Oy! The Equifax Breach, Y’all

Hi Gang!

Unfortunately this is not a funny post or a story, but rather a quick blog piece I wrote for one of the company’s I’m a freelance writer for – and it’s in regards to the recent Equifax Breach. If you don’t have all the info yet, and need some information on how to be proactive see below for useful tips, links, and information!

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The Equifax Breach and Your Online Security.

Dear Client,

In regards to this week’s alarming cybersecurity news, I want to talk to you about the Equifax breach, and how you can protect yourself against hackers. I know many of us are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and vulnerable, but there are easy proactive steps you can take right away to make it more difficult for anyone to use your compromised information unlawfully, and then some Pro-tips on how to protect your information in the future.

First, if you have not already done so, please check with Equifax to confirm whether you were impacted by the breach. 44% of Americans were impacted, and that means the chances are great that either you or a loved one were affected. It’s better to know than not to know. Please click on the link below to check whether your information was likely to have been compromised:

https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html

Next, if it turns out you were likely impacted, the most proactive step you can take is to bite the bullet and freeze your credit with all 3 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. For residents of California there is a $10 charge for each freeze, (though Equifax is not charging, last I checked). You can call, or freeze them online very easily. You may UNfreeze them at any time using a unique PIN number, which each company will provide to you when you freeze.

What does it mean to “freeze your credit?” It does not mean that you won’t have access to your credit cards or your current lines of credit. Instead, it prevents any new credit provider (Banks, Loan companies, Credit Card companies) from running a credit check, and therefore impeding a cyber-criminal from opening a new line of credit using your information.

You can access the relevant websites to freeze your credit by clicking on the company links here:

Experian

Equifax

TransUnion

Or you can call Equifax (1-800-349-9960), Experian (1‑888‑397‑3742) or TransUnion (1-888-909-8872) directly.

Third, thanks to a 2003 law known as FACTA, you are entitled to one free credit report a year! Take advantage of this at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action, whether you think you were breached or not – it’s important to look at your current report for discrepancies. This is a key step to proactively protect yourself.

Lastly, the other aspect, which is probably just as overwhelming if you haven’t already addressed it, is your Internet Security. You’ve heard it a million times, but chances are your passwords are not secure enough, and chances are you are using duplicate passwords or variations of the same password on multiple websites. If someone can break into Equifax, they can get into almost anything. Remember, they already hacked Yahoo, and once they get your password – even for an unimportant site (who cares if they access my Netflix account, right?) they can then utilize the information on that site to get into another and another. Then they can use that access to spend your money, steal your money, commit you to services, send communications on your behalf, and steal your identity and use it for illegal purposes.

I strongly recommend using a password management tool such as LastPass or 1password. These tools can not only save and fill your passwords for you on the websites you visit, and on your phone as well, but can generate complicated, near-impossible-to-break passwords on your behalf. Here is a link to LastPass to get you started:

https://lastpass.com/f?21657922

Even if you think you’re not someone a thief would target, you’ve got nothing they’d be interested in, and so on, that’s just not true. Identity theft happens to the most innocuous and unsuspecting.

If you still feel vulnerable and overwhelmed, please give them a call! I’ve put a link below for contact information.

http://jjbcomputing.com/

https://www.yelp.com/biz/jjb-computer-consulting-los-angeles-2

Is Vacation, Vacation?

We’re going out of town next week. I wouldn’t call it a vacation, but traveling is always a treat, right? We’re headed back to our hometowns to visit family, sing Happy 70th Birthday to my Dad in Michigan, and celebrate the High Holiday – Rosh Hashanah in NYC. It will be a treat.

However, traveling is not as easy as it was before we decided to shack up together, get some dogs to pretend we were parenting, and then go ahead and open a 24/7 home business known as AirBnBeeber. Not to mention the whole traveling with a 2-year-old… talk about pretending to be parents.

Let me just start with the basics, to travel with or without your own car seat? That IS a question. If you rent a car in Michigan adding a car seat is like an extra $15 USDOLLARS a DAY! Are you kidding me? I could purchase a new one and then auction it off, donate it, return it?, and be better off financially. Why are you penalizing human beings for procreating? Do you actually want the human race to fail? Should we just not travelwith children?

If we left our baby at home with a sitter while we, Jason and I, travel that would be a couple thousand dollars and a lot of heartache, because what’s the point of visiting Grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins if the wee ones aren’t with you? Rhetorical. I can tell you with certainty that once we had a child no one, no one, but our friends care if we, Jason and I, visit – just as long as the baby makes the trip. And shocker, 2-year-olds are not allowed to travel solo… yet, but in all honesty, if they were, that’s like a whole lot cheaper and then parents everywhere could ship them off to family while staying back and enjoying a peaceful, clean, tantrum free home again – that’s what I would call a Stay-cation, but I digress.

Let’s jump back to those dogs, WTF dogs? Sure, there may be fancy dog hotels and kennels, but only a barbarian (or someone with money, not the Middle Class) would dump their pre-baby, babies off to the unknown while going away for a week or two. No, our furbabies must be treated as the children they are, we will have someone stay at the house full time. Nurture them, walk them, feed them, hug them – basically our dogs get the vacation I want. Meanwhile, I’m schlepping around two cities, taking multiple flights which keep me locked in stale-recirculated-air filled airports for too many hours, while carrying my 30lb toddler because he’s tired of walking and the new “light-weight” (HA!) umbrella stroller we bought for the purpose of travel (add another $60 bucks to the trip) is just not the same as mama carrying him. Not to mention the several carry-on bags that are filled with necessary distractions for said toddler and all our work files while we travel, because hey, we do have jobs and they do require our attention and no, we don’t get vacation days, but that one is probably on us, since we own our own business and all. And being a small business owner (and I’m not talking about AirBnBeeber) is a lot of work, it has its perks, but it’s also 7 days a week and a lot of hours, but again, I digress.

Then yeah, there’s the AirBnBeeber and the guests all the guests that book their trips months in advance. We aren’t going to cancel on them for our vacation. Nope, instead we’ve hired a friend to manage and care for our guests while we’re gone. It’s a nice gig if you can get it! I think we pay pretty well.

Okay, so just to get to my sister’s house in Michigan we’ve spent money on, flights, rental car, child car seat, travel stroller (this may be a splurge, but if you have kids you get it, if you don’t have kids trust those of us that do – this is necessary), dog sitter, AirBnBeeber manager, and car parking at the airport which is about the same as an Uber ride there and back, but comes with a Car Seat for the kid – that’s like SO MUCH MONEY and we’re not even on vacation yet.

I could go on, but I won’t because at the end of the day we’re getting away and while I will worry and fret about the costs, and the business, and my pups I think it will be worth it, right?

I’m laughing like I’ve lost my mind, because I think maybe I have. Please, laugh with me so I feel like I’m not alone. 

~Xo

Do They Like Me?

Online relationships are hard.

Oy. You have to email, or messenger, or text with a total stranger that we desire to like us, even though we may not end up liking them.

IMG_7086First impressions are the easiest because everyone looks good in a profile picture the size of a thumbnail! I’m not telling you anything new, I know, we all know, YES, everyone knows. It’s the best size to sell oneself because it’s not big enough to even be a book cover, let alone judge one. We accept the person and their happy, white, toothy grin because teeth are the one thing that standout on a picture that requires a magnifying glass to look at.

After we take two seconds to review this micro-mini thumbnail, we dive into the portfolio pictures, maybe manipulated with an app or for the pros, Photoshop, and decide if we are in love – which can take a total of one awesome picture staged perfectly, or a few super cute composite shots procured with any number of free apps, again, that make the common phone user a photographer.

That first written correspondence is the next gatekeeper. Most of us can agree that Twitter is not the example for proper short hand in an email or text, right? I want to see if they’ve used commas, periods, or exclamation points too much, or just enough? Have they substituted an “a” for an “e” on commonly used words? I am hesitantly forgiving of the “auto-correct” dictionary on the phone, but “definitely” will never be auto-corrected to “definAtely.” And if there are multiple paragraphs in the correspondence I tend to gloss over a few punctuation errors, as I make them myself. I’m not an asshole. As long as there are periods at the end of a sentence, I can live.

*Sidenote – This whole piece will not be edited since my editor is not home and I tend to ramble and forget basic-comma-laws.

Okay, the potential match has made it past the first several rounds: Profile Picture, Picture Gallery, and Written Correspondence. They’ve sent a wonderfully crafted and engaging first email and we are all smitten. I’m smitten. I’m ready to engage. I write back, immediately, not wanting to lose them to the other potential match they’ve reached out to. My response is equally generous in length, plus I am witty and approachable.

Our online banter goes on for several hours and we are confirmed for the following day and several dates after that… I have a two-date minimum. You should too. It’s just not worth it to pull everything together for one night. Time is money, and I spend a lot of time getting ready to make the best impression. I put money into the right look, I make the bed, I clean the bathroom, I vacuum, after all I am investing in my future. Then there’s the childcare now and I’m giving up time I could be working on my books. I love all this and I have no regrets, but no one-nighters.

You text me, “Getting on the road, should be there in an hour.”

After an hour goes by I look out the window waiting for you to pull into the driveway. I’ve left a light on so you can easily find your way, but an hour comes and goes and I don’t see you or hear from you. I debate whether I should reach out or not. I decide against it. I will wait until the morning.

The next morning I still haven’t heard from you so I text, “Good morning! I just wanted to check in and confirm all is well?”

Nothing. No response. Not a peep.

After all the build up and the back and forth messaging, inside jokes had already formed and then they just stopped communicating with me. I wondered if I had said something wrong. I reread our messages to be sure; the last thing I would want to be is offensive or insensitive. Nothing.

Day 3 – Silence.

Day 4 – I just stopped worrying about it.

It has now been five days. Five days and I just now, now received a new message in my inbox!

“Hello, I apologize for the late response. I had a few things to take care of when I arrived and then returned home. I do want to thank you, however, for everything. I’ve stayed at a few Airbnb’s in L.A. and this has been the best stay by far! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will definitely be referring you to others and I know they will enjoy their stay and your hospitality as much as I did.”

So, in summary, no news is good news. As a host and concierge I am hella awesome. And it’s not like I’m trying to date online – thank goodness – but if you are (trying to date online), I’m definitely on your side. If that ass doesn’t call, text, or has the nerve to stand you up – let me know. I’ll write them a well crafted, edited email or text letting them know they suck.

My Day In Court

By the time we arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 AM, I had already been up for four hours. And thanks to my new NO COFFEE diet, I was also tired as hell. I still managed to dress well, shower, comb my hair and apply some decent color to my face.

Now, based on my experience of binge-watching The People’s Court and the multiple times I’ve been called to Jury Duty, I know there are two kinds of people that go to court: Those Who Dress Professionally and Those Who Don’t. Today there were more people in the Those Who Don’t category… which, based on my aforementioned experience, seems to generally be the case.

Why was I at court? Well, it wasn’t for Jury Duty this time. No, on this occasion I was standing in line waiting to enter the metal detectors of the rectangular, boring-as-watching-cement-dry building as moral support for my friend during her custody case.

It is the first hearing for my friend in what has been a long and agonizing two years of single parenthood. She’s been working two full time jobs to survive and provide. She is educated, talented (gifted in the performing arts), and a really good person. She is smartly dressed for court in freshly pressed, khaki colored slacks and a bright blue button down that makes her skin glow softly and disguises the sleepiness under her eyes. Her hair is swept back into a neat bun and her lips are gently glossed. Her look is put together, smart, and approachable – the woman you would ask for assistance if you needed it, and she is an example to everyone on HOW TO DRESS FOR COURT.

Sure, I’m being a little funny regarding how we present ourselves because there is an abundant amount of truth that we are prone to making snap decisions based on appearances. I’m being 100% honest and I will tell you why:

 

My friend, I will call her Eve, is outwardly calm, but her insides are a mess. A mixture of anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger are twisted in so many knots that to distinguish one feeling from the other is nearly impossible, and so she has learned to push them down and smile with false calmness and a bit of self-deprecation to help her and me laugh at an otherwise appalling situation. As Eve would say, “I am thirty-something years old and smack dab in the middle of an episode of Sixteen and Pregnant.”

It’s funny, but the truth is even at an age when we have our shit together and we’re in a tenured relationship, we can end up with a father that, “wasn’t ready,” and “doesn’t love us anymore,” and feels that, “ever since the pregnancy you’ve been a Bitch,” and my personal favorite, “you made me cheat on you.”

I guess when I saw him, Eve’s Ex, show up to court in his new weekend casual sneakers (they were pretty great and I want a pair, but are too expensive and not court appropriate), his easy going polo, and his Los Angeles standard-issued-denim (jeans) I knew I, too, was smack dab in the middle of Sixteen and Pregnant. He definitely presented that he was indeed not ready to be a father, however, he did make sure to be escorted into court by a well-dressed attorney.

Well, if you’ve never been to court for a custody hearing, let me give you a brief run down on the flow. First, the Bailiff checks you in and every body else that’s showed up for a court hearing. And Family Court takes place in Civil Court, so you sit and wait and listen to all the folks wearing their F*ck Off graphic tanks and acid washed jeans rant about the “bullshit” restraining order against him/her. You listen when the young woman in her ill-fitting, years old Homecoming dress tells the Bailiff she’s innocent and shouldn’t be there. You eavesdrop on the planned lying between middle-aged sisters against a landlord. And you tear up and worry a little when you look over at your friend, Eve, and see that she’s praying for this to not be happening to her.

At the end of eight hours of mediation, no agreement was reached. Throughout the entire day Eve asked on three separate occasions for a continuance, which the mediator, an Accident and Injury Attorney in this case, denied. The Mediator sent Eve out to sit in the courtroom while he spoke alone to the Ex and his Attorney.

When the Mediator returned to Eve he looked her straight in the face and told her, “Either you give him what he wants or you’ll end up with the cops at your door. You wouldn’t want the police to show up to your home would you? Nobody likes the cops called on them.”

I know this is exactly what he said because I was sitting right beside Eve when he said it. This officer of the court, a court-appointed Mediator.

The Mediator threatened Eve with a call to the police because she asked for a continuance so that she could employ her own legal counsel. She had been blindsided by the appearance of her Ex’s attorney and she had been blindsided when her Ex, who has not seen his child in over a year – electively­, asked for sole custody so he could leave California and raise the child in Michigan.

Let me say this – all the under-dressed, unkempt, orally dysfunctional (did I make this word up? You get it), white people that filled the courtroom were treated with respect and never threatened with a call to the police, even though I’m pretty sure with the lies, multiple false allegations, and domestic abuse, there probably should have been some mention of police involvement, but no.

Eve is black. And no, it is not a coincidence. 

Book Excerpt – Two-Fer Tuesdays

pexels-photoIt was Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk, which was two medium strides away from the bathroom, and my dead-end job was promising to bind me to it for eternity.

I had the unique and questionable privilege of being able to observe every person walking in and out of the bathroom. My co-workers, whom I also referred to as “Work Friends,” felt a deep sense of obligation to chat me up every time they used the loo… which was often, and in some cases (Derrick) too often, much to my chagrin.


“Please come to Happy Hour tonight. It’s Two-Fer Tuesdays; that’s two drinks for the price of one, but they give them both to you at the same time. We can split the cost of one drink, but each actually get a full drink of our own!” The Cogs in the machine, that’s what I called us and when I say ‘Us’ I mean the ones of us that dedicated our work hours to work and got paid a pittance for it. This was Elaine; a cog. She was always trying to make it OKAY for me to spend money with work people after work hours.

“What if I just want water?” That is how I treated Elaine: with obnoxious requests I knew she would accept.

“Yes! So you’ll come! Yay! Also, do you know Adeline?”

“No,” and frankly I wasn’t interested in knowing Adeline or anyone else from the company on a personal level. I didn’t want another excuse to NOT walk away from this job. I didn’t want it to become more bearable by making friends. I liked being the loner here.

“You’ll love her. She’s new, one of them, but you’ll love-love-love her, promise.” By Them Elaine was referring to the Marketing people. And I was suspicious of her promises of “love-love-love”.

The Marketing Team was the Pride of the company. The rest of us were just trying to survive out on the Serengeti of day jobs. And since your title defined your merit, it was difficult to blame them for believing they were the very best of the company.

I needed to get out of this Happy Hour.

“Shoot… I forgot, I might have something I already committed to, but I’ll let you know for sure by the end of the day.”

Elaine could see through my poor attempt at a lie, but honestly, the title “Marketing” was equivalent to Narcissist, and I just didn’t want to spend the evening biting my tongue and fighting the urge to challenge this newbie every time she wanted to dominate the conversation with her branding ideas. Or the numerous accolades awarded her in MBA school.

Gag.

As I watched Elaine walk away disappointed, I knew I was going to end up going, and maybe split the cost of a drink with her, and talk to this new Marketing woman – Adeline, and maybe make a new friend.

Gag.

WTH Is jayra joy?

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 7.48.38 PMFor the friends and family that have been asking, what is the deal with jayra joy Designs – I am dedicating this blog post to telling you what the deal is. And for those of you that only know me from my blog and as a writer – I also have a little Etsy boutique called, jayra joy Designs where I sell clothes I design and make with my business partner.

jayra joy – the name itself comes from the combination of my partner/neighbor/friend’s name and mine: Jaime + Ruthann = jayra. The JOY just happens to be the name of the beautiful little street all the magic and fun happens on…or as we like to call it our Lab of Designs.

I just love the way clothes can make me feel. They transport me into the roles and characters I feel like playing on any given day. No, I’m not saying I have multiple personalities, but I do have a lot of fun pretending. And I do have my own little quirky style that features me at my best.

Clothes have always been out of my budget. Why does so-called “quality” mean I need to sell my kidney to afford it? And why can’t we all have access to these great, staple pieces that make us feel good, and aren’t made to fit one or two body types, and are versatile and feminine?

I found myself experimenting with some of the online styling sites that send you clothes based on your preferences, budget, and style, and it was a huge fail, but I did love putting together all the boards of my favorite pieces and styles on Pinterest for them! And I found I was just creating the same outfit over and over which happened to be the exact pieces I’d worn the hell out of already in my closet and couldn’t afford to buy new ones of on my writer’s salary or lack there of.

Right before I’d found out I was pregnant I’d started collecting clothing patterns and I had the idea that I was going to sew my own clothes. My perfect A-line skirts with folded pleats and stunning tutu’s I could wear any day or night of the week. I wanted a wrap that paired with jeans and dress slacks. I wanted shirts with flutter sleeves that highlighted my arms correctly. I wanted to make clothes my way that were unique and fit, and all with the best fabrics and that would be that.

I went downtown to the fabric district and investigated. I bought a ton of amazing fabrics. A couple heavy bags worth. And then I sat in the closet with those heavy bags of fabric and I realized I had no idea how to sew and I had no sewing machine. So I started to collect more clothing patterns and I Yelped sewing classes and I thought, I can do this.

Then I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. And I forgot about making clothes and hid those heavy bags of fabric in the dark corner of my cramped closet and I just prayed I could book enough acting gigs and finish writing my first book before the pitter patter of little feet were upon me.

Cut to 2 years later, many discussions with my neighbor who just conveniently happens to be an amazing designer and owns the Olympics of sewing machines, two women with a passion for creating, and a little part time business later – we’re making clothes! Really great clothes that we love making; it’s part business, part passion.

We all should be able to do something we have a passion for: karaoke, knitting, marathons, boxing, I just happen to love designing. I’m having fun and yes, I’m still writing full time, but having the opportunity to do another thing I enjoy and provide an extra source of income for my family is a gift and I cherish it.

For everyone that has supported us and purchased from us – multiple times – thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me. It is art, and I love creating for you.

If you’re interested in checking out our shop just head to http://www.jayrajoy.com! And just for checking us out, here’s a little treat: use code HBDJAIME2017 to get 15% off your purchase! Good thru April 30, 2017. 

 

It’s Stupid To Share A FaceBook Page

Okay, can we talk for a minute? I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled blog post to ask a serious question:

WHAT is the deal with the couple-shared Facebook accounts?

Why are we teaming up?

Why do you need to be one person TrishaAndMike Williams instead of the two people that make up the union, Trisha (née Smith) Williams and Mike Williams?

Do you share one mind?

Do you never have your own personal thought?

Do you think for one another?

Are your political viewpoints always exactly the same trite, misogynistic thoughts, (mm-hmm, true story & this one bothers me)?

Who of you is going huntin’ with the guys?

Which of you is, Heading out to ladies night, and can’t wait to hang with the Bitches?

I don’t know the answer to any of this. I can make some educated guesses on a few, but I don’t want to have to. Frankly, I usually only want to be friends with one of you. You’ve made it impossible for me to comment on your status, “LIKE” a post, or share anything with you on your page for fear the wrong one of you will see it first and respond inappropriately.

I’m actually rethinking our online relationship as I type this.

And I’m sorry, but Jeff Angela Rubenwitz, I’m actually not sure which one of you is selling LuLaRoe online, or working full time at the chiropractor’s office, and moonlighting at the coffee-house, but it would be nice to know since Jeff and I aren’t familiar with each other, but I feel pretty confident that Angela would comp my $5 espresso drink so, yeah, it would be nice to know.

If I may be honest, folks, I have some theories as to why you’re coupling up on social media, and you won’t like it because my mind goes down dark corridors…

I read into your paired-up page as a massive cover-up filled with insecurity and regret. I start to think that one of you, or both of you had an illicit affair that may have started by connecting with an old flame on a dark, addictive, dishonest social media site. Maybe you both cheated on your former partners and ended up together and the fear that one of you may do it again looms overhead and so an ever present watchful eye is necessary to keep each other in line…online.

Do you manage your account “LIKES” with the same veracity you monitor your joint checking and Amazon Prime purchases?

Are you building a larger following by combining friendships?

What happens when you eventually become bored with each other and divorce? Who gets custody of the SHARED page? I have a lot of questions and I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

I’ll say it because apparently nobody else will: IT’S STUPID TO SHARE A FACEBOOK PAGE. It’s absurd. You’re absurd. You share a home, that’s enough, now sign up with your own email address…WAIT, you’re the assholes that also share an email address. GODDAMMIT. Well, no one can win here, People.

No one. Certainly not this GROSS couple:

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