We've met Chrissy (aka teamug) on the yearly International Postcrossing meetup in Bielefeld a few times already and, true to her username, her tea mug is never far away... but neither are her letter writing materials! So we decided it was time we had her on the blog. Here is what she had to say to our interview questions:
- How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?
I first heard about Postcrossing through a monthly magazine of the post office. There was a report about it and I loved the idea immediately. I always loved to write, especially to stay in contact when living abroad. It is so nice then to hear from people at home.
When emailing started, people always said it would be so much faster and of course would not cost postage - and that writing cards and letters was so old fashioned. So even after I finally had an email address, i still would not hear more of my friends. I noticed that people did not become more reliable keeping in contact with the cheaper and faster method. No matter how much I wrote - either by real mail or email, the replies were less and less.
So the concept of Postcrossing where people HAD to write to you the moment they receive your address - well, I just loved the idea. And I love to hear from people, no matter if known or unknown to me. Real mail is so much more valuable. Emails can never replace that.
- Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
I rarely see my mailman, since he comes when I am at work. And he's always in a rush when I do want to say hello to him on a Saturday. But I managed to take a picture of the bicycle he uses!
I love the fact that in big cities in Germany, bicycles are still used as many people live close together, and it allows easier access than vans.My local post office and letter box is not too far away (just two minutes by bike). But I often use different ones, depending on where I am when I have cards ready. I might drop off the mail straight after work when driving through town, or on the weekend, when I am at home. The photo shows the nearby letter box with a small post office next to it. It even closes for two hours during lunch time, like in some small village. ;-)
Because I received quite a number of cards, I have different storage systems. I started sorting by countries. Then I bought some collection folders where I started sorting different themes, like the US State cards, cities of the world, tea or birds. It is easier to look at the cards that way instead of digging them out of the box. Even though the folders are handy, I love nostalgic boxes which I get from my local Christmas cookie and ginger bread supplier, and I still use them as a filing system. It's also a great justification to keep ordering those lovely goodies!
There is a large wooden ginger bread box in which I collect the blank cards yet to be written, sorted by subject. Well, I have several of those and it seems I have even more new cards than received ones, because once one is an addict there is no getting away from buying cards. After all, we postcrossers know: for every subject or theme there's a postcrosser happy to receive it.
- What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?
Of course choosing as well as receiving is both fun. The first because you read the profile closely and try to get it just right, the other, because of its element of surprise. But after three years of postcrossing I especially like the long term side effects.
First: The Hurray messages especially if they are really long ones. The fact that someone on the other side of the world or even the neighbouring town was totally delighted with what I came up with and expresses it in so many words.
Second: How much I learn about the world. Often people tell something about their country that I never knew before. I also google places, check out details of a city, village, landscape. I have learned so much even though I thought I was quite good in geography.
Third: I always loved English and read loads in the language and mainly watch films in English. But the fact that I write on a daily basis now, also long letters, as I have gained many penfriends, has really improved my knowledge of the language and I am very grateful for that.
- Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.
I have not one special card. It is hard to chose one as I have received so many. Lately I notice I especially like those where the postcrosser states that this is his/her first card. In my reply I always tell them how much fun they are going to have and wish them lots of cards. These first cards are very special to me. I clearly remember my first five sent ones and the major lack of patience I had waiting to receive my first card. And I was lucky because I received two first ones at the same time!
I also love to get a card in an envelope, with lovely handwriting, tea, beautiful stamps - where the whole thing is a work of art.
- Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?
Oh yes. Some countries gained independency since I learned geography at school, even though some are close and one is more aware. But for example I was not aware of Moldova. I also sent cards to Azerbaijan, Rwanda and for me surprisingly Åland Islands. I didn't know that these islands have a flag of their own and are autonomous.
The most unexpected one was received by my son though, who got a card from Iraq. How great that someone there has actually internet access, this rather surprised me. I can imagine lots of this is being controlled. I think the secret to world peace is the communication and getting to know other cultures.
I have little spare time, but I spend a lot of it reading, or watching films (90% of them in English). I love paper as a material (cards, letters etc...) so I also do calligraphy (the art of beautiful writing), drawing, painting and also took classes in bookbinding. Also, I can't get past a book or stationery shop without browsing.
I enjoy photography a lot and hope to produce postcards myself. So far I did that only once.
And then there is also working in the garden which I find very recreational.