Monday, October 20, 2008

Things you should never say to somebody who just broke up

Hong Kong doesn't have a lot of distinct seasons. But we do here at BYU. There's Spring (the meeting), there's Summer (the dating), and then there's the Fall (the breaking up), and of course there's the Winter (hibernating at home and gearing up for Spring). While talking to my friends the other day, I realize that a lot of couples that I know recently broke up. Some of them are glad, some are broken hearted and some are just plain angry.

So just to laugh about it all, and to poke fun at myself a little (most of these things were said to me!), Chelsea and I came up with this list at 3 am some random morning:

Top 10 things that you should never say to somebody who just broke up

1. Who did it?
2. Interesting. I don't think I've ever met anybody who got engaged and broke up before.
3. Can I have your number then?
4. What on earth are you going to do on Friday nights now?
5. Did she burn you a love CD? You put it into the microwave right now and put it on high for 30 seconds! (This one is actually a good idea)
6. Good. I never liked him anyways.
7. Oh that makes sense. I saw him yesterday with this other girl.
8. But you guys were perfect for each other!
9. That sucks. We broke up last year and I'm still not over it. I totally understand how you feel.
10. I just heard that you got engaged!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My SAT of life

In my SAT prep classes I always emphasize to all my students that in the Writing section, transitions are the most important things to look out for. Standing in front of the class, five foot one and all, I religiously extoll the merits of the Kaplan methods for SAT essay writing and tell them that with Kaplan's secrets they are on the road to success. It wasn't until recently that I find it all kind of ironic. Perhaps it is I who need to internalize that concept more than they.

I haven't been doing so good with all the transitions in my life so far. It's sort of hard to know exactly which transitional phrase I should be using when I don't even know what my next paragraph is going to be. I sit there, poised with my favorite black ball-point, trying to figure out all my different options. Is it going to be an internship in Washington D.C. ? Going home next summer? Taking another stab at the whole marriage thing again? By now my students should know that the key to forming good transitions is to have a plan. Well I had a plan. A plan that I really didn't think would change. I so confidently bought our honeymoon tickets without realizing what a pain they are to return. I feel like a typical SAT student who is panicking in the middle of the 25 min essay section, all because the once marvelous essay plan doesn't seem to be working out so well. I want to abandon the plan, indeed I almost feel like I have to, and just leave the testing room altogether. What's the point of continuing when you've already screwed up the beginning?

But (which is a delicious transitional word), yes but, there's always a chance for redemption. That's what transitional phrases are for. Even though I have no clue what random nonsense will flow out of my pen tip the next moment, I can choose my transitions. I can choose "Despite feeling lost and lonely at times, she keeps herself occupied with good friends....", "Since she's messed it up once, who said she won't mess it up twice?", or even "However, after a year or two of growing up, they realized that they needed each other..."

I guess the point is, in choosing my transition, I'm choosing how to go on. After all, the momentary freeze in the testing center is just that, a momentary freeze. I cannot just fly home on an impulse, abandoning my school work and my job just so I can lick my wounds elsewhere. There are lessons to be learnt, stories to tell and paragraphs to be written even in, or especially in, awkward transitions.

Now that I'm gingerly feeling for the right transition, all I have to do is wait for my next paragraph to form. And the next, and the next. So on so forth, and eventually I'll have a whole essay.

You see, despite all those rumors, SAT really is not that hard after all.