Monday, July 3, 2017

LEP Geeks & Freaks: Fandoms, Gamers, and Geeks

We all know The League of Extraordinary Penpals is an awesome way to meet like-minded, pro happy mail individuals. While our dedication to pen palling bonds us together, we understand that there are different interests out there.

Did you know we’re also on Facebook? In addition to the LEP Facebook group where we talk about the swaps, proper penpal etiquette, stamps and so much more, we’ve been able to add groups for different interests within the LEP.

Due to member interest we’ve created a specialized Facebook group celebrating fandom and embracing your inner Geek! There were literal SQUEEs of excitement when this group opened, which you may have heard (depending on your location).

LEP’s Geeks & Freaks is the perfect place to ‘get your freak on’ by embracing your Geek and celebrating the fandoms, games and more that help make life just a little more fun! Whether it is talking about an episode of iZombie, playing Fandom ABCs or announcing your deepest Geek-fession, we can help.

We also have your back with:

Recommendations on your next binge-watch?
Looking for a Beta reader/editor for your latest fanficton?
Discussing strategies for your newest boardgames?
Figuring out what to throw at your RPG group in their latest campaign?

It doesn’t matter what level of geekery you identify with, LEP Geeks & Freaks is a great way to explore the geeky things you love, or want to love.

If you’re interested, please search for LEP Freaks & Geeks and request to join today! We cannot WAIT to see you.

- Nicole R. AKA GothamGal, California

PS - If you want to be a part of the amazing LEP Facebook communities, you first have to be a member of the LEP. Click here to join today!

Monday, January 30, 2017

LEPOSTSECRET II


Inspired by PostSecret, we asked members to mail us their secrets. As promised, the collected underground thoughts of LEP members, sad and scary and sublime, can be found in their original form.

"I'm having an affair with a married man. I know it's not good, it's not something I have ever done before. I didn't ever expect I would be in this situation. I'm also friends with his wife, we do quite a lot together, probably really one of my best friends. But the worst thing is, I don't feel guilty. She's cheated on him before, while I've been there sometimes, she slags him off to others, always moaning about him etc. I know it's not an excuse to be doing it, I know it's wrong, but we don't want to stop. The only reason he's still with her is cause of the kids. He says they're just two people living in a house together looking after the kids. He thinks she'd try and turn the kids against him if he left, I agree with him. Maybe one day..."


"I am in love with a man I've never met and am only staying with my husband for the sake of the kids."


"My work environment is volatile. I am severely depressed because of it. I feel so alone. I wish I had someone to talk to."


"My mother has never loved me. She told me at 16 years old that had she known she was having a girl, she would have aborted me. She disowned me officially last year. I was 40."


"My mother was psychologically abusive and to this day no one knows except my partner and the counselor I had. My family refuse to accept it, even if only as my truth, and they bury their heads in the sand. My siblings had a different experience- they had strong friendship groups to provide some difference. Perhaps that is why she actively isolated me? To this day, decades later, I still feel the pain of that isolation regularly as fresh as the day it began and the next and the next as it was seared into me how useless and worthless I am. It has dogged every step of my life and every challenge I have faced. I have never had any sense of belonging, support or felt part of a family from which to approach life, and I wonder daily if I will ever feel loved or accepted before I die. Perhaps I am too broken now to ever come back. I get angry, but mostly at myself for letting it all happen to me... but then that's to be expected when everything was always my fault and no one told me any different until two years ago. I've carried this a long time, and every time I try to heal it shreds me again. Now folks are bored of the person who can't get over it, who can't just get on with life and so I choke it all down again because it is, I am, inconvenient and I don't want to be alone again. I can't stand to see the disgust on their faces."


"It wasn't my father than found your cocaine. It was me. I'm so sorry."


"People think I'm so happy-go-lucky- funny and relentlessly positive. But it's often carefully constructed to hide crushing depression. The days when I'm funniest are the days I'm most likely to be abstractly thinking about just dying already."





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dear Fancypants: Facebook and Penpalling

Welcome to Dear Fancypants, an advice column on penpals and other philatelic things. To submit a question, contact cpt.fancypants@kimmiedearest.com.

Dear Fancypants,

I have recently restarted penpalling after a long hiatus, but I'm struggling to establish good reliable penpals.

At the start of this year I joined a couple of groups for penpals-- mostly on Facebook, because all the other sites attracted a strange crowd that either wanted money or pictures-- but I digress.

I found a particularly active group on Facebook (not LEP), but there are several things that bother me and I don't know if they should.  The moderators engage in a lot of drama and there's a lot of name calling and deleting of posts. I feel that it takes away from the experience of penpals. This censorship also results in being blocked if anything is said.

I have been unsuccessful in finding penpals in this group; I have sent dozens of intro letters and only gotten one or two back. The only reason I stay in this group is because at least I can participate in swaps and things like that.

I don't feel that my letters are boring or offensive but somehow I just haven't found good matches. I am here with adorable stationery and a million ideas in my head but no one to send them to.

I hear all these success stories of penpals but I'm beginning to think they are a fictional world!

Do you have any tips/ideas? Should I continue with this Facebook group?

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Unmatched Penpal :)

---

Dear Unmatched Penpal,

Your time is too precious.

There are so many amazing things to be done and experienced in this world, and I doubt that dealing with a bunch of probably shitty and unproductive drama on a Facebook group is on your bucket list.

I'm nonmonogamous and polyamorous and don't believe that there is One Magic Partner that can fulfill my every single need. What the hell does this have to do with your question? Well, it sounds like this Facebook group fulfills a certain need, but you want it to fulfill all your mail-related needs and it's just not going to do that. You say that you stay in this Facebook group because at least you can participate in swaps. If those swaps are fulfilling for you and there are parts of the group that enrich your life, take those things and leave the rest.

Of course, when a large number of diverse people congregate in one space, there's bound to be misunderstanding and 'drama' sometimes. Not everything can be goodness and light 100% of the time. This is why Facebook notifications can be turned off and your newsfeed curated. Maybe you only want to check in to this group when you are in the mood for joining a swap and don't need to see the group's posts on your newsfeed alongside pictures from your grandma's 90th birthday. Tailor your Facebook experience to fit the kind of relationship you want with this group. Set your expectations and boundaries and relate with this group accordingly.

If you really don't want or need this unnecessary negative energy in your life, walk away. There are other groups and places to find penpals. You can start with this little post I wrote on where to find penpals. Perhaps you'll find a group that better meshes with what you're looking for, or better matches penpals for you, or gives you more of an opportunity to pair up with someone who is definitely looking to write and isn't already overwhelmed with correspondents.

And remember: penpalling is building a relationship through paper and pen. I often find my letter writing relationships are better served by getting the hell off Facebook.

I'll be following up later in the month with a separate post on how to better your success rate with finding penpal matches, and I'll update this post with that link. In the meantime...

Be Brave and Be Honest.

xoxo
Captain Fancypants

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

LEP HQ Vermont Meetup 2.0


LEP HQ Vermont Meetup 2.0
By Cassie Swisher aka The Punctual Procrastinator

October 14, 2016 was almost, but not quite, a full moon, but it may as well have been. It was certainly bringing out the crazies as five of us were en route to Winooski and our beloved Julie and Denise.

Cecilia was the first to arrive after 7.5 coffee stops. While it was close to 4:00pm when she went inside and made her appearance, it is very likely she was waiting in her car since 7:00am.

Stephen was the second to arrive after making a stop in Stephentown to conduct some of his mayoral duties and hold court with the Stephentown peasants. After receiving appropriate homage, he arrived at headquarters. 




It should also be noted that Jennifer Ong made her appearance in the form of pies, which were delicious and devoured in due time.




Then I, Cassie, finally arrived about 7:30pm. I had been on the road since 6:00am (and this, unlike all the above, is not an exaggeration). I am proud to say that, despite being in the early stages of pregnancy, I miraculously only required three potty breaks (and one ice cream break).

Friday night, we took bathroom selfies, shoved beanbag couches up a narrow stairway, and maybe did a little writing. I studied an operating manual on Thanh-Thuy while Denise double-fisted glasses of wine. Once we all recovered from the travel-jitters, we retired.





Saturday morning found Cecilia again loitering outside of headquarters at 7:00am. We let her in a couple hours later. Logan and Christopher arrived as zombies. Logan joined the writing session while Christopher took himself to bed for his first sleep in 50+ hours. Unable to revive him, the rest of us set off to Tiny Thai for the lunch special.



We eventually got Christopher up and alive and headed to Church Street for some shopping, street food, and Ben & Jerry’s, then it was off to the funeral home for the traditional game of Cards Against Humanity. A C.D. exclusive cutting board was presented as 1st prize and I won, much to my amazement. Thanh-Thuy forced us to take home books, we returned to headquarters for more writing, Denise and I wore our matching elephant pajamas, and the Stationery-Buying Battle commenced with Cecilia once again the winner.


 

Sunday saw Vegan breakfast (apparently you can make bacon out of eggplant), postcard perusing, and facials. A little more writing was squeezed in as well. Christopher and Logan spent 6 hours packing the car and heading towards the door and Cecilia left with her suitcase of stationery and possible smuggling of eggplant bacon. No doubt she stopped for coffee before leaving the city. I left the next morning and Stephen later in the day. We do not know what happened to Julie and Denise once we all left, but boob stamps were held for ransom, the beanbag couch had to come back downstairs, and there must have been some empty-nesting going on. The question is, did Denise do this with or without pants?



Stay tuned for Meetup 3.0!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Field Trip: CW Pencil Enterprise

Brian and I decided to pay a visit to CW Pencil Enterprise in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (New York City, USA) this week.



How can a pair of stationery fetishists *not* patronize a pencil shop a mere 11-minute bike ride away from home?



CW Pencil Enterprise was founded in late 2014 by Caroline Weaver. Their mission is to "dig up the stories and origins of these objects and make them accessible to those who appreciate them for their functionality, beauty and history as much as we do."




Six-year-old Kimmie is super jealous of thirty-year-old Kimmie right now. Signs of a life lived faithfully.



The shop was such a fun experience! I felt totally welcome and not rushed at all. For much of the time, my butt was parked at the testing station, where a drawer holds sample versions of nearly all the pencils and erasers for sale in the shop.



I ended up bringing one of these white pencils home. My test was a little Ghost Dog homage to my recently-deceased best friend, Tuli Wooferberg, the best cocker spaniel that ever spanieled.



This neat pencil I got (the one with the green cap in the middle of the below photo) has seeds at the end, in lieu of an eraser. The idea is that when the pencil gets small enough, you plant the end. That's some motivation to keep writing, isn't it? Much like the allure of an empty ink converter: things were written and accomplished, and now it's time for a new color. Or in this case, some mint to keep my basil at home company.



I helped them take this photo for Instagram. I guess that photography minor in college and the tricks I picked up taking endless photos of diners in a dark restaurant were good for something.



Brian and I didn't realize until the day after that our visit coincided with our halfaversary. (We have "been official" partners for six months, but penpals for longer.) What a perfect way to commemorate our nerdiness. As if we didn't already have a fountain pen problem...





CW Pencil Enterprise is located at 100a Forsyth Street / New York, NY 10002. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm; Sunday, 12pm-7pm; Closed Monday. You can also order online at cwpencils.com.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How do I Start Penpalling?

How do I get started with penpalling? Where do I find penpals? Many people are overwhelmed by beautiful mail on Instagram, or have no idea how to find people to write to, or think that their letters aren't good enough to share with the world.



It's okay; you're good enough. I promise.

Remember how you used to pass notes in class? (Some of us used to, anyway.) What did you use to do that? Likely it wasn't anything substantial:  a piece of notebook paper and a ballpoint pen (and some fancy folding that you spent hours practicing). You also needed something to say, someone to say it to, and enough sneakiness that you could have it reach its destination without any problem.

If you have the skills of a 12 year old note-passer, you're in luck: you can be a penpal, a letter writer, a correspondent.

Supplies needed:

  • A pen
  • Envelopes
  • Writing paper (notebook, printer paper, magazine pages... anything will do)
  • Domestic and international postage (if you are in the US, some Forever stamps and some Forever international stamps will do just fine)
  • Time to write
  • People to write to, and their addresses
  • Optional:
    • Postcards
    • Postcard stamps
    • Stickers
    • A cup of tea (or, um, sangria)


Once you've gathered your physical supplies, you just need people to write to. You can try writing to friends you already have, maybe someone you love who has moved to a different city or country or neighborhood. Perhaps someone who lives down the street. Get on your social media to see who would be interested in corresponding with you. The caveat in writing to people who don't normally write letters is that you might never hear back from them. You might be surprised enough to receive a response, but likely they will tell you they are too busy to write letters, or don't have any stamps, or [insert excuse here].

Fear not. There are lots of letter writers out there. It's not a dying art, like some harbingers of doom have posited. You just need to Find Your People. Here are some ways to do it!


SENDSOMETHING - FREE
http://sendsomething.net
Sendsomething is a database of member profiles. It's free to sign up. You can indicate your interests, what kind of penpal or mail enthusiast you are, and what you're looking for in a penpal (a long term correspondent? a postcard pal? a person to share book reviews / troll dolls / poetry with?). I've struck up postcard friendships with older Canadian men who love old postage, a guy who sends me postcards from his world travels (they usually involve cursing or vice of some variety), People Who Live in California, People Who Live on Long Island...

LETTER WRITERS ALLIANCE - $5 USD, one-time membership fee
http://letterwriters.org
The Letter Writers Alliance "is a member based organization dedicated to keeping the art of letter writing alive." They have a penpal matching service where you send in a form indicating your interest, and then someone's address is sent to you, and your address is sent to someone. This gets you two new penpals, and you can do this as many times as you desire. There are members-only printables and a really neat blog that covers philately goings-on.

INTERNATIONAL GEEK GIRLS PEN PAL CLUB - FREE
http://geekgirlpenpals.com/
A very active community targeted towards self-identified geeks. Fandoms and nerdiness galore! IGGPPC also has a penpal matching service that runs monthly, forums where members organize swaps, and other fun community-oriented online spaces.

and of course, since you're reading this blog, I would be remiss to not mention...

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY PENPALS - $6 USD/mo or $36/yr; other options available
http://www.extraordinarypenpals.com/
Joining LEP gets you access to over 600 letter-writing enthusiasts. Looking for someone who is also interested in crocheting Disney amigurumi? A fellow Ravenclaw? Someone who loves typewriters and fountain pens? Chances are you'll find a kindred spirit or ten through LEP. The most active space within LEP is the Facebook group, but you don't have to be on Facebook to be a member. There is a monthly newsletter with swaps, articles, and interviews.

Once you have your people, write! Not sure what to write about? Uncustomary has a great list of 50 things to tell your penpal. Send along bits from your day: ticket stubs, sketches, post-it notes, leaves.

Then, a very important thing: address the envelope, place the proper postage on it, and drop it in a mailbox.

The main thing to remember about letter writing is To Get a Letter, Send a Letter. Don't expect anything if you're not willing to put effort into writing to someone else first. Better yet, free yourself from expectation and just send random acts of kindness to brighten up someone's day. Soon you'll have more letters to reply to than you know what to do with.

Have fun with your newfound friends!

Special thanks to Christine D. for inspiring this post.
Yes, you can follow me on Instagram to tag along on my mail / cocker spaniel / carousel adventures.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dear Fancypants: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please

Welcome to Dear Fancypants, a monthly advice column on penpals and other philatelic things that runs the first week of the month. To submit a question, contact cpt.fancypants@kimmiedearest.com.

Dear Fancypants,

Let's face facts: LEPeeps are just more awesome than most people. I'm sure part of it is to do with having "found my tribe", but I don't think that's all. I keep wondering why intimacy seems to spring up so much more easily in my penfriendships than in my other friendships. Is it because 'real' subjects are so much easier to discuss in writing? Is it because I am meeting people within the context of a community, rather than in isolation like elsewhere in life? Do I look for different kinds of 'proof' of meaningful relationships in person? Am I missing stuff in one or the other kinds of relationships, or both?

What I do know is, I wish my day-to-day looked more like LEPland, and I know I'm not the only one. And, of course I wish that people around me were kinder, more truthful, more generous, more dependable, and more thoughtful to me, but I can't change them. However, I can change myself, and I'm just as interested in bringing the spirit of LEP out into the world. So - how can I learn to treat my friends like my penfriends? And how can I find that LEP-style connection in person?

Yours, with postage paid,
Worst Pun Girl x





Dear Worst Pun Girl,

“Friendship,” while a great word and often a great experience, doesn’t quite capture the nuances and emotional attachments and spectrum that non-sexual relationships (or even sexual relationships) take. It’s a word that is used to describe both accord between nations and the bond I have with my long-distance sweetheart whose private bits I sometimes (consensually) touch when we are together. There’s no one true way to be a good friend, but you can be a good person. You’re thinking about the quality of the relationships you surround yourself with, so you’re on the right path.

If you want the people around you to be kinder, more truthful, more generous, more dependable, and more thoughtful to you, be that to them. Set that standard. And then, the important next step: determine your boundaries. If the people you have chosen to be your intimates don’t hold a mutually agreeable standard in return, be okay with letting go and creating space for new friendships to blossom, or letting the nature and expectation of those friendships change. Not everyone is in your world to be An Amazing Dependable Friend Under Any And All Circumstances. Sometimes a friendship will be fleeting, and that’s okay. Sometimes you’ll play the long game, with varying degrees of contact and spurts of BFF-ness, and that’s okay too.

Now to get to the heart of your question, which was “How can I learn to treat my friends like my penfriends? And how can I find that LEP-style connection in person?” You are gaining a higher level of intimacy in your pen friendships because you are more intimate with your pen friends than your non-pen friends. Maybe you are less embarrassed; the delay created by writing / mailing / traveling / delivery gives you space and courage to be vulnerable because there isn’t an immediate reaction to your presentation of self. Thus, your pen friends receive the details of your daily life, of moments not shared of social media, of the inner workings of your brain. You’re in the mood to communicate when you write a letter, as opposed to being beholden to a birthday party or a pub lunch on a day where you really just want to hide in bed. It’s exhausting just to get dressed and get out of the house, and when you’re already tired, you don’t have as much energy and receptiveness to build relationships.

Examine why building relationships via writing letters works for you, and apply those lessons to your non-letter friends. Is it the can-do-anywhere / pick up where you left off aspect of letter writing? Perhaps you can jot down a list of friends that would be up for last-minute no pressure hangouts when the mood strikes you. Surely they’ll be flattered to even be asked, even if they decline. Is letter writing what you prioritize when you have a free spot in your schedule? Set aside some time in your letter reply pile to write a notecard to a friend, even if you saw them last week or haven’t seen them in years. Be the same sort of intimate to your non-letter friends as you are with the pen friends you haven’t met in person yet. Practice being vulnerable to the people you know in person. Open those doors; tear down those walls. What's the worst that could happen? Is it really that bad?

Also consider that your ‘pen friends’ *are* your friends, even if you have yet to meet. It doesn’t make the relationship any less meaningful or valid simply because an in-person meeting hasn’t occurred. Pen friends are probably less of strangers to you than some of the friends you don’t exchange letters with.

And as always, be brave and be honest.

Yours,
Captain Fancypants