Friday, June 22, 2007

Failing miserably

I'm quite sure I've blogged about this but I really can't quite be bothered to look through the archives and find the links. I think it is the nature of my profession that I end up periodically ranting about the shortcomings of the Singaporean student.

In class, I often remind my students that I don't count their successes as distinctions and doing well even though they are good things that students to aim for. Where I draw the line is when their wanting to do well and score all those distinctions comes at the expense of the person they actually grow into. Worse, that they become so tunnel-visioned by this pursuit of grades that they fail to see the larger picture. Sort of like the frog in the well.

There are many different facets of this myopia and I'm usually floored by one aspect or another- they appear pretty often seeing that it is my job to deal with these students on what is generally a day to day basis. Even now, when I'm on leave, it creeps up from behind and leaves a terrible aftertaste in my mouth.

This time, it wasn't because the young Singaporean is spoilt or has no sense of what good manners are or whatever else I have complained about in the past. This time it's about initiative. I have no issue with helping students. In fact, I like helping students. But there is a clause, a qualifier that has to be added. I like helping students who help themselves. The ones that try, and in their trying realise they need a little bit more guidance and a little bit more direction. The ones that get my goat are the ones who come up to you, look helplessly at you and ask you to tell them what to do.

It could be work related- "I don't understand xxx"
My response " What don't you understand about xxx?"

It could be non-work related- " I didn't know we were supposed to do it like that"
My response " Why didn't you ask? "
"I didn't know must ask"

It could be future related- " I want to go away and study"
My response " Where? "
"I don't know. Can you tell me?"

And when students who have graduated, meaning they've gone through the entire system are like that, I feel very sad. I feel like I've failed. I am angry at them because they look expectantly at you waiting for you to tell them what to do when they are supposed to be able to think for themselves being almost 20. But more so, I am angry at myself, that I didn't push them harder or make it more obvious to them that initiative was an important lesson in their life. And that's what's hard about my profession, well, being in my profession and thinking the way I think. You see what the system sees as suceesses and you know they're not. Straight A students who don't know what to write on their scholarship applications or speak at scholarship board interviews are not successes. Students who do get straight As and ace scholarship interviews but are mindless cogs of the system are not successes. Students who don't do well and expect you to pull them out of the ditch are not successes either. My definition of what is a success is very liberal and controversial but that's me. Maybe that's why I struggle so much with the system and with the students that come my way. Because I won't bend and obviously the system and the students it produces won't bend either.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:22

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Must.Shop.Pt 2

Well, not a part 2 per se. But this morning, I discovered yet another thing that I miss doing and want to do. I've been watching a lot of Friends recently. In fact, that's all I've been doing. Watching tv, eating, reading, playing scrabble, as sedentary a life as I'd ever lead. Anyway, at the end of every DVD season, there're extras like gag reels, trivia quizzes, what happens next season and occasionally, the fashion in Friends. So they talked about the clothes that the cast have been outfitted in, their hair and their make up.

That's when I thought to myself, I miss putting on makeup. Not that I paint my face or look like I fell asleep in a makeup palate, but I miss playing with colours. Usually the makeup I use is very basic, powder, blush, brows, lips and if I'm feeling slightly more glam or have slightly more time, I play with eye colours.

Since I stopped work at the end of April, my makeup's been sitting rather forlornly on my dresser. I play and finger lovingly the new pretty colours at Stila and MAC everytime I'm at the mall but always end up putting them back because I know I won't be using them for a long while yet.

I shall attempt as far as possible, although the mommies out there will tell me that it's impossible, to try to not look as if I haven't bathed or combed my hair in days. The last time I got my brows threaded, I was asked if I wanted to renew my package. My answer- "we'll see after I settle down after my delivery", although it was just meant to keep the pesky sales people away, was met with knowing nods which made me a little sad. Does it mean that just because I'm going to be a mother that I am no longer expected to look presentable? Of course, I know there will be a bevy of women out there whose claws would be out and would be spitting in my face going "where do you think I have time to look like I stepped out of a salon with children to look after?". I get that- that sometimes, it's not by choice. But then again, when there is a choice and when there is an opportunity, unlikely as it may be especially if one is a full time stay home mom, isn't it necessary to have some sort of grooming?

Ok, I'm likely to have the feminists all up in arms here. I'm not doing it to please my husband or whatever. I just know that when I've taken care of myself to look presentable, I feel better about myself as well. But then again, that's me and I know that there are people that are going to shove Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth into my hands and demand I read it for my own personal salvation.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:28

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Must. Shop.

Being stuck at home means I spend a great amount of time online. I don't particularly like reading a lot of stuff online but that might have to do with the tremendous amount of money I spent doing my eyes and not wanting to spoil them again. So I spend lots of time looking at bags, clothes and all these things that have suddenly become forbidden fruit. Not forbidden fruit in its true sense that I'm not allowed to buy them, but that I can't buy them because my future is so uncertain. Who knows if I'm going to be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, let alone new clothes that I'm so tempted to buy now, like these skinny jeans or these shoes that cost pretty much an arm and a leg and for so many reasons, I can't try on.

I'm not sure why the bug has only bitten me now seeing that I used to shop on a regular basis and had basically declared a moratorium on shopping since I found out I was pregnant in November. I suspect it's got to do with the fact that the end is near and how at this point, the number of clothes that I can wear, I can actually count with my fingers and toes.

So, I need to shop. For the first time in a long time, I'm bemoaning the fact that I can't go to the Mango sale, even though, I've missed the last few without so much as batting an eyelid, well, actually not true. I always make a fuss but this year, I'm really feeling like I'm losing out because I can't go. I think what I'm suffering from is delayed severe withdrawl symptoms from having not bought anything baby unrelated for the last 6 months or so. Also, I think I miss regular clothes and being regular sized. I look at women and moan about how I'll never be skinny again. When your waistline is larger than your husband's, it's easy to lose perspective.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:25

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blast from the Past

We've seen 2 movies in the last 2 days. I think it's got to do with the both of us feeling like we should try and spend as much time doing couple things and fun stuff as we can before the impending arrival and upheaval in our lives.

On Monday, we saw Ocean's 13 which was better than Ocean's 12 but not as good as Ocean's 11. Then, yesterday, we found out that there was a Surprise movie screening. It's always fun to go to these Surprise screenings because even though one can guess what the movie is, there is always the possibility that we get it wrong.

Anyway, the Surprise movie was Nancy Drew. We'd seen the shots for it before and thought it was just one of those teeny-bopper movies but then again, it had a little bit of a retro factor seeing that Nancy Drew was a staple in my reading diet as a kid. Strangely enough, Packrat was keen to see it as well and I thought, why not?

The both of us were pleasantly surprised and felt very nostalgic about the character. The beginning and end bits of the movie had drawings which looked like they came out of the book and they'd styled Nancy as she was in the book instead of glamming her up. So it really looked like she walked straight out of the book onto the screen and was thrown into modern day teen California. She was also the "strawberry blonde" that I remember from the book together with her boyfriend, friends, family and even the car. My only issue was that she and her boyfriend - Ned, seemed younger in the movie than she was in the book. But we got such a thrill from the in jokes referring to her real age and the mystery that she set about trying to solve. Plus the word "sleuth". No one uses that word now and of course, Nancy Drew was the one that taught it to me.

On top of that, for a teen movie, it was suitably scary and spooky and adult-ish. Granted it wasn't the cleverest plot line or mystery but the nostalgia factor made up for it. It also made me sad about Veronica Mars because she's the present day Nancy Drew and I think they're going to can the series. Why can't girl sleuths make it in today's tv world? Boo.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:57

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Saturday, June 09, 2007


We had dinner with my brother a few nights ago. It's always difficult trying to figure out where to eat but he seems to have explored more eating places than we have so we usually err to where he wants to go.

This time, he suggested, what I heard as, garden slugs for dinner. I was like escargot? Snails? No. No slugs! There was great exasperation in his voice. Yes, the sister's prerogative to irritate. :) Anyway, some where down the line, he mentioned something about eating pasta, so I knew that there was food that did not include slugs.

When we got there and there meaning a little street near where my parents live, I gravitate toward it because it's two shop fronts, one with a cake counter and a shelf of books beside it and the other, just wooden tables and chairs with very sparse but nice decor. And it is called The Garden Slug! It really is called the Garden Slug and has got vets and pet stores all around it. It's got sandwiches, pasta, steaks, wings, all sorts of food and something that I really really wanted to try but promised myself I'd only do it after I delivered- a 2 brownie popsicle! Even the drinks were fun. Bro had a lychee soda, I had a peach soda and Packrat had a lemon lime soda. All yum. For our mains, Bro had a steak, Packrat some lamb chops, I had Aglio Olio pasta with sausages and we had gumbo and chicken wings to share.

The owner and the staff of the place were all obviously educated and knew what they were doing. They came and chatted, remembered Bro from his visit a week ago and had no problems altering our orders to suit us perfectly. In Bro's words, they had brains and they could think. And they proved that after we attacked the chicken wings with our hands. Bro went off to wash his hands and before I got up to do the same, one of the staff came to me with wet napkins for me to wipe my grubby hands, just so that I didn't have to struggle out of my seat and lumber over to the sink. So yes, got brains.

And we will definitely go back for Slug food and service. Definitely a date night place. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:08

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Vacation Envy

I'm suffering from a severe case of vacation envy. Every school vacation, we head off somewhere. It's the only way we are able to maintain our sanity through the year. We've taken month long holidays to do nothing in Melbourne, we've gone all the way to Vancouver so that Packrat could go throw rocks at some online DVD store that didn't deliver his DVDs and shut down subsequently, we've gone to Seattle to see the first ever Starbucks, all during vacation time.

This year, we were actually planning to do the Alaska Cruise with some friends. Unfortunately, those plans got shot down in November when we found out about the bubs that were on their way. We consoled ourselves by going away in December despite the ruthless nausea and in March even though it was only for a week and promising ourselves a longer break at the end of this year.

Even then, it doesn't make it easier when you hear of the vacation plans your friends have. A colleague's off to traipse around Russia and another is off to Thailand soon. Yet another is in Las Vegas and will spend the rest of the vacation in San Francisco. I have 2 sets of friends off to San Francisco and New York in a few weeks and my mom wants to go to London. The best friend's just back from Tokyo and a friend in Melbourne that I was chatting with on IM was planning a weekend to Bright and when I looked at the website she sent me, all I wanted to do was go POO! All the while, we're stuck here.

It wasn't that big a consolation when someone actually said that all the money I would usually spend on a holiday would be spent bringing the bubs into the world. Yes yes, in the larger scheme of things, it's more worth it. But I'm in a pouty here and now mood and the holiday, especially to a cooler climate sounds divine.

So, I'm rather Bah Humbug-ish about vacations and wishing that I might be able to go on a vacation soon. I look forward to the bubs coming but one cannot help wish for yet another last hurrah and another and another. It's the nature of the human soul to want to be hedonistic, even if it's in the most innocent of ways.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:52

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What's in a name?

I have blogged very regularly about names or about naming kids bad names especially since it's a hazard of my profession that I see so many bad names. There really does seem to be a strange culture in Singapore where we try to outdo one another by coming up with more and more ridiculous names for the children, totally disregarding the fact that the poor child will have to grow up with the name and live with it for the rest of his or her natural life and then have it carved out for eternity on the epitaph.

This morning, I was floored when I chanced upon a blog where one of the kids was called Porthos. I thought, oh dear, poor thing, hopefully that was a one off thing. I mean, after all, Porthos was already quite bad and the kid did look somewhat portly. A closer inspection of the blog revealed that this parent had a cruel cruel sense of humour because Porthos had older brothers and naturally, they were named Aramis and Athos. Ok, yes, if I had 3 sons, I would love for them to be as close as the 3 Musketeers, but seriously? And what? If a fourth one came about, D'Artagnan?

We are now in the midst of trying to name our offspring and feel the heavy burden of picking names that the children have good meanings, can live with and won't hate us too much for and let me just say, it's really slim pickings out there.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:41

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

One armed bandit

Over the weekend, I've learnt how incapacitated one can be with one useful arm only. Having a drip tunnelled into a vein in my hand, my left arm was basically attached to a metal pole and a bag of saline and meds.

Things you cannot do.

1. Take off your shirt or even hospital gown.
2. Take off your bra especially if you forget to get the nurse to help you do that after you've buzzed her to get her to help you take off the hospital gown.
3. Shower properly. I had to shower holding my arm up, which is an easy way of tiring yourself out.
4. Play Scrabble- I ended up tossing letters across the board and Packrat had to figure them out.
5. Eat properly- Using the spoon to shovel whatever would get onto the spoon was the choice manouevre.
6. Sleep on your side because lying on the needle causes a great amount of pain.
7. Go to the bathroom without dragging the metal stand and drip along with you.

All in all, not fun. I'm happy that I am now in full control of both my arms and hands. :)

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:19

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"