It’s late, but I couldn’t go to bed without posting a penpal interview. Here you go!
Please tell us about you!
My full name is Mildred Viola Marina Taylor, but since I’ve always thought that Mildred was an old lady’s name, I prefer Millie. (That doesn’t mean I won’t answer to just about anything else, really. Most often, I’m called, “Mrs Rachel’s Mom” or “Bob’s Wife” or “Balloon Lady.”) I’m 35, but I’ve been told that I don’t look my age (woohoo). I’m an Alaska Native and I live in Anchorage, AK. I lived in the tiny village of Perryville, AK until I was six, when we moved up to Anchorage to be closer to my ailing grandmother. I’ve lived here my entire life and have only been out of the state four times – twice to Pennsylvania, once to Arizona, and most recently to Texas.
I’ve been with my husband Bobby for twenty years and we’ve been married for 17 of those. He’s probably one of my best friends ever. Rachel came along in 2005 and is nearly as tall as I am! She’s a handful at times, but I couldn’t imagine life without her. We live in a tiny house on the east side of Anchorage with three cats, a dog, a fish, and a LOT of books!
After working in banking for nearly ten years and having a *ahem* difference of opinion with a supervisor, I went from job to job until I found one of my dream jobs: balloon twister! Yes, I make balloon animals and paint faces for a living! How cool is that? I also work as a personal care assistant for my mom, who has cancer. (This means that I do everything I was doing before, but I get paid for it!) My third job (and most exciting so far) is that I am an Independent Chocolatier for Dove Chocolate Discoveries. I get to share my love of chocolate with other people!
When I’m not working or just being a mom, I like to crochet, write letters (obviously), read (I have a weakness for Archie comics and books in general) and watch Star Trek or 80′s movies. To quote Gilbert Lowell: “I’m a nerd, and uh, I’m pretty proud of it.”
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Dang, this was a hard one! Introverted, silly, caring, smart, goal-oriented, honest, determined, hands-on, friendly, crafty.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I started penpalling back in elementary school (third or fourth grade, I think) and I remember that my first penpal’s name was Michelle and she was from Texas. Where in Texas, I don’t remember, unfortunately. We lost touch after a short time of writing to each other. After that, I would write to my cousin Stephanie, who lived on the other side of town, Bobby when he was away at school, and my friend Matthew, who moved away for college. Most recently, it’s been about three years.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I’m not sure exactly how many penpals I’ve got right now, simply because I was so excited to get back into writing letters, I couldn’t really say no to anyone. I think at last count, my reply pile was about 30 letters? I’ve got pals in the Lower 48, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, Canada… I’m sure I’m forgetting some places, too. They’re an amazing group of people, for sure! I feel closer to them than many of my “real life” friends. Though I’ve only really met one, I’ve talked to some others online and have had quite a few laughs and good times with them. It’s like we’re all in the same room, just laughing and having fun. They’ve been there through hard times, listened to my rants, and sent hugs when I’ve been at my lowest. I wouldn’t give them up for all of the tea in the world! (And those that know me, know how much I LOVE my tea!)
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
Hm… I like to talk about music, daily life, books (of course), kids, tea, dreams… basically anything that sparks some thinking and laughs. :) I’m not averse to talking about serious subjects either.
What are you looking for in a penpal?
Someone who is open-minded, not afraid to talk about serious subjects, yet not dour all of the time. I like someone who isn’t plastic and will just be happy to send a note to say hello or tell me about their lives. I love the letters that talk about what their kids (human and animal) were doing that day, what a snot their significant other was or what they did to make them smile, what tea they were drinking (or beer). I want someone who acts like they’re right there in front of you having a conversation and not writing a report.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
I think what I like most about penpalling is that I can “meet” new people from all over the world. As someone who has always been quite shy, I don’t make friends that easily. Having penpals makes it easier for me to come out of my shell without the fear of stumbling over my words and making an (ahem) out of myself.
In what language(s) do you correspond?
Just English for now, but eventually I hope to get better at Russian (which I took in high school) and Alutiiq, which is my native language.
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I love to type my letters on my typewriters. I’ve got two that are older, but still functional. Usually, I’m at my kitchen table with my letters, stickers, washi, and pens. I always sign my letters and not type out my name. :) I also LOVE to write letters on long trips, like car trips or planes. During our short summers, I’ll take my letters to the lake and write while Rachel plays in the water. I love long letters and have been known to take a week to respond. Short letters are fine, too. Those give me an excuse to buy more notecards. ;) I won’t go into how long it takes me to respond because right now, I’m horribly behind. (Oops).
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
There was one really strange woman from Italy that asked for a LOT of personal information in her typed form letter. She asked me for pictures, phone numbers, and also to send her back the stamps from her letters so she could reuse them! Apparently, she’s been making the rounds with the same form letter for years! I also had one that also sent a form letter because she didn’t know if people would write back and didn’t want to waste time writing to each one personally. She also sent a bunch of sales stuff in her letter. Now, I’ll stick a business card in my letter, but that’s mostly as an afterthought – not as a demand. Some people are just nuts.
One of my favorite things I’ve gotten in the mail was the pigeon from Meredith. Taking a note from the Letter Writer’s Alliance (where we “met”) and their pigeon post, she sent me a plastic pigeon, Wing Commander Reginald Picklespooner. He is currently awaiting his next mission back to Nevada.
Have you met any of your penpals?
I’ve only met one so far – Jennifer from Texas. She and her hubby Dennis were kind enough to drive from Austin to San Antonio while we were there and take us to the San Antonio Zoo and 5 Guys for lunch! They’re really fun people and Bobby, Rachel, and I had a great time! I was actually able to deliver my letter to her in person. Rachel keeps asking when we’re going to go and visit them again.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Not actively, but every so often, there appears a person that you just go “Oh my gosh, I HAVE to write to them!” I’m also open to the random note or intro letter. You can never really have too many penpals, I think. Even if you only write once or twice a year, there is always something about that person that makes you want to stay in touch. Feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com if you’re interested!
Thank you Millie.
Now who would like to be Penpal of the Week #144? Email me!