Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Titanic Bear Hug

Hello reader, I've never been a hugger. Have you? I've never enjoyed that close proximity,  of someone invading my personal space,  an assault on my no entry zone. But I have experienced a precious few good ones, and after an especially tiring day, I wish I could just sink into a warm embrace right now.

|Sometimes it feels like a giant hug would suffice,
To thaw a situation with a lot of ice,
Nothing a load of body warmth can't heat,
When you've got a lump in your throat to beat,
When words are simply insufficient,
The more yelling the more inefficient,
There's something magical in an embrace,
In its power to erase,
The heaviness that you carry around,
After all the unnecessary sound,
It draws you in silent and slow,
And crushes you in a powerful show,
Of kindness, forgiveness, sympathy, comfort,
So much emotion, so little effort,
What I would give for a giant squeeze,
So powerful but leaves me light as a breeze,
What I would do for a mighty cuddle,
In that deep affection I'd love to snuggle,
So let's release all this energy,
Not sweep it under a rug,
Let's flush it all out,
In a titanic bear hug.|

Go get a bolster.


Hello reader, please ignore the sudden eager poetry. Doesn't everyone go through a rhyming phase at some point? No? Oh well. This is a throwback to a couple of months ago, when I was losing hair but not my mind and not my appetite. A time, when nothing had a rhyme.

|You told me you missed me. There was a heavy momentous pause. A pause that the movies never allowed after an "I miss you".A pause that in its lack of words, explained everything. The wait was over. I sighed and told you not to say that. You asked if I was angry, annoyed, pissed off, your voice tinged with  a crazy hope that I was. I replied, stifling a yawn, no, I was just tired. I felt nothing else. I closed my eyes and tried to conjure up those same three words. All I could see was an endless line of yawns. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.|

6th November 2016

This time last year,
I lived with a gripping fear
That I wouldn't get over you

I told others I was strong
Ready to move along
But my thoughts came back to you

Then a month went by
I could finally say hi
To someone that wasn't you

Two months drifted past
And I could at last
Forgive but not forget, you.

The third month zoomed along
And something went wrong
I had relapsed back to you

The fourth month came and went
And with it I sent
Every text I exchanged with you

The fifth month was quiet and painless
Too busy to descend into the greyness
Life distanced me from you

The sixth left too soon
But I was over the moon
And hardly thought of you

As the seventh month took its leave
I began to believe
Life was quite doable without you!

The eighth month came in sneaky
I admit I was quite cheeky
And nothing involved Y.O.U

The ninth month saw me off with grace
I was in a strong and happy place
A mere smudge on my past, were you

The tenth month danced away
I could finally say
I had gotten over you

By the time the eleventh ended
I was well and mended
From damage caused by you

365 days to finally thaw
And suddenly I saw
A text received from you!

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Surround yourself with oceans
You learn not to sink
Surround yourself with opinions
You learn how to think
Surround yourself with danger
You learn to be brave
Surround yourself with positivity
You start to crave
Surround yourself with happiness
You learn to heal
Surround yourself with love
You learn to feel
Surround yourself with darkness
You miss the light
Surround yourself with poetry
You begin to write

Ad for a friend

I'd love a bit of company
after a long tiring day,
just a friend talking to a friend,
With never enough things to say
I'd rant and rave and laugh and share
To my confidante
He'd listen to me quite amused
And then talk all he wants
We'd converse about most random things
From religion to karma
A no holds barred kind of talk
No strings attached, NO drama
We'd yack and yack the whole night through
Getting sleepier each hour
Till someone finally nods off
Or a battery runs out of power
And I'd go to sleep incredibly happy
Because the soul craves conversation
And he'd be the perfect antidote
To this nightly depravation.

Friday, 22 July 2016

So you want me to teach art?

Fifteen minutes before class, in a mad panic, I hurriedly spread three different art textbooks in front of me, and tear through the pages, praying for something that looks remotely doable.
Sketches, paintings, portraits, carvings, pottery. No No No. Who is this book trying to kid? I'm on a colour pencil and recycled paper budget! Giving up on the stupid Picasso-themed textbook, I toss it aside for a more realistic solution.

Panic level has just escalated.

I dig deep into the recesses of my mind and pull out vague memories of my art classes in school shamelessly aiming to copy some lesson ideas. Why do they all involve bits of potatoes and cross-sections of okra? Is that all we did?

 The stress level at this point is off the charts

5 minutes to class, abandoning all, I grab my markers and go.

As I not-exactly-hurry to class, I quickly assess my own capabilities. What am I good at? Okay Stick figures and ,...nope....just stick figures.
Do I know any cool origami? Yes. A boat. A boat hat.  But a boat hat lesson would not last an hour.
I could make them do 20 boat hats! No, that's a mess in the making.

In what unfairly seems like no time at all, I reach the classroom. The first face I find, is the one I loathe the most. He has a lazy, uninterested look that seems to say, "so you think you can teach us art, lady? good luck loser" I detest him, and I am convinced he is a glue sniffer, with mush for brains.

 He shoots me a bored look so scalding that I am immediately brought to the painful realization of how little knowledge I will impart today.

The other students have a mixture of hope and pity etched on their faces, because they too can sense my hopelessness.

Suddenly I find myself announcing in a pseudo confident voice, that we are going to be sketching a human face today!

Why did I do that? Had I forgotten my very limited abilities?

I take out a marker pen and draw an oval, the way I had seen done in some books.

I told them to copy what I did.
This is what I was doing

The students do not seem to struggle and they are producing mass drawings of equally bad quality.
I add a moustache and a beard and some other detailing to the eyes, I also announce that the quality is in the details.

Where am I getting this confidence?
But there is no stopping me. I pin point and zoom in on details that I clearly cannot manage, trying to drag on the time as much as possible.

I begin to adopt a lecturing tone, explaining the facial structure of cheekbones and nasal cartilage. I also stress on the importance of smile lines, wrinkles, and emphatically illustrate my meaning

I begin to look impressed with my drawing, and feel like I've sketched Jesus.
I hear a student mentioning the demon Valak, from the latest Conjuring film, and I am snapped back to reality.
Soon, there is absolutely nothing I could possibly add to the face, and I tell them to finish up their drawings. I walk around and point out flaws, openly laugh at some of their juvenile attempts and tut tut at some whom I think are not putting in enough effort.

I glance at my watch, 10 minutes more. Excellent, time for the final bit of instruction,

Alright colour your work and pass up.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Are You Happy Doing What You Do?

In the beginning, people used to ask me how I found teaching, and echoing most of the reports and write-ups in the papers, I responded by criticizing the profession, the system I was in because that seemed like the correct answer, the answer most people expected to hear about the teaching career in Malaysia. The more I repeated this answer, the more depressed with work I became. Teaching is a headache. Teaching is stressful, teaching is never-ending paperwork.

And one day (okay not one day, it was a gradual thing) I realized that I had happy moments, and I was taking home those happy moments. Suddenly, insulting my job wasn’t sounding very truthful anymore. It conflicted directly with all the funny tales I had to tell.

I recently found myself in the company of some new friends and one of them commented that it must be easy work to be a teacher because of the short hours we spent at the workplace.

Quickly on the defensive, I said that teachers had to bring home their work when a lot of other jobs didn't, but the truth is we all bring home our work in one way or another, either in the form of stress, reflections or physical heaps of marking. 

I believe the more important thing to ask is not “whose job is harder” but “are you happy doing what you do” And realistically we can’t expect to be happy with every aspect of the job, so, at the end of the day, what sticks with you? The high points or the low points.

So I’ve discovered that whenever I ask someone what they do, no one expects me to ask the follow up question, “is it fun?” and what I mean by fun is, not to describe the job to me, but to tell me if YOU enjoy it.

So you could be a bank loan officer, a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, your job experience is very individual and extremely personal, and it is very interesting to see how people talk about their experience doing their jobs. 

Bottom line, if you cannot say with conviction that you are having fun, at least most of the time, then in my humble opinion, you need a change of scenery! Toodles! 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

"How are you, (insert own name)?" you ask yourself.

Hello, it's been a while, I know.
Anyway, what led me to this post was actually a really short lesson on metaphors with my Form 1 students. After they understood the concept, I told them to come up with a metaphor to describe themselves. Now as you can imagine, this was met with some distress, because they were required to think! But given some time, they came up with answers like I am a fly (because she loved being annoying) I am lightning (because he moved and talked really fast) I am an owl (because he is more active at night) and I was pleased.

Then someone asked. 'Teacher, what about you'

So thinking about that, I realised at that moment , I was a clogged drain hole, in severe need of some plumbing.

"How are you, Lizamaria?"
When you ask yourself this question, it is unlikely that you can bluff your way with a pre-programmed "fine, thank you". Your brain in all likelihood, would slap you on the face with its pre-programmed lie detector.

So I sat down and thought about that question

How was I doing?

On coming back to school after the holidays

I was emotionally becoming a clogged drain. I had all these feelings of exhaustion and anger, and frustrations but I wasn't letting them flow out of me, I never spoke to anyone about them. So there they remained bottled up, until EYE felt overwhelmed.

a week into second term
And it wasn't just the negative emotions, even the positive ones weren't being discussed and shared.
Which makes me believe that we are social beings, and need to get in touch with others to get in touch with ourselves (if that makes sense)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Keeping up the Charade (Getting Hot Headed)

In this episode
- Overheated engine on the highway
- temperature high
- bubbling radiator
- steaming engine

It was her first long distance ride. We were travelling fully loaded, 225km up North to Teronoh, where my brother studied. The car was loaded with his luggage and mine, and my dad joined us for the trip. So yes, it was asking a lot from the car, but she started off fine. We dropped Marc off at UTP, and significantly lighter, set off 133 km South for Tanjung Malim where I studied.

Along the way, we noticed the temperature gauge moving up.

Temperature gauge looks like this

and from what I've learned from mechanics and Youtube, a normal temperature is supposed to stay constant at centre or below centre towards the cool end marked C.

In our case, it was on a gradual rise, *steadily increasing with every kilometre. This is a bad thing, because it tells you that something is wrong with your cooling system.  When we get hot, we drink water, and this cools all body systems.
Likewise, cars also get heated and have to cool down using water, or coolant.

We stopped by at a petrol station and proceeded to pour water all over the engine, because it was steaming. The radiator, after we had refilled it, started to *bubble, as soon as we turned on the engine.

WARNING: never open or touch radiator cap right after turning engine off. Allow it to cool down for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Soon the temperature dropped again and we decided it was safe enough to continue our journey. Big mistake.
after about 5km, the temperature started spiking up and we pulled over.

We had turned off the air conditioning, thinking that the fewer things running the better.

Father called his mechanic at home who advised to turn on the air conditioning as the fan would also help cool down the engine, as we turned around and made our way back to the petrol station.

Normally this is done by the radiator fan, which looks like this

Ours *wasn't running, when we turned on the engine. So there's the first problem.

There was a foreman there, who informed us that in all likelihood our head gasket was damaged, since the radiator was bubbling.

This is a head gasket. It looks like a pretty cool diskette
link to gasket anatomy click here

A gasket head (to my understanding) is sandwiched between the cylinder heads and the engine block. If there is a hole or crack in your head gasket, then your coolant is going to get mixed up with your engine oil, which means nothing is getting cooled, and your engine overheats. Lol if I'm wrong, please clarify.

So anyway, that needed some mending, but it didn't need to be replaced, because the crack could be repaired.
In the end, the car was not fit to drive back. Father's mechanic, came all the way and fixed up the car temporarily with another fan, and we took his car instead (also a charade) to Tanjung Malim.

But it was a scary experience, so to avoid these problems, always monitor radiator water/coolant levels (I use water) and stop the car at the first sign of heating. You do not want to end up with a blown gasket.

Obvious signs to look out for
* Temperature rising. A fever is never good.
* Your fan not running
* Radiator bubbling is also a warning sign that your cooling system is faulty

Keeping Up the Charade: Accidental experience

Currently listening to : History by One Direction

I regret to inform you that my ancient car met with an accident three weeks ago.  Although that is misleading and sounds as if it went off on its own and got banged up, I must clarify that I, Lizamaria drove it to its near death.
Leaving School
You see, how it all happened makes for a rather dull story. But I suppose one needs to hear the boring details to appreciate the anticlimactic end. I left school at approximately 6.55 pm, thoroughly looking forward to an additional two hours of tuition at the end of the working day. Really. I had set up my music on Spotify, tedious business with all the rubbish ads that come through, all because I refuse to pay RM2 for ad-free streaming. I started up the engine, put the car in reverse, and followed the daily after-school ritual. First, waved to the security guard aunty, then turned the corner, and glanced at the bus stop where a few students still remained waiting for their transport. I spotted the twins and smiled, waved at enthusiastic Timothy and continued straight ahead. I noticed a few other students from my class, but as soon as they caught my eye, some looked down at the ground or stared blankly ahead. At this point, I was too tired to feel offended. They probably were too. Dog tired.
The Roundabout

The lane ahead merges onto the main road where a huge and often busy roundabout awaits. As I approached, I joined what felt like a giant whirlpool as the roundabout swallowed me in. If you ask me, there are two main rules to join a roundabout; use outer lane if exiting next and utilize left signal light. Forgetting his signal, manners, road rules and sense, an idiot dashes across my path taking off my bumper in the process. I am in shock. All manage is a short gasp. Miraculously (for him) his car successfully makes the exit and he sails through. My situation on the other hand: not so smooth. I sat in shock for a few seconds processing what had happened. My phone was blasting the chorus to "Fast Car" (remix by Jonas Blue and Dakota). 
What No one Tells you
No one tells you these things; that bumpers can just fall off and fold beneath you, that you do not need to tow the car when this happens, that you do not need to panic, that a bumper fits in your back seat, that all of the above happen when you least expect it.
Thankfully two teachers stopped by on their way home, and gave me a hand. And in 5 minutes, the whole matter was resolved, and I was on my way to tuition class. Talk about anticlimatic