lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Today, in the mail, I got a thick envelope from someone I didn't know in Revere, MA. Most of my pen pals from the International Pen Friends (IPF) are, well, international... so I was curious what this thick envelope might contain. I opened it up and out came a veritable ton of what are called "Friendship Books" (FBs.)

I couldn't figure out how I'd been gifted with this "bounty," until I discovered that one of the FBs was started for me, by one of my German pen pals.

Friendship Books are hard to explain. Wikipedia has an article about them, but it doesn't entirely do them justice. The ones I've seen are small, a quarter of a sheet of paper in size. They're handmade, often very crudely--nothing more than colored paper, side-stapled together.  On the front is a person's name and address.  This little booklet is then sent on to pen pals, each of them writing their name and address in it, and passing it along to one of THEIR pen pals, almost like a chain letter, except the idea is to fill the booklet up with people interested in receiving new pen pals. Once the book is filled, it's sent back to the person whose name is on the front/top.

EXCEPT.

There's all these unspoken rules.  Sometimes people send FBs just to see how far they'll go around the world before they come back, so, if you're using the FB to find more pen pals, you have to examine each entry carefully. Some people will just sign their name and something like, "Waving from Cleveland Ohio, and passing on!" 

There are all these codes involved: SNNP (Sorry No New Pen Pals) or NPW (New Pen Pals Wanted) or LLW (Long Letter Writer) or AS (Answers Some), as opposed to AA (Answers All).  They will often include date of birth, because a lot of pen pal seekers want to converse only with people their age. They'll also list the languages they're comfortable writing in--which has been frustrating for me. I've been trying to land a Japanese pen pal, but the ONE I spotted in a FB only wanted pen pals in Korean.  (You may be scratching your head, but international pen pals often use correspondence as a way to practice/keep up on their English/foreign language skills.)  I also actually saw someone who listed, and I kid you not, Esperanto as one of the languages they'd correspond in.  People will include lists of interests: puppies! Unicorns! Heavy Metal music! (or, another one I saw from a different Japanese FBer "I love Jesus!")

But, so I got this huge pile and for the first time went through several of them looking for the words "FB and slam swappers needed" which meant that they were willing to accept FBs, because, honestly, I kind of hate the pressure of having a bunch laying around that I haven't sent out yet.  This is the other way in which these remind me of chain letters, honestly. I have this weird sense of "AH, I should do something with this immediately!"  Anyway, I managed to unload a bunch of them that way.

I have to admit to enjoying reading through these things, strange as they are.  When I was showing these to my friend Naomi today, I read one of the longer ones in which this person wanted to swap: "FBs, postcards, teabags, magnets, bookmarks, pocket letters, ATC, flip books, washi." And, suddenly we were like, "What are pocket letters??"

So we Googled it and found that pocket letters are a crafter's answer to pen palling. You thought this was about writing to people? NOPE. This is a f*cking art form!  Pocket letters are where you fill up a nine-pocket trading card protector with cute things, like stickers, tea bags, pictures, or whatever you like and then send them to someone who will send something similar to you. You collect them in a three-ring binder, kind of like scrapbooking for strangers.

It seems kind of cool.  I may have to try it.

I feel like if I go deep enough into this pen palling culture, I'll be ready to write an exposé for Vanity Fair or Teen Vogue.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Yes, I know it's discombobulate, but blame Bugs Bunny. I always say "discom-boob-ulate." It's funnier that way.

Speaking of preemptive explanations, I have decided that the Internet is a terrible parent. I've been on the "Innerwebs" since its inception. If, several years ago, you asked me if the internet is destroying communication, I would have laughed at you and called you an alarmist.  However, the thing that I'm noticing more and more as we get entire generations who have grown up communicating via text is a tendency to assume the worst of the OP (the original poster.) Today, for instance, I got a comment on one of my fics that was a perfectly reasonable response to an author's note that I'd written several years ago that seems, in retrospect, a bit tone-deaf regarding genderqueer/gender fluid folks. This person probably think they took a neutral tone, but it came off as "The thing you need to understand...", which made me want to knee-jerk with doubling-down and yelling "$%!@ OFF."

Luckily, while I wrote a bit of that initial reaction in reply, I'm used to the fact that most of my fic readers are 12 (like, for real).  So, I try not to start with the swears. I try to say, "thank you for the information" and go from there.  Luckily, I also thought to re-read my intro and spotted WHY this person thought I was either a bigot or a moron.  THEN, I was able to go back and write, "Ah-ha! I get your point now, I will fix this so I don't look like a raging moron/bigot." 

And, yeah, I get that *this* is on me from the start. It's not the offended person's responsibility to treat *me* with respect that I don't seem to deserve. In fact, they mostly did.  

It's just that it really strikes me that, at least, for myself, going forward, I would like to pledge to recognize that even intelligent, wanting-to-do-right-by-everyone people like myself have this knee-jerk reaction to being "called out." For myself, so long as the person on the other end has not made it super clear that they are a NAZI in need of punching, I'm going to start with the expectation that the mistake was honest and maybe just soften my initial blow with something as simple as, "I don't know when you wrote this fic, but..." or "Maybe you already know this, but your introduction makes it seem like maybe you don't..."?  

I guess my point is, is that the internet did not teach us how to have a constructive argument.

You *can* have CONSTRUCTIVE arguments on the internet, though.  I've had, actually, a number of amazing, eye-opening arguments on the internet, specifically on AO3 over mistakes I've made in my fics. I learned, the hard way (by hurting someone), why trigger warnings are actually important. In those arguments, I had to do a lot of hard work. I had to let go of my ego and really listen and that's super-hard to do when you feel massively guilty. I also managed to have a conversation on Facebook about women in science fiction without having to go nuclear on the trolls. It can be done. It just takes a lot more commitment than we're used to giving anyone on the internet.

Anyway, truth is, I'm writing about this, because I'm avoiding a bunch of other writing I really need to either do or decide NOT to do.  
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 I'm just plain, ol' tuckered out right now.  Another wet, cloudy, drizzly day.  We finished up the rummage sale and netted Mason's team $95.00.  Not bad, actually, and about what I'd secretly hoped to make. Between that and a few other last minute donations to the GoFund me from a couple of my friends, we added an extra three hundred some bucks!  Hopefully, this will mean less money worries for the Team.

The sale was much slower today, despite the fact that the weather was actually quite a bit nicer.  I think this is a Saturday vs. Sunday thing. I know that when Shawn and I do rummaging we like to do it on Saturdays.  Sundays, particularly rainy ones, are for being curled up on the couch with a good book.  

We had a few humorous interactions with strangers who came to the sale.  One was a set of grandparents who were entertaining the kids for the weekend, it sounded like.  Apparently, after church they traditionally go rummaging and so this time brought the two (amazingly well behaved, if indecisive) kids along. They stopped at our sale specifically hunting for a "digger" for the young man. Apparently, at the previous sale the young lady had gotten a treat and now it was the young man's turn.  He reminded me of Mason at that age, which I would guess to be about three.  But, he was very articulate, though the hilarity ensued when grandma became very insistent that since our bucket was labeled "4 for a Quarter" the two kids had to chose four, and ONLY four, toys. We, alas, had no diggers, but there were plenty of trucks.  The young fellow first wanted the dumper, then didn't, then grandma finally sort of picked something for him so they could get in the car, but then, hilariously, kept coming back and forth to the bin trying to appease the kid.  It cracked me up. Finally the problem was solved by me explaining that, honestly, as long as it was okay with her, the kids could have all the trucks, no extra cost.  I explained that what we didn't sell was going to GoodWill, anyway.  She finally decided this was a good deal and took all three trucks.

The other was the two women (maybe a mother and daughter, but possibly just two good friends, with one slightly older than the other) who checked out all our board games and ended up buying almost twenty dollars worth of things (which at our sale is actually a LOT.) They were funny because they seemed seriously impressed that we "knew our merchandise." I wanted to know where they were shopping previously that people didn't really know what they were selling, but I think they were really surprised that we'd at least tried all our odd board games at least once.  I think I liked them because they reminded me of who Shawn and I are when we're out sale-ing.  We chat pleasantly between ourselves and the sellers and generally talk about all the merchandise. 

One woman came by specifically looking for bookshelves (I hear ya, sister!) but left with another nice piece of furniture.  

Then there was the big haul to GoodWill. Lisa and Shawn did most of the packing up, while I went and pulled up signs. By the time I came back with the car, they were mostly ready for me to jam everything into the trunk and backseat.  We managed to haul it all in one load because Lisa filled up her minivan as well.  I can't believe we finally got all that junk out of the house!  

We only came back with a small bag of LEGOs for Mason and a stool for Shawn to try to use with the loom.  She's got one now, of course, but since she hurt her back, she's been specifically looking for something that might offer a bit more back support. We're hoping that this one from Lisa will do the trick! Fingers crossed.

The last things I have to do before Mason leaves is get him some cash for food in Anaheim.  Shawn is going to start packing his bag a bit tonight, but we're all so wiped out that she'll probably do the lion's share of it tomorrow.  We've already done our bookstore run so that Mason will have new books to bring along for the trip. I hope that Mason remembers to take lots of pictures. Last time he did a big trip like this he actually took notes of things he wanted to remember to tell us about on his iPad. I hope he thinks to do that again. 

Ja ne! 

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