Friday, July 29, 2011


These days I'm obsessed with helping people live a healthier life.
Afterall, can you think of any bigger reason for a celebration?  I for one cannot.
We can celebrate your journey tooooooooo!
Help me help you, help you. ;) WOOT!

Oh and as a sidenote, lately I'm totally re-obsessed with Morphine. It's fueling my late nights.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things I Throw Myself into Thursday

Aka. Why I have not yet found anyone worth marrying.
Many, many moons ago on a fated and muggy evening I fell in love with a curly haired blonde boy as he swayed and jumped in well... synch with a group of obviously lesser men. 
Not many moons later (and I must say much sooner than just about everyone else in the free world) I found room in my heart for another love:
Apparently - and this has been market tested, I have a thing for boys know how to lounge. I spent years trying to figure out what it was these two lingering teenage obsessions had that others lacked. Why these boys? After decades these infatuations still burn brightly while girlish crushes on lesser men (sorry Marky-Mark, my apologizes Keanu) have faded to mere memory. For years I have been sure that it's the quality that they each share, of always having a light in their eye.They're the kind of guys who have a hard time finishing a joke because they are boyishly so excited to have you laugh when they get to the punch line that they can hardly keep it together...I've known that part for a long time. Was that all it was?

Luckily, right place,  right time I was recently reminded of something that gave me deep, deep
joy last Fall: I invite you to grab a spoon and indulge
Then BONUS POINTS I was given this sparkling gem in my current tiara of inner peace. I had previously gone through life totally unaware of its existence. I cringe to think of the hours spent not watching this on loop that I'll never get back. Oh if you're one of my pet peevy people who have trouble wearing your nerd like a badge, make sure you watch this in private. I spontaneously clapped in delight three times.

So here's where this all comes together in a one-two punch. I've just let go of my third 'maybe' boyfriend of the summer. When asked why I felt the need to clean house, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. PHD Jake was handsome, and nice, and he smelled as men should smell -- like they are masking the scent of a recently exercised stallion by rubbing up against the bark of a mossy tree surrounded by wild flowers... but there was something missing. BAM! Thanks to the History of Rap and this perfect storm of sexy boyish cute and important music from my youth, I can now elaborate on what the boys who have names that start with J have that others do not! Hmm... oddly, PHD Jake was not in this club... This History of Rap could have easily sucked. Right? Right?! LBH, It could have blown.

When I watch it I am impressed by two things. First of all I'm floored at how damn fine Jimmy Fallon is looking in a suit these days much time this must have taken in the practice room. These are two men that could have easily been sidelined in the process of pulling this together by their busy schedules, egos or fear of embarrassment. Memorizing this, collaborating, blocking it, getting it perfectly aligned to go Live took WORK. Lots of it. As all worthwhile things do.

Secondly, in the actual execution of the whole thing you can tell how much fun they are having. They are loving this. This is where they want to be and what they want to be doing. Watching it makes you, the viewer feel great. They don't care if it might get bombed, they don't care if youtube doesn't love it with viral violence, or if their friends think they are total nerds. They have charm and charisma because in addition to their boyish grins, they are willing to OWN it.

There is a serious lack of people out there willing to fulfill even one of these two firstly and secondlys. Sometimes even my favorite people peeve me out cloaking themselves in a fear based 'don't get too excited' mask of indifference. For example, a good friend of mine recently rolled her eyes and explained that her friends were MAKING her go to watch a Ghost Busters' marathon in Central Park. Um.. I did that once. It was THE BEST!

Please. Don't act like you're not invested in something when you are. If you're doing something optional you truly don't want to do, stop. If that's not the case, fix your face. Throw yourself in with passion. You'll be happier. The people around you will be happier. If you're acting less than invested in like I dunno... something you love like cough, cough, your ART - your enthusiasm will make it sing louder and help people embrace it readily. Your audience won't need you to tell them you love it, they'll just be able to tell that it has that extra hard work + enthusiasum-y something JT+JF special when they look at it. Try not to make excuses. I really believe if you want to do something badly enough you do it. So, do it. Work hard and work with passion.

I'm naturally drawn to people who have an energy and spirit that resonates. I'm thinking I'm not alone in this. Remember, everything in life is just a white picket fence that needs to be whitewashed. Be Tom Sawyer.

Sidenote: In the five years since I started She Sure is Sketchy I've had a handful of men contact me to ask me out. If that's the reason you read my girly nothings, Hi, there ;). Embrace this blog post, it's giving you a major edge. I am currently accepting Fall 2011 applications.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a video to watch 30x.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Straight from the Book

I made a picture book dummy. These drawings are in there. They are fun.

Also, yesterday talking to some of my less thrown together coworkers at job-job I discovered that a couple of them are working on big projects too. This thrilled me. Then I found out that a couple of them are itching to write a novel but didn't know about NaNoWriMo which begins in a mere 96days and 14hours. There was one other girl who said she always wanted to write a picture book, but didn't have any idea about the SCBWI,  KidLit or KidLitArt weekly tweet chats. She said she really wanted to be a children's book writer one day but she didn't know how to get the right idea. Of course she had no idea about PbIdMo. It got me motivated to compile a list of resources over the next few weeks. So stay tuned, and grab a tutu.

What are the resources you use to tap into, stay motivated and move toward your big goals?

Now I'm off to get rid of my cough.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A New York Minute

Because I don't journal and I would like to, I now do a New York Minute to bring you through my week. I didn't get this done last week because I was convinced I was dying. OK. I had a BAD cold. Whatever.

  • I had a score of infinite giggles and deep dreamy conversation with my very best friends. I can only wish you our kind of joy, the kind that happens over French food in a room bedecked to look like Sherwood Forest. If you'd like that exact experience I suggest you grab the Duchess and my JenPal and head to Robin des Bois' (photo by Johannes Kroemer)
  • I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. OK I kind of swam over it. The air in Bklyn has been thick enough to Butterfly through.
  • The best and most impressive thing is this:
    I (along with my biz partner, Pam aka. mom) celebrated a massive birthday event marking our one year anniversary of owning and creating
  • oh and I created this banner to advertise said event:
  • I finished the line art for my first official picture book dummy.
  • I had it looked like by a real life publisher thanks to Pat Cummings and her supportive and brilliant but mega-intense Children's Book Boot Camp.
  • I busted my Wii power sensor bar that I keep across the room
  • I busted a picture frame and had glass shatter across my room
  • I managed to kill the mosquito that I was chasing in the previous two transpired events.
  • I reveled in a 50% off sale at AI Friedman (I had to buy a new picture frame) I went to the store, because I love it, but you can buy stuff online too. I also love going there because it allows me to run next door where...
  • I spent another glorious afternoon at Books of Wonder
  • I sadly listened to a lot of Back to Black
  • I broke through a 1 inch piece of plywood with my bare hand (don't worry, it was intentional)
  • I went to Florida to get more...
  • Health Coach training (I'm getting healthy I figure i might as well help everyone else do it too.)
  • Speaking of which... I lost 3 pounds!
  • I made new friends
  • I invented new friends...
  • first: gum drop raccoons:

    obviously a gateway drug, naturally leading to the invention of
  •  gum drop penguins.

     Both are working titles so please, by all means, please suggest names for these soon to be expansive lines.
  • I came home to my beautiful Brooklyn, and kissed the hard wood floor that runs from my bedroom to my studio.

    Yep, that's what happened. Now like my friend Jay-Z says, On to the next one. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Music Saves My Soul: Dancing in the Street

This is the best thing to ever happen to me:

My friend Chery shows and tells her weekly music obsession at Marcea's. It seemed like the thing to do.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grand Gesture

2006 found me at the end of a four year relationship. The breakup left me raw and reeling and years out of the grind that is the NYC single's scene. Dating, the thing I had once been so great at, was now something that had me looking like Alecia Silverstone in bad lighting. My first dip back in the dating pool was with a Brooklyn Heights dwelling lawyer, five years my senior. YES, FIVE YEARS, not twenty, not thirty...

On our fourth date I had decided I couldn't wait forever, things move fast in New York! I gave my bedroom a once over, making sure to gather all my colored pencils and pens. Today was a big day with Lawyer man, today I was going to finally let him...


Unfortunately, Lawyer Man had been under the impression that the zoo was a euphamism... Haha, what a funny joke. Undaunted I snatched up my sketchbook and grabbed my metro card, "Let's get a move on, mister!" Lawyer man stood there confused, so confused. Poor lawyer man.

Opening statements were made. Members of the court took the stand. Things got heated, not in a way lawyer man had hoped. In what some may call an overly dramatic move, Lawyer Man raised his arms, waving them about his head and taking off around the perimeter of my home, a little toy helicopter in an ascott tie. It was later revealed that lawyer man thought he was simply presenting evidence to the jury. We at the Penthouse at Court knew that this was most surely his closing argument. Undaunted he asserted this gem,
"Look, I am not your babysitter."

He immediately knew that he was on his way to contempt, mapped by the look of well... contempt on my face. I gladly kicked his $400 pants to the curb, LBH, he was going to wreck them in the Gorilla Keep anyway. On a high-note, I had a great day alone at the zoo.

Flash forward a week and a half and what to my wondering eyes do appear but Lawyer Man, sitting on the stoop at the Penthouse at Court. The jury was not out. This case was closed. I stood there confused. So confused. "What can I do to make this up?"

I refrained from singing "True Colors" opting to instead step back and truly think. What would it take? I hummed the second verse of Cyndi Lauper while crystalizing the blueprint that had started to take shape in my mind's eye. This morning's prompt at Illustration Friday summoned this memory and resulted in this sketch. Needless to say, Lawyer Man never delivered, that is why I own a chicken and not a pony.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things I Throw Myself Into Thursday

The thing keeping me afloat this week:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sick as a Dog

This morning Con Ed called.
"Can we speak to Amber Alvarez?"
-- "This is Amber"
"Excuse me, sir? I didn't quite catch that."
It's safe to say that today I am going to 'stay' put.

The little guy on the lower left is 'VAMPIRE COUGH'. As inspired by Mika, the queen of physical comedy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On a Boat

If you squint you can just barely see me and my kid sister eagerly anticipating our turn to board the ship we spent our Fourth of July 2011 on.(JK, this is a film still from 'The Titanic).

Joking aside, watching this movie approx. 20 times the Summer I turned fourteen was the best preparation for the seven hour tour we embarked on that afternoon. OK, OK, Leo screenings were probably the next best -- there were those middle school mornings spent trading my father half hour stints on Gilligan's Island for Saved by the Bell.

NYC has elected to steal our fireworks and instead show off for Jersey.

I don't know if you're aware of Jersey's ever rising prestige on the reality television front but if you are, sit back and ask yourself... "WHERE IS THE HUMANITY?!"  At any rate, I had a fun, but relatively uneventful Fourth last year. I spent the evening running through Prospect Park with friends, sure that there was some kind of mistake and that any minute the sky was going to alight. Later we followed up with root-beer floats and the Boston Pops in front of the telly in Park Slope.

I decided to pull an Ursula and take matters into my own tentacles. This year I was going to go on a cruise and catch me some  fireworks. I was browsing the internet the way Meg Ryan would in any Tom Hanks movie when I got a gmail alert from my favorite discount shopping site, Living Social.

For half the cost of a normally $300 cruise, you could find yourself sailing on Jersey's luxury Cornucopia Princess on the Hudson for the holiday. Voila! Obviously this was meant to be. That is how (well plus a very shady windowless Time's Square office with ticker tape on the floor and bars on the door) I came to be the proud bearer of two tickets to a prime firework seat on our Nation's birthday. 

Note: Later I realized that this Living Social deal greatly spoke to the hilarity of our time at sea. The ship's passengers were widely varied, consisting of people who paid full price, $600 a couple, or in some cases much more for a family intermixed with people who had pooled all their money to afford the half price deal. 

There were little hiccups along the way, but what cruise doesn't have hiccups? Sure, we were supposed to leave at 3 and didn't board until 4:15, but we were going to be on a boat, and that was all that mattered. 

We were instructed upon boarding to immediately go to our assigned seats at beautifully manicured tables in a grand ballroom.  Oh yeah, this was going to be good. "Behind me I heard a "Oh this shit be FAAAAAANNCY!" So that's where you see the note I made about a range of social class start to play out.
 By now you have learned that here at She Sure is Sketchy, we have authority problems, and why, friends, would we go directly to our seats when we could climb to the dock and marvel at the skyline?
In the single most intelligent move of the year, April and I dragged an iron-rod table from the back of the boat, where there was no view, to the front of the boat where there was all view. There we sat. Soon other rebels joined us. On our boat, that I would later learn housed close to 2,200 people, a lucky ten managed chairs and tables up on the deck. Keeping with our Titanic analogy, this clairvoyant move is what later separated us from steerage.
We laughed. We felt the wind in our hair. We read. We sketched. It was simply lovely. Meanwhile, down below the deck, things were getting dicey. This is where I would cinimatically  pan from an exterior shot above to an interior shot down near the water.  At this point we were still blissfully unaware that anything was amiss. It was at this point that I started collecting quotes. 

My favorite quote of the evening, and there were plenty to choose from, was issued by a wildly enthusiastic muscle-bound Jersey boy -- complete with sky-high shellacked hair who offered this gem: "My whole life, yo. My whole life, I been sitting in my uncle's balcony on this day every year and watching the boats go by over here, and NOW I am ON a boat! That's right BITCHES! I am ON a boat!" (i wrote this one down in my sketchbook. I wanted to be sure I kept the nuance.)

Slowly people started making their grumbly way on deck, "what bad attitudes," I thought. "Don't they see how beautiful it is here?" Meanwhile, April and I bask in the glory of the sea.
 Hunger sets in as the sun sets. Eager to make it back to our primo seats in time for the big show I leave the sissie and head down into the hull, dinner tickets in hand. My animator roots take hold as I descend the grand staircase overlooking the ballroom. A long line circles the dance floor. I sense an overall vibe of seething anger. Also, people are drunk. I went to Pratt freakin' Institute, an art school in Clinton Hill where the five spot used to give you 21 free shots on your 18th birthday. I know the difference between drunk and durnk. These people are the latter.  Nor are they happy drunk. They are collectively angry drunk. I wait in line for my food and make "friends" with a grabby boy who likes boys but in his inebriated state is willing to also like my boobs. 

The line takes forever. Somewhere in the distance a table is turned over. There is yelling. Hmm... this does not bode well. When hosting my adorable little sister thousands of miles away from her home, my chief concern is to always keep. her. fed. Little miss April can go from strawberry shortcake to the Incredible Hulk faster than I can Scarlett O'Hara blink my eyes. After years of practicing my Vivien Leigh we are talking fractioned split-seconds. 

As the line snaked longer, I start to panic. What if she gives up our front row seats to come find me? What if she gets too hungry and loses it? What if there is no vegetarian food left for her when I get to the front of the line?!  Take heart, I tell myself, the menu on this ship's masthead was elaborate, organic, gourmet. They will have plenty of.... BURGERS AND HOTDOGS?!
Correction. They will have NO burgers or hot dogs. They will have nothing. They will eat fists. This picture was taken while my gay boyfriend held my place twenty minutes down the line. By the time I got there there was a tub of greasy floating hot dogs (I swear i have never been so disgusted. It was barfaroni casserole) and nothing else. At the end of the line a crustal bowl held a solitary packet of mustard next to an empty bottle of ketchup. 

In amazing news, I arrived right when this situation really heated up. I got to witness a punch and a duck worthy of Ralph Maccio. There was yelling. There was crying. It was magical.

Gay boyfriend transitioned from slightly odd to truly crazy. He picked up a cold hotdog and waggled it in the manager's face. "This is frozen!!! THIS IS FROZEN! Feel this!" The manager takes it in his hand and throws it back into the dish. "I JUST TOUCHED THAT AND NOW YOU PUT IT BACK IN THERE!?!? WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TO CONTAMINATE THIS "FOOD"."

Seriously, the air quotes GBF was sporting made me wish I had only manicured the index and middle fingers of my hands. I have a problem around people with Southern accents or girls speaking Japanese at the salon. I want to mimic, not to tease but to study. To my right several girls and their pimp cousin skipped their index fingers and communicated in other ways with their hands. I watched a hamburger fly into a man's head hurled with surprisingly great aim from a woman who looked to be in her seventies. To my left, I thrilled at a rousing game of "I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you". Sigh. Good times. For about ten minutes, I thought that maybe I was waiting for more food to be cooked and brought out. No, I was waiting for mutiny on the bounty. There was no "food" (that's for you GBF) to be had. 

P.S. Who among us can't help but stare while someone yells "THIS IS ME BEING NICE, ASSHOLE! YOU WANT ME TO GET MEAN, I CAN GET MEAN!" all the while pointing a three inch bedazzled finger nail millimeters from a man's eye?

I soon realized that the reason everyone was drunk was because the ship, in addition to boasting a worth-$300-gourmet-menu also boasted an open bar. In true we're going to party like it's America's birthday form, those who could not eat, made up for the cost of the cruise by drinking. I tip-toed over a fallen reviler and up the stairs to rejoin my little sister on the dock. 

Wonderfully, I was met by a smiling kid sister. April had waited, happy as a clam. Thrilled to be out at sea with the wind in her face and Macy's fireworks on the way. "You missed it," she let me know. "People have been going crazy." Tee hee.
Once we realized we were going to be starving until we docked we both tapped into our upbringing. Last week I read an article saying that if you were raised a certain way before 1992 you were raised 'right' and if you were raised the same way today you were 'abused'. April and I are well brought-up children of the 80s. We know that if nothing's going to change you might as well have a good attitude so nothing worse happens to you. We put on our smiley faces and happily inked the petitions that the angered fall-downs were bringing around as written on the ship's linen napkins.

Later it was revealed that the mass of champagne and wine bottles couldn't be opened because corkscrews had been left on shore and things really got intense.

As the night fell, people pulled the table cloths off tables downstairs and busied themselves by dragging forty pound dining room chairs up to the deck to better pad their livingroom forts at our feet. We had a clear view of Manhattan to one side and this to the other:

When a formation of 8 helicopters flew overhead and the mass begin to yell "SAVE US! SAVE US" 
April and I caught each other's sober eyes, raised our hands and high-fived. We knew who was winning this holiday. Well, we knew who was winning until the yacht ran out of waterbottles and cups.  We are Hawaii girls though, and we know how to deal, eh?

Then the fireworks started and the oohing and awwwwwwwing really got under way. For a perfect twenty minutes everyone forgot that they wanted to 'EFFING CUT THE EFFING MO-EFFING CREW" 

The most patriotic moment of the whole day, and mayhaps the entire year came in the gathering of ships in the harbor who leaned on their fog horns blasting Yankee Doodle Dandy and the Star Spangled banner. Their passengers, all merry by the look of them, waved jovially, jumping up and down  anscreaming 'HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!! to us. The feeling of  Americana radiated the air. 

The adorable Juliard trained girl next to me, said, "It is so cool they're playing John Phillip Souza" The guy next to her said, "Who dat?" 

And so, on the fourth of July, 2011, I stood hanging over the rail of that crowded deck of the ironically named Cornucopia Princess. I got a taste of what it might be like to be united against a common enemy, forced to take matters into your own hands. Maybe there was no water, not a drop to drink, and maybe everyone wanted to strangle our captors with their bare hands, but in the end we all were able to set aside our differences for the common good, a very kick-ass firework show. Afterall, dear friends, isn't that what this patriotism thing is all about?

Later, as I watched the crew argue with my sister as they wrenched her cup of self-rationed water from her lovely little hands while we disembarked and saw our new friends-in-distress kiss the germ-ridden NYC cement, I looked to the beautiful smokey sky, glad that I had decided to spend our Nation's special day out at sea. 
On the fifth I decided that the true crime was that the ship had sailed away from shore knowing that they A) only had crappy burned/frozen food to serve and B) didn't have enough of either to feed the thousands on board, I decided to call in and let someone know. Livingsocial picked up the phone on the third ring. 

"Hello, I'm just calling to register a compl..." 
--"Were you on the boat last night?" 
"Um, yeah."
--"Give me your name and email address please."
--"The cost of the cruise in full is refunded back to your account. Please accept our sincere apology."

And so I write this account of a topsy-turvy holiday to you, from where I sit in my studio, proud to be an American.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A New York Minute

Because I don't journal and because I would like to, I now bullet point my NYC existence.
This is what I did this week:
  • Ate a large and delicious but healthy Cuban brunch on the 4th of July with The Duchess, Jenny, Tim and April on Smith Street and Degraw. Nothing says America like Cuba, right? It was a great time. We talked about JFK and Barry and Shelly (the nick names that The Duchess has given the Obamas as they are now next door neighbors). 
  • I took deep comfort in the fact that the Duchess had bought a plane ticket on July 3rd  from DC to NYC to arrive July 4th. She was rather embarrassed about this luxury but I was both relieved and heart gladdened at the ease at which she is breezing between states.
  • I trip-tropped to Chelsea Piers in my favorite pair of heels that I immediately removed upon arriving on the boat.
  • Watched all the Macy's fireworks go off from a boat, floating on the Hudson in bliss so intense it almost gave me a coma.
  • Witnessed complete anarchy and near mutiny on said boat (Blog post to come. Hilarity to ensue)
  • Went back to the future and had my very first day at job-job, well, my first day at our new multi-million $$$ offices. The air there smells like money.
  • Toured the Masonic building, where every single historic room houses an organ. Theodore Roosevelt, Cecil B. Demille and FDR used to hang-out there. Now I hang-out there.
  • I laughed until I cried with my brother and sister in Madison Square Park's shake shack surrounded by fireflies and fairy lights
  • I some how persuaded an ice cream man to get out of his truck and do me a favor
  • I fell asleep during a screening of True Lies <-- who does this?
  • I hosted my kid sister's NYC vacation all week long
  • Witnessed my first Jewish Mezuzah ceremony.
  • I pulled an all-nighter so that I could say ...
  • I finished a children's book dummy 
  • I had a full day class at CBBC
  • I made a trip to my very favorite children's book store of all time, 'Books of Wonder'
  • I watched the Brooklyn Bombshells go head to CRUSHING head with the Queens of Pain (who I fail to link because I know my team loyalty and why would I want to encourage you to visit the enemy's roller derby page?)
  • I made a remarkably stupid mistake and as a result begun a master calendar for the ages. It is the Parthenon of calendars.
  • On an amazing sunny Saturday I managed to drink 232 oz of water. Take that, camels. 
  • I spent about two hours teaching a very focused and determined five year old how to remove his thumb optical illusion style 
  • I allowed myself a happy "your welcome!" When his mother thanked me for putting something else to terrify his younger sister with in his bag of tricks 
  • I lost two pounds!
  • I spent a lovely evening with my little NYC family at Jenmo's. Bananagrams were played. Mint was consumed. A rousing round of Catchphrase managed to happen without resulting in blows. A+
  • I hosted The Duchess for an evening of hilarity and slumber party goodness any brat pack member would be jealous of.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Thumb Wrestling

Yeah, that's about right.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

My Etsy Shop

My oldest and most wonderful friend, Angela, took these amazing photos of her kids. I decided to play with them, and just like that, my new Etsy Shop was born.

I'm having a lot of fun watching it grow, and playing with photo possibilities. It's another fun thing I'm doing while I add to the aspects of creating with other artists, like the photographers behind the photos I'm illustrating on.

So the possibilities in this little Amberbop Etsy shop are evolving. The process is so so fun. In grand opening excitement, Becky Higgins is giving away 3 custom photo print manipulations from my Etsy Shop tomorrow on her blog. All you have to do is stop by and leave a comment to win

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dream House

The Duchess found my dreamhouse. We are going to buy it and move to Kokomo. On the off chance it sells whilst we are scratching the 16 million dollars that we need to buy it together, I am posting pictures here to remind me of its grandeur. They'll help me when I am having it rebuilt to exact scale and specification.

Hope we buy it as is. I'm picturing it getting very Pharaoh and the Pyramids if we have to commission excellence we'd  probably have to demand.

Of course, that chandelier and the curtains will simply have to go. Jonathan Adler will help me come up with something a tad more suitable for the custom in which I am planning to become accustomed to living.

What are you dreaming of to keep you focused and motivated and happy?


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