The Amber Show

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Cheap Pregnancy Tests are Way Better

This article in NY Mag talks about pregnancy pee strips, something I hadn’t heard about in pop news in a while. It’s a topic I became an accidental cognoscente of a few years ago when I started reading about fertility. I recognized the author’s reporting of holding peed-on strips under harsh light, and was amused to hear there are now apps that tweak your photo to show lines more clearly. The most shocking part of this was reading that the drugstore pregnancy tests are $22+ now. Friends, no. Buy the box of 25 cheap pregnancy tests on Amazon. They’re small, with no plastic casing, and work very early – so early, in fact that they detect an hCG (pregnancy hormone) level at about 25 mIU/ml. This is early enough to detect a chemical pregnancy.

You will have to decide for yourself if knowing you’ve had one is devastating or fascinating.

You can keep them in a drawer and pee on them as often as you’d like. I like keeping them for other people, too, and at fifty cents each, being generous is pretty easy. More than once, a friend has come over to request one of mine, along with a paper cup and use of my bathroom. (It probably helps that I  also always have both herbal tea and a full bar on hand.)

A friend of came home from work to a package of the them a few days after my recommendation, and immediately sent me a cell phone shot of her completed test for co-analysis, spilling the beans of what turned out to be her daughter before her husband got home.

Babies are expensive enough.

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Storytime: I got to yoga yesterday and realized at the front desk I’d forgotten my water bottle. They don’t sell them (to be eco friendly) but said I could raid the lost and found to borrow one.

“It’s okay,” I said, “I’ll just use this.”

I pointed to the now-empty paper coffee cup I had been sipping out of on the walk over.

The person behind the desk gave me a “Well…” I was about to say, “Oh it’s fine, I don’t like to drink that much water during class; I probably won’t even finish a full cup.” thinking she thought it would too little water to get through a class (I was going to a Bikram class). Her actual concern, however, was that it would look, to the other students, like I was sipping coffee during class.

I must have given her the most withering “are you fucking kidding me?” look ever before I caught my face and arranged it into something more gracious, because she backed down super fast. I forget sometimes that “worrying what strangers think” is a thing for some people. Everyone stop caring about this and just and live your life, please.

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A Letter from a New Friend

handwritten letter

In November, Marley and I landed in Kuala Lumpur, planning to take a short connecting flight to Chiang Mai to begin a trip to the Elephant Nature Park. We missed that connecting flight and couldn’t fly out until the next morning.

Resigned, we checked into the Sama-Sama Hotel next to the airport. I immediately threw on my swimsuit and headed to the pool, where I met an older Australian woman traveling by herself. We had the most wonderful conversation, and after baths, we had wine and appetizers in the hotel lounge together, exchanged mailing addresses, and then parted ways the next morning, to go off to different parts of the world.

She sent me a letter, which arrived last week when I was in Mexico.

Isn’t this the loveliest?

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2016 In Review; 2017 New Years Resolutions

We… didn’t quite get around to getting a baby this year.

Other than that, I had two New Years resolutions for 2016:

Travel more, and watch more TV. I know watching less tv seems like the more likely resolution, but I found myself more often than not idly browsing the internet instead of intentionally sitting down to enjoy a TV show with Marley, so we did it this year, and it was great.

I also traveled more in 2016 than in all my other years combined. I saw amazing things, ate amazing things, and met fabulous people.

This year, I’m resolved to go out in NYC more, and try new restaurants and bars, etc.

The trick to keeping your New Years resolutions is to make them fun.

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I’m Still Here

I’m slowly making the divide between my business and personal life more defined. I began accepting friends on Facebook from other wedding vendors – a space previously used to just goof off – and my Instagram account got more professional, with only small, curated glimpses into my personal life. (I also unfollowed a ton of people – please don’t be offended. I just can’t keep up.)

I refused to share my own wedding photos publicly and requested guests keep their phones away for the day except to take photos of themselves, a move that inspired an Associated Press story. I showed one on Facebook for our first anniversary.

I’ve really fallen in love with running a business and having a personal life that’s more… er… “personal”. My parties have turned less “bring all your friends” and more “my friends only”. It’s why I haven’t written in this space too much, either. I don’t need to process everything out loud any more, and if I’m being encouraging, I want it to be for business reasons. I’ve been journaling privately, but I’m still here from time to time, I just don’t think in the same capacity I was.

It makes sense: I started this blog at age 22, and that was 12 years ago. To say “a lot has changed since then” is an understatement. I like myself more, and life is better than ever, although more wrinkled. Seriously, I have one wrinkle! It’s a small, horizontal crease in my forehead now that wasn’t there least year WHAT THE FUCK?

Anyway, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and I still cut up on Twitter, too.

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I’m With Her

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s speech was one that made my heart swell with pride.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

It’s here, in case you missed it and want to see the whole thing.

I don’t align with any major political party, however, today, I’m pleased to say that I am wholeheartedly behind Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.

Do you need to register to vote? Go here.

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Life Hack: Multiple Emails

I have four email addresses:

One for business and personal use. I was going to have two, one business, one personal, but Gavin talked me out of it, and I’m really glad he did. There is, at this point, so much overlap in my business and personal lives as other photographers and wedding vendors have become friends (the wedding industry is full of really wonderful people) that it would have gotten hard to manage.

One connected to this blog. It’s where your lovely comments go when you leave them on my blog posts, which you can FINALLY DO NOW, after months of not being able to. Leave me your comments! I’ve missed them.

One for shopping. Whenever I sign up to get promotional emails from companies, they go there, as well as all of my receipts. It’s heaven to not have to pick through them to get to emails from clients.

One for “bacn“, which is a word we should use way more often. It’s mostly newsletters I really want to read from smart people, but not while I’m in the middle of my work day, and I open it a few times per week and read them all at once over coffee.

I’m writing this, because every time someone mentions inbox overload and I tell them my solution, they literally have never thought about it. It allows me to not have to compromise on what to sign up to read and what stores I to allow to email me.

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Why I Like Donald Trump on Facebook

I read “Number the Stars” in 4th grade. It a fiction book set in Copenhagen in the early 1940s. The story is of a 10 year old girl whose family hides her friend Ellen, a Jewish girl, from the Nazis, by pretending she and Ellen are sisters. Concerned that Nazis might rise to power again, I promised myself way back then that if they ever did, I would help fight them.

It didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t be Jews, but Syrian refugees running from ISIS, but the promise still stands.

I follow Donald Trump on Facebook by “liking” his page. It has been a controversial move when my friends click that stupid “See who likes Donald Trump” link. Some have “called me out” to explain myself, and I’ve gotten “unfriended” by others who didn’t care enough to ask, which is fine.

His page is full of people who subscribe to his ideas, and I get a first-hand look at the posts of his followers. Never in history have we been able to peer into the conversations of others who believe differently without filters, and the fear of “others” (especially when those others are Muslim) is really strong. Sadly, I can now see exactly how Nazis came into power after a few decades of living my life not being able to understand it, and it’s brutal to read, but it feels important to read, too. The world needs good people to stay awake.

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So New Years resolutions. I always review on my birthday to see how I’m doing. This year, mine were a little

Standup comedy shows
Live storytelling shows
Live music
Dinner parties
Wine with friends

Messing around mindlessly on the internet instead of doing those things.

So far so good (more wine with friends? Easy.) although I still mess around mindlessly on the internet. But I’ve seen Broadway and live music, read lots of books, made nearly every Friday movie night, and am watching fun TV on Netflix and Hulu.

How are you doing with yours?

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Twice As Good

I’m “settled” in my personal life for the first time in… ever? There was that time in 2009 where I thought I was settled (ha ha ha… oh, Amber. You had no idea.) and I can sense chaos on the horizon because there’s ALWAYS FUCKING SOMETHING that rocks the boat, but now? Right now? I have a good solid home life, and it feels like we’ve been married way longer than we have, in the good way. It just works. And my career is… oooo. Ok. So, after being a wedding photographer for five years, I figured out that it’s ok to press in and harder than “Oh, we’ll see what happens.”

Do other people work this way? When you realise how hard to have to actually work? Or did everyone else already know? And not that I haven’t been trying hard in business, but I haven’t been trying that hard to GET business.

Why? Because my entire life was so tumultuous that I would just take what comes. Because I never knew when a barrier would fly up from my overbearing parents, and I learned to just not have cognitive problem solving processes, because it didn’t matter anyway. Someone was always there to tell me what to do, what to think, and trying to make sense of the world myself was wasted effort.

When I started having business success I tried not to question it, or keep too close of a grip on it. I mean, I’m still there sometimes to my detriment. Doing my taxes last week, I said to my accountant, “Ok, let’s see how much money I made this year!” and she blinked at me and was like, “You mean you haven’t been keeping track?” And I hemmed and hawed, and admitted that I was only gauging it based on how I felt like I was doing, not looking at the hard numbers, and she shook her head, and I was like, “Yes. I know.” We’re going to start doing quarterly taxes now. (BTW, it was almost exactly double of what I made in 2014, and I certainly didn’t feel that, so yeah. Using your gut as an accounting method is bullshit. I know you knew this. I didn’t.)

I’m friends with a lot of wedding professionals. A lot of them are also taking the more relaxed approach, letting their businesses float as they will, and I thought that was fine… but this week it all kind of clicked for me: it’s not. I want a business that will totally support my family. Of course Marley has an income, but my dream is to have the option to have him be a stay-at-home dad if he wants to be… and if not, I want an income that makes sense as a full-time business, not part-time supplemental family income.

I have to press a lot harder, and be better. Raise my prices to a level that demanded I deliver an enormous amount of customer service and talent, in a sea of wonderfully talented vendors who also deliver excellent customer service. I’m black, a woman, living in New York City and I don’t come from shit. I have to be “Twice as Good“.

This is all very exhausting.

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