Tag Archives: ESL

Okay then

3 Jan

Happy New Year but of course.

New Year.

Yup.

I’m going to work to stay in shape over the winter season, something I’m not great at doing.  If I can’t exercise outside on my bicycle or outdoor swimming, it takes more of an effort.  Indeed.

I remembered the other day that I have a couple of five pound weights that I bought a zillion years ago I think, and have been using them a bit, working on the bye bye arms.  If you don’t know what I mean, wave bye bye and look to see what is happening with the underside of your upper arms.

I remember it was December 3rd, 1998 when I decided to really get in shape.  I went to the gym every second day and started using the Stairmaster.  The Stairmaster is no longer used because it is killer on the knees, something I discovered years and years later.  Owie.  Now gyms use a more gentle stair situation.

But wow that Stairmaster got me in shape like nothing else.  A half hour was the maximum time it was supposed to be used but some women would be on there for over an hour.

A half hour was enough for me.  At the beginning it was hard and I pushed myself and I would almost get sick from the effort.   But slowly I got in shape.  And then I found that I could jog (something I’d never been able to do, ever) around the 1/4 mile track near my home.  I eventually built up to jogging for 90 minutes.

Weight dropped off me and I re-shaped.  It was amazing.

Since then, I’ve had to stop jogging.  It hurt my knees and my weak ankles were having none of it.  I’d jog but then the next day my ankle would give out when I was walking and boom, down onto my knee.  Not fun.

Too bad too because jogging was so helpful for my anxiety and such.

Since 1998, I’ve tried to keep in shape in some way.  I apparently got off track in 2011, when a co-worker at the time asked me in the elevator why I’d gained so much weight.

“You used to be my inspiration,” said she, more than a bit overweight herself.

I laughed I was so surprised.

“I don’t know – life, peri-menopause, stress (my very well paying job was chronically ending, due to the school closing.  It eventually did end that year, bringing me to my current and chronic situation).”

Anyway, in fair weather – which in Vancouver is about April-October with the odd December day and February day – I ride my bike around the city and swim in the summer at the great Kitsilano Pool but of course.

This week I’ve been fairly lucky bicycling wise but now the weather has turned to winter with the accompanying freezing rain-esqueness.  I will join my local gym (a 20 minute walk away) and do a bit of this and that.  As you get older (old!) of course it is harder to take off the weight – apparently after 25 it becomes harder.  I remember being told that when I was 20 years old and a fan of daily cinnamon buns.  Uh well, that was baby fat it seemed and it burned off in another year or so).

Work isn’t happening.  STILL.  This blog is more than 3 years old.    I mean I’ve had on and off contracts to teach but there is absolutely nothing now in the winter season.  In the three years previous I’ve either had a job (admin. job at the church uh huh we know how that worked out) or had some EI at least.  This year is the first nada any of that year.  So my days are incredibly unstructured and I don’t know what to do really.  I still don’t know, more than 36 months later, what to re-train in.    Some folks have made suggestions but it hasn’t worked out.  Hey, I’m as sick of this song as anyone else.

I ran into a former colleague the other week, the only one who was in my situation – single, middle-aged and with a rather high Vancouver rent.  She has decided to re-train as a rehab assistant, after leaving yet another ESL school when they stopped issuing pay cheques.  “That was it,” she said.  That was her last ESL straw.  Fair enough.

Imagine what it would be like (maybe you know) to be single and unemployed with no idea of what to do next and no family at all in the province.  And you wake up every day and you have to think about this.  What to do, what to re-train in, what are the options, what can I cut back on spending wise (cable, I suppose), what can I do all day.

I popped into the local employment office (well, the folks there don’t actually help you find a job but will look at your cover letter and show you some resume templates.  Not their fault, there isn’t much funding) this afternoon mainly to be around other people.

“Job hunting is a full time exhausting job,” I heard one of the employees tell a job seeker who was about my age.

I wanted to ask how it is a full time job – are people just constantly sending out resumes and going on information interviews?  What the heck, I don’t get it.

Frustrating.

I live alone and spend a whole lot of time alone.  I have great and terrific friends but that’s not a 24/7 situation obviously.  I join things and I think tomorrow evening I’m going Contra dancing at a hall a 1/2 hour walk from my house.  Not sure though as it is like square dancing but less, well, square, and I don’t ever quite have the coordination for that.  Might be okay to watch though.  It costs money so I’ll see.  I play Scrabble with a group fairly regularly and my writers’ group and Centering Prayer/meditation group will be starting up again next week or the week after so that’s all good.

“You should put yourself on a schedule,” suggested A.T. and a few other folks.

I could I guess.  Get up before noon, exercise and then . . . .

Hmmmm.

Sometimes there is work at a local university for Feb. or March or both but not this year as student numbers are down everywhere.  So that’s out.

It is the combination of being unemployed and alone that I’m finding really really brutal.  It’s like – hmmm, I’m not sure how to quite explain that.  I do know that I’m bored to death of hearing myself complain and I imagine most folks are too.

It just goes on and on and on.  I get a little hope with a little work but it always goes.  Ageism is starting to come into play although not quite so much in ESL teaching which has an inordinate amount of middle-aged women it seems.  Yeah well middle-aged women who aren’t leaving their jobs anytime soon.

Stay positive, suggest some.

Trying, I say.  And really I am.  I really really am.

What to do, what to do.

Keep busy! is another suggestion.  Okay . . .

Gack.

I guess I’m done venting for the moment, much to the relief of the tiny and wee fan base.  No, actually I’m not.  This is ridiculous!

However badly one’s work/financial life, one must get their eyebrows waxed once in awhile.  I hadn’t had it done in too long (hmmm, a few months, both for financial and laziness reasons) and so off I schlepped to my local waxer people.  My usual waxer, a lovely middle-aged woman, had been off for a long time, sick.  The owner hired no one for a long time to replace her because it turns out it isn’t easy to find a waxer who will work the hours you want.  Now they had a new, younger woman.

She was pouring the hot wax on my eyebrows (that is the nice part, the ripping after not so much nice.  The first time I’d had it done I’d thought, oh, how nice and warm and relaxing.  And then, rip! Rip! goes the fabric.  The upper lip is the worst although I haven’t ever had a Brazilian, which would surely be worst worst) when I asked about the former waxer.

“She passed away,” said the new waxer.

“What!” I shouted, sitting up.

“Last month,” she said.

The wax fell into my eyes.

“Oh no,” I said, “That is so sad.”

“I know,” she said.

“My god,” I said.

Rip.

And then-

“I’m just going to do some threading here.”

“No!  Threading is really painful.”

She threaded against my threading wishes.  That is some kind of pain that threading.

She ripped the moustache and the inevitable chin hair and sent me on my way, red of face but looking better.

“We must suffer for beauty,” she said.

“Come back again,” she said.

I hadn’t realized that the original waxer was going to die from her illness.

She was a lovely lady whose name I never learned.  I found out the other month that her sister owned the shop.

Well shaped eyebrows are good things though really.

My gay friend, L., who is on holiday in Australia at the moment (he lives with D. in England.  I first knew D. and met L. through him and now L. and I have become closer than D. and I.    Well, as close as people can get in a long distance friendship) just now sent me an e-mail.  His advice is not family friendly, ha, more of a late night TV show friendly.  But it made me laugh.  Distraction works really well with me.

Example:  “Oh geez, I hate myself I don’t have a job and no prospects and I like sour cream and tortilla chips and I’m bored and there is no hope-  Oh wait, is that the new People magazine?  Awesome!”

That kind of thing.

I will leave you with some advice:  a.) don’t join the Mormon Church b.) make sure you have some savings c.) don’t go into ESL d.) call your mother even if she annoys you (if she is still alive). e.) try not to be annoyed by all of the happy people out there posting photos on FB.

Good evening.

 

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A word or five about soap operas if you will

3 Sep

The sun came out and then the sun went away.

So it’s a cool fall day but Kitsilano pool is still open. Will think about this.  I don’t enjoy swimming outside when it is cold out.  A plus is that there won’t be many people there – too cold and too middle of the work day situation.  Oh work by golly, work.

Starting Monday and for two ‘trial’ weeks I will be teaching part-time at a downtown school.  I don’t want to say too much due to fairly legitimate fears of someone reading this who, say, works there.  You never know.  Suffice to say it is a downtown school and what they want to see is that their students love me.  They have the kind of students who gang up and hate you.  It has no teachers’ union which is a good thing, the 25 year old director of studies told me, because then teachers the students don’t like can be fired easily!  She didn’t say it exactly that way but  y’all get the point.  Anyway, two weeks of a routine!!!!!  Hurrah!  I need me a little routine. As for after?  Who knows, who knows.  What I need to do is keep looking whilst at this little job-ette.  But as we know there are not a lot of jobs out there right now.

“Where do you normally work in the winter?” asked the 25-year-old.  Good question.  This all started three years ago.  In 2011, I was happy to take a bit of time off and hopefully figure things out. Hmmm.  In 2012, I was at the horrifying school briefly – the one where the high school aged students growled at me.  In 2013, I was the church secretary – yup.  And now, I am wandering aimlessly through a thing here or there.  Good question though.  What do I do in the fall and winter and early spring?

Craziness.  If this wee job could last a few months that would be good.  It’s not enough to live on but enough to pay the rent and keep a few wolves at bay.  I’d need another part time job or two which I might be more inspired to do once I am actually working.  Who knows? I’ll report back on that more next week.

On to soap operas.  After my barium meal this morning (yum, yum), I went to two libraries on the North Shore (thank you public transit and the great 255 bus that goes from North Van to West Van).  Got some good books that I’d had on hold at VPL where there are more users and thus a longer wait list.  Hurrah.  Hurrah.  And finally, hurrah.

Schlepped home and put on the TV.  The Talk was a repeat!  Geez, Sara Gilbert.  Channel surfed briefly past Days of our Lives and General Hospital.  Mom loved GH, sniffle.  My thoughts on this are that:  a. soap operas provide work for women over 40, 50 and even 60 and gives them a chance to be divas and sexy and good acting is not a requirement b.  soap operas get a lot of their drama from cattiness between the females.  That is unfortunate.  There’s no sisterhood on soap operas – all catty, all the time.  This still seems to be the recipe to hook its audience though.  The story lines remain ludicrous and the acting over the top.  Some actors eventually make the leap out of soaps (Kevin Bacon, Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, etc) but I think if someone is on a soap for a long time, they must have a hard time not overacting in other roles.  Apparently there is a real prejudice against soap actors who try to get nighttime roles.  It’s not fair!  They shout.  Apparently they learn like 80 pages of dialogue a day.

Rumour has been for awhile that soaps are on the decline.  Several have been cancelled in the last few years and actors from those end up popping up on the remaining ones in a kind of constant rotation.

I think a lot about this.  They heyday of the nighttime soap is gone too – remember the good old 70s and 80s of Dallas, Falcon Crest, Dynasty and Knots Landing?  Having said that, Dallas has been resurrected and is said to be doing quite well even though JR and his portrayer are, well, dead.  In the 80s, whilst my sister was out doing wild things, I was at home on a Friday night eating potato chips and watching the Dallas/Falcon Crest marathon.  Saturdays were Love Boat/Fantasy Island.  This is still the case actually, except replaced with Netflix.  That’s like a routine!  Phew, comforting.

Uh, yes, the sun has returned. Phew.  The dark clouds of Vancouver hang low and hang around way too long.  A bit too cool out to go for a swim but I think I will.

Craving meatloaf.  Barium flavoured meatloaf.

My niece is having a bit of a rough adjustment to living away from home – I suggested she colour.  A.T. will be proud when I tell her that.  Sniffle.

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.

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!

Still here

12 Jan

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.

Cycling in the rain

7 Jan

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.

Walking

28 Dec

I don’t so much mind walking.  I certainly do a whole lot more of it now that I don’t have a car (see smushed up car in an earlier post).  Today Michelle invited me over for leftover turkey and the like.  I could have easily taken the bus but I decided since I had the time that I would walk.  I live in Kitsilano, Michelle in East Van.  I’d say it’s about a seven kilometre walk.  When I used to drive it, it felt much shorter, ha.  It was pouring rain but what the heck, said I.  It took about an hour and a half and was a good idea for about the first 45 minutes.  Then I felt it was less of a good idea.  Nonetheless, it is a rather natural way of getting exercise and saves me the $2.50 bus fare.  Yee haw.

The winter rains have hit at last and with a vengeance although it isn’t too cold out yet.  But the clouds are low and the rain, she is strong.  Yup.

Yup.

Yup.

Uh huh.

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah, I met B. for coffee yesterday, also in East Van.  He told me about this cool website – librarything.com.  You can get free copies of books and review them and such. 

“I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you already knew,” said B.

“I did not know.”

I’m thinking of starting to apply for ESL teaching jobs again in the New Year.  While this does not thrill me and even causes a little  (but not a lot!) of bile to rise at the back of my throat (not the stomach flu again!) I think it is a good idea.  What would be ideal is a part-time teaching gig that would pay the bills and enable me to have the money to buy underwear at Superstore on the odd occasion, while still enabling me to feel like me. 

I need to start getting up at a bit of an earlier hour more regularly – I think 8 am is a good start.  Otherwise, once that work starts flowing in, my body won’t know what hit it.

And finally, I discovered during last week’s stomach flu scourge, that I actually enjoy Jello.  So I bought some.  I am not ashamed.

And finally, finally, thanks to my wee United Church minister Beth for calling me back on her post-Christmas week off.  Above and beyond, Minister Beth.  Did I mention that she brought me Gravol and Gatorade before church last week?  That is the kind of stuff you don’t forget. So if you live in Vancouver and happen to be looking for a wee wee (wee) church community that doesn’t take things literally and often has pastry and has a minister that will bring you Gravol et al before she has to go and be churchy, let me know.  I’ll hook you up.   No need to be scared away by what may appear my urging you to join a church – no, no, no, no, no and finally, no!!!!!!!!!  I’m still an agnostic but am too anxious to be an atheist and the old people at this church are really  nice to me. But in general I speak too fast for them and the whole hearing aid deal so I often repeat what I have said.  “I REALLY LIKE THIS AWESOME PASTRY YOU BROUGHT,” I might say.  I do mumble, it is true.   When I become a Mormon, then I will definitely try to get you into the temple.   I shall be a Mormon with a dash of Scientology with a little Buddhist mindfulness meditation thrown in. 

Oh and finally, finally, finally, finally, Shaw cable is coming by tomorrow to flick some kind of switch which will apparently speed up my internet from 7 to 50, whatever the heck that means.  This after I called them two weeks ago and said, ‘You are too expensive and stop raising your prices without telling me and getting away with it and hate you and all that you represent.  But whatever you do, don’t take away the Oprah Channel or the channel that shows the Waltons every weekday from 2 to 3 pm.  It’s channel 118 but for some reason shows up as 120 on the guide.  DO NOT TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME EVER.”

They are taking the sports channels or something and taking $30 off the monthly rate for six months, followed by $10 thereafter.  There is a rather large chance they may screw this up and take Oprah and the Waltons away as well.  That would obviously be intolerable.  They are supposed to show up between 12 and 2 pm tomorrow afternoon.  We shall see.