Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Go read a book


I never actually thought that I would win this, so I'm not sure what to say. Instead, I'm going to ask for advice. I'm a junior English major at Clemson Univedsity about to enter the real world. If you were given the chance a 20 year-old all over again, what would you do differently? What would you say to your 20 year-old self? Send me your responses! Thanks y'all!

*Shout out* to my former professor Mrs. Leslie Salley for introducing me to the Listserve.

With love from SC,

South Carolina, USA

Monday, March 2, 2015

Summary of changes to The Listserve terms of use and privacy policy


Your Privacy is very important to us. We will never use your sensitive personal information unless you want extra Twitter followers, got a gig next week, have a Kickstarter to plug, are doing some sort of art thing, or really crave attention.

Terms of Use

By continuing to use The Listserve, skimming The Listserve, filtering The Listserve into your junk folder, or thinking about The Listserve, you agree to the following terms of use.

1. You will undergo at least one (1) Life Change over the course of a morning or afternoon, in perpetuity. Life Changes consist of one (1) or more (7?) of the following:

*appreciating the Little Things in life
*traveling (international travel only; Africa counts twice)
*“getting over it”
*meeting your biological father/mother
*discovering/abandoning religion
*accepting your mortality (if applicable)

2. You will tolerate (barely) any “insights” and “revelations” from those younger than you, although seriously, everybody knows you don’t actually realize who you are until you’re at least 20/25/30/35/40/45/50 (choose one).

3. You will transcend time and space through the magic of the Information Superhighway and the latest in World Wide Web E-Mail technology. Welcome to the twentieth century! (update this when you get a chance bob)


The Listserve is not a substitute for the advice of a physician, psychoanalysis by a trained professional, hiking in the wilderness, prescription medication, self-medication, a freestyle rap contest, taking that first refreshing puff of a genuine Chesterfield cigarette in the morning, because Chesterfield is the cigarette that’s milder ... and tastes better!, or placebo.


*hang in there
*it gets better
*Doug Hennessey you’ve got to move on Vanessa would have forgiven you
*see the world
*think for yourselves sheeple
*there is a deep, underlying sadness in every person. Not everyone is depressed; it’s true. But I see depression everywhere I look. Depression and anxiety and really the whole gamut of human misery. Maybe I’m projecting. Or maybe there’s some truth in my generalizations. Therapy has helped me immensely. But I’m not seeing a therapist right now, and I feel it slowly creating an absence in my life. If you have the opportunity, I would urge almost everybody to go. Don’t be afraid to switch therapists until you find the right one. If you are terrified of the prospect, ask someone to help you get through it. If you can’t afford it, there are charities that provide counseling. None of this is easy, but it helps
*you are unique like a snowflake and also have perfect sixfold radial symmetry
*take care of yourselves sheeple


Forward The Listserve to ten (10) people every day. If you do, you will have good luck and a million dollars. Or else you will only have medium good luck and half a million dollars. The choice is clear.


We value your input. Please send questions, comments, errata, and spam to pugg_fuggly[AT]hotmail.com. (sign up for gmail when you get a chance bob)

Pugg Fuggly and The Listserve team
Cambridge, UK

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Death and Birth in the Dominican Republic

About four years ago, I sat in a hospital in the Dominican Republic while a serene nun quietly delivered the news that my friend’s only son had died. For the last three weeks his parents, residents of a slum over an hour away, had sat vigil at the hospital. That is to say, his mother didn’t leave her boy’s side, while his father slept on a bench outside at night – only one person was permitted in the hospital room at a time. Their son had leukemia - a form of it that comes with a good prognosis here in the United States. But without access to proper care or lifesaving bone marrow transplants, my friend’s son was swallowed up by the gap that persists between rich and poor. I watched as the doctors hurriedly explained that their son had died from caca en el sangre (“poop in his blood”). The nuns sent them away with a small, ceramic angel to take his place.

I spent the next few weeks in a haze of self-indulgent bitterness; homesick and self-loathing and fed-up with the state of the world. I didn’t believe in angels, let alone ceramic ones. What else was there to do but sulk?

But as I stewed, my friends began to make the end of their son’s story the beginning of a new one. They volunteered to become Community Health Workers with the organization that had attempted to treat their son. They studied how to take blood pressure and read A1C levels. They spent Saturdays taking neighbors to doctors’ appointments on their motorcycle, foregoing the chance to make some much-needed cash on charging for trips. They spent hours sorting medications for field clinics and began leading community health groups. They did it all between crying jags and long silent spells. They did it in spite of a grief I cannot even fathom.

In two weeks, my friends are expecting the completely unexpected – the birth of a baby boy whom I’ll be lucky enough to call my godson. They are overjoyed and so am I. I don’t know what will happen in my godson’s story or how long it will last. But I write this in hopes of one day sharing with him how his story began; with two parents who quietly and unassumingly possess the strength to overcome their own struggles to do good in this world. And with a godmother who is so incredibly grateful to have learned from them. And with all of us ready to welcome him.

In a world that so often fails the individuals who are brought into it, I want him to know that he is loved, that he is important, and that no matter what, he has someone rooting for him. And when he struggles, I want him to know that like his parents, he can be so much stronger, smarter, kinder, and more courageous than he ever imagined.

Please consider checking out Health Horizons International in the Dominican Republic (hhidr dot org). My friend now works for them full-time and continues to do an amazing job of helping the organization grow. Your support can help make the community that my godson will grow up in a safer, healthier, more equitable place.

Finally, in two weeks, I turn 29 (yikes!). Please e-mail me with suggestions of places to go, experiences to have, or things to do before I am 30. And if you’re ever in Denver, Colorado and want to grab a beer – shoot me an e-mail!

Nicole King
Denver, Colorado

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Epic Aesthetic Experience

Hello Everyone,

To briefly introduce myself, my name is William and I live in Toronto.

Alluding to the title of this "Listserve" post, I argue that the ‘epic aesthetic experience’ encompasses a multitude of personal events, from which I associate these memories with art gallery visits. I can only disclose that the art gallery continues to be a major source of therapy – quite literally. Before the aesthetic magic, I lived in Peterborough, Ontario (Canada).

In July 2012, I found myself at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Through happenstance, I discovered this quaint self-portrait. I said to myself, “I will be seeing a lot of you this year.” Located on the main floor of the gallery, relatively adjacent to a Chagall painting, I could only feel the “seeing a lot of you” vibe in the near future.

Over the course of 2012 and 2013, I experienced an incredible exhibition synchronicity at the Art Gallery of Ontario, here in Toronto, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. I will let you, the reader, figure out to which exhibition I refer. My personal distinctions, at the time of exhibition, were that I reveled (“lived”) at the AGO, and close family lived in Atlanta.

This painting of Albright-Knox origin travelled to Toronto and Atlanta for this travelling exhibition. I will never forget my amazed surprise to see the SAME painting on its own wall at the AGO, after having seen it at the Albright-Knox. At the High, this portrait complemented a series of the artist’s self-portraits as part of her oeuvre.

A year later, after having enjoyed a pleasurable summer in Atlanta, I found myself back at Albright-Knox in September 2014. I not only made the official move to Toronto, but the painting also coincidentally returned. Nevertheless, I said to myself, “WHOA.”

The dots are all connected. Thank you for reading.

Wishing all of you well,

Toronto (Canada)

PS. Spoiler hint: my story pays homage to a celebrated Mexican painter.

Friday, February 27, 2015

I'll Keep It Brief

Should I propose to my girlfriend?

Have a good day,


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Life of Stories

A Life of Stories

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and, finally, prepared herself to walk through the door. She rose slowly from the divan and, as she moved across the small room that had been her sanctuary in the City of Peace for one thousand nights, she took one more moment for farewell. The sumptuous carpets, exquisite wall hangings, and heavy perfume here obliterated her memory of the spare rooms that long ago she had shared with her sister and their father, the king’s vizier.

When she reached the door, she looked back to the book one final time, though she knew all too well it had nothing more to offer. The gilt on its cover reflected the candlelight, winking as if to offer her encouragement. She breathed in slowly to settle her mind, then turned and began her journey down the shadowed hallway to the chambers of the King.

The book had provided her with one thousand stories, one thousand stays of execution, one thousand chances to see the dawn break. She had never discovered how the book had come to be hidden among the pillows, waiting for her to feel it, hard beneath her as she sobbed on the divan that first lonely day in the palace. The stories in that book had saved her life, and their characters had become her only friends.

She had spent the thousandth day combing through the book in case a story had escaped her notice, but the story of the night before had been the final one. Tonight, if there was to be a story that would extend her life for another day, it would have to come from within her.

On other nights, she had wished for the escort that had accompanied her in the early weeks of her imprisonment. But tonight she was thankful for the chance to be alone with her thoughts, tortured as they were. After the thousand wondrous tales in the book, what story could one with a life as inconsequential as hers possibly hope to tell?

Equidistant between her room and the King's chambers, the lone window in the hallway let in a beam of silver moonlight that made irrelevant the feeble golden candlelight from the wall sconces. For the first time in a thousand nights, she was not desperately repeating the book's story in her head as she moved toward her fate. With nothing memorized and everything to lose, she gazed up at the moon, and as she did so a story began to take shape. She dared to stand there for several moments, taking strength and, yes, affirmation from the moon as she felt, rather than thought out, the plot. For the first time, there was no need for hours of memorization; this story was seared onto her heart.

As she crossed the threshold of the king's chambers and bowed low before him, servants scurried to adjust candles and refresh food and drink. Like other nights, the two children she had borne the king were at his side, unaware that any night of storytelling might end with their father’s order for the execution of their mother. But she knew that this would not happen tonight. She stepped into the middle of the room, smiled at her king and their children and, finally, began to tell her final story.

"Once upon a time, in the City of Peace, a great king commanded his vizier to bring him a virgin each night until there was but one the land."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Doubt and Space

When I was a kid (I tend to imagine I was 12, but I might have been 10 or 13) my dream was to become a philosopher. I had read some of Jostein Gaarder children’s books and an intro book on Kant. I was taken by it, my mind came to it easily and hungrily, and it felt important.

I don’t know when or how I came to feel that this would not be a feasible or acceptable future to aim for. There is no one moment I can point to that set me off course, but when I went to university, I didn’t study philosophy. I didn’t even consider it. I studied other things, for reasons that I thought were right, reasons like usefulness, security, some vague notion of respectability. I studied things which had fixed paths into the future, clear directions for what I would do and who I would become. I say things, plural, because I couldn’t settle down. Whereever I was, I wanted out, I changed paths several times. None of the choices lasted very long before they got eaten up at the edges by doubt and listlessness.

I’ve never been very good at being sure. I question the most basic things, up to and including life itself. It’s a habit I’ve never found a good use for, it has mostly served to make my life difficult. Perpetual doubt is not a comfortable state of mind, but I don’t think that there is any certainty out there in which I can find an easy rest.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was also one of those kids who were seriously fascinated with space. You know, the kind of kid who talks with endless enthusiasm about galaxies and black holes, the idea that the stars you see are so far away that by the time their light reach you they might be long dead, etc. The vastness, the overwhelming numbers, a scope that made me dizzy, thinking of it gave me a joyful vertigo.

Even now, I often revisit the following series of thoughts: We are made by the same stuff as the rest of the universe. We are about 7 billion consciousnesses walking about on a relatively tiny globe, talking and thinking and observing ourselves and the universe, while at the same time being a part of it. In every one of us, part of the universe is conscious, is aware: We are the universe observing itself. I find both comfort and awe in this shift in perspective.

I am now finally and slowly making my way back to some incarnation of the dream I had when I was a kid. It doesn’t offer a clear path forward, and I am not sure if I am any more certain of my choice now than I have ever been. But I think it’s time I gave that 12-year old a chance. Wish me luck.

Thank you for all the stories. I would love to hear from you, to hear how you deal with uncertainty, and what you think is true and important, then and now. Feel free to mail me or talk to me on twitter, I'm @mareinna. I wish you all the best.


In times when I’m short on meaning or will I keep coming back to David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is water.” I recommend it, it's on youtube.