I am a life blogger, a fine art portrait photographer, and eventually I will publish my first book. This profile is not a solicitation so if you message me about pictures I will not reply. I will eventually fall in love with someone I meet on the internet. I work from home with families that are well established so this is my lifeline to the "possibility" of love. I am driven in my career so the love thing might take awhile. I rarely find time to date but every now and then someone c...
The image at the bottom of the page was taken in a series meant to be a gift. A gift for grandma who I hope and pray doesn't have facebook because my post there was kind of a spolier. Pictures are a wonderful gift. So are memories and I would like to tell you a little bit about Edi Kimball, the beautiful blond in the photo. This blog is my gift to her and a tribute in gratitude. I am very thankful that she is in my life and th
at she is working so hard to make hers better.
“Death is often a welcome relief to those that suffer a lack of quality.” (Amber Garibay)
Edi Kimball became both a friend and a client after reading my blog. She first contacted me to offer me her pants because I had lost so much weight that I no longer fit mine and she had gained so much that she no longer fit hers. I told her to keep her pants because she would be back in them SOON. She was going to lose the weight and I would help.
Edi has lost well over thirty pounds now and she makes me proud everyday because she continues to work at it. She is studying medicine and the stress and demands of her schooling often negate her fitness goals. I am the gentle reminder that her health should always come first but then she knows that because Edi is going to be a doctor someday and doctors are smart as hell ;)
Both of my parents can hardly walk and they are not yet sixty. They are broken to the point of wishing for anything that will bring them peace, sometimes even death. Doctors can not fix their life choices. There is a point of no return, but we don’t need to get there. I look at my parents and wonder if their lives can be saved. I imagine them getting fired up like “Rocky” training for his big fight. What if my dad stopped smoking two packs a day and started eating clean while working out; could the damage of forty years be undone enough for him to have a quality of life?
The Life You Live is a CHOICE
I promised my dad that I would work out for him because he doesn’t want to see me suffer. I think about him as I drag my “tired” ass to the gym knowing that he is out there somewhere laying tile with a broken back. My dad owns a small tile and marble company which is actually to say that he is the only one who works there. His business partner and lifetime friend is currently dying and as of two months ago completely unable to work. COPD has taken all but 20% of his lung function. Still he reaches for his cigarettes….
I tell my dad that I am going to make $10 million dollars and when I do I am going to pay for the surgery he needs. The one that will make him miraculously well just as depression can be cured by a pill. I see my parents as my potential and as much as it pains me to watch what has come to pass they are the will that keeps me striving to be the best. I want to end my life running, always in motion. I want to be the change I can not give them by living the example I set for her, my own daughter. I write because I know that people relate and that most of us long for some sort of change. People are notoriously restless and striving.
Edi Kimball is changing her life and it makes me smile to know that I am a part of that while she does the hard work. She told me of her own family and the medical history is quite alarming and short lived. Hers will not be that way because she wants different. She wants change.
The Life You Live is a CHOICE. I choose to live a life of quality and that starts in the gym :) I am heading there NOW dammit!!!
It has been nearly a week since my last post. This is my confession-
I've missed you facebook!!! (I thought hell would freeze over before that day ever came)
My friends know that I protested facebook in the beginning. I liked "MySpace" (If you are old enough to remember that archaic form of social media) and I was all kinds of irritated that I had to move all of my content to facebook because it was the new trend. I am getting older and change is more difficult as my preferences are rather concrete. It took me years to adapt to cell phones, "Why in the hell do I need a phone with me at all times? If I am not home, leave a message. I will call you back!"
“What if there is an emergency!!!” was the common reply.
Are we really that accident prone?
My iphone is now an appendage and facebook has become the world which allows me my friends where time is lacking. I spend an exorbitant amount of time working, most of which is done in front of a computer. Even facebook is hardly social as I use it to promote my computer based photography business, my adventures in fitness, and as launching pad for my newest endeavor as a life blogger. I am always chasing my white rabbit and most of us are busy. The internet keeps us connected. I sometimes feel “TOO CONNECTED,” like an invisible USB is my umbilical tether.
I have started taking time to unplug, getting face to face with friends in actual company. There nothing better than true interaction and real time connections. I’ve stopped reacting and responding to criticism or perceptions that I feel are inaccurate on the internet because I would rather spend my time with people who know me, no questions asked, “Amber, is just crazy; end of story.” I gave up trying to explain myself not so long ago, but there are some things I would have you know.
It is nearly Christmas and I would go broke if I bought each and everyone of you a gift to let you know that I care.
People of Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Pintrest, Ok Cupid, Bodybuilding.com, Plenty of Fish, Millionairematch, Fat Secret (holy crap is there more)…. I do care.
I care in profound ways and I am humbled to know how many of you are genuinely invested in my story, and my life. I love reading your posts. I am thankful for the personal messages you send (though I often do not reply), and I love it when you post things on my wall that you know will make me smile. If you are one of those people please know that you do. You make me smile like a gift. I was going to send out Christmas card this year but I decided to update my status instead. This post is me wishing all of you the very best during the holidays and if the world doesn’t end on the 21st I am sure we will all have a CRAZY AWESOME YEAR!!!!!
I wonder what Tara Rene Jones will be known by someday in the ring. Once she is well and is ready to fight for pleasure again. We talk a lot about her love of MMA. She laughed a
t me today as I curled my hair to go out to the grocery store to buy meat. "You remind me of my mom. She would primp in front of the mirror and I remember being young, running with my mouth open to ask her a question only to find myself eating hairspray as I came up behind her. Yuck."
Her memory pained me because her mother is dead. I didn't let it show. "I'm sorry, but I need to look pretty for my meat." I beamed at her as I moved the can of spray like a halo feeling a pang of guilt knowing that my vanity was exposing my sick friend to toxic chemicals. I dug my grave in shallow when I then asked, "Are you dying?"
Tara laughed, "Not today......"
Yes, I am the woman who asks a cancer patient if she is going to croak. What can I say other than I am retarded.
THE DAY AFTER CHEMO: a composition of cancer. The collection will be of images all taken the day after. Today's session is the first but it was her fourth round of chemo. Tara has agreed to have me post her, as she is, UNEDITED, so to document the progression of her illness and her eventual journey back to health. She will be doing chemo biweekly until June. We will have a photo shoot the day after for the duration. Unless (Yes, I wonder if she will ever be too sick to make it)
There will not be an unless.
TERRIFIC TARA'S TYRANNICAL TIRADE TO HEALTH: that chick fights like a tyrant.
Tara Rene Jones will be up and running hills before her chemo this morning and I will be with her. I suggested we run McAllister park because it is a challenging course and the houses are amazing. I love to imagine the kind of people that live inside of them wondering... are they happy with all that stuff?? are they healthy? are they the better version of what I am now?? could I get there myself???
Tara is sick and hours from now she will be sitting in a room as medical techs fill her body with poison hoping that she is strong enough to attack herself. The treatment will weaken her further but she will need to continue to build and nourish her body despite the sick, despite the ache, and the exhaustion. Only she can beat her cancer.
Would you run thirty minutes today if you knew it would inspire Tara to keep fighting?? Let me know if you do. I will be sure to let her know.
The Life You Live is a CHOICE- I run to inspire LIFE
“I don’t know how to be. I find myself in this awkward stumble every time I talk to him,” I stopped walking despite the rain and cold, turning to face my friend in the parking lot. It was good to see her. “There is this movie I want to see and I can’t even ask him. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks and I can’t…”
Bridgette smiled like it was easy, “Just ask him Amber. It’s really no big deal. Keep it simple, light, and then let it go. Get your answer and move on.”
The smile I returned to her was reassuring but the assurance was for my benefit not hers. It had been two weeks…
“I like a woman who is not afraid to look sexy,” he slurred with an accent thickly French. His voice was almost too rich, as was his attitude. “Something tight and short… Do you have something to wear of that nature?”
“I am sexy, thank you. My style reflects my version of that description, which is understated. I don’t need to try that hard for attention, my hem line is not what turns heads….”
I left the concept open but the conversation was closed. There was no need to bother with further explanation because we were not an equal match. I knew I was not the right girl for him before he rescinded my first class ticket to New Port Beach. It wasn’t the clothes that were the deal breaker. I didn’t mind the idea of traipsing around like an arm candy hooker. It wouldn’t be my personal choice, but sexy is a preference. I am a jeans, tank top, and converse kind of girl by habit but when I dress up I aim to look like a star, with my smile being the diamond. I rarely wear jewelry. For him I would make an exception until….
“You have got to be kidding me! You honestly expect me to believe that you have not heard a swear word in over ten years! Shut the f*ck up!!!”
There was silence until he slurred, “Never! I have not heard such a thing in all this time because I simply will not tolerate it. If one of my employees were to utter such a word I would have them pack up their things immediately. I would terminate them. No one in my life swears, no one, not even my employees. I have not heard the f-word in over a decade. Until today,” he accused, “Until speaking with YOU!”
I felt as if I should be defending myself but I couldn’t because I was laughing, “A world without swearing is completely unrealistic. You may think your employees do not swear but I guarantee you that they are flipping your uppity ass off when you walk out of the room because they are pissed that you are more successful. I do not believe that life is possible without obscenity and I personally enjoy swearing. I use the f-word to flavor, but I appreciate good taste. I do have tact my dear. I have the good sense to know my audience, which is an attribute your employees have clearly mastered. Most everyone curses and Orange county is no exception. I watch the Real Housewives and they all swear. I’m just sayin’…..”
His tone was blasphemous, “That is just television, none of it real. The people in my world are of a much higher class and sophistication and no, words like yours are never used, ever. I surround myself with only the best and most positive people….
My interest was peaked, “Show me that world. I want to see it. Show me your world…”
He rescinded the tickets to fly there and let me know via text. “It appears that we have some differences that will not make a love connection likely…”
Show me a world with real perfect gentleman and I will become a lady who only curses during the Super Bowl, while stuck in traffic, when I smash my thumb with a hammer, when I stub my toe, when I am having really, really, really good sex, when I watch the news, when I am pissed off, when I tell funny stories…
(this list could take awhile, but so will finding that man I know is out there, the one based in reality.)
"Dang girl, you said you wanted a fight. I guess God thought that MMA is just too easy for you. You are going to fight cancer." I reminded her of certain victory. “You do realize that even if you aren’t here tomorrow you already won at life. I am not saying you are going to die soon either. I think you are going to stomp your cancer, but you could get hit by a bus. Just sayin’, Sh*t happens."
I paused, imagining her death before I continued.
"I just want you to know that you matter in my life; you made it better in a day. Less than that, you changed my life during twenty minutes of cardio. You made me climb those damn stairs with my hands above my head like an idiot. I looked like a freaking sweaty mess disaster trying to navigate the stair master with my hands up like a field goal…”
Tara laughed easily and when she did I could see her as she was that day, prancing up the stairs while I dragged ass beside her on my machine.
“My time is precious," she said effortlessly, "so I make the best of each workout. I might not get another chance to come back so I push hard. Put your hands above your head and let your core hold you. You don’t need the rail. Rails are for sissies and old people. Drive with your heal and push up maximizing your leg workout…”
“You had cancer that day,” the realization brought me home. “Think about that Tara. You were running circles around me girl, and I am perfectly healthy. You are already winning. Fight your best fight and run your own race. You will get there."
Continued- Tara asked me to tell her story and this is the first of many more to come. Her next round of chemo is on Friday. I will be there...
It is a powerful woman to be born from meager beginnings and dark happenstance innate to the nature of its blessing. (Amber Garibay)
“I was actually misdiagnosed. I went into the ER over a year ago because I was having chest pains. I was running nearly five miles a day at the time, eating right, hitting the gym regularly. I could tell something wasn’t right but the hospital passed it off, herding me through without further testing. I was sent home with a diagnosis of pleurisy...”
“Pleurisy? Is that a rash?”
“No, the rash came later, a year later in fact, my diagnosis followed soon after. Pleurisy was the first presenting symptom of my Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The hospital missed it. They got it right after my flesh broke out in crusty boils. I could have started treatment a year ago…….
I met Tara at the gym, on the stair master more appropriately. We had exchanged pleasantries a few times, “Hi, How are you?” things of that nature, but I didn’t really know much about her. I can’t remember how we were introduced I just know that we usually said hi to each other in passing, always with a smile.
I wasn’t feeling it that particular day, in fact I was pretty sure I was going to slide off the machine as a corpse. I almost didn’t go to the gym at all because I was all kinds of sluggish. The stair master was kicking my ass and the vice grip I had on the handles was the only thing keeping me from sliding off. Even my sweat was weighing me down and she wanted to have a conversation, as if breathing weren’t hard enough.
“I’ve been training at Brian Johnson’s for nearly a year,” she chirped as she bounced up the stairs like they were stable. “MMA….”
I hit cadence in my workout as soon as I heard the name because I was familiar, “Brian! My daughter trained there when she was around five. His wife Danny was a client of mine. I photographed their girls. The youngest wasn’t quite old enough to train yet. I remember that she wanted to…. MMA is hardcore! I wrote a blog about a female soldier that I met here at the gym. I followed her first bouts in grappling. Those are some tough b*tches! Why do you want to fight? ”
“I want to fight to inspire women to be strong. I want my kids to see me win as a single mother as I train in the gym and push through it on the mat. I want to win for them…..” her face was glistening as she continued to leap up the stairs like a bob cat in a field run over with mice. Each step was a catch.
Months later the two of us sat laughing in my living room as she told me about her cancer.
Fact #1: Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
Fact #2: I love to run and I usually wear pants when I do... yoga pants. I live in them.
Fact #3: Over 1000 birds a year die from smashing into windows.
Fact #4: I don't kill bugs, spiders, and bees when they get trapped in my house. I pick them up and put them outside with safe passage. I also put earthworms back in the dirt when they get stuck too far out on concrete. I feel terrible when they drown in puddles.
Fact #5. Reindeer like to eat bananas.
Fact #6. I F-ING hate bananas!!!!!!!!
Fact #7. I find football almost as entertaining as politics.
Fact #8: I originally became a football fan so I can objectify men on my tv screen while screaming touchdown like an orgasm. We are in a budget crises people and good girls keep their legs closed. I am industrious.
Fact #9: I don't mind if you pray for me as long as you know that God loves me more than you.
Fact #10: It was Laurel Thatcher Ulrich that said, "Well behaved women seldom make history"
“Take a picture of her with your phone.” My request was morbid, almost more grotesque than sending my ex husband to check on her because I could not. I didn’t need a photo of my mother to see her how she is. I don’t even know if I want to remember how she was…..
I stood outside to knock even though I knew the door would not be locked. My mother loves the country because she imagines it is safe, I see it differently in that no one will be around to hear the screams. The memories were louder than the animals inside; they started howling as soon as I approached the door.
“The pasta at Basilico Italiano Ristorante is like a soft moan escaping from slightly parted lips as hips thrust up in hungered frenzy…..”
video sountrack Martin Freeman, Lena Headey and Jodhi May/llya's Bellissimo
“Maybe I like to be on top…” I said with a playful grin as I stood barefoot on the wet and frigid sidewalk. The heels had come off at his suggestion that we walk. "Maybe I have a closet full of leather, and cat o'nine tails. Maybe I would want to kick your ass in bed..."
His disagreement was pronounced, "No... I would not tolerate that. I would slam you on the ground and pummel you. Let's walk..."
“No, I am not walking with you,” my rejection was of him but I tried to play it off with the shoes, “I am wearing heels and it is cold.”
“Just around the block,” he was imploring which made my heart sick. The alleys near were dark and easy to get lost in. “Why does he want me to walk?” the question was an echo in my mind. There was no reason for a stroll because we were not getting along. The tension between us was electric and I felt like a rabbit in a snare while he lingered in his stew. I made him angry on our first date in a must unnerving way.
“I just feel like you are judging me,” his face was a contortion of the handsome I first knew just as he was now not himself. I could tell that he had lost his bearing in the conversation. I was mindful of his weakness as I built him up and tore him down.
“I was not judging you for your sexual preferences, but even if I was you asked for it. You are the one who started the conversation. I simple asked you what you are into. OPEN can mean a lot of things. I asked you spell it out, plain and simple. Tell me what you like and I will let you know whether or not I swing that way. You couldn’t spit it out, getting mad at me instead, calling me confrontational. I am going to tell you right now that all people judge. It is a necessary evil because judgments lead to choices and some mistakes are fatal. You are a man I do not know and yes, I am going to make a judgment about whether or not I think your sexual preferences are deviant. How kinky are you and would I be safe?”
“I am pretty kinky,” his face was suddenly charming again and I imagined that he was probably quite fun in bed with someone less questioning. It was the nature of my questions that caught him off kilter because they were too obvious. He needed me to understand him to the depths.
“I just don’t think you understand what I was trying to say Amber. Are you a republican because that is a deal breaker. I will not date republicans they are way too conservative for me.”
I cut him off in agreement. “I am not a conservative. I flat out told you maybe I am not understanding you, please be clear. You told me that you couldn’t because of audience.” I nodded an acknowledgment to the two women at the table next to us as they were clearly listening. The more homely of the two gave a slight nod back.
“I agree with you that this is the not the proper venue for such conversation but you brought it up so clearly it is of the up most importance to you because you felt the need to address your open sexuality during our first dinner together, never mind the fact that I am a lady. So I will ask you again, what do you mean by open?”
“It’s not that Amber, I just mean that women change as soon as you put a ring on their finger or enter into commitment. They morph into completely different people.”
He reached for my hand affectionately but it lacked the warmth of the first connection since severed.
My palm was clammy on his, “Look, I am here having dinner and I don’t really care who you sleep with. You accused me of being a conservative republican but I think I am as open as it gets because I am single. Will the rules change when I am in a relationship, perhaps. If you want to know how I will feel about the guy I am with screwing other people in the event I fall in love I couldn’t tell you. Love changes people.” I tried to lead the conversation back to the ease of newly introduced pleasantries. “The hostess is stunning. I wonder if she is the owner’s daughter, she looks Italian.”
He eyed her like a cat with a fish in its mouth, “MMMMmmm…. Yes, I bet she is and yes, she is hot. My ex girlfriend likes women..”