Just an English Teacher: Introductions and ProloguesJuly 19, 2006
Heaven above, Heaven below.
All that is over, under shall show.
Happy who the riddle reads.
Introduction by the Author
I hope that you find this piece of writing both informative and entertaining. If you are now in the employ of a word factory, perhaps there will be some useful anecdotes or suggestions you can use at work.
If you are thinking of become a vendor of verbs and nouns, read carefully ? there are many useful ideas on these pages.
If you are amongst the wiser of the two formerly mentioned groups , my greatest reward would be to know that you?ve enjoyed a smile or two from these pages.
Introduction by the Editor
I first met TVON, early in the morning, a couple of years ago in a foully overheated Phnom Penh teachers? room, reaking of unwashed armpits and prohok, where my task in life was to spend six hours a day tutoring the unctuous sons and daughters of Cambodia?s emerging bourgeoisie. Whilst preparing for yet another gruelling session down the sweaty brain mine, I felt a rustling of my hair denoting a slight commotion behind me, and so instinctively turned around to see TVON sliding less than gracefully from a computer chair to the floor. He accomplished this feat with all the dignity a bon vivant can muster at 7am in the tropics, and I instinctively knew that this was somebody who, somewhere down the line, I could do business with. During my time in Asia I?d already met enough bedwetting, angry, impotent, unpleasant unhappy souls to last a lifetime, but just who was this dandyish, elegantly wasted genius?
TVON has spent twenty years teaching in Asia and is something of a paradox, being an individual of both serious intellect and even more seriously sketchy, nay riotous behaviour. Who could be better qualified to write a series of teaching articles for www.khmer440.com?
Just an English Teacher – Prologue by the Author
I cannot understand why the word ?prologue? is spelled this way.
It seems to me that ?Pre? would be a more accurate frontal attachment. In addition, I find letters ?ue? at the end of the word offer nothing to its pronunciation – they might as well be silent. They serve as neither a morpheme, nor are they an inflection. They offer no effect to its meaning.
Although I haven?t yet done so yet, I plan to take this matter up with the Department of Linguistic Redundancies Department.
Everyone has mnemonic milestones ? probably not many in our lifetime ? but certainly some. Mnemonic milestones are our eternally perfect recollections of specific events that have occurred at various times throughout our lives.
Usually these memories are types of disasters, catastrophes, acts of love or war, or any of our profound life-experiences that have managed to find the part of our memory that is Teflon-coated such that every detail sticks with you ? forever. Astonishingly, you can recall the date, the time, exactly what happened, where it happened and precisely where you were when it happened. And how it affected you and those around you.
In my case, I know where I was on November 22, 1963, on this tragic day.
It was the middle of the afternoon and I was sitting in my grade eight class in elementary school. At that point, the school?s public address system started blaring out of every speaker in every room of Gladstone Public School in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.
It was a radio broadcast. A very solemn newscaster?s voice was choking through an up-to-the-minute, live-account of the shocking news of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy as his motorcade paraded slowly through Dallas, Texas.
Years later, I was in my new apartment in Kingston, Ontario watching some mindless situation-comedy program when the national TV network?s MOBILE, ?BREAKING NEWS? team appeared on 77 Street in front of The Dakota Apartment Building in New York City, reporting a confused and painfully disjointed jabberwocky of unfathomable grief.
It was December the 8th, 1980. John Lennon laid face-down on the sidewalk in front of his flat with four flat-tipped bullets lodged in his back. He had just been shot dead at point blank range. Yoko Ono held John?s lifeless head and was wailing, howling and ululating to the sky.
It was as if she had already begun practicing for her first solo album.
I have no idea of the exact time of this spectacular event. But to this day, I can recall every minute detail with crystallized clarity.
It was the middle of the night on Monday, February 16, 1983. I was asleep in my bed in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Suddenly, the door to my bedroom opened wide. I sprang bolt upright on my bed and stared in awe at the silhouette of a very fat Oriental man wearing a white singlet. He filled the entire open space of the doorway.
He slowly and deliberately removed his right hand from his trousers? pocket and raised his straightened arm and fixed a perfect aim of the lengthened barrel of his silenced hand gun about four meters from the direct centre of my chest.
Any discourse of social pleasantries escaped me. I didn?t see the point in self-introductions, I had no idea of the weather outside, and I couldn?t even think of my shortest, funny one-liner that I?d hoped might ease the tension and distract him from his apparent task at hand.
He too, had nothing to say.
The only sound that filled the room were the two rapidly consecutive whispers of the lead slugs that crunched through my rib cage, ripped through my heart, tore out of my back then came to a dull thud as they lodged themselves into the wall behind my bed.
That was it.
He politely, and ever-so-quietly, closed the bedroom door behind himself. I guess he left, but by that time. I was lying prone in my original, pre-assassination horizontal position.
I sensed no phenomena of substance more than void or vacuum … Nothingness.
I have no idea how much time passed – a misty gray haze covered me. Then I saw white. It grew whiter. And an endless, eternal, brilliant whiteness filled my static upward gaze. Slowly, I felt my eyelids separate.
Nothingness … Pure … Colorless … Silence … Void … Ethereal Emptiness…
Heaven? Thought? Yes. I?d had a thought. I was conscious.
I slowly moved my eyes to my bedside table relieved to see that it was time to rise: 07:00 hours.
I was Tuesday, February 17,1983. I had lived to see another day.
But today, I awoke with one determined resolve.
From this instant on, every heart-beat, all my breaths, each step, my actions, study, work and income were devoted to and leading my quest to Asia.
Nine months later, I touched down at Changi Airport, Singapore. It was the 19 of September, 1983 and I?ve been on this side of the Pacific since.
In no particular order, this is what followed: