As this blog reflect, I’ve been busy. Crazy busy. The busy that started the term never ended. Well, I had a brief respite, but then mid-term happened with presentations due and it all got crazy busy again.
It’s hard to describe what I’ve been so busy doing (and I am aware that I’ve used the word ‘busy’ too often). The short answer is that I took on too much coursework. I figured that I’d be better off finishing the coursework requirement (i.e. the mandatory number of courses I’m supposed to take) early instead of pacing myself with one per semester, and so I took two, without realising that the Graduate School was going to pre-register us for another series of courses, which though not intense still require my physical presence in the classroom.
And I also have to act as a tutor for another course, which requires me to do a certain amount of prep. Hong Kong students are not vocal in the classroom, or at least not in my classroom (though I’ve heard this is a generic problem, and I’ve witnessed how even the most engaging teacher has a hard time getting a word out of students) and a tutorial is meant to be about ‘discussion’. Luckily, the students present for half the course, but then I still have to while away the other part. Next time around I’m going to give a little spiel on how they must talk or else, or make class participation a part of their grade. It’s seriously frustrating how they never raise any comments on other people’s work or even read the goddamn reading. It does not bode well for a future as a teacher, though I’ve heard that this is culture-specific.
Right now, we have to give everyone a pass because there is a huge political confrontation going on and at the start of the semester many students were out in the street protesting. Which I respect them for, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think right now they’re just getting away with not reading for class. Was this the case in India as well? These were undergrads. Somehow I feel that these students have so many more resources – hell, we never had tutorials as undergrads – and should be grateful and take advantage of them, but instead as I suppose is to be expected, they take them for granted. I’ve got some positive comments, but my general impression is one of apathy. Gah.
After the one drinks get-together, I’ve not done much socially with the other students. Though not sure they’re doing much socially with each other. Some have gone to the protest site together. One guy invited us all to a football game but I couldn’t go though I would have liked to. There was a dinner after a symposium that I skipped. In the end though, I’ve stopped caring because I’m too busy. Also, I realised I’m not the only isolated soul, and in some ways I’m more connected because I go into office fairly frequently and do the odd chit-chat.
I still have an ambiguous relationship with the foreign girl. I think she could be cool if she wasn’t so academically activist in her views, but more to the point if I didn’t get the sense she’s only friends with me when there’s no one more interesting to cast around for. Like the other day, she pretty much ditched me for a girl with cooler (green) coloured hair. I don’t know whether to be outraged or amused.
In between, the marriage hit a low and this combined with the general fatigue made me hit and all-time low. I decided I was properly depressed and just gave up – on the marriage, not the PhD. The studies were the one thing that was keeping me sane because I was too busy to over-contemplate the ruins of my relationship.
The birthday was coming up and I decided to just skip it. I wanted to wallow in my misery on my own.
Then suddenly the husband twigged that he had gone too far and decided to give me a break. I have to admit I’m still skeptical and on my guard, but at the moment things are looking hopeful. Though one never knows how long any such period will last until we descend into the warzone again. I’m not sure I can ever go back to the person I was in the relationship, but this respite shows me how draining constantly having someone on your back can be (now that I don’t.)
Part of the reconciliation was that I decided to have a very small birthday party at home. I had been wanting to invite the fiance of a friend home for ages so I called them and another couple. V went all out and cooked up a storm. My helper E commented this was the first time she had ever attended a birthday party for me, and it’s true. I’ve never really had people over. Benji instead of being his usual reticent self was a bit manic. Mimi ignored the guests because I suspect she’s afraid of one guy in particular simply because of the way he looks.
My most recent frustration is a class I’m taking on Kant. It’s a very small group, to the extent that it’s more like an interest group than a class, and therefore the discussions are really random and ad hoc. Which would be great, but either the comments are too detailed or just vague and what I want is like a clear eluciadation instead of rambling when we haven’t grasped essentials.
Also, everyone in the group is firmly in the Enlightenment humanistic traditions, when I’m in the postmodern poststructuralist era whereby the very notion of sex is up for question, and apparently this is a radical idea to some people. Which I know it is, but this is a philosophy department for God’s sake. I made the mistake of unbiting my tongue and airing some views and was firmly corrected by professor in charge. Gulp.
My most recent gripe is organising my schedule around a presentation for the class, only for the class to be cancelled the afternoon of the presentation, and then rescheduled to a most inconvenient time. I’m still seething. Argh!