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life list

life list

Life List: Do Tequila Shots on a Beach in Mexico at Sunset – check


This was the very first thing I put on my Life List, because I read it in 1,001 Place to See Before You Die back when I was 16. My family laughed at me for dreaming of traveling “so far”, but in January of 2017, we headed to Mexico (on the 20th… ahem.) and at sunset one evening, I finally checked this OG task off my list. Marley joined me, and then we stumbled into dinner.

Naturally, I drank to my 16 year old self.

We stayed here, at the Zamas Hotel in Tulum, which I loved, and opted for a beachfront chica, meaning that we woke up, walked outside, and were immediately seaside. It was magical.

p.s. No one cares if you want to lounge around aux seins nus, so I took a photo of my bikini top flung on our porch steps!


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life list

Life List: Sleep in a Yurt – Check!

We took Leeloo upstate with us, and rented a Yurt in Granville, NY. Leeloo has always been nervous, and in addition to car rides (she cried non-stop for the first hour of driving) she hates 1. doorways 2. corners 3. and big enclosed spaces. The yurt was her happy place.

We are not actually camping people and forgot a bunch of stuff, so we had to make a Target run, and the bathrooms were full of spiders, and it rained on our one full day there. But I’m glad we went. It was gorgeous.

You can book this exact yurt here, at Glamping Hub.

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life list

Life List: See the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular – check!

I’m going to be catching up on my Life List items now until the end of December 2016 – I’ve done so much this year!

I finally went! It was corny in parts, and also very religious in parts, which I wasn’t expecting, but which was fine. I wouldn’t recommend it for non-Christian families without an explanation. The Rockettes were absolutely fabulous, though. I wasn’t able to take photos, so this is one I found on the web, of the best outfits they wore.

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life list

Life List: Visit Joshua Tree – Check!

This year has been my year to just Be. I’m not getting married or divorced or buying or selling real estate or moving or dealing with my dog dying or running around trying to find my place in this world or working on losing weight or changing my name yet again or struggling to build a business or dealing with any sort of drama or… anything. For the first time in years. 2016 has been my year to just Be. I took that to mean “travel”, I guess; since the beginning of the year, we went to Maui, and then I went to Paris and Dubai, and Nicaragua, and we just got back from Palm Springs, and we’re going to Malaysia and Thailand in a few months, and I haven’t been blogging ANY of it, but oh man. I have some photos.


Last week in Palm Springs was a photo workshop, and Marley joined me for five days after it ended. On our list for certain: Joshua Tree. After several years of going to Camp Mighty in Palm Springs and never making it the 20 miles or so over to the park, I finally did, and I was so glad I got to go with Marley for the first time.

On Sunday, we headed there just at the tail end of the sun being high in the sky. We drove for miles, stopping to get out of our car frequently to take pictures of the Joshua Tress and plants and rocks. We stayed to watch the sun sink and the heavenly bodies to emerge: first Mars, Saturn and Antares in the usual place just as soon as the sun dipped down, then five, then ten, then a million at once. There were meteors, too. I’ve never seen stars like this.

Shout out to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for loaning me the pool robe, which is perfect attire to see Joshua Tree in. Paired with their provided in-room walking stick and my own scarf-turned-headwrap, I was perfectly dressed to be a freckled, enthusiastic cult leader.

p.s. We made a playlist:

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 1

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 2

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 3

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Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 38

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life list

Life List: Go Rock Climbing – Check

photo by Sarah Hoppes

When Nicki asked if I wanted to go hiking, I envisioned a few miles through the fall leaves in my sneakers with my backpack on, a pause for lunch by a river or shit like that, and then back home.

Nicki took Sarah and me over a mountain.

To get to the top of Diamond Mountain, you have to go up three really intense sections of topography, and while what we were doing is still absolutely considered hiking, I was, at once point, on all fours CLIMBING ROCKS and fairly certain I was going to pass out, so I’m going to count it, especially because this is what I looked like at the end:

(Thank you for the photo, Nicki; this sprawling on rocks is all your fault)

But after a minute I got up again, and this is what I felt like:

Thanks, Sarah

I have what I think of as healthy FOMO. I always ask every really old person I meet what bits of wisdom they have for people my age, and most of them say some version of, “Do fun stuff so you have good stories.” I try to think of stuff on my own, but I appreciate that I have friends that do interesting things, too, and invite me so I don’t have to plan.

Nicki, I like that I know you.

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life list

Life List: Catch Fireflies in a Jar on a Summer Night – Check!

We rented a car on Saturday and loaded it with Matty and Leeloo, then drove the hour plus up to Easton, Connecticut to pick blueberries at Stu!’s parent’s house. They live in an old farm house that her grandfather was born in, and in the back are a dozen enormous blueberry bushes that produce amazing organic fruit. Ages ago, her parents made these goofy/awesome coffee can holders with string that holds them around your neck for picking, and after dinner the four of us marched out to the bushes to get to work. As we picked, Matty, Leeloo, and Jack – her black lab, and my dogs’ oldest friend – wove themselves around our ankles, and Jack showed my two how to pick berries for themselves right off of the dog-height branches. Emily and Stu!, of course, are friends from high school, who knew me way before I was cool (stop laughing!) so it was fun to hang out with them and show Marley off to some of my old friends.

After we had our fill and added some wild raspberries to the mix, we caught fireflies in a jar and watched them light up the yard for a while until mosquitos got us, and then had some sort of invented dessert that I think was pretty close to blueberry shortcake, with blueberries from their yard from earlier in the season and homemade ice cream.

The whole evening felt like someone mending the sail of a sailboat, sewing small tears up in my soul. Between the root canal, lots of weddings, tons of places to be all the time all over the City and a scary medical procedure*, it was a long month, and it was so good to be still, and quiet. There is almost nothing more magic to me than late July in New England. Or friendship.

Thanks, Emily and Stu!

*Story forthcoming. Spoiler: I’m fine.

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life list

Life List: Throw a Surprise Birthday Party – check!

Kathryn is a fantastic friend. When I was slated to have a ridiculously crummy 30th birthday, she swooped in with some others and helped throw one of the most amazing dinner parties in my backyard, and we’ve been good friends since. When she was having a crummy birthday this year, I thought I’d get her back.

I had massages booked at my favorite spa a few blocks away from my apartment, and while we were getting the royal treatment, Johanna was in my kitchen, secretly cooking up a storm.

“Next is dinner,” I told Kat, “but I have to stop by my house first.”

We walked back, me nervously texting our location updates to Johanna back at the house. When we were two blocks away, I realized everyone would have left their shoes outside my apartment in the hallway, so I texted Jo “SHOES!” and she gathered them inside. Later, Kathryn told me I was acting normally, but it felt like I was ooozing suspicious behavior the entire time.

As I put the key in the lock, she remarked that “my neighbors must be cooking something awesome.” because of the smell.

“Yeah… they, um, like to cook?” I stammered, voice shaking, palms sweating. You have to understand, I had a grand total of 9 people over, this was NOT a huge deal, but it felt so exciting!

We walked into a semi-dark house. My apartment opens to a middle room that serves as an office/dinning room. It was empty, and then… it wasn’t. Friends came streaming out from the living room yelling “Surprise!”, and I burst into tears while Katherine burst out laughing, and then she got misty while I started giggling. It was a stellar moment.

I completely forgot to take any photos at the party itself, and only snapped this one shot of us in our robes post-massage, which will have to do.

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life list only in new york

Life List: See a Broadway Play – check!

How I managed to live in New York for five years without going to the theater is baffling. It wasn’t high on my list of things to remedy just yet, but a friend had two tickets to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, so I pulled on a pretty dress, swept my hair into an updo, put on a fancy face, and headed to a Monday evening performance.

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are amazingly fun to watch, and made the rather dreary subject matter enjoyable (it took me a minute to get past seeing Gandalf interacting with Captian Picard!)

Have you been to a Broadway show? What did you see?

image of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on top of the Empire State Building, courtesy of their Pinterest board

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career life list

5 Goals For the Coming Year

At Camp Mighty every year we talk about our upcoming 5 things that we are going to accomplish in the coming year. This year I’ve departed from my Life List a little and picked five goals that I need to accomplish to feel like I’m progressing as a person. I am totally allowed to do this. Here they are.

1. My big one: Learn “grownup business stuff”. Super boring, but I started my business sort of by stumbling into it, and then never really learned how to do it properly except here and there. There are SEO techniques I’m not using to promote myself, “quarterly taxes” are something I’ve only heard about, and there are all sorts of things I should be doing that I’m not. I want to run an actual real grown up business, and also learn more about equipment and very advanced photography editing techniques, workflow, and running an operation that is tight as a drum. This is hard for me to admit, actually, that I don’t do this right now. 2013 is the first year I’m filing taxes as a single person, and I am L-O-S-T. The kicker is that I’m pretty successful and good at producing quality work, I’m just disorganized behind the scenes.

2. Live in a rockin’ batchelorette pad. Straight from my Life List and scrawled on there at a moment when my entire life was all down around my ears. It’s halfway there at this point, and I cannot wait to show you the photos when I’m done.

3. Expand the boudoir aspect of my photography business. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, and I have some exciting ideas, but growing my business seems daunting without wrapping my hands around goal number one first. So that’s a secondary goal. I want to work with couples to make sexy, non-sketchy photos, and also women, and men, and people who are gender queer. Human sexuality is so interesting to me, and I want to explore it in a fun, artistic way. If you can help me with this or have ideas, please reach out via email.

4. Write more fun editorial content on my blog. This is lowest on the totem pole, but right now daydreaming about a blog overhaul is keeping me happy. I want to write about fun stuff like books, and cocktails, wine, makeup, and interesting things to do in New York. I have friends doing amazing things and want to introduce readers to them.

5. Get really fit. Self-explanatory. There’s a goal on my Life List that says “be a person that exercises regularly”, something that would have been unthinkable two years ago, and now I think it’s actually starting to happen. I work out at LEAST once a week, if not more, and I see that increasing in the future, because it feels so amazing. I never thought I’d say that, but here I am.

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life list

Life List: Rock the Eff Out of a One-Shouldered Dress – check!

When I had fancy wedding to go to last month, I turned to Rent the Runway. It was founded by two smart women who thought, “Why not make a way for women to rent high end dresses without having to buy them?” Brilliant. I would never want to own this $300 Badgley Mischka dress – it screams “once in a lifetime” – but renting it for $50 was perfect. They even sent me a back up size for free in case the first one didn’t fit. Both came a few days before the wedding and I picked the size that worked best, danced all night looking FABULOUS, and sent them off in the pre-paid envelope the next day. They take care of dry cleaning and everything, and shipping both ways is including in the rental, too.

I don’t know why I thought that a one-shouldered dress would be difficult to pull off, but I felt great in it. I kind of wish I got a better photo, but here you go. I rocked the eff out of a one-shouldered dress.


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