Last year was one full of great changes for me.
David and I left Phoenix to move to Portland at the very end of February. I had lived in Phoenix my entire life. My original plan was to move after college, but it took a little over ten years.
We went from owning a large home to renting a small (725 sq ft!) house! We learned and are still learning to pare down what we have. It helps that we don’t live close to any big box stores full of inexpensive and tempting things. There’s a sense of accomplishment to let go of things we’ve been holding on to both physically and emotionally.
After finally getting my health under control in 2012 and moving at the beginning of 2013, I was finally able to get a job in a new career. I am so grateful for those who saw my potential and ignored my lack of experience. I am grateful for the teammates who help me with the steep learning curve everyday and make my job a fun place to work. I am full of joy to move forward and learn new skills and grow. Thank you: Jarnigan, Jesse, Wael, Jordan, John, Kenny, Mike, Ian, Robert, Lucas, Matt, Will, Grant, Raul, Charlie, Mel and Alison.
I am thankful for my friends and family who have visited me here in Portland bringing pieces of home. I love showing my new city to you. I still have so much to discover each day about this magical place full of artists, trees, and quirky shops. Oh and the food. Thank you Tom, Sarah, Jill, John, Stacy, Erica, James, Tim, Anke, Judy, Chanelle, Gabe, Susan, and Bree. (Am I forgetting anyone?)
And speaking of food, what a perfect city for me! Restaurants that label their menu with gluten free indicators (GF)! Chefs who understand special diets and embrace the diversity of their patrons! Hooray!
Just under the gun, Stephanie slid into Portland. She left Phoenix before I did, but overshot and landed in Seattle. She just moved to the neighborhood last month! I am thrilled to have one of my best friends back again.
We visited Phoenix in May for my little brother’s wedding. It was originally going to be a destination wedding, but they changed their plans. It ended up being just perfect for them: full of friends and family. Dancing, eating, toasting, drinking…so full of emotion and celebration.
I rode my bike to and from work about 10-11 miles round trip along the river on a bike path from the beginning of October to the end of November. So maybe about 460 miles? I suppose that isn’t much for you regular cyclists, but quite a lot for me. I am excited for the mornings to warm up a tad (50 degrees please!) and the sun to extend it’s daylight hours so I can ride again.
In some sense, my blog has suffered because of my new life. I feel compelled to be outside so often. I love exploring and when I am at home, I like to unwind with my knitting. I have met so many wonderful people here though, so I want to continue my interview series and increase the frequency. I can’t believe I only interviewed three people in 2013!
There’s a magical hat shop in Downtown Portland.
It’s called Pinkham Millinery. The owner Dayna Pinkham studied under the late John Eaton in Seattle. She’s a talented and inspired woman. (More of her story you can find on the web and also on her website.)
I first discovered her store by simply walking by it. It was old world. Charming. It was like stepping back in time. All of her hats are custom made. She measures your head, finds out what you want, and custom designs and builds a hat for your unique head.
She crafts using high quality felts and imported straw. The ribbons she uses are imported. The hats are amazing. I wanted one, but I am not prepared just yet for the cost. So I wistfully gawked, and I planned for the future.
But I really lucked out. REALLY LUCKED OUT. I was in Buffalo Exchange a week and a half later searching for a summer straw hat when I discovered a white straw hat with a little black tag that said Pinkham Millinery. I couldn’t believe my fortune! Fifteen dollars! I did glance around furtively to see if perhaps someone would come over and say, “Oops, we mislabeled that!” And then display it behind the counter. BUT NO! It was ignored and squashed. It looked ruined, but I was hoping that Dayna Pinkham could reblock it and restore it to it’s former glory.
I took the crumpled hat to her, and she evaluated it. She guessed it had been made about seven years prior. She said she thought she could save it, so I left it in her care and scheduled my return two weeks later.
And it was beautiful. She did a fantastic job and installed a little elastic cord since the hat was slightly too big for me (that’s why custom hats are so amazing!) I cannot wait until I can order a custom hat for myself-I’m thinking felt for the winter.
What do you think? Do I look glamorous?
You can follow Pinkham Millinery on Facebook here.
I’m excited to bring you my first Portland interview! Sarah was one of the first people I met when we moved into the Sellwood neighborhood. She was at the meeting the neighbors held to discuss the mural design for the Sherrett Square intersection. She showed up without shoes on in late March, and my curiosity was piqued!
Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Sarah: I’m a 23 year old artist and playful living extraordinaire! I spend my days working on creative and collaborative projects and try to be as helpful and goofy as possible! I believe that the best way to inspire others to do good in the world is to live your truth. I love graphic novels, harmonizing, loukoumades, and playing my soul sport ultimate Frisbee.
Jamie: I’d really like to know more about your barefoot philosophy-how did you get into it? Do you ride your bike without shoes? Do you go into restaurants without them?
Sarah: Well sure! It all began many years ago down in the Rogue Valley where I grew up. We lived on a few acres of land surrounded by meadows with views of mountain ranges and I’d spend hours upon hours romping around in “the back 40” unshod. My mom would insist that I wear shoes, but after many futile attempts, she finally conceded to allow me to play without a scolding because I’d never listen. Going barefoot wasn’t even a question. It just made sense. It felt right.
I wore shoes or sandals in public places when I had to and at school. Shoes became more of an installation in my life during my high school years what with sports and the desire to fit in being larger factors. At some point, I started to realize how odd and almost nonexistent it was for adults to walk around outside of the house without shoes. This was troubling because I felt the most like myself, I felt the most comfortable barefoot, and I didn’t want to be chastised or gawked at for it. At that time I was getting into film and I thought it would be a great documentary topic from a social commentary point of view. I began researching feet and barefooting and discovered that there were several organizations that were totally dedicated to barefooting, which was awesome! I also discovered that many myths surrounding laws and the dangers of going barefoot in our modern societies were false.
I shelved the idea for a while, but kept coming back to it excitedly. While at university, my activist fires were ignited and with my new found confidence I felt empowered to be more vocal and active in my barefooting. I gradually moved almost completely away from shoes and over the past couple of years have been working on the preproduction of my documentary film Foot.
All of the research I’ve done over the years has expanded my knowledge of the scientific and health related reasons for going barefoot, but the deeper truth was there all along. I knew it as a child, as I think we all inherently know it. When we go the beach or park and slip off our shoes without a thought, instinctually gripping at the sun warmed sand or luscious grass beneath us. Our bodies and hearts know that it’s good because it’s how we come in to the world to experience it. It’s how we connect to everything. To the past, present, and future. To life!
I try to be barefoot as much as I can, but I usually bring sandals with me if I know I’ll be going into buildings that may have an issue with being barefoot. I’ve asked all of the places I frequent and about half of them are fine with me coming in unshod. Usually it’s liability that folks are worried about which is unfortunate. I do bike without shoes. Two summers ago I biked to the coast barefoot!
Jamie: You are onto something there with the idea about instinct for sure. When we truly connect with nature, we do instinctually take off our shoes. But what about winter? Don’t your feet get cold? And in this climate in particular, a lot of people take off their shoes when entering a house, how do you navigate that custom if your feet are wet or muddy?
Sarah: People who live primarily barefoot actually have warmer feet because their circulation is better. When you use all of the muscles in your feet to support and move your entire body instead of relying on the support of shoes, your feet demand more blood flow which your heart is happy to provide. A lot of times in the winter I’ll start out with wool socks in sandals and a half hour later I need to take them off because my feet are too hot. This isn’t always possible as it does get very cold and wet in a lot of places, so I do wear wool socks with sandals or shoes that I make. I’m crafty and love tedious projects, but there are handcrafted moccasin-like shoe producers out there. The closest to Portland I know of is in Corvallis and they are named Soft Star Shoes. (Website below). They’re really wonderful!
As far as going into homes goes, feet are much easier to clean than shoes for one thing, so it’s usually enough to just wipe on the doormat a few times. If it’s particularly mucky out, I may bring along a hand towel just in case, or I’ll ask for one when I arrive. Also grass is a great bath and mat all in one!
Jamie: I am also very interested in the work you do with the Planet Repair Institute. Could you talk a little about that? (And in particular, the project you did about making your bed!)
Sarah: Sure. Well PRI is the home I share with four others as well as a demonstration site and permaculture school. We all work together on experimenting with all kinds of urban homesteading projects such as growing our own food, installing rainwater catchment and other water systems, straw-clay insulation, and community asset sharing. Every year we participate in the Village Building Convergence as a site and we host a 15 day Permaculture Design Course that’s spread out over several months in the summer and fall. We all also have our own projects outside of the house, but at the same time are all very invested in this place. Mostly we’re all very interested in exploring ways in which we can sustain our needs at home, instead of outsourcing them and spending most of our lives apart from the place and people we love.
My bed project is expanded upon on our blog listed below, but basically I needed a new bed one day and didn’t want to purchase one because beds are weird and chemically and I have no idea where or how they’re made. So I thought, “why not make one!? How hard could it be?” Fortunately because we do a lot of building around here, we had all of the tools and spare lumber for the job. I did source some nice scrap untreated cotton canvas for the mattress and bought some localish straw to stuff it with.
I love making my own things. It’s one of the most satisfying activities to partake in. I’m so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to spend a large portion of my days making my own furniture, clothing, food, and artwork instead of performing ultimately meaningless tasks for someone else hours on end so that I can pay for yet another person to provide for my needs. It’s not perfect, certainly not always so dandy or easy, but it is always rich and meaningful. And that’s what matters.
Jamie: Would you share some of your favorite internet links?
Sarah: http://www.softstarshoes.com/ – Awesome shoe company in Oregon
http://www.barefooters.org/ – The society for barefoot living’s homepage
www.planetrepair.org – Permaculture demonstration site and home
http://cityrepair.org/ – Great Portland organization that puts on the Village Building Convergence
www.gardensglory.com – My garden inspired earring website
http://www.taprootmag.com/ – A magazine that I really love!
Look out soon for my film’s website!
Thank you so much, Sarah, for taking the time to answer my questions! You are so interesting, and this interview only scratches the surface. Please everyone reading this, feel free to ask her more questions, and I will make sure she sees your comments.
I grew up with a mother who loved antiques. For a time, she even ran a large Antique Warehouse on Apache and McClintock in Tempe, Arizona called Cheap Antiques. It was huge: one of those buildings filled with different vendors and rooms. It was unlike any other I’ve been in since though. The back section of the warehouse was a workspace for certain employees to refurnish the some antiques. I used to watch in awe as they dipped heavy pieces into an industrial sized tub to remove all the varnish. It smelled like stripper, oil, and wood shavings back there. I loved it.
It’s been a long time since then; my mother has long since changed careers, but I did inherit a couple of large chairs that wouldn’t quite fit into her house the way she wanted. I lugged them all the way up here to Portland. (Thanks David! I know they were heavy!)
One of the chairs in particular has always been ugly. The fabric on it, I just don’t even know how to describe it. Colorful?
I have provided evidence with a “vintage” photo of me and my cat taking a nap on it. As you can tell, it is comfortable. Definitely worth saving. MAKEOVER MONTAGE! (Just kidding, although if I already had photos of the after…sorry you will have to wait. JUST.LIKE.ME.
I took it to my local reupholster-er. These folks are legit. Alexander Baghdanov is the third generation in his family to practice this business. His wife Lyubov runs the front desk, and his children work in the shop as well. They have beautiful accents and are wonderfully friendly.
Part of what they do is give the furniture a little love. I look forward to seeing how they salvage what my mother’s pug pack did to this arm.
There are A MILLION FABRIC SAMPLES. It was so hard to decide. But I finally did. EEEEEEEE!
I hope to have the “after” photos in another week or so!
I love my new neighborhood. We live in the Sellwood-Mooreland neighborhood of Portland. We’ve already met new neighbors, many of whom are extremely active in the Sherrett Square street mural project. The corner of Sherrett and 9th Avenue was the first corner to paint a mural in the intersection. When they first did it, it was illegal. They eventually brought what they did to the mayor, and paved the way for street mural projects all over Portland! It now has a formal process where city officials help neighborhoods through the steps.
The four corners of our mural also have little pausing stations. There is a tea station with ceramic teacups, bags of tea, and a hot water dispenser. This station is checked and maintained daily.
Across the street is a children’s play area. An open air wooden “cottage” holds toys and benches.
Walk to the other corner, and you will find The Communication Station. This is a place for the Sellwood Bee newspaper as well as any neighborhood news.
The last corner boasts a tiny book lending library although other fun items sometimes find their way here.
We picked a part of town to live in that is extremely walkable. We have easy access to two grocery stores, a homesteading store, about five or six coffee shops, a tea house, many restaurants and more. People walk everywhere! There are a number of little surprises that make walking exciting too! I’ve seen a couple poetry stations, a seed sharing station, chickens, gardens, dogs, cats, oh and there is a river too!
This is the art store. A store that sells art. Dibs on the judgemental seahorse. (This store is not to be confused with the art supply store just down the street.)
This is where you buy rennet, sourdough starter, jars, and learn how to make candles.
Did I mention the Puppet Museum. IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. This is not on a main street. This is a small neighborhood street. It is in the building that housed the first Sellwood grocery store. It is so charming.
I really like using social media.
Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Ravelry, Google+, Reddit, Pinterest…(the new MySpace?)
I know hardly anyone that doesn’t use some form of online social media. (My brother actually is one.)
A long while back, I didn’t use an RSS feed to check the blogs and websites I liked. I checked them manually. CRAZY.I.KNOW. And I was feeling irritated because I was using all this time to go through my friends’ blogs that they hadn’t updated in FOREVER. I ranted to a friend of mine, “Why do they even have blogs if they don’t use them?!”
And my wise friend Zack said, “You don’t get to determine how other people use the internet.” (And he told me about RSS feeds. What a genius.)
And that’s my advice. Stop telling other people that they are wrong for posting too many photos, or too much of what they are having for lunch, or talking about their pet/kid/favorite tv show, or for basically not using it the same way you do.
If you don’t want to see it or hear about it, then don’t follow/friend them. It’s that simple.
Let me restate: If you don’t like how they express themselves online, then don’t look at what they post. (Or don’t post in my earlier story.)
But wait, you say, “They aren’t using the tools right!”
My reply is, “In your opinion.” Maybe they aren’t using them in an effective manner to gain followers or to not be annoying to you or whatever, but unless they are being hateful bigots, leave them alone. Let them do what they want.
So you may remember my friend Alyssa from her interview.
Today I met up with her and her son for tea at Liberty Market.
It was Halloween. But she already had this costume.
There were little vignettes of mid century modern furniture, doorknobs, and music equipment all over the building. The converted building was built in 1947.
See my whole album here on flickr.
(photo above: credit Chanelle Sinclair)
Krys is one of my most favorite people on this planet. I’ve known him since I was in fourth or fifth grade (we went to the same church), and he was a year older (and probably didn’t even know who I was.) We became friends somehow or another during those years growing up, and we were in the same pack of awkward/emo/drama-kid/musician group of friends in high school. Krys is hilarious. And wicked smart. He’s loyal and brave. He’s one of the good ones.
Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Krystofer: We moved to AZ from California when I was 2, so I’m dang-close to being a native. That doesn’t mean I’m particularly fond of the weather or our national perception. I spent a little time at a handful of colleges, including a PC hardware certification program that led to a couple years of working IT for Tempe-based MicroAge (still kind of alive, but a shadow of its former self).
I started doing church music with a guy named Jason Borrmann, he’d wind up to be one of the most influential men in my life. He gave me the opportunity to intern at my home church in Mesa in 2000 (for those of you who keep track of this kind of thing, it would be classified as a megachurch – for the rest of you, yes that’s a thing). I worked there for six years and learned a lot about working in a creative team and leading people. I believe leading volunteers has made me a better manager of employees for a variety of reasons.
Jamie: Aside from being your boss, who was Jason to you?
Krystofer: Jason was the consistent older male in my life, my musical role model, my best friend, a shaper of my humor, eventually my boss, then my professional peer. Arguably the most influential person in my life (sorry dad).
While working there I met Melissa online. We celebrated 9 years of marriage on August 29th.
Krystofer: Then I spent two years as the arts pastor for a “church plant” (also a thing) in north Phoenix. It was a great experience to have more responsibility and creative freedom coupled with a smaller budget. I don’t mean that sarcastically – scarcity of resource can work a different set of creative muscles.
Then another influential man in my life extended me a job offer. Brandon Willey needed help with his growing web development company and asked if I’d like to leave church work and work with him. I am so glad that I did. Brandon introduced me to Twitter, and encouraged me to use social media for networking and marketing the business. Getting into Twitter, social marketing and going to Ignite Phoenix impacted my life greatly. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that these things altered the course of my life. I have always been an introvert, sometimes painfully so. But putting myself out there in social and on the stage at Ignite helped me become more comfortable with another version of myself- one that is confident in who I am. Working in church ministry can lead to always presenting the “right” version of yourself. I call it “the illusion of authenticity” – the leadership wanted me to seem authentic without crossing any of their comfort lines. I owe much of my current life path to Brandon.
Krystofer: In this season, we had two beautiful daughters. I am ridiculously in love with them. Being a proud parent, I am prone to talk a lot about my kids, and I know your childless hipster audience doesn’t want to read about it. (For those that are interested, the girls have a Tumblr)
(I met Krys for photos, and his girls were drawing and coloring. Yaya wrote me a song, and it is called Unicorn. All the lyrics are “unicorn.” And I am pretty sure she wrote it in binary.)
Krystofer: On June 19, 2010 Jason killed himself. That sucked. It turned out he had been trying to tough out some mental illness on his own. This experience has made me more sensitive to mental illness, and also led me to ask a doctor about my own depression. I am now on Prozac. I am just as smart and capable without it, but it helps me keep from being overwhelmed by things.
Jamie: That was an awful thing. I’m glad that it pushed you into looking for Prozac though. Was it something you immediately faced or was it something that slowly emerged? I took an antidepressant for a couple of years. I’ve just decided to try again without them…we shall see how things go.
Krystofer: I had dealt with irrational thoughts on and off for years, but never really thought much of them. By irrational thoughts i mean always being afraid people will think I’m a fraud, waking up and saying to myself “I hate my life” even though I have a great job and a beautiful family, stuff like that. About a year after Jason’s death I started noticing that I was getting easily overwhelmed by things at work. I was also getting very insensitive to my family’s feelings. I finally talked to the doctor about all this stuff, they put me on Fluoxetine (generic Prozac) and as long as I remember to take it, I’m much more effective and pleasant to be around.
Jason’s story has helped me separate the person from the condition. If you have heart disease, there’s medication to help that. If your brain chemistry is off, it may be alleviated through medication. I would like to encourage any of your readers who deal with anxiety, depression, or difficulty dealing with their own feelings/thoughts to talk to someone about it. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy; you may just need some help with your brain chemistry.
At the end of 2010, I stepped out on my own to freelance multimedia production and social strategy. The design and marketing connections I had made came in handy to get me work, but it was a tricky time to set out on a new venture as the sole earner. Another Twitter connection connected me with a content marketing agency in Scottsdale and I worked there for a few months producing infographics, working on Facebook pages, and learning more about SEO. I’m very grateful to the people I worked with there. In July, 2011 I was approached by another Twitter friend to come work for a larger digital marketing company. I now lead a social media team and love it.
Jamie: You’ve been a musician as long as I have known you. What has that journey been like?
Krystofer: It’s strange, but it’s hard for me to think of a time when I wasn’t involved in music. There really isn’t a “pre-music” part of my life. As far as official training, I started playing string bass in the school orchestra in elementary school, took a couple years of piano and started messing around on guitar in junior high, then started seriously playing electric bass as a sophomore. That was the turning point. My sophomore year, I was in orchestra and jazz band at school, and playing with Jason in the youth group at church on Sundays. This meant an hour of classical, and an hour of jazz theory every weekday, followed by pop production on Sundays. That year is when music became very clear to me – almost like Neo at the end of the Matrix. After that I took music theory whenever they offered it at my high school, and I’ve always loved it. Many musicians endure theory to get what they need from it, but I love it. It’s the math and science of music.
I did a whopping one semester of music education at ASU, but didn’t attend all that much.
I’ve continued to play church stuff, as well as some session and sideman work. (session = studio, sideman = live paid gigs). I think I’ve played on 40 or so projects over the years. I’ll give you a spotify link to some of them. Playing session work is great, I absolutely love it. Between all the projects I’ve touched, there is a creative part of me that will outlive me, and that’s rad. Also, any time I get paid to do music I need to be grateful. I’d be doing music anyway, and in the hunter-gatherer sense, it’s not all that valuable a skill.
Jamie: So…what’s music theory? I’ve heard you mention it before, but since my single (much hated) musical skill is whistling, I never did learn much about the musics.
Krystofer: Firstly, I am supremely jealous of your whistling abilities. I need to record a beatbox + whistling jam with you.
Music theory is the set of rules that music seems to follow. In a way, it’s our means of interpreting acoustic physics in an easily expressible standard. It’s like a programming language that provides a framework for building songs. Each genre has a different take on the standard classical rules, but even turntablism and dubstep can be analyzed, notated, and compared to traditional tonal harmony.
It can raise interesting questions, like do we write music this way because it’s what our brains want to hear, or do our brains want to hear music this way because it’s the way we’ve always heard it? And if we met an alien race that did not hear, would we be able to prove to them that music is happening?
I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds, but here are a few things to check out if any of your readers are curious about the strange world of music theory…
Bobby McFerrin Plays The Audience – musical genius Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the pervasiveness of the pentatonic scale using an unwitting audience. 3 Minutes, totally worth it.
Axis of Awesome – Every Pop Song (NSFW) – comedy/music act Axis of Awesome shows you why so many songs sound similar (and why mashups are sometimes really easy). 5 minutes, but don’t watch it if you want to be able to maintain your childlike wonder.
The Rite Of Spring – In 1913, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring debuted. The music was so different and so much more dissonant than anything the audience heard, that their brains literally couldn’t handle it, and there was a RIOT. For reals. Take that, Woodstock. That Wiki entry talks about the ballet, but this podcast explains the neurological phenomenon at 32:15 – super fascinating to the likes of me. Anyone on the fence about the musicality of dubstep should listen to this 10 minutes for some historical context on pushing the boundaries of acceptable harmony.
(photo credit: Chanelle Sinclair, taken at Ignite Phoenix)
Jamie: What’s it like being so damned clever? Does it hurt?
So here’s the deal, I’m going to just come right out and say it. I’m smart. Being quick witted, into words, and being starved for paternal approval leads to being what some might call clever. And yes, there are times it hurts. Even though I’m pretty sensitive to others, there are times my cleverness has hurt others. That’s not cool. “With great power,” right?
Jamie: I knew you’d hate that question. I almost thought you wouldn’t answer my questions at all when I threw that one out there. I’ve been reading a little about spirituality and paradoxes (thanks Richard Rohr!), and he said, “Everything except God is both attractive and non-attractive, light and darkness, passing and eternal, life and death. There are really no exceptions…You and I are living paradoxes, which everybody except ourselves sees. “ I think that just recognizing ourselves for who we are frees us and leads to peace. But you are really clever and I admire that about you.
Jamie: Would you like to share an internet link or two?
http://krys.co/KrysRecords (spotify playlist of some of the stuff I’ve played on)
http://krysvs.com probably the easiest place to track me down
http://theoatmeal.com/ if you don’t know what this is, i have no time to be your friend
http://ignitephoenix.com only go to this event if you like cool things
for cat people: http://procatinator.com
for dog people: http://textfromdog.tumblr.com/
this actually brings me to another strange point. leading a social media team has turned me into a bit of a nexus of internet crap. people send me videos, memes, etc and expect me to send and post them. I’m like Mesa’s less interesting, less asian, less Takei, less famous George Takei.
Big thanks to Krys for his openness and willingness. Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments.