For the last 2 years I’ve taken part in LetterMo, which is short for Month of Letters. Conceived by writer Mary Robinette Kowal, LetterMo is pretty straightforward: every day that the postal service in your country of residence is operating, you are supposed to mail an item. It could be a postcard, an article from a magazine, a cool photo, a letter, a Post-it note…doesn’t really matter. The second part is that for every letter/note you receive, you respond. Kowal is one savvy lady, so she chose February for LetterMo because it’s a short month AND her birthday is in February. (We share a birthday, actually. *fistbump*)
As I’ve said on the blog before, I love mail. Postcards, long-winded letters, typewritten Christmas letters – I love ’em all. Momcat taught me that sending mail often guarantees you’ll get a response, so hardly a week goes by that I’m not mailing off a note or postcard to a friend or family member. Sadly, very few folks write me back on a regular basis. It’s probably because of that newfangled BookFace thing, where you can click a button and tell someone you like their photo of the cream of broccoli soup they had for dinner, or click something else and you’ve shared that photo with all the people inside that whatsit whosit thing. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. WITCHCRAFT.
But seriously. Check out the LetterMo website and sign up. It’s the most fun you’ll have for less than 50 cents a day.
So when I heard about the Month of Letters Challenge through some friends on a social network, I was intrigued. When I read the post about it on novelist Mary Robinette Kowal’s website, I was excited. And I decided to participate.
The two-part concept is simple: for every day in February that the postal service runs in your area, mail something. It could be a letter, a note, a clipping from a magazine or newspaper, a photo, a postcard. You can mail something to your next-door neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world. Part two of the challenge is to write back to everyone who writes to you. The bonus is that mailed replies count toward your final tally for the month.
I confess, this will probably be fairly easy for me, since I’ve been in the habit of sending postcards and notes and cards to people for the past year. But there are a few letters I have wanted to write and haven’t, for whatever silly reason, so the Month of Letters Challenge is my incentive to finally write that letter to my childhood friend who lives in Europe with her husband and three daughters.
For those who want to participate but are slightly daunted, fear not. I have provided you with some pro tips:
On a budget? Check your local thrift shop for like-new, unused postcards and stationery. I’ve scored a large number of postcards from all over the world by going to my SPCA Thrift Store and perusing the stationery/postcard section. Sometimes used cards sneak into the available selection, so check first before buying.
Hate your handwriting? You’re allowed to type your letters. Just no emailing. I’m watching you. But consider this: the more you write things by hand, the better your handwriting gets. Unless you’re a doctor.
Get some nice writing tools. I am addicted to office supplies, so I don’t need another incentive to go to Office Depot, Staples, or Office Max. Trust me when I say a fabulous pen can make all the difference when it comes to handwriting letters. If you can afford a Waterman or Mont Blanc fountain pen, go for it. (Hint: Lamy fountain pens are fairly inexpensive and write nicely.) Otherwise look for a pen that has nice heft to it and doesn’t make your fingers cramp. I am a fan of Dr. Grip pens, which come in ballpoint and gel ink. I also like Sharpie pens – they are acid free and don’t bleed through paper.
Don’t know what to write?Get creative. Relay a funny story about your pet or your child. Share one of your favorite recipes. Transcribe a poem. List five things in a random category, such as favorite movies starting with the letter C, books that changed your life, or your least favorite foods. Hint: using postcards or small notecards means you have much less space to fill up with text.
Join me, won’t you? It should be a lot of fun. You have a day to go buy stamps and find some decent stationery. And if you need some pen pals for the month, check out the forums on the official Month of Letters Challenge website.
As is the tradition on this blog for several years running, I have compiled my list of 2010 resolutions…but not for me. I am perfect and only need to resolve to have compassion for those who haven’t achieved perfection. Everyone else, however – you have a hell of a lot of work to do.
Learn the value of silence. (Cell phone users) Yes, it’s tempting to get on your Droid or iPhone or Crackberry every time you’re out and there’s nothing or no one actively working to entertain you. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about this because I’m perfect. (cough cough) There’s something to be said for having a moment of tranquility where all gadgets are off and you’re just observing the world around you. The Internet is not going anywhere, so give yourself at least five minutes every hour to just be still.
Stop Christmas Creep, Valentine’s Day Invasion and Easter Edge-out. (Major retailers) Can we just enjoy holidays without being rushed to prepare for the next one? I give Nordstrom kudos for not succumbing to the Creep this Christmas.
Improve my service and coverage area. (AT&T) I don’t understand this company. They want everyone to buy an iPhone, upgrade their iPhones, get any other smartphone they are selling, and yet they complain that iPhone users who stream movies and other video are screwing up the network. Their solution? Get iPhone users to use wifi as much as possible. Um, hello? How about putting the proper infrastructure in place before releasing advanced technology? Oh crap, there I go making sense again. No wonder I don’t have a job.
Stop whining and be with the consequences of being famous. (Miley Cyrus and other celebs who claim to have no privacy) Get over yourselves already. As soon as you decided you wanted to be an actor or singer or professional athlete, you signed up for the possibility that you would a) make it to the big time and b) become a target for the tabloids. You don’t want this life? Go find a job in retail and shut the hell up.
Find a great marketing agency that will come up with a campaign to remind people of the joy of writing – and sending – letters. (USPS) I’m trying to write more notes and letters to people. It gives me joy to think someone will open their mailbox to see a funny card, newsy note or heartfelt letter, instead of a pile of bills and junk mail. The US Postal Service is already struggling financially, so why not play up the sentimental side of letter writing/receiving and start a campaign where folks are encouraged to write one letter every 10 days? It would help improve literacy too, I’d bet.
Start up Chick-Fil-A franchises in Chicago. (Chick-Fil-A) This resolution is a shout-out for T-Wizzle, who is a big fan of Chick-Fil-A and gets mad at me whenever I mention I went there for a sammich. I don’t understand why the chain hasn’t expanded into the Chicago market. They like chicken up there. And sweet tea, too.
Know my limits when it comes to home repair and be humble enough to call in professional repair personnel. (my apartment management and others who DIY it) I could go on for days about all the craptastic fix-it jobs I’ve seen at my building. Pops also has a tendency to fix things in a half-assed way, but fortunately he’s learning the limits of his expertise in areas such as plumbing. Rule of thumb: If you have to use more than 6 inches of duct tape to fix something, then you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and need to call in a professional.
Stop assuming that everyone over the age of 30 knows absolutely nothing about technology. (Generation Y and younger) Don’t roll your eyes at me when I ask a question about tethering or live streaming, and don’t talk to me as if I am completely ignorant about computers. If it wasn’t for my generation and the baby boomers, you wouldn’t have even had computers in your first grade classroom. Learn to appreciate your elders and what they have made possible.
Stop assuming that everyone under the age of 30 is an arrogant jackass. (Generation X, baby boomers and older) Yes, this is a tough one. While Gen Y may be incredibly self-absorbed at times, they are also showing themselves to be committed to making the world a better place. Teach them the rules, then show them how to break them in a way that no one gets hurt.
Break up with food additives. (Campbell’s, Kraft, and other major food manufacturers) I am tired of reading 2-inch long food labels listing all the chemicals and other crap in a can of soup. I get that you want people to be repeat buyers of your products, but can’t you do that without adding MSG, high fructose corn syrup, GMOs and other garbage? Explore new ways of making delicious food without all the extra gunk.