Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Singapore ruminations

At the moment, by a strange quirk, it is both my birthday and my younger son's. His comes the day before mine, but as I am in Singapore, where the clock is 12 hours ahead of NYC time, and as it's still before 12 noon, we are currently having a joint birthday, only we won't get to communicate about it directly in simultaneous real time.

Perhaps it's not ideal to be spending one's birthday so far from home and loved ones, but I suppose there are compensations, ranging from my observation that lizards are Singapore's squirrels (they dash into the trees when you approach, then skitter around to keep the trunk between you and them), to a bizarre dream in which I was explaining to Willard Scott (!) that the early Neil Diamond song "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," which was playing on his sound system at a garden party where he was offering people desserts, is better known from the cover version in Pulp Fiction (the only explanation I can offer for this dream is that I had been listening to early Neil Diamond recently and love that song, although it's rather off-kilter, un-PC by today's standards, and strange), to my plan to treat myself to a 5 pm viewing of "Source Code" at the nearby cinema (last showing before it disappears here), followed by a tasty and cheap if quick and informal dinner for one at a local food court (the chicken rice and Malaysian noodles are both excellent, but tonight I may look for something Indian).

Teaching a 3-plus hour daily class under current circumstances, in a small group that one really needs to engage directly (and they seem willing enough), while still adjusting to the time zone change and having had so little time since the end of the NYU semester, can feel a bit challenging even if (I hope) they don't see you sweat. It feels like being a stand-up comic who has dozens of familiar routines lodged somewhere in his cerebellum but hasn't gotten to rehearse them enough recently. Time management (too fast versus too slow), dealing with how I liked talking about a given issue 3 years ago as opposed to now, and balancing spontaneity against control, are among the challenges for which one might prefer to be in better-rested, better-rehearsed, more midseason form. But first days are always the most unsettling; in just a few minutes I'll be venturing forth for Day 2. And not long after that, while my birthday will continue for another 12 hours, my son's will be over.

UPDATE: Felt much better about the Day 2 class, plus I must have been a good boy, as I actually got an in-class birthday cake from the very kind people who run the program here.

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