Amber Coffman’s Nostalgia Mixtape

Amber Coffman's Nostalgia Mixtape. Hosted by Sama'an Ashrawi.

Amber Coffman’s Nostalgia Mixtape. Hosted by Sama’an Ashrawi.

The Amber Coffman Episode

Amber Coffman, a singer, guitarist, and human person, tells an incredibly relatable tale of teenage rebellion — inspired by TLC’s “Creep.”

Stream this episode via Apple, Spotify, or find your other preferred streaming service here

ANNOTATIONS

[00:00]

Amber Coffman: I’m Amber Coffman, and I’m a singer, musician, person. [laughs]

Sama’an Ashrawi: [laughs]

Amber: I feel kinda weird, like…

Sama’an: Yeah?

Amber: I dunno how this is gonna paint me. I’m really not crazy. I mellowed out.

PROLOGUE

[00:35]

Sama’an: Welcome to another episode of The Nostalgia Mixtape. I’m your host, Sama’an Ashrawi, and today we have a story about youth, rebellion, and finding one’s self. Amber Coffman has had one of my favorite singing voices for a long time, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way, but, as powerful as her singing voice is, her speaking voice is very soft, it makes you lean in a little closer so you don’t miss a word, and her laughter is infectious. I never get tired of listening to her tell a story. We taped this particular episode on a sunny, breezy day in East Los Angeles, it was a little bit chilly, and I think you can hear a bit of that in the ease of our conversation. Right before we turned the mics on, she had a sort of “a-ha!” moment, she hopped, went down into her basement, and came back with a yearbook from middle school, and a photo album from high school. After serving up some tea [editor’s note: just regular tea, there was no hot gossip] she guided me through some of her favorite photos, pointing at certain classmates, telling me their stories, reminiscing about life in Northern California, and guessing the era of certain photos based on the color of her hair. So then we bonded over the way we both dyed our hair as teenagers, and how the music we listened to kind of dictated who we’d end up becoming friends with. But, all that to say: for many of us, our teenage years are when we try to find our boundaries, and a lot of times we find them the hard way. Thankfullyyyyy, Amber turned out alright! Which is why I think you’ll really enjoy this story. So, let’s jump in.

CHAPTER 1: EL DORADO COUNTY ‘97-’98

[02:27]

Amber: Good news is that we are eating La Salsa Chilena.

Sama’an: It’s definitely not spicy, for sure. [editor’s note: ;)]

Amber: It’s mild.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: They do make mild, medium, and hot. This is my favorite salsa…

Sama’an: Lemme get a dip.

Amber: It’s made in San Diego, and I’ve been eating for probably…. the first time I had it I was probably about 19.

Sama’an: Wow.

Amber: Or 20!

Sama’an: [chewing intensifies]

Amber: I’ve only found it on the west side of LA. I’ve never seen it on this side of town, but it is so good with Have’A Chips, which most people know by now.

Sama’an: You a dedicated salsa, like…. they should give you some kind of stake in the company.

Amber: I would love a sponsorship or a lifetime supply. Anything like that, I’m open to that. So… La Salsa Chilena…

Sama’an: If you’re out there…

Amber: I love you.

la salsa chilena amber coffman nostalgia mixtape

[editor’s note: La Salsa Chilena, if you’re out there, please make Amber one of your brand ambassadors.]

[03:25]

Sama’an: [laughs] Alright, cool. What song did you wanna talk about today?

Amber: We’re gonna talk about “Creep” by TLC

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: [laughs]

Sama’an: I’m so excited right now. [laughs]

Amber: It is a classic.

[03:36]

Sama’an: Can you tell me about when this takes place? Like, what year does this take place in?

Amber: So, this is in the Fall of 1997, in Northern California, in a small, suburban town called Cameron Park. It was an El Nino year, so it was very rainy all year– and cold. And it was an interesting time. Yeah.

[04:05]

Sama’an: What was happening in pop culture in 1997?

Amber: Well, there were lots of R&B girl groups, and there was The Fugees, but that was a little bit earlier. Groups like that. There was the whole sort of — this is in my 13-year-old mind, or whatever, in my world — there was Nirvana and the grunge thing going on. Smashing Pumpkins, Hole. Yeah, and it was… In schools back then, you’re identity was sort of one or the other.

Sama’an: You had to choose a side?

Amber: Kinda, yeah. Not that you couldn’t enjoy both sides, but, yeah. The way kids sort of congregated and dressed and who they hung out with and all of that was really determined by what music they were into.

Sama’an: That’s how the cliques were formed.

Amber: Mhm.

Sama’an: That makes a lot of sense.

Amber: Mhm.

[05:20]

Sama’an: First things that come to your head, can you rifle off some songs you would have been listening to — or artists you would have been listening to — at that point?

Amber: “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” the Smashing Pumpkins song.

Sama’an: I don’t know that one.

Amber: You don’t?!

Sama’an: I’m glad you told me about it because now I’m gonna find out.

Amber: [laughs] Oh shit. You gotta watch the video, too. You always knew what the videos were for a lot of these, you know? That and probably The Score, The Fugees record, I listened to that a lot. This is gonna be kind of a funny combination of songs [laughs]. You know what? I feel like at that time the first Creed single was on the radio a lot.

Sama’an: Oh wow. Okay! That’s fine! [laughs]

Amber: It’s not that I was listening to it, but…

Sama’an: You were hearing it.

Amber: It was around. Yeah. Do you know that song?

[06:19]

Sama’an: Is it “Will You Take Me Higher?”

Amber: Oh no, no, way before that.

Sama’an: Okay.

Amber: It’s like about some court room or something… It was like [editor’s note: Amber might do the best Scott Stapp impression I’ve ever heard] “Court is in sesshunnnn…”

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: “…the verrrrrdict is in” [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: I don’t…. [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs] That was really good.

Amber: Anyway, that was the…

Sama’an: Thank you.

Amber: That was on the radio a lot. Umm… What else? What else? ’97, ’98… Such a weird time. Green Day. Aaliyah for sure. I think Aaliyah was probably around– that “One In A Million” record was around that time. It’s kind of a wild combo.

Sama’an: I’m just putting a mixtape together in my head.

Amber: Yeah [laughs]

[07:07]

Sama’an: Will you tell me just some of the things you would do for fun in middle school? Like what were the things that your friends wanted to do?

Amber: Hmm.

Sama’an: When you weren’t rebelling.

Amber: [laughs] Well, some kids had swimming pools. Every now and then there would be a pool party. It was always–

Sama’an: Big deal.

Amber: Huge deal. So fun.

Sama’an: It was an event.

Cameron Park Lake Amber Coffman Nostalgia Mixtape

Sam's Town Amber Coffman Nostalgia Mixtape

Sam’s Town, hot family fun spot in Cameron Park.

Amber: Really, yeah. And they were pretty big, too. There would be a lot of kids at some of them. Yeah. That was really like the most fun, when something like that happened. You know? But, otherwise, you’d get dropped off at the mall with your friends, or something like that. There wasn’t a ton to do.

[08:01]

Sama’an: Yeah. And how were you getting to school? Parents dropping you off? Taking the bus?

Amber: Combination of both, but I took the bus a fair amount.

Sama’an: Did you live far from school? Or was it a short bus ride?

Amber: It was probably like a 10 or 15 minute bus ride– I mean if you drove straight there it was a 10 or 15 minute drive because it was in the next town over. It was in a town called El Dorado Hills.

Sama’an: Can you tell me a little bit about your neighborhood? Like if I was riding on the bus with you, what would that ride look like?

Amber: Well, my neighborhood was sort of like, if you were to go a little bit further east you would start getting into like pine trees and people that had ranches and horses. Kind of like a rural thing. And if you went further west, it was like you’d get into some really nice suburban subdivisions, and people are driving, you know, very nice cars and things like that. And my neighborhood was sort of in between those two, in a way; parts of it were nice, you know, other parts not as nice, but it was pretty quiet. There’s a tiny airport there, it’s one of the things this town is known for.

Sama’an: Okay.

Amber: Yeah, so there’s like a little section of the town where people pull their airplanes into their driveways.

[09:27]

Sama’an: Like a lot of single-seat, double-seat airplanes? Those tiny ones?

Amber: Mhm!

Sama’an: That’s awesome! [laughs] That’s cool.

Amber: Yeah. There was a place called Cameron Park Lake, which is actually still there. Where you could go and do paddle boats. You couldn’t really swim, there wasn’t really a swimming place, but, you could go hang out. And there was a place called Sam’s Town with an old school arcade with like peanuts on the ground and that sort of thing, which is pretty cool. It really was just like, you know, a truck stop on the way to Lake Tahoe for a lot of people.

[10:08]

Sama’an: How would you have first heard or seen this song?

Amber: Well, I had this album, Crazy Sexy Cool… I probably had had for a couple of years, actually, by the time I was in 8th grade. I think I got that record in 6th grade, in ninetyyyy… ’95, ’96. But I guess MTV was how I found out about a lot of stuff, or the radio.

Sama’an: Timing wise, would videos come on when you got home from school? Would it be late-night?

Amber: Mmmm… I don’t remember. Probably both. I mean I wasn’t really up late at night watching TV for the most part. I don’t think that would have been allowed. But on the weekends and after school, sure.

[11:00]

Sama’an: I got grounded for listening to… do you remember that 50 Cent song, “P.I.M.P.?”

Amber: Mmmmmm???

Sama’an: “I dunno what ya heard about me…”

Amber: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course.

Sama’an: I was playing that really loud in my room and my mom heard the lyrics, and she was like, “You’re grounded from rap music,” for like a month. [laughs]

Amber: Oh my god. [laughs] Oh my god.

Sama’an: I probably would have been about the same age as you.

Amber: That’s so funny.

[11:27]

Sama’an: Were your parents like… Did they have rules about what kind of videos you were allowed to watch? Music you were allowed to listen to? Or were you kind of on your own for that?

Amber: My dad would try to regulate it a little bit more. Videos, it’s like, you know, you can’t really show certain kinds of videos on TV anyway. So, for the most part, that was fine. I could kinda watch music videos. But, I had some albums with explicit content that sometimes my dad would decide that he was gonna take away. And then I would end up with them again. For the most part, I was listening to kind of whatever.

Amber Coffman Sama'an Ashrawi Nostalgia Mixtape

Middle school Amber Coffman, middle school Sama’an Ashrawi. Rebels without a cause.

[12:41]

Sama’an: Who are we meeting? What version of Amber are we meeting?

Amber: [exhales] Oh boy. This is like… I had just turned 13, and I was entering into a sort of rebellious streak where I… I dunno. I was just kind of starting to act out a little bit. I got, I think the summer before my 8th grade year…. Does that make sense? I got caught sneaking out and hanging out with the neighbor boy.

Sama’an: The boy next door?

Amber: Across the street, yeah. I got in big trouble.

Sama’an: Did you have a two-story house? One-story? What was the sneaking-out process?

Amber: My house was a one-story… [laughs] oh my god [laughs] oh shit.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: This is so crazy. Mine was a one-story house and I would just walk down– my bedroom was across from my parents’ bedroom, but I was pretty good at opening doors silently, walking silently, stuff like that, I’m still really good at it.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: It comes in handy for different reasons as an adult. Not waking children, or not waking your boyfriend up.

Sama’an: Mhm.

Amber: But yeah I would walk down the hall, I’d go out the garage. We had like a door to the garage, and then the garage had a door to outside, and then there was like a gate to the front, so, I would usually go that way.

Sama’an: Okay, yeah, I never got caught sneaking out. I had a different situation. I was in a one-story house, my room was at the front of the house, so all I had to do was open the window and pop the screen out. So that was really easy. But the house we snuck out of the most was my best friend David’s house and in high school he decided that he had to have, on his car, one of those muffler tips that make it just super loud, you know what I mean?

Amber: [laughs] Mhm.

Sama’an: And so his house was super squeaky and super creaky, so it would take about an hour– maybe not an hour. But it would take like 15 or 20 minutes just to go down the stairs because like one would creak, and then we would wait like five minutes, and then we’d go down the next step… and because his car was so loud, when we finally got outta the house, we would have to push it down the driveway, and push it like two or three blocks down the street in the neighborhood before we started it up.

Amber: That is so classic.

Sama’an: That is… that’s the efforts we went through just to go to parties. [laughs]

Amber: Oh man. Yeah. That’s awesome.

[15:38]

Sama’an: Anyway, so, I’m very familiar with the world of sneaking out. But you got caught?

Amber: I did.

Sama’an: Not with the boy? But just like trying to get outta the house?

Amber: Uhhh. My mom went through my letters and she found one of me talking about my relationship with the neighbor boy.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: Who was… quite a bit older than me, actually. So, it was like, it was a big deal.

Sama’an: Wow. This really was the beginning of your rebel phase.

Amber: Mhm.

Sama’an: That’s amazing.

CHAPTER 2: SNEAKIN’ OUT

[16:32]

Amber: So, oh man… [laughs] you know, TLC had a big effect on most young girls at that time. And “Creep,” the video for the song is TLC sort of dancing around in these amazing silk pajamas. I think because of that video, it created a little bit of an obsession — in young women — with silk pajamas. And you know it’d be like who has them, and girls would lend each other their clothes, too. You’d be like, “Oh, can I wear that?” And your friend would bring it for you the next day. That sort of thing. Very silly, cute, girl stuff. That was really common, we would lend each other clothes and stuff.

Sama’an: Very cute.

Amber: So, you know, this is the early part of eighth grade, in the Fall, I believe. Fall/winter. I’d gotten in trouble over the summer for sneaking out, then, in October, I got in trouble for what was the mother of all of my sneaking out escapades…

Sama’an: [exhales deeply] [laughs]

Amber: … Which was that I decided I was gonna go and take my parents’ Isuzu Rodeo, and pick my friend up, and go driving around visiting our friends, at three in the morning. I don’t know what made me think that I could do it, but I got it in my head that I could figure it out. I had never moved a car even like two inches before, so I had no idea what I was doing.

Sama’an: Oh my gosh… Oh my gosh, Amber [laughs]

1996 Isuzu Rodeo white

The getaway car. [editor’s note: absolute unit.]

Amber: [laughs] I really had no idea, but my friend was a little wild, and she’d driven before, and we were on the phone because I had a phone in my room. She was sorta like… we were just joking about doing it, and she kinda didn’t think I would, and so I…

Sama’an: Proved her wrong!

Amber: I went for it. I actually… My dad was out of town for some reason, he wasn’t far away, but he was out of town for some work related thing, and my mom was asleep, and I actually turned off all the ringers in the house. I think this might have involved going into my mom’s room while she was sleeping and turning off that ringer, I don’t know, I don’t remember. Anyway, I did that. I snuck out, I stole the car. We drove around town visiting our friends, and it ended with a bang…

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: … Because we were driving to what probably would have been the last person that we visited… their house. We’d been driving around for a couple hours at this point. And decided that I wanted to drive, and so, there was nobody on the roads, it was dark still. So we stopped just in the middle of the road, and we switched drivers. And somebody was coming down the street and they saw us and thought it was weird. It was a man in a pickup truck. He decided to follow us….

Sama’an: [whispers] Ohh nooo…

Amber: And I was driving with two feet because I didn’t know that you’re not supposed to do that. And I panicked, and I crashed the car into a jungle gym.

Sama’an: Awwww Amberrrr

Amber: [laughs] It was uuuhhh… It was terrifying

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: [laughs] It was pretty insane.

Sama’an: I’m sorry for laughing.

Amber: Sooo you know they had to go and get our parents. Call them, get them, whatever, and they had to go knock on the door of my house because all the ringers were off.

[21:01]

Sama’an: Were you terrified? Or were you so much of a rebel at that point that you were like, “Whatever?”

Amber: Oh, I was terrified. I wasn’t really like a full on, fuck-everybody-rebel. I just had a little bit of a wild streak, you know, and I was kind of trying to figure it out. I didn’t want to be in trouble, you know? I just wanted to have some fun.

Sama’an: You just wanted to get awayyyy with things, you didn’t wanna…

[21:49]

Amber: So they went to get my mom and they went to get my friend’s mom. Friend’s mom took her home, my mom was so angry that she said, “Just take her.”

Sama’an: Wow.

Amber: “Arrest her.” Because they gave her the option.

Sama’an: Oh my gosh.

Amber: And in a way it’s probably better that it went like this because I think it gave my dad a chance to cool off before I came home. [laughs] I think it was probably better, but I was so freaked out. I was the youngest person in the juvenile hall, by far. I think probably it was like 15, 16, 17-year-olds mostly in there.

Sama’an: But that’s a big jump when you’re that age.

Amber: It is, yeah. My roommate was 17 and she kept talking about how she’d been deemed legally insane.

Sama’an: Oh, good!

Amber: She was like, “Yeah, I’m fifty-one fifty.”

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: And I was just like, “Oh my god, what the fuck.” I couldn’t get out of bed, I was so depressed. I was like Dumbo or something.

Sama’an: Aww.

Amber: [laughs] I was like really, really sad. The girls were actually really nice to me, I think they felt like, “What is this young girl doing in here?” They were pretty nice to me. I saw somebody I knew, actually, from my school! He was serving the food in the kitchen, and I guess he’d been in there for a while, I don’t know what he did, but that was pretty crazy. I was like, “Woah, dude!”

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: You’d go through the [food] line and the guys in the kitchen would be like, “Would you like this? Would you like that?” And he was like, “Would you li– Amber?!” [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: I looked up and was like, “Oh my god! What?!” It was crazy. Anyways, so that happened, I was put on probation because of what happened. A six-month probation. I think they would come — and you would have a probation officer — they would come and check on you, maybe they would drug test you or something? I never really smoked weed or did drugs so much when I was that age, but I had a probation officer lady.

Sama’an: Ah.

CHAPTER 3: SILK PAJAMAS

[24:30]

Amber: So the TLC thing, the silk pajamas thing comes in later.

Sama’an: [laughs] Yeah?

Amber: I apparently had not learned my lesson. Also, like, when you’re a kid, going to juvenile hall and getting on probation and stuff almost gives you a little bit of cred in a funny way. It’s like, “Oh damn, that’s some serious shit!”

Sama’an: It’s edgy.

Amber: You know? Kinda. So I guess maybe because it was fairly mild, like, life goes on, and the probation thing, but whatever, I had not learned my lesson. So, I decided one morning that it might be fun to take some alcohol onto the school bus on the ride to school. I went into my parents’ liquor cabinet and I filled a water bottle half-full of Bacardi rum and half-full of apple juice.

Sama’an: There’s no way this can go wrong.

Amber: [laughs]

Sama’an: This is gonna be fine.

Amber: To this day, I can’t stand the smell of this clear Bacardi rum. It’s like disgusting to me. Anyway, so, I thought that this would be a fun, funny, sneaky thing to do. So I take this bottle onto the school bus and this happened to be the same day that my friend was going to bring me her purple silk pajamas so I could wear them that day.

Sama’an: Like, wear them at school?

Amber: At school, yeah.

Sama’an: Was that against the dress code?

Amber: No. We would do stuff like that a lot. Kids would get pretty wild there.

Sama’an: And they were cool with it?

Amber: They were pretty cool, yeah. I mean, there was a dress code, but, like, you know, we had a lot of kids that were pretty punk and bold and they would… you know… We had boys that would wear dresses, at that time, in the 90s, that was a bigger deal. But yeah, we probably had a dress code, but people definitely pushed the envelope as far they could.

Sama’an: Silk pajamas definitely counts, for sure.

Amber: Silk pajamas is like, you know, your whole body is covered, what are you gonna do?

Sama’an: True. [laughs]

Amber: So, we were passing this bottle around on the bus, and I wasn’t really a drinker, I had no idea what my limits were, or how strong that bottle was.

Sama’an: Also I imagine you were probably tiny.

Amber: Yeah! I was like 105 pounds. [laughs] In the morning I probably had a pop tart or something for breakfast. [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: Lord knows. [laughs] But, I take this bottle, I’m passing it around and what not, thinking it’s so funny. And then, I think it really hit me when I got off the school bus I practically fell off the bus. I was like, “Oh, damn!” And I think people noticed. I’m pretty sure the bus driver probably reported me or something. But, I get off the bus, I meet up with my friend in the spot where we had agreed. This was before texting or anything. You’d just be like, “Okay, meet me here before the bell,” and like…

Sama’an: You had to be there.

Amber: Yeah. She hands off the purple silk pajamas that were two sizes too big for me, and I head into the bathroom to change before I go to class, and I put on these pajamas, and I’m like… kinda drunk! So I am sitting on the bathroom tile floor…

Sama’an: Like while you’re putting them on?

Amber: Yeah. And in walks the principal!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: And I was busted!

Sama’an: Yeah!

Amber: Completely busted. [laughs]

Sama’an: You probably smelled like a bottle of rum!

Amber: I prrrrobably did. [laughs] Yeah, I got in a looooot of trouble. It was not good. It was not good. And then after that there were no more big things like that because that was a violation of probation which meant I had to go to court and be punished for violating that.

Sama’an: Oh my god.

[29:27]

Amber: They put me on house arrest! It was pretty crazy. It’s funny because… I think it’s interesting because I was not headed for a life of crime, I don’t think I was headed for, like, real big trouble. I wasn’t destructive, I was just kind of like… I was pushing some buttons, you know? But I wasn’t as destructive as some kids that I knew were. Because I knew kids that really did get screwed and they spent lots of years going in and out of the system getting in trouble and stuff, but I don’t think I was ever really in danger of that. Nonetheless, they put me on house arrest. [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs] For how long?

Amber: For two months.

Sama’an: Oh my gosh.

Amber: Yeah. And then I had to this thing called work project which is sort of a more harsh community service where you’re doing yard work. It’s supposed to be “hard labor,” you know? We would go to a park and clean up leaves and stuff.

Sama’an: What were you wearing when you cleaned up the park? [laughs]

Amber: I don’t knowwww. I’m sure they gave us a vest.

Sama’an: Not silk pajamas?

Amber: I have a vague memory of my dad taking me there and dropping me off. Ugh, god. My poor parents, my poor dad.

Sama’an: Awwww.

Amber: [exhales] So, yeah, there you have it!

Sama’an: Wow, thank you. Thank you for telling that story. [laughs]

Amber: Yeah, it was pretty crazy.

[31:15]

[Amber and Sama’an sing “Creep” together”]

CHAPTER 4: CHANGE YOUR STARS

[31:58]

Amber: I loved TLC so much. That record in particular. I was obsessed with them. Everybody was. You know? I miss the days of the R&B girl group. Those were some special years.

Sama’an: Maybe it’ll come back.

Amber: Yeah, I hope so.

Sama’an: That’ll be cool. I would be down with that.

Amber: Yeah. Or something new! You know? A few years after that, it was probably two years after that that Britney Spears came out. And then, from there NSYNC and stuff like that. That sort of was a turning point, I think.

[32:38]

Sama’an: Were you listening to them?

Amber: I was not. I was not convinced.

Sama’an: So when you got to high school, what were you listening to then?

Amber: It’s interesting… I think that 8th grade into high school marked my shift towards listening to a lot more rock music. Because before that for my entire childhood, it was only Whitney Houston, Mariah, all these girl groups. Yeah. I think around the middle of 8th grade I started to shift more towards listening to rock music. My freshman year… I think it was in the middle of my freshman year, I started going to local hardcore shows.

Sama’an: Wow.

Amber: And then there was a period of time in like late 9th grade, early 10th grade, where that was the only music. Everything else was “sell out” [laughs]. You know, there was that whole period of time where if you made any music that was remotely catchy…

Sama’an: It was trash.

Amber: It was selling out. [laughs] So that was it. I went through a lot of phases. Oh! But you know what, now that I think about it, this is what happened: The house arrest thing happened, which meant that I wasn’t allowed to leave the premises of my house except to go to school or church. So I was not allowed to go to, say, like, the grocery store with my parents. Doesn’t matter.

Sama’an: Couldn’t even do that.

Amber: So, I started going to church a lot because it was like a scene, you know?

Sama’an: Right.

Amber: Youth group was like, you sit around with a bunch of friends, and everybody talks about what they feel guilty about, or their feelings, and it was such a funny mixture of kids. It was like the pastor’s kids, and then it was like the white, wannabe gangster kids that were a little older. They were the kinda kids that were always getting high all the time, getting fucked up, and then they’d come to youth group and kind of confess it all. Blow off their guilt, steam, or whatever. Yeah and then there was like me and it was such a funny time. But I did eventually, in 9th grade, I went through a short phase where I kind of bought into it.

Sama’an: Wow.

Amber: Yeah.

[35:36]

Sama’an: What made you snap out of it?

Amber: I don’t knowww exactly. I think I just didn’t believe it anymore. There’s not really any deciding moment that I remember that was like “an awakening.” There were lots of youth groups in this town, all over the area, that you could go to, and some of them had a punk band, or something like that, so really it was…

Sama’an: Like Christian punk?

Amber: Sure. Yeah. It was really more of a social thing than anything. Then, yeah, at the end of that year I had already left that behind and started going to these local shows to see local bands and stuff. Later, in high school, my friend Haley Dekle  — she was in Dirty Projectors and we’ve done a lot of stuff together — we met in high school, and we used to “meet each other halfway,” as we would call it; we’d meet halfway between our houses. And then we’d walk to the Circle K gas station and then kind of just like…

Sama’an: Loiter?

Amber: Buy Pop Rocks and kick around and check out the scene [laughs] at this gas station. There was a Taco Bell, a pizza place, and just kind of a random little strip mall.

[37:17]

Sama’an: So when you were getting around you weren’t biking, you were walking?

Amber: We would walk, yeah.

Sama’an: You were a walker.

Amber: Yeah. I didn’t really get around on a bike too much. I did have one, but, yeah. It’s so different now. I’ve been back and I’ve seen it and it looks so different. I lived in a little court and I’m trying to think how I can describe it. The houses were just like probably built in the ‘80s, kind of boring-looking suburban houses. They’re fine. Some of them are very nice, others are kind of more modest.

[38:05]

Sama’an: Lot of trees? Little trees?

Amber: There’s trees. There’s a fair amount of trees. Like oak trees, and maybe some pine trees here and there. We were kind of in the… we were on the way to Lake Tahoe and we were sort of before you get into the rural area that you drive through, so we did have some pine trees, but we were a little bit more scrubs and we had big oak trees and things like that. So, to walk to the Circle K, I would leave my house and walk up a street, and turn down another kind of busier street, and we would meet up at the beginning of this field. This was like a big, open, grassy lot. I’m talking about the dry, golden California grass. And that was sort of a short cut, you could just cut straight through there and walk to this gas station. Instead of going like, way, way up this road and going around. Now, it’s all been built out, the field is not there anymore. But yeah, that was it.

[39:27]

Sama’an: Last question for you, do you believe that people can change their stars? That you can change your own destiny?

Amber: Hmm.

Sama’an: Tell me why or why not.

Amber: Well, I don’t know if there’s a “destiny,” you know? I think you can definitely change. The decisions that you make determine where you end up, and what ends up happening. There are things, like, factors that are out of your control that certainly affect you. I mean, I won’t pretend to say that we all have the same opportunity because it’s so much harder for some people than it is for others, but, we absolutely have a choice. You know? Yeah, I think how you decide to spend your time, and what you decide to do, that’s where you end up.

Sama’an: Nice.

Amber: Do you?

Sama’an: Yeah. I totally do. 100%. I feel like we’ve both probably done that at different points in our life.

Amber: [laughs] Mhm. I think instincts are very important, and it’s very really to trust your instincts, and to know how to listen to them and follow them.

Sama’an: I agree. Intuition is really important.

Amber: Mhm.

Sama’an: And I definitely have some friends who would say that it’s usually better to listen to a woman’s intuition than a man’s. [laughs]

Amber: [laughs] Sometimes. I have to give credit to… I think your intuition and instinct is super important, but sometimes you have to be careful not to be governed too much by your emotions, and I do give credit to, like, thinking things through and being logical, but I think it needs to be a balance between the two.

Sama’an: Mhm. Hey, thank you for telling your story!

Amber: Yeah! For sure. It was fun. [laughs]

Sama’an: I really appreciate it. [laughs]

Amber: I feel kinda weird. I don’t know how this is gonna paint me. I’m really not crazy, I mellowed out.

Sama’an: Yeah, I mean, you were really young when this story happened. You’ve changed a lot.

Amber: Oh yeah.

Sama’an: For sure. We all have.

Amber: That was the end of my rebel phase. Thirteen.

Sama’an: You went out in a ball of fire.

Amber: Yeah, I did.

Sama’an: That’s pretty amazing.

Amber: [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs]

Amber: So embarrassing. My poor dad. Sorry, Dad.

Sama’an: Sorry, Pops.

Amber: Sorry, Mom.

EPILOGUE

[42:37]

Sama’an: Don’t you just wish you could have been there with Amber, helping her get into and out of some of that trouble? If I was there, I totally would have created some kind of diversion so the principal wouldn’t have walked into that bathroom and found her. BUT also the imagine of drunk, 13-year-old Amber sitting on the floor of a middle school bathroom in silk pajamas is kind of hilarious? Also I wanna say that my sister, Alice, when she first started driving tried to drive with both of her feet the first few times behind-the-wheel. She scared the hell out of my parents and me. She drives with one foot now, don’t worry. Anyway! I really need to thank Amber one more time for telling that story because she was feeling a bit nervous about it beforehand and she wondered how people’s perception of her might change after hearing the story, but I think most of us out there went through some kind of rebellious phase in our teenage years, and, in that way, her story is more relatable than not. So, thank you, Amber, for letting us meet teenage you. We really appreciate it. Yeah. Thanks for tuning in to the Nostalgia Mixtape. I’m your host, Sama’an Ashrawi, this podcast is produced, as always, by Jason Crow.

 

Bless your ears with El Dorado County ’97 – ’98, a time-capsule playlist hand-crafted by Amber Coffman on Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.

By | 2019-01-03T23:28:55+00:00 December 26th, 2018|Creative|

Leave A Comment