July 11 – i’ll be good to you

352/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I know there are sayings in regards to being nice to people now because they could come back later in your life to help you or haunt you or something similar.  I have no clue what those sayings are exactly but I get the gist.  I have lived life with this motto for as long as I can remember.  Only once has it ever happened to me but not in the traditional sense of the saying.  Late 90s, I leave my house to head to the gym.  Driving down my street called Riverdale.  At regular speed level and then bam, pow, bang – holy Batman!  I hit the brakes.  I recall a blur in front of my hood, then on my windshield and then over the top of the car and falling off the trunk onto the street through my rearview mirror.  I am in shock.  I am sitting there.  I start to shake.  I look back at the rearview.  It’s a boy.  He’s on the street.  Rivers of blood from his head.  I can’t compute.  What has happened?  My Law 12 teacher’s words come into my head – anytime a driver hits a passenger, the driver is 100% at fault.  I am literally cold.  After what seems to be hours yet only mere minutes, I get out of the car.  I see the car that was coming in the opposite direction.  The male driver and female passenger run out and she yells “We saw everything!!!”.  I’m on the verge of tears as this is it.  The end of my new career as teacher.   Oh, have I forgotten to mention that I live and teach in the same neighbourhood.  Out come running people.  I hear “Mr Sangha???”  “Mr Sangha, what happened?!!”  “Oh my God, Mr Sangha, you hit someone”.  I am embarrassed.   I am upset.  I am still in shock.  My mind races years ahead – me in prison, my kids on the streets.  I’m shaking – oh, yes, I am wearing shorts and a tshirt.  All a blur.  Fire engine, multiple police cars, ambulance and to make matters worse, as they are redirecting traffic, the mother of the child just hit happens to be driving by and yes, sees her son.  Kill me now!  The two witnesses come over and give me hugs.  I don’t understand.  They tell me that they saw the kid run into the street after a ball and knew that I would never see him and that it was not my fault.  They tell the police this.  The police officer tells me that I’m good, I did nothing wrong.  I’m looking at the blood.  The paramedic tells me that the lip bleeds like no other organ.  I am driven home.  I am in shock.  If I drank then – yes, surprise, surprise, I didn’t back then – I probably would have become an alcoholic.  All forgotten.  Six or seven years later, I am teaching Psychology 12.   Ask the students to write a journal entry about a psychological experience that affected them for the rest of their lives.  At home reading and marking the assignment.  As I’m reading Adam’s, I start to freak out.  “I’m playing ball in my friend’s driveway and go get the ball.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a White Honda Civic comes barreling down the street at me.  Takes me out.  I go flying over the car and end up breaking my arm and with some other fractures.  End up in the hospital for a few weeks and off of school for a month.”  I sit at my kitchen table.  Dumbfounded.  I write him a comment – “Let’s talk”.  We do.  He laughs.  I laugh.  We hug it out.  He doesn’t really remember everything but he was told I was the teacher.  He is in my class.  I was scared that he would hold it against me.  He never did.  We had a great year.  You rock Adam.  I needed that.  We affect people.  Positively or negatively.  How we react to that affection is what matters especially when it comes to mistakes.  I am so glad that I had the interaction with you years later.  I am so glad that we got to talk about what took place.  I am so glad that I learned a valuable life lesson.  I could have reacted in all sorts of different ways – was told to sue the family for the damage to the car – bullshit!  I am so glad that you came back into my life and let me move on and realize that my decisions/choices on how I responded came back to me but in positive ways.  Yes, I screwed up your grade 7 year Adam 😉 but you gave me a great life-lesson going forward – be good to people and they will be good to you later on!

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June 13 – la bibliotheque

324/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Tonight’s gratitude post is not about a person but more about a place.  Yes, I know I’m changing the parameters but it does involve people who are in said place.  Growing up, my escape, my solace, my comfort zone was the library.  In the library, I found all sorts of geeks and freaks like me.  It was the Star Wars Cantina bar minus the alcohol and music.  This is where I felt comfortable and this is where I belonged.  The library was my go-to while most of the high schoolers were either out smoking or at the locals McDs.  I spent many a good lunch hour in the library reading books and completing assignments.  It was my refuge from the daily grind of high school.  I found similar souls in the library.  Yes, we didn’t converse much – after all, it was a library but I felt a sense of camaraderie with my people.  Most of us were on the outskirts and spent our time there – I’d like to think we were conscientious but it’s probably because we had no other place to go to.  As I moved onto university, pleasantly, my looks came and the library at UBC was more as a social hanging place but it was still a part of my life.  No, I didn’t spend a lot of time there academically except to get materials for coursework as it wasn’t called the Aloha Deck for scholarly purposes!!  As an adult, I have loved libraries – I love to people watch and am fascinated by the books people are reading.  I love the wide space and the possibility of escape both literally and figuratively.  It’s apropros that I am writing this post tonight as I am contemplating a move to become our school librarian.  As it stands, I am pretty much set against it but I have many people who think I should be the guy to take it on and there is a piece of me who says that I should give back to in that the library gave me a place to be me.  Damn you guilt ; )  All those things aside, thank you to the library and all the unique, quirky, left of center, withdrawn, geeky, nerdy, Randy Sangha people that were there that made that place a home for me.  I flip a page in your honour!

June 12 – cyberfriends

323/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This gratitude post is a strange one for me in that I am different than most people from my age group when it comes to the online world.  I have been connected to cyberspace well before it became mainstream.  I was on ICQ, the way, way old version of messenger.  I was on a bunch of forums.  I followed rooms (the earlier precursors of blogs) before they became de rigeur.  I followed an online music forum and became “friends” with people from all over the world and ended up becoming a moderator for the website – over a decade ago.  We had a community.  Almost 2000 followers.  I spent countless hours in front of the computer moderating various threads on music.  Jenna, Liam, Brett and myself were the admin.  We were approving who got into our music sharing forum.  It was the new era of the internet.  It was slightly bizarre for me.  I didn’t really believe in online friends but here I was with online friends!  People that I had never met in my life.  It became surreal when I received Christmas cards in the mail from them!  Today, no one blinks an eye in that one has “friends” in cyber world but I still am surprised that I, a guy who is in the here and now world, got caught up in the virtual world.  I guess I am slightly embarrassed as for a while, I spent a lot of time with my “online” friends than I did with the real world.   Today, I’m all about the real world and the online world is where I do this – blog my gratitude.  However, I can not totally dismiss the online friends and life I had a decade or so ago because if not for them, I would not be expressing myself and using cyberspace as a valuable tool to let everyone know about how grateful I have been and I am for all the people who have come in and out of my life to make me the man I am today.  Thank you cyberfriends for giving me a perspective and insight into cyberworld as a medium for expression and for being!

June 8 – tattoo you

319/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In my adult years, I have loved drawing attention to myself through my appearance.  I am a confident man who enjoys expressing myself in multiple ways – I’ve already talked about my hair (literally the pinnacle of my aesthetic self) but today is about the body art that I adorn myself with and the two gentlemen who so greatly helped in getting me to the point where I got inked.  I have always wanted to get tattooed and would looked longingly at others over the years at artwork that looked incredible in my eyes.  However, the other thing that would catch my attention (or sometimes rather not) was the location of such artwork.  In my mid to late 20s, I decided to go get my eyebrow pierced – yes, it was de rigeur to be so avant-garde (oh how it really wasn’t as everyone had one but not the point 😉 ).  I found myself at Sacred Heart Tattoos on West 10th and the owner happened to be my piercer.  There I am lying down at his station and he’s sterilizing the equipment and putting on his gloves while he’s been conversing with me.  He then just stops and says “You are not getting an eyebrow piercing.  You are not ready for it.  In fact, it’s not you”.  I was shocked.  I didn’t know it but he did.  He was right.  He read my body language.  He told me that he could have pierced me and taken my money but I wouldn’t be happy.  He told me to give it 6 months and if I still wanted it, to come back and he said one more thing.  I would be one for a tattoo – a uniquely placed, meaningful tattoo when I was ready for it.  His words stayed with me for over a decade and a half and every time I thought of getting a tattoo, I knew where I would get it done.  To celebrate my 40th, I knew exactly what I wanted.  Tattoos.  Not one but two.  The names of my kids – things I would never regret.  I designed the font.  Cursive and looks Sanskrit like lettering but the words are in English – Natasha and Ethan the names of my kids as we are Western with an Eastern influence.  Each of them chose the colour of the font – Blue and Green.  I also decided where I wanted them.  Inner forearms.  I took it to Sacred Heart.  Sadly, the owner (whose name escapes me) was no longer there.  I contemplated on hunting him down and for some reason I didn’t but was turned over to the Candyman.  He refined the tattoos slightly.  The date was set, all instructions abided by and I showed up.  Once again, my nerves started showing and he stopped preparation.   I told him I didn’t want them anymore.  He asked the best clarifying question – do I not want the tattoos or rather, do I not want them where I had originally decided.  He hit it bang on.  I didn’t want them on my forearms as they would be too noticeable.  He went through various body areas giving me reasons why they were NOT me.  He was right.  He then told me that I would be the guy who have them start on my inner arm up near my arm pits and work towards my elbows – thus hidden by a full shirt but peek-a-booing beneath a tshirt and sparking discussion because of the uniqueness of the font.  How damn right he was in hindsight.  I got them done (now over a decade ago) and I absolutely love them.  I love the conversations – Ethan is my right hand man since his name is on my right side and Natasha is close to my heart since her name si on my left side.  I love how stylish my ink is.  I love absolutely everything about them!  Thank you nameless manager 😦 and Candyman and thank you Sacred Heart for giving me something that I am proud to wear every single day of my life!

June 4 – quips and quotes

315/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I can’t jump on the Muhammad Ali bandwagon.  I never watched boxing.  Yes, I knew who he was but nothing more than that until I saw some of his quotes surfacing on my Facebook feed as well as on internet pages in the last couple of days.  I am not a guy who generally likes quotes.  I am not a teacher who has motivational posters in his classroom although I am a fan of the self-created metaphor.  I don’t really have a motto that I live my life by.  I am agnostic; thus, not influenced by any doctrines.  I’m a very apolitical person generally unless there is something that I need to be educated about.  I take pride in being myself and trying to be a better person along this journey of life.  One thing that I was told growing up was that no one would look out for you except yourself – basically, you are #1 (or that’s the way I interpreted it).  I don’t currently recall who had said that to me and I don’t even believe anyone in particular said it explicitly but perhaps it was several people in my life who had interpolated that quote in order for me to get through some of the tougher times in life.  I may have embraced it a little too literally as I am the first to espouse my own virtues but why not? 🙂  As I read Muhammad Ali’s quotes, there’s a lot of them all about self-empowerment – some may say that that is a form of vanity but I’d wholeheartedly disagree.  If you don’t believe in yourself and take pride in your accomplishments, why should others?  There’s definitely some sort of charisma that comes across when someone has a solid sense of self.  Yes, there is of course a blurred line between self-confident and cockiness but I think that line is decided by the receiver and not the sender.  I am glad that I was given the advice to believe in myself as it has greatly helped me overcome the obstacles that life has thrown at me.  And just maybe I might start opening up to and living my life by other quotes/mottos – got any good ones for me? 😉

June 1 – strike a pose

312/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  After last night’s emotional, heartfelt and quite draining post, tonight’s is much more subdued and light.  When I was in high school, the classes that I enjoyed the most were some of my electives such as Art and Photography.  I remember taking my first and only photography class at Richmond High in the early 80s.  Mr Waber was my teacher.  The cameras back then had nothing on all the technological advances of today – I mean the word filter was before the fact, not after as it is today 😉  And selfie??  Not even on the horizon LOL.  Editing software – future language!!  I digress, back to Mr Waber.  He started us off with a pin-hole tin can camera and I fell in love instantly with photography as I ended up with an amazing photo because of the perspective it gave.  We had different themes for various assignments and I spent my time engaged in the work.  After that class, unfortunately I never touched a camera except for the occasional family pictures, never for artistic escape.  For most of my life, I wanted to get back into taking pictures and share them but because I was concerned as to whether I had talent and a keen eye, I shied away from it and of course, life just kept getting in the way and I made any excuse to avoid taking up photography again until just recently.  My daughter was enrolled in photo class in her high school and she exceled (winning top photo student).  Her pictures were amazing as she had an amazing digital camera.  Her teacher inspired her as had mine.  I decided then that I would start taking pictures but with my cell phone – this way I could blame it on the equipment if I really had no talent 😉  However, if you know me, you know that I don’t do anything half-heartedly – I put my heart into it and well, I certainly did with photography.  I decided to take a picture a day for a year with monthly themes and post them on Instagram – that was in 2014 and here I am in 2016 three years later and still continuing with that project!!  I have done a month of tattoos which entailed going up to complete strangers and asking to take a picture of their tattoo – I loved that month as I got to hear their stories.  I went around for a month and hunted graffiti which got me out of my neck of the woods but then one month I spent an entire in my city of Richmond taking shots.  I have taken pictures of my martini creations for a month – I had to suffer through and drink them each day (the sacrifices I make for my art 😉 ).  One of the strangest monthly themes involved going up to men and taking pictures of 31 different beards – I was only rejected once!  Thank you for Mr Waber for the initial spark and thank you to all of you who have commented about my photography as it has been a great diversion in life as well as being a way to allow me to express myself and share another part of myself with people.

May 29 – the girl who lived down the street

309/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   If you’ve been reading these gratitude posts, you’ve probably gleaned that I wasn’t the most confident young man during my pre-teen and teenage years.  Lots of things conspired against me to keep me from reaching my potential in my younger years – so not lovin’ who I was because of my ethnicity (being made fun of) and my weight (being bullied for it) and my nerdy looks (being beat up for it) and my dad’s schizophrenia (being made fun of) but it was just something I got used to but never truly accepted.  There were many reasons why I got through those tough times: my love of listening to music, focus on schoolwork, escape into television, push of my mom etc.  However there was also this person that I would see on my daily walks to school that also helped.  I was fascinated by her.  She lived on the same street as I did and I saw her from my elementary years walking past her house all the way to my university years being at the same bus stop.  I never once spoke to her in all that time even though I was enthralled by her.  Why?  She was probably about 5 years older than me.  She was Indo-Canadian.  She was very Indian.  She wore flowers in her hair.  She had a long braid.  She was heavy-set with a moon face.  She was not Canadian born.  She wore heavy Indian make-up.  She flounced when she walked.  She oozed confidence.  I was stunned by her.  Not her physical beauty as I did not find her attractive – oh wait, Freud might say I did on some subconscious level 😉  Rather, I was inspired by her self-assurance.  At that time, I was ashamed of my ethnicity as I lived in a very white community and had no role models but here was this person who obviously and rightfully so reveled in her heritage.  She was rotund and damn did she own it and did not let it own her.  I remember being at a wedding reception that she, with her family, was also at and my aunt, that mean aunt that I wrote about earlier, was making fun of her and this girl confidently ignored her and tore up the dance floor.  I was stunned!  I was inspired.  I honestly think she, on some subconscious level (yeah, Freud you can have this one), made me accept my fatness and my Indian-ness – I didn’t rock it like she did until much later – and I have her to thank for me finally accepting and rocking what was genetically given to me!

May 28 – grad date

308/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  It’s that time of year in the high schools – graduation for grade 12s and all that comes with that: final exams, valedictory ceremonies, dinner and dance, etc.  Looking back at my own grade 12 year, it was a non-event as I wasn’t too concerned about the various functions as I wasn’t going to attend.  I didn’t really have close bonds with any of my classmates.  I decided to go to the valedictory (getting my diploma) as that was more for my parents although unlike today’s events held at grand ballrooms, ours was in the school gym!!  LOL Yes, as I said — a non-event!  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to attend the actual grad (dinner and dance) as first of all I didn’t really have a crew and second of all, everyone had dates and limo rides and well, not being with the in crowd or any crowd, it was easier to just stay home.  About two to three weeks away from the event, a co-worker from McD’s and fellow grade 12 named Monette asked me if I was going to go to grad.  I said no.  She said she wasn’t going to go but we should just go.  I was dead set against it but then other people from McD’s suggested that we should go and it would be so much fun.  Monette didn’t give up and I ended up going with her and her friends.  Paid for the ticket and limo share.  Last minute tuxedo rented – cringeworthy (white with black accents).  Corsage bought for Monette.  Off to the Hotel Vancouver – I think that’s where it was or maybe I’m getting very confused with the countless graduation dinners I’ve chaperoned as teacher.  Did I have fun?  Hell yes!  I owe it all to Monette for convincing me to go.  I even went to the after-party!!  Two grad events in one night (second one not school sanctioned of course 😉 )  If not for Monette, I think I would have always regretted not having gone to grad dinner & dance.  I was finally a part of the grad class and had shared memories.  Do I want to see pictures of myself then – uhm no, seeing the one on my mom’s fridge still after all these years is enough!  🙂  Thanks Monette for the push I needed and thank you for being my grad date!

May 27 – house at the end of the street

307/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most people in the gratitude posts first hear of my gratitude via these posts but I was able to let today’s gratitudee know about what she did for me about a decade or so ago.  I lived on Riverdale Drive when I was growing up and as I’ve mentioned many times, I didn’t have many friends as I was a fat, ethnic, geeky kid who was not comfortable in the skin I was in and I’m sure kids saw that weaknesses and went in for the kill.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the house with books and television to avoid the verbal and physical abuse by some of the kids in the neighbourhood and when I would venture out, I would watch on the sidelines as I wasn’t invited to hang with anyone.  There was a house on the corner of Riverdale and Coltsfoot that had an older girl and her siblings who lived there.  They had a trampoline that all the neighbourhood kids would hang at.  While I was in elementary and had to venture out that way, Roberta would always say hi to me.  She was about 4 years my senior.  She was beautiful in the eyes of this teenager.  I guess it was because she was nice to me as well.  She invited me a couple of times to hang out with the rest of the kids and those were the few times that I wasn’t made fun of because of this older girl.  As I entered grade 8, I would walk by her house on the way home from school and she always waved and said hello.  She acknowledged me – I wasn’t that invisible person or person to be pushed out of the way.  That little gesture did so much for me.  There were actually nice people out there.  Unbeknownst to me, years later, her son was in my class and I saw Roberta again during parent teacher interviews.  She was with her husband.  She had no clue who I was but I totally remembered her.  I told her during that teacher interview what she had done for me.  She then remembered me but she didn’t recall going out of her way being nice to me and that’s exactly what it was – nothing for her but monumental for me.  She shed a little tear that that little thing made a difference for me and I was so happy that I could tell her in person.  People like Roberta made a difference for me and I hope that I am someone’s Roberta as well unknowingly.

May 18 – i’m runner-up

298/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  New workplaces are tough.  No matter how competent one is, there is still that feeling of stepping into unfamiliar surroundings and being judged because you are the new person.  I worked at my old school for a good 16 years getting very comfortable and having my own “place” and not realizing I needed a change until I actually did it.  I ended up at UBC for three years and then have been in my current teaching role at McNair Secondary for four years.  Being at this new school has had its challenges and rewards as you would have realized from some of these gratitude posts.  If not for a select few people that I met and bonded with, I would have found a different work environment.  Yes, I absolutely love working with the students at the school – diversity personified but what puts any job over the top for me are the co-workers.  My first year, I was trying to find my place with the staff and that is when I met Dave; however, we have become better friends and colleagues as the years have progressed.  What drew me to Dave were two things: first off, he is one of the absolute nicest guys I have ever met.  He sees/can find the good in everyone and has on several occasions got me to rethink my perceptions as I just have evil tinted glasses 😉  But seriously, he has a perspective that has really had influence on me especially coming into a new environment.  The second reason and oh so more importantly, Dave has immaculate fashion sense!!  I have never been second to any man when it comes to fashion; however, here I am at McNair and I’m runner up – yup, I feel your pain Miss Colombia!  He’s one of the first guys that I have asked about shoes!  LOL Yes people it’s 2016 and we metrosexuals (that’s so 1994!! 😉 ) can talk about clothing and I can admit it when a guy has impeccable style and Dave so does.  On a serious note though, we have talked educational philosophies and I’ve been enlightened by him on a number of occasions and I am very glad to call him my friend and so glad that I work with him.  Thank you Dave for bringing me into the fold, checking in on me, stopping by in my class to share teacher stories and for just being an all around awesome guy!  We should all be so lucky to have co-workers like you!