Friday, April 30, 2004

My Idea Of A Romantic Date: Getting Caught In A Storm

The sky began pouring without much warning late yesterday afternoon. It was a storm, complete with drenching amounts of water, lightning flashes, thunders that echoed across the large expanse of sky and a shadow across the land.

I was travelling by bus to Comfort Driving Centre for my Final Theory test as the storm grew darker, wetter and noisier. In spite of having my Pokemon umbrella sheltering me, half my knee-length Bermudas was soaked by the time I arrived at the centre.

As I was traveling, amidst the discomforts of having soggy soles, I was thinking about how the sudden change of weather was rather romantic. Instead of focusing on the soil-viruses-contaminated puddles, couples huddled under shared umbrellas caught my eye and smiles more. There was even an umbrellaless foolhardy boyfriend who cycled out to the bus-stop to pick up his pink-umbrella-wielding girlfriend. She held the umbrella for both her and her drenched boyfriend, and sat sideways on the beam between her darling and the hand bars, as he cycled them both home. She smiled at the tender attention she had from her man, while he beamed with the male pride of protecting his female partner... The joys of stupidity that come with youthful love (with no condescending implications whatsoever).

Just as I was getting unusually contented and comfortable in the weather, boys and men caught without their umbrellas ran past me in a frantic manner to reach the driving school on time for their 7PM session. Bursts of sudden strong light from the multiple flashes of lightning cast eerie sporadic clarity to my surroundings. Shortly following those flashes was menacing loud thunder that conjured up the image of some angry and vindictive sky god. The plain volume of it would shake even the calmest man for a moment. I began to shudder because of the cold as I walked against the chilly, wet wind and also because of the images invoked by my sudden exposure to the elements from the moment I got off my second bus.

In the most damsel fashion, I wished Ly was there with me at that very point, holding both the umbrella up above our huddled heads, and me close to him as we walk with unnatural but comforting proximity.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Help Needed

I’m having a dilemma.

Should I begin my term in one of the universities, I’ll have to drop some of my students. I’ve decided to keep the higher paying ones (such as my rude Sec 2 boy) and those I have a larger responsibility to (such as my autistic PSLE boy). The ones I had planned to drop were terrible-agency-rates Primary 2 temperamental boy, lazy Simei-residing (relatively out of the way) Sec 1 and the two lovely girls (Pri 1 & 4) who adore me.

I made casual mention to Primary 1 Lina, during our morning session today, that I may be teaching in a school. Immediately, she asked me whether that meant that I would stop teaching her sister and her. Later, in my afternoon session with her Primary 4 sister, Emily, their Mum asked me about it.

(Both the sisters are in the same school but in different sessions. Lina’s in the afternoon session, while Emily is in the morning one. I teach them both on the same day, but I return home for lunch in between sessions. It was amusing and shocking when Emily told me what I had told Lina in the morning tuition session.
I asked Emily, “Oh, you met Lina just now?”
“No,” came the reply, “My mum told me.”)

Just before I left from the afternoon session with Emily, the girls’ mum brought up my possible (or rather, likely) future teaching career in a school (or more accurately, going to Uni) – basically the likelihood of me leaving them. She blackmailed me emotionally (not that I’m accusing her of being unscrupulous) by telling me how much her girls like me (they really do, I know, and I too find them and the family absolutely charming), and how they have improved in their work since I came along.

That doorway conversation with her Mum pulled my heart in both directions – joy and satisfaction, in opposition to impending guilt and dilemma.

Can I initiate a discussion here? Help me make a decision on whom to let go:

P2 Daryl [2 x 1.5h]: Bad $, bad temper, lazy, frightening Mum – sure to go

P1 Lina [1.5h] & P4 Emily [2h]: Worst $, Case study as above and in previous blog entries (16 Feb, 2004: “Happy Loving Day” and 22 Mar: “Expiring”)

P2 Jing Xiong & P6 Jing Rong [Combine 2h]: Good $, PSLE boy involved, nice Mum, but no particularly close bond

P6 Jun Jie [2 x 1.5h]: Moderate $, autistic PSLE boy who’s grown accustomed to me, often difficult to teach, future progress almost negligible

Sec1 Guan Hui [2h]: Good $, relatively out of the way Simei resident, too long a session for the boy, over-dependent on me, lack-of-initiative in studying, little improvement in work, fairly fond of me in comparison to his past >10 tutors, Mum who gives me pineapple tarts and fried rice and recently started working part-time in order to pay for her children’s tuition fees

Sec 2 Zhen Ling [2 x 1.5h]: Best $, streaming year, good progress with me, rude and possibly unappreciative, but one I’m the most comfortable with and the student I’ve had the most number of sessions with since I started this round of tuition – I’ve more or less decided to keep him

This reminds me of that choose-6-out-f-10-people-to-save-from-a-sinking-boat interactive, discussive, secondary schoolish, analytical, decision-making activity.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Never Underestimate The Importance of Girl Friends

I had a date with my TKGS-classmate girl friend, Berwine, yesterday evening.

Berwine’s not the typical girl, but maybe that’s why her character cliques pretty well with mine. Barely physically conscious (vain) and virtually oblivious to males around her, practical, often awkwardly clumsy as an ox, with a smirking grin and hairy arms, Ber Dar is quite a darling to me. Most of those descriptive phrases were more characteristic of her in secondary school.

Every once-in-a-few-months meeting with her always enthrals and surprises me because of the physical and outlook changes in her. This time around, it was her straightened and (albeit mild) highlighted hair, as well as being clad in a skirt and a sleeveless blouse (external features none of my secondary school classmates would ever have imagined tomboyish Berwine bearing).

However, some things never change, like those hairy arms. No offence, Berwine; those arms are really one of my affectionate favourites.

We had a fantastic time at Raffles City, just us two girls. For the first time, it felt like a girl friend outing with her. She’s grown into a girl, and our relationship now is so girl-friendish, which I love (not that I had any qualms about our previous friendship which wasn’t defined by our gender). We had the cheapest Subway sandwich, which was by itself yummy and unbelievably pleasing, but further enhanced by good hungry company. Next, we adjourned to New Zealand Ice-Cream where we each had a Chillo (some ice-blended chocolate-related whipped-cream-topped, overpriced drink) – another terrific part of the night.

Of course, the main element in the outing last night was the conversation. We discussed each other, how we were getting along in life, boyfriends in general and the specific ones, post-break-up blues, friendships, sibling rivalry and parents, politics in relationships, and many other miscellaneous aspects of life worthy of engaging and productive conversation.

There was also the supermarket stroll, 4 trips to the toilet and the back-to-school-days sitting on a stairway and chatting finale.

I was grinning bananas and bursting from the joy of experiencing and appreciating a friendship outside my relationship with Ly. It really was the appreciating part that made everything extra sweet – realising how much this friendship means to me and being extremely thankful for it.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my night with my girl friend, Ly was sweating pheromones with his best friend at an overcrowded public gym. Ly has regular weekly meetings with his hedonistic best buddy from his ACS days, which I at times did envy, because he seemed to be special to someone else too, other than to me. At those points in time, I felt I was only special to him and special to no one else. I didn’t know of anyone I could rely on emotionally or anyone who would look out for me as a good friend would. I didn’t have anyone I felt accountable to. I have a few good conversationalist friends, but at the end of the day, they aren’t the ones I saw myself calling up for just a no-purpose chat in the middle of the day.

I don’t know how I forgot Berwine. Then again, perhaps I didn’t forget her being such a friend, possibly because she never fell into that category of friends until recently when we graduated from friends of convenience (being in the same class) who are easily taken for granted because of their constant presence, to friends who make effort even when convenience isn’t at hand.

Friday, April 16, 2004


Reflecting on the content and tone of my blog, I realised I can be a bitter person. As of this point, the two life events I’ve been most bloggably bitter about have been the ‘A’ Levels and The Necessary Stage’s Theatre For Youth Ensemble (TNS TFYE). Admittedly, I have been a tad childish in my responses to these two, having written in strong tones of I’m-happier-without-you and you-made-my-life-a-living-hell-but-good-riddance-to-you-now.

My 2 years of JC life were hellish while my experience at the year-long TFYE programme left me disillusioned about the quality of the youth-and-theatre curriculum, the real (as in practical and usable) experience I gained, the type of people and social dynamics of that group. I have been obliged to write a detailed feedback of the programme, but I’m finding it really difficult. I suddenly have nothing to say, particularly for the what-have-you-gained questions. Critical as I am, I don’t know where to begin for the what-could-be-improved question. I’m honestly dumbfounded.

JC was awful, getting into TFYE wasn’t easy in terms of maternal and civics-tutor approval. At the end of the day, my efforts to be part of that group proved so futile, and worse, possibly detrimental to my already poor academic record (taking up of my Saturday afternoons). I am bitter about the seemingly unnecessary experience – the wasted time that could have otherwise gone into getting my driving license as soon as I hit 18 last year.

I suppose I expected too much out of the group of teenagers. I should have only expected the theatrical experience, and nothing more. I just realised why I’m so disillusioned – I had unconsciously expected relationships to form, a certain form of emotional intimacy within the group that worked together for a year. I found nothing close to that. While I made attempts to go deeper in a more recognisable form of friendship with some of them, I never received any promising response. I suppose this was a result of several factors:
· I don’t clique well with this youthful theatrical bunch by virtue of the cosmic differences in our characters and life’s priorities. Most of them there belong to the “more-liberated” and self-serving (in that the impact of their actions on others are barely considered) age. Theatre was apparently a passion to them (even if it’s a perceived passion to them that would probably die off with the onset of reality and maturity).
· I was quickly judged as passé, forgettable and possibly apathetic. It’s easy for them to come to that conclusion because of my rule-by-the-head nature. Unfashionable and “out”: I barely dressed up for TFYE sessions because they were 3-hour Saturday affairs spent rolling on the floor; practicality and comfort came before my sense of aesthetics. Apathetic: I didn’t fly into extreme ends of boyfriend-related, instructor-infatuated or showbiz-fever emotions, and I couldn’t empathise with those who did.
· My tactics of breaking through didn’t translate well.
· At some point, I gave up trying to gain an experience from the ensemble. I just did what I had to and hungrily anticipated the end.

Am I justifying myself? Apparently if I’m still harping on TFYE, I must have felt something strongly about it. It must have meant something to me, or at least, I must have hoped it did.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Normalcy Of Weilinghood Has Resumed In My Life

The way it should be.

Tuition, driving, swimming, jogging, cooking, baking, Thursday paktor days, spending my nights in the cosiness of home…

Unfortunately, my hair has been murdered with the harsh hairspray applied in generous proportions 5 days consecutively during the “Secrets From My Room” production week. My locks have not recovered, and it has been more than 2 weeks. I’m resigned to the fact that my hair is deceased. I shall chop it off (in whichever style I should soon decide on), and await new growth. I hope it was really the CFC-filled environmental-unfriendly hairspray that has caused the damage and not the dehydrating effect brought about by age. I suppose I shall only know when there is a substantial amount of hairlings for me to make a judgement on their texture.

It’s depressing not having a single good hair day the last few weeks. Really, it is.

Summer is approaching. I can feel it.

I opened the car door into my head on Sunday. I couldn’t quite shit for that day because it was such a bad knock on some vein on my forehead that when I exerted the anal muscles, my head hurt.

I’ve been learning driving in the mornings three times a week. I can’t believe I’ve attained the ability to drive from Comfort Driving School to Tampines and past my home! It was exhilarating passing my home in a car, without either parent or boyfriend in the driver’s seat for the first time.

I’ve also been reading Alice in Wonderland (for the last few months actually), courtesy of Ly’s growing library of children’s books as he pursues his teaching degree in English Language and Literature.
Here’s a piece of trivia: Lewis Carroll’s fascination with the quirky character of Alice was likely related to the man’s interest in little girls. He had a stammer that would only disappear when he was around little girls. The man also prided himself in the nonsense he wrote for children, consciously not conforming to the obligation and habit of Victorian writers to write moralistic literature.

The book is ridiculously amusing with it’s “uncommon nonsense” (a phrase found in the book, playing on the phrase “common sense”).
I haven’t been particularly fond of others planting huge chunks of their favourite literary works (apparently song lyrics included) on their blogs, because I barely have the motivation to read them because of their sheer length and when I do, I understand them not.

Nevertheless, here I am as I risk breaking my blog morality code.
Here are three of my favourite excerpts, concise and hopefully appreciatable:

After Alice fell through the rabbit’s hole into Wonderland and underwent several physical alterations in size…
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)

Alice’s conversation with the infamous grinning Cheshire puss…
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go form here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where – ” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Conversation between Alice and the Mad Hatter at the Mad Tea-Party:
“I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.”
“If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.”

A summary of what I love about the nonsensical book is it’s nonsensical sense. Lewis Carroll made nonsense sound so logical.

Well, I pray thee tell me now how readable, understandable and likeable my first attempt at quoting literature is. The comment box is on the right.