In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sexual Attraction

I can't believe my mum. I thought she would stop giving me grief about my life 'choices'. Nope.

She's finally convinced that I'm born this way, after all this time. But she's had a long talk with me about how sexual attraction doesn't matter so much in a marraige. It's one of those things that a person learns when they're older.

Oookay, where is she going with this? She talked about how men actually preferred the company of other men when they've been married for awhile since they have the same interests - same for women. After a few years the sexual attraction dies out - but even the unfaithful men usually return to their wives at the end of the day because of the home, the nest. The wife is part of the family, the children, the household, their future. The woman of the house takes care of the children, makes the house a wonderful place to live in, and can be depended on to stay faithful.

I already knew all this, and I let her know that. I'm not choosing my mates based on how much of a stud or good looking they are. But that didn't deter her. Because what she was really trying to say was that marrying a woman would give me a better life. Only a woman could provide me these things. Sexual attraction shouldn't matter and I should choose to marry a woman for all these things. My lifestyle choice would lead to loneliness and stigma.

I told her to stop. There isn't a choice. Not much of one anyway, any choice that is ethical or leaves me with some dignity. I'm not going to do such thing to a woman. No way. I'm no longer a teenager struggling to discover himself, so there's no excusing experimenting with the hearts of women. Not this time around, now that I know who I am. Marrying a woman would mean either hiding my sexual attraction or taking advantage of someone desperate enough.

She kept quiet, but it was obvious this wasn't over. She's going to wait for time, loneliness, and the want of family to wear me down. She *knows* I want a family of my own. Children of my own, and a household to return home to. She *knows* how difficult it is to find another gay man who is willing to stay with me and build a family together.

I can't believe that for all her faith, she can expect me to make such a horrible 'choice'. There's a limit to how selfish one should be.
------------
Look what my college asked me to repair!


Just the thing I need when I'm desperate enough to ask a woman to marry me!






Don't worry, it's a toy that shoots plastic pellets via air compression. Look carefully.







'STARS' Special Team - That's a fictional team from 'Resident Evil' . Anyway, it was a pretty easy fix. Her teenage son is going to be happy.

I'm considering carrying a toy gun like this in my pouch. It's still illegal here yeah (people use toy guns to rob banks and such), but at night its sure to scare off any potential muggers, gay bashers or whatever violent situations without me having to resort to pummel them into oblivion.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Visits: Traditional families

So what do we actually do on Wednesdays when we don't take in kids? Devotion, assessments of new kids, planning, preparing, staff training and home visitaion. Last Wednesday I and a college visited two homes while the senior teacher and a volunteered helped prepare next weeks teaching materials.

Both visits were to families who each had an autistic boy who had been attending our program. The purpose of the visits is to view the situation at each child's home - the environment they spend most of their time in. We were to advise whenever possible and give information to the rest of the family (we usually only see the mother as its only compulsory for one parent to accompany each child). Both families are deeply rooted in their religion and culture - a Chinese Buddhist** family and a Indian Hindu family.

The first stop was easy - we had been in contact with this family and they're progressing quite well. The whole visit was spent listening to the mum telling us how her boy has improved and how she's learnt to treasure her relatives who support her. Everyone seems to be aware of the boy's condition are ready to chip in whenever they can. The mother even does social work with a Buddhist group which also gives her some support. Not much to see and do for us teachers, but a happy visit.

The second visit was more complicated.

The mother is actually divorced from her husband, but because her boy is the oldest boy in the family (therefore treasured by their culture I'm told. This works in Chinese traditional families too) they took her back into her home so they could help take care of him. That's what we were told.

We've always had the sneaky suspicion that the mother's been unable to work with the boy at home. Now we've more or less confirmed that, and know why.

The poor woman was being treated like a maid. There are 5 adults and 3 kids in the same house (one of the kids is her own autistic boy), and she has to serve and take care of them all. Out of the three women there, only she was dressed to do housework- she had a worn T-shirt and pants where as the other women were in dresses and jewelry. Throughout the visit, the other women (seated) were translating and shouting orders to her in Tamil as she watched over the children. Somehow, I doubt she has time to worry about training the boy.

But we weren't there to try and change their way of life. Nope, we were there to see environment at home and advise on how to make changes for the boy's sake.

So first we checked if they knew what autism was. Nope, nobody had heard of it, in spite of the fact that we had told the husband and the mother about autism. So we had to explain what autism was, how it affects a person, that it was a recognised disabilty worldwide and that it was a life-long disability - NOT possesion by spirits or something that will eventually go away as the boy grew older. This was big news to them. We also stressed that early intervention and training made a lot of difference in the long run as it is more difficult to train an autistic adult who's alrady fixed into bad habits, inappropriate behavior and lack of discipline - not easier when he's older, as they've hoped previously.

As we advised (mostly done by my college since I was a little shy to order them about) on the how to discipline and structure the boy's life and train him to be more independant, they shouted orders and translated our instructions for the mother, as if passing the responsibily to her. But they were definately not liking what they were hearing. Training and structuring takes time, effort, planning and thought. From the very way their lives are structured, where they pile all the chores in the house to the woman who married into the household and depend on that overworked mother to teach and train the boy, there wasn't much hope for improvement. Not unless the relatives stepped in to help - but that wasn't about to happen anytime soon from the looks of it.

There's not much hope for change here yet, unfortunately. Still, that didn't stop us trying to advise and warn them of the consequences of not giving the boy enough care and training now. The will to act is in their hands - we'll provide support all the way.

They thanked us for coming, but looked very tired and didn't get up from there seats as we left.

-------------

Chinese Buddhist- Buddhism is actually practised differently in different ethnics. The Chinese religion calls itself Buddhism but is actually a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and deity worship.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Push it

One of my little peeves about my center is a small one. Every Wednesday when we don't teach kids, we start the day with a monring devotion. Christian organisation, remember? It's *just* the encouragement I need to go there on time on a non-teaching day. >.>

Anyway, I don't really mind actually. I get to practise singing (I already know most of the worship songs by heart, yeah, I know), and I'm an open-minded and flexible kind of guy. Nevermind the fact that they're actually infringing on my rights to religious freedom. But I draw the line at prayer. I'm not going to pray to the faith of some God I don't believe in that persecuted me because of who I am. The singing praises and worship and adoration is bad enough, but I can handle that. But prayer? No way. But I do sit around quietly and always comply when they call me to sit with them while they pray.

This time however, our temp admin, a member of the committee that makes the decisions to run the center, was in charge of the devotion.

"We shall all take turns today to pray. Today's topic for prayer are (yadda yadda) " She was looking at me while she said this.

Do my ears deceive me? You can't be serious.






The staff volunteered prayer topics, and then she turned to me and asked "So, which topic will you pray on?" As if my compliance was compulsory.

I KNEW the committee wanted to put her in charge of morning devotion so that she could 'encourage' me to take up the cross again, so to speak. They've asked the previous admin to ask me to lead in prayer before, but she asked *nicely* so in return I politely declined because "It wouldn't be sincere". The previous admin backed of quickly, understanding my little hint that I didn't want to pray. But I still found it hard to believe this temp admin was trying to muscle me with her authority as a member of the committe into joining them in prayer.

"I'm not praying. I neither believe in your god nor your faith."

She shook her head as if she were talking to a child. "You shouldn't say that. Denying Jesus is a terrible thing to do. You know that, since you used to be a Christian, right?"

If there were ever a sure-fire way to piss me off, there's one. And she started going on about her own daughter who lost her faith due to divorce of fher parents but found her way back to their God. Or was it her friend's daughter? Fortunately, I wasn't listening closely by that point.

"Look, I'm open-minded enough to join you people for singing in spite of not believing in what you...'

"That is a blessing, MrBunnyBan. You should be grateful. Nevermind, you don't need to pray. De, you take so and so topic and I will pray for MrBunnyBan."

So I'm supposed to listen to you do that for me? Heck to that. "Alright, fine. You guys have fun praying. I'm going upstairs to do some work."

And I got up, and left.

I didn't bother to look at her expression, but I imagine she was pretty anxious that I wasn't staying. "Since I am the eldest here..."

Ooooh, a woman invoking the authority of her old age. That's pretty desperate, I grant you, but still down right rude. I didn't so much as pause while I went up to do some office work.


In your dreams baby. Ciao.









What about a little respect for my beliefs? For my convictions? Young people should respect age and experience, but we won't grant you that if you have absolutely no respect for what we think in return.

To her credit, she appologised later while we worked, since it's obvious she hit a nerve. "Being direct", she called it. Whatever.

---------

Later, my 'boss' wanted to pass me her book she was so keen I read, but hadn't read 'A letter to Louise' yet. I had told her to google up 'Letters to Louise' by mistake so she couldn't find it. Riiiiight. I told her I'd read it only after she reads 'A Letter' - THEN she can decide if I still need to read whatever passage she's been looking at. I even offered to send her the link via e-mail.

Frankly though, I expect her to read it with her mind already made up. So if it turns out she practicaly ignores the discussion in 'A letter' and yet expects me to read *her* book with an open mind, I'd pen through her little passage right in front of her under a minute then hand it right back. Fair's fair after all.

-----

The title of this post is a song from 'Garbage'.

Perspective

I seem to have the most interesting conversations with my mum. She was talking about someone I knew, brought up as a 'rich kid' as mum puts it, who spent a whole lot of money on education and a lavish lifestyle in Australia but came back without a degree, came back and got married, but won't have a wedding ceremony because they can't afford to do it lavishly (we're talking RM3000 dresses here). The mother supports them, if I recall, but doesn't have much herself.

I balked.

"You're spoilt in a different way," she told me.

I looked at her curiously, asking her to explain further with my eyes.

"I showered you and your brother with a lot love, to the point that you thought everyone was nice. I was the only person you knew when you were young, really. Whenever someone was mean to you, it would really hurt. I may scold your brother, but we were afraid to because you would 'makan hati'*. And you tend to 'live in your own world'. But because I did that, I think you somehow became really nice. "

----------
makan hati- literarily 'eat heart' ...how on earth do I explain this? Something like 'take it to heart', or be wounded very deeply by one's words.
--------

I wonder, would she still say that that last bit if she knew...no, I won't say it here. But the rest is all true.

I've been biten pretty badly by nasty people. Just had no idea what was happening - it was just beyond my imagination that a person could do such a thing. One such person sent me into a spiral of despair that eventually led to the loss of my faith. But that's an old story.

But somehow I'm not comfortable trying to pinpoint people's selfishness and despicableness. We shouldn't think about people's faults so much as what is good in a person. That's papa's philosophy methinks.

My own thought on that is that living in this world naturally teaches people to be selfish to survive. It's the law of nature- the strong survive, it's a dog eat dog world, oh, you know the drill. We live it every day.

But the amazing thing is that in spite of that, goodness exists. Kindness, understanding, patience, love, altruism - all of these aren't 'worldy' attributes. Not exactly. What I'm saying is that maybe we should celebrate our potential for good - appreciate any goodness in a person at all, in spite of the circumstances. At least, we should try.

Am I being too naive?
-----------

"But I can tell you, I've never met anyone like your papa. Nor as selfish as the person who doesn't need to be named," she added ," But if you want someone like pastor, you'll be looking for a long time."

The person who doesn't need to be named is my biological father, btw. I knew papa would treat mum right- that's why I encouraged their marraige. In spite of whatever feelings of hesitaion I may give him, he has my respect and gratitude. I don't hope to find someone like that for myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hairstyles and burgers

Hey, a vanity post! Seeing as how 'selekeh'* I am, I wonder why I bother. =p

Apparently, I've got a pretty odd combination of hair. Unusually thick, and ever so slightly curled, with a high forehead. I've asked my college's daughter to think up a new style for me - she and her boss were thinking for about two weeks what to do with it and gave up. Seriously. So I've kept more or less the same hairstyle for a very...just about forever. That doesn't include the disasters which I immediately showered down when I got home. Xp

I thought I'd try something different (again), so I let the hairstylist to go nuts and give me his best shot. Seeing as how the height of hair fashion available in Melaka is the 'ah beng'** look, the results should have been pretty obvious.

The front is just a little shorter than usual, but everything is swooshed to my left. The top-back portion is standing on end, leaning to the left, and roughly gelled in dry-looking spikes. All of the hair on the back of my head is all standing, spiky, and swooshed to the right of my head. All held in place with gel from Redken called Concrete 22 after lots of hair-drying.

The net result looked kind of familiar in fact. Which was odd, as I've never had anything quite *this* ambitios before. My brother figured it out for me.

"It looks like you just got out of bed."

Sooooo...keeper?

---------
*sloppy or slovenly

**Surprisingly, you can find this in Wikipedia here. Shocking.

You can find both at this great site, probably

----------

Look at what my brother got! It's a plush burger that opens up to store CDs - neato! But, I think I won't get much of a chance to use it...



Wow, such delicious looking cheeseburger...









Mine!









Mine!









W & McD: Please take it and go!
Toby: ...?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Gauntlet

Well, the new teacher who was supposed to take my place at least for this year has decided to go on "God's calling" much earlier. She's going on a mission trip to China, posing as a student. That's pretty illegal I'm sure, but whatever.

So we're going to be really shorthanded once I leave. Well, I have been warning everyone there since last year. So once I go our staff will dwongraded to the almighty quantity of two. Yes, two. We don't even have a new admin yet.

Malaysia is really short on teachers in this field. Just not enough people are willing to teach children with learning disabilities. Taboo? Poor pay? Too much work? Little confidence? High stress? Big on disappointment? All of the above. Heck, I hear this is a worldwide problem in fact.

-------

In other news, I've thrown the gauntlet to my chairman, so to speak. See, she knows about my "choice" in sexual preference since in my youth (3 years ago! Woohoo!) and naiviety I told my chairman and vice-chairman that I was gay. ** Anyway, she had a chat with my mum about the issue, and my mum was defending my stance. What a turnabout eh? My chairman wants me to read a passage from a book she read - something to do with trauma from fathers and how it can affect a boy who is growing up.

Sure I'll read it. But first, I told her, she is to read "A letter to Louise." She agreed to my terms.

It probably won't do any good, in spite of "A letter to Louise" being very well writen and thoroughly thought out from the Christian perspective. My chairman's really really stubborn. And opinionated. But still, got to give her a chance, right?


------

** Or is it because I just don't care what they think? The context when I told them was that they were asking me to consider staying on as a teacher proper. I wanted to warn them about the possible scandal that could arise. Yeah, sleepy old towns like Melaka would love making a big fuss about a gay social worker who teaches special kids. The decided not to share this info with the committe, but accepted me as a teacher regardless.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

V-day! Like D-Day but with more shooting

Ah, the obligatory Valentine's Day post, the celebrating the bane of all the single (80%?) gay men everywhere!

...actually, I don't really care. I've never celebrated V-day before. Nope, not even when I had a girlfriend (I reeeeallly don't want to talk about that disaster). In fact, I've never actually taken notice of when Valentine's day was since for so much of my life I've had zero interest in getting hitched- that was while I was still trying to make myself straight. Hmph.

Anyway, I'll not be dragging my feet around today. :-)

-------

Here's a few plushies I haven't introduced yet!

Here's Toby, our resident feline!


I'm Greeeat!






My hand's there for size comparison. Yeah, he's that big. Woggs and Duff are petrified of this ferocious cereal-eating tiger (but they don't know that last bit. :p ).

This is Junior (taken with me and my mum). He sleeps in my room, but not on my bed since those ears can break if I'm not careful. Besides, I don't sleep with soft toys.


Heh.






We're a little...perturbed by Junior. It's his grin.


Heh heh heh...hahaha...







WAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!





Er, yeah.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Another weekend in KL









I went up for my application at the IDP, all the way in Subang Jaya. It was opposite Taylor's college, where I studied before, so I knew where it was once we got to the general vicinity. I passed by the house where I used to stay while I studied. There's a whole lot of really bad memories associated with that place, but I decided not to revisit all that. Just kept talking to mum while we headed for the IDP. Make the trip as quick as possible.

Counsel: Why don't you go for the educational fair? Not only do you save the 100 Australian dollar application fee, but the representative could give you an offer on the spot.
Me: Isn't that a bit close to the deadline? Is there enough time?
Counsel: Lots of time.
Mum: ...Why didn't you tell us this *before* we came all the way here? When we last phoned?

My mum was irritated, but I didn't really mind. This type of thing happens all the time- no need to fret about it. One thing mum and I noticed was that since mum was around, the guy spoke to her instead of me. Also something I kind of thought would happen, but a little bit annoying.

We got lost on the way back, as expected.
McDuff, this is all your fault!
"Arrr...no, no. It ain't true! Arrrr!

-------

Yay, night out with Derek, Chris and Leggy! Had a fun time chatting about completely silly stuff and all. Not much chance to delve into serious stuff while all of us there, but that's okay. I even passed Derek the complete Neon Genesis Evangelion series - dubbed in Cantonese. May god bless you Derek, you'll need it. ;-)

So how many times have I hung out with a group of gay men now? Why, I can count the times on my fingers! In fact, meeting up is so invigorating that it leaves me with insomnia the whole night!

...

Somebody, just shoot me already.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Special message from Woggles
















I see that no one's taken interest that the adventwes of the Warf Magician blew up with Ban's compweter. I'm going to just sulk in the corner here...

















Harrr harr harr! While Woggles is busy sulking, I, Captain Cuddles...Captain Cutlass McDuff shall steal all the attention! Harr harr...
















POW




















Warf.

----------

Heh. Actually, through the powers of internet, all my files including the save games for the adventures of the Warf Magician are safely tucked away in cyberspace, waiting to be placed in a new computer. :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Self praise

My computer is dying on me. I'm busy trying to transfer important files over to the internet to be retrieved later during the rare moments it decides it wants to work. But my poor Woggles the warf magician! Oh well.

Guh. On the other hand, I'm going to KL this weekend to get my application to study special education in Australia done. Since I'm the only 'English' educated person in my center (actually, I come from a govenrment Malay school but that's what Chinese ed folks call me), it's up to me to write up my own letter of recommendation from work. Meaning I have to blow my own trumpet. Very embarrassing, really. Not the first time though, so with my mum's giving advice through the phone I wrote it and boy it is something.

----------
TO WHO IT MAY CONCERN

Mr Bunny Ban has been serving as a teacher from July 2003 to the present date at Barney's Center, Melaka. He served as a volunteer teacher and helper from July 2003 until December 2003 and was employed as a full time teacher from January 2004 until the present date.

As a teacher at Barney's, Mr Bunny Ban is responsible for the education of children with learning disabilities, ranging from the ages of 1 to 7 years. His duties include assessing each children’s level of skills, planning education goals for each individual child in the Individual Education Plans, creating teaching materials, planning activities, visiting homes of children clients, training parents to manage and teach their children, as well as conducting group and one-to-one lessons for the children.

Mr Bunny Ban is a dedicated teacher who is constantly seeking the best possible techniques to teach his students. Under our employ, he has volunteered to undergo training from various workshops, courses and visits to other centers in Malaysia. He is hard working and responsible in carrying out his duties. He is a kind and gentle man who loves and cares for the welfare of both the children and the parents.

Mr Bunny Ban has proven himself an effective teacher who learns quickly. He has a special gift for connecting with autistic children. He has shown his ability as a problem solver time and again in the classroom. He is constantly seeking to improve the quality of services provided by Barney's Center Melaka and we have found his employ with us very beneficial to our programme.

(names have been changed, duh)
---------

I wasn't even making stuff up. Well, maybe slightly exagerated. My mum insisted on the 'special gift' for autistic children part - probably cos she's convinced that I'm slightly autistic myself. ^^

But my vice-chairman willingly signed the thing. Though I imagine he must have quite a start when he read it.

I think I'll buy a new laptop in KL.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Easy

There are times I take a step back to look at myself and feel like giving myself a big slap.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be throwing myself at the feet at just about anyone halfway decent. Or just stopping short and catching myself before begging another person I hardly know to be my special someone. Or blurting my heart’s secrets to a person in hopes that they’ll like me.

Yes, I’m lonely. Quite desperately. And desperate.

I’m beyond the point of trying to explain how it came to be- I just know that it is. Need to be love? Past experiences? Whatever. Bottom line- I don’t trust my own heart anymore. I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’ve said this before: I feel like a teenager getting himself into blind dates. Only I’m already way past the age of responsibility, and whatever I do with that is already condemned by society anyway. Yeah, go moral values.

So, what to do now? I * do * intend to find to find my own special someone. It’s just that…how can I? I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve been repressing these emotions and trying to instill feelings for the wrong sex for so long that I’m not sure what I’m even feeling sometimes. Or maybe these feelings are real, only I don’t know what to do with them.

This is doom.

Walking alone isn’t that bad, is it? Many people do it. I suppose I can add myself to their ranks.

The adventures of the Warf Magician!

Woggles and his party entered the Planar Sphere. Before them lay many trials and dangers. But the party of heroes were mighty both in swords and sorcery, fighting for honor and justice.

"Warf, that's right!" Woggles chirped happily.

After journeying through the Planar Sphere, fending off cannibalistic halfings and elementals, it was time to face down it's master - the evil necromancer Lavok!

"Oh no!"

After a breif exchange of threats, the necromancer attacks. At the same time, his spell contingency automaticaly activated spell and combat protections to render him invulnerable from the party's spells and weapons.

"I'll fix that! Inwantus...Woofus...Warfus *wiggle wiggle*...Bweach! (Breach!)"

The whole party cringes as their mage speaks the...incantation. Their worries are unfounded however as the protection breacher works without hitch. Suddenly defenseless from physical attacks, Lavok is immediately stabbed in the back by the party's theif from the shadows in which he had hid. The paladin and ranger then strike out at the necromancer with their greatswords, wounding him severely. As soon as the blows strike however, another spell contingency fires. Once again, the necromancer is protected from weapons and spells, albeit to a lesser extent this time around. The necromancer had run out of protection contigencies, but it would be enough to render him invulnerable long enough to decimate the party with his spells.

"Again? But I have no more Bweach spells...time to wisk it! Weckless Dweomer- Bweach!"

The whole party turn to stare at Woggles in horror as he invokes the power of the *Reckless* Dweomer Spell- a spell that purposely causes a wild surge and attempting to mold the surge into any spell of Woggle's choosing. But to mold the wild surge of magic is difficult - *anything* could happen. Anything - from balls of fire to hiccups to hordes of angry rabbits. And true enough, Woggle's spell miscasts and surges uncontrollably. The party braces for impact, but nothing seems to happen.

The necromancer Lavok smiles a moment before realising that the world is spinning. Standing straight up was suddenly a great feat. He attempts to cast a spell, but the incantation completely fails due to his dizzy state. As Woggle's party members futilely attack Lavok through his protections, the necromancer casts spell after spell only to fail utterly due to dizziness. It would appear that Woggle's spell did something useful after all.

"Okay, that works. But we still can't hurt him. Oh welllll...try again! Weckless Dweomer...Bweach!"

The spell surges wildly with great power - far more power than needed to cast a protection breach. A gate opens up next to Lavok. Woggles realised what creature was stepping through.

"Oops, is that a demon?"

"..."

"Bwaaaahh!!!! Keldorn- help!"

Keldorn, the party's paladin, quickly cast 'Protection from Evil' on himself to ward off the demon before it stepped through. As the party scattered in terror while screaming their heads off as the demon appeared and dogged after them, Keldorn ran in his (very) heavy platemail to cast a quick Protection from Evil on his comrades one by one. He succeeds, and the demon has no viable target among the party. So the demon turned it's wrath upon the dizzy necromancer Lavok (whose spells were still miscasting in his dizzy state, by the way).

Lavok didn't stand a chance. The demon's enchanted claws tore through the Lavok's weakened protections and polished off the helpless necromancer quickly and mercilessly.


All hail the conquering hero!





------

"Hey, they didn't give me experience points for killing Lavok! Not acceptable - Load game!"

------

This is the third time I'm posting this up. >.>

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Chinese New Year 2006, so far

What a week! Lot and lotsa things happened, but I'm lazy so I'm only outlining a few highlights.

Take note that I'm fairly uncustomed to my own culture- I've always been away during CNY in my youth when I should have been spending time getting to know rrelatives and hanging out with friends.

-------
Monday - Gambling night!

Or house visit night - same thing to my group of friends. To those unaquainted with Chinese customs, Chinese superstition says it's good luck to win money in gambling during the new year. And Chinese loving good luck so much are very eager to gamble it with friends. I got pretty lucky myself year though in spite of not even knowing the rules very well. Made up almost half of the BBQ night expenditure. :D

It was a fun an enjoyable night. But friends who weren't prevously aware were shocked to find out I was now an aethist.

Friend: What? You're no longer a Christian?
Me: *holding up pendant* Look closely. This isn't a cross.
Friend: Wow. How recent is this?
Me: Maybe four years now.
Friend: That's like...a 360 degree turn, man. (we both laugh) Sorry, I mean 180 degree turn. How did this happen? What made you change your mind?
Me: Eh, it's a long story really.
Friend: We have time.
Me: Not yet. I don't think you're ready to hear it yet.
Friend: Okay, fine.

Later he asked again, but I told him I didn't want to say why just yet. I knew he was asking out of concern, but I didn't really feel like going into the details.

Oh sure, I'm going to tell him how I was spent years in depression wrestling with my 'perverse' sexual urges and my faith that no place for such things. And that I was gay. Maybe I'll confide in him one day once I know how he views homosexuality. Maybe. I really hate it when I lose good friends over this.

Meeting old friends is bitter sweet. The actual time we spend together is sweet, but they remind me of the life I once led but have moved from. Hence the bad poetry in the previous blog.
--------

Tuesday morning - Visit baby step-sister
I really don't like the idea of visiting my father. He's a little bitter that I and my brother flat out refused to talk mum into staying with him on his behalf. After all that he did for us (to us?) we should be more loyal. Uh huh. And if you recall what he does to relatives who are on friendly terms with my mum you'd probably guess that he'd try to take as many verbal jabs at us whenever we chat as he can.

Of course he didn't refuse the visit - to not be visited by one's children during CNY is pretty bad loss of 'face' (pride). But while we were there he made no hesitation to voice his displeasure about his children's upbringing as we came over to 'pay our respects'. He talked about how he didn't intend to provide a high level of education to his new daughter and instead intended to concentrate on bringing her up as a person grateful and respectful to her father. (Actually, he avoided the word 'grateful' this time because the last time he said that to my brother, my brother asked if he was going to teach gratefulness by example. That must have stung very bad.)

If he sounds really selfish and only caring about himself, that's exactly right.

In spite of that, my worries about getting an earful were unfounded. Not for my father's lack of trying, but really because I just so used used to him and his tounge. So whatever pokes he wanted to take pretty much slid off. I flat out ignored him and instead poured praises and good wishes on his new daughter. That caught him by surprise and left him a little flabber-gasted. He didn't expect us to *like* the new step-sister - probably figured we'd see her as a threat to inheritance or get jealous. Whatever.

That's the real reason we're there really- we wanted to see our sister. We're a little worried about how she'll turn out under the attention of that ogre of a man without my mum's guidance. Somehow, I doubt my step-mum can quite match up to the upbringing my mum provided for us. I didn't have the opportunity to let my step-mum know that if she needed any support she could call me.

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Tuesday night - BBQ night!

I'd been making arrangements left, right and center for this. Getting an estimate of how many people were coming to prepare the food was troublesome enough- but fortunately my estimate was spot on. Everything went well really, and I managed to get a whole slew of old friends to come. It was great meeting all of them again, and well worth the effort. The gamblers were still trying to get their money back from me, but I was too busy as the host to join in this time. =p

I've always felt a little left out in my group of friends because they love to speak Mandarin - which I don't understand much of. I'm already quiet by nature in groups, so the fact that I have no clue wht they're talking about anyway makes it tough to take part in the reminesense of old times and happy banter. I'm still glad to see they're all doing okay though and be with them though,

One person who didn't make it was an ex-nemesis and ex-best friend who I hadn't contacted for a long time due to a bad parting. Kind of disappointing. But this blog's long enough already- there's another time for that.

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And back to work on Thursday. One of the teachers was on leave for CNY, so we were pretty disorganised. Fortunately fewer students came due to CNY, so we weren't completely overwhelmed by the kiddos. We had an extra student for the prep/supplementary class though, and it left me sweating for exertion and tired to the bone. Again, I'll talk about the prep/supplementary class another time.

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Thurday night- Bowling night!

Bowling night with old friends (yes, them again) was fun. I was crap of course, but I didn't bring down my bowling partner down by too much so we still won money from the rest.

Skip to supper after bowling, and chatter over poorly cooked but strangely popular local burgers. Somewhere between the jokes the statement 'People do change' is uttered by one of my friends who I know to have a good head on his shoulders.
Me: You think so? Do you think I've changed?
Friend: Huh? I beg your pardon?
Me: Let me rephrase that. Out of everyone at this table, who do you think has changed?
Friend: Letsee...(name) is more charismatic nowadays...no, nobody here has changed. We've known each other for so long that we can't fool each other. (some examples of people still behaving the same), and you still talk to yourself (it's true. =p ). Everyone here is essentially the same person on the inside.

That made my day. I thanked him later, and him being him knew what I was thanking him for. :)