Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

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The Chillian J. Yikes Guide to Practical Opsec: Anonymous Email Edition

Step 1: First, buy rubber gloves and a balaclava…You probably want to wear a balaclava to buy the balaclava and rubber gloves to buy the rubber gloves.

Step 2: Get ahold of some cash, but not from the ATM. Donning balaclava and rubber gloves, buy a money order for $49.98.

Step 3: Install Tor. Once installed, go to http://hushmail.com  and set up an email address.  (We don’t recommend using Gmail or other popular services for which you need a phone or existing email address – but if you do, proceed with caution and make sure to either steal a phone from a child or buy an existing email address on the black market with the serial number sawed off).

Step 4: Follow Hushmail’s instructions to pay with a money order. Then, using a black and white printer in another state that doesn’t belong to you, print the page.  Be sure to wear a balaclava and rubber gloves, but don’t look suspicious!

Step 5: Next you’ll want to mail the money order to the address noted, but you’ll need to do that from a mailbox in another state (preferably a different state from the one in which you printed the page, of course.)

And that, my friends, is how you set up an anonymous email account*!


*Obvious parody. Originally serially posted to Twitter whilst in the middle of writing an actual security guide and feeling frustrated.

Nostalgia for nostalgia

This funny thing just happened where I was thinking and typed something into Google (“nostalgia for something that never existed”) and the second result was my own blog post. Now, in reading it, I can say for certain that the nostalgia I feel is for something—a part of me—that did once exist.

I’m not 26 anymore. And nearly six years later I can’t help but feel a little sad knowing that I have traveled to places with eyes half-open, I have squandered opportunities in exchange for sleep, but more than that, more than anything, that yearning I once felt? To catch a glimpse of someone’s lived as it’s lived? I can’t say that it’s disappeared but the funny thing about growing up, and seeing more of the world, is that it stops being a mystery.

It seems almost impossible, but six—really, five-and-a-half—years ago, when I wrote that, I’d traveled to just a handful of countries: The UK, Canada, Mexico, Senegal, Morocco, the Netherlands, France, and Hungary. You see, I know this for certain because, where others doodle in the margins of a notebook, I make lists. And the one list that I know I’ll never regret putting to paper is the list of countries to which I’ve traveled.

Last I counted (as my homebound flight from Myanmar was landing in San Francisco and they told me to put away my phone), I’d hit 42. My three-year-old passport has exactly 100 stamps in it (entry, exit, visa, etc). Whereas five-and-a-half years ago I was a novice, I am now well-traveled. And I hardly understand how it happened.


This year alone, I’ve already been to two new countries, and the funny thing about new countries is that that feeling, the one where you yearn for just a brief glimpse into someone’s window, just a quick peek into their well-lived life, tends to return.  And it did, with a vengeance, in the Dominican Republic where we drove through winding mountain roads until it felt like we were driving up into the clouds, watched people stare at us from the sides of the road as our rental car interrupted their lives for a brief moment.  And did it ever as we ferried across the Yangon river alongside the day’s commuters, to Dala, then wandered the back streets, admiring the orderliness of what might otherwise be described as shanties.  Soon I’ll fly to Tallinn, my second time past the former borders of the USSR. And this summer to Melbourne (so I can finally see if the water really does flush in the opposite direction, of course).

…But does it end? Six years ago I questioned whether I’d ever reach a point in time where the excitement stops, the yearning dissipates, and life takes over. I can feel it waning here and there, but end it most certainly has not.  See you in six years, I suppose.

A Poem for the Surveillance State

Written by me and first performed at AB14 by the lovely Wafa Ben Hassine

Have you ever cried for the world?
What, then, can you say for what you’re doing?
attempt at creating a country that never existed.
all frozen in time
when you tell me my
love is unnatural my
privacy is unimportant my
heart doesn’t matter I
want to ask you:
what about your tears?
have they dried up
crusted with a film that allows you to
ignore my needs
pretend this is a land for your people only
not you
not mine.

“go back where you came from!”
I heard one night
shouted with might at a pretty girl
whose heart is Carolina through and through but whose
skin and politics don’t match yours, your perception
match what you dream this land to be and
so you
set up cameras, infiltrate, you
watch us, parse our metadata
read our files and you
shun us.

But we are
strong, we are
not wrong, our silence is
not unintentional.

But fear we know, and
fear we show
when we stand down, don’t
stand our ground, reclaim our

First they came for the poor,
the queer, the Black, the Muslim, the immigrant, the Palestinian.
But I was not silent because I am more them than I will ever be you.
I am angrier, louder, and I will not stand down,
I will not stand down
I will not. stand. down.

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