Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7 colours of my life -well, actually 6

1. YELLOW - The morning I learnt that it was my turn to write for Listserve, we were having a long discussion with my family on how their past years of poverty has affected us (I got a sister and a brother) as kids. We cried together. I had a bedwetting problem until starting high-school. My sister got married at her 19. (We are both OK now, she has three wonderful kids)

2. PURPLE - Since the day I realized that I have a younger look than my peers and I will never have beards, my biggest challange has started: Not letting others define my character with their words/looks on how I look. (classic modern story)

3. TRANSPARENT - I belive that we people are destined to live with a misconception of ourselves no matter how hard we try. -This is something I discovered during my Sociology master.- Maybe that’s why I prefer “loving” to “understanding” or I belive “to understand” is only for “to love”

4.BLUE - I am an English teacher in a suburb of İstanbul. -Between “to educate” and “to be a good example” I would definitely bet on the latter.- My students (7th and 8th graders) love visitors in the classroom. If you ever happen to visit the city you are always welcomed in my English class. Just e-mail me. I have a million membered Facebook page, Learn English -the one with the colourful monsters on its profile- and I dont know why I am sharing this with you guys. Sorry.

5. WHITE / PINK / WILD STRAWBERRY / RED - And the biggest news!!!!! I am getting married with the girl I am in love in 5 days. :) She is adorable and I already owe so much to her. I love her. I love to discover the meanings of things in her soul.

Could you help me surprising her, please, please, please??? I am preparing a photo slide for her and I just need a photo of you -or someone you know- holding a paper/carton with a short note (Congradulations etc.) and our names on it, Süheyla & Mehmet… It will NOT go online... We will -hopefully- find a good way to thank you afterward.

6. ORANGE - I have made a wedding website in 3 hours with no coding and stuff on wordpress. That’s a part of the surprise for her. If you can’t write a book, you can make a website.

7. GREEN - Plant trees.

Best regards.


(Now, I wonder if I get my own e-mail) :)

Mehmet Biçer

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

just a moment

I've enjoyed reading everyone's messages, short and long, and in them I've found many beautiful words and inspiring thoughts.

I'll share a story.

We'd been drinking all night. We were in university, working for the student newspaper, and we drank in bars with wood paneled walls.

I walked him home; it was on my way and I was happy just to be close to him. It had to end when we reached his door.

Instead of going inside he leaned in, hugged me to him, and kissed me. His stubble burned my lips. He pulled back, and asked if it was ok; sounding almost afraid. It was.

As a boy who'd resigned himself to the idea that no boy would ever love him back that moment was a fulcrum for many changes in the way I saw and lived my life.


Ottawa, Canada

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things that Changed Me

My self-harm, which was mostly a cry for help, which no one that could have done something for me picked up. I was fourteen and didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. Twelve years on, I’m in therapy and still fighting the urge to hurt myself – not daily, but more than I’d like.

Being in and stepping out of an emotionally, sexually and psychically - in that order - abusive relationship. I never found that strength in myself again, and will be forever grateful to the boy who triggered it in me back then.

Learning to drink coffee. It gives me calm and comfort on weekend mornings.

Going to journalism school, which I dreamed about all through my five years of university and way before that. It opened a whole new world to me: suddenly I needed to do things, see the world, write!, after five years of sitting in benches, listening and taking notes. It made my love for writing and reading even bigger, and was a dream I would have blamed myself forever for not pursuing it.

Music. Indulging me in it from the very beginning of my life is one of the few things I am my parents truely grateful for.

Being left by my best friend because he’d rather not be with me all than be with me his love unanswered.

Joining a youth movement, which taught me valuable things like engagement and teamwork, but which also confirmed yet again what I already knew by then: making friends is not my strong suit (to say the least).

The psychiatric problems in my close family, and mostly: that we never talked about it. I was thirteen, heard my sister crying all the time, saw the fear in my mother’s eyes, and had to make up my own story.

My most recent ex- and most serious boyfriend ever. He taught me things, he inspired me, he cared for me when I didn’t care for myself, he supported me, he gave me a home, he made me a better me.

Take care,

PS Do you happen to know a good cure for chronic urticaria? I'd love to try it.

Lotte Van Doren
Antwerp, Belgium

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Karma is a b@#%h

Karma is a bitch. It's a soft cuddly puppy that can greet you with a blissful expression if you are nice or bite your ankles if you are rude. I learnt this recently.

I was traveling in the Delhi metro, when I bumped into a ragged, shabby looking kid wearing half pants. He fell on the platform and scraped his knees. I happened to have a Band Aid handy so I bandaged his wound and set upon my way. 3 stations out, I realized that my phone had been nicked. I immediately ran back to the boarding station with the intention of reporting the theft. As I was heading towards the police booth, someone tapped me on my hand and said to me in Hindi, "Here's your phone. My knees have been bleeding since morning. Although I have nearly a lakh rupees ($1700) worth of phones in my pocket, I can't really afford a Band Aid. Good Day".

Karma is a bitch. A soft cuddly one in this case. Puts things in perspective doesn't it?

I am Hem, 25 years of age. If anyone is coming down to Delhi anytime soon, hit me up and I would love to show you around/swap stories over a pint of beer. Or just write to me. I love to meet new people and would love to hear from anyone who would like a penpal :) I also play in a band called "The Purple Jays". We are writing an album which will be out by November this year. Head out to our Facebook page and stay tuned for updates :)

PS: Thanks to Deepali V. for introducing me to Listserve. A big shout out to Monica, Akanksha, Ishita, Prateeksha, Pasha and Ankit for being the best homies I could ask for.

Hem Chander

Friday, July 25, 2014

Four things

1: I find it expedient to distrust people who use the phrase "in any way, shape, or form". When it says "for your convenience we have..." then it is never for your own convenience.

2: Most people are not against you, they are for themselves (paraphrased from a comment on Reddit).

3: My son Riley turns five in August. Wish him happy birthday by writing him at rileyturnsfive[AT] and tell us where you live. He and I will find your location on his globe. We will reply to the best emails with a video. I love you so much, Riley.

4: There is a lady in South Africa named Martha who helped to raise me. She is currently battling health issues and I just want her to know that I am thinking of her right now.

Warwick Poole
West Chester, PA, USA

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More than just Big Macs...

It was a frigid Canadian winter’s day and I was supply teaching in a local school. I was having a horrible morning. Remember how your prepubescent classmates treated the substitute teacher when you were a kid? Well, I was now THAT teacher. Needless to say, I was attempting to keep the class under control but struggling to do so. I knew that if I was to make it through the afternoon I needed a coffee. At lunch, I drove to a plaza about 10 minutes away and got my caffeine fix. As I approached my car, I suddenly realized that my keys were locked inside. Ugh. As was my cell phone. Ugh again. Panicked and desperate, I hurried into a nearby McDonald’s and approached the man at the counter (who turned out to be the manager) and asked him if he could call me a cab. I briefly explained my situation and I could tell from his expression that he sympathized with my desperation. I was a little beyond stressed at this point. When you are substitute teaching, you are basically trying to make the best impression possible on every principal and school you go to in the hopes that they will like you and that you may be one step closer to landing a full time gig. Not showing up after lunch or being late would put you in their bad books. So the manager hurried to the back to call me a cab while I paced the restaurant. The clock was ticking. I had about 10 minutes until the bell rang. I debated running but it being winter and likely a long and icy jog back, I wouldn’t make it in time. Several minutes later he returned only to tell me that the cab company had put him on hold and that he had then become disconnected. He was now back on hold again. No cab was coming yet. Crap!

I must have made some sort of terrified face because without hesitation he grabbed his coat and said “I will drive you”. So without a thought I followed him. In no time I was back at the school with only a couple of minutes to spare before the bell. I thanked this man endlessly for his kind gesture and to which he replied, “that’s what McDonald’s is for”. Not just the Big Mac I guess.

I think back to this day often and it makes me happy. Happy that a total stranger would care enough to help me out of a bind. I guess we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems in a day but we do have the power to put a smile on someone else’s face and make their day just a little bit brighter. And who knows, maybe one day that person will write a listserve entry about you!

I am now a full time teacher living in Toronto and I share this story with my wee ones every year. It’s simply kindness.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. Shout out to Pedro, the best hubby a girl could ever ask for.

P.P.S. Shout out to Jo, Ange, Elena & Danielle, the 4 best friends that anyone's ever had.


Marisa O.
Toronto, Canada

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Travel as far as you are able, to what is unfamiliar

I write to you all about one of my passions, travel. I am afflicted
by what is likely the most amazing affliction possible, wanderlust. I
am fascinated & fixated on exploring this planet as often as possible.
Being able to see & experience places that are vastly different from
where I've lived puts everything in a new perspective. You learn to
appreciate what you have, or to realize that there are better ways of
doing things. You understand why some places are the way they are, or
learn that some parts of the world defy understanding. Travelling to
new & unfamiliar places makes you a better person.

I know that not everyone has the means to travel to distant lands.
But you don't need to. Sometimes going somewhere unfamiliar means
driving for a few hours to a place that is unlike where you live
(different scenery, different culture, different language, etc). Or
go hiking & explore a forest, desert, beach, or grassland that you've
never seen up close before. Wander to a new part of your town or city
that you've never been to before, or get on a public bus, subway, or
even a taxi, and check out a part of your city, province, state or
region that is unfamiliar to you. Just go somewhere that is new, and
take it all in. Additionally, travelling does not have to be a group
activity. While there are benefits to travelling with one or more
friends or loved ones, travelling solo has its own rewards & benefits.
Sure, it requires some more courage, it can put you much further out
of your comfort zone, but in the end, you'll learn more about yourself
(and if you learn that you simply hate travelling alone, that's
worthwhile knowing from experience too).

My favorite/recommended travel destinations:
* South Korea: China & Japan get a lot of the hype & buzz, but this
small nation is amazing. The people are friendly, the culture is
interesting, and the food is delicious
* Estonia: western Europe gets all the attention, but this ex-Soviet
era country is quirky, fascinating & fun
* Australia: I spent a month, a year ago, driving a campervan over
9000km all around, and had the most amazing time. Its a huge place,
with so much to see & experience
* Tanzania: my first experience in Africa, and I'm yearning to return.
Its wild, wonderful & unlike what most expect

Where to next? Oman & Dubai in September, quite likely Cambodia in
January, and I'm hoping to get to Antarctica in December of 2015. If
you've been to any of these places already, please share your tips,
warnings, & recommendations (places to see, sleep or eat, people to
meet, etc).

Almost as much as I love to travel, I enjoy hearing about other
people's travels. The next best thing to going somewhere new, is
hearing about your adventures. I'd love to hear from any of you with
a great travel story:
* Where have you gone that absolutely amazed you (and why)?
* Where have you gone that didn't live up to the expectations (and why)?
* If you have photos of your travels online somewhere, I'd love to see
them. Even better if there are stories to go with them.

When I'm not seeing the world, I'm an engineer at a Silicon Valley
tech company. Want to chat about anything? I'm on twitter
(@netllama), or try simply googling for "llama land linux-sxs"
(without the quotes), and the first few results should point you to my

thanks & happy travels!

Lonni Friedman
San Francisco Bay area, California, USA

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This space left intentionally blank.

Good morning from Hawaii! This week I'm enjoying a wedding and some vacation. I need to remember to stop not taking vacations.

I miss the World Cup already. 3 or 4 international matches every day spoiled me.

Last year I moved to Austin, Texas after 7 years in Colorado. I love both states.

I'm the oldest of 4 children & I'm terribly proud of the younger 3. We live in 4 different states, but get together when we can.

Next month begins my 34th year on the planet. Time flies.

I haven't owned a car in almost 8 years, preferring to get around by motorcycle, skateboard and bicycle.

Currently playing FIFA 14 and Titanfall, I'm 'OfficeEnforcer' on Xbox One if you'd like to join.

Lately I'm interested in learning more about building / structure architecture and data visualization. Message me if you have interesting examples of either I should see.

I'm also fascinated by the things people chose to carry with them. If you have time after reading this, send me a picture of the contents of your pockets.

Shouts to my Uncle JT, my wife Sonya, and to Taylor and Kaitlyn (check out their amazing journey at whoa dot fm)

Enjoy the balance of your day,

Jeremy Tanner
Austin, TX

Monday, July 21, 2014

Help tenth-graders become readers!

I teach tenth-grade English at a public high school in the South Bronx. I love my job because of my students, who are kind, thoughtful, and unthinkably resilient kids who all want a satisfying and stable life. The biggest obstacle between my students and success is literacy. Without strong reading and writing skills, graduation and college admission become impossible dreams. To raise literacy, we need an enormous supply of engaging, diverse texts, a library where any student can find a book that they can't put down. In the last year, I have worked non-stop to build the only classroom library in our school, collecting from willing publishers, friends, and other schools. I'm happy to go anywhere I can in/near New York City to add even a book or two to our classroom, and the result has been a classroom already full of books, and a tenth-grade recognized by the school as an impressive cohort of independent readers.

There will never be enough books for my students - the more we can offer, the better our chances of getting every student, especially our reluctant readers, to find a story they love and invest in the reading they need to do well. So please, anything you can offer is deeply appreciated.

Anyone can help! Here are possible ways you could:

1. If you're in New York City and have even a book or two (or more!) that you think high schoolers might enjoy, e-mail me! I'm happy to come collect anything. If you are from out of town but interested, e-mail me and I will let you know when our next DonorsChoose project begins (hopefully in the next week).

2. Recommend books you think teenagers might like & tell me why. I spent a lot of the summer reading books in the hunt for ones that I know my kids will like.

3. Let me know about non-profits/organizations/people who might be able to assist. We have benefit hugely from organizations like First Book and the Cicero Project, and I'm sure there are other great places ready to give books to schools like us that I don't know about!

Anything is appreciated - take a moment to think about whether you can help us out! For the thousands of you not in New York City, if you (like my family) have shelves of books no one reads anymore, consider finding the school near you that wants them - there definitely is one!

Sabine Chishty
New York, NY

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire in my hands

Hi all! I'm a 23 year-old-reporter writing about technology for Business Insider.
I've been living in New York City for less than a year but I'm already head-over-heels for it and I thought about writing out all the reasons why but then I decided to just list some of the things that I have written down in the "Beauty" note on my phone:

A man playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes in the subway of Grand Central Station 
Spilled gold glitter nail polish on the dark tiles of the Port Authority bus station floor, that you notice every time you're there
Cheek kisses from subway strangers, paired with the advice that you should drink bitters for hiccups
"You are a blurry young person"
Coming home tipsy on a Tuesday night helps you remember how much helps you remember how much you love new york city — when the wind ruffles your hair in the subway as you feel the train approach and when you get on your car and it's eight nine ten eleven two o'clock and people are still laughing all around you and talking about their day or their latest lover and you can't help but feel oh so deliciously alive.
The man on the subway with his gray scruff and wrinkled hands handing a mango and a fat pear to the homeless man limping through the train asking for "food and water." "please spare your food and water." as the plastic bottles get passed and the fruit changes hands your heart can't help but warming. 

Aaaaand now one of my favorite poems:

Oranges by Gary Soto 

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

Jillian D'Onfro
Sunnyside, Queens, New York City

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Outback Club

Hey everyone,

I am writing to you from Mundrabilla Roadhouse in the outback of Western Australia. I’m a 27 year old from Ontario,Canada who’s been living in Australia on a working holiday visa for nearly two years now. While I have seen some incredible coastlines and met some incredible people I have chosen to write about my current situation which is at an extremely remote roadhouse along the Eyre highway.

For anyone that doesn’t know, this highway is the only route linking South Australia  to Western Australia. The Western Australia part of the highway is virtually treeless, flat, saltbush covered terrain that is practically unchanging. I am 13 hours inland from Adelaide and 16 hours inland from Perth. There are no towns out here, only roadhouses located about 100-200 kms apart from each other. Due to it’s remoteness some parts of the highway are even used as emergency airstrips for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

In March, I decided I would spend 6 months of my last visa out here. My primary reason  to come out  was to cash up and set myself up for the next adventure. Out here you’ve got all kinds of money and no place to go. Our big nights out consist of driving to the next roadhouse to get lattes because we only have instant coffee or walking up the back of the property to get away from the sound of the generator and see some kangaroos and emus. Let’s be honest though, coffee isn’t everything, I do drink a fair bit of wine to keep things interesting.

Some days the silence, isolation and lack of social life really makes me wonder whether it’s  worth doing something you hate just for money? To be fair, I don’t hate it completely. It is such a unique experience relying on a generator for power and desalinated ground water to drink. You really do learn to live with the bare essentials and I’m happy with that aspect of it. We look forward to our toiletry orders coming every month as if it was some flash new toy. On the other hand I am doing simple, mindless work that really allows too much time for thinking. Thinking of the more beautiful aussie towns I could be in, thinking of what else I could be doing, thinking of the places I won’t get to see in Australia because I’ve committed so much time here. On a weekly basis you really go through a roller coaster of emotions which is the part that I hate.

There are about 10 of us out here, the family that own the business, a couple of managers, and then us, the workers, the backpackers that the roadhouse relies on to operate the business. Currently, there are 4 here: Helene, a lovely, young lass from France (whom I just introduced to the Listserve) Matt, our wannabe pommy from Perth and Bean, a pint sized art teacher from Taiwan. Without these guys I would have fled the scene long ago. We keep each other sane, I like to think so anyway. We all plan  to travel after so we constantly motivate ourselves to stick it out by chatting of the countless ways we are going to roam around Asia spending all our hard earned cash from Mundrabilla.

When it comes down to it, it is a great experience that I couldn’t get in Canada. Come say hi if you’re crossing the Nullarbor! Get in touch with any travel related stuff or anything that may keep me motivated out here for another 3 months!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my story.

Amelia Marchionda
Mundrabilla, Western Australia

Friday, July 18, 2014

Interpol the band, not the police

My favorite band is Interpol.

The deep, dark, melancholy chords layered with Paul Banks' voice is comforting to me. My favorite songs are "The Lighthouse" and "Leif Erikson".

I grew up in low income housing in the Lower East Side of New York City in the 80s. I've since moved to my own place but still live in the neighborhood. Things have gentrified quite a bit since then, with a trendy restaurant, bar, gallery, or boutique opening up every week. There's still a grittiness here that I hope doesn't wash away the cultural roots that have been laid down generations before.

My parents immigrated from China in 1978. When they arrived, they had no family, no friends, no money, no degree, didn't speak any English and had to feed my 4 year old sister.

They are the most unselfish, hard-working, and resilient people I know. They sacrificed everything so my sister and I could have a good life.  They're in their mid 60s now, and the other day my mom said that she was proud of me.

I like making lists and checking them off.

I love summer thunderstorms. I stand outside on my balcony while I watch the rain comes down in sheets, lightning strike in the distance, and thunder rolls above. I like the smell of wet grass and feeling the electric tension in the air.

I quit a career in Finance and traveled around the world. I rode camels in the Sahara, rapelled down a waterfall in Costa Rica, witnessed the Northern Lights in Norway, and ate some of the best damn food I've ever had in Istanbul. I'd like to see Australia, New Zealand and Iceland soon.

I now work at an online Dating Startup in NYC.

I've been in love before. I've also been infatuated before. I think I now know the difference.

I'm afraid of failure but I know it's all (mostly) in my head.

I read theSkimm, Quora, and Marc & Angel Hacks Life.

I love yoga. I picked it up after I split up with my ex of 4 years. It was a really tough and desolate time and I had to re-learn who I was and how to live by myself. The first time I felt peace was during Savasana, in a crowded, sweaty room full of yogis laying next to me, with the song "Green Arrow" from Yo La Tengo.

I believe that if you don't like your circumstances, you should try your best to change them instead of just complaining about them - if you can.

I don't know if I believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do know that sometimes things happen that you didn't want or expect, and learning to adapt is a survival skill.

Above all, I just want to be happy and healthy and wish everyone all the best. Kindness is catching.

New York City

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strong is the New Sexy

It’s interesting to see how obsessed our culture has become with body image. From perfect celebrities on magazine covers to slender runway models, we hunger for beauty – or what we perceive as beauty.

My mother fights hard to stop me from wanting to change or alter my appearance. As a young teenager, I was not allowed to experiment with eye shadows or hair dye. I remember putting up (what was then) a convincing argument to be permitted to start shaving. I didn’t want my track and field teammates to make fun of my hairy legs anymore. I finally got my ears pierced right before freshman year of high school.

A little over a year ago, while living and working overseas in Southeast Asia, I was about 90% certain I wanted to get a tattoo. Though I was a recent college grad at the time (and feeling both independent and somewhat of a rebel), I still had the urge to consult my mom for her guidance. She told me it was my body, and I could do what I wanted with it. Needless to say, I left Indonesia tattoo-less. However, my aunt in the Philippines did convince me to get my hair chemically straightened (something I’m not proud of, as it has lasted for over fourteen months), as well as teach me the art of proper nail care.

Half a year ago, someone I was interested in dating told me I had to “apply maintenance” to my facial hair before he introduced me to his friends. I no longer to speak to him; no one should ever dictate my appearance. However, what he said triggered something else in me: a need to remind myself that I am beautiful in my own way. I started eating healthy and exercising five or six times a week. I became passionate about fitness, health and wellness. Strength – emotional, mental and physical – is important in order to truly be comfortable with who I am. Strong is the new sexy.

Perfection is an impossible feat to achieve. Today, I can count the number of times I’ve worn more than just eyeliner in the single digits. The only beauty products I’ve ever purchased are nail polish and lip balm. My idea of beauty may change as the years pass. But I know that through it all, if I am happy with who I am, the rest of the world better be as well.

I’m a writer and mental health advocate. If you would like to engage in further discussion on the perception of beauty, the importance of strength, or self-confidence, feel free to email me. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter @mamatanap.

Stay beautiful!

Ryann Tanap
Virginia Beach, VA

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I dated a girl in Canada for less than six months back in 2006. I still think about her all the time. I’m not sure if that has as much to do with her as it does with who I was at the time. I want to be that guy again.

Before that, I dated a girl, on and off, for about five years, maybe more. Neither of us was very serious about it, or so I thought. She made a point of telling me I wasn’t the one she was looking for, but in retrospect, I think she said that because she knew I felt that way. I think she felt more for me than I did and I wish I’d been mature enough at the time to see how wonderful she was to me. I still think about her a lot, and feel quite a bit of affection for her. She was a really good person. I think she’s happy now, and that makes me feel a little better.

During a longer break with the girl above, I had a short relationship with a girl who had two kids. They took me into their lives quickly and I became part of theirs. I enjoyed playing the family man, the surrogate dad, I could see myself staying there. I like to tell myself that I backed away because of her politics; she was far to the right of me, and her job as a police officer had made her, frankly, somewhat of a racist. The truth, however, is that I left her because she had a literal mountain of debt, and I knew that if I married her I was also marrying the debt.

At some point in all this I dated a girl who cheated on me. She was heavily into bondage, apparently just not with me.

Going back even further, I was married for ten years to a girl I met in college. It was enjoyable, although we argued too much. We kept finding reasons not to have any kids; money, jobs… that was for the best I guess. Things worked out for her, she remarried, had a kid, and seems happy.

Currently though, I’m staring down the barrel of 50, and married to a woman who hates me. I’m too fat, I don’t make enough money, and I’m mean. I’m sad, she’s always angry. I’m not sure what we’re going to do, maybe we’ll get divorced. I’m trying to get in better shape, make more money, be nicer… the last thing bothers me because none of the women above ever thought I was mean. Even after breaking up I remained quite cordial, if not downright friendly, with all of them (the cheater excluded).

I still love my wife despite her feelings towards me, and hope that we can patch this thing back together. We do have two small children. I’m twisted up over the idea of a divorce, but I do know that if my wife and I can’t repair the relationship, a divorce may actually be the better solution for the children.

No, I don’t need any advice, not attaching an email to this. I just hope you found this brief look into my life to be as interesting as it was to live it.

Mid-Atlantic, United States

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What I know, think, and question

I’m 22 and moving to New Orleans, LA from Modesto, CA on Monday.

I graduated from Yale College in May and am going to start in August as a 7th grade math teacher at Success Preparatory Academy in Tremé through Teach for America.

My last few days in my soon-to-be-ex-hometown have been spent running around to appointments, with quite a lot of familial awkwardness sprinkled in between. Being home so little over the last four years has made every conversation and interaction with my parents and siblings carry far more importance than necessary, and the disconnects and gaps in understanding make for arguments that, in the moment I’m having them, feel regretful, yet unpreventable.

Accepting parental awkwardness, but not shying away from sincerity I hope comes with age. My 22-year-old brain isn’t capable of just appreciating and accepting. It’s crazy how much effort I put into speculating whether my parents are proud of me, whether they are happy, whether they support what I want to do in life, and whether I am preventing them from having “fulfilled” lives. And what is even crazier is how much effort I put into avoiding talks with my parents about any of these questions—even knowing that this only makes tensions, blow ups, and misunderstandings more common.

This week at home has given me a lot of time to reflect on my past and soon-to-be future, and I’ve found that most of my reflections can be divided into three categories: what I know, what I think, and what I question. These may not be related, but it’s coming from the mind of someone who’s life is scattered and about to explode shrapnel in some unknown direction. Here’s a taste.

I know:

The song “Down the Road” by C2C is the

Razzmatazz is the best flavor you can get from Jamba Juice. Period. Stop reading this and buy the damn smoothie.

I want a life and career that show people they are absolutely worth something—that they are infinitely and impossibly beautiful.

I think:

Pete Holmes’ “You Made It Weird” podcast is the best in the game (sorry Maron). Hilarious and full of great conversations about relationships, comedy, and God.

Free association games are great to play with friends. My favorite is to give your friend two words and have them free associate from the first word to get to the second. For example: free and snake. Free, Freeman, Morgan, Organ, Pipes, Piper, Viper, Snake. Feel what you feel? That’s called joy.

Therefore I think.

I’d rather have a life of volatility, with high highs and low lows. The day before my last college final, I fell in love with a girl I had liked since freshman year. Although it didn’t make sense in terms of timing (and didn’t ultimately work out), we had a two-week relationship that I wouldn’t have traded for anything. Life will not be static. Neither should my decisions.

I question:

The plausibility of pepperoni pizza lunchables. How are they SO GOOD? There’s gotta be a tradeoff—what drugs are they putting in them to cut down on cost and make them taste like magic? I’m skeptical.

Why stoppage time in soccer is so seemingly arbitrary. Shouldn’t they be able to tally up the time when the ball is not in play and have that be stoppage time?

Love—why is it always the people we care most about that we so often hurt the most?

Keep it crispy,
John Gonzalez
Modesto, CA

Monday, July 14, 2014

Belgium, scouting, beer, a better world


Can you tell which country would fit on a stamp? That's my country. But let's not make things difficult, I come from the land of beer, chocolate and waffles. In that order. Still don't know? Okay then, it is bordered with France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (just a stone's throw away). Yep, you guessed right, it's Belgium!

I'm the proud father of a little angel named Alice. She is 17 months old and makes me smile every morning. So much happiness in such a small body, there must be magic involved. :-) I work as a web developer and a translator (Russian-English-Dutch into French) and I love learning new things.

I'm also a scout. Belgians love scouting actually. And scouting has a purpose: making the world better by contributing to the education of young people. Did you know that a scout makes his best to do a good turn every day? That's our contribution to this world. Small streams make large rivers.

I decided that I should contribute to making this word a little better. Starting with my city. So in 2012, I was a candidate at the local elections for the second time. And I was elected to the Municipal Council, as a councillor for the minority. Did you know that voting is compulsory in Belgium? More than a right, it is your duty as a citizen to cast your vote at every election.

Despite that, one citizen in five − of those old enough to vote − did not vote at the local elections in my city. And out of the remaining four, only two voted for the party of the Mayor. I wish that fifth citizen had voted, this would have changed a lot!

I often hear people saying that voting has no effect. That it's always the same people coming back and back again after every election (and some people use much harsher vocabulary to describe these). But I'm the living proof that one vote can change everything. In my party, one of the candidates − already a municipal councillor − got one less vote for her than I got. I was elected, she was not anymore. Since then, many people told me they cast the vote that made a difference.

I wish you to make a difference and make the world a bit better.

Greetings from Belgium!

Andenne, Belgium

PS − Should you come and visit Belgium, then try any beer you want (we have more than 900 sorts). My favorites are Kwak, Leffe and Cuvée des trolls.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My life in 5* books. (*technically 11)

Hello Listservers!

In the absence of any wisdom to share with 25,000 of you, I’m instead going to blab about some books.

Books are my passion and my job and a thing that I spend a lot of every day thinking about. I love creating stories and I love to be told them, too – so thank you, email-writing folk of the Listserve, for already sharing so many stories with the rest of us.

I thought I’d tell you about 5 of my favourite books from the different bits of my life so far.

As a baby: ‘The Little Red Car’, by Rosalinda Kightley:
I’ve been informed by reliable sources (parents) that, in my earliest years, I was deeply attached to this book. Apparently I handled it, chewed it and flung it around until the cover peeled into two. It’s no longer in print, but I’d love to get hold of a copy to try and work out what on earth was so good about it.

As a child: ‘After the Storm’, by Nick Butterworth:
A storm damages an old oak tree in the middle of a park, leaving some animals homeless. So, the park keeper and his animal friends work together to build a cool, new tree house. I’d like to say I loved this story because it championed teamwork and positivity, but I think it was more because it had a giant fold-out tree house poster at the back.

Growing up: The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling (seven books, not one, thus ruining my nice, neat email title):
I was always the same age as Harry when each of these books were published, so I did grow up with them, really. They showed me that the right story could be magic for everyone, even people who weren’t usually into reading. I queued at midnight to get a copy of the seventh book, which came out seven days before my seventeenth birthday. I’ve never really outgrown liking Harry Potter (and, happily, don’t think I ever will).

As a student: ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’, by Jonathan Safran Foer
I bought this book in a charity shop for 50p. It has a strange tone and crazy typography, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after I’d read it. It was the first book I ever really wanted to pick apart, so I wrote a dissertation on it as part of my degree. It’s a story that helped me understand disaster and loss, in a more beautiful and complicated way than I thought a story could.

Lately: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, by John Green
There’s a lot of hype around this book at the moment, but I’ll never forget how I felt the first time I read it in 2012. It made me laugh and cry, on and off, like my heart was crumbling to bits. It led me to the Nerdfighter and Booktube communities (look them both up!). It brought me back to reading after I’d finished my degree and completely fallen out of love with books – for this I’m forever in its debt.

If you’re still reading, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me about 5 books from your life; tell me about your favourite book and why you like it so much. Say hi on Twitter, too – I’m @editorgabriella.

It’s been lovely writing to you; take care of yourselves, and be happy.

London, England

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Good evening, Listservians!
I was rather surprised about winning the lottery. I even calculated using the geometric distribution that my chances of being a winner during my membership so far stand at about a measly 2%.
Just after getting the email about winning I went out hiking with a friend in a nature reserve south-east of town.
It certainly was one sweltering summer day. I assumed that the silence of the woods, the stillness of a perfectly calm and slightly remote lake, a meal of fried potatoes, onions, fish and a couple of beers would quickly instill some inspiration regarding what is worthy to write some 25,000 people.
Unfortunately, this did not quite work as a firestarter for my mind.
Perhaps a rainy day in a cabin or shelter would have yielded better results?
So, summing it up, the unlikely moment is here for me to write for the Listserve, but it turns out I might have failed to churn out a memorable writeup.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the day in the woods.
If I have learnt something from this episode, it is that 48 hours can be way too little to properly handle a great opportunity.
Lastly, I wish you all a great week! And remember: "Success is a journey - not a destination".

Tobias R
Stockholm, Sweden

Friday, July 11, 2014

Let's Give This a Shot

Hello Listservians! Hello to any Tucsonans! Hello to anyone from Cañon City, CO (Go Tigers!). Hello to anyone from Leadville, CO (I'm a Boom Days Baby!).

What to write...what to write. Keep it simple, but make it good. Ok, let’s try this.

I’ll start with an easy recipe for great taco dip. Equal parts cream cheese and sour cream mixed with a generous amount of taco seasoning to taste. Finish by mixing in shredded cheese and then topping with lettuce and tomato. Good stuff, super fast.

Let’s move on to a story. In the fall of 2009, a group I was involved in during college came into possession of a 3 piece pink tuxedo for a breast cancer fashion show. After that show, we had no idea what to do with this item we had purchased. In January 2010, I came across info for a breast cancer 5k in town, and decided if I trained properly, I could run the 5k in the pink suit. So I bought the suit from the group, trained, and ran in the 5k that year. I’ve run that race in the pink suit for the past 5 years now, and after some chance encounters this past January, I now sit on the Board of Directors for that non-profit’s affiliate in Tucson.

My lesson from that experience was that you never know what’s going to come from any conversation at any time, so always be ready. I’ve had more opportunities fall in my lap from starting a conversation with someone than from actually applying for anything.

I’ve also run a couple half marathons in a business suit and frequent mud runs in one as well. I’ve never really felt like a normal runner. I’m not doing it for health. I’m not doing it for a PR. I don’t have groups I run with. I just love being the spectacle. I know I’m capable of running the race, but I also know I’m capable of doing it while wearing something that will entertain others that are running, so why wouldn’t I?

How about some recommendations and a random thought to finish it?

Board Games: Twilight Imperium 3, Munchkin, Scoville, and Doomworks. I’m in the middle of customizing my copy of TI3 right now, so if you’re a fan, let’s talk.

Plants: Grow a Moringa tree if you’re in the right climate! They’re awesome. No matter what, check out the species. I’m willing to offer a couple of my own seeds, but I just planted my first batch a few weeks ago, so if you can wait 8-10 months, let me know.

Home Repair: Learn it. As an accountant by trade, aside from my board games, physically working on my house is one of my favorite de-stressors. Just did pull-out shelving in the kitchen as a 4th of July project.

I really miss the silence outside from the combination of very cold winter weather and a small town.

Nick, thank you for helping me think about what to write. The Queen would be furious!! **wink wink**

I always love talking to new people. Please drop me a line, anytime.

Chris Pings
Tucson, AZ

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I’m a lucky guy: it’s my turn to write for all of you exactl...

I’m a lucky guy: it’s my turn to write for all of you exactly when the World Cup is happening in my country, Brazil.
It’s been an amazing event, not only because of the great games but especially because of the feeling. Everybody is happy, the 200 million Brazilians and the thousands and thousands tourists that came from everywhere in the planet.
Our visitors are in love with Brazil. A French journalist wrote that he was shocked for visiting a place where everybody is kind and nice. An American journalist wrote that the feeling of this World Cup should be bottled and exported to Russia and Qatar, hosts of the next ones in 2018 and 2022.
Everybody says this is the best World Cup ever, all games are a fantastic party that goes on to the streets of the 12 cities that hosted games. I wanted it would happen again here next year, some say all of them should be here.
Brazilians always suffered from an inferiority complex. We used to think that our nation was not good enough for first world visitors: our tarmac with some pot holes, our chaotic traffic in the big cities, high prices, slums in some places. But now we find out that tourists don’t want the same things they have at home.
They want new experiences, and Brazil can offer a lot of that. Our culture is very rich, our nature is fantastic – from the beaches to the Amazon -, our people are multiracial and always ready to help a tourist.
We have problems, of course, but working hard to solve them. In the last 10 years 37 million people left a situation of poverty and entered the middle class. No other nation achieved that so fast, and it’s a real revolution.
After the wonderful World Cup we can say, with no inferiority complex: come visit Brazil, you will love it. You can plan right now coming for the Olymnpic Games in Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
Want a taste of Brazil? I will give you a recipe of caipirinha, our national drink that was approved by 10 out of 10 tourists that came for the World Cup. This is a simple one (there are other recipes, more sophisticated), but it works well:
Squeeze a lime in a medium glass. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 80 cc of cachaça (a Brazilian sugar cane distilled). Stir it well, add lots of ice, stir again and enjoy. You can use more sugar, more cachaça, it’s up to you.
Don’t have cachaça? No problem. Use rum, and call it a caipiríssima. Or use vodka, and call it a caipiroska. You will love it anyway.
Sorry about my lousy English, but if I used Portuguese nobody would understand me.
Wanna reply, wanna know more about Brazil? Feel free to write me to this e mail: luizafonsofranz[AT]
Enjoy your life.

Luiz Afonso Franz
Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Falling in love for your sex buddy, & other failed relationships

My turn has finally arrived - after being on the Listserve for 2 years - and I don't know what to say.
Usually I'm a bright and cheerful person, but hey, it's easier to admit in front of 20.000 strangers rather than in front of my close ones, I've had a quite hard time lately.

I’ve never been able to commit to someone, tell them I liked them, and call them when I wanted to.
I fell in love for my sex buddy, never told him, got offended when he dated other girls, and then disappeared from his life.
I fell in love with a married man, who broke apart his life - but never dared to ask him to come back to me.
I never fell in love with the men that were in love with me, for some reason.

What is the secret of love? Why don’t I get it?
I see my friends - I’m 27 - getting married, or in stable and healthy relationships, or even just in love with someone, and I have to say, I envy them, because they know.

I want to change my life, and I’m looking for a place to start, so if you’re in London, and you’re looking for someone to meet, just notify me.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

If you see me running, try and keep up.

Greetings Listserve! :)

I was wondering/dreading whether or not this would come around to me someday. It seems that the law of large numbers takes its toll to everyone. Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket this week.

My name is Chris Boden, I work for The Geek Group as a High Voltage/High Energy Physicist. That's a five-dollar way of saying "If you see me running, try to catch up".

I have come to realize that my typical day is a bit, well, off the rails insane for the average person and I thought you guys might perhaps get a kick out of it. My average day at work consists of various combinations of the following.

Giant robots, lasers, explosions, power generators up to 2.4 Million volts (that will throw a 20-foot arc across the room), Impulse generators up to 1.8 Billion Watts (at about 300,000 Amps), rockets, 3D printers, and god knows how many computers to make it all work together.

It's basically Geek Heaven, and I wanted to share it with you guys, because you're all invited, in whatever level you like. Since I'm limited to only 600 words and no links, I'll do the best I can.

We're the largest non-profit Makerspace / Hackerspace in the world, a place where anyone with a sincere and passionate desire to learn can come and take their ideas from concept to creation. It's like if you could hang out at NASA and build anything you want. A simple Google search for "The Geek Group" will get you right there.

Check out the youtube channel by searching "geekgrouphq" on YouTube, if you're a science nerd, you're going to love it. My personal favorite is the "Your Dinosaurs Are Wrong" series.

I personally keep a day-to-day video blog of all of the behind the scenes insanity from my perspective. You can find me on YouTube as username "physicsduck".

We have over 35,000 members spread all around the world, and I would like to personally invite all of you (and your Geek friends) to come and build your dreams into things. The entire mission is just to help people explore science and technology, I want to make the world a smarter place because I believe that the majority of the problems in the world are solved by making people a bit smarter. Stupid people tend to cause a lot of problems. We need smart people to fix them.

Have fun guys! Have fun, and explore something new today!

Chris Boden
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Monday, July 7, 2014

Before you start (or continue) following social customs, take some time to think it over.

Unrelated point: Read Genesis Deflowered by Matthew Stillman. He turned Genesis into an interesting story filled with sensuality.

Around 1982, I was in college studying to be an actress. Like any young woman my age, I criticized every aspect of my own appearance. My eyes were too deep-set. My nose was too big. My hair was too curly and wild.

Women with normal eyes told me they spent ages trying to make their eyes look like mine. Women with normal-sized or cute pixie noses told me that they wished their noses were "more interesting." Women with straight hair assured me that they would pay good money if they could get their hair to look like mine.

I asked around, and I found that women with straight hair wished desperately for curly hair. They spent a great deal of time trying to force their hair to hold curls. Meanwhile, women with curly hair wished desperately for straight hair! They spent a great deal of time trying to force their hair to be straight and smooth. Women with dark hair wished it were lighter; women with light hair wished it were darker. Women with red hair wished it would be anything else.

It wasn't just women, though. It was a school for the arts, so perhaps not a great sampling, but the men were just as insecure about their appearances. Their beards were too thick or too thin. They were too tall or too short. Their hair, like the women's, was the wrong color, thickness, or texture.

With a few rare exceptions, everyone I asked seemed to hate his or her own natural appearance. When I assured them their noses were on straight or their hair was actually gorgeous, they just smiled at me as if I were a naïve child. They knew that if they hadn't spent an enormous amount of time "fixing" themselves, they would not be permitted to walk around in public at all.

I was expected to use make-up to make my eyes "pop" and products to tame my hair into something that it was not. I was supposed to ignore the fact that other women were working just as hard to make their eyes and hair appear more like mine.

If I were to conform to these ideals, I would have to spend a great deal of time each morning "putting on my face" and "taming" my hair. Every night, I would have to spend more time counteracting the damage done by the morning routine. I would have to get special soaps, shampoos, and other products that would clean my skin and repair my hair. I would have to continue to do this for the rest of my life.

I could not understand why it would be a good idea to start every morning of my life trying to change my appearance. I thought it would make a lot more sense to just accept what I look like and hope nobody turned to stone if they saw my bare face and natural hair.

When I get up in the morning, I brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, brush my hair, and leave. I can be up and out the door in less than ten minutes from a dead sleep. Nobody has turned to stone. Nobody has sent me home for being ugly or to jail for indecent exposure.

I don't feel sorry for women who wear make-up. I don't want anyone to feel she has to defend her decision to wear make-up. I just want us to accept and believe that make-up is not mandatory.

Veronica Tuggle
Mountain View, MO

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wish me luck!

Hi Listserve friends! I was so shocked that I won the Listserve lottery after only following it for about a month. When I got the email I thought it was some kind of mistake at first!

I thought I'd stay with the company I work for now a lot longer, but recently something sparked my ambitious side and I realized that I'm bored, I'm not being challenged, and I need more. Part of what inspired me is that I keep reading and hearing more and more about how women tend to lack the confidence men have, won't apply for jobs unless they feel 100% qualified, don't negotiate their salaries, are severely underrepresented in the tech industry, etc. etc. I realize that all of that applies to me - I do tend to underestimate my abilities and go with the safest bet in my life decisions.

So I went ahead and started looking, and I got responses right off the bat. It felt great! Now, a few weeks into my search, I'm interviewing for a couple of positions that I'm actually really excited about. One is with a very small, very young start-up. I'd be their first customer support employee. Taking that job would be a real gamble, but in the best-case scenario I'd get to be the one who figures out the best and most efficient ways to do things and build a team eventually. That possibility is very exciting.

The other is with a big, well-established company with a fantastic product. This would be a stable job with a great team and a chance to learn a lot of new skills, which is exactly what I want to be doing. This week, I'll have my first in-person interview with them. They gave me a "homework assignment" last week that involved doing a few functions with their system and writing a little code, which I didn't know. (I know HTML, CSS, and a little Javascript, but not the stuff they've asked me to do.) In the in-person interview, they'll try to break what I've set up and I'll have to troubleshoot it from there. It's scary because I'm having to teach myself how to do it on the fly, but I just keep telling myself "I can do this, I can do this". I keep telling myself that they can teach me the languages they need me know - what they really need is someone smart and motivated to learn, who knows how to communicate. And that's who I am!

So, what I want to say to you all is this: don't be afraid to look for a new challenge if you don't feel like you're reaching your full potential. You have so much to contribute to our world, and you're doing yourself and the rest of us a disservice if you're not making that full contribution. Asking more of yourself and facing the possibility of failure is scary, but it always pays off. Even if you do fail, you learn from it and move on to your next challenge. Just do it!

I hope you all are happy and healthy, and I want you to know I’m cheering you on from my home in the East Bay. I believe in you and I hope you believe in me too! And if you ever need some extra encouragement, look no further than your friend and mine, Andrew WK.

All the best,
Oakland, CA

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I dreamt last night that I was in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. Starting on street level, I entered its doors and made my way up toward the top, but it contained many more levels than in real life. On my way up I encountered two businessmen with their arms around one another, faces close but not touching, looking out a big glass window. Rahm Emanuel, democratic mayor of Chicago, passed them by and stepped onto the escalator. We made eye contact and I stepped on after him. My Brooklyn friend Emma called me on the phone and I gazed out the glass windows onto the skyline of Manhattan's tall architecture. People all around me. No one paying attention to anyone else in particular.

Many cities have Pride celebrations in summer. Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco. All havens for LGBT equality. At least in comparison to Mississippi. I've lived here for just over a month now. We have gay people, I mean there are gay people everywhere. But I haven't seen any pride here. I also haven't seen Pride here. So on Saturday I drove with a couple co-workers/friends to Baton Rouge, a 2.5 hour drive from Jackson. There we attended Baton Rouge Pride. It took place in a large hotel atrium. We parked several blocks away and, trying to locate it, looked for any sign of pride/Pride - rainbow flags, evidently gay people, loud music. None of that. We entered the atrium and still we were unsure if we were in the right place. Only when we walked deeper into the atrium did we hear the music and see the people. And there was pride, there really was. Same-sex couples holding hands, people in drag, vendor tables selling pride gear.

The South, the last frontier for LGBT equality in the US. Pride is here. But it's hidden, deep into a hotel atrium, not on the streets. I wouldn't say it's oppressive. Not anymore, at least. Living here I can feel the chokehold on gays, not to mention blacks and Jews and other historically marginalized groups, loosening as we progress further into the 21st century. But it is no one's M.O. the full on embrace of equality, tolerance, progess, whatever term that can be used to mean everyone living happily and without fear of persecution. New York City. Minneapolis. San Francisco. Are these the places, the northern cities, where one can be proud? Is there more? Can the South offer more?

I'm in the South for two years. That's the job contract, at least. As of now I'd say afterward I'll jet back up to one of the northern cities, familiar as they may be, just so I can breathe, and walk. And march. Oh how I want to WALK!

Please write to me. Southerners, Northerners, anyone else with some perspective from some other place. I just picked up Andre Aciman's collection of essays Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere. Speaks to these themes. (Side note, the first story is about the power of smell, it's called "Lavender." I read this essay on the same day, within hours, of buying a cologne sampler pack at Sephora. Such a coincidence. As of now I'll trade in my sampler certificate for a full bottle of Bulgari Extreme.)

Jackson, MS (via St. Paul, MN and Montclair, NJ)

Friday, July 4, 2014

What would you tell yourself in 5 years?

What would you tell yourself in 5 years? Write it in an email - tell yourself a story, predict your future, or send yourself a reminder.

Send it to thevault.listserve[AT]

You'll get it emailed back (to the email address you used) in 5 years.

Sarina T

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Live free!

Namaste fellow Listservians,

I'd like to begin this letter to you all with a Tibetan prayer for lovingness and kindness.

"May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe. May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free."

I was once told, that I'm the guy who talks a lot about himself and the shit I do, but the reality is not everyone wants to listen to you! As much as I'd love to tell you the story of my life till now, I choose not to. Everyone has a story that is unique and beautiful.

A year back I was broken. Today I'm fixed. (literally, since I ride fixies)

My advice to my fellow Listservians, do what you want to do, live your life to the fullest and, if you believe in something (good, cherish-able and peaceful), give it your heart and soul till you achieve it, no compromises. Anything is possible, just believe in yourself.

You can always write in to me at 3ennyj[AT], and, I'd love to share my 2 cents on the things I love the most, cycling, food, fitness and travel.

BÔM & Peace.

Benny Paul Joseph
Dubai, U.A.E

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What are you afraid of?

Hi everyone! My name is Ben and I am a 20 year old American college student hailing from the bustling metropolis that is North Bend, Washington. I actually attend university in Washington, D.C. where I am double majoring in International Affairs and German.
Now that you at least know a few things about me, I’d like for you to go back to the subject line and read it over again. It is my opinion that to know a person, and I mean really understand what makes them tick, you must know what they are most afraid of. In the above paragraph I told you some basic information about myself, but all of that doesn’t really show who I am or what I am like.

I am terrified of being forgotten.

How about now? Know me a little better? I hope so. Let me give you a little insight into the depths of my fear.
My fear motivates everything that I do.
It’s why I moved 3,000 miles away to continue my education. Staying in my hometown with the same 5,000 people doesn’t lend itself to the kind of life changing feats as does moving to a city with a population of over 120 times that. I wanted a chance to meet people I would never have the chance to meet if I had stayed in the region my entire life. I wanted to embrace the kind of change in myself that I hoped to encourage in others. I wanted future classes from my high school to look at former graduates and say “If Ben could do it, why can’t I?”
My fear is why I volunteer in my community and in others wherever I can. It’s why I spent a week in New Orleans building a house with Habitat for Humanity in the lower 9th ward for a former carney (and human blockhead!!) who lost his home during Hurricane Katrina. It’s why I’m going back again this coming winter.
It’s why I worry so much about what people think of me. Those countless people you meet in life aren’t going to remember someone who is boring, or a jerk. Who would want to remember that person? Who would want to remember some short kid who looks 5 years younger than he actually is? Even now writing an email to 25,000 strangers I wonder what I sound like. Am I coming off as arrogant or whiny? Or just insecure?
I guess I want to believe that it is ok to be afraid.
I could go on forever, but I only have so many words. Instead I’ll leave you with a little bit of advice (if you want it, I mean, what could some 20 year old tell you?)
-Have a good joke you can tell
-Guys, learn to cook. Fried Oreos are the key to a girl’s heart
-Exercise is good for the mind and body
-have firm beliefs (ex: Motion Movement by Blue Scholars is the greatest song ever)
-Love easily and love hard. I have no good way to phrase this, but falling in love with someone is the greatest thing in this world. To be completely vulnerable to them is terrifying and liberating and changes you both. Even if it gets you hurt, there is nothing like remembering an awkward first kiss after an aquarium date. Love is a beautiful thing,­ never give it up.

I’d love to hear back from y’all!

Ben Wheeler
North Bend, WA

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Undone Pants

The playground mom's pants are undone. Her hot pink underwear is visibly exposed, and I can't tell if this is a fashion choice or if I should worry about her. She looks like she belongs at Burning Man, with her dreads and rainbow socks. She dials person after person to tell them how dizzy she feels.

She is lying down on a bench. "It's the adrenaline," she says. She just got a place, and a steady job. She is dizzy from the relief. She finishes her calls and wanders after her daughter. I decide the undone pants are a conscious choice, or she would feel them about to slide down. Besides, I don't know how I would broach the topic.

And pants or no pants, both of us are here to do our jobs. Beyond the most egregious acts, our references won't be checked. We have decades to go before our shifts end, whether dizzy, sick, or unstable. Our kids are on the slide, begging for our attention. We watch them, waving and calling out together.


I'm a writer who is passionate about helping other parents nurture their creativity, and make the hidden known. So Listserve, what do you struggle with the most around being creative?

Satya Khan
Fairfax, CA