Flailing through life one day at a time.

The Sunday Mail Flail

I’m finally catching up on my overcommitments to Swap-Bot.  You know, after spending four hours on outgoing mail today.  Which was actually very enjoyable!

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The top pic was all outgoing today – that’s 11 total (the picture is somewhat cropped), not including the letter I wrote to my new pen pal in Kentucky.  The bottom two pictures were smaller outgoing mails from earlier this week.

By the way, if you ever want to buy me a present for some crazy reason and don’t know what to get me, stamps please.  I’m already on my new postcard stamp sheet that I just got in the mail a few days ago!

Most of these are going to Swap-Botters, though a few are private swaps.  The Oklahoma City card, for example, is going to a girl in Wisconsin who is trying to collect a postcard from every state.  I made sure she was okay with Godzilla destroying our skyline.  She was a-okay with that.

Here are my incoming postcards from this week:

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The bottom two were private swaps with Postcrossers, the left from France, the right from China.  The top three were Swap Bot.

And also through Swap Bot this week, here is the collection of other goodies, including some blank Jetoy postcards!

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So.  Freaking.  Adorable.  Ugh.  That particular swapper went out of her way to send me some great things.  The kitty washi tape came from her as well, along with the cute stickers.  She sent a lot more postcards than required because she saw I that I love Jetoy Choo Choo Cats on my profile.  I’m not very stingy with Swap Bot hearts, but I would have given like ten more to that swapper if that were possible.

I was sad to put my Postcrossing account on inactive this week, but I felt it was necessary so that I wouldn’t leave any other Postcrossers hanging while I’m out of town for the first few weeks in August.  I guess that just means I will have a lot of mail to look forward to when I set it back to active!  My Swap Bot sign ups are getting thin, too, though, since I want to be able to rate promptly.

But there will be so many postcards on our road trip……….

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Adventures in Swapping

This week my mailbox didn’t see much activity, but what it did see was pretty awesome.

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This came in on Monday, which was a really stressful day for me as I got a start on inventory at work with a new system.  This postcard really turned my day around and made me very happy.  It came from a Postcrosser in Hong Kong.

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These two came on Thursday and were my first Swap-Bot mails to receive.  The fox one was especially great because it had some fox-face washi tape on it. ❤

Postcrossing was stuck for awhile.  I had a postcard that was headed to a recipient in Germany, which, based on previous experience, takes about 10 days.  It had been out for 25 days with the recipient not showing as logged in for about 12 of those.  I was just starting to lose hope completely when suddenly it did in fact get received!  So I’m looking forward to getting back into Postcrossing.

Of course, in the meantime, I worked on building ratings with Swap-Bot, which finally finished up this weekend.  Here are the various outgoing mail pics for the week.

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Yes, I’m trying to find different ways to make post pictures look more exciting.  I’m excited to send them in any case.  I’m posting them as I send them on instagram @the_catterly_post.

And of course, after my fifth Swap-Bot rating came in, I got a little carried away signing up for swaps…

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That lot will get picked up tomorrow.  Then on to the next, I’m sure. 🙂

 

Standstill at the Crossroads

…The Postcrossing Roads to be more specific.

It’s been a very slow week for getting to send mail, which apparently meant I needed to organize my postcard stash.

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That may not look  like much in the way of actual organization, but at least *I* know where everything is.  Mostly.

Despite the slow send week, I did get all four of these lovely cards in the mail.

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Three were from a regular Postcrossing draw, and the one on the far right was from a swap.

The one at the bottom was a handmade card from a 14-year-old girl in Finland.  I adore it.  She gave me a Swedish lesson, most of which I can’t read very well, but still, I loved that, too.  Though the best part was this eggplant stamp that apparently has somewhere to be.

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Yes, those are little arms and legs and lips and glasses stickers.

I did get to send two postcards off earlier this week.  This one went to Kentucky…

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And this one went to Austria to a lady who liked postcards on local recipes.  This poor sunburnt card came from a mostly-forgotten spinner at a gas station on I-35.  But it did give me a chance to talk about secret chili recipes and how you’ll never find the best recipe online or in a book because they are very closely guarded. ;D

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Since I didn’t have any to catch up on, I put together a couple of random cards to send.

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In the meantime, I have finally discovered Swap-Bot.  Maybe after a few ratings that will help me start making a dent in that pile of back stock postcards.

Oh, almost forgot to add a very belated thank you to TheSnailMail for this adorable Peanuts postcard I received a couple of weeks back!

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The Kliban cat tutorial was the best.

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Now to continue obsessively checking Postcrossing and Swap-Bot for any status updates.

Postcrossing Update

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It’s been an emotionally stressful past few weeks which I will eventually have the energy to write about.  For now, let’s just stick with the fun stuff.

These are the five postcards I sent out this week.  They are going to the Netherlands, Texas, Sweden, Russia, and Germany.

I received three this week as well.

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From Japan

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From the Netherlands.  LOOK AT THE PUPPY.

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From Taiwan.  This is my favorite postcard so far!

Outgoing Mail for Monday

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Going in the mailbox tomorrow!

Kitty face is heading to Malaysia, Tink’s going to Germany, and the mysterious blue envelope is going somewhere mysterious.

No incoming this week, but with all five of my Postcrossing cards traveling, hoping to see some in the next week or two.

Around the World in Eighty Postcards

A couple of years ago my friend Jennifer moved out of town – not that far away, and in fact to my home town, so while we could still see each other from time to time, we rarely did.  Through the years we had off and on complained about how we both had ridiculous collections of stationery, cards, and postcards that we never used.  I can’t remember now who made the first move (probably her), but one day I got a postcard from her.  So naturally I wrote back.

At some point Jennifer moved back.  She is literally a ten minute drive away, and we see each other every week or two.  But the postcards keep happening, at least most of the time when life hasn’t gotten too in the way.

I have continued to really enjoy this.  Sure, by the time the postcard is received, we’ve probably already talked about whatever the thing was that we wrote about in it.  But it still brings a smile to my face to get that random postcard in the mail from time to time.

Here’s one she sent me just last week:

Jennifer050516-WolvesOnCedarRobbersCaveThis postcard is made of cedar.  It’s really awesome.  Although I had to hold it up at a tilt towards the light to read the shiny gel pen on it.

Because of how much I enjoyed sending postcards and letters, I started toying with the idea of getting a pen pal.  But the commitment behind that was a little too intimidating.  So instead I found a very reasonable alternative for the commitment-shy snail mailer:  Postcrossing.

The idea behind Postcrossing is that when you want to send a postcard, you request an address and one is given to you.  It can be literally anywhere in the world.  Once your first postcard has been received, you’re on the list to receive one back from someone else in the world.

I sent my first postcard about three weeks ago to Germany.  The recipient stated in her profile that she was a vet tech and liked funny animal pictures, so this happened.

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I could do up to five, but I kind of wanted to wait and see what happened.  About 10 days later, the postcard was registered on the site, meaning she had received it.  She had also favorited it, which made me happy because I’m pretty sure that means it made her smile.

At the time I was in the middle of a project, so didn’t get to send anymore postcards for another week or two.  In fact, I’d kind of forgotten all about it till one day Carol walked in with the mail.  She looked confused for a second as she flipped through the papers, then suddenly grinned and held up this postcard:

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My first Postcrossing card had arrived!  It was from the Netherlands, and the sender had put two insect stickers on it (I mentioned liking insects in my profile) along with a nice note.  To be honest, I couldn’t read much of the note, so I’m mostly just hoping it was nice, but it seemed close enough.

With the arrival of my first postcard, I once again got excited about Postcrossing.  This week I sent three postcards:

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This one went to Russia to a recipient who just wanted to see some sights.  I don’t know if Chuy’s counts as a sight, but it should, because it’s delicious.  So off it went.

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This one went to Rhode Island, which isn’t another country.  I guess.  Though they do have Awful Awfuls.  Lucky bastards.  This recipient mentioned liking surreal and “weird” postcards, so this pretty fantasy one seemed like a good fit.

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This one went to Belarus.  Yes, I had to look up where the heck that was.  I’m learning something new every day.  She mentioned liking cats, angels, and art.  So yeah.  She also boasted of having a collection of 600 cat figurines.  Like I am super jealous over here.

Most of these will take 10+ days to get to their destination, although Rhode Island should only take a couple.  This is exciting because that means it will put me back on the list to receive another postcard, and will make it so I can send more out.

All in all, though I just recently got into Postcrossing, I really like it.  I’ve always wanted to travel, but that requires money and time and house sitters who can put up with the brattiest animals on the face of the planet.  This sort of feels like getting some of the perks of traveling for just the price of a postcard and international stamp.  And it’s letting me make at least a brief connection with someone else so far away.

 

Pixie Magic and Amazon Warriors

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We spent the weekend getting our souls healed in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the fourth Amazon Music Festival.  It was our first event like this to go to on two levels:  first time at a weekend-long music festival, and first time at what you could call a “community” event – in this context, meaning a mostly lesbian women’s event.

My spouse and I were officially married over a year ago, but we’ve been together as essentially wife and wife for eleven years now.  It seems strange even to me that it took us this long to go to an event like this, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint why the hesitation was there.  Part of it is our naturally introverted natures; we are usually content with our small group of close friends and don’t feel the need to go meet a lot of new people.  In fact being around a lot of strangers is very uncomfortable and intimidating to us.  I think another reason, though, is that it’s much easier to be an out lesbian these days – I’m not saying easy, but easier than it was for many of the older ladies present whose generations paved the way so that ours is not having to struggle nearly as much (and they have my eternal gratitude).  This means that the need for community isn’t as obvious to my generation even though the necessity of community still exists.

But I think what has really held me back was a fear of being judged.  Add that to the cocktail of negativity I’ve been hauling around for ten years and you get that little voice going:  You’re not social enough.  You’re not interesting enough.  You’re not lesbian enough.  Yes, really.

So how in the world did I end up at some random music festival three and a half hours away in Fayetteville, Arkansas??

I have a lovely pixie named Sooj to thank for that.

Professionally she is S. J. Tucker.  If you’ve never heard her music, go to her website.  She has many songs you can listen to for free.  If the first song you go for isn’t to your taste, keep checking out others.  She is very talented in a number of musical styles.

I discovered her through an intricate trail of streaming suggestions (thank you music-streaming goblins!).  But more importantly to present context, I discovered her when I was starting another downward spiral.  Sooj’s music kept my head above water.  “For Iago” when I needed to remember that life is made up of “little breezes and rough storms.”  “Wonders” when I needed to remember that the struggle is necessary to the quest.  “Girl Into Devil” to find my own strength through those dark woods, and then “Cheshire Kitten” when I needed to blend back into the surroundings.  “Firebird’s Child” because Solace is the sister of Sorrow.  And on the worst days, “City of Marrow” to look at that dark place squarely, go into it, and then come out again.

It was “Come to the Labyrinth” from the Blessings album, though, that kept me at a stable and steady place.  The song is really in honor of the holiday Samhain, and it was way past October by the time it started looping through my head when my mind needed help filling the white noise with something besides negative thoughts.  In fact, it was running circles in my head the day I was at a Renaissance Faire with my spouse and a friend of ours at the beginning of April.  It had been a long day with lots of people around, and the white noise was getting louder than my surroundings.  Carol could tell I was starting to withdraw, and saw a shop with some very pretty jewelry she thought I might like.  She coaxed me in to checking it out.

The shop was Odyssey Craftworks, and the jewelry was extremely pretty, but of course my eyes were drawn immediately to the labyrinth pendant with the label “S. J. Tucker – Blessings” over it.  I woke up right away.  After flailing for a moment trying to remember how to use words while the very patient shopkeepers looked on, I finally asked what the connection was.  They laughed and said they’d met Sooj many years ago – in fact she was a large part of how they had met and had since gotten married and been together for many years.  I’m sure I sputtered something about how much I love her music – it’s always so hard to put all those feelings into words that do them justice – and asked to see the pendant.  While he shined it up for me, he explained that the stone in the center was sugilite, but he preferred to think of it as SOOJ-i-light, and that its energy lent itself to connecting to your higher self. I was ridiculously happy to have it, and thanked them profusely (after buying some Firebird’s Child oil which smells AMAZING).

When we got home, Carol was grinning at me.  When I asked what was so entertaining to her, she said she was just so happy to see me get excited about something.  It had been awhile.  It’s one of those nagging effects of depression.  Even on days you’re doing okay, it’s hard to get excited over something.

A few days after that, she caught me looking at Sooj’s page for upcoming performances.  There were two possibilities, but Amazon Music Festival ended up being the most likely candidate due to proximity and timing with work schedules.  And with that, she made it happen despite it being a rather last-minute trip for us.  Yes, I have a wonderful spouse.

Cut to a couple of weeks later and we’ve just gotten to the hotel.  We arrive with a few hours to kill before the festival starts, so we’re taking the elevator down from the fifth floor where our room is.  It’s the top floor, and so while the elevator started empty, it usually ended up full by the time it reached the bottom.  So we get in, me with my labyrinth pendant, Carol in a t-shirt with an anthropomorphic wolf on it and wearing a rainbow chainmail necklace, and as the elevator descends it makes one stop.  In comes a mohawked woman in a plaid collared shirt.

Unsurprisingly, we size each other up pretty quickly.  She grins.  “You here for the festival?”  The socially awkward duo that we are, we both smile and nod.  I make some comment about not really knowing any of the other performers, but I wanted to see S. J. Tucker and the event sounded pretty cool, so we decided to check it out.  The woman smiles again, an easy-going and honest smile, and says, “Oh yeah, Sooj is my soul sister.”

At that point the elevator lands and the doors open.  We shyly wave goodbye to her.  I’m shy on a good day, but especially in a new place with a really cool person talking to me.

Anyway, we go out, get dinner, drive around a bit, then go back to the hotel to change and get ready to go to the start of the show.  So into the elevator we go again, me with my moon phase t-shirt, Carol in her shirt that says “Love is Love” with some nice rainbows thrown in.  This time the elevator makes two stops.  On the first a couple that reminded me a lot of us gets in, two quiet women who exchange smiles with us.  But on the next stop, two women a little younger than us are waiting when the doors open.  One is dressed casually with long hair, but the other is in a suit with a loose tie and short curly hair like you wouldn’t believe tossed over one side of her head.  The one with the curly hair looks a little anxious at first, but she looks at the four of us she grins and says, “Now THIS is our elevator!”

Apparently not all elevators are full of lesbians in Arkansas.  In fact many are pretty against lesbians in elevators or anywhere else for that matter.  I’m sure that’s shocking to some of you.  So yes, we were all pretty happy at this point to be with people we knew we could be ourselves around.

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Me left, Carol right, in front of the Event Place on Day 2.

When we get to the car and start heading to the Event Place, Carol says, “Man, everyone here looks like a rock star.”  I nod and make a comment about feeling a little underdressed, already feeling the nerves kick in again despite the two rock-star-seeming people being super friendly.

Well, there was a reason those two rock-star-seeming people seemed like rock stars.

The one with the curls of awesomeness was Kristen Ford, and if you haven’t heard her perform, oh my gosh.  She is literally a one-woman band with a strong voice and so much energy, I don’t know how in the world she travels as much as she does and maintains it.  Her recordings are great, but if you have an opportunity to see her perform live, take it.

The other was Summer Osborne, and oh.  Like the event was freaking amazing before her set, but when she took the stage, it was like she picked your soul up, put it back together, and then very carefully but deliberately gave it back, but only if you promised to go be a loving human being to yourself and to everyone else.  (Yes, Preacher Osborne, I promise.)

When we were leaving for break, I found Summer sitting at the entrance table.  At this point I’d relaxed considerably.  The environment of the entire event was so open and nonjudgmental, you couldn’t help but feed into that positive vibe.  She gave me her full attention as I thanked her for her words and music, but also for being the first face we saw of this event.  We’d had no idea who she was that half a minute in the elevator, but her kindness and obvious love of this event and the people involved had set the tone for the weekend.  It made us feel welcome, and certainly since that time we’d grown from the experience.  At this point she stood up and said, “Now I’m going to have to come around hug you, hold on.”  And she did indeed give both of us a great big hug.

I will go back to Amazon Music Festival as long as they continue to put them on.  The event was literally life changing for us, and on top of that we got to listen to so many talented women.  Here they are in order of appearance with links to their websites:

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did get to meet Sooj.

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Me on the left, Sooj on the right.

She was as great as everyone said she was, and her performance was amazing.  Carol and I enjoyed a dance to “Sultry Summer Night”, and I was ecstatic to hear “Wonders” and “Sailing Song” in person.  She did a beautiful a cappella cover of Heather Dale’s “Three Queens” and a duet with the sweet and lovely Rubiee of Dryad Tea and previously of the band Pandora Celtica.  She also told me about some of her experiences working with author Catherynne M. Valente, particularly the part where she got to read the manuscript for the second Orphan’s Tales before it was published.

When trying to figure out which album to ask her to sign, I finally chose Blessings.  I wouldn’t have been at that event in the first place if it hadn’t been for the conveniently timed finding of a labyrinth pendant at a shop among hundreds at a Renaissance Faire just weeks before, and I wouldn’t have even noticed it if one song out of millions hadn’t found its way onto my radio stream months before that.  And while Sooj’s music kept my head above water for so long, this event lifted me out of it.

Thus concludes the long and convoluted chain of events that truly ended up being a blessing.

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