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!

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June 7 – 50 shades of grey

318/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m a bit vain.  Yes, I said a bit 😉  It took a lot and a long time to get there but yeah, obsessed with my appearance as an adult is all I can remember.  I definitely know it’s because of the ugly duckling syndrome that I endured as a child and I’m definitely not complaining these days – aren’t I subtle about being the swan today? LOL  But seriously, I have always worried about how I present myself to others and anything to draw a little attention to myself as an adult – in a good way – I did as I was used to drawing attention as a child for the wrong reasons.  Just before the new millennium, I decided to go blonde.  Those of you who know me witnessed that look for a good decade and a half.  I was nervous in the beginning – caramel skinned brown guy going blonde but I went for it and well, strangely it worked for me!  I changed shades – sometimes silver (well before it was a thing), sometimes platinum, sometimes ash – but I kept the blonde as my signature look.  In my 49th year (just under two years ago), I got tired of the trips to the hairdresser for maintenance.  I don’t recall making a conscious effort but just thought I’d let it grow out to see what it looked like.  I cut it short to help the process.  I hated it.  I thought it aged me.  I was forgetting that chronologically, I had already aged.  I remember to this day when the last bit of blonde was cut off the tips and I was fully grey.  Yes, I had gotten used to the grey but I wasn’t happy to have to give up on my wilder ways – I supposed I thought grey meant maturing in personality too, thankfully it didn’t mean that!  The people around me though were great for my ego.  Not a single person told me that grey did not suit me.  I received and still do to this day how my grey flatters me and I need this as on a subconscious level, I wanted to be accepted by others for my appearance and I can admit that. Presently, I have grown out my hair on a dare and have a full on man-bun or a mess of grey curls – sometimes looking like that crazy uncle, or that eccentric, crazy man down the block so I can’t wait to shear it down but I have to thank each and every person who has complimented me on this grey mane.  I know they say that men can rock the grey but I think you also have to accept the grey.  Each of you has made me accept it and allowed me to move into my 50s with dignity and not trying to look like I was desperately trying to hang on to my youth by continuing to dye it blonde.  Thanks for the love!

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!

March 17 – bigger is better

236/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Finally 2016 when big has become acceptable. It’s about time!! Actually, it’s not even big – it’s average sized. And it shouldn’t be acceptable – it should just be. Today’s gratitude post is a result of just reading about the first “brawny” man to be signed as a model about a month after the first “full figured” model graced the covers of Sports Illustrated. I love how “brawny” and “full figured” are the PC adjectives created for what is just a person on the spectrum of normal but I digress. I grew up always conscious of my weight. Got bullied for it. Got restricted food allowances because of it. Got no choice in clothes – sack like pants and shirts and suspenders. Got all the wrong attention because of it. I have had weight issues my entire life. Yes, at the end of high school because of a very late puberty, I shed the weight but have always had the last 5-10 pounds to go since then. I hear from people all the time that I’m not fat/overweight and I tend to hide it well (perhaps not so well these days) but that’s the very point – why am I compelled to hide it? Why not just be who I am. And that is why I’m glad that there is a media shift on what we’re being shoved down our throats as consumers. I grew up on GQ and like to sport a unique, Randy style but when all the clothes are slim-fit, hip hugging, low rise, basically one is left with a limited choice in how to create their look. I’m not saying I want to be an XXL but I also don’t want the pressure of having to be an S just so I can wear something that I like. Most guys aren’t like me and will wear whatever but I did that as a child/pre-teen and never again. I’m glad that the winds are changing – I’ve probably got another decade before the grandpa sweaters make their way into my wardrobe but good for all the younger males and females to have icons and fashions that represent “fit” them!

January 20 – those white brown family members

180/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Yesterday I spoke of my father’s family. Today it’s about my mother’s family but not her immediate family such as siblings and their offspring. No, this post is of her extended family – specifically her mother, my (almost centenarian) grandmother’s side. My grandmother was the oldest of her siblings – she had 6 brothers (or was it 7). Almost all the brothers were either raised or born in Canada back in the early to mid 1900s. All their wives were very modern Indo-Canadian women – I’ve seen pictures from the 60s (mini-skirts, bouffant hairdos, all class). Their children (who would be my mom’s cousins but are younger and older than me) all born and raised here were very Western – some moreso than others. As I grew up watching them, I envied them as they seemed to negotiate the Western world that I was born into with ease but my parents still had traditional Indian beliefs that challenged the very being of who I was. I would see my mom’s extended family drinking wine and other spirits, some smoking, speaking English, in western garb, modern haircuts and some in relationships with white people (oh the shock for a kid like me 😉 ) basically free with their being and no worries of what other Indians thought of them – and this was the female relatives as well as the males. As I’ve grown up, I have challenged the constructs of what it is to be Indo-Canadian and I have had to shatter some of the preconceptions that my mom and dad held. I have to thank my mom’s extended family as they subconsciously influenced me to not have to skirt who I was and wanted to be in order to fit into a pre-defined mould of what I was supposed to be. However, I do have to mention that I am glad that I received the morals and values instilled by my parents especially not forgetting my heritage as that also makes me unique and uniquely me. I thank my mom’s extended family for allowing me to dream and then be a part of the Western culture I was born into while still retaining my ethnic values.

January 12 – those Indian beauty queens

172/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Growing up, I really never saw any Indians represented in the media probably creating the guy you know today. I am not upset by it as I like who I am but I could have totally grown up to be a different man if I had which would be interesting. Today my kids have tonnes of Indo-Canadian entertainers that they can relate to and I do see the influence on them. My family did have a tradition of watching Miss Universe when I was growing up and even though you may think it’s sexist, outdated programing, back in the day it was a different world and beauty pageants were not negatively perceived. The show was the first instance of Indians on television I actually saw – Miss India. I recall seeing my parents being proud of their homegirl being called into the finals whenever it happened. This pride filtered down and I’d be very happy when the delegate from India would hit the catwalk. I kept watching the show over the years even after leaving home as it sort of became a tradition. I had no other connection to these Indian beauties other than that my ancestors came from the same mother country but that was enough for me to root for them. In the 90s, almost every year saw the Indian girl hit the finals with two taking the crown – that was a cool time seeing a sister being recognized albeit for her beauty rather than her brains but hey, she was a fellow Indian and that’s what mattered 😉 Thank you Indian beauty queens for making this Indian guy get his first glimpse of his kind in the media. No runnerups anywhere!

January 11 – the atypical Bowie post

171/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am not jumping on the David Bowie bandwagon as I can not say that I was influenced by his music. I got into his songs in the 80s with Let’s Dance and China Girl and only discovered classics such as Golden Years well after the fact. However, I was inspired by David Bowie’s sense of style and versatility – Women have their style icons but guys like me really don’t – especially guys like me who change their look so often and that was one thing David Bowie did. If you know me in person – especially after my awkward teen years – you know that I change my look so frequently that most people can’t keep track of it – I’ve had red hair and blonde hair (for 15 years!!) and blue hair, I’ve rocked all sorts of facial hair, experimented with contacts and glasses, played around with asynchronous, man-bunned, crazy curled, short cropped, shaved down hair. My clothes – don’t even begin to get me started. But each and every phase, it was David Bowie who made me feel “normal” – here was a guy who just kept on reinventing himself. A very cool guy who was fashionable before it was fashionable to be so. A guy who just epitomized coolness to me. A guy who was older by two decades but didn’t let his age at any given time define him Yes, I may not have been into your musical artistry but you inspired me with your visual artistry. In your honour, I’m gonna keep on reinventing and rocking my look well into my Golden Years!