Love isn’t Toxic

you can’t hide love
between the folds
of your sheets

you can’t pin
my heart
to your bed

no matter how
hard you shake me
only tears will fall

– the rest is mine to keep


I notice myself getting softer with age. I care more, I hurt longer, I’m empathetic towards people I never cared for when I was younger. But that’s what happens when you focus less on how the world has wronged you, and instead focus your energy on how you have wronged the world.

When you seek out my help, I will lend you my hands. If life fills you with sadness, I will catch your tears. When your mind brims with worry, I will open my heart.

If you close your eyes, you will never see the kindness that others are ready to give. Love will seem ingenuous where the greatest intentions lie. Your perspective will sour the words of people who once showed you the greatest kindness.

Growing softer does not make me weaker. It makes it easier for me absorb the pain. To catch the tears. And dance in the rain.



you bought me a drink

that i did not ask for

like a four dollar beer

was enough

to make me fear

walking out of the bar alone

like you could fucking own

me with a tab

you were never going to pay


– i said ‘no’

The Game of Life

life will chew you up

and spit out the pieces

that it doesn’t like

but those pieces

are the best parts of you

the ones that survived

don’t leave them

lying around

for the world to pick through

SoCal Sickness

southern california is a bitter place

every year it takes more space

spreading across the country

like a depression

a tan blonde

with little clothes on

is the new face of oppression

Renewing Resolutions

Happy New Year! And welcome to the first week of (fill in year here) where everyone sets ridiculously high expectations for themselves. 2018 turns a fresh page in life, where people are able to reflect on their past year and feel remorse for some of the poor decisions made in 2017. Despite the review of poor outcomes, a trending Millennial view on New Year’s resolutions is to simply not make one. While I stand behind the premise, I think it’s pretty dense to live life entirely void of expectations for yourself. Just take it slow, lower the bar, and plan it out.

2017 was a trying year for me but it was also very rewarding. It’s easy to overlook the successes when they are overshadowed by hardships. Sometimes the best days were a result of the worst months. Deployment was by far one of the largest hurdles I have jumped in my entire life.

Six months of separation from my husband were all resting on one day when we were reunited. I look back at moments from my husbands deployment and think about how difficult life really was for me. Despite all of my trials and tribulations, I always looked to the women who had it harder. It is far too easy to set expectations for life without really knowing what it is going to look like.


In June of 2017, my husband carried my 11 month old son down the pier and kissed us both goodbye before sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Now, I’m accustomed to be being alone, but it is difficult to swallow the idea of being separated for six months. I’ve watched women crumble at the thought of such a long separation, but at this point in our lives, I find it laughable.


One of the best pieces of advice I followed was given to me by a woman working full time, while pregnant, taking care of two daughters, and running her own house during her husbands deployment. She told me to never wait to be happy. Deployment is a hurdle- and I had to jump it. Ready or not, happy or sad- there was no “out” for me. There is no easy way out in life, no simple solutions- and no fucking easy street.

There are always going to be hardships with each passing year. If your expectation is to never have difficulty in your life, then your resolutions will shatter by the end of this week. Strength is how we overcome obstacles in life, not how we avoid them.


Resolve to reorganize. It is easy to allow the modern day conveniences to run your bank account and your life. If you want to get healthy, don’t sign up for a gym membership. Cancel your Netflix subscription and walk around the produce department at the grocery store. Money aside, your resolution should benefit you more than the retail companies marketing the ideas to you.


Change comes from within us. This year, I resolve to let the house get messy. I want the dishes to pile up and the clean clothes to get wrinkled before I fold them. I want to wear the same sleep shorts for three nights in a row because I don’t give a fuck with the neighbors think of me when I take the dog out in the morning. I resolve to invite people over to my messy house for dinner. I resolve to cultivate relationships in unlikely places, wash my hair a little less, and smile before I’ve brushed my teeth in the morning. I resolve to give myself just as much of me as I give to everyone else. I resolve to kiss my husband with food in my mouth and take myself less seriously when I do it. In fact, I resolve to take everyone less seriously. I resolve to spend more time with my son than I do cleaning up after him.

Let life be messy, enjoy it.


How to Take “Constructive Criticism”

Being a parent is hard. It’s a job that requires no qualifications- but demands 100% effort. Nobody goes to school for this. The most guidance we receive comes from the 90 minute classes on child birthing during the second trimester of pregnancy. The “oh shit” moments don’t start happening until the first night home from the hospital. That’s when we realize that these tiny humans are going to dictate the rest of our lives. Forever. No really. Forever.

The pressure starts before the contractions. Three months into the first trimester, I broke the news to our family. It was a Christmas party. I remember hugging each family member and whispering the news into their ear. The sweetest surprises are the ones that are the most anticipated. Everyone was ecstatic. The putrid droplets of wisdom, long since expired, dropped from their lips like they had been saved, all this time, just for this very moment. But everyone is going to have their own advice. Their own stories. Suggestions.

Parents are good at feeling attacked. It’s not because we are too sensitive or emotional. Becoming a parent is like being signed up to a class, dedicated to telling you that you don’t fucking matter anymore. And every lesson plan is a new piece of advice, conflicting with every other piece of advice you have ever heard. And at the end of each day, you’re told that everything you have done is wrong and that you failed. No matter who you listen to. No matter what tools you use. You are wrong.

Older generations have told me that I am easily offended. I see it every day in the comments section of every controversial facebook meme. I can’t figure out if they honestly believe that their advice is so important that it should be valued above research studies and personal experiences. Social media has allowed opinions to be valued over relationships. It’s easier to delete Aunt Karen on Facebook than to tell her that taking castor oil in labor can literally kill an unborn baby. People want to believe that the advice they followed was the right advice. So much so that they will steer other people to follow it. There is a fight to be right in parenting.

Social media holds my generation accountable for every word we say, every step we take, and every second of our parenting. The more we share, the more we are criticized. There are like, 40 states between my family and everyone I grew up with- but social media makes it feel like they live right next door. I’m faced with the challenge of wanting everyone to be as involved in my son’s life as possible, while not wanting to share the most intimate details and decisions in my life.

I do not let fear of failure or judgement control my decisions. The two faces of facebook became apparent to me when I climbed a mountain with my son when he was 9 months old. My photos exploded with likes and reactions. But my inbox was beaming with questions of criticism and worry.

“Don’t you think that is a little dangerous…”

“What’s the matter with you!? You could have gotten hurt!”


Why the fuck would I listen to that? Is that my responsibility as a parent? To fucking drown in someone else’s worries and concerns? Because my lifestyle as a parent is to go hiking and mountain climbing with my family, do you honestly believe that it gives you the right to have an unchallenged opinion? News flash: Opinions do not have to be spoken and shared every time they run through your head. You can actually just not say anything at all. There’s this really cool thing that I’m allowed to do as a parent. I’ve been doing it for a while now actually and it’s working out great. I don’t really have a name for it but I highly recommend that you try it. Don’t fucking respond to people’s criticisms or questions. Ignore them. It’s fucking amazing, I’m telling you. I literally get to decide how much negativity people dump into my life. And I do it all by not giving a fuck.

It’s ironic because the generations that are the quickest to accuse millennials of being “too sensitive” are the quickest to get hurt when you don’t accept their opinions blindly. Don’t let social media tell you how happy you are allowed to be.


History Lessons

the funny thing about history is that it doesn’t matter. it doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. history is always written in the perspective of the victors. history is rarely written correctly. but no matter what happens, one thing will always be true. history repeats itself. we built mediums so that we could write history and decide, for the first time in history, how the future plays out. and instead of building a fantasy, we write the same words that have been written on tombstones for centuries. not everyone can be a good storyteller. but everyone tells stories.


On Being Thankful

The holidays are always bittersweet for my family. While everyone seems to be shopping feverishly for deals, filled with excitement for the Christmas season, I notice that I actively try to disappear into the chaos. My inbox fills with questions about where I will be spending Thanksgiving, how my family is going to spend Christmas, and my favorite; “Will you be flying back home so that you aren’t alone?”

As much as I love my family and understand that they are just trying to include me in their love for togetherness, being “thankful” for generosity and kind words is a lot harder for me during this season. As much as it appeals to everyone else for me to book a last minute flight and empty my bank account to make the family happy, THAT is not the life I chose.

In November of 2014, my favorite person in the world took me to the most secluded spot he could think of- Dauner Trails. It was a cold winter in Michigan- but that was irrelevant to us. We were in love. When we got to the end of the trail, pitch black and freezing, he shined his flashlight on a bouquet of Dahlias he had placed out there earlier in the day, and knelt down into the snow. There, in the frigid trails and completely secluded from the rest of our loved ones, he proposed to me.

And I said “yes.”

I said “yes” to more than marriage that night. I said “yes” to leaving my entire family behind so that I could start my own. I said “yes” to the cold reality that is being alone. I said “yes” to the dark days during the holiday season when I will not be sitting around a table with my family. I said “yes” to being alone in a life that we created together.

I’m not a martyr. This is the life I agreed to. My husband will not be sitting with me at my dinner table this year, complimenting my green bean casserole and joking around about how I can’t cook a turkey so I always have to cook ham. My husband will not be helping me put up our Christmas tree after dinner in lieu of tradition. And guess what! I’m still here. I’m still living this life that we created together.

Yes, I am sad. I am disappointed. I am frustrated. But I chose this life and these holidays without the person I sacrificed so much for. Because to me, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a trade off. I traded my goodnight kisses for late night emails. I traded my home style holidays for amazon prime packages. And I traded my husband’s presence for someone else’s security.

I am thankful for the love that I feel unconditionally from family and friends. I am thankful for all of my loved ones in San Diego who reached out to me this season. I am thankful that I have a place that I feel welcomed for dinner. I am thankful that my dinner will not be Chinese takeout with my toddler.

My only request is that, instead of guilting me with your pity and your disappointment, be thankful for the memories you get to make with your own families. Because of the sacrifices of mine. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those who serve.


Political Ramblings

“do you consider yourself a liberal”
you ask
as if there is
a correct answer to that

while I just sit
both hands
balled into fists

wondering where the fuck
you get off on
asking me to define
my education
my stance on
civil rights
bathroom talk
locker room talk
minimum wage
and gas prices

by picking a side
when they’re created by
the same institution
profiting from this divide

and i will reply
– “do you consider yourself an idiot”


it’s hard to tell

if the shit i’ve said

will ever be heard of

or thought of again

or if every word i say

is just plagiarism

of someone else’s thoughts.

but when i sit down

to the blank page

words bleed from me

like therapy

and as the ink melts away

i hope you can read

the words you are too afraid to say

and that you will be brave

enough to change

what makes you so cowardly.

it doesn’t matter if you tried, sooner or later we are all gonna die


there’s a feeling of inadequacy

that settled in

when you left

and now i feed it

three meals a day

i try to kick it out sometimes

but it shames

everything i say

it watches me

with disapproval

while i take off my clothes

it picks apart my skin

seals it with a kiss

and signs your name

How to be Successful

Ever since I was old enough to listen, I’ve allowed people to define the way I view my own success. I was born into a generation that was told that we could have anything as long as we wanted it bad enough. But I have spent my whole life wanting and asking and working and every time I find myself within inches of the finish line, I fail.

For awhile I blamed myself. I wondered why I was standing in my own way of success. When I got angry enough, I would blame the world. I started writing when I was 12 years old. My first work: a suicide note. After being bed ridden with an illness that rendered me unable to take care of my own basic needs for 6 months, I could think of nothing else that I wanted more than to go back to school. But when I got back to my 5th grade classroom, I found that my classmates had stolen my possessions. They filled my desk with trash and ripped up my artwork.

My classmates thought I was dying. Maybe they wanted something to remember me by, maybe they wanted to destroy my painful memory. But nothing hurt me like the day that kids started telling me that they wished I was dead. I had just beaten an infectious disease that nobody had ever heard of and that was my reward for such a great success.

I didn’t fucking ask for a participation trophy.

There are defining moments in our lives that shape who we become as individuals. My illness did shape the person that I was going to become. My definition of success shaped my character and my future and fuck, it probably shaped my morals and parenting and just about every other aspect of my life. At 12 years old, I thought it would be better to end it all than to continue living with that fucked up vision of myself. But I didn’t.

I remember my first day of college. I got lost in the science building. I felt like an idiot. My science professor was an asshole. He made every person in that lecture hall feel like a piece of garbage. I wanted to raise my hand and ask him why he had to make us feel inferior in order for him to feel like a successful teacher. I never thought that the teachers were supposed to belittle their students. I left campus feeling pretty shitty about myself that day. I found my car, navigated the one-way roads, went north instead of south on the freeway, and cried “wee wee wee” all the way home.

I approached my parents driveway slowly, wondering how I was going to tell them that I wasn’t cut out for college like I thought I was. I’ll never forget how I pulled in the driveway with tears in my eyes, feeling like the tiniest fleck of shit that had ever graced a public restroom. As I parked my car and wiped my eyes, I looked up to see my father standing at the top of the driveway. I could see his eyes glisten with pride as he smiled. His only child had just finished her first day of college. I had surpassed him in graduating high school and setting out to do things that he never could have imagined for himself.

Defining Moments.

I’ve spent my whole life telling people to fuck off and I’m not going to stop now. If you don’t like the way that someone paints your success, you have every right to tell them to fuck off. Not everyone is going to have the perfect paintbrush to highlight your best features. I’ve been struggling through adult life for awhile now and I’ve learned that age defines the things we hate, not the people we are.

As a teenager, I hated children. I hated that I was forced to transition into a different part of life before I was ready. I hated that I was sexualized before I was fucking ready to be. I hated that children didn’t have to care about what they looked like and I did. I hated that I was forced to be picked last for sports. I hated that I was still treated like a child, even though boys were allowed to touch me in ways that I didn’t even want to touch myself.

My twenties made me hate teenagers. I despise how they make mistakes and don’t learn from them. I don’t understand how they sleep all day and stay up all night and don’t pay attention to the world. I hate how they feel the need to be the center of attention. And then I stop. Because I do not want to be a part of the generation that hates the younger generation.

Every age comes with it’s own challenges and defining moments. When I’m 60, I will not be criticizing the only people who can save me. If I die at 70, a plate of success will be my last supper. I will decide what is on that plate. You can dine at my table or you can fuck off.



i am the wife of a man, who lives in a tin can. from the moment i said that ‘i do’, this is the life that i choose. i choose to love the breeze that brings his love to me from what ever fucking fleet that he sails through this week.

but my son didn’t choose this life. he was forced to accept this- like we accepted it, 6 months in, with a bulge between my hips, we cried together when we realized he would miss our unborn sons first birthday.

people tell me to be optimistic but follow it up with, ‘i don’t know how you do it’, and seal my casket off with ‘you chose this, so get over it’.

but i have to be careful with optimism. saying things like, ‘i have a surprise for you’ is a slap on the wrist to a boy with one wish so fatefully diminished. you can seal it with a kiss. but how insulting is it to fill a child’s head with hope, knowing that he is going to feel punished?


Begging to Burn

you are not some dark knight

riding in on the moonlight

to save me

you are a cockroach

and i will ignite you

with aerosol and flame

before you get to my pantry

– you’re not ‘friendzoned’, i’m married


Everyone at the zoo thinks that they are a photographer. I don’t mean the ‘casual selfie next to a giraffe’ type of photography, I mean- ‘You just stepped in front of a single mom pushing her stroller so that you could get the best angle of a monkey shitting into its hand’ type of photography. I have 3 good reasons why this is fucking idiotic and you people need to stop.


  1. You look ridiculous. We live in a world where vanity takes precedence over humility. No one is humble anymore. I say hello to people every single day, only to have them avert their eyes and continue walking. They would rather listen to the words of a song through a set of headphones than ever engage in friendly conversation with a stranger. No, you’re not an introvert, you’re an asshole.
  2. You are fucking rude. If you have ever taken a course in photography in your pathetic fucking life, you would know that you cannot just obstruct public areas so that you can get a shot. You can certainly use public areas but you must realize that, just because you decided to pull your camera out, does not require anybody to respect you.
  3. You are not experiencing the moment. That picture is forever documenting a moment that you missed. It’s not a memory of your family enjoying the zoo. It’s not a memory of anything. Nobody cares about personal photographs except for the people who take them or the people in the photograph. You can wallpaper your house in photos of animals but everyone who visits is going to think you’re ridiculous.


I watched an 8-year-old child nearly push over an elderly woman today and her family was so distracted by the fact that she was trying to jump out of the photo that they did not even scold her. They didn’t even acknowledge that their child physically assaulted an elderly woman with a cane. I got to silently watch the entire scene as I impatiently waited for the child to listen to her shitty parents. I’m sure in 5 or 6 years that young girl will be a little piece of shit trying to fill public spaces with her vanity too. I think back on that moment and wish I would have done something. Like, apologize for the young girl who obviously didn’t realize that she wasn’t the center of attention. It’s not her fault that her parents are idiots. But one day it will be.


I don’t care how you correct their behavior- if you correct it. If you cannot stand to point out your child’s flaws, how are they ever going to know that they have any? You’re raising your kids to pose for pictures. You’re not raising them to apologize, show empathy, or even conduct themselves with respect for others. Take a step back, really think about the individual that your child is becoming. It’s a hard journey, becoming a parent. No one is perfect. But you cannot walk through life pretending that no one else is there. Put your camera down and be present.



There is not enough time in the day. Every morning I wake up with the assumption that I alone, will be able to carve apart the mountains that I have built of my challenges. I’ve meticulously planned every day of my life so that I wonder who owns my time. Truly I must, but the mountains that tower over me are so hard to climb. Today I realized that I have planned my own disappointment. In the lists, I have calculated exactly what needs to be done so that I, the creator of my own obstacles, can feel pride. In these lists, I orchestrated my own failure.

But have you ever climbed a mountain? Or even stood at the base of one? Standing at the bottom of a mountain that is over 1000 feet in elevation will realign even the most troubled of priorities. It’s not every day that I can drag myself to the base of a mountain, but on the days that my challenges paralyze me, I find it to be most important. I cannot just flutter through life, half completing my goals every day. Although it is sometimes difficult to imagine, challenges are only pebbles next to mountains.

I’m not a godly woman. I am one of those people who passes through a church parking lot only to collect the pokeballs and any rare pokemon that might be lurking around. I can assume that in 200 years, this type of activity will be written into every holy book as a sin. I wonder if there will be coupons for first-class seats in hell at the end of each holy scripture.

While I busied my mind with the idea of burning in hell for eternity, far in the distance I saw a tree- dead on the top of the mountain. For a moment, I pitied the tree. Having to live through the harsh heat of southern California must be far more challenging than any hurdle I’ve jumped. Then I realized, this tree has no concept of difficulty or pain. This tree managed to grow from rock and clay to fulfill its exact destiny on this planet. The tree is dead- but it died at the summit of a mountain.

I have triumphed through every challenge I have ever faced in my life. I might stumble and fall, but can’t turn back until I’ve reached the peak. All mountain climbers must have a similar philosophy: Make it to the top, or die trying.



I want to be a writer. Every time I open up the blank document and start typing, my mind is flooded with voices that scream, “you’re not a writer, what are you doing”.

So I close my laptop.

Sometimes I think that I might be a bad person. One moment, I’m full of optimism; dreams of success saturate my brain.. Then it reaches capacity and, like some twisted fucking destiny, I’m flooded with lack luster emotions of emptiness. I scream at myself all day that I am nothing.


Maybe that’s the real problem with my generation. We’ve been told our entire lives that we were something special- then we grew up and realized that we were just another curbside performance. All eyes are on us but we have no money in our pockets and no instrument worth playing.

My name is Amber and I’m not a curbside performance. I’m a real. fucking. person. And I care about everything. I care about people. I care about how they feel after politically charged controversies and I care about alternative medicine. I care about the economy and the way that advertising companies are allowed to market to our youth. All it takes is one comment- one negative reaction, to turn it all off. Then I care about nothing.


I’m not a big person. My actions feel so unwavering but the second I feel hurt, I shut down. I might be nothing, but I’m not a bad person. My heart is strong and my opinions; untiring. I cannot be broken by anyone but myself. I am a writer.Mission Trail 2017