April 21 – Prince

271/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I heard about Prince’s death this morning from a friend who came by my classroom.  My heart sank.  I was devastated.  Thankfully, my class was working on individual assignments so I could take time to process.  I loved Prince like no other!  People had/have their musical idols – Bowie, Lennon, Cobain, Mercury, Houston, Jackson – all amazing no doubt but Prince epitomized music for me.  He was my idol.  I love music but his music spoke to me on a different level – it was funk.  It was rock.  It was soul.  And it touched my soul.  I loved his image too and he, other than David Bowie, was a male who kept on reinventing himself with look after look – something I have done since I was a young adult – he made it normal for me as a teenage/young male to change up how I presented myself.  I idolized him.  He also made it acceptable not to have to be hyper-masculine to be a male.  He had attitude.  He oozed confidence and sexual bravado.  He didn’t take shit.  He talked smack about whatever he wanted to.  He wore his androgyny proudly.  He did it his own way regardless of what anyone thought. He was Prince.  Everything about him, I loved – and have come to emulate consciously but more subconsciously.  He produced for other artists and after hearing their collabs (Sheena Easton for one), I became a fan of that artist but the reason was the Prince sound.  His videos were iconic – When Doves Cry and Kiss are etched into my memory as are dozens of others.  His signature voice – the falsetto (Camille voice) morphing into his deep natural voice and the amazing production of his songs equaled perfection.  No matter what you called him – Prince, The Purple One, The Kid, The Artist Formerly Known As, Symbol – you can’t deny his talent.  I didn’t understand how people were moved by a celebrity’s death, someone they didn’t know, until today.  Perhaps it reminds me of my mortality as I grew up on his music in the 80s and now I’m 50 and he was only 57.  Perhaps he felt like a member of my extended family as he was always there musically and visually to get me through life’s moments.  Perhaps his songs resonated so deeply with me as they formed the soundtrack of my teens/young adulthood.  Whatever the reason, I’m gonna miss the musical genius but I take comfort in the fact that I have his music to remind me of his talent and what they meant to me.  I concoct a purple martini in your honour and salute you!

Advertisements

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!

February 28 – cousin-in-law

219/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s true when they say you marry, you marry into a family and everyone else in that family. Connections are made – some good, some great, some not so. I have been very fortunate in that my wife’s family is amazing. Before the separation, I spent a fair bit of time with them and enjoyed their company. The family is huge and the get-togethers were amazing – everyone loving, caring and genuine. I valued my time with them and would take their company any day over my own smaller family as there was a great bond with them. I felt accepted and valued by most of the family members and I had a great relationship with the cousins and spouses. Yes, I was weird uncle Randy and I relished that role 😉 However, as things happen with a separation, understandably uneasiness and confusion takes place as to the navigations of the extended family dynamics. Since I’ve been back home, I have had some time to think about these lost relationships and it has been awkward for me to engage in in-law family get-togethers as I guess on some level I felt hurt as I thought the connections that were there could have ridden the storm on even a simple level – just a message of “heard, hope you are well” instead of a complete shut-out but as I said, I am working through those feelings as I can see the other perspective.   The one person who I must thank today and who has been one of my most favourite in-laws is Raj. She is the one who has always had my back – when others make judgment calls or feel they know the right answers because they are louder – she always steps to the forefront and says it like it is. We have similar outgoing personalities and sometimes to our detriment, wear our feelings on our sleeves. She also understands me plus has a great sense of style – I mean we were both blondes once 😉  Upon my moving back, Raj did make an effort to connect with me and although I didn’t let her know, I am saying it here that I appreciate you reaching out to me – whereas others didn’t or haven’t since, you have and although I wasn’t ready then, I am ready now to reconnect. I feel so bad that I missed the birth of your child but she’s young, she won’t remember fingers crossed 😉 Thank you for being an awesome cousin-in-law and always a ray of sunshine 🙂

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 18 – girl power

178/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I guess I’m on a UBC mindset for the last two days and the people I met along the way of getting my education. I grew up in a time where my parents felt that getting an education was vital for a boy but not of a concern for girls. Although my sister wanted to go to university (and she did for a while), it was a battle for her as my parents thought it was more important that she got married off and an education would be a hindrance as that would make her less marketable as she would price herself out of the league of many eligible boys – oh, don’t even begin to comment on their logic. On the other hand, a boy had to have post-secondary and there was no other option but university. College or trade school amounted to failure. No pressure 😦 Upon being accepted into the UBC Commerce program, I was surprised to see a couple of Indo-Canadian girls in the faculty – my parents subconscious brainwashing also had an effect on me! I met Ronnie J there. She was this ultra-cool, hip Indian girl. I recall the bright red lipstick and jet black curls and the leather jacket with jeans and she drank and she was smart too, way smarter than me and I thought I was smart! I loved it – threw everything I knew, thought I knew, parents taught me to know, everything out the window – challenged me as a person. Boy did I grow as a person and in a good way – I was able to reconsider the things I was taught about how women were viewed and their value in the Indian culture at the time and because of my exposure to Ronnie, I was able to recreate my thought process to the prevailing values of the society I was born into. Yes, I argued the case for my sister too little too late but eventually my mother saw the light and did change the way she viewed females to the benefit of my youngest sister. Thank you Ronnie for being in the Commerce program when I was there and giving me an enlightening educational experience than that I could have ever hoped for! The feminist in me cheers you on wherever you may be in life today!

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!