Monday, June 28, 2004

Legs crossed

Here I am, watching twenty two 17 year olds struggle to understand passages about consumerism and how it doesn't actually lead to happiness. I'm bored and I have 15 minutes before this newbie teacher comes in to relieve me. So that I can go relieve myself.

I shouldn't have drunk all that peach tea before I came back into class. Unfortunately, I did and my bladder is making me pay for it. The newly installed air conditioning in the classroom, while making life more comfortable for the students and cooler for me, is not doing me any good at this point in time. Argh!

And all I can think about is how everyone who's asked about Canada has asked if we visited Niagara Falls which is a 2 week drive from where we were.

Ok, in a valiant attempt to forget about my bladder, I shall talk about my first day back. We're all bored and we're all restless. Not helped by the fact that we finally broke open the maple cookies and they're so sweet, I was bouncing off walls for a bit just now. I'm also reminded about how some people have the mistaken notion that initiative and sticking your nose into things that they have no business in. Now, it's time for damage control before I get angry phone calls from other schools citing unfair-play.

I give up. I can't stand it anymore. I'm just going to post this and sit tight till the next teacher comes in.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:13

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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Term 3, Week 1, Day 0

4 weeks really isn't enough no matter what non-teachers say about our holidays. Dan's officially in the bluest of moods and I'm ambivalent, bordering on depressed and thinking about shopping even though I shouldn't be. Thinking about shopping is usually my way of coping with extreme stress and come tomorrow, extreme stress shall be upon me. The exams are tomorrow and that means, marking begins on Tuesday and on top of that, Dan goes into reservist the week after and I'm not sure if I like the idea of him being away for 12 days in an army camp in a far flung corner of Singapore being grumpy. And the organising nightmare of the JC debates also begins round about the same time - so extreme stress.

It seems somewhat strange to me that things that so many of the things that I should be concerned over things that are trivial in the larger scheme of life. Truly, I don't see why I should have to lose sleep over marking, or a competition that no one is going to remember 2 months from now or the fact that my debate team isn't ready for the competition.

Perhaps, if I didn't have to worry about these things, I could better spend my time holding Dan's hand while he worries about working signal sets that he cannot, for the life of him, remember how to handle. Or perhaps, I could worry about having a kid. Right, left and centre, people are quietly putting pressure on me to have a kid. But I can't accede to their wishes because I worry about leaving my students in the lurch if I went off on extended maternity leave during a time that they perceive as the most important time of their lives. And that, unlike the little upstart who has tried to make me feel guilty for leaving her in the lurch this holidays, does tweak at my conscience. I have some sort of attachment to them and would like to see them, my first full batch of students through their 2 years of pre-university education. So, no, I can't think about having a child, not until late next year, like after the first week of November.

And, I have a thing against having end of year babies. Years of psychology, wisdom from my occasionally not so wise mother and from what I've seen teaching 8 year olds, year end babies tend to lose in the game of catch up during their first few years in school. Even if I don't whip out scientific proof and if you think carefully about it, it makes sense. We all know that when kids are young, within a span of 6 months, they pick up a whole lot of crap and their motor, intellectual and social abilities can change a whole lot. So, compare a child born in January to a child born in December in the same year. Big difference. Of course, Dan believes the contrary because both he and his brother were both year end kids, but seriously, if you heard the childhood stories about them, once against, the hypothesis stands true.

So I don't know about kids and truthfully, it's not that I don't want them, although some days after baby sitting my brother's two brats, I'm not far from that, it's more I don't have time to have them now and it's the truth. Truth is, that sucks. Shouldn't it be the case of we have them when we're ready to have them and not so much when our jobs allow us the time to have them?

That's the thought that's breeding resentment in my head as I embark on Term 3 Week 1.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:13

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The Gift of Knowledge

So, the birthday came and went rather quietly. But it was nice being surrounded by people who genuinely cared enough to spend it with me. I got a whole slew of sms-es and emails wishing me happy birthday and my family, especially Dan, really rose to the occasion as well.

I think when the birthday is spent in the company of people whom you love and love you, becoming a year older doesn't seem to be as daunting a task. And I count myself blessed to have been able to have to done so for the last two days.

Yesterday morning, I spent time at Mango, my favourite fashion house. Unfortunately, I had once again underestimated the frenzy that went hand in hand with the sale. A store that usually opened at the sane and reasonable hour of 10 am opened its doors at 8 with a path specifically leading to just Mango and no where else. So, by the time I got there at 10, when the rest of the store opened, there were enough mad women in Mango to lay end to end and walk the length of our small, but not that small island. I was shoved and I guess, from some other poor soul's point of view, I shoved as well. Also, I kind of got tripped and transferred some MAC lipstick on some poor unknowing shopper's shirt. Ooops.

After that, my fellow Mango groupie and I met Daniel for tea and tea is always nice. The only problem was that dinner was meant to start an hour and a half after tea ended. Precious little time for the both of us to digest tea enough for dinner. Having dinner with the family was nice apart from the moment where I had to justify to my "accusing-me- of-being-lazy-but-actually-just-cannot-understand-why-people-travel" father why it was necessary for me to go away on holiday and how I wasn't really doing anything wrong and it was my god-given right, although some young, know it all, upstarts may beg to defer.

What was nice, was some of the gifts I got. While money is also very very nice, especially in these post holiday lean times, I got books. Quite a few actually and they're all things that I want to read. Only problem now is that I'm spoilt for choice and don't know where to begin.

There's Choice of Evil that I'm half way through and have been half way through since March when I first bought it.

And then, there's
1) Mao's Dancer- an account of this Chinese-Australian dancer that I've actually seen in action at the Australian Ballet
2) An autobiography of a one year old- my sister in law's attempt at trying to interest me in kids
3) Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward- from my brother who still remembers how as an 18 year old, ten years ago, Oh goodness!, I sat him down and asked him to decipher a slew of acronymns for me. They included SLBM, SS-10s, MIRVs, SOUSSUS and many other military related terms. My other brother's ex, Jo, could talk rugby and apparently, I could talk military hardware and American politics.
4) A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night Time- from my other brother who is contrite for making me read the rather badly written DaVinci's Code during my trip.

So, four books, plus the one I'm reading now and another one that I was supposed to borrow from YM. I hate being spoilt for choice because I really don't know which to read first. Plus the exam marking comes in on Monday! Argh!

Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:34

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Coming of Age

A couple of years ago, someone asked me how old I was and I had to pause and count before I proceeded to give the wrong age due to my inability to do simple arithmetic. It was then that I realised, after a certain age, you don't really want to remember how old you are. Your mind gamely cooperates by letting crucial age related information to slip out of your memory thus making it hard to recallhow old one actually is.

Tomorrow, I turn 28. It's not a big milestone but I face it with great reluctance and a certain amount of trepidation. Since I've moved back to Singapore, every year added has seemed to load on more responsibilities. In Melbourne, we were sort of in limbo. As students, our lives, habits and obligations didn't vary much from year to year. No doubt, academic pressure mounted especially in honours year, but apart from that, it was pretty much the same year in year out. This wasn't the case upon return to Singapore. Our first year back, my 26th birthday, we were busy planning and saving for our wedding. That year was spent running around like headless chickens and I learnt to answer to not just one set of parents but two. Last year, my 27th, we were newly married and had acquired for ourselves, a house, a car and two jobs that weren't the most easy going even at the best of times. So add that to the list of things we were answerable for and this year, the list seems to have grown another foot.

It is because of this that I face turning 28 with great reluctance. It seems that with every passing year, I lose more freedom and gain more grown up things that I am expected to carry out. How un-fun it is to grow up.

On a brighter note, to celebrate my birthday, I am heading for the Mango sale even though I'm broke. I'll try very hard not to buy anything- although I think that's humanly impossible for me. I'm confident though, that if I did buy anything, my shopping will be more curtailed and subdued then at previous sales. Tis the power of a credit card bill for items purchased in US dollars.

Dan is also taking me to high tea, so tomorrow will be a day of indulgence and I shall look forward to it and forget for the moment that the day signifies a year of increased drudgery.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:17

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Gives new meaning to a fish out of water. :) Posted by Hello

Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:43

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The Annoyance of Youth

Apparently, I'm not entitled to a holiday and I'm totally ambivalent about the kids under my charge.

My debate coach posted a pissy piece on her blog accusing me of not caring and bothering about training and going off to Canada. And she hates me for it.

What can I do? The foibles of youth. When we think we've been wronged and the whole world is out to make life difficult for us. There's no way I can defend myself, neither is there any point of doing so. It wasn't that long agon when I felt misunderstood and anti-establishment so I'm not going to try.

What bugs me is the expectation around it and this is coming at a time when Dan and I have been talking about the system we work within and how our personal space just isn't respected. Holidays have no meaning, everyone feels that they have the right to infringe on the time that is supposed to be time away to recharge.

This 19 year old's expectation of me is symptomatic of what society here generally expects of us. How are we expected be everything everyone wants us to be? We're supposed to work beyond the hours we are paid for because of this Confucian ethic we live our lives by, supposedly. We're supposed to have kids when we don't have the time to raise them since we're working so damn hard. Everyone wants a piece of us and truly, there isn't enough to go round.

So what can we do? We choose and incur the wrath of the ones not chosen. Such is life.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:49

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Reality Bites

So, you know you're back in Singapore when you're at the airport and four young, dyed to the roots fake blonde girls are swearing in Hokkien behind you.

You know you're back in Singapore when the weather is unforgivingly hot and humid.

You know you're back in Singapore when your husband has to crawl out of bed even though he doesn't want to, to attend a course he shouldn't have to.

You know you're back when you're up and wide awake at 6 in the morning thinking about work and the things to do today.

You know you're back when there's two weeks worth of laundry and mail to clear and there's no space on the living room floor since it's covered with the loot you brought back with you from the Pacific Northwest.

But then again, I'd rather be back then stuck in Hong Kong- and this was almost reality. Summer and term breaks tend to mean that there are a whole lot of people travelling, us included since the nature of our jobs mean we travel when the rest of the world travels. And apparently, airlines tend to overbook their flights. So, at the airport yesterday, we were told that there was a likelihood that we might get bumped off the flight and put on one this morning, with compensation, a free upgrade and a night's accomodation. That I didn't mind, since that would have meant a more comfy flight back and some money that could go toward my credit card bill. I guess it was the whole, "only if you paid me, would I stay another night in Hong Kong" syndrome.

Hong Kong, is all that is made out to be. It's hot, crowded, smelly, congested and did I say hot? Shopping looked attractive but the crowds were quite a downer plus the immense jet lag and heat just sapped every ounce of energy we had. It's also a land of strange cuisine. Where else could one find on a menu, instant noodles with a fried egg and luncheon meat as a breakfast dish? The one good thing about Hong Kong, the huge Kate Spade boutique that was in the city. Apart from that, no joy. Plus both Dan and I had upset tummies from some strange food that we ate.

Verdict: North America- to be visited again, I want to do San Francisco. Hong Kong, thanks, but no thanks.

Now, it's back to the real world. I've done 3 loads of laundry, currently have a face masque on to salvage my skin from the damage inflicted by the harsher elements of the North American climate. I have work to prepare for Thursday's class and I need to go to the post office.

Sigh. The price we pay for 3 weeks of fun.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:29

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The six layer chocolate cake from Seattle that puts Seah Street Deli to shame. And it tastes like Lana Heaven. *drool* Posted by Hello

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:03

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Monday, June 14, 2004

America the Beautiful

Darn... I had about half a post going and I lost it because Explorer crashed.

Anyway, I was just saying that today's our last day in Seattle and actually in the US. Tomorrow, we cross the Canadian border back to Vancouver again and although I'll be in North America next February, kicking and screaming, I don't think we'll be back in the US for a long time yet.

Reason being, we're going to be really broke for a long time to come after this. Me and my bag buying, Dan and his DVD buying. All going to keep us regional and eating in for the next long lean six months.

But I must say, I quite like most of what I've seen. I liked the cheap designer bags on sale, the huge malls and the shops I recognised from television shows like Pottery Barn, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue... Joy joy joy. I've been in shopping heaven. On top of that, food.... we were at the Old Cheesecake Factory today with yummy burgers, everywhere we go, we've had yummy burgers. Dan even managed to have steak and eggs for breakfast! Good on the experience, bad on the arteries.

Generally, I thought the cities were cool and I liked the sense of humour that people had about things. Radio and television ads were more palatable than back home and we had the opportunity to see the love the Americans had for their leaders. Ronald Reagan died last Saturday and almost every American flag we'd seen was flown at half mast and newspapers covered his funeral and death with much zest. It's amazing how short the memories of Americans are. Reagan was responsible for the largest deficit known to the Americans, also for giving money to Saddam Hussein and the creation of Reaganomics-economics that don't work too good. But these guys are forgiving and went all out to mourn the death of the two bit actor turned President with Alzheimers. If Bush died today, I'm sure they'd do the same for him too. They're a forgiving people, in some ways.

Of course, there was America that I didn't like. I have ascertained my extreme hatred for motel America. I read somewhere that all motels in America were the same. And I agree with that 100 percent! The rooms look the same, have the same feel to it; let me elaborate, they have an ick feel to it, like you'd never be clean. And the same worn out arm chair and the same thick, opaque shower curtains that make me think, when you drew them back, there'd be a dead body floating in the tub! So, definitely, motel America, not my thing. Neither are red necks but then again, I guess, they're not many people's thing. Also the phrase, "Across the River" to demarcate the good and bad part of town? We definitely had a taste of that. When in Portland, we crossed some bridge by mistake and found ourselves in industrial town, that was creepily quiet and looked like we could get mugged even though it was still bright. I like safe. Safe is good. :)

And oh! Another thing I haven't really gotten used to, leaving a tip of 10 to 15 percent. It's so hard to do mental math when you're not in primary school anymore, especially when there's no prize at the end of it and at the end of every meal? Yurgh! Plus, I like the policy of what you see is what you get, in the sense of the price you see, or the bill? That's all. It's +++ and then some here and well, yuck.

So, the United States of America, where everything is 1.7 times more expensive than back home with 35 times as many television channels, receives a "must come back when have more money" verdict.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:43

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Sunday, June 13, 2004


The noise that permeates my thoughts now are of my darling husband and T playing air hockey in YM's friend's house in Seattle.

Hi from Seattle! We're two thirds of our way through our holiday and it's been FUN FUN FUN! Too much food, too much shopping, too little money! Yes, we were in Portland a day or so ago and there being no sales tax in Portland, enticed me to buy 2 Kate Spade for USD$250 and I did go a little berzerk at Gap as well, seeing that our free trade agreement with the US demands that we allow the sale of chewing gum but not the opening of the Gap store in Singapore. Oh well, then I will be one of the few with Gap in Singapore. I hold dearly the ability to be able to dress and have things that the rest of Singapore does not possess.

Let's see, there was
1) Bonds and Elle Mac underwear from Australia till some enterprising young undergrad started selling Bonds at a night market along the river in Singapore. Elle Mac is still elusive but I'm not about to show the world my Elle Mac's. Bonds makes tank tops that I wear out on a regular basis. On an aside, I just shrunk two of my Bonds tank top about 2 inches because we just threw it into the dryer here so now I have more weight that I need to lose to fit into a tight tank top that is now 2 inches smaller all round!

2) Crumpler- Crumpler bags were these wonderful bike bags that were sold in a tiny shop 2 streets down from our apartment in Melbourne. We even had the magic 8 ball bean bag at one point. It was good when that little Crumpler man meant you knew about this cult brand out of Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately, now they sell it in Singapore and for less than what they sell it in Melly for.

3) The Stoli Lemon Ruski- An alcoholic drink made from Stoli vodka, lime juice and fizzy something. Really yummy but now marketed as the Kremlin in Singapore with Lenin on the label. How sad is that!

So now, I'm onto Gap, Kate Spade and I don't know what else but I'm due to help at a barbie right now so will right more when I get back to extremely hot and manky Singapore.


Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:05

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Never Ending Story

I think I need to be less high strung.

Heh. That's the understatement of the year.

Anyway, this morning, I wake up a bundle of nervous energy because there're so many things yet undone and I slept late last night so I'm extremely exhausted. It occurred to me last night that in some ways, I was very right brained, in that, I couldn't do several things or plan several things at the same time. I was trying to pack for Canada, pack for tonight (I'm staying over at my parents tonight because if I don't, I won't see my parents and they'll do the whole "I don't care about them" speil that I'm trying to avoid)and also plan a list of things for the maid to do while we are gone and getting extremely flustered by the minute.

So I'm awake, trying to alleviate some of the tension by actually getting more stuff done, only to end up blogging and not having done anything despite the fact that I've been up for almost an hour and have another hour before I need to leave the house for the day. Argh! 3 people in the last two days have told me that my body exhibits symptoms of severe stress.

On Tuesday, I went to the dentist and asked him if my tongue was too big for my mouth- Dan had pointed out that my tongue had tooth marks imprinted on it, meaning that they were pushing up against my teeth. So, I ask the dentist and he said it wasn't that I had too large a tongue (yuck, I sound like a snake, or reptile) but because I was extremely stressed. Apparently, when you're stressed, the muscles in the tongue work overtime and strain against the teeth fortress that surrounds it. Hence the teeth marks.

Then, yesterday, I went to the spa. These spa places often try and sell you stuff that you don't need. Yesterday, it was an Indian Head massage. Wanting to pamper myself, I bought into it and the Indian Head masseseur (?) complained that I had the most tense of neck muscles she had seen in a long long while. I think she was panting and deeply regretting ever recommending me to do the massage by the end of it because it sure takes alot of strength to get out those tightly knotted muscles I have in my neck!

This was followed by a facial where the beautician complained that if I didn't slow down,the lines on my forehead would be the most unattractive things in the world.

So, the conclusion, too much stress.

Anyhow, I really should go, finish the packing, bathe and vet some of my friend's MA thesis before heading out in exactly 1 hour and 3 minutes. And I still haven't decided what to bring as hand luggage. One thing for sure that's going in, the really really bad essays that I haven't finished marking. 20 hours in limbo would probably be a good time to finish those up.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:26

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"