oh and...

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i was home for what seemed like 10 minutes. long enough to hug monkey, bake some bread and cupcakes and re-pack my bags. i'll miss these two. yes indeed i will.

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the choices we've made

this is going to be a long one. you may want to get comfortable.

the beginning
we had a conversation over dinner at magnolia cafe with kim (frantic meerkat) and matt (mincing mockingbird) that has been bouncing around in my head ever since. we were discussing our freelance lives. we all agreed that however hard it may be sometimes, we wouldn't have it any other way. we work long hours, we have to go with the irregular cash flow. but we are incredibly lucky. we get to spend our days working on the things we love. our days are structured how WE want them to be and we can make free time for the other things we want to do. i started to write this blog post then.

when i was younger i wanted to be a lawyer, a fashion designer, a writer, a teacher, a forensic anthropologist... forensic anthropologist was what i was working toward when i started college. that was quickly derailed. i hadn't actually thought through the whole pesky dead body part of the job. so, after that i floundered. i took classes with no real goal in mind. i got good grades but had no real direction.

so i took a job. and another job. and then a job that turned into what could've been a career. for a long time i thought that the synagogue would be my life. i really did. i loved what i did and the people i worked with. they were like family. the first five years were great. the last five years were rough. things started to change for me. when my grandparents health started to decline, being on call 24 hour a day, everyday, started to take a toll. when the phone rang in the middle of the night i was afraid it was THE CALL. it made the day to day work harder. i was emotionally overwrought, doing a job that already took an emotional toll. the economy tanked, things changed more. staff members, friends, were fired. everyone's salaries were cut. and i was being expected to shoulder more and more of the work. i was already feeling fatigued. the new workload only made matters worse. i wasn't giving it my all. i couldn't - there wasn't much left to give. i felt terrible about it, about myself. i was constantly stressed out. my relationships suffered, my health suffered.

in the midst of all this, i started doing multimedia collage art. i did it to relieve stress and i was moderately successful. i had a few gallery owners who believed in my work. i had a few shows and had a few loyal followers in chicago. but it was a balancing act. and once i started making the things that would become cookoorikoo, a new thing that i was loving, something had to give.

this is not my beautiful house
we made many choices while working at the synagogue. we gave up a cheap and huge apartment for an expensive mortgage payment. when we made that choice we didn't really think through all the repercussions. the travelling that we'd become accustomed to? we would no longer afford to do it. the jobs that were making us miserable? we couldn't quit - we had a mortgage to pay. and the dreams we had of picking up and moving to somewhere with a less horrible winter? impossible given the real estate market. wanting to make art and music and craft or bake full time? you get the idea.

at some point, we both woke up and realized this was not the life we wanted.

more choices
when shawn lost his job in 2008, he decided to NOT to just get another full-time job. when i wasn’t worrying like a crazy person, i could admit that this was the best decision he’d ever made. he was not a nine-to-five guy. he had more than enough work coming his way and more time to work on pixel party and play music. he was in two bands and was practicing regularly. he was happy. as happy as he could be with a crazy stressed out wife who kept working at a job that was making her miserable.

and then we decided to move to portland and i HAD TO QUIT. no more excuses. it was time. we were going to move to portland, shawn was going to continue working on websites and pixelparty, start a band or two and i was going to try to make a go of cookoorikoo. and baking. and writing a graphic novel. and maybe going back to making art. and so i quit.

we also had a long discussion about the house and decided we needed to sell the house, even if we lost a little money. we had an offer on the house within 72 hours of putting it on the market. not having the house, and all the responsibility that went along with it, gave us freedom.

plan b
this week, i saw a tweet from amanda palmer with the hashtag, "#FuckPlanB." i clicked around to see what it was all about and found links to this. and this. it got me thinking more about the choices we’ve made. in these terms, i had been living plan b - the house, the miserable job and i took a leap to go for plan a.

i understand that i’m lucky. we don't have kids to consider and i have a safety net. shawn is incredibly supportive. he believes in me like no one else. AND he still does websites. people pay him well for those websites. but he’s cut back on his workload and plans on scaling back further. websites are a piece of our collective plan a puzzle for the time being. we'd like them to be a smaller piece.

and if i'm going to be perfectly honest, its not all roses. etsy’s been slow. i’m getting wedding orders and inquiries but the regular sales have been snail-like. i’m always working. if i’m not making things, i’m working on photographs, working on marketing, emailing wholesale customers or discussing the details of custom wedding orders. OR i’m helping shawn with his shop - assembling items, editing photos, answering emails. if i’m not working on the shops, i’m baking. or sleeping. as tiring and as frustrating as it can be, i LOVE it. a bad day is still a thousand time better than an ok day at the synagogue.

and so here i am, piles of silk waiting to be sewn, convos waiting to be answered. i need to place some ads. i need to order some supplies. i need to develop a few recipe ideas further. i need to do a bunch of research into kitchen options and food cart alternatives. the to do list is wildly varied and never-ending. and that’s ok. because its my plan a.

the last three weeks
if you read my blog, you know we’ve been on a road trip. we headed to austin for renegade and back again. a trip that would’ve never been possible with full-time jobs and a mortgage payment. we saw so many beautiful things. we had so much fun. the level of gratitude i feel for the chance to change my life is indescribable.

the support i’ve felt from other crafters has been amazing. at renegade, so many people wanted to know how it was going, and let us know how excited they were for us. online, i’ve gotten emails and twitter responses from people wanting to do the same.

to say my heart is full is an understatement. i often say it and i always mean it - i’m a lucky, lucky girl.

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day 19

we had no real plan today. get some breakfast, maybe try to see the great salt lake and then head on out. we weren't feeling it. but we also weren't cranky like yesterday. 

so, we got up and i found a place for breakfast: ruth's diner. it was delicious. breakfast came with these giant biscuits, "mile-high biscuits." they were light and fluffy and moist and OH MY GOD GOOD. 

we then set out to get a view of the lake. and google told me that if we cut through a neighboorhood we were near, there was a causeway to antelope state park. we ended up spending the entire day there. it was beautiful. we saw a falcon, bison, antelope and many other birds. it was a perfect day together.

but wait, there's more...

the route to twin falls was mostly interstate, which we'd been avoiding. less to see. but shawn figured out a route that was a little out of the way but would give us a solid block of non-interstate driving during the magic hour. we made frequent stops for pictures. deer, cows, horses, run down stables, shacks, and this handsome and sort of terrifying fellow pictured above. 

we pulled to the side of the road and snapped a picture. he flew to another post. we followed him. he flew to another post. we followed him. and he then humored me by allowing me to take his picture for a good ten minutes. he was beautiful and fierce and knew it. eventually he flew away but i spent our time together in total disbelief. i had won the lottery. seriously. he looked me straight in the eye and just let me snap away. i'm getting chills just thinking about it. corny but true.

oh, and after a great deal of searching and comparing photos, i've concluded he's a red-tailed hawk

i kind of love my life.


more pictures of him and my most magic magic hour are here.

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day 12

another great day. slept in a bit, went to guero's, again, for lunch. shawn did some work and i wandered over to uncommon objects and tesoros, two of my favorite shops in austin. then we went to the alamo drafthouse, found a HUGE arcade and then went for dinner at kerby lane, another austin favorite.


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day 9 - 11

saturday and sunday were a bit of a whirlwind. there was the show and tacos. and many hugs from our friends - nancy, andy, and donovan. i hugged oliver, who smiled a lot but didn't really hug back - he's 7 months, what more can i ask for?

the show was great. we met a lot of nice people, saw many of our crafty friends from all over, and met some new ones. it was fun hearing that people had been following our little adventure on flickr and twitter. it was also nice to talk to people who wanted to talk about our move to portland and how that's been working out for us. sometimes its easy to forget (like when i'm elbow deep in yellow silk yoyos) that we are part of a large community, that's really supportive and wants to see others in the community do well. i think i can speak for both shamptons when i say we felt very loved this weekend. 

we also couldn't be happier to be with our old friends caroline and greg, who we've known since we lived in austin in 1995-96. they weren't a couple when we first met, like dave and susan in albuquerque, and its wonderful to see the life they've made together. also, they have a new kitty and ohmygodshe'ssocute!

last night, we all went to guero's for tacos and margaritas. i bonded with oliver and we laughed A LOT. this morning we all met at magnolia cafe for breakfast and goodbyes. 

i was lucky enough to get a couple of extra hours with donovan. we went to an antique store and for amy's ice cream, of course.

all in all, a near perfect few days. perfection would have been made possible by the presence of kateri and kathy. i understand why they didn't come but i missed them anyway.

there is a longer blog post percolating in my head about a conversation we had with kim & matt, (frantic meerkat & mincing mockingbird) but that will have to wait until its not so late and i'm not so sleepy.

more austin tomorrow. its nice to be in one place for a few days!

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day 6

we had a lovely, low key day in albuquerque. had a fiery hot breakfast at sophia's, went to an antique store, packed and shipped some orders. but really, the highlight was spending time with dave and susan and their sons, jonah and benny. 

shawn worked with dave at borders 17 years ago. i spent a great deal of time hanging out at that borders with dave and shawn, as well as dave's sister bonnie, who worked in the espresso bar. dave & i had a shared love of bad movies so we hung out a lot. we went on a couple of road trips together to see the grateful dead. dave also introduced us to two of our favorite people in the world - jake and his lovely wife, susan.

in the spring of 1995, shawn & i were on a road trip through the south and stopped in memphis, where dave & friends were checked into a pink hotel across from graceland. they were in town to see the dead and we we on our way back to chicago. we rolled into town around 11:00 and found dave and company in their hotel room, watching the elvis channel. susan was there and had had more than enough elvis. she asked if i wanted to go for a walk. ok. so, susan, her friend and i walked over to graceland. a nice security guard asked us what we were up to and said he thought he should go to the casino. susan thought this was the BEST IDEA EVER because she'd never been to a casino. we went back to the hotel room and she told the guys and away we went, to the casinos in tunica, mississippi. epic weirdness that's still talked about TO THIS DAY.

somehow we'd lost touch with dave and susan over the years. life happened. they had jonah and moved to new mexico. and then they had benny. we decided to uproot our lives and move to portland. but since we've been seeing jake once a year, he's kept us up to date on the happenings in their lives. last summer jake convinced us that we had to go see dave and susan. here we are and we couldn't be happier. 


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wordless wednesday

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a little ditty about dom & diane


today is my mom & stepdad's 30th wedding anniversary. THIRTY YEARS. so impressive. really. truly. 

30-some odd years ago, she was a single mom, working at the post office. he was a bartender with a crush on the woman who came in with her coworker & his wife every friday night. the rest, including thousands of games of scrabble, is history. may they have MANY MANY more.

i love you guys. happy anniversary!

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mommie dearest

this is one of my favorite pictures of my mom. she's maybe 16 but somehow i look more like her in this picture than i do in pictures of her when she was 35, my age now. 

i talked to her early this morning. she was still in bed, loving her kindle. my dad was going to grill dinner and i'm sure they played a game or two of scrabble. i hope she had a good day and knows how much i love her and miss her.

and happy mother's day to all the other mothers in my life - cheryl, shannon, renee, karen, emily, nancy, jennifer, and many many more. 

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