reaching out to my past

This is a quick note for a person who might still read my blog. The last time we emailed was after my big reveal about Pig and discussed self-defense (2014). The time before that was about a roll of film I had developed years after the fact.

I’m not sure the email address I have for you is valid anymore. The one you have for me still is, mostly because of embarrassing inertia. I’ll likely use that address until I die.

I reach out to you on LinkedIn but am trying this option in case you never check there. Sorry to be stalker-ish. There’s a some time-sensitivity to a question I have, a personal issue. It’s not an issue that should affect you much, if at all.

Tryst’s 2FA Options and Answers

Tryst has been pushing a 2-step login for the past year. They’re clearly quite tired of dealing with hacked accounts. Accounts get hacked to due easily-cracked passwords or someone clicks on a link from a non-Tryst email that’s made to mimic a Tryst email.

How Not to Get Hacked (or reduce your chances)

The first key is having a strong password, which Tryst also recommends.

I always recommend using a strong password generator even though it normally means you’ll never be able to remember it and need to copy the password somewhere.
https://passwords-generator.org/
https://delinea.com/resources/password-generator-it-tool
https://www.calculator.net/password-generator.html

And if you don’t trust an online password generator, make sure to add an extra place or two to any password they give you, so you can add your own number, letter, or symbol to keep it completely unique.

While a lot of people also recommend password apps, I do not. Passwords on a piece of paper is not hackable. A document on your computer with a list of your passwords is not 100% secure if your whole computer gets hacked, but is more secure than any password app. You also won’t have to rely on a third-party server’s being up all the time. If all you use is your phone, a text note with your passwords is very easy to maintain. Whatever non-app method you use, make sure you have copies backed up somewhere safe, especially if you keep an electronic list.

If you decide to use a password app, you will have to rely on their backups, which are usually frequent and in multiple locations as their own failsafe.

Update: Johanna Potente suggested downloading a password vault that stays local, on your own machine. These could be spreadsheets, or a small program that manages the info you enter into it. For extra security, you can download these vaults to an encrypted USB drive, you only need to remember the encryption password to open the vault and access all of your passwords. There are several free options if you search, or you can create your own with your own spreadsheet program.

The second key is not clicking on any email that purports to be from Tryst. I have a Tryst ad and constantly get those emails too. Fortunately, the email address on my Tryst ad leads to an auto-response and I never look at the emails received unless I’m hunting down someone who didn’t pass screening.

If you think you can afford to ignore the email messages coming directly from your ad, create an email address just for that ad (e.g. YourName.Tryst@domain.com), set it to an auto-response that sends readers to your website, and you cut your risk of being hacked from a phishing email down to 0%.

It’s also a really easy way of doing your stats at the end of the month if you can see the exact amount of legit inquiries vs time-wasters, or if there was a common question or whatever. Creating a separate email address for every advertising platform is a great way of gathering hard numbers for your marketing efforts. And again, never answering any email captured by that address means not being phished.

I’m not sure why Tryst doesn’t offer this as a solution but it is a safety measure that you can do if you think you can afford to. Personally, I feel the serious clients will go to your website first before contacting you, but everyone’s business is different. (The auto-response is always a great way to weed out the stupid. In 2023, many men still do not know what an auto-response is and if you’re that dumb, I really won’t be able to help you.)

Tryst’s 2FA Options

Tryst has offered a number of options, which they sometimes also refer to as Multi-Factor Authentication/MFA. Tryst explains the general terms and a general overview of how the various methods work. They offer a little more detail buried in their FAQ, none of which addresses any privacy concerns.

Several of these options means that Tryst has paid to partner with the technology to offer it. That’s how serious they are about locking down your account. It becomes cumbersome just to access a sex work advertising platform. These apps can also raise serious privacy concerns, which is a big deal for sex workers in the US. Tryst hasn’t addressed any privacy concerns whatsoever, in fact, they recommend providers utilizing more than one type of 2FA key. (I think that’s overkill.)

I admit to resenting this being forced on us as of September 1, 2023. I also understand that one hacked account can put the whole site at risk if the hacker knows what they’re doing (though so far, the interest seems to be on scamming clients out of money). I understand perfectly well that creating a digital trail linking your online activity and/or personal information just to log into a sex work site is a risk some will not want to take. I’m curious to see how many paying advertisers Tryst loses on Sep. 1. (My only hope is that horny straight guys stop using it as a dating site if it gets more annoying to log into.)

For an unregulated business, we endure quite a bit of ad-hoc regulation to be able to work. Of course, the ability to work without needing to rely on an advertising platform is the ideal: whether you’ve SEOd your site, have fully utilized social media, or found another mix of methods; freedom from ad platforms is a great goal to have.

I have signed up for one option and have successfully used it. I’ll discuss my choice when we get to it. This doesn’t mean I like it, because I don’t. I picked the least evil and simplest option.

The strongest security you can get is by compartmentalizing your electronic trail. Choose one of the methods offered and use it solely for your work accounts. Do not use these apps on whatever accounts you access for your personal life. Log out each and every time you’re finished with an app or Tryst, clear your cache and cookies before logging into your personal accounts.

If you advertise with Eros, it’s highly likely they’re going to follow in Tryst’s footsteps, as they’ve been warning about scammers for a while. Currently, they require an email verification code to sign in, which is a common and simple 2FA option Tryst does not offer for reasons they never address.

How Does It Actually Work?

Most of these options offer both a desktop/laptop and phone version. Once again, you have to consider what else is one your device and how you use that device. The different apps offer mildly different ways of authentication, but it works based on QR codes. Tryst will create a QR code, your app reads it, communicates with Tryst, and you enter a numerical code the app gives you (and Tryst), and Tryst confirms the code. You’re logged in. I highly recommend reading each website thoroughly for details on how the app works after you’ve decided which one you want to try. Tryst answers a little more detail in their FAQ.

I have not signed up to every option to test them because I do not want to do that.

The first time you log in via the app, Tryst will give you an emergency recovery code. In case your account gets hacked anyway, this code will let Tryst know it really is you logging in. You are to keep the code somewhere safe. Tryst suggests on a piece of paper.

Yes, all this high-tech bullshit for a sex work advertising platform is ultimately secured with words written on a piece of paper.

It really reminds me of this scene from The Simpsons.

Tryst warns you that if you lose the code, you probably will not be able to recover your account. This is the same type of backup security that electronic crypto wallets use, though Tryst’s code is much shorter.

Reading QR codes is easy with a phone: you point the phone at the code. Reading QR codes on a desktop is a little more complicated and involves more apps. Tryst’s FAQ says it can offer a URL to copy and paste if you can’t read the QR code.

This obviously points to using your phone for the app, but consider if you mix work and personal on your phone or not. Same with your computer. What you do really depends on how you have your work set up. This is something that requires consideration.

Once you’ve signed up and used it to log into Tryst, records are created that you will not be able to destroy, even if you delete your account with Tryst or the app. Having a dedicated work phone is always the best answer but I’m aware not everyone can do that.

Not to mention the obvious but…your phone isn’t actually surgically-grafted to your hand. What happens if you lose it and the authentication app on it? Other than a random person being able to easily access your account; you’re just as easily shut out even if that doesn’t happen. (Hence, the emergency passcode written on a piece of paper, which really begs the question of: why bother with the app at all?)

The Options

1Password

1Password is an app that acts both as a password manager and authenticator for sites that require 2FA. They offer a business option and personal-use option. If you were to use this app, choose the personal option, not business. It’s cheaper as a personal option at $36/yr. Yes, you have to pay for an app to access your escort advertising. I know.

1Password is quite happy to install itself in every single factor of your life, from personal information to bank account info to your medical records to authenticating you with Tryst. You pay for the privilege of having a random company gather NSA-level information about you.

I avoid things like this like the plague they are, but if you think it’s convenience personified, go for it. It is a Canadian company.

Google Authenticator

If you already utilize Google Analytics or Gmail (or other Google properties) in your work, this might be an easy fit. If you avoid Google, you’ll also want to avoid this app.

It is a simple app to use, whether on phone or desktop/laptop. There’s even an Authenticator Chrome extension that will read the QR code for you.

It collects a fair amount of data.

It’s very straightforward to understand the benefits and drawbacks of this app. Using it depends on your comfort level with Google. Because it’s Google, you can be assured it will snoop and connect as much information about you as possible, including that you’re using it to log into Tryst. Google is a US-based company.

Microsoft Authenticator

What can be said for Google can be said for Microsoft Authenticator. Microsoft is a US-based company that respects your privacy every bit as much as Google does. (Or Apple, for that matter.) Personal data is gold to companies like these. Using their apps is giving them your gold for free in order to sign into a hooker site.

Authy

Authy is an app powered by the US-based customer management company Twilio. Though the parent company itself is all about gathering and managing customer data for companies, the app seems to be a straightforward version of a 2FA app.

This is the one I put on my phone, but it also has a desktop/laptop version. It asked me for a phone number and email address. I verified both to install the app. Logging into Tryst was exactly as Tryst described: they created a QR code, the app read it and gave me a number, which I entered into Tryst. That was it.

I’m not pretending this app isn’t collecting data that I’m not aware of, but the app only requested permission to use my camera in order to view the QR code. Tryst the website appears as a little square on the app. Presumably, if I used this app for other sites, they would also have a little square with their name on it. Just click the square and the 2FA process begins. There’s not much else to the app.

Security Keys/Passkeys

Basically, these are souped-up USB devices — actual, physical objects that contain electronic code. But of course you have to buy a special one; a plain old USB drive with your passcode info on it won’t suffice.

Tryst recommends the cheapest Yubico key on offer, which is $25 (most of the keys start at $50). This is affordable enough, but that’s not the end. The key works with only with the built-in security methods on your devices, which is where the multi-factor authentication comes into play. (Key + device + authenticator app + Tryst’s own protocols)

By built-in security, Tryst makes it clear that means biometrics. Your face scan, your fingerprint. Not your passcode. Logging in this way activates your special key and reassures it that only you are accessing the codes stored in it, then it can work with authentication apps and Tryst.

Your biometrics. To log onto a hooker website.

I hope to god you don’t already use your biometrics to unlock any of your devices but if you do, be aware that in the US, your biometrics are not protected information. Police can collect your biometrics all day long (i.e. mugshots, fingerprints, DNA). They cannot compel you to unlock your phone or computer if it’s locked with a passcode.

You can Google all day on these issues, and the answer doesn’t vary much, even in different states.

Let’s put aside the biometrics horror show, and look at the keys a little more.

These keys can also work with cryptocurrency, though I do not believe they function as wallets. It’s simply that they offer a higher level of security for the wallet you already have. You can check compatibility with various apps on their website.

The downside is now you have a thing to lose. If you lose tiny things (like USB drives), on the regular, this may not be the best option for you. Because if you go the multi-factor route and lose the key, you’re almost certainly going to be shut out of your account permanently.

The upside is what I’ve mentioned: you can use this key for multiple work-related accounts. It’s probably partitioned enough that you could use it for work and personal, but this is just a guess. I’m not certain.

The key can work with your phone or desktop/lap. It uses a specific connector, not a plain old USB connection. Tryst recommends using only the latest devices for security purposes but they also do not offer to pay for you to upgrade your devices, so take that with a big shaker of salt.

If you aren’t sure what connections your device offers, feel free to Google the make/model of your device and check. Or contact the key company and request assistance if it’s not in their FAQs.

The keys are an excellent idea in theory, but that theory falls apart because they require biometrics to access their functions.

If you already use your biometrics to unlock your devices, and don’t wish to roll them back (or can’t), then the key might be a good option. You buy it once and use it forever. You’re already fucked by the biometrics requirement, might as well have fun with it.

Remember that Tryst will give you an emergency passcode to write on a piece of paper.

Because paper is hacker-proof and Tryst knows it.

Final Thoughts

Really didn’t even have to tighten my tinfoil hat on this one. Some states now require ID verification just to access porn sites. How much longer before escort sites are wiped off the Internet? Or access to them? Tryst is worried about Tryst being stable and secure. They aren’t looking further down the road in a country where they aren’t based (a country whose idiotic laws are the whole reason they came into being in the first place).

Requiring elaborate, invasive, and potentially self-incriminating methods just to run an escort ad is going to cause unintended consequences for US users. Or, I guess the consequences will be very intentional, from the perspective of law-makers and police. It’s only a matter of time.

We already know that Eros is compromised. We know that sex workers from other countries are regularly detained and sent back to their country of origin for the crime of showing their face online in connection with their sex work. We are forced to use cryptocurrency to pay for ads because banks will shut us down and credit card companies have already shut down these payment avenues.

How to protect against hackers? Education instead of apps. Make sure everyone knows app-free ways of not falling for phishing emails, or how to create very strong passwords and where to keep them (piece of paper!).

Tryst has long used an unnamed service to automatically check our passwords against a list of known passwords from other data breaches (it’s from one of the authenticator services they signed up with, but forgot which one offered that). I have always found that a little disturbing, and it’s something they’ve never addressed, but it’s far less invasive than their new requirements.

Tryst is offering everyone 20 credits to “upgrade” to 2FA before Sept. 1. They should offer a free Platinum month to everyone, at the very least (150 credits).

For those who don’t know, Tryst offers a free plan to everyone; and the next step up is 35 credits/month. This 20 credit bonus is not much bonus. They give out 25 credits every Christmas.

Even the least offensive app is a step I’ve not taken before and absolutely did not want to take. I don’t make much money from Tryst but I get appointments from there and would like more (I always want more). They’re holding our income hostage to create a tighter electronic trail (or leash) between our personal and professional lives. Those whose income completely depends upon Tryst are the ones who most likely don’t have the economic freedom to pay for the necessary electronic compartmentalization to neutralize the effects of using any of these methods.

Tryst has tried very hard to listen to sex worker concerns, and to support sex workers worldwide. Tryst stuck their necks out to create Switter, which had to close after two years due to legal issues, and the potential for even more issues (which always cost money).

All of which makes the 2FA requirement feel ugly. They may not intend to do anything but keep the site and users secure (and maybe lower their IT bills by not having to pay to fix emergency hacking situations). The unintended consequence is holding potential income hostage, for nothing valuable in exchange. The unintended consequence is being able to tie the personal and professional together much more easily for random companies and law enforcement. It makes Tryst feel one step closer to every other ad platform without our best interests in mind.

Additional thought: I forgot to mention that all these companies that Tryst has partnered with (except 1Password) are US-based. Which means they’re subject to US laws and anti-trafficking hysteria. Which means that at any time they could decide to end the partnership with Tryst, or turn user logs over to the police. Then what? Not good for Tryst, not good for any Tryst user in the US.

The Yubio key requires an application to interact with, as far as I can tell, which means one of the apps Tryst has partnered with. If those companies stop allowing use with Tryst, the key is also rendered useless for logging into Tryst. (This is my understand of how it functions, I could be wrong.)

It’s my opinion that in attempting to heighten security, Tryst has instead made their site, and users, less secure due to the dependence on US-based companies. I assume it’s because their largest user-base is in the US, and these companies like to make apps for everything. It’s a decision that solves one problem while creating the opportunity for a much bigger problem.

Important Update

Turns out that Twilio, who owns and operates the Authy app, is also involved with OneReach. OneReach is described in the PDF linked in the Tweet below as a “demand-deterrence” platform, dedicated to the service of police in anti-prostitution efforts.

On page 80 of 2019 PDF, you can read about One Reach/Twilio:

OneReach / Twilio — A front-end and application programming interface for integrating voice call and text messaging into 3rd-party applications. The back-end that is used for some demand deterrence platforms.

I’m not claiming this is deliberate on Tryst’s part, I doubt it. Nor do I have any idea how connected Authy, Twilio, and OneReach actually are. But the connection is there, and has been there for years. The companies themselves don’t have a lot of public overlap, at least not what I found with a little searching.

OneReach openly works with the LAPD, and refers to human trafficking on its website. Twilio doesn’t seem to mention OneReach in any recent news. That doesn’t mean they don’t sell data or services from any of their products (Authy being one of them) to OneReach or law enforcement.

More research needs to be done because I have a lot of questions about the companies’ involvement with each other. Law enforcement and anti-trafficking efforts seem to feel they’re all very cozy together, though.

Goddamnit.

After “after hours”

I’ve been wanting to change up this blog for years. Getting more personal online is uncomfortable. Having more privacy yet retaining the audience I’ve built is the goal. Getting paid is ideal.

I’ve looked at Patreon and discarded it so many times in the last few years. There’s Substack, which almost persuaded me. But, in the end, it’s still a digital blog, same form and format, just with a little money thrown in. There’s nothing substantially different between it and my free Tweeting, or my free-to-read posts here. I am stuck with my working-class mindset: value must be given to the paying customer. It’s an honest mindset, even if somewhat limiting.

Then a side project I was developing took shape and I realized it would suit Amanda perfectly, instead. What am I if not a writer? Do I not claim I’m an artist, too? I should write, and create with writing.

In the spirit of contrariness, which has inspired most life choices, I have gone headlong the opposite direction from current, popular wisdom.

When people throw everyone online for “transparency,” that is the time to go private. When all communication is moved online, it’s time to move off.

Instead of a TinyLetter, an Actual Letter.

This comes from my stated desire to make money from my blogging, the rediscovered need to be creative without staring at a screen all day, and the pleasure of intimacy within certain boundaries, familiar to many sex workers. I earn a steady income from my blogging, which my creditors also enjoy — with more-inspired, regular writing to a smaller, appreciative audience.

Yes, someone whose normal handwriting really does look like shorthand has taken up the dip pen, found some nibs that work, and is developing something legible (and I aspire to real beauty, with enough practice). It’s creative. It’s what I’ve been dying for for years.

This is art, and approaching it as art is the way my handwriting becomes something more. As does my writing. I compose very differently when the ink literally flows from my pen than when typing on a keyboard. Key clicks are cheaper than dirt. Ink and 100% cotton paper? Very expensive and exquisitely thoughtful. There is no waste, I make few mistakes. Strange how not having a Delete key does that. (Pay no mind to my blotchy practice sheets, you know, those times when the ink really did flow from my pen.)

There won’t be 20K-word letters, my hands can’t take it. Expect a medium-length letter, 500-1K words, maybe all the way up to 2K if I really have the spare time.

The essays I’ve planned are all things I’ve wanted to discuss for a long time, but hesitate to make them public and Googleable. Pen to paper is not that.

I plan on producing some handwritten and updated editions of existing blog posts, perhaps quotes from my books or Tweets, things that aren’t personalized, serialized or brand-new. These pieces will be more affordable than the letters, and not in such limited quantities. My hope is some of these pieces are framed, perhaps put in a scrapbook, or something of that nature. Sex workers do love their physical, personal libraries.

The blog here will be much more surface, and less personal than it has been. If you want to read what I have to say, the real thought-pieces, the substantial and personal things I sometimes share, you must purchase a letter. If you want to be my pen-pal, for real, now you can.

Not going to do the letters indefinitely. A year, perhaps two. And then I’ll probably have said everything I want to say as Amanda. The letters are as close to a memoir as I’ll ever get. I really don’t have the ego required for a full-blown autobiography.

Private pen-pals will last as long as they last. Mostly I’ll let those relationships fizzle out on their own, likely after I’ve thoroughly offended all my pals.

Letters will never be repeated, or reposted on the blog or anywhere else. They’re real-world communication. Made once, consumed only in one manner by the person who receives them, not accurately reproducible by any means. My imperfect hand means nothing will be the same twice. Low effort wabi sabi.

Letters are folded properly, sealed with wax and a custom stamp, created for my personal theme of 2021. The letter will be inside the mailing envelope. So basically, you get a plain, addressed envelope, open it to reveal another plain, protective envelope, and inside there is your letter.

I have gold and purple wax, and various colors of satin ribbon. You can even choose your basic paper types: opaque or transparent. You get to choose wax color, ribbon color, and paper-type because I’m feeling generous and want you to enjoy the way your letter is presented.

Quantities are limited; both the current topical issue and number of pen-pals I’ll allow. I expect to produce a new issue every 4-6 weeks and I’m already behind in rolling this out, the February issue will go on sale starting the 9th.

Actual purchasing information and email notification of issues for sale is on my other website1. You pay via Square, my payment processor. The options are all explained on my sales page. I suggest reading it thoroughly. All questions should be answered, and there are helpful photos, as well.

All in all, I think this is pretty simple to understand. I write letters, you buy them.

Click here to go to Sales Page

I’m curious how quickly some idiot manages to screw this all up.

To recap: continuing to read the thought-pieces many enjoy means buying the topical letter. Being my pen-pal means purchasing private correspondence.

I love writing with a dip pen; and making $money$. I’m a brain-damaged hooker with artsy-fartsy flair. An entertainer for 20 years, I’m offering a new form of entertainment for you. Nothing bigger than that.

By next week I expect to see hundreds of escorts offering calligraphy and handwritten letters. I know of only one who currently offers handwritten correspondence. As usual, the unoriginal herd should pay me royalties because money is flattery. Imitation is neither flattering nor money!

1This blog theme, while lovely for blogging, is limited in being able to create unique pages, and I do not wish to waste my time right now redesigning this entire thing, that’s coming later this spring. I’m working on other deadlines at the moment.

fast girl and slow girl

Came across a hardcover of Fast Girl in the clearance bin at a non-local bookshop and had to have it. Yet another hooker book I haven’t read only now I have the space and time in which I could, so I did.

I remember when the scandal came out, wrote about it, in fact. It wasn’t until I read the book this week that I finally realized Suzy Favor was her really-real name because it sounds like a hooker name if ever there was one.

Her track career I read with deep envy as a sprinter who had the love but never the support or training to make anything of my obvious ability. But then, she also made it clear my love of running would have never survived the brutality of her training, as it barely survived hers, disappearing entirely for the latter half of her career, resurfacing only as a way to heal many years later.

That, I understand; survivor of the photography teacher whose motto was “make them cry in class”. (I never did, I saved it for the bathroom breaks or my dorm room because I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction, but it certainly wasn’t for his lack of trying.)

Her wild escorting career was interesting to read, and laughable in some ways, like her insistence on staying in fancy rooms when she only did outcall. (She was impressed by a $300 Agent Provocateur set, I wondered if it came from the clearance rack. Then I realized I’m a jaded snob and wondered when this happened but that’s a whole different thing.) She never does math: the difference between the cost of her Vegas trips and what she actually made after the agency cut. Her husband does better hooker-math than she does.

Her sense of competition with the TER rankings was so incredibly misguided, even though it was her own sense of self that did the guiding. While that self was supposedly in manic mode during this time, that self was also her drive to win in running–it’s part of her nature no matter what and can’t be blamed on mania. It is what it is; she’s an Olympic-level athlete which makes her a rare person by any standard.

Her fall from grace, which I supported with extensive Googling, even reading the awful, original TheSmokingGun piece on her, had me asking only one question I’m not sure I asked myself when this broke because the scandal brought up so many other questions. The sole question to be asked about all of this is: Why? What did the asshole client and TheSmokingGun think they were doing? What was the purpose behind her outing?

Really? What was the actual reason?

TheSmirkingReporter for TheSmokingGun who talked to the naive Suzy (she should have told him to fuck off and that was it), and the hit-piece written never give any reason as to why outing an athlete and mother as a part-time escort was important news.

She wasn’t selling nuclear secrets, she wasn’t trading insider secrets or helping to rob casinos, she wasn’t even able to help her husband with their realty business without causing more problems than she solved. So why was destroying her two professional lives, and nearly destroying her entire family circle worth it? What was the goal? She was acting in a role millions of women have, and her clients were with her as partners in that role. They were married too. So why was exposing her and not them the big story? What made her a target? What significant social good was accomplished by exposing her?

I’m not hurt or changed in any measurable way by knowing about Suzy’s secret career. No one I know is hurt by her actions. I can’t remember that society was unduly influenced one way or another by her escorting.

As far as I can tell, the only thing the outing accomplished was to was hurt her and everyone associated with her. That’s it. It stopped no crime, exposed no dirty dealings, society is not any better for her exposure. It got clicks for TSG.

That’s it.

Ruin a woman and her entire life for clickbait.

Truly a worthy 21st century misogynist goal.

It’s a question so basic she doesn’t even stop to ask it in her book and I wish she had. She talks of her anger at those in her life who stifled her and yet she apparently doesn’t have enough anger at those who destroyed her and I’m including the website that bothered to give enough credence to the story to actually, physically report it.

It’s what’s known in media circles as a non-story and yet somehow it became a scandal.

This is all rhetorical, I know exactly why a beautiful woman was destroyed as much as possible by men who couldn’t have her.


The other reason I’m writing this is for those sex workers who also suffer mental illness and aren’t being properly treated. Suzy and her doctors would have benefited greatly from having her undergo a Genesight test. I know I’m flogging an expensive medical test. It works, though. That’s worth every penny to those who suffer.

The test results and report, and I have the original copy, show how I process a variety of psyche mediations. It also shows I have two recessive genes that ruin how my mind processes its own chemicals, specifically serotonin. I’m genetically-predisposed to depression due to mal-processing of chemicals and the only solution is the correct medication that balances my brain’s chemical processes by creating a workaround since we don’t have the knowledge to repair such issues.

My issues are indeed all in my head and my parents are to blame. How many can say that? (Anyone who has similar genes, really.) Bad jokes aside, it was a relief I didn’t know I was seeking to discover that my issues are scientifically-provable, that I wasn’t making things up, that I wasn’t making too much of things, I wasn’t crazy, I have an actual medical issue for how I think and feel and have lived. Fortunately, it’s a treatable issue no matter how invisible it has been.

Before I was treated properly, yes, I have suffered deep despair and depression throughout my life. When my situation is horrible, I’m suicidal. When my situation is better, I’m mostly okay (but can fall into a depressive state with little provocation). Adding other problems, like PTSD, into the mix just exacerbates every single issue of these illnesses to a very large degree.

Proper medication allows me space to think clearly. My deepening burnout would have literally killed me if not for being properly medicated for the better part of the last two years. Even then, it was a near miss. I had to realize that burnout was still an issue of my mind pointing out a problem to me, something I needed to fix, and it was screaming as loud as it could to bring my attention to the problem. It took a while, but I listened and have begun fixing the problem.

At any other point in my life, almost all of which was spent free of professional psychological intervention, this would have ended very, very badly. Most likely permanently–the ending I’ve seen for myself since I was very, very young.

Reading Suzy’s account of her attempts at professional help made me wish she could have taken the test. It would have changed so much in her later life. Perhaps she has taken it now, and is being properly medicated based on her actual body chemistry. It’s a much better solution than what her doctors at the time did: prescribe for her based on semi-informed guesswork, with what she claims was disastrous results.

Her story made me realize I was luckier than I thought to have access to a professional who knows of tools like Genesight. It’s just a tool, not God, a tool that takes guessing out of the equation. Guesswork when dealing with psyche meds is a terrible way to try and treat serious problems. (Says the person who was dosing herself for three years without doctor supervision with a psyche med that just made things worse.)

I hope she, and those of her audience who need it, continue to find healing.


The last thing I want to say about this story is the story itself. When I was Googling for information on her, something I don’t remember doing when her story broke, everywhere I went I found tons of pictures of her. There were always running photos and sexy photos. She’s a beautiful woman and was a beautiful college girl. Her daughter will likely be beautiful as well.

The only video I watched was her Nike commercial, which is hilarious. I’m probably going to search for videos of her running, at her peak. Just so I can be jealous of her running form, which has to be efficiently perfect. (Mine’s not great, not terrible.)

The sexy photos, however, were always on the stories deriding her fall from grace; the most sexy photos on the leering TSG article that outed her, of course. Even the Nike commercial exploits her beauty and sex appeal.

I’m not even covering the multiple verbal beatdowns and sexual harassment she received in her life due to her natural build: large breasts on a petite frame; unusual in a high-level runner. Or her disordered eating quickly descending into bulimia because she didn’t fit an idealized body type.

One long-form story on a running website that detailed her running career had an ad for another story on the same website, ranking the country’s “sexiest female athletes”, dead-middle in this story castigating a woman for capitalizing on her sexiness.

The cognitive whiplash actually hurt.

Be a beautiful, sexy woman; don’t be too sexy, don’t personally profit off it, don’t keep it to yourself either but share it freely with everyone who wants a piece of you, but don’t share too much either because that’s also very bad. Don’t take pride in yourself or get a big head but please continue to keep yourself up and be sexy because you owe it to everyone who wants to look at your. And for God’s sake, don’t profit off of it. Especially that.

How does anyone expect a woman to stay sane? It’s impossible.

the rest of my life

And then one day someone offers to set you free, and pay for your freedom. And freedom does cost money, it does cost to escape even though you didn’t know you weren’t free, not really.

And then you start living your life for the first time ever. Each day you count “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” and “The second day…” and “The third day…” and you feel each day as they are, as a newborn. Cleansing rituals are performed but almost unnecessary. Your soul knows.

And then you start discovering you have to relearn your body. That once it used to do this and be capable of that; long ago. You don’t remember how it felt anymore, only that it happened. And maybe it can happen once again. With time. And love. And freedom.

And the ransom, for that’s what it really was, is paid without blame or expectations. All you have to do is live and follow your heart. It’s you who has to tear down the walls around it, it’s you who has to figure it out. You have the time now, the freedom, it’s been bought and paid for.

And you keep counting “Today is the seventh day of the rest of my life” and erasing everything you can, tossing out so much, selling what might bring some money on the open market but that’s not you anymore and you couldn’t be happier.

And one day you realize your body is yours again, you realize it wasn’t yours for so long, a lifetime.

And the only person who touches you is someone you love, no one else. No one else. There is no sharing with others. There is only an equal exchange and no boundaries and freedom. No pain, no mauling, no fumbling, no stupidity, no anger, no resentment, no boredom. Freedom and joy and uninhibited pleasure and devil-may-care fun. Waking up every day together in the same bed, the bed that invites sleep and cuddles and the desire to never leave its comfy confines (the dangers of wonderful sheets and blankets and a body heat generator next to you). Sometimes he starts the tea, but only if he suspects you’ll actually get up.

And there are plans, of course. And things could go to ruin, of course. For once, why think of it? You are free. You can plan together, share the worries together.

And it’s not said but you know how it happened. He waited until you broke yourself, until you knew you could not go forward another inch, your soul was speared and gutted, then he made the offer. Not so you wouldn’t refuse but because you were finally ready to see clearly and see what everything was and was not.

And because he hated watching you suffer, each and every time, worse and worse.

And there has been so much clarity. The important thing is happening though, every single day of the rest of your life: you wake up free. The gratitude for your freedom, your new life, is humbling. The rest starts falling away like a molted shell, let it rot where it falls. It never contained much good to start with. The clarity is ruthless and embarrassing.

And clear vision has never changed the past, how could it? It only maps the future. The first days of the rest of your life.