Sunday, December 14, 2014

12.14.2014

While experiencing a hearty mess of mixed emotions, I took on the task of putting up the Christmas tree in my ancestral home this evening. There was a good level of comfort felt as I assembled the tree and strung the lights. If my memory is correct, tonight was the first time I've ever put up a tree by myself.

Along with the good feelings I gained from taking on the tree, there's an understandable level of sadness in celebrating this Christmas without my family (this is only the 2nd Christmas since my brother's passing). Still, I feel a keen responsibility to continue traditions that brought my deceased family together in good years and bad.

So I'm now pondering whether 2014 falls under the good category or the bad. In the current moment, things aren't at their jolliest; my Crohn's disease is active, so in terms of my health every day is a challenge. These health struggles have led to a resurgence in depression and anxiety. It's pretty damn painful lately in my head, heart, and gut. In the coming weeks I've got about half a dozen tests (blood, stool, urine, colon, etc) that will hopefully point to what direction we should take with my treatment.

The good news (there's always a silver lining, I reckon) is that I've got my husband beside me on this journey. I know that this can't be easy for him, but it's part of his job, right? We support each other in sickness and health. We've also got our companion rabbit Austin, who has been a true-blue buddy to me over the past few months. He's a clever, mischievous little guy who makes me laugh just about every day.

So as 2014 draws to a close, the opportunities of a new year approach. Despite all the bullshit that's currently weighing me down, I'm optimistic that things can be better. Heartache is a part of life, but it doesn't need to be the compass I use to navigate each day.

Happy Holidays to all of my readers. I wish you all health, happiness, and hope. Let's rock 2015.

Peace -
J


Friday, December 12, 2014

Top 10 fave Christmas LPS

  • The Partridge Family • Christmas Card
  • Andy Williams • Christmas Album
  • The Carpenters • Christmas Portrait 
  • Barry Manilow • Because It's Christmas 
  • Paul Revere & The Raiders • A Christmas Present...And Past
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass • Christmas Album
  • The Sinatra Family • Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Osmonds • Christmas Album
  • The Living Sisters • Harmony is Real
Honorable mentions to the following, which are not available on vinyl:
  • Ringo Starr • I Wanna Be Santa Claus
  • Wilson Phillips • Christmas in Harmony

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week

So December 1-7 is IBD Awareness week, and this morning I woke up being keenly aware of my Crohn's Disease.  On days like today, instinct tells me "you ain't going nowheres."  My action plan is to hydrate myself and rest. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election Day

Voted this morning in the gym at my old grade school. What a rush.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Solo Beatles: 20 Top Picks

A good friend of mine, who is just beginning to explore the deep collective catalog of the Beatles' solo work, asked what my top 5 favorites were from each.  I didn't give it too much thought, choosing to shoot from the hip instead. Here's the result:

John:
Instant Karma (single)
#9 Dream (Walls & Bridges)
(Just Like) Starting Over (Double Fantasy)
Tight A$ (Mind Games)
Crippled Inside (Imagine)

Paul:
I’ve Had Enough (London Town)
My Brave Face (Flowers in the Dirt)
Live and Let Die (Wings single)
Getting Closer (Back to the Egg)
Fine Line (Chaos & Creation in the Back Yard)

George:
What Is Life (All Things Must Pass)
All Those Years Ago (Somewhere In England)
Isn’t It A Pity (All Things Must Pass)
Tired of Midnight Blue (Extra Texture)
Wah-Wah (All Things Must Pass)

Ringo:
Photograph (Ringo)
It Don’t Come Easy (single)
Choose Love (Choose Love)
Anthem (Ringo 2012)
Weight of the World (Time Takes Time)


Of course, after I came up with this list I thought of songs I omitted (including two of my favorite McCartney songs, "This One" and "Cosmically Conscious"), but I liked the spontaneity of the selection process and made an iTunes playlist right away.

Thanks to my buddy Chuck for instigating this list. I look forward to hearing about your personal favorites as you start digging into the richness of these records.

Beatles 4evs.

Jeff

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Road to Somewhere

It's been a while since I've blogged about my Ph.D. progress, mostly because of all the life changes that have occurred in the past year, since my brother's passing. Tomorrow I meet with my dissertation committee to discuss my research plans, and if they give me the green light I will officially be in research mode. This is exciting and emotional for numerous reasons, which I will now outline for anyone still reading...

As a college freshman the deck was somewhat stacked against me before I ever stepped onto campus.  I was:

  1. A first generation student (neither of my parents went to college, although my dad did get a certificate from a technical school);
  2. A student with a disability;
  3. A closeted and scared teen with a history of marginalization, harassment and bullying;
  4. Mostly introverted, lacking direction, and often afraid to ask for assistance when needed.
My first term at college was a disaster, and (due to my 1.00 GPA) I was put on academic probation.  This scared me enough to dedicate myself more to academic life, but I remained lost in terms of what I wanted to do. After my second year at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, I transferred to the Twin Cities campus to be closer to a more vibrant music scene.  Once again I had an abysmal first quarter at my new school and was placed on probation, but my involvement in musical activities would soon change my life as a college student.

Working in a record store and developing my skills as a musician/songwriter, while often convenient distractions from studying, turned out to be a means for me to find my voice.  I found creating music to be an intensely personal (almost spiritual) process, one that helped me begin learning who I was, what I valued, and what mattered in my world.  The college campus was the perfect place to be during this time of personal exploration.  After designing my own degree in Marketing/Studio Art/Music History I began falling in love with the process of learning, and academics in general.  Everything changed for me at this point. 

My increased academic confidence (and the guidance of a few exceptional instructors and advisors) eventually led to the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree, and a few years later, a Master of Science in Counseling and Student Personnel, after which I thought I was done with being a student.  The world of academics, and the hunger to keep learning, was still there, and after working for 8-9 years I knew it was time to go for the Ph.D..  Perhaps more importantly, I knew that if I didn't pursue a doctoral program I would later live with regret.  After receiving "no thanks" letters from two different programs I was nervous that my past academic shortcomings were hindering my chances, but the Higher Education program at the U of M had my name on it.  In the spring of 2005 I was accepted to the program, and a year later I was a full-time student again.  

After months of inactivity,
my home printer is back in action.
In the time since beginning my doctoral studies I have experienced incredible highs and some devastating lows. I've blogged at good length about the loss of my family, and the toll that grieving takes on the psyche (and in my case, physical well-being).  I was still grieving the loss of my dad when my mom lost her fight with cancer, and nothing could have prepared me for my brother's death.  It was a 1-2-3 punch, and I was down for the count by necessity. And yet here I am preparing to propose my research plan to my committee tomorrow.  It's an academic milestone I'm sure some people thought I'd never reach.  

Hardship is just that: hard, but over time it can make you more resilient. There have been moments in the past 25 years that were so challenging that I honestly didn't know how I'd get through, but I kept going forward anyway.  I have grown accustomed to telling myself "just keep going".  So that's what I'm doing, and I reckon I will continue doing so until my body stops.  

This one was a whopper. Thank you for reading!!  

Jeff

PS: THANK YOU to my husband, who has stuck with me through all the really rough shit. I love you so much.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fleetwood Mac @ Target Center, Minneapolis 9.30.2014

(photo by Dan Olson)
Set List: 
Me (left) and Leo waiting for
the show to begin!
The Chain
You Make Loving Fun
Dreams
Second Hand News
Rhiannon
Everywhere
I Know I'm Not Wrong
Tusk
Sisters of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Seven Wonders
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Stevie & Lindsey
(photo from concert fix.com)
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I'm So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

Encore
World Turning
Don't Stop
Silver Springs

Encore II
Songbird

Welcome back, Christine!
(photo by StarTribune)



Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Earthly Bodies" by The Twelve 13

I wrote and recorded this song quite a few years back. The lyrics were adapted from a poem by Linda Pierre. The song popped into my head yesterday, so I put this lyric video together.

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Year One

So tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my brother Jay's passing. It's not a day that I've been looking forward to, but of course it's unavoidable.

After my mom passed away in 2011 I thought about how awful it would be if something were to happen to Jay. Ten years ago (give or take a year) a good friend of mine lost his dad and only sibling within a relatively short period of time. I remember thinking how impossible it must be to manage such grief, and yet when Jay died I survived. What option did I have but to move forward?  I wanted to take an active role in my grieving process, rather than feel powerless or playing the role of the victim.  Having already lost my parents I was a seasoned griever, but this was bigger. My brother was my best friend, almost like a twin (we were 16 months apart). I leaned heavily on my husband and our circle of friends, who took such good care of us. We got through the rough patches together. Now, one year later, I am surprisingly better than I expected to be. Not surprisingly, the week leading up to this anniversary has been a reflective one.

One realization that came to me earlier this week is that I still have a relationship with my brother, it's just a new kind of relationship. I feel his presence in my life, like he is very much with me, and it's a big comfort on rough days. I can actually imagine moving forward in this life knowing that my big brother is still with me. I was talking with my husband about this, and he explained that it's quite Catholic to feel this connection with someone who's passed (my husband has always been Catholic, while I am only about ten years Catholic). It's not easy to explain, but I don't really feel compelled to explain it -- it just is what it is.

A blessing of the past year (and there are several) is that I no longer live with an addict in my life. As much as I loved my brother, I didn't care for the drunk version that he'd become over the past few years. It was sad that he had become unreliable, and that he was lying far more than I'd realized while he was alive. I know that this was all a part of his illness. Looking at pictures from the last year of his life is still painful and sad -- there's a vacant, almost absent look in his eyes. I suppose the harsh reality is that the Jay we knew and loved had already been gone for a couple of years by the time his liver finally surrendered.

Living a life that is free of addiction is something I've wanted since I was a kid (when my dad's disease took center stage in the home), and now I finally have it. Sure I'd rather have a sober Jay than a deceased one, but that was not my choice to make.  I'll probably never know why I was spared the family alcoholic gene; it's actually possible that I do have the gene, but simply never developed the disease because I don't drink (liquor doesn't play well with my Crohn's Disease). I will continue to live as an adult child of alcoholics, which is not without its perils, but life is much calmer without the anxiety of having an active drinker in my daily life. I do not take this for granted.

(Top right: Me and Jay some 40 yrs ago. Bottom left: Me today.)
So what do I take away from the past year? Too much to write in one blog post, I reckon. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the renewed and strengthened relationships I've enjoyed with the extended family that Jay and I shared. I am making and playing music with Jay's former bandmates, which has been an incredible gift. Restoring the home Jay and I grew up in has also been a tremendous opportunity for healing (not to mention a tremendous amount of work!). Through it all I've acquired an increased sense of peace and a strengthened faith. After surviving this past year I believe that I can survive almost anything, and for that I am indeed grateful.

Much love to my husband Leo, who has gone through this family journey with me. I love you more than I can say. Much love to my Anderson family unit: my deceased parents, Jim and Fernie, and my late brother Jay. Much love to my husband's family, my in-laws, who have now become my family. Finally, mucho love and gratitude to my extended family of lunatics who have, for whatever reason, chosen to stand by me all these years. I feel very lucky to have you all in my life.

xxxooo
peace and love,

Jeff

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Monkees, June 2, 2014 @ MN Zoo Ampitheater

The Monkees are currently on their fourth tour since 2011. Last night the band returned to the Minnesota Zoo to perform their first concert at the venue since Davy Jones's passing in February, 2012. As I was experiencing the show, I came to a realization: The Monkees have evolved from a television show about an imaginary band, into possibly the ultimate reality show about a very real band.

This theory hit me as Peter, Micky, and Michael were singing Davy's signature hit, "Daydream Believer" while a now iconic 60's clip of the song rolled behind them. The juxtaposition of the "then & now" made me think about how real and organic the past few years have been. The surviving Monkees have managed to share the process of grieving the loss of Jones with their fans. In addition, with the advent of social media, fans can experience tour season virtually in real time, be it through Peter's posts on facebook, Micky on twitter, or Nez on instagram. It's an exciting time to be a fan of a band that has been connecting with fans for close to 50 years.
The Monkees in concert, 6.2.2014
In 1997 Nesmith scripted and directed an all new Monkees special, through which the band revealed that, although the show went off the air in '68, they supposedly never stopped making episodes of the series. Indeed, real life is not far from this fictional premise. For those of us who have paid attention, the adventures of The Monkees have continued to evolve and unfold, and we're all a part of the action. I challenge you to identify any other band that is doing this, let alone for nearly five decades.

Had The Monkees truly called it quits in 1970, their legacy would have been cemented in rock history. In my opinion, however, a good chunk of the band's relevance has continued to blossom since their mammoth 1986 reunion. Here's hoping they keep this train rolling for a long time to come.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

3.18.2014 Fancy Podcast

  1. intro...
  2. Ceiling Fan in my Spoon - Lemonheads
  3. All Those People Know - Bob Mould
  4. Love Grenade - Cavedogs
  5. Joining a Fan Club (acoustic) - Jellyfish
  6. P.O. Box 9847 - The Monkees
  7. Blue Moon - Beck
  8. Moving Day (a folk song) - WORDS
  9. Fun Food Factory - Lollipop Train
  10. We Love You - The Rolling Stones
  11. Won't You Try / Saturday Afternoon - Jefferson Airplane
  12. Dizzy Heights - Neil Finn
  13. Blame It On The Girls - Mika
  14. Heaven Tonight - Hole
  15. Valleri Loves Me (live) - Material Issue
  16. Alligator - Paul McCartney
  17. Good Morning Girl / Stay Awhile - Journey
  18. Endless Harmony - The Free Design
  19. California Here It Comes - The Monkees
  20. ...see you next week!
Listen below! (podcasts remain online approximately 2 months)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Top 20 fave LPs of 2013

20. Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunnar's Daughter
19. TV Mania - Bored With Prozac and the Internet?
18. Bleached - Ride Your Heart
17. R.E.M. - Right On Target - 1984 Live Broadcast
16. Iggy & The Stooges - Ready To Die
15. Free Energy - Love Sign
14. Glen Campbell - See You There
13. Mavis Staples - One True Vine
12. Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me
11. The 88 - Fortune Teller
10. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - Take Me To The Land of Hell
9. Elton John - The Diving Board
8. Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost (and other songs)
7. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines
6. The Three O'Clock - Aquarius Andromeda
5. David Bowie - The Next Day
4. Sound City - Reel to Real
3. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - Unvarnished
2. The Orange Peels - Sun Moon
1. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories