Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pen Pals

I am on Facebook, Twitter and I have a couple blogs. They all have their purposes, but what I really love to do is write letters. I have been thinking about this the last few days. I like to write different things, but letters are my favorite. My second favorite would be poems; however, my poems are very personal and I don't like to share them. I took a poetry class and thought I could divorce my heart from my poems that I had to share, were critiqued and that I had to change. It was too painful and one of my favorite poems was ripped apart so many times that I could not even identify my original poem, and I evntually wrote another poem about how the first poem had died and would not be torn apart anymore. I haven't really been able to write a poem since and that was back sometime between 2003 and 2005.  I would love to write a book, but after the gripping beginning the story peters out with have crappy middles and lame endings. I enjoy writing essays, but with some much on my plate these days when do I have time to study something and write an essay. Since I moved overseas I have started a couple blogs about my experiences and my thoughts. So far, I have been more faithful to blogging than I ever have to keeping a journal. I even tried a new tactic of a journal called snap shots that were supposed to be like a picture, only with words, of events I had experience in Malaysia. It was hard for me to not fully explain the event. Although my blogs do get views it rarely gets any comments. So, they do not start any conversations.

My love affair with writing letters began when I was eight years old. We were on vacation, although I don't remember the location. I met a girl Amanda, I think from Colorado, at the hotel pool. This was before the traumatic move where I was picked on for the rest of my school years, so I was not yet shy. Amanda and I became friends quickly and were sorry when the vacation ended, so we decided to become pen pals. I can't remember any more how long we wrote each other, but I know it was for a couple years. With each person that has been my pen pal I have always continued to write as the other person's letters have slowly dried up and died usually due to busy lives and knowing we would most likely never meet. I had a couple in high school in Germany that I got through my German class. A friend in college and I wrote back and forth one summer. She had the coolest handwriting, but our friendship ended later. I still have her letters and have gone back to read them again. In my late 20's my best friend had me correspond with this guy that she wanted me to meet when I came to visit her, but we were on different paths in life. Even when I was in Malaysia I corresponded with a person for a short time, just a few weeks, giving an insight into life in Malaysia. That person gave me a compliment  that I wrote in great detail with depth and honesty, so that the person had a vivid picture and my "stories" interesting. Throughout my whole life, even to this day, my grandma and I write letters to each other. The only problem is that being on the other side of the world from her it takes a long time. My best friend and I also write letters. Many times though our letters have gotten lost and never made it to the other person.

When I taught in Malaysia I was taking an online class and through one of the conversations another teacher and I started talking about having our students be pen pals and write letters to each other. I talked about it with my students and they were really excited but there was some miscommunication between the lady and I via e-mail, so my students and I were waiting and waiting for their letters only to find out that she wasn't planning on doing this idea until the next school year. Needless to say my students and I were very disappointed and I never heard from that teacher again. 

I still send postcards when I travel. When I was in Seoul, South Korea in October I sent 18 postcards to different people I know.

One part I love about letters is that I can share stories about events in my life. As an avid read I enjoy telling stories. I used to tell stories in PE when we had to run laps around the track. It kept everyone entertained and got us through those miles. With letters though they are a story about a part of my life that I have decided to share with the other person. It is one way I show a person that I trust them. I also enjoy getting to know more about the other person.

I am a person though no matter what I write the process takes hours to accomplish. I start with composing in my head. I go over every line or sentence in my head repeating it over and over tweaking it until it sounds just right, then I put it down on paper or type it up and then I spend several more hours composing, rereading, tweeking until I think I have it say what I want it to say. One I post or save or e-mail I will take a break and come back to it and see little mistakes I have made that I automatically corrected in my head when reading through it, and I have to go back and make more changes. I do the same thing with letters and sometimes I will rewrite them. You are probably wondering why I spend so much time on letters when the other person may only read it once and may even throw it away after reading. I just like to make sure I am very thorough in my explanations as the other person has no other clues to help them interpret my words: no body language, facial expressions or tone of voice. I do not want them to misinrepret what I am saying because I didn't take the time to explain myself clearly. Of course, there is never any guarantee.

Back to my story on Pen Pals. So, I was lamenting that Facebook and twitter just weren't doing it for me and wondered if people correspond any more by letters not just posting or blogging. A fellow tweeter (I did not ask persmission to use name before I wrote this) suggested that a person could handwrite a letter, scan and e-mail to me. That is a brilliant idea, but neither my grandma or best friend are into technology, so they would not make use of this idea. I then thought that I would need a scanner as well, but the same person suggested that I could use a tablet and stylus. I thought finding a stylus would be hard to do as some things here that I thought would be easy to find have not been found. I was wrong and found one easily. Not many choices but I now have one. The next step was to figure out how to find a pen pal. I googled pen pals and they actually have several sites, I was surprised. In taking a closer look though many seemed like they were looking for romance. It was almost like online dating only under the name of Pen Pals. Then, I had the idea to maybe see about becoming a pen pal with some soldiers in the US military, but it appears that due to new regulations those services have been suspended. Many of the sites ask people to write letters and provide care packages every month. If I was in the US, I think that would be an easy thing to do, but with customs here I have a hard time getting packages and have a feeling there might be lots of complications trying to get care packages out and to those men and women. I feel like I am trying to force a pen pal into existence where in the past it has always happened naturally with no planning. So, I have decided in the mean time that I should find another outlet for writing until another pen pal comes along, because I know with my love for letters one will indeed come my way.

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