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The first day of the tenth month of the year! How did I get here so soon? The final examinations for all levels will be over in a fortnight's time. National, and international, examinations would then start and continue right through November. There would be farewell assemblies for the students, prom night for the graduating classes and the year-end Staff Dinner. It is a chilling thought that another school year is winding down and soon, the year end holidays would begin. I'm one year older, one year closer to retirement, to the end.
One year closer to the grave.
I have finally finished Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son. It was not a comfortable read. In fact, most parts are so revolting I've to skip over. I understand that this is a work of fiction set in a real place, but could such a place really exist? It reminds me of that "future" world in "1984" - only much worse. Anyway, I'm done. I won't be reading another violent book for a while. I wonder what an 18 year-old can make out of it. I borrowed it from one of my students who read it for a Literature assignment
We went to this Thai place at a mall for dinner. The food was great, and we paid quite a fortune only because we ordered more than we could eat. That's because it was our first time there and we didn't know what the portion would be like. Anyway, the food is delicious, and authentic Thai fare. The next time we would be wiser and order less. One of the great things about this country is there is a wide variety of food, and although prices are rising, much of it is still affordable if you know where to go.
I was supposed to mark four hours today and not have to go to class. But, of course, it didn't turn out that way. I only cleared ten scripts in six hours because of distractions. There were schedules for tomorrow's paper review sessions to plan, the record file to fill out and submit to the office, and a dozen other little chores needed done. By 2.30 I left school for my medical appointment at a clinic. It's dinner, and I haven't worked on the scripts since two. Once again, this day is lived in fulfilment of other people's expectations!
I wonder how my life would change if I actively try to make good things happen to some people each day. It's not just being kind. Let me see if I can find some examples. Look, there's Siti sitting outside the custodians' room, taking a break. She is one of those caretakers who keep the school grounds clean. Maybe she would appreciate some snacks and good coffee during her break. I could go to the canteen and get coffee and cake for her. Does that count for making good things happen to people? Nah! That's not it. Kind of fake.
Joseph Campbell says, "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."
Maybe so, but even people who live "rapturous lives" sometimes also wonder about the meaning of life. Isn't it because we know we all die eventually, we want to know why we live at all?
It's a great feeling to have met he deadline for completing the marking of exam scripts. I've done the marks analysis and submitted that to the office. It had been one exam after another since July. At times like this I look forward to retirement. I wonder if I have somehow worked myself into a rut. I read of a nurse who says her job saps her of her soul, I wouldn't go that far. There are redeeming moments like when I had fun teaching a lesson and everyone in the class enjoyed it. Yes, there are good times too.
They just exposed a video tape that showed Trump making some lewd remarks about women to someone with a Bush name. That happened in 2005. It's been playing over CNN and BBC over and over again this afternoon. No one should be surprised that he said those things. That he said it 11 years again should not make it any less significant. 11 years ago, he was already 56 years-old. His opinions of women shouldn't have changed much in ten years. Yet, he still has his supporters. Someone who was interviewed says that was dressing room banter. It's OK.
It takes me a life time to understand myself. I've always known that I enjoy art, but it's only this year, that I found I especially enjoy watercolor painting. I notice the pleasure I get from doing a nice piece, and the frustration when a painting doesn't turn out right. I thrive on success but need a lot of work on my feelings to overcome disappointments.
I'm still in the process of understanding myself, even after sixty years living in my own skin. So I shouldn't be too harsh on others when they can't understand me. It shouldn't surprise me.
I dropped in on my brother's wife at the hospital this evening. She had open heart surgery four days ago to fix a tear in a heart valve, but there she was, sitting next to her bed, eating spaghetti and soup. There were no tubes and no bandages. She talked cheerfully about her speedy recovery. It's amazing! We're blessed to have such excellent medical care so easily accessible to us. Now all we have to do is to live purposeful lives that will enrich society and ourselves so that the technology that extend our life span is not in vain.
Someone says if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to to go far, go with somebody. When I was younger, I craved "me" time, away from everyone else so that I can space out, and escape the noise, the dust of ceaseless activity and the din of empty chatter. These days, I don't quite mind the company of friends and family, and I don't quite know what to do with myself when left all alone. Although there is plenty to keep me occupied, having friends know what I am doing make me want to do better.
I've just told my daughter-in-law that I am digitally challenged. She had found my husband's Facebook and asked to follow him. My husband maintains a website and is on Facebook. Me, I don't even twitter. I don't want to be too exposed on social media. It's not like I am famous or anything, but honestly, I don't want too many people to know me. That's why I post on 100words. There's some privacy here, and I like the discipline. Also, people do not write to one another. We just write and read other posts. I actually feel safe.
The King of Thailand passed on today. He was a well-loved monarch. I have seen for myself how his subjects revered him on my many trips to the country. Some people may think a monarchy has no place in this modern world. But here is one king who had kept the country together through many military coups. Even the coup leaders sought his blessings. He was indeed a unifying figure.
The Thai people here went to pay their respects at the Embassy in town. Western tourists are told by their foreign offices to behave appropriately while in the country.
High tea at the Shangri-la is an annual affair with me and my close friends at work. We had a great afternoon in a very cosy restaurant, with a luxurious buffet spread of both western and Asian fare. But I am feeling a little sad. Sure, the food is good, the restaurant is classy and the company is great too. But I had a very real feeling that this may be the last year we are celebrating end of semester here. I am quite sure I will be leaving next year. This will be part of my memories soon.
It's 10 pm, on a Saturday night. I had done the ferrying of grand-daughter and daughter-in-law to her parents' place, sent and fetched my husband from class, visited his parents and gone to the bank. I have done all that needed done, and I'm happy. I even filled up the car, so that tomorrow morning, we will start the day with a full tank. My husband has already gone to bed, and I can hear him snoring behind me.
The moon is very big tonight, and almost perfectly round. It will be full moon tomorrow. Good night.
I wonder what my life would have been like if I had taken art in college, not married and not have kids. My life might have been more carefree from my twenties, through to the fifties, and by the time I get to where I am now, I would not be an important someone to anyone, a mother to two grown men and a grandmother to a sweet little four year-old. I would probably be lonely and even depressed. So, no. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. All things considered, things have turned out fine. Thank God.
It's a great feeling planning holidays. I've just been exchanging emails with my travel agent about the places we would like to see in Victoria, Australia. I take special delight working out the details in the midst of work. It's true it helps with de-stressing. I feel good already. Wait a minute. Is my wine glass already half full? Oh, that may explain the fuzzy feeling. No, I am not drinking at work. It is already night, and I have been home for hours already. I am just replying the agent to make changes to the quote she gave.
I started on the Art class at the Arts College tonight. I like this new place. Its glass facade, cafe, fountain and central courtyard and specially fitted classrooms make it a lot more purpose-built than the other one I attended. I also like the fact that it's near a train station. The instructor is easy on the eyes and ears, pretty and with a beautiful accent. There's a fair mix of people in the class of about 16, with about half of us fifty and above. I suppose it's because of the very generous Silver subsidy the government gives.
What do I do with so much stuff? It's not like I've been hoarding. No, I've regularly spring-cleaned and purged the house of clutter. But there are other people living in the house, and they too must un-clutter their living spaces. My stuff, even when completely purged, will not make much difference to the apartment. I know it is a waste to throw things, especially when they are still good to use. I have given away to charity, to the Salvation Army and to poor people abroad. But, new stuff just keep building up! I can't stand clutter.
Today, my husband left on a ten-day photography trip to Zhiuzhaiguo, China. He had been away on trips on his own before, and each time I dreaded the nights without him. The first night is always the worst. I would have difficulty falling asleep and would wake up several times in the night. I tried listening to music and reading. No matter how tired I was, it would be hours before I drifted into sleep. The days were alright, because I would be at work. But I feel lonely, and anxious, at night. This is only the first night!
It's my last appointment at the hospital. At 8 am, I went for my X rays, and then registered at Orthopedic four floors above. I was told the doctor report for work only at 9. One good thing that came out of my accident in the middle of May - I slipped and fell and broke my wrist - is that I'm less of a control freak. It's alright. I can wait. One hour later, I was with the doctor. He showed me my X rays, said I have healed nicely, and in under five minutes, I was out of his face!
I've slept alone for two nights already, so when my son invited me over, I packed a light bag with a change of clothes and took a cab to his place. He and his wife had to go out for a dinner appointment, so I watched a movie on Netflix and then went for a walk. His flat was conveniently located at the town centre, with many eateries and a public library that stays open til 9pm. My son has been married for almost five years, and this is only the first time I spent a night at his place!
My son has been married for five years and this is the first time I'm spending a night at his place. My husband is away and I crave company, so I asked if I could go over. He was going out for a dinner function with his wife, but he made sure I had everything I needed before he left. I watched a movie on Netflix, the one called "Hector". Hector was a homeless man in London. Slowly we learn how he came to be on the streets, and how he went looking for his siblings and found them. Touching.
A group of elementary students went on a guided adventure trip. They were up on a mountain with experienced guides when an earthquake occurred. Fourteen died. No one could have seen it coming. No one could have prevented it. It happened. Don't ask why. It is random. Someone says it is easier to accept that these things just happened and not to ask why it happened to you. It happened to you because you were there when it happened. Can I accept that? At this point in time, I still find it easier to believe things happen for a reason.
I love trees. One tree provides enough oxygen for a family of four per day. Trees purify the air by removing the particulate pollutants put there by cars and industries, and people. Trees provide shade, even shade from ultraviolet radiation. Trees remove carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, and mitigate the effect of global warming.
I need trees. I live in a city with all that's associated with a city - high density living, traffic snarls, tall buildings.
Trees provide much needed relief from the built-up landscape, and the noise and pollution. Trees have a calming effect on me.
It's figure drawing class tonight and we would have a live model. Before she came in the teacher told us the model is a nude, and she's not naked. Nudity is not nakedness. Alright. If you say so. I kept a straight face, as did the rest of the dozen students. After she has said her bit about proportions, shapes and cylinders, the model came in. For each pose, we were given five minutes to make a sketch before she changed to another pose. We were busy sketching, and no one thought she was naked. She was our nude model.
My Art teacher says what make a flat picture appear three-dimensional are the tonal values - the differences between light and shadow. If we're able to bring out these tonal values, contrast areas of light against areas of darkness, then the picture takes on a realism that makes it three-dimensional. Isn't that so true even of life? Real life is played out in time and space with a wide range of spatial and temporal settings, a wide variety of experiences with a myriad of participants from different times and places, like varying degrees of light and shade. That's real.
I had thought I would stay home and go to bed, because I was exhausted from a week of disturbed sleep. Taxis are easily available at the airport, and he could probably share a ride with his travelling companion. But as with other nights, sleep did not come easy. So I drove 40 km right across the island to the airport. I got there around 11pm. His plane landed at 11.16 and he was out in the arrival hall by 11.45. He was not at all surprised to see me. "I knew you would come. Glad you did."
We celebrated my mum-in-law's birthday with a dinner at a restaurant by the bay. It's our duty as children to do this for the old folk every year, but as they grew older, and more frail, these family gatherings become more important.
The food was good, the weather was fine, and as we emerged into the bay area, the atmosphere was electric. There was a live performance. The sky lit up with a laser display from the roof of a hotel nearby. Never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad to be out here on a Saturday night.
I bought this book yesterday, and today I finished reading the first short story, Tower of Babylon. Hey, wait a minute. It's the Tower of Babylon! Not Babel! I've been reading as though it was the Tower of Babel and expecting it to be destroyed! It wasn't. The ending took me by surprise. Now I'm ten pages into the second short story, "Understand". It's another page turner. Before yesterday, I've never heard of this author. Now, I can't wait to get my hands on another of his books. The last man that turned me on this way was Michael Frayn.
What fire does not burn, it makes stronger. Just heard that again on the radio. Forty years of teaching - twenty in government schools, and twenty in a private school - has made me stronger. But it is a long, long time! I couldn't leave the job because I have a family to feed, and my two sons need a good education, and a good start in life so that their lives may be easier. It's only in these last two years that my job becomes a little lighter, and there are days I actually look forward to school. I am stronger.
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