Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mail Call & Modern Design

I've been thinking a lot about writing lately. By this I mean writing with a pen and paper, versus using the laptop. I had coffee with a new friend today and our discussion was about our relationship with writing.  Specifically, we were talking about writing for yourself and not writing related to a profession. We talked about how the simple act of writing can bring about a Zen like moment that involves being fully in the moment.

Five Year Diary
I've been a journal writer off and on since I was young. Actually, I remember getting my first diary when I was in 1st grade. It was a "5 Year" Diary. Each page was divided into five small sections and the pages were dated January 1 to December 31. The idea was that you would write an entry on the January 1st page each year for five years.The photo to the right is exactly the diary, except that my diary was blue. I was just learning to read and write on my own and I wanted very much to fill the diary with secret stories. I knew right away that this diary was not going to last five years. I tried for the first few entries to keep my musings to the prescribed amount of space on the page. But I found, even then, that once any real writing began I could not predict the amount of space that would be required.

My friend and I spoke at length of the benefits we get from journal writing. We believe that there are no hard and fast rules. There is no rule that says you must journal every day. There is no rule that says anything. It is a tool to pick up when you want or need.

Tonight, as I was thinking of my own relationship with writing, one of the things that come to mind was when I was an avid letter writer. My first experiences as a "letter writer" began in the 6th grade. (Funny what specifics I remember. Especially when you consider that I truly can't remember where I put my sweater...again.) My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Paris (originally from Boston), had a contest for writing essays and the number of homework assignments actually completed and turned in. (Have I mentioned before that I am competitive?) I won this contest twice! The first time I won a box of stationary. The stationary had daisies on it and there was a big bottle bubble design to encapsulate your writing. The Jim Croce song "Time in a Bottle" was really big that year.

That summer I met a friend during day camp when we took a field trip to the Amusement Park. I still remember her name (Darla...will keep last name private for, well, privacy). Darla did not live near me. She lived in Virginia, which seemed quite far. She was one or two years older than I was and I thought she was quite wise. She brought her Kodak Instamatic (camera) on the trip and took many photos of our fun time on the rides. We decided after that week of camp that we would stay friends by being pen pals. And she promised to send me copies of the pictures when they came back from being developed. (Who knew how long that would be). And, sure enough, Darla and I were pen pals for a year or two. This was a pretty good writing relationship, especially considering that she was already in Junior High and I was going into Junior High the next year. I remember lots of letters. I don't remember what we wrote about, but I remember that I used my stationary. I also remember the joy of getting a letter back from her. There is nothing quite like getting a real letter in the real mailbox.

In 7th grade, my professed best friend decided to live with her father instead of her mother. This meant that she would move to the next town over and would not be near me anymore. No more spend the nights and no more conspiring on the school playground. I already had confidence that friendships don't have to end just because of distance. The solution...letter writing. Julie and I wrote very regularly. (Typically, we wrote each other once a week.) After a while, she decided to move back "home" with her mother and sister. When she came back she had experienced life differently and we had developed different interests. The friendship naturally ran its course.

At the end of 9th grade another friend (also named Julie) moved. Julie and I had grown close after my "first" Julie had moved away. New Julie moved to town temporarily while her Dad had a job in our town. New Julie was from Michigan. She was tall and confident. She was so confident and likable she did not suffer from being teased (for being new, etc). She wore a Vietnam POW bracelet. I remember being intrigued by that. I had been insulated from the status of the war. Of course I knew about the war in Vietnam I just didn't KNOW about it. At the end of the year, her family returned to Michigan. She and I were letter writers for about a year as well.

As an adult, I began to write letters diligently after leaving Virginia Beach. Hubster and I lived there for three years. Our daughter was born there. But we decided to move to NC when our daughter was 18 months old. The first year in the new town in NC was one that I did not know anyone. (This was not my home town). I was lonely for the friendships that I had recently cemented. So, at night I would write letters or postcards. During that experience I found two things to be true: Number one: Letter writing can deepen a friendship more deeply than a phone call. One of my friends continued with our deep friendship writing for many years. The letter writing friendship was also kept fresh and alive by several visits back to see her. This person is still someone that I consider to be a very deep friend. And Number two: I was driven to find fun and exciting things to do during my "regular" non working life so that I could have something fun and interesting to write about. The adventures made me a better writer AND the writing made me a better adventurer.  That was key to getting acclimated and finding my niche in this new town.

It is fitting that I would be thinking about writing and letter writing in particular. I began thinking of "snail mail" today when I saw the fun new stamps issued by the US Post Office last week. The stamps are a series to celebrate American Industrial Designers.

Last month, you'll remember that I was in Atanta. The Hubs and I went to the High Museum of Modern Art. I really enjoyed the Exhibition on Modern Design. Many of the things in the exhibit are pieces of furniture or lamps or other items that filled many homes in the '60s and '70s. Seeing these items made me happy and nostalgic. The new stamps make me happy for the beauty of everyday things.
The Museum Allowed Photos
The same week that the USPS issued the new stamps, mail delivery resumed for our Canadian neighbors.

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