i was able to borrow Badami’s new book from the library on my Kobo!  Yee haw.

Then the buses back – the slow down is always waiting for the buses and then the connections not, well, connecting.  No big deal obviously in the grand scheme of things.

A  further example of how my mind (mis) works:  while I was waiting for the second bus at Burrard and Georgia around 9 pm, I saw two women in their 60s I think walking by holding hands.  I have many thoughts about this – ‘are they just good friends?” “Do women in their 60s hold hands if they are just good friends?”  “Are they lesbians?  Do lesbians in their 60s hold hands?  Why have I never seen this before?  I’ve lived in Vancouver for 25 years and have been to Commercial Drive a zillion times and I have never seen elder lesbians holding hands.  Why do I care?  Why have I de-sexualized these two women because they are in their 60s?  Why don’t they have shorter hair?  Are they going to get on the bus (they didn’t) so I can analyze this further?  Do they live here?  Are they tourists?  Did they come out later in life or have they always been out lesbians?  Are they maybe sisters? Do sisters in their 60s hold hands?  How come I never notice older lesbians?  Why is that teenage kid who is also waiting for the bus pacing up and down, bouncing his basket ball?  Will he stop pacing?  Why is he pacing?”

It is a wonder really that my brain does not explode.  I am so used to my brain constantly going a zillion miles an hour (uh, kilometres really) that I don’t know how else it can work. 

Just a short post tonight – I’m wired and tired, not my favourite combination.  This too shall pass.

Oh good, my phone does work

18 Apr

So the roofers are a -roofing. Apparently the roof in my building needs to be re-tiled, so, for the next week to 10 days, re-tiling.  Because it’s an old mansion divided into suites, the roof is all over the place, including right outside of my bedroom window.  Hammer hammer hammer, air compressor air compressor air compressor noise and I can’t open the window cause if I do, in comes the dirt.  The Spanish (I think Mexican) crew works 8 am – 6 pm, with an hour for lunch in the side yard.  Around 5 pm the contractor comes to yell at them.  Am I repeating myself?  I seem to remember writing this story but maybe not for the blog.

I bought a pie yesterday. I know, I know and finally, I know.  It was cheap!  At the New No Frills at 4th and Fir.  Cheap!  I needed that pie.  Had a disastrous interview for a one evening a week for 12 weeks teaching job.  Yikes.  The interviewer, who I don’t think has ever taught ESL herself, was aggressive like I haven’t experienced.  “Why this, why that, why not” and on and on. I could barely breathe.  My mind kept going blank.  I asked my VCC source about this later (the interview wasn’t at VCC) and explained what happened.  She said, yeah, bad interviewing style.  And it was again, for a temporary 2 hour a week teaching position.  I wrote a rather well written e-mail after the disaster (if I do say so myself) but no response.  Do people really do that?  Not respond to e-mails?  Sheesh.   So needless to say I’m even further down in my nihilism.  I’m bored, I’m lonely, I’m edgy.  Stand back.  I want to swear here but I won’t. I don’t know how to talk my brain out of this spiral.  Eeek.

While I was riding my bicycle today up the wowza 8th Avenue hills, I realized that I hadn’t done that since Friday.  Other than a short bike ride on Monday and to my writers” group on Monday evening and to the disaster on Tuesday afternoon,  I have been spending the bulk of my time sitting on my bed, watching TV on the internet or reading and etc.  Same old, same old. Then I do a huge bike ride and wonder why it was so difficult!  Oooh and the rains they came down. I don’t think I’d mind volunteering but I have to admit that I want someone to just tell me – ‘go there and do this’ and not have to set it all up.  But that’s inertia for you.  Should I move?  I should move.  Where should I move?  I should move. 

I am sick of my own company, that is for sure.

Oh I did see B. today, so that was nice.  He had lent me his older Kobo quite awhile back and I’d downloaded something for it (Adobe Digital Editions, I think) but then got stuck.  So he kindly came over and over the hammering, set it up and showed me how to get e-books from the library!  Awesome!  I was pleased with that.  Thank you, B.

The pie is pretty much finished.  This is why I don’t buy pie.

On ‘Strange Addictions’ right now, a woman can’t stop eating tape and another can’t stop having her breasts enlarged.  In the next one, a woman can’t stop eating nail polish and then someone else.

Ok, people.  Let us form an unemployed group, meet for coffee but not be negative.

And, and per the title of today’s blog entry, someone texted me, thus proving that my phone does indeed work.

Everything happens for a reason, sure.  But does all the nothingness of my days happen for a reason?

Karen, this was a less than cheery blog.  We feel alienated.  We do not read this to read your complaints.  Please get it together.  Sincerely, some of the fan base. p.s. there is nothing wrong with pie.

Oh good, the tape eater has switched to chewing gum.

Oh good lord the breast woman has had a staph infection in the past and almost died.  The doctor is telling the viewers that the breast woman has an unhealthy obsession with her breasts! Uh huh.  Interesting that doctors kept operating on her.   Oh no, she went ahead with more surgery anyway and is now 38 MMM.  My strange addiction is watching the show, ‘Strange Addictions.’  Oh, they are showing her drinking the nail polish.  Oh and the other woman is addicted to digging in her ears.

Hello from my futon.

16 Apr

Me thinks I have a computer virus or some such as everything is freezing up and moving slowly.  Hmmm.

In other news, I need some more compressed air as my keys are crunchy, due to food particles underneath them.  Gross!

Oooh, there was a sunny day in Vancouver yesterday – April 14, 2012.  Sunny and warm, I say.  So, the Glenda and I headed over to Queen Elizabeth Park.  It was two buses and we met at the second one.  She was already on it.  I found this exciting for some reason.  I also enjoyed using my bus pass as I haven’t been using it as much now that I’m NOT WORKING.  Hey, settle down, Karen, settle down.

The park was abuzz with people and flowers (cherry blossoms et al).  We walked and took photos.  Then we took the buses back to Glenda’s house (well, no, we didn’t actually take the buses right to Glenda’s house that would be weird) and suddenly I was eating carrot cake.

“Just a small piece,” I said.  She plopped a large piece in front of me which I ate.  Well, yeah.

On Friday evening (an action packed weekend!) I had gone to Tracy’s and we watched ‘I love you, Phillip Morris” on NetFlix.  I enjoyed the film and found it absorbing in that for two hours or so I did not obsess about NOT HAVING A JOB.  Sorry, settling down.

Crunch, crunch go my computer keys.

I’ve really been appreciating commenters on the blog – particularly Thomas and Carrie who are very kindly sharing their job search struggles. At the same time, I’m needing to keep my chin from being completely on the floor.  I don’t want my nihilism to breed the nihilism of others, if that makes any sense.  Or vice versa. 

La la.

Today when I was walking home from my wee United Church, I fell-o-rama. I think my weak ankle may have twisted (this has happened before but not so violently).  It was totally like it was happening in slow motion – first bang on my knee, then somehow on my back and my neck is jerking back and the back of my head smashes on the sidewalk.  Wowza, I was stunned for quite a few minutes after and just kinda sat there.  It was so bizarre how the actual fall seemed to go on and on and again, in slow motion.  Still kinda shaking from it.  No one stopped to ask if I were okay, so perhaps it felt worse than it looked.  Ugh.  Usually this doesn’t happen unless I’ve been jogging or some such and weakening the ankles.  It is always so shocking.  Bonk and bonk.  Glenda suggests I wear my bike helmet all of the time.  Good idea.

If you can, watch Nurse Jackie either on TV or online.  Wowza this season 4 is great.  Edie Falco plays Jackie, a nurse and a drug addict who has totally messed up her life.  This season she is finally in rehab (until she leaves early) and she is finally letting herself be vulnerable and such.  Sounds trite but she is an amazing actor so it is not.  The rehab therapist is played by Laura Silverman, the sister of Sarah.  She’s great in the role and that surprises me for some reason.

I’m still reading like a crazed person – have whittled down the 13 library books to 9 now I think.  Enjoyable.  Some fiction, some non.  I’ve got one I”m going to start tonight – Prophet’s Prey (punny) – about Warren Jeffs and the fundy Latter Day Saints.  That is more fluff than anything really but oh so interesting because we know of my love of the outcast fundy Mormons.

I also have ‘Best American Science Reading’ and ‘Best Canadian Essays’ and such like that. Oooh and the Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories from 2007.  That should be great – I love short stories and the authors in it are superb writers and it will introduce me to some that I haven’t read.  I also have ‘Incontinent on the Continent’ by Jane Christmas (yes, that is her name).  I’ve read it before and enjoyed it.  Christmas takes her elderly mother on a month long trip through Italy.  She’s a good writer so it”s funny, poignant and Italy-ish.   I also have ‘Zoetrope, which is a collection of stories from Zoetrope, a fiction magazine founded by film director Francis Ford Coppola.  I’ve wanted to buy the magazine but wowza it is pricey.  The book is from 2003.  I found most of the above that day at the downtown library after the depressing ‘dude’ interview described in my last blog entry.  Do I read too much?  Not sure that is possible but maybe.  It could be seen as a way of escaping from the world but not really in my case.  I thought for awhile I might be a book hoarder but no, I read em and return to the library or try to sell them.  I think I mentioned before that last summer I put out a blanket in front of Grandview Park and sold some of my books – made upt $50 I think. Sold em for $1 each (later upped to $2).  I didn’t do it for the money really, I just loved chatting to the people (even those who offered me a great deal on a few different street drugs.  They read too!).  I’ll do that again once the weather warms up.  A bit trickier without a car but I’ll figure it out.  Please get me a job working at the London Guardian in their books section.  The Vancouver Sun has a tiny tiny books section. Tiny. Wee, tiny.  I also seem to be one of the few who enjoys reading, “Quill and Quire.”  But again, too expensive to buy regularly and lots of libraries don’t carry it.

Oh!!!!!!  OH!!!!!!!!!!  OH!!!!!!!  My sister Sherri (comma left out on purpose) got me a People magazine subscription for my birthday and the first issue came on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I worship People magazine as I’ve mentioned before.  It is like Soap Opera Digest but even better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you, sister Sherri who lives in Ottawa with husband and daughter and is a social worker and unlike me, has always been employed. 

A new week is starting.  Here’s hoping my phone rings during the week during the day!!!!!!!!!!  I generally hate the exclamation point.

Dude

11 Apr

The dude tells me that he’ll be talking with his peeps and they’ll let me know in a few days.

Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that but close.

In my continuing effort to find a job, I’ve sent out my resume to a few downtown international schools.  I may have already mentioned that I put a kind of caveat in the e-mail, saying that the hourly wage needs to be at least $xx/hour or I can’t survive.  In no other field would I ever ever ever do that but in the ESL industry, you have to.  Forgive me if I am repeating myself!  The length of time I’ve been teaching ESL – 13! years, is meaningless to most schools, absolutely meaningless.  The hours are never full time, although I would be there full time, prepping, marking and etc.  So it’s most likely say 25 hours a week that I’m paid for but I’m there 8 hours a day, so no chance to have another job even though it is paid like a part-time job.  I realize, of course, that I’ll never again make the $43/hour I was making for awhile at the corporation before the bottom fell out or the $50/hour I was making working part time at UBC.  I’m realistic and not going to be super picky.  Now is the time that ESL schools start hiring for summer staff.  Around September, student numbers drop off again and bye bye to the job.

So I head into, well, downtown, this morning to a different corporation.  I’d checked out their website and while they are very much like every other school, what they teach seemed maybe a bit more interesting and they have students from many different countries, so a nice mix there.  The building itself is really nice so that’s nice.

I’m early so one of the 3 teenaged looking receptionists asks me to have a seat.  It seems to be breaktime as students mill in and out, speaking many different languages, even to the receptionists (obviously no English only policy but whatever).  Everyone is young and hip.  I spy what I think are a few teachers and they are young and hip too, with the exception of one or two who look to be in their 50s.  They look tired but I’m probably just projecting.  I’m trying to get a feel for the place and I’m trying not to panic too much about the prospect of having to work in such a place.  Then, I hear a voice to my left, next to someone named Nadia’s desk.  Nadia, according to a note, will be in after 2 pm to help students.

“Karen,” says a voice.

I turn to my left, a bit dazed.  I see a young guy, wearing jeans I think, his hair kinda hip, kinda now.

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” he says “Students are on break still.”

I say okay and continue my soaking up of the atmosphere. “Speak English!” the young male Spanish receptionist says to some students lurking in a corner.  Interesting, he was just speaking Spanish to some other students minutes earlier.

The floors are sparkling clean, the elevators are fast and they have a widescreen TV that shows announcements.  This beats the former corporation’s old building, dirty floors and mice.  Still, my anxiety is building.  This is not what I want to do again.  (Those of you of my wee wee fan base inclined to think, ‘suck it up, sister’ may not want to read further.)

“Karen,” says dude, “Let’s have a chat in my office.”

Dude and I head in, along with a Korean student who needs a printout of something for some reason.  That takes a few minutes.

Then, dude asks me about two questions.  We discuss UBC’s ELI.

“I’m thinking of taking the Cambridge Delta,” he tells me and I’m wondering why he said Cambridge and not just Delta.  I suspect, but will never know for sure of course, the he was trying to be impressive.  “I was thinking about going to ELI to check out their library.”

“Oh,”  I say wondering what the heck library he is talking about.

“Or, uh, is it all at Scarfe (education building)?  Do they just have like a student library at ELI?”

“Yeah,” I say, wondering if he thought he could get his DELTA through UBC’s institute for ESL students.

A few minutes later he asks me if I haven’t taught since being laid off from the corporation.

“Uh, UBC,” I say, “Remember?  From January to March.”

“Oh yeah,” says the dude.

He doesn’t ask me any specifics about anything and it takes him a few minutes to find my resume in the pile.

“Here are my references,”   I say, handing him a piece of paper.

“Oh, yeah, cool.”

So our starting wage is xx/hour, he says.

Oh, I say, but remember we discussed on the phone my need for $xx/hour?

Right, he says and takes out a sample contract.  The font is too small for me to read quickly(yup, need progressive lenses very very soon) but he says well, you’d get $2 more an hour cause you have this and $1 for this and if you get 96% on your monthly evaluations from the students, then you”d get another 50 cents an hour.

Ninety six percent on monthly evaluations, he says again.

Some schools put so so so much emphasis on whether or not their ESL students like their teachers.  If you don’t get enough  smiley faces, then you are out.  And it can literally be smiley faces – or the dreaded frowny faces.  My former corporation didn’t put too much emphasis on them and UBC didn’t at all – they understood that students’ perceptions, while valuable, can be affected by so many things.  Imagine if, at your job, you were evaluated every four weeks by 12-16 people barely out of their teens whose greatest concern is generally that you are ‘kind’ but also maybe ‘strict’ but not too strict.  It’s insane and insane making in a way I can’t quite describe.  Don’t get me wrong, if all of the students hated you all of the time, any school, even my pedestalized UBC, would be concerned.

 But again, it is very very common in this industry to let the students whims do the firing.

“I see,” I say.

“So, we’re trying out teachers as subs first, to see if they fit in and then,  you know, there’d be work for 3 months in the summer.”

“I see,” I say to the dude.

“So you have a think about it and we’ll let you know in a few days.”  The dude stands up.  The interview, from start to finish, was 10 minutes.

“Bye,” I say, “Thanks.”

“Cool.  Bye,” he says.

I ride the elevator down to the main floor and out into the rain.  I head over to the main library and read a few newspapers – from London, but of course.  There is some amazing Air Transat deal right now and next week I could fly to London for $800, return. I’m sure I could stay with Dale and Luke for a week.  I won’t, of course, because I simply can’t afford to.  I somehow find eight books to take out and head home on the bus a couple of hours later.  I pop in to see Rev. Beth and try to explain what has happened.  She tries to understand but really, unless you’ve taught in the ESL indusstry, it is almost impossible to (just as I don’t get United Church minister stuff).  She doesn’t get what it would be like to be sucked back in and to have your whole job on the line all the time based on the whims and moods of young international students.  But then again, she sees me a lot, sitting in her office, banging my head against the wall about being unemployed.  Today I got her on to the ‘Modern Mormon Men’ website that my regular wee fan base know that I’m obsessed with.  “Here,’ I show her, “Read this disparaging comment I made as anonymous.”

I’m trying to get out, of the whole ESL thing (except UBC or ELSA!) I really am but it ain’t easy.  If you’ve read this blog at all, you know it ain’t easy.  Again, the temptation to write, “Geez, Karen, in this economy if the dude offers you a job, take the job from the dude,” may be strong. Resist! I say.

My phone actually did ring today, from a place (anonymous for now) that needs ELSA substitutes.  She’d called when I was at UBC and told me to arrange an interview for when I was done.  So tomorrow, an interview for subbing (and she was very clear, only subbing). It is quite far away (two zones on the bus!) but it would be good to get some experience in ELSA,  which is teaching immigrants.  So tomorrow I’ll make a half day trip of it – go out for lunch before the interview and visit with my friend after.

I have a feeling the dude is going to call me and say thanks but no thanks and really, that would be the easiest thing at this point.