Hello

It disgusts me each time we grow this much closer to forget, something happens that makes us remember. all. over. again. 

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Am I Crazy?

Today’s chilly weather is probably too good to pass up without doing a bit of writing. After all, it is very possibly what’s holding me back from diving head first into a pile of personal recount essays.

I wanted to demystify (for myself, I mean) the natural attractiveness of ice cream. After my six-week stint at Yellowstone National Park washing dishes and dishing out soft serve ice cream to the visitors at the Old Faithful Lodge in 2008, ice cream found a new place in my heart and mind. It was originally categorised as comfort food in warm, sizzling-hot sunny weather; but after Summer 2008 it became known as comfort food – all year round.

icecream

An old lady, our first customer for the day, had bought a cone of chocolate soft serve with sprinkles, and as I handed her her cone of ice cream in the cool early months of Summer, she had said: “It is always time for ice cream! Even in cold weather!”

Ice cream became my happy food – the food that makes someone smile again when the world is gloomy. Sometimes, I suspect the trick lies not in the ingestion of the icy dessert, but in the novelty of buying and owning it. At times, I would find myself helplessly buying a cup of ice cream, only to find my body pleading to stop the intake of the dessert minutes later because I have had my fill, or because I was unwell. Just like recently when I went to watch a movie with a cup of ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery – ten minutes into the movie I left the cup of ice cream on the empty seat next to mine and satisfied myself just knowing it was sitting there, next to me, watching the film with me.

I also realised that the texture of the dessert matters. There is an irreconcilable difference between soft serve ice cream (the one served at Macdonald’s) and scooped ice cream from a tub (like Haagen Daz or Andersen’s). The latter usually has a firmer consistency, and comes in a lot more cool flavours for the customer’s tastebuds. Soft serve usually melts too quickly, and most of the time you end up trying to lick up the dribbled mess and / or trying desperately to prevent the snow lava from hitting your fingers.

Depending on the ingredients, I have heard that better quality ice cream tends to melt at a slower rate. This definitely offers room for some good comfortable conversation between your companion(s). I am a strong believer in the idea that food are symbols of socialisation and they can bring people together – provided people partake in the act of eating together, of course. And good conversations are always a plus.

I also prefer ice cream in a cup than in a cone. I think when ice cream is served in a cone, it distracts whoever is biting into it from appreciating its natural flavour and texture. Ice cream, like coffee, should be consumed on its own, without the caramel crunchiness of cheap biscuit cones or sprinkles. I will make an exception for ice cream being served on hot waffles – that leaves you with a choice to either eat the dessert on its own, or let the waffles enhance the flavour of the dessert.

When I was a kid, I always licked my ice cream. My parents would come around and ask to “try my flavour”, and over time I learned to reject their advances by running away. Most of the time “trying my flavour” would constitute biting a humongous bite into the dessert, leaving a gaping hole in the ice cream, making me feel extremely painful and sad as a child. Now that I am older, I appreciate spooning ice cream into my mouth instead of licking or biting it. I can decide on the right amount of ice cream to put in my mouth on top of my tongue… and it also gives me the option of eating it at a faster or slower pace.

Well, am I crazy, to just love ice cream for the magnificent dessert it simply is on its own? Sometimes I feel all it takes to make a wrong day right is to dig into a few mouthfuls of ice cream from a tub in the freezer with a metal spoon, for the cool dessert to transport you into somewhere completely fantastical and heavenly.

Sacred Friday Evenings!

ImageFor those of us who know the weekends to be an extension of the work week where we scramble to meet our deadlines, Friday evenings should exist as a all-work-prohibited time. It should be time to spend with family (and to some, church is family), with loved ones, and with yourself. I have established a routine to cast aside all work on Fridays after school, and just spend some time pampering myself, whether with friends or family. I go out for a good meal, some exquisite coffee, or chillax ice cream to people-watch, think and reflect. It just gives me some me-time to run away into oblivion. It is when all work is cast aside and I throw myself into a continuum where time and reality is suspended.

Which makes it all the more important for newly-weds to spend Friday evenings away from work and just snuggle in each other’s arms and enjoy being in each other’s presence. Sometimes we get too little (quiet) time for that, and personal time just comes at too high a cost to afford.

Movie nights when a couple curls up together on a couch, legs outstretched, sharing a bowl of popcorn (saltly, please!) or bag of chips, or plate of fruits, watching a movie in a room of dimmed lights could be just like heaven.

Take Friday evenings off, and give you and your loved ones a break!

Being As Mountains

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There was a little delay in last year’s reflection, but 2012 has to be looked at in its totality and honestly; there is no running away.

So stripped down to its core with vulnerability all exposed, I peered into the lake of meditative reflection – contrite heart and all, yearning for some sort of restoration of the spirit – hopefully without having to alter too much of my current lifestyle.

Despite my awfully adulterous and beaten off-the-track life, God has been faithful and good. I have been so prone to wander but there has been so many timely reminders put in place to jerk me back to the reality and greatness of God’s presence and smallness of my state of being. It is the start of a brand new year, and that means giving 2013 a fair shot at moving ahead and succeeding to find balance and sustainable restoration in life. Lugging along baggages from previous years is not going to be the most ideal.

With regard to X, I have decided to put an end to the unspoken, unnerving waiting. My friends can tease and poke fun in good jest, but I have to learn to let go and stop foolishly entertaining hope.

For the past two years, teaching has been the cornerstone in my life (whether I should be proud of it is a different story) in that I spend most of my hours of consciousness (or sub-consciousness) thinking about it. I am not proud of this revelational statistic – our lives should be made of more vibrancy than that. That aside though, I do need to lay down some goals and aspirations for my professional development in education for 2013, and that means looking back at what I have succeeded in and what I can continue to work on in the coming year. More than simply being increasingly equipped pedagogically to teach my students in a meaningful and effective manner, I believe effective pedagogy strategies need to be paired with confident and appropriate classroom strategies to keep students engaged within principled boundaries and set contexts. I must try to keep up with the amount of homework I give to my students – I tend to lose track of the pieces of the work and the deadlines for submission – and enforce good routines to help students keep themselves in check as well. For a start, I do have pretty reliable subject representatives, so I am thankful and hopeful for the new year. I want to aim to add value to my students academically and otherwise.

I want to exercise my faith in greater measure and learn to trust in God, not in man (i.e. myself). This means praying daily and preserving pockets of quiet solitude between my Father and I.

I also want to exercise self-discipline and keep fit by running more often. I have tried to put across a case for a home treadmill, but mum is nonchalant towards the proposal and believes the only way to guarantee that I will exercise is to well, just do it, treadmill or not. Let’s start with once a week?

Like I told my students, I also want to be less uptight and more relaxed about my role as an educator as well. I used to fly into a rage of madness when my students misbehaved or crossed the lines of respect (in my defence, I believe I do have pretty high levels of tolerance of awry teenage nonsense). I used to go crazy when students did not submit their work, and I would carry that burden with me into every class I went to. It made me disorganised, and affected my lessons, and made me a walking speeding train wreck basically. I did not want my students to suffer that same fate, so I explicitly told them to help me look out for myself – and their safety.

Writing this over a few days makes it hard to remember why in the world being reflective is “being like mountains”. Perhaps it entails being as steadfast and constant in my pursuits and purpose.

 

Chapter Closed

Refer to: https://writingpromisingchange.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/people-give-advice-god-works-his-advice-into-life/ last week.

After a brief dialogue session with the students, the chapter has finally come to a bittersweet but pleasant close. There will be no enrolment for Pure Literature at Sec 5 this year, hopefully entirely to the benefit of the students, and I get to teach more Secondary 1 Literature lessons.

A few days ago our P wrote each of us a postcard and left it on our desks. It was such a sweet and personal gesture, that reaffirmed and encouraged many of us I believe, me too, of course. It wasn’t that she wrote us a postcard that was sweet; it was the fact that she bothered to write everyone something different on that postcard – something that resonated with our beliefs, affirmed our competencies, and encouraged us to desire and pursue greater growth.

Thank you Lord, for little moments of encouragement through gestures of thoughtfulness.

 

Pattern

Secondary Ones: curious, playful and their youthfulness unadulterated;

Secondary Twos: testing the waters, with exuberance in overdrive, beginning to grow horns;

Secondary Threes: angstiest of the lot, rebels in the making;

Secondary Fours: have learnt the art of letting go, adopting a carefree day-by-day attitude, Life is good;

Secondary Fives: Bunch of hopefuls, at a second chance for a miracle, people most at ease.