Monthly Archives: December 2013
As some parts of the world have already begun 2014 and others still waiting, I am wondering why we attribute significance to a certain arbitarary moment and not every instant of our lives. Arbitrary because how time is perceived is manmade; I mean for the Chinese, our new year doesn’t begin till late January or early February depending on when the full moon falls. That’s why we have two birthdays and we are all automatically a year older on Chinese New Year’s Day.
Perhaps I am getting old and just becoming a grumpy party pooper but I hate these public forced designated moments when we should celebrate and be jolly even if we don’t feel that way. It is Christmas, you are supposed to be round the Christmas tree with family opening presents and getting stuck into the turkey and trimmings and having a jolly old knees up and a whale of time bathing in love and bliss. An acquaintance on fb posted something about it is not the presents under the tree that count but the people around it. I commented, ‘What if there is no tree and no people?’ Not cynical, in my case that was true. She totally missed the point and berated me for being so negative and cynical by responding with, ‘What if tomorrow never comes?’ Well, actually, that may not be a bad thing. Then nobody needs to worry anymore, about anything, especially trees and people.
I have my own significant moments both euphoric and devastating, joyful and terrifying, optimistic and hopeless. When these moments happened they were not marked down on the calendar, anticipated eagerly or otherwise, they just came to pass. I suppose I wouldn’t be the person I am now and having finally come to a place of acceptance of me warts and all, however unconventional, however difficult at times insisting on my principles and perspective, I like me.
I am trying very hard not to define myself by my past. I believe we are more than the sum of our parts. It’s time to put on a new coat and see where the new year takes us. Who knows 2014 could be the turning point of my life, where good things happen and life calms down without any crazy dramas, betrayal, broken ankle, death and loss.
Have a good one. Mama G. Over and out.
When I landed for the first time in April I resolved to merge into the crowd hiding my identity as a banana. I failed miserably, could it be the slow motions, the slightly off Cantonese intonation, the lack of vernacular or flamboyant fashion sense or all the above. Whatever the giveaway, I stuck out like a poodle in the Amazon jungle.
At every turn I was scolded or given dirty looks for getting in the way or getting on and off minibuses or taxis too slowly, taking too long to get cash out of my purse, choosing my meal, not wolfing it down quick enough … I think you get the gist.
Not fair skinned enough and therefore an easy target every time I try to creep past the pirahanas stationed at the doors, refusing to let me go unless I purchase one of their extortionate whitening products. I have no wish whatsoever to become a fair maiden; on the contrary I am rather proud of my naturally tanned complexion. It exudes health and is the envy of every Westerner I know, but oh you are living in HK now and here fair rules supreme. It is a symbol of beauty, the fairer the better. How on earth can you get a good husband with a dark complexion like that? Ah, actually I am not looking for one. I tried that once and it didn’t end well. Oh, you are only saying that now, you haven’t met Mr. Right yet. Now come in and I will show you the best stuff, on sale now, you so lucky, half price, now only $500, from South Korea you know …
I digress. Now at the end of the year, a mere eight months later I am proud to announce it’s Mission Impossible Accomplished. Tom Cruise eat your heart out! I find myself jumping on and off minibuses at the speed of lightening like 007, overtaking the slowcoaches on the streets and feeling irritated, seamlessly joining the heavy human traffic at the MTR stations and ordering my meal without hesitation, shovelling it in and paying promptly with the exact money.
I have even succumbed to dying my hair to hide the grey, a first and going to have a facial once a week. Apparently all these are common practices in HK, one must keep up appearances and looking young and beautiful is a priority. One must make time in our busy schedules. Do you know that attractive and slim people are more likely to get the job and promotion? That is what research shows
I have the shopping trolley which everyone seems to pull around. The Chinese are very practical, never mind that it doesn’t look very cool. Back in the UK only the elderly use them. More importantly I have the Samsung mobile and can now go online on the move and Whatsapp. I have a hundred million umbrellas, necessary for fair and foul weather. I have the plastic waterproof shoes and wellington boots.
I have trained myself to be less ‘nice’. It is cut throat here, you have to be quick and alert, it’s warfare. The fastest gets the last minibus seat despite the queue. When you dare to complain you are just rebuffed for not being quick enough, it is your fault. But that is not the point, you reply exasperated and you get the look of pity, like ha, what planet are you from? Now I don’t jump the queue but make damn sure I get on when it is my turn. Definitely survival of the fittest in the Pearl of the Orient and that means SPEED.
I am not sure if this transformation and integration is all positive but what the hell, at least I have made myself less of a target for unscrupulous sales assistants and merge into the crowd which is what I wanted.
Very good advice
Automatic and Unhelpful Thoughts
a/k/a “Cognitive Distortions” (from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
- Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation. For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”
- All-or-Nothing thinking (also known as “Black-and-White thinking”).
Things are either all good or all bad, people are either perfect or failures, something new will either fix everything or be worthless. There is no middle ground; we place people and situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray, or allowing for complexities. Watch out for absolute words like “always”, “never,” “totally,” etc. as indications of this…
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Have lost two pupils recently because I am not God and can’t perform miracles. All the parents want me to do is drill and get them ready for exams and preferably gain higher marks. That is all they care about and that is my sole function. Every time they put the all too familiar textbooks and workbooks on the table I don’t know who is groaning inside more the kid or I. To be honest I am sick of seeing those books, the contents are mind numbingly boring and the kid knows most of it already. She is smart, she has been taught it at school already and mastered whatever there is to, so really there is no point going over it again and again. Yet that is what I am being paid for and I need to play the game or I will have no pupils left and thus no income.
Another dilemma I am facing is the pupils with a weak foundation in English, especially the older ones, are very impatient for progress. They are keen to score high in their impending exams and feel that my teaching them basic grammar is a waste of time and irrelevant. All they need is for me to go through past papers with them like a mock exam, give them tips on how to do well.
What they fail to appreciate, even after my patient and diplomatic explanation is that if they don’t grasp the basics there is no way in hell they can score high marks or even pass. It is our old friends, reading comprehension, speaking and listening and creative writing. How can they excel in any of these skills if they can’t use tenses properly or spell?
Yes, Ms. Yau we will not abandon phonics or grammar but for now we need you to concentrate on the coming exam. Could you please go through this practice paper with him? And then there is this and this and that. Thank you very much.
The customer is always right. I am terrified of losing yet another pupil because progress is not fast enough and the marks of their last examination did not go up an iota. I am not sure I can stand the pressure or the uncertainty. It is an unstable income anyway, as if the kid or I fall ill, then obviously there is no dosh or if they have an extracurricular activity that day or a short trip or granny comes to town … The possibilities for me to have loss of earnings are countless.
I wonder if I should go and find a steady job, like do supply teaching except that would interfere with the tuition work which I took a long time to establish and enjoy though this obsession with exams is getting to me a bit.
Having a bad cold and sore throat doesn’t help. Makes me less resilient against scary negative thoughts. Ah, tomorrow is another day …
Mama bless her taught me many great and wonderful things how to live life and be a good person. She had a wise saying for every occasion and I credit her with how I turned out.
She always taught me that if I did good things and was an upright citizen good things would happen to me. That, sorry Mama, is a blatant lie. Worse than Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogey Man, the Policeman who will arrest you for not eating up your greens …
On the contrary sometimes horrific unimaginable things happened to the kindest most selfless people. I am sure you can come up with events in History that will bear witness or have personal experience of friends, family and even yourself.
If it is true that good things happen to good people then it follows that bad things happen to bad people. Well, you know as well as I do that that is a great big lie. Sometimes they appear to be very happy, healthy and rich.
I am not keen on the Law of Attraction as it implies that I caused or deserved what shit was thrown my way. Yes I take responsibility for the divorce, it takes two to tango and two to mess up. We both had a part to play, of course. But no I didn’t attract the cancer. Maybe I was under a lot of stress at the time and my immune system weakened and allowed the cancer cells to turn nasty. Who knows? I’m not a cancer specialist and even they don’t know really why, otherwise it would be prevented and cancer eliminated? Now that would merit a Nobel prize in Medicine.
If we are going to attract things into our lives, surely we would attract good stuff and not invite disease or death? No, sorry, I don’t buy this theory. Anyway how could you prove it either way?
In my cynical moments I wonder if I’d do better if I copied the bad people, after all being good hasn’t got me anywhere. But then that wouldn’t be me, and I quite like being me, having the freedom to be me makes me happy so I’ll just keep the status quo.
If good things really do happen to good people there wouldn’t be all this suffering and poverty in the first place because I believe the vast majority are decent people and only a minute minority are evil. But you’ll find that it is the minority that control the majority’s wealth in the world. Odd that, isn’t it?
Two old friends whom I haven’t been in touch with for almost twenty years have responded in a similar way to my tale of woe. It basically boils down to ‘Shut the fuck up …do you think you are the only one with problems and shit to deal with? We will listen for a while but then we have things to do …’ Ok. Bit of a conversation stopper. Empathy zilch. Sympathy nope. Tough love or just plain harsh?
By Scott Bailey © 2013
So we draw to the close of another year
An arbitrary space of time
And to me only one thing is clear
That out of the minutes does climb
Despite all the doom and the pressure
Despite all my weakness and fails
No matter my railing at life
No matter my aches and my wails
I am loved by the people around me
My wife and my smiling son
If life is a human race
Then I concede I have won.
The anticipated six wars are all irredentist in purpose – the reclaiming of what the Chinese believe to be national territories lost since Imperial China was defeated by the Brits in the Opium War of 1840-42. That defeat, in the view of Chinese nationalists, began China’s “Hundred Years of Humiliation.” (See: Maria Hsia Chang, Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism. Westview, 2001.)
Below is the English translation of the article, from a Hong Kong blog, Midnight Express 2046. (The year 2046 is an allusion to what this blog believes will be the last year of Beijing’s “One County, Two Systems” formula for ruling Hong Kong, and “the last year of brilliance of Hong Kong.”)
Midnight Express 2046…
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I have been playing with the idea of introducing fellow bloggers through my blog. This gives me an opportunity to get to know some of you and it also gives you an opportunity to read about some others in this Word Press family. I ran this idea by Belinda and she willingly offered to be the first cab off the rank. If anyone else would like to be included in this, please email me and I’ll send you out the questions.
Belinda is originally from South Africa and is currently residing in the U.K. She is a mother, wife and an extremely talented artist who sells her prints online. She also writes terrific poetry. Belinda’s blog can be found here.
So, Belinda, what drew you to blogging?
a) A place to put my poetry and prose in SOME sort of organised manner.
b) I hoped to get…
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