Saturday, November 25, 2006

Day 25: Here's Your Damn Postcard!

Yesterday, I wrote about the lost art of letter writing and the lack of excitement in one's mailbox these days. Now, it's all just catalogs and bills and, as we'd say in Austria, "Werbung" (junk mail.)

When I worked for the American Forest & Paper Association, all official correspondence was required to be on paper. For a long time, we tried to convince our boss, who happened to be the Vice President of the Paper Policy Group, to abandon her paper day planner for a Palm Pilot. She refused, saying it would look bad to members. They were all using Blackberrys and Palm Pilots and such, but she felt she couldn't. As far as I know, she's still using a paper day planner.

We were also never allowed to call that annoying batch of mail--advertisements, circulars, catalogs, et. al.--junk mail. It was direct mail. In an industry that is struggling to survive in the U.S. as more and more paper is manufactured in China and Asia under disreputable and harmful harvesting and production practices, the use of paper and respect for that media, is paramount. The amount of paper consumption within the association itself is staggering and yet appropriate. (That's not to say the AF&PA is environmentally irresponsible. The association also heads up one of the largest campaigns in the U.S. for increasing paper recycling and a respectable number of their members are leaders in sustainable forest practices both here and abroad.)

Moving in a different direction, I have a friend who lives out in The States who remains a faithful letter writer and envelope stuffer. At least once a month, I receive an envelope stuffed with newspaper clippings she has cut from the Washington Post. Articles about things she thinks would be of interest to me: Dachshund Races at the Prince William Fairgrounds; Korean dining in Rockville; a special travel section on Point Reyes, California; a short special interest piece about Ben's Chili Bowl; information about the Cherry Blossom Festival. Never mind that I may have already read them weeks before in the online version. Here they come, thoughtfully tucked into an envelope with a handwritten note. She use to include glitter and confetti, but then I complained about that and she stopped.

This same friend travels and loves sending and receiving postcards. Years ago, when I lived in California and would take weekend jaunts up and down the coast, she'd say, "Send me a postcard." I was pretty sporadic about it until one night she called me, just gushing about the latest postcard I'd sent her from a recent trip to Mendocino and Fort Bragg. As we were on the phone, she couldn't see the confusion and dismay on my face. Not wanting to confess any sort of negligence, I said, "Well, you're so welcome" as I racked my brain trying to remember which card I'd sent her. Finally she said, "You dope! You didn't send me a postcard!"

I was mortified, but we laughed about it. Gasping for air between giggles, I declared, "That's it! You want postcards? You're going to get postcards! Next time I travel, I'm sending you a postcard and this is what I'm going to write on it: 'Dear Amy, Here's your damn postcard. Love, Janet.'" To this day, I send her postcards when I travel and that's what I write on them. And when I go to her house, there they are--hanging on the fridge.

So, here's my goal: to send out more postcards and letters to friends. Yesterday, Merujo at Church of the Big Sky commented on my blog that she was getting into that more and more and it thrilled me.

If you'd like to send a postcard or letter this way, email me and I'll give you the address.

If you want one back, be sure to include your address and I'll send one in return.


Merujo said...

You'll be gettin' some local ones, for sure. :-) I have a huge box of postcards I collected during the time I lived in London. When I lived in Russia, I actually decorated an entire wall in my apartment with the postcards - hundreds of them - blu'tacked up. I have a photo of it somewhere. Now, it's time for some of them to resurface!

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Merujo: Can't wait! I have some I picked up in Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC, that I meant to send while I was down there and never got around to. I think I'll work through those first.

I may pop over to the German Gourmet Deli in Falls Church and see if they have those really tacky Christmas postcards we use to send out by the dozens when I lived in Austria. They were pretty awful, but cheap.

Merujo said...

I sent you a card today. Of course, Madame Dumbass forgot to put her own addy on it. Next postcard, I'll remember!

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Merujo: Don't you love it when you do stuff like that? I do stuff like that ALL the time. Is it just a sign of old age or does it mean we have other, even better, things to worry about? Anyway--no biggie. One way or another, you'll get a card from me one of these days.