Monthly Archives: June 2007

This Is Rob

Thumbnail: Me and Rob laughing

Rob and Chris took off their coats. Not that it was par­tic­u­lar­ly hot, but the Prince Charlie jack­et does­n’t allow much flex­i­bil­i­ty of move­ment when work­ing uten­sils at a table.

I tugged on mine, but the but­tons on my vest held me back. I had the youth size, you see, a word I like to use more than “chil­dren’s”, where the vest is an illu­sion cre­at­ed by sewing two pan­els to the jack­et. I would have been naked had I had tak­en off my coat as the vest is a mod­ern cuirass, offer­ing a form of psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion, and I was left with the option of all or noth­ing.

I made a com­ment about it in pass­ing, and Rob start­ed to unbut­ton his vest, then adamant­ly told Chris to take his off. I had to con­vince them that I was jok­ing before they stopped.

This has come to define Rob to me. A guy who’s will­ing to embar­rass him­self so that oth­ers will feel more com­fort­able. It remind­ed me of Adam Sandler in Billy Madison, pre­tend­ing that he peed his pants by splash­ing water on his crotch so Ernie did­n’t feel so bad about doing it him­self. Sometimes Rob goes out of his way to help you and ends up embar­rass­ing you even more, but his inten­tions make it easy to for­give him. His heart is in the right place, and that’s more than you can say for most peo­ple nowa­days.

Beneath his tough-guy, rough-edged per­sona is the ted­dy bear.

It’s the same way with his intel­li­gence. He wraps his thoughts in humour, per­haps as a way of hid­ing his per­spicu­ity to put oth­ers at ease1. Unfortunately, some peo­ple can’t see beneath this veneer and mis­in­ter­pret it as typ­i­cal male obnox­ious­ness. It did­n’t fool Pat though, who described him as diverse, a per­son with some­thing insight­ful to say about any sub­ject. It was only after Pat used that word that I real­ized Rob is a cos­mopoli­tan who feels at home any­where doing any­thing.

Rob is also one of the few peo­ple who can tease me and get away with it, because he’s just as self-dep­re­cat­ing. I’ll make fun of his size, and he’ll make fun of mine. And while he’s a man’s man, he has no prob­lem admit­ting that he has he vis­its craft stores for his daugh­ter, that he watch­es cook­ing shows with his wife, and that he loves his broth­ers.

That’s the great thing about Rob. He’s filled with con­fi­dence and he has no prob­lem speak­ing his mind, instead of pussy-foot­ing around sen­si­tive sub­jects2. He’s the gen­uine arti­cle. What you see is what you get, and if you have a prob­lem with him, it’s your fault, not his.

That’s Rob.

  1. I think many are intim­i­dat­ed by some­one who can ana­lyze things []
  2. I hate it when some­one does­n’t speak up because they’re scared that some­one may not like their opin­ion []

The Old and Immature

My mom called.

She start­ed about some trans­fer forms, unfin­ished busi­ness in the wake of the divorce, but care­ful­ly segued into ask­ing if I want­ed to take a trip to the States with some oth­er fam­i­ly.

This is how she tries to make amends. She does­n’t apol­o­gize or ask how I’m doing because she can’t. She can’t admit that she’s done any wrong, not even to her­self. Her inse­cu­ri­ty does­n’t allow her to show any vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

I keep my rage in check, but it’s a hard fire to fight. After what I’ve been through, after telling her nev­er to talk to me again, she has the audac­i­ty to ask as if noth­ing has hap­pened.

With a firm voice, I tell her no. No to the trip, no to her, and this caus­es her tone to grow angry. It’s fun­ny to think that she may be angry at me, like a rapist being angry at his vic­tim, but I know it’s not anger. It’s sad­ness, but she masks it with anger, the way she hides her guilt behind her excus­es and expla­na­tions.

It’s eas­i­er to deal with the loss of your only child when it’s his fault.

From what she says, I can tell she’s more wor­ried about her image of being a bad par­ent to her friends, than to actu­al­ly being a moth­er to me. This was the per­son who “raised” me. The per­son who was sup­posed to teach me to be proud of who I am. To not be super­fi­cial. To be hum­ble. To own up to my mis­takes. To take respon­si­bil­i­ty for my actions. It’s a scary thought.

I can read my mom like a book. Not because I’ve known her for so long, but because she’s still a child. I know exact­ly what she’s think­ing, and at the same time, she shows a total lack of self-aware­ness. She still has­n’t learned the impor­tant lessons, the epipha­nies one expe­ri­ences through child­hood, ado­les­cence, and young adult­hood.

Talking to her is like talk­ing to myself at an ear­li­er stage in life.

Rockstar Jeff

Thumbnail: Muted colours
Thumbnail: Sun shot
Thumbnail: Soft focus
Thumbnail: The chest tattoo
Thumbnail: Two star tattoos
Thumbnail: Blackness

I asked Rockstar Jeff, an old source of envy, if I could take a few por­traits of him.

Jeff’s very pho­to­genic, but he does­n’t agree. I’m 75% prep and 25% bad-ass, where­as he’s 75% bad-ass and 25% prep. Sometimes we joke about trad­ing styles because there’s a mix in each of us, and we always like where the oth­er ones goes with it. The truth of the mat­ter is that I could nev­er pull off his style. Anyone can do prep, but he’s got the right face, the right clothes, the right atti­tude for hard­core.

This was his hit sin­gle.

He’s the gui­tarist and scream­er. The band broke up, but he’s cur­rent­ly explor­ing oth­er musi­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties. It’s inter­est­ing to hear his oth­er projects; he’s always the front­man, but he adjusts his singing style to the band while adding his own edge.


Stars on wrist

This was a mutu­al tat­too done with a friend (his “right hand” per­son), which is why there are two of them. His friend has the same tat­toos on her wrist.

Crows on right arm

As the crow is the uni­ver­sal sym­bol of bad luck, Jeff got each crow to remind him of a hard time in his life. Each one of them sig­ni­fy a moment. There’s one red one with a nail going through it, as a sym­bol that his bad luck is hope­ful­ly behind him (but he says it isn’t yet).

Daisy on right arm

The daisy is his mom’s flower. It’s not real­ly wilt­ed or bro­ken (which is what I thought at first), it’s sim­ply miss­ing petals. He got this at a time when he was real­ly angry at her, which is why it’s red. He had drawn two years ear­li­er, but only decid­ed to get it inked when she kicked him out of the house, to remind him of the hard love of fam­i­ly.

Stars on elbows

There’s actu­al­ly one larg­er star on each elbow, with the ini­tials of peo­ple com­ing out of them. They’re the first tat­toos he ever got, to remind him of the tough lessons that he’s gone through with or from these peo­ple.

Heart on chest

This one was inspired by his mom. He was mak­ing mak­ing some fool­ish deci­sions around 18, and his mom remind­ed him that he should be hap­py with him­self when he looks in the mir­ror, that there should be no hid­ing from the truth, and he should always be true to him­self.

The word “truth” is sur­round­ed by peri­ods to empha­size that it’s a strong fact in itself. The word “self” does­n’t start with a peri­od because the heart is a part of the sen­tence.

The only change he would make is to have it drawn back­wards, so he could read it when he looks in the mir­ror.

Guest Entry: Inspiration is Everywhere

This is a guest entry by fel­low 9rules mem­ber, Dave Seah. We start­ed this entry swap­ping ven­ture as an exer­cise in writ­ing out­side of our nor­mal styles. It also let us see how dif­fer­ent­ly we would explore a top­ic that was defined by a sin­gle sen­tence, which was “Inspiration is every­where”.

I approached Dave because he writes with a deep insight in his words while pre­sent­ing it with a light can­dor that draws the read­er in. Not only do I admire his writ­ing style and con­tent, I’m envi­ous of his abil­i­ty to come up with cre­ative, phe­nom­e­nal ideas. I’m glad that he agreed to par­tic­i­pate in this exer­cise, and leave his words and ideas as part of my per­son­al jour­ney.

You can read my take on the sub­ject at Dave’s site here.

If I were in your shoes and got hit with an hap­py-sound­ing phrase like INSPIRATION IS EVERYWHERE, I’d men­tal­ly spring into one of three mind­sets: 1. Skepticism 2. “Amen, Brother!” or 3. Apathy. I’d also make a few assump­tions: that the inten­tion behind such a procla­ma­tion was to be inspi­ra­tional in itself. Furthermore, the meta-assump­tion is that we’re all look­ing for it, or need it real bad.

Continue read­ing “Guest Entry: Inspiration is Everywhere”…