(This was originally posted on my old blog, We’ve Got Paper, on November 2, 2009.)
This week, let’s hear it for Zsuzsanna from Costa Rica, a wonderful person that I met on Twitter! :)
Please tell us about you!
Me, me, me, me! ^_^ That’s actually one of my favorite topics, which is why I write blogs and journals. But then, when it comes to write or talk about me I freeze. Does that happen to everybody? My first reaction usually is to describe myself as you’d describe a suspect to a cop: female, 132 pounds, 5’4, long dark hair… But that’s not the point of this, right? So let me see how can I start.
My boyfriend and I in Krakkow… not like you can see the city…
I love anything that can spark something inside me. I could walk to my job and stop to smell a flower, blow a dandelion, or stop at night whatever I’m doing to watch the moon. I love to read and I love to write. Strangely October and June are my most prolific months, and though I may not write down a line, my soul swells up with so many feelings and ideas and inspiration sometimes it feels like it hurts, like it’s about to make me cry… and that exact point makes me oddly happy, happy for being able to feel so intensely.
Though I’m currently in a relationship that looks much like “the real thing”, and does feel like a “forever thing”, I defend vehemently freedom, independence and the bless of solitude. For years I lived doing exactly what I wanted, not denying myself anything. It wasn’t simple hedonism going on, but fierce independence, individualism and a strong way to claim my image of myself, shaking off the labels others put on you, looking at your actions from outside, ignoring what they mean from the inside.
I’ve been blessed greatly through my life, not only with friends and family, but also through all the interesting encounters I have had through my life. I have bonded so fast with people that had rushed through my life like a shooting star. Someone you meet in a plane, and suddenly it feels like “Before Sunrise”. It’s magic crammed in a flight from Caracas or Bogotá to Paris, sharing jokes, meaningless information and deep secrets in the kitchen area, or talking other passengers to exchange their seats so we can seat together, whispering words over the aisle, sharing thoughts over books, life, death and time.
A moment captured in a picture.
We were the best of friends for 24 hours, then disappeared forever.
I’m also something of a “graphomaniac”. I love to write, and so I keep penpals, journals, blogs… you name it. I’ve been on Livejournal until a stalker sent me running away, so now I keep my blog on blogger. You can find my ramblings on http://stormberry.blogspot.com
I’m also a cat person. Though there are a lot of pretty dogs out there, I simply love cats. Have had cats since I was six. My latest cat is a lovely blond cat, Hyperion. Hyppie, or Hyper, as my boyfriend calls him, doesn’t do much except being pretty and getting into trouble. He’s too peaceful and usually gets beaten up by other cats. For a while now I’ve been taking charge of defending the backyard running after other cats screaming and fending a broom. Yeah, I don’t look very smart then.
This is the king of my heart, my cat Hyperion.
And that’s what he does: he looks good. Period.
Well, as a friend reminded me (^_~) some civil information would be useful. My name is Zsuzsanna Campos, that’s a Hungarian first name and a Spanish last name. That’s the root of me (have a middle name and a second last name, which makes my name stand out in length on the lists in pretty much every non-Hispanic country… which I’ve known so far, which are not that many. Five… actually.) Anyway, aside from a name bound to be mispronounced, misspelled, and even get a customer at the bank where I was a teller, to wait in the line until they got to be attended by me, so they could ask me “How do you say that name?”… I’m off track. So, aside from the freak-show name, I’m an economist at a telecommunications’ company. I’m 33 years old, but I always forget my age, so I either round it up or simply say that I was born in 1976. Born Cancer… as in zodiac sign, though some people say that I am a cancer. Yeah, that’s because I’m demanding and I don’t forgive lazy people. You know, work is WORK. You are not paid to warm a chair, but you are paid to work, so do your work. I don’t understand why some people don’t get that.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
The dreaded 10 words. Well, lemme see…
Crazy – Wicked: This is the word that has been used the most to describe me. I don’t mind it much, because it works also as a shield that lets me go my own way. I like finding my own path in life, and that has earned me the title. Be unconventional, seek for different solutions… this is called “crazy” and if it is so, I don’t want to be sane.
Organized – Control Freak: I love to plan things in advance. Sure, love a bit of freedom and random here and there, but I plan out the most important things. This is how I plan a trip through a whole year, even if I’ll do the exact same trip the next year. Haven’t gotten as far as to use Microsoft project to plan my vacations, but I’m close. Really. I don’t have agendas or filofaxes anymore, but I run around with a PDA and keep two calendars in the computer (one home, one at the office) and generally work with five calendars. Why? Well, one is a Rugby calendar, so that has its own function, but other than that, it’s basically so I constantly have present what I have to do. As part of this “organizing rush”, I use loads and loads of post-its and markers.
So, when I said I was “organized”, it was more like “I’m addicted to Post-its”.
Proud – Narcissistic: I am, I really am, and I don’t know if it is the “sickness” talking, but I can’t see anything wrong about it. So I love myself, what’s so bad about it? So I think I’m awesome and I think, really do, that it’s good to be me. I’m proud and I believe people should be proud. Proud of who they are, of what they have achieved, of what they can do. Not the “pride” achieved by diminishing others, because there’s no pride in being better than those who are “worse”, but be proud of what you can do, regardless of the fact that someone can do it better. Just be happy with who you are and love yourself.
Happy – Smiley: I smile a lot. I also consider myself happy because I love those little things in life people let pass by. I don’t need a musical scene to happen in my life to be happy, but I love to live fully those little things like seeing your friends, laugh over a joke and so on. And so, since I’m a happy person, I smile a lot. Hehehe I’ve already laughing wrinkles! I think they are cool.
My favorite mug and my favorite beverage.
Creative – Writer: I love to write. Entries in the blogs or my personal journal, stories, fanfics… you name it. I’m not crafty, and I’m not particularly handy with this kind of things, so I go creative with the pen and paper. Then, it’s odd, but I have this thing about writing either with fountain pens or pencils. I guess it’s due to the sound they do on the paper, scrapping it slightly. I find it comforting. Also love the scent of pencils, specially when they are freshly sharpened. It’s so… organic. Pencils are also one of the few ways I have found to write on black paper, which I love because it’s so unique! But then, a lot of people dislike it when you write them a letter with pencil.
Independent: this one is my most distinctive feature. It’s my ideal and my guide for life. Independence is not having no rules, but learning from the rules established and adapting them for yourself, is living rationally, consciously by your own rules, seeing which will you observe from the society, which will you discard and shoulder up with the consequences. Independence is being free and being responsible.
Pragmatic: I’m not fond of wasting time or wasting anything. Though getting lost in thought is delicious, when it comes to making decisions, I like to be swift, thorough and to-the-matter. I don’t sit and dwell on “what-if” and what could have been. I believe in dealing with what’s in front of us. I won’t push a matter if it is hopeless, but cut my losses as much as I can and get to the matter through another way, or deal with the fact that it’s a lost cause. I rather lose something I wanted than lose that thing AND also my time and effort.
Person – Human (opposed to woman or girlfriend and other labels): I don’t like being regarded as a “woman” or a “girlfriend” or a “girl”. I’m a person. Regardless of my age, my gender, my race, my religion, I’m a person, and this is something I fight a lot for.
A peaceful lunch at the park.
Curious – Inquisitive: I love to do research. It’s okay to do research for the University, for the job, but when you do research for yourself is awesome! From time to time I have these ideas, these… thoughts that make me go looking for something. Antimatter, Logics, Hegel, Egyptology, Medieval Studies, Germanistics, the Human Heart… you name it. This little flame fires up in my head, and I’m stealing minutes from sleep, from lunch, from meeting friends to investigate.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
Ever since I was able to write. Well, no, first my brother and I dictated our letters to my grandparents and my aunt. You see, we are half Hungarian, half Costa Rican, and we live in Costa Rica, so we exchanged letters with my mom’s family in Hungary. First I learned to write my name and then “lots of kisses” in Hungarian. I basically learned to read and write to pen pal!
Later on, in order to help me keep the language, my aunt and grandmother and grandfather found me pen pals, kids they knew through their acquaintances, and got them to write to me. I wrote thus, to some distant relatives and kids from the neighbourhood. My family’s neighbourhood. Had then some penpals in Costa Rica, but those never kept up for long, except when I went to Hungary to study and my Costa Rican friends wrote to me (back in the pre-e-mail times). There I realized that Spanish, or many of my letters to my Costa Rican friends are different from those to anyone else because I tend to go funny. Quixote like.
A fun lunch at the office with the coworkers.
Everybody brought something and we all ate!
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
Now? Oh, well… I’m starting up some penpal friends, so… I have no idea. For sure I have… Well, one for sure, my friend Gyula, in Hungary. We’ve been writing to each other since 1996. He was the best friend of my ex-fiancé. We weren’t close before, though there was something that drawn me to him. If I must be honest, he bedazzled me. We wrote to each other the most beautiful letters ever, and through these letters we came to be so close, now we consider each other as brother and sister. So much his parents see me as another daughter and my parents love him like crazy.
My penpals usually come and go, again, like beautiful shooting stars. I don’t mind them leaving, life happens and people move, that’s the natural way of life, but I keep their letters in a trunk next to my bed. I don’t know how other people feel about it, but I like to re-read old letters, remember what it was like to receive them, answer them.
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
It depends on my penpals. I love to write about ideas, but the topic we delve into depends on what we settle on. Freedom, Independence, Love, Life, Beauty, Purity, Goodness and Evil… Nonsense, gossip, funny things, politics. Sex, also sex. Some people like to write about that too, and I don’t mind it. I’m very open about the subject, and I find it so rewarding when my penpals share with me such intimate things, as long as it is not in a sleezy way. In general, I’m deeply touched and honored when someone opens and shares their thoughts, their ideas and lets me in their soul.
This is the essence of happiness: amazing beauty
in random places nobody cares to look at.
What are you looking for in a penpal?
A unique way of saying things, a creative mind, a strong sense of self, a delicious personality and thought of their own. I don’t like people who think that penpalling is either writing only about what they think and what happens to them, regardless of what you write back, or people who won’t share about themselves as much as they expect you to share about yourself. A letter is a dialogue breaking the barriers of time, ignoring it, but a dialogue in the end. I don’t think you have to necessarily pose questions, but when a topic is posed you should address it, expose your opinion and comment on the opinion of the other person… always in a respectful manner.
I have met people, mostly through the e-mail, who were either interested only in what they had to say, so it made you feel like you were receiving a newsletter, where your reaction was meaningless, and also stalkers who sent you long lists of questions ignoring the times you told them you do not feel comfortable answering some of them, and sending them over and over, making you feel like you are a “cyberthing”, not even a real human, and so they had the right to dissect you and pump out all the info they wanted. From a person, you were degraded to a “character”.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
The style in which you write. The flow of ideas and how people write in a manner so different from the way they talk. I love that sweet, human poetry that happens on the paper.
In what language(s) do you correspond?
Hungarian mostly, but also English and Spanish.
My boyfriend and I in Wien this spring.
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I take a little bit of time, mostly because I tend to write a lot. I love to write on colored paper, but with no lines and usually no designs. I do have some stationary with thin ivy leave designs, but other than that I use plain paper, pink, red or green, though sometimes white as well. I write leaving no margins, so I can pretty much cram 32 to 36 lines into a letter sized page. I write only with black ink, and sometimes I draw here and there, and sometimes I feel like writing with a pencil rather than a pen. I’d love to write letters on black paper, but for long couldn’t find the right pen for it, until recently I discovered that you can write on black paper with pencils. It looks so pretty!
I don’t do colorful writing and I certainly don’t do stickers. Have friends who do so, but I feel so strange putting stickers on my letters, specially because I’d rather use that space with words or a doodle.
There’s one thing I ALWAYS have to have with me: my journal and a pen.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
A friend of mine, whom I met in a summer camp, told me once that he used to laugh so hard reading my letters, that one day his brother snatched the letter from his hands and read it and soon the two of them were rolling on the floor reading, and so since then they read my letters together.
The funny thing was that that happened with a letter where I wasn’t actually trying to be funny… I was just being myself.
Now, an interesting story is the way I met a friend of mine (with whom I have lost touch a while ago now…). When I returned to Costa Rica after being in Hungary for 2 years, I started writing and e-mailing to a cousin of my then fiancé. She used the nick “krixi”. One day I sent her a mail and forgot the “r”. To my surprise “kixi” answered me, and we became friends, and very good, loving friends for a long time.
Have you met any of your penpals?
Well, I know most of my penpals, since I usually first know them and then start writing to them, but yes, I have met some of them, like Melcsi. You know, the first time we met, I went to the village in Hungary were she lived, and I stayed at her home, with her parents, up to that moment, two strangers. They received me with such deep and warm love I was overwhelmed. I can’t forget since then how that first night, she from her bed, and I from her sister’s, in the dark, she whispered: “I’m so happy you are here”. Penpals do grow close and tight, and defy the idea so many people have, that nothing real and strong could grow through the distance.
Our window and our first plant. None of us knew what the name of the plant was.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
As a matter of fact I do. But snail mail only! Sure, I end up e-mailing here and there, but I love snail mail better because it kind of gives you more chances, more time to work your ideas, wrap them in envelopes and send them with love. The instant delivery of e-mails takes so much time and care from words!
Thank you for such an inspiring interview, Zsuzsanna!
* I’m looking for 2 people who would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week in November, so if you’re interested, please let me know!