Hey, It’s me!

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Hi! It’s been a minute since I have shown up here. Like fifty zillion minutes ticking away. But I’m back and I want to do better.  I want to be here more. Things have been happening lately. I finally saved up enough for a new camera! Remember how my old one got stolen in Italy? I borrowed my publisher’s camera for a while (so thankful to her) but it just wasn’t as good as my old one and my old one just wasn’t that good either. I’ve had my eye on a Canon Mack 5 forever (that costs an arm and a leg) because that’s what all the pros use but ended up getting a 6D instead upon advice from Toby. What can I say? Ex’s who are still friends do come in handy sometimes!

So guess what? It rocks! It is so so so so so so much better than my old camera. It focuses like lightening. It’s larger format so I can take pictures of a whole room without backing up into a corner. It’s easy to use. There are all kinds of cheater buttons that tell you what setting to use. This is handy for me because numbers (ie: f-stops and apertures always give me spinny ball brain fog). I just love it. Now I just need to book a bunch of photography gigs to make it pay for itself! If you are looking for photography, look me up! I don’t really have a photography website and it’s not like I’m going to be calling myself a full time photographer but you know I love it and I can always use more work.

What else is new? Well, I just got back from Alt Summit in Palm Springs.

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How was it? It was good but it was hard for me.  I forced myself to go by myself and that was terrifying. I really needed a buddy to side-kick me through social situations. I get really nervous walking into a room and striking up conversations with people I don’t know. It’s silly but I always think they won’t want to talk to me and that I’m making a fool out of myself. I can do it and once I get started I’m really good at getting people talking (journalism background pays off) but the walking up to people is the hard part. I felt like I was back in middle school all over again, agonizing that my best friend was sick and I was too shy to make new friends.

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I did see Joanna Gaines speak. That was pretty cool. I love seeing famous people who are just regular people. She was so humble and real. Her baby was in the front row and she talked about him often. It was really cute and fun.

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But yeah, there were 2,000 women there. TWO THOUSAND! So you can see why I had some trouble with social anxiety. The wonderful thing is that everyone seems to also have social anxiety and everyone was struggling. When I did get up the guts to find someone to talk to, they were usually really really nice and wanted to help things be less awkward as soon as possible. I don’t know if that’s because it was mostly women or if creatives are just nice people or if I’m just cooler than I think I am and people really do want to talk to me.

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First day I kinda cried in my room a little. You know how it is. But then the second day, Isabel, (my boss from alpha mom) showed up and she is the best side-kick buddy ever. Things got a lot easier when she was around. Though I didn’t attach myself like a starfish and parasite my way through the rest of the week. I forced myself to do my own things, only checking in with her randomly.

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I think the highlights for me were of course the pretty hotel. It’s a lot prettier outside than inside. I think they recently changed all the lightbulbs to florescent bulbs in the rooms and it was super depressing inside. I walked across the street and bought myself a candle to counteract the depressing-ness of my room. I loved having a hotel room by myself but I also wished it could be a little less like Motel 6 painted bright colors. I also bought myself a plastic bowl, cheerios, bananas and milk. They had a mini-fridge in the room so I saved myself bucket loads of cash by eating breakfast (and sometimes dinner) of cheerios in my room. Sad, I know but I am trying my hardest to be frugal these days. I thought I was pretty clever sitting there watching Netflix on my laptop while I sat in my pajamas on my bed with my candle flickering on the nightstand near by. It was very rotic (romantic without the man).

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Another highlight was seeing Garance Doré. I LOVE her. I have been a fan for ages but seeing her in person and hearing about her struggles with depression sealed my devotion and love for her forever. She really hit on a subject that had been bothering me the whole conference. These days it’s so hard to make it in the popularity numbers game of social media. It’s really hard to be in a room with 2000 women who all have followings of 20K or more. I love being around creative women like me but the competition is overwhelming. It’s crushing at times. I just can’t even try anymore. She talked about how she doesn’t go to fashion week anymore but prefers to go on 20-person retreats and that resonated with me. I can’t do ALT Summit again. I learned a ton and it wasn’t a waste of money at all but it brought up all my old fears and insecurities and I think I am just too old for that sh*t. I just need to make my art and not worry about what anyone else is doing. That’s aways what has been successful for me in the past. Why do I keep forgetting that?

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Then after the summit Isabel and I went on a mad trek to find Desert X. Spoiler: We didn’t find it. I almost got my car stuck in the sand instead and it was quite thrilling to have adrenaline pumping through my veins as I maneuvered my way out of a sand pit. But we did it! We walked for a mile or so and saw nothing. Just an old abandoned washing machine, a disgusting dirty bed with dog poop on it and a homeless camp. We turned around and went back. But not defeated! It was fun! I love spending time with Isabel. And really, spending time with a good friend is better than getting that perfect picture for instagram that everyone else has already taken.

Don’t get me wrong. I still want to go back and find Desert X. It seems amazing and I really want to take pictures of it. BUT…

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I feel quite fine settling with this photo as well. I heart my new camera!

 

(Do you guys need links? Desert X.. Alt Summit, Garance Doré…? If so I can go back and put them in. I just liked flying under that radar since I didn’t have all good things to say.) done!

SAJ fights the Identity Thieves

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January has been fun. And by fun, I mean I’ve been I’ve been enjoying an anxiety-fueled, obsessive flurry of online-sleuthing all weekend, trying to track down the thief who has been attempting to open multiple accounts with my name and social security number. How did they get my info? I do not know! Could it have something to do with my laptop being stolen in Milan? Maybe! Who knows.  Frustratingly, I’ll probably never know.

I have been keeping ahead of it. I’ve reported everything. I made a police report.  All of my credit cards are frozen. My banks have been alerted and every charge that has come through has been reversed but man, I cannot stop researching this thief! I am obsessed with her. I have a name and I am tracking her down. What I’m going to do with this information? Probably nothing but it does feel good to know all about the thief. She is just as vulnerable as I am at this point. I have her phone number, her address, I’ve even watched her cute 10-year-old kid sing Ariana Grande songs on her youtube channel… what will I do with it? Send her a postcard? I have no idea!

It started on Sunday night. I got a two emails from my credit card company asking me to click on a big red button if such and such charges were not mine. They weren’t of course. I have not used that card for years.  I didn’t click on it because my internal email scam alert was going off and I never click on anything from an email. I logged onto my account on my own and sure, enough there were charges there that I didn’t recognize. I called and got them removed.

Then the next day I got a call from Target asking if I was trying to open a credit card. I was not. They denied the account.

Monday night I got a call from Kay Jewelers in Concord, Northern California asking if I would approve a five-thousand-dollar purchase by the thief. I was so caught off guard. I thought the manager was trying to scam me. It took a while to realize she was actually protecting me by double checking on a customer who was in her store trying to use my existing account.  She was in the store and had given my address and social security number along with her driver’s license. This is how I got a name. Of course I said no and asked them to report the attempt to the local police. They got a picture of her but couldn’t send it to me for some security reason.

From that point on I’ve had a few inquiries for new accounts, someone tried to set up wifi and a few target.com purchases. Thankfully all of these have been denied. I’ve added new malware protection to my computer and taken to looking at my credit report diligently.

The sad thing is: this is very common. It happens to everyone! How can you protect yourself? I don’t even know.

There are a lot of websites to help fight identity theft but unfortunately because of the government shut down, most of these sites are not working right now. I’m sure the dark web is well aware of this and that might have something to do with the onslaught.

So here I sit, watching my accounts diligently, stalking the one name I have found out (realizing this is probably only one person of many with access to my numbers) and making up new passwords like it’s a creative writing contest. Do you think I should write this thief a postcard with something like, “I’m watching you.” No return address of course. Or maybe I should just let it go. I probably should just let it go.

Good times!