Mermaid Shoot with Neil

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In the spirit of doing crazy photoshoots for fun, I did a thing with my friend, Neil, from New York the other day. You might know him from Citizen of the Month or Neilochka on Instagram. He’s an amazing artist who shoots street photography and really interesting portraits of friends. I was super excited to be on his list.

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When he proposed sitting on a chair in the ocean of course I said yes. What could be more perfect for me? I love the ocean! It’s been a huge part of my life living here by the beach. But I’m not your average beach-going bikini-wearing girl. Nah. I’m more like a business woman wearing a red dress, sitting on a bar stool while the rush of waves washes around me in foggy grays and greens. It could be a metaphor for so many things. Of course we didn’t really flesh out what it could mean. It’s left up for interpretation of course.

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First we met for coffee to catch up and hash out our ideas.  I tried to shoot some photos of Neil with some bags for my Love Your Baggage client. (I’m shooting everyone with these bags if you are interested. Gotta get the word out about how great jute bags are!) And then we headed off to the beach, bar stool in tow.

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We set the barstool as far out into the waves as we could go without getting wet and then I sat. It was a bit exciting as the pointy legs of the stool sunk into the wet sand unevenly and the waves washed all around me. I tilted this way and that, leaning forward and backward to keep my balance and desperately trying to suck in my belly fat at the same time.

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It was exhilarating! I love the waves. Sand and sea don’t bother me. I didn’t care if I got wet. I expected it.

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This is my favorite shot by far.

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This one seemed way cooler in my head.

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Poor Neil though. He got soaked. As is typical for a photographer, he sacrificed his shoes trying to get the shot. He was squatting down to get just the right angle and a big wave came up and soaked him. Thankfully this time of year the water is pretty nice. But sadly he had to walk around the rest of the day wet and sandy.

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Then since he was already wet I made him switch places with me so I could get a shot too.

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I think this would be a great avatar for him, don’t you?

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!