Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Happy Anachronism

More than once on this letter-writing journey it has become obvious that I, with my love of the handwritten word, am a bit of an antique.

Let's face it: people don't expect you to send them anything physical these days. We "send" and "receive" trillions of intangible bits and bytes, but far, far fewer items go in actual envelopes, with stamps.

Take, for instance, my experience in writing to former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley. Wondering where to send my letter, I went to Mr. Bradley's website. I could find an e-mail address, but no physical location. I ultimately settled for sending Mr. Bradley's letter in care of Sirius Satellite Radio, on which his "American Voices" show is broadcast. I'm still curious as to whether it ever reached him.

I was reminded again of my outdated ways when a friend was hospitalized. When he posted on his Facebook wall that he had been discharged, I responded that I had sent him a letter and hoped that the hospital would forward it to him. Another friend was quick to chime in: "A letter? I wouldn't even know where to buy stamps anymore!!"

I know where. I know the location of the post office nearest to my office and the one nearest to my home. I can tell you which area post office has the latest pick up time and which ones have automated postal centers, those nifty stamp vending machines that, depending on the day, can make me just as happy as any apparatus dispensing M&Ms or pretzels. I'm not above admitting that I get a preternatural high out of applying postage to a stack of neatly addressed envelopes.

But I'll admit a tiny bit of self-consciousness too. A few letters besides Mr. Bradley's I have sent to people at their jobs, the only places I could locate them. Staying true to the art of handwritten correspondence, I address each envelope in longhand as well. No matter how neatly I print, however, I can't help but think of the anthrax-ridden missives showing up at television stations after 9/11, with their scrawled addresses. And I wonder, do I look crazy? I can only hope that my recipients--and their mail room managers, and their secretaries--don't judge proverbial books by their covers.

THANKS FOR FOLLOWING! I was delighted to discover that Love From Kaz, author of the wonderful letter-writing blog I love letters, is now following The Letter Jar. I have wondered about this "paradoxical blog"--Blogging about handwritten communication? How odd!--how exciting to find more and more people like me!

2 comments:

Love from Kaz said...

Well, what a nice surprise. There I am reading your blog, nodding my head to pretty much eveything you said, and then found myself in the spotlight. Thank-you for saying such lovely things! I will return the favour. :-)

I was sitting in a cafe yesterday having breakfast and of course I used the time to write a letter. Well, the waitress couldn't get over it! She wanted to see all my pretty letter-writing paper, and asked if I did "this sort of thing" often. I did feel like a bit of an oddity... but then again perhaps she'll be inspired to take up a pen herself.

L, The Jar Keeper said...

You're very welcome. :)

I do hope the waitress is inspired to take up a pen. Some of the most gratifying feedback I have received during this project is from people who say my letter inspired them to write--to me, or to someone else they've been meaning to reach out to. We're starting a movement, one piece of paper at a time!