Sunday, August 31, 2014


I am an Australian Jew.

At a Nazi rally in Berlin around 1935 my great aunt remembers hearing her father say to her mother, 'We must get out of here'. She still doesn't know whether he meant the rally or the country.

But they did leave and came to this great land by way of Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

They were lucky Europeans, doctors, businessmen, radio presenters, smugglers of wet wads of banknotes sewn into buttons of fur coasts, friends of Marlene Dietrich, owners of pearls, POWs of both the Germans and the Japanese, soldiers for the Allies, translators at the Nuremberg trials, Mossad language experts, displaced persons, refugees, Ashkenazi BRCA 2 gene carriers and, in the end, Australian. As Australian as it gets.

It was my partner that first coined the phrase Jew-ty. He thinks it's naff. I think it perfectly describes a very personal obligation that is based on a shared cultural history of tzedakah (equity), chessed (kindness) and rachamim (compassion). Without these things neither my family, my community nor I would be here to tell you our story.

I think it was this sense of Jew-ty that first drew me to the Middle East. When I was growing up nothing could start as big an argument at the family dinner table than the mention of Israel/Palestine. I found it amusing to start the conversation (at 7 or 8 years old) and watch my mother (a pro-Palestinian liberal Jew) and my father (an indoctrinated Zionist from a religious family) fly off the handle.

Since then, I've made it my mission, my Jew-ty, to educate people more about the region so that these sort of blind arguments happen less.

That's why I work as an international development consultant focussing on the Middle East, taught Middle East politics at university, hosted a radio show about the region and launched an online project called Gaddafi's Pyjamas bringing together people's stories to try to build up a more nuanced understanding of this complex and beautiful region.

Most recently, together with my friend Saba Bebawi, we are hosting a series of seminars beginning with Syria in the Spring (September/October 2014) all aimed at beginning a new form of dialogue and communication about a region that is often misunderstood and misrepresented but nevertheless, raises such passion and politics in people. An Arab and a Jew, each month, listening to each other, discussing and engaging.

I am convinced that listening at a human level is how people change, how they evolve. Perhaps it's the only way an individual can make change in the world. I see it as my own Jew-ty, and perhaps everyone's duty, to listen to others; to really listen and hopefully learn.

I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, it is very difficult, but it's the only way I know to make our relationships with others and the world more meaningful.

I like to think of my father and mother as my first students. It's taken almost thirty years of conversations, stories and personal interest but my staunchly ZIonist father can no longer stomach policies of occupation and oppression and my liberal, peace-nick mother would now even contemplate a trip to Jerusalem.

L'shana habaah b'yerushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem, for everyone.

Miki Sosnowski
Melbourne, Australia

Saturday, August 30, 2014

We need to talk about your driving...

I love email and I love The Listserve. It's a fantastic idea that recalls the aspirational, democratic ideals of the early internet.

Some of the best uses of modern technology, imho, are those that try to bring people together, to foster communication, to open minds, to leverage this amazing global web for the betterment of humankind, even in modest ways.

The Listserve does that. Boingboing, the wonderful blog where I first heard of the Listserve, does that too. The whole ecosystem of online review sites does that (or at least it used to, before most of them descended into gamified sock-puppet botmarts full of fake accounts and spam).

And that's also the ambition behind Passing Remarks. This is a free, non-profit site that a friend and I built, which lets road users connect with one another using only their number plates.
It's our old-fashioned attempt to use web tech to tackle a very real social problem: road safety.

It hit me one day while gazing in terrified awe at a particularly reckless overtaking manouevre. I realised that our vehicle registrations, these very public signifiers, are effectively useless to us citizens; only the police and other authorities hold the keys to their use. "What if we could email any driver we saw?" I wondered. "What would we say? Slow down buddy? Thanks for letting me merge? Your brake light is busted? Would road users exchange constructive criticism? Or would it degenerate into road rage and name-calling?"

Well, like many Listservians, I'm a developer, and so I set about finding out. Now that Passing Remarks has been running for several years, I have some answers to my questions. And they're encouraging!

More than a third of all messages (37%) are complimentary, e.g. "Thanks for the jumpstart" or "We appreciate you slowing in our neighbourhood." It seems there's a sizeable group who'll say something nice, if given the chance. This should reinforce continued road manners.

A slightly higher proportion (41%) are neutral in tone, e.g. "You broke the red at 53rd and 3rd" or "You speed past my house every morning" (users can include maps too). That's fine, I think. Most people are open to changing their driving, I suspect, once they realise its effect on others.

Only 19% of remarks are negative, offensive or aggressive. Those are discouraged, and users are requested to Be Polite, but maybe it helps to let off steam.

Finally, there's some flirtation going on! For example, "Hey gorgeous in the black Saab! You have a secret admirer in a blue Camry." That sort of thing.

Anyone can make remarks on the website itself, no registration needed, but my favourite bit is "email any driver".

Suppose you're cut off by truck registration GBQ 7198 (example plate from Wikipedia). You can simply mail GBQ7198[AT], putting your message in the subject. In other words, every car, everywhere, now has an email address! Drivers just have to log in to read their mail.

You can test it yourself by mailing your own number plate [at] passingremarks [dot] com. Remember, message in the subject. Then just visit the website (Google “passing remarks driver”) to check. Wait a while, though, it takes a few minutes.

As I said before, the idea behind Passing Remarks is to boost road safety. It's really just an experiment, but I'd love to hear any ideas to improve it at the address below.

Thanks for reading - and major thanks to the Listserve, for keeping email important!*

* The Atlantic had a great piece on this recently BTW. Google “email still the best thing”, highly recommended.

Geoff Gorry
Dublin, Ireland

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Slice of Humble Music

Music has always played a starring role in my life. Growing up, my music teachers told me that I was "musically gifted." It all started with the piano. Then the flute. And the guitar. And the ukulele. Did I mention I was also the champion recorder player in elementary school? Big Deal. I know. BUT that doesn't mean I was actually good at everything, because trust me, I'm not. I might be "gifted," but I can also be lazy.

So in addition to playing instruments, I love listening to them aka going to concerts. Maslow was wrong when he said we need to satisfy our physiological needs before we can focus on our other needs; I'd rather starve and attend a show, because priorities. I swoon hard for artists who sound like butter, especially those males. And when I listen to these artists, I like to emulate what I hear. I like to play my instruments and sing. In the shower, in my bed, in the car, on the moon if I could.

Now we're going to shift gears and talk about college. I went to the University of Virginia--shout out to my fellow Wahoos. For the same weird reason we call our campus "grounds" and refer to freshmen and sophomores as first and second years (love ya, TJ), a cappella is a big part of student life. When I got to school, I thought a cappella was dumb. Given my "extensive" experience with instruments, the idea of singing without them was ludicrous. Then my friends dragged me to an a cappella concert. I saw a girls' group on stage, and I was mesmerized. To quote my gal pal and U.Va alumni, Tina Fey, I saw them on stage and thought, "I want to go to there."

There are three main all-female a cappella groups at U.Va., so I tried out for all of them. Because of the Snowpocalypse (the year we got a zillion inches of snow, totally accurate statistic btw), the schedule was set up differently that year: two of the groups' callback auditions were first and the third group's callback audition was the next week. I got called back to all three, which made my ego big enough to fill a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. Gross. Fortunately, all the helium in that ego disappeared when I was rejected from the first two groups.

After these rejections, I was devastated. I didn't realize how much of my identity I had put into music. I also got a rude awakening on the subject of humility, as in, I didn't have any. I mentioned I was lazy, but I realized that my laziness can be the result of my complacency, and smug people suck. I moped around before I also realized I could continue the drama queen life or do something about it. And I can honestly say I have never practiced so hard to get where I wanted--a spot in that last female group.

When I look back on this experience, I remember the dramatic angst I felt, but I'm also reminded of one of many things it takes to be a person of good character. I'm going to be a teaching assistant this upcoming fall. I'm as excited as I am nervous. I'm working with kids that come from completely different backgrounds, some more broken than others and others perhaps who are not so broken at all. Either way, they are kids that deserve to know and take advantage of educational opportunities. All students deserve that. And in some sense, I will be a role model to these students, so I want to be the best example I can be. I'm terrified and humbled by this opportunity, so I'm sharing this story with you as a way to keep myself accountable. Don't let me down.

New York, New York

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure

Hello, Listserve!

My name is Melissa, I’m 48, and I'm a work in progress. Right now, I’m in Washington, DC, staring down an overpriced coffee, pondering life and where my next chapter begins.

I’ve been to the foot of Mount Ararat. I’ve snorkeled with sharks in the Andaman Sea. I’ve been held at gunpoint by Chechen Mafiosi and stood at the bottom of the stairs of Air Force One. I’m fun at parties. I’ve rolled naked in the snow after a Russian sauna, been knocked into a sewer in Uzbekistan, and on the first day of my current job, I was blessed by the Dalai Lama. I’m a storyteller, a total geek, a devoted friend, and I’m as capable of loving and being loved passionately and fully as anyone else you will meet.

I’m also fat.

With many people, that’s all they see, all they care to know, and all they think I am.

It saddens me when people judge me exclusively on my physical form. It kills me that many see me as less human than they are—less worthy of respect, dignity, decency, or love—because of the curves of my body. It infuriates me that I still sometimes let it bother me.

My mom was a pilot—a WASP—in WWII. She dealt with bigotry, ignorance, and even aircraft sabotage for the honor and duty of flying some of the most exciting—and dangerous—warbirds ever to grace the sky. She always told me to take chances, follow the more challenging path, and never let anything stop me. I try to remember her advice every time a stranger randomly passes judgment on me for my weight.

Screw ‘em.

I am not defined by my body. Neither are you. Definitions are limitations. Defy definition, embrace your quirks, be good to others, and be as happy as you can. As for me, I’ll keep moving forward, with joy and adventure in my heart.

Here’s a little of my personal philosophy for getting through this life:

- You are your own best advocate—for health, for work, for choosing the life path you need to take. Don’t wait for others to take you by the hand and show you the way.

- Do crazy adventurous things, even if you get hurt now and then. You will have amazing stories—and possibly awesome scars—to share for the rest of your life.

- Don’t be afraid to love people, even if some don’t love back. Just know when to cut your losses and move on. (Still working on this myself.)

- Buy your own roses. You deserve them.

- Carve out a little portion of time every day to do something creative or something that feeds your passion. And share what you make! If you put it out there, you can’t hide in fear of rejection. Good, bad, ugly, totally unabashedly cheesy—boldly embrace what gives you joy.

Recently, I resurrected my long-dormant blog and cleaned off my drawing table. I find contentment in the moments I steal to draw or write, and I’m grateful for the indulgence of friends on social media in encouraging me for what I post—my tentative steps toward a real creative leap of faith.

A few weeks ago, I found out that my job is likely ending around Christmas. Facing down 50, I have to re-invent myself. Is this the time to take that huge creative leap? I think and hope so. Who knows what I’ll find on the flip side.

Time to hold my breath, count to three, and jump. Care to join me?

Melissa Jordan

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Words worth stealing

One time, a world famous comedian stole one of my jokes (word for word) and passed it off as his Twitter/Facebook thought of the day. When faced with actual plagiarism of something I created, I was honored rather than upset.

California, USA

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Single Point of Blinding Light

Hello, planet earth.

I'll try to keep this from being tl;dr.

Email flows all too naturally in just one direction, and tends to feel plastic / impersonal. The beauty of the Internet is how it can create meaningful dialogue if used correctly and with tact. Making the Internet a more warm, welcoming place can only help electronically-connected mankind.

With that said, let's connect and create that dialogue (or at least try). I'll propose three (almost) universally-enjoyed topics:

1) Exploration. I'm from the States but travel / live abroad 100% of my days. I'd love to hear about your excursions, and places that I miss as I conduct mine. I post shots from my iPhone on an Instagram account: @N_AMERICAN_SCUM (no fancy camera - this helps keep it about the experience, not the photo)

A few places I've visited over the past year where the sense of adventure felt especially real:

-Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
-Jungles of Amazonas, Brazil
-Mount Kenya
-Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

2) Auditory pleasures. Sometimes music feels like the end all / be all to me. It comforts, it mends, it inspires, it makes nearly every situation better.

I write this while listening to one of my favorite albums ever: Nord by Year of No Light. Ben Frost's A U R O R A may be my favorite album thus far in 2014. I'm pretty excited about The Underachievers LP coming out next week, and Run the Jewels 2 whenever that happens to drop.

Let's talk about music on Spotify: kpa_kpa_kpa

3) The saccharification of starch and the fermentation of the resulting sugar (thanks Wikipedia!). I spend far too much time seeking out the beer innovations and successes of various cultures around the world. Let's discuss - Untappd: @N_American_Scum

A few of my beer happy places:

-Jester King - Austin, Texas
-Mikkeller Bar - København, Denmark
-TØRST - Brooklyn, New York
-Moon Dog Brewing - Melbourne, Australia

That's all. Looking forward to meeting all of you; electronically, in real life, or otherwise.

Riding on a bus through NSW, Australia

P.S. - "N_American_Scum" = North American Scum, a song by LCD Soundsystem. The NYC farewell show at MSG in 2011 was the most beautiful performance I have ever seen on a stage. James Murphy, if you're out there, thank you.

I don't actually imply that I am scum from North America. The lyrics are hilarious, and ring true to me as I exist outside the USofA borders.

P.S. #2 - Capsaicin is the spice of life.

P.S. #3 - Your debits must always equal your credits.

P.S. #4 - Smile, or don't.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Take it as it comes

Hey listservians!

I have the same trouble most people express on here. What profundity (that had better be a word..) do I have worthy of this list?
My initial thought was absolutely none. I am a boring, middle 30's, white, middle class guy living in suburban USA. What could I possibly have to share?

I guess I have lived a bit more interesting life than most people. I am originally from rural New Zealand; lived briefly in Australia (stint in Sydney; shorter time in Brisbane - I would love to move back if I could); moved to the US where I have lived in various parts of the north east (NYC that amazing, expensive, dirty, smelly, chaotic place); wealthy and pretty Connecticut; Boston and its northern suburbs (love New England - sorry CT, you don't count); and now hot, humid, miserable (but winter kicks arse) north eastern Florida.

Thanks to my work I have seen so much more of the US/Canada than most Americans/Canadians (or most others really) ever get to see. From Quebec/Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa/Halifax to Calgary.

Seattle to San Francisco, the midwest (northern - e.g. Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois to southern - looking at you Texans and Okies), the east coast (Maine down to Florida) and in between. There are still some glaring holes in my US experience - the mountainous west - Montana (been to CO), and the more southern, western states (AZ, NM and UT etc).
Definitely looking for tips/advice on cool things/places to see/do when I travel to those places.

I have also recently been on quite a personal transformation. Moving here to the US and traveling for work was an awful health combination. I used to be a healthy, fit person. Then I put on a TON of weight and felt like crap for years (almost a decade). I recently finally lost 50 pounds in about a year and am well on my way to being lean and toned again. People are amazed when I show them what I used to look like. This was the first time in my life I ever had to try to lose weight, and it SUCKED. Despite what the ads tell you, it is tough. For anyone who has been overweight a long time, feels miserable about it and wants to lose it but can't, for the first time in my life I feel your pain. I know now how tough it is.

If anyone wants any simple advice/support on losing weight, or wants to chat about being overweight and trying to lose, let me know. Heads up - I am not interested in specific 'fad' diets - e.g. paleo, IF, whatever. In my opinion, it is simple stuff - but tough.

Finally my bit of compulsory life advice - be open to opportunities for something different - no matter how small. They are out there and pop up when you least expect. Keep an eye out and don't be afraid to jump at them. When I was younger I had no idea what I wanted to do and was discouraged about my future. No longer. Roll with it and life can take you some unexpected places.

I would love to hear from anyone, anywhere, about anything (hopefully something in here has given you something to talk/ask about). Even if it is just for my/your perspective on things or to share your own experiences/feelings about anything in here.

Hamish Frizzell
Jacksonville, Florida

Sunday, August 24, 2014

last minute call

I'll be leaving in the next few hours to a remote village in rural India with no electricity so Listserve just hit the right time to choose me!
I'm from Portugal and I'm currently in India with engineers without borders. For all the engineers out there, have you ever heard of? You should take a look. And for anyone traveling around India, you should take a look into Auroville. If anyone wants to catch up just let me know.

Enjoy life as much as you can,


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Beginner's mind

Hi, I’m Vincent.Gosh, where do I even begin?!

Obviously with how surreal being chosen to write is!

Secondly, a massive thank-you to all the fine penmen and women past and future who have and will continue to make a minute or two of my everyday a little different, a little interesting, a little funny.

Most day’s I feel like most people: a little bummed out, a little ungrateful, a little lethargic. But on a rare few special days I feel extremely privileged. Privileged that despite a modest upbringing in one of the poorest countries in the poorest regions of the world, that I have much of the same opportunities as people in the rich world. It isn’t so much that I have these opportunities as it is about the environment in which I have these opportunities: it’s about opportunity with perspective.

The opportunities I’ve had means that everywhere I look I invariably see poverty. People whose lives are measured in dollars: less than $2 a day, if that. But perspective means that I also see beauty and happiness. Lots and lots of both. Everywhere!

On those days, I look around and see people and things whose worth isn’t measured in currency. And poverty looks much like the problems you’d find anywhere in the world—different but the same.

On days like this pity seems especially profane and I acknowledge that there’s so much real, authentic beauty in the world, if only I learn to see it. And I realise that the truest way to make a difference is to sincerely start with myself. To try and see things as they are, not as I’m told they are. To see things with “beginner's mind.”

And because we’re ultimately a sum of, among other things, literature and music, here’s (some of) me:


Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
George Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockinbird
Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius


Metronomy, The English Riviera
The National, High Violet
Modest Mouse, The Moon and Antarctica
The Black Keys, Brothers
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening
Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, Rome
Netsky, Netsky

If you related to any of this, or would just like to chat about books or music or pretty much anything, drop me an email.

Last, but not least. To: Kash, hopefully reading this, for affecting my life in more ways than you could know, much love. (Two Listserve mentions and counting, how lucky can you get?!)

Vincent M
Malawi (The Warm Heart of Africa)

Friday, August 22, 2014

What makes funny things funny

I'm interested in what makes funny things funny. If you know, email me. Here's what I've got so far:

The root of all humor is "the swerve". This is an element of surprise built into the structure of a joke which pulls the audience off of the implied path into a punchline. The strength of a joke is related to how strongly the implied path is set and then how well you can craft a swerve that people can follow.

The simplest joke I know of to use a swerve is a form of comic triple: a to-do list joke ("my weekend projects: 1- fix door, 2- sweep garage, 3- kill my wife"). The first two items establish a straight line to follow and the third swerves from it in a surprising way.

Jokes can also intentionally not swerve, and exploit an audience's expectation of a swerve to form the surprise element.

One of my favorite types of jokes is latvian joke which as far as I can tell was invented by a guy named Chris Connolly, so (congratulate/get mad at) him for it, not me:

"Joke: Man is hungry. He steal bread to feed family. Get home, find all family have sent Siberia! 'More bread for me,' man think. But bread have worm."

The end.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pure bred dogs - a good idea?

Hello Listservians! Before I begin...

I ask that if you choose to read this email that you do so with an open mind. I have no intention to offend - only to challenge a way of thinking. Please consider that :)

Let’s talk about dogs, shall we?

Have you ever wondered how dogs became “pure bred”? Did God create each breed specifically? Maybe natural selection after millions of years created the English Bulldog?

Dogs first became domesticated when they learned that they could survive more easily by working with humans than fighting against them. Once we started living with dogs we started preferring the ones that worked to our advantage. We selectively bred dogs that were good hunters, or good protectors, etc.

In the last few hundred years we decided that dogs could also be companions, and accessories. We could breed them to be tiny and portable. So we bred dogs to be what we wanted, and then we gave them names. Pitbull. Rat Terrier. Pug. Bulldog. Labrador. German Shepherd. Collie.

It is crucial to understand this: WE CREATED “PURE BRED” DOGS. Dogs did not evolve this way naturally.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? We’ve manipulated evolution to our advantage. Sounds smart to me.

In theory - yes.

However, in the last hundred years things have gone sideways. We have placed a higher priority on appearances, and the name of the breed. So much so, that we only mate these dogs with their same breed, which has resulted in serious in-breeding, and the progressive shallowing of the gene pool for these dogs.

Google a picture of what a bulldog looked like a hundred years ago. They were tall, strong looking healthy dogs. Now, English Bulldogs can’t even reproduce on their own - they must be delivered via c-section because their heads have become so massive over the years. They have numerous health and respiratory problems because their faces are so squished. Their life expectancy is SIX YEARS. Why are we doing this to dogs??

Science is showing us that many many pure bred dogs are much more susceptible to health problems because there is simply not enough diversity in their gene pool. Cancer, anxiety, yeast infections, respiratory problems to name a few. I know an eight month old Dachshund puppy with severe joint problems due to bad breeding.

So where am I going with this?

I would like to suggest that we consider mutts and mixed breeds as just as wonderful, if not more wonderful than “pure bred” dogs. Their genetic diversity means they are much healthier overall, they live longer, and they are every bit as adorable as that Pug, or Frenchie or other “name brand” dog that is so cute in the pet store.

I would also like to suggest that Kennel Clubs are furthering damaging and archaic notions by refusing to allow the introduction of other breeds to promote genetic health among pure bred dogs.

The reality is “pure bred” is just a thing we invented.

Now I know a lot of you reading this have pure bred dogs as pets. And I in no way mean to devalue your wonderful pet and how special they are to you. What I hope is that maybe some of you will reconsider before you walk in to a pet store and purchase a pure bred puppy. Pet store puppies often come from puppy mills - which is another serious issue.

What if instead, you went to your local shelter or looked up rescues online and saw what kind of abandoned dog you might adopt? You won’t pay thousands of dollars, just the shelter fees. You won’t encourage inbreeding or puppy mills, you will rescue an amazing pet that someone else discarded. Maybe even consider fostering - so you can pick a pup that truly fits your lifestyle. There are lots of pure bred dogs who need to be rescued too.

It is my sincere hope that we can think critically about this issue, so we can all have happy, healthy pets. This is something I'm passionate about, having seen too many wonderful dogs with terrible heath problems.

Thanks for listening. I welcome your feedback.

Bethany Kanhoffen
Vancouver, BC - Canada

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take care

What an honor to write to you all.When you're having a bad day go for a walk, it will help clear your head
Be sure to get a good night's sleep
Try to eat a colorful plate
Enjoy simple things like a fresh peach or a summer rain storm
Don't take yourself too seriously and try not to judge others too harshly
Don't forget to look around and take in the majesty of this world. Electronics are great, but the real world is better
Try toe-shoes. I know they look stupid but I swear they're really comfortable, especially for running
Don't settle for crappy beer, drink good beer that someone put time, effort, and love into making
If you travel, see the world from the people who live where you're going's eyes. Tourist destinations are great, but sometimes something as simple as a super market or a neighborhood restaurant will be great memories
Don't knock Kansas until you visit. I know it seems like a boring fly-over but the state has a lot to offer and is really beautiful
If you're in Trivandrum be sure to watch the sunset at Kovalam
Talk to your elders and ask for their advice and wisdom
Enjoy all of life's moments
Take care and be good, we're all in this world together and we're not going anywhere else any time soon


Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Hi Listserve! Writing in front of 20,000 people is a pretty hard thing to do.. I've tried and tried but couldn't think of any interesting life stories or advice but there are a couple of quotes that I've never forgotten and want to share with you all to hopefully make your day a bit better."Never worry about what you do around people... it's most likely that they'll have forgotten about it by the end of the day."

"You always have everything you need to be happy, Blood to live, air to breathe and lips to smile."

Thanks for reading and have a good day! :)


Monday, August 18, 2014

I have spread my dreams under your feet

I have a friend named Michael Short. I only see Michael once a month or so (through our work with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre) and, when I do, he always gives me a gift: a definition for a new word, a connection to someone wonderful, an affirmation of the way I parent my teens. An introduction to ListServe was one of his gifts, and I'm grateful for the chance to share a little of my life with you.

I'm a doctor, lawyer, and company director, living my life between Australia and New Zealand, with my husband and three children. I recently turned 40, and love the courage and integrity that I see in phenomenal women all around me.

As I write this, I'm sitting at beautiful Queenstown airport after giving the opening keynote for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. I shared the stage with an extraordinary young woman named Jen Morris who told her story of having her trust violated during medical "care". I wish more doctors had the chance to hear the untold stories of harm that can be caused by treatment that was intended to heal. Next month, I'm off to London to speak with medical regulators from around the world about high-risk health practitioners. Does it surprise you to learn that in Australia fewer than 5% of doctors account for nearly 50% of patient complaints?

Earlier this week, I sat around the board table of Summerset retirement villages in Wellington. (Did you know that the percentage of women on corporate boards is still less than 20 percent?) At the dawn of the 20th century, children outnumbered the elderly by 8 to 1. Soon, there will be more over 65s than children. I'm not yet sure what this means for us as a society, but I welcome the chance to help shape that future with Summerset and the University of Melbourne's new Master of Ageing.

I also care deeply about the health and wellbeing of young people. Next week, I'll be with Family Planning - supporting their work towards sexual health and reproductive rights around the world. Already, I see the difference we are making by improving access to long acting reversible contraceptives, supporting the rights of sex workers to a safe work environment, and enabling teachers with a sexuality education resource called Safe Landing.

Between my travels, my dear friend Sarah (who walks with me at dawn), and my beloved book club (who introduce me to treasures like Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites"), keep me safe and grounded. When I travel, I'm often joined by one of my children or my inspirational 72 year old mum, who prides herself on learning something new every day.

Finally, in celebration of the people who light up my life with joy and laughter, I give you the gift of my favourite cake from Moosewood restaurant. It's rich, dark and delicious; has no nuts, eggs, or dairy; and is easy enough for little helping hands.

Six-minute chocolate cake

1 1/2 cups plain white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water (or cold brewed coffee)
2 Tablespoons vinegar

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the first three wet ingredients and combine. Then add the vinegar and mix quickly. Pale swirls will appear as the baking soda and vinegar interact.

Pour into a 9 inch cake pan and bake at 375 degrees (190 C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

If desired, ice with a simple glaze of melted chocolate mixed with hot water or milk.

Celebrate life with your loved ones and share your joy with others.

Dr Marie Bismark

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We will all be okay

Hi there, world!What's your life like? We will all be okay. Even if I screw up again. These are several of the screwups I had in the past year:

Last year I got into the training programme for the job I thought I wanted. It was hard, really hard - but I thought it was worth it and if I just tried harder I could make it. I slowly started dating this boy I really, really liked. It was great.

And it all got harder. I gave up more and more to stay in the programme. I told him we shouldn't be seeing each other any more. I hated myself for it.

Concentrating on only the programme helped for a while. Then I got kicked out. I had given up everything I liked and wanted. I didn't think I'd ever like anything again.

I bounced back though.

Now I have a job I like, I'm good at it and I really like the people I work with. I hang out with my friends every night and all weekend - and I'm quitting all that to get my Master's degree. I'm so scared.

Suppose I don't like my classes, my professors, my class mates? Do I know how to study, how to take exams, how to write papers?

What if I get kicked out again?

Whatever happens, we will all be okay. And this is the best possible time.

Thank you all for writing. And for reading, of course.

Thank you Listserve, for introducing me to running. Tell me which podcasts to listen to while running! Do you have great study tips? Really, I could use them.

Thank you Listserve team, for keeping the project up for all this time. Awesome.

Greatness forever: Margaret Atwood, Chaim Potok. And, you know, all the real people I know: my friends and family. You are always there for me, even if you aren't. I'll try harder.

(do you want to achieve greatness? When your friend is telling you something really hard, be quiet for four seconds after he or she stops talking. Your friend will start talking again. Weird, huh? Also works for less hard conversations.)

Greatness now: Ed Sheeran.

Thank you friends, family and pets. Again and forever. We will all be okay.

We will all be okay
The Netherlands

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stay Positive

It is a remarkable honor to be chosen to write for The Listserve.

It's very hard for me to think of a interesting anecdote, so instead I
just want to put something positive out there.

Smile. Smiling seems to be the simplest thing you can do in order to
change your mood. It's seems ludicrous that a simple facial expression could
affect your attitude, but just think of that and smile. I guarantee you
won't be in a bad mood for long. Don't let anyone take your smile away. I believe
the famous quote should be, "They can take our lives, but they'll never take our grins"

Do something for someone else. Unless you're locked in a 4 by 2
foot box, there is someone out there in a worse situation than you.
Notice I didn't say 5 by 4 foot box you glutton. But seriously,
there are people out there who could use your help. You don't even have
to join an organization to do it. I bet there is someone right in your
neighborhood who could benefit just from your company.

Finally do something you're proud of. Don't just be cog, or a sprocket
for that matter, but do something you take joy in doing. I can't be more
specific than that, because this is something truly personal to each

I'd like to leave this message with a recipe, as it seems that is
something you do with these. This is something that should bring joy to
anyone who tastes it.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dry kidney beans 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large onion, chopped 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Seasoning
2 stalks celery, chopped 1 pound smoked sausage or andouille (if you've been good)
6 cups water 4 cups water
2 bay leaves 2 cups long grain white rice

Rinse and soak beans overnight

Heat oil in skillet and cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery for
3 to 4 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Rinse beans and place in a large pot with the 6 cups of water. Stir the
cooked vegetables in and mix all of the seasonings in and simmer for 2
to 3 hours or longer.

Stir the sausage into the beans. I like to fry the sausage up and
blacken it a little before putting it into the beans. Simmer for 30

Prepare the rice with the 4 cups of water

When all is done, mix it together and enjoy.

Laissez les bons temps rouler,

Daniel Newman
Nashville, TN

Friday, August 15, 2014

Growing Up and Apart at 27

I recently got back my best friend. I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I got her back, or really, that she was even gone.

As I grew up I was told that you would grow apart from your high school friends. That connection would never be the same once you graduated and moved away. This rang true for several friendships but not my best friend. We had known each other since the 4th grade and me moving all over the place in pursuit of my dreams didn’t seem to affect our relationship one bit. We texted almost every day and could make each other laugh harder than anyone else in the world. When I would come home we could pick up right where we left off, sometimes in the middle of the same sentence.

She met a boy. I didn’t like him. I had hoped it was the over protective mother side of me flaring up. Or even the no one will ever be good enough for my best friend side of me. But it wasn’t. It was that primal gut instinct that drove our prehistoric ancestors to move into attack mode. I buried it. She was so happy and deserved to be happy, who was I to say he wasn’t up to par?

They broke up just before Thanksgiving, after almost a year together. I could finally lay it all out. All the reasons he wasn’t good enough. All the reasons she didn’t deserve to be treated the way she was. They got back together. They moved on. My words never left her. She knew how I felt about him and wouldn’t be able to forget that. She did her best to keep us apart. Which was easy because I had moved out of state.

The growing apart started. The texts became less and less. When I saw her at home we didn’t laugh nearly as hard. She seemed too adult for that now. They got engaged and I feigned excitement over the ring and the plans.

Three months before the wedding. I had picked out the bridal shower gift. I bought the plane tickets home for the big day. I was actively rehearsing my biggest most convincing smile when the phone rang. The wedding was off. He had been cheating on her. He had been hitting her. Everything my gut had told me about this man had come true.

It wasn’t growing up and apart. It was the isolation of an abuser. My best friend was missing and I didn’t even realize it. I have her back now and I feel guilty about how happy that makes me. I feel guilty that I didn’t miss her more. That I didn’t question more. That I accepted this fate thrust on to me by the people around me. You grow up and apart. In true friendships, true loving relationships you grow together. You add to each other’s lives every day, never take away. The best relationships are worth fighting for and I will never again be caught on the sidelines when it comes to one of my friends.

Tampa, FL

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A poem made me do it

My life turned in exactly the opposite direction to which I expected after dwelling on a famous, old Australian poem written in 1889 by Banjo Patterson called Clancy of the Overflow. As a kid, my primary school teacher--a formidable American woman called Mrs James--forced all of us to learn this poem off by heart. As an eight year old I had no idea how this poem would worm its way back into my life decades later.

I lived hard, worked long hours and punctuated my weeks with shopping and bar hopping in a busy Australian city. Still with all this I felt unhappy, dissatisfied and bored. Sure I was earning good money, had a great string of friends and lived in a city that is, to many, enviable but I was missing something. As I ambled down busy city streets reading the boredom in the faces of my fellow travellers I recalled the part of the poem which I had learned almost forty decades earlier: "For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste."

This poem made me give it all up. I moved to the bush; seven hours from the nearest big city. I had to give up many of the comforts to which I'd become accustomed. Five years later. I wouldn't change a thing. I see the stars at night. The air is fresh. I have discovered that there is more to life than "stuff".

Here's the poem ...

Clancy Of The Overflow

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just `on spec', addressed as follows, `Clancy, of The Overflow'.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
`Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.'

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving `down the Cooper' where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of `The Overflow'.

Darrell Tiemens
North west New South Wales, Australia
Instagram: dartie_oz

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Internet is a real thing and nobody understands it

When you dig a hole in Manhattan, you have to perform archaeology. So much has been put underground with such contradictory or absent documentation that it is impossible to know what you will find in any potential hole. Which means that you have to dig carefully to not break any surprise pipes or subterranean infrastructure. This made city is so complex and layered that we have to treat it as a naturally occurring object to be explored, rather than as a made thing of known properties with attributes described in plans.

The Internet is like Manhattan. Every part of it is built, but the whole is grown. The Internet is so complex that we have to revert to observation rather than designs and plans whenever we want to know something about it. Web pages and emails and IM can seem kind of etherial, but they all run atop the Internet, and the Internet is a real thing. We made the Internet, bit by bit, but it is so big and intricate that we no longer understand it, if we ever did.

I have tried hard to understand it. I got a PhD in CS and wrote my dissertation on the Internet, in the hopes of finding out whether its growth has been healthy or not ("Measuring the Internet AS Graph and its Evolution". Boothe, 2009). The short version is that from 2002 to 2010, its health stayed about the same, with18 ISPs pretty much always able to control ~45% of Internet traffic (and this was very hard to figure out).

After I wrote my dissertation I spent 5 years as a professor of computer science, teaching undergraduates. Now I work at Google and I will soon be involved in helping store Internet measurement data and making the data free for anyone and everyone to look at so that new people can come along and help us all understand this medium we are growing. I am really excited about this, because right now our knowledge of the Internet is based on hearsay and flimflam, rather than open measurements and well-described analysis. When you start with flimflam, it is almost impossible to guide growth non-randomly. For example, we now have multiple contradictory policies about network neutrality, and even disagreement about what those words mean.

When people worry about "network neutrality", their underlying fears are of monopoly control of the shared resource that is the Internet. Monopoly control would result in stunted growth and bad outcomes for everybody except the monopolist. This is part of why everyone you talk to means slightly different things when they say "network neutrality": they are worrying about symptoms of a problem, and enumerating all possible symptoms is impossible. Instead, we have to examine the growing body as it is and look to see if the body is healthy or if it is showing signs of disease. If there are symptoms, then we can look for root causes and hopefully fix the underlying problem.

I really care about the Internet, and I hope you do too. The Internet allows people to communicate with unprecedented ease. We have wrapped the world in wires and allowed communication to flow so cheaply that we take it for granted. It's not perfect, but it has enabled us to feel closer to one another and come together as a species more than anything else I know. Although the pieces are built, the whole is grown, and we must monitor this growth to make sure the Internet stays healthy.

As long as we can talk to one another, there's still hope for us.

Peter Boothe
New York, NY

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To be or not to be…a Phoenix bird (or something of sort…)

THAT is the question, my dear fellow listservians! And greetings to all, you, beautiful people all over the world.

In the last few years I have gone through really very challenging and NOT so beautiful times, like many of you here, and reading all your emails has become a morning coffee habit, which in turn, supported the so-called “healing process”.

Currently, I am at a point in my life, where I enjoy everything that comes my way. Is this a “rise from the ashes like a Phoenix bird” moment? I have NO freaking clue, but it feels just right!

And I wish everybody had the inner resources to bounce back so epic awesomely like I did.
*motivational part ends here*

Now off we go with the funny stuff. :D
Where you all, dear friends, get back to me, with your dreams, experiences, likes and dislikes and, obviously, with the mandatory bitching stuff you feel you need to share, but you didn’t dare. Well, here I am… the finest ear you have never had… ready to listen to you.

What? What? More about me? ABSOLUTELY! :D

In one go: Books, movies, music, theatre, ballet, opera, memes, social networking, Dexter, Dr Who, Star Wars, Nightwish, Mozart, Criminal Minds, Downton Abbey, GoT (duhh!), Fringe, Zafon, Marquez, X-Files, Queen…(please somebody stop me)…Revenge, Stephen King, The Mentalist…ok, I will stop...Promise!

Wait a second…
I also write stories from time to time on my blog.
I also kept a dooms day diary on my second blog.
And I tweet. A lot.

Still not satisfied? Question then:
Name ONE book you would take away (if you go to live on Mars) with you as your most precious treasure?

Based on your answers, I will make a top ten of your preferences and post it on my Facebook page dedicated to books. Seriously! The listservians' voice needs to be heard in as many places as possible.

Awesome stuff about Romania, the country I come from:

We have one of the happiest cemeteries on Earth. The crosses are colorful (do you like blue?) and each tombstone features a witty poem depicting a person’s life and the way she or he died.
To be continued in our future conversations…Feel free to connect with me wherever you feel more comfortable (email, Twitter, etc).

Thank you for taking precious time to read my thoughts and, as I said, waiting for you…


Bucharest, Romania


YOU, little rebel, I like YOU!”

Monday, August 11, 2014

I think, too much.

It took me 40 of the 48 hours allocated to figure out what to write. And even at hour 40, I still haven’t chosen a specific topic.It might be due to my strong indecisiveness (probably) or the fact that when you're given infinite possibilities, you don't want to pick just one.

But this process has only proven and accentuated one of my biggest faults.

I think, too much.

There’s so much to write yet so little time. It got to the point where I considered not writing anything at all. Why waste your time and mine?

But what’s worse: Giving up without anyone knowing or trying and putting yourself out there?

Thankfully, my answer was trying.

It hasn’t always been that answer. And if you were to step into my shoes right now, there are still plenty of things in my life where I need to ask myself that exact same question. Or I’ve answered the question but have not done much towards it.

But this is another step of many to go. And I’m hoping it’s only a jumping point to keep going forward.

In the end, at least I tried.

Ps. If you have something in your life where you need to ask yourself the same question, feel free to share! Would love to hear from any of you.

KC Gayagoy
New York, NY

Sunday, August 10, 2014

No, You Cannot Eat the Ducks

For the last six years I’ve worked for an NGO resettling and serving refugees in the U.S. In that time I’ve greeted them at the airport, shown them their first apartment, enrolled their children in school, taught English, shared meals, taught employment workshops of all kinds, found them jobs, fired them from jobs, ridden public transportation at all hours, taught financial literacy, and coordinated field trips to state parks.

I’ve sat with clients while they’ve received devastating news from home, I’ve explained to clients that you cannot bathe in public pools, how to take a drug test, that you cannot kill and eat ducks at the park. I’ve helped buy cars and first homes, I’ve seen clients and coworkers become citizens and their children graduate high school and go off to college. I’ve been invited to weddings and funerals of friends and strangers.

I’ve gotten to experience a lot through my work and I will always be appreciative.

However, life moves in stages and this may all be drawing to a close. I’ve never been someone with a singular passion and focus, and although I love what I do, it’s limiting in many ways.

Never be afraid to take that next step, to pursue the bigger things you want, to be true to the person you know you are. Sometimes you will need to let go of some things you love in order to make room for more. And that’s okay.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

It was there (that I saw you)

We met at the roof-top party overlooking our beautiful city. It was electric. We danced. We smoked. It felt like we’d known each other forever. His wife was jealous, she didn’t like me. I was young and naïve she said. I was just making a scene she said. My bozo fiancé didn’t care, he didn’t even notice. He just drank whisky and had a good time. They left. I didn’t see him for a long time after that.

Bozo and I invited him to come party with us one night. I was drunk. Bozo was somewhere else. I made my intentions clear to him that night – I grinded on him and he stood there and grinned.

He wanted more, but I got cold feet. He’s married! I’m about to be married! Heck, I was even at his wedding! No, we can’t. Bozo later tells me that things were getting ugly between him and his wife. They drifted apart, and he drifted into psychosis. A mania fuelled by his music.

It was frantic. It was crazy. It hurt. He sang of unrequited love and of being as dirty as sin. He recorded a demo, and sought feedback from Bozo. So he came to our party. We drank. We flirted. We moved the party into our beautiful city so we could dance the night away.

My bozo fiancé drank too much. Suddenly he’s gone home. No goodbye. No explanation. It’s just me and his friends. Perfect!

We conspired. We schemed. We wanted to dance, so we left his boring friends. We never looked back. It was just him and me. The man with the wife, and the girl with the fiancé.

We walked up the steps. BANG! It was a mass of sweaty gyrating people. Yes! We danced to Bowie. We smoked clove cigarettes. We choke-danced to Death in Vegas. We drank Jägermeister. The energy between us was like stars exploding. We smoked some more. He leaned in. I leaned in. And we kissed, as though nothing could fall.

Last drinks were called and we hit the streets. We walked and came to the park that overlooked the bridge. It was beautiful. We kissed. We fell deep and strong for each other.

It’s six in the morning. No key to get into Bozo’s house. He’d be too drunk to answer my call. Fuck it, it’s cold, can I crash at yours?!

The cab ride was over as quickly as it had begun. Driving away from Bozo was surreal. We’re in his house now. Pictures of wife on the mantle. We sit down. He takes a tablet, I take off my belt and kick off my boots.

He looks at me with those green eyes. And we kiss. And we fuck. Though, something’s wrong - he’s asleep! A sleeping tablet?! That was enough to wake me up! What have I done! I just cheated on Bozo. I leave him sleeping on the couch. I sleep in their marital bed.

I wake. I feel sick. What did I just do?! I told myself I would never be that type of girl again. He comes into their room. He slides into their bed and kisses my forehead. He tells me it’s going to be ok. And I believed him.

And it has been. After such a wild courtship I never knew love could be like this. All encompassing. Never feeling alone. Home is wherever he is.

It has been ten crazy years filled with music, fun, food, and now a beautiful little baby girl. I love you BKMB, always and forever.

Nancy Nobody
Canberra, Australia

Friday, August 8, 2014


Greetings from Chicago! If there are two things we know how to do well here, it's food and music. Here are a few recommendations for you.

The Blisters, favorite songs: 21st Century Gang, One Day
Brighton, MA, favorite songs: Touch, Wake the Dead

If you're in Chicago, order from JB Alberto's in Rogers Park - my favorite is a thin crust with roast beef and giardiniera, essentially an Italian Beef pizza.
If you're into Chicago-style pizza, Mr. Gilberti's Place in Hollister, Missouri is the best Chicago-style pizza I've ever had.


I've been on a bit of a health kick lately and this has been a staple. From the American Heart Association:

Fish Tacos

2 - 4oz tilapia fillets
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 small plum tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper
1 green onion
2 tbsp cilantro
3 tbsp yellow cornmeal
2 tsp olive oil
8 corn tortillas

1. Sprinkle the fish with the lime juice, combine the spices in a bowl and rub over the fillets, refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. Combine the tomatoes, pepper, onion and cilantro in a food processor for 15 seconds. Refrigerate until needed.
3. Coat the fillets in the cornmeal, shake off the excess. Coat a skillet with olive oil, cook the fillets over medium high for 5 minutes a side.
4. To serve, heat the tortillas, quarter the fillets, add one quarter of a fillet to each tortilla and a spoonful of the salsa. Makes 8 tacos. 1 serving is 2 tacos (173 calories).

...But when I need to carbo-load, this is delicious. Slightly modified from the tasting table website:

Purple Noodles

1½ lbs broccoli
1 lb spaghetti
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
1 tbsp sugar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp thinly sliced garlic (about 4 cloves)
¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender. Transfer the broccoli to a baking sheet and let cool. In the same boiling water, cook the spaghetti, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. (The pasta will finish cooking in the wine.) Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and set it aside. Return the empty pasta pot to the stove.
2. Add the wine and sugar to the pasta pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the pasta and shake to prevent the pasta from sticking. Gently stir with tongs until coated and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. While the pasta cooks in the wine, heat a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the garlic until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, or more if desired, and stir to combine.
4. Add the broccoli mixture to the pasta pot, toss gently and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.

Hope you enjoy. Have a great day.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Some things I have been thinking about recently:

I never realized how brave firefighters are until I saw them with my own eyes entering a burning building and appearing in the windows where smoke was gushing out.

I have been making decision lately on the belief that life is about new experiences. The more different things you do, places you visit, and people you meet, the more interesting, educated, and understanding you become. Which brings me to my third thought:

Being proved wrong can be a good thing. I have always lived near New York City, but my enjoyment of open space and a view of the stars without light pollution always kept me wary of this place. How foolish I was! The people you encounter and places you discover in this city and others like it are what keep life interesting, and I am glad that my views have changed.

About me: I am a college student studying business and journalism and I love to surf.

If you have any recommendations on places to see great music in NYC or Dublin, shoot me a message!

Make today great, and whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

New Jersey, USA

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A message almost 2 years in the making

Written 10/12/2012:

Everything you’re reading now was written before I was selected to share a message with the Listserve community. Like many of you, as soon as I signed up, I began wondering what I would say if given the chance. Some weeks later, I began to wonder how that message might be different if I were writing it on the assumption that it would never be read versus writing with certainty that it would. So I sat down to write a message, this message, even before I was asked to, which also means that you can think of this as the only email written from the perspective of a non-winner of the Listserve lottery.

Part One – Just Gonna Say It…

I’m a generally happy, positive person, but I’m also a proud skeptic, a natural contrarian, a sometimes pessimist, and an occasional grump. I tell you this because I don’t want what follows to be read as insulting or critical of the Listserve project or any of the contributors – I look forward to the emails every day, even and especially those furthest from my ideological, philosophical or religious standpoint. All that being so, I’m just gonna say it: The deluge of positive messages is becoming one bright, shiny, happy blur, with no real weight or influence on my life in general or my days individually. I have grown numb to the wise and elegant words. I care little about the thoughtful, personal epiphanies, and I wonder if others have had the same experience. It strikes me as an interesting phenomenon, perhaps demonstrating the notion that you can have too much of a good thing. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this if I knew I’d been selected; that is, I imagine I’d get bright and shiny and happy real quick if I knew this were being sent to 20,000+ people.

Part Two – Shameless Self-Promotion

[Part Two deleted, explanation below]

Part Three – ?

I’m reserving part three in case I’m actually picked, meaning anything that follows was written after I was selected:

Written 07/29/2014:

$#@%, I was actually selected?!

Reflections on Part One –

First thought… I wish I hadn’t made this deal with myself. My message suddenly feels so negative and petty, like I was belittling something just because I couldn’t have it, and my impulse now is to get “bright and shiny and happy.” At the same time, I can’t say what I wrote has proven untrue, just that my relationship to Listserve has evolved. First was the honeymoon phase, when every message was amazing. Then I began taking it for granted (around the time I wrote part one), but finally I settled into something like a long-term relationship. The value of the messages in my day-to-day life is not quite what it was, and sometimes I hardly notice them for weeks, but it’s still appreciated, comforting. And, every once in a while, out of nowhere, I am amazed.

Reflections on (the now deleted) Part Two –

Here’s where I was going to disregard the rule against self-promotion and plug my novel-in-progress. Turns out rules are easier to break in theory. Now I can’t bring myself to do it because it feels like an insult to both the spirit and the readers of the Listserve. (What I will do is invite you to write me if you’d like to read a sample and offer feedback/book deals.)

Finally, because I haven’t hit exactly 600 words, some recommendations:

Amy Hempel
Adelle Waldman
Sherwood Anderson
Lynne Tillman

The Station Agent
The Host



New York, NY

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tilting at Windmills


My name is Ryan. I'm 38 years old. I live in Canada.

In the last three months I have quit my import craft beer job in Vancouver - after three years with the company, moved all of my belongings into my brother's garage on Vancouver Island, taken a month-long solo camping road trip down the west coast and across the states, come back to my hometown of London, Canada, to help out my folks with their dog kennel business over the busy summer, while they tend to elderly relatives, spent most of my free evenings enjoying the sunsets on Lake Huron, and in the last two weeks met an amazing girl who I just might fall in love with if I'm not careful...

What a long strange trip it's been.

My dad died when I was 14. I moved out when I was 16. I've spent the last 20 years moving all over, living in different places, couch-surfing, working different jobs, making music and art, and experiencing different people and places. Always searching. An artist is always in a state of becoming. One thing I have learned is that no matter where you go and or who you are, everyone has a story -- their own dreams and pains.

I've worked so many different jobs, and experienced so many different types of living… I've been a bicycle delivery person, busboy, worked in a jeans shop, waiter, bartender, worked in a dog kennel, concert promotion, music journalist, television host, dishwasher, worked for a drug dealer (not proud of that one, but I was desperate, and it was only for a few weeks), managed bars, worked in craft beer industry, been an actor and a touring musician, magazine editor, the list goes on...

I've done cocaine in limos with rock stars and I've slept on the ground and panhandled for change to get a slice of pizza - I've gone back and forth between these extremes a few times... I've battled through crippling depression, self-medicated for years with alcohol and drugs, and nowadays am living clean and finding happiness and peace with healthy smoothies and running and yoga. These experiences have taught me not to judge anyone. The guy sorting through my recycling bin for empties is no different than the guy driving by him in his big car wearing an expensive suit. I know this because, to some degree, I've been bits of both of them.

These days I am living a quiet life. I want to buy a little piece of land near water, build a cabin, and spend as much time as possible painting, writing, walking with my dogs, and hopefully raising a couple kids with a cool lady.

I hope you all feel loved in your lives today. If not, I'm sending a little love you way… :)


Bayfield, Ontario, Canada

P.S. If you feel like checking out my weirdo indie rap music, google "OK Cobra."

P.P.S. Feel free to write! I'd love to hear from others on this list.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Venture outside tonight

i am outside right now, trying to find the stars on this cloudy summer night. i've been outside for a few hours, trying to find the right words to say to 24 thousand.

i love summer nights. there's just something so intimate and limitless about them. 

i once showed a boy the stars i loved the most. i eventually fell more in love with him than the stars. he told me, on a night much like this, that he didn't love me. i've been learning that it's impossible to stop loving someone.
after he left, i went about "finding myself." i boxed myself up and then forced myself out. through this, i realized that everything has its natural flow. in some cases, the best way to make something happen is to let it happen. 
take a moment tonight and go outside to see the stars. i'll be watching them with you.
a list of things i can't leave out:
- "the fall" by rhye
- humans of new york
- project unbreakable 
- alpha phi omega
on a side note, if you are a veterinarian or work with animals, i would truly appreciate it if you wrote to me about yourself and your occupation.
i turn 20 in two weeks (!!!). i would appreciate any stories or advice about your 20's.
i would also like to thank sam for her love, elyse for her friendship, and sean, for loving cats.

Tiffany Sie
Orange County, CA

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Solving the World's Problems with Hummus...

My social media presence is filled with passionate articles, arguments, pictures and pleas concerning humanitarian crises occurring halfway around the world -- yet are close to my heart. I have my unique take on these issues -- some which I have expressed on my own pages and feeds.

But I'm not going to talk about that here.

Just about eight years ago (August 1, 2006) my mom died suddenly. It was a shock to everyone. I grew up in a traditional Jewish household emphasizing a strong Jewish education and had learned about the process and rituals surrounding death, burial and mourning. But I hadn't experienced it so closely until then. There was the tearing of a necktie I wore which my mom liked. The visitors during the first seven days of mourning (shiva). The walk around a pond I took with my Dad at the end of that week. And the following eleven months of gathering with the community to recite the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer with which I became all too familiar.

"I should write a book about these experiences," I thought. And I started to do just that. A (slightly humorous) chronicle of blog posts of this year-long journey following my mother's passing, explaining the Jewish rituals I was experiencing for the first time. I never finished that book.

Fast forward a few years: I had met a blogger named Faiqa who wrote passionately about her life as an American Muslim woman. The way she would explain the rituals and beliefs of her religion and culture were so interesting. And, at times, funny. I approached her -- telling her that it would be amazing to collaborate on a book where we could share our own traditional experiences in our own quirky ways.

We decided to form a weekly podcast. "Hey! That's My Hummus!" got its name from the subject of our first episode -- which dealt with a conflict between student groups over a boycott of a brand of hummus being sold on campus. It wasn't the first time that Jewish and Muslim groups on a college campus (or anywhere else) had butted heads, nor would it be the last. But it was something which we could discuss light-heartedly as friends. Over the following 75 episodes, we talked about issues from our own vantage points -- whether they dealt with our religious and cultural practices or wereripped from the headlines that week. (We somehow spent a lot of time talking about Justin Bieber.)

This was truly a learning experience for the both of us as we had both experienced some avoidance between our two religious groups in the past. Perhaps it was a knee-jerk reaction figuring that we'd fundamentally disagree from the start and that it would be best for us to simply tiptoe around any interaction. But in our collaboration, we both learned so much about the values each other held dear. It certainly opened my eyes to new possibilities.

As far as I know, our podcast hasn't produced world peace (yet). That can't happen with simply one Jewish guy and one Muslim woman talking on a weekly basis. But it stresses that we ARE just people with our own stories and experiences. It's easy to generalize about "us" and "them" -- especially when groups are in conflict with each other. Only when we take that next step and think of each other as individuals -- that's when we can truly see progress.

You can do a web search on the podcast. Or, even better, come up with your own. Form a new relationship with another individual.

Mike Scheinberg
Alexandria, VA USA

Friday, August 1, 2014

Amor Fati

Ciao belli,

I joined The Listserve exactly one week ago. And I'm not really ready for my turn. This feels like a speech for an Academy Award with the music already playing me off stage…

But here is part of my life…

I almost jumped from a bridge in April of 2010. It probably wouldn't have killed me – but I wanted to die. Instead of dying, I moved to Hawai'i and worked at a summer camp. And I fell in love with wonderful kids and wonderful co-workers. They truly saved my life.

My favorite person there was a girl named Teej Teasdale. A writer from Kenya who worked with me and then later moved to the middle of the Pacific Ocean – Micronesia – to work for the Peace Corps. A girl with a heart big enough to hold the entire world [and all its pain]. She saved my life more than once. But she took her own life last July. It's still intensely painful. And I can't really speak about her in the past tense like she's gone. She is still beautiful and wonderful and talented and compassionate. Death can't take that away from her. And she continues to change me for the better. You can find her poetry by searching 'masikanicrocodile' on Google. [Side note: my great-aunt once heard us talking about Google and asked, "Who's Google?" – Aunt Mary is the best…]

Near the end, Teej wrote me a poem titled, "Prologue to a 20-Volume Suicide Note." But I was 4,808 miles away and couldn't drive across the Atlantic to hug her. ["Transatlanticism" is playing in my mind right now…] But after she died, I wrote my own 20-volume suicide note – the long, sad, boring soundtrack to an unfinished screenplay. It's all I could stand to do with passion. You can find it by searching 'markusaurelius' on Bandcamp. All proceeds go to GiveWell, a good charity. I don't mean to be self-promotional but I do promote giving to others – I heard that people who are given five dollars to spend on others have happier days than those given five dollars to spend on themselves. So the money isn't for me, and I wouldn't want it anyway. "A sprig or mint by the wayward brook; a nibble of birch in the wood; a summer day and love and a book; and I wouldn't be king if I could…"

I've spent too much of my last few years feeling sadness but here are some of the things making me happy…

I am happy that I found my new home in Florence, Italy – a city I discovered by pure chance… a city I love deeply. I am happy about the friends and family in my life. I am happy that my parents are living happy lives. I am happy that my uncle, the son of Charles Hamilton Houston, spent hours telling me stories of his life yesterday – listening is one of my favorite things. I am happy that I met a girl, Anna, who is so beautiful and so wonderful and so kind and so GOOD that I can't help but feel more whole when I am near her. Or even when I hear her voice. Or even when I see a picture of her. Or even when I see her in my dreams. I'm starting to think that… she is my dream.

Okay – I'm almost out of words. I can hear the music playing me off…

Thank you to Winnie the Pooh, Tim, and everyone I’ve ever loved. And especially those who have ever loved me.

Love, love, and more love.

Mark Taylor Adams
Firenze, Italia