June 10 – quirky is so cool

321/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Amongst the many bullies and mean girls of my youth, there were some of my peers (few and far between) who did make me feel worthy.  One of those people was ultra cool Carmel – I mean, look at her name!  Perhaps back then, she wasn’t looked as cool and more quirky but damn, she was ahead of her time and game because today she rocks that chic vibe.  I remember her with her short hair and awesome fashion sense but also her wit and intelligence.  Although we were nowhere near besties or even close (a casual hello in class), I do remember that she received some shunning from the popular, cheerleader types but Carmel had her sense of self and her own niche where she fit in with others and I admired that about her.  She epitomized what it meant to march to the beat of a different drummer.  Perhaps on some subconscious level, that influenced me as after high school I did my own damn thing and didn’t worry what others thought – no, I didn’t march to that drummer, I led the entire damn band!! ; )  Carmel and I have seen each other throughout the years at various high school reunions and have gotten to know each other much better through that wonderful platform called Facebook.  We have actually had a mini-high school reunion or two with a select few over wine just enjoying getting to reconnect as adults and that’s one thing I didn’t thing I would ever do – get together again from people from my past but I have as there were some nice people back then.  Thanks Carmel for being one of those people.  Let’s raise a glass soon.

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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 10 – the quirky ones

290/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Left of center.  I’ve heard that about me.  I’ve also heard that about some of the students that I have taught over the years.  I have never taken it as an insult.  I am proud to be far from the norm – yes, as a child I longed to be in the center but got so used to being on the outside that I made it all mine and shifted the view of what center was.  Throughout my career, I have taught those kids who are left of center.  I see myself in them.  I want to be their advocate but more than that, I want them to have a place in my classroom.  I didn’t have that and that’s one of the main reasons why I went into teaching – to make the difference for someone that was rarely extended to me.  I was reminded of that today.  I have had a student in my classes for the last three years.  He is not “special” in that sense of the word but he is different.  He can read social cues but chooses to ignore them.  He participates and is opinionated and says things that at times don’t make traditional sense to the chagrin of his classmates.  I allow him to express himself as there is insight behind his observations but at times, even for myself as teacher, it is draining but I am reminded that everyone has the right to feel a part of the classroom.  Yes, today he took it in a different direction and the dynamic shifted quite quickly but I was cognizant that I had to ensure that his feelings were respected as well as those of others in the class.  It was a difficult task but students like this one are what keep teachers on their toes always thinking a few steps ahead.  I knew which action NOT to take – shut him down completely, reprimand him, talk down to him – those options are limitless but as I noticed him becoming aware of what was going on in the classroom, he started to get embarrassed and withdrew especially because I interjected by telling him to stop as the conversation started to devolve and fellow students were getting riled up.  I knew I had made a mistake in that moment for him and I took it upon myself to find him during lunch to no avail and eventually had a heart to heart after school giving him encouragement, talking about the positives over the last three years but also respecting perspectives of others.  In the end, given his intelligence he was able to understand what I was getting at and I also understood the point he was trying to make – life lesson for both him and myself. Yes, today was a day with a not so great teaching moment but more importantly it was a learning experience.   I have all sorts of students and usually the focus is on the easy ones but the quirky, out there ones are the reason why I went into teaching and those are the students I need to be reminded about as those are the ones that may relate to me and I could make a difference for.

March 25 – funky diva

244/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In a lot of social situations, I tend to be the life of the party – the one cracking jokes, getting things started, then going full force and going strong, saying it like it is and keeping it real but still being respectful.  I hope that I am a positive person when out with others and that they like my company because I bring something extra to the mix.  I, myself, also have a person that does that for me.  I met Allison maybe about 15 years ago in the school I was working at and we had instant chemistry and made a connection right away.  I can say that I have never laughed as much or as hard with anyone like I do with Allison.  She is the female me (or am I the male her??).  She is also the spotlight in any social gathering.  Vivacious and full of energy, Allison also says it like it is and has a no holds barred attitude towards life and I so appreciate that.  Nothing is off limits when we hang out and when we hang out, if you’re in the vicinity, you know we are hanging out.  There are no pretenses with Allison which is very refreshing in this day and age where you sometimes don’t know what kind of connection you are getting with a person – she is a genuine, true friend who knows how to keep me in hysterics but still be there in my corner.  Thanks for being a great person (even though we see each other sporadically but when we do, it’s so fun)!  Looking forward to connecting with you later today my funky, funny, friendly sista from another mista!  So glad we are still friends after all these years! 🙂

February 20 – defy aging

211/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s very strange to me that almost all of my friends and acquaintances are younger than me and not by just a coupe of years. I could probably count on one hand those that are older than me. If I dared analyze why this is the way it is – which I’m about to do – it’s probably because of my late personal development. I didn’t really come into who I was much later than most people. I often get asked what I think of 70s music? When did I start drinking? Partying? Dating? Which movies I watched back in the day? I didn’t experience any of it. Because of a combinations of things – bullying based on my appearance and my dad institutionalized for most of my late childhood and early to mid teens, I wasn’t asked/invited/introduced to such things and we wouldn’t have had the money to afford some of these extravagances. I was expected to be a good boy and be home after school, study to get into university and to get a part time job. I worked every summer. I finally experienced my own freedom around 17/18 years of age. This was my entrance into my teen years – almost ¾ of a decade later. I have been often told that I don’t look or act like 50 or 40 or whatever age I was at the time – initially, I’m revelling in the compliment but then I get a bit out of sorts as the people I’m with are late 20s, mid 30s, late 30s, early 40s and I start to consciously think about why they are hanging with me and why I am hanging with them. I know that I offer something to them as they do to me to validate and continue our friendships but I’m the first to go to the age defense mechanism to protect myself but not once has that ever been a hindrance on their part and I guess what this reveals to me is that perhaps I’m the one who has a bit of an ageist bent; whereas, all these “young” people don’t judge me on a number but on who I am and what I bring to our friendships. To all of you who have been, are and will be in my life through friendships, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting me for me even when I am constantly challenged by my own age. You keep this 50 year old young in mind, body and spirit – cheers to each and every one of you!

February 19 – laugh at me

210/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’d like to think that I am a funny person on purpose but sadly I know that I have my foibles that lead to humourous incidences due to my naivety. I would love to change that up but for some odd reason, I find myself in countless situations that perplex not only myself but the many people that find out about them. I am an open book so I share my escapades with others or on social media as deep down I feel that they will be revealed so why not take ownership immediately and spin it my way. The former works but for the latter, there is no way to spin the things I get myself into in a positive light. I have been told that I need to write down and publish all the situations I find myself in/happen to me. I would if I was aware in the moment but I just seem to walk into them and then upon realization and reflection, I embarrassingly try to minimize what takes place. I must thank all those around me who unwittingly experience first hand or second hand the outrageousness that finds its way to me. Although I may on first glance revel in the hilarity of what has taken place, I am, on a deeper level, trying to figure out how I could have changed things up to make myself come across as smarter and look way more intelligent but alas, that has never happened and I doubt it will ever happen. I now take comfort in the fact that I am who I am and that I bring humour to others based on what life throws me. For all of you have laughed with me and not at me, I am forever grateful. For all of you have laughed at me – uhm, well, I guess I still brought you some joy into your life. As of present, I have stopped worrying about how I am being perceived and live my life and embrace the circumstances that come my way even if they end up making me the butt of the joke! Laugh on, I do 😉

February 4 – you just got served – backhandedly

195/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Total backhanded gratitude post. I have often thought about this and yesterday I got the answer. I get a lot of subtle hate on from guys my age or a few years younger and especially guys from my own ethnic group. As I did a quick perusal of my contacts, I can say that I have no male friends of my age group from my ethnicity but do have many male friends who are non Indian and of various ages which was something that was quite surprising to me. Last night, while I was out, the subject matter came up and an epiphany resulted – I throw a wrench into the typical persona that I should be presenting/portraying as an Indo-Canadian male which is hyper-masculinity and everything that goes with that. I was also told that I threaten my Indo-Canadian counterparts as I am comfortable with both my masculine and my feminine sides. As Indo-Canadian males of my age and a decade plus or minus a few years younger than me, we are implicitly taught more than most other males to show no emotion, that the male is the boss, that masculinity shall not be threatened and to rarely back down – yes, I am colouring with a wide brush right now but I don’t think I am necessarily incorrect about this. To this day, I still struggle with how I am to present myself and how I will be judged and it’s true, my worst critics are the aforementioned guys yet none of them has ever said anything to me explicitly but their actions (or rather inactions) towards me speak volumes. However, with saying all this, I would not change myself today which took a long time for me to accept myself. I like my sensitivity. I like my eccentricities. I like my excitability. I like my quirkiness. I like my metrosexuality. I like me. Thank you guys for making me feel uncomfortable and inferior subconsciously which actually allowed me to grow a tougher shell to withstand criticism, not care about others opinions and actually reach my potentiality.  I didn’t know or realize I needed your judgments about me to allow me to become who I am.

January 25 – Mulder & Scully

185/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. The Truth Is Out There and it’s back. I started watching the XFiles the year I received my first full time teaching job in Richmond and the same September that my daughter was born. Up until the XFiles, everything that I watched was a far cry from intelligent and also never from the science fiction genre. Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon as everyone was mentioning that it was filmed in Vancouver and I wanted to be engaged in the water cooler conversation that was bound to take place. I instantly fell in love with the show and its mythology – although I was more a fan of the stand-alone episodes as the main storyline got convoluted. I stuck with the show through all seasons – even with new main characters introduced in the final years (even watching the movies) when most fans had abandoned the series. My tv viewing over the years has been heavily influenced by both the XFiles science fiction – Walking Dead fits the mould perfectly as well as a strong female character lead – Orphan Black fits the mould perfectly! Thank you Chris Carter for creating an intelligent show that got me thinking about conspiracy theories, aliens, government cover-ups and the fact that science doesn’t explain everything. I can’t say that I always make intelligent television viewing choices but the Xfiles influence definitely colours my choices and for that I am thankful.

January 15 – instant bestie

175/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. People say that I easily make friends. I disagree. I think the people I become friends with instantly have some amazing qualities that attract me to them and allow me to let loose and become friends with them – it’s all about them. That is definitely the case with my new friend Dee-Ann W. We met only 6 months ago but instantly became fast friends and it’s like we’ve been friends forever – one of those past lifetime friendships that have finally met again in this lifetime type of friends if that makes sense. We ended up working in a very cushy summer school situation – I can’t elaborate as you would be jealous and really get your hate on – suffice to say that all our bonding time cemented our new found friendship. Dee-Ann is a fellow teacher on the teaching spectrum – whereas I teach Grade 12s, Dee-Ann teaches kindergartners and judgmental me always thought elementary school teachers were uptight, by the books, stick in the muds. Not the case with Dee-Ann. Upon that first meeting, instantaneous bond – yes, there was an outside element that helped with that but our friendship was meant to be. She gave me life advice as I found it very easy to open up to her as to what I was experiencing last summer with my separation and her words were so very necessary for me just when I needed them. Plus Dee-Ann made me laugh – instant chemistry leading to finding humour in one’s foibles and well, one other variable that I also can not mention but that variable bonded us instantly. Dee-Ann is a year my junior but we be redefining what 50 is and will be, 50 will not be defining us. We own 5-0 and no one will tell us any different – this is why Dee-Ann is my bestie at 50! My soul sister from another mister who shares the same sentiment- life is just starting!! So glad I met you and have become friends. Looking so forward to our friendship blossoming. Here’s to you Dee-Ann, I fill out another crossword and ignore people who I have not time for 😉 You absolutely rock!

December 10 – quirky by nature

139/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have looked back on high school several times over my life – I would never do it again if I were given the chance as my experiences (good and bad – more so the latter) made me who I am today, but damn, did I not look in a mirror to see what was looking back at me? LOL. Today, if others were to take a look at my pictures from back then, they would probably remark that I was quirky! That would be a fair statement if I was actually self-aware and going for that look. Now, I did have a friend back then who definitely did have a style of her own and perhaps it could be labeled quirky as she was left of center just like me but she was aware of it and made a conscious effort to be different and unique and I envied her for that! Julia, one year my junior in high school was this eccentric, funky, asymmetric hair style sportin’, eloquent girl who also worked with me at McDonald’s. We were both lucky enough to work at the front counter and on those rare occasions as host/hostess for children’s birthday parties. Julia would crack jokes, rock that polyster uniform and retain this uber-cool vibe. She was way ahead of her time – the alterna-girl: Commercial Street, vegan, yoga, unique girl (okay, maybe she isn’t all that but that’s the vibe I got from her). As high school ended, of course staying in touch is lost but with the advent of social media, specifically Facebook, I hunted high and low for her to no avail until one day her account appeared!! I took it upon myself to immediately contact her and we reconnected (although she was living about 600 kilometres away). Long story short, we made plans to reconnect on a drive I would be making and we met and there was Julia. I couldn’t imagine how she would look in her 40s based on her teenage years but when I saw her, all the pieces fell into place: lovely garden, flowing sundress, naturally silver locks freely cascading, funky coffee cup in hand, and that great pleasant voice. Julia was one of those girls who was nice to me back in the day when most people weren’t and for that I am very grateful. Because of that, we are still in touch today and meet up whenever she is in town and she is one of the reasons this blog that you are reading is in existence. Working in the publishing field, she suggested that I take this powerful message and share it via a blog and well, it has become what it has become through a lot of help from people such as Julia. For that too, I am grateful. Thank you Julia for being a friend back in the day but a better, wiser, funkier, stylish friend today! I embrace my greyness in your honour!