The Complaining Syndrome

This is something I was thinking about on the way home.

 

Lately, I’ve come to realise a certain trend with the people I interact with frequently. And by “frequently”, I mean on an almost-daily basis.

Perhaps, its the increasingly competitive nature of our society. The mentality that we have to out-do others to be considered “good”.

To the extent that even when we’re complaining, we have to compete.

 

A few times, while eating in the pantry, I heard conversations like this:

Teacher A: “I’m so tired, I have this-that-this-that. ”

Teacher B: “Me too! I also have this-that-this-that and THIS!!”

Sometimes, teacher A might retort with a “YA! But LAST YEAR, I had to do THIS and THAT too! A least you don’t have to do THAT!”

And Teacher B might either fall silent, agree, or go back to “Aiya. SIAN.” And everyone falls silent in the company of unspoken thoughts, at least for a while, until someone changes the subject or adds on to it.

 

Of course, there are people who are generally nice and understanding.

When A says “I’m so tired, I have this-that-this-that”, they might respond with a “Oh no, that’s terrible. No wonder you look so tired”, instead of coming up with their own to-do list in comparison.

OR, they might rephrase and say, “I totally understand, because last year I had to do that too and it was terrible! No wonder you look so tired!”

Thereby indirectly eliminating the element of competition and strengthening the element of comradeship.

Unfortunately, people like these seem to be dwindling in numbers.

I am going to watch myself and make sure I fall in the latter category.

 

And, on a related note, its that time of the year again.

It’s the last lap!

Madam * .

From January to May this year, I was given a Sec 2 class for History. They are a good Express class. Most of them are self-motivated and eager to learn. They are even a little too quiet and reluctant when it comes to group activities. They excelled in their SA1 results.

When Term 3 started in July, this class was given to another teacher, and my periods with them were replaced by periods with a Sec 3 class; I would not be the main teacher, but I was to co-teach and learn from the main teacher. The Boss wants to prepare me for upper sec History next year. (-.-)

Sometimes, when I walk past students of this Sec 2 class, they ask why I don’t teach them anymore. Some of them said they missed me, which was really sweet of them.

Yesterday, a girl from this class approached me. She is from Thailand. As with most international students in my school, she is very diligent and hardworking.

“Cher, can I ask you about History?”

My first thought was, “Why don’t you ask Mdm * ?”

But because it was so sudden, and Mdm * happened to be busy with the O level students, I said… ok.

And that was how, today, we ended up sitting outside the staffroom, with her and her friend asking me what is the format for history essays, why did Malaya not want Merger in the first place, and what were the factors which led to Separation, how do we answer SBQ questions that test on Purpose, etc.

Naturally, I was a little wary that Mdm * would suddenly come out and see us together. Which teacher would like to see her students going to another teacher for help? I worried that she might be offended.

 

 

 

If I were to end this post here, and say that the session ended uneventfully, without Mdm * ever noticing us, it’d be such an anti-climatic ending, wouldn’t it?

 

 

Well, SHE DID COME OUT.

 

 

From the corner of my eye, I saw her emerging from the staffroom door, my source of fear and worry. Acting cool and ignorant, I continued talking to the girls, explaining why studying from notes might be more beneficial than studying from the textbook. She walked past us. It was obvious. The Sec 2 History textbook was sprawled wide open on the table. I didn’t look up at all. But I saw the sheepish and guilty smiles of the girls, and I knew she had seen us. Even the girls knew they were going behind their teacher’s back!! Mdm * did not stop, she continued on her way to class. But I KNEW she had seen us. She had seen ME.

When the session finally ended a few minutes later, the girl again said:

“Cher, why don’t you teach us anymore? I actually prefer you.”

“Maybe if you choose History next year, I might be teaching you then.” I replied, remembering my Boss’ sinister plans for me.

“Oh I will definitely take History elective! Because I cannot understand anything in Geography at all!” She rattled on in her cute Thai accent.

I smiled and went back to the staffroom.

 

 

So, what do you think? What should I think?

It’s probably nothing. Mdm * might probably appreciate the help I was giving to the students. She might come and joke that they miss me too much.

But I also know her well. She’s an easily jealous person. She thinks for her own good. She manipulates to get what she wants. She complains to higher authorities. She can bear grudges. She is one of the few people in the school against which I have not let my guard down. What will she think about her students asking me for help instead of clarifying their doubts with her? Jealousy is a scary thing.

 

We shall see, won’t we?

Walking Israel

“In preparing to engage with Israel’s complexity, I took particular pleasure in simplicity. I stuffed a backpack with two of each item of clothing. I checked that I had the basics: spectacles, credit card, and sun lotion. I charged my cell phone and promised to call home every night. I took a vacation from NBC. And then I set off on my journey of discovery, the adventure I had long imagined.”

I immediately imagined a lone person, walking down the coasts of Israel, accompanied by nothing but the waves of the sea, speaking to people only to find out their stories from below.. and probably, with a handy camera by his side.

And I thought, “Ahh… Bliss.”

And so I got the book.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this book, its that news reports and analysis don’t represent what the people of the nation really feel or think – At all. They can represent the government,  political representatives, a country’s official stand, but never really the people.

“…because news reporting demands clear story lines and simple narratives, truth is easily distorted.”

Israel is an amazing place.

While I’m in this literary mood, I’m also very excited to share that by a stroke of luck, I got selected to take part in the Singapore Writers’ Festival Microfiction Contest! Participants are randomly chosen, and once selected, you have to write a short story of up to 500 words, based on the National Museum’s historical items collection.

The first prize is an ipad!!!

I’m not having too high hopes, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to dream 🙂

Sidetracked

I finished reading an interesting book today and was intending to blog about it, but after spending almost half a hour with her, everything else can wait.

Despite my seeming love for cats, I still have a fear of stroking them, because I don’t know if I might touch a part they don’t like and they might lash back!

As it happened, while pouring the tuna for her today, some of it dripped onto her back. I had to use tissue to wipe it off for her while she was preoccupied with the food, and from there, after I realised she really is a tame little thing, there was no turning back! We took turns – I would stroke her a few times, and she would rub against my legs. Then I stroked her head somemore. And she rubbed somemore.

Major melting moment here.

MMM.

Sigh. Why why why can’t I just bring her home with me??

Baby Piano

And all too soon, the weekend is as good as over.

When I awake tomorrow morning, what little light that greets my eyes would be accompanied by a dominant feeling of inertia.

But we trudge on, with the comforting knowledge that another weekend will come soon.

A random visit to the Esplanade library led me to this concert, where children as young as 11 years old were playing pieces I only dreamt of playing at 18.

Looking at the throngs of nervous yet supportive parents and their performing kids, I could not help but compare them with the typical kid in my school – lacking in parental love, craving for attention, low self-esteem, and no motivation to do well. How many students have told me that they would love to learn the piano, but their parents / family can’t afford it?

General music lessons are as close to learning music as they’ll ever get, at least before they start earning a salary of their own.

If I continue to think this way, maybe I would continue to be motivated to do more for them.

Friday

Almost every Friday, when I walk out of school, I feel the air is fresher. The grass is greener. I can almost hear birds chirping.

Yesterday, when I walked out of school, the sky was overcast and threatening clouds loomed above. But my heart was as light and happy as it could be. IT’S FRIDAY! Time for my soul to find peace after a enduring an entire week of sounds and noise.


Another wedding dinner tonight. As usual, Mum was involved in my what-should-I-wear process.

Her contributions included saying:

“Girl, don’t go with leggings, stockings nicer.”

“Girl, remember to bring hongbao.”

“Girl, remember to bring shawl. There cold.”

“Girl, remember to bring enough money. Take cab back after that.”

Finally my father spoke.

“Girl, remember to bring Mummy along.”

Hahahaha!


Cat Wars

Was greeted by the little meow again when I reached home!

Sat at the ledge and let her twist and rub all she wanted against my legs. I would have loved for her to jump up to sit on the ledge beside me. There were a few times she looked like she would consider doing it, but never got around to doing so. So we remained status quo, me sitting still and she rubbing to her heart’s content.

I did not see the white cat approaching. I only noticed when she suddenly became very tensed, crouched low, tail touching the ground, signs of cat aggression!?! THEN I saw the white unfriendly one. Walking towards us slowly!

Desperate, I searched my bag for something that would scare the white one away. Took out the camera pouch. And WAVED VIOLENTLY.

(Imagine a mad woman waving a piece of cloth at a cat at 10plus at night – that’s what I probably looked like)

To my surprise, the white fellow actually got scared and ran away. Waved the cloth at him 3 more times before he was a safe distance away. And the little darling, she immediately relaxed and started stretching on the floor again. And meowed. And looked at me. And meowed again. Dare I think – she’s thanking me?

I am assuming that they are 2 cats fighting for the same territory, hence this hostility. And I am also assuming that the lovely brown one has the moral high ground here, otherwise she wouldn’t have crouched while the white one walked towards her.

Then again I may just be a little biased =p


She was especially beautiful tonight.

Everything in its Time