Family

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My grandmother asked me a few months ago about whether or not I planned to invite my mother to my upcoming wedding. The words came out sounding not quite like her own, and I finally asked if she had been put up to this. It seemed rehearsed, and felt unusual that she was asking a question she already knew the answer to. She admitted she’d been put up to it (worst. liar. ever.) and I felt so bad for her.

“Of course you know I’m not.” I said, and she nodded and looked sad.

It’s been over seven years since I’ve voluntarily spoken to my mother, and just short of that since I worked through it and made peace with it. I’ve been at peace for so long, in fact, that I usually forget she’s there, and that my grandmother – who is old, and sweet, and who brings out the softest part of me – still is kind of caught in the middle of it. She asked, “Don’t you worry about not having enough family there?”

I thought about all of my same-sex clients who eloped to New York City with a limo full of friends, telling me how their parents don’t support them in their love and yet supported anyway by their self-selected families. I thought about all of the friends I’ve made coming to New York, and how I like to throw myself birthday parties at home because then people flood my living room and it makes me feel like a millionaire to have that many friends swirling around me.

Katie and I had dinner the other night, and the topic of a bachelorette party came up. “No, no. No fuss.” I said, and she gave me the “you know better” look. I do know better. They love me. They are family, and they want to do this. (The line was drawn at giant inflatable blow-up penis, though.)

I’m going to have lots of family at my wedding. They’re not related by blood, but they’re family. Marley is family.

I’m so thankful.

February 20th, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah |

By the Power Vested in Me, on Valentines Day

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Aimee and Becca eloped over a year ago in Hawaii, a mere two months before the state got marriage equality. With a baby girl on the way, they decided it was time to make it legal. A small group gathered around them in a bar in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day, and while snow swirled around outside – a far cry from a beach in Kauai - I stood up on a bar stool and legally declared them married. I hadn’t met them before, but they were friends of Jesse and Johanna, so I knew they had to be excellent, and they are.

No one is more of a grumpus about Valentine’s than I am. It makes single people sad and puts lots of pressure on couples to have the BEST DAY EVER. Not my thing, but this was absolutely perfect. I love love. I love marriage. I really love babies. I’m also a big fan of pizza and beer, and now, Aimee and Becca, too.

Congratulations, ladies. I am over the moon excited for you.

p.s. Their “wifey” tee shirts are from Forever 21, and I might need one.

February 15th, 2015 | posted in Amber's Brooklyn,blah blah blah | tagged

Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwiches

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This is my shopping bag on the bus with the box open. They were sticking out of the top of my bag, practically begging to be eaten.

I never buy packaged snacks because they turn into an Actual Problem for me, but the Trader Joe’s cookie butter sandwich cookies seemed fucking delicious – and they were. They remained sealed through checkout, but on the bus I couldn’t help crack them open.

My god.

I’m not a sugar person; my downfall is more the “butter croissants, cheese plates, and french fries” type of thing, so that these had me damn near testifying like a street preacher is about as ringing an endorsement as you can get. The entire B63 downtown bus was eyeballing me, too, and I would have shared, except that would have made me the weird lady passing out cookies on the bus, and this is still New York City.

Go get some.

February 4th, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah,good things | tagged

Business, and a new logo.

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I can never just “coast” in business. I feel like I’m on a treadmill often. I can see so clearly all of the ways in which I need to be better, and I’m never totally happy and content. I am trying to figure out how much of this is good healthy aspiring to grow and how much is me making myself bonkers. It might be a little of both. I will say this: my elopement business is at a place where I am thrilled, and I’m slowly building up my big wedding business to match. It’s slow going! I’m also trying to have a business where I’m working with people I feel really excited about working with, so I’m doing my best to “put myself out there”, hoping to attract the kind of clients that “dig my vibe”. Work is so much more joyful when I have a genuine connection. I have a new logo, too, that no one has seen yet. Leslie Fandrich hand-lettered it for me, and I’m so, so excited by it. It is SO ME. I’m debuting it for the first time here:

Great, right?! It will be in a warm red-orange on all of my print materials, which I have decided is my signature color!

February 2nd, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah,career | tagged

How To Take Care of a Dog Who is Dying

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So many times in the past decade, something I’ve written on this blog has helped someone. With that in mind, here are my tips for the care of a dying dog.

1. Unsalted beef broth. We bought tetra packs of unsalted beef broth in the few days when Matty stopped eating, so he could get some nutrition. The unsalted part was important; he would have gotten really thirsty otherwise.

2. Liver pate heated up. Johanna made some for New Years Eve, and I had a couple of spoonfuls of it cold from the fridge which was awesome, but Matty liked his slightly warm. Gross to me, but when I needed a special last meal, this is what I gave him, and he scarfed it down.

3. Lots and lots of blankets. After years of getting cute dog beds and having them stink up, I got the dogs mattresses for a baby crib. They were $25 each from Amazon, and are vinyl so they can be wiped down with cleaning stuff easily. I didn’t bother buying baby sheets, instead I stretched one old bed sheet over both of them, and washed it every week in the regular laundry load. When Matty was too sick to make it the length of the apartment, I dragged his mattress into the living room (and then Leeloo’s because she wouldn’t sleep away from him) and let him sleep in the living room with extra sheets, and a towel for a blanket because when the heat clicked off he was in a draft.

4. Medicine combos. Back when we were hoping he’d recover, the vet gave me a pain pill and a muscle relaxer and told me not to mix them because “he would get loopy”. After confirming that was the only “negative” side effect, I consistently fed him the combo three times a day. I would often climb into the dog bed, too, find a little something for myself, and we would cuddle and contemplate the universe together.

5. Mouse TV. We have a mouse problem currently. Three baby mice let themselves get caught in half an hour right as Matty was getting sick, and then three more in the next few days. Inspired by the memory of March 2008 when Matty met a goldfish for the first time, I put the mice in a giant tupperware storage bin with cardboard tubes and let him watch them scamper. It was like watching TV! I recommend a goldfish for sure, but we worked with what we had.

6. Pee pads. Matty died because of a crushed spinal cord in his neck that quickly traveled the length of his spine. The result was that he couldn’t hold his pee. These saved us so much on laundry.

January 15th, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah,the dogs |

Matty 2002 (ish) – 2015

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Mattingly “Matty” the dog passed away yesterday. He was surrounded by his family and was able to die at home thanks to a wonderful vet that makes house calls. One of my great joys in life was stretching out on the floor and letting him “little spoon” into me. When it was time, I stretched out again for the last time and curled around him with my hand on his chest. I thanked him. “Thank you” had always come more naturally to me than “Good boy!”

I placed my hand on his chest so I could feel his heart stop myself. He was thirteen.

Matty was adopted at the age of two (ish) from the North Shore Animal League, selected because he was surrounded by cages of dogs barking while he was curled up and sound asleep. His ability to fall asleep anywhere in the middle of ruckus would continue throughout his life. He loved wandering into the middle of a house party and nodding off surrounded by friends.

Matty had really short legs and a really long body that made people stop and smile at him. He was a “people dog” and got on well with everyone including very small children. He would approach them gently (usually right at eye level, as he was so short), having learned they would often produce snacks from their pockets, or at least be likely coated in a delicious film of applesauce or peanut butter. If nothing else, he delighted in their very tiny pats, and would allow them to marvel at the floppy softness of his years and explore his nostrils with their fingers. He loved visitors, too, defined in his mind as anyone who came through the front door, which once included a drunk three am intruder that he greeted sleepily with a wagging tail.

His family quickly learned to avoid putting comforters, stuffed animals, and bath mats in his reach as he would pull them apart while spreading the stuffing throughout the room. After conquering his stuffed enemy, he would fall asleep curled up on the tufts and strings of victory.

“Matty ball” was a solo game he invented that was delightful to watch. He would throw the ball across the yard with his foot then scurry towards it and catch it in his mouth. When he wasn’t doing this he would wrestle with his sister, Leeloo, or have a nap in the backyard.

A heavy fur coat meant Matty was always ready for a snow storm: his favorite weather. When the snow would pile up over his face he would bound through it, seemingly laughing, with only the very top of his black head visible in the bobbing up and down. Occasionally he would stretch out in a snow drift luxuriously and let snowflakes pile up on his back.

Matty was very kind. Once in the waiting room at the vet a puppy took his bushy tail for a chew toy and pounced on it. He glanced backward at her tiny, harmless attack and looked back at me with his expressive triangle-shaped eyebrows raised.

“Kids!” he seemed to say, and let her continue playing as long as she wanted.

Everyone loved when a fire truck went by and Matty was in the room. He would howl his response: a long, full, wild note, and those in the room with him – dog and human alike – typically joined in. The more voices he managed to raise along with his the harder his tail thumped against the floor in happiness.

Matty was a great partner for swimming, car rides, cuddles, and strolls through the park. He will be missed by all of his good friends, and leave his parents with a long-bodied, short-legged, dog-shaped hole in their hearts.

January 13th, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah,the dogs | tagged

Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing.

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Matty is dying, I think. Christmas morning he was fine tearing into his gift, and then by the end of the next day he couldn’t walk up the back steps. There are stones in his bladder and he can barely walk at all now, and I’m not sure if medication is helping so we’re trying some other things, and surgery is painful and dangerous because of a UTI and expensive and… surgery for a dog, I mean, I’ve done it before, but I don’t think I believe in it now, even for a dog that I’ve had so long he feels like he’s part of my soul. Part of my soul is dying.

I think.

He could get better, but I don’t feel like that’s likely. There are too many problems at either end (shoulder, bladder) and its like a house of cards to put him together again, and even all the construction in the world might not work, and if it did, it wouldn’t work for very long, so… he’s on medications, and we’re seeing if they help. He’s 13, and we had hoped he’d live to 11 years old, so I feel lucky with my “out of warrantee” pup but, oh god, can’t he just live forever?

January 6th, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah,the dogs | tagged

Holidays 2014

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This holiday season has been absolutely wonderful.

We went to Johanna’s parents house in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, driving through an unexpected nor’easter in a trip that took us six hours when it normally takes just under three. We made latkes for Hanukkah and cinnamon rolls from scratch for Christmas morning. We at them after presents and before a monster nap, then took a slow walk and had Mexican for lunch.

My “love language” is gifts, and I was so excited about shopping this year (Amazon Prime is the most amazing invention ever). I tried not to go TOO overboard, but this year felt special being engaged, and I might have. It’s ok.

We decided in early in the month to put up a tree but my ornaments are still in storage so we put up a tiny five foot pine, wrapped it with a single string of lights, and added candy canes. I used glue, paint, glitter and cardboard to make a star for the top, and we stuck it in the window for our neighbors to enjoy, too. We sat next to it while we lit Hanukkah candles, but my menorah was in storage, too, so I put them in shot glasses with crumpled tin foil to keep them upright.

We also visited Micah and Jen in Connecticut and I got to visit their Christmas ornaments, which I realized just this year is sentimental for me, too. I’ve been seeing some of them every year since Christmas 1998 at her parent’s house.

Going out on New Years in New York City is insane. I insist on staying home where it’s warm and safe; that eventually that morphed into inviting people over to join me, and we had about 20 people in the living room on New Years Eve. A few years ago my girlfriends started showing up in cocktail dresses from Rent the Runway instead of the sweatpants I told them they could totally wear, and most all of us gals take the opportunity to get gussied up. I set up a photo booth in the kitchen.

 

We had a rough few days with Matty; I was pretty sure it was the end of my 13 year old dog, but he’s still here, on a ton of pain medications, and resting comfortably. He pulled a neck muscle and has a bladder infection. I’m hoping he feels better soon, and that I get to keep him for a few more years, but I really have no idea. I’d give all of the presents just to keep him (and I got some REALLY good presents.)

Here’s to a hopeful 2015.

January 2nd, 2015 | posted in blah blah blah |

Amber Marlow’s 2014 Gift Guide

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I adore doing gift guides every year, but this year it kind of slid through the cracks for me. I have a Pinterest board, though, where you can see everything I’ve got my fingers crossed for to find in my stocking, under the tree, or by the menorah. (We kind of do everything up in here. Whatever.)

Anything else good I should know about? P.S. How to give excellent gifts, according to science.

Amber Marlow’s 2014 Wish List

 

December 12th, 2014 | posted in good things | tagged

Holiday Music 2014

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Marley joked that I am the only person he’s ever met that is really, genuinely into Christmas music. I get it; a lot of it kind of sucks, and the rest is cornball. Here’s what I’m listening to this year, in a mix that will evolve and expand as December goes on. It’s not exactly cornball free, but it’s pretty good.

The mix is broken into three categories: it starts jazzy (with the sexiest version of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy ever: Sugar Rum Cherry by Duke Ellington) and then goes into a soft, folksy indie rock section, featuring the my favorite version of Mele Kalikimaka, sung by KT Tunstall. It finishes up with a whole selection of songs that toe the line between awful and awesome: Dominick the Donkey, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, and a club mix version of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy called “The Nuctcraka”.

Have a listen; it’s ecumenical with a few Hanukkah songs in there, too.

Amber Marlow Christmas & Hanukkah Mix

December 5th, 2014 | posted in Uncategorized | tagged