Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Aucka Paulie

My Uncle Paul was always a goofball. Growing up he was the one who would horse around with my cousins and me. He loved to go fishing, watch AHL from the front row of the arena while yelling as loud as he could at the opposing players and referees, and coaching his kids sports teams. Growing up my father would always take me to visit him and his son who was a couple years younger than me on the weekends, I knew exactly how long it took to get from our house to his by the time I was about 5.

The four of us were the group of guys who started the family tradition of traveling to the Connecticut Lakes every June for a week of fishing, hiking, canoeing and camping without any electricity or running water, about 20 miles from any sort of civilization in our family. He was always the guy who wanted to use the biggest minnow from the trap in the hopes of catching the biggest lake trout.

Me and Chris (my cousin) would run around the Springfield Civic Center watching the Falcons play amateur hockey while our fathers watched the game. Paul would buy the cheap seats and just go down to some empty seats on the glass as soon as the game started. From minute one until the end he would bang his mini hockey stick on the railing and heckle anyone who dared skate by. At first I was worried about getting thrown out of the arena just for being around him, then I began to think the ushers and security might have thought he was handicapped by the way he acted and the mullet he proudly sported.

If I were to put a 1-10 number on Pauls ambition in life I would set him at a 4. He didn't appear to aspire to be any greater than he was and as a janitor in a elementary school no one would consider him professionally successful. My dad told me when they were in high school Paul excelled at metal fabrication, one of the better fabricators he has met and that was as a teenager. Unfortunately the lubricant used in commercial fabrication changed, Paul was allergic to some part of it and his career ended. Maybe that is when his professional ambition ended and his just took what he could get. How many elementary school janitors do you know that have about 20 years in the school system by the time they are in their 40s?

As I grew up Paul kind of became my go to if I had some free time and was in his area, as well as being my first to call if I wanted to go on some little fishing excursion. I really loved being a young adult and driving him around, being able to make plans with him to do... whatever there was to do. When I spent the summer before I went into the military doing landscaping work I invited him along every day since he was out of school, when he declined I would just go buy him lunch from the classic diner down the road from his house. After that summer I left for the military and my closeness with everyone back home kind of started to dissipate. Don't get me wrong, I lost none of my love for him and the rest of my family but I spent the 95% of my time over 1000 miles away. I would visit once or twice a year, spread my time across all the friends and family I left behind.

In 2008 I had left the military but stayed in the south far from home. I was working in a restaurant when my dad called me repeatedly in the middle of dinner rush, so I stepped outside to talk with him, knowing it was some sort of emergency. I knew he was a mess as soon as he picked up, he was on a business trip but something bad happened at home, he didn't have all the answers but had to tell me what he knew until he could get home on the next flight out of there. Paul had jumped off a bridge into the river, not just any bridge but the South Hadley bridge, probably 100 feet off the water. The real problem was the Dam. Not far down river, maybe 1/4 mile, was Holyoke dam, a massive dam that poured over violently, so violent that when I was young we would go below it and my dad would use it as an example of how dangerous water could be. Paul went over the dam. Someone had spotted his body a ways down river, broken in so many places I don't even want to remember, but alive. It didn't take long to realize it was a suicide attempt, one that should have been successful. He was held in the hospital for the required time but released to go home under the supervision of family. Everyone around crowded around him for support and comfort, and we all wanted to know why he would do something like that, his daughter was in high school, his son had just graduated, his life seemed to be about where he had wanted it for the last couple decades. I finally was able to talk with him the day after he was released, he sounded in pain and very medicated, I asked why he would do that and if there was anything I could do for him, I would do anything in the world for him so he could ask anything of me. He said he was confused and tired, rambled about car trouble for a little while then I had to let him go because it became incoherent. Before we hung up I made him promise me that if he ever thought of something like that again he needed to call me, he was my family and one of my best friends. Shortly after that there was a small unsupervised window while one person had to go to work and the next was coming over. He did it again, only this time it worked.

On August 19, 2008 Paul D. Bliss killed himself. He left behind 2 children, 1 wife, a mother and father, 5 brothers and sisters, bunches nephews and nieces, friends, coworkers and people who he never even met but would have been better for being a part of his life.

I don't tell you this so you go out and tell the people you care about that you love them, I just wanted to talk about Paul. It still hurts to talk about Paul with my family, its hard, so I will tell a bunch of strangers.


Jason Bliss
Little Rock AR

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's your favorite place you've ever been to, and why? My...

What's your favorite place you've ever been to, and why? My email doesn't dwell on this, but it's one thing I always try ask the people I meet from all over. Plus I'm curious how many people respond. (I know I've responded to an email or two, but there are several others I meant to, but never did.)

I've always been told you can't have your cake and eat it too. But I don't like cake, I've always insisted on having pie on my birthday, and in the game of dessert rock paper scissors, strawberry-rhubarb pie would beat everything.

I've always wanted to be multi-lingual, but the closest I've ever come to fluency is in gibberish Italian during bouts of severe inebriation.... But trust me, my friend and I knew exactly what we were saying to each other....

Thunderstorms are sexy, I love fall and winter. And spring and summer. The smell of wet autumn leaves and baseball infield dirt. I love the silence of snow and bikes and smiling eyes and smiling lips and every genre of music, and family, friends, and god and philosophical discussions.

Sunset/dusk is my favorite time of day. Something about the beautiful yet fleeting, transitory nature of the light sets off every excitement sensor in my brain. It makes me want to just GOGOGO and do everything, all at once, while simultaneously just sitting and watching time slowly drift off. It is the slow slow erosion of one day, but it brings with it night, and all of the possibilities that go with it. Things are coming and going and there is change in the air, and maybe things will get even better. It's this energy that really keeps me going and striving. In some way, a sunset is a microcosm of day to day life. Everyday something beautiful, that will never be here and be the same again. But not too far off, there is another one brewing for tomorrow, different in it's form, but possibly even better than today. Photographing every one I can is my way of stopping time and retaining my current emotion/elation and is my key to the past me, and well and the manifestation of my desire to share this beautiful feeling with as many as possible.

Exuberance is the key to life. live it up.

I have no idea where I heard about the listserve, or what convinced me to join. If any of you know me, don't hesitate to say hi. (I've lived in State College PA, DC/Arlington VA, and HdG MD)

Shawn Henderson[AT]
Havre de Grace, MD

Monday, July 29, 2013

5 Questions — I'd like your thoughts

Hi Everyone!

I'm using this email to share a few things I've been thinking about a lot recently. One has to do with friendships. The others with business. I'd love any thoughts you have on the topics.

First, a bit about me. I'm 22. From Cali. Went to Wharton in Pennsylvania. Dropped out to start a company in New York that sold this spring. Worked briefly in India and now I'm headed back to Wharton. I'm interested in most things.

With that, here are the questions. Would love to hear from you.
1. On Friends — I have a bunch of longtime friends I've known since grade school who are like family. We hang out a lot, but most of what we do is kill time — watch movies, talk about sports (I don't watch sports), gossip, etc. How do I transition the dynamic so that we start doing more productive activities together? (ie reading, writing, drawing, making beer, taking dance lessons.) Do you do any stuff like this with friends?
2. On jobs in the US — What will jobs in the US be in the future, assuming manufacturing continues to move to Asia and software continues to replace broker/admin/information jobs? Could it be that there is no solution within the national-industrial-market economy framework we've used the past 200 years? Do you see hints of an answer anywhere?
3. On the US, China, and India — The writing is on the wall that India and China will replace the US as the most important economically and politically -- relegating the US to a Britain-like role of seniority or Japan-like role of next best. Given that assumption, how do we capitalize as western business people?
4. On culture — Being exposed to foreign cultures is so valuable -- not for goodwill, though that too, but for helping people avoid narrow minded thinking about how things should be. How do we get more people exposed? Most people I know don't even leave the state they're born in. What if there were a way to connect with someone your age, gender, and profession in another country to chat?

5. On picking where you live — It seems to me that it is statistically impossible that most people are born in the optimal city. I think it's even more true as you get older that given your profession (banker, watch maker?) and preferences (outdoors, cold?) and such that there is a more optimal place you could be living. Why is it harder to find and move to a more optimal city in say Canada, or any foreign country, than your own. Why don't people shop for the right country? If you work on cars, wouldn't it make sense to at least consider living in Italy or Germany?

Would love to hear from you!


Hunter Horsley
Menlo Park, California

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stateless Mojo

Hi, my name is Mojo and I do not have a country.

I hold an Eritrean passport like my father,

but I have never even been to Eritrea.

The country is unsafe.

I am Saudi born and raised, but I cannot live in Saudi.

The country does not grant citizenship or residency rights by birth.

I lost my temporary Saudi residency while in the US

studying at Texas A&M University.

I am in a limbo.

I cannot go to Eritrea.

I cannot remain in Saudi Arabia.

I cannot go to the United States.

I have been removed from everyone I have ever known or loved.

I have been a refugee for the past two years, traveling as a tourist to avoid persecution and deportation to one of the world's worst dictatorships and police states.

What really matters to me?


However, I have let my circumstances dictate my life.

In my religious Muslim family, music is considered the voice of the devil.

I am torn between my passion and my fear of disappointing my parents.

We all have our excuses for not pursuing our dreams.

I’m sure you can relate.

I lost my voice the day I left the United States.

I have been silent for two years.

I cannot live in silence any longer.

My commitment: I will no longer live in fear.

I turn 10,000 days old on February 5, 2014.

On that day, I will kick off my journey to travel the world. I will release my first music project online.

I may face hardships.

I may face limitations.

I will persevere.

Why travel the world? Beyond an obvious interest in people and culture, the reason I want to embark on a journey around the world is because I need to liberate myself and find a home. If I had a country I would just go to it but I carry a passport of a country that enslaves its own people. My nominal relationship with Eritrea has crippled me. My fear of being sent there controlled me for the longest time and I finally said to myself:

"If I cannot go to Eritrea, I'll just go to every other country in this world."

I’ll travel to get my voice back.

I’ll travel to live my passion.

This is what this journey is about. If you want to follow my journey, I’ve created a blog: mojoyeah dot com.

My email is below. Please do write to me.

I want to know your story, and what’s been holding you back.

Maybe we can all help each other, and change life for the better.


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

p.s. if you know a talented music producer who would be interested in working with me, please connect us.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Productively Creative Thinking


I teach. From my experience I know that delivering content is good but getting people to actually do something is better, much better. Two passions of mine are creativity and productivity, so in my 5 minutes of ListServe fame I want to get you productively being creative.

Here is a list of things for you to do over the next day or two:
- Find the most interesting reflection (in a window, on water etc) you can. You don't necessarily have to go searching specifically for this, just notice reflections as you're going about your day to day activities.
- Rearrange your desk. Do more than just move an item for the sake of moving it though. Think about all the items on your desk that have just been placed haphazardly. Can you be more creative in how you organise them.
- Get into a discussion with someone with very different views to you on a topic you are passionate about. You must end the conversation by agreeing with their point of view however (just verbally, I'm not asking you to actually change your point of view, just to experience disagreeing with it).
- Do some paper origami in your lunch break. There are many great sites is you do a quick search with many great instructions.
- Create a list of 10 simple but creative things you want to do over the next month. Print it out and place it next to your desk, or bed or somewhere you will see it daily. Tick them off as you go.

That's it.
Simple, but you will have fun and be more creative.

Feel free to email me with any pictures or stories from doing these activities. I'll collate them all and put them on a webpage for everyone to share. Make sure the email subject has 'ListServe challenge' in it so I can easily organise them.

Have fun!

Sydney Australia

Friday, July 26, 2013

I won?

I stopped reading the listserve a while back because everyone seemed to be ranting about ways to live your life. I'm young (going off to college in the fall) and still figuring things out, so I don't exactly have any great wisdom to give you all, sorry. I thought about not writing this however, but it seemed cool enough to be a shame to give up. I'm pretty busy with things right now, so this is mostly just a rough draft. I'll leave you with the last book I read and movie I watched, maybe you'll like them too; "museum of innocence" by Orhan Pamuk and "Drive". Both are pretty good I thought.

Good luck with things.

Maryland, USA

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Connections and Collaborations

It’s really easy for me to fall into a way of thinking that keeps me moving in the same direction. I don’t like how my life feels when I let that happen for too long, so I give myself projects. This coupled with some mild obsessive compulsive tendencies causes me to fixate on the end goal until I’ve thoroughly exhausted the point of the project. Sometimes this leaves me very satisfied with what I’ve done/made/experienced and other times I find myself oddly ashamed or empty.

I don’t expect anyone to necessarily understand any of that, but I know how I feel when I’m in this kind of state and thought it could be helpful if others who might feel that way too knew they weren’t alone.

I’m working really hard on being vulnerable, too. It’s a scary concept when you’ve spent your entire life believing (for good reason) that the best way to live is in a constant state of emotional vigilance. I’m finding, though, that I’m not happy. So I have made the decision to deliberately open myself up to all of the possibilities that vulnerability offers, both the good and the bad. I try to remind myself that as painful as circumstances may get, they won’t kill me… and I’ll make my way through the worst. Also, that it won’t be all bad… that I’m motivated by the good possibilities that I know exist. It’s a foreign concept to me and difficult to execute throughout my life, but I’m committed to making that discomfort my new normal.

Speaking of projects, I have a couple of app ideas for smartphones that I really believe the world would benefit from but I’m not currently a developer. I’m in the process of learning, but I don’t have the confidence in myself necessary to make these things the way I imagine them. So, if you’re a developer and are open to partnering with me on one or two ideas, reach out to me and we can discuss how to make that happen.

I enjoy discussing meaningful topics: politics, religion, ways to do life better…. I also enjoy a lot of different media, from music to books and shows. So if you’d like to talk about any of these things and you find that it’s difficult or awkward to find a place to discuss these topics without encountering negative people or experiences, feel free to reach out to me.

I have no advice for anyone, but I’m happy to collaborate with any of you to make life better for us all.

Be and Stay Well.

New Windsor, MD

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The family that "lists" together...

It started innocently enough, this family list-making fetish. My husband, two children, and I were having a family conversation after dinner, and someone mentioned that it had been a while since anyone had spent the night with us. Something in me sparked an idea: how many people had indeed slept in our brick rancher over the years? The kiddos began rattling names of their friends while I got pen and paper and began recording. “Justin, Mark, Josh...” our son offered. Our daughter chimed in with “Amy, Ashley, Christine...”. My husband began reciting the names of relatives who have made the trek to visit us here in Alabama. Soon the list grew to over thirty people, which surprised us all. Then our son recalled that we hosted two young men from a visiting church choir one night; add two to the list! Didn't we shuffle beds around to accommodate our neighbor's parents when they paid a surprise visit? Add two more! And so it went, and when we felt we had exhausted all memory cells, nearly sixty names were scrawled on a piece of paper. We sat in the glow of that list, eating ice cream, remembering our visitors with warmth, and we did not know that the “after-dinner-making-a-list” tradition had begun.

In the coming years, we made lists short and long: states visited, movies that began with the letter “B”, dogs we had petted, restaurants at which we'd eaten, and types of Oreo's. Names of candy bars, state parks, car manufacturers, brands of toothpaste, and pro football teams. Perhaps we'd be planning a trip to an amusement park, and my son would express his desire to ride the newest coaster called the “Goliath” or some such thing. “What are the names of the coasters we've already ridden?” I'd ask, and, after the initial collective groan from hubby and the kids, we were off and running as names came from all directions: “Blue Streak!” “The Joker!” “Millennium Force!” and the list would grow to accommodate dozens of coaster names. Sometimes the compiling of the list was a sad action, as the death of a friend sparked a listing of “Who have we known and loved and lost?” and we became quiet as names were recorded and the list grew longer than we would have wanted.

Years went by and we continued with our lists, although as the children grew and spread their wings, the lists became more functional rather than for fun. Lists were made for what to bring to college, for people to contact as possible references, for repairs to be done around the house, for ways to earn income. And when our daughter married, the list of wedding-things-to-be-done achieved an epic level not seen before nor since.

The children are off on their own now, but we visit each other when we can. We recently spent four days together over a long weekend, and I felt the “urge” as we talked about board games that we enjoyed and micro-brews we might try. But as we played “Loaded Questions” and drank a flight of summer ales, I was too happy basking in the moment to write anything down. I looked around the room and observed my dear husband, our fun-loving son and his sweet girlfriend, our beautiful daughter and her smart husband, wonderful in-laws, smoked sausages, a bottle of bourbon, a sleeping dog, the sound of rain on the roof, a cozy blanket...wait a moment...could someone please hand me that paper and pencil?

Alabama, USA

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I never expected i would win this lottery

Woo hoo what a great news I received today in the inbox, YOU won the lottery. Let me first tell you that please ignore my grammatical mistake as English is not my first language and secondly I very excited to share my story with you. I have no general theme in mind I will write whatever comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy, reading as I am enjoying writing.

Everyone has the same question what should one write. I am a computer engineer 24 years old and live in a small town of India in state of Gujarat. Gujarati is my first language. I studied in an English medium school. And because I studied in an English medium school I can to talk to you. I thank my parents for what they have done for me. They have sacrificed many joys of their life to make my life better. I am Grateful to them and the Almighty. I am a happy go lucky guy. I live in the moment and believe that pain and sadness is momentary, and when it is too dark a sunrise is surely going to happen. I am still so young and what can share with you, teach you or say to you?

I wanted to become a Sound Engineer and a DJ. I like Trance music which is part of EDM (electronic Dance music). But that didn't happen and I instead took computer engineering as in hope that it will be a more useful skill. I have completed my bachelors in computer engineering. I also learn from online courses website such as corsera. I am currently learning Go language, and node.js language. I also have a Certificate of accomplishment with distinction in Database Course from Stanford University for their online course.

Let's talk about dream. Everyone have goals and surely I have too. My short term dream is to buy a decent pair of headphones (currently I am saving money for decent audio-technica ath m50 headphones), a decent laptop (An MacBook Air this will take a lot of time as it is costly) and a decent internet connection. Long term goal is to be an entrepreneur.

To fulfill my goals I work hard and do freelance work in PHP, Web-application development, RESTful web API (Core php, Codeigniter, symfony2, Wordpress, etc.). I have excellent database skills and I am good at SQL(MySQL), NOSQL(mongodB) and XML (XPATH, XQuery) and JSON, I have decent knowledge of jQuery and angular.js framework. I can setup and configure amazon web servers. I am also good at writing spiders and crawlers.

I didn't had anything specific in mind. Hope you enjoyed reading.

If anyone needs help from my side in any way I will surely help, if anyone is hiring I will be more than happy to join. If you have freelance work for me contact me on bhargavdjoshi[AT]

Bhargav Joshi
Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Monday, July 22, 2013

Your Story

Being a 17 year old who has only been receiving emails from the Listserve for 3 weeks, you could only imagine my surprise when I won this lottery (I repeated “Oh my God, oh my God!” about a million times). I sat in complete shock as to why me, out of 23,000 other people, got chosen for this insane opportunity to share anything and everything.

The Listserve accomplishes an amazing feat of connecting people through stories and that’s why I first signed up when I found out about it. Every day, I have looked forward to read a snippet of another person's life and to be in their minds, even if it was for just 600 words or less. Because I’ve enjoyed this aspect so much, here’s a little bit about me.

When I was 7 years old, my dad died of an infection. It was the most devastating time of my life but I learned that life really does go on, even though at that moment it seemed like my whole world stopped. Through endless love and support from my mom, I have grown into a person that I think he would have been proud of. Going into my senior year of high school, I have so many things to look forward to. I dream of attending Colorado College and just doing what I love to do. I really have no idea what my profession will be or what my life will even be like a week from now, but what I do know is that I’m happy right now and in this moment.

Each person that resides on this planet has their own story. It could be filled with heartbreaks and loss or opportunities and joy. It is occupied by whatever you have been through, which is utterly unique to the story of the stranger who is standing next to you in line or your wife who is nestled in your arms. In some remarkable way, these stories are intertwined in a spiderweb spanning across the entire earth. We share commonalities that bring us together in a manner that is barely grasped. But in the end, we are all connected.

Whether you stub your toe or break your foot, you still have a right to say “ouch”.

Chicago, IL

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Short Lived Opportunities and Lessons in Life

Dear Fellow Humans,

What is our unifying core aspect at listserv? Our inherent humanity.

Recognizing that our human experience transcends physical qualities, is a powerful notion. We as individuals are unique, but our commonality runs much deeper. As homo sapiens to our further primordial roots.

We each experience emotion through the same framework. Synapses and neural networks, electrochemical signals pulsating inside.

I am honored to be granted this opportunity to share. The listserv is a special community.

If from this letter I can plant a seed in your mind and actions, that would benefit your experience, then my investment would forever be justified.

You cannot force lessons onto anyone. You can only offer ideas to ponder.

A good teacher guides her students on a path of discovery. Through this self-discovery, we as students incorporate and ingrain lessons.

There are learning opportunities all around us. We are entities perceiving and absorbing experience, and manifesting emotion.

I am most amazed, at the power we have to influence ourselves and change our thinking. Novel experiences and ideas are the building blocks of growth.

Self-Talk: Helmstetter will help you choose, then reinforce or replace habitual patterns. This powerful strategy of self-influence has helped mold me and granted tremendous personal conviction.

My advice on moving past negative reactive states/triggers, is by recognizing the abstract space between stimuli and response. You will only find this within self-reflection.

The more you actively and consciously, focus on this space, the stronger you develop your internal locus of control.

Pause, before you have a typical reaction. Conceptualize on this gap of experience. Next time, pause a bit longer.

You will start to gain control over your own mind. This is a practical exercise for you to consider for increasing active engagement.

Awareness is important. You must see yourself from beyond your ego. Observe your ego, be curious of it, but remember you're not solely your own self-identity. Identity is important, but what else guides us?

Step outside of your mental map to discover alternative truths.

Perception is what guides our beliefs, determination builds our values, and attitude shapes our future.

Peace in Every Step, practice taking conscious breaths, pausing, and reminding yourself of how special it is, that we are even here. Diaphragmatic breathing.

If you are curious to learn from some of my mentors, books that have had profound personal influence,

Mastery: Leonard
Flow: Csikszentmihaly
Influence: Cialdini
Buddha's Brain
Whack on-the-side of the head

Learn financial literacy. Start with fundamentals: Interest-rate, inflation, compound-growth, investing and savings.

Consider each $ you spend an investment into your happiness. Evaluate both your short and long-term desires.

Live as you'll die tomorrow, but plan as you'll live forever.

Defend your credit vigilantly. In a world with unprecedented central banking manipulation, your credit will become more valuable as time moves forward.

---Write your thoughts down!---

Empiricism is not the only form of knowledge. Our tools of measurement are still developing. Epistemology

There is much truth that is still elusive, keep listening and sensing.

Balance is the key.


I humbly ask, if you gained any value from this letter, that you too, email me your lessons of wisdom, insight, advice, inspiration, recommendations, or anything that you feel is valuable for others to hear.

What impactful experience can you share?

If I get many responses, I will create a blog, to spread our collective lessons. It might take me a while.

But we are in this together, helping our collective conscious grow toward actualization. It starts with you first.

With sincerity, may you live the greatest life you can envision.

Albert Mayzeles
Vallejo, CA

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Greetings from Germany

"Succeed is about to get out of your comfort zone. You only get forward if you take that next step. If you always do something you already are good in you are not learning anything, you are just playing"

When I got the "you were selected" mail I wanted to share something meaningful with all of you. I picked this quote because it helped me with some decisions in my life and I think its worth reading it twice. Last year I started my own startup called bitstars and it was not a simple decision to make. I'm 26, just finished my Master in computer science and in Germany its not that problematic to find a well payed job in this field. Additionally the startup mentality here is totally different than in the US for example and normally you get one chance to succeed. An own company is often very stressful and you have to worry about a lot of things at the same time but I still think it was absolutely the right decision. I believe in our team at bitstars and I love to work hard and if you have a great idea yourself maybe you want to leave your comfort zone as well. I wish you all good luck with your lives no matter what you do.

Simon Heinen
Aachen, Germany

Friday, July 19, 2013

don't give up on someone who's bipolar

I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be when I received the email from the Listserve that I had won the lottery to send out a story to thousands of people. I thought about it. I took an hour lunch break away from my cube, made a phone call and took a quick car ride around the block before I realized this was a chance to become another spokesperson in a drowned-out pool of mentally ill awareness advocates. But there can never be enough champions for the mentally ill.

I, myself, am bipolar. I was diagnosed two years ago after living with the illness since I was 19 years old. It was only when I walked onto a beige tile floor in a pair of hospital socks to a room full of doctors that I was told the diagnosis. I had a bipolar episode and was admitted to a mental unit in the city public hospital. I always knew something was wrong, and although no one wants to hear they’re bipolar, it was a relief to hear an answer to all the pain I had been dealing with.

After I was released from the hospital, I didn’t know how I would pick up the pieces to my life again. This being my fifth or sixth episode, I already knew how hard it would be. I moved out of the house I bought, into my parents’ home. My ex-girlfriend, who I put through years of hell, was gone - her and the dog. How could I blame her, someone who had to deal with someone like me - someone with bipolar - every day to not leave me after all those years of craziness? Alienating the ones you love is always those most painful part of being bipolar. The aftermath is worse.

So what exactly is bipolar? It’s different for everyone, but from my experience and what I’ve been told, it’s a mental illness that causes periods of emotional up’s and down’s, manic states – euphoric highs and an out of control state-of-mind - depressive states, uncontrollable actions, and a ton of other ill-fated effects. Coincidentally, those with bipolar have a hard time keeping jobs and relationships, among many other things. Sounds like it could ruin anyone’s life, doesn’t it?

But you learn how to manage the best you can as you go along with the right help and love. You’ll constantly have to apologize and clean up all the messes you make when you’re bipolar. I’ve done it many times since diagnosis. I’ve even lost another person that I dearly love. You’ll feel comfortable enough to decide it’s okay to stop taking your medication and/or see your doctors when you’re bipolar. I’ve also done this. Again. And you’ll go to hell and back and back again when you’re bipolar.

This is my chance to bring awareness to the mental illness that is bipolar. To bring it to light, so those that don’t know about the struggles of someone with bipolar will understand them with compassion, patience, and most importantly love. It takes a sincerely loving person to become a bipolar’s person loving martyr and partner. And they exist. I would know.

Thank you, and I’m sorry.

Nando Casinelli

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's a great day!

Wow, I just won the lottery and now I am sitting here in awe of the responsibility to communicate, in a meaningful way, with 25,000+ individuals who are spread around the globe. While we all share a basic humanity, biology would suggest that each of us is physically unique and also, most certainly, that uniqueness extends to our personalities that are the sum total of our origin, environment and experiences. It is that heterogeneous audience that makes responding to this ‘call’ so challenging but in a very good way. I congratulate my predecessors who have never failed to pique my interest and my admiration goes out to those who are seeking to change the world on some level. All of us can only hope that they never lose their passion. It may seem trite to refer to the Chinese philosopher’s words uttered more than 2,500 years ago but they remain as relevant and true today as when they were first spoken – ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.’
Through the years, both from experience and observation, I have developed a modicum of knowledge that has served me well. Unfortunately, I have also learned that each generation must learn from their own experiences, no matter how much we may wish to spare them the consequences. Alternatively, it is the challenging of established doctrine that often leads to progress. I well remember, and I’m sure that many of you do also, the day when I finally realized that my parents actually knew what they were talking about. This revelation usually comes too late to avoid many pitfalls but it is also the time when the generations meld. This is my longwinded way of saying that I really do not have any momentous words to pass on that might turn out to be life altering. My only hope is that you not abandon your dreams, aspirations or goals as, after having read so many responses to the ‘call,’ I feel certain, that as a group and as individuals, you, the members of The Listserve, have much to offer.
On the lighter side, there remains less than two months before the commencement of football season – a time that runs from the summer heat of Miami to the winter snows of Green Bay. From the college gridiron to the professional arena, it is the game, much to the distress of those around me, which will command much of my attention for approximately five months. I am sure that to some my enthusiasm for the game may seem irrational but I do enjoy every minute of it. Aside from several college teams for which I feel a certain allegiance, since the days of Don Hutson the Green Bay Packers have been ‘my team’ and all I can say now is “Go Pack.”
One last thought. Integrity – maintain it and it will sustain you.
It has been an honor to have this opportunity and I wish all of you the very best. Good luck!

Tennessee, U.S.A.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Do...

I do love a list. My current strategy is to use monthly, weekly and daily lists. These are divided into sections and follow an ever-evolving layout. For example, ‘People to Call’ was recently promoted up the page due to lack of progress in this area. A good list must keep you on your toes; get too comfortable with the format and you’ll start neglecting areas, assuming their contents. After a leisurely peruse over the ‘Tech to Do’ section (this covers digital/online/phone-related tasks) I want to reach the bottom and then... Wham! Ah yes, we’re out of bin bags.

Lists have to be handwritten. When I think of something to add, I make a note on my phone but will write it down at the first opportunity. Otherwise, how will I cross it off? The Backspace key cannot compete with the cathartic effect of a purposeful, conclusive pen movement. But a paper list can easily be lost and the thought of trying to remember as much as possible, knowing things will be forgotten (something important?) is just horrific. So I take photos of my lists as way of digital backup and peace of mind.

My dad has always been a list-man too. Once, during a busy Sunday afternoon of him getting-things-done, my auntie turned up unannounced. Dad was briefly flustered until he’d popped over to his notepad and written something down. My auntie Hillary, having spotted this, went to have a look and was aghast to discover her brother had just given her a fifteen-minute time slot alongside the words, “Chat to Hil”.

Does this list-writing result in me getting more things done? No. But at least I can be sure of what I haven’t.

“Write Listserve email”, about to be crossed off.

Zack King

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Dear fellow Listservians,

I'm not ready to address such a vast amount of people, 23,337 to be exact, but as it often happens in real life, opportunity strikes when least expected or prepared for, and who am I to cower?

The Listserve caught me at a strange point in my life: at the beginning. I'm 19 years old, just finished my first year of college, and 2 days ago, scored my first real job, as an assistant to a historian (thanks Andrea's dad!)Also, in just a few days, I celebrate my first anniversary with my boyfriend (hey Francisco!), who was also the person who told me of The Listserve.

So this is me, full of the start of it all.

Seeing that I'm writing this at the last moment, I might as well go at this stream of consciousness style (Go Holden Caulfield!)

Well, I'm currently thinking that friends are the most important thing, ever; there's college and work and family but it's friends that really make our life worthwhile; friends, and maybe children, but that's another chapter entirely.

Maybe I should give you guys some reading suggestions, if you've read this far, because I really haven't given you much reason for it, don't worry, none taken, it's coming out quite boring, I know. Well, I'm in the middle of 10,000 novels, but of the ones I've finished, there's 3 that take my heart:

The Catcher in the Rye
Tuesdays with Morrie

[If you can read in the original language do it! Translations never make justice]

Hasn't this ever happened to you? You're looking at someone and you're suddenly amazed, you have to take a step back and really look at them, eyes moving, lips moving, all for you; it's as if you're amazed they're even real. Well, this happens to me a lot with you Frankie, yes you Francisco, and I thank, every time, that you are.

This past year was rough, and I'm certain that if it weren't for you, I really don't know where I would find myself today; thanks for lending me a hand through the struggle, life couldn't have given me a more perfect person to love.

Now for music! YouTube (do it do it) these full albums:
Alt-J: An Awesome wave
Youth Lagoon: The Year of Hibernation
The Doors: The Doors
Oh, and every White Stripes and Red Hot Chili Peppers album.

If you're sad, listen to "Pale Blue eyes" by The Velvet Underground; if you're having an odd day, "Stephanie Says", also by them; oh and "These Days" by Nico.

Take a road trip, at least once; tell me about the adventure if you'd like.

To finish, in the whole year I've received emails, I've yet to see one from my country. I'm from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, mi patria. I must tell you: places run deeper than their waters and tourist attractions, next time, dig deeper.

It makes me infinitely sad to know I'll die & never hear so many beautiful songs, so please, email me your favorite song! I'd love to hear it, I'll pass them on to my friends, I won't be so selfish.

I'll end this uneventful email with a quote (sue me for the clichédness of it all)

My music teacher once said, "Whenever you can, travel; you don't have to be incredibly wealthy, just incredibly curious."

Don't burn your brownies,

San Juan, Puerto Rico

P.S. Try buttered toast with sugar sprinkled on top, it's delicious, oh and, call your mom often

Monday, July 15, 2013

Filling the Tanks

Ten years ago I saw “Toy Story” and vowed to work at Pixar when I was older. Now two-and-a-half colleges and a dozen internships later, I work there. Eleven years ago I stood as a bar mitzvah in front of my peers and family members, all smiley Chesire cats, only to realize that I had no idea what religion really meant to me. Now over a decade later, I’m currently in Israel meeting four cousins I’ve never met because the only truly religious experiences I've had since my bar mitzvah have taken place at the four Beyoncé concerts I've attended.

Twelve years ago I realized I was gay, or at least different enough to feel defeated when a classmate called me a faggot while playing basketball in gym class. Now I’ve been out to everyone in my life for almost three years and am learning that writing helps me channel my earlier negative anxieties into something positive.

This is all to say that I’m learning about the power of knowing your history, of being able to continually connect your present experience with the past—the now with the then. This has manifested itself in my three-week trip to Israel, during which I cried at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, while walking on a recovered path from a concentration camp and sat with four Israeli soldiers who explained that conscription requires all Israeli citizens at the age of 18 (with a few exceptions) to enter the military. These soldiers—my youngest cousin included—are in their early twenties but feel to me to be a decade older. I listened quietly as they recounted stories of people like Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy who worked his way into Syria's political hierarchy in the 1960s until he became the Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defense, which my new Israeli friends believe allowed Israel to find success during the Six Day War. The pride in their voices was palpable. I thought about how while young Israelis are protecting their tiny country, us young twentysomethings are often lost in conversations that are mere regurgitations of things hastily read on our iGadgets en route to a job or internship (read: to the pursuit of an ever-growing career). This makes me wish I would’ve done one less internship and instead explored my family tree to learn more about my great grandparents who moved to America from Warsaw, Poland a long, long time ago.

I feel lucky to have had this time to explore my family roots. Time, that is, to “fill the tanks.” Joss Whedon, the prolific director/writer/producer, uses this phrase, and I love it. He believes in time away from routine to take in a new book, movie, or play. Or, for me, conversations with family members who live 6,000 miles away. I’ve been re-reading Peter Pan on my trip and I love the idea of Mary Darling literally tidying her children’s minds, which are confused and circular and comprised of zig zag lines. I like being open to a certain cultural messiness and taking satisfaction in being confused or surprised or both.

I won’t close with any commands or calls to action, because I don’t know the context surrounding your respective journeys. I will, however, finish by saying that I still can’t figure out how to best close an email. Regards and Best feel slightly cold, Love is often too strong, and Cheers…well I’m just not cool enough to use Cheers.

I hope that this email will serve as the beginning of a larger conversation with some of you.

Beyoncé for life,

Jonathan Hurwitz
San Francisco, CA

P.S. If you’re lucky enough to have parents in your life, call them and say hello. Then call them one more time because they’ll surely want to talk to you more.

P.P.S. This is totally a command. Sorry I lied earlier.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

a Dutch girl living in Sweden

Hi there,

First of all; thanks for all those wonderful e-mails I received from you who already won the Listserve-lottery!

And now, this is my story.

My name is Britt. When I was fourteen, my parents told me they wanted to emigrate, together with me, my little brother and sister.
A year later, we moved from Holland to Sweden.
It was such a big step, but after a few years living in this wonderful country, we have learned the language, have contact with a lot of lovely Swedes, feel happy in our house and are going to school and have jobs.

My mum, my dad, my brother, sister and me, we did change. In a positive way, I would say. We are more comfortable with unknown situations and like to get to know new people. I am absolutely sure that if we never had left Holland, I still would be that shy girl who I was before.

So, with this story, what I want to say to you is JUST DO IT. And yes, that's the slogan of a big sportbrand, but also a very good quote to keep in mind when you want to change your life. Or just little things in life (you have to start somewhere...).
It is better to regret something you did (and have the experience of doing it) than regretting something you never did. You only get one chance!

The last thing I want to share with you are some very good artists, who need some more attention and appreciation. Listen and enjoy!

Triggerfinger (rock from Belgium)
Anouk (best singer from Holland and she participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for Holland. according to me, her best album is Urban Solitude)
Beth Hart (she is the best and needs more fans!)
Hugh Laurie (dr. House and yes, he can sing)

Please share your story with me. At what points did you think JUST DO IT? And are you happy you did?
Please visit my blog by typing "brittalicious" on a search engine.

Thanks so much for reading! / Tack för att du läste detta! / Bedankt voor het lezen!

All the best,
somewhere between Holland and Sweden

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Greetings Listservians!

I am an artist and art educator in New Jersey where I have spent nearly two decades working with high school students to develop creative and innovative thinking skills. My approach to the studio arts has been one of breaking down preconceived notions of "art" and "artist". Many of my students will enter class on the first day and announce themselves with "My name is... and I can't draw". As a culture we have created some mystical idea that many teenagers adopt thinking: drawing and painting well (read: objectively) are inborn, and artistic folks are magical in some way. Further, all other non-objective or conceptual expressions are questionable, and deserve scrutiny.

I posit that artistic folks are magical, but not because we are naturally talented, but because we work hard at understanding and promoting creative and innovative thinking.

Two years ago, a colleague and I started a little program in our high school as an experiment. If you follow education issues in the US you know that teachers and school programming in general is under the microscope for any number of issues that range from serious (teachers 'correcting' student standardized tests) to ludicrous (let's add more standardized tests to test kids and then evaluate teachers on those tests). My bias shows through a little, but having taught in a few vastly different districts I understand that one solution is not a fit for all problems. I digress.

The experiment: A music and art teacher will set up a small 'lab' with a handful of digital imaging, video, audio creation and production programs. We will also have available a good smattering of "analogue" materials as well; cables, mixers, amps, studio art supplies and so forth. For the first few years we will hand pick a dozen kids based on willingness to produce their own work in an otherwise invisible school program (no credit hours, no grades, etc). We will organize a yearly theme and open the year with seminar style presentations and discussions to launch the focus.

As instructors, my colleague and I will not only participate in the making aspects of this with the students, but we will use this as a means to investigate the connections innovative and creative thinking have across disciplines...did I forget to mention that we weren't just choosing students who were "artists" or "musicians"?

Our pedagogy was grounded in believing that artistic thought, creative, critical, and innovative thinking are skills that transcend the studio and are of the utmost importance if we want our students to be self-directed, flexible, adaptable, and successful. Our work can easily be seen through the lens of the STEM to STEAM movement ( look up stemtosteam ) . Our kids will be ready...but how do we convince our colleagues, schools, and institutions that our thinkers, our artists are an investment for the whole of the community? Please share your thoughts if you have experience with this!

If you are interested in some of out work and ideas, you can visit us at paperandtape (dot) org

Some other things I do are kateokeson (dot) com and makeitbetter4youth (dot) org

Many thanks for reading!

Kate O.
New Jersey, USA

Friday, July 12, 2013

what´s your passion in life?


I wanna tell you about a few things that I´m passionate about. In my opinion I think it´s important for your own well being to have something to be passionate about. One of my biggest passion is is ballet (and all kind of dancing). I love to go to a good performance or show. The things I love are a bit weird. I loved the excitement in the audience, I love to see the dancers sweat (my sister have never understand that!) and see how they muscles doing all the work while they try to show the audience with there faces that this is peace of cake (which it isn´t at all!). I also love the costumes- especially the tutus in a ballet performance. I love to see a dancer do point work in their point shoes, and I know a lot of the French name of the movements, even though it´s several years since I danced myself. Ballet is so graceful and elegant and so hard to do! One of my favorite buildings in Norway (where I´m from) is the opera house. Whenever I get the change I will go to a ballet show with the Norwegian National Ballet and one of my favorite moments is right before the curtain will rise and revile the ballet dancers. Another favorite moment is when you enter the performance area and the orchestra are warming up. A lot of people think that is a mess of different sounds, but I love it! If you happens to be in Norway I strongly recommend a ballet performance of the Norwegian ballet company. Right now Ingrid Lorentzen is the ballet director and head of the ballet company and she is a perfectionist so I guess all the show is brilliant now! At least the nutcracker was!

Musical is another passion of mine. I wanted so badly to become a musical artist, but Norway is a small country so few can survive as performance artist, so I´m ending up in early childhood care instead. What I love about musicals are all the singing and dancing at once. It has always fascinated me, since I at age 7 watched the whole movie "The sound of music" on the television. I wished it would be social accepted to burst out in song and dance whenever, and sometimes I do that. I use that a lot with the children in the crèche or kindergarten and the absolutely love it when I sings the message instead of telling them. A very effective way of giving message cause everyone of them listen!

Photography is another thing I love to do. Unfortunate I don´t have much time to take photos anymore since I just finished a hectic study, but I will someday take photos again. And I don´t have access to a studio anymore. I loved to be in a studio and work with people. So much fun! I love to take landscape photography and portraits. In my photos I try to show how I get the feeling a person is. It´s kind of hard to explain, but I wanna show the good sides and what people is passionate about.

Another passion of mine (and I promise this is the last one) is to travel. I love to experience new cultures, new ways to live and not to forget talk English! It´s a fascinating language.

Last I will like thanks to Christina for introducing me to The Listserve.

Hope you all have a nice day!

Janne Cecilie B
Oslo, Norway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sixty seconds' worth of distance run

Hi All, I've been thinking about changing careers for the past 10 years. I turn 43 next week and I’d like to go back to school, get an engineering degree, and enter the rehabilitation engineering profession. I want put my energy into something that will make a concrete difference in the lives of others. I’d like to use my talents to help others achieve more than they thought possible in their own lives.

Fear and my perception of the challenges seem so monumental that they've frozen any real progress for literally years. I'm afraid of failing. I’m afraid of succeeding and it not being what I imagined it would be. How am I going to pay for school? Is it smart to take out loans? It is the right thing to do to leave a profession that I've been successful in for the last 20 years to follow a dream. Is that the responsible thing to do? Am I being selfish?

The truth is that I don’t know and I’m not actually sure what I’m going to do. I’m not sharing this to tell you that I have all the answers and tell you how to live your life. I’m not sharing this to ask for help in figuring out my life. I’m sharing this because I believe the desire to do more with your life, to make an impact beyond yourself, is part of the human condition shared by all of us.

I share this to let you know that you are not alone.

Just as I've read the stories of others who are much older than me changing their lives, many with many more challenges then I face, allow me to at least see the possible where I fear it may be impossible, maybe you would read this and see some hope in achieving your own dreams.

Maybe together we can figure this out.

I've always loved the poem, "If" by Rudyard Kipling and I've thought about the words often as I've gone through my life. I especially like the lines:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

I don't know what tomorrow will bring but tonight I feel like running ... 60 seconds on the clock ... who's with me.

Warmest Regards,

Brooksville, KY, USA

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Constructive summer

In 2009, I encountered a book that introduced me to some important ideas and shifted the way I saw the world. That book was Pulitzer-winning journalist Tracy Kidder’s biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains. Briefly, it chronicles Dr. Farmer’s experiences administering healthcare to impoverished patients in Haiti, Russia and Peru during the 90’s, but more importantly it illuminates the vast health inequities our world faced then and still faces now. It introduced to me the concepts of structural violence and the oppression of the poor, and bluntly asked me to face some very unsettling truths. For example, after administering antibiotics to an impoverished TB patient who had been suffering for months, Paul wrote, “When she received them, she soon began to respond- almost as if she had a treatable infectious disease.” I hope that quotation makes you uncomfortable; it should. We live in a world where people die of treatable diseases because money is not allocated for their cure. How can we change that?

I can’t possibly sit here and dispense advice on solving these problems because they are immensely complex issues with roots in politics, economics, and technology. What makes the Listserve such a phenomenal project is that it offers the incomparable opportunity to connect to so many incredible, talented people with such vastly different experiences, skillsets, and worldviews. All of whom are now at my fingertips, reading the words and thoughts I think are important enough to express. No pressure. But since I’ve been given this opportunity, I’ll share a bit about where I’m coming from so that I can invite you all to think seriously about some interesting questions and hopefully let me ask for your ideas in return.

I’m a graduate student, distance runner, and aspiring mountaineer. I’ve logged serious hours in most of the national parks of the American West. I’m currently working towards my PhD studying genome instability and recombination in yeast as a model for cancer. I find my project endlessly fascinating, and am now using next-generation sequencing technology to detect individual chromosome rearrangements. Ultimately, I want to work at the intersection of science and global health, but when it comes to the arc of my career, I’m still trying to determine precisely where I want to be. Over the last few years I’ve been trying to develop a skillset that extends beyond the arena of scientific research, interning for a well-established NGO, learning a programming language, and working on the policy side of drug accessibility with an organization targeting patent agreements. I’m hoping to participate in a program that will allow me to spend time conducting clinical research in a developing country because I understand how formative such an experience would be.

Overall, I’m trying to get a grasp of the more significant needs and gaps in global health, international development, and antipoverty efforts that someone like me could fill. What applications do you see for science and genetics outside of basic research?

I’d love to hear from people in the field, people who have created their own fields, and people who are in no way related to the field but have advice on shaping a career that is challenging on a daily basis but is also truly bent on improving the human condition across the world.

For those also struggling through life's complexities, a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

And an immeasurable Thank You to my friend Laura, for her limitless inspiration and poise.

San Diego, CA, USA

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How do you mourn?


I grew up in a family of muslims, catholics and atheists from four different countries. More than anything growing up in this environment made it clear how similar we all are. All of us share universal life experiences and emotions that cross cultural boundaries - we just express ourselves differently based on our own context and culture. When you grow up with so many different kinds of people you can see these behaviors and practices for the social constructs that they are.

The "Cathedral of the World" metaphor from Unitarian Universalist Forrest Church exemplifies it best for me:

"(1) there is one Reality or Truth ("God"); (2) this Reality shines through every "window" in the "cathedral" of the world and out from every perceiving subject; (3) it is never perceived directly; (4) yet it is reflected and refracted in a myriad of meaningful patterns on the floor of the cathedral and by every perceiver; (5) thus, every window illuminates Truth in a different way, leading to different truths."

I love the idea of one true light simply shining through different windows, making it appear different based on where you are perceiving it. This is one of my core beliefs - I think believing in the unity of all things one way of making sense of the multicultural/ethnic experience. Most importantly, hatred, oppression, and intolerance based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other "difference" simply do not make sense when you see the world in this way.

I'm on a mission to bring this quote to life, creating a photo book that documents the various ways that different religious, spiritual and human practices reflect this light through different customs and practices.

The first practice I am looking at is the universal act of mourning after a loved one passes. I'm starting with death partly because it is universal and also because I think it's something that (at least in our western culture) we have sanitized and tend to ignore. When people are faced with death they are often woefully unprepared to manage their feelings and the experience, and I want to document the ways that different cultures and religious traditions face this part of life.


I want to invite you to participate in this project.

Send me a description of how you mourn. It could be a description of your cultural tradition, or a personal experience of how you mourned after the passing of a loved one. It could be an image, a poem, a tweet, a narrative description, video, song or something else entirely.

I’ll take all of the responses and use them to create a website that I'll share back with anyone who participates.

If you don’t have a story to share but would like to be notified when the project is completed, send me a note and I'll make sure to be in touch.

<3 Yasmin
New York, NY

Monday, July 8, 2013

Thank you, Marissa Mayer...

In the United Kingdom we are asked to make a decision at the age of thirteen that will inform the rest of our lives. The subjects we nominate for our GCSE exams will determine our A-level choices, and then our University nominations and then our careers; which might affect where we live, our financial and social class status, the people we meet and the children we may bear. Asking a thirteen year old to make this decision is reckless. I was told to choose subjects that I was good at and I followed that advice; I studied Mathematics, Electronics and Information Technology, and then I studied Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science before starting my career as a computer programmer in London.

I lived miserably in London for four years. I never made friends, I had nights out with colleagues and partied with the people I grew up with whenever they visited; I never met anybody serendipitously. I didn’t once take advantage of the city because I was always busy working and commuting. I swapped jobs three years into my time in London and life got better, I had more free time since we didn’t have fixed working hours but then spent my time at home catching up on sleep because the nighttime noise in Camden Town tends to be filled with sirens and drunks; I’m not sure that I ever slept through an entire night whilst I lived in London.

In June 2013 I returned to the Welsh countryside, to the hills upon which I grew. I owe it to the sophomoric decision by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to put an end to remote working. The owner of the company for which I work had read the news when it became public in February and pronounced it as a disaster, my initial reaction was confusion since nobody at my company worked remotely, it’s because nobody had ever asked. I asked.

And now? I’m sitting in a barn and the only noise outside is that of chickens and guinea-fowl. I work remotely, the quality and quantity of my work has increased and I’m almost happy. The happiness is because I visit friends and family with frequency, it’s quiet and dark at night and I can see the stars again, everything I missed when I lived in London has returned to my life and the frustrations of my adolescent years spent in this place are no longer.

There’s just one thing. That decision I made with naivety at thirteen still haunts me. I’m a decent computer programmer and I love where I work but this isn’t really how I would like to be spending my time. Despite being a hemophobe with a tremor, I’ve decided to make the effort to go to medical school and right that wrong. Medicine is my mature decision; and until I start in September 2014 I have the quiet of the country to prepare myself. It’s what we do that counts, where we do it doesn’t matter, and a change is as good as a rest.

You can find me on Twitter and Medium: @jobymabe
You can email me too: jobymabe[AT]

Joby Mabe

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"This old curiosity shop of a world"

I’m Emily and I’m newly 21 and celebrated my birthday in Paris next to Canal St. Martin. Things about me—no one can pronounce my last name; my hair might be red or might be blonde but it’s definitely curly; I say y’all; I have a brother and a sister, of whom I am fiercely proud.

I’m from DC, but have been working in Paris, first with an association that works with African immigrants who have HIV/AIDS. I expected to cry at that job, or to feel pleasantly selfless, but instead I realized the obvious fact that in some places, even Paris, a freckled American girl with a mostly-working knowledge of French doesn’t quite do the trick. Once a man named Jean with a velvet voice tuned for the radio held my hand and cried because he could never go home, and I couldn’t tell him in his own language that it would be okay, because I don’t speak Wolof, and because I knew it wouldn’t be. Well, that gutted me.

Now I work with the regional center for AIDS prevention and we talk to high schoolers about prevention and kindness. In some ways, this is easier – I have a rapport with them because of my age, my skin, how society sees me. But still, I’m off to the side, I watch. Perhaps I do even less here.

I could tell you love stories about Venice and harrowing tales of falling off rocks in Arizona, but I guess for this email I just couldn’t decide which to tell. I want to live on a boat and I want to write beautifully or rawly, and I want to speak five languages but most of all I want to be brave and I want to make a difference, which is a hard thing to plan out.

If you want a 21 year old’s advice, it would be to read Eduardo Galeano’s Voices of Time, which is amazing; William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways; and Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Nautical Chart, which is a flawed book but still a lovely one.

When William Least Heat-Moon interviewed Miz Alice on Tangier Island, she said “Some people sit around and wait for the world to poke them. Right here in this old curiosity shop of a world, they say, ‘Poke me, world.’ Well, you have to keep the challenges coming. Make them up if necessary.” As my mother says, “Suck the marrow out of it.” Adventure is out there.

Please write me because I’d love that. Tell me who you are, how you live, and if you have advice for someone who hasn’t yet come up with a genius plan to fix things. If you’re in Paris, on peut prendre une verre; if you’re in DC, let’s hit up the Portrait Gallery courtyard; if you’re elsewhere, see you soon?

The world is bright and black and disappointing but I swear it is never empty.

I am Emily and I want to save the world and write about it, and I love meeting people, and like Hafiz, “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

Thank you.

Emily Wolfteich

P.S. If quantum theory is correct, and there are parallel universes where all things that could have happened in our lives did happen, in at least one of them I’d be in that bright kitchen in Venice with Luca and we’d be making breakfast, and I would just like to say that I don’t know if it’s sad or wonderful that somewhere in space it’s possible that we never lose anyone at all.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Whole Lot of Somethings, or Nothings

What I want to get most out of my ListServe opportunity is the chance to connect, so feel free to contact me with whatever’s on your mind (maybe read the rest of this before you do, though...).

I wanted to write something unique and intriguing, of course, but I’m rarely that creative. Probably tomorrow I’ll think of something fascinating I should have written. There’s a writing ‘experiment’ further in. My introduction is at the end because it is typical and boring.

Try sunflower butter with honey on rye toast.

I intended the bulk of this e-mail to be about Tolkien and YouTube (as two separate topics, though now I wonder if there are any good Tolkien-focused YouTube channels?), but I really don’t know what to say about Tolkien other than I am utterly fascinated and enamoured with his creation of Middle-Earth and all that relates to it (I’m going to Oxford at the end of August as a kind of pilgrimage). I have a bit more to say about YouTube.

I’m always fascinated when people don’t understand YouTube in the same way I do – thinking it’s just for how to guides, silly clips or music videos. I wonder how many of you understand YouTube in this way? I hope you’d be impressed by amount of original quality content created for YouTube by ordinary people, and the communities that grow around that content. I would love for more people to experience this world. Hard to describe with words, just check out some YouTubers instead – for ‘beginners’ I recommend kickthepj and charlieissocoollike. For something a little different, check out hexachordal. (Yes, they’re all popular British male YouTubers but off the top of my head I think they’re a good start). There’s a fantastic series running now called Becoming YouTube; I’m not sure how interesting it would be for someone who’s not already engaged with YouTube but you could check it out.

On a related note, shout out to Alan Lastufka, who doesn’t know me, but I’ve been a fan since fiveawesomeguys and he was how I found out about the Listserve.

You’ll get no sage life advice or wisdom garnered through travelling from me, but here are some lyrics to keep in mind (“Show Starts Now” by Cloud Cult; Craig’s words help keep things in perspective):

Hold your breath for a better day and you’ll never learn to breathe
You’re afraid of the dark but that’s where you learn to see
You’re no good to the living if you’re too afraid to bleed
That’s why your show starts now

Message me (be patient for a reply) if the following is relevant to you, or if you want to know more:

· Tolkien fan

· Summer in the City


· Writing as a personal activity

· Music (particularly Depeche Mode/Cloud Cult/AFP/Tom Milsom/Orphaned Land)

· Books (particularly Helen Oyeyemi/Cornelia Funke/Haruki Murakami/Catherynne M. Valente)

Since I wanted to include some type of interactive writing experiment, send me a piece of your writing and I’ll reinterpret/expand and send it back. Ask and I’ll send you a piece of mine.

I’m yet another Listserve participant who can’t believe they were chosen, can’t belive the timing, and isn’t at all prepared. I left my home on the Canadian prairies to WWOOF in Ireland on June 9, the most extreme experience in my life so far. I find myself placed me in a position where, for the first time in my life, I have no easy internet access and very little time to spend on the computer. I am writing this in the three hours before it is due.

Near Bantry, County Cork, Ireland (home in Manitoba, Canada)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Service to Humanity

I'll start off with my story and then we'll get into why it matters. I love basketball, but we'll come back to that. Went to college hoping to become a doctor, didn't quite work out. Didn't feel so great about myself for letting my parents down. Met some great people. Some not so great. Both groups were equally important to me. Met this girl, but that ended up like my med school dreams, just slowly drifted away. Missed my little brother a ton, made sure to keep checking up on him. I've always raised him like a son, and he's always seen me as a cool older brother - so it works out for both of us. Decided I'll be joining the Navy Hospital Corps in a year, I'm pretty damn excited about that. I think that sums it up pretty well.

So basketball... it's always been my sanctuary. I've been playing since age 4. I love everything about the sport. I can watch it anywhere, anytime, no matter who's playing. Right now I'm coaching a group of middle school children(~age 12-15) and it's one of the best experiences of my life. They grew up in a tough neighborhood in New York City, so this is a good influence for them. I see myself in them sometimes, because I know they're escaping something to come play this beautiful game.

If there's anything I learned from all these different emotions it's that there is not a better feeling in the world than to make others truly happy. To me, it's selfish for me to be upset about not going to med school, or not getting the girl, because I am incredibly blessed and lucky to be where I am today. Whether it's when I'm at the nursing home playing bingo with the residents, or refereeing a Special Olympics Soccer Qualifier - putting a smile on another human's face is the best feeling in the world.

So here's what I want to do, if you're still with me up to this point. I want to go to India and start a foundation that gives the opportunity and resources to underprivileged children in order for them to become basketball players. This doesn't necessarily mean pros in the NBA, but just turning them into happy, HEALTHY athletes is enough for me. I don't care how much money they have, because I won't take a penny from them. I don't care how little they know about basketball, because that's what the coaches will be there for. I want to help them achieve their goals through basketball, even if becoming a professional basketball player isn't the final goal. Think of it as a launching pad for their dreams - of sorts. I'll be waiting for a reply from you with your advice or how you can help me out. I am a single person with a big dream and I need your help to put a smile on these kids' faces. Let's make it happen. Please.

Queens, NY

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Day Without Excuses

I was always the type to make excuses. I had an excuse for why I was running late, why I didn't exercise, why I was moody, or why I was overwhelmed.

Recently, I decided that I would no longer make excuses for myself. I would begin to hold myself accountable, but still honor what I was feeling. I would exercise more, eat locally, make new friends, enjoy my job, and quit letting external factors determine what my next excuse would be. I would now hold the key to my destiny, as it is not predetermined by anyone besides myself.

Since the day I eliminated all excuses, I have finished my first triathlon and will be doing two more this summer. I have lost 25 pounds. I have opened myself up to new friendships. I am a better person, partner, friend, and companion not only to others, but also to myself. And I feel great!

I have learned that you truly must love yourself first, inside and out. I have learned that if your outside doesn't match your inside (or vice versa) you have the means within YOU to change it. No excuse will help you get better, only time, dedication, and willingness to CHANGE.

So, today I encourage each of you to consider not making excuses for one day. When your mind thinks, I'm going to skip out on ____, realize that's an excuse and do it anyway.

Try it for one day, and send me an email to let me know how it went. We are all on this life journey together. We might as well have some fun with it. Challenge yourself. Be bold. Laugh often. After all, life is good :)


Madison, WI

PS: I was once told that 99.9% of the world is good, it's the .1% that we often worry about. Make it your goal to consider everyone you meet to be in the 99.9%. No matter who they are, people can surprise you with their goodness.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fireworks: An Alternative Perspective On A Booming Business

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Fireworks are truly a cross cultural, worldwide phenomenon. Pyrotechnics as we know them today date back all the way to ancient China where they were used to ward off evil spirits. Today however, they are used as a way to celebrate things and events around the world, whether it be a national holiday, religious celebration, or the beginning of a new year.

But I'm not here to dwell on the fantastic, awe inspiring beauty, and downright awesomeness that IS the modern day firework. No, rather to draw your attention to the work that goes on behind the scenes, where hardworking men and women come together to put on a spectacular show, literally risking their health and well being doing something that they love.

Planning for a show (in the U.S.A. at least) typically begins months in advance with client meetings and gathering of permits. Shows can be specifically choreographed to music if the customer so desires. Costs easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars for a show you might see in your hometown on the 4th of July; basically the more rapidly shells are being launched into the dark night sky, the more money it costs.

The day of the show, work beings bright and early with equipment being loaded onto a truck and driven to the show site (usually a big open field with little shade and no bathrooms) where it is quickly unpacked. The "Head Pyro" uses a set of printed plans to determine where certain sized shells will be launched from on the field. Fireworks are launched from a tube which is secured inside a wooden rack. Picture what a military mortar might looks like, except 5 to 8 attached side by side pointed vertically. Each wooden rack weighs 20 to 30 lbs (or at least they feel that heavy after a long hot day outside). Wooden cross braces are nailed to each rack to prevent them from tipping over. This process, including loading the actual fireworks into the tube takes the better part of the day.

Excitement and anxiety builds as showtime nears. The whole crew makes final checks of the tubes, lining up fuses, and checking the stability of racks using only the light from a headlamp or flashlight. Two minutes before the show begins road flares attached to long metal handles, which are used to light the fuses, are ignited, their red glow illuminating both the field and the crew who are dressed head to toe in protective gear. Everyone is ready and more or less silent - eagerly anticipating the go ahead to shoot. Patriotic music builds up in the distance as the call finally comes in..."FIRE!" The first shells leave the tubes with a deafening report, a bright flash, and a cloud of white smoke. The show finishes 15 minutes later with special 'smiley face' shaped fireworks as the crowd in the stadium goes absolutely wild. For me that's what it's all about - complete strangers cheering for the show and our hard work.

Trucks are repacked and everyone departs the show site anywhere from 11pm to 3am depending on size and cleanup. It's been a long day, but completely worth every minute.

I welcome all feedback, questions, and comments. Nice or mean I'll read them and respond.

Somewhere Out West, U.S.A.

P.S. If anyone has connections to a company that hires Biomedical Engineers I'd especially love to hear from you, being a student and all.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I’m changing my baby’s name

I need your help. I’m changing my baby’s name, which it has had for four years.

I should clarify that my baby is not a human baby, but rather a company that I own. Right now, my baby is called Fresh Prints. We make custom-design apparel. I’m a senior in college, and all 40 people that I work with are also college students. I’ve spent my entire college career living and breathing this company. Unfortunately, for complicated trademark reasons, multiple lawyers have told us that we need to change our company name.

The past year has shown me that the Listserve community is filled with smart, funny and diverse people. I can’t imagine a better group of people to rely on when I need to make such an important decision. So, I’m asking for your help in 2 ways:

1) Send me ideas for a new name! We want a name that is clever, easy to pronounce and indicates what we do. Here's what you need to know about us: we're all college students, our top-notch graphic designers provide clients with free professional designs and we will do anything for our customers. We make ordering custom apparel really, really easy. We make really awesome t-shirts, hoodies, aprons, pretty much anything!

I’ll post the suggestions we get on our facebook page for everyone to comment on. (just search Fresh Prints on Facebook).

2) Use [insert new company name] to make awesome clothing! I love working with people to make awesome apparel and I'd love to meet fellow listervers, so if you ever ever want some custom apparel, send me an email! Mention that you're from the listserve so I can personally give you some special treatment and a discount :)

My last request is that you help grow the listserve. When I joined over a year ago, there were ~21,000 people, and we’re only at 23,000 now. If we all get three or four friends to join, there’s no reason we can’t pass 100,000 people in the next two weeks.

P.S. If you like technology, laughing or cleverness, follow my friend Aaron Wilson on Twitter (@aarowilso)

P.P.S. One of my more cynical friends suggested that I make the subject line on this email “You’ve won the Listserve.” Because that’s one of the crueler things I can think of, I hope I just ruined that joke for any future, heartless listserver :)

Josh Arbit
Englewood, NJ

Monday, July 1, 2013

Human Nature

I teach. My fellow teachers would probably describe me as calm, patient, positive, and disorganized. I genuinely love my job and I enjoy working with students and helping them learn, grow, and succeed. I have a knack for connecting with some of the toughest students to connect with and I pride myself on not judging my students and repeating the mantra of one of my professors from college—hate the problem, love the student. I am always willing to give my time and effort to help a student, fellow staff member, or friend.

I also, fundamentally, feel that humans are naturally selfish. We are incredibly self-interested. I don’t believe true altruism exists.

I do believe, however, that selfishness and wickedness are not linked. Rather, I believe that all humans can be taught to be, as I like to call it, selfishly selfless.

I love my job because it makes me feel valued. I enjoy seeing my students succeed. It brings me pleasure to lead a life of meaning. I am unbelievably selfish. I do what I do because it makes me feel good.

Rather than choosing to fulfill my own selfish desires by personal success and a cutthroat attitude, I choose to find that happiness by helping others. I actively make this choice every morning when I wake up. I’m not perfect—I’m human—I slip up. I have days where I do things I regret. I also wasn’t always like this—I actively made a choice to be this way.

How we treat others, how we move through life—that is a choice. We cannot change our nature but we can change how we engage with it.

I urge you to choose to be selfishly selfless. Choose to be kind to everyone you meet, in the hopes that they will do the same. Choose to advance yourself by making the world a better place for those around you. Choose to create a world that would best suit you by exemplifying what you wish others would be.

You may find yourself happier. You may also find yourself getting more of the things you want.

Have a fantastic day,

Williamsburg, Virginia