Archive for Penpal Interviews

August 25th, 2014

Penpal of the Week #144


Today I want you all to meet one of our LEP members…


Please tell us about you!

I’m Kate, short for Kathleen, and I’m a 27-year-old stay-at-home-mom from a small little town in Michigan (US). When I’m not taking care of my family or their messes I enjoy writing, and have long before I ever obtained my 3.5-year-old son, Logan, and even my 30-year-old husband, Gabe. My mom probably has some horrific writing samples filed away, but instead I shall provide you with my own portfolio — my pen pal-friendly blog! Sincerely Kate


Kate 1

This is me.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Quiet yet thoughtful, creative yet hesitant, curious yet understanding… I guess I’m pretty introverted — I’d rather write to someone than hang out in the flesh, but that’s more than 10 words.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

Although I wrote my paternal grandmother for as long as I can remember prior to her passing, it wasn’t until August of 2005 that I started writing to others. I graduated from high school that spring with no immediate plans to go to college and I found that I really missed writing. One day as I was getting the mail it hit me…


I found Missie via MySpace soon after. She’s just a bit younger than I am and we both had/have a somewhat twisted sense of humor, probably thanks to all the Tim Burton movies we both enjoy immensely. We bonded very quickly. Not only did I start sending her novelty socks for every major holiday, but she sent letters to the little girls I was watching at the time and asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. We actually have seen each other in person four times, though it’s been over 5 years since I’ve seen her last — life happens.


Kate 2

Me and my first pen pal.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

For the most part my pen pals are all from the US since a) it costs significantly less than international mail and b) the turn around is much quicker (usually), but I have made a few exceptions like my International Geek Girl Pen Pal from Canada and some students from Taiwan who expressed an interest to my mother (she teaches over there). Regardless of origins, I have right around 20 pen pals, though I’ve made a few occasional exceptions with fellow members of the LEP :-D


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

In the LEP we’re asked for our superhero name and mine is Wonder Katerz. The reason for the name, besides someone I know once telling me I was the Wonder Woman to her Super Girl, is because I strive on asking questions, both personal and thought provoking. Some examples of the latter:


1) If you could have 50 pounds of anything, besides money, what would it be and why?

2) If your life was a movie, what would it be called, who would play you, and what three songs would be on the soundtrack?


What are you looking for in a penpal?

Well, I’m not currently looking for any, but here are the qualities I like the best about mine!


I like people who take the time to answer all the questions I ask — when people say “I don’t know” or something of the sort I’m immediately put off. There’s no right or wrong answer in my mind so I’d rather you just try.


I love hearing from my pen pals pretty often, though I don’t expect to. I have encountered several people that go so long without writing that by the time I hear from them I have forgotten everything we’ve talked about before. I do have one pen pal I probably hear from quarterly, but she makes sure those babies are worth their wait. She fills me in on everything that she’s been up to and makes me feel like even though she doesn’t write me all that regularly, I’m still thought of constantly.


Kate 3

The Familia Ruiz, 2012, courtesy of a former pen pal.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

Not only is it more convenient for me to respond to letters than hang out thanks to my little guy, it’s more comfortable for me too. I feel like I express myself so much better via paper than I do out loud, and it’s because of that I’ve been able to connect with so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I wasn’t kidding when I said I lived in a small town, so pen palling gives me the opportunity to socialize with people close to my age I have things in common with rather than people who are only geographically desirable.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

Just English. I know a few Spanish phrases but not enough to build a letter off of.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I respond to letters within a day or two of receiving them 98% of the time, and I will usually do so on color-coordinated stationery. If the paper I used for the previous letter has a lot of greens in it, for example, the next letter will also have some green(s) in it.


I almost always write from the left side of the couch, and my letters are in black ink even more often. The length of my letters depends on the pen pal it’s going to. I have a weekly responder who gets pretty short letters, but those I hear from once a month or so usually get at least 4 pages out of me.


Kate 4

My latest entry in my idea journal. The journal mainly revolves around my own blog entries, and this one is no exception. It’s a bit of a spoiler so feel special :-D


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I used to put my address in those little friendship books some pen pals enclose with their letters and some man from Germany found my information in one of them and sent me a poem. I was pretty creeped out and rarely add my address to those things anymore.


Have you met any of your penpals?

In addition to meeting Missie, a fellow Michigan pen pal of mine has been our go-to photographer since our 2010 wedding.


On the 31st of this month I will be meeting Othella while she’s up from Oklahoma and on the following day we’re going to be co-hosting a meet up for the Michigan members in the LEP along with Amethyst. I may only write to Kyleigh out of that group, but I’m excited to meet them all.


Kate 5

Squirrels I made to scurry from one League member to another.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

No. When I first got into pen palling I wanted a pen pal from every state, but I quickly realized that I’d rather have quantity over quality. While it would be amazing to have a mailbox on the brink of exploding because there are so many letters inside, I ultimately think that would just give me anxiety because I wouldn’t be able to respond to people as quickly as I’d like to. My 20 is what I’m comfortable with.


Thank you Kate! Have fun with all those wonderful LEP members next week!


If anyone who’s reading this would like to be interviewed just like Kate and talk to us about your own penpalling experiences, please get in touch with me!

August 18th, 2014

Penpal of the Week #143


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!


Millie 1


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!


Millie 2


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.


Millie 3


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.


Millie 4


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!)


Millie 5


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.


Millie 6


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.


Millie 7


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.


Millie 8


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.


Millie 9


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).


Millie 10


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.


Millie 11


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.


Millie 12


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 if you’re interested!


Millie 13


Thank you Millie.


Now who would like to be Penpal of the Week #144? Email me!


My name is Julie and I'm 34.
I live in Québec (close to Montréal) and I speak French.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of cats and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my girlfriend,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after amongst
piles of cats and stationery.

Denise will blog here
from time to time and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 38 years old,
from the United States,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

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