Hello! Do you remember Emily in the USA who sent a penpal ad + her top 10 quirks last October? She’s Penpal of the Week today!
Please tell us about you!
My name is Emily and people actually call me a lot of things — Em, Amihan, Emmy, Squeaky (it has nothing to do with my voice, I assure you), Emzi. I’m 19 and usually don’t get too excited about my birthday. The best thing about it though is that it’s the same day the Titanic sank which is fun (it’s a weird word to use when talking about a disaster, I know) for me since I’ve loved the history behind the ship since I was little. So on April 14th every year for the past three years I’ve been watching the James Cameron movie starting at around 11:30 PM and by the time the ship sinks on screen it’s just about 2:20 AM (happy birthday to me since I was born on the 15th) which is the same time the ship sank historically in 1912~! Last year, I was able to carry out this tradition in the theater with the movie in 3D. It was a celebration of 100th anniversary of Titanic and my 18th birthday. All at once! I actually really enjoy the early 1900s in general and disasters that took place in that time are also morbidly fascinating to me.
Ah ha, I’ve rambled a little haven’t I? Anyway, I live in the flat flat state of Ohio in between three cornfields and a county road. I don’t particularly like it all the time, but there are times when it’s really nice. Although living 20 minutes from anywhere can be tiresome when paying for gas. I have a family of ten people! Four brothers and three sisters. It may seem like a lot, but I’ve gotten used to it and it doesn’t seem that way to me anymore. I was homeschooled until I graduated high school and now I’m studying Japanese and hope to be an English teacher in Japan one day. With that goal in mind, school will be bearable over the next four years. Speaking of Japan, I do enjoy anime and manga, but please don’t think that’s why I’ve chosen to learn Japanese or to one day live there! I’ve always loved Asian cultures, long before I discovered manga. And yes, I do cosplay and attend anime conventions a few times a year.
I don’t have any pets of my own at the moment, but I used to have two adorable rats named Yuki and Smee. They were the best cuddle buddies in the world and the friendliest creatures you could ever meet. Unfortunately, they died Christmas 2012. I came home from the family Christmas party to find Yuki a little too still in his cage. Smee passed away during the night; I think he died of a broken heart since they meant so much to eachother. Someday when I have my own place I plan on having a rat cage palace with five or six ratties inside; they really make for the best pets! Back when mine were still alive, I’d take them outside on nice days and they’d run around and hop (yes, literally hop) through the grass. I liked to lay out on a sheet with them and they’d stretch out on my stomach and sun bathe. It was absolutely wonderful. I miss having such amazing pets.
My rats, Yuki and Smee. Yuki is the darker rat and
Smee is the lighter colored rat. I still miss them very much.
I do have a blogspot although I’m more active on Tumblr. Blogspot gets most of my attention when it comes to my personal life and penpalling, and Tumblr is where I let my fandom heart fly. I’m really random on Tumblr and if you want to look at it go ahead, but I’m not sure how interesting it will be.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Hmm… Ten words to describe me… I might use some phrases too, if that’s all right!
Fruits Basketer, creative, barefoot, flutist, obsessed, penpal (well, duh), knitter, curious, patient, lazy.
Note: “Fruits Basketer” is a term I use for anyone in love with the series “Fruits Basket” by Natsuki Takaya. I am in complete awe of this manga and it is my absolute favorite. I could ramble and talk about it for ages, but I’m sure you’d all rather I didn’t in this interview. Another term I’ve heard for us Fruits Basket fans is “Fruits Basket case”. It makes me giggle!
A snake I found two summers ago!
I love all animals and have little to no fear of them unless warranted.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I had penpalled a bit when I was younger. My mom had signed us up onto some kind of penpal forum for homeschooled kids. I had one penpal named Shelby that I wrote with for nearly five years starting when I was around ten. She stopped writing back after a while, which was a little sad, especially since I had sent a literal message in a bottle through the mail and never heard back after that. I’m still not sure why. I really wonder what she’s up to sometimes, and whether or not she liked the message in a bottle. I remember the post office worker really giving me a strange look when he weighed the glitter/gift/letter filled plastic bottle. I think he rather enjoyed it though and found it a little funny.
My first two penpals since entering the penpal community were Stephanie D. in Scotland and (of all the ironies) another Shelby from the USA! These two absolutely fabulous people really brought me back into the world of handwritten love with a stamp or two. Much love to them in this little shoutout. I know I’ll be talking about Stephanie a little later in one of the questions, so I won’t say too much here, but I’m really glad to have these two amazing people be my first penpals.
I went to see my favorite musical last summer (seeing it again in a few months).
Defying Gravity took my breath away and I cried during For Good.
It was unbelievably beautiful.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have about 9 at the moment. I used to have 20 not too long ago but I wonder if that’s even very accurate since I had simply agreed to write the first letter and never heard back after that. So maybe I have more than 9 and they’re just too caught up in life to answer, who knows. Either way, my mailbox has been a little more empty than usual… But as I adjusted to college, that was probably a good thing since I had to figure out how to make time for hobbies like penpalling. It turns out that penpalling in class works well for me though. At least the letter writing portion of it. My professors just think I’m taking exquisite notes, and it works out well. I can remember things better that way anyway, so it’s a win-win.
My penpals are from Scotland, Finland, Mexico, Belgium, Japan, and the United States. I love writing to people in different countries and cultures than my own; I find it fascinating. It’s really nifty too, because when you’re a penpal with people from other places that are different from your own, you realize in a very real way that people are just the same no matter where you go. And that’s a very comforting thought because no matter where you are or what language is being spoken you can still find people that understand you and are just like you.
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I usually talk about events and sometimes things that I’m feeling. I also like to talk about fandoms, but I always feel like I’ll bore people with that type of conversation so I don’t talk for long. If I had a penpal that loved the same fandom as much as I did, I might feel more comfortable, but I wouldn’t want to be a boring penpal so I try to keep those things shorter.
If the penpal is from another culture, I like talking about culture differences, although I always have trouble pinpointing much about the culture in the USA and I imagine it’s similar for them as well. It’s one of those “you can’t see the forest for the trees” moments because even though you live in a certain culture it’s hard to see anything interesting about it. Even if you know it’s different. Or like Tohru says in Fruits Basket about how you can’t see your own “umeboshi” (what’s special and different about you) because it’s on your back like an onigiri. I’m sorry, that probably made little to no sense to anyone. Switching subjects! (See, I told you I can’t discuss fandoms…)
My sister Lydia and I having fun at one of our cosplay group meetings
and spinning around on a wooden platform at the park.
What are you looking for in a penpal?
Someone to talk to and someone who will write at least two page letters. It’s really disappointing to only receive one small piece of stationary written on one side when you wrote a three or four page letter (I think I average around five pages in my letters) to begin with. I don’t have restrictions on age or location but I do really enjoy having penpals in Japan since that’s my area of study. I like sending small packages every once in a great while, but because of limited money options, I really can’t do it on a regular basis unfortunately. That said, I also love to receive the occasional package (just like anyone else would, I imagine) and it makes my whole week. I don’t mind plain paper or messy handwriting. It’s always the person that counts, not how the letter might look. I do like having pictures of my penpals and usually send some of me in a first letter and ask if they wouldn’t mind sending some of themselves. Of course, not everyone is comfortable with that, but if I have your picture, I can add it to a wall hanging I have in my room reserved for pictures of my penpals.
All that said, none of those things are a must (although the longer letters is a high preference) and I’ll basically penpal with anyone. Just remember that for me, it doesn’t matter so much what it looks like but what it says and the content of the correspondence.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
The surprise you get when you find something personal for you in your mailbox from a friend. It’s the fuzziest feeling in the world to see something with your address handwritten on the front without knowing what waits inside the envelope for you. I love it~! My mail arrives an hour or so after lunch and every day after lunchtime I get excited and hopeful that maybe something will come for me in among all those advertisements and bills. No matter how excited I am, though, it’s always a surprise. When I’m at school and come back the first thing I ask is “What was in the mail today?” I hate Wednesdays because I’m gone for most of the afternoon and don’t know what was in the mail until 10:30 at night. It’s nerve-wracking and wonderful at the same time.
Some mail art I’ve done in the past. Like I said, it’s not much, but I try.
(If anyone recognizes the two people I used as my censoring icon,
you should definitely let me know!)
In what language(s) do you correspond?
English for now. As I said earlier, though, I will be studying Japanese extensively in the next few years and eventually would like to write letters in Japanese one day. If one of my penpals is learning Japanese it would be fun to practice together and when I can finally write my Japanese penpals in Japanese it will certainly be a change and an interesting one at that. Of course, even if I write letters (or parts of letters) in Japanese eventually I won’t mind the letter back being in English. After all, if someone wants to practice English the way I hope to practice Japanese, who am I to say no?
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I always have to warn my penpals that I don’t usually have stationary to write with and have to use plain lined paper most of the time. I try to decorate envelopes but sometimes when I’m busy I don’t have time for much. I do my best though. I take my letters with me to write most times and write them wherever I am: class, family parties, while I’m watching TV, whatever. Envelope making/decorating I do at my kitchen table or up in my room. My handwriting also gets messier as I go. I’ve been trying to remedy this and maybe someday it’ll look the same throughout my letters, but for now it changes as I go along.Other habits I have are writing fairly small on any smaller stationary I use to conserve it since I don’t have much and can’t buy too much of it. I also write on both sides of the paper to conserve it.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
Not especially, but I have been surprised by the contents of some packages. Over Christmas, Stephanie (my Scottish penpal I mentioned earlier) and I exchanged Christmas packages and I completely did not expect what she sent me. Somehow she got her hands on a set of original film cells from the 2006-2009 series, Robin Hood. (It’s my favorite BBC show and Doctor Who is second.) I was in shock all day after receiving it. I took down a family picture in our kitchen to hang it (they came framed) there for the rest of the day until I could get a nail put into my bedroom wall.
The second surprising thing also comes from Stephanie and is a little more recent. I wasn’t expecting a gift of any sort at all, but I came back from school and my brother handed me a small manila envelope from Stephanie. I was curious what she’d sent me, because I wasn’t expecting anything more than a letter. I opened it and the first ting I see slide out is Christopher Eccleston as Nine! In a stamp! And then of course Ten and Eleven followed. (Nine’s my favorite doctor, if anyone was wondering.) She’d sent a book of the limited edition 50th anniversary Doctor Who stamps! I had heard that they were releasing them from my sister, but didn’t even think that I might see them!
I think I turned this section into a “surprising things I have received pertaining to the BBC”. Not sure if this even qualifies as an answer to your question, but that’s what came to mind.
Have you met any of your penpals?
No, but I will next summer! Stephanie will actually be flying over to the USA to visit me for a couple weeks in early June and I’m understandably excited for it. We’re planning her visit around an anime convention that usually happens around that time, and I’m sure that we’re going to have a great time together. I’m hoping we’ll be able to take a trip to Cedar Point as well. Cedar Point is known as “the roller coaster capitol of the world” and I live 45 minutes away, so it would be great to go while she’s here. I usually go twice each year and she should be here right about the time of the first visit. I’m looking forward to it!
I took a trip to Niagara Falls three years ago, and even though the picture’s
a little grainy, you can tell I really enjoyed myself there. (The penguin is a
travelling penguin named Pasha that I knitted myself, and she’s been passed on
to my Marine friend to see much more of the world then I can show her.)
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Yes. I’m not looking for many, but I would like a little more mailbox action since, like I said before, things have a been a little slow and many of the penpals I thought I had have seemingly disappeared. You can shoot me an email at email@example.com if you think we’ll click well together. I mentioned earlier but I’ll say it again anyway: age and location don’t matter at all. I’m generally more comfortable writing to girls, but I guess I wouldn’t mind having a guy penpal if we shared interests!
Thanks Emily! (Nice shoes…)