Sixes and sevens

Sometimes I do a double-take when I look at my children. I cannot believe how big they are. Nene is almost up to my shoulder. Sometimes photos of them come up on Facebook and I cannot believe how little, how chubby they once were.

More to the point, how their personalities have developed. Nene is still the sporty kid, the kid who can run and jump and acquire a skill that requires balance easily – he went from a bike with trainers to without in a few tries, he could stand up on a surfboard before any of us. He is still into the mechanics of how things move. But this year, he has developed a new fixation – all things shiny, especially if it can be translated into monetary value.

He became obsessed with Monopoly fairly quickly, and I’m sorry to say, that when our family plays, I’m unfailingly the loser. Nene has both luck and daring on his side – the latter he explained to me is needed to win. You need to be fearless and go all in, he told me in not so many words. Okay, fine, but how come I keep landing on the tax spot over and over again?

That taste for the big ones escalated into a fascination with gold. Well, I might have contributed. He became obsessed with ‘crystals’ – these semi-translucent rocks he picked up in the park – and then with diamonds. I explained to him that if you might as well buy gold, as unlike diamonds, it can appreciate in value. He grasped that quickly, although he’s not quite got over his crystal obsession. So rocks, gems and jewellery are his current obsession. I mentioned to him that he has some gold of his own gifted to him when he was born stored in our locker – he badgered me to show him. All this went down very well with his Malayalee grandmother who promptly got him a thick gold chain and earned a place forever in his heart. At last a kid who appreciates the kind of gifts she’d like to give.

He is obsessed with going into jewellery shops, particularly gold shops. Since we are not buying, the reception is mixed. I took him to the silver shop I used to patronise as a college student, and he picked out a ring for himself. The other ladies in the shop giggled, but once the shopkeeper clued in, he was quizzical but friendly.

He has his own jewellery collection – a jade necklace, a (fake) pearl necklace, (fake) diamond earings and some bangles – that he wears at home, and then he dips into my jewellery drawer. “I’m a bit sad, mummy,” he confessed one day. “Because I can’t get holes in my ears and wear earrings.”

I saw V’s ears perk up. V and my helpers have been every now and then lobbying for Mimi to get earrings. I have always been against it. Well, most people do the piercings when the girls are babies and I was not having it. There is so much to do for a baby without having to deal with the very real chance of infected piercings. Ditto for children. I feel earrings are an unnecessary accessory and whoever wants to get them can do so when they are old enough to manage the pain and deal with its aftermath. And I had anticipated a situation where my male child would ask for earrings too.

And so it came to pass. My girl shows no strong interest in getting her ears pierced. The pain is enough to deter her. My son on the other hand clearly would like to have earrings. The pain doesn’t faze him. But he is aware, as he told me, that “boys don’t wear earrings.”

I told him that while it’s not common for boys to wear earrings, if he really wanted to, I would support him. “Mr J wears earrings,” he said of a teacher at his school. “There you go,” I said. But, I added, I am not for piercings at his age, whether for boys or girls. When he is older, he can decide if he really wants to go ahead.

The fact is that I am aware that my boy will be taking on more than the pain and the chance of infection by piercing his ears. He will have to deal with the inevitable questions and teasing. None of his boy friends share his passion for jewellery. Once when he stood outside a jewellery shop, a salesman came outside. “He likes jewellery,” I explained. “You can buy some for your girlfriend,” the man said. “I have my own jewellery,” Nene replied, and there was a hint of defiance in his voice.

The narratives of transgender kids and the desire to stretch the boundaries of gender echoes in my head. I will not force my kids into conformity, even though we do follow gender norms. However, breaking certain taboos is a harsh battle and they need to want to break them enough for me to encourage it. It is also apparent to me how easy it would be to shame them into conformity. My helper, for example, is appalled by the idea of Nene wanting earrings and has told him so.

Nene’s love for jewellery may well be a quirk. I asked him today why he loves jewellery and he said, “because it’s shiny and it’s valuable.” Jewellery is at the intersection of two of his strong interests – making money and shiny stuff. In fact, I know my father-in-law is into jewellery too, although he doesn’t go so far as to wear much of it. Let’s see.

The other thing that Nene has progressed in is reading. He reads so fluently now, it’s hard to believe that he was in an English support class when he started school (his school has quite a rigorous programme for Reception kids while Nene attended a kindergarten that was pretty la di da academically). In fact, I believe it is the ESL class that really helped him take off in reading, and I’m glad they didn’t push him into the regular ground where he would have struggled.

Because Nene is the sporty type, I had pinned him down as non-academic. However, he actually is doing well academically. I had also pegged him for the shy guy – which he still is among strangers – but he was picked to play an elf with a few lines of his own for the school play and he did well. He also is quite popular – he told me the other day “mum, you know everybody likes me … I have so many friends.” Happy as I was to hear that, I used the occasion to remind him to be nice to everyone and try to include kids who don’t have friends.

To be continued …

***

Advertisements

First week

Although I was thrilled to have found a job, I wasn’t looking forward to starting work. I anticipated a tough transition from three years of essentially being my own boss to being chained to a desk under someone else’s supervision. I was also faintly anxious about my ability to ace the job itself. I have years of journalistic experience, but that’s in print, and now the focus is on digital.

Unlike previous job starts, though, this time I’m older and more seasoned, if not wiser. I expected it to be lonely. I planned to hold back and not be my usual chipper self. I needed to get a reading on my boss, who was said to be and seemed to be nice, but you never know. My goal was to take it a day at a time.

The couple of days were tiring, and though my colleagues seemed nice, there was the usual awkwardness. There is one dour old guy, but it’s a measure of how much I’ve grown that I figured immediately that it’s him not me, and when I did say a few words to him (with expectations that I might get a monosyllable) I was pleasantly surprised that he replies. I wasn’t totally at sea because I’ve worked at this publication before and know some people though much has changed.

Unfortunately, I picked up some kind of bug and on day 2, an hour after I got home, I started throwing up and continued all night. The puking continued till 4 am and I was considering not going into work. Last year, this would have let to paroxysms of anxiety over what to do, but this time I just decided to reserve judgement till morning proper … and if I was really sick and couldn’t make it in, so be it. Thankfully, by 7 am, the vomiting had ceased and though I was weak, I decided to go in.

This is the worst of fulltime work. A night of puking should warrant rest, but it’s never so simple. There’s a girl in my team who is clearly sick and coughing but she still comes in. She did take one day off, but she needs more.

Somehow I managed to get through that day, carrying plain congee with me for lunch. Having some work to do actually helped. I found the first couple of days during which I had barely anything to do the most tiring. I had to remind myself how much I was being paid to sit there.

Once I recovered, and got used to the commute, dare I say I’ve been liking it. I enjoy editing, and the bonus is that I get to choose images and videos and create a package. It takes me back to my early days on the desk of newspapers in India where we would ‘make pages’ in addition to editing. Technology has made this so much easier. The stuff I’m editing is interesting, things I’d like to read which is why I jumped at this section in the first place.

My boss and colleagues seem nice. The guy at my desk is fairly new too and very helpful. Things I appreciate about my boss: he did what I’d expect a normal boss to do – introduce me around, plan out a bit of work, be friendly, offer some feedback, ask me about lunch and tell me where to get it, include me in a team lunch, ask me how I’m doing after a week and give some feedback. You’d be surprised how this is not always the case.

I really hope this lasts, though in my maturity I’m going to wait for a couple of months to call it for sure.

Resolutions

Tags

I was so meh about the ‘festive’ season this year, that I thought I’d ignore New Year. But there are some things I’d still like to get done this year:

  1. For the god-knows-how-many-years-running, be calmer. I read this anechdote on Quora about the difference between responding and reacting which was attributed to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google. Reacting is knee-jerk, instinctive, flustered action; responding is pausing, thinking, making a choice. In my interactions with my family members, I find myself reacting. In V’s case, it’s because he knows exactly which buttons to push. I need to respond more. Or just not react more. Freeze basically. But well, I’ve said this more, so let’s see.
  2. Not get hassled when I have do something slightly unpleasant (e.g. exchange discount coupons, handle taxes, cook, follow up on research paper that has not been published yet). Just do it.
  3. Pick up after myself more. We have slightly more domestic help than we need at the moment and it’s easy to just let someone else pick up after me. But on principle, I’m going to this as a matter of discipline. Depends on how tiring the new job is, though.
  4. Brush my teeth at night more.
  5. Check my own bank accounts and savings status more.
  6. Find a way to exercise even with my new full-time job and eat.less.chips (after the stash I brought back from India is over).
  7. Write something creative OR submit one more research paper from the thesis.

The year of disconnection

This is the year that I found the lights switching off on a lot of things.

Not so much my relationships with family and friends, but my expectations of them. Everything has been shifted to a low setting, with an accompanying level of engagement from my end. Part of this was due to crazy pace and uncertainty in my professional life for the last six months of the year. I had very little time to reach out, but I also found that to be equally true of the people I care about. They too were preoccupied either with work, children, health issues or just the general drama of their own lives.

I’ve been disappointed by people I hoped for support from, but this disappointment has been greeted with a shrug rather than a rage against the machine. More and more I’m coming around to the idea that people have their own shit, they go through phases and if their crazy phase and yours happens to occur at the same time, something’s got to give (this is probably the story of my marriage’s downturn). It doesn’t many anyone the bad guy.

But I know I’m not been there for anyone as I probably should have. And that’s because I’m so depleted myself. I am beginning to understand the husband or maybe you just become like your significant other, because finally, I’m resorting to exactly his defense mechanism – withdrawing into myself, seeking solitude, blocking out what I don’t like or want to deal with. No more digging deep, I’m just gliding these days. Any painful emotion, I just open my Kindle and start reading.

I’ve done enough deep digging over the years to recognize crap for what it is. The thing is recognition is not healing. Once you know the harmful pattern you’re in, how do you break out of it? Noone really has the answer to that, and if you live with someone who has their own destructive patterns to deal with, well. Let’s just watch an episode of Mad Men instead. V’s strategy has been coasting, without much analysis so far, and although that’s not my choice of survival mode and I resent playing the game on his terms yet again, having tried everything else I can thing of, here I am. It takes two to tango after all.

The laughable thing that always happen is that when you – even inadvertently – start mirroring someone’s else’s behaviour, they can’t handle it. I always come to this point with men.

The problem is that for me, this is not a temporary measure. Something in me has indeed broken off and floated away. I’m not sure I actually want that part back anymore. I’m liking this shut down. I don’t want the lights on anymore. I’m getting comfortable in the dark.

 

 

 

Kindling

Tags

So I got a Kindle.

I am not one of those who objected to the device on the basis for some nostalgia for the printed page, though there is that. There is a tactile pleasure to holding a book, and I think it’s important especially for kids.

However, I do have access to good libraries in Hong Kong where I can get books for free. Much as I like the idea of bookshops, I cannot afford them at the pace at which I read. V was not on board with the idea of a Kindle because he felt that I could use an ipad and then the device could be used by other people too. So I shrugged and moved on.

Then on Nene’s birthday we landed up in Sham Shui Po which is this secondhand mecca for anything and everything including electronics. I had a cold and at some point came home, while Nene and V stayed on to browse random stuff. While dozing off, I got a message from V: “Did something I hope I’m not going to regret.” “What? Did you buy more fish?” was my reply. Everything time V goes out to get something small for our fish tank, he comes back with a bag of fish, most of which do not survive.

Turns out it was a Kindle. And of course he regretted it.

Because from that day on, I started reading non-stop. Which is perfectly normal for anyone who knows me, but without the Kindle I was hampered by a number of little things that the Kindle has sorted out:

1. Access to books: Yes, I have two library systems in relatively easy reach, but the Kindle books are even closer. I’ll admit I have not bought a single book yet. I have dipped into a friend’s not-so-secret stash. I will buy certain books, but frankly if I was not on the Kindle, I’d be reading through the library so I’m not a physical book customer lost.

2. Weight: The Kindle is so easy to slip into even my smaller handbags. I can carry a tome like The Goldfinch around without any issues (one of the reasons I haven’t gotten around to reading that book is because of the size).

3. Reading at bedtime: The built-in light technology is a lifesaver. The reason reading on the ipad did not work out is because a) the ipad is heavy, but more crucially b) it gave me a headache. With physical books, I had tried those little lights you can attach to your book, but they were never entirely comfortable. The Kindle means I can indulge in my favourite bedtime pursuit without hassles.

4. Bingereading: I just queue up book after book, thereby leaving less time for dealing with my own emotions for example. Of course, this is exactly what V feared. On a positive note, I look at my phone and scroll aimlessly on Facebook less. Not that that’s of much consolation to those who need my attention.

The first book I read was Jilly Cooper’s Jump, which was quite bad. Jilly Cooper’s horse series are not high literature by any stretch, but the first few had engaging characters and of course lots of horsey action. This one, though, was just all over the place. Nevertheless, it was a good fit was the very busy period in which I read it, because I wasn’t that into it and could go back to work when needed.

Now I’m immersed in Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, which is perfect for my mood. They are not 100% gripping but gripping enough as detective series go. I like the matter-of-fact tone and I love the central character Kinsey Milhone. There are so many of her character traits I identify with – the need to protect oneself from attachments to other people, the running without joy but out of a sense of necessity, the unrepentant love of junk food, the love of small, cozy spaces to name a few. I also had the hots of Dietz, especially in the first book that he appeared. The mysteries themselves sometimes had holes in them – P for Peril was the worst – but I can live with that. I was sad to hear that Sue Grafton passed away before she could complete the series.

I know that the Kindle pro and con debate is an old one, but what do you think? Yay or nay?

 

 

A very disappointing Christmas

This was supposed to be my best India trip ever since the kids are older and my helper E was accompanying us. I was spending a perfect, according to me, split of time – three days in Bangalore (due to my arriving late) and a week in Bombay, including Christmas in Bombay.

What happened was very difficult.

V and I started scrapping at each other pretty much from the moment I arrived. This was not unexpected, considering that we go through these phases where we are constantly bickering and biting, but this time it seemed worse. Or maybe just worse because we were on holiday and didn’t even have stress or fatigue to blame it on.

We did have illness though. V fell ill with diarrhea a day before I arrived, and just as he recovered, I fell ill (Is diarrheoa contagious?). I can’t think what I did wrong because, spooked by V’s illness, I was being quite careful. I was running through the toilet every 15 minutes through the (pre-)Christmas lunch at my in-law’s place, where I managed to keep down a few spoonfuls of curd and rice. By the end of the afternoon, I was exhausted and succumbed to taking a tablet to stop the runs in addition to antibiotics, only it turned out that later that I had taken something to stop the vomiting. V helpfully turned over and went to sleep while I went downstairs to ask my mother-in-law for a tablet to stop the runs, after which I got some relief.

By the time, we flew to Bombay the next day, I was demoralized by both the arguing with V and the tummy upset. I was going through alternating periods of sadness (basically silently cried the whole flight to Bombay with Nene obliviously watching his iPad next to me) and apathy.

Given my condition and the fact that my parents had arrived back from the US only a week ago, Christmas was a subdued affair. I had suggested we order in Chinese for lunch, which was non-traditional in itself, and then I couldn’t eat anything. Christmas growing up was usually a big lunch with extended family but nowadays for various reasons my parents aren’t doing this, and I find it unsatisfyingly unChristmassy. I had fought to have Christmas with my parents in Bombay, but I couldn’t help thinking that the big Christmas party at my in-laws would have been a better choice. Possibly me being ill and not being able to participate in the small-scale festivities or make it special had me feeling this way.

My bestie had ironically decided to push off to Hong Kong for the week, so we had one lunch with friends to catch up. Frankly, it’s not like we hang out that much when I’m in Bombay with the kids, but this year with E there I could have.

My two cousins seemed strangely disconnected, and I felt this time that I was almost putting them out by visiting them. Maybe I should have intimated them of my arrival earlier, not that I think it would have made much difference. We did spend a nice hour or so chatting, but they didn’t seem particularly moved when we left.

Stupidly, the one cousin who was enthu about meeting me, I only met once when she visited with her parents and then only tried to get together for coffee on the last day when she didn’t have time. Luckily, I did meet the other friend I’m close to twice.

Had a weird off moment with a childhood friend. She walked into the lift lobby when I was there with my mom and basically seemed intent on ignoring me, answering in monosyllables when I addressed her. I can’t imagine what I have done to upset her so. It rattled me and reminded me that I am not as numb as I think.

The kids clearly had a better time in Bangalore than Bombay, which irritated me slightly though it’s petty. V insisted on taking them on extended trips every day, which was needed to some extent but meant they spent less time with my parents. By the end, I didn’t have the strength to argue or discuss this.

Mainly, it was the cracks in my relationship that V that spoiled it for me. One evening, an aunt invited us to dinner – admittedly an inconvenient time and at an inconvenient place – and V flatly refused to come. I had to explain this to my aunt, because I am so fed up of making excuses for him. My parents, who are generally apt to praise V, were horrified by his tendency to contradict me when I’m correcting the kids (admittedly I’m not a saint in this area either) and our arguing in front of the kids.

One day towards the end of the holiday, I found myself contemplating my shit in the toilet bowl for worms and figured that that’s an apt metaphor for the current state of my marriage in it’s bad phases*

On that uplifting note, let me end with some of the nice things that happened on the holiday:

1. I connected again with my oldest niece. She is heading for the teenage years and the last couple of trips, I struggled to connect with her, although she was always very fond of me. This time, I guess I had more time on my hands to actual sit with her and figure out the conversations that interest her.

2. I had many nice conversations with my parents. These days, I have been feeling increasingly disconnected from my parents as they age and get more set in their ways, but it was nice to discover we can still haveĀ  a conversation.

3. There were nice catch-ups with cousins (albeit truncated which left me feeling strange) and at the (controversial) dinner at my aunt’s.

4. Watched and loved the movie Coco, though that could have been done anywhere.

5. I realised that my parents-in-law are really peaceful. I don’t know if this is because they have changed (I think my mother-in-law has) or I have (I am definitely less insecure and on edge around them), but I do as I please, which involves ‘helping’ when I am up to it, ditto with making conversation, and they don’t comment on it. Touch wood this stays.

6. Met my newest niece, a Rottweiler pup who could not sit still for a photo without licking my ears.

 

*Because like the moon, my marriage waxes and wanes.

 

 

The Crown

Tags

I went into Season 2 of The Crown with low expectations based on reports by friends that it was only so-so. I was pleasantly surprised.

I loved the focus on Margaret and her evolving relationship with Anthony Armstrong-Jones who is so hot and not what the palace ordered.

As ever, I am fascinated by the strains in Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage. It’s interesting that a royal marriage would have some of the same ‘issues’ that us average joes do. Some things never change.

The episode on Philip’s childhood and it’s impact on Charles was an emotional wringer. I came out of it feeling terrible for both. It was cleverly done – by showing where Philip was coming from, it prevented him from being seen as an absolute bad guy.

My absolute favourite episode of the season, however, was the Jackie O one. I loved the first candid private conversation between Jackie and Elizabeth. When the plot took a turn in the direction of a catfight, I winced. [Spoiler Alert} But I liked how it rose above that with Jackie reaching out and Elizabeth showing both compassion and statesmanship at the very end. So much has been written about the Kennedy family, but seeing them through the queen’s eyes was interesting.

And that’s what makes the series interesting as a whole. The Queen is in a sense both a bystander – but one with a privileged view from above – and involved in so many major historical events of the 2Oth and 21st centuries. When the series began, I had wondered whether there would be much of interest in the life of this rather dumpy looking woman with her flock of corgis, apart from her being a beastly mother-in-law to Diana. Turns out, there’s a lot – both personal and public.

Staying alone

The irony if part-time teaching is that while the husband with a full-time job could take off for a two week vacation without much thought, I couldn’t swing that much leave. For one, I had an exam to invigilate and grading to do so I couldn’t take off early. And if I was teaching the next semester, I’d have to prep for that so I needed to be back early.

Not that I was gutted about this in practice. This is the first year in which going to India did not seem to matter as much as it used to. I want to see my parents, but I don’t need to see them in India anymore. Ditto to friends, most of whom are not in India anymore anyway. I feel a sense of detachment, which has been my general state of being for about six months, exacerbated by the stress of the past few months. But I think also that my rootedness in Hong Kong has grown to the extent that I feel a certain detachment from India itself. Of course, there is a connection that can never be severed with the place one grew up, but it has become that to me, a past.

So I bid farewell to the kids, my helper E and V as they left for India five days before me. I have to say that I had not been dreading this moment. For one, I had a ton to do. But also I was looking forward to the peace and quiet. It wouldn’t be an entirely empty house as our helper J was staying back. But basically, I’d be left to my own devices.

For a person, who a decade ago learnt to dread solitude due to a stint of too much of it, I’ve come full circle. I found that the stretches of time empty of much human company initially a bit weird and, then, nice.

I did have a social life and I could order it as I pleased. The night everyone left I met a couple of friends for dinner and drinks. One of them told me I was free to join her and other people for dinner the next night, but I wasn’t really keen. As it happened, someone else asked me to dinner, but had they not, I would have been fine. The next night, I caught the latest Star Wars flick after a traipse around the mall (and discovering to my horror that Gap and Mango had disappeared from their usual spots) and a quick bowl of noodles for dinner. I’ve long ceased to see a movie as a social event, because really you can’t interact duringĀ  a movie so what’s the point in company in a situation in which safety in numbers doesn’t apply? One day, I had lunch with a friend who I owed a lunch treat.

I found time to exercise. V joked that I was making a last ditch attempt to get in shape before India and part of that was true, but basically, I finally had the time. The thing with kids (and husband) being around is that the time I have to work is unpredictable. Anything could and would come up and disrupt my plans, not to mention the general claims on my attention. Now, I blank days to order as I wished.

I also gained control of the TV remote and watched a programme of my choice on the TV after ages. Season 2 of The Crown if you must know.

I cooked! Mixed results, but an improvement overall. Stuffed mushrooms with garlic bread that was lip-smacking if I may say so myself. An Indianized version of Thai curry that was not. And a pasta with marinara sauce out of a bottle, but I added accoutrements that made all the difference. So I can indeed survive on a desert island.

I did miss the kids, but mostly, it was a revelation how I enjoy being on my own. This is a big change for me, one that I’ve been sensing but that has not really been confirmed till now. Again, I do make plans with people, but I know that the silence does not spook me anymore like it used to.

 

 

 

Teacher teacher

Tags

Although I make it sound like it, my stint as a teacher was not all bad. I know that I’m not a bad teacher and I know that some students enjoy my classes (from their feedback and thank you notes and sharing months later). Some of the parts that I enjoyed:

  1. Prepping for the classes: Putting the lecture PPT together and developing an argument. Yes, figuring out how to do this in an engaging manner across three hours is a stretch, but the yawning time aside, planning and envisioning the lecture was fun.
  2. Delivering it was not so much fun. It’s one thing rehearsing in your head and an empty room and another standing up in front of a class of 30 not always attentive people and soldiering on. The zoned out kids in the back, the sound of my own voice, losing track of my script… all these things could throw me.
  3. Keeping students engaged was the hardest part of my job, and I did my best, but really 3 hours is a long time for anyone, leave alone 19 year olds who aren’t the most academic to start with. (Obviously, I didn’t talk for three hours. Film clips and group discussion helped. But still.)
  4. Teaching in English in Hong Kong is always going to be harder. It’s these kids’ second language and some of them struggle with comprehension. So getting engagement is hard, and in a three hour class, you count on engagement.
  5. In a class of 30, you can expect 5 engaged students at best. This ratio does not work for me.
  6. Odd interactions with students would affect me – someone complaining about their grade, a disruptive student, hell, someone rolling their eyes. V told me not to care so much, but I couldn’t help it. As MinCat pointed out, I’m in a hypersensitive phase. I recently met a TA who received a death threat from a student; I felt like my eye-rolling complaints paled in comparison.
  7. Sometimes students would pleasantly surprise me with insightful comments, good observations during their presentation, or just indications that they got it. This is supposed to be what drives you as a teacher (since the salary sucks) and it would drive me… if it happened more often, hmph.
  8. Grading is the bane of a teacher’s existence, well one of the banes. One generally expects to read a load of rubbish. But reading through the final papers of the one class I taught in my area of expertise, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that they were actually seem to have got it. Does this mean they were actually listening and a few things I said made sense to them? I can’t take all the credit, but I’m going to take some.
  9. The quality of students is hard to predict. I taught a Master’s course and the answers were appalling. Some of my higher diploma programme (community college) students were better than the Master’s students I taught. The uni students from the department I graduated from were pretty good though. Pleasant surprise. Wish they spoke up more though, and shared those pearls of intellect in class.
  10. I enjoyed teaching the classes in my area of expertise more, even though they required me to prep for the lectures from scratch, to the English speaking classes where there was a textbook. I guess I do better when I know what I’m talking about.
  11. I managed to remember the names of almost every student across 3 classes I taught. That’s about 80 students. Surprisingly, I didn’t get the names of all the uni students I taught in the course that went the best. Maybe because I didn’t take attendance consistently.
  12. The worst point was mid-semester where everything seemed to drive me crazy. Towards the end of the semester, I actually found myself getting a bit sentimental and wondering if it was that bad. But having written this, yeah… I’m over it.

The Last Jedi

I am no Trekkie.

My first real introduction to the Star Wars franchise was The Force Awakens. There, I said it, gasp all you like. I may have had some familiarity with the movies, mythology and characters, but I don’t think I ever watched a film end of end before that. I was too young for the original films in the 80s, and I missed The Phantom Menace etc. in the 1990s. I also think these films need to be watched on a big screen, for one, and if you miss the big screen release then you miss the magic. So, there you have it.

I was captivated by The Force Awakens, even though it dragged a bit and I felt it was not the best film. But it intrigued me. I went back and tried to watch some of the earlier films. Thing is I watched these when I was sick, so they are all somewhat of a blur and I have to say that they struggled to hold me in their small screen (laptop, the scandal) avatar.

[Spoilers ahead]

This one though. So many OMG moments and reasons to hold one’s breath and gasp and also snort at the sheer audacity. Daisy Ridley is the Girl With The Most Perfect Face, dethroning Natalie Portman for the honour, which seems appropriate somehow. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and Laura Dern as Holdo were awesome (though I did have a wait, they’re making Derne the bad guy, really? moment. I officially have a crush on Laura Dern, with the rest of the thinking world obv.) I find Mike Hammil’s Luke Skywalker a bit … unkempt, but I’ve never really had a thing for Luke, sacrilege I know. It was that floppy hairstyle, I think. Finn… I did like him in the last movie… and I loved that they had him and Rey have a spark, but he’s flattened now and I openly tsked when they had him almost die and then Rose almost die (both times I thought they were dead. I know, that’s the point, I know). It does seem a typically Hollywood sleight of hand to snatch the white heroine away from the black nice guy at the last moment and relegate him to a secondary character romance though Rose does seem like a more fitting partner.

Because Rey is going to end up with Kylo right? The chemistry between them was electric, literally so, a force field. Of course, it could turn out they are brother and sister, like Luke and Leia. There is a bit of an incestuous thing going in this series no? I would scream if that happened though.

Kylo (and Adam – Driver, but he’ll always to some extent be Adam from Girls for me – as a Kylo is masterful) really truly steals the show. Before I watched the film, someone posted on Facebook about how the light side is good an all, but Team Kylo y’all, and I concur. I half wanted Rey to join him. What a pair they would be. The ultimate balance. Ah well, guess we’ll have to wait for that.