The Amber Show

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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Keep It Simple

Is it me, or is adult gift giving just… weird? After a few years of awkwardly exchanging gifts with family, we kind of “called it” this holiday season and said “no more”. I’d rather spend time and money eating together (and maybe splurging on a bottle of nicer-than-usual wine) than exchanging things that everyone can just buy themselves. It was controversial, but we’re happy to have finally made this decision.

Every year as I get older, I long for a less complicated life, filled with rich friendships and experiences.

It’s not easy. Keeping up with dear relationships is difficult. Over the summer, I realised with a start that I hadn’t seen my friend Jen in close to two years. They moved to Vermont, so when we headed up to sleep in a yurt in upstate and I saw they were only an hour’s drive from there, I texted her husband Micah to see when everyone would be home just having a normal day.

He said Saturday looked good, so I just… pulled into her driveway. It was magic (I highly recommend you turn yourself into a surprise at least once. No one before or since has ever been that happy to see me.) We got local takeout, and played nerf guns with their kids in the yard, and met their chickens, and explored the woods around their house. It’s small-but-everything moments like this that I want to remember, not the things in life on my shelves collecting dust.

I’ve “uniformed” myself to a few essential pieces of clothing that I like very much. Marley wears the same things every day, too. We have one drawer with a family collection of socks that aren’t just his or mine; we share sweatshirts, too.

We’re going deeper into our humanity, I think, and, okay *jerk off motion* but I feel so… human… these days, and I’m happy and simplifying everything has helped so much. I’ve spoken candidly before of growing up abused and then being married to A Nice Person But The Wrong Person, so everyone who loved me before was complicated and now it’s not complicated – we just Are. – and you’d think this would be the best time to throw a bit of complexity on everything but it’s not what I want.

No gifts, no clutter, no unnecessary clothes, no weird ingredients to be used once and then forgotten in the back of the cabinet – we even eat uncomplicated meals these days, too. We started saving 10% of our income in 2017, too, because if simplicity is number one, security is a close second.

Please don’t come for my skincare, though! I have more bottles of oils, moisturizers, and washes than I’m going to admit. I can only go so far.

Photo by Lacie Slezak

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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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bits

Fun Things, Friday 1 September 2017

Johanna Siring is a photographer. She took portraits of strangers before and after kissing them. Via Creative Mornings.

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These flatware sets look incredibly expensive, but they aren’t. Do I need new forks and knives? Yes…?

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The plethora of business resources for women that leave out the voices of PoC and queer-identifying people was starting to piss me off, so I launched a digital platform for creative business owners called the Pineapple North Project.

I’m now accepting articles from smart people.

I am afraid I’m going to fall on my face and let a lot of people down.

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The voices of former slaves, recorded in the 30’s, and digitized in the late 90’s. How am I just now hearing about this? It made me weep.

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Flights to Europe have never been more affordable, especially from the east coast. Use both Google Flights and Momondo, and keep your dates flexible. This is round trip to Brussels over my birthday in March for $452. That’s not even the best deal.

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home makeover

Cork Tiles?

In 2015, our bedroom came carpeted in a weird, sad white carpet that we hated. It finally got the heave when Leeloo (our dog) pooped on it, ate the poop, and then threw up the poop. After three days of trying to get the stain out, I grabbed a box cutter, put on Big Little Lies, and cut a massive hole in the carpet. We finally hired someone to help us rip out the carpet, to stunningly ugly tile underneath that is slowly disintegrating.

I can just put down inexpensive cork tiles, right? They’re cute, and eco friendly, and I think I can do it myself. I would do something fancier, but I just don’t want to invest in the apartment that much when there are vacations to take, you know?

Can I self-install them? Are they good with dog nails? Dog hair? Do they need to be finished? Is it like walking on a bulletin board?

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good things

Makeovers at Sephora

If you know you need to spend $50 or more at Sephora, try to time it so that you can get the free makeover you’re entitled to. I needed new tweezers, eyeliner, and a new foundation, and also got a smokey eye, contoured, “eyebrows on fleek” SITUATION.

It was a rough week for those of us who care about social injustice, and on top of that, I’m on the brink of starting a digital platform that elevates the voices and vision of women, people of colour, and the LGBTQ community who are creative entrepreneurs. I’ve already gotten some flack for it, and I’m bracing myself for more.

My makeup artist was a black trans* woman. I’ll never say anything as twee as “the universe orchestrated this” but… oh man. Sephora feels like such a haven, doesn’t it? Especially in New York, where women from all over the world and all backgrounds are swirling around me looking for makeup with their friends, mothers, and sisters. As she created this stunning look for me, I started crying. Nothing makes me feel more powerful than having fabulous hair and makeup.

“You have NO idea,” I said “what you’re doing for me. After this week, it is so, so much more than just some pretty makeup.” and then, of course, “Oh no! I’m smudging it!” and she laughed and hugged me and blotted my tears away from her handiwork.

Anyway, all that to say: free makeovers at Sephora if you spend fifty bucks, totally worth planning your purchases around, and it’s hard out there for a lot of us so this might be some good self care.

p.s. Yes, I brought my IceLight into the bathroom to take selfies. I ain’t sorry.

 

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Finding My Thin Places

I’ve been thinking recently about “thin places”, a concept described by New York Times writer Eric Weiner as “…locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.”

He also addresses the disappointment pilgrims have felt reaching a designated “holy space” and finding it is NOT thin after all for any number of reasons. I myself, as a secular person, don’t have a Mecca or Jerusalem to sojourn to, so – like all of the happiness I’ve gotten in 35 years – I’ve had to uncover them unexpectedly. It was nice to read this article (now five years old) for a bit of validation.

My thin places have been floating in the middle of the lake in a row boat with two friends, sprawled on a hot beach in the shade on the backside of a remote beach in Nicaragua, and this afternoon, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but not while looking at any of the art. My friend’s baby, passed to me to hold while she put her baby carrier onto her torso to go home, pressed his head to my cheek, and I was immediately and unexpectedly in a thin space for that moment of time. She laughed kindly at the sudden “spiritual awakening” brought on by her squirmy, drooling kiddo. It was there when I was picking blueberries at a Stu!’s parent’s house in Connecticut, and during the sunset off the coast of Barcelona in Mallorca, which I watched with my chin in the crook of Marley’s arm, and which my friend Amanda took a photo of, and which I am extremely grateful to have.

I’ve been to Paris three times, and it’s not there, at least for me, but it was fun watching other people experience it being thin. It was not in Dubai- fun but not thin – or in Bali, even though I expected it to be.

(In other news, I have a lot of blogging to catch up on.)

Where is thin for you? Have you been disappointed by expecting a place to be thin that wasn’t, or found a place that was unexpectedly? I’d love to hear.

 

 

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Regarding the Whole of 2016 and What’s Next

I’ve just taken a look at my Life List. There are so many things I’ve managed to accomplish that I haven’t gotten around to checking off here. I am happy.

My business has taken up a ton of my free time, and Blogging As A Thing has become something entirely different than it was in 2004 when I started, and these two things combined have meant that this place is going stale. It was also never my career; I found the thing to do for a living that literally moves me to tears (which is awkward when you’re standing on a dance floor holding a camera watching a newly married couple having their first dance and getting choked up behind it, but there is a moment at literally EVERY wedding I photograph where I think “I am so FUCKING LUCKY I get to record this for them”). I should start writing about it. And life. I don’t want to forget everything. I’ve also come so far; today marks thirteen years since I started my blog. That is… insane.

I still want to keep blogging, I just need to clear space for it, and in the past year, I haven’t. This is changing this summer.

I can’t wait.

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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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IDGAF

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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