Living in Lockdown is Liberating

The August white light has mellowed into the browns and yellows of fall. I no longer wander daily through the woods seeking abandoned vehicles or woodsy sunrises. My days are spent as a Jane of all Trades in an organization that needed organization. I am learning, growing, and loving the fact that I am in charge of everything but responsible for nothing. Nice gig; and I got it.

Fall colors signify patience for spring

My weekends allow some explorations for photos. I dabble in the creation of products with my favorite photos; a few a day. My followers continue to grow on Instagram and without much effort, my twitter account is gaining traction. My photos or my products get retweeted. Life is peaceful and I am waiting for what is to come. I am patient and not looking to add any stress to my life.

Creating products

I do miss my adult life now limited in lockdown. Unable to travel, I miss the sojourns and solitude, the adventures and stimulations. I feel that for now, I need to find another creative endeavor, and am waiting for the motivation to manifest yet another possible path to follow, once free of restraints. The possibilities are endless.

A weekend photo

Living in the age of lockdown has proven beneficial. A stalled world has presented opportunities once closed to me. Stopping and restructuring for a future unknown is fascinating to me.

I am grateful for this pause.

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Expect the Unexpected

I ran out of things to photograph. The August and September light was white and dull, the skies filled with smoke, and I went to work in a new field but using my skills from the last career. Portugal pottery, Mexico wanderings, and Japanese wabi-sabi will have to wait.

Smoky skies and white light

I launched my on-line business and have had positive feedback as to the quality of the products by buyers. The product is based on my photography so at some point, I will need to get out and search for more shots, but for now, I no longer post three pictures a night as I had before. I hit 1000 followers, and now without effort, my list grows.

Mexican memories turned into product for Janegoesglobal.com

I post perhaps every third day, and imagine by month’s end, once a week. My motivation has waned and is turned toward paying off bills, spending time with family, and restructuring the organization that recently hired me. Someone recommended me; the owner needed my expertise, and without effort, the universe provided me with an opportunity I never would have expected in the past. I am like a vice principal in a school, but in a lumber company that has grown exponentially during Covid. The tasks are easy for me as I have vast experience in system’s thinking and I am no longer interrupted or undermined by errant students, exasperated parents, or narcissistic superintendents. My greatest challenge is absolutely nothing.

The moment in Mexico I chose me

I practice gratitude daily and sustain the peace I found in Mexico after I left the archaic, bureaucratic public education field. I watch with interest the changes brought about by the epidemic in all human experiences globally. I have surrendered to the universe, and find that continuing to make choices that benefit me, is proving to be a healthier and more balanced life.

1000 Instagram followers and how I impress my millennials.

I am at a stage in life where I am reinventing myself, again. When young, one feels as if a choice is permanent. I have learned that self determinism doesn’t work; the universe or some asshole can decimate your choices and alter your path. However, every time my reality is altered, I grow. And over time, making choices becomes more authentic and closer to who I want to be.

When young, one makes choices to please, or to emulate, or because societally, the action was expected. Since late 2018, I have focused on surrendering to the universe and being creatively me. Recently, I have felt that although the past two years have brought me peace and creativity, my two goals, the universe is again nudging me. Consequently, I am learning new skills which must be leading somewhere. I no longer have goals, I have learned to go with the flow.

My millennial family members who work social media for self promotion, have expressed that what I have done is impressive. I have figured out how to collect followers on Instagram at a rapid pace. I am beating them out, so to speak. Here is how I do it.

I started at 45 friends and relatives back in February. I rebranded myself a photographer and took all personal pictures off. Over time I photographed, producing better images, as I observed what was well received. I am an animal, flower, and urbex photographer now, by demand.

Animal lovers love any picture of animals…

Gaining followers begins with following photographers, artists, or businesses one genuinely likes. Professional, personal, artist, or amateur accounts began to follow me back. I learned at the start to scroll suggestions, or better yet new to Instagram accounts, like five to 10 pictures and follow. Within days, they reciprocated. I remember the fear of exposure as a new Instagrammer, and being grateful that seasoned instagrammers followed me. And as I stated before, I hashtag the hell out of my photos to reach international accounts in many languages. #sheep, #schaf, #ovci, #sau, #mouton etc. I use google translate to compliment and respond in a person’s native tongue.

I seek out these new accounts for they most likely will follow back. Accounts with 5000 followers and the owner only follows 400, I generally disregard. Not likely they will reciprocate follow and likes. I also don’t follow accounts who post other photographers’ work. I want to see the efforts of the original photographer, not random pics of chicks on tropical beaches and over altered sunrises or daring, death-defying pictures. I like real life and the joy of beauty and creativity in a photographer’s Singapore neighborhood life.

Improving as a photographer

I figured out recently, that if you scroll your following list to the bottom, those who do not follow are at the bottom. I keep track by sending a ✌️👍🦋 DM to record those who followed me. If I see I was conned into following, then dropped, I drop them. And then scroll for ten new Instagram accounts to follow and repeat the process. Most of them see the error in their ways and come back to follow again later. They like my perfunctory likes. If they never like my work, I mute them.

My daughter, who is in the beauty world, professional makeup artist, with an amazing website and has gigs, stated she wished some famous international makeup person would follow her. So I took on the challenge to show her my methods work. I scrolled this narcissist from Milan, liked the first ten posts from years ago, liked his most self-centered selfies throughout the gallery, made some drooling comments, and followed him under her handle. Someone who has 10k followers will only notice you if you like a ton of their pictures. If you follow someone, like one picture, you are not noticeable. The next morning she texted in amazement; he did follow her. Of course he did. He is someone who wants adoration. I made her reluctantly gush a thank you and like ten more selfies. Who knows, after Covid, he may beckon her to Milan for a fabulous opportunity. I didn’t offer to try and hook Helen Mirren for her. I am not sure she monitors her own Instagram.

Now he is an extreme. But fundamentally, building followers is building a community. I know my followers by their pictures. I not only like every picture posted, I go back and scroll their older posts, prior to following me and like at least ten. Most instagrammers I follow are not narcissists. They are milk farmers from Oklahoma, or fleur lovers from Paris. Some are urbexers from Norway or anime artists from Japan. My demographic is apparently males 25 to 40-years-old. I attribute that to the abandoned vehicles I keep finding in the woods. My feed is littered with decay punctuated by goats and vibrant flowers.

My usual find in the woods….

Anyways, collecting followers at what I am told is a rapid pace, and having at least a 25% engagement rate has to do with taking care of my followers. I like without looking first thing in the morning the 200 posts, because there are so many. But as the day passes, I stop and look, comment on brilliant captures, respond to the followers who since I liked ten of their gallery posts, feature me on their My Story. When I hit 1000 followers and posted a thank you on my gallery, I DM’d the followers who began this journey with me when I got the courage to put myself out there, and personally thanked them. I am not an emotional person; however, I do genuinely appreciate their liking every picture, sometimes a not so great shot, and occasionally commenting their awe at a particularly spectacular image.

Gaining followers is a lot of work. Time-consuming scrolling and liking is the norm. But expecting people to appreciate and like your emerging artistic or business endeavor takes reciprocity. For those who think they are special and do not need to like others’ work, or are timid and sabotage a chance at a following, are either wondering why nobody follows/likes their posts, or have made it to 13k followers and now can rest on their laurels.

Insatiable Social Media and the Monotony of Key Phrases, Slugs, and Snippets

Now I am up to 850 followers on Instagram and most of them I follow. I can scroll and name which photographer matches the posted picture. Continuing to build community on Jane.egashira is important to me. I started a second Instagram account, Janegoesglobal, with the company name featuring just urbex shots, which can be described as beautiful decaying vehicles. I debate daily whether to delete janegoesglobal because working two accounts is sometimes too time consuming.

7A67FDC9-5013-4250-84C2-8E06A7C5B15ASo the company website launch of Janegoesglobal.com has been interesting. The home page has been changed 60 times. Tweaks, upgrades, and color debates with my son, the developer, and feedback influences, brought on the continual creativity. We finally agreed to stop messing with it; IKEA colors and obscure messaging of international welcomes is just fine. We will revisit after he gains more skills. The links work, so what everrrrr.

8C420917-FD07-4EFD-B10B-A6D781C21389I am learning key phrases, slugs, and snippets. SEO is a tedious task, like teaching teenagers to write essays properly. Tell ‘em what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then end by telling them what you told them. Students hated the repeat of the thesis statement, “But I already said that in the introductory paragraph!” The search engines are as stupid as your reader. Like the reader of an essay, they need to understand and be guided. F736B049-4D47-4EDB-A4F9-6DBF4C774271

So following my own admonitions, I allow Yeost to guide me. I settle, for now, with 😐, because to get this🙂, costs extra. I am not there yet. If you have no idea what I am talking about, I am trying to get search engines to notice my online retail site with marketing programming that allows search engines to index me and customers to find my product. I am showing up on google and in images, but so are millions of mug retailers. So I am trying to rise up above the crowd, so to speak.

8B266151-B263-4DD9-A04F-F65EA1F01C0EI began twitter to promote my mugs and garnered some retweets; however, I got a sickening feeling that to get recognition and sales, I would have to spend hours on cultivating a following on this social media too. Ugh. Instagram has been a huge time investment which has been fascinating to build, but right now, I can’t stomach more hours of computer time. So I tweet once in a while and hope an entity picks up my wares and pays off my student loans. A liberal arts major can dream, can’t she?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astrology, Instagram, and Birth of a Business

The astrologers advise that humanity is in temperance mode while struggling with the Leo aspirations. I remember during my early hermit mode, being advised that with the Capricornian Effect, the year 2020 is time to plant the seeds, and 2021 will show results for the efforts. But be patient and slowly grow the next foundation. And then there’s the ending of a 36 year cycle, 12 year cycle, and the beginning of more cycles. But I am a Taurus, and I am supposed to be ascending. So I have learned patience.

Being photographed as a gift and self esteem booster by Vinagisella_ and my grandson learning new skills, before leaving for Mexico

I have my favorites which I am aware are mostly white men: Rik, Acuta-Bhava Dasa, Cam White, Esoteric Healing, Nicholas Ashbaugh, Ablas Legrand, Scarlet Moon, Reydiant Reality, Athen Chimenti, and Molly McCord. Perhaps this is the Jesuit Education influence. But I follow them because they are comprehensive, direct, and educational regarding astrology. Like the philosophical lectures on what it is to be human at Seattle University, or learning Latin from Sr. Ethna Marie, I don’t want to hear about crystals and smudging, just get to the point. I dropped the love readings, pick a card, and sun sign readers. I have learned too much about astrology and my natal chart to be that superficial. Now I am definitely “woo woo” and can hear myself sounding like a 1960’s hippie and cringe a bit. But the trends are strangely accurate and serving me well, at least in a reflective practice, to continue on my journey in peace and creativity.

But when absolutely devastated, astrology, religious faith, philosophy, novels, gummy bears by the gallon, can all serve to help the healing process. Whatever makes one stop and seriously analyze, accept, and ultimately shed destructive habits, patterns, and trends is legitimate in my opinion. For the first time in my life, I have sustained a year of a peaceful and creative existence. I feel authentically me.

Mukai Farm Photo by Jane Egashira

So now I am an entrepreneur in addition to photographer. With my eldest son’s newly acquired programming skills, he too chose a healthier path while I wandered Mexico, we collaborated on my vision. Consequently, Janegoesglobal.com has been born.

I studied print on demand, tested two, Shopify and Printful, and the better sample product was Printful. I now am studying SEO’s, and trying to retrain my brain back to the late seventies when I did retail. Instead of worrying that nothing sells, I focus on first that I am doing this for me, and secondly, that efforts now may translate into holiday sales’ success. Build a solid foundation, temperance, and quality are my mantras.

Raab’s Lagoon Photo by Jane Egashira

I continue to photograph and post on Instagram because this daily routine feeds my soul. The photos are becoming my product, the followers my supporters, and Instagram my exposure. My north node is to not be afraid to show who I am to the world. Well, here I am.

I used to fear too much attention. I remember the hesitancy writing my first blog post, posting my first Instagram picture, choosing a website name, but every action has anesthetized me from fear. I have nothing to fear. I have “failed” so many times in life that failure is a construct that I no longer impose on myself. I have retrained my brain to continually move forward with positive and creative thoughts and actions. I look back, and really, this took a lifetime of transformative effort.

Continued Lessons on Instagram and my Creative Path to Becoming an Entrepreneur

I gained 500 followers which took some work. Continuing my creative path, I spend two hours daily photographing around this island. I spend another two, intermittently through the day, keeping up with liking my followers’ pictures and interacting with new posts. I disregard analytics, because with the changing global human habits due to Covid, trial and error seems to work better. I now post at 9 p.m. nightly to garner the best exposure, which is satisfying, then waking up to my Eastern Hemisphere followers, my loyal tried and true 65 likes and numerous new private account likes. Then as the day progresses, my Western Hemisphere followers begin the daily likes.

I have studied hashtags closely and have discovered what photos elicit the most positive responses. I am still the reluctant urbexer, but I post one abandoned car of three nightly posts for those who love rusty patinas and rotting vehicles.

I discovered #landscape, #cacti, and #vegetarian hashtags that drew many more followers. Getting to 500 followers was a lot of work. I perused the likes, looked for accounts that are new or had few followers, then immediately liked ten of their pictures and would follow for a week. They would either follow back immediately, or if after a week I had no response, and I had liked many of their posts, I dropped them. I want followers who genuinely like my photographs as I only follow those whose work I love.

Some accounts just want followers and will tease one into following by following first, and liking, then drop you. So I drop them when I get no reciprocity. Accounts that have many followers, more than they follow, are less likely to reciprocate likes. So in the morning, as I analyze whom To follow, I am less likely to join up with those accounts, for they are interested in follower whores. Some accounts have become so large, they can’t maintain a community feel, so to speak. I mute those accounts from my feed, because mindlessly liking is tedious, and I instead focus on my loyal followers and new instagrammers. The educator in me likes to help newer accounts gain traction. And I enjoy seeing the evolution of newer accounts.

I was at thirty likes initially, then finally broke 100, and then all of a sudden broke 300. An odd thing happens, which I suspect is that my picture is being “sponsored” by Instagram and showcased where the picture suddenly garners 300 likes. I see accounts I follow being sponsored, and I have no idea if they know this is transpiring or how Instagram chooses photographers to be highlighted. But something happens on Instagram where the momentum picks up without reason, and I now see the response as indicators for a possible business venture, which I am turning into an e-commerce site, Janegoesglobal.com.

When I decided to follow this way of life last year while wandering Central Mexico, I had no idea where I would be lead. But I have learned so much, surrendered to the universe, and so far, my wanderings and creative focus are keeping me in a good place.

Abandon all hope, she who enters here; the Instagram Gods are Watching over this Urbexer

I continue on with my creative life rising at 5 am to take pictures around this Pacific Northwest Island, parking the rented Jeep and walking miles down woodsy roads and along beachfront communities looking for charming or picturesque shots. I was building a lovely touristy gallery, showing beaches, boats, and sunsets. But a funny thing happened, I took a photo of an abandoned car, a horse, and a flower and now I am an Urbex Queen, an animal lover, and a floral photographer by popular demand.

No pressure. But my heart leaps when I find a rusty, rotting ‘57 Chevy nestled in blackberry vines, or get that damn beautiful horse to come near me for a horse selfie, or find a field of poppies that glow in the sunshine. I post and enthusiasts and dedicated followers appreciate my efforts. Or at least my return likes. I now have over 300 followers and so every day I have to post an abandoned vehicle, an animal, and a flower. Occasionally I sneak in something woodsy or watery because where I live is mostly nature.

I gained two recognitions from urbex sites which garnered me over 100 likes. I had no idea what that was until congratulated for a junker I posted and getting recognition from an urbex site. I just thought it was pretty. But all of a sudden I had men who love their cars liking my pics. I started to follow back but then my feed was filled with Packards and gloomy abandoned castles. A bit depressing. So I stopped with Sarah.urbex whom I follow because, well, she is a woman in a man’s world of rust and the reclusive, and I know from a lifetime of battling machismo that she deserves my support.

So how it works is a site will build up based on contributions from photographers and they hook you with a recognition for your amazing photo to get you to hashtag them again and thus gain more recognition for their site but gain you a lot of likes.

Okay. My fifteen minutes of fame on Instagram.

So urbex or abandoned photography is fun, but I have to warn myself as I stand on the road lusting after the abandoned Packard in the field next to the farmhouse or the teardrop camper trailer from the fifties in the horse pasture that I could be shot or chased by a territorial dog. I am not about either experience but the adrenaline is definitely there. I wandered a road and found an amazing abandoned ambulance only to be told by my friend that two crazy methheads live on that property. In my search for a beach access, on a county road, I dodged a bullet but got a hell of a photo.

An occasional thrill, okay. As an addiction, no way.

My followers are diverse and international now. The marijuana grower follower posts pics of delicate wildflowers and waterfalls then describes his bud room as “dank as fawk.” I find his 420 humor and growing something once banned delightful. A Charro who trains horses in Mexico liked my horse pic, why? His animals are dancing and performing. I photograph reluctant field horses who either hide on the far side or come right up to the camera and won’t back up. But a farmer’s wife in Portugal kept commenting “Linda” and I finally figured out that meant pretty and we send emojis to each other, and a botanist in France uses google translate as do I so we can increase our foreign language vocabularies.

Anyways, I figured out how to do hashtags properly. Disregard where you shot the photo, whom you think your audience is, and what the real subject matter is. Take for instance a picturesque field with an old barn surrounded by green pastures under a blue sky on a country road. I tagged it #farm, barn, pastures, pnw, island living, bucolic. Wrong. I figured out that to get exposure, don’t think or project. It’s a barn. Now hashtag that word in fifteen different ways: #barns, #barnsofinstagram, ig_barns, #barnlovers, #barns,barns, barns, etc., and foreign words for barns using google translate. As I am doing this I think this is stupid, but it works. The more homogenous the tags, the more people see the post. The more diverse, for some reason, the less views occur.

#barns_barns_barns

The Instagram gods are watching over me and someone tried to steal my photos by hashtagging them onto her duck sites. I was a bit concerned when I clicked on her sites and saw my charming ducks eating cherry blossoms as her post, but dismissed it only to see as I became more perplexed and irritated as the day wore on, that Instagram deleted her. I was impressed.

#duckseatingcherryblossoms

I continue this creative journey, learning a great deal, but I feel peace and surprisingly unconcerned as to what the future holds. For this, I am grateful.

Increasing Instagram Followers, W.C. Fields and the complexity of photographing animals.

I continue my creative journey sleuthing the backroads of Vashon Island photographing with my IPad. I often chastise myself for not purchasing a real camera for amazing missed far off pics but economics keep me frugal. I graduated from IPhone to IPad because more often than not, I would return from early morning shoots, put on my glasses, and see my shots were blurry. With the Ipad I can frame the shot and see exactly what I am photographing. The IPhone shots were often dark and IPad shows me exactly the Pacific Northwest authentic color I desire.

Pacific Northwest early morning light punctuated with red colored tow truck

Recently a usurper started posting Vashon Island images colorfully altered and claiming he was a spiritualist. I got a little peeved he was getting likes from locals on what obviously was not reality as Vashon is mostly brown and gray. Then I had a long talk with myself that to avoid this angst, I will no longer post on #Vashonisland and grow a following abroad, or in the Midwest. I love world cultures and the backroads of Tennessee. I find #urbix fascinating and Vashon Island forests are rife with dilapidated buildings and rusting vehicles to share with #abandon. Followers have increased and I am learning the analytics of how to increase followers. I read on Instagram that times of day and certain hashtags work but I think lockdown postings are different.

Having followers around the globe stuck in their abodes, or limited in their excursions, most post as they get up in the morning, or before retiring. So monitoring my followers I can see when they start to post and catching them by liking immediately or catching the wave of Indian followers or New York risers by posting as they post, increases likes or exposure, so to speak. I also start to scroll the most popular photographers’ followers and start to like their shots. Lo and behold, they find me. I look for photographers who don’t alter their shots so I can see what their streets, culture, or people are really like. It’s like going to a minor league baseball game where players are human and screw up. Major league bores me. Call me if the game goes into extra innings and then I will watch. Professional photos are too smooth and lack soul to me.

Usual Vashon hues

Recently I came across down a backroad to a fourth generation ranch and the early morning light was exquisite. Before me was a group of horses who came at me with rambunctious personalities, interacting with me and each other. Shot after shot was brilliant and although the young filly tried to nip me, the experience was a new focus I could explore. I have learned that to get attention from an animal, early morning before feeding is the best time. However photographing animals any other time has proven frustrating.

Looking for hay; early morning interest in me.

Horses love turning their butts toward me. Like Siamese cats, not interested. I see a beautiful shot, get close, and they will not comply unless hungry. I have returned repeatedly to these horses to get that perfect shot. Not happening. Butt after butt. Birds, on the other hand, will not stay still. I came across an eagle sitting on a lagoon gate, and I snuck below rocks to get a closeup. But like the seagulls and blue herons, off the eagle goes to a tree perch if too close. These photos I leave to professional photographers because until I have a Nikon or Fujica, I am not going to be successful or what you see is what I got, look, another pastoral shot and somewhere in the bucolic scene, there is a horse or deer grazing.

C’mon closer! It’s been thirty minutes of trying; I give up…

#likeforlike? The Gamer in me is addicted to Analytics and Likes

So at the beginning of this journey seventeen months ago when I lost everything I was like someone in the balcony watching the actors and audience play their roles, and I inwardly was pleased to be a manuscript waiting to be written. I have worked since the age of thirteen, always struggling to make more money, have more power, be more influential on student minds. Ugh, what a bore.

I think post Covid what will I do? Not repeating patterns is a whole rewiring of the brain, and searching Indeed starts with creative jobs and digresses to my three degree, tons of experience past which makes me cringe, so I go back to part time garden center jobs or pottery school receptionist, anything to avoid returning to the stressful and inane world of education and to continue to be creative. Eventually I will need to make money, but building a portfolio of photos, although unclear to me yet, may help secure something that pays and allows me to continue this journey.

I have never been happier being in lockdown limbo. Going out in the early morning to pursue creativity is fulfilling my need for stimulation and satisfaction. But recently weekends are marred by people. Weekend visitors to the island who post on Instagram their vector venture as superspreaders. The silence of solitude is disrupted with the sounds of motorboats, SUVs revving on remote roads, and fit joggers on the main highway. Go away. I want to photograph in peace.

What is amusing is I traded my inconspicuous economy car for a shiny black Jeep Gladiator so I can take old furniture to the dump. I hate it. Construction workers and utility workers in general get all excited like a child getting legos at Christmas; one even asked to drive it. Go for it. But surreptitiously wandering the island for shots is stressful in this rig and having California plates makes it a topic of concern by old lady walkers giving me the look of why is a Californian during lockdown photographing that abandoned house in the ravine. Those exchanged looks make me laugh as I drive away in my intimidating ride and view the attempts at resolving consternation in the rear view mirror. Never-the-less, I have taken to parking it in bushes and taking long walks for photographic ops.

I have 252 followers now on Instagram. For the longest time I could not break 30 likes. Then after wasting an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why fotolover38’s blurry lamppost picture posted makes 548 likes, I started to see a few ways to increase likes; not that that is the purpose of why I do photography. But I am a gamer. I sniped ho’s on Grand Theft Auto and even this skill takes some creativity to accomplish. I like figuring out how programmers make programs so difficult and addictive thus piquing my competitive nature.

Instagram has cliques. Initially I could see street_photography hashtag has followers who follow each other. So following that hashtag and following likers from that group, starts to get followers and likes once you start engaging with those photographers. So every genre has an addicted group that love to be liked and followed. I oblige. It’s a real time waster but if disciplined one can spend little time each day seeing the relationships and joining in on the analytics of Instagram.

Another change I made was hashtags. As I gained followers, I repeatedly used the same hashtags. #photography showed I had five followers also following that hashtag. But I could also see that locals weren’t supporting my art, except the local pizza place, so I changed things up by looking at what other same genre photographers were using as hashtags thus hello more cliques. So I started posting international hashtags like #fleur, #flora, and #hana. I got likes and followers from Paris, Mexico City, and Tokyo. Now some liked me, others not. But the ones I wanted to follow because I genuinely enjoy their pics, I liked ten of their pictures. In turn, they came back and liked ten of mine. Ah, like for like mentality. Well isn’t this a waste of life.

Yes, but I want to see if I can now break 100 likes and the same gaming addictive behavior sets in. Instagram is truly evil. The dark side can quickly plunge a person into not painting the house or writing that novel you always said you would write. Moderation is definitely the key to breaking Instagram barriers and still get real life chores finished.

The darkest side of Instagram are profiles that like your art then out of courtesy you like one of theirs. So upon closer examination, after a few weird interactions, private messages that are inappropriate or financial scams that are coming next, you can start to spot the sordid sooner.

Hollyhopeisalive posts five pics. Three of her dogs, oh how cute, and one at a fundraiser all dolled up, and one is Tahiti. She is only in the one at the event, standing next to an ice sculpture on a buffet table. She has 5972 followers and five posts. She sends a message, “salut belle, ou habites tu?”

Delete profile and block.

Anyone who has hashtags #likeforlike, #followme, use my hashtag messages and I will repost, or anything other than just what the photo is needs to be eliminated. One weird like described himself as a 21-year-old with a camera and had a few nice pics so I liked one. I then noticed all of them had my exact #hashtags and I, being influenced by Instagram, was flattered, oh look he is emulating me which triggered old protective and nurturing patterns as an educator. Wait, this is creepy stalker scam and logic should guide my intuition. Delete and block, and stop being human. Instagram is not human nor safe.

Another tip off is that kid from India who has amazing pics of himself in Tibet, then a day later Michigan, then, damn, he visited Vashon Island, my island, look, he is on the beach, and just last week during lockdown too! Isn’t that photoshopping amazing! Delete, block you little scammer. Kudos for creativity tho.

Hey, Social Influencer! Who Cares Anymore?

When I was sixteen I got my first Seventeen Magazine in the mail. The pages were filled with glossy ads and layouts with girls my age who looked like confident women with tits. I was shaped like a ten-year-old boy and not until pregnancy was I ever so endowed. I was intimidated and tried to emulate California girls but only ended up looking like Boy George in Northwest Ugly fashion with the few attempts I made over the years. The best I could achieve was a Jackie O in adulthood when donning classic business suits and dark sunglasses. Handsome, not beautiful.

#Instagram elicits the same reaction but being sixty, after initially succumbing to the manipulation of racking up likes and followers, I am able to choose the positive and break the negative addictive and demeaning side of social media. I can continue my early morning photo shoots on this still asleep, stay at home island and enjoy the solitude, the creativity, and the peace. My daily explorations keep me mentally healthy. I still long for learning pottery skills around the globe but now can imagine other future possibilities with the new skills gained and knowledge of manipulation skills I gathered though life as a female, a failure in the eyes of fuckers, and an effective educator who cared.

When I wandered central Mexico alone, deep in meditative thought, searching for meaning, self-knowledge, and what to do next with my life, I learned how to just be. I was an alpha female my whole life; thanks to my mom: bitter, struggling, overachieving, competitive, and all around miserable. She drank vodka, straight up with a twist, God love her, but I learned to slow down intentionally, love myself, seek that which fed my soul. I do not want to be like my ma in her sixties, breaking her hips and falling over street curbs coming up with a wicked smile while blood drips from her forehead. That’s a twisted glee I hope to never desire. So coming into this pandemic, and feeling centered, I think to the post- Covid “now I am immunized me” and I can picture the internal me and what I am to be, but not externally on how I will play out in the probably restricted future existence. I feel a strange lack of concern as to what would have, in the past, troubled me. I feel suspended in time and it’s okay.

I wonder if others are planning to return to their previous lives. Or like me, they are realizing that being in one’s home is pretty nice. Because when unemployed and not in the rat race, expenses and abuse in the workplace drops exponentially. I used to pay high rent for a dark hole in the wall above alley garbage cans and unmedicated homeless screaming below my window. I used to drive a brand new car with a $500 dollar a month payment, plus tabs, gas, and insurance costs. I got a massage twice a month, got a hack n dye from Amethyst for 150 bucks, and ate French dip sandwiches at the “smoke and bitch” on J Street with my stressed school administrator friend for a weekly therapy session on the street. We both were living our best lives, girlfriend, but were vocal to “choose our level of fucked” in response to Common Core, PBIS, and state testing, fuck you very much.

The thing is we spent a lot of money to ameliorate the nonstop stress of our working long hours for high pay and benefits, all the while making no more than if we had low stress jobs for minimum wage and gave up the trappings of costly self gratification. I for one was very aware as my nervous system healed from the PTSD of insanity called public education, that spending money as a palliative is no longer needed when out of work, out of the corporate grind, or on limited resources.

I wonder if others are seeing alternatives to collective choices once made. That simpler living is healthier living. That being around one’s children more and not sending them back to the bullying, discrimination, sexism, and social injustices of the school’s environment is kind of attractive. I wonder if children are having healthy withdrawals from the pressures of cliques, testing, and cold wonder bread with American cheese and a chocolate milk. Where kindergartners cold cocked classmates at recess and threw chairs at teachers who routinely wondered, “Why the fuck did I buy into this cooperative learning, social justice bullshit and owe fifty thousand dollars in student debt and have to keep going to summer school myself after years of training and experience? And the superintendent says we have to institute this benchmark when my kids can’t even do times tables or read above first grade even though in the fifth grade? Another fucking shooter lockdown with thirty out of control students in silence? And why are you two taking bets on who can sniff jello pudding shots faster?”

I wonder if others are reflecting on I never really wanted to do what I do. Or what I do is not what I thought it would be? I never wanted to be what I have become; I never want to be like my father who robotically performed and provided, but died an unfulfilled accountant rather than the watercolorist he dabbled at when at college? Why didn’t I listen to my mother when she announced teaching was a fate worse than death? Why did I think moving constantly, consuming and polluting, collapsing end of day to watch sex on Game of Thrones was living my best life? I had a head start on humanity thanks to divine intervention 18 months ago, but I am curious to see what the world is going to be when Covid, like small pox, is no longer a threat. Living under restrictions may prove to be the great purge of societal excess and inanity, pervasive pre-plague reality.

I hope that humanity turns introspective during this break from what was reality. I hope that humanity calms down, just calms the fuck down with the excess, the inhumanity, and the social influencing that keeps us from us.

I will continue my creative journey for this pandemic is not going viral in my world.