Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kinda gay

The funniest thing I've heard today.

A colleague was talking to another colleague (whom I'm closer to) about who are the good looking people in the office. Then he asked her if I was lesbian!

My first reaction was "But I'm pregnant!!!!"

Of course, in the age of artificial insemination and what not, it's still possible to be gay and pregnant but seriously? Me, gay? What in the world possessed him to come to that conclusion? I wear pretty clothes, I wear make up, I even wear heels and match my clothes to my handbag! How is that gay?

Packrat's extremely amused and claims that it explains a whole lot of things, like the running and the jock-ette in me. My humphy retort to that was"then, you married a lesbian".

I'd understand it a whole lot more if I was still in secondary school and still sported that ultra cropped hair do imposed by the fact that the school rules made it down right impossible to grow out my hair. That plus the fact that I spent a good part of my life in the sun and skirts weren't part of my vocabulary.

But now, it's a little bit confounding. But then again, I do know some very pretty gay girls so perhaps, that's a compliment, I just don't know it.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:07

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Monday, January 29, 2007

My beef with the heartlands

I found myself in Toa Payoh this afternoon. I had won tickets to the Stuttgart Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet (I cannot hyperlink this because all the relevant links are in German so that's not very useful. You'll just have to take my word for it) . Incidentally, that's causing me a whole lot of stress because I had already bought tickets to the performance and am now desperately trying to sell off my tickets and use the complimentary ones that I got for guessing correctly that the dancers were in a grand jete rather than an assemble.

But I digress.

Anyway, yes, I was in Toa Payoh. I don't go there often anymore because I don't live near enough. I do have fond memories of the place since I spent a great deal of time there with Olie when I was in school. But finding where things are in the area is now a mystery to me. I figured since I was in the area and I knew there were supermarkets around, I would do some grocery shopping and pick up stuff for dinner. I had already decided that we were having beef stew for dinner. The supermarket wasn't too bad. It wasn't crowded, it wasn't tightly packed and the fresh food looked fresh. So, I managed to get most of what I needed for the stew save for one thing- the most important ingredient.

There was no beef. NTUC only sold minced beef and I wasn't making meat sauce, I was making beef stew and I needed pieces of beef. I looked and I looked. I found a poultry section, a seafood section, a pork section a deli section but no beef. How can a supermarket not sell beef? I spotted another supermarket across the carpark and decided to try that one out. Same thing. Poultry section, BIG pork section- fresh and frozen, seafood section, no beef! Shop n Save also does not sell beef! What's up with that?

Two big supermarkets in the town central area did not stock beef. Ok, I know beef isn't like the most popular meat around but seriously? It's more popular than lamb!!! The only rationale I could come up with was a very snooty one that it's the heartlands and Heartlanders aren't as big eaters of beef as the Cosmopolitans in Singapore. I don't want to say that, but from my excursion yesterday, it's the only conclusion I can come to.

If the supermarkets in Toa Payoh do not sell beef then the people who live in Toa Payoh must not eat very much beef.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:00

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Double double toil and trouble

It's depressing when you return home after an excruciatingly long 15 hour day to a husband that doesn't even realise that you're home and a house that looks and smells like a bachelor pad where the smell of stale MacDonalds can be found even in the sacred confines of the bedroom and the living room looks like it survived an earthquake just barely. And don't even get me started on the dishes in the kitchen sink.

It makes me want to roll up my sleeves and bang things while I clean the entire house but I'm too tired to even slam doors to let him know that I'm home much less pissed.

Such is the life of an extremely grumpy WoW widow.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:42

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sand, sand all day long

A conversation I had with a friend a few weeks back.

Her: I have to go to a meeting now, about sand. How dull!
Me: Haha, you can build sandcastles in the air.
Her: Yup and have sand in our eyes.
Me: Maybe, you could play Enter Sandman by Metallica to call the meeting to order.
Her: Nah, the higher ups will probably throw sand at it.

You can imagine how this could just go on and on.

And then, this morning, I hear on the news that Indonesia has decided that it wants to ban the sale of sand into Singapore. Then, my still half asleep mind roused itself out of its stupor and wondered whether it was the same thing my friend was talking about. But sleepy me also wondered how sand could possibly be such a big deal for Singapore. After all, it's what goes onto the beaches, the kitty litter box and the playgrounds built in the 80's. Of course, once my mind woke up, I also remembered that the other place one found sand was at construction sites. And perhaps, that was why it was important.

Evidently, I was right. And I learnt a new thing too, that the sale of sand to Singapore is of national importance and without the sand, the IRs won't be built. So I very flippantly thought that perhaps, the religious groups that were against the IRs had prayed very hard for divine intervention and God had decided to grant the prayers with a sense of humour, by banning the sale of sand to Singapore.

I'm quite certain though that the sandmeisters in Singapore won't be too amused if I suggested a divine reason as why the Indonesians might be banning the sale of sand in Singapore.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:02

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Nonsense headline No 2

The world seems to be doing a whole lot of strange things recently. And it might be a coincidence but they all seem to be happening in the UK- no offence meant to all those in the UK. This, was in today's news.

Taken from

I'm not sure whether to laugh or to cry for the poor pigeon. All I know is it's totally bizarro.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:02

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

This is the sort of news I would enjoy reading...

Rather than read all the depressing things that happen on a daily basis in the news, these pieces of news not only inform, they entertain and good for more than a chuckle.


Of course I'm sure it's enough to make any guy cringe, the vivid description sent us into gales of unsympathetic laughter for quite a while. One would never see pancakes the same way again.

And then, there's this. Way to multitask and gives more meaning to how retail therapy satisfies the customer.


I'm sure in both cases, the paramedics and medical personnel went home and started their recount of what they saw in the ER with "honey, you'll never guess what I saw today...". Sort of like the time my brother-in-law had to treat a guy who had broken his penis.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:44

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Widowed, yet again

I started the morning off slightly humphy. Packrat informed me that he was going to the launch of the Burning Crusade, to which I replied "whaa....?" as my mind went click click click. Train of thought. - What's the burning crusade?Why is he going to Suntec for? What usually happens at Suntec? Why did he say it was better if I wasn't there? Why would it be totally crazy?-click click click.. Something to do with computers, something to do with the boys, something to do with gaming, damn! something to do with WoW.

In the very dim recesses of my mind, a little light goes off. I recall reading somewhere, about some new WoW thing that was going to be released in January. So I whined about having been made more widowed and he laughed and assured that I wouldn't.

I have my doubts though. I know how addictive and obsessive he can get with the game. Recall the me leaving the room and he continues speaking and recall the telling me in his sleep about gold he's found incidences and I will need to go no further to prove his obsession.

Me, I'm resigned though mayhaps, I should attempt to extinguish the Burning Bush. Ooops, Burning Crusade. Some crusade. Bah.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:24

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Henry Jenkins the Third

Henry Jenkins was in Singapore! Who is Henry Jenkins you might ask. He's a well known academic from MIT who heads their Comparative Media Studies programme and writes prolifically about all things media including Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I first heard him speak at Melbourne University and he was indeed speaking about Buffy. This was in the aftermath of Columbine and he was showing the impact of Columbine on the American psyche and how it affected young people and everything related to young people including youth oriented television shows like Buffy. It was where I learnt that the episode "Earshot" had been banned because it had a kid (Jonathan) who had a high powered rifle in the clocktower overlooking a town square. Apparently, Henry Jenkins had to appear in front of Congress to actually explain how it was okay to air the episode and by not doing so, it was building a greater climate of fear than to actually air the damn episode. Eventually, it was aired the following summer, as that was deemed enough time to get the teenage homicidal tendencies brought to the surface by Columbine under control.

So, when we heard he was in Singapore we were somewhat upset that we didn't get to listen to him speak. So like the digital geeks he refers to us as, we did the next best thing, we looked up the web for hopefully a transcript of what he said or anything close to that. Well, the man lived up to his reputation and blogged extensively about his insights on Singapore and anecdotal accounts of the lectures and interviews he gave here. Upon reading them, I was left with one overwhelming thought. How do I bring this material into class and how can I use it? I pondered this for over an hour before coming to the very obvious conclusion that I couldn't.

My reason is this. At their first lecture this week, when posed with the question "Are the poor an inevitable feature of society?" the immediate answer that was given with utmost confidence was "yes they are because there are always lazy people in every society who are too lazy to work and that's why they're poor" and when probed further, it was added that "the other group that is contributes to society being poor are those who are sick, because they cannot find jobs." Yes, those answers jolted me back into a reality where I was the one who had to teach them that those answers were too simplistic, too general and too much an answer a six year old might give.

So, fat hope if I want to introduce a 3000 word intellectual commentary on the socio-political landscape in Singapore to the same students?

Cannot. I'm stuck. And sometimes, that's why I feel I need a change.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:22

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Social conscience

When I was in uni, I was told that to be a good clinical psychologist, I had to be able to distance myself from my patients. If I cared too much about them and became too involved in their lives, I would be the one who would need help. There was also the issue of transference, where I take upon myself the problems and issues that the patients presented. Because of this, I thought to myself that clinical psychology wouldn't be a good field for me to go into. I would become anorexic, bulimic, depressed and suicidal all at the same time if those were the patients I was seeing at that time.

I was recently reminded of this when a therapist that we work with remarked that I had an incredible amount of empathy, that I cared so much about other people that it could sometimes become detrimental to me. I agreed with him and told him that's why I, even though it makes me feel like a rotten human being, don't like being near sick and old people, people who are mentally or physically handicapped etc. It's also the same reason why I had issues reading about animal abuse or human rights abuse as seen recently with the Blood Diamond post.

And last night, this tremendous wealth of empathy welled up in me and featured powerfully in my dreams. I read yesterday about the US were considering putting polar bears on the endangered list because the melting of the polar ice caps were causing them to die out, often by drowning. I felt extremely sad about that one. I have an affinity for polar bears, not because of Inuka like many other Singaporeans but because when I first moved to Melbourne and was terribly homesick, my flat mate introduced me to Lars, the little polar bear and bought me the Lars and his daddy in their stuffed toy versions. This gave me great comfort and I've been attached to Lars ever since.

Anyway, last night I dreamt about being at a resort and there were dolphins and polar bears swimming in the ocean (ok, I know in real life, polar bears DO NOT live in the ocean) but who said my dreamscape was normal? Anyway, a friend of ours found a baby polar bear and kept it in a giant bowl of ice. It was extremely cute but in my dream I knew I had to release it because we were checking out and it was a little baby. The entire dream was my journey to release it. One, I couldn't find the right ocean. The oceans I found were all too warm and I was getting increasingly panicky because the bear was growing bigger and his fur was getting warmer and I didn't want him to die. So search and search, eventually I realised that the ocean was just in front of the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore where we were staying. And I heaved a sigh of relief when I got there, especially because there was air conditioning for the bear that was now living on my back and getting increasingly droopy from the heat. But at the hotel, I couldn't get anyone to point me to the ocean. They kept pointing me to the river and I knew I couldn't let him go in the river cos it was dirty and it was too warm. There I was, running round like a headless chicken, feeling extremely anxious about the bear, whom I had grown extremely attached to and there was no ocean to be found! At that point, I woke up. When I realised that I hadn't fulfilled my mission, I tried very hard to go back to sleep so that I could release the bear, but I couldn't.

Up to now, I still feel some guilt at not having freed my little polar bear. Never mind that polar bears don't live in oceans nor is there an ocean at the mouth of the Fullerton Hotel, I failed in doing my part to save the endangered species. Packrat thinks I'm crazy, as he usually does when I tell him about my dreams. But it truly and really is the first time I've dreamed about trying to save animals.

Any quirky dream interpreters out there that want to hazard where this dream is leading to?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:06

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Great unveiling

There comes a time in a person's life where things change irrevocably and you're left wondering, what in the world was it like before this life altering event? It seems like everything before said event feels like it was from a different era and they're now, just some snapshots that have become part of our long term memories.

When faced with such an event, there is usually no other reaction than a sharp intake of breath, a momentary "uh oh, what do I do now?" and a period of adjustment. There is also usually the telling or sharing the news with those around us. Sometimes, it's a means of coping, sometimes it's a means of sharing joy, sometimes, a reality check. Whatever it is, life-altering events aren't usually kept secret. If it's that big a deal, sooner or later, it's bound to get out.

It's quite a surprise, even to me then, that I've managed to keep this under wraps for such a long time. It hasn't been killing me the way some other pieces of information might have. Most of the time, I've been learning how to deal with it, cope with the changes that have come along with it and be extremely overwhelmed at how my life will never be the same again. So, in short, I've been a little too preoccupied to be bursting at the seams to reveal this life altering piece of news.

Tym, on the hand, had nothing to deal with and wanted desperately to sing about it from roof tops. Instead, I put out a gag order and demanded that nothing be said about it. So, she had no choice but to blog about it in the most surreptitious of ways eliciting a great amount of speculation as to what the great secret was. To her credit, despite this, she was a most excellent secret keeper. Some others weren't so good. Within minutes of knowing the news, many others that we didn't intend to let in on the news were privy to it. I'm still humphy over that one.

Anyway, both Packrat and I feel that it's time to let her off the hook and come out and take responsibility for the secret.

And since it is a rather large life-changing event, we've created a new blog, just to contain the news. So, knock yourself out and give Tym a break.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:16

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The sadist that is me

Conversation I had with a colleague.

Me: I'm going to get my hair cut.
Colleague: Why?
Me: I dropped a lot of hair yesterday.
Colleague: So? You're going to cut it now cos some hair dropped? So drastic?
Me: Yup. Some hair drop. So as punishment, I'm cutting it all off.
Colleague: Isn't that just a little bit self-destructive?

Brutal was the other word to describe my hair cutting adventure. But it wasn't that much of an adventure- it was more reshaping and layering. According to my kids, I've had a Stepford wife and an Aeonflux haircut. My hairdresser squeals with glee everytime I tell him to cut my hair and goes slightly beserk. I think it's a throw back to all those times, when I was still dancing and needed the ballerina bun where I wouldn't let him do anything fun with it. Cutting then meant "trim off the split ends". Fullstop.

So, what I have is tame in comparison.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:12

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When Annie sang about the sun coming up tomorrow, she obviously wasn't singing yesterday, about today and about Singapore.

It was dark even when I got to school, in the East where the sun rises and it felt like winter because the clock and the natural light weren't quite in sync.

So, today, I really do reside in a place where the sun don't shine.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:14

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Saturday, January 06, 2007


My brother is the best secret keeper in the world. He stands by the belief that loose lips sink ships. I try to be like him but sometimes the female need to gossip gets in the way. Recently, I tattled in a big way but it was not because I needed to gossip or anything. In a way, that, had it happened to me when I was younger, I would vow to hunt down the Tattletale and beat the person up or stick pins into voodoo dolls.

Unfortunately, I've grown up and joined the dark side.

When I was in school, I was in an all girls' school that made it their mission in life to scare the beejeezus out of us regarding discipline. We weren't allowed to be seen in public in uniform unless we were with our parents (on hindsight, I wonder how they enforced such a rule). We had to go straight from school, home, not passing GO, not collecting $200. If portkeys existed, they'd probably have sent us home that way so that there was no way we could be in public, embarrasing the school.

It took me all the way up to Sec 4 to dare to go out in uniform and even then it was with a lot of nervous looking over the shoulder. And if I wanted to go out with a boy, I'd pack a change of clothes, all the way down to shoes and lug it all to school. Even though I had a boyfriend at that time, the cumbersome-ness of the exercise dissuaded me from doing it very often, especially after realising that where I chose to change out of uniform, a hotel near my school, was frequented by men on their way to massage parlours. At no point in time did it cross my mind that I could just heck it all and meet him straight after school in uniform. I, at that time, did not have a death wish and in my 16 year old mind, being caught with my boyfriend in public, in uniform was akin to putting a noose round my neck, with the trap door released jointly by the discipline mistress and my parents.

A few days ago though, I realised I must have been such an idiot to have been so fearful back then. Right in front of me at a cab stand was a girl, almost definitely in lower secondary, in uniform canoodling with her much older boyfriend. When I was her age, all that was at the public's disposal to report such a crime, was a phone call with a verbal description. To this girl's great great misfortune, technology's caught up. My 3 mega pixel camera came in very handy, especially since I was about 6 ft away from her.

Now, why did I do it? Did I do it because I needed to get back at all that fear instilled in me when I was in school? Did I do it because I had a personal vendetta against the school? Nope. In fact, one reason why I did it was because I knew the school. I'd never been a student at the school but I was very familiar with it. Another reason was one that I repeat ad nauseum to my own students- if they want to do anything stupid, they better be smart enough not to get caught. If they do, then they bloody well deserve the punishment that comes along with being caught cos they were stupid to begin with. The most compelling reason was this girl was obviously very young, the boy was obviously much older. If they were so comfortable canoodling in public, who knew what they were doing when half the world wasn't watching. And call me fuddy duddy but that posed great concern in me and I couldn't do nothing about it.

So I took the photos, uploaded it and sent it to the school, hoping that the principal wouldn't think me a judgemental busybody. I got a reply this morning. He thanked me and assured me that they'd talk to the girl and her parents. I should feel relieved since that was my point, to make sure the relevant parties did something about it. But I'm also left with a sense of futility because I remember what it was like to be that age. I'd be pissed off that some stranger got me into trouble, I'd have to endure months of parental nagging, lectures, grounding and close supervision but I wouldn't have stopped seeing the guy, I'd have found other ways of doing it, even on pain of death, because I'd be under the deluded impression that I was in love with him and the true course of love never did run smooth and all that Hallmark mumbo jumbo and because I would have been that stupid.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:31

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The first day back

I looked around this morning and on their faces you could see that they were still shell shocked from having woken at 6 or earlier this morning. Their hair, somewhat dishevelled, their eyes tearing and listless from the intense effort of staying open. Their nerves jangled from having had to fight the heavy traffic to get in on time. When the bell rang, they dragged their feet to the assembly square and they grumbled about how they had to hurry to get there before the National Anthem played and got them into trouble. Even standing at attention was an effort. How does one recall standing straight after having slouched and lazed about for the last 2 months?

There was great muttering all around as the Principal gave her peppy welcome back speech and many pairs of eyes stared blankly at the ground. They yawned, they whispered to one another that the holiday had been too short and they weren't ready to be back in school. Some sulked when they were informed that classes would begin immediately, others breathed a sigh of relief to hear that fun and games were to be had first. Anything to delay the agony of going back to class. The bell had only gone about 10 minutes ago and they couldn't wait till they could leave again.

What were they doing out of bed, at such an unforsaken hour? Why hadn't they completed all their work in time? What did they do to have to deserve this? Where was their salvation? Their minds rapidly counted the number of days it was to the weekend and when the next public holiday would offer them reprieve.

Finally, they were dismissed. They sighed and took in a deep breath. The new school year had started and there was no turning back.

Now, I wonder how the students felt this morning...

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:17

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Existential resolution

Someone commented that for a teacher, I don't blog much about my teaching or my students. I think there are various reasons I don't do that. One of them has to do with the type of blog it is. It isn't the type of blog that is a platform for self-righteous indignation at the bureaucratic mismanagement that occurs in any civil service. Another has to do with self-preservation. Institutions tend to adopt a defensive stance against any sort of criticism, constructive or otherwise so the wise way around it, rant about it to friends if need be, but never leave a paper trail or in this case a cyber trail that could be used against you in court or the boss's office.

Other sensitivities that could be offended might be the students if I blogged about them. It would be stupid to assume that they don't know the blog exists and it might be okay with them if I sang praises about them on the blog, but most of the time, if I wanted to blog about students, it would be because they say/do inane things that are priceless. One might say, they should take it in jest and in the spirit that it was written, but experience has taught me that they won't. Well, some won't anyway, why make my job even more difficult by giving them more reason to be students who are reluctant to learn?

But I think the most important reason is that my job doesn't define who I am. It's part of the landscape but it's not what I'm made of. So, because of that, I don't see my blog as a day by day, blow by blow account of what happens in school or in the classroom. I blog about what amuses me or annoys the heck out of me. And if everything that amuses or annoys me happens in school, then I lead a very sad life. At this point, I need to say that I'm not attacking any blog that's dedicated to what happens in the life of a teacher.

It leads to a more existential question though and I suppose the new year is a place as good as any to think about it. My job doesn't define me. It's something I do, it's something that pays the bills, it's something that keeps me occupied for the better part of the year but it's not me. In the last few weeks, I've been trying to figure that out. What is me? For most of my life, I've always been proud of the multiple definitions of me (not to be confused with multiple personalities, even though that would be cool too). But much has happened in the last year that has swung me from one end of the spectrum, to be satisfied with one definition of myself, to where I am now, yearning to redefine myself beyond the obvious.

2007 will definitely play a large role in such definition, it is a year of change. I know I am about to discover new facets of myself, but that's not enough for me. My resolution for this year is to, like I say, go beyond the obvious, beyond the traditional and to attempt to find a deeper and more satisfying answer to so obvious yet so impossible a question.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:42

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"