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Summer 2014 Resolutions: A Summary

Summer’s over; let’s take a look at my resolutions and see how I did.

1. Get a driver’s license. Uh, nope.

2. Unstick from my business slump. YES! Business is doing really well, and I’m proud. I launched headshots as a side business so it didn’t detract from my main goal of being a wedding photographer, and I’m super happy with the website: AmberMarlowHeadshots.com

3. Take the dogs swimming. Did it! Here, Leeloo is submerging herself, head and all. HEAVEN FORBID I get water on her nose during a bath, though.

4. Friendship bracelet party: check! It was a tiny turnout, but we had a lot of fun.

5. Go to the beach: yup. We went once to the beach in Sandy Hook, NY, which you get to by way of a ferry out of Manhattan. It was fun, and I’ll go again in a larger group next summer now that I know the ropes of getting there.

6. Stay put: almost! We slipped up to Rochester for a few days to see my friend Carissa and her boyfriend. It was an hour flight, and we were there for three nights. It was perfect.

7. Berry picking: yes! Delicious.

My fall resolutions have but one thing on them: have a bonfire. Who all is in for more s’mores?

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Summer 2014 Resolutions

S’mores are always on the summer list around here.

1. Get a drivers license. My Connecticut one expired on my birthday in March and because I don’t have a car, I never bothered to get a New York one. I *think* I can take off for a weekend upstate and take a drivers test in rural New York instead of trying to pass a test in NYC traffic – right? In which case, I have a dear friend in Rochester who I’m overdue to visit anyway.

2. Un-stick. I’m in a business slump, and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. Elopement inquiries are down this year, and I’m not working like I used to be. The clients that I have are lovely and amazing, but I wish I was shooting more. I’m also trying to Purple Cow a bit more. I read this book when it came out in 2003 and was so inspired, even though it would be years at that point until I started my business. Thankfully when I did start, I had these brilliant ideas internalized which made me much more fearless and daring that I would have been otherwise (if I get a chance, I’m going to hug Seth Godin so big!), and I’m re-reading it (on Kindle this time; my original copy has long since disintegrated).

3. Take the dogs swimming. We used to go to the lake when we lived in Connecticut, and I have so much guilt that I haven’t taken them since moving. They love it, especially Leeloo. Matty just likes to stand in the water for a little bit up to his “knees”.

4. A friendship bracelet party. I’ve done this two years running and still have loads of string left over, so I’ll be telling everyone to just bring a bottle of wine instead.

5. Go to the beach. There are tons of lovely beaches so close to the City, and I want to go swimming at them. Since moving here, I never have.

6. Stay put! I’m done with travel for now, unless it’s for a gig. I’m already planning an October trip to Palm Springs, though. There’s no Camp Mighty this year, but it just wouldn’t feel like fall without a trip to the Ace Hotel. Do you want to go, too? Email me, and we’ll coordinate. I’m finally going to Joshua Tree, too, and I can’t wait to show Marley where so many inspiring conversations happened for me.

7. Berry picking. My old friend Stu! has blueberry bushes in her backyard in the middle of the Connecticut woods. I’m going to pick them, and then I’m going to make a pie.

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Thoughts on Traveling

My trip to Europe was so amazing. I had no idea what to expect and was so nervous about trying to navigate three countries, three cities worth of sight-seeing, four flights, one international train ride, and two time zones, all with only one carry-on piece of luggage, and all in nine days. It worked out though.

London was because flights to Heathrow were relatively inexpensive, and I figured it was best to start exploring in a city where I spoke the language. I spent two days there adjusting to the time change and wandering around the northern part of the city which felt like Brooklyn. I ate in pubs mostly, and didn’t do any exotic dining. I also spent a lot of time in my impossibly tiny hotel room. It felt luxurious to lay in bed, five floors up, and listen to the street noise below.

Berlin was for fun. Two summers ago I had a brief-but-passionate fling with a musician who scuttled off to Berlin; it was nice to catch up now older, wiser, and less charmed by dashing but inappropriate lovers, even if they do play the saxophone. My favorite part was shopping up and down Kastanienstrasse and exploring the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg where I rented a room from a gay guy almost my age – we gossiped about boys and his apartment was absolutely gorgeous. I promised to show him New York for his first visit.


Paris was for girlfriends. It was Esther’s 30th birthday, so four of us met in an apartment for four days, and there were fancy dinners with too many desserts, lots of girl talk, countless bottles of wine, and TONS of shopping, of course. We were also shameless flirts – after eating at the low-key, super delicious Au Passage one night, we sneaked into kitchen to thank the REALLY sexy Australian chef James Henry.

It’s me!

On her actual birthday, we took the train out to Versailles. The museum is closed on Mondays, so we explored the gardens on foot, via golf cart, and on bicycles. The weather was perfect, the bicycles were perfect, the light was perfect – it was magic. When I am looking over excellent days in 2014, this will for sure be in the top 10. Esther was radiant. You know how I feel about birthdays, and I got completely choked up after midnight when we began celebrating hers. Don’t laugh! Ok, laugh. I’m completely ridiculous.

Important lessons learned:

It’s not that hard to not speak the language. Lots of people I encountered spoke some English, I wrote addresses down when I needed to communicate to cab drivers, certain menu items are easy to spot using context clues, and by the end of four days in Berlin I was able to order coffee the way I wanted (side note: German seems not that hard to learn for English speakers, and I plan on trying). Pointing, trying to pronounce things as best as possible, and saying thank you  a lot got me pretty far as well. Also, most people are nice, which goes farther than anything.

Wandering is my favorite way to see cities. I did research on certain neighborhoods, as well as certain Tube/Métro/U-bahn stops (depending on if I was in London, Paris, or Berlin) and got off just to browse. It made me want to do this in New York, too.

Cheap airlines aren’t always worth it. Berlin to Paris was the worst. I left out of a crummy airport in Berlin far from where I was staying. My flight was early so I took a cab, and my carryon luggage was less than 1 cm too large, but they made me check it for a huge fee (meanwhile, my luggage was 1.5 kilos overweight on the oh-so-wonderful Virgin Atlantic, and they let it slide). In the end, I would have spent just as much flying out of the better, closer airport at a more decent time.

I want to go back to Paris next year, and now that it’s spring (kind of – it’s still so chilly here!) I want to go do more fun stuff in New York, too.

Asking flight attendants to make sure you don’t miss any snacks works! During both trans-Atlantics, I woke up every few hours to discover treats laid nicely on my tray table to eat at my leisure, and my seat mates and I exchanged dinner orders just in case.

Also, I do like traveling by myself, at least partially. I think if I were on a beach laying around I’d be bored, or if I traveled solo for weeks at a time I’d be lonely, but this was just about right. Staying in an Air BnB home with the host present was helpful, too.

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Birthday Portraits, an Eight Year Tradition

This was ALMOST the final photo. You can see the one that made the cut, and that links you to years previous, here.

If you follow me on – oh, just about any social media platform – you know that yesterday, I turned 32. It was hard to miss; I pretty much refused to shut up about it for 24 hours straight, starting at 12:01 am when I showed the waiter the time and announced my celebration had begun. He gave me my beer on the house. (Yes, we eat late in New York.) I also took a photo of myself, a now eight year tradition I intend to keep up as long as humanly possible. It’s been so fun to watch my face change. I’m thinner and oh-so-slightly more wrinkled around the eyes. My hair has varied lengths in the photos but remains largely unchanged, as does my smile.

For the first time this year, I took my birthday photo in a non-bathroom mirror. I have a new, giant full-length mirror in my pink bedroom, and the light is gorgeous in there. I had so much fun doing my 20 minute photo shoot (featuring Matty, now twelve, who took my sitting on the floor as an invitation to get close.)

The concept that everyone has one day where they get to be special and have a reminder that they are worth celebrating just for being here is such a happy one for me, and I get bummed out by the “let’s not make a big deal out of it, you’re *insert adult age that doesn’t divide by 10 here*” narrative. Birthdays are AWESOME! I’m on a one-woman mission to get everyone else excited about them, too.

My suburban mom dance skills are unrivaled.

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Secret Pizza Word Number 3 Is In Play

Remember my Secret Pizza Word? I have a homemade coupon in my wallet with a not-super-common but not-totally-obscure word written on it. It’s my Secret Pizza Word. If you say it around me, we have to stop what we are doing, and I will buy you a slice of pizza. (Or we can schedule it if we need to. Either way, pizza is happening. Soon.)

The original entry from 2009 is here; winner number one was Allison, winner number two was Caylin, and then I stopped doing it for a while.

It got reinstated because back in October when I was visiting San Francisco, I went out to dinner with Gavin, Sophia, Dan and Kimberly, who told me I should. They would do it, too, they said, but instead of them choosing their own words, they asked me to pick words for them. I did, and then Gavin picked one for me. It’s a particularly good one, which is what happens when you’re friends with writers.

There are now five people that have secret pizza words. I am officially declaring myself a movement starter. You should do one, too, and if you do, let me know about it. If you would like me to pick one for you, you can leave a comment and I’ll email you.

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One Billion Seconds Old

After one billion seconds, you get a few eye wrinkles to be proud of.

Today I’m turning one billion seconds old.

I first heard of the concept several years ago, and have secretly been looking forward to today since (I say secretly, because there is only so much weird you can wear on your sleeve before people start to worry and edge away.)

“Any excuse for a party” is pretty much my life motto, so I threw a co-celebration with my friend Adam – a mere six days my senior – at a bar around the corner from my house. It was low-key; we ordered pizzas and gave guests fabric Hawaiian leis as they arrived. I told the bar tenders to let anyone with a lei put their drinks on our tab, which they said worked out much better than everyone having to prove they were our guests over and over. It was also fun and festive to have everyone wearing a communal flourish.

My friends Kathryn and Ed gave me a bottle of sparkly nail polish. “One billion sparkles for one billion seconds!” they wrote on the card, and I’m getting a manicure today with it in small celebration. The paper crown I decided I needed is from Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Park Slope, which had the added bonus of inspiring everyone in the bar to give me high fives.

Here Adam and I are at the end of the night. Ladies, he is single, and he cooks.

when do I turn one billion seconds old?

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Celebrate Birthdays Spontaniously

I carry birthday candles in my purse.

They are $2 for a small pack of ultra-skinny ones at One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn, and I picked them up to have on hand at home but forgot to take them out, so they lived in my purse for months, and one day it was someone’s birthday in a restaurant, so I dug one out and stuck it in their food. Because they’re so tiny, they can be jammed in just about anything – more than once they’ve been stuck in the lime of a tequila shot – and since birthdays are right up there with puppies and sex as my favorite things ever, they stayed in my purse for spontaneous, low-key celebrations anywhere. (I’ve since taken to tucking them into a credit card slot in my wallet, actually, so they don’t get broken.)

A few nights ago in a group of people I’d just met, someone mentioned, and then immediately shrugged off, that it was his birthday. We were in a bar, and I heard from his buddies he was going through a rough breakup, and he was a complete stranger, so I felt kind of silly, but I dug out a candle anyway, held it out lit, and said, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind…”

The guy next to him got the bright idea to tuck it into the tab of his friend’s beer can, and we all sang Happy Birthday to this guy who was completely touched and happy. Phew!

If you want to buy your own ultra skinny birthday candles, Bake It Pretty has a lot of them.

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Hope Springs Eternal

This photo of me was taken at a wedding in June; I’m the one in the front with my mouth wide open. I made that motherfucking bouquet come at me by sheer will.

Update: the bride also sent me this one:

It is worth noting that I am stone cold sober here. Patrice next to me is just too cool in this shot (and OMG her dress was amazing).

 

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