Have you ever written an angry letter that you never sent? I have and its very cathartic. An article by Maria Konnikova in yesterday’s New York Times, The Lost Art of the Angry Unsent Letter, is all about the benefits of writing down your feelings and then stepping back from what you wrote. Maybe cooling off a bit. And then perhaps deciding not to send that sentiment. This arc from anger to articulation to reflection is much less likely to happen in the age of tweets and posts and emails but nevertheless, is useful. The next time you are f@&*ing pissed at someone, write it all down with paper and pen in a letter. Then wait a bit, like a day or two, and read what you wrote. It may help you to figure out what you’d like to express to that person in a healthy way, when you’re not so hot under the collar.
You tell em Charlotte. This letter from a seven year old girl to Lego made my day. The gender politics of Lego are something I think about. My 7 year old son is a dedicated Lego builder and there is 1 female in his fleet of figurines, Nia from Lego’s Ninjago story/product line. Needless to say, my 4 year old daughter gravitates to Nia whenever she sidles up to her brother’s Lego table. So while I feel a bit repelled by my daughter’s full embrace of My Little Pony, I also get it. Its a story/product line in which the central characters are female. Yes they are also ponies but they do things and say things and have opinions and are you know, there. As Charlotte writes, us girls want to play games where girls “go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”
Did you see the beautiful essay by Mark Vanhoenacker in the New York Times this past weekend? Its called Dear Emma… and its about finally meeting his Australian pen pal from childhood for the first time, face to face.
Speaking of Australian pen pals, have you read Geraldine Brooks‘ memoir, Foreign Correspondence? Brooks grew up in Australia and was curious about the world beyond her hometown. Pre-internet, her world view was formed by the pen pal relationships she maintained with kids in other countries. Later, as a foreign correspondent, she tracked down her pen pals and went to meet them for the first time, face to face.
Illustration by Jason Logan for the New York Times.
I have been thinking about fan mail and decided to write some with my family. We had gone to see Nick Cave’s Heard NY performance at Grand Central Terminal and were all so moved by it. At dinner that evening we were talking about the piece and the conversation generated some questions, which I wrote down. So 2 months later I finally got around to making some mail for Nick Cave with our questions, our gratitude, and a drawing from each of my kids.
Last week I wrote about sending a postcard to an imagined recipient with whom I have something in common, the current occupant of my old post office box from college.
How about sending off messages to imagined recipients of the future? To someone who you feel a commonality with, even though she or he does not yet exist? Time Capsules for our Grandchildren is a project by artist Stephanie Diamond, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and a group of elementary school students in Philadelphia. The kids photographed their neighborhoods, gathered ephemera circa 2013, and wrote letters to their grandchildren. All of these items have been placed in air tight containers and will be buried in the Tyler School of Art Green Space on June 6th, 2013 at 4pm. And in 50 years to the day, the time capsules will be opened, and hopefully the children’s messages will be received!
I am so curious about what the kids wrote and what it will be like for people not yet born to receive their messages. Apparently the kids will read from their letters on June 6th and since the event is open to the public, you Philly area readers should go as VSM correspondents (how did ya like that double entendre?) and report back!
Viva Snail (like 50 years snail-y) Mail!
There’s an article in today’s New York Times about a bundle of letters sent to a young woman in the 1940’s named Marjorie Sheard and just recently made public. What started out as a request for literary advice from Sheard to J.D. Salinger turned into a flirty correspondence. Its kind of a wholesome, analog version of the Anthony Weiner debacle, although the two men could not have more different personalities. Salinger was fiercely private, making these letters all the more of a treat to read so many years later.
Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith’s new friendship was deepened through their commitment to correspond by post. What started as an agreement to write a letter for each day of the Catholic observance of Lent, evolved into a correspondence that lasted for years, through many intense chapters in both women’s lives. These exchanges have just been published in a book called Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters.
And they want to encourage you to start a letter writing correspondence with someone you care about, in honor of National Letter Writing Month.
Curious about the book? Well Loyola Press has graciously offered to send a copy to an interested VSM reader. The first person to send this link to a friend who might be up for the challenge will win! How will I know that you did? Well, ok. That’s true. The sending the link part will have to rely on the honor system. The first person to write to me in the comments section, claiming to have sent the link, will win.
Did you hear about Snail Mail My Email a few years back? A gentleman named Ivan Cash proposed that people send email messages for volunteers to convert into paper missives, to be sent around the world. And it worked! Hundreds of people participated and thousands of pieces of mail were sent. The fruits of that fun project have been published in a book. What a perfect gift for uh, Easter? Tax Day? Or maybe just cuz.
Yet another example of the creative potential in using the scope of the internet to foster the handmade.
Viva Snail Mail!
Who wouldn’t want handmade mail from Paris? I think no one. Do double negatives make a positive in French? I digress.
With The Paris Letters Project, Janice MacLeod is providing us all the opportunity to receive some Parisian mail. Here’s how it works. Subscribe to Paris Letters: The Haute Couture of Snail Mail for yourself or as a gift. MacLeod paints a watercolor scene of Paris, writes a letter on it, copies it and then personalizes it for you or your recipient. Then she mails it from Paris with pretty postage. She sometimes even tucks a lil Parisian ephemera in there too.