A few days ago, I wrote the biggest check of my life.


I’ve spent the past three years preparing for that moment, no joke. Researching and purchasing a car is super hard work when you’re an “extraordinary over-analyzer,” as my sister says. It’s possible that I looked at every available Toyota in Southern California.

I saved, and saved, and saved and worked at royally awful jobs for too little money to buy this business. Forgive me for gloating, but it’s a big deal, y’all.


It’s just a car, but it’s not. It’s my independence, my dedication, and my work ethic. Is that sappy? Honeybadger don’t care. (Reference here).


I’m still mulling over names, but in the meantime I’m taking pictures of our firsts together. The above was a big milestone: our first trip to Target together. I think we’re going to get along pretty well.

You are twenty-five and some days you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Of course this is hyperbole but day-to-day it doesn’t feel like it. You want to do everything right and so you read manners books, observe others intently, and constantly seek advice. But at some point you need to look within. Your intuition is so strong and has never steered you wrong, even though at times you’ve chosen to keep it latent and dust it under the rug.

You already have most of the answers, and every day you discover more about yourself. Today’s discovery? You nod a lot. When you listen to others, when you speak, when you watch TV or read an article that says something poignant. Sometimes you’re aware of it but the girl you work with told you that she’s adopted the same mannerism. It sums up a lot about you, this small action. You are silently encouraging, coaxing people to share things with you and truly wanting them to feel comfortable doing so. That’s what you aim for: making others feel at ease.

You despise conflict and it makes you intensely uncomfortable. You have a fight-or-flight reaction and your instinct is usually flight. There’s no need to shut down. Believe in the good in people. Believe that most of them are oblivious and don’t intend to hurt you. Tell them what you’re feeling without worrying that they’ll think you’re crazy. You’re not crazy. The worthwhile people will stick around.

You have a great laugh and there is nothing you love more (besides polar bears and a variety of other furry animals) than sharing a deep belly laugh with someone – the kind that makes your eyes fill with tears and your face flush. You love making other people laugh and feed off of the energy that comes when you make your sister cackle on the phone or say something unexpectedly hilarious that catches people off guard.

A client recently told you – in front of your boss, no less – that you are fearless. It was a small statement in a long conversation but you wrote it down immediately (you keep a journal of insightful things you hear and carry it with you daily). You realized that her words were true; you’re not afraid of making big moves. This is both a blessing and a curse because you can be an impulsive, heart-on-your-sleeve type of girl. At times you are walking down a staircase or crossing the street and you think, how did I get here? Your fearlessness is admirable and inspiring.

You are a master of introspection. You’re hard on yourself. Though you’re fearless, you  analyze your actions to death. Sweet girl, you’ve made mistakes. You own them. The past does not define you. Live right now. Stop trying to justify things. Go outside. Sit in the sunshine. Take some pictures. Stop guilting yourself for things you can’t change.

Try to live more in the present. You think 50% in the past and 50% in the future which gives no time for right now. For 10:15 p.m. on a Thursday night as you lay in bed with the ceiling fan whirling overhead, your soft white robe, and your fuzzy red Valentine’s Day socks. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

You are a hard worker and you do your best. You always do your best. “Nothing half-assed,” you recently said with a smirk. You are a big kid trying to figure out how to pretend to be an adult and most days you carry it off flawlessly. There is charm in having a young heart.

You are loveable. Let yourself be loved.

I don’t have the emotional energy to make my thoughts coherent, but I’ve been thinking all week about this article. There are many issues going on in the piece, but I wanted to share what struck me most. I continue to try to make sense of my grief–the empty feeling that I can physically feel when I think of my grandmother–and the truth is that I can’t even open my mouth to give it a voice yet.

I want to discuss it with my mom, but my voice cracks on the phone and I talk about something else. It is hard to tackle loss without my family around me. I only realized this a few days ago — how difficult it is to mourn alone. I think: it’s been over six months, move on, one foot in front of the other, but my mind (and grief) aren’t linear.

So I look to others and read their words and think, yes. Yes. That is how it is. That is what I’m feeling.

Key pieces from Cheryl Strayed’s “The Love of My Life“:

If, as a culture, we don’t bear witness to grief, the burden of loss is placed entirely upon the bereaved, while the rest of us avert our eyes and wait for those in mourning to stop being sad, to let go, to move on, to cheer up. And if they don’t — if they have loved too deeply, if they do wake each morning thinking, I cannot continue to live — well, then we pathologize their pain; we call their suffering a disease.

We do not help them: we tell them that they need to get help.


WHAT DOES IT mean to heal? To move on? To let go? Whatever it means, it is usually said and not done, and the people who talk about it the most have almost never had to do it.

Healing is a small and ordinary and very burnt thing. And it’s one thing and one thing only: it’s doing what you have to do.

I struggle for words lately. I’ve been struggling for words for a while. So I drown myself in music, in between choruses and rhythm and the continuous tapping of my foot that makes the days bearable. I drown myself in others’ words. In poems, in articles that I stumble upon, in blog posts that hit too close to home.

Tonight, I was searching for a needle and thread (what up, domesticity) and came across a letter my mom wrote me when I graduated high school. All of our families were instructed to write us letters that we got to open on our senior retreat, and I am so thankful for that cheesy, cheesy tradition (or what I hope has become a tradition, anyway).

I’ve carried my mom’s letter from seven years ago through multiple moves and across several state lines but I haven’t re-read it again until tonight. I vaguely remembered some of her words, but reading it again at this point in my life was almost more emotional than it was that day that I sat in a field in East Texas and felt my heart swell.


An excerpt:

“… I’m proudest of the fact that you have the same kind and generous spirit that you were born with… So, my dear and beautiful child, I can only say: I truly hope that you keep doing what you’re doing, for all of your long and interesting life. Know that you are growing up in a way that makes me know you will be just fine. You can handle anything life throws at you. To say I am proud is an understatement. To know you is a joy!”

My mom is awesome.

Sometimes I don’t have the words, but I’m trying to be easy on myself. There is such a comfort in collapsing into the tried and true thoughts of others who are so much more eloquent, who tell me that it will be okay.

(via NanLawson. I bought this print a few weeks back at the Renegade Craft Fair and it’s my motto for the New Year.)

Dear 2011,

You were kind of a doozy and I’m not sure I want to be your friend anymore. However, you took me to a lot of cool places and made me realize how cool I am. So maybe I do love you a little but you started to overstay your welcome.

Peace out,


P.S. In 2012, I resolve to: eat more chocolate, drink more wine, discover some new jams, and have more dance parties – whether they be with others or by myself. Amen.

Tomorrow (Friday), I will have been alive for 25 years. Ho-ly shit, y’all. That is a lot of Amanda time and I’m not so sure how I feel about it.

I’ve always been the baby.

Gratuitous baby photo. I'm the small one with t-rex arms.

But now I’m old, and my vocabulary is more likely to include the words: Escrow, mortgage, HMO, pantsuit, and atherosclerosis. Other likely candidates? Red Lobster, Prilosec, and Rite Aid.

Regardless, I will now write a tribute to myself. That’s only fair, right? It’s been a good quarter-century.

Some important milestones:

  • I have seen approximately 87 Jack’s Mannequin shows.

    my homeboy

  • I’ve visited 27 states, 3 continents, and 10 countries. Booyah.
  • I became a vegetarian. And then I stopped.
  • I learned how to be a lady from one of the greatest women I’ve ever known.

My sassy grandma

  • I changed my hair color no less than 7,000 times. It’s a bit of a Christmas miracle.
  • I left everything familiar and moved to the West Coast.

  • I got Scuba certified.
  • I was the Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding.

  • I went to the Sundance Film Festival. Benjamin Bratt refused to give me his autograph.

    yo yo, A.Poeh

  • I learned how to ask for a raise. And how to get it, frick yeah.
  • I held a lot of spectacularly awful jobs and had batshit crazy roommates. Someday I will write short stories about them, David Sedaris style.
  • I haven’t grown up.

Across the street from my work, there is a church. Every second Thursday of the month when I venture through downtown San Diego on my lunch break, I notice a long line that curves around the church and down the street. There are people of all kinds–some in wheelchairs, some with children and strollers, some that look just like me. I’m not certain what happens on these Thursdays, but I assume that the church gives away free food to those who need it.

Every time, I’m amazed by the numbers of people. I want to go up to all of them, and though I’m not rich by any means — I want to help them. I want to give them healthy food or lend them my ear and figure out a way to make a difference. It always tugs on my heart strings.

Today I am thankful that I have the ability to purchase my lunch and go to the grocery store. I am thankful that although sometimes I feel strapped for cash, my decisions are really about whether to give almond butter a try or to buy organic granola bars. It’s a good Thursday afternoon reminder.

(Photo: Keoni Cabral)

A few things I have learned lately:

1. Managing another person is a learning experience on both sides.

2. Sometimes I take myself too seriously. But life is so much more fun when I don’t.


Decidedly not fun.



3. Before I left for Egypt, I couldn’t imagine what it would even feel like to get off the plane. Me? In Africa? At the Great Pyramid, or let alone any of the seriously ancient temples? I couldn’t fathom it. That trip is still so surreal, but now I can’t imagine not going there.

Are you paying attention to the news? I was standing in Tahrir Square just five months ago. My time there connected me so deeply to the belief that regardless of nationality or locale, we need to pay attention. I include myself when I say this: Americans are notoriously guilty for their limited worldviews. The world is big, but so, so small. I can’t wait to experience more.

4. On a related note, I’ve been ruminating on a sentiment my sister has said many times, “Some people choose to spend their money on fancy shoes. I choose to spend my money on experiences.” Yes.

5. “Shits” is a valid word in Words With Friends. Triple word score for that one!

6. Craziest thing ever, ever: these fish are born female and then metamorphose (that is the coolest word ever – only took me three tries to get the exact verbage right!)  into males when they’re 7 or 8 years old.

That’s right. I’ll let you ponder that for a minute. BECAUSE THAT IS CRAZY!!!! And I am not one to throw around exclamation points. Honestly, it blows my mind. Life! Hah! Holy hosannah.

7. Bridesmaids is the best movie of the year.

I’ve been scuba diving every month.

Hockey season started back up.

My sister and her husband visited San Diego. I surprised my brother-in-law with tickets to see Anthony Bourdain for his birthday. Basically, I’m the best sister ever.

(Want to hear about their trip and the rest of their travels? Check out their blog.)

We celebrated Halloween in style.

And this past weekend, my boyfriend and I saw our fifth? sixth? Jack’s Mannequin show together. Aww.

… and petting things.

*You know you’ve been playing too much Words With Friends when you get excited to write the word zoo because it’s at least a 12-point word.

What you need to know

Greetings, I'm Amanda. I like bulldogs, magazines, sleeping late, and saying the word "chartreuse."


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