September 21, 2015

That choice.

I finished cleaning up my FB friends list. I feel a lot better. I even blocked some people out of boredom. I guess as you grow older, you grow lesser and lesser tolerance towards nonsense, and you just become more selective of the people you wish to keep in your life. I've made some minor choices today. I might make major ones tomorrow. But I'll make sure I make those choices for my own happiness. Because like so many other things in life, happiness is a choice anyone can make depending on how much you actually want to make that choice. I don't think - at this particular point in my life - I've ever wanted anything as much as I want this. So.

September 19, 2015

To my beloved form 3 students, *UPDATED*

Here's a little token of love from your English teachers,

Question 1
In the novel The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, there are many characters of different personalities. Based on your reading, write about your favourite character in not less than 100 words. Provide reasons as to why you like that character and support your reasons with textual evidence.

Question 2
In the novel The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, there are many lessons to be learnt. In your opinion, what is the most important lesson taught in the novel? Write your response in not less than 100 words. Provide textual references as support to your answer.

Question 3
The novel The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit has portrayed several characters who had gone through hardships. Choose one of these characters and write about how he or she overcomes life challenges throughout the story. Write your answer in not less than 100 words. Provide textual references to support your response.

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Children, you have the entire Raya Haji break to work on these 3 questions. You may submit your responses to your class English teacher, or if you'd like to save the world by saving paper - you can also submit your answers here; in the comment section below. If you have any questions (on how to answer these or anything related to English - grammar, syntax, etc.), don't be shy to drop a few lines there, too. I will respond to ALL questions in order to help you get ready for your PT3.  And don't forget to introduce yourself just so I'll know who I'm writing back to. So, all the best! 

Lots of love,
Teacher Nani, Teacher Hannah and Sir Azha

September 8, 2015

Facebook, Dissertation and The Fault in Our Stars

Facebook has been rather annoying lately so I kind of stayed away from the feed. But I still have to log in for work - Master Trainers, NUTMEG and some other stuff (sometimes I wish people at work would learn how to Tumblr so I don't have to deal with the side-garbage of Facebook but that is beside the point), so it's still very annoying. Thus I have unfriended some really bitter people - people who hate on others for being happy, people who hate on politicians because their friends do, school teachers who hate school work, school teachers who write horrid things about their students, people who are generally driven by hate and anger for no apparent reason - what the hell are they even doing on social media? Too much negativity that I don't need. Too much idiocy to scroll by. Waste of time.

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Dissertation is still annoying. What with school work and other stuff to do, what with meetings and the implementation of the new teaching-learning cycle - I just couldn't find the time to work out the chapters. Truth is I couldn't find the time to work out anything. Once in a while I keep asking myself if I'm ever gonna make it. Funny thing is my friends keep telling me I will. How and where they manage to find the courage to believe in something so overwhelming, I need to find out, because I couldn't bring myself to even visualize the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a terribly long way, the tunnel. What's even more terrible though, is the fact that I don't even care anymore. It's like, hey I'm lost but yeah OK.

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People who tell me John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is a very, very good book are by far the most annoying. I'm never gonna pick up any other title from whoever if ever they would suggest some in the future. I've read TFIOS some time ago, out of curiosity - because everyone everywhere was talking about it. Three excruciatingly long hours were spent (regrettably) on a highly overrated book. Damn. You can't tell me I'm wrong - I'm entitled to my opinion and this is MY blog so I'm gonna say hey, your recommendation sucked. I don't hate the book - it's a fairly safe book. Nothing controversial, nothing morally and intellectually challenging, two white teenagers in love and one of them died, so yeah. It just doesn't live up to the hype. I knew Augustus was gonna die the moment Hazel said she was gonna tell their story - so when he told her he lit up like a Christmas tree, I rolled my eyes in frustration. Cheese factory. It was like John Green was screaming at me in caps that HAZEL IS THE SICK ONE SO SHE'S GONNA DIE, NOT AUGUSTUS DESPITE HIS ACTING STRANGE AND MAKING IT SO OBVIOUS THAT HE IS KEEPING SECRETS - I mean come on. Was there really anyone who did not see that coming? You must have been reading the wrong books. Your bookshelf definitely needs a makeover. Give me a call. I'll help you with that.

Some other things about the book that rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entire read include how the characters' dialogues were purple. I can deal with purple prose written in love letters, or mental notes, or if the setting of the story is a century back but not like in TFIOS; where it's the 21st century and Augustus the ex-basketballer if I remember right - despite not showing even the slightest inclination towards poetry or literature - spews crap like, "My thoughts are stars that cannot be fathomed into constellations" in freaking everyday conversations, where the main characters decide on 'OK' as their 'always', and where even cancer is romanticized. Purple prose does not work in this setting. It's just wrong. It's out of place.

What disturbs me more however, is the ridiculously irresponsible parents Hazel has - her mother literally places her life in the hands of another teenager to go on an adventure in a place, an entirely different continent where they don't even speak the language there - no sane parents would do that, nope. Not with the daughter constantly needing oxygen supply and dying at the same time. Not with the boyfriend dying, too. And where were Augustus' parents? Seriously. He lit up like a Christmas tree, remember? Don't tell me they aren't informed of it and even so! His cancer is terminal. He really was dying! How did the hospital decide on letting these two teenagers go on their own? Are the doctors out of their minds?

And of course, how their cancer is only used when it's convenient to the flow of the plot - in the beginning of the story, the pages reeked with cancer and inevitable death but as the story progresses nothing much about cancer was brought into the narration. Heck, the cancer didn't even make an appearance during their sexual intercourse when it was narrated earlier (or later, can't remember) that Hazel couldn't even make it up a staircase without losing her breaths - I mean, think about it. That's a pretty dick move out of many by John Green if you ask me.

There are many other things that I would love to rant on - the overly dramatic and severely rushed nature of Hazel and Augustus' relationship (they took one month and it's certified true love), medical realism being disregarded throughout the story (you can't have cancer and be a teenager and go on an adventure with a boyfriend who is also dying of cancer without an accompanying nurse, no!), and the on-and-off continuity of their medical complications (you're 16 and you can't even function without an oxygen tank and you had sex without breaking a sweat, right?) but I really have to re-work my research proposal so I'll stop now. Man. 

I know some John Green fangirls are gonna tell me I'm wrong and that if the book is bad, why is it so successful? Easy, it has the same formula as Twilight - a teenage girl who doesn't see herself as hot but lives in a world where everyone likes her and thinks she is hot, a teenage boy who happens to be the hottest thing in the universe of the story falls in love with the said teenage girl and no conflict exists between the characters except ones that are convenient to the storyline - very safe formula, very easy to pull, thus the success. Also, personally and very judgmentally, I think it's immensely popular among younger readers for the pompous, grandiose quotes that make them feel intelligent, or deep or maybe even philosophical (See: is just a shout out into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor is returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have.) But really, if we're talking themes and symbolism or maybe prose and motifs; they exist in very, very basic forms in the book. Which is why it's a painfully frustrating read, for me. At times it even felt hypocritical and disrespectful (cancer jokes, kissing in freaking Anne Frank's attic and getting an applause - I'm not even joking).

So yeah, no more titles from this man. And you, if you're one of those people who think TFIOS is somewhere near excellent or great, I will have some problems with you if you're to offer me some book recommendations. So we'll just leave it here. We'll stay reader and blogger. It's safer that way. Heh.

Stay safe. Stay inspired. Later.