1. Please tell us about you!
Ello everyone! I'm really happy to be here and get the chance to introduce myself and talk about something I really love, snail mailing!
So let's see, my name's Monica, and I'm on the far side of 18, and right now I'm in New York visiting my mom and grandmother, but I'm normally in the sunny state of California living near the quirky and off beat city of San Francisco, which owns my heart truly and deeply :)
Right now I'm in school studying to work as a pharmacy technician, something I'll be doing soon, eep! I don't plan on being a pharm tech all my life, not even close, it's just something that'll help me achieve my dreams of traveling and perhaps going to art uni after :)
I have tons of hobbies, and obviously snail mailing is in the top ten of those, but others include drawing, making jewelry and clothing, photographing streets and buildings, traveling and reading travel books, reading books and more books, being fanatical about Neil Gaiman, finding rainbow colored clothing and quirky hats, listening to music and my number one hobby and favorite thing to do, hanging out with my best friend, the Watson to my Sherlock, and dreaming up far fetched schemes :)
If this small description of myself is lacking, a better one can be found on my Interpals page.
2. Describe your personality in 10 words!
Artistic : You know that girl who has lyrics drawn on her jeans, ribbons in her messy hair and paint splotches on her fingers? That's me :)
Friendly : I try to be friendly, kind and compassionate at all times, because the world needs more friendliness and softness instead of hard edges.
Shy : Aha, yeah... I can be unbelievably shy at times but caffeine helps me hide it with nervous spazziness :P
Spazzy : Imagine a squirrel on 5 cups of espresso, that's me after just one can of a Java Monster ^__^
Paradox : Nothing is every black and white with me, it's all upside down and inside out, but not always in a confusing way :)
Nerdy : comics, graphic novels, lord of the rings... need I go on? :P
Caring : I can't help but get emotionally invested in people, and that means caring about them and what's going on with them.
Open : I don't have much that I won't talk about, life isn't about keeping secrets, but never having them in the first place.
Restless : I'm like that U2 song, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for"
Quirky : What can I say, this is the word almost everyone uses at least once to describe me, but I don't mind :)
Me and Watson, about a year ago, while I was doing a
Cyanide & Happiness "Personal Space Invader" joke :P
Cyanide & Happiness "Personal Space Invader" joke :P
3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I started penpalling through snail mail fairly recently actually, only since this past June! I had joined Interpals really just to cure boredom, but I ended up meeting some really great and amazing people, and some of them wondered if I wanted to "snail mail" with them apart from just talking online, and I was like "Huh? What's snail mailing?" and once I found out what it was I was immediately intrigued, but I thought it would be incredibly complicated to snail mail outside of the US, till one of my friends, Courtney, was telling me about all the penpals she had, all over the world and I asked her if it was complicated or really expensive and she took the time to explain to me pretty much everything about it, and because of her I got the courage to start penpalling, because she made it sound so fun and easy :)
My first real snailmail penpal was um... You know, in all honestly it could have been any of three people, but if I had to choose, I'd say it was Mackenzie, or as I call her, Clyde :P She's the first person who ever sent me a letter that was more than just a letter, it was basically an explosion of art to me when I first got it, the envelope made out of a Cartier advertisement with cut out magazine letters spelling a message for me, lots of cute random creative things inside, and the letter itself, this kaleidoscope of color, words and smileys :) And because of her, the small interest that I had in snail mailing became what is now one of the most time consuming hobbies I have, and I wouldn't have it any other way :)
4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
Hmm let's see, right now I have about 30 snail mail penpals, which I know, I know, seems like a whole big bunch! But with 3 of them I just exchange mix cds with, and with 2 of them, (James and Helio "manly man", amazingly awesome dudes!) I talk mostly through long (and I mean looong) messages and only occasionally do we send each other snail mail, with James mostly mix cds and random bits and bobs that we think the other will like, and with Helio, handwritten original poems and stories.
With my actual regular only-through-snailmail penpals, there's about 10 that I write with regularly, meaning that we reply to each others letters within the week if possible, and those include the lovely miss Sarah (UK) who sends me letters that never fail to make me smile, Lesley-Ann (N. Ireland) who makes the BEST mix cds, Sabrina (Finland) who's the person I write and confide the most to, the enchanting Sandra (Sweden) who always listens to my ramblings and is just as creative as I am, if not more, Steven (Ireland) who's a bit new, but still a great cheerful and funny guy to write to, and Mareike who's plain awesome and never thinks my letters are as crappy as I think they are ^__^
I would go on and on about my penpals, but I would probably bore the bejesus out of everyone reading this so I'm just going to say that pretty much every single one of my current penpals makes me smile when I get their letters or messages, and I couldn't have dreamed for a better bunch :D
5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I don't really have favorite topics when it comes to letters, though I love it when people describe to me their home town, and the things they like and dislike about them :)
I like talking about movies, books, random memories picked from the traces of a smile, travel plans and wish lists of places to visit, every day routines, and anything else that happens to come up.
But I guess above all I love lists, especially top ten lists, there's something so fun about reading someone's top ten list of favorite movies, and writing your own list in return :)
The only thing I don't like to talk about much in letters is my love life, mostly because it's always such a rollercoaster mess and I like just waiting till things get sorted out, but my penpals are free to talk to me about their love lives, it's always interesting :)
6. What are you looking for in a penpal?
Hmm, well the first thing I look for in a penpal is compatibility, of course :) I have to have at least a few things in common with the person to want to write to them.
After that imagination, intelligence, creativity, a sense of humor and compassion are the things I look for the most. I love meeting people who have an active imagination like I do, who love fantasy and fairy tales, who are dreamers. Intelligence because well... As I told a friend once, I like talking to someone with an IQ higher than a toothbrush :P Creativity, which doesn't mean that I need someone who decorates the crap out of their letters like I do, but at least who has the inclination to do so :) A sense of humor because I can NOT stand people who can't take a joke. And compassion because... Being a penpal, to me at least, means more than just exchanging letters and messages with someone, it means being privy to someone's innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences, it means sharing and reaching out, and if a person is lacking compassion then a true bond of friendship will never really be reached, and that's at the core of what I'm looking for, the true bond of friendship :)
7. What do you like the most about penpalling?
I love the way that I can be creative with just about every aspect of it, the whole process of writing a letter can be such a fun thing, from creating the envelope that will hold the letter, finding and searching for cute and unique things to send with the letter, from swap items to drawing random things. And then the letter, there's just so much you can do! Stationary paper, cutting letters from magazines, printing pictures from the Internet, adding ribbons, making the letter into a mini book, drawing little drawings in the margins, stickers, colored pencils, and the list goes on and on :D Even what stamps you put on can be creative :)
I guess the reason I love being as creative as I can with the letters I send is because I know how exciting it is to open your mail box and see a brightly colored and decorated envelope just begging to be opened, and I love knowing I can give someone that joy :)
8. In what language(s) do you correspond?
Right now it's just in English that I write to my penpals, but since I also speak Spanish I've started teaching some of them basics of Spanish, like how to say hello and goodbye, those things :)
I'd love to meet someone with the patience to help me practice my Spanish better, but that'll have to wait till I have more time ;)
9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I usually write letters on my bed, mostly because it's pretty big so I have all the space I need to have all my supplies around, and because it's so darn comfy :)
I don't usually answer letters in the order I get them, I answer them by which ones are shorter, because that way I can free up my time for the longer ones that usually require much more attention, and I'm always listening to music while I write letters, usually a mix a friend has sent me, or a mix I'm working on :)
Um... As to how long it can take me to reply back, I'll be honest, it just depends on how interesting a letter is. If someone sends me a letter that I can tell they rushed and didn't really put much thought in, then I can take up to a month to write back, but vice a versa, if I get a letter that makes me feel creative just by looking at it and is wonderfully written, then I'll write back right then and there and send it priority just so it gets there faster ^_^
I never ignore letters, and even if a letter is lacking, I try my best to write back with a good one, though it might take me a bit :P
10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?
Hmm... Honestly, nothing really weird has ever happened to me, at least when it comes to snail mailing :P The only thing I can think of that was a bit funny / weird was when my penpal Muriel, who's such a sweet lovely person, told me that I'd been in a dream of hers, something about me visiting her in Belgium, which I found funny because I think that's the first time a penpal's told me they dreamed about me, but what was every funnier, and a bit on the weird side, was that the next night I had a dream where I was in Amsterdam, and Muriel was there! Totally random :)
11. Have you met any of your penpals?
Ah gah, this is a question that just bums me out :( Basically I was supposed to meet up with a pen pal just last week, while I was here in NYC visiting my mom and grandmother, and we only had 3 days to meet up, so it was a bit of a balancing act to make sure I had time to meet up with him, not to mention learn how to use the subway system. But anyways, to say plans got messed up would be an understatement, because the first day, I woke up after only sleeping 3 hours because a car alarm outside had kept going off through the night, and so we rescheduled for the next day.
Oy, that next day... What a day! A run down of events that happened, from start to bottom : Got hit on by scary looking gangster wannabe on the train, ended up lost for the better part of an hour about 2 miles from where I was supposed to be and chaffed my right foot so badly from walking so much that it started to bleed, a random woman spilled her cup of water all over my purse, soaking my only map, almost got run over by a frazzled taxi driver, had some random dude try to stop me in the middle of the street to get my number, and finally, my cell phone crapped out on me. In between all that fun stuff, my penpal ended up detained at home and would have needed another hour to get to where I was... Needless to say I really couldn't take much more and just headed home, getting lost once again for half an hour. And the next day my mom had already made plans to take me sight seeing, so we never got to meet up. But while I might not have met up with him, which really sucked, at least I got some interesting stories to tell :P
12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Hmm... Well as I mentioned somewhere above, I currently have about 30 snail mail penpals, and while I don't spend ALL my free time writing letters, sometimes it can feel like it :P So while I'm not currently looking for more penpals, being the person that I am, I know that I won't ever say no to someone that asked me to snail mail with them if they're just as creative as I am, or if they have some other really good reason for wanting to snail mail.
Also, while I'm not actively looking for anyone to snail mail letters with, I AM looking for people to exchange mix cds with, because I think it's a really great way to slowly get to know someone, reading why they picked specific songs, and listening to said songs :) So if anyone thinks we'd be a good match, or would like to exchange mix cds, feel free to contact me :)
Thank you, Monica!
I'm looking for a few people who would like to be featured as Penpal of the Week on my blog in the coming weeks, so if you're interested please get in touch with me! Thanks.