Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Our semi-annual year-end family photo, the first to include our little girl Freddie. I don't know if it's obvious, but she highly disapproved of this whole activity.
Wishing all the best to you in 2016!! 


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 16 LPs of 2015

So why 16 LPs, rather than 10 or 20?  Sixteen is the number of songs that typically fit into a 60 minute podcast. :)

My podcast for this week is a countdown of my fave LPs of the past year. My criteria for selection:
  • Must be available on vinyl
  • Must have been released in 2015 (must also have "2015" printed somewhere on the sleeve).
  • Reissues were considered if they included new material and/or packaging (i.e. remixed, bonus tracks, etc).
So here's the list!
  1. No Pier Pressure - Brian Wilson
  2. Begin the Begone - The Orange Peels
  3. Still Got That Hunger - The Zombies
  4. The Magic Whip - Blur
  5. Paper Gods - Duran Duran
  6. 1 (2015 remix) - The Beatles
  7. Music from Love and Mercy
  8. The Butterscotch Cathedral - s/t
  9. Let's Have a Party: Live at Emerald City, Cherry Hill, NJ 8/31/1981 - Go-Go's
  10. Tug Of War (2015 remix, expanded) - Paul McCartney
  11. LIVE! 8.24.1979 - the B-52's
  12. Recreational Love - The Bird and The Bee
  13. Real People - Lyrics Born
  14. Postcards From Paradise - Ringo Starr
  15. The BBC Radio Sessions - The Zombies
  16. No Cities To Love - Sleater Kinney
You can listen to the podcast here (link will remain live for about 8 weeks): 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reviewing 2015

It's that time of year when music geeks around the globe engage in their annual reflection of the year's new releases in a sincere effort to assemble their personal "Best Of" list(s).  Non-music heads are prone to scoff at this tradition, but us music people take this task very seriously.

As of this writing I am almost half way through my vinyl purchases of 2015.  Of course I have my specific criteria for which releases qualify for potential inclusion (which will be included when I post my final list).

To my fellow music geeks, I look forward to seeing your lists! If you're so inclined, feel free to post them in the comments.

Happy listening!  JEFF

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RIP Austin Pawers

Last Wednesday (12/9/2015) we said a tearful farewell to our boy Austin. He had started resisting food and water, which is never a good sign for rabbits. We made an emergency visit to the vet, who told us that Austin was having trouble breathing and that his heartbeat was extremely irregular. Our fella was tired.

Austin came into our family, along with his friend Simon, in 2004. Where Simon was very open with his affection, Austin played his cards closer to his chest. It took a couple of years and a lot of patience for me to develop a relationship with him. It wasn't until after Simon's passing two years ago that Austin respected me enough to give me kisses.  To be honest, I didn't expect to ever see such a level of affection from our guarded bunny. Over the last two years when I was dealing with health issues and living with the loss of my brother and Simon, Austin proved to be the ideal companion. We developed a friendship on his terms (as it typically works with rabbits), and he stuck by my side.  I could tell that he loved me, and he showed it the best way he knew how.

At the vet, a sweet and unexpected kiss goodbye.
As I type this I am tearing up again, thinking about my final moments with my little friend.  We were in a room waiting for the vet, and when Leo briefly stepped outside of the room Austin unexpectedly reached his head up to give me a thorough cheek wash. It was an incredibly sweet moment; I truly sensed that Austin knew he was ready to go, and that he was saying goodbye.  After we received his prognosis I spent a final five minutes on the floor with Austin, at which point he gave me a few more bonus kisses (which Leo captured on my phone).  At a time when I was trying to comfort him and assure him that he would be OK, he seemed intent on doing the same for me.  It was such an affirmation of the unlikely bond that we managed to form with each other, and a special gift that I will never forget.

Thank you, Austin, for all of the life that you shared in your eleven years with us. You have a permanent place in my heart. Rest in peace, my sweet boy.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Loss, Life, and Family

RIP: Burying my brother's ashes.
Saturday (8/22) was the 2nd anniversary of my only sibling's death. To recognize the day, Leo and I spent some time burying Jay's ashes. In some ways the experience was like picking at a scab, but it did provide an opportunity for acceptance and feeling better about moving forward. Leo burned some incense that smelled very Catholic, and I spent a few moments feeling my brother's ashes as they began to blend with the earth.

It's a girl! Me, Leo, & Freddie, after
the adoption papers were signed.
Saturday was also the day that Leo and I attended an adoption event held by the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society. Our eyes were on a particular Holland Lop named Luna, a foster bun who was in need of a permanent home. We were immediately smitten with her, and soon she was in a carrier headed home with us.
We re-named her Freddie (after the character Freddie Brooks from "A Different World", played by Cree Summer), and it's been a joy having her as a new member of the family. She's a very curious, sweet, energetic, and slightly nervous bunny. I look forward to getting to know her better and seeing her personality develop.

Today is Monday and I'm still somewhat spent - emotionally, physically & spiritually - from the weekend's activities. The lesson learned: The reality of life is that everyone dies. I may have lost my birth family to death in the past few years, but at the same time my husband and I have cultivated a family unit of our own. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the loving home we're building for ourselves and our four-legged children.
Freddie's first selfie, taken just after we got home,
before she found the courage to come out of the carrier. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

NYC2015 in 90 Seconds

Compiled of mostly one-second clips, shot over each day of my trip, from 6/19-25.

Thank you, NYC.

Friday, June 19, 2015

NYC2015: Hitting "Restart"

Friday, June 19.  MSP Airport.

Many mixed emotions right now,  waiting to board a plane to NYC.  All of the news channels are talking about the church shooting in Charleston. Doesn’t feel like a proper time for a vacation, but I know if I were at home I’d just flip between channels and get angry over what feels like a country that’s gone over the moon with hate.

A more obvious reason for me not be on vacation is the financial situation Leo and I are in at the moment.  I try to remind myself that I booked this trip back in early March, before we saw the shit storm on the horizon.  This trip was originally conceived as a getaway for both Leo and me.  Last week I felt major quilt over leaving Leo at home (he couldn’t get the time off of work, and didn’t feel right spending the money for just a couple days in NY).  I contacted the travel agency to inquire about cancelling the trip, but the fees I would be charged seemed like such a waste of money.  Leo assured me that I should go.

It seemed appropriate back in March that I plan some type of get away, and this Sunday’s Davy  
MSP Airport, 6.19.2015
Jones Tree Dedication had big flashing lights, saying “this is the one you’re looking for”. At the time I was anticipating being further along with my dissertation than I am right now, and figured this would be the perfect way to celebrate my progress. I’ve since re-framed the trip as a means to recharge, so that I may return refreshed and ready to hop onto the fast track to completion. My goal is to finish my dissertation by the end of the year, so that I can defend before my birthday in March.

The past 5-10 years have been a roller coaster, riddled with personal health problems, surgeries, and navigating the devastation that accompanies the death of loved ones.  There’s no way that I know to prepare for the loss of a sibling or parent, or the toll it takes on the body and spirit.  In the past few years I’ve gone through this process with both of my parents, Leo’s dad, my brother, and our companion rabbit Simon.  As a result I’ve felt broken and defeated for extended lengths of time. 

This trip is an opportunity, in my current frame of mind, to place a bookmarker at the start of a new chapter, a chapter filled with more joy than sadness, more happy beginnings,  moving ahead, more standing up than getting knocked down.   I want to re-ignite the passions that I know are still within me, and kick-start that drive I have to do something positive with the time I have left on this planet.

OK then. Now that I’ve purged all this stuff, with any luck the next seven days will be a hearty vegan chicken soup for the soul.  No turning back. Life is for the living, and I still have plenty of checklists to make. Right now my checklist begins with getting on this plane to NYC. 

Video to come...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"30 Second Monday" (Video)

I felt the need to complete a creative project yesterday so I made this short video.  "Jeff Anderson's 30 Second Monday" is thirty chronological one-second clips that document my day. The soundtrack is a portion of an original composition called "Entrance" that I demoed in 2013.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Recognizing happiness

Sometimes life is like a maze, and it can feel like there's no end to the struggles that lurk around every turn.  Every once in a while you get a flash of clarity, a moment in time where the struggles get put on hold. If you're lucky you're able to enjoy living in that moment, but sometimes we're so distracted by life itself that we miss these occasional opportunities to just "be".

Boxes of 45s
Last night I decided I didn't want to just sit on the couch and watch mindless TV, so I got out some boxes of records that my brother and I collected together, boxes that have remained untouched for years. I cleaned and spun records as I alphabetized the boxes. Suddenly I understood that I was living one of those moments where my struggles were outside of the immediate experience. It was just me, the 45's, and my late brother, whose spirit lives in the grooves of those records. I got a quick rush of joy and told Jay I loved him.  That exact moment was a gift, and I'm grateful that I was able to enjoy it, fully present.

This morning I'm back on the life treadmill. I've got my stuff to do, and I feel the weight.  More often than not the "day-to-day" is hard, but I try to challenge myself to streamline the struggle to make each day feel less complicated. In doing this my ultimate goal is to live mindfully, so as not to miss moments like the one I found last night in those record boxes.

Peace.  Jeff

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day 2015 feels like a milestone, at least for me.  In 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, a lot of media attention was committed to ecological issues, and one that struck a particularly loud chord with me was the harmful impact of the beef industry. I remember reading that if each of us reduced our meat consumption by just 10%, we could feed the world with the grain that would otherwise be consumed by beef cattle. I thought to myself, "If I give up meat completely I could do the work of ten people!" That's how my 20-something brain worked at the time - very black and white, all or nothing.  Thus began my life as a vegetarian.
Earth Day, 1990

My dietary decision was initially met with disapproval from just about everyone in my life, which for me wasn't easy. I considered myself an activist though (still do), so any negativity I encountered just made me more determined.  To say I was a bit full of myself is probably an understatement, and I tip my hat to all the friends that are still with me 25 years later.  I'm sure I annoyed the piss out of most of you at some point.

Despite any early challenges, the long-term benefits of going veggie made the effort worthwhile. My journey may have stemmed from planetary concerns, but soon I was digging into animal rights, the corruption of factory farming, and philosophical arguments for plant-based living. The most unexpected benefit of my new lifestyle was a spiritual awakening. It's not easy for me to explain, but by ending my financial support of animal slaughter I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself.  My daily connection with a higher power became more pronounced. Being vegetarian (and eventually vegan) was a major part of my personal identity, and I wore the veggie badge with pride.

These days I'm not quite as vocal as I was in the '90s, but I remain every bit the activist that I was.  I suspect that age has taught me more effective ways of channeling my energies, so that I don't burn out so quickly. This is definitely a transferable skill -- as a PhD candidate and someone living with a chronic illness it is essential for me to conserve the limited energy that I do have!

To anyone reading who has considered going veggie, I encourage you to at least give it a shot. You've got nothing to lose, and so much to potentially gain. You don't need to give it all up at once -- maybe start with "Meatless Mondays".  You may decide that you want to improve your cooking skills (I personally recommend Linda McCartney's books as a great starting point).  Be adventurous and creative!  You may just find a world of food that you never knew existed.

Thanks for reading. Happy Earth Day to you!