Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Chase.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you each a very happy New Year; may it present you with all of the joy, love and opportunities you hope for.

On with the show.

This is a portion of a fiction work in (very, very early) progress, and I hope it makes you all want to read more; follow me @mattjkonrad to find out if I ever finish the damn thing.


Saturday, July 4

The first fireworks exploded over the Mississippi as I ran through the alley behind my own house. I didn’t know the exact intentions of the man chasing me, but the gun and the yelling and the broken window he’d left at Elise’s place led me to believe that he wasn’t trying to return misdelivered mail.

As another fiery bloom took shape over the water, I paused for a split second to check on his progress. Just before the BOOM, I caught a glimpse of him silhouetted in red, exuding anger even though I couldn’t see his face. As the light faded, he turned toward my back porch, and I swore to myself; I’d been hoping to steal into my house and figure out what the hell to do next, but if he was heading that way, my plans were going to have to change.

And then I saw him passing my house with a single disinterested look, his eyes focused on the corners and the exits.


He’d seen me. My plans were going to have to change fast.

Fortunately, my small scraggly side yard butted up against an auto repair shop, and I knew where there was a flap in the fence. The head mechanic had cut it out last summer so his wife’s unlovable pair of yap-dogs could sneak out and shit on my property instead, and I figured I was well within my rights to use it myself. I made my way to the appropriate section of fence, hoping against hope that the grand finale wasn’t in the offing; I crouched, pushed the corner, and wriggled onto their asphalt, leaving nothing but a big heaping pile of my dignity behind, and opening onto a lot of lousy options.

The expanse of parking lot between me and the garage was exposed, well-lit against thieves and undoubtedly covered by some kind of alarm; I was about as likely to be able cross Lake Ponchartrain in my t-shirt and jeans. I could have potentially made a sprint for the little front office, but it was about the size of a phone booth, and I didn’t relish standing in a shooting gallery.

I figured my best chance at hiding was the line of cars just to my left. There were four or five in various states of disrepair and they weren’t all that opaque, but I could get behind them in a couple strides and reassess what had gone wrong with my life.

And so I took a deep breath, mentally measured the distance to the beat-to-hell green Camry closest to me, closed my eyes and tried to steel the shaking in my knees long enough to walk over without my teeth chattering and giving me away.

It took four steps. Each one of them seemed to last a damn eternity, but the only explosions that punctuated the sultry New Orleans night were those from the fireworks display. As I settled in behind the Camry’s wheel well, nothing shot yet but my nerves, I had to laugh to myself.

I’d had a lot of lousy rebound relationships. But this was the first one that was about to get me killed.

Matt Konrad
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saturday, December 29, 2012

If you ever get bored, just open your eyes

I have two young sons, aged 2 and 4 and before they were born I started to make a list of things they might find useful as they grew up. I keep adding to it, but thought I'd share a few to my fellow listservers. You won't find any 'live as if every day is your last' or 'follow your dreams' because for me they don't add anything. If anyone has others to add, then email me and I'll send then all I receive to those who submitted!

1. If you ever get bored, just open your eyes: This is a great reminder for me that we normally stumble around the world on automatic mode, missing so much around us. It's a reminder to stop now and then, especially when bored, to look around and try to see things that you may have not seen before. This also reminded me of a great quote by the late hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson: "have you ever noticed that every blade of grass is a different shade of green?". it still amazes me that simply asking yourself this question directly affects your perceptual system. Highly recommend books by Harvard prof, Ellen Langer on western scholastic mindfulness which will blow your mind (start with the power of mindful learning).

2. You rarely need more time, but more time limits: I've been my most productive when I've only had a limited time to complete things. I did my Masters, another course of study and worked managing a college (= available all hours) all at the same time, and really had to partition out my time. I would have struggled if they were at separate times in my life. This links with another one, "self imposed discipline is always better than forced upon you".

3. Anyone can be creative: so many people go to their graves thinking they don't have a creative bone in their bodies. I teach creativity and there are three enduring myths: you have to be born creative; creativity is only for those in the Arts & you have to wait for creativity to strike. All are unnecessary and crap! Instead I believe that: creativity is a set of techniques, which can be learnt by anyone in any industry/background, and can be employed at any time. Highly recommend the books by Edward De bono, especially "Serious Creativity".he recycles his ideas but this is the best book to smash these myths.

4. Compassion starts with seeing how we are similar: those of us reading this are better off than most people in the world. Compassion and gratitude for me go hand in hand and I've enjoyed reading some of the arising works/research on positive psychology. Simple implementation: start writing three new things you're grateful for at the end of each day. Agreed, it sounds a little light and fluffy, but I found it makes me more resilient in the day as it forces you to actively seek out what's good in your life. Check out Shawn Achor's TED Talk for a simple introduction.

5. Enjoy the journey because you'll never get there: this is hugely important.too many people work towards Imagined happiness rather than trying to live it day to day. Happiness should come first: it makes everything much easier

6. Arrogance is weakness: simple as that. Pity the arrogant and pretentious, it's all just a wank.

There's more but I'm limited by time and words. Happy to receive any from you.who knows, yours may be the one that changes my boys' lives!!

Thanks for your time.

Stavanger, Norway

Friday, December 28, 2012

Absinthe and OJ

If you ask anyone from any period in my life, they’d probably tell you I was always saying how I was going to start playing open mics. Next week, next month, someday I was going to start doing it. And even though the vast majority of my free time goes into my music, to this day I haven’t started playing out.

But I’ve done what I think is the next best thing. Around the time that I signed up for the The Listserve, I started a project called Absinthe and OJ (.com). And that’s what I wanted to show everyone. The idea behind it is to get whatever I come up with recorded and online without thinking about it too much. Then once it’s out there, I can get feedback and post new revisions. I’m still in the phase of getting down first takes of all of the stuff I have written and I have a looong way to go, so there haven’t been too many revisions. There also hasn’t been too much feedback… I have under 300 listens on my SoundCloud account. (And lets not talk about how many of those are from me…)

So it would be really awesome if you could take a look at what I’ve got so far and let me know what you think. You can comment on specific parts of the SoundCloud clip or send me an email. Either way, I’d love to hear from you, and feel free to be as brutal as you like. The more people tear my work apart, hopefully the better it’ll be someday.

Thanks and happy holidays,


PS: I put together a 7 track EP of what I think is my best stuff so far. All of the songs can be streamed from SoundCloud or YouTube, but if you like what you hear, you can get the EP from Google Play (if Google's review process finishes in time?). Or if you ask me, I’d probably just give it to you…

PPS: If absintheandoj dot com goes down, it’s probably just out of utter shock and confusion that someone other than myself and a small handful of friends are looking. Hopefully it’ll get over it, but if not you can search for absintheandoj on SoundCloud or shaunr88 on YouTube.

The fear of "No"

I'm a photojournalist, which means that I get to meet and talk to a lot of people that I normally wouldn't. I love it. But as an introvert it can sometimes be difficult for me to ask people for permission to let me into their lives.

Some times I'm around a subject for mere moments and the assignment is complete, other times it takes me days/weeks to complete a story, which means spending a lot of time with the person. I have come to find that when I know that I'm only going to be around someone for a short period of time it's easier for me to ask if I can photograph them because I am able to convince myself that it doesn't matter what they think of me because I am likely never to see them again.

It is subjects that I have to return to multiple times in order to complete a story that I have a more difficult time with. I begin to worry about what they will think of me, and that they will not want to be photographed and followed around, and that they will find me to be a nuisance. All of these worries create a fear that can sometimes be paralyzing. Most of the time I just suck it up and ask if I can photograph them anyways, but I know there have been moments where I have let integral storytelling moments pass me by because I kept my mouth shut.

After expressing my frustrations over my worries to a mentor, she said to me "you already have the no, why not go for the yes?" That simple phrase stopped me in my tacks. It made so much sense to me, why hadn't I thought of it before?! If you don't ask the answer will always be "no!" But if you take a chance you just might get the "yes" that you are looking for. I have also come to learn that "no" doesn't always necessarily mean "no", sometimes it means "not right now." Sometimes a "no" can lead you down a path that you never would have imagined yourself on had you received your "yes". And sometimes the "no" path turns out better than the "yes" path.

I would dare to say that this principle of "you already have the no" extends far beyond the world of photojournalism and can be utilized in every aspect of your life. I for one know the principle has opened many doors and lead me to do things that I would normally never do.

I still struggle occasionally with the principle, but each day I challenge myself to go after the "yes." You never know what kind of results you will get until you ask and you will be surprised at how often people will surprise you. So with that I leave you with a challenge: go after that yes and don't let the fear of no stop you!

I wish you all the best on your journey chasing the "yes."

Washington, D.C

Memories of light

+ Ash-dark flakes of snow falling against a neon-white sky.

+ The sting of mountain sunlight, while playing checkers outside the Café Girasoles. On the back of the neck, you could feel the burn beginning, a red stripe beneath the pink stripe of the insect bites. The chickens in the field, and the beautiful shadows of the defunct Ferris wheel, angular and so black that they had a little glow around their edges, as around the body of a swimmer seen from the below.

+ Piercingly clear Swiss alpine light gleaming on the breakfast plate like a coiled diamond necklace.

+ Taking a shower in Koenji -- the clatter of bright droplets -- the winter sun, that November, was weak, and gave almost no warmth -- but it filled out the steam and the steam distributed the light 'til the shower was a cube of bright vapor.

+ In the thick high-summer resinous smell of the sage and chaparral and monkey flower. The air very clear, the light hot on the path, pale dust on the leaves of the blackberry tangles and that shimmering out-of-focus glow in the masses of white thistledown scattered in the bushes by the wind. The shock is getting to the top of the ridge, looking out over a sea of bright fog, perfectly opaque and rolling like a plowed field, a prow of fog advancing slowly up into the valley like a ship.

+ At Sagaponack: Montauk daisies, talc-fine sand, and the dazzle of bright light of a very special kind -- cool, not hot; planar rather than diffuse; palpable and not liquid. It descended from the trees to the grass where we walked like a bolt of fabric unrolled.

+ Swimming in cool, deep oakmoss green velvet water after the pine needle, quartzite sun morning. A hand on their boat, feeling like one of the dolphins that leapt by Dionysus's craft, once he revealed himself a god, vine tendrils in the rigging.

+ The little white shed illuminated by the halide floodlight in that night, so bright with the circle of radiance falling rapidly away into the kind of pagan night that comes when Fenrir finally devours the sun. During the day, huge white clouds move slowly across the sky, sometimes trailing thick curtains of gray rain across the floor of the world, rain that lashes the roof of the barn like chains.

+ The gorgeous, burning glow of a milky Arctic sunlight as white as glacier milk. The chirping of a wind turbine spinning in the constant rush of cold air on a farm on the island farthest north. The clouds are fast and very low, it seems, as though drawing close to the place where the sea meets the sky, or everything spills over the edge of the Earth.

+ Lightning bugs flickered and swarmed over the paramo grass in the dark. The clouds began to clear, the hidden stars shining gradually through, first Venus only and then many -- clearer and clearer, vast systems of stars, tangles, clouds of stars. All out to the soft depth of the Milky Way. And on the clouds of the eastern horizon: reflected flashes of lightning, huge, sudden clouds in negative, the glow of lightning over the Amazon.


" Hey everybody! "

I have to be honest. I think this is a great concept and I'm glad that it got such a great reception. I am really happy to have been chosen but to be honest I'm not particularly well spoken. I'm an artist and just started a job in June making a video game called Mage Faire Online.

This is where things get interesting... I absolutely love it but if it has taught me anything, besides the ridiculous amounts of real world experience I've gotten so far, it is that everything, even your dream job can have ups and downs. It's amazing to think that something that you always want your entire life can have ANYTHING negative to it, but that's life. So, then what did this lead me to realize? Well, it made me realize that happiness is a lot simpler than people think.

Happiness is just that, being happy. The ONLY way to be happy, is to be happy. What I mean is that you should just feel happy about life, things you have, and not worry about the things you don't.

OK, the other secret to happiness is to never listen to someone who says, “Oh, you're going to do “insert cool thing here”? I wish I could do that!” That has ALWAYS driven me crazy. If you want to do something, do it. If you want to live in France for the rest of your life, find a way. There is always an excuse that will stop you from doing this but ignore that. It always seems impossible but it's not. You only have to figure out how. I taught English for 2 years in another country and it was not hard to do. There are people out in the world willing to help you with anything. You just have to use Google ;)

On a personal note, if anyone is Hungarian or speaks Hungarian I have one thing to say, “Mindig a szivem Magyarorszagon lesz!”


Monday, December 24, 2012

A personal allegory

I wrote this years ago, on my way to boot camp. If you enjoy, feel free to respond. 600 words is hard.

I look behind me and there is light. It shines with a great brightness. I look ahead of me and see: Nothing. I see darkness and despair, the unknown. How silly I must look to anyone watching, up here standing between my past and my future. The bright security of my past illuminates me from behind, making me visible to all I am yet to see.
I turn and face the brightness. How easy it would be to walk back there and stay where I am. I look over my shoulder and shiver. Surely the darkened path is steep, uneven and cluttered with debris that will make me fall. I should just go back down the path I know. I know it is level and clear.
I start down the lighted trail, going back to smiling faces. First the faces of those I know, faces of love. The trail is steady and clear. My past quietly whispers that I should return to the new path.
Then I understand. These are the people I would have, could have, should have met, had I risked the dark, the unknown. Yet still I walk forward, further on the lighted path. The people of my past and missed future look on with concern, but still they let me continue on.
Suddenly, I stumble. What did I trip over? There was nothing in the trail last time I was here. I look, and see that I tripped over my desire to change; it lies here broken and defeated. I have killed it. But WAIT, it still moves. I have a chance to revive it.
I know what I must do. I must take it back the other way, into the unknown. I look to the darkness, back the other way. I can’t go there. I continue in the light.
In front of me there is a wall, it wasn’t there before. I look at the wall, and recognize it immediately. It is a wall of my disappointment. Disappointment in myself. I can go around it, but eventually it will appear again.
I look back again, at the future I turned away from. It seems a little brighter, grey now, not black, with light in the distance. That light; hope, lets me know that the end of the path will bright.
I walk toward the grey, and pick up my desire for change. I look back on my familiar path. Sure, it was a nice path, but I am done with it now. Clearly I cannot go back that way. I must continue on.
So here I am. At the edge again, with the light at my back and the unknown trail ahead. In my hands is the desire to change. I hesitate.. Is this my last chance to turn back? No, but I am going to keep going on the unfamiliar path. How can I turn back and kill a part of me?
I take that first step forward, and the path ahead seems to lighten, just a bit. I tell myself not to look back, and take another step. The light brightens more.
My desire for change has been revived, and become a part of me. I know what is behind me, but ahead of me lay new challenges and excitement. I will go forward, knowing that I am not leaving my old path.
So to my old path, goodbye for now. To my new path: Ready or not Here I Come!

Virginia Kidwell
Yakima, WA

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Teach Only Love

I've been on this earth far longer than time I have left. And in my years of travel, I want to share about Peace and Love. When people tell me wow, you have an amazing, well balanced, respectful son and he's still a teenager, the only parenting advice I give is to release the need to control and send out love. Forget the false praise or horrible punishments and focus on the issue at hand and take each moment to educate.

The same goes with our careers, relationships, friendships and interaction with non-human beings. Send out love, release control and fill your core with a solid knowing that life is full of possibilities.

I've been homeless and I've had riches.. I've had cancer a few times and I've been healthy. At the end of the day, it's always okay.

A shout out to my life partner Christine, for being my rock.


Kolleen Shallcross
Long Island, New York

Saturday, December 22, 2012

About design and education

After graduating design studies in Milan, I decided to move to the most beautiful place on earth - Dunedin, New Zealand.

This quest to find beauty and peace, led me to an intriguing and unexpected job: a designer in the university’s center for teaching and learning (HEDC). There, I learned that design and teaching are not far apart at all.

The design thinking process is devoted to solving complex challenges in creative and practical ways. The world of teaching is filled with complex challenges, from finding ways to explain difficult concepts, through to designing a curriculum, or helping students experience a topic rather than be told about what it is.

Collaborating with my colleague, Dr. Clinton Golding, an educational philosopher, we began teaching lecturers how to solve their challenges using the framework and the tools we developed. They found it useful and reinvigorating, and reported a positive change in their practice.

I recently moved back to my family in Israel. Now, I work with businesses to implement innovation in their organizations using design thinking. With that, I didn’t leave NZ and education behind me. Clinton and I are in the final stages of writing our book: Reinvigorating Teaching using the Design Thinking Framework. We hope it’ll continue to support teachers around the world to find creative and practical solutions for their teaching.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my life with you. I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes and peace to all,

Ayelet Lazarovitch
Kiryat Tivon, Israel

Friday, December 21, 2012

Some People Walk Calmly Through Life; I Run Through It

Each runner has their own reason for completing a marathon. Perhaps to cross something off the "bucket list," to prove to others/self, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, to have fun, the possibilities are endless. My quest to 26.2 miles began three years ago, just to say I could. At least, that's what I thought.

Ten years ago I tried to kill myself. Not in the teenage angst suicide type way - I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was fourteen.

I firmly believe that eating disorders are not a sole result of media and social pressure, rather a mental disease. I had no idea the harm I was inflicting upon myself. I did not understand why I was banned from playing soccer, riding my horse, dancing, things that brought joy to my life. My life seemed chaotic and food/eating was the only thing I could control.

Clearly, as I write this to you, I survived my sickness - a miracle, but that is a story for another time.

Now, I look back on those dark days as a marathoner. Why? Through training for this past September’s TNF Endurance Challenge Trail Marathon in Madison, WI, I realized I did not just want to complete a marathon; I needed to complete a marathon. Every mile pounded away demons of the past. Every sore muscle gave way into gladness for being strong. Every step of anguish brought tears of joy for being alive. I needed to prove to my disease that, ten years later, it no longer owned me. When I crossed the finish line, 5 hours and 25 minutes after I started, I broke down in tears; I had never felt more free.

Eating disorders are incredibly misunderstood. If you/someone you know is currently struggling, please contact me. I am more than happy to listen, chat, love, help.

Angel K.
St. Louis, MO, USA

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Get your geek on

Hellooooooooooooooooooooooo! (I'm imagining that as an echo but it's probably more digital)

I have 2 things to share with you that are important to me, and that I hope some of you will join in with.

Read And Find Out (.com) I've been part of an online community for over a decade that started around a series of fantasy books (The Wheel of Time) and has since grown into something much more broadly geeky, with a dash of the eccentric, and I love it. I've met many excellent people through it (online and irl) from all over and there’s nothing quite like being amongst My People. The internet is neat, huh? The community wouldn't exist without these lovely people though so if you like fantasy, sci fi, books in general, or any other gubbins that you feel like chatting about to randoms online, come and say hello - we're at Read And Find Out .com and newbies are delicious.

Coding In another flavour of geek, I've not long started my first proper tech job (they pay me to code! haha!) and could do with some kind of mentor - if you have some free time and any experience with PHP especially, but also Git, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, as well as good, efficient and secure ways of coding, and don't mind being inundated with questions - email!

Ok, I'm done. You should count yourselves lucky - the temptation to Rickroll all of you is *almost* overwhelming.

London, UK

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This year I had the privilege of volunteering at the London ...

This year I had the privilege of volunteering at the London Olympics. I took 2 weeks holiday from my regular job in order to help at Wembley Stadium, where 9 matches of the men's and women's football tournament were played. I loved meeting spectators and volunteers from all over the world and was proud to welcome visitors to my country.

I'll always remember and be inspired by the way that the Olympians embraced the competition, realised life long dreams and found years of hard work finally paying off.

You find me today as I fulfill a life long dream of my own. I make computer games for a living and this evening (December 12th), a product I've worked on is being released to the public for the first time. It's been a long road to this point; I've worked through university, broken in to the industry and suffered the heartbreak of cancelled projects. Today, I look back on it all and feel very grateful to the family that raised me, my partner who supports me every day and the friends and colleagues that I've learned so much from.

Thanks for reading, Have a great day :-)

Craig Burgess
Cambridge, England


A long time ago, I was hit with a sudden fever on my way home. As I came out of the subway, I felt so sick I could barely keep my eyes open, and the ten minute walk to my door (in the rain) seemed unfathomable. As I dragged myself down the street, I was consumed with self pity, and didn't notice the two children near me, splashing in puddles, until one jumped up close to me, spraying me with muddy water.

"Watch what the fuck you're doing!" I snapped at them, my anger suddenly as hot as my fever. The children, drew back and apologized. I composed myself, and gave one of my own. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have sworn at you, but please be more careful next time". My head swimming, I turned and headed home. The kids followed. "Do you live around here?" they asked, and suddenly we were having a conversation about the neighborhood, their school, their friends. Before I knew it, we were at my corner. We said goodbye, parted ways, and I never saw them again.

I am still deeply thankful to those kids. On what could have been a long march home, instead of feeling weak and disoriented and sorry for myself, they kept me distracted, and the trip flew by. I had no idea how much I needed it until it was offered to me. It can hard for me to remember to be open to people, especially when they make mistakes, just as I know how hard it can be to see what's going right when everything seems to be going wrong. That moment, like so many others in my life, was a reminder to give life the opportunity to show me what to be thankful for.

I'll end this with a shoutout to a group of people that always threw opportunity my way, my second family, a college/community radio station in Montréal called CJLO 1690AM. For over a decade, CJLO has let me contribute to and be part of something bigger than myself, and for that, I will forever be thankful. I would also be remiss to not thank Renata and Andrew, two people who, in their individual ways, give me the chance to be a better person every single day.

And finally, thank you to YOU, whoever you are, wherever you are in the world. You make someone's day better every day, and you might not even know it.
Montréal, Quebec

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Three disparate things

First, I wanted to share a quote from a better wordsmith than I:

“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” - Carl Sagan

The brain is too amazing and too capable to be wasted on hate.

Secondly, a story as part of Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything:

[Discussing the international scientific venture to measure the transit of Venus from different spots on the globe to determine the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The story concerns one man’s hapless plight in 1761.]

“[Guillaume] Le Gentil set off from France a year ahead of time to observe the transit from India, but various setbacks left him still at sea on the day of the transit -- just about the worst place to be since steady measurements were impossible on a pitching ship. Undaunted, Le Gentil continued on to India to await the next transit in 1769. With eight years to prepare, he erected a first-rate viewing station, tested and retested his instruments and had everything in a state of perfect readiness. On the morning of the second transit, June 4, 1769, he awoke to a fine day, but just as Venus began its pass, a cloud slid in front of the Sun and remained there for almost exactly the duration of the transit: three hours, fourteen minutes, and seven seconds. Stoically, Le Gentil packed up his instruments and set off for the nearest port, but en route he contracted dysentery and was laid up for nearly a year. Still weakened, he finally made it onto a ship. It was nearly wrecked in a hurricane off the African coast. When at last he reached home, eleven and a half years after setting off, and having achieved nothing, he discovered that his relatives had had him declared dead in his absence and had enthusiastically plundered his estate.”

Lastly, a question. I am a monolingual English speaker and wish to learn a new language. Given the breadth of the Listserve audience, what language should I try and why?

Thanks for reading!

Washington, DC

Monday, December 17, 2012


“It’s not that I know a lot more than everybody else; it’s that I want to know more.”

A very wise woman said these words to me, and I have breathed them in ever since.

If you have that desire—that spark—to dedicate a minute, an hour, a day, or your life to learning, amazing things can and will change. This doesn’t mean sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures, this means immersing yourself in new situations, new places, new conversations, and new perspectives.

I plan to live with this mindset for the rest of my life. The smallest changes in my daily routine teach me so much; I have learned from these experiences and learned to take bigger, and bigger risks.

Listen to This American Life, eat a chocolate mousse cake for a snack, be a Buddhist for a day, move to Indonesia, backpack, read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime over and over again, laugh too often, cry even more, smile, befriend a stranger, embarrass yourself, swap music with a friend, speak Mandarin, compliment somebody for no reason, learn.

Share this mindset. And share it with me. Tell me your stories, how to learn, who to learn from, what to learn, and what I can teach others.

In the wise words of the very same woman, “Sharing is the second hardest thing in life, the first is finding people to share with.”

Yours truly,

Lila Rimalovski, 15
New Jersey

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I’m the same as a 5 year old me

I hate small talk. It drives me nuts. I’ll admit it, I’m basically anti-social. I’ve struggled with it my whole life. I am 27 now, and I feel that I should be less pessimistic, but I’m not. I have a support system of family and a fiancé who “get” me. But, I have no friends of my own, though I don’t think I’m a total freak. I have two modes, I either open up completely to people who I shouldn’t because I see them as “different” or I dismiss people who I think are too “normal”. I don’t know why I have a need to connect on a deep level. It’s my eternal struggle and I just wanted to share it…

I lost my cousin earlier this year. He was 23. I wish he could have stuck around to become the person I know he was. I put my cat down on Saturday. I’ve had him ½ of my life. I miss you guys.

I perform improv in Chicago. My fiancé speculated that people in the comedy / improv community are probably more in tune to when people are depressed, etc. and are more likely to address it, because we either are / or have dealt with it at some point. And…I agree. I’m shy to a fault and I got into improv, begrudgingly, and honestly it is refreshing, I would love to get kids dealing with depression involved in it.

Thanks for reading, and here’s my self-promotion, I am a front-end web developer, I want to open a pickle shop, I want to start an animal charity program, I want to write / make performance art / make music / make art / make films. Let’s see how that goes.

Chicago, IL, USA

Strange and true things

Here are some weird, true things I've learned about the world:

1) Each breath you take shares about 5 air molecules with Hitler's last breath. The equation to verify that yourself (assuming Hitler's last breath has evenly mixed with the rest of the atmosphere by now) is:

Number of shared molecules = volume of lungs / volume of atmosphere * molecules inhaled per breath

Those three numbers are (roughly): 1 liter, 5 * 10^21 liters, and 3 * 10^22 molecules

If that bothers you, feel free to replace "Hitler" with "Gandhi" or "Jesus." If it doesn't bother you, replace "breath" with "glass of water" and "Hitler" with "dinosaur pee."

2) It's possible to cut a sphere into 5 pieces and rearrange the pieces to make two spheres as big as the original. Google the Banach-Tarski paradox. The catch is that the cuts are bizarre, infinitely complex cuts, so you can't do it in real life. I don't get it, but it's true.

3) You can say with absolute certainty that at least 2 non-bald people in New York City have exactly the same number of hairs on their head. The argument centers on the fact that people have about 100,000 hairs, which is fewer than the ~8 million people in NYC. For more details, google the pigeonhole principle.

I also suspect that there *have* been two snowflakes that have been (almost) exactly alike, but that's just me being crazy.

Chris Beaumont
Boston, MA

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Ride or Die

My mother always wanted me to write about her for those radio show contests. She stopped asking but I never did it. I felt the public recognition wasn’t necessary. She’s my best friend, the one who keeps me going when I can’t motivate myself. I love her to death and don’t know where I would be without her.

She became a single mother when my dad was killed. I was a baby. She didn’t crumble but fought back. My family’s life hasn’t been easy but she’s managed to put me through an Ivy League University and support me in my current quest of attending medical school.

I realize now that I should have entered her in some of those contests. Sometimes, private recognition isn’t enough. So, here it is – her recognition. This isn’t a contest and she’s not going to win a prize but you knowing is enough.

Do me a favor; drop a note to the email address, stating that you heard about her story and what it means to you.

Baltimore City, Maryland

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Am, Then

Where are you right now? On your couch at home? At your desk at work? Standing in line at a coffee shop? Wherever you are, you will always be there. Wherever you were an hour ago, that "you" will always be there. Every moment exists in time. Think about it. It then follows that whatever you will be doing in the already happening. Take it however you wish ("What about free will?"), but think about the novelty of it; specifically, what it means to be "in the past."

You will always be sitting at your desk. Or on your couch. This very second -- the one right now -- now -- -- of you reading this sentence, remains. Forever. Sorry if you think it was wasted. But you (and I) will forever be sitting in front of a computer at work or stuck in traffic or saying goodbye to a friend or preparing for surgery or some kind of therapy or going through a bad breakup or holding in a heavy, dark secret.

That breath you just took? You'll be breathing in for all eternity, in a sense.

Now doesn't that make you feel sick.

But you have to remember that everything exists somewhere in time. That includes the day I made a fool of myself in class and broke out of my shell; the best present you were ever given as a kid; the best end-of-finals party ever thrown; the day I found out he liked me at all; that reassuring phone call; the day she decided to spend time with you instead of him; all those days before taking on that secret.

Sometimes, I have to focus on the past to remember who I am as a person. My grandparents are all young and happy at one point or another, however short-lived their childhoods may have been. She's gone now, but Nicole exists somewhere in time as my first friend in high school, and will always be walking up to me to say hello. I am still perched on the steps of Casa Malaparte with a sketchbook. I am literally running -- racing my friends and teachers -- through the streets of Istanbul with the prayer calls from the mosques are echoing around me. I am a baby playing in the creek by my aunt's house; I can barely walk on my own. I am wading by myself halfway across the stream, searching for interesting rocks. I am taking a series of pictures by the water and proclaiming my wedding vows on a nearby hill (which won't happen until 2014, assuming the world won't end on the 21st).

It's what happened before that shaped me. It's the thought of their eternal existence that continues to have an effect on me. If I linger on the subject too much, I begin to feel closed in and surrounded by everything that has ever happened; all the people that used to live in this house, all the big trees that used to be seeds; all the papers and posters on the walls that were printed in rooms far away from me.... Yet at the same time, it's comforting to know that I am part of the fabric of time and place; I contribute to our entire history and future.

I am always utterly aware of where and when I am. I am now. I am then. I am, then.

Anyway, if you really read all of this (I know it's long, I'm sorry), thank you for the opportunity to email you all. And welcome to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, if you weren't familiar with it before. If you know more on the subject and wish to share, or if you're an architecture nerd like me and want to talk design, feel free to respond!

P.S. - Just so you all know, I sent this to the Listserve people at 12:12:12 on 12/12/12. So what you're reading now is that moment - a time stamp which won't repeat for another century. BAM. Enjoy your day!

Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sometimes you can, but sometimes you can't

A lot of the messages coming through Listserve are about seizing the day. Carpe diem; strive for the impossible; yes, you can; just do it! These are noble suggestions and aspirations and true in the sense that yes, the world is your oyster, and you can change it to suit your dreams. I've experienced this too: push the world in a certain direction and you'll find that it will move.

However. I've recently been struggling with something I find difficult to put into words – the idea that sometimes, no you can't. This is in part trying to escape the tyranny of the overachiever, the idea that _only_ a life lived full steam is a life worth living. But mostly it's the simple fact that much as I'd like to permanently experience the state of Flow, much as I'd like to incessantly spread love and enthusiasm in my life, most of the time I can't.

I don't mean to sound cynical or depressed, nor need cheering up (like I said, I agree with the principle of You Can Do It). Just that, to quote Stephen Fry, that while the key to happiness might be to stop feeling sorry for yourself, "It's not easy to stop feeling sorry for yourself – it's bloody hard."

I guess what I'm getting at is to give yourself – and others! – a break for not saving the world today. But never stop trying.

Helsinki, Finland

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gourmet Microwave Cooking

Here are some simple recipes to get you started with microwave cooking!


1) Find a microwavable bowl.

2) Fill with pasta and water

3) Microwave for 10 minutes

4) Burn yourself on the bowl as you remove it from the microwave

Ghetto Chicken Parmesan:

1) Take microwaveable chicken nuggets

2) Add splash of tomato sauce (from jar)

3) Add cheese

4) Microwave

Ghetto Pad Thai:

1) Follow pasta recipe, swapping pasta for brick of ramen noodles (WITHOUT FLAVOR PACKET)

2) Add a big ol’ glob of peanut butter

3) Microwave

Ghetto Omelet:

1) Follow Pasta Step 1

2) Fill with egg and cheese

3) Microwave until egg is rubbery instead of slimy

Finally, I’d like to take a second to be selfish. To be completely honest with you, when I found out that I got to write one of these emails, I thought to myself, “How can I profit off of this?” Well, my paypal account is the same as my email address, so if you want to throw me a couple of dollars, it would be an easy way for you to make a broke college kid’s day. I’ll be honest, I’ll probably (definitely) spend it on pizza and beer, but damn if I won’t enjoy it. And if you’re curious as to how much money I’ve made from strangers, or anything else about me, just ask and I’ll tell you!

Daniel Hamilton
Rochester, NY / Newton, MA

P.S. I run a 25:25 8k. Can’t resist the opportunity to brag to 20000+ complete strangers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I received the Listserve selection email the day I passed my test to become citizen of the U.S. I thought that’d give me something to write about, but then I found myself sitting in front of a blank word document. Nothing. Which isn’t to say I have nothing to express, but rather that I’m not quite sure how.

This happens more often than it should. I’m a college senior studying film and journalism; in essence, I’m building myself up for a career of words, yet I often struggle to use them.

So instead, I’d like to share some (rather random) words from others. Often when you don’t know what to say, someone already has:

“We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.” — Oscar Wilde

Maude: The earth is my body; my head is in the stars.


Maude: Who said that, Harold?

Harold: I don’t know.

Maude: Well, I suppose I did, then.

— Maude, Harold and Maude

“My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained.” — The Little Prince

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked. "Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." — Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” — George Orwell

If you write (journalism, screenwriting, or otherwise), please feel free to send me tips, advice, stories you've written. I’d love to read them.

- Nadine

Saturday, December 8, 2012

find what you love

Hello from Queensland, Australia! Right now it is a horrible 35 degrees (95 Fahrenheit) and I’m very jealous of all those in the Northern Hemisphere celebrating the beginning of winter.

It was about a year ago now since I joined The Listserve and I had just finished school, and was about to start my first year at University. I remember being terrified about my future, I was about to start a new stage of my life and yet I had no idea where I was headed. Now, after one year, I have a stronger view on what I want to do with my life, even though it’s completely different to what I had first thought! So hopefully, in 4 years time, I’ll be finished University and starting out as a Spanish Teacher. (If anyone reading this is from Spain, I plan to visit here in 2014, so if you have any ideas of places to visit I’d love to hear from you!)

I really want to be one of those teachers that a student remembers. Because even though high school for me wasn’t the greatest time, I can’t deny that I had some brilliant teachers. And I think what set them apart was that they really loved what they taught. My Ancient History teacher now teaches in Egypt, something he had always wanted to do. My English teacher had a great passion for good poetry and good wine (I’ve only recently found out this after running into her at the bottle-o). My Biology teacher was just so enthusiastic about marine life and how life works he would sometimes stand on the table to try and express this. My math’s teacher had a great enthusiasm for boats, and was ecstatic when he taught us nautical terms and equations. And so these certain teachers, even if I don’t remember everything they taught, did teach me to find my passion and use it well. So not only do I want to teach kids Spanish, I also want to teach them to never stop searching for that thing you love. And if you find it, make it your career, your life work. So in a way, my passion is teaching others, and teaching them that they can do anything that they set their mind to. And so can you, Listserve reader. It’s never too late to find that thing you love.

I want to leave you with one of my favourite pieces of poetry. The author is no one famous, but it is beautiful all the same.

I tried to forget

But you grew roots around my ribcage

And sprouted flowers

Just below my collarbones.

All day I pluck at their petals

But I have not yet ascertained

Whether you love me

Or not.

- Anna Peters

QLD, Australia

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vatican run, Harrowing Hanoi and Farting Hippo

It’s said that 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute. Despite the site’s massive size, I find that my relationship to YouTube is incredibly personal. Looking back at videos I have “favorited” or clips I have filmed from low resolution smartphones provides a montage of meaningful moments in my life: that song that that somehow encapsulate my college years, that music video that transports me back to San Francisco, even that video a hippo letting out a massive fart. :) Each of these videos has special meaning for me—whether they’ve influenced the way I think, remind me of a specific time in my life or just make me smile.

At that end, I’d like to share a couple videos that provide a window into my life in a way that 250 words never could. If you’re interested in taking a look, head to YouTube and search for them exactly as they’re titled below. (My YouTube username is jnewman1986...lame I know). I hope you find meaning in these videos as well.

The Vatican Run: An epic adventure
My senior year of college I traveled to Italy with my closest friends. We awoke at the crack of dawn and we made our way to the Vatican. We sprinted through a maze of corridors (and the world’s finest art) in an effort to be the first tourists in the Sistine Chapel.

Sony Bravia (Bouncy Balls)
I moved to San Francisco when I graduated from college. This video of balls bouncing down one of the city’s iconic hills was practically my only exposure to the city before I moved. Somehow the image of colorful balls cascading chaotically down a city street is an accurate metaphor for my time in SF.

Jordan's harrowing ride in Hanoi
A couple years ago I traveled to Vietnam with my family. We took a pedicab ride through the chaos that is Hanoi, which has no discernable traffic laws that I could make out. Despite the pandemonium, the city is bound together by a chaotic harmony that I grew to love.

No Woman No Cry Ziggy, June 3rd
Impromptu Ziggy Marley concert at a benefit I attended with my family on a summer night in Malibu. It’s rare to find music that everyone in my family can enjoy. It’s also rare for the entire family to be together and this night on the beach is one I will always remember.

Jordan Newman
New York, NY

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From your friendly med school nerd

Hey all,

I am in the middle of my second year of medical school, and these are some things that I believe in enough to share them with you:

1. Eat less, move more. People don't realize how detrimental being overweight is on every level—you’ll not only have a shorter life, but the the time you do have will be of terrible quality. So walk up the stairs. Going down the hall? Sprint there. Say no to that pizza. Eat more veggies.

3. Take a deeeeeeeeep breath and hold it. Now try to breathe in on top of that. That's what it's like for every breath for someone with emphysema. So if you smoke, think hard and decide whether it's worth having to breathe like that for a good chunk of your life.

4. VACCINATE. It’s frustrating to see websites/people making ludicrous claims that vaccinations cause autism or something crazy. Not vaccinating means unnecessary risk for yourself and entire populations. Many diseases aren’t seen in the US because of vaccination! Think about it this way--if you could say with 99.9% certainty that you could prevent your child from having a disease, what (good) parent on earth would decline that?

5. Give back! Google "The Hunger Site" and click daily to feed the hungry. It only takes a few seconds and you really make a difference. If all 21,800 people from the ListServe do this, we could donate 24,000 cups of food a day!

God bless,

Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jobs, not jails

I was unemployed for a while and it sucked. While that was happening I wrote a little thing about my experiences and it was really fun. To read it, google "The Economy is a Piece of Shit," I'm the first hit. In general when shit sucks, just write about it and share it with the world. It makes things slightly better.

Here is something else I'm writing about in the hopes that it gets better:

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. MEANING: We put more of our citizens in jail and prison than anywhere else. There are 2.3 million people in the United States in prison or jail right now.

That number is so high I can't fathom it. Instead I see the impact of this number everyday at work. As a forensic social worker, I see young kids, brains not fully developed, who have been abused, neglected, and rejected from their families, schools, social service agencies, and society. Some of them have made bad choices in life, but often there are not many good options.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that jail and prison, as they are currently envisioned, are not good ways to prevent future crimes. I haven't got the answer for what comes next, but I can tell you that the system we currently have is broken, obscene, and horrific. I kindly ask you to learn more about this issue and tell a friend.

A resource to get you started: TED Talk by Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

Have a wonderful day!

Sarah Muenzinger
Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gift Giving

Why did I cling to him? New neighborhood, new school, new hormones, summer before freshman year in high school, like a (not so innocent) moth to a (bonfire) flame. From the age of 13 to 22, I took him in like poison, drop by drop. I still occasionally fight the thoughts and self doubt put in place over 8 years ago. You couldn't tell me anything; I would defend him and make you sorry you ever questioned our relationship. Through cheating, verbal abuse, physical altercations, humiliation, and manipulation, I let that poison take over my young mind. Like a drop of ink in water, it spread inside me, it took over my thoughts. What he said about my imperfections had to be true, right? What he wanted, I would fight to give him. I loved him more than I loved myself and destructively gave him everything I had so he would feel the same about me. I knew deep down it wasn't what love was supposed to be.

I had a loving home, with parents that still have me in awe of their love for one another. I had an example and I knew what a healthy relationship looked like. I was going to change him, make him be the person I thought he could be! In the 8th year, it was a spring day and we had been fighting. I was on my way from college, at this point we lived together which made way for a whole new kind of control and manipulation. I maneuvered my car down the winding back road, and as tears rolled down my face, I approached train tracks. I so clearly remember thinking, feeling, so defeated. “I DO NOT CARE, I GIVE UP, and I’M TIRED”, I graphically pictured the train coming, and me, in that defeat, not reacting, not caring what happened to me. Genuinely not caring.

I cry now, for the feeble girl I was. It was in that moment, on that familiar road, I realized that I was lost.

That was the start of the end for us. That time in my life made me the wife, the woman, the mother, the daughter, the dreamer I am today. I hope to bring young girls in schools, and in my community to the mat for self-love. For I found the hard way, in life, like in yoga, all the strength and love I need, is within me.

In every pose, a building, I am the foundation, with unique lines and beautiful architecture, imperfections and clutter. On the mat...every breath, a renovation.. letting way to off the mat... a revelation! Clearing the clutter, cleaning up the negative. Self- love, positive body image, confidence in our uniqueness and intelligence…..strength in the positive, that’s what I want to teach, teach teachers to teach, mothers, fathers, communities. My gift to you: You are strong, you are enough, in you, find love and never be lost.

xoxo 2013 Yoga Teacher Training Graduate,


Monday, December 3, 2012

Selfish Selflessness

What if I told you that there's something called "selfless selfishness"? (Try saying that three times really fast!) Throughout my college career, I always looked out for the best in others. I helped wherever I could, whether it was buying them lunch or going out of my way for a charity they were involved in. I never expected anything in return no matter what I did, and I thought there was nothing wrong with that.

A friend approached me one day and bluntly said, "You're being selfish."

Confused, I asked, "How could helping others out be selfish?"

"Tell me Dat, How does it feel when you help others out?"

I reluctantly replied, "Very good..."

"Then why not give others the chance to get the same feeling?"

Her words put things into perspective; I needed to let others have the opportunity to feel the same great feelings I felt when helping others. Giving and receiving is like breathing. Lungs function properly when air is inhaled (receiving) and exhaled (giving), and a successful person understands the proper balance of "breathing."

Today, I still continue to help others out. But I am aware of giving others the opportunity to contribute. I do this through a company that does motivational speaking, leadership development, and team building for individuals who are searching for success in their career and/or lives. I would love to stay in touch and offer my support and experiences. Follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Website by searching for Nolalight.

Dat Nguyen
New Orleans, LA

Hell Yeah!

I've been through a key moment of my life since April this year.
I had a strong spiritual experience that made me realize life as this huge adventure that you dont have any excuses besides enjoy it! I asked for an open heart and I received it, and now I have this mission to spread.

One of the tools is this new project which I'd like to introduce you:


MHCP develops products and content that we believe can make people's lives more joyful. We do so with an open heart, because our work is the reflection of what we are as people, our interface with the world.


Be incredibly fun
Be fair on you, so you will be fair on others
Strongly believe in what you are doing
Act by heart
Embrace creative freedom
Be fearless
Respect people
Don't put yourself below or above anything or anybody
Be brave, you need to stand up to a lot of people that just did not stop to think like you did
Be committed about doing differently
Think in a humanity scale
Be part of every minute of your life
Be responsible for everything single step you take


Art and Design
Doing GOOD
Building our own future

Drop me a line, let's connect!

I adore Listserve for the great people I get in touch with everyday, I've been learning a lot of good stuff with you guys.


Luisa Bernardes
São Paulo, Brazil

Sunday, December 2, 2012

For the introverts and everyday man

I was told a while ago that I should write a book about networking…it was a joke. However, if you’d like some random social advice from a UNC-Chapel Hill senior, here ya go:

1) Never be shy introducing yourself. Anytime you approach someone, whether at work or a bar, it’s a compliment to them.

a. People love to be approached for networking. Just by being interested you’re telling them that you see them as an expert in their field and you’d like to be where they are. I’ve never had anyone be less than thrilled when I asked them about their experiences.

b. Ex. I met the Partner and CCO at my advertising agency internship recently who everyone thought was intimidating. He’s actually extremely open, easy to get along with and full of advice.

Resulting from things that irk me:

2) If a girl is in a bar, she wants to be approached. Doesn’t mean you’ll be the one to get her number or take her home, but don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.

a. Guys may have a fear of rejection, but we came out that night in our 5-inch heels to talk to someone.

b. Hint: it might be scary to approach a pack of girls, but we’re in the pack because we’re just as nervous to approach you. The pack is safe, but we’d rather break away.

i. It’s depressing when you catch a guy’s eye and he smiles, but then never gets the courage to come up to you.

3) Know when to leave

a. I recently had a guy follow me around a bar even after separating twice. He was nice at first, but when a girl tells you she has to find her friends, she isn’t asking for help.

4) Don’t become the “corner creeper.”

a. It’s surprising how many guys will literally stare a girl down like it’s a pickup line. I wonder if that works on someone…

5) I’ll give you the best opening line that works on me: “Hi, I’m Tyler. *smiles*.”

A note to McLovett…

Stop hating winter. I know it’s freezing and dreary up there in Connecticut, and the days are shorter and darker, but it’s the best time of the year. There’s a calm about winter, when the air smells like burning wood and everything sparkles from the crystals on the trees. My favorite memories are from NY, sitting around a bon fire in snow with hot chocolate and family. Just enjoy the weather next to a fire with your favorite strawberry frosted mini wheats, and realize how much better summer is because you have to put up with winter. Don’t be a Negative Nancy. Winter is wonderful.

Katie Lee
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Saturday, December 1, 2012

the memory that knows where you live


He is everywhere.

Lurking in the woodsmoke that fills the house in winter, there's a memory of the first time we built a fire together.

Cleverly tucked into the taste of cinnamon and cider, there's a memory of us walking underneath the changing leaves, steaming mugs of autumn in our hands.

Sometimes, it's not so simple.

Sometimes, it's a whiff of cologne in a crowd, and I am reminded of a shirt he used to own-- and the memory of that shirt unlocks whole passages of time spent together I hadn't thought of in years. The images come flooding back; the porch we'd argue on, the bed we slept in, the trip we planned for months and never took.

You know the feeling: all it takes is one tiny thing, a domino, and a whole world of the past tumbles into focus. Triggered by a smell. A touch. A song.



Let's play a game.

My name is Olga Nunes. I'm a singer, and for the past two years, I've been working on an album called LAMP. LAMP has a story woven around it, and I'd very much like for you to be a part of that story.


Call this number: 1.415.857.0589

It leads to a Google voicemail box; you can call it from anywhere. When you call, you will be asked a question. Answer it.


I'll post those answers to a blog just for this, and will make them part of the LAMP story.

Feel free to Google "Olga Nunes LAMP" to hear the songs, or see how this has unfolded so far.

I look forward to your call.

With Warmth,
Olga Nunes
San Francisco, California

P.S. Just in case: if the number gives you a busy signal, try calling back.