Lucky me. When I logged on two hours ago to print out notes for tonight's International Economics class (the lecturer always mails out his notes in PDF format on the day of the class), I was rewarded with the news that he is unable to have class tonight. So I'm free, free! I was originally scheduled to go to the Prime Minister's Teachers' Day Rally, but when I realized I had a conflict with class, I cajoled a colleague into going in my stead --- which is a real pity because I want to go for the Rally, not out of some misplaced political optimism but because I'm pretty sure the PM is going to launch some new bombshell about the direction of education tonight and I would've liked to be there to hear it and fall out of my seat in shock.
So I'll have to settle for listening to it on TV at 7:32 pm, which is when the local global news channel (and I'm quite aware of the possible oxymoron in that phrase) is going to broadcast said rally. I'm sure if it's some drastic piece of news, my husband will message me immediately so that I can fall out of my computer chair here at home in sync with him.
Anyways. While waiting for 7:32 pm to swing round, I'll catch up on the last two days' events.
Thursday was uneventful. My JC2 (an abbreviation for second-year junior college) students took their General Paper Preliminary examination in the morning. Most of them were suitably horrified at the difficulty of the exam. I must confess that the passage that was set for the comprehension part of the exam was something with such sophisticated style that I wouldn't've even handed it out for class reading. The vocabulary ranged from "triage" to "genuflexion" (and spelled archaically with an 'x') and finally "perpetuum", which I was convinced was a word coined by the writer but one of my colleagues who set the exam assured me that it existed in its own right.
My colleagues and I now fear the worst for the students' results, though part of me --- the intellectually snobbish part --- has no compassion for the students, since I'm convinced that anyone who reads half as widely as the General Paper course requires them to read would have no trouble completing the comprehension exercise. Of course, I'm privileged to teach a very bright, very motivated class who digests articles from The Economist or Salon without much ado; most of the GP students at my school complain if they have to read a one-page Time essay.
Post-examination, I hid in the computer lab and scanned more Vancouver/Seattle pictures. Can I just reiterate how much I love the HP 3400 that my school bought?
Post-scannage, I went for lunch with two colleagues: HS, who sits beside me, and Mel, who sits in my row. We are great pals partly because we all went to junior college in the very school where we now teach together. We were all students in the Humanities Program, though in different classes and without knowing each other very well then. We're much more buddy-buddy with each other now that we teach together and the same subjects too (i.e. General Paper and English literature). We had lunch at Secret Recipe --- which, for you map-reading Singaporeans out there, is across the street from Henry Park Primary School --- and the spicy chicken cornish gets my firm two thumbs' up.
I took the car yesterday, so I had to pick Terz from his school at 2ish in the afternoon. He had his hair cut at Parkway Parade --- a neighborhood shopping center --- while I went a little nuts in The Body Shop. Okay, so I just wanted to get some perfume there because I've been getting an itch with my regular perfumes and I figure The Body Shop stuff is more hypoallergenic. But of course, they turn out to be having a sale with a good deal on this and that --- and by the time I walk out of the store, I've spent fifty bucks on the perfume and some cotton swabs and a bath lily, all of which entitled me to a free pack of sample-sized products. What can I say? I'm a sucker for free gifts.
In the afternoon, I slept. I've been low on sleep all week this week, mostly because my sleep cycle got a little knocked out of whack from seeing G off to London at the airport at midnight on Monday. I got up at 6, showered, got dressed, bugged Terz to get dressed, then we headed off for our respective Teachers' Day dinners. (More about what the hell Teachers' Day is in a while, for you non-Singaporean fans out there.)
My school's dinner was at the Grand Copthorne Hotel, which sounds grander than it is. It was a neat ballroom --- one of those without pillars, of which I heartily approve --- and the food and service was decent. But the hired entertainment --- oh God, the entertainment. The dinner was organised by the parents' association of my college, and I don't know where they got the entertainment company, but the emcee was awful: making off-color jokes in an attempt to elicit a response from the audience because his on-color jokes were so lame that no one laughed; hounding people to play silly table games (I refuse on principle to play any game that requires putting a coin in one's ear); shouting more and more loudly into the mike because everyone was trying to ignore him and get on with their dinner; and eventually graduating to point-blank offensive 'humor' by the night's end. His name is Desmond Lim --- don't ever hire him unless you want your party wrecked. Oh, and get this: the dinner theme was "A Night of Elegance". They must've forgotten to order the 'elegant' part of the evening. I knew we were in for a long night when the headmaster and principal (it was a combined dinner for my school and its affiliated institution) got up to pop the champagne for the toast at the beginning of the evening, their attempt at dignity was interrupted by the abrupt blaring of Gerri Halliwell's "It's Raining Men" over the amplifiers.
Terz's dinner was at a restaurant at the World Trade Centre. As my envious colleague noted, the Catholics always know how to throw a good party. (He was upset at having to pay for his own beer at our dinner, considering that he'd had six by the time we were a-third of the way through dinner.) However, we had better lucky draw prizes at ours, although I'm not sure why someone thought it'd be a good idea if the top two prizes were air tickets and accomodation at Hatyai (a renowned sex resort in Thailand) and Jakarta (offering a bird's eye view of the latest riots) respectively.
Getting up this morning was hard, because by the time we got back from our dinners, it was after midnight. But today was a painless day at work because all I had to do was show up for the Teachers' Day concert. What is Teachers' Day, you might ask? Here's a gripe I wrote about it two years ago. Today's proceedings were much like any other year's, except that I had a really good conversation with my colleague O in the morning --- she was keeping an eye on the concert performers while they were waiting their turn on stage and I thought to keep her company for a bit --- and I got loads of nifty cards and few gifts. I like getting few gifts. I mean, I'm not in this job for the loot, though it's nice to get presents. The best gift I had this year was a PowerPuff Girls file, followed closely by a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I'm not dissing Vonnegut, but he just can't compete with the PPG in my superficial little heart. The cards, on the other hand, were a real affirmation for me. It's always nice to hear a thank-you, whatever form it takes. I keep the cards; many gifts, I confess, I forget about.
The real treat for me today was having coffee with J. J was the chairperson last year of [name removed to protect the innocent], the school activity I'm in charge of. I know her fairly well because we get along and we also went on the college history trip to the US together in 1999. Come to think of it, however, I know all my chairpersons pretty well. Anyway, I wanted to catch up with J before she enrols at the University of Chicago in a couple of weeks and we rounded off our conversation with tentative plans for me to teach her to play mahjong next week. Her friends always call her tai-tai, see (local slang for a socialite -- you know, pouffy hair, big rings, leopard print pants and the works), but she can't be a real tai-tai until she learns to play mahjong. So if she can round up two other willing friends, I've offered to give her a crash course next week, since I'm having a fairly work-free week of school vacation. My husband and I have taught lots of people to play mahjong, even a Eurasian friend of ours for whom we had to write out the translations of certain Chinese characters, so that she knew which matched with which.
After bidding J and her pal G goodbye, I headed into Watson's --- a pharmacy imported from Hong Kong --- and went crazy again. Okay, not as crazy as I could have, but I spent twenty bucks on shampoo and handsoap for the husband and feminine hygiene products for me. Something's wrong with that equation. Last weekend, I bought shampoo, razor blades and moisturizer for moi and it came to twenty-five bucks. Grrrrrr.
Then I came home and slept, always a safely economical pursuit, particularly since it was a cool enough day that I slept right through the afternoon without having to turn on the airconditioning.
And now my journal is done (for now) and I'm off to play with website ideas for the photo section. Let's see if I can churn it all out tonight.