27
Feb 14

Interim scribblings

I’ve been working on a redesign for taianderson.com – but things have been so busy that I haven’t finished it yet. So instead of maintaining total silence until I can deliver posts in a prettier format, I’m just going to forge ahead with scribblings and natterings on. Hope you don’t mind.

So much has happened since I last posted – projects and a road trip and house hunting, just to touch on the high points. I can’t believe it’s only been four weeks. Time flies when you’re reinventing your life, I guess.

huntington beach pier2

I took a road trip to California, and helped a friend do some house hunting while I was there. One night we went to dinner in Huntington Beach and then walked along the pier and watched the night surfers, and marveled at their bravery. I did that thing where you look over the edge, and feel like everything is going to fall overboard. Does that happen to anyone else? I don’t worry about my keys or my camera, but irrationally, I worry that I’m going to lose a shoe – as if I won’t be able to help kicking it off into the water. I mean, I’m not going to get into the irresistible pull of the ocean, because that’s been covered, but it’s certainly a real thing. I took this picture with my new Nikon, and didn’t really expect it to turn out because it was so foggy. I didn’t do any color change to it – I think it looks like if Thomas Kincade painted London. Circa 1998.

Speaking of house hunting, I’ve been looking for land in Mapleton, Utah. To be honest, it’s a weird little town, with fussy city ordinances, and every time I’ve mentioned that it’s where I’ve decided to build (fingers crossed, anyway) I get puzzled looks. Here are my reasons, in no particular order or grammatical symmetry: it has incredibly clean air, thanks to two canyons (Hobble Creek and Price) that blow into it. As a result of these winds, it has extraordinary light – clear, with a crisp warm tone to it on most days. Even when the weather is gloomy, the light  in Mapleton is at most just sharp white, as opposed to the rather dank grey or blue that can envelop a lot of the Wasatch front. Also, the town is called Mapleton. Not Orem, or Ogden, or Payson, or Draper. I categorically refuse to live in a town with an ugly name. Sure I live in Provo now, but it was supposed to be Provost, after the French-Canadian trapper Etienne Provost, who “founded” the place – but I’m getting side tracked. Back to Mapleton. There are no fast food places in Mapleton, and in fact, there are not many retailers at all, which could be argued is a downside, because what if you wake up needing a McDouble? Or want to go to brunch without driving 25 minutes? These are all good points, but I’m a better cook than any local brunch makers, and McDoubles are McPoisonous (if McDeslicious), so there. Besides, it’s a small town sandwiched between other towns with plenty of what I need, and a short shot to the freeway – necessary if you plan on going to the airport fairly frequently. And finally but not insignificantly, Mapleton has a feel that I love. The first time I drove through it, five or six years ago, I remember thinking, this is the type of place to come home to. My adventures can be anywhere, but everyone needs a good place to call home.

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See that light? It’s like Mediterranean light, or what you get on the Central Coast in California – but in February, with snow on the ground. I took pictures of my sisters on a lot-hunting day when the rest of Utah was covered in a haze of inversion.

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That’s all for tonight folks. I’ll be back on Friday with a weekly report. Although I can tell you now that the song of the week is Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” in French, because have you heard it? (Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned at least 10 times that the English version is my favorite song ever, but sometimes one must change things up, yo.) Song 2 of the week is Bon Iver’s cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” which is like taking karo syrup and drowning it in whiskey and sad dust, but is so good for singing along to in the car – at top decible, natch – that I defy anyone to scold me for imbibing such a hefty dose of the saccharine.

 


16
Jan 14

Sunglasses at the ready

So… I quit my job. I have worked at a Provo based crafting and home decor company called DCWV for 9 years. I started as a temp graphic designer on an off semester in college, and am saying farewell as the art director of a fantastic design team. It would have been 10 years in March.

Why did I quit? Lots of reasons. I’ve got a whole list of them, which includes things like “There’s other stuff out there,” “Must go to grad school,” and “I can’t be stressed out all the time.” But most of all, even though I really love my job, I just wasn’t feeling like myself.

I did some end of year assessing recently, and was alarmed to realize that so many of the things that I used to feel were part of my identity are things that I have let slip. Photography has been relegated to a rather sparse little Instagram account, my writing is limited to quoting my sister on Facebook, and I’m embarrassed to admit: in 2013 I blogged a mere 11 times. That’s not even once a month. Between April and September, there was total silence from Radio Tai! Don’t even ask me the last time I drew something or painted. I haven’t thrown a non-family dinner party in two years. Three? I haven’t even painted my nails in a month.

I mean, not to be melodramatic, but who am I anymore? Ok, that’s melodramatic. But still. It’s obviously time for a change. Long overdue, in fact.

If you’re thinking, “But Tai, was that wise? Do you have backup?” Rest assured, my concerned friend, that not only do I have a backup, but that I’ve got amazing stuff lined up. So stay tuned and dig out your sunglasses, because the future is bright. For now, I’ve got two more days with my team, who are the best coworkers anyone could ask for. I’m pretty thrilled that I’m only three miles away, and can see them any time I want, because there are going to be tears from me on Friday as it is.

So. I’m excited. Life is crazy, life is daring, and change can be the best thing that ever happens to you if you lean into it.

PS. My new Nikon arrives tomorrow.


22
Nov 13

Running toward change

All Things Are Difficult Before They Are Easy - by Jorgen GrotdalAll Things Are Difficult Before They Are Easy – by Jorgen Grotdal

I had the best conversation with my friend Heather today. She’s the director at two non-profit organizations, and is incredibly accomplished. Both of the positions have come to her within the last year and half, so she’s had a busy time! I picked her up to go to lunch, and we were in the car, talking about our respective jobs. “Remember a year ago when you were kind of overwhelmed, and everything was new and scary?” I asked her.

“Now I can do my job with my eyes closed. Crazy how you can get accustomed to anything.” She said. “It’s all about learning to change.”

“Learning to change. Who knew?” I said.

Isn’t it comforting that people are so adaptable? I’d never thought about learning to change. I think I’m a still a bit shell shocked by this year (this will be the last whiny post I PROMISE), but my initial instinct is to think: change is something that happens to people – we’re the victims! But I’m beginning to change my mind. I read a piece of advice recently that really struck me:

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. 

Energy is going to be expended anyway, and it might as well be directed constructively. Spending energy trying to stop things from changing is as useless as trying to prevent the sun from setting. The best part of it is: what can feel so alarming is often be the best thing for us. Shifting change from something that is acted upon you to something that you are acting on is empowering.

I think back, and the changes – moves, jobs, loves, fights, friends, the whole ball of wax – I’m grateful (now) for every one one of them.

Paradigm shift.

 

 


19
Nov 13

Plot twist

When something goes wrong in your life, just yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on.

Anyone recall me saying that I was bored earlier this year? Remind me never to do that again. An interesting life is not always a great thing. In fact, I read once that “May you live in interesting times” was a terrible Chinese curse, although I never heard it once during the entire time I lived in China. It’s been a weird fall for everyone – but I’m so jittery about jinxing myself or any friends or family that I’m not going to get into details. It’s a personal blog, sure, but – I just don’t want to relive it. I’ll just say that people who were sick are feeling better, my job still changes all the time, but I’m learning lots, I love my new little house, and that things are … progressing. For which I am grateful.

Cooking: I’ve discovered the key to healthy home meals. It involves delegating the salad making to my sister. Chere makes great salads. I loathe making salads. They’re so darn… leafy. And heaven forbid there should be any wilted leaves that stick wetly to your hands. *shudder* I’d rather kill a spider. So if I fob that onerous duty off onto someone else, I can do my other cooking, and it’s all smooth sailing, and I haven’t spent all my energy hating the salad making process. So Monday through Wednesday we have salad + protein (generally chicken or fish) and another veg (lately broccoli, because I thought it was a good idea to buy a giant bag at Costco). Then I make soup – either Asian with lots of fortifying ginger, floating bok choy leaves, and meaty mushrooms, or Megan’s Soup*.  Megan was an old roommate and current friend of mine who brought said soup to me when I was dying once, and it was singlehandedly responsible for resurrecting me. Friday is free for all, and Saturday is either designated “eat out” day or “Costco rotisserie chicken” day. Sunday? Anything can happen on Sunday. Don’t ask me about Sunday.

Listening and Reading: What am I not listening to? What I am not reading? Would be better questions. If you want music, allow me to point you in the direction of David Ramirez and this lovely song:

In podcasts, The Friday Night News Quiz is back after being on hiatus, and I find Sandi Toksvig so funny and intelligent. For audio books, I loved discovering Stephen Fry’s reading of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I’ve heard there’s a version of the Harry Potter books also read by him, and you’d better believe I’ll be finding a way to get my paws on them.

I get so sad when books end that I will choose my next book based on something related to what I’ve just consumed. Ideally it’s the same author, and I can just read in a happy loop through their entire bibliography. Terry Pratchett is my favorite for this – particularly the audio books. I can listen to them on a constant loop for – no joke – months. It helps that he’s written over 20 books. This month I started with good old Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve been reading him ever since that fateful day that I found his complete Sherlock Holmes in a bookstore in Hong Kong. I couldn’t have been older than 11, and I’ve read everything he’s ever written at least 10 times. Once done with that, I needed more! There are shelves of Sherlock Holmes derivatives, and I’m superbly picky. Laurie R. King has done it well – although her first effort, “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” was her best. There have been others that I’ve tried, but none that I liked well enough to mention here. Ever hopeful – I gave a newish author a shot. Lyndsay Faye’s “Dust and Shadows” puts Sherlock Holmes on the Jack the Ripper case – and wasn’t bad at all. She captured Watson’s tone of voice surprisingly well, which made up for other inconsistencies. I don’t know that I’d recommend it to someone who wasn’t interested in Victorian murder cases, but I enjoyed it well enough. Then, having discovered a new author, I read Faye’s other two books, “The Gods of Gotham” and “Seven for a Secret” both about a young policeman at the birth of the NYPD. They were… ok. But they succeeded hugely in getting me interested in the history of New York City. So on the reading list are:

books about NYC - taianderson.com

And before you ask – yes, I’m familiar with the Bowery Boys’ Podcast, and I love it.

Beautifying: I’m super poor lately, so I haven’t been buying makeup. Why am I poor? Probably because I’ve bought too much makeup in the past. But I did trade in 500 of my Sephora beauty points for a little Stila quad of products – which included a tiny mascara, an eyeliner in the color Stingray (awesome name), a lipgloss, and a highlighter/skin luminizer. My favorite thing from it was the eyeliner – it smudges to just the right extent – not enough to give me eye boogers or sad clown eyes, but just enough to look a bit like a smokey eye. Happy days! Also – just a note – Stila’s Stay All Day felt tip liner is really fantastic. I’m perfectly happy with Wet’n Wild and Maybelline’s waterproof liquid liners, but if I were feeling fancy I’d go with Stila. It’s lovely.

Watching: Thor 2. I’ve always liked Norse mythology. *cough*

thor-2-photos-thor-chris-hemsworth-close-590x330

I feel like I used to have more categories to these reports. That’s all for today, guys. Next time I’ll tell you about Thanksgiving, and maybe, I don’t know… do a Christmas giveaway. That’s what bloggers do, right?

*Megan’s Soup is technically a Cooking Light magazine recipe, but I think of it as more of a formula than anything else. It goes like this: aromatic protein + aromatics (onion and garlic, and spices of choice) + canned beans + 2 cans of tomatoes + liquid + spinach. So, in your soup pot of choice, brown either bacon or sausage. Drain off most of the oil and add chopped onions, and carrots. Once softened a little, add some garlic if you want, and if you want it a little smokier, a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika. Add 1 can of beans (your choice), and 2 14 oz cans of chopped stewed tomatoes, and if you’ve got stock, that too – otherwise water will do fine. Simmer for 10 ish minutes, salt and pepper to taste. It’s delicious ladled over large fistfuls of fresh spinach and a gob of goat cheese. If you don’t have fresh spinach, dump frozen in with the stock and simmer for an extra 5 minutes. You. Can’t. Go. Wrong.

PS. For tomato averse – this works fine with just stock and no tomatoes, but if such is the case, I recommend upping whatever spices you add in, and using white beans to make sort of a great white bean/spinach/sausage zuppa toscana deal.

 


27
Sep 13

Directionally challenged

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This year has shaped up to be one of the rougher ones I’ve had, which isn’t saying a whole lot, because it seems to be going much rougher for a lot of people I know. I’ve never given the number 13 much credence as an omen of bad luck, but I’m beginning to rethink this.

It was all kicked off by the death of my grandmother, and that remains the most painful of all the happenings by far. Two months ago, on a nice Saturday, my grandmother, who was an an exceptionally healthy 82 year old, laid down on the couch after eating some strawberries. No one knows if she was feeling faint or just needed a rest, but she never got up again. In as far as deaths go, one can’t ask for anything better for a loved one. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her like crazy. I lived with her for the later portion of my teens and before going to college, and we shared a love of gardening and reading. She was the most generous woman I’ve ever met, and absolutely my role model in life.

Shortly after coming back from the memorial service in Colorado (the funeral was in California) I received a phone call from my landlord, who was going through his own set of trials, and had decided that it was necessary for him to sell the house I was living in. Right away. When I’d moved in, he’d informed me that he and his wife really wanted to retire in this house, and that it was their favorite neighborhood. He even asked if I was sure if a year lease was all I was interested in. Eight months later, I was now looking for a new place to live.

The same week that I moved into the new house I found (hallelujah), my work went through (and is still going through) some massive changes. The CEO was replaced, and things are still in flux. I’ve worked at my company for 10 years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes, but this is the biggest one yet, and I have no idea what this means for my future.

Also this week, my best friend ended up in the ER, and found out that she has a tumor the size of a cantaloupe in her uterus, and she needs to have surgery immediately.

Those are the big bullet points. The smaller footnotes are things like: replacing my transmission, long road trips, sleepless nights, creative blocks, the stress of moving when you’re single, dramatic freelance clients, money that seems to disappear as fast as I can earn it, and dealing with one neurotic sister, and two neurotic cats.

Talk to anyone around you, and these are just the things of life – the twists and turns, the highs and the lows. I haven’t been squashed by an earthquake, or drowned in a flash flood. But telling someone it could be worse is no source of comfort, particularly when it keeps getting worse. Be grateful. I am grateful, believe me. I really am.

But oh, I could use a really long nap.


06
Sep 13

Move into Fall

Tell me of the glories of Autumn, of the gilded, waning days of crisp and chill.

I’m about to move again – the process has already begun – all the packing and moving and cleaning and finding of lone earrings and IKEA screws under things. I’m less overwrought about moving this time, although I have to own up to a few days of intense anxiety right after I was informed that my landlord wanted to sell the house. My lease doesn’t end for another four months, so I wasn’t expecting this, and it’s been a bloody pain in the tuches – particularly having to have the house open for potential buyers. But I’ve found a perfectly nice little house a mere block away, and it’ll all be just fine. Darn fine.

Moving house is a reckoning in which you are judge and judged, and the outcome for your belongings is either a swift exile (to the trash or Deseret Industries) or a confirmation  to your psyche that you are now the type of person who truly needs two mops. I will say that the one upside to moving is that it gives you the chance to re-evaluate everything you own, you’re forced into deep cleaning, and it’s like New Years all over again, but productive this time. The fact that the whole process has coincided with fall is just the cherry on top.

Do I sound conflicted? I am.

I’m not conflicted about Fall – the leaves started turning early this year – the 20th of August, or possibly even earlier, but that’s when I was up in the canyon and noticed it. There’s not a single thing about Fall I don’t like – from the colder weather to the shorter days, I don’t mind any of it.*

What I’m most excited about though, is how pretty it’s going to be. And cooking stuff in the crockpot, and the perfume of a long stew.

Do I have any real news? Beyond being just a lazy bum, I think this is why I haven’t posted here for months and months – my life just isn’t that interesting. I’m in my groove, I do my thing, I go to work, I live, I cook occasionally – yada yada yada. Maybe in this “New Year” that’s been forced on me, I’ll make a resolution to change that. While I must still follow the routines and structures of life, perhaps it’s the attention I pay to it that makes it exciting. No one truly has a boring life if they pay attention.

Mood: Hungry, mostly. I know that’s not a mood, but I ate my lunch at 10:30 am and it’s now past 6, and I am definitely munchy. It was Thai food last night, and it was so darn tasty that it just might be Thai food again tonight. Have you tried Pineapple rice? My sister Angel went on her mission to Malaysia/Singapore and ate a lot of pineapple rice, and insisted we order it. Turns out it’s delicious – dark and garlicky and crunchy with vegetables and the occasional pineapple wedge – less pineapple-y than it sounds, in fact, I could use more pineapple in it. Here’s my go to Thai order: pineapple rice, som tum (papaya salad), tom ka gai (a lime leaf infused tangy coconut soup with veggies), and then one wild card. Last night it was cashew chicken, but I think tonight it might be pumpkin curry. Haven’t you heard? It’s Fall.

Listening to: The Slate Culture Gabfest. Stephen Metcalf is a pompous pedant, and Dana Stephens grates on my nerves, but I hold out because I love Julia.  Also the New York Times Book Review podcast is fantastic. Also I had a weird day last week where I listened to The Ronette’s “Be My Baby” on repeat for at least an hour. Amazing song.

Reading: I haven’t even read the September fashion magazines yet. It’s been at least three weeks since I picked up a book, but I think it was James Michener’s “Centennial.” I didn’t get far enough into it to say if it’s held up as a literary work, but I remember reading it before college and loving it.

Cooking: When I haven’t been snarfing pineapple rice and other Thai goodies, I’ve been trying out recipes from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Ostensibly a Paleo diet cookbook, I find that it’s really just an exceptionally good cookbook. I need to cook a few more things from it before I can give it a total go ahead, but so far, I’m really pleased. Plus, her blog is really great. I recommend you start with the Bora Bora Fireballs and serve them with Sunshine Sauce (which I could eat by the spoonful).

Beautifying: You guys – I did my hair today for the first time in a month. Used a blowdryer and everything. Does that say it all? I feel like that should say it all.

I might get this for the new house:

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*I’m lying – the return of college students in the fall is a kink in my lemonade straw.