Monday, October 19, 2009

Debra - Mailing Lists

Remember when we wrote letters?

I always wanted to be a letter writer. You know the type I mean. The person who sends the right note, with the right sentiment, at the right time.

And a pen pal. I thought that would be cool when I was in the 4th grade. Then I realized writing about my life was boring.

Every year, I want to write a screamingly funny Holiday or Solstice note like my good friend Laurie. I'd settle for a comforting round-up of all the news, but I never manage to get past the "Wouldn't it be great?" stage.

I've bought gorgeous stationery over the years. It lasts far too long. Why? Mostly because if I send anything but a condolence note, I grab a postcard and slap something in the mail. "Hey, Georgie! I heard the good news. Congrats." Or "Bobby, a new baby is wonderful except for the poop, the vomit and the screaming. Congrats."

Then we must consider email--the killer of all things ink and paper. I correspond more via email than I ever did/do on paper. Email is a fit for my life. Remember I'm the jot-a-note girl, not the elegant letter writer.

When I receive a lovely note it takes me days to toss it out. Trashing it seems disrespectful. I think 3 days is the internationally agreed upon time frame for displaying lovely notes. Then they can go in the trash with 3 day old fish.

What got me on this nostalgia kick about correspondence? I was just online sorting out the new "join our email list" coding for BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books. I think I've done it wrong. It's all spread out. But I have a programmer who will shake her head, roll her eyes and fix it before she puts it on the real website. :) Thank goodness. But at least it's functional. I tested that part. You can test it, too.




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So, do you keep up with addresses and write letters? Are you email only these days? Am I the only lover of postcards? (I write in funny cartoon dialogue bubbles.) How do you keep up with your addresses? Computer address program? Database? Day Planner? Pretty little address book? Manly address book?

38 comments:

GunDiva said...

You just reminded me - I have to get something out in snail mail. I love to receive letters, but I'm lousy about sending them.

Email fits in with our instant gratification society so well :)

KylieBrant said...

Yes, I need to get a couple wedding cards out. Yikes!

I am becoming an email slut. It is soooo easy! My hubby has taken over as the card buyer and sender in our house. Which is pretty cool because everyone figures I'm responsible, LOL.

Candace said...

I used to be a frequent letter writer. My parents were divorced when I was a child and I lived with my dad, so I wrote to my mother on a weekly basis. Also to my grandmother. And several cousins. And, for several years, a penpal in South America. Enter email -- and now I write two letters a year.

One is the annual Christmas letter. The other is my yearly contribution to the family Round Robin. My extended family is wide-spread and many of the older members are not computer savvy, so we've continued the tradition of a big packet of letters making their way 'round through the family. When it gets to you, you take your old letter out and put a new one in. In addition to letters, the package usually includes pictures, kids and grandkids art work, news articles, etc. It's a nice way to keep in touch.

Other than that, I do send cards. I am obsessively organized so I keep a card box full of special occasion cards - birthday, thank you, congrats, etc - so I always have them on hand.

Terry Odell said...

I am SO email oriented. I think it's more because I've lost so much of the ability to write longhand. It's so slow, and there's no delete key. I've got an aunt with no desire to have a computer, and I'm terrible about keeping in touch with her.

Speaking of which, my girls' birthday is this week, and I suppose I ought to go buy a 'real' card -- at least for the one who lives in the states. The one in Ireland will get electronic greetings!

Michele Hauf said...

I still send real birthday cards. Frankly, I am offended by e-cards. Hate them. Will not send them. I have a pining desire to keep up 'real' correspondence though I never write much when I send a card.

I still keep a real address book, too. And it's come in handy more than once when my computer has crashed and all the info is inaccessible.

I would love to take a step back to a time when people wrote with quills and the letter was a work of art. Sigh... Those were kept forever.

Cindy Gerard said...

When it comes to weddings and sympathy notes, birthdays, anniversaries,I always send cards. As for thank you notes - I'm one of those who sends an e-mail then follows up with a written note! Gotta be something pounded into me by my mother that a formal thank you is required.

Interesting that on MAD MEN last night they were trying to come up with a marketing campaign for Western Union and the slogan they landed on was: 'You can't frame a phone call.'
Guess it's still about that cool feeling we get when 'someone cared enough to send the very best' :o)

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh - and yes, darn it, Kathy E. I'm now hooked on Mad Men and still trying to figure out why :o)

Kathleen Eagle said...

I won't apologize, Cindy. In fact, I defy you to resist going back to see what you missed.

Debra Dixon said...

GunDiva--

Yes, we all love to get snail mail. Totally. I revere those who make the effort. And wish I were one.

Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- I don't think my husband has sent a letter or card through the mail the entire time I've known him! He does go and buy cards that can be handed to the appropriate birthday recipient, but that's as far as he takes the "writing of cards and letters."

Debra Dixon said...

Terry -- First, a kid in Ireland? How fabulous! Great excuse for traveling!

Handwriting is an issue. They don't really focus on penmanship anymore. My kid got away with handwriting that would have been drilled out of me. I can write nicely if I take the time, but BAH! Like you, I'm frustrated at not having a delete key.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, about mail. I used to write letters. When Clyde was in the Army and stationed in Korea, I wrote every day. He was there for just over a year. For many years after getting published, I faithfully answered fan mail. In the days before internet, there was a lot of it. A coule/few years ago I set about cleaning up the address book in my day planner. I took the pages out and started working on it. The pages are still loose in a folder. I haven't used a day planner in several years--never was faithful to it after about March--and I rely heavily on e-mail. I don't even use the phone that much!

My fall from what organization level I had achieved happened right about the time I became responsible for little ones again. I'm going to get organized. Starting tomorrow.

Debra Dixon said...

Michele--

I see you "get" it. There is a deep longing for meaningful correspondence. To send or receive something that is intended for one unique person and not flung out into the world like feed to chickens.

That desire runs headlong into my penmanship, time available and lack of stamps.

Okay. I never lack stamps, but there is a real feeling in me that correspondence is a dying art.

In the same way that we'll never have "drafts" of early work or almost never since so many writers don't back up regularly or only back up "on top of" the previous backup.

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy--

Yes, thank you's must be sent. I'm guilty of the occasional email thank you but only to really good friends and for things that I was expecting. Someone said they'd send along a book or they found a newspaper article which would interest me and they cut it out of their paper.

Newspapers. Another dying animal. I'm so tired of trying to pick my news out of a screen full of ads.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- There is something seductive about starting the organizational process. It seems shiny and new. Right before it turns into drudgery. I manage to push through by reminding myself of how much more time I'll have in the future if I get XYZ organized.

In some ways I think correspondence is about organization too. Maybe I'll go back to putting a box of stationery in the "bill" drawer and dropping notes when I do the bills. Hmmm...

Kathleen O said...

I still like to write a letter now and then.. I always send a "Thank you" card through the post. But there have been occasions when I have emailed a note.. When my dad passes away, I received some beautiful cards and flowers and I wrote to everyone a very personal letter of thanks.. If someone goes to the trouble to remember you, then I think you should do the same courtesy..
When sending Christmas cards, I always put a little personal message in there..
My aunt is a great letter writter one of the few people I know that does not own any electronic communication devices.. She doesn't even have a cell phone. Even my mother who is a year older than her (81) has a cell phone..
Long live the "letter writers".. They are a dyeing breed.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathleen-- My mother's given up letter writing because her handwriting now sucks beyond the telling. (g) Her assessment, not mine. but her generation is definitely one of the last serious about correspondence.

She resisted email for a while but is now a convert. But only for information. Not for thank/condolence. And she couldn't live without her cell phone.

I can't imagine your aunt doesn't have a cell phone!!

Linda Henderson said...

I love to keep in touch with people by e-mail but, I still keep a day planner and an address book. You never know if you computer with crash with all your info. I also love postcards, I collect them and have for years. My friends and family always bring me back some when they go on a trip. I don't particularly like them mailed because the post office equipment mangles them.

Tori Lennox said...

I sometimes send out cards (birthday, Christmas, sympathy) via snail mail but mostly I'm an email girl. :)

catslady said...

I've been totally brought over to the dark side lol. I wrote letters for 25 or more years. My husband's parents were divorced and both living in other states so I was the one to do all the writing. Long distance was expensive back then and my husband is not a great communicator. And once we started having kids I had pictures to send (no digital lol). And at Christmas it took me forever to do the cards because I wrote long letters in most of them and 90% was my husband's family lol. People have passed and times have changed and I'm afraid letters are a thing of the past.

Michele Hauf said...

Despite my longing for 'old-fashioned' correspondence, whenever I do send a letter or card I never write much inside. I never know what to write! And then I always get that wonky look from my hubby, and he's like 'But you're a writer!'.

Weird.

Christie Ridgway said...

I am throwing a baby shower in December and I had to wonder if they even made paper invitations anymore (of course they do). But even then you can get fun paper that you run through your printer.

I like my blend of handwriting/printing so thought I wanted to letter them myself, but then remembered the number I'm sending out and will likely run them through my laser printer.

Still haven't found the right one. More in the "things have changed" dept....so many of the invites presume the baby's sex is already known. In this case, mama-to-be won't be revealing until the party!

Debra Dixon said...

Linda-- I collect the books of postcards so I have a variety to choose from when I send them. I had a series of old masters paintings with some lovely art. One was a woman weeping on her front steps with a knight who'd obviously delivered a sad message.

My dialogue bubble over the knight? "I'm sorry Milady, but there just isn't another Debra Dixon book you can read."

Debra Dixon said...

Tori-- Yep, you've gone over to the dark side like so many of us.

Debra Dixon said...

Candace-- I missed your thoughts earlier. You had a PEN PAL ?? I'm greenish with envy. I thought that was the coolest of cool as a young girl.

And you have a card box. Now you're just taunting me. That would be lovely. I buy cards and put the up. Then buy a card again because I forgot I had one.

Debra Dixon said...

Christie--

They do have lovely paper invitations, but the big box stores don't carry a big selection. Some of the specialty houses online have better selections.

I think I got over the hand lettering on invitations when the kid was in grade school. I got so many invites from parents that were printed on the computer that party invites (except for elegant) affairs were downgraded in my mind to "a simple fun notice" and not given "invitation" status anymore.

Debra Dixon said...

Catslady-- Oh! Sending pictures is another thing we don't do anymore. It's all email. And we need to send everyone to a class on how to size pictures for folks who just want to "see" and for folks who are going to print them or put them in digital scrapbooks.

Add digital scrapbooking to the list of things I want to do and for which I have no time. My sister has to grandchildren and a million photos that are languishing on flash drives/cards.

lois greiman said...

I am so totally behind on every kind of correspondence. It's depressing. I cannot keep up, will not keep up. But I, too, always like the idea of mail.

Pamela Keener said...

My girlfriend, who is in her late 40's, STILL has a pen pal she has written to for years since she was a girl. She has even gone to Germany to visit the woman a few times.

I also collect postcards. It started when my brother was in the navy and I asked him to send me postcards from places he has been. My sisters wanted him to bring back presents & I said no just send me the postcards. Now my girlfriend, with the pen pal, travels frequently & also sends me postcards. One of these days I will gather them all up and make a scrapbook or something with them.

I, for one, have never been organized enough to remember birthdays with cards or write letters. I always feel bad when my birthday comes around and I get cards from friends. I always say okay now I am going to reciprocate but I always neglect to send cards or letters.

Love & Hugs,
Pam Keener in PA

Helen Brenna said...

I've always wished I was a letter writer, too, Deb. That's why I'm so thankful for email. I type so much faster than I write.

Like many others, though, bday, sympathy, and thank you cards, etc... go my mail. I do only keep my addresses on my computer which is probably a big mistakes. Oddly enough I still have my old address book and pull it out once in while if my computer's not on. Some of the addresses haven't changed.

I like the idea of having a solid address book. I'm going to get myself a new one! Sounds actually fun! Boy, am I easily amused, or what. And, no, you don't have to answer that, Deb.

Debra Dixon said...

Lois - Many feel your pain. Been there. Done that. But I haven't yet gotten to the realistic "will not keep up." I'm still in the hopeful denial stage. LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

Pamela-- Another postcard collector? I think more people collect them than I realized.

Had a friend send me a postcard from Australia. A writer. And very bright.

Most people write:
"Wish you were here."

She wrote:
"Wish you were here?"

LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- I do backup regularly, but there is also a tactile component to a physical, write-on-paper address book.

::mumble:: ::mumble::
(DD with her hand over her mouth to stop remarks which use the words "Helen" and "easily amused" in the same sentence.)

Heather said...

I keep a traditional address book, which I replace every few years as addresses and phone numbers are scratched out and updated. I've been a letter write all my life, even had a couple of pen pals over the years, and just finished a seven-pager (that's actually a short one for me-I've been known to write as much as 20 pages!) to a friend.

Several of my friends don't have email, or spend little time online, so we exchange long letters, cards and postcards throughout the year. In fact, just received one of each between Monday and Saturday's mail. Much better than the usual bills! I also make my own greeting cards, which I send out for birthdays and other occasions, including between 60 and 80 Christmas cards every year (76 last year). I only sign a short greeting and my name in about half, and write longer notes and letters in the rest. Needless to say, my hand is exhausted come New Year's!

Heather said...

Oh, and I don't have a cell phone and can't say I ever feel the need for one. When I leave home or work, I want to leave home or work.

Debra Dixon said...

Heather-- I had a dear friend who passed unexpectedly several years ago and she always made her own Christmas cards. I remember opening it every year, all a twitter to see what fabulous creation she'd come up with. The card was always so different.

I bet your lucky buddies have the same feeling. It's just special when you open a card someone made for you.

And I think I can safely say we all envy your mail !

Heather said...

Thanks, Debra! The letters definitely made up for the annual fall letter from my alma mater begging alumni for money they don't have. ;)

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