So I’m at a stuck point in this resolution. At this point I’ve written to a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don’t know. I feel like I’ve run out of people to write to. Added to that, is the fact that I’ve not gotten many letters back, which I entirely expected as no one writes letters anymore. What I didn’t expect, is how depressing it feels to open an empty-except-for-bills-and-ads mail box every day when I’ve been writing so often. So I’ve been researching pen pals.
Pen pals. You remember those from when you were little, right? You had a friend from overseas and you wrote to them a few times and then never again, right? They were fun because they had funny terms for everything like “pen friend” and “girl guides” and “go on holiday.” I need something like that, but an adult who wants to send mail, not email. Not surprisingly, given that no one writes letters anymore, it was a bit difficult to locate such a thing.
I did an Internet search for “pen pals mail” and came up with a lot of crap. Let me tell you what I am not looking for when looking for a pen pal. I am not looking for love, nor am I looking for love from attractive women. So pictures of attractive women displayed prominently on a pen pal web site are not something that would keep me reading. Nor do I like flashing things on web sites. You think they are fun, but I think they are trashy and I navigate right away. I am also not looking for a site that is jumbled and cluttered and looks like Aunt Matilda revved up her new fangled computer and haphazardly built a site. Note that those last two things often go hand-in-hand.
I flirted with the idea of writing a prisoner, but the prisoner web site I went to was kind of skeevy. I did find a nice organization that connects people with Jewish inmates. Apparently, they make up a small percentage of prisoners, but antisemitism is rampant in the prison system so it is especially hard for them. Non-Jews can write to Jewish prisoners too. If you are interested, the web site is http://www.jewishpenpals.org/
I did find some promising things, they are as follows.
The coolest one I found was called postcardx. ( http://postcardx.net/
) Here, you can click a link and send a random person a postcard. You can also add your address to get random postcards, and there is a link to discuss things. I will use this when I am totally desperate, and have absolutely nothing to send to anyone.
A long shot, though quaintly old-school is SAPE (http://www.michander.com/sape/
) formerly known as the Soviet-American Penfriend Exchange. For the cost of a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for those of you born after 1985) you theoretically get a list of a bunch of potential pen pals in former Soviet countries. I’ve already sent off my application, but don’t expect anything will come of it.
One of the most interesting leads I’ve found was the Letter Exchange. (http://www.letter-exchange.com/
). Here you subscribe to the Letter Exchange and three times a year you get a publication with some articles and “listings.” Each listing has a number associated with it. If you are so moved, you can write to the person who posted the listing, but instead of sending it straight to the person, you write the number from their listing on the front of the envelope. Then you put that letter (or letters) with correct postage attached, in another envelope and send the whole thing to the Letter Exchange’s address. Once they receive the envelope, they forward the letter to the correct person. Genius! The person can then write you back directly if you have included your return address, or if you have listed your LEX number, they can write you by sending a letter to the Letter Exchange which will be forwarded back to you. With your yearly subscription, you get 20 free words to make your own listings. Once you have used those 20 words, each word costs 50 cents. There are a variety of categories to list under.
I’m pretty excited about this option and have already printed out my subscription form and written my listings. They are:
1. In the category of “Women’s Studies”: Are women’s colleges necessary any more?
2. In “Insights”: I’m overweight, but I’ve never felt better.
3. “Nature and Gardening”: My best camping trip? Bruno Sand Dunes. Yours?
I’ll send my subscription off tomorrow. My listings will appear in the June publication and they will send me the current issue as soon as they get my application. I can’t wait!