Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Occupation

Latest update in my occupational life:

I have decided to become a full-time tutor -- after the series of job-hunting interviews, from F & B to office nine-to-five positions. F & B's rejected me either because of the fact I can't work at night and refuse Sundays, or because I intimidated my interviewers with my excessive chattering. As for the office positions, one looked highly suspicious with a questionably too handsome, too young (before mid-20s definitely) and too smiley (he smiled more than I did -- imagine that!) interviewer while the other 3-month Data Entry senang job at American Express didn't appeal to me (I'd probably quit within 3 hours).

Apparently as I was making the life-transforming (at least for the next 6 months of my life) decision whether to take up tuition full-time (or none at all) or a regular job, I was offered 2 more tuition assignments within the hour (in addition to the 2 that I had accepted earlier this week). Was God hinting to me shouting directions at me?

So at this current moment, I have 4 students, and I'm still considering MOE's relief teaching scheme.

I had my first session with my first student yesterday afternoon, a small-framed, probably pre-pubescent Sec 2 (Normal Academic) boy in Tampines. Although I headed towards my new workplace with some inertia (the knowledge that I was about to begin bearing the responsibilities of teaching again) and apprehension (of what the child -- and his mother -- would be like), I found myself enjoying and reviving my old fondness of communicating with students and teaching (something I've not done since last year when I ended my stint with a repeat 'N' Level student my age, and her Sec 2 brother).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Plom (3 Dec) – That’s What My (albeit English-educated) Grandma From Malaysia Calls It

The Plom was a disaster.

The gown (a full-length maroon one, the first that I tried and my Mum insisted was the only one I looked decent in) was fine, the underwear wasn’t.

I refused to wear a thong that would, as a result of its lack of supporting presence, unleash seismic activity of untold magnitudes in my generous semi-solid butt cheeks with every step I take. Consequently, the next alternative was box-shorts. I wore a granny-like underwear (branded Elle to lessen the image of granniness) which I bought several months ago in Malaysia (where I do my annual shopping) and never wore until such a big night (big in relation to the level of youthful excitement in my life). A terrible mistake it was. For the first time, I had donned on an oversized undergarment (I have never been given the opportunity to encounter any underwear which is “too big” given the generous endowment of my twin-bearing hips). Getting wedgies wasn’t exactly a comfortable memory, it resulting in my approximate 5 trips to the Ladies’ (no one says “toilets” at a Plom) within the 3 hours I was in the Orchard Hotel function room.

That was just a synopsis of the general Plom experience. The real beginning was before the Plom.

I was late, really late (estimated from the 2-3 dishes that had already been served by the time I arrived). I had finish off singing with the youth choir at a church wedding (all Singaporean weddings begin late, even those involving appointments with God) and fetched my make-up artist (courtesy of TFYE’s Aveline, Art student from VJC) on the way home, prior to the “big” (relative again) make-over session. After all that was slapped onto my face and hair, we were on our way…
The trepidation I experienced through the car journey was one of regret (of getting conned into going for the Plom, a once-in-a-life-time experience – in rational reality, an experience I could have been happier without) and expected embarrassment. Mum told me not to fret; I wouldn’t be significant at the Plom where everyone was all dolled up anyway (in contrast to Ly’s “Steal the limelight, Sweetheart.”). Mum’s advice, as usual, was the more accurate of the two. Nevertheless and more naturally, Ly’s comment stuck to me during the journey, for both its sweethearty flattering element and potential likelihood of materialising as shall be explained in the following paragraph).
Plaguing my mind through the car ride was the scene of me clumsily strutting in 1.5 hours long overdue, into a hall where everyone had comfortably been seated and settled. In addition to that, while making my way dazedly halfway through the hall to my table and being the awkward late Cinderel-lah, I would then trip over my gown/heels/self and zao-geng (literally translated: “run (head)lights” – flash in Singaporean lingo). And worse yet – in my granny undies.

Anyway, in spite of the vivid imagination, that didn’t happen.

What really happened was:
I called Jonah (one of my only 2 male comrades who were at the Plom) to come down to the lobby to bring me up. No, not to show off, but simply to have someone to laugh with should I plom on the red carpet at the Plom. He came with YC, and both, in the most complimenting male manner, told me my make-up was “Wow!” – “like a wall, cannot penetrate one”.
We went up together after snapping a quick photo in front the hotel’s Chrismas tree, with me flanked by the two men on both sides.
I was both dazed and late as anticipated, but the noise spouted from the hired host and grossly magnified through the PA system, was so overpowering that it even impeded the visual ability of the plommers. More importantly, I did not trip. Hence no one noticed me as I snuck in as inconspicuously as Weiling possibly could.

My table: 9.5 girls.
The 9 full-fledge girls sat elegantly at the table, dolled up and looking demure and pretty – with lips sweetly pursed behind the judgmental running commentaries in their heads that would verbalise shortly in the “privacy” of the Ladies’.
Very kindly, Janna had kept food from the earlier dishes for me. So there I was, late and the only one eating greedily. The other dishes came, and left barely touched. In her absolute copyright trademark, Amanda who was seated next to me, rolled her eyes and commented, “The food sucks right?”
Oh yes it did, but I still ate enough of it to make up for at least $3 of the $65 ticket. We were dished Muslim food – Briyani rice with spiceless curry and Kembing soup in place of fake sharks’ fin soup… after which, all was a blur.
The girls didn’t eat – either by virtue of the detestable idea of having been served Muslim food at a formal dinner (when we had no Muslims at our table), and/or the restrictive gowns that fitted too snugly on their bodies that did not allow the slightest intestinal expansion.

I spent most of the Plom correcting wedgies in the Ladies’ or standing outside the hall, in the depressed and pathetic gait of regret and loneliness due to the absence of my male comrades. I could neither bear the company of silent pretty ladies (whose only words came when criticising the choice of dressing made by the lucky-draw winners and when gathering each other for flash photography) nor the juxtaposing noise of the Plom affair consisting of the dreadful but well-meant JC1 performances, loud not-my-glass-of-Milo music and the raucous host.

I guess what made the night for me was when Ly came to my rescue around 1AM, picking me up from the hotel room.
The guys and I had adjourned to the hotel room to escape the uneventful Plom. The guys took more photos of themselves in their tuxes than I, 0.5 female, did of myself (and the poses in which they chose to capture themselves historically on film made me rethink the vanity of men).
Ly, who had taken sleeping time off the church camp he was vice-chairman of, drove me home (partly on Mum’s strict “not too late” and “have someone sent you home” instructions), but stopped over at his place where he cooked up a 15min Maggi Mee dish (“elaborated” with prawns and slices of meat) while I konked out on the sofa. Maggie Mee with Ly – the best dish of the Plom night.