1. Laura E. – Chicago
2. Aunt S. -Philidelphia
3. Sharon D. -Seattle
4. Abby P. -Madison
5. my soldier in Iraq
6. my sister the third -New York
7. Ramya S. -San Francisco
8. Lee H. -San Francisco
9. Tori E. -Chicago (postcard, actually)
10. Nick G. -Ann Arbor
11. my sister the second -Boston
12. Sarah M. -New Delhi
13. Ganga -Spring Lake
14. Mimi O. -New York
15. Niki D. -Madrid
16. my soldier in Iraq (postcard)
17. Cat B. -South Hadley (postcard)
18. Olive O. -New Hadley, NJ
19. George L. -New York
20. David D. -Cork City
21. my sister the second. -Boston
22. Joe O. -Denver
23. collage envelope for Joe O.
24. collage envelope for my sister the second
25. Jenny S. -Blacksburg, and envelope
26. Olivia W. -Clinton; and an envelope for Jenny
27. Jamie D. -Chicago (postcard); and an envelope for Olivia
28. my soldier in Iraq
29. my sister the third -New York (postcard)
30. Marissa M. -Boston
31. Mia and Gioia C. -New York
Total: 5 postcards, 4 envelopes, and 26 letters? Not bad.
My sisters are definitely a theme–at the very least it’s easy to write to the one in Boston because she lives in another city and we don’t really connect much by email, text, Facebook, chat/im, etc. Neither of us are really phone talkers, so while the we certainly exchange the occasional call, they are short and usually to the point. Letters are a good outlet for catching up, and since she’s my sister I don’t have to worry about double-dipping much.
The youngest one is living at home with me so it rings a little false to write her substantive letters when I poke my head in her door every three seconds and she comes to
snuggle with bother me every other minute. She went on a long, rather intense retreat as a team leader early this month though, and it was a good opportunity to write to her about how much I love her and am proud of her. Because I do and I am. And when I went to visit #2 this weekend, #3 got a postcard. (I realize that the numbering is a little strange here so to clarify, I am #1.)
I am supposed to write my soldier in Iraq every week, so I lost one in there at some point. I did get a brief response to an email I sent him about a package, so Hurray! At least he exists. I still worry that my letters are completely uninteresting to this guy who is doing who-knows-what in an army base surrounded by tough people who probably could eat me for breakfast. Mark Twain, in his famously patient, gentle sort of way once said,
“There is only one brief, solitary law for letter-writing, and yet you either do not know that law, or else you are so stupid that you never think of it. It is very easy and simple: Write only about things and people your correspondent takes a living interest in.”
I know, Mark, I know. Want to give a hint what those things might be?
The remaining letters and postcards went to friends from college (8), high school (2), elementary school, (1), life (5), extended family (4), and people who have helped me out with my job search (2). There were more than four art projects, three of which were collage.
January conclusion: As I hoped it would, this project is encouraging me to get back in touch with people I grew apart from in the process of changing schools, building a new life, and generally growing up. I wrote to one of the resident heads of my old dorm, and I recently got the address of one of my favorite high school faculty members (I’ll be writing to her this week). I also have done pretty well with Thank You notes, which I always mean to write and somehow never get to.
And I was really really excited to work on those envelopes! They took forever to make, but they made me so happy and I was ecstatic to photograph them, drop them in the box, and imagine their recipients pulling them out of their mailboxes. My sister got hers the day I arrived in Boston and it was really fun for me to see it come out of the mailbox–the newspaper came through remarkably well, aside from where it was almost split down both sides (I’ll need to reinforce that next time). I couldn’t help but think of all the people who had handled it and seen how unusual it is. What did they think? Did it brighten their days? And it was really gratifying to see my sister’s roommate’s reaction to it—apparently she knew me as the one who sends all the pretty letters! Yay!
I love the artsy aspect of this project because I have drawers, boxes, and even a closet of art materials that I hardly touched when I was in school and drowning under the weight of books, assignments, and everyone’s expectations. The academic in me has gotten lots of food for thought and intellectual exercise in the last nine years or so, but the artist in me has suffered from creative malnutrition and lethargy until recently. It’s been fun, if a little painful, to start practicing again.