Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uncle Traveling Matt

I've always told my brother (whose name is conveniently Matt) that when I have kids, he will have to be my children's Uncle Traveling Matt, like from Fraggle Rock. I'm looking forward to his making good on that.

I did get around to writing him that letter. One day at work I was talking to J about my older brother, and with nothing having been said to put this in her mind, she asked, "Did he already die?" I thought that was a funny if not morbid thing for a child her age (three) to wonder.

My letter was also full of completely random thoughts, because that's how I seem to function when I'm with Matt, or apparently, writing to him. I haven't seen him since this past Christmas, but when I do, I'm always reminded of the ways in which I'd like to be more like him. He's always had an air of not caring what other people think, and I appreciate that. I tend to dwell on that, mostly what people would think if I messed up in whatever I'm attempting. So better not to attempt, right? I've been trying to shake that.

I also received a letter yesterday from my friend Lindsey (from a few posts back) but I haven't opened it yet. It's sitting right over on the counter, but I keep seeing it as I'm heading out the door and don't pick it up right that second. I'll get to it. No need to rush.

Today I'm attempting to bake bread. Our sourdough starter works great for pancakes but is not so hot for actual bread-baking. I've added some additional yeast to it in the hopes that'll kick its butt into rising. And, since I'll have the oven on, I might as well make a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread. (Did I mention it has chocolate?)

It's Saturday and I'm sure I've missed the mail pick-up for today, but maybe I'll write something today or tomorrow and count it for this week's send-out. Not like anyone's holding me to this!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Season's greetings

Okay, so it's not the holiday season. But it is spring, which means graduations (Andy's cousin's, to be exact), and my dad's birthday. Those were this week's two cards.

When Andy and I went to SF in March, we visited his aunt and uncle, and his cousin Elie, who is about to graduate high school. I couldn't think of anything wise and noble to say to her during the tumultuous but exciting time, but I did enclose a check, which was probably a safe bet.

My dad's birthday is tomorrow, and I have to admit that I don't know how old he is. I'm terrible about that: I don't know his age, my mom's, my brother's, and sometimes I forget my own. But I did remember the date and hopefully mailed the card out soon enough that he'll get it on the right day. There are quite a few places where he lives that offer free birthday awesomeness, so I hope he'll go out and get what he's earned by doing such a good job of having been born (however many years ago).

On a postally-unrelated note, I just returned from a craigslist purchase: a pressure cooker! I had to drive about 40 minutes to get it, but I spent $20 plus... oh, $5 worth of gas, to purchase something that goes for ~$80 new. I'm interested to get into canning, but I didn't want to spend $100+ to buy all-new supplies for something in which I might lose interest. Plus, Carla came in the car with me, and that kept me entertained when I got a little lost and then had to wait for-freakin'-ever to back out of this woman's driveway. Actually some dude looked like he was going to get out of his car and bite my face when I wouldn't pull around (into a narrow space) a car with a dead battery. I waited until there was actually room, instead of nosing through and possibly scratching my car (or worse, the nice-looking dead one). I probably kept the guy behind me waiting for an extra traffic light cycle. Sucks to be him.

I've promised my brother a letter, since the little girl I work with said something funny about him, and I thought it was letter-worthy. That's on my to-do list for next week.

Now, get out there and write!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Behind again

All right... I know what you're thinking. "Is this a once-a-week blog, or not?" In my defense, I've written letters. I just haven't written about writing the letters.

Two weeks ago
I wrote a letter to Amy, a woman who I still refer to as my youth group leader, even though it's been eight years since I was a member. She's been one of my best friends for a long time, and the group provided a chance for me to be a leader, and probably is one of the things that got me into college. She's a no-nonsense lady and always treated us like we were intelligent people rather than kids to be discounted. I remember she had us take an anonymous test about sex and STDs and stuff to show our parents that we knew way more than they might have thought. Anyway, I sent her a letter telling her what's going on, and some memories of our group.

One week ago
I wrote (but have yet to have found an address to actually mail it) a letter to my other youth group leader, Jason. Kind of the same stuff--thanking him for putting up with us, which wasn't always easy. He was a later addition to the group, coming in after the group and its dynamics were already in place, and he volunteered to work with us. He was (and probably still is!) a great guy. He moved away from our hometown while I was out of the country, he got married in another state when I lived in a different one as well, and I've had no contact with him in a long, long time. I don't know if he knows that I started dating someone five-and-a-half years ago, and that I married him! Unfortunately, Google and didn't turn up his information and he's not on Facebook, but his wife is. I don't really know her, so I can't really blame her for not responding to my request for their address.

This week!
I wrote a card to friends from our Madison days. Neither couple lives there anymore. They were married in Milwaukee last year at a beautiful wedding at the Milwaukee Art Museum. We moved out east a few months after that, they moved to Chicago to be a morally-neutral lawyer couple (she works pro-bono, he... does not).

I did make it to the post office for two-cent stamps, but I didn't photo-document the journey. Why?

The worker at the post office informed me, after I was in the door, that only service dogs were allowed in. I had my hands full with the leash, so no pictures this time. But meet Carla, our rescue dog. I wish she'd stop waking at 4:30.

Until next week!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Playing catsup

CM Burns: "Ketchup, catsup. Ketchup, catsup."

I'm behind on blogs and letters already. Oops!

In my last post, I mentioned that my m-i-l is way better at sending notes and cards than anyone I know. So naturally I wrote her a nice card telling her how great it is to be her daughter-in-law (awwww).

I haven't figured out to whom my next letter should go. It's kind of sad how after three or four pieces, I'm scrounging through friends/acquaintances. Maybe it's just hard because I'm a procrastinator. We'll go with that.

USPS is getting more serious about getting rid of Saturday delivery. It would still have to be approved by Congress, but if approved, we would be Saturday-less by mid-2011. Article here.

I'll think of a really, really good letter for later this week. Maybe I'll take my camera and have a picture-filled entry of a trip to the post office to buy two-cent stamps!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Neighborhood Murals

In San Francisco two weeks ago, we visited the Mission, one of the neighborhoods there. (There's probably a reason for the name, but who has time for that kind of research?) There are tons of murals on the walls and garage doors in the area, some with political or personal messages, some just art for art's sake. It was cool stuff, so I picked up a postcard.

I recently received a postcard from my friend Libby while she was in Puerto Rico. She and I do a pretty good job swapping letters, so I figured a response-postcard was in order. I told her a bit about how I'd liked the city, even despite my general distaste for art. I closed the card informing her that we'd purchased a tablecloth today. Such a grown-up thing to do.

And no, I still haven't filled out my census, even though I advised you--my legions upon legions of readers--to do so. I swear I'll have it done by next week's entry. And no, I won't count that as my mailed piece. I'd like to add, though, that I'm pretty sure my mother-in-law does way more to support the USPS than I do. We got a Happy Easter/Spring card from her the other day, and that's completely the norm. Way to go, Wendy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Last week, I was in California with sporadic internet access. But fear not, loyal reader! I got a few things in the mail.

Now, this first one might not count, but since I'm making up the rules as I go, I decree that it does. I received a letter as well as an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope, for those not in the biz) so I count mailing that back as my duty for the week. I could have just tossed the envelope in the recycling or flat-out lost it. I almost lost it in the completely contained space of my suitcase.

Anyway, here's what it was: I got a letter from my home church. For at least the last fifteen years, my church has been struggling with myriad issues (and probably longer, but that's about when I started paying attention). I moved out of the state five years ago, and before that was only a summer-attendee when I was home from college. My husband and I were married there a year and a half ago, as was my dad (twice-- twelve years ago, and... uh.... like 30 or something).

The church is undergoing some self-evaluation. I'm pretty out of the loop now, but it sounds like they may be selling the building, among other changes. The letter asked me if I still considered myself a member. I decided that for the sake of their tracking membership, it was best to cut ties since I am 780 miles away. (I did not feel the need to disclose to them that Jesus and I have recently cut ties, too.)

I grew up there. Many of the members have known me my entire life. It was hard for me to check the space for "I wish to resign." I wrote a bit about my decision and how grateful I am to have been there. But I have to admit there is a bit of grief that comes with losing my home church.

What's that? A BONUS letter? Oh yes, I did. I hand-wrote a letter to my grandmother, whose birthday was last week. I wrote to her from an outdoor cafe on Balboa Island in Newport Beach (the OC--but please don't call it that), CA. I got a plate of onion rings and Andy got fries. Those details are much more exciting than the content of the letter, most of which I've forgotten.

My grandma's a neat lady. She was super-hip about me living with Andy before we were married, she voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries and happily for Obama in the fall. I made it up to see her for a brief 24-hour visit around Christmas. I hope the letter made her smile.

I picked up a few postcards while in San Francisco, but have yet to mail them out. I'll get to it, and report back in a few days!

Also, fill out your Censuses.... Censi? :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Ode to the South (and Lindsey)

This week's letter went to a friend in South Carolina. I've never been there, but my brother lived there for a while and liked it. I've only ever visited the south, and I can say this for sure: they know how to eat. I have yet to make sweet tea in my Yankee kitchen that tastes as good as it does anywhere beneath the Mason-Dixon line.

Anyway, the letter went to my friend Lindsey. I'm embarrassed to say I don't even really know what she's doing there. (Hopefully she'll respond in letter-form and fill me in!) She and I met in high school. We began talking one day on the bus between schools in order to drown out Dr. Laura. Luckily for me, she turned out to be awesome (Lindsey, that is)!

She and I had an on-again/off-again letter-writing arrangement while we were college. Her letters were often if not always hand-written. She's got great penmanship. She also sometimes stamped the envelopes with sealing wax. How cool is that?

Happy Correspondence!

Friday, March 5, 2010

One a week

I've heard that Frank Warren approaches his mailbox each day with a Christmas-like anticipation. Who doesn't love to get mail? Cards on your birthday are great, but how much better are the unexpected hand-written letters from an old friend?
I've decided that I'm going to start sending one item a week. Not only will I be doing my small part to support the USPS, I hope to brighten up people's days with unexpected communication. My first envelope went out to my best friend Julie, whose birthday is on Sunday, which means my card will either arrive one day early or one day late. She and I don't talk as much now that we live across the country, but I hope that she knows how important she still is to me.
Isn't that really what it's about? Letting people know that you care?
Not to lean too heavily on the great blog, Post Secret, but I attended an event where audience members shared secrets with the crowd. Most were heavy and cried out for support or understanding from the listeners. It reminded me how desperately people wish to be connected, but how fleeting it can be. (I certainly didn't walk out of the auditorium feeling like I could share my soul with everyone who had been there.) I'm just out to reestablish some connections that I do have.
And there's no way to force myself to do something like having the world watching.