snail mail

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve received gifts for Linus… at my apartment. Doggie treats left with my doorman (and a twix bar for me…oh my how thoughtful is that?), and today in the mail! The mail! I love getting real mail, it’s like found money. What a surprise these days to receive something personal in the mail. Because Victoria’s Secret Catologue isn’t personal to all of us, ya know. There’s something more romantic and substantial with written mail. It involves postage for one. Actually writing something without spell check. Handwriting is something I rarely see these days, unless I order in and look at my receipt. Handwriting is seexy intimate. It’s hot.


I recieved a box of toys for Linus (including a squeeky frog named Booda) with a card for me: “You make my frogs ribbet. Be good to yourself, pop-tart.” I had to laugh. I’m still smiling. I love good friends with stories like: “Why do frogs ribbet?” “My eggs taste better when you are near.” and “There’s always a parking spot for you in my lot.” We all need these characters in our lives… such soft places to fall. And lately I’ve needed friends like this even more. I’ve been sad, and crying, and yeah, pretty sad. ‘Bout sums it up. Nothing to be fixed… just life being heavy on me. Life as a too heavy itchy wool coat your mother makes you wear inside a too-much-polyester-in-here-department store. You’re too hot and always on the verge of a sneeze. I feel lonesome. Maybe Linus will share the frog with me tonight. I’m gonna kiss it and see what happens.



  1. i have just recently begun corresponding with someone via handwritten letters. it's pretty cool. i always feel like a victorian poet when i'm sitting at my kitchen table trying to make my penmanship legible.

    btw, you feeling better today or what?

  2. All hail real mail!

    I save everything, but personal notes are my favorites.

    I can't sign a business letter without scrawling a couple of words on the bottom, and notecards rule. "Notecard moments" pass quickly, they're based on spur of the moment impulses that drive you to write. If the moment passes, it's gone. I just ran out of my notecards, and in one week I already feel lost. By the time I get the new ones, I'll have already missed prime mailing time for some "atta-boys," "hang in theres" and at least a few "thinking of yous." You can pull off a late "thinking of you," but the shelf life of the others is just too quick.

    There are times when only a handwritten note will do. It's an investment. It's a full-sensory experience…

    The writing
    You pick the fresh note from the box… it should have some heft… hopefully the letters of your name across the top are raised… substantial.
    You smell the fresh paper.
    You pick out the pen that looks the best and feels the best in your hand. Every letter writer has their favorite pen… not the one you write phone messages or sign checks with… but THE pen.
    You test the pen on the back of an envelope that is still sealed with last month's phone bill… (when the circular marks obscure the return address, it's time to pay the bill).
    You begin to write. The only sound you hear is the scrawl of the pen moving hastily across the paper.
    There's no delete key. There's no spell check. There's no safety net. You go with the flow if the muse is with you and pour out the ink. Did you miss a letter somewhere? Does your "r" look too much like an "i"? Do you fix it and risk looking silly, or do you start over and risk losing the momentum. It's almost always better to keep on writing. You can copy every word on a clean page, but it won't take you to the same place or feel anywhere as strong getting there.
    You finish. You look it over, because how it looks is almost as important as what it says.
    Then, letting out a deep breath that signals "There! Done!"
    You sign it.
    Feels good. Looks good.
    Out comes the envelope. In goes the card, perhaps with a photograph, a business card, or something extra… never a paperclip or a staple.
    You lick the envelope. It takes awhile to find the right taste in envelopes, it can be trial and error before you find the right one. So long as you're not sending out wedding invitations with George Costanza, you'll probably find something you like without too much pain. Either way, don't deny yourself the experience by getting the self-sealing envelopes.
    The address.
    The stamp. (Self-adhesive stamps are not as much of a sin as self-sealing envelopes.)

    The mailing
    The office's "Out" mail basket almost will never do. Nothing quite compares with marching into your local branch of The United States Postal Service and putting the letter in the slot. If there's a polished granite or marble floor to resound every purposeful footfall of your stride, all the better. If there's an old heavy bin door that clangs shut, better still. The door swinging shut is a strong sound, and if the post offfice is large enough, it echoes, signaling to all within earshot that "I have MAILED this letter!" (As Tom Hanks did in Castaway when he created fire.)

    The reading
    It's folded in the circular from Best Buy, and your heart jumps when you see the top of the distinctively personal note peeking over the top of the manila #10 window envelope from Dick Clark and Ed McMahon proclaiming that "You may have already won…" "You are CORRECT, sir," you say to Johnny Carson's sidekick as he drops into the basket. "I have won. I've got mail!"
    Is there a return address? Is it handwritten on the mailing side or printed address-only on the back flap?
    When was it mailed?
    From where?
    How rough has the journey been?
    It's handwritten, but what does it say?
    You have to invest special care in reading this kind of mail, just as you do writing it… preferably in an easy chair.
    Opening real mail is an unveiling. It demands a level of intensity, attention and care not unlike decanting a bottle of fine wine… or undressing the one you're sharing the wine with. Can you go crashing in?? Sure. Is it better to savor the the wrapping, the wax, the cork… or each button, snap, or tie? Absolutely.
    You slice slowly through the envelope with a letter opener (a small knife will always do)… you hear it tug smoothly through the paper. You reach in gingerly with fingers and thumb, grasp tightly, and pull gently but firmly revealing the contents within.
    What does it feel like?
    What is the aroma? Does it betray the cigarette now long since burned out that the author savored while writing to you… or the food simmering on the stove… both infused by accident… or the hint of cologne placed intentionally.
    What does it look like? How does the handwriting speak to you? Does it carry the chicken scratch of a hurried moment or the deliberate easy strokes that come only from deeply held conviction and feeling. Was it written in one flourish, or are their distinctions time-stamping the divisions between each thought or emosion. Does it bear a smudge from the writer's hand or carry just the tiniest drop of red wine?

    The end??
    Do you feel yourself inexorably drawn through the letter, but fear the ending? Do you drink up every word, yet fear the end is coming too soon?
    You read it again.
    The third time you read it, you find nuances you didn't see before. Was your first impression the right one? Did they really mean what they said the way it looked the first time, or the third time?
    Where does it go? Where is the short-term place of honor so you can read it at will. On the desk? Next to the bed? Will it become your newest bookmark before it ends up in a box, in a nighttable?
    What will you do next? Do you write back? And how soon is too soon? You can't instant message back a letter of such stature. Does it move you to the telephone? What better time to pick up the phone and call. Right now…
    Wait! Let me read it two more times.
    Okay. I'm gonna call…
    One good turn deserves another…

    But don't get me started on the lost art of those awesome rotary phones…

  3. I'm searching for your post on twix bars for good reason (hint). Honest to god, this is the first time I've seen this. And here I thought I was being original? Woe is me…

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