I Love Mail

Post-Jamaica Version

I have this thing about mail.

Not bills and grocery store fliers. I mean — good mail. Letters. Magazines. Books. Little surprises. Lovely fun things that make me smile.

I was excited for several reasons to come home: my bed, hot showers, a return of winter, my kids, my husband, my dog and cat.

And also: my mail. Eight days accumulation. It took 20 hours for me to get home, starting with a fairly harrowing four hour bus ride through the jungle to get to the airport. And I really was excited to see what was waiting in my little pile.

I thought I’d share:

This actually came just before I left, but it was one of the nicest things I’d found in the mail ever. I posted something on Facebook about dreaming about these Blackwing pencils (but at more than $20 for a dozen, they weren’t something I’d probably ever buy for myself) and then one day there was a package on my doorstep. My brother, Kyle, sent them to me! And now, I’m totally hooked (they write like a dream) and will buy them again. I sent him one back, plus one of my favorite Rhodia notebooks, so that he can start a logbook for his little bitty farm. Because this pencil and that notebook is a magic combination. Also, Freddie clearly approves.

I joined the Letter Writer’s Alliance, which costs $5 for a lifetime membership. You get a little membership card, an adorable (seriously) patch, and a cute postcard. Plus, you can ask the folks who run the alliance to match you up with a pen pal. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes! My membership packet was here when I got home from Jamaica.

I had an issue of The Letter Exchange waiting for me as well. It’s a sweet little thing that’s full of interesting information about letter writing and a collection of anonymous pen pal ads. Membership includes a service where you ship your letters to them, with your new friend’s membership number, and they forward it on — so that you don’t have to share your address until or unless your comfy with that. The ads are so awesome. I went through with a highlighter and marked some like these:

I LOVE Rocky movies.

Lost with a husband and child.

Wal-Mart is like going downtown used to be.

Retired teacher likes gardening, cats, old movies, the 1950s, volunteer work, and playing the violin.

Courage to grow old, love of the natural world, Annie Dillard, David Brendon Hopes, Baily White, Billy Collins, non-religious.

Everyone has a story. What is yours.

That’s it: each line is a whole ad. Just a little conversation starter. I’m pretty excited to respond to some of them

My Zine-O-Matic subscription envelope was here! I’m obsessed with zines right now. I was really excited to get my hands on some. I signed up for the medium-sized mailer and got three big zines, two smallish ones, and some little extras, including 100 Hong Kong dollars and a sweet 1980s cat and bird sticker.

I’m really excited about the zines. One looks like a coloring book to me and I will use it that way, whatever the original intent. I love that I can just stick one in my purse and have it to look at when I have a few extra minutes. That’s important for me right now, because I have to do so much official reading for my MFA. Little bits of purely pleasure reading are exciting.

My February issue of Writer’s Digest was here. I subscribed during Barnes and Noble’s black Friday sale and got a whole year for about $10. You can subscribe on Amazon and get it in both print and digital formats for one price (About $20 for the year.) Writer’s Digest is another one of those things that I like to have to read when I have a few minutes here and there. Sips, not gulps.

My January Ipsy bag was here. I love this little subscription box. It only costs $10 and it always has cool stuff in it. This was my second delivery. Every box comes with a cute little zippered bag. I filled the December bag (it was pink velvet) with Sharpies and gave it to my artist daughter for Christmas.

And two books:

My copy of Dinner: a Love Story. If you’re responsible for making dinner for anyone (including just yourself), you’re going to love this book. I’ve never wanted to actually read a cookbook from cover to cover before. This book reads like Jenny Rosenstrach is your bestie and she’s sharing all her best ideas with you. You can read her blog, too.

And Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk. This is the fifth edition of this tiny little book — it’s just palm-sized, but it’s filled with such good information. I devoured it in my travel-fevered state and it planted this little seed about starting asubscription mailer, filled with Ninja Writer-created zines. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. (Especially if you happen to have a zine.) You can buy the book directly from the author at the link above and support her work, which is almost startlingly thorough with regard to zines and zine culture. (It’s a dollar off right now.)

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and is the original Ninja Writer.