CW, 33, has German ancestry and has plans to visit atleast 50 countries before he turns 40. He tells me about his childhood after his parents divorced when he was 7, the poverty and instability that followed, his strained relationship with his mother owing her extreme ideologies, and why he wants to leave America to travel the world. He lives in Atlanta with his fiancée and works as a Data analyst in Corporate America. We met at Chipotle and here’s the transcript of my face to face interview with him.
Heart: What’s happening in your life?
CW: My fiancée is looking for a job in the Philippines through her company and we want to move.
Heart: Woah, you guys plan to quit your jobs?
CW: That’s only if she doesn’t get something by July, 2018. We will both quit and move out of America. We just want to get out.
Heart: Is this a millennial thing? Everyone wants to travel and live an untethered life.
CW: No. No.
Heart: Do you have a nest egg or something?
CW: Yeah, we both have been saving. I figure 10 grand or so might be enough for 3 months. We have friends all over Germany, Sweden etc and honestly we have talked to them, I mean you are allowed to visit any of those countries for upto 90 days without a visa, and they have told us that with both of our skill sets, one of us will be able to get a job within 3 months. Like, somebody will get a job. I think its easier to get a job while staying there, than trying doing it online from here. So, we are like, “We will just quit, we will sell our place, we will sell our cars and we will go over for 3 months. And if we don’t find a job..
Heart: You can always come back.
CW: Yeah, we will come back here and get something here. Yeah, I am not too worried about it.
CW: So, yeah. So, we are completely open to going anywhere. And I think that stems from every trip we take, we try to go somewhere new, so, we just came back last month from a trip to Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Last year we did Iceland, Mexico, Austria and Germany. And then this year we did Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Germany. Again Germany. And then, uh, we are looking at going somewhere tropical for Thanksgiving, and we are going somewhere for Christmas but we don’t know yet. She actually found a cheap flight to Ghana.
Heart: Oh my goodness, did you guys read up on it?
CW: Yeah, I mean, honestly we don’t read up a whole lot. We just pick a place, and we will find out what you can’t miss out on and what you should see and add it to our list, whether we go there or not. It kinda depends on time. So, yeah.
Heart: Can you give me an idea of your journey from childhood to now as a Data analyst? How was your childhood, were you guys middle class?
CW: I was raised lower class. So, my mom and dad got divorced when I was 7. When they were together, we were middle class. But, when they got divorced, we were living in Virginia at that time, and my dad stayed in Virginia and we moved back to Ohio. And my mom, she never made over, um, she has no college degree, high school diploma only, she never made over like 18,000$ an year. So, we were really low class. I mean, we were well below the poverty line, I think. Because, I mean I had free lunch at school, we didn’t have cable TV or internet or anything like that. You know, our typical meal would be Spam, or salmon in a can and she would make salmon patties, stuff like that.
But, she would remarry a lot. So, she has been married 6 times. She is one of those women who is always cursed to find someone who is incompatible with her (smiles). But those men were not bad towards me, but they were some that mistreated her and my older brother too, some of them mistreated him, just because he was a little different.
Heart: Did he back talk?
CW: He was different, um, he’s kinda nerdy. So, my whole goal growing up was, “I wanted to make enough money where I could do whatever I wanted and not have to worry about things like, ‘What am I gonna eat next week?’, because we didn’t have money for that.
And my dad was a huge proponent, even after they divorced, “You’ve to go to college, you’ve to go to college.” He didn’t help me with college, but he told me I had to go.
Heart: Was it because he couldn’t help you?
CW: He could’ve. He just didn’t. He didn’t really start helping me until 3 years ago.
Heart: But, you don’t need any financial assistance now? Do you?
CW: Not now, no. But, he just gives me money. But, it was strange growing up, he would always help other people. We would go to the grocery store, and he and I would be together and I would say, “Can I have this, this or this?” And he would say, “No, you don’t need that.” But, then there would be a family behind us, with 4 kids and they would have 200$ worth of groceries and he would just pay for all of it. (Smiles) And I would get so frustrated.
Heart: Was it meant to be a lesson of some sort?
CW: I don’t know. I don’t know what the lesson would be because you got your own children that want or need things, but then, you are always helping other people. And I am like that now, to a certain degree. I have family members who are still below the poverty line, and I don’t give them anything. But then there could be a local charity that could be doing something, and I will go and give them my time and money. So, its kind of totally bizarre, I kinda picked it up from him and do it now.
Heart: Even people like Gandhi and Mandela would give so much to their countries neglecting their own families at home. Charity should start at home, but these greatest givers didn’t really do that. I don’t know what it is?
CW: Yeah. I don’t know what it is either. But, like I said, in the last few years, he has completely changed.
So, I went to college for education.
Heart: You mean, to become a teacher?
CW: Uh huh. And I took out 50,000$ in loans, racked up a whole bunch of credit card debt, I mean I was working too, but it wasn’t enough. And I was stupid. In my first year of college, I had an almost full ride (scholarship). And in my first quarter, I got a 0.6 GPA (Both of us laugh), just from drinking and partying, and I lost all my scholarships and uh, I had to pay for everything going forward.
So, during college, I would work back breaking laborious jobs. Coz, I wanted to keep reminding myself why I was in school, coz, I didn’t want to end up not finishing it. So, one summer, I worked at a Fiber glass door factory making fiber glass doors. It was 110/120 degrees in the factory, there was fiber glass dust flying everywhere getting into your nose and mouth and on your skin and it would itch so bad. I was making awesome money for a 19 year old, I was making 1000$ a week, you know.
But, then I hated the work. And then another summer, I worked delivering ice. So, I drove an ice truck all around town and deliver ice to gas stations and grocery stores. Another terrible job. (Laughs) I had a couple of good jobs, I worked at Victoria Secret. (We both laugh) I mean, that was a nice for a college guy. And then I worked at the post office which was OK. But, I wanted to teach. I wanted to teach, so I got my education degree. I got a job as a substitute teacher at an inner city school in Dayton, Ohio. And uh, they offered me a full time job, at 32,000$ a year and its no money at all. Its terrible, and I turned it down because at that time, I was dating my fiancée and she was working at [redacted] and she was told that if she moved from Dayton to Alpharetta, she would be a manager within six months. So, she moved down here and within 6 months, she got promoted to supervisor, then to manager and later I joined [redacted]. When I moved, I had applied at a couple of schools down here. And they offered me 32 or 34 (thousand), and at this company, I was told that I would be making 40, 50, 60 (thousand) within a couple of years. So, I got advice that I should definitely go Corporate, so I joined [redacted] and then I became friends with my current manager. I was in a different department then and when his job opening came up, he told me to apply for it. I had no, absolutely no experience with all this stuff.
I had never ever seen OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition is a reporting tool using for business intelligence and analytics by large corporations) and I didn’t know how to do SQL or anything. And he told me, “I’m willing to give you the job as long as you’re willing to learn.” So, he gave me the job, I took couple of SQL classes online and everything else, I’ve picked up working with my coworkers.
I don’t like it. I mean, I like the fact that its a job in an air conditioned building, I don’t like what I do though. I mean, I find it tedious and boring and I feel like I really don’t make an impact. I feel like teaching or doing something that improves someone’s life and makes it better. What I do now, in 5 years, our propriety reporting tools might not be there in 5 years. Its going to be some other new system. And all the reports, I work on today, those will be gone on the way side. So..
Heart: So, what is that you want to do?
CW: I don’t know.
Heart: Do you still think about what to do?
CW: Yeah, I don’t know what I wanna do. I think about it all the time. Coz, [pause] ideally I would go back to school, get my masters and get my PhD. But, you can’t do that in America without a huge debt. One of my friends who’s from Cincinnati, he got his bachelors degree here and then moved to Germany, started dating one of my friends in Germany, so he moved in with her and he got his Masters degree for like 2000$, then he started working on his PhD and it was 2400$ a year or something like that.
And so, that’s part of the appeal to me. That’s just a small part, but its part of the appeal to me to move overseas. If my fiancée succeeds in getting a job through her company, then I can quit and go to school. And if anything, I would probably want to stay with education somehow, like become a professor.
So, yeah, that was kinda of long winded. (Smiles)
Heart: No, no, this is great. I have only really known about the importance of education and what college means in the Indian sense of the way, and sometimes, um, I think it tends to go a little overboard. (Laughs) So, what is the demographic of people that you grew up in Ohio?
CW: All white. All white. Um, [CW pauses], so after my mom and I divorced, majority of my childhood was spent with my mom. I don’t even think I talked to a black person until maybe my junior or senior year in high school. Our entire area where I grew up was mainly white, just white. And I grew up really hardcore strong right wing Republican because that’s what everybody is up there. And most people are pretty racist up there. Its just rural Ohio. So, when I went to college, it was big of a culture shock. And I still learn new things all the time.
I mean, in college it was primarily black people, I moved in to the dorms, and one of the first girls I was this girl named Kenya and I thought she was just so beautiful. Maybe, it was the fact that, I was not allowed to be around these people, growing up that even today, I’m very attracted to black women. I think black women are gorgeous. Or just dark skinned women, because they are different maybe. I don’t know, but I remember spending the first two weeks of school, “Why do you have that huge bucket of lotion?”, “Why don’t you wash your hair everyday?” Like just, coz, I didn’t know. I didn’t know that they didn’t make the oils like white people. I didn’t know that they had to put lotion on. “Why am I not allowed to touch your hair?” I mean, she taught me everything I know about black people now.
CW: And then we ended up, uh, we dated for about two months. Then my mom’s family had a reunion and I took my roommate to it. And I told him to not say anything. So, when we went, he told everyone that there was this girl that was black, they freaked out, and my aunt comes up to me, and I am wearing a buttoned up shirt with a pocket, and she comes up to me and she slides a 20$ bill in my shirt pocket and says, “Never ever let those monkeys touch you again.” And it was just like, I don’t know. Its a whole different world they live in.
And the funny thing is that they don’t act that way in public. Like if a black person came up to them in public, they will be nice. The second they go back to their car, or they go back inside the house, its every slur you can think of.
Heart: Being prejudice is shameful, isn’t it? It can only thrive behind closed doors.
CW: Yeah. So, in college I met a lot of black people and Mexicans. I learned a lot. And after college, uh, all my friends are European and they are white. They have cultural differences but because they look the same, they don’t have to deal with all the issues that the colored folks have to deal with because of the skin tone.
And with Indian people, I learned a lot about Indian people just from at my current company. And I have a very good friend who’s a dentist in Marietta. And he showed me more of the darker side of the Indian people. I learned a lot about the food and the different regions from my coworkers, its all the happier stuff that I learned from them. And the negative stuff learned from this friend because he is closer and he is more open about it. So, you were talking about this education and like this pressure, and he talks about something similar. Even being a dentist, he went to [redacted] university, got his bachelors, and he was accepted into Penn (State university) which is like IVY league, for their Dental program and when he called his father to tell him, “I got accepted to Penn for Dentistry,” he said, he is one of 22 brothers and sisters cousins, and he is the only one that is not a “doctor”, he is just a dentist. So, when he called his mom and dad that he was going to be a dentist, they went on about how shameful that was and they wanted him to be a neurosurgeon or a heart doctor or whatever. He said that his dad didn’t talk to him for months afterwards. He was so upset that his son was not going to be a “real doctor”.
His dad is fine now, because my friend’s got two practices, lives in an 800,000$ house and he never works Fridays. The dad is happy now because he sees, “Oh, you only work 4 days a week, you are not stressed out, and you make tons of money.” But, that side of Indian culture, I never knew about because you don’t really hear that. He also told me, he has twin daughters, and he’s raising them where if they want to date a white man, he doesn’t care. And again his family freaked out, because they want his girls to be with Indians.
Like, I know from my mom’s side, while I was growing up, I had to be with a white person. And he was saying, “Oh, its the same thing with us Indians, our family wants to date and marry Indians.” And black people want their kids to be black people. And it doesn’t make any sense to me, because why does it matter? I think younger kids don’t care so much about that, but, its more the older people.
Heart: What is your ancestry?
CW: Mostly German. My dad is Half German, his mom is a 100% German. His dad is a mix of German, Irish and whatever. My mom, ironically enough, they all thought they were Native American, and whenever they had reunions, they would have Teepees setup and my grandpa would wear a head dress and all that. And my mom did this Ancestry.com thing and she found out that she’s 40% German, 10 or 15% Irish and maybe 20% Black. Basically her great grandpa was Black.
Heart: What does your father do for a living?
CW: My father is a pastor. My dad is retired now. He worked many jobs from factories to being an assistant pastor. He is spending retirement traveling now and now he travels to India on missionary trips.
Heart: Was he always into faith?
CW: Yeah, he was always like that. But, yeah, I don’t know how my dad was raised. I’m not sure if he went to church when he was growing up or not. My mom was raised strict Nazarene. She was strict Nazarene. So, old school Nazarenes believe playing cards, going to movie theater, going to dances, all that, you’re going to hell. So, she when she was growing up, she didn’t do any of that stuff. Coz, her dad was a Nazarene pastor, my grand father, for 40 years.
Heart: What is your relationship like with her?
CW: Strained. [Pause]. Um, we used to be a lot closer, we were decently close until this last election. When Obama got elected, she was supposed to come here for Thanksgiving and she found out that both [redacted] and I voted for Obama and she canceled her trip. So, that was kinda the start of it. She’s completely against Obama, for a myriad of reasons but then when Trump got elected this last year, she just went off the deep end. And she probably posts 6 to 10 times per day on Facebook about how Muslims are the most evil people in the world, they’re taking over the world, Sharia law is coming, we need to stop any Muslim from coming into America. Uh, its like she’s redirected all her feelings from Black people to Muslims now.
I mean, everything is pro Trump. She thinks that Trump’s the best thing ever and he’s so smart and … So, we don’t even talk anymore really, because if I call her, all she wants to talk about is Trump. And I’ve told her repeatedly that I don’t want to discuss politics, 1. Because we disagree and we won’t change each other’s minds and 2. Because a lot of what she puts out there is very hateful and I don’t need that in my life. I’ve kinda cut her out a little bit.
But, growing up I went to a Nazarene church, I went to a Baptist church, I went to a Lutheran school, I mean I went to Jehovah’s witness for a while.
Heart: So, your father is primarily non denominational?
CW: Yeah, he is non denominational. She’s still a Nazarene.
Heart: I want you to read this book, Hillbilly Elegy of an Appalachian boy who grew up in rural poor Kentucky and Ohio. Its by JD Vance and I think you will find a lot of similarities in your lives.
Heart: Do you go to church? Do you have faith?
CW: No. It’s not like I don’t believe, I’ve just changed a lot. Again, like I said, I was really Republican, went to church 3 days a week, um, I would take communion, I was baptized, everything. So, my fiancée is completely anti religion. And I thought that would be a huge problem for me, because I didn’t think that I’ll be dating someone like that. Especially because spirituality is important to me. I wanted to have someone that I connected to spiritually.
Well, what I’ve learned is the longer I’m with her, the more my ideas have changed. I still believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus as been sent by God or whatever, but then I don’t believe in like, the gay thing. Most Christians are against gay marriage. And my argument with my dad, we can have huge disagreements, but still remain civil and still talk to each other. And he is against gay marriage and um, or, just the practice of being gay.
And he cites the bible. I’m always like, in the old testament for Christianity, Solomon had 500 wives. In the new testament, maybe 500 years later, its not OK, its one man to one woman. So, the new testament is written 2000 years ago, who’s saying it hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years, so now it maybe OK to be one man and one man or one woman and one woman.
Heart: OK, thank you. Is there a quote that’s kept you on the right path to college or just life in general?
CW: Um, no. (Laughs) I mean, I stayed on the right path for fear of God and my religion. And then it was more of fear of losing the respect of, which I didn’t even know why it mattered, but for a long time, I really cared about what my mom and dad thought.
Heart: I am sure you’ll have some equity if you plan to sell it.
Heart: Are you on social media?
CW: I am on Instagram, I like seeing pictures. My feed’s all my travel pictures.
On his phone CW shows me gorgeous travel pictures of all the places in the world he has been to so far. He shows me stunning pictures of Iceland, which he has blown up for some of his friends who wanted to decorate their homes with them. There are quotes on all his pictures, quotes that he sometimes writes himself or borrows from as captions.
Travel far enough to meet yourself.
Heart: This is beautiful. [Pointing to an image where sparks fly in circular motion in a dark background.]
CW: Its called spinning wool. We take a whisk, a piece of copper wire, and you tie the whisk to a stick, or, I actually have mine stapled to the stick, so you can spin the whisk in circles. You can buy a steel wool at Home Depot and as long as its grade AAA or higher, its flammable. So, you put that steel wool in the whisk and break it apart and you light it on fire and spin it in circles and it will shoot pieces of flaming wool out. You get the most fantastic shots with it. Yeah.
Heart: This is fascinating stuff.
CW: People at work are like, “Oh, you should do a travel blog.”
Heart: Yeah, absolutely. I can help you, I’ll write words for your pictures.
CW: Thanks. We will see where this goes. My CFO went to Iceland this May and they requested me to put together an itinerary for her. So, I took 2 days and put together a one week itinerary down to how it costs for 330 ml of beer, what the conversion rate is for gas.
Now, she wants to do Croatia next year after seeing my pictures, and her assistant has
already asked me to do the same itinerary idea for the CFO’s trip next year.
Heart: That’s crazy. What stands out the most when you’re traveling?
CW: Um, I travel because I like the people. That’s the number 1 reason I keep traveling. Its for the people.
Heart: Do you experience kindness of strangers?
CW: Its kindness, its everything. For Christmas, we went to Germany. And one of our friends that lives in Hanover, we went over to her house and they had their parents, their brothers and sisters from all over Germany. Their great aunt, Laney, was there too, unfortunately she passed away 2 weeks after our visit. So, she was 16 or 17 years during World War II. She’s German and she was on the losing side, and she was telling her story in German, her folks had told us that she didn’t know English, and for 70 years her family thought she didn’t know English. On the 2nd days [redacted] and I were there, she asks us, “What was your name again?” And her family says, “You know English?” And she says, “Yeah,” and she told all of us this story of how when the war had ended how these American troops came in and she actually became engaged to an American trooper. He taught her English and everything and it was this story that the family had never heard before. They had no idea. [We both laugh]
And just the culture, I mean, they use real candles on their Christmas trees. So, on their Christmas tree, they had real candles that they would light on this tree and that’s something you thought went away in the 1800’s. But, they still do it in many households in Germany.
Yeah, I mean from that to, when we were in Bosnia, we went to this town called Mostar. There are a lot of Muslims there. And we show up in Mostar, and we’re driving into town, they’ve all these buildings that still have machine gun bullet holes in it, and they are mortared out from the war from the 1990’s. And we get to where we were staying, and the Muslims called out their prayers in the loud speakers, and I’ve never heard it in person before and I’m hearing that, its super beautiful and um, we never stay in hotels, we use Air BnB and so our host, meets us and starts telling us about the history of the town, what it was like growing up there during the war and shows us a couple of holes in the driveway where we were parked, where there were sniper shots and um, [pause] I don’t know, its really interesting because all the people we’ve ever met whether in Iceland or Germany or Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Croatia, they’re all extremely curious, friendly, they want to know about you, and they’re willing to share something about their lives too.
CW: That’s what keeps us traveling.
Heart: How many countries so far?
CW: Actually, we just counted this up. I’ve been to 23, she’s been to 26. And we want to hit 50 before we turn 40. We need to pick it up, we’ve been averaging 3 to 4 a year and she’s only got 4 years left to 40. And I told her, we need to go from 3 to 4 a year to 8 to 10 a year.
Heart: Come to India with me next July. My mom will cook for you. And then you can go do the whole Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia thing.
CW: That’ll be awesome. I’ve a Baptism on August 4th in Germany. My very good friends in Germany, we’ve been friends for 12 to 13 years, she just had her first baby October of last year, and she’s was gonna baptize her baby this summer but she asked me to be the God father. And so I will go back next year and be there.
Heart: Thanks so much for being so honest and open about your life.
CW: It’s nice you’re doing this. I get caught up in not caring about Americans. (Laughs) That’s another thing too, we love to travel. I don’t know, there’s something about this country though.
Heart: You cannot generalize.
CW: I know, I know. (Smiles)
Heart: 249 countries in the world want an American passport.
CW: I get that. I know its special. I know its special. I might be taking it for granted.
Heart: Yeah, you’ve got a lot of white entitlement. Just kidding.
CW: Right? (Smiles)
No, a lot of its is just, like for our friends in Germany, our friends in Sweden, the education is just so much better, its cheaper than what we have over here. So, this last trip I went to Germany, I had this terrible food poisoning on the last day. So my friend took me to the hospital. And they admitted me in the ER with a 104 degree fever and I was throwing up, diarrhea, like everything. I was super ill. They admit me in the ER, they give me my own private room, they did three treatments with IVs, blood work, one EKG, I was there for 7 hours. And the doctor comes in, and he says, “Had you been a citizen this would all have been free, but I have to charge you.” And he starts apologizing, “I’m so sorry, maybe you can work with your American insurance when you get home.” And we go to the billing department, its a 130$. (Both of us laugh) And I didn’t even use my HSA, I just paid them using my regular bank card and we left the hospital, we get on the plane to come home.
The doctor had told me to follow up with my home doctor to make sure I didn’t have a parasite or anything. So, I go to my family doctor, she does blood work, stool sample, everything, I’ve spent almost a 1000$ just following up with my family doctor and doing all these tests. It showed nothing.
Heart: Welcome to America. (Laughs)
CW: Yeah. It frustrates me. The health care is better over, the public transportation is better over there, the education is better over there. The people seem to be more friendly. Like people make time for their families, and not just their families but even their coworkers. I see that with the Filipinos that work for our company. They’re not just a team, they’re actual friends. And some of my friends in Germany, my one friend Phil, all his coworkers and him, they get together atleast one or two Fridays or Saturdays every month. And they are a group of 10 or 12. And they go out bowling or they just do things together.
In America, its more this, everyone’s looking out for themselves, “How do I get a raise?”, “How do I make more money?”, “How can I throw this person under the bus, because it makes me look better.” There is just a lot of things that frustrate me. But, I understand that we have the freedom to do whatever we want, there’s an opportunity to get whatever you want. But, I feel like..
Heart: All the Nobel laureates (of America) from 2016 are all immigrants. Doesn’t that tell us something about America? Do you know what I mean, there are some issues, but there are great positives too.
CW: I get it, but there’s a lot more in the world that I want to live in and see, experience. Its also really great that everyone else in other countries speak more than one language. And in America, if you don’t speak English, I don’t want to talk to you. And it just kills me. Actually my friend and I were somewhere out drinking and he was complaining about how he was on the phone with customer service of AT&T or whatever and some one in Philippines or some place picks it up and he’s complaining, “I couldn’t understand the person very well, his English is broken, why can’t they just hire Americans?” Blah blah blah, and I said, “I would never make fun of someone’s broken English, because all that tells me is that they speak more than one language.” So, they’re already twice as smart as you are, for learning something that’s outside their comfort zone. So, yeah.
Heart: We have a lot of Indians, who cannot think out of the box. But, if you have come from a background like yours and become what you are now, and blossomed so much, I guess, it depends on person to person, how much he wants to grow and expand his horizons.
Heart: So, what’s your favorite food?
CW: Everything. I mean, my favorite cuisine is Indian or Thai. Indian or Thai, by far. Just the amount of varying spices, its just amazing to me. I love all foods, and when we go to Germany there are certain foods that I always eat there. In Sweden, there are certain foods that I’ll always eat there. You know, you develop a favorite with every cuisine, but in terms of what I eat the most, I eat Indian atleast once a week.
Heart: That’s funny. OK. So, finally, what’s your favorite beauty routine?
CW: Oh, um, I don’t really have a beauty routine, but one unique thing about my routine, I generally take two showers a day. I take one in the morning and one in the evening. And I get yelled out a lot for wasting so much water. But, I’m very aware of my body odor. And I always want to be where I’m fresh, I’ve got my deodorant on, and cologne or whatever else. And that’s the thing I’ve picked up with traveling, a lot of other countries, most people don’t care about that. You’ll be walking around Germany and Bosnia and people just kind of smell. (Laughs)
Heart: I’ll wait until you go to India in summer. (Laughs)
CW: Yeah. I mean I am not offended by it, I understand that its their culture, but for me personally I like to shower twice a day, and I never let my nails get long. I keep them very short. That actually stems from my friend first girl friend, her parents have a wedding photo of the father’s hand over the mother’s hand and the dad’s hand has long nails with dirt underneath them.
Heart: Oh my goodness.
CW: And, I’m like why would you have that for your wedding photo? And it was on their mantle, and its the first thing you see when you walk into their living room. And you see that picture of their hands and his hand with the dirt underneath the nails. And my toenails. There’s a guy at work, and when he wears sandals, he has terrible toenails that show. He’s got those real jagged looking ones. Yeah. So, I take care of my feet and I take care of my hands. I shower a lot. Yeah.
Note: Before you rate this episode, please consider if you would’ve been so open and authentic about your own life. Earlier episodes available at The Anonymous Manifesto.
* * *
The Anonymous Manifesto is where strangers tell their stories anonymously. We’re all fabulous in our own little ways, aren’t we? And since our world is getting pretty condensed, this social experiment might expand our combined horizons.
Why Anonymous Manifesto?
Wait, I am confused. Why interview people?
Fair question. To find out how everyone else is able to live this unlivable life. And most importantly, to get back to having conversations with our fellow earth dwellers while prodding each other with deep questions.
What’s the point?
These interviews might show us that we are all people who are exciting, heartbroken, crazy, lonely, and thriving in some way and the same way. These interviews might inform, entertain, compel, touch, impact and inspire.
What’s a manifesto?
A public declaration of personal lessons, dreams, aspirations, opinions and goals.
These people are like you and me, common folks. Moreover, why wait in line to snag celebrity interviews? Eh?
This is not an opinionated survey of the human survival landscape. It’s a snapshot of their life in the now. To each his own.
Can I sign up to be interviewed?
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The Anonymous Manifesto
The Anonymous Manifesto – Interviews And Discussions With Regular Folks Who Are Giving Life’s It’s Best Shot
The Anonymous Manifesto The Anonymous Manifesto is where strangers tell their stories anonymously. We’re all fabulous in our own little ways, aren't we? And since our world is getting pretty condensed, this social experiment might expand our combined horizons....
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 38 – The Tigers in the Midst of Us
SS, in her 50's from Aurangabad, India, never went to school for a medical degree. Yet, a few years ago, she managed to deliver a baby girl in the middle of the night in a moving train. Last month, when we found ourselves face to face for the first time, she told me...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 37 – Diamonds On Her One Hand And Dirt On The Other
CB, originally from Iran, invites me into her home in Los Angeles one evening. She seems to have kept her roots alive because the home feels like a modern house version of a small Persian empire. The rugs, the carpets, the tea cups and even the pillow cases have an...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 36 – Joining the Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison Club
* PK, was two days away from her 27th birthday when I met her. "I'm entering the Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison club," she says as I wished her. She had come to the States as a 12 year old girl from South Korea in 2002. She talks about her love for reading and writing,...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 35 – Conspiring with the Universe
* SD, in her 40's, has a goal of removing money from the world. She is a meditation teacher and a Consciousness Creator. She lives in India with her husband and daughter and is working on her life's goal of raising the level of human consciousness in the...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 34 – The Original Vietnamese Boat People
* KH, in her 60’s, fled Vietnam after South Vietnam fell to the Communists in 1975. Her journey to America is not only filled with the horrors of daily terror but also the remarkable kindness of strangers. It took her family 3 years before they could escape out of...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 33 – On Your Tomb Stone Only The ‘–’ Matters
* AN, in her 40's, from small town, Alabama, is a restaurant worker with a heart of gold. She is raising 5 children, 2 hers and 3 her sister's. Two of the 5 children are autistic and one has a gifted level IQ. We discuss her philosophy, "On your tombstone you've your...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 32 – Having Nothing To Lose At 32
* JJ, 32, never took music lessons a single day in his life and now writes his own songs and performs all around the world. His goal as he puts it, is to "move your soul". A two time cancer survivor, JJ has not been afraid to readjust his dreams based on how his...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 31 – Connecting Science and Religion at 13
* SP, 13, from Georgia, talks about life as she enters into high school. She talks about her passion for Science and Religion, and how one day she hopes to have all answers for religion based on Science. When you read her responses, its difficult not to wonder if...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 30 – On Being a United States Navy Seal and Living on the Side Walk
UR, 60, looks years older than his real age. As you read along you'll know what his name is, but I think in his case, its really cool to know his real name. He's a United States Navy Seal and he's homeless in Atlanta. At the cross section of Peachtree street and 10th...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 29 – Leaving the Light on for Those on Their Last Leg
DP, 69, originally from India is a retired Medical Oncologist who writes poetry in Hindi in his leisure time. He talks about his childhood trips to the nearest big town, which would take his family from dawn to dusk in bullock carts and two trains. He talks...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 28 – Making America Home
* KP, in her 60’s, had just returned from a trip to India 12 hours ago when I ambushed her for an interview. She lives in a small town in Alabama with her husband who's a retired Medical Oncologist. She talks about her childhood in India and her journey to becoming a...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 27 – A Wild Child From Fiji Rewires Her Mind In America
* MV, in her 40's, was born in the Fiji islands to Indian parents and moved to the States when she was 16. She talks about her beautiful childhood on the island, her move to America in her teens and her quest for becoming the best version of herself while helping...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 26 – A French Woman’s Muse: Food and Photography
* AA, 37, invites me into her house in Johns Creek, Georgia, on the day of our meeting where there's a Carrom board to the wall in the living room. The living room and the adjacent dining room have a sparse yet cozy European feel to it owing to the fact that AA's...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 25 – Meditations on the Mind, Intellect and Values
* PS, 70, is a life long student of Spirituality. She has studied the Bhagavad Gita for 45 years and talks about the importance of realizing our 7 original divine qualities, the relationship between Anger and Desire, and how our happiness doesn't have to depend on...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 24 – Beating Loneliness, Mistakes, and Kids Into Shape
* SHVM, 25, is a quintessential village boy whose name fits the stereotypical multi-syllable name all of us Indians are accused of having. Inspite of living in America for just 3 years, he already has tips for us on how to beat loneliness and live communally, how...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 22 – She Has Einstein for a Pet :)
AG, 13, lives with her family and her dog Einstein in Atlanta. Her father is from Mexico and her mother is from Peru. I ask her about her her favorite foods, her idea about church and her social media life. You’ve to read every word of hers fully keeping her...
The Anonymous Manifesto – Ep. 21 – Cosmos, Kimchi and a no U-turn Policy
SS, 57, is a Korean American and a serial entrepreneur. He talks about his grandmother, his many, many thoughtful and kind lessons for his children (and for humanity) and why he can't manage to take a U turn even when he knows he is driving in the wrong direction....
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