Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Tell-All Expose on Sushi and the Squirrel

Hey LEP members! Are you on Swap-bot? Then you might want to check out LEP's superhero-themed postcard swap! Deadline for signing up is January 30. Be sure to sign up and get two superhero postcards in your mailbox!

EXPOSED: Sushi and the Squirrel

So, you might be curious as to how two bloggers became Super Sushi and Super Squirrel. (For the record: no, we didn't fall into a vat of radioactive liquid.) For example, you might be interested to learn that Julie and Laura have never spoke on the phone. Not once! But yet, LEP still came together as if conjured out of thin air (again, for the record: it didn't. We're superheroes, not magicians unfortunately). So we thought we'd tell you the story of how LEP came to be, because the origin story of a superhero penpal club should be documented somewhere, don't you think?

However, we're going to tell you the story each from our own perspective. This way, you can see how our styles differ and complement each other. It's also to compare our experiences to see if we remember things the same way. Then, if Laura starts talking about dinosaurs somewhere, Julie can politely mention that Laura suffers from weird dinosaur-related delusions. Also, if Julie starts going on about sushi, Laura can politely mention that Julie remembers things in Sushi Surround Sound.

Everyone ready? Let's go!

The story so far (told from Super Sushi's point of view):

When I was around 9 years old, I had my first penpal. By the time I was 11, writing letters had become my favorite hobby. My early teenage years were spent with a pen in my hand and a dream in my head: someday, I would manage a penpal club. However, the Internet wasn't available in the early 90s and by the end of high school, reality kicked in: I had to go to college, choose a field of studies and eventually get a job.

Fast forward 10 years, when I had just had my son and needed an income to stay home with him. Around that time, I started designing stationery and opened my first online shop. A few years later, my second stationery shop (La Papierre) was born. I even started blogging, interviewing letter writers and posting penpal ads. But it wasn't until a couple of years later, one fateful evening of December, that an idea popped up in my mind: what if I started the penpal club I had always dreamed about? Yes, now I could! But wouldn't it be a lot of work for one single person? Who would be crazy enough to start this project with me?! My dear penpal Laura the Squirrel, of course! And boy did I choose the perfect partner: so far Laura has been doing all the dirty work while I sip cocktails on the beach... (Oh, how I wish that were true!)

No, this partnership has actually been a real collaboration. Though I'm usually one step ahead of Laura, she usually ends up outsmarting me. Working together involves dozens of daily emails (about newsletter templates and facial hair), dream meetings on colorful clouds (ideally accompanied by ketchup chips, sushi and pina coladas, or sometimes massive amounts of tequila, when we've had an especially tough day) and a good dose of telepathy. We are superheroes after all.

Super Squirrel is an amazing friend and business partner, who looks smoking hot in spandex and who isn't afraid to abandon her husband for the League of Extraordinary Penpals several nights a week. She accepts me for who I am and didn't even blink when I confessed that I was really a 54 year old cab driver from Pakistan.

Believe me, Laura is really awesomesauce. We've tried to pick fights, but it's just impossible! She did tell me one time that she loved dinosaurs more than me, but I forgave her. Her only annoying habit is spelling receive with the i before the e, which is starting to mess with my mind because I'm starting to spell it the wrong way as well! But Laura is the meat to my sandwich, she's my Chinese twin (did you know that she was Chinese?!) and without her, there would be no League of Extraordinary Penpals! Working with her has been a total blast and I'm extremely grateful to be able to make my dream come true with her by my side. Thank you, Squirrel!

And now I'll let Laura share her side of the story. As much as I love her though, have I mentioned that she might be a bit of a liar?

The story so far (from Super Squirrel's point of view):

It all started with a Facebook message from Julie. She told me that she wanted to start a penpal club, and asked if I would be interested in being her partner on the project. I originally thought she was joking and responded with a joke of my own. But when Julie convinced me that she was serious about partnering together, we started emailing everyday, throwing ideas back and forth—something that we continue to do even now!

We tossed around a number of different name ideas (Correspondence Club and Snail Mail Squad were two suggestions), but it wasn't until we came up with The League of Extraordinary Penpals that the club really came together. The name is a play on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is also why we decided on a superhero angle for the club.

Julie and I have never met or spoken on the phone. Really! (I did start getting weird prank calls around the time we were planning LEP, but I'm fairly certain that wasn't Julie...). All of the planning for LEP has been done through hundreds and hundreds of emails. Oh, and dream meetings of course...

What are dream meetings you ask? Well, Julie and I agree on a meeting spot in advance—we especially like the rainbow cloud with the purple lining—and we have dynamite, creative meetings while we're sleeping/dreaming. One of us is responsible for bringing the food, the other brings the drinks, and we're both responsible for bringing our fun, creative ideas! Of course, we might not remember everything we discussed when morning comes around (especially if Julie brings margaritas or tequila!), but we wake up refreshed and ready to make LEP the best possible club it can be. Truth be told, a lot of our best ideas come from these dream meetings. Especially when dinosaurs crash the dream meeting and start doing Gangnam style!! You would have to be a zombie not to get inspiration from that.

The scope of the club has grown exponentially from our original idea (it was originally meant to be a one-off resource guide) and that can all be attributed to the awesomeness of the Sushi and Squirrel team. Julie once described our partnership in these words: she is always one step ahead of me, but I always outsmart her in the end. In other words, if we were the mafia rather than a superhero club, Julie would be known as the "Starter" and I'd be the "Finisher." And for the most part, that's how our partnership has worked. It's very collaborative and respectful, and we make every decision together.

I haven't been penpalling for years like Julie, but I am constantly awed by her passion for mail and her dedication to the penpal community. Plus, she never forgets to bring the best foods to dream meetings and doesn't bat an eye when I ask her random questions like "What do you think of moustaches on ladies?" Part of what makes us such a great team is that we're definitely on the same weird wavelength, telepathic abilities aside.

I am so proud of everything we have accomplished with LEP and I am so glad that Julie chose me to be part of it. Recieving (recieve, recieve, recieve) that Facebook message was one of the highlights of my year.

Although LEP does require a lot of work (both Martin and my husband will have to start a "My significant other left me for LEP" support group), it's also been a hell of a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what else happens in 2013. No matter what happens though, I'm just glad that I'm on this journey with a great friend. I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone else. Julie says that I'm the meat to her sandwich (which really means a lot because Julie and I get dead serious about food), but she truly is the wasabi to my sushi. I am so grateful that we are doing this together. Thank you, Sushi, for inviting me to join you on this fantastic ride. It would only be awesomesauce with you as my partner.

We're Alive & Well

We don't blog anymore, but that doesn't mean we aren't active! We've got a Facebook community filled with lots of conversati...