12 Angry Men

Just finished watching 12 Angry Men while eating dinner, and it was amazing. With my brother alternating between curling up on the couch behind me and bouncing around, I spooned rice and chicken into my mouth with my eyes peeled to the screen. I love how the script was tight and the run time of the film was a manageable 1hr and 30mins, unlike many movies that are out in the market nowadays. One of the biggest problems I have with watching movies on my computer/not in a cinema is that I find myself getting restless and distracted by other things during slow parts, which was not the case for this film at all. Definitely recommend. 

I Must Nap Less

It's been almost a week since I've stopped working and I'm already bored. I've ended up spending almost every single afternoon napping and I'm all napped out, but I nap because I'm bored and feel sleepy in the warm afternoons when I'm huddled in my room and reading a book. I've already polished off Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, along with a graphic novel called Depresso. Today I even walked around the library in Clementi like an idiot because I had nothing else better to do, before realising I was just wasting mere seconds when I had whole hours to while away. Gosh.

In the past week I have: 
- Stopped work and said goodbye to all my classes
- Fucked up taking the bus twice (once missing a stop when I was with Gail and once boarding the wrong bus [!!!!!!!] while trying to rush to work on Sat - my last day of work)
- Watched two NT Live screenings at the Esplanade: Frankenstein and The Audience
- Mixed up the timings for Frankenstein (7pm, not 7:30pm!)
- Gone for a spa with Tiffany (fun and relaxing, but I need thinking of the baby cockroaches running around the jacuzzi now)
- Been to the Esplanade Library again to borrow more DVDs (12 Angry Men, I've Loved You For So Long and The Story of Adele H)
- Bought 5 books from Kinokuniya (or maybe it was 6?)
- Had 2 wisdom teeth extracted
- Watched I've Loved You for So Long and Barking Dogs Don't Bite
- Finished a cross stitch I was working on for my Mother's birthday present
- Visited the Gastroenterologist
- Accidentally got a quickie $10 haircut when I was looking for a proper hairdresser
- Bought clothes from Uniqlo
- Art Jammed with Shu Wen (she painted Paddington, me some random landscape)
- Had lunch with Mama at Imperial Jade
- Went to NTUC to buy last bit of food supplies
- Finished packing 2 boxes for shipping to my dorm
- Finished marking all the things for my Saturday classes
- Picked up the framed cross stitch to give to my Mum

In a little bit I'm going to leave to go deliver the worksheets to my ex-workplace in Buona Vista, and grab dinner with Ianthe afterwards. I suppose I'm bored because I never really know what to do with myself even when I have a just the slightest bit of down time, especially after having had my time sucked up by work for the last two years, which is quite bad really. Nevermind, it's only one more week till I leave with my family to travel in Romania. 

Oh And...

...I failed my Practical Driving Test and spent the rest of the day (18 July) half bawling my eyes out and half moping. Even now thinking about it makes me feel testy. I do not want to think about it. Urgh.

Last Tuesday of Teaching

Today was my last class with my tiny Sec 1 IP class. As usual only one person turned up (I don't think I've had more than two people together in that class for weeks), and it happened to be my favourite one (terrible how teachers have favourites eh?). J is a good kid that's pretty bright and quick on the uptake, plus I had solo sessions with him so often that we were used to it by now. Even after class had ended he lingered for a while, talking about random things, which I appreciated. I guess that's his way of trying to drag out our last moments together, which made me smile.

After work I went to Courts today and finally bought a new camera. I realised to my utter horror last week when I had my last lesson with my P4 students on Wednesday that the camera wasn't working properly. Every picture came out horrendously dark ): I had already noticed it when I was on holiday with my parents in Boracay, but hadn't realised just how bad it was until it was too late. Urgh. So I went off today and bought a Canon IXUS 140 for to replace the old family camera. I'm still not convinced it's the best I could have bought, but my Mum was adamant that I buy either a Canon or a Nikon. In other news earlier today I bought a camera for my own personal use (Lumix LF1) from Lazada. I really really REALLY hope I actually get my camera and not some empty box :x but at $310, a savings of $190, the risk seems worth it. Fingers crossed.

In other news I wandered about town with Daryl and Chong Wee on Sunday. We met for Brunch at Park, where I finally got to try the Tiramisu Pancakes, and then we headed off to tramp about the city area. We started at Raffles Place, playing with the swings, and then walked to Victoria Theatre, taking a stop at Fullerton Hotel along the way. I don't think I've managed to walk about so freely in a long time, feeling free and excited to explore my surroundings. It did get however, bloody hot after a while. In the end we parted after exploring Victoria Theatre and I headed off to the Esplanade Library to borrow DVDs.

I ended up borrowing:
1) Finding Mr Destiny (Purposely Daft Korean Rom-Com)
2) Kolya (Touchingly Funny Academy Award Winner)
3) The In-Laws (Slapstick '70s Comedy)
4) Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (Time Travelling Stoner-like Flick?)
5) The Flowers of Evil (Some French Dark Comedy)
6) Barking Dogs Never Bite (Some Japanese Dark Comedy)

As it stands I've already watched the first three, all with my Mum incidentally, and she liked them all. The last three I'm not sure if she'd like, so I decided to save them for another time. I cannot emphasise how much I love the Esplanade's DVD lending library. My tax dollars (all $500 of it) at good work baby!

7 Jalan Harom Setangkai


I spent my formative years growing up in 7 Jalan Harom Setangkai. It was the family home that my grandparents had bought in the late '70s as an investment for them and their 3 children, and it became my home from 1997 to 2001. Around 1997, my parents decided they couldn't afford to pay the mortgage on our current house, so they decided swallow their pride and move back to my grandparent's place. The move made sense, after all my grandparents now had 3 free rooms because all their adult children had moved out, and at 7 I was an absolute pest about being separated from my grandmother. We ended up staying there till end of 2001 (I don't remember moving during the school year), so I spent a good chunk of my childhood in that place, and it definitely left a strong impression on me.

Living in that house as a chid was great. My grandparents were always around during the day time (OK, not great when my grandmother came after me to study) and there were lots of area to play around in. There was the old wooden bar which was a massive dust bomb because the maid completely ignored it - felty green carpet and all, the staircase landing in the middle that had its own little window and curtain - which was excellent for playing 'house' in, and the large garden complete with all sorts of plants and trees. The house was also filled with all sorts of odd knick knacks. I once found movie film canisters in my grandparent's room [see: second floor, area on bottom right labelled 'junk'] sitting next to a rusting treadmill, and I would play with the wood shavings and various substances my dad would use for his luthier hobby out on the back balcony. Fruit season was fun too, because the rambutan tree always blossomed like crazy, and there were always rambutans to eat.

I have many memories associated with that place, all of them warm and fuzzy, from a time where I was less anxious and less scared of everything. Thinking about it makes me feel happy and safe, but it also makes me feel a little sad because I know that the 7 Jalan Harom Setangkai I remember only exists in my recollections. After we moved out in 2001, the house was completely torn down and rebuilt, then my grandparents sold it and the new owner decided to rebuild the house from scratch (again! Ahaha).

Today after picking my grandparents up to go to lunch, we ended up driving past the old house. Of the entire row of houses along Jalan Harom Setangkai, number 7 was the only house that had been altered completely beyond recognition from my childhood. Still, I should be thankful that I have so many vivid and nice memories of my childhood home. 

Preliminary Reading

"In the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith thought that the primary role of education in the eighteenth century was to compensate for the 'almost entire corruption and degeneracy of the great body of the people', that resulted from the mind-numbing jobs which most people were expected undertake in return for increased wages"- Introduction in Education, Globalisation and Social Change.

I giggled. Am not looking forward to work starting again tomorrow.

Today I saw Two Hubcaps

I don't know when I first learnt the word "hubcaps". I remember knowing it from a young age, and I seem to vaguely remember asking my Dad what it was when I was about 6, because I kept seeing the word in Archie comics. Several of the running gags in Archie comics involve Archie's sad jalopy that keeps failing, including a few which featured both the wheels and hubcaps flying off in the midst of being driven. Thankfully cars aren't actually like that.

Today I had yet another driving lesson. While driving around (we seemed to have moved on from parking to refining my road skills), I saw a hubcap lying about on a grassy kerb area. Later on the way home on 156, I saw yet another hubcap lying on a grassy area, this time pretty far from a road. Pretty odd to see two abandoned hubcaps in one day.

Random Things to Note, Lest I Forget

Met up with Rufus for brunch today at Holland Village. He brought along a friend, Boon Guan, whose name seemed familiar but whose face I couldn't place. No matter, we had a great brunch together at Breko. By the end of brunch I wanted to run off and rest my horribly winded lungs - we had talked so much that I felt like I couldn't speak anymore. I suppose that's one way to determine great meal partners.

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Last week we had a lesson on protecting the high seas. It was bits of climate change, pollution and overfishing all rolled up together in a ball of bad things. I decided to concentrate more on overfishing, because I didn't recall it being taught very much in school at all. All the bits I knew about Bad Fishing Styles and overfishing came from outside reading, so it wasn't till I pieced all my information together when I was planning my lesson that I finally realised how dire the whole situation is. As it is before that, I had already refused to touch pomfret because I know they're horribly overfished, but still kept chomping away on tuna and shark's fin.

Anyway, I had heard about dynamite fishing before, and set about trying to find some clips. Everytime I think of dynamite fishing, I cannot help but laugh blithely, because despite how incredibly destructive it is to the environment (which makes most people sober), the act itself seems to me so ridiculously over the top and overly aggressive that I cannot help but laugh. Bombing fish! That's like throwing a grenade to catch a rabbit. It's the stuff of movies like Naked Gun. Except it's real life, which makes it even funnier and sad at the same time, and so makes me laugh even more.

I ended up typing "dynamite fishing" into youtube (as you do), and realised that the first result given was possibly one of the most funniest things I have ever seen in my life. It wasn't until I watched it for the first time with audio with my students that I realised some parts of the clip has been dubbed over for comedic effect, which made the video even better.

It reminds me of Exploding Whale, which I saw a few years ago and absolutely loved:


Perhaps it's just because it's the perfect combination of things that makes me laugh: death, explosions, and black humour (though, what does this say about me as a person?)

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Today after dinner with my grandparents, they sent us back home. They took a different route from my parents and we ended up driving home via Old Holland Road. The last time my grandfather had been driving me along Old Holland Road was when I was still a student in MGS, probably circa 2006. He kept mentioning how he used to drive me, asking me if I remembered, and chuckling to himself. Then just as we turned the corner to enter Greenleaf Road, he asked me if I remembered how the wall of the house at the corner had collapsed, closing the road temporarily. I was quite amazed because it was EXACTLY what I was recalling just moments before, and made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. Ah, shared memories of other people's misfortune. 

So Close, So Far

Just watched So Close, So Far with Shu at the Iranian Film Fest. By a stroke of luck I manage to hop onto both 75 and 970 with minimal waiting and arrived home just before 12am, which is a great way to end the day, and put me in a more amiable mood to blog.

I liked the movie initially right until the last bit. I like foreign films that are slice-of-life, peeps into other worlds. The problem I find with this film was that towards the end it felt terribly improbable and depressing (unless 0.01% of every Iranian dies trapped in a sandstorm covered car), with some bits feeling a bit overacted and overwrought. It reminded me a bit of a Russian movie I had seen at the East End Film Festival years ago in 2010, which is still by the far the most depressing and bleak movie I have seen in my 24 years of existence. I remember running to the movie theatre from Stepney Green tube because the Hammersmith Line was delayed. I remember clocking the various fried chicken stores all over as I ran. I remember sitting in stunned silence when the movie came to the end because, WTF?!

Anyway I guess in comparison to that, the Iranian film was much less of a downer. It had some nice shots of Iran, which I really liked seeing, though the shots of the harsh desert landscape made me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it's because I don't like the idea of being so utterly far from human life. True enough, that's how the main character dies (from being alone and trapped in the wilderness), confirming all my worse city-born stereotypical fears.

Have just started trying to select classes for the upcoming Fall Term, which makes me feel a bit better about things. Lately work has been overwhelming and (largely) unrewarding, which already makes for shit morale. Compounding the problem however is the fact that I know I am serving my resignation notice period, which makes me feel even less motivated, no matter how much I do love and care for my students. Although I know the lack of enthusiasm I feel now is only temporary, it still feels horrid. It makes me feel like pulling grumpy faces at the world. Talking to colleagues helps I suppose, because they understand exactly what nonsense I am talking about, and talking to Shu today over dinner helped too, because she feels similarly. Ah life and jobs.

Teary Eyes

Yesterday I made a silly mistake. I realised it mere moments after I made the error, and groaned inwardly at what a n00b error (for lack of a better word) it was. I had given out the coloured paper for Father's Day cards before I had finished all the work in class. As I walked out of class to grab the coloured paper, the thought of what a massive distraction it would be vaguely crossed my mind (for I am not that unaware), but then the thought of forgetting to give the paper out seemed worse. So while my students were still dutifully completing their full sentence corrections, I started to slowly distribute the paper only to see them jump out of their seats and clamour for their choice of paper colour. Oh dear.

Needless to say, the last Cloze Passage (on a dog nonetheless) was rushed through by the students as they eagerly awaited Arts-and-Crafts time. Which was just as well really because I felt utterly worn and exhausted yesterday. From 2 weeks ago I've been swamped at work with extra classes. The week of 27/5 to 31/5, I had 11 classes. The week of 3/6 to 7/6 I had 12 classes. This week I am back to 11 classes. I can only wonder what next week will bring.

Yesterday as well something interesting happened, which is that I walked into class and I was immediately greeted by a teary P4 student. My heart sank because I my mind ran amok of all the potential problems: Did someone bully him? Did an accident happen? Then, when he told me he fell down, I thought in horror that he had been injured In The Centre. The relief I felt when he told me he fell outside, in the carpark, was palpable.

I brought him to the office to get anti-septic cream. As we walked there, I noticed he seemed to be even more upset than I had initially realised. His voice was trembling, and he kept talking about how it hurt a lot and how he was in Great Pain (probably exaggerating). Rolling back the sleeve of his denim jacket, I realised he had a long scratch running down his left arm. As I dug around the first aid kit to find something that wouldn't set off his tears (read: alcohol swab) he started to look more and more worried. In the end I settled on letting him apply the anti-septic cream himself as he winced and got all teary, lest I be too rough and prompt a flurry of tears. Then we walked back to class and I told him an anecdote about how I had missed my English orals once because I was running around the quadrangle and fell badly, scraping my knees, and became utterly inconsolable until I was brought home. He seemed to perk up after that.

It's hard for me to quite describe how I felt at that moment as I led him down the hallway to the office, and looked into his worried teary eyes. I felt so terrible that he was sad, and felt that my heart would break if he cried. This was probably compounded by the fact that he's one of the students I am fond of, and a huge history buff like me. I wanted very much to give him a hug and say 'everything's going to be fine!', but I'm sure that would've been wildly inappropriate.

When we went back to class, the place was in uproar. His classmates were happily chatting away and I ended up shouting at them to finish writing their content page. Then one of female students happily started 'ZX stabbed himself! That's why he's hurt' and the whole class started to get very excited about ZX's injury, pestering him with silly questions. I ended up cutting in and telling another anecdote about the Most Embarrassing Fall I Have Ever Had - one where I slipped on an icy patch in LSE and fell on my rump next to a group of tourists admiring the Old Curiosity Shop - and they soon forgot about ZX and started doing their work. 

Glass Classrooms

As my teaching careers draws to a close (and when I have the time!), I start to think more and more about the job as a whole and the things I have learnt. I keep thinking to myself: I should write this all down, but the moment I get home I get distracted by something soothing and forget at all about it. This is especially made worse by the fact that I've re-discovered the time black hole that is Civilisation and have been playing it almost every night since last week Tuesday.

For the past few Fridays, I've been assigned to a glass classroom next to the staffroom. I call it a glass classroom because it is literally made of glass. Glass windows look out onto Thomson Road where you can see flags from several nations fluttering away, and the walls and door are made of glass, giving you a full-on view of the two adjoining classrooms (and the other way round too). I am not particularly fond of the classroom because it feels like I'm teaching in a fishbowl, plus you need to awkwardly walk through another classroom to enter it. That being said, it is near the toilets and the staffroom, so I can dash about easily. Still a classroom is a classroom, and I'm getting vaguely used to it.

Recently however, I've been feeling a bit stressed out about teaching there, namely because of the teacher next door. She's a senior teacher, and the lesson plans she shares during meetings always sound fantastic, plus her students always look so engaged and interested. Watching her from my classroom I feel inadequate as a teacher. I can't command such gravitas, summon up such energy and spunk, and plan my lessons as well as her. Even though I tell myself she has a good 10 years worth of experience on me, I still can't help but feel slightly despondent and wish for better for my students. Wish that they had a better teacher who could help them a lot more.

All things said and wished however, I know (for better or worse!) that my students are genuinely of me as a person and an individual, rather than me as a teacher - and I cannot help but wonder if it just might be a good thing, that they will learn empathy amongst other things from the time I've spent with them. Only time will tell I suppose, and I wouldn't trade my students for any other in the world.

Parallel Parking

Just finished a driving lesson and will have another one on Thursday. Today my instructor (a kindly old man that reminds me of my grandfather) told me that the next lesson, we'll begin parallel parking, because my reverse parking seemed to be good enough. Granted while I agree I have been making progress, I'm still not very confident in my reverse parking skills. Oh well. Still, I'm happy to be driving. It's quite fun gliding along roads, and not at all as stressful as I imagined.

A few weeks ago on a Friday, I sat for my final theory test and scored 50/50. I was quite overjoyed because well, I don't recall ever having scored full marks for any sort of test before. That and if I failed my final theory test, it'd be months before I could take it again. Owing to my magnificent procrastination skills, I managed to time the whole learning driving + test schedule so tightly that I really only have one chance to pass both the final theory test and the practical test if I want to get my driving license before I leave to start my Masters programme. Well, fingers crossed for 18th July.

In other news I am still sick. I fell ill some 2 weeks ago and somehow muddled through work with my throat all swollen before leaving for a family trip to Boracay, Philippines, where I fell even sicker (hello heat!). Now some 4 days after coming home from Boracay, I am still sick. This also means that every time (2 out of 2) I go to the Philippines, I fall sick before the trip and get more ill during the trip itself. Talk about unfortunate.

That being said, I quite loved Boracay. The first disastrous hotel aside, the rest of our trip was fantastic. Our second hotel was cheap, cheerful, and right by the beach. The beach on Boracay was incredible, and easily the best beach I've ever seen. Its waters were so blue and clean that it looked almost permanently photoshopped and the beaches were filled with white sand. The food there was tasty too. I was happy to eat Chicken Inasal again we made many trips to D'Talipapa, a seafood market, to eat dinner. We had the tastiest baked scallops there, mmm. I feel hungry just thinking of those scallops again.

Felt a bit sad to come back to Singapore and WORK, but on the way home I was reading Marie Claire (the only female magazine I'd ever subscribe to) and they had a special on working professionals, plus career tips. As silly as it seems, reading that section made me feel all inspired and invigorated about work. I wanted to plunge right back into work and MAKE A DIFFERENCE YO! Of course that being said I've already tendered my resignation at M/s L because my notice period is 3 months. My last day of work will be 2nd August. Then I have 2 weeks to rest before jetting off to Romania with my parents for another family holiday, before heading off to NYC on 28th August to start my Masters programme. Talk about yet another tight schedule!


 

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