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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "usa"

Mark (aka maleko) hails from Hawaii (USA). He has been gracefully hosting the Random Acts of Smileness thread on the forum for the past few years, and has a special toy voyager of his own… Come meet them both on this spotlight interview! 😊

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

In my twenties I moved around a lot, so I got into the habit of sending postcards to friends as a quick and casual way of keeping in touch. I’ve kept it up ever since. I’ve always been interested in snail mail and pens, paper, and office supplies in general. One day I read about Postcrossing on Missive Maven’s blog, and wandered over to this site and signed up. Over four years and 400 postcards later, I’m still very glad I came across that blog post. The great thing is, sometime after joining I actually drew Missive Maven’s name for an official card, and was able to thank her for turning me on to this wonderful community. She sent me a hurray message saying how tickled she was to find out that she had introduced me to Postcrossing. We both enjoyed that Postcrossing coincidence.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Nothing terribly interesting. I like to read (mostly fiction and biographies) and write. For some reason the ordinary physical act of writing with pen and paper gives me a kind of pleasure no laptop keyboard can bring. I’ve also kept a diary since I was a child. It has become a form of self-help for me: often I don’t know what I am thinking until I’ve written it down. And once in a great while I’ll look over a few diary entries from decades ago and remember the person I was then.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
maleko

This is my desk where I write postcards. The letterbox holds the cards I’ve recently received.

postcards

Here is the box where I keep my supply of postcards to send.

mailbox

This is the old green mailbox where I normally leave my cards for my mail carrier, Raymond, to pick up.

post office

This is my neighborhood post office.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Clearly it’s not possible to choose a favorite card. Recently, though, I learned about interactive postcards from one of Ana’s posts on this blog, and discovered that I really liked them. Here are two that have a special place on my bookshelf: a 3-D stereoscope-type card that I received as a gift from Vladyslav1998, and a construction project that was an official card from LittlePingui.

interactive cards

I also love the card below, from dallesandro, because it’s all about inclusiveness and honoring our differences. Incidentally, it’s the only card I’ve ever received that shows someone in a wheelchair, which means something to me because I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was a teenager.

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But what really makes a card special for me is the open friendliness, kindness, or courage that comes through the message on the back. In my profile, I ask people to tell me about the things that are good and true and authentic in their lives, and I cannot count the times I’ve been uplifted by the things they share.
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

It’s always great to find a postcard or two lying there when I open the mailbox, but I think sending cards is my favorite part of this hobby. It feels creative, relaxing, and even meditative: to sit at my desk and search for the right card for the right person, choose some interesting stamps, and write a short, simple message to someone far away. Such a small act can redeem the toughest day for me, and hopefully it has a similar effect on the person who receives the card. It can be a quiet blessing for two lives.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

About a year after joining Postcrossing, I received CU-1397, a postcard from a university professor in Cuba. This was very exciting for me, before the beginning of more normalized relations between Cuba and the U.S., and it was an eloquent reminder of what Postcrossing could be.

Have you met any other members in real life?

I’ve enjoyed such warm pen-friendships through Postcrossing that I almost feel as if I’ve met many other postcrossers in person. But in reality I only recently met a few at a meetup here in Honolulu organized by oneup92. It was a small gathering, but we had fun getting acquainted over a meal and signing a huge stack of cards.

honolulu meetup

A few years ago my wonderful Postcrossing friend mondkind sent me a traveling toy bear that she’d made for me. Kaipo the bear has met many more Postcrossers than I have, because he has dual citizenship, spending the autumn and winter months in Hamburg, Germany, and the spring and summer here in Hawaii.

3statekaipo

I think he might be the only bear who has attended both the huge Bielefeld International Postcrossing Meeting hosted by nordbaer and the Honolulu meetup!

What are you are passionate about?

Someone tried to tell me recently that emphasizing the need for education was outdated and “old-school, ” that there are quicker and easier ways to “get ahead” in life these days. Yeah, right. I believe in both formal education and independent lifelong learning. I think we are put on this earth to learn something from, and contribute something to, each other, and disrespecting that process is somehow missing the point of the whole experience.

For the past seven years I’ve volunteered a few hours each week at a middle school, where I tutor students who are newly arrived from other countries and whose first language is not English. These kids are amazing: so motivated and filled with enthusiasm, so helpful toward each other, and so appreciative of the help they receive from others. I also admire their resilience, how gracefully they are able to adapt to the major changes in their lives. Honestly, I learn more from them than I am able to teach, and they inspire me with great hope for the future.

I also host the Random Acts of Smileness Round Robin on the Postcrossing Forum. I inherited this round robin a couple of years ago from lapoussine35. Forum members sign up there to nominate friends to receive cards from other group members, and to send cards to the other group members’ nominees. It’s not about receiving cards for yourself; instead, you’re spreading the good cheer to others. I’m constantly encouraged by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the “RAS agents” who participate. One of them once told me I have the best job on the internet, and there are moments when I think she may be right!

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Postal related videos have a soft spot in our mail-loving hearts… bonus points if they feature postcards and envelopes whizzing by at the speed of light! 😀

So we were happy to discover another of these videos, which Ana (aka ninocas) from Portugal shared with us. Some details are specific to the USA, but in our experience, this is how mail is processed in most countries as well. Have a look:

The video is part of Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum’s permanent exhibition Systems at Work, where you can learn how the postal service works and has evolved over the past 200 years.

If you’re not in the US, you can still “visit” this exhibition (and the whole museum in fact!) on their virtual tours — it’s super interesting!

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Caitlin (aka Harbs0412) is a wedding planner and postcard-lover from the USA. For her own wedding earlier this year, she decided to combine her two passions and include postcards on her special day! She explains:

Letter and postcard writing is a big part of my life. I have been a postcrosser for over 3 years and I have 7 penpals – a few friends from college but also some I have never met. My husband and I also have a long tradition of writing letters as he is in the military and when we are separated we write each other letters."

For some time before the wedding, Caitlin collected postcards from different places via Postcrossing. She then used her favourite received postcards to make a back drop in a frame for cocktail hour.

Caitlin's wedding Caitlin's wedding

She also collected blank postcards and had all her guests write notes on them… a guest book of sorts, written on postcards. A friend then saved the written cards, and will be in charge of mailing them to the couple throughout the year. Brilliant!

Caitlin's wedding Caitlin's wedding

What did people write on the cards? Caitlin says a little bit of everything, from advice for the newlyweds to kind words about the wedding… They’ve gotten a few of them back already, and had a lot of fun reading the spontaneous messages from their special day.

Caitlin's wedding

Doesn’t that sound like a lovely idea for postcard lovers? Well done Caitlin, and congratulations! :)

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Anyone who has ever received a postcard knows they’re tiny windows to far away places, transporting us to different landscapes and realities. Sometimes those places are so enticing they make us wish we lived close enough to pay them a visit! The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota is one of these places. Have a look:

The Corn Palace 1

No… those are not huge tapestries on the walls… they’re murals made out of corn!

Built in 1921 in the Moorish Revival style, the Corn Palace is an arena where different types of events take place. But the special thing about it is that every single year its facades are decorated by local artists using corn ears, as well as other grains and native grasses. Corn is a major crop in the area – and they’re proud of it!

Postcards from the Corn Palace tell the story of each year’s theme. 1957's theme was “Popular Athletic Games and Attractions in the State”:

The Corn Palace

In 1999, the theme was “Building as a nation”:

The Corn Palace

And in 2009, “American’s destinations” were featured:

The Corn Palace

Between Memorial Day and Labour day each year, a theme is picked and new decorations are stapled and nailed to the walls, and you can follow the corn-structions on their Corn Cam. :) The theme for 2015 is “South Dakota’s 125th”, so if you’re in the area, go check it out – and maybe grab a postcard for the rest of us!

A big thank you to Brenda (aka 9teen87), who owns a huge postcard collection, and brought these great postcards to our attention. You can see these and other interesting postcard topics on her blog.

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Carol (aka carolreader) hails from Ohio, a northern US state. She’s been a postcrosser for over 8 years, juggling a stressful job, family life and distance running, along with sending postcards! :)

Here is what she had to say:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

My daughter always finds new and interesting things. She told me that she’d joined Postcrossing and received a postcard from a teacher in Japan. I thought that was so cool!

When I first joined, I asked for only one address. I had no postcards, nor did I know where to buy any. So I took my lunch hour at work and walked around downtown Cleveland, Ohio, looking for a postcard to send. I found a nice one! Since then, I’ve learned where to find postcards, and try to have a variety of cards on hand to send.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I am addicted to distance running, and I run between one and twenty amateur races every year. This was actually an obsession a few years ago – I spent two years trying to qualify to run the Boston Marathon — to do this, you have to run another marathon in a certain time, depending upon your age. I achieved my goal in 2009, and ran Boston in 2009 at the age of 58. I consider this one of the great achievements of my life. I started running in my 40’s, and I’d never been athletic. I worked for this, and got lucky.

But the older I get, the harder it gets to run. I keep at it because it makes me feel good, and good about myself. But I’m too old for marathons now!

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

This is the letter box at work where I mail many of my cards:

Mail slot at work

My postcards albums for received cards:

Postcard albums

And boxes of cards on hand to send out:

Cards to send out
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Picking out the right card to send, absolutely. I love trying to find different kinds of cards, so that I have the right card to fit even an odd request or interest.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I love quirky cards – and I love animals. Here are some quirky animal cards that I like a lot:

Fav card 3 Fav card 2

The one below from Russia translates to “Smile, it irritates people.” I thought it was funny, and loved the great message on the other side.

Fav card 1

But another card sticks in my mind – it wasn’t just a card, it was a card and a letter and two photos. A group of girl guides from Poland sent me group pictures, and told me about themselves. I love all the cards I receive, but every so often one arrives that warms my heart –and often from an unexpected place!

Have you met any other members in real life?

A few years ago, I went to a small meet up in Minneapolis with forum members. It was great fun. I would love to see a meet up in northern Ohio. In a year or two, when I retire from my job, I hope to organize one. In the meantime…perhaps someone else will volunteer?

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I love hearing from people all over the world, regardless of the politics between our countries. I don’t know if this type of person-to-person communication would have been possible 40 years ago. I can “talk” to people in other nations now that I would never have dreamed of back in those days. I need to hope and believe that this doesn’t stop!

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