Message in a Bottle

I've been doing something interesting since last night– writing. No, not the great American novel or a mind-blowing poem or anything like that. I've been writing letters and postcards. I blame Sex With Kings which took me back to another time when writing was the only thing to do. These women wrote thousands of letters in their lifetimes and if you think about your typical day, it makes a lot of sense. How many times do you chat with your mother? What about your close friends? Other relatives? Now imagine you were somewhere really important. Maybe you're working at the White House for instance. Or maybe you're the assistant to the assistant of a celebrity or even the celebrity itself! Imagine there is no E! channel or US Weekly. There is no WWTDD.com. There's no CNN and definitely no New York Times. How else would you communicate not only the latest happenings in your life but those delicious tidbits of news and gossip that add a little zest to life. So I started writing. Now the first thing I needed was recipients. 

So, I opened my GMail and pulled up the two AnySoldier contacts I'd received in the past. I'd been feeling a little sad about it because I am yet to send any actual care packages, just a couple of Thank You cards. But I browsed the forums and such things and I realized it's the letters and the cards that they want. I mean, yes, goodies are fun and we all know that especially those who have participated in swaps. But these soldiers really seem to enjoy the letters. So I wrote up two new ones and then I browsed through and found two more contacts. AnySoldier restricts the number of requests you make a day to 2 so that people don't make frivolous requests. And then I found one more that specified a desire for pen pals so I'll make that request tomorrow (or tonight in the wee hours) but the letter is already written and the card stamped. 

I also came across another venue for my current fascination– PostCrossing. I really like this site and have made my 5 requests and have written 4 of the postcards already. Number five is waiting patiently for me to finish this post. I have postcards travelling to Finland, Taiwan, Germany, Brazil, and the UK. The way PostCrossing works is you register with the site and you can request up to 5 addresses. The default, by the way, is that you not receive addresses from your own country but you can change it if you'd like. When you are given the address, you also see your recipient's profile which usually has some information about them and some times their postcard preferences which you are not under any circumstances obligated to follow. When you request an address, you are given a PostCard ID. This is where the site really shines. You write your ID on the postcard and drop it in the mail. When your recipient receives it, they log on and enter it. This now does two things– it allows you to receive yet another address AND it puts you in the system so that others can receive your address. It's a very fun feature and there is a very large international presence– you should see the forums! They also have a little map that tracks your postcards so you can see where your postcards have traveled. To accomodate for lost mail or inactive users, the system allows postcard id'sto expire after 60 days so that you are free again to request another address. They also have a Flickr group which I'm going to look into now. 

Now, the interesting thing about both AnySoldier and PostCrossing is the Message in a Bottle effect. You are writing to strangers. In the case of AnySoldier, they are complete strangers. You only have a name for the contact but because they are supposed to pass the letter on to others, you don't even know the recpient's name. You know where they are stationed but you won't know their age or their interests or anything at all about them. At first, it feels a little strange and you're unsure what exactly to write to someone whose life is in danger every day on your behalf. But, it starts to feel a little more natural every card you write and I browsed the forums and founds lots of people with the same feelings and excellent responses and ideas on what to send. While with PostCrossing you may get someone with an excellent and informative profile, like my German contact, you might get some with little to no info like my Brazilian contact. And others are in between. So it's a strange feeling of just sending something out there. Also, you are sending without expecting a response from you recipient. With AnySoldier, circumstances can make outgoing communications incredibly difficult and besides, a lot of them are under intense situations so expecting a response to me seems silly but I always include my e-mail address as that seems to be the easiest way to hear back from them. And with PostCrossing, your address information is not provided (unless you include it on the postcard). I did put a link to this blog but that is all. So I figure I probably won't hear back from many, if any, of my postcard recipients.

I'm excited about the letter-writing. I don't know what it is about the process, but I find it insanely entertaining. Now, I do not have to restrict my writing to total strangers. If you'd like to be included in my outgoing mail, drop me a line. ANDREA, if you read this PLEASE send me your addy. I lost it when I switched computers at Christmas time and have a package for you. 

Back to writing I go. By the way, Daughter seems to be contaminating us all with colds and Baby has not escaped her clutches. He's got a runny nose and terrible temperament. Good thing I have a hobby to soothe me.

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