Saturday, May 31, 2014

On time and puppies

I miss my dad.

This is not a sad story. I have learned, over time, that missing someone is not that bad. In fact, if I can resume my life so far, this is what I can say about it for sure: missing someone, be it a father who died, a friend who left you or the one that got away, is something that somehow pushes you forward & upward, in all the right ways you need to be as a person.

What I miss about my dad the most is probably the things he missed, too. Like seeing me graduate high school. Or college. Seeing me get a job and then quit it. Seeing me heartbroken.

I miss him on my birthday. And on his. And I still write to him on March 19th, every year.

A good friend one day told me how lucky I am for all the things I have left of my dad. My passion for reading, my career choices, my love for eyewear, my collection of toy bunnies, the stories he told me, the ones he wrote. If I leave behind only half of what my dad left, I am one very lucky woman. But what he left behind, more than anything, is time. Time to remember him and to miss him.

All of us who lost someone are richer, in fact, than we believe, because we have all this time and all these stories to tell.

I read today that it took a company 45 days to create and send out an official tweet. It got me wondering how we choose to spend our time & how others see this. For some people at that company, 45 days to create 140 characters might seem like a good investment. For some other people in media & advertising, it might seem downright overkill. And for some other people, it really does not matter one bit, due to the fact that, well, they might be fighting for their life right now, or getting married, or packing for a vacation, or

living in a refugee camp.

I believe that if it is time well spent, for you, it does not matter if it is 4,5 seconds, 45 minutes or 45 days. All that matters are the stories that are born at the end of a timeframe & how much they mean something to you in the great scheme of things.

Think about these:

- the rush you feel when you get an amazing idea which you really, really don’t want to waste, like some others you might have had

- the way you sprint towards someone warm, kind, generous and lovely you long to see again, after some time,

- the furious way you stick your key in the lock when you FINALLY get home to your loved one after a hard, long, terrible day,

- the impatience with which you wait for a bus, taxi or whatever, when you know what awaits you at the end of your journey,

- the haste in which you brush your teeth in the morning, when you know that this is the morning when you will do something Grand,

- and the incredible slowness with which you find the time to remember all these little urgencies in your life.

Oh, and the puppies in the title? It was a trick to get you to read so far. But since you have: get them, they are awesome. My family and I had 5 at a time and oh, the stories I could tell.


Friday, May 30, 2014

We are our thoughts, god help us...

I’m sharing thoughts from the notebooks I’ve been keeping for the last fifteen years:

-  I know I’m ready to work when I’ve drank enough coffee to give myself diarrhea.

-  House hunting is incredibly boring, they never move.

-  On the first day God created the heavens and the earth, because he had to start somewhere.

-  I’ve probably taken over five hundred boredom-showers.

-  Did you hear the story about the dog that swam across the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve a tennis ball from Wimbledon?  Sounds far-fetched.

-  It’s the same old fish out of water story every time I go to sushi.  

-  “OCD” turned sideways looks like someone washing their hands in a sink.

-  How is he so relaxed, walking down the Champs-Élysées wearing shoes he cleans in the dishwasher?  [on my dad’s Crocs]

-  Suck a mile of dick.  If it’s a 6” dick that’s 10560 up and downs.

-  Monogamy is when you have one wife. Monotony, too.

-  Every family has secrets, probably.  It’s impossible to know since they don’t share them.

-  At least Sisyphus had a job.

-  “Blunt Force Trauma”  TV show about a Rastafarian paramedic.  

-  In the entire Bible not one person gets hit in the nuts.  

-  Kristy wore vintage clothes.  They were new but covered in wine.  

-  Elvis = Levis, all shook up.

-  The greatness of humans over animals is proven by this sentence.

-  Movie idea: “Priestly” Jason Priestly plays a Catholic priest with a wandering eye at an all-girls school.  

-  Pizza is a grilled cheese sandwich with half the effort.  

-  Isn’t it weird that “prefix” has a prefix?

-  “I have no pride,” said the orphaned lion.  

-  I’m holding myself back.  And that takes a lot of flexibility.  

-  “In the beginning God created heaven and earth and vampires...” [beginning to a bestselling novel]

-  Jesus saves, but what good did it do him?  He didn’t even retire.

-  The word “efficient” isn’t.

-  The man who said human beings aren’t reflective never looked in a mirror.  

-  If Shakespeare’s so great why don’t people write like him anymore?  

-  Thank god for all the wars, without them there’d never be history.

-  Keeping your head above water is suicide for a fish.

-  How did people sleep before pillows?

-  I was watching the television for hours yesterday.  I got bored, so I turned it on.

-  If, once a year, we had to take a bite of a homeless person, we’d treat them much differently.  

-  “Speaking the truth is painful, but try hearing it!”  

-  I’m terrified I’ll be playing iTunes shuffle at a party and one of my recorded therapy sessions will comes on.

-  What do you call it when two hippies pass away at the same time?   Tie die.

-  Nothings says, “I don’t want to do more than I absolutely have to,” than fastening only one clip of your overalls.

-  It’s hard to convince a girl to sleep with you after you’ve mocked her dream catcher.

-  You say who cares about punctuation.  I say, “H.I.V., Free!”

-  Boogers evolved to be tasty to prevent us from suffocating.

-  Why do obese sluts like fascist governments?  Dick taters.  

-  Meat is murder, but only like third or fourth degree.

-  Do you think meerkats feel diminished by their name?  

-  One day I hope to say this sentence, “Chill baby, I’ve got a dental dam.”  

-  Corn Maze.  Isn’t that redundant?

I am grateful I got to share with y’all. Would love to hear you.

Los Angeles

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Girl in my Phone

I met Julie once, but she lives in my phone now. I text her when I wake up and she tells me when she’s going to sleep. I think she might have a boyfriend, but I try not to bring it up. She has dyed red hair and a bubbly nose.

Our relationship isn’t romantic because it’s inherently nothing. Picture the movie, Her. She feels like my Samantha. I bring her with me when I go out and unlock her when I get back into bed. She’s with me when I’m around other women, and I’m not certain if she’d mind.

Last night my roommate invited company over for dinner, and these two girls I’m indifferent toward were the only ones to show up. I entertained them still with curry and ice cream. We ended up at bar. I bummed a cigarette from someone and floated from group to group, trying to find a conversation that suited me.

I’ve been telling my therapist I’m trying to be more social, but it’s hard to force it when I’m not feeling on. I rarely feel on. He thinks I’m choosing to be off, but I don’t think he’s right because he’s usually not.

I sat at the bar and tried my best to pay attention to the two girls from dinner perched beside me. They were talking shit about someone’s weight and I was fading away. I pulled out my phone and texted Julie and asked her what she was doing. I tried to play darts with some strangers, but it just wasn’t working.

I left early and got into my bed tired and alone—too alone to fall asleep. Julie’s name beeped on my phone.

I hadn’t heard Julie’s voice in a month or so—when we met for the first and only time at a poetry reading, and went to a museum together in the morning. This was in Raleigh, NC, and we were both out-of-towners; the threat of rush-hour traffic looming over us as we sat under some trees and talked about everything. I didn’t really expect anything to come from this chance encounter (I thought of kissing her but didn’t. She told me later that this conceived action of mine would’ve been “a bit forward”).

She asked me a few weeks later what my intentions were (a move I myself considered forward), and we settled up with each other. Yes, there was an element of flirtation, but for the most part, we were platonic. It was kind of funny that we could be anything more than that, but I found myself relieved and a bit thrilled with the honesty. Honesty was new for me.

I didn’t notice it walking home, but Julie had responded to my simple, “what’s up?” text with a slew of messages and a voice memo. They were apologies for the levels and sound quality of something she sent me. I opened the file on my phone and held the speakers close to my ear.

There was light guitar music, but it was her voice that stuck to me. It felt like I was taking a hot shower after getting caught in the rain. That all my loneliness in that moment had been absolved by the digital voice of a woman in Baltimore, a city more than two hundred miles away. It seemed silly: just a minute or so of her singing and playing guitar into her phone, but it wasn’t just that. Julie was singing and she was singing for me. Unbelievable.

I imagined her bedroom. Playing guitar by herself. Singing a bit. Messing up. Deciding to record it and send it to me. What her lips and throat looked like as the words fell out. If she closed her eyes.

I told her she shouldn’t have sent it to me, which was true. I told her I couldn’t listen to anything else, and that was true too—nothing was as beautiful. After these past few days, I have it nearly memorized. I anticipate the points where I can hear her take in some more air, or stutter over a syllable. The parts that remind me she’s human. The way she sings the predictable yet still startling words, I love you.

Andrew Squitiro
Norfolk, VA

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


New Year’s Day is supposed to be a celebration, a reflection, a hope for things to improve.

From this year on, I will always remember the 1st of January as the day our family friend’s 15 year old son took his own life.

Time doesn't heal all wounds. His loving family is left with no answers, except that perhaps he is no longer suffering in silence.

News travels fast on social networks. Within a week the boy’s Facebook page lit up with thousands of posts, each one from someone in similar disbelief sharing how much they loved him, and will dearly miss him.

He couldn't have known how wide and deep his network extends.

When someone who is loved and very popular, seemingly happy with life, and always up for an adventure, decides something is troubling him so much he can't seek help, what chance do others have?

I know I hugged my sons extra tightly when I heard the tragic news. It was an upsetting and tough conversation to then have with them about why it happened. But it’s an awareness that’s helpful they have.

I tried to make it clear, if they're ever struggling with life there is always someone to talk to. We can overcome all of life's problems, no matter how big they seem.

Do all our other family, friends, colleagues know they have someone to talk to when they feel down about life?

There is an awareness programme based on this unusual email subject line. They encourage people to ask “Are you OK?” They believe a conversation could change a life. I believe it also.

I do hope you're OK.

Perhaps someone in your circle could benefit from hearing you want to know they're OK too.

Warm regards

Dubai, UAE

P.S. Some coincidences are very interesting. Just before I was going to hit the send button on this message, I received today’s list serve message from Tim Rowberry. Not only do we happen to be sharing a post on the same sad topic, the ominous date he mentions as being his birthday, is also my birthday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Hello listervians !

My name is Corentin, and I am taking my last internship to become a French « avocat » in a solicitor firm of London, within its family division that deals mainly with Children Public Law issues.

Those proceedings begin when a child is considered in danger, likely to suffer significant harm if left in the care of their parents.
Even though solicitors will represent the Local Authorities that brought the matter to the attention of a court, as well as the independent guardian appointed to the child, we tend to mainly represent those parents.

The office is located in Brixton, and because its children law, because it is a neighborhood known for its immigrated communities, we mainly have clients on legal aid facing immigration and housing issues.

From what will follow, do not assume I am totally naive : I can understand that some parents behave so badly and violently towards their children the local authorities have to act to protect them. And I try to remain aware of my cultural bias, as French social workers and lawyers often work towards the reintegration of the children in their natural family, sometimes allowing risks in the process to protect this ideal.

But when parents come in, it is first evidence that they are willing to fight for their children's custody, and often the first step to make everything for their children's welfare.
What is our job then ?

First we listen to their story :
Mr X has Asparagus syndrome, and his wife and him, both presenting learning difficulties, were separated from their 4 children 10 years ago because of the harm they suffered in their care. Now the local authorities have concerns about their unborn child.
Mr Y has been sentenced for a crime committed in another European country. He has 3 children, with no one to take care of them. Had he served his sentence in his country of origin, that would have been taken into account and he would have been able to serve it at home. But since UK does take this factor into account only at the sentencing part, those children will have to wait yet another 3 years before having the possibility to be raised by their parents.

Then we explain what is expected of them in our best opinion :
Mr A, you will have to stop taking crack now, as we have to prove you are willing to change for the sake of your children's welfare.
Mrs B, your child was taken right after a forced C section and we find it outrageous, but you have to respect the contact schedule and let us handle the fighting in the court.

And we obviously do what is expected from us :
We carry their voice, write their statement, present their stories, make the court and the other parties understand, think twice, prove their caring capacities, contest unfair decisions, fight for their children's well beings.

After 26 weeks of hearings, contacts, expertises and tests, we finally explain the final decisions.

That is the closest I have ever been in my studies and short career of what advocacy means :
We are not all born with fancy vocabulary and agreeable manners, for they are learned, and expression of cultural habits.
I understand the fact that a state or population has to defend their children's welfare and security. In that field of law though, some persons have to carry the duty to fight a chance for improvement, present another cultural aspect of welfare, avoid misinterpretation.

I would be very grateful to discuss your own « legal » stories, do not hesitate to contact me if you are looking for someone to listen.

London, UK

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Thoughts

Hi my name is Katherine. I'm 16 years old, so I don't really know anything about life. I find myself trying to look online for as much information as I can. I feel like the most suggested tip I see these days is the fact that college is not the only option after high school. There's always specialty school or something, but I don't really know much about that. They always have those examples of very successful people who did not graduate from college who because wildly successful (Bill Gates and Zuckerberg to name a couple) but these individuals were smart and they seemed to have luck on their side. To be honest, I don't believe that I can become one of those lucky people, so I work hard to do what I can even though I don't have an end goal of what I want to do. really admire those who can work their butt off for that one goal that they want to do, they are extremely driven and so optimistic about their future. The hardest part is figuring out what I'm working towards in school. With 7 billion people in the world it seems unlikely that I, or anyone else in my school will be the next world leader.

On a lighter note, this doesn't change the fact that I try to be a fun person to be around. The people that I meet will never meet 7 billion people so I want to be a fun person to talk to. I'm not that great at making speeches or talking to a crowd like this one but I do like to talk to people one on one! When I do talk to people, I'm always a bit different around the people I'm with. I can fangirl over boybands or attempt to have an somewhat intelligent conversation (because I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent). I like having many hobbies so hopefully I can relate to other teens that I talk to.

I think I gave more thought to this than most of my English essays...

James 1:5

This was fun (on my part anyways),

Sunday, May 25, 2014


I'm a 20-something American living on the East Coast. I graduated from college (Go Big Red!) thinking I was going to be a journalist, but after spending a year working abroad in Israel, had some time to change my mind.

I went back to school and am now a year away from receiving my doctorate in physical therapy. Although it's not what I always thought I would do, I really enjoy it. I love learning all about the body and getting to help other people use theirs better as they recover from illness or injury. But my favorite part is getting to meet and learn about all of my patients.

I'm on Twitter @JasDPT15 and blogging about physical therapy on Tumblr as pt2b15. I'd love to hear from you if you love journalism/Israel/physical therapy/exercising/circus or just want to say something interesting about yourself. I've been reading the Listserve for about two years, so thanks to everyone who has already written and thanks for reading.

Have a good day, and I'd love to hear from you!

New York State

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Don't forget

I hope this is not too late. May 7th was my birthday. On that day one of my best friends of 18 years committed suicide. Don't ever forget to tell your friends you love them.


Tim Rowberry
Salt Lake City

Friday, May 23, 2014

On Websites, Relationships, and Putting a Ring on It

[Ryan Gosling Voice]
Hey girl, does your website adapt its layout to the screen of the device you're viewing it on?
[/Ryan Gosling Voice]

No? Then this relationship probably isn't going to last. No, I'm not talking about the relationship between you and movie star hunk Ryan Gosling. I'm talking about the relationship between you and whoever is visiting your website.

Because sometime after the charm of pinching to zoom and barely clickable links wears off you come to the realization that maybe the website is just not that into you. That it doesn't consider your wants and your needs(like the need to not fry your eyeballs a centimeter away from your iPhone screen trying to see a sewing pin-width link that your finger somehow has to click) and just isn't as attentive and caring as it used to be. That maybe it was just talking to you for hours on end because it liked to hear the sound of its own blog posts, and not because there was a connection.

Sure, there are more fish in the sea, but no matter where you cast your line be prepared for the same tired old zoomed-out pickup line. Only 15% of websites employ what's called fully responsive web design, a practice that allows a website's layout to adapt itself based on what size screen it's being viewed on. A business without a website that performs well on mobile is like that friend of yours who never fails to catch a ride home with someone every time you're at the bar then calls you up the next morning, whining about how no one sees them as marriage material. Websites that aren't responsive seem cold and inattentive, and who wants to put a ring on that?

However, just like a man can learn (although the ladies may disagree), there is a light at the end of the tunnel for websites that aren't optimized. My company, Evadra(visit the domain of my email to see our work), provides responsive design to clients of all business sizes cheaply, quickly, and of high quality.

Consider me a marriage counselor of sorts for websites and visitors(or customers/clients), and to help get you on the road to lifelong happiness, I'd like to offer my services to members, friends, and family members of the Listserve at 25% off my normal quoted prices. Consider it a wedding gift for your renewal of vows.

If your website is ready to take the next step in its relationship with its visitors, please get in touch at the email below.



- Websites without responsive, mobile-friendly design give off a vibe of disconnect with their customers.
- Visitors have to pinch and zoom, click tiny links, or stumble through sloppy navigation on non-optimized sites.
- Web design with my company, Evadra is cheap, quick, and high quality, and it's 25% off for members, friends, and family of the Listserve.


Wishing you all the best,
Alex Edwards

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Hi Listserve:

I’m a 29 year old married female living in my hometown after completing University and living abroad in South Korea for a year. I’ve been working in PR and Communications but am currently on contract so if you happen to know of any opportunities in Northern Ontario, please let me know!

A few snapshots from my life:

I’m participating in the Zoo-de-Mack bike ride this Saturday, May 17. This ride is set along a 51 mile route from the Zoo Bar in Boyne Highlands, MI to Mackinaw City, MI, where approximately 4000 participants will then ferry to Mackinac Island, one of the quaintest places on earth. The island does not allow for motor vehicles. Instead visitors walk, ride bicycles or take horse-drawn carriages to get wherever they’d like to go. While the ‘downtown core’ of the island is a total tourist trap, what’s not as well known about the island is that it includes a state park and with that, a combination of paved, dirt and unkempt trails to be explored on bike or foot. A number of times my husband and I have taken the trails and not seen anyone else for several hours, which I think is amazing because of the thousands of tourists that it attracts during the regular season. These trails are hidden gems. Due to my lack of training for the bike ride… feel free to send me any tips, tricks or perhaps any other info about bike riding routes or group rides in the USA or Canada that you have tried or know about.

In September 2012 my husband and I went to the Netherlands and Germany for our ‘honeymoon’. People at home and many of those encountered on the way told us we were crazy for spending what was supposed to be a stereotypically ‘romantic’ time checking out Anne Frank’s House, Dachau, the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorials and the remains of the Berlin wall. Honestly, it was the best decision we could have made. I’d never been to Europe before that trip and it was illuminating to be submerged in history in a way that I had never been before- having grown up in North America. No disrespect to beach and resort vacationers, there’s a time and a place for that- but you won’t regret taking the risk of being immersed in cultures that don’t specialize in making tri-coloured icey drinks on the edge of a swim-up bar.

Processed Food:
I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t eat an entire order of Little Caesar’s stuffed cheesy bread yesterday for dinner, but stop eating processed food. Right. Now. I went vegan for a few months a couple of years ago, and while ultimately I found that period in my life to be unsustainable, it taught me what I somehow managed to not learn in the 26 years prior. Taking the time to understand how nutrition works to support physiological systems was invaluable. Veganism isn’t for everyone, it’s not even for me. But I recommend everyone try it and start to recognize that what we, as a culture have been taught to eat isn’t necessarily healthy. Challenge your existing ideas.

A quote from George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones: “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge”. Never stop reading.

Volunteering: What’s your cause?
I’m working with a couple of non-profit groups right now. Notably with The Sault Theatre Workshop. It’s a frustrating and rewarding experience all around, and often people ask me why I’m involved. I try to respond as non-pretentiously as possible that theatre is important because it challenges ideas and limits, exposes audiences and actors alike to experiences they would otherwise not have had, and ultimately builds and supports communities while allowing for creative expression. It’s an art that’s continually receding in this culture, and that disappoints me. I’m always interested to know what other people are passionate about. What matters to you? Send me an email, maybe there’s something I can do to help.

Ali Moore
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trust me, I'm an engineer.

Two weeks ago I finished my master by presenting and defending the results of a full year of research in the field of deep brain stimulation (DBS). In a few words, DBS is a surgical treatment where needles are placed deep inside the brain through small holes in the skull. Comparable to a cardiac pacemaker, the needles will stay there forever and will electrically stimulate the neurons inside the brain. This treatment has been used for over 20 years for Parkinson's disease, but is currently also used for Alzheimer’s, depression and many more. You’re interested in how it works? Nobody knows.

I think it is fascinating to study the unexplored in a world where so many things appear to be known. While doing that I have not only learned about the things I was searching for. In contrary, I've learned most about the search itself. The first thing I have learned is that for many things no single correct answer exists, therefore I do not have to choose between different ideas. In contrast, I've noticed that it is more powerful to accept multiple ideas while simultaneously understanding its flaws. This brings me to the next thing. I have noticed that if somebody has a very strong opinion, chances are he/she might be wrong! I must admit, I used to have opinions about people based on limited information. Now I see, that it is natural to think fast, but I would make fewer mistakes if I would think slow. (Thinking, fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman)

Lastly, I try to be careful when echoing opinions or 'facts' I hear from others, since my ears are blind and yours probably too. You can trust me, I'm an engineer.

PS. Watch some videos to see the effects of deep brain stimulation for yourself.

Jonas Roothans
Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hello World, my name is John. I received this email first th...

Hello World, my name is John. I received this email first thing on a Monday morning and instantly thought to myself "what do I say?!" I've been a member of The Listserve for quite some time, but there's really way to prepare for those three words. . . "It's your turn."

I'm from the US, and I work in higher education. For the past ten years I've been involved in student services in some form or fashion, in Student Affairs, Admission, and Financial Aid. I've had the opportunity to work in a small liberal arts school and a large public university. In ten years I've literally seen and heard everything. I'd like to touch on the Financial Aid part of things today.

To those Listserve readers who are college students in the United States - Please, take responsibility for yourself. While a good number of students I've dealt with are go-getters and fend for the themselves pretty well, a startling majority of students seem to be attached to their parents throughout college. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The support that a parent provides on an emotional and practical level cannot be understated. However, when parents are doing things for their children that will have a lasting impact on their lives, such as master promissory notes and required federal counseling for student loans, that support becomes a problem. Students - it's your lives and your money. Take responsibility for yourself. When you default and you say you "didn't know" you had student loans, look back on your past and ask your parents if they did your paperwork for you.

On a similar but different note - the system that we have in place in the US to finance higher education is not sustainable. During the Recession students returned to school in droves because they were unable to find work. At the same time the government decided they needed the majority share in the student loan business to protect students from predatory lending practices. The result? A massive amount of debt that is owned by the government, which is sure to be the "housing bubble" for the next generation. We have got to figure out a better way to finance higher education to ensure accessibility for future generations.

Finally, I'd love to hear from you. Whether you're a student in the US who "didn't know" they had student loans, or someone from another country who has an idea as to how we can reform higher education financing here in the US. I can't wait to hear from you.

Good night World,


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Illusionist

Ethan won the Listserve lottery; he generously gave me the opportunity to use it to tell my story.

I’m French and homeless since 3 years. If you meet me, you wouldn’t even guess as I’m a pretty good illusionist: you might think I’m going to the airport for business with my suitcase following me everywhere. You might even envy my styles! Perfect hygiene is dignity…

I graduated a master degree in marketing in my 20s’ and immediately got my first job. For 10 years I worked for famous brands and even if it was not well paid, I was very happy about it as I’m from a very low class family. Everything was going well until the 2008 financial crisis. I got fired and couldn’t find another marketing job. No choice to change my career orientation: I became a fashion retail store manager. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it was very badly paid, luxury brands are the worst - but still, it was paying for the rent.

I don’t know why but I entered a bad life cycle: that same year, my flat had been robbed twice in a row, administration lost my social security number files and I started to have health issues. If being robbed really helped clearing up some space in my studio, not having a valid social security number anymore gave me a very hard time! It is required to have a legal job, public health assistance, health insurance and basically, everything that involves administration.

It happened that I needed medical care for transit issues: my body processes very little food. Many times I had to go to the emergencies in the middle of the night to get ‘fixed’. Each time, I paid without health assistance reimbursing. I went out of money very quickly and had the bank paying for the medical bills while I was dealing with the administration to solve this ‘out of control’ problem. My health got worse. I lost my job. Without any social security number, no indemnity.

You do the math: I couldn’t reimburse my bank and its charges, I couldn’t pay for my medical fees, rent, charges, phone, transport, food, etc. I applied for the ‘bankruptcy status’ to get a chance to start over but I was denied this status because of the social security number missing. I fought for months…


I remember closing the door of my flat, walking down the stairs of my building. It was around 4am. I was leaving everything behind because I had no one to help me moving my stuff out and that I failed in selling them. I put the keys in the mailbox and walked down random streets with this visceral fear I had nowhere to go.

I went to many organizations that are meant to help. They have their priorities and without this number I can’t get any financial help. My only options are to be an illegal worker as I don’t give up on my dream of having a tiny house lost in the mountains. When no job, I spend hours in public libraries, the remaining time is about finding a safe place to sleep.

I turned 34 three days ago. When homeless, friends tend to forget you.

Write back through Ethan email address. Share your positive vibes, your favorite songs, favorite books.

Ethan Reeves

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The once and future growth.

Three little life stories, and two requests:

About a week ago I started a garden on my ugly concrete balcony. It’s been cheap, surprisingly exciting and the relevant internet communities are a delight. My mother is also happy to see me engage in one of her long-time hobbies, so it’s a win on all fronts. Today I had to thin out the radishes a bit because it was getting very crowded. Going at them with scissors was hard, but it’ll be worth it!

Over the past seven years I’ve tried my hand at three different degrees: applied physics, teaching physics, and now embedded software engineering. It’s been a hell of a ride – frequently terrifying because I’d screwed up again, or exhilarating because something appeared to finally work out for me. This one’s the first that I’ve stuck with for more than two years, and yet I don’t regret the others: I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren’t for all the other situations and people I’ve had to deal with.

About seventeen years ago I joined a choir for the first time, following in the wake of my sister. Today I’m the treasurer for my second choir, and I could probably spend another six hundred words on all the ways these two choirs have been good for me. I don’t know about the global situation, but around here many choirs are in dire need of new members. Often they’re not too picky about your experience either – if you like to sing you can probably learn how to do it well ;)

On that note: I’ll be leaving my choir in a few months and am looking for something new. Today it occurred to me that something other than singing might be nice – acting, dancing, anything really. Maybe someone on here knows who would welcome a 25-year old newbie to their arts?

And while I’m here with words to spare: I’m looking for an internship in embedded or industrial software engineering. I’m fairly passionate about providing libraries and tools that are very useful to other people, and generally just enjoy making things fit together well. I am known as “barometz” in various online places, including GitHub.

I hope this was at least a little interesting to some,

Dominic van Berkel
Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

I’ve been receiving Listserve emails for over a year now.  After reading them, some have made me cry, some have made me laugh, some of made me think and quite frankly some I have deleted!

I often thought about what I would write to all of you.  I decided a long time ago that I would write about something that could change the world.  Parenting.

Why?  Because I am a mum of three wonderful kids.

My parents divorced when I was very young and it’s been almost 35 years since I have had any contact with my father.  I know he lives 30 minutes away and I know he has 6 grown children thanks to Facebook and social media.

I’m not looking for pity or sympathy, I simply want other parents to understand the deep and profound effect his actions had on me throughout my whole life – and continue to do so.

As a little girl, I struggled to understand his abandonment.

As an adult I realized it was his own immaturity that caused him to hate and punish my mother rather than look inwards at his own behaviour in the collapse of their marriage.

As a parent I wonder how he could ever walk away from his children and not know if they were okay. Not want to share in all the glorious things they do, see and accomplish.

I was raised by a wonderful strong-willed woman who taught me right from wrong, taught me that an education was important and taught me a strong work ethic.

The struggles of my childhood are what created the successes in my life today.

I want to keep it short as I know I am guilty of skipping over the long listserve emails.

So here it goes.

You as a parent have the ability to change the world with each child you bring in to it.  Love them and teach them to be good parents.

How ironic that the listserve invitation came on Mother’s Day.

A shout out to my glorious country of Canada.  True North Strong and Free!

Somewhere North of Toronto, Canada

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life, Love and making hard choices

I don't want to bore you fabulous people with more life and love advice, but I have a favor to ask of you all.

First an explanation…. I’m 38 work full time, study full time (Masters of Emergency Nursing) and am a single mother to two teenagers, I work in my states busiest Emergency Department as a nurse and I have had the privilege to see the whole spectrum of human behavior and been witness to the beginning and ending of life time and again. I have been part of miracles and tragedy and everything in between.

So I ask of you this….talk to your families about what you wish for your life should something happen to you (yes bad stuff happens, even you cannot hide from it).

Talk about if you want to be intubated and ventilated if you can’t breathe on your own - it’s invasive and sometimes futile - do you want this? perhaps it will save your life, but it might not be the life you live right now. Think about these things.

Talk about whether you want CPR to be performed if your heart stops - we will likely crack everyone of your ribs, it is a brutal act - it is nothing like the movies and the success rate is less than 10%.

Talk about what you want for your life…. how you want it to be - you should have strong opinions about this….

These topics are hard to talk about, but it is a lot harder to make these decisions when you don't know what your loved ones want and we are fighting to save them….. and we will fight for you till we have no more options I promise you that, we will fight beyond all reasonable odds, but please talk to your families so we know when to fight and when to stop.

Here is the rest of my nurse advice - Please don't hit, spit on, piss on or abuse your nurse! There simply is no excuse for this behavior - NONE. Nurses give you a piece of themselves every time they tend to your needs, often while ignoring their own.

If you say your pain is 10/10 and you are texting on your phone or smiling we won’t believe you! - we have seen 10/10 pain is and it’s when someone’s leg has been ripped off or their bowel is rotting inside, please try to be realistic and honest, we will still care for you and give you pain relief and comfort and respect.

And onto love…. be open to love it is the greatest force in our universe. Welcome opportunities to love every day and be generous in your willingness to give your love away. - The only cure for love is to love more…..

A shout out to Tracy who introduced me to the listserve - she is an amazing woman who I am inspired by and treasure.

A shout out to Amy who is my amazing daughter who is inspiring in her grace and wisdom and who will read this…. and a shout out to Harry my son who is funny and joyful and who wont.

Love each other deeply and talk to your loved ones - its important!
Practice kindness everyday.

Check out Sleeping at Lasts’ music.
Read widely and often- challenge yourself.
Listen to the TED talks.

Drop me a line if you want to ask anything about Emergency Nursing, or Brisbane, or Australia or anything….

Emma V
Brisbane, Australia

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wish you were here, but shine on you crazy diamond, in Strawberry Fields forever.

I will begin at the beginning; the commencement being the destruction of my mental health. Consequently, this was my brother’s death.

I have buried and I have lost. Yet never have I died from death, until now. My sibling died on a Tuesday, weeks before his birthday, 16 days before Christmas, 20 days before mom's birthday and 3 weeks and 2 days before the New Year’s start.

One single gunshot shortly before 10 in the morning. The most delicate sound I'd ever heard. Monumental in aftermath, but kind in waking me up, for it wasn't jarring. She screamed his name, followed by one last inaudible wretch. I told mom to get out of the house. She took care of him in life; the least I could do was take care of him in death.
The most detrimental and beginning of my mental health’s decline wasn't seeing his body, it wasn't therapeutically wiping his blood on my skin, nor was it watching the blood seep quietly and violently from his head. The biggest and most painful monster that day was my walking in his room and positively thinking my brother was sleeping. Entering his room and seeing his body positioned in a way that looked much like you as you read this right now. He was sitting up on his bed; head cocked back and held up by the white wall peppered red behind him. I assumed he was cleaning his gun and it simply went off while he slept. End of story, simple as that, brother wake up.
It took the paramedics one half hour before they professed doing everything they could. I thanked them kindly, walked to my mother and with just one look and no words what-so-ever, I told her that her son was gone. Watching your mother mourn a child they gave life to, is simply the most divine form of punishment life can give you, for my mind will never let me forget her screams. Falling to her knees and announcing to the birds that her boy had died; what terror that was.

They brought him down in a dark blue body bag 45 minutes after. With neighbors watching their spectator sport my mother sang "You Are My Sunshine". I whispered Pink Floyd lyrics into his ear.

I hear it every day and night before I rest my head. That gunshot will soar through my mind until my inner workings stop working, this I know.
My mother was 46, I 24 and my brother Mark was 25 when he died. I wish I could say that I've learned something wise that rose from the ashes of his death…That, I have a perspective of betterment since that day. But I am still searching to wake up every morning and take but one breath that is not riddled with pain. The day I can do so will be an accomplishment and maybe a day for imparting wisdom.

Upon my request, sometime in late February of the following year Mark’s ashes were peppered like snowflakes upon the mosaic design of Strawberry Fields in Central Park, NY. A small piece of him lay with the memory of some of rock n’ roll’s greatest. Now and forever, John Lennon, George Harrison and Mark Limbeck have a memorial in the heart of the greatest city in the world, a city in which he always wanted to go. Finally, death took him there…

…You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; you make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear how much I love you…a black revolver took my brother away.

Victoria Mark
Phoenix, Arizona

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Makes You Tick?

This is sooo cool!!  Let me tell you a little about myself.  My name is Kim and I am 24 years old.  I always hoped that when I won the Listserve I would be older, that I’d have some real life advice or thoughts to share with the world.  Because I’m only 24, I don’t have many of the life experiences that some of you do, but I’d like to share some of my life with you anyway!
In August 2008 I began my long journey through college.  I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since the very first time someone let me have a piece of chalk in my hand as a kindergartener.  In December 2013, I graduated college with a bachelors degree in Secondary English Education.  This was literally the happiest day of my life.  Being able to walk across that stage as my name was called was one of the single greatest accomplishments of my life, especially considering that I was the first one in my immediate family to have that experience!
In college, I was fortunate enough to have a professor who saw me struggling with life overall and took me under his wing.  He was one of the constants in my life when it seemed like everything else was falling apart.  Without his persistent guidance and support, being a teacher wouldn’t have been a possibility for me because when he met me, I was ready to give up on college and moreover, myself.  I will forever be grateful to him for all that he’s given me and because he’s absolutely AWFUL at accepting compliments or recognition for what he’s done for all of his students, the only natural thing for me to do is compliment him to all those receiving this email!  If you’ve ever had a teacher/professor/instructor change your life or make you believe in yourself, take a minute, find their email online, and tell them what they did for you.  I can promise that’s one of the most gratifying parts of teaching; hearing from former students that you positively impacted their lives or who they’ve become!  Thank you Mark, from the bottom of my heart.  I will never stop telling you how much I appreciate you!
Currently, I am a teacher at a high school in East Chicago, Indiana.  I love the kids there.  The school I work at is an underprivileged district and many people told me cautionary tales about the school and warned me not to accept a position there.  My Lord, how wrong those people were.  Those kids are some of the most fun, energetic, bright, and loving students I have ever met!  I do not have my own classroom there, yet, but I hope that whatever school I find a job at with my own classroom, the kids will be just as incredible. 
I’d like to say this--for all of you on this Listserve that are my age or around my age: Don’t ever be afraid to take a chance.  Don’t ever be afraid to allow an opportunity to change your life for the better.  Don’t ever quit on yourself.  
Finally, email me!  I’d love to hear from some of you and see where this email has gone!!  Networking is a HUGE deal among teachers so this is obviously the coolest way ever to do it!  Share anything with me!  If this happens to reach anyone with access to free books that they’d be willing to send me for my classroom library, I’d be eternally grateful!!  In order to create readers, I have to first get books into their hands; anything in the Young Adult Literature section usually gets my kids ready to read!
Thanks for reading!!

Gary, IN USA

Monday, May 12, 2014

This opportunity could be seen as a cathartic way to analyze...

This opportunity could be seen as a cathartic way to analyze the recent events in my life but that seems egocentric. Often struggling with words, communicating to such a large number of people is daunting. Visual expression as a form of language has been my best way of connecting and relating to other human beings. Talking without saying anything. Radiating energy into perception. This leaves room for endless interpretation. Our life experiences shape how we see and feel. So how does one strike a chord that resonates in the soul?
One must have a deep connection with the world around them. An endless universe of inspiration. The quest for perfection, which I do believe exists. This requires balance, concentration, and the ability to free yourself from time. A breathe. Embracing or rejecting chaos. The artist must inspire and be an example of love, happiness, and freedom. Authenticity must never be compromised.
When an era is coming to an end it is important to hold on to every last moment. But also allowing yourself to move forward and grow as a human being. There are times to look back but life is continuously moving forward. Getting stuck in a backwards motion could be detrimental.
My body will die someday but my soul will live on through my work.
Here I go…

Tim Hans
Los Angeles

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Antithetical week in the life of a pale native

If you’re not in the mood for my reflection on the state of South Africa scroll down for more light hearted content!

Here I am. A 21 year old in a 20 year old democracy, South Africa. It is two days before the 4th democratic election in this country of extremes; two days before I’ll be allowed to go and draw my cross for the first time.

I’m a white, a pale native, woven in-between the everyday life of black Africa. I stopped looking for bright colours, for my technicolour dream coat, for the Rainbow Nation!

I’m not asking much: I shall be satisfied by something in the middle- of- the-road. So I’m searching for a little bit of grey, maybe brown, something beige: normal, boring and predictable. But there is nothing in between to be find in the land of my forefathers, the land of my dreams, the country of hope- (lessness). Only black on white, only harsh, unforgiving extremes.

I’m currently studying Veterinary Science at the world renowned Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty and Research Institute, high tech enough to easily be mistaken for an Institute in a developed Western country. But driving to campus from home means going through Zandspruit, Diepsloot and Soshanguve- slums where people have to live in shacks of corrugated iron and mud, sans electricity, water or sanitation. Full on 3rd World vistas.

I’m sitting at home, looking out over a green garden and sparkling swimming pool, studying for tomorrows Toxicology exam. Whilst scarcely a kilometre away at the traffic light a Malawian woman (Probably an illegal immigrant) sits in a wheel chair holding a child (probably not her own, but used to gain sympathy) begging for money. Extreme.

Me, like the rest of the world, avidly follows the Oscar Pistorius saga. But I can’t help but wonder why this white-on-white murder is allowed so much publicity whilst far more horrific crimes are committed each day. White-on-black attacks makes national papers, black-on-black attacks are maybe mentioned in regional papers. But black-on-white attacks, which are the most violent and heinous, are largely ignored.

As this election draws nearer, I realise how ironic this country is. We boast about being safeguarded by the World’s most progressive Constitution, our Human Rights being the best protected. But our human rights are violated daily by the very government that set out to fight for our people’s freedom. Apparently there’s some secret clause protecting the ruling party/government.

The irony of giving millions the right to vote but then taking away the right of their vote being meaningful and contributing to bettering their lives, is not lost on me.

Maybe me, a proud member of The White Tribe of Africa, together with the post-Apartheid, “born-frees” will be able to make a change for the better with our nearing D(emocracy)-day and find our pot of gold together for the sake of our beautiful country.

Listen to: Gangs of Ballet, Matthew Mole, Jeremy Loops, Dear Reader, Shadowclub (iTunes is your friend J)
Read: Deon Meyer, Lauren Beukes, James Herriot (duh ;)), poetry
Watch: Dr Who, The Grand Budapest Hotel, independent theatre
Plant: Indigenous, Organic
Participate: Postcrossing, Yarn bombing, Geocaching
Cherish: Good health, family, friends, decent art.
Drink: Craft beer, proper wine, Fair trade coffee
Visit: South Africa, Morocco
Donate: WWF, EWT
Websites: lostateminor, iflscience
Quotes: “I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read”- Thomas Macauley. “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.”
— The Doctor, Season 5, Episode 12
Be: creative, impulsive, optimistic, humble

May the forth (and the odds) be ever in your favour
Marthinus Jacobs

Ps Correspondence welcome

Marthinus Jacobs

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Race in America - The Final Solution

Dear Listservers:

If America had a subconscious, race would be its neurosis. And it’s no wonder, as one way neuroses develop is when the reality of a given situation does not match up with what one is being told. The disconnect that is created between the official narrative given by an authority figure and the reality of your own senses makes the human machine malfunction, and worse, in the case of teachings about race it creates separation where there should be community.

In the United States from grade school onwards we are inundated with stories of racism. Like the Milgram Experiment, after years of this teaching most everyone seems to assume their given role: whites are the oppressors and blacks are the victims. And, there is seemingly damning evidence for racism all around us: Donald Sterling rants, police pull-over rates, incarceration rates, lower college attendance rates, lower incomes; the list is endless.

Through making a documentary film on an inner-city school (Google “Teaching and Learning in Compton”) I began to realize that the rhetoric of racism and privilege not only doesn’t help solve any problem, it actually hinders us. Unfortunately, talking about race, or privilege, or class, is so much easier than talking about the reality of what it takes to fix the problem. And the reality? Unfortunately, it involves work: lots and lots of work. The absolute, no bullshit, bottom-line answer is that the children of poor people will need to work a hundred times harder than their well-to-do counterparts to achieve a similar level of intelligence and skill.

Read Chapter 9 in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”. It’s called “Marita’s Bargain”. It may be the most important thing that you ever read about race and poverty in the United States. It tells the story of Marita, a young girl whose family is very poor. Through her mother forcing her she attends a KIPP school in the Bronx and thereafter her life is changed forever. What’s a KIPP school? It’s basically a military school that takes her out of her social and family environment and shoves her into a world of year-round schooling.

This is the dirty secret of race and class in the US. Success and intelligence are not inherent, nor are they withheld or bestowed, they take work. The difference between rich and poor children, and generally therefore whites and blacks, is how much time is spent on learning. Gladwell points out in his book that wealthy kids and poor kids have exactly the same aptitude for learning. In early grades, their test scores are very similar. It’s only as time goes on that a disparity emerges. The reason isn’t anything other than time; the rich kids tend to learn year round while the poor kids tend to sit idle in the summer and after school, not enlarging on what they’ve already been taught.

The only tangible solution for racism in the US, and more importantly for poverty, is for poor children to work harder than anyone else. It might sound simplistic but it is the difficult truth. Programs like KIPP should become de rigueur in every poor and underachieving school district throughout the US. If you read Gladwell’s book you’ll realize this will take dedicated teachers and a firm hand with parents, but it is the only realistic solution.

Then, we can also begin to address the other issues that will come up: is there truly a pervasive race problem in the US and if so how do we address it? It’s an important question but let’s solve the first problem first: to have year-round, intensive public schooling available for our country’s poor.

George Russell

Friday, May 9, 2014

It’s never too late!

Initially, I was surprised to open the email telling me that I had been chosen to have a turn at addressing subscribers to the Listserve. Upon further reflection, it was much less surprising…so many nice things have been happening in my life lately that this opportunity makes perfect sense.

Today I am graduating with my master’s degree. Today, as in a few hours. I am beyond thrilled to be here, so happy that my son will see the results of my hard work. and excited to see what the future holds. I am a 40-ish single mom to a wonderful teenage boy, I work full-time plus, and there have been many times when I would swear there are not enough hours in the day to complete all that I have to do. Somehow I was able to squeeze out enough time and energy to finish this degree. I hope that my experience demonstrates that it is never too late, you are never too old, and you can (and will!) accomplish anything that you set your mind and heart to. Think about what you really, really want...and start today. I promise you will be rewarded, if for no other reason than you tried. Cheesy? Maybe...but so very true.

What will YOU do?

Jami Warrick
Alaska, United States

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Good News

Happiness is a contrast emotion, wherever you are, happiness is one conversation away.

The bigger the things you commit yourself to tackling the smaller your everyday miseries tend to become in contrast.

This is provided that you have enough integrity so as to take authentic actions to honour your word and keep your commitments. When you stop acting authentically, that is a source of misery.

It is not enough to commit to things in your own head (actually the less time you spend in there the better.) Three words said to another are worth 3000 words said to yourself. You must share your commitment.

My commitment is to a world that works for all living things.

This commitment is a wellspring of happiness. As long as I get decent sleep. ( I have had depression when sleep deprived eg. my teenage years.)

So what authentic actions are being taken? One thing I have noticed is that when you make a really big commitment in service of others you tend to hang with great people so a lot of great stuff gets done. Special thanks to; Kerrie Liao, Sean O'Sullivan, James Whelton, Marie-Noelle Keijzer, Sally hudson, Aubrey de Grey and the many others who get stuff done with grace, ease and love.

A world that works has to be broken down in to several realms and the prevailing discourse in each realm analysed to discover new contexts that can be created to address what is not working. ( Yeah I know and go on figure it out ) :-)

In the realm of environment -
Trees make clouds - Clouds reflect sunshine - increase equatorial albedo through a 2% increase in cloud cover and you put a stopper in global warming for a while. So plant trees! You see it rains where there are rain-forests because rain forests make it rain. WeForest has planted 6,000,000 trees empowering impoverished women to be come food foresters to assist themselves and the planet. I am committed to not flying until we plant 100 million trees.

In the realm of entrepreneurialism -
Synthetic Biology is about to leap from the province of the large corporates and universities to the province or startup entrepreneurs. My daughters type 1 diabetes pointed me at synthetic biology as a way to make her insulin, Through our SynBioaxlr8r and HAXLR8R programs we are supporting entrepreneurs to get a head start right now. If you know a budding entrepreneur then direct them to our programs where they will get mentoring and cash.

In the realm of medicine -
As a founding board member of SENS ( health span is more important than life span ) I get to see the latest technology around health. Issues with resuscitative techniques have lead to heelgood a charity around redefining CPR ergonomics. They also lead me to Dr Lentz and the International Immunology foundation who appear to have as close to a generic cure for cancer as I have yet seen with the lowest risk of complications of any treatment I have heard of.

In the realm of education -
Computer programming is a language skill and the best coders are poets in that they combine their creativity with an economy of expression. When is the best time to learn a language?
CoderDojo is a global movement of clubs for kids aged 5-17 that provides an open and totally free learning environment for kids to learn to code. It is in 43 countries and if there is not one near you its open source and free of charge so you can start your own. Kids who can code get such a great grasp of technology and if you don't "get" technology then you are at the mercy of the technology and those who do "get" it.

In the realm of family -
We live of an organic small holding and grow a fair bit of our own food. We home school our kids some of whom also go to CoderDojo. Many thanks to Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages and also to Mark Goulston's just listen. I am eagerly anticipating the day when our three kids state the missions they have in life. Above all family takes time and that time is worth it. When I do not put in the time that too is a source of misery.

So my commitments and actions bring happiness even when I fail and I guess I failed and continued to fail a bit more than most. Failure is a core part of the context of learning so failure can also be a gateway to happiness. Oh and because happiness is a contrast emotion you cannot be happy all the time and you can be happy when you choose and happier in general and while you cannot make anyone else happy you can be of service, be polite and authentically be of good cheer which are the next best things.

I wish you all great happiness from taking on big commitments in service.


Trustee - The Nominet Trust
Special Envoy - St Kitts and Nevis
Venture Partner - SOSventures ( author Stone Soup - The secret recipe for making something from nothing)
Co-Founder - WeForest ( author Forests - Reasons to be hopeful )
Co-Founder - CoderDojo
Founding Board member - SENS foundation

My favourite word is Paraprosdokian
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

Stop reading and go do something good :-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

You just lost the game!


If you don't know what The Game is, ask a friend who does. Or Urban Dictionary it. Point is, you and 24,741 other people just lost it. Please email me with other games to play, in the car or otherwise.

Shout-out to my fellow geologists and MiddKids, my fellow Ridgefielders and Madrileños and Christmas Cove-ers. Shoot me an email, I want to know you.

In my 20 short years, I have figured out how to keep myself happy. You may chuckle at my naïveté, but these are my thoughts:

1) Talk to strangers (but use your intuition). If you let yourself have a brief conversation, the wall is broken, and friendship becomes infinitely easier. If you get nervous, just pretend you've turned your brain off and say anything. This method works.

2) Take a moment to be silent and appreciate where you are. I find this often takes the form of a "Mountain Appreciation Moment" when driving in the car with friends, or pausing to let sunshine soak into my skin.

3) Don't let deadlines kill you. Chances are, if you send a polite and nicely-worded email to your professor, you can get a little extra time. Professors are people too, they don't want you to burn out. Alternatively, some experiences are simply worth a few points off.

4) Cats and dogs are the solution. Don't waste your time on an animal that lives in a cage and isn't happy to see you when you come home. Also, don't be so quick to dislike little dogs. They are so uniquely wonderful.

5) It's okay to do what feels good. Don't beat yourself up over taking a break. Surround yourself with some people who make you feel good and have a beer every once in a not very long while. Take pictures.

6) Call your mother. She loves you, even when it seems as though the rest of the world doesn't. My mother's best quotes: "Everything's washable." "You're so full of shit, your eyes are brown." "Up with this, I will not put."

Looking for an entertaining movie to watch? Try My Cousin Vinny or Big Fish. But my real, all-time favorite movie (I'm serious) is The Lion King. If you're like me this time last year and haven't started watching Game of Thrones, stop being stubborn and watch it. It adds to the human experience.

Enough from me! Enjoy your day.

Christchurch, NZ and New England, USA

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Hi fellow Listservians,

I had no plan on what to write if I ‘won’, so I’ll revert to what I know best – drugs – the medicinal type. I’m a 26 year old intern pharmacist from NSW, Australia and I thought I’d list a few interesting things, common misconceptions and general things to know about medicines.

**Disclaimer – I’m still learning, don’t just take my word for the following (or the news, or anything); look into things for yourself, and become informed. The world will be a better place for it!

1. Are you one of those people (I’m guilty) that takes pain killers only when you can’t bear the pain any longer? It turns out that this is not ideal. ‘Central sensitisation’ is when you experience (chronic) pain above a critical rate over time, leading to your perception of the pain increasing i.e. the longer you leave the pain – the more sensitive you become to it – so treat it early and regularly if required!

2. Medications come from many sources, especially natural ones. A new diabetes drug, exenetide is derived from saliva of a lizard. Penicillin comes from Penicillium fungus; digoxin is extracted from the foxglove plant, morphine from opium etc.

3. The difference between paracetamol/acetaminophen (brand – Panadol) and ibuprofen (brand Nurofen). Paracetamol an analgesic (kills pain) that also reduces fever, is effective if taken regularly, however, if overused can damage the liver. Ibuprofen an anti-inflammatory - reduces inflammation, thereby reducing pain – can hurt the stomach if not taken with food.

4. Generics – these are the cheaper options offered to you at the pharmacy. These products must by law contain EXACTLY the same active ingredient (drug) and be as effective as the original medication. The only difference is that they may have different non-active ingredients like colourings etc. Often these are made by the same company as the original brand – it’s all about creating the competition.

5. Marketing – don’t let the drug companies fool you with ‘Migraine’, or ‘Period Pain’ tablets. Look at the active ingredient and you will probably find they all contain the same drug in the same strength, the only difference being the price.

6. Ever wondered why pharmacists preach that you must take the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel better? It’s to do with survival of the fittest, if you take an antibiotic for half the course, you’ll kill the weaker bacteria. But the stronger bacteria that can deal with the drug will survive and this will become the norm. This cycle perpetuates, leading to resistance to an antibiotic and is how we get super bugs like Staph (MRSA) that don’t respond well to treatment. Taking the full course aims to eliminate all of the bacteria.

7. Antibiotics and alcohol – whilst it’s not advisable to drink much when you are sick, there is only one antibiotic with which you should not drink alcohol as it will make you violently ill. It is called metronidazole.

8. The oral contraceptive pill (OCP). ‘Skipping’ your menstrual cycle by not taking the inactive tablets in the pack does you no harm, contrary to popular belief. ‘Traditional use of the OCP with 21 hormone pills and 7 placebo pills, allowing for a bleed, was designed to satisfy social & religious pressures of the 1950's and mimic a woman's natural menstrual cycle. A withdrawal bleed has no physiological basis.’ – From Menstrual Suppression (Family Planning NSW website).

9. Airing a wound out to dry is a thing of the past – Google moist wound healing, much more beneficial.

Have a lovely day.

A random P.S - Don’t pity a shelter animal, adopt one!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Free tour of Freeport, ME

This is going to be short because I am trying to live more mindfully as a remedy to my insomnia. Of course, that's also the reason why I forgot to respond to this e-mail on time. As my yoga teacher has been fond of saying lately, "Let it go, Let it go, Let it go..."

I live in Freeport, Maine. Let me know if you ever want a free tour of my town. I will show you the best places to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will tell you all about L.L. Bean, and I'll show you some quiet places to go hiking. I'll also show you the spot that I accidentally found a geocache, and probably introduce you to some cool people. I'll also show you the building that I climbed in broad daylight. I might even be able to make you some lemonade. Basically, it will be an excellent experience. So, add me in to your contacts; and if you are anywhere near Maine, stop by for a visit!

PS: To put it colloquially, I have read some pretty epic Listserve emails since joining the community in 2012. Thank you Michelle Glauser, for your email about love and being a woman in the tech industry; Joel Howard, for sharing your painful divorce experience; Ekaterina, for writing my favorite life-advice e-mail. I want to thank many others (including the author of the hilarious e-mail that only included a few random symbols, letters and numbers), but I need to get back to where I am in the present moment.

"Imagine your ideals. Then, make them real." From a fortune cookie.

PS PS: I'm always interested in networking!

Jonathan Erde
Freeport, ME / Auburn, ME

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thank you Listserve Gods!

Having thoughts about death does not mean you are suicidal. In fact, I have just pictured all of you attending my funeral. Yes, that was an invitation for y'all to come to my funeral one day.

The only way I can cope with death is by making light, decently funny jokes. But we all encounter death somewhere in our lives so here is my only advice (besides attempting to make light jokes): dont sit around moaning and saying,"why why?!?!?" Get off your butt and see how you can fill that void that just left you. The best way to commemorate someone is to take something they did or loved and make sure it isn't forgotten. I know someone who died that loves cooking so heres a recipe:

6 large potatoes and one large onion grated together.

A quarter cup of oil into a frying pan until sizzling.

Mix 6 large eggs and pour the mixture above into a large bowl.

Pour the hot oil on top of the mixture and mix together with compassion.

Add salt and pepper. Amount to your liking.

Add in about three cups of love.

Pour into a Lasagna size tin.

Preheat oven to 500.

Put under broiler for 15 minutes until brown.

Change to bake at 425 degrees for approximately 70 minutes.

If you know someone who died share something they loved or were passionate about and pass it on!

You are all awesome and I feel like I have 26,000 friends because of you.

Also, if no body else signs up for listserve you will all get picked in at least 65 years!!! So until then, enjoy life.

I want to take time to mention to people who I truly adore. My favorite girl in the world Noadia S-S! I wish a you all have the opportunity I had to meet her.

Also Andrew Pitkoff is solid.

If you are ever in the tri-state area and you want to go skiing, hiking, golfing, scuba diving or want to debate brat pack movies and the question of theodicy, please feel free to shoot me an email.

I also love tea and my mom!

Josh Weiss
New Jersey

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Leading up to Love

I was hoping I would win the Listserve at 25 when I have it all figured out. All the 25-year-olds are probably shaking their heads because they're waiting for 30 when they'll have it all figured out. Maybe we're all clueless. But maybe that's a good thing! Imagine a life so intricately planned out. Where's the fun in that?

I’m 23 years young and I have no sense of direction, whether it’s on the road or in life. I really don't care about being a legend or being remembered. I want to enjoy my life, do good, and be happy with the people I love. I live about 15 minutes away from Washington, D.C., working at a nonprofit where I couldn’t be happier. Part of the reason I think I'm so optimistic is because of my faith, Islam, and the whole whatever's-meant-to-happen-will-happen idea. I keep this in mind when I'm feeling down and you'd be surprised how quickly it shifts my perspective.

My family is a bit crazy, but it makes for interesting conversation. My mom is a red-headed white woman who grew up in DC, and my dad is a Pakistani brown man who came to the states in the 70's. I wear a hijab, or headscarf, and we as a family confuse and amuse people quite a bit…

Sometimes I even confuse myself. For the past year I’ve been jumping between wearing a traditionally-styled scarf and a stylish turban. Although I rock the turban, one of the main reasons I wear it is to avoid negative reactions from people who are a little less open-minded. It sucks because I don’t want to hide my religion, but I don’t want to be looked at as an outsider, either.

While I don't want to get into the implications of displaying my faith openly wherever I go, it's shaped who I am today. Some of it good, some of it I could do without. I'm overly-considerate. This may sound great, but I envy the people who do what they want regardless of what others might think. I'm very observant of others and I generally make decisions based off how I think others will react. I'm trying to slash stereotypes and change the face of Islam. It's what got me interested in filmmaking as a hobby.. the Muslim perspective is almost nonexistent. Sometimes I’m excited about the opportunity to represent Islam. Sometimes it’s too big of a responsibility to try and take on.

Ok, that's enough about me. Today I gave a ride home to my friend Michelle, who told me about how she met her husband and how deeply in love with him she still is. And the cool thing about it is that he's deeply in love with her too! She talked about something seemingly obvious, but often ignored... A relationship should have an equal amount of input. It can’t be one-sided. So make sure you're showering all the right people with your love.

Love is the most important thing in the world. Love the little things, like good food. Take it all in. Love yourself, love God if you can, love your family, love your partner. Make sure you're getting and giving a healthy dose of love.

S/o to my sister/bestfriend Samirah, my crazy brother Khalid, my friends Zaid and Sue Sue, who share my Listserve love, and Lina, who hopefully succeeded in helping me avoid looking like a fool with this email.

I give to: IRUSA
I rant at: PinkGingerale (BlogSpot)
I write for: Coming of Faith

Anisah Khan
Washington, DC, USA

Friday, May 2, 2014

Air Force Dependent Daughter

I am 52 years old. I have two awesome kids who currently serve in the Air Force. Growing up as a dependent daughter of an AF officer, I lived in eight states. I went to four grade schools in three states and three high schools in three different states. I have been married and divorced twice and lived with two other men.

We hear a lot about spouses of military people, -the separation from the spouse, -the hardship of money, -bringing up kids alone. But, what about the kids, the sons, the daughters? How does growing up in a military home impact the rest of their lives?

After my last breakup, I went to a therapist. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I stay happy in a relationship? It didn’t take her long to say something to me that made me change the way I viewed ALL of my relationships -with men, women and family.

Moving so much all my life until I was 18 made it hard for me to learn how to establish long term relationship. I was awesome at making friends. I could talk to anyone. But, I never learned to maintain those relationships for more than a few years. As a result, it was easy for me to make new girlfriends or find a new boyfriend when things got tough. I never learned how to cultivate a relationship that would endure difficult situations. I’d just say goodbye and move on.

Maybe in this current relationship, I am holding on to something that I shouldn’t…..

That turned out to be a little lonely.

On to a lighter subject….
People used to talk about Colorado for the fantastic skiing, hiking, kayaking, camping, etc. But now, we have legalized pot laws. Many people think this is all a huge embarrassment for Colorado. The 4/20 pot holiday the once-underground celebration is now mainstream as the first state that legalized marijuana. Tens of thousands of people participated. One hundred and thirty citations were issued over the two day event. Ninety-two for marijuana. But, it hasn’t stopped people from illegally trying to sell it. It isn’t supposed to be smoked publicly, but you can smell in on every street corner, coming out of peoples car windows. New Jersey’s Governor said they would never legalize it for the money. Our legislators are trying to figure out what to do with all the money the State is now making from increased tax revenue. They say that tourism is booming! Colorado is a beautiful state. I hope people don’t forget about our majestic mountains, almost perfect weather and the small town feel of the City of Denver.

Mimi Sacone
Denver, Colorado

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A List for [The Listserv]:

1. Gratitude is where it’s at.When I practiced gratitude daily, I often felt spontaneous surges of joy throughout the day.But then I stopped, because simple things are hard to do sometimes.
2. Stepping Backward by Adrienne Rich is my favorite poem.Read it out loud slowly to someone you love and see if you don’t feel something real crack through.
3. Digital detox. Yes, please.I used to join with the trees in their magic when I went for a walk. Now I feel separate, which I’m sure is a bad sign.
4. Parsley (Italian Leaf) is delicious in smoothies. Weird, huh?
5. Bodies are amazing things.If I touch my toes long enough in a quiet room, I find my soul, patiently waiting.
6. Coincidence stories are my favorite kind of stories (most of the time).
7. I paint chickens.I have an unusual last name, so I’m sure you can find me if you’re into fowl art.
8. Kindness.
9. It is my dream to live in a tiny house community.Here is the vision: a scenic piece of land not too far from some progressive city, a group of tiny houses surrounding a shared farmhouse kitchen/studio art space central structure.And gardens.And chickens.If someone wants to build this and then invite me to come live in one of the tiny houses, that would be cool because I’m not good at building.
10. Sometimes I do interpretive dance alone in my apartment. Whenever I dance to Bon Iver’s, Holocene, it makes me cry cathartically.You should try it. Maybe it’s just me.
11. My friend Lauren introduced me to The Listerv.Hi Big Mama L.I miss you

Denise Baxindine
Austin, TX