Life and Death

Yesterday I felt like the proudest and happiest person on earth, because my niece finally entered the world. After wondering day after day when she would come, we finally received a text on Sunday night at 11pm that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were headed to the hospital. When I was finished with my fieldwork at about 1:30pm, I got a text just as I was leaving the school with a picture of the baby. I felt so proud that I wanted to go up to random people on the street to show off the picture - look at her, isn't that hair amazing? And I felt slightly amazed at my reaction, cause I didn't expect to feel so overjoyed and proud. I always thought newborns looked like aliens, but this one seemed perfect to me.

Today however the mood I have is one that is considerably more sombre, because of the terrorist attack that happened near my fieldwork school. It's the first time that I've really been in the vicinity of a terrorist attack that took lives, and I suppose it's been down to sheer luck that this experience has only happened to me now at the ripe old age of 27. Considering that I came into age during the era of religious-based terrorism, and have lived in big cities that have experienced major terrorist attacks either before or after my residence there, it's been a strange sort of blessing that I've never had to text or call people to tell them that I'm safe until today. It feels a little unnerving, to be honest. On my walk back home, I also found myself regarding the streets with a keener eye and a more heightened attention than before, and that's when I realised the extent to which I felt impacted by this event. Sort of a delayed reaction, if you will.

Well, only time will tell about the extent to which this event and future others will affect life as we know it.


Sick again

Last night I had a nightmare where I dreamed Jon and I had to plan yet another wedding related thing, and I was super stressed and upset. In my dream I spent a lot of time trying to actually run away from events and hide because I felt so horrid about things, and people kept chasing me to get me to return. Urgh.

In other news, I am sick again. So far since July, I've been sick every two months, and it's driving me crazy. It's frustrating waking up with the sickening realisation that goddamn it, my nose is running and has been back-dripping into my throat all night long. Also now my throat is sore because of the back drip.

Monday of this week was the first time I worked since G- summer camp ended in early August, and although I enjoyed it, I profoundly regret having worked now because in addition to being really tired right before I fell sick, the house is a huge mess and I've got a backlog of school work that I need to deal with. Every day Jon and I get back to the house past 7pm, and we need to leave early in the morning. This means that all the things that need to be done, like cooking and cleaning, have steadily been building up as the week progressed. It's overwhelming especially when you're already so tired. I really have no idea how families with two working parents do it. It already feels like Jon and I are barely holding on to things, and I can't imagining a newborn into the mix. Grargh. 

The Monday After


Last Saturday (7 Oct 2017), I finally got married again in the big religious ceremony + wedding reception. Today, I'm back at work again and struggling to find the words to best represent my thoughts on the topic of my history comprehensive exam. A part of me relishes the joy that comes from productive academia, but another part of me just wants to go back to sleep and play computer games all day after a thoroughly emotionally and physically exhausting day.

Although getting married with a big hullabaloo and seeing my friends again was very nice, DEAR GOD - weddings are a terrible business. I just hope I remember enough of the stuff to make things easier for my friends and my children when the time comes for their weddings, cause I never want anyone else to have to go through the bullshit Jon and I did at the expense of actually getting to thoroughly enjoy our 'big day'.

Avery Labels

One of the most amazing things I learnt from my internship at A- in Spring 2016 was the existence of Avery labels, and that Microsoft Word came pre-programmed (ok maybe not the right word) with layouts where you could easily print directly onto the labels. This blew my mind because I never thought it was that easy to print things onto labels, or that Microsoft Word has such capabilities.

Anyway I'm thinking about this again because I'm trying to get labels ready for wedding favours. I even ordered a dinosaur stamp with "J & M" on it to stamp onto the bottom part of the labels. 

Mighty Exhausted

For the past two months I've either been so busy or so sick that I've barely had time to stop and collect myself and my thoughts. July and the first half of August were all non-stop busy and stress-filled as I tried to maximise my time like never before, and the second half of August was spent battling a cold so nasty that no precedent appears in memory (thank goodness it's not a common occurrence at least). I foolishly thought that with the end of my summer class and summer job on 4th Aug, I could relax when I returned to Singapore for two and a half weeks, but instead it felt like a rush to get wedding related stuff done and to show Jon as much of Singapore as I could. A sample day (Thursday, 17 Aug in this instance) was:
- Bring one half of Filipino-side to Little India, while my Dad brought the other half
- Walk throughout Little India
- Take MRT from Farrer Park to Bugis
- Walk around Kampong Glam area
- Wait with Lola and Jon at Starbucks while the rest of the family went to see the Rochor area, because Lola felt way too tired from the walking
- Take MRT to Tanjong Pagar to meet Mum at the tailor's
- Fitting at the tailor's
- Shopping for a longer chain for the pendant my grandma wanted to give me as a wedding present, as it was way too short and choked me
- Taxi to the jewelry shop
- Buy chain, that is usefully also adjustable
- Taxi to Far East Plaza
- Fitting at the alteration shop (more like booth, because of how tiny the place was)
- Get manicure and pedicure
- Taxi home to eat dinner

Another day (Monday, 21 Aug) was:
- Wake up early to have breakfast with Dad
- Take public transport to the zoo
- Sort of rush through the zoo because it was really hot and humid
- Eat KFC for lunch
- Go to the river safari and enjoy the panda exhibit because it was air-conditioned
- Take a taxi to Lucky Plaza
- Eat halo-halo 
- Visit Takashimaya and Kinokuniya, see Ion briefly
- Take public transport to Star Vista to meet Uncle KL and family for dinner
- Have dinner and desert, shop for a bit
- Get fetched home by Uncle

On the way to Newark from San Francisco, I ended up sleeping throughout almost the entire flight. When I got back to Fort Salonga, I pretty much spent only 4 hours of the next day awake because I just felt so incredibly exhausted. The following day, Saturday, I felt much better and we all headed off from Fort Salonga to NJ for Sona and Tim's baby shower. At the baby shower however the husband of Sona's best friend was sick, and I think just by being near him I picked up a nasty virus, because by Sunday night I started to feel a little ill and by Monday evening my body was aching all over. 
So the past week, incidentally also the first week of my second semester at Hunter, has been a miserable and snotty blur. Here's to hoping I fully regain my footing soon.

Headless Chicken

Things I do not recommend doing simultaneously:
1) Working full time
2) Earning minimum wage
3) Attending university courses
4) Maintaining and running a household (incl. cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc)
5) Taking care of a furry four-legged creature that has a propensity for vomiting

I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with my head chopped off the past month or so. I had some respite in between my two jobs (a two and a half week stint at a charter school in Harlem, and a four and a half week stint as a teaching assistant at a summer program located in Greenwich Village), but now I'm back to running around like an over-extended mad woman, particularly because Jon has been on night float (night shift) the past week, and hence has been unable to help much at home.

As I type this, I currently have laundry being dried at the laundromat, and have just come back from doing grocery shopping at two different supermarkets (Trader Joe's and Fairway) and dropping off several packages at UPS. I am also about to partake in some chicken breasts that have been hanging out in the fridge for the past week + 1 day, and sincerely hope I don't get food poisoning, but am too tired and broke to eat something else. Later I still need to deal with the laundry, prepare food for the rest of the week, and finish reading the book due for class tomorrow and write the corresponding response paper.

I feel like this is quite beyond the realm of 'burning the candle at both ends', but more like 'burning the candle at triple/quadruple ends'. I laugh when I think of how both sets of parents are urging us to have children soon, because at this point of life with our meager time and money, the thought of having children seems like a prospect far past ridicule.

Two Concussions in a Day

Today I half witnessed two concussions. And my half witnessed, I mean that I witnessed the immediate aftermath, but not the actual concussions itself, because I happened to be meters away from the incidents - though I heard the loud accompanying thumps. Prior to today, I don't think I witnessed anything remotely close to concussions before, and it's strange to think of two of them happening in my vicinity within a span of 6 hours.

The first concussion was when I was at work. Today I had an in-school suspension assignment, and I was sitting in a room with my student during class transition time when I heard a loud thunk and yelling. I commented to student that it sounded like something was being murdered outside. When the crazy sounds still persisted for about a minute, I opened the door to look and saw a bunch of students gathered outside excitedly, and saw that the source of the commotion was a really violent fight between two female students. A teacher was already there, but the girls still persisted.

I didn't know what to do, and when I turned back I saw my student craning his head out of the door trying to look, but he didn't manage to see anything as it was around the corner. We went back in the room and I closed the door, but when the yelling was still there a minute later, I went out to try and disperse the watching students and a student told me, "hell no, I ain't missing this." The status of the fight looked exactly the same as it had earlier, and the same female teacher was still trying to break it up, while more teachers came. I went back to the room, and after about another minute the chaos died down, and I opened the door to see one of the students still agitated and shouting as she was led away.

Later the teachers in the staff room were talking about the fight. Apparently one of the students said "fight me" to another student she already had problems with, and the other student dutifully grabbed her head and slammed it against the wall. Obviously the student who had her head slammed into the wall was fine, because she was well enough to continue the fight.

The second concussion happened when I was taking the M15-SBS bus home. I boarded at 57th Street, and at 50th Street when the bus was stopped to let passengers get on and off, we heard a loud thunk and noises of a commotion. A kid standing next to me said, "Is it a fight? Sounds like a punch." This set off the old ladies near us as they got confused and somehow word got relayed that someone had fallen. An old lady then said, "that sounded more like a head hitting something." Then a few passengers ran to the front and told the bus driver, "Someone fell, don't move the bus," and I wondered if someone had fallen under the bus.

Again I didn't know what to do in the situation. I felt bad for whoever had fallen, but I didn't want to be a rubber-necking bystander as it wasn't like I had any medical training and could help. Also I wanted to go home, and felt bad for thinking that. I didn't know whether I should get off the bus and stand around or stay on. Either way was equally useless, but I figured at least by staying on the bus I wouldn't be blocking help or gawking. After about a minute word spread on the bus that it was being taken out of service cause of the accident, and we all got off. Outside, I saw a white-haired lady on the ground, her grey handbag propped up under her head as people tried asking her questions, but no one seemed medically trained.

Just as another M15-SBS appeared in the horizon, a woman in scrubs and with a stethoscope around her neck came running from the South and identified herself as someone who worked nearby. This was comforting, and around 80% of the passengers on the bus I was on got on this other M15-SBS, as about 10% stayed behind with the lady and 10% for some reason were still on the old bus. And so off we went, crammed into this other bus, with some passengers telling the passengers on this bus about what had happened.

It has been a very peculiar day, and one in which I wished I could do more instead of standing by helplessly. But I guess everyone has their own niche in life, and mine isn't being big enough to pull apart students (which I'm sure is against the law) or knowing what to do when someone gets injured.

Ceiling

On Sunday after coming back from a night in NJ with my Aunt and Uncle, Jon and I were greeted with a huge mess when we opened the front door. My first thought was that Saffron had destroyed something, but then it immediately went to "what kind of white paper do we have so much off that he would destroy it like this?"

It turned out of course, to be something far beyond Saffron. The floor was wet and our clothes in the cupboard were wet too. The ceiling light looked like it was filled with dirty brown water that threatened to spill out. The bathroom floor had dirt all over it, like there was a flood that had subsided and left silt in its place, but the tiles were still wet. The toilet seat was covered with droplets of dirty water, and the Archie comics that were on top of the toilet cistern were wet too.

When we called the Superintendent, he said, "Oh yes, the kitchen pipe of the apartment above yours burst."

So Jon and I ended up spending the better half of the rest of the day, from noon when we came home till bed time, cleaning up the mess and feeling frustrated. I tried my best, but the two pairs of shoes I left out that got caught up in the mess were ruined. Jon tossed the pair of shoes that he left out that had gotten drenched too. As fate obviously still has it out for us (to an extent: our material losses were less than $150), Sunday, Monday and today have been humid days filled with rain. The apartment has a funky smell to it, and the floor is still damp and cold to the touch. Online it says that you need to hire a professional drying crew when this happens, but I highly doubt my avaricious landlord will do anything about it. Sigh.

Meanwhile, every few hours, another piece of the ceiling falls off and the floor becomes coated in a powdery substance that is invisible to the eye.

Wedding Nightmare

I had a nightmare last night about my wedding. I dreamt for some reason that it was less than 24 hours away, and that I had neglected to check my wedding outfit and in fact only had a veil, and no wedding dress. Then I realised that I had forgotten to order the dresses for my bridesmaids, so they had nothing to wear (this part might be realistic, I'm still procrastinating on ordering their dresses). Of course I felt very stressed in my dream from all the running about, and even when I woke up and realised it wasn't real I still feel the physiological signs of stress.

This dream has made me feel annoyed because: 1) since when am I so unprepared for an event of that sort? 2) I don't like feeling stressed 3) I don't think I'm the sort of person to stress out over a wedding.

In other news I am still working on a paper that is due for my last class of the semester. I have found it considerably harder to juggle part-time work (as a sub nonetheless) and school, and have found myself slightly clueless at the deadlines (so ok, maybe point 1 is becoming true). So after today, my first semester at Hunter College will be over, and I'll have a break of about a week before Summer classes start - joy.

Spills and Thrills

Yesterday after lamenting about my adolescence, I made a fool out of myself while at school and ended up feeling very much like a youth again. It was a very strange and startling feeling, and one obviously not very welcome.

On my way to the subway, I stopped by Dunkin Donuts for an iced tea for class. The last time I had bought an iced tea, I ordered the sweetened version and found that it was far too sweet for my liking, and so this time I tried asking for 'half sweet and half unsweet', to the confusion of the cashier (I assumed the iced teas had been pre-mixed in some sort of dispensing cooler). The medium-sized iced tea I received this time however was not sweet at all, and had the slightest hint of bitterness. I felt disappointed and wanted more sugar.

When I got to campus, I headed straight to the cafeteria as I wanted to eat chicken fingers as a snack before class. After obtaining said chicken fingers I was headed to pay when I noticed the sugar, so I stopped and popped open the cup cover and poured some sugar in, before continuing to the cashiers. I must not have fixed the cup cover back tightly however because after setting the cup down on the counter for the condiments and utensils, I accidentally knocked against the cup and sent the entire contents spilling all over the counter.

The first thing I did to react to the situation was to go, "oh shite." The girls next to me who were taking their utensils looked and then moved away quickly. It was a very New York sort of reaction. I frantically leaned over to grab as many napkins as I could, and while I was between grabbing napkins and soaking/scooping up the icy mess, a sort of good samaritan appeared and threw a bunch of napkins on top of the spilled mass before getting utensils for himself and moving away.

As I stood there trying to clean up the mess, I felt like such an unspeakable idiot again. Not only had I made a mess for everyone, but I had done it in an extremely high volume area. Everyone passing though the cafeteria would stop at that counter to pick up items. I felt like I wanted to sink through the floor and disappear. Instead, I spent what must have been the longest few minutes of my life cleaning up that mess, feeling myself go hot all over from the shame and embarrassment. The emotions and experience felt exactly like what I remember in bits and pieces from my adolescence. And boy was there ALOT of liquid to clear, as medium-sized anything in the US really makes large in all other parts of the world.

I think next time I'll just deal with either an unsweet tea or a super sweet tea.

Adolescent Development

I'm taking a course in Adolescent Development this term, and the instructor assigned Adolescence by John Santrock as the textbook. Reading the book makes me feel kind of weird inside as it makes me recall all the relationships, emotions and experiences I felt during my adolescence, and it invariably (also perhaps coloured through my pessimistic adult lens) makes me feel a knot of something negative in the pit of my stomach. It makes me think of how unhappy I felt in my adolescence, especially with regards to my wild feelings and emotions, and how sad I just felt most of the time. And how on some bad days, how those experiences and feelings have probably leeched over into my adulthood and manifested in similarly negative ways.

A few years ago when I was teaching, one of my students asked me if I ever wanted to be a teenager again, and I replied that you couldn't pay me a million dollars to go through it all again. Yet here I am, reliving through all the emotions again as I pore over this silly textbook that has way too much text (I could dedicate a whole rant to the deficiencies I see in American textbooks), with all sorts of thoughts churning repeatedly in my mind and my heart to no real conclusion. Was there really any way I could have escaped these outcomes? Or was it predetermined by the genes in me, and buoyed by my inevitable environment? Who knows. All I know is the way I feel when I think about this topic and the overarching emotion I recall from my adolescence.


 

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