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”…