Sunday, February 7, 2010

Penpal of the Week #34

This week, the interview is published on Sunday since I'm leaving for Las Vegas at 5:30 am on Monday. I hope you all have a nice week! I'll be back on Thursday night.

In the meantime, say hello to Erin from Canada!

1. Please tell us about you!

Hello world! My name is Erin. I'm 25 and I'm a born and raised country girl. I'm originally from a small farming community called Onoway. It's tiny, and I mean tiny... only about 1200 people live there. To describe it, I have to use the same old cliche, everyone knows everyone else. I moved away in 2004 for college but my grandparents and mom are still out there, so I try to visit at least once a week. I love the drives out to the country, the beautiful scenery, and damn, do I miss the fresh air!

I currently live in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, with my boyfriend Nathan (he'll be 31 soon) and our 8 month old son Benjamin. We were actually co-workers to begin with, then started to date. We've been dating for a few years now and I remember in the beginning of our relationship Nathan kept saying how he wanted to be a dad soon, preferably in 2-3 years. I always kind of brushed it off, as I was told that I'd never be able to have kids naturally. Plus, the thought of labour scared me more than death itself. Well, one fateful day in September 2008 I discovered I was pregnant. (surprise!) It came as total shock and excitement. That same day actually I was hired by my current employer, so that was interesting. I guess the planets were aligned for good luck or something!

Nathan and I before parenthood (Aug. 2008) and after parenthood (Dec. 2009).
Changed a lot but still going strong.

Benjamin came into the world on June 6 a huge 10 lbs 5 oz. He's a wonderful baby, and I wouldn't take him back for the world. He's good tempered and always flashing a gummy grin... I love figuring out what makes him ticklish and just playing with him. When he's older I want to begin travelling more and showing him the world. I'm looking forward to the future.

Love of my life right here.

A bit about my job... I'm a video editor for a local TV station here in Edmonton. I studied Television Broadcasting in college and had the good fortune to work on music videos and TV series around town here (the latest series I worked on was "The Family Restaurant" shown in Canada). However, my passions lie in camerawork and editing. I was a camerawoman / editor for APTN National News for a while before I got offered to be a full time editor at my current station. I love my job. It's fast paced, exciting, and really cool to see your work on TV at the end of the day. I'm proud of my work, but it's not all glitz and glamour... it's high stress and tight deadlines. But would I change it for the world? Oh, hell no!

The control room at my work! So many hypnotic screens...

Some things I absolutely love are letter writing, scrapbooking, photography, anything to do with punk and goth culture, learning (I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I'm currently taking astrology / parapsychology courses via correspondence), film making, thrift stores, the paranormal, piercings, tattoos, pin-up style from the '40s and '50s, summer storms, tea, classic cars, anything vintage, playing guitar, astrology (I'm a Scorpio), hair dyes (I'm an addict!), plus so much more. I love life and want to live it to the fullest.

If you want to know more or contact me, feel free to check out my Interpals page.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Passionate. Humorous. Curious. Caring. Addictive. Open-minded. Cynical. Loyal. Loving. And ultimately, creative.

Creativity = Life.

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I guess my first penpal was back in elementary school, now that I think about it. My class was paired up with another class in a town about 45 minutes away. We exchanged letters, but nothing ever became of it.

Welcome to Alberta. Your daytime high will be -30°C.
Have fun with that!

I didn't get my first actual real penpal until I turned 13. My French teacher had received a brochure from IYS in Finland and encouraged us to order some addresses through them. I chose to have a penpal from Sweden... Her name was Evelina and we exchanged letters for a couple of years. We lost contact for a long time, then reconnected on Facebook for a while. We don't really talk much anymore, it's a pity.

I actually put penpalling on hold a few years ago. I was going through a tough time in my life, really down and out, and stopped doing the things I loved. It was really depressing. I finally got out of that rut though and with the encouragement of Nathan I picked it up again. I'm so glad I did! I absolutely love writing and receiving letters. I couldn't imagine my life without that hobby.

4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

Oooh, to be honest I have no idea how many penpals I have! But what I do know is that I love writing to each and every one of them. I write to pals all over the world, either through snail mail or e-mail (I prefer snail mail though!).

Some of my letters, including a Beatles onesie for Ben. Nifty!

There are a few that instantly come to mind (I'm not playing favourites, so if you don't see your name please don't get mad at me!!)...

Hanna from Sweden is like my sister, we've been writing for around 10 years now. It's incredible to think we've known each other since we were teenagers! I adore her though. She saw my address through a friendship book and decided to send me a letter, which I'm grateful she did!! She got me into my now 2 favourite bands, HIM and Turbonegro, when she sent me a mix CD years ago. I love hearing from her, and we keep in contact on Facebook as well.

Sabrina from Finland is another girl that comes to mind... Years ago we began writing, but lost contact (gotta love that "reliable" postal service here). I just so happened to start using my Interpals page again when she found me online. I was so excited to see her message in my inbox... "Is that YOU?!" She's awesome and I feel like if we met we'd be the types to stay up all night chatting away.

Palak from India is an amazing girl. We met on a Facebook penpal group and instantly clicked. Her writing is like poetry, so beautiful and wonderful to talk to.

Shivanee from Trinidad & Tobago is also fantastic to hear from, I love her writing style and wit about her.

Pavel from Russia always sends little cards in Russian and even when I'm not expecting a letter, I'll find something from him in my mailbox, telling me about traditional Russian festivities and general life there.

Maria in Finland is rad, she has so much to say and I feel like we've known each other for ages, even though it's only been a little while.

Who else? Zael from Papua New Guinea is a new pal I met on Interpals and I can tell already we'll be great friends. Same with Mandy, Sam, Phoebe and Hippy in the USA, Tove in Finland, Amber in Montreal, Ilse in Belgium, Kama in Poland... you get the idea.

If I haven't mentioned your name, please don't think I've forgotten about you! I've met so many amazing people from around the world and I couldn't be luckier... unless if I win the lottery and can actually meet everybody! But all in all my penpals feel like very close friends.

Handwriting by yours truly.

5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Anything and everything! Nothing is off limits... school, work, relationships... I like when letters get personal and you can actually open up about feelings or what you're thinking. To me that signals you're completely comfortable with that person and that ultimately builds trust. You know they'll be there for you through thick and thin and you'll be there for them.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

Creative and chatty are high on my list. I love getting long letters and writing long letters back. Penpals who you can trust and talk to about whatever is going on in your life is another thing I like. Writing definitely makes me stand back and reflect on events in my life... Also, a great sense of humour is definitely a MUST! :D

Making practical use of my huge belly at work. Now feed me!
OR... Super-pregnant, awesome show. Great job!

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

What I like the most is that someone thousands of miles away considers me their friend and vice versa. Also I adore learning about other cultures, and what better way than to talk to someone from a different background? It's a fantastic hobby.

8. In what language(s) do you correspond?

Unfortunately I only know English. I can read some French, but as for conversing in it, good luck!

I'd love to learn Swedish one day though... and Cree, a Native tongue here. My grandfather is part Cree and I wish I could pass down his ancestor's language to my son.

Top: This was the view from my old apartment in downtown
Edmonton, facing north. It was stunning and I miss it so much!
Bottom: If you looked out the west of my old apartment, the
Legislature building was a hop, skip, and a jump. Gorgeous!

9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I tend to like writing in the evenings, when the day is winding down. I can sit, relax (if Ben allows it!) and just let my thoughts flow onto paper.

When I first moved to Edmonton years ago I would actually wait until the weekends when I drove out to my grandparents to write my replies... There was something calming and nostalgic about it... Sit in the living room where I grew up, beside the window that looks out onto our garden, I loved it.

Lately it's taken me a bit longer to write replies as Ben's learned to crawl and gets into EVERYTHING, but I still try and make time to write a little here and there. It's something I never want to give up.

I'm pretty sure Ben is one of the most adorable babies EVER.
Not to brag or anything... ;)

When I go back to work I'd love to send out more parcels with Canadian-type souvenirs. I'm lacking in monetary funds at the moment to do that (Maternity Leave benefits are next to nothing, sigh...!)

10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?

Hmmm... Well, actually recently on Interpals! I had a photo up of myself and my friend Monika, where she was pretending to pick my nose. I got an e-mail from some guy in Uganda demanding I marry him because I apparently looked "so pretty" in the photo (who knew nose picking would get someone so hot and bothered!). I said no, then he said he wanted to marry my friend and that I was allowed to be part of the family (Wow, my prayers have been answered...;)

My awesome lady friend and I.
Who knew nose picking would be a bonding moment?

One funny thing I've received was years ago when my British penpal sent me a letter... When I received it, it was ripped partially and had what looked like cake icing on the side of it. It was sealed in an official Royal Post plastic baggy with an apology letter. Weird! But other than that, nothing too strange or unusual.

I had a penpal from Malaysia I wrote to for a while, then the huge tsunami happened and I never heard from her again. It made me worried for a long time after that. Also, in 2001 I began writing to a girl in Jordan... Then 9/11 happened and she was another pal I never heard from again. I'm assuming with what had happened the post just stopped to the Middle East. Still, it was a pity never hearing from her again.

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Ummm, sorta. Long story. Back in high school my good friend moved to a town about 2 hours away and ended up befriending a guy up there. Apparently him and I had a lot in common, and she swapped our address. We wrote for a while and after he moved to Edmonton we ended up dating... for over 4 years. In the beginning he was a cool guy but towards the end it went downhill swiftly. Needless to say it ended really badly. :(

I have yet to meet any penpals, but I would love to. I need a vacation! ;)

I lurve zebra print.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I have a lot of penpals at the moment, but I can never seem to say no to someone wanting to be friends! I'm currently helping my friend Vicky and my little half-sister Lacie (she's 16) get into penpalling so I mostly look for people they'd get along with.

However, I've always wanted a penpal from Scotland and anywhere in South America, so I do keep my eye out! Either way, if there's anyone interested in contacting me, I'd love to hear from you! Again, my Interpals page is

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview, and long live the power of the pen!

Well, *I* certainly did enjoy learning more about you Erin, and I'm sure my readers will agree with me! :)

Julie xox

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