Thursday, January 31, 2013

Greetings from the Sag

I’ve been dreading this since the day I joined the Listserve – that fateful day when the email would come telling me I was selected. I’ve been wracking my brain thinking about anything to write and I hope I’m writing something that will benefit someone – anyone, really. Even myself.

When I got that email I had two thoughts: The first one was, “oh, two listserves in one day? Weird!” then, upon figuring out what the email actually was, I said out loud (and in the middle of a meeting, mind you), “Oh! No way!!”

I guess that kind of brings me to the theme of what I wanted to talk about – but first! – a quick shout out to my “bestie” Julia - the Juice - who introduced me to the ListServe a while back and we’ve been addicted to it ever since.

So why was I looking at my email during a meeting? Because I hate my job. Well, not really my job as much as my career path. I’ve always been in Management Consulting but I’ve never ACTUALLY liked it. I enjoyed the concept of traveling, talking to people, and (through several experiences in Africa) helping people towards a larger purpose. I constantly read about stories of people on the Listserve who’ve taken action to DO something with their lives and even have PASSIONS about/towards things. Julia and I talk about this on a regular basis – we’re always complaining to each other about how much we hate our jobs and how we should ACTUALLY do something about it but we never actually do.

So, I read somewhere that the most successful people in life have become that way by taking life-altering risks. From your Jobs to your Gates to your Zuckerberg; they’ve all taken incredible risks to get to where they want to be. I don’t know about you, but when I walked out of the Social Network I was kicking and screaming because I was quite jealous (read: hating). I felt like I needed to do SOMETHING to make a fundamental change in my life and I got all passionate and excited about it on the drive home. One bowl of cereal and an episode of Entourage later, I had forgotten it. It still gnaws at the back of my mind and every day the desire to be independent and self-sufficient grows more and more. But then I think of something else – were those individuals ACTUALLY passionate about what they invested/risked everything for? Or was it just a good idea that they decided to implement in the hopes of it being a money-making endeavor? Or, in the words of Butch Warren, did they just have the “best of luck”?

So I guess this is my invitation to you – I would be thrilled if you could send me your stories/experiences of getting off your butts to ACTUALLY do something that helped you take control of your life. I’m asking for the advice of 21,000+ people of how you discovered your passions and how you got yourself to do something about them. That would be bitchin’.

A quick shout-out to my wife, Dina, the love of my life. Without her, I’d be a mess of a man with no direction in life. Throughout all my doubts and fears, she’s been nothing but a loving and supportive partner.

Omar Khedr
Saginaw, MI (for work) - Washington, DC (home)

Ps. How many have EVER or WOULD ever cook in their hotel room? Settle an argument between me and Julia and email me back to let me know how RIDICULOUS it is…

Pps – I hate Ryan Gosling…21,000+ people needed to know…

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead.

Mary Kathryn was born on All Saints Day in 1955. She never went by Mary, her mother always called her Kathy after the character in Wuthering Heights. Why her mother did no simply name her Kathy to begin with is one of those great unanswerable questions. Kathy grew up in Florida just down the road from the Kennedy Space Center and watched man’s quest for the Moon first hand. Her mother was a secretary for NASA and shared exciting stories about the astronauts and scientists she worked with.
When Kathy was seventeen she joined the Navy and became a nurse. She served during the end of the Vietnam War and was stationed in Cuba when she met her future husband. He was a Marine pilot and the two fell in love, got married and moved to the El Toro Marine Base in Orange County, California. Kathy went back to school on the GI Bill and became a psychologist, alongside her husband. They opened a practice together and had a baby girl, who they named Kathryn, after her mother. (Side note: Two ultrasounds indicated they were going to be having a baby boy and after 27 hours of labor and a C-Section, there was a bit of surprise all around. As no girl names had been selected the couple dazedly named the child with the first name that came to mind.)
Kathy was a wonderful mother, patient and understanding with clear boundaries. She raised her daughter to trust herself and not let the voices of others drown out her own. She taught her that hard work, gratitude and service to others often led to a happier life than lazy indulgence. She showed her that no matter how royally you had screwed up, you could always dig out again if you just kept going.
When her daughter was thirteen, Kathy divorced her husband after a series of affairs. Now in her forties, Kathy began anew. She found a new job, got her own place and proceeded to support her daughter when her ex-husband lost the business. She put her daughter through college and made a new life for herself. When her daughter moved to a foreign country to teach, she was proud and sad and happy, all at the same time. When she moved back and went to graduate school, Kathy helped in any way she could and delighted in having her daughter close once more. The two traveled together, visiting the California Missions, taking the train to Seattle and renting an RV to cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Then Kathy developed numbness in her right hand. Dismissing it as carpal tunnel at first, she finally went in to see a doctor and was told the tremor was caused by a tumor in her brain. The tumor was metastatic, meaning it had come from somewhere else. Kathy was diagnosed in October 2012 with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She had a year or so to live.
Kathy immediately retired and moved in with her daughter. The two traveled more, went to the spa a lot and generally enjoyed life. They talked about the life they had shared, the dog they both loved and the future they would no longer have together. Kathy told her daughter to live well, to be strong and to dance, always dance.
Kathy died on May 29th, 2012. She was an amazing woman, incredibly strong and courageous in the face of death. Her bravery was inspiring to witness and her love was endless. She is gone now, but she is remembered by her friends, her daughter and you.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stay Classy

Hi guys. Let me get right to it.

I'm not going to give any sage advice here. Let's get to know each other before we start dispensing recommendations on how to live life.

So let me introduce myself. I'm a 35-year old real estate broker and entrepreneur living in New York City. I love it here. Sometimes life here is a bit too fast-paced, but overall, everything is within reach so it’s worth it. If you come visit (or if you already live here), feel free to reach out to meet, ask questions, or get a recommendation on where to eat. NYC has amazing food options everywhere. Let’s grab a bite!

Some of my interests include: cooking, photography, kung fu (I practice at a school called Bo Law Kung Fu), the stock market, real estate, startups, technology, travel, and meeting interesting people. Oh, and chocolate chip cookies!

I've always played things on the safe side. But no longer. I am currently planning to open a restaurant. Crazy, right? One of my passions has always been food. I love eating it. I love cooking it. I even love photographing it. Yes, I'm into foodporn. We have developed a sandwich shop concept and pretty soon we're going to start raising money for this endeavor. Very exciting!

So if you think I can help you or if you think you can help me, or if you just want to have a random conversation, just get in touch. I have met some amazing people on Twitter and I see no reason why I can’t do the same here. I love that Twitter and now The Listserve are both giving me the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, from many different walks of life. We can all learn from each other so let’s connect.

That's all I got folks. Thanks for reading. And thanks to The Listserve people for making this great idea happen.

In the words of a great American newsman, "stay classy."

David Schorr
New York City

P.S. Shout out to Alex. She is the love of my life, my best friend, and at the end of the year will become my wife.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

“She tried to think extra hard about being alive so as to forget that she would not be alive forever. But it was impossible. As soon as she concentrated on being alive now, the thought of dying also came into her mind. The same thing happened the other way around: only by conjuring up an intense feeling of one day being dead could she appreciate how terribly good it was to be alive. It was like two sides of a coin that she kept turning over and over. And the bigger and clearer one side of the coin became, the bigger and clearer the other side became too.” - Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World

I wonder hourly where the world comes from. I am in a perpetual state of existential crisis trying my hardest to quench my fears of death and lack of purpose by reading everything from quantum physics to philosophy to young adult fiction (I recommend "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green). I don't understand how anyone can have absolute faith in religion, but I at the same time don't understand how anyone can have absolute faith in science, with so many questions unanswered. Absolutes are only absolute until they are not. I frequently imagine that in a 1000 years our species will look back at this generation’s science and religion in the same way we look at that 1000 years before us; incredulous that we did get right what we did with such limited technology, while at the same time realizing just what a small part of the picture we were then able to see. There is no topic I find more interesting than the notion of time - have we constructed it into something linear when it's really more of a… wibbly-wobbley timey-wimey stuff? #bowtiesarecool

With my opportunity to address you, Listserve community, I want not to give advice or talk about what I know to be true, but instead leave you with questions so I know I'm not the only one out there pondering these paradoxes today.

How do you define consciousness? Does consciousness exist? Can we ever know that to be true? Are we our bodies or are we our souls? Is the experience of life limited to our bodily functions and form? Can we know? How do we find the intersects between science, holistic practices, and religion to best work in unison towards to finding out why -anything- exists? What are the truest pieces of any of these fields? And how can we define something as true if we are experiencing it through a state of consciousness we cannot prove exists?

I encourage you, for just one day, to question everything you think you know to be true. You may find both sides of your own coin bigger and clearer. While that may make death scarier, it certainly makes life more fulfilling- and isn't that what we all want at our core anyways?


P.S. Since I have you here, don't forget to vote.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


First, some background music. I recommend "Disparate Youth" by Santigold, "Settling It Off" by Peter Wolf Crier, or "Die Slow" by Health. All are on YouTube and Spotify. But really, just pick a song that inspires you. It's cool, I can wait...

OK, ready? Set. Go.

You might find that life will take you on some unexpected paths. Life is going to throw you curveballs. Serious curveballs. Plans will be destroyed. Hopes and dreams quashed. I don't mean for this to depress or scare you. I mean for it to prepare you. To inspire courage in you when the proverbial ish hits the fan in your life. Because it's inevitable. What isn't inevitable is how you react. You can curl into a ball and let life kick your ass, or you can fight back.

I highly suggest the latter.

You might find yourself abandoned and isolated in the dead of winter, with nobody returning your phone calls, curled into a ball on the floor of an empty house, in a city you despise, with nothing but your loyal dog and a music collection you've been building since you were twelve to keep you from completely losing it. You might be hours away from your friends and family. You might hit bottom. Then you might fall through and realize that wasn't bottom. But eventually, you'll find your bottom. And it will be beautiful. It will be the most pure, innocent, inspiring place you've been since childhood. Because once you're there, you can only go up. And if you play your cards right, you'll be able to turn it into an opportunity to build the life you've always wanted. The life you've always dreamed of, instead of the life you've always settled for.

"You will pay for your new soul." - Trail of the Dead

At times, you might find yourself thinking that there is no hope. That's where you'll be wrong. And that's when I want you to remember this email. At that moment I want you to remember me. I want you to remember that as long as you are still breathing, then there's some life left in you, and it's your duty to fight with all you have to make it the best life possible.

If you need to, email me. Call me. I'll give you my number. Because sometimes we find ourselves in the most bizarre circumstances where a complete stranger is the only one we can fathom asking our most personal questions.

In your darkest moment, whenever that happens to come, I want you to conjure the warrior inside yourself, rise up, and show the world what you're made of. Fight back. Fight with gusto. Fight like your life depends on it.

Because it does.

And then, you might find yourself.


New Orleans, Louisiana, US

Saturday, January 26, 2013


A bit rushed but, hello world!!

Life is a funny little thing.

You try your hardest for something, but don't get it. You can get angry, cry, be frustrated and it will never happen. You don't expect it, and it shows up on your doorstep. The thing you never sought to pursue is all yours.

It could be as simple as a smile from a stranger. As rough as an argument. A struggle in your journey. The memories of the past.

Life brings people together.

In the most strangest of ways. One day they are there, and the next day they are gone. And then they come back again, in a new light, and better than ever. It could be the start of something, or the realisation that there is something better.

Life is about the moments.

The smiles, the laughs. The moments of butterflies and the moments of deep despair. It is about the roller-coaster we experience as we lean in for our first kiss, the pit in our stomach as we walk away. The way they feel when we run into their arms, when we see our children, when we are travelling across the world landscape.

Life is simple.

Standing in the rain. Smelling in the freshly cut lawn. Hearing the waves as they softly lap the shore. Feeling the heat from their hand.

Life is happiness.


And to you,

I really enjoy spending time with you, even if we're just going to be sitting around and talking about nothing. There are a million things I love about you, like your nose or the way you smile, the way you look me in the eye, too. And I just get the greatest feeling when I make you laugh. I feel as if my company makes you happy, and that's what I wish for you; for you to be happy. And when I see you laugh at my clumsy ways, it just makes me want to spend the rest of my life with you so I can see a smile on your face. -- from Tumblr


"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxiries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." -- CS Lewis, The Four Loves


"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." -- Cynthia Ozick

Thank you ^^

Sydney, Australia

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some thoughts from the other side of 50 . . .

Some thoughts from the other side of 50 . . . .

- If it smells bad, it probably is bad.

- There are people who have never seen "The Princess Bride." This is inconceivable.

- It makes no sense to exceed the speed limit in an urban area. Those stop signs and red lights even everything out.

- When cooking chili, lose the lid.

- To tie a bow tie, close your eyes and think "shoelace." Unless you still tie your shoelaces via the "bunny ears" method. Then you really need to buy a pre-tied bow tie.

- With a cargo bike you can do 80 percent of what you would otherwise do with a car. Hills in your town? Get a bike with an electric assist.

- Listen to people with whom you disagree. Challenge your own beliefs.

- When somebody behind you honks their horn at you, it is not a good idea to put your car in park, get out, and angrily confront them by yelling "CAN I HELP YOU WITH SOMETHING?" at their window. There are very few scenarios where this turns out well.

- The anticipation usually exceeds the realization.

- If a stray cow should ever run through your yard -- even if it is while your grandmother is in the middle of saying good-bye -- you SHOULD chase the cow.

- Try not to live too far in the past, or too far in the future.

- If you keep picking it, it’s gonna bleed.

- Brine your turkeys, and cook them breast-down. Start the oven at 425F, then drop it to 250F and let the bird sit.

- Don't preach. It annoys people.

- Here is the difference between boys and girls: When your son turns 13, he becomes one of the biggest morons on the planet. When your daughter turns 13, you become one of the biggest morons on the planet. (It eventually evens out.)

- When given a maximum word count, strive not to meet it. Shorter is harder to write than longer.

- Try to leave them wanting more.

Long Island, New York

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Words, those little bricks...

Writing The Listserve is a humbling task akin to standing naked in a room full of strangers, some nervously peeking through their fingers, others turning their head away while a few look on, riveted.

This exercise is not unlike the last two years of my life, two years dedicated to pushing through the frequent discomfort of being in order to connect with others.

What if you were stuck on an island in the middle of the ocean – hours away from the nearest landmass – and felt that life was passing you by?

What if you were always surrounded by people yet completely alone despite your linguistic efforts?

What if your only survival tool was words, your one belief kindness and your one wish love?

What would you do?

Two years ago, this was me. I was 35, had spent the best part of a decade and a half looking for love in all the wrong places but I still longed for companionship besides that of words.

Words, those little bricks I was still trying to build a livelihood out of as a freelance journalist and copywriter.

Words, those little bricks I would occasionally lob at people via a semi-regular newspaper column in a language I was still getting used to.

Words, those little bricks I often felt stuck in my throat because isolation – be it geographical or cultural – can steal your voice.

That's when I decided to make the contents of my head inspectable online and started a blog with a self-explanatory title: The Ideal Wife Giveaway.

Powered by curiosity and the need to communicate, the blog was going to be a one-off, singular real-life experiment which I hope would resonate with at least one person.

The blog became my mirror, reflecting everything I felt at the time of writing.

I reasoned that true bonds – because my blogging was all about reaching out, romantic considerations notwithstanding – could only stem from authenticity, no matter how difficult, ugly, silly and challenging being oneself can be.

I eventually left the island, some nomadism ensued and, in November 2011, one blog comment stood out, starting a conversation across the miles.

On Christmas Day 2011, I was on a plane.

On Christmas Day 2012, my partner and I celebrated our first anniversary. Although digitally-enabled – and geographically-challenged at present although that wasn't always the case – we are very real, as is our love and life as a couple.

Thus, I learnt that combining curiosity and hope can yield extraordinary results. My partner would cringe at being described as extraordinary, but he truly is for not being afraid of embracing a different way of connecting and for loving me the way I am.

And after sharing a moment in time through The Listserve, maybe you and I will continue the conversation too and end up creating something together that wasn't there before, be it a friendship, a project, a story... who knows?

Lastly, wordy bricklaying is my vocation and passion so if you, your organization or anyone you know needs any bridges building, I'd love to help and may even be able to do so bilingually!

Thanks for the opportunity to share a little bit of what makes me me with you, whoever you are.

Yours curiously,

North America

[GuestPost] My Fight with Mesothelioma

In any life, there are periods of having to rely on others for all of one's needs. When I was 36 years old, I needed all the help my loved ones had to give. My family, my husband's family and all our friends gathered around use when I gave birth to our daughter, Lily, on August 4th, 2005. Everything was going well, and I never could have expected the hardships to come.

I went back to my full-time job soon after Lily was born, but my health suddenly worsened. I started losing five to seven pounds per week, and I felt fatigued and out of breath all the time. I thought it might have been related to being a new mother, but to be safe, I went to a doctor. Lots of tests were run until we found what was wrong.

It was November 21, 2005, only 3 1/2 months after I gave birth to my daughter, when doctors diagnosed me with malignant pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs and is usually caused by asbestos exposure. Without knowing it, I had apparently been exposed to asbestos when I was only a child.

Doctors said I would die after only 15 months without treatment. After considering my husband and daughter, I knew that we had to fight the cancer.

Because of the seriousness of mesothelioma, we chose to visit Boston to receive care from one of the top mesothelioma specialists. I was given surgery, known as extrapleural pneumonectomy, on February 2nd, 2006. This involved removing my left lung, and I recovered for 18 days afterward and then two months before beginning chemotherapy and radiation.

My parents took care of Lily in South Dakota while I was in Boston. It was a challenge for them, but they had plenty of people there to help. Friends and relatives I had grown up with supported my parents throughout this time. Meanwhile, I made friends in Boston with fellow patients, and we supported each other every day.

At my parents' house, Lily was beginning to eat solid food and move around on the floor. At the hospital, I showed the nurses pictures my mom emailed me as we all held back the tears. My baby was the reason I was continuing to fight during this time.

My daughter and her grandparents still have a strong bond to this day, even with the physical distance between them and the time between seeing each other.

As a family, we try to value life as much as possible because we know how easily it can be broken.

To everybody suffering from mesothelioma, or any cancer, my recommendation is to accept all that life gives you. While cancer is destructive, it can also be a gift. Since I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, life has gained lots of value for which I'm really grateful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Simple rules to live by:
1. Tell the Truth
2. Be optimistic - You'll live longer, be happier and potentially make more. If you're not optimistic fake it 'till you are.
3. (Generally) Don't make assumptions

For 2 years now I've been a single parent. Nothing has shaped me more than learning to parent alone. The first year was grueling as learning to be mr. mom was never part of my life plan. I kept at it and in time, found peace and a deeper connection with my daughter as a result of the work I put in.

Simple parenting rules that have helped me:
1. Play is a powerful tool. Learn to play with your kids and use it to teach them lessons.
2. Kids f'in love choices. Give them an option a or option b vs. do a now!

I live in Seattle and am always looking for interesting people to meet. Drop me a line if you're around.
Also, my best and I are planning a trip to Barcelona this summer. If any LIstservers are out there, please reach out!

Jimmy Gambier

Beginnings and endings

This listserv has caught me at one of the busiest and chaotic points of my life. With only one more semester of university ahead of me it's hard to know what to write. Should I talk about what brought me to where I am today? About how the last few years of my life have changed me? Or maybe my plans for the future.

No, instead I want to talk about right now, partially because none of those things are particularly interesting, partially because just thinking about the future enough to make me anxious. Right now I'm reading A Memory of Light, the 14th and final book in the Wheel of Time series. I've been reading this series since I was 13 and my time with the world and characters includes my entire adolescence. I'm sad that the story is ending, it feels like I am saying goodbye to an old friend.

More goodbyes lurk on the horizon. At the end of this semester I'll be saying goodbyes to friends both old and new. I will have to say au revoir to the city, adieu to my school, and so long to a country.

But just as I can pick up my beaten copy of The Eye of the World, I can return to all of these people and places in the future. Maybe it's better to think of them as 'laters' than farewells.

For now, I plan to take my time reading A Memory of Light and to savor my last few months here. The future is uncertain; in April I will be starting a new chapter in my life and who knows what will happen after Tarmon Gai'don. There will be new places, new friends, new books, but they'll never replace the old ones, nor do they have to. And that is comforting.

"The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the third age by some, an Age yet to come, an age long pass, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."


Zak Strassberg
Montreal, QC, Canada

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is there a book inside?

I've worked with the public my entire adult life. Nearly 8 years as an assistant manager in a convenience store/gas station. Two years at Wal-Mart. The last 16 years in the veterinary field. I've spent a lot of time sharing my experiences with said public. On many occasions I've been told I should "Write all that shit down!" That it would "Make a great book!" Having always enjoyed putting pen to paper I have toyed with the idea for years. Now I have the chance to ask: Is there a book inside?

My words are limited here so rather than go into great detail, I thought I would list a partial cast of characters...and characters they were. These are just fine folks from the convenience store. Let's just say the people of wal mart site is pretty accurate. I'd need way more than 600 words just to get started on that job.

Ron.Mid 30's. Addicted to paint and glue. Face and shoes constantly dotted with evidence to back that up. Would do anything for a pack of smokes. Climb the telephone pole in only his underwear? Yes. Sell all his hair? Yes. Eat bugs? Sure.

Winston. Older gentleman. Always quiet and polite. Smoked menthol cigarettes that he preferred to shop for in the middle of the night. That way, he stood a much smaller chance of being noticed by the police while he walked the neighborhood stark naked. After being told by me that he had to wear at least underpants the next time he came in he showed up with a pair...on his head.

The man who tried to rob us while masturbating into our magazine rack. The 911 operator had the nerve to ask us if he had a deadly weapon.

The little girl who carried her change in her mouth and spit it onto the counter. That action very nearly resulted in an old fashioned butt whippin'.

The guy with Tom Cruise good looks who drove a flashy sports car with the plates that said "I'm Ugly" so people would tell him how wrong they were.

The employee who rang up scratch off tickets, for himself, instead of cigarettes every time he sold a pack. (Cigs were $2.00 then) He didn't know WHY this was stealing. He also held his head sideways. All the time.

The night clerk who had sex with the UPS guy in my office.

The milk delivery guy who met women on my parking lot and took them to his truck for quickies.

The woman in the Jaguar who would sit on the lot and honk-thinking we were full service. We weren't. She tried at least twice a week though.

The woman who pissed off the clerk on duty. He, in turn, shut down the air pump at the precise moment she would touch it to her tire. She would then walk back the the machine, restart it and head back to her tire. This happened about 20 times before she threw the hose to the ground and came back in the store to piss him off a little more. It was about 110 degrees out while this was happening. Don't piss off the clerk.

The employee who would randomly scream "Fuck You" at anyone who happened to be standing there. Customers, me, the district manager. At least he didn't steal scratch off's...

This is just a small sampling of the characters. I could go on and on but am running out of space and time. I welcome your comments, thoughts, suggestions. Tell me-Do YOU think there's a book inside?

Thank you for this opportunity.

Mary Elizabeth
St. Louis Missouri USA

Monday, January 21, 2013

Falling off my unicorn

I really wanted to write some big, deep retrospective on challenge and perseverance for my Listserve contribution. That kind of thing is kind of my thing.

Well, it was.

It's what I did, when I started my blog, The Broke-Ass Bride, which grew into one of the top blogs in the wedding industry. It earned me a deal with a major publishing house to write a book about using creativity as currency to rock bad-ass weddings without breaking the bank. (coming this December!) Born as a coping skill for life’s imperfections, my chronic auto-immune disease, financial struggles and artistic stagnation, I developed a reputation for my ability to spin obstacle into opportunity creatively and with a trademark cheeky irreverence. It seemed like nothing could keep me down.

But I guess the universe watched me leap life's hurdles on my triumphant unicorn of resilience, turning piles of strugglesome shit into rainbows with my magical brand of fairy dust, and decided (in its infinite wisdom) to up the game and see just how much I could take. I had been focused on maintaining my success, so desperate to remain self-employed and free from corporate cubicles, that I neglected my health personal life.

I got hit with an aggressively progressive depression, disease complications and a rare illness necessitating a flurry of surgeries, growing medical debt, and a sexual assault. And just like that, my self-destructive and addictive tendencies took control and bullied my moxie and persistence into submission like overgrown schoolyard tormentors.

I was ashamed and guilt-ridden about how burdensome I felt. Hell, if *I* was so tired of caring about me, I couldn't imagine how exhausting it must be for everyone else. I withdrew from my husband, friends and family, in a ridiculously misguided effort to "protect" them all from my demons. What a foolish girl I was, to believe the lies my depression told me for so long.

With the help of great doctors, treatments, perspective, support, faith and forgiveness, I've begun to find my feet again. Reconnecting with those I've hurt, pushed away or neglected, and trying to make amends. Letting people love me (or not) on their own terms. Grateful for the chance to evolve, painful as it was, into a stronger, deeper, richer version of Dana LaRue: rider of my triumphant unicorn of resilience, spinner of obstacle into opportunity, going from broke-ass to bad-ass.

In an earlier Listserve email, a writer shared the phrase "ad astra per aspera" - latin for "through struggles to the stars." This Wednesday the 23rd is my 35th birthday and I can’t wait. Not eager to see where this year takes me, but rather where *I* can take this year. To celebrate, I’m having “ad astra per aspera” tattooed on my wrist to honor where I’ve been, and to remind me where I’m capable of going.

Well, hey, how ‘bout that. Looks like I did end up writing a true-to-form deep, retrospective look at challenge and perseverance. I guess I really am back in the saddle, after all. Yeehaw.

Thanks, Listserve, for the chance to share my story. May it help someone out there through his or her own dark hour. And thanks, listserve nation, for bearing witness. Pass this on if you know someone who might benefit from it. Or share your own story with me, or encouraging words, or drawings of me on a unicorn turning piles of shit into rainbows… whatever you’re inspired to send! My email is below or you can find me on twitter @brokeassbride. (And if you’re engaged, check out The Broke-Ass Bride online and/or buy my book this December!)

Dana LaRue
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We are all made of stars

As with many before me, the Listserve email came as an unexpected surprise. What the heck do I have to write about? I'll just share some of the thoughts that often cross my mind:

I think about how I am but one of 7 billion members of my species, all crammed onto a tiny planet orbiting just one of over 200 billion stars in just one of the hundreds of billions of galaxies in our known universe.

This makes me feel incredibly insignificant.

I think about how I experience the world, and how my understanding of it is encoded in some 100 Billion neurons, and how rapid waves of impulses interact to form an emergent pattern that we call consciousness. I marvel at the fact that some clever molecules combined and evolved over billions of years to form the immensely complicated structures of life, and how each of those molecules are comprised of atoms that were forged in the heart of a dying star.

This makes me feel incredibly special.

Even though we are insignificant in the face of the greater universe, we make meaning for ourselves and each other. Each and every one of us is part of an extended family that spans the globe, huddling together in the dark on "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam," to quote Carl Sagan. We all have the same fundamental hopes and dreams, fears and weaknesses. We have triumphed together over millions of years and built a civilization together. In the face of all of this, our problems and disagreements with each other are incredibly petty.

I leave you with a simple request: Think about our story, and where it's going. Think of ways to improve the world, even just a little bit. And above all, think for yourself.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

Recently a close friend of mine passed away at his own hand. His suicide has haunted me in the past couple weeks. Today I write to you not on the subject I would like, but rather a burden on my heart since I heard of my friend’s passing. Suicide is not a common discussion in society, nor is it a cheery subject to talk about. However, it is a discussion that needs to occur. Increasing suicide awareness and recognizing the warning signs can prevent grief and sorrow.

Worldwide, suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death among people ranging in the age from 15-44. Suicide rates are climbing and are the highest rate in fifteen years. In the United States alone there were 38,364 suicide deaths in 2010. Ninety percent of those who commit suicide have a diagnosable and treatable condition. We need to recognize that suicidal thoughts not a character defect, but are typically a sign of a mental condition.

Fifty to Seventy Five percent of people contemplating suicide give some sort of warning to their loved ones. Take some time to learn the warning signs in order to recognize and respond should a loved one display one or more of these behaviors. Below are some warning signs of depression and suicidal tendencies from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you or anyone you know shows any of these signs please seek counsel and get professional help. Do not ignore the signs or keep suicidal thoughts in confidence with others. Often those with suicidal thoughts will believe they cannot be helped, be actively involved in helping them seek help including taking them to treatment.

My hope is that this raises awareness and could contribute to preventing this loss of life. I pray that none of you are ever affected by suicide, but always be aware. Please do not be afraid to speak out about suicide. The greater the awareness and the more openness to discussion, the more we can help those in need.


Christopher Nugent
Kansas, U.S.A.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beginnings and endings

This listserv has caught me at one of the busiest and chaotic points of my life. With only one more semester of university ahead of me it's hard to know what to write. Should I talk about what brought me to where I am today? About how the last few years of my life have changed me? Or maybe my plans for the future.

No, instead I want to talk about right now, partially because none of those things are particularly interesting, partially because just thinking about the future enough to make me anxious. Right now I'm reading A Memory of Light, the 14th and final book in the Wheel of Time series. I've been reading this series since I was 13 and my time with the world and characters includes my entire adolescence. I'm sad that the story is ending, it feels like I am saying goodbye to an old friend.

More goodbyes lurk on the horizon. At the end of this semester I'll be saying goodbyes to friends both old and new. I will have to say au revoir to the city, adieu to my school, and so long to a country.

But just as I can pick up my beaten copy of The Eye of the World, I can return to all of these people and places in the future. Maybe it's better to think of them as 'laters' than farewells.

For now, I plan to take my time reading A Memory of Light and to savor my last few months here. The future is uncertain; in April I will be starting a new chapter in my life and who knows what will happen after Tarmon Gai'don. There will be new places, new friends, new books, but they'll never replace the old ones, nor do they have to. And that is comforting.

"The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the third age by some, an Age yet to come, an age long pass, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."


Zak Strassberg
Montreal, QC, Canada

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some thoughts

I was caught unawares by the mail that I’ve won the Listserve Lottery.

I’m working for a deadline next Tuesday and I am quite stressed as an architecture student. But I realized this is a rare chance to broaden my worldview. So please feel free to comment on my mail and point out where I’m wrong.

I have a thirst for knowledge. I read a few books every month and try to discuss them with peers. Every interesting subject I come across leaves me knowing less about the world and wanting to know more.

I am in a position to do something, brought up in one of the wealthiest countries in this world, and I am grateful for this. I don’t know if grateful would be a correct word, because for me thankful feels hypocrite, thanks I have it better than some kid in the slums. I want to do something about that.

What is your vision of the future? Can you back-cast such a future? Imagine a future and think about what you need to do now for that specific future. Is it naïve to think about green roofs and free energy in the next few decades? It leaves a huge food problem. How can we eliminate poverty. Is it possible to modernize the world. Do you think that family planning, emancipation for woman is the best way to do this?

In an ever changing world, how far can our empathy extend? In history from family to tribe, to religion, to country. Can we now feel empathy with the whole world? This mail reaches 21647 people. I can reach and read something from the other side of our little globe in space for the first time in the ~150.000 years of human existence. Boundaries, politics, factions, religions, nations, race seem to divide us, but we’re all humans, all even and all here.

What is next? I wouldn’t say Mars. But it is a goal that is beyond this world.

So when I think about this I feel utterly inept. But am I so wrong? All those naïve dreams during all these centuries of human suffering, are those dreams finally possible?

Probably I’ll lose my ideals in some years. Possibly I won’t change much in this world, if anything, before I die.

But until then I want to be aware of my fellow humans. So from me to you;


Maarten Pronk
Delft, The Netherlands

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hello World

Hello out there.. My name is Jerry, and I’ve been on the internet since it was just a series of tubes. I teach a bit, (Computers and Programming) and enjoy technology the way you might think.

As an “Early Adopter”, I still have my Compaq “Luggable” that runs the CPM operating system. (Google it..)

I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show, (C.E.S.) and was able to see many exciting new products, most priced above my pay grade. (Way above in some cases.)

That being said, I have found over the years that anything you want can be achieved if you focus on it.

So I guess my topic is, “Live Your Dreams, and They Will Come True”.

This email arrived by way of my “Spam Box” even though the regular Listserve emails arrive unscathed. I’m not a bitter guy, so I still responded to this “Winners” email even though it’s past the 48 hour window.

Best to you and yours.

Jerry Dixon
Hollywierd, CA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We don’t have time to think. Yet you are searching for answe...

We don’t have time to think. Yet you are searching for answers here. Good for you. Many of you have no time to read this. But this edition is on sale. It’s limited and you may get a prize.

Check your spam inbox if you have Gmail. I found out I won the Listserve lottery there.

Did you know that spam is used to send secret messages in some factions?

An anagram for Listserve is: Evil Rests. Each time we open these messages, it seems 'tis is true. Angry internet sleeps.

Relax and breathe when you read these emails. QUIT SKIMMING! Or unsubscribe!

Connect. 1,2,3,4. Let’s stop staring at these screens all the time. They are everywhere! Look at the cosmos. And how about neglected family members? It is frustrating watching people whom actively seek and learn more about celebrities rather than keeping in touch and finding out about their own families and friends. Then I realized I know Robin Lehner’s save percentage in Binghamton. ;)

23 and me. Why not try that service in lieu of my youthful ignorance to ancestry?

News, weather, sports, entertainment: Escapism.

Drugs, alcohol, sex, rock and roll: Why do we all seek escape? Good answer there if you find it.

On that note, John Titor wrote a great story. HST said Revelations was amongst the best work of fiction he read. Frederick Exley: A Fan’s Notes: recommended read. Seahawks win the Super Bowl in 2013.

SHOUTOUT TO THE 2 Listservers in Bosnia and 3 in Ghana! *as of writing.

Mental illness and depression should not be taboo. We all know people who suffer. If you have it, talk. If they have it, listen. Some confuse the lost ones as being cowards. THEY are the selfish ones. The lost ones don’t want to burden “them”.

David Lynch: Garmonbozia, buddy. TM movement. Yes, 20 times more veterans died this year from suicide than active duty personnel died in combat.

Words and phrases are used against us daily. They cause more mass destruction than missiles.

An insurgent may be a hero in another land. The winners of war will always write the history books. Afghanistan and Vietnam: Drugs.

Yes, an ounce of weed will put you in jail longer than anyone involved in LIBOR or the Gulf Oil spill. Free Marc Emery like the WM3. Damien Echols! Natalie Maines, baba booey.

Politicians. All speak the same language. Think for yourself.

I have trained monkeys to type this: ~. They evolved and wrote this to me: I wan~ to visi~ ~he beings ~ha~ live in ~he ci~ies ~ha~ reside in ~he dep~h of ~he oceans. You may no~ unders~and ~he fac~ ~ha~ I don'~ like i~ up here ~oo much.

Frank Zappa was more than just a genius musician. Watch his old interviews on YouTube. I want to drink tea someday with Diva and knit with her. Atoms For Peace in February. I miss Chieftan Mews.

Try to convince yourself that you have been brainwashed since Day 1 and live open-minded for a week. No bells, no alarms, no rules, no money.

Beat to your own drum. Hey Ringo! Drones are flying overhead. LA LA LA LA LA la la la la la!!

Fuck censorship.

Write to me with an event that changed your life OR a story that changed your world view forever. A prize reply will be returned in the form of a code which you all will have to break on a website at a later date.


Citizen 1975-2606-1118-m
Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Monday, January 14, 2013

A guy walks into a bar ...

I'm constantly amazed what I can learn from other people. My 15 month son taught me to have a good time, all you need is graham crackers and a plastic spatula, my grandpa taught me that crunchy peanut butter is good for your golf swing (I'm still trying to verify that claim), and my wife taught me that life is too short for bad coffee or light beer. However, the most humbling and inspiring lesson someone has ever taught me was in 2011 when my brother was diagnosed with cancer. Faced with this overwhelming situation, he did the most amazing thing: he laughed at it, he made jokes about it. It would have been so easy for him get lost in self pity, but he chose to make the best of it. I've always been drawn to comedy and jokes (which is ironic, since anybody close to me will tell you that I'm tragically not funny), but after witnessing my brother's experience with cancer, I realized how essential they actually are.

What makes you laugh? How has humor changed your life? I would love to hear from you.

"Life is too important to be taken seriously" - Oscar Wilde

Nick Salvadore
Castle Rock, CO, USA

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Starting Anew

Hi Everyone,

I originally joined the list serve as I wanted the opportunity to maybe one day promote my own business, BUT, my view of the list serve purpose has changed immensely! I love receiving and reading about all of the different experiences, places and people everyday.

So here's what I have decided to share -

Follow your dreams, we live one life, make it count. Pay it forward and practice random acts of kindness. I have always thought you need to have a 9-5 job and be sensible, stable and a hard worker, only then will you have a 'good' life. Well, I have lived like that for most of my life, (only 34 years so far!), but I have decided I don't want a 'good life', I want a GREAT life! I have been with the man of my dreams for almost 5 years and we have a beautiful little boy. I want my son to grow up with amazing experiences and the knowledge he could be and do great things if he chooses to. That doesn't mean an exciting job or doing dangerous things, it can be the small things you do. Me personally, I am building my own photography business, which is my passion, I don't want to live the rest of my life in the daily grind, so I am making changes now, one day at a time. My partner, he is living his dream as a DJ/Selector. We are teaching our son, through the way we live, that he can be a 'Fireman-Super Hero-DJ-Motorbike Riding Stuntman'...if he really wants to be! :)

My biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is to make good financial investments early in your the long term you will be grateful you did. I chose not to and am severely kicking myself now over my lack of insight as a young person. Living for the moment is in my nature, but I have learned you must also plan for the unknown in your future. Even if it's a small investment now, it could be your saving grace in the future. for example, at 19 I had the opportunity to buy a house, a medium size house for just $16,000, I listened to the advice of my then boyfriend and bought a new car instead. That house is now worth over $100,000. This is only 15 years later...ooh what I could do with one hundred thousand dollars right now....meanwhile the car I bought is long gone and never returned anything back to me. Word from the wise...invest where and when you can, keep your credit clear and if you earn ten dollars, spend like you earned only five.

I live everyday filled with music, music is like oil to the rusty gate of life stresses. I have such an eclectic taste in music. I love Earth, Wind and Fire, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye but equally love Salt'n'Pepa, Tanya Stephens, Jah Cure, Damien Marley Whitney Houston, Usher, a LOT of 90s R&B and pop.

I love laughing until you cry and your stomach hurts, a long day at the beach swimming and playing, running in the pouring rain on really hot, humid days, cuddling up and watching favourite movies on freezing cold, snowy days. I love books, I love to read and learn and know and share what I learn.

My advice on love is a cliche, love yourself first, with or without modifications. Learn to love the person you are, look at your body every day and appreciate it, enjoy the way it moves and works, marvel at such a wonderful creation. Be the kind of person you would like to be with Then, when someone else can do the same thing, love you as a whole person just as you are, that's love. Relationships are hard work and not always perfect, but, they can also be amazing adventures with equally amazing people.

You have unlimited potential and opportunities, explore life and learn about new people, places and things.

Live everyday with the intention to empower others to be the best they can be at whatever they choose to do, even in the small details - I believe that is the meaning of life, be the best version of you that you can be and empower the next generation to do the same. Above all, have an amazing life!

Melbourne, Australia

Passion to Profit

Every once in a while an idea floats to the front of your lobe and deserves further exploration. For me, it was using comedic talents to entertain a local audience in the Ozarks. Normally known as flyover country little old Springfield, Missouri has been recognized with artistic endeavors for over 50 years with contributions to music, film, and stage. My personal contribution over the past 4 years is a local satire news publication called Fair City News, which you can visit online.

Simple idea really, take local news and put a creative & funny spin to it. Which I find to be an enormous amount of fun. Local community supports it, people who move to town find it as a cultural guide and folks who move away use it as a resource to keep in touch.

What do you love to do? What can you do that is different? How can you present an old idea in a new way? That's my challenge to you. Find what you love, twist it to make it new. Have fun and make a little profit. Who knows, it could blow up big time. Passion to profit.

Love to hear your stories or ideas.

Springfield, Missouri

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Light Saber can Light up Your Life

I want to write about the funniest conversation I have participated in to date.

My sister entertains when she doesn’t even mean to. With aspergers syndrome, she is always literal, serious, and takes things exactly as you say them. My sarcastic family doesn’t make life easy for her and yes, I might get a little carried away from time to time, but she has no idea how her unintentional humor lights up our lives.

She had just gotten back from her favorite yearly activity – StarFest, where self-proclaimed dorks and geeks gather in a convention style hotel while wearing their favorite fantasy-inspired costume and participate in well, I went once for moral support and I couldn’t really tell you. I’ll relive that if I get this Listserve opportunity again.

She was pooped. And cranky. Her whole life she has worn exhaustion on her sleeve like a sweater and her bitchiness was apparent right off the bat that afternoon. (Disclaimer – Mitch, name changed, is her now fiancé)

Mom – “Honey did you not get a lot of sleep last night?”
Sister – (loud sigh) “PSH uh, NO”
Mom – “I’m sorry why is that?”
Sister – “WELL… the guy lying next to Mitch was snoring SO LOUD we couldn’t sleep”
Me – “Um, there was a guy next to Mitch?”
Sister – “Yeah. And I elbowed Mitch and was like MITCH. GET HIM TO SHUT UP”
Me – “So, it’s you, Mitch and this guy?”
Sister – “Yeah. So Mitch grabs his light saber and starts to poke him, and FINALLY he shut up but it took awhile so I’m really tired”
Me – straight face - “What exactly do you mean by ‘light saber’”
Sister – annoyed - “You have to know what a light saber is…”
Mom – stopping the train wreck - “MINDY. Enough.”

Meanwhile, in a rocking chair a few feet away, my dad’s shoulders are shrugging with laughter while he listens in. The next few minutes involved tales of infuriating Star Trek assholes and uninvited furries; long lines for autographs and admissions of needing to “clean the con-funk” off. (Con-funk is the result of several days of not showering while in close quarters with other costume loving individuals – if you didn’t know that already) What can I say – it was just hilarious. So many conversations I have had with my sister in my life have gone that way.

The color she brings with her weirdness is fantastic. I wish all of you at some point have an individual in your lives that brings “different” into your reality, whatever side of the spectrum you are on. I am very lucky to have it- and I’m fairly confident my sister thinks I am ridiculous. Sometimes I think that to her, I am the “different”!

Thanks for reading, and go Broncos.

Denver, Colorado

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something to reflect on.

My mother is from an island called Brac in Croatia. It is truly a remarkably beautiful place.

She didn't own a pair of shoes until she was maybe 8 years old. She told me that for Christmas they may, if they were good, get an apple or a fig as a present.

Her father was a simple man, favouring the communist party and not terribly in favour of the catholic church. He worked the land and grew olives, figs and grapes. He wasn't a man that showed affection to either his wife or children and although he put the fear of God in all of them, my mother speaks of him very fondly.

My grandmother was a Catholic and a kind and gentle woman as I remember her. That doesn't mean she wasn't afraid to scold any one of her 11 children and although my mother speaks of her with the greatest love and respect, she tells me there were times that she knew very well she wasn't in the good books.

They lived through 2 wars, never had any wealth to speak of and worked hard on the land.

My grandmother lost 6 of 11 children. When the Germans invaded and took over the villages she was forced to flee to Italy for almost 2 years with her children to survive.

My mother left Croatia in her late 20's without a word of English. She was asked to keep company an aunt in Rhodesia who had lost her husband. She would pay for her flight and return and all expenses whilst there but got used to having a servant and refused to pay for my mother to return home.

Eventually she learned English, got a job and met my father.

Although he was an only child and his life was somewhat easier than hers.

My father’s parents also lived through 2 wars in England, both served in the 2nd and worked very hard all their lives. Their families are from lower middle class backgrounds. My real grandfather died in his late 20's from a disease similar to multiple sclerosis I believe. My grandmother remarried to a RAF serviceman she met during the war.

My father grew up relatively comfortably in Cape Town as I did in Perth, Western Australia. Worked consistently all his life and still does at 68, had 3 children of which I am the eldest. We didn’t have a lot but we certainly didn’t go without.

I also work hard. I always have but have not always been successful. Now I have a business that employs 4 people and growing. Things are looking good.

Life doesn't always seem easy for me, stress from work, long hours, a child to raise, high cost of living and so on. A constant battle.

But when I reflect on what my parent and grandparents went through in their lives, I can only be thankful for what I have.

I have learned from their example to be honest, work hard, persistent, consistent, be reliable and do as you say you will.

On my own I have learned that working hard does not lead to success. Education, planning, creativity, ingenuity and a thick skin are good foundations for success.

Young people: open your eyes to the opportunities available to you today. These are a result of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents hard work and sacrifices.

Remember the important things in life and don't take anything for granted.

Anything you have in this world can be taken from you in the blink of an eye.

Neal Meldrum
Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Random thoughts

Hello world:)

I don't have some special story for you so I just share you some thoughts, which help me to live and understand this crazy planet.

1. Boys! Don't be afraid to do something crazy for your girls. If you do something for woman, you will never look foolish in her eyes.

2. If you want make someone think that he is in love with you, do something scary together. Adrenaline hormones look like love (science proves it).

3. If you want to hug or kiss someone – do it. I don’t mean strangers on the street;)

4. Be careful at office parties. Don’t drink a lot.

5. If you want to do something, but you are waiting for a good moment – you will wait forever. Every moment is good and bad at the same time, start as soon as possible.

6. Don’t save things for a special case/events/etc. Wear good dress, eat good food. Who knows what will happen tomorrow.

7. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission. Sorry, mommies:)

8. Travel as much as you can. Even to the next village. Broaden your mind!

9. Make plans but be ready to change it. Life is unpredictable!

10. Learn foreign languages. Conversation with people from other countries is one of the best things in the world.

11. Save some money every 1-2 month.

12. Remember – you can’t please everyone. Don’t worry about it, just do your best.

13. If you want to be with someone – make him feel great with you. We all need support and tenderness more than beauty. Unfortunately we often understand it too late. But be sure that these efforts make you happy.

14. At the same time remember – no one will fall in love with your soul from the first sight. Work on your body!

15. Just think about it – every atom in your body was once a part of star.

16. But the other side – all water you drink has been already drunk by someoneJ

17. Trite but true. If you want to do something – you will look for an opportunity, if you just think that you want – you will look for reasons to set it aside.

18. Sorry for my poor English;)

19. Всем русским подписчикам оппозиционный привет) Вместе победим!

А пока подскажите: нормальный пунто свитчер для мака - это фантастика?

Moscow, Russia

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tell me about your favourite book

My New Year's resolution for 2013 is to read 52 books in 2013 - one book
week. I have only picked the first book so far: "Winter's Tale" by Mark
Helprin. It is my favourite book, but I have only read it in German. Now
I want
to read it in English for the first time.

For the remaining 51 books I would like for people on this list to send
their favourite books along with a short description. I'll start:

Winter's Tale is set in a fantastic version of New York City around
20th century. There is a great wall of clouds, in which time and
space seem
to work differently. There is a white horse, which jumps so far that
starts to fly. A beautiful but terminally ill girl which has
uncovered the
secret formulas of the universe. And a thief who is on the run from
gang, which he betrayed. All their fates are interwined in this
story spanning a whole century.

Please feel free to send me suggestions from any genre - I want to
broaden my
reading horizon. Thanks!

David Triendl
Zirl, Austria

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's the little things

When I first received the email saying I won the Listserve lottery, I honestly had no idea what to do. I’ll admit I initially joined the Listserve quite selfishly because I just wanted to read the stories of others. Having read every email that came in, and seeing all the life lessons and creativity pouring from every single one of them, I was left quite dismayed. What could I write about? What could I possibly put into words that others would want to read? I've probably started this about 12 times but I think I know what to say now.

My name is Keegan. I am a 4th year college student pursuing a BS degree in Chemistry, graduating in May, 21 years old, caught somewhere between a woman and a girl, and currently writing to you all in the comfort of a blanket fort.

You see, I've had kind of a terrible day today. It started out by dropping someone very dear to me off at the airport and, as I’m sure most of you know, that leads to quite the difficult day. Especially when things have been left unresolved and you won’t see them again until July. That, coupled with the fact classes will be starting again soon and not really anyone is back from break yet, has led to some serious moping around.

Now I’m not really the kind of person to make new years resolutions, but considering I received the email saying I won the Listserve lottery on January 1st, I figured that now seemed like a pretty good time to do so.

So here they are: short, sweet, simple.

Be more confident.

Smile more.

Enjoy the little things.

That brings me to my current location. I was perusing the internet, scrolling through countless pages and getting to that point of actually being bored with just sitting in bed being upset. I was thinking to myself, what can make me happy? What can get me out of this rut? And then it hit me. Blanket fort. I sat there for about a minute or two just thinking about it saying to myself, “Come on, Keegan. You can’t actually make a fort. Think of something practical.” But then I thought, “Why not?.... Why can’t I? I’m enough of an adult to say that I can do what I want and right now, I want a blanket fort.” And thus, construction began.

It took me about 7 minutes to work out my happy place here. My comforter strung from my bed, to my desk, to my bookshelf. A sheet between the footboard and mirror leaning on the wall, forming the tunnel to my escape. Textbooks holding everything down. I added a chair in the middle, creating a sort of tent like appearance and even took my bedside lamps into the fort for lighting. The final touch came in throwing all my remaining blankets and pillows inside and falling into them in pure happiness.

I felt like a little kid but my night has been instantly better since.

So why am I telling all of you this? I want you to think about this when you are feeling down. When you've had a rough day and just feel like you've reached that quitting point. Remember that you should always take a minute or two to just do something for yourself to make yourself happy, because you’ll never be too old for such things. Whether you take the long way home through the park, get an extra scoop of ice-cream, or build yourself a blanket fort, I challenge you to not neglect the little things that will keep you going through 2013.

Please email me! Let me know how you've taken up my challenge or even if you just want to talk about anything and everything. I’m always looking for ways to brighten up the days of the people around me. Happy New Year everybody!!


Rochester, NY

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What you won't get... and what you will

Hi there to everyone on the listserve!

A little bit about me – I live in New York City, work for an internet startup (Hi, Chartbeat!), and have a Great Dane named Lucy (Lucyfur when she’s bad).

What you won’t get in this email: 1) Wide ranging life advice. Hell, I can’t even figure my out my own life. 2) The first chapter of my unpublished novel. I can barely finish this email. 3) A list of platitudes. Instead, let’s just go with the flow. ;-)

What you will get: 1) Random life advice. I can do random! 2) Photos of every situation I mention below. If you go to bit (dot) ly (slash) dawnlistserve or go to flickr and search for the user “dawnlistserve” you can see a picture of everything I talk about below. 3) I’m not sure there is a #3, to be honest. Good karma? Great Dane kisses?

Anyway, here goes:

I weigh 105 pounds. My dog weighs 120. Here are some questions you shouldn’t ask a big dog owner: - Does he come with a saddle? - Are you walking him or is he walking you? - How do you like owning a horse? Best question I’ve ever received (from a child): - Is that your pet cow? Best question I’ve ever received (from an adult): - Is that a puma?

Telling your NBA-crazy high school girlfriends that you were chosen from amongst a huge group of people to work courtside for an entire Phoenix Suns season was pretty cool. Explaining to your adult colleagues that you were a really great ‘ball girl’ in high school? Uh, not so much.

If you ever visit the FBI building in Washington D.C. and you see an “Exit” sign that doesn’t look quite right and no one else is using it, don’t go through the door. Unless you want to get stuck in a 2- x 3-foot construction barrier for 20 minutes. But… if this does happen to you, the fastest way to get armed security guards to help you find the real exit is to try to scale the exterior wall, get stuck on the top of it, and rip your pants on the way down. Seriously, those guys can move pretty fast when they want to.

If you ever find yourself in India for a wedding (Hi, Mona!) and you’ve managed to make it the first 11 days of the trip without getting even the tiniest bit sick, don’t get cocky on day 12 and encourage your traveling companion (Hi, Ted!) to drink a glass of freshly squeezed pineapple juice from the hotel breakfast buffet right before the wedding.

Finally, sometimes you just have to share a photo of your little sister (Hi, Nicole!) with the world so everyone can appreciate it. And I swear the selection has nothing to do with all the years of you teasing, biting, and constantly wanting to hang out with me and my friends.

Thanks for indulging me, everyone! If you write me at dawnlistserve[AT] or tweet at me @justsoyouknow, I’ll respond. Pinky swear! xoxo

Dawn Williamson
New York City

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who Are You?

My name is John. I am a computer programmer living in NYC working with close friends at a startup fashion company called Looking back, my life has constantly evolved and changed; I was born in South Korea and I've lived everywhere from North Carolina to Australia. Growing up I was very self aware, especially when entering new schools and making new friends. I constantly wondered, "who am I?" I know that my name is John and I like pizza but what actually makes up the person that I am when I wake up each morning?

As I grew older, my thoughts focused first on school and then work, and I lost my awareness. Two days ago I woke to a message saying I had been selected for the Listserve. I was both ecstatic and terrified. It took me a few hours to remember the question I grew up pondering: who am I?

To answer that question, I defined the elements of life that make up who I am. I broke it down into three areas, though you may have more or less and I'd love to hear from you. That's how we can all help each other grow.

1. Passion - Everyone has a passion or at least a desire to find their passion. As a teenager I tried many different things hoping to discover an activity, cause, or study that consumed me. Overtime I realized that I was infatuated with technology and fashion (this was long before the iPhone and cases by Marc Jacobs). After studying computer science for 6 years I began looking for ways to mix my passions. In my last year of grad school at Stanford I began working on a way to greatly improve the way people shop online I wanted to make fashion more accessible to people all over the world. And I could not make such a drastic impact on the world working as employee number ten thousand; I needed to start a company.

2. People - Even before starting my own company, I knew that I could not achieve my goals by myself. Again using my startup as an example, I was lucky enough to meet similar minded people who pushed me to work harder and find ways to succeed even during the hardest times. It is now very clear to me that I could not possibly achieve what I did without hardworking friends by my side. Recently we were finally able to make our visions a reality; StyleSays is now a platform to help lovers of fashion to find the items they see in online photos. I couldn’t be more proud of the team we built.

3. Surroundings - For me this is the most important element. With so many country, school, and city changes I was constantly having to adapt, and to me adaptation is new opportunities to grow as a person. Today I find myself sitting in an open loft in downtown Manhattan working with a close group of friends on a company, on a mission that I'm proud and excited to take on. New York has been crucial in shaping my current self and I've grown so much in a short amount of time in this amazing city.

I encourage you to learn more about your passions, connect with amazing people, and constantly change your environment.

So the question remains: who am I? I am a motivated young man with amazing friends and partners who is passionate about making people's lives better through technology. I am John Yu.

Who are you?

John Yu
New York City, Tribeca

Thursday, January 3, 2013


This is a story of the Kobayashi Maru I pulled in 9th grade Earth Science class, circa 1988. It is among my finest accomplishments.

There we sat. Jean jackets and mullets. Acne and ennui. Begrudgingly studying the many spheres: biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, whateversphere.

This day concerned a simpler sphere – a ball – and the effect of the earth upon it. We were learning about gravity.

The teacher – nice guy but stern – explained that, thanks to the nature of gravity, and potential and kinetic energy, a ball cannot bounce as high as the height from which it's dropped. You've seen this countless times. Each bounce has a successively lower apex until the thing peters out and comes to rest.

As he explained this, a magnificent thought took shape in my mind. I was 14 with a chip on my shoulder. I didn't like rules. And here before me, all around me, was one big fat whopper of a rule. An irrefutable, fundamental fact of the universe: GRAVITY.

I raised my hand and, with a casualness inversely proportional to the magnitude of my claim, said, "I disagree. I think it can bounce higher."

There were laughs, and the teacher wasn't having it. "No really," I said, "I can do it. I'll bring a ball tomorrow and show you."

Now, this is no story of magic or delusion. Physics is Physics. I couldn't possibly alter the nature of gravity. But I could, and did, alter the operational definition of a ball. And so that night I applied myself to the construction of the greatest ball ever made.

The heart of it was a standard helium balloon, around which I paper-mached a sphere of newspaper. The balloon's tapered shape left a cavity inside the bottom of the sphere, within which I placed a raw egg as ballast, nestling it in a hole cut into the nadir of the sphere.

When finished it was a big, unwieldy, misshapen thing. A busted Death Star. Yet also: an audacious invention. An engineering marvel. And a brazen exercise in cheating. I was proud.

Next day I stood before the class and held it aloft. No one knew anything of its innards. I must've looked clownish. The teacher was pure skepticism and annoyance. But there I stood, reveling in the virtue of defiance.

I released it.

I hadn't tested it, so I was going on faith. The weight of the egg took it down slowly and I wondered if it would hit hard enough to crack that sucker open and release its yolky ballast. Slowly it sank. Long seconds went by. And finally, as gravity brought the thing to the ground, truth and the moment collided.


It rested several moments as the egg leaked out, then tentatively began pulling away from its snotty deposit. Slowly it rose, trailing yolk and albumen. Quicker then. Up. Up past my knees. Passing my chest, my head. Up past as high as my hands could reach. Up past the origin of its fall. Up to the ceiling, where it bounced, petered out, and finally came to rest.

I don't remember the class's reaction. Only the teacher's. He dismissed it outright. It didn't count. It was cheating.

He was right.

But he'd failed to learn the lessons taught in class that day. That ingenuity arises in the face of impossibility. That a thing is not always what it seems. That some things you can't change, but what you do with them is another story.

And that when things fall down, bounce back higher however the hell you want to.

Scott Lederer

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stop The Return Of Bullfighting to TV

I'm going to get straight to the point. I'm 13 and I've created a petition; it's an issue I feel strongly about and my target is to reach 100 signatures. So far I have ninety nine... if I could get 1 person out of 20,000 of you to sign then it would be a success.

Unfortunately, I can't give you a link or the HTML but if you google search "stop the return of bullfighting to TV" and click on the first link you'll have reached your destination. I created it via Avaaz community petitions but anyone can sign.

Thank you for your time.

Lily Limmer
Crewkerne, Somerset

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Joys of Blasphemy

"DISOBEY, v.t. To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity of a command." ~ Ambrose Bierce

Today, be a blasphemer. Hug a heretic. After you read this, go slay some sacred cows. But, get this right, you're not to pick the easy ones - not the fat, bow-legged, short-sighted cows, the thick fillets-on-four-legs already cosying up to the butcher. The ones you want to hunt down will be trim, lively, prize-specimen sacred cows. Hell, slaughter a farm of them. Skin them, roast them over a low fire and let them cook through. Turn out a line of leather jackets.

You have much choice. Religions are of course bountiful hunting grounds, but today you'll want to pursue the more unsuspecting of cherished beliefs. Plumb the depths of your community's moral presumptions, find a principle too valuable to question and turn it on its head, renounce it, cut it up. Be analytical or be brash, subtle or vulgar.

Will this make you feel happy or inspired? Unlikely. Will it give your life new meaning or help you find yourself? Hopefully not. But it will certainly make 2013 begin on an interesting note.

Tariq Desai
Cape Town, South Africa

Extraordinary forces

I want to share a short story with all of you. A short fantasy story with a true heart and message, written by myself many a year ago, when my life was much more complicated, restless and chaotic. I wrote this one for a close friend who needed a positive message at the time, but now, looking back at it all, I think I could've just as easily have written it for myself. Since then, you should know, my state of being has been transformed from being unsure, insecure and unaware, to being genuinely happy, secure, cognizant and reasonably untroubled. How, you might ask? Well, it turned out to be fairly simply / incredibly difficult: by finding true love and by finding (part of) my true self...


Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy lived in an old abandoned gnome dwelling at the foot of a ridiculously gigantic and, in addition, awfully ancient oak tree, covered in strange smelling dark greenish mold. Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy (I’m really terribly sorry, but that’s just what she was called) looked very much like a cockroach, but, to be honest, she actually wasn’t one and, for that matter, never had been one either. She herself had no idea though, of what she actually was and why she did look like what she looked like. No idea about the extraordinary forces that quietly bubbled within her either.

The thing is, Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy was in fact the only existing creature in existence that perceived Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy as an ‘ugly creepy crawly creeper’, as she indeed often mumblingly referred herself to. Obviously, there was no one around to tell her otherwise, being the only Earthborn in that particular part of the forest (throughout that particular span of time that we now so whimsically, or rather ironically, denote as "Origin" or "Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy").

Yes, this is true; she had once met Garwocketwicket, Garwocketwicket the gnome. He was a surprisingly mute gnome, however, only able to communicate with birds (or other animals with beaks that whistled) by mimicking their cries and colourful tunes, simultaneously flapping his arms and legs. A strange sight for some perhaps, but Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy, by her very nature, understood immediately and perfectly that a gnome being a mute gnome, communicating with birds and at the same time comically flapping his limbs, probably was the most beautiful spectacle she would ever had the privilege to witness.

Never before had mute creatures told Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy that she was not what she thought she was. Neither did Garwocketwicket, nor did he want to if he could have done so. Which is to say, not in a direct or literal manner at any rate. As an owlish gnome of strong character and stupendous wisdom he kept himself to flapping his arms and legs, creating beautiul spectacles and letting Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy be Chacaroc’hcracha-cocrochy. Knowing she would undoubtedly one day see herself as her true self, knowing that she would one day see and feel the extraordinary forces that so quietly bubbled within her.


As an aspiring writer, this kind of opportunity - possibly being read by literally thousands and thousands of Listserve members - is truly a once in a lifetime thing. So, thank you all for your time and attention.

If you have questions or comments, then, please, don't hesitate to send me an email: ik[AT]

- The end -

René Dijk
Utrecht, The Netherlands