Highschool.

I don’t normally do this, but here’s my throwback Thursday story.  More like a brief recap of my teen years.

I entered Grade 8 and was quickly bullied.  It sucked.  But in my mind, I was there for an education.  I wasn’t popular.  I was a geek/nerd/dork type of person.  My lunch hour was spent in the Chess Club.  Before and after school was spent in the Math Club.  The bullies were usually easy to ignore since I only saw them in the halls walking from class to class.  During classes, I wasn’t always that lucky.  I kept my grades up all through Grade 8 & 9.  It was the only thing that kept me wanting to attend school.  The few friends I made were nice enough that I am still in contact with them via Facebook and the occasional text.

 

I still have my first chess board after all these years.

 
Then during the summer between Grade 9 & 10 my family moved about thirty minutes away from that address.   I stayed in touch with only a couple of friends that summer.  Where we moved, new homes were being built, a new Highschool had just been built.  It had all new students, new teachers, new computers, new everything.  A new start.

Grade 10 was when I began to change my attitude towards school.  I wasn’t going to be bullied any more.  The first time I was teased, I dealt it right back tenfold.  I was razor sharp and was quickly respected and not teased all that often.  I never became the bully (at least I don’t think I did).  Instead I befriended everyone I could.  By the end of Grade 10 I had tons of friends, but my grades began to slip.  I just wanted to be liked and it was working.  And girls began to talk to me more.  I even got myself a girlfriend!  I also missed plenty of opportunities to date, but that’s a different story.  On the inside I was growing up, but to look at me, not much was changing.

 

From left to right, top to bottom: Grade 9,10,11,12. The early 90’s were cruel.

 
Grades 11 & 12 were kind of a blur.  School was going by quickly, boys and girls were turning into miniature adults, and my grades were getting worse.  I still loved having friends throughout these times, but it soon became obvious that not many were going to be lifelong friends.  I ended my Grade 12 year by doing something that I haven’t ever regretted.  I didn’t attend the Graduation Ceremony or the After Grad.  I knew who I was and wasn’t sure if I’d ever see any of these people again.  I entered the summer of 1994 ready to party.  And I did… for about six years.  The formal education I got during those times was minimal, but I read and studied topics that interested me.  I lived my life and with no regrets.

I’m still a geek.  I still have friends from all my years of being alive.  The biggest thing that has changed about me is that I’m proud of who I am.  My geekiness is a tad more extravagant, I’ve earned a few wrinkles and my hair is starting to recede.  On the inside, I’m still that nerd with a razor sharp wit who loves to learn new skills.

Years later, I’m still showing my geek pride.

Music

I love music.  Most people love music. Music adds enjoyment into our lives.  We listen to music when we are happy or sad.  Music brings back emotions, feelings, and memories of our past.  Without music, movies wouldn’t be as dramatic or enticing.  Without music, there’d be no reason to dance.  Without music, there’d be no romance.  I could not imagine a world without music.

Everyone has a favorite style of music.  My styles have changed numerous times over the years.  I have a love for the Muppets, Parodies, Industrial, Disco, Hair Bands, Musicals, Classical, the list goes on…  It all depends on my mood.  I set up speakers throughout my home in the main living area and deck so that I can enjoy music as I walk around from room to room.  When I was a teen, I had two 12″ subs pumping 300watts of bass in my car that rattled my trunk.  (I still have those speakers somewhere).  I like playing music loud.

The one thing I wish about music was that I learned how to play.  I’m not saying I don’t have a knowledge of music.  I was in concert band from grade six to grade eleven.  What I’m saying is, I have never known how to compose or play from the heart.  I’ve heard my friends create music together.  Most of it fantastic enough to earn them money doing it.  I’ve got friends who, to this day, make a living in the music industry.  Everything from going on tour to running their own recording studios to playing in a band at pubs & bars to Karaoke to being a DJ in a strip club.  All of these friends have a talent that I never had and I’m proud of them.

 

Composing her first piece at age 13.

 
Perhaps because of this, I chose to start my children at a young age learning the piano.  So we bought a Grand Piano.  If our kids were going to learn how to play, we wanted them to enjoy the chance by playing on a nice instrument right from the beginning.  

“Jem” cosplay.

We then found a fabulous piano teacher for my children.  Her personality and knowledge of the piano made her a perfect choice.  We became good friends.  She even taught me for a year, but I struggled.  Now my children have surpassed my basic musical skills and abilities.  But I knew they would.

Playing a Piano in the Park

For my wife’s 45th birthday in December, I repurposed an old vinyl record into a 45 adaptor to celebrate.  I found her favorite soundtrack in a Value Village and made something with my own two hands for her.  These are my skills.  I can make art when all people see is stuff. 

45th Birthday Gift

Music plays a big part in my life.  Oddly, I can never get enough.  We all love music.  We tap our fingers to the beat as we drive.  We laugh at a wedding as some crazy line dancing goes on.  We cry at a funeral when the last song requested by the deceased is played in their honor.

“Dance your cares away.

Worries for another day.

Let the music play.”

My favorite shirt will finally be laid to rest.

We all have a favorite article of clothing that makes us happy.  When we wear it, all is right in the world.

Today marks the last day I will forever wear my favorite shirt.   My first thought when I realized its untimely demise was, “Maybe I can save it… Turn it into a piece of art, or a rag!”  But no.  The shirt is done.  It’s run its course.  Only one thing left to do: Let me tell you my story.

I was 17 or so when I bought the t-shirt.  Big deal, 17 year olds buy clothes all the time, but I bought this shirt with my own hard earned cash.  I’d bought stuff before with my own money, but this shirt meant something more to me.  I forked over $40 plus taxes for my shirt.  $40 nearly 23 years ago.  THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY.  Based on inflation in today’s dollar would be equal to $65 for the shirt.  Last year, I had trouble spending ten bucks on a shirt.  But this shirt did last two decades.

I was a mallrat in my late teens.  I wandered around our local mall all the time.  It was a place to go to meet with friends and kill time & brain cells.  I must have passed the store that sold the t-shirt  a few dozen times before finally buying it.  The store was called “Distrito” and it specialized in unique clothes and junk.  Stuff you’d usually only find in downtown Vancouver.

 

Kids today will never know the joys of being a Mallrat.

 

There was only one shirt and it came in one size.  My size.  It called out to me to buy it.  So I did.  It was from the 1988 anime film “Akira“.  A film that made 14 year old me realize that animation isn’t limited to Disney films and Saturday Morning cartoons.  GI Joe wasn’t ever this violent!  My mind was blown.  From the first time I saw the movie, I fell in love with anime.  When I saw the t-shirt, I knew it was going to be mine.

Farewell old friend.

My shirt and I have been to hell & back.  I’ve bled on it, barfed on it, and got many other stains I’d rather not share with you.  It was my favorite piece of clothing I have ever owned, sweat stains and all.  My wife hated it, so I stopped wearing it in my regular rotation.  It became a work shirt.  But now, it’s done.  The material had become so thin, it was practically not even there.  It ripped today as I was taking it off.  I’m not the Hulk, so the rip terrified me.  A rip so horrifyingly loud that as soon as it happened, I knew the end was here.

So now, I say goodbye to a favorite article of clothing.  It brought me years of joy.

Vacation.

The other day I mentioned how much I love my job. I also enjoy my time away from there.  My vacations are now planned out for this year. This is the first time in many years that we aren’t heading to California in October and it seems strange.

Instead, this spring break we will head to California.  My wife has booked a couple conventions and I’m really excited about them.  Because… ROAD TRIP!

 

The end of Route 66.

We drive south at least once a year as a family.  My favorite part is the small stops we make along the way.  Good food, unique sites, and of course the beaches.

We spend about 24 hours driving down.  We hit Costco for some cheap food and gas.  We also hit at least two In-N-Out Burgers. Part of our journey involves watching “The Blue Planet” DVDs from BBC.  They are fantasticly visual and educational.  I’ve learned so much about our planet and my children enjoy the movies.

The journey is part of the reason we choose to drive.  We’ve seen some cool things and we spend time together talking.  Enjoying a road trip is a dying art.  Yes, my kids play with their Nintendo 3ds, iPads, or cellphones with headphones on when we need that small break from each other.  Surprisingly, the kids have put down these devices on their own accord just to look out the window to check out the scenery.

I know sometime soon we won’t all be going on these trips.  In fact a month later, we are doing a road trip without our eldest.  It will be strange.  I will be sad.  It won’t be the same.  I am putting my daughter’s education first and she is ok having a weekend away from her family.

Vacation is time away from routine.  It recharges and invigorates the soul.