ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Blow Dryers, Mobile Homes + When to Shut Your Fucking Macbook, Already

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

I was pissed.

It was 1998. I was 14. I had just put the finishing touches on my 90's style bangs, sculpting and spraying them into the perfect 360 degree fan – you remember the kind where the top half curls backward, and the bottom half forward, right? (If you say no, that means you're younger than me. First of all, fuck you, and second of all, stop driving behind me while looking at your crotch while texting the guy that's just not that into you on your rhinestone pink “bling bling” iPhone.)

I'm a nice girl. Really. (Says she with the blog titled, The Middle Finger Project.)

Anyway. My bangs. And the work of art that they were.

Enter: My mother.

I see her out of the corner of my eye, as she props her elbow up in the door frame of my bedroom, and hits me with the news–the same bad news she had delivered two other mornings earlier that month.

“Ash,” she would start, hesitantly and with a softness to her voice, as if she were whispering, almost scared to say it.

“Mmmmhmmm?”

“The pipes. They're frozen again.”

I drop my brush.  Shit.

Really mother nature? Are you purposely trying to screw up my life? You must be, because if you weren't, you'd keep the temps in a semi-normal range suitable for those silly little creatures called HUMAN BEINGS, and while we're on the topic, you wouldn't have been so kind as to “bless” me with these “big bones” of mine, either. Yeah, thanks for that.

So there I am. All dressed up and with someplace to go–school–but alas, the pipes are frozen again. And when the pipes froze, it only meant one thing: The blow dryer.

I take a deep breath, sigh, and immediately take off all the clothes I had just put on – the new purple jeans I bought over the weekend at JC Penney (shut up), and my creme-colored tee shirt, replacing them with yellow-gold sweatpants and a sweatshirt that bore the record of my middle school track team in red. I know the drill. I march into the bathroom to retrieve the blow dryer, grab the flashlight, and proceed outside, sinking into a foot and a half of snow with each carefully calculated step I take.

I loop around to the hydrangea tree out front, and drop to my hands and knees in front of it. I know the path well, and slowly but surely, me and my big ass bones manage to crawl through the snow, underneath the hydrangea tree, using my elbows to propel me forward.

I reach the underskirting of our 1977 mobile home – the white piece of vinyl that lines the bottom of most trailers you see. (If you've never seen a trailer, fuck you, too.)

I find the seam in the vinyl, and pry it open enough to wedge my body through the gap, and hoist myself underneath the trailer onto the cold, hard dirt floor. I turn the flashlight on, and freak out a little bit about all of the spider webs I see, and the fact that there could be a daddy long leg weaseling its way onto my perfectly primped 360 degree hair pouf without me even knowing it. But hey, the pipes are frozen, and someone's got to handle it.

I drag my body a little further with my elbows, trying not to drop the flashlight or the blow dryer, which I had managed to plug in outside. Finally, I spot the pipes I'm looking for – the ones directly underneath our bathroom. I painstakingly make my way over to them, still deathly afraid that a spider will find its way up my pant leg, and then crank the blow dryer on full blast.

And I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait some more.

I suddenly hear a group of classmates giggling to themselves as they walk past my front yard, on their way to the bus stop. On their way to my bus stop–the same one I normally would have been at by now.

I tell myself that they aren't giggling at me; that they can't possibly know that I'm wedged underneath our trailer, lying on my stomach, blowing hot air onto our frozen pipes so my mom could cook and flush the toilet that day.

But I equally have to wonder if maybe they did see me–a flush of embarrassment and anger rushes to my face at the mere thought of it.

I suppose their pipes were insulated; they lived in two-story houses with basements and attics and staircases. For years, I marveled at the staircases in my friends' homes–some wood, some carpeted, some with a little bit of both. Most 14 year old girls wanted CD players, or their first tube of lipstick, or a subscription to Teen Magazine. I secretly longed for a staircase.

After about 10 minutes had passed, my mom would yell back at me that the water was flowing again, meaning that my job there was done. I'd sigh with relief, trudge my way back out to daylight, make my way through the snow, get inside and hurriedly change back into my school clothes. My bangs were no longer perfect, but I didn't have time to fix them, so I'd throw my hot pink and teal pick into my schoolbag, and hope I'd have time before first period.

Ah, those were the days.

At the time, I cursed my mother for making me be the adult; for making me handle such responsibilities, for making me do things that my dad would have done, if he hadn't gotten cancer and passed away the month prior.  Yet, fast forward thirteen years later, and here I sit, snuggled warmly in my bed in my fancy apartment here in Santiago, Chile, having accomplished so much and likely to never have to crawl underneath a trailer ever again.

But I can assure you this: If I could bring either one of them back, for just one hour, to be able to sit and talk with them, and tell them how much I loved them, and have the chance to hug them one last time, you bet your ass I'd crawl underneath every goddamn trailer in all of The United States of America, heating every single goddamn pipe that there is to be heated, with so much as a lighter if I had to.

Tomorrow, Friday, April 29th, my mom would have turned 67 years old. Happy birthday, Momla. I'll be buying a gift card for Lowe's in your honor, since I know how much you loved it there. (Even though I'd always curse you for putting 10 bags of mulch in the car, and then making me clean it afterward. Ha.)

In addition, for all of you that may have forgotten, Mother's Day is fast approaching.

With both of those things in mind, today's post has nothing to do with your business, but rather, is dedicated to helping you remember when it's time to be without it.

There are people in your life–your friends, your family, your significant other–who YOU ARE PAINFULLY, PAINFULLY TAKING FOR GRANTED.

You assume they'll always be there, and you can make it up to them once you're done writing yet another blog post, or done working another 16 hour day at the office.

But motherfuckinggoddammit….one day that's not going to be the case. And that's not an assumption–that's a guarantee.

So the next time they ask you to get out the blow dryer and crawl underneath the trailer, or help them with something, or answer a question, or listen to a story they want to tell, or ask to hear one of yours…I suggest you shut your fucking Macbook, turn around, look them in the eyes, and tell them you'd be absolutely delighted to.

Because you should be.

Oct 22

2013

You Think The Stakes Are High Now? Please.

Oct 22, 2013

I wonder about people. Specifically about the 50-something woman speaking softly at the table next to me, telling another woman how she desperately wants to go abroad—because, verbatim, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime—but… And her words trail off. JUST LIKE HER DREAMS. Kidding. Dramatic doesn’t look good on me. But, really. What […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Jul 8

2010

When Being in Control is a Disservice

Jul 8, 2010

I’ve got little patience for excuses. I proactively call myself out whenever I catch myself making excuses in order to either procrastinate or invent reasons why I shouldn’t put myself out there. Why? Because sometimes, putting yourself out there is nail-bitingly, blood-curdingly, will-drive-you-to-drink, flat-out terrifying at times. It’s far easier to continue doing what we’ve […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Sep 5

2012

Are You Going To Be Someone Who Does? Or Doesn’t? (Warning: Contains Least Amount of Swear Words Ever Written On TMF)

Sep 5, 2012

It’s 5am. I’m checking out of my hotel in Buenos Aires, and I’m hoping the $80 eye cream I bought is ACTUALLY HELPING ME NOT LOOK LIKE I JUST CRAWLED OUT FROM UNDER A MOSSY, EARTH-STENCHING, FUNGI-COVERED ROCK. Mostly because I knew AndrĂ©s would be checking me out–hopefully in more ways than one. AndrĂ©s isn’t actually his name, as […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Dec 20

2012

Always Do. You’ll Be Glad You Did.

Dec 20, 2012

If you walked in the door right now, I don’t know if I’d run and hug you hard, or if you’d seem like a stranger now. I’d like to think that I’d hug you. I’d like to think that I’d bury my face into your chest and you’d smell like your old cologne–which kind, I […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Jan 24

2016

On Getting Old, Having No Idea How to Make a Soufflé & Consciously Choosing to Do What You WANT.

Jan 24, 2016

It’s 2:42 in the morning and the reason I’m awake is called CHARDONNAY. People talk about getting old—buying crock pots, nonchalantly cutting your spouse’s armpit hairs, relating more to The Golden Girls than The Gilmore Girls—but they do not prepare you for the one thing that will change your life even more than tiny packets of GrillMates: […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Mar 30

2017

When Following the Crowd is GOOD FOR YOU.

Mar 30, 2017

So the other day, it happened. There was one person stubborn enough to finally coerce me into doing the one thing I’d promised I’d never do. I’d hedged for many painful weeks. (Okay, fine, months.) I’d squirmed and I’d squithered (new favorite word) and I’d writhed and I’d wriggled. And yet, she kept asking. “Today […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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