Friday, February 27, 2015

There's always one

It's almost the end of LetterMo and I really thought this time I was going to make it through the whole month without missing a day (well, not really missing it). I had PLANS. I had a SYSTEM. I had FLOW.

And then I spent Sunday evening too hyped up watching the Oscars and then had an all day work retreat Monday and when I got home after work, I just did not feel like writing. Nope. In fact, I woke up Tuesday and didn't particularly feel like writing and wondered if I could just skip the last week entirely.

So I chose an easy postcard to write - something breezy for My Awesome Sister. And then I found the perfect postcard for Dang Ramona. Back on track, just like that.

Tonight I got home and found a fer-reals letter that I am stoked about - but I'll have to leave it for tomorrow because I've let the whole month go by without discussing the postcards I sent. Roll call!

Mailed February 3:

 When I sent this, I remember there was a reason I had selected this card, specifically for this recipient. That information has left my brain - the risk of waiting so long to post about it.

 Mailed February 4:
Jean Cocteau - The Act of Creation, 1949
Aha! I received a lovely postcard back from this person a day after getting the postcardly one. In fact, we write throughout the year, albeit sporadically.

Mailed February 5:

Debbie Harry & Andy Warhol circa 1977
Sent to a high school friend that I haven't seen or talked to in more than 25 years. I met her in 10th grade when I went to a new school for the first time since Kindergarten - she was my assigned "big sister" (through we were in the same grade). We shared a love for what was then called college radio music - she introduced me to The Smiths and Scritti Politti, took me to vintage shops and record stores in Philadelphia, and told me to STFU about the boy I liked who no longer liked me yet I managed to whinge on and on about him for an astonishingly long time afterwards (seriously, everyone needs a friend willing to say Enough Of That Already).

She also wrote me back, but that's for next time...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Performing correspondence

Last weekend I went to a reading series called Letters Aloud - "Private Letters read in Public". This was probably the first (and possibly the last) time I've ever gone to a Valentine's Day event - ON Valentine's Day even! - but I saw the listing a few days prior and was interested in how the group would translate correspondence to the stage. I also wanted to check out the venue, which is relatively new.

The format is very straightforward: the host and two local actors shared the stage with a musician, and took turns reading from actual letters centered on a theme. Most of the letters were written by people who went on to be celebrities and were found through online research. There were minimal visuals provided as background, so the focus was really on the writing.

The actors were excellent - there were two men and a woman reading, but I appreciated that they did not restrict which letters were read by whom to shared gender - and the overall arc of the show was thoughtful and well constructed. Highlights included a surprisingly mature response to a high school breakup by the man who would become Slash (Guns n' Roses), a written pass from Marlon Brando left for a server, and a letter from Elton John in his 60s to his younger self. I was also happy to hear a letter than I had just perused from the Between Us collection of lesbian correspondence by Kay Turner, which I'd re-read a few days prior to this event. But the most memorable letter was the one that opened the show - a hand-written version of the grade school rite of passage "Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No" note. The response had been a qualified no - but the child managed to hang on to the note through the following years and in the end the two not only liked each other but got married. More stories like this one (which did not involve anyone famous), peppered with celebrity surprises would have given the evening more impact.

Nevertheless, it's an interesting concept, and the host told a great story about having been inspired by the series to write and mail a letter to his wife of many years - only to see it idle in the mailbox for five days because his wife doesn't check the mail very often! It would be great to think that even a handful of the audience members went home inspired to give old school correspondence a try.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

(oh-woah) Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman...

Whee! I got mail! A postcard for MEEEEEE!

It's funny. I started writing postcards again because I wanted to write (and I wanted to unload some of the postcards I'd collected over the previous 20 years). I knew better than to expect a return to the days of 8 page letters that take a week to write, an hour to read and days to contemplate before attempting a reply. I didn't want to go into this expecting mail in return - the process of sending missives out into the world would have to be enough. It is enough - that process is its own reward.


I'd be lying if I said I didn't care at all about getting mail. It's fantastic. I love that some of my friends have started writing letters and postcards too.

Received 19 February:

This postcard is a picture of my friend's cats - it was created through You open an account, upload an image, type your message and the address of the recipient and voilà! They create a postcard and mail it for you. There's a limited free trial and then you purchase plans either by number of postcards or by month - either way it's cheaper than buying postcards and paying for postage. Of course, it's not quite as awesome as doing it yourself: when I saw the computer-generated text on my postcard I admit at first I thought I'd gotten an appointment reminder from my dentist. So much for the swooping scripts and flourishes of a hand-written card - but really that's me being incredibly jealous that I didn't think of this first because it's genius.

# # #

I haven't even posted ANY of my LetterMo postcards yet. Here's one, mailed February 2:

I can never get enough of Jeffrey Brown's cat comix. Sent to My Awesome Sister, of course.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mid Month Malaise

It's February, which means I've been participating the Month of Letters (postcards) again. I totally blew it off in 2014, but I really missed writing in general, so I decided to use this particular challenge to get back in the habit. I sent out a couple of warmup postcards in January, just to see how awful my handwriting had gotten (result: bad), and have been more organized than ever - mostly writing out my postcards the night before, tracking who's gotten mail, balancing between sending items to people living in Seattle and in greater distances. I'm also being careful to not update my Facebook page as much, as I'd noticed that I had a lot more to say to the few friends who do not maintain social media  pages and thus do not yet know what I had for lunch yesterday. It's been really fun, and I can already feel the flow of writing coming more naturally.

Mailed January 8 to Dang Ramona. From a collection of postcards designed by Mark Mothersbaugh. Of DEVO!

But somehow President's Day weekend always threatens to derail my LetterMo mojo. Friday night I stayed at Tilly's (the GF), and I took my postcard supplies with me so I could drop the day's postcard in the mail after my French conversation group in the morning. After bidding mes amis a fond à bientôt, I found a table outside the café, selected the card I wanted to use and the recipient - and discovered that I had no pen. Postcards, address book, stamps - check. NO PEN. How is that even possible? I always, always have a pen with me - most of the time I have two or three! Now, I could have gone back inside and asked for a pen, but this café is kind of a zoo on Saturdays, and I would have felt guilty not buying another coffee after being there for 3 hours already, so I decided to head home and hope for the best. Upon my return, I stopped to talk to a neighbor for a few minutes, and once I was inside taking off my shoes, I heard the familiar sound of the postman. It was that kind of day. I did end up writing my postcard, and did in fact drop it in the mail on Saturday, but it rankles a bit to know that's it's still sitting in that box, more than two full days later. It just seems like this long weekend always has some sort of hiccup that threatens to derail my focus for the second half of the month. Which is why I'm going to write tomorrow's postcard as soon as I finish with this post.

Mailed January 30, to Tilly Losch, my main squeeze

I bought this postcard in either Amsterdam or Belgium, and thought I had scanned it already. Scanning is a ridiculous process in my house and best done in batches, so I took a quick shot with my phone before dropping it in the mail, so it looks terrible. On the plus side you can see where I tried to estimate the path of the Trans-Mongolian Rail line, which we hope to take in the not-too-distant future.

I'll start posting my LetterMo postcards next time...