Archive for Penpal Interviews

April 5th, 2016

Penpal of the Week #182

 

I’d like to share a few elements of my day: I received a postcard today that featured men without pants. I’m planning on watching the Married to the Eiffel Tower documentary with Julie and Thanh-Thuy tonight… in our pajamas. (And if we have extra time, we’ll watch episodes of My Strange Addiction.) I tripped and fell on a curb while taking stationery orders to the post office. One guy chuckled as he was walking by. One girl paused to ask me if I was ok. I was ok. This day is great!

 

It’s also great because I get to share my interview with Eliza!

 

Please tell us about you!

First of all, thank you so much Denise and Julie for the opportunity to be on my favorite blog! I’ve read it since the very beginning: I’ve even read We’ve Got Paper!

 

Hello, world! My name is Eliza and I am a 21-year-old girl from the snowy, faraway Russia. The beautiful planet Earth welcomed my presence on a bright, sunny, colorful day of September 28. I live in a small but incredibly lovely town in the Russian mountains that is surrounded by huge forests, fast rivers and clear lakes, and fields. The nature here is absolutely breathtaking, it is the most beautiful on Earth to me for sure. I have lived in several very big cities in my lifetime, but wouldn’t trade my small town for any of them! I am a self-employed graphic designer and artist-illustrator that has an exceeding passion for all things art! I love to create art, and my goal and dream is to inspire people’s souls and help them see the beauty in everyday life via art and design. I truly and firmly believe that everything indeed has beauty, and it is my dream to help everybody see it, enjoy it, and radiate it!

 

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This is me in my all-time favorite season: autumn! 

 

I live with my amazing best friend Natalia, whom I consider my sister. Our relationship is unique in many ways. We are very close and most of the time, together. Some people have mistaken us for lesbians and although I support the LGBT people in many ways, I laughed it off, because we are not! We are not at all romantically attracted to each other. My mother considers Natalia her second daugher – I always laugh and say that probably even a better one than me, because Natalia is a much more *normal* person and has a lot in common with my mother. We work together, serve together (we both adore to volunteer and do humanitarian work both in Russia and overseas when there is a chance). We are both celibate and childfree by choice. If there is anything I ever ask of my friends and penpals, it is their loyalty and acceptance of my life choices. I am a very accepting person and I will never judge, so it is very crucial to me to be accepted as well.

 

We are also both Christians, but don’t think we are those annoying, nosy, judgmental, force-our-beliefs-down-your-throats stereotypical believers. We love our faith, but will never force anyone! We are not at all religious, we simply love God and love people, regardless of who they are – whether they be white, black, Christian, Atheist, some other religion, gay, straight, whatever.

 

Some of my other interests include reading and writing. I am a huge bookworm, I wish the day had more hours in it just so I could read more! My absolute, all-time favorite books are Les Miserables and The Book Thief. I am always searching for new books, reading something, reviewing something… Books are pretty much my life. I also love to learn languages, although I am not very good at it. I am currently working on mastering my Portuguese, as Brazil is where my heart is calling me! I also speak some very bizarre, unheard of languages, such as Tongan and Samoan. Besides, I also enjoy photography, traveling, singing, baking, shopping (ugh… it is my guilty pleasure indeed), eating out and trying new dishes.

 

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My pastel artworks.

 

Describe your personality in 10 words!

Here you go!

 

1. Loving – that is always number one for me! As I’ve already mentioned, I am a very loving person. To the extent where some people even find it offensive, or weird! I am always there for anybody and everybody, I always want to be of help, my heart is always open.

 

2. Accepting – I will never judge anyone based on anything. I will always accept a person as they are. In fact, I am always a little afraid to be nosy with my questions to someone, because by no means do I want to control or change anyone.

 

3. Artsy – I think it’s pretty obvious. I am dedicated to art, and always strive to make the world a little more beautiful. I do believe that beauty starts on the inside!

 

4. Shy – Some find it hard to believe, but I am pretty shy and quiet, especially in new situations or around new people.

 

5. Caring – I genuinely care about others, not just my family or close friends, but even the people I just met or barely know.

 

6. Kind-hearted – That needs no explanation. I am not perfect. Sometimes I can be really annoying. But I always do my best to put the interest of another person before my own.

 

7. Joyful – I am always positive and happy, or at least most of the time. I have seen very ugly things in my life. My heart has been broken. I have been abused and bullied. But I believe life is beautiful no matter what. I enjoy it, and try to live it to the fullest!

 

8. Thankful

 

9. Quick-tempered – that is probably my worst quality, but nobody is perfect.

 

10. Profound

 

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My little chest of wonders: a box I have made to store my precious letters!

 

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

Snail mail has always been my huge passion! Probably for as long as I can remember… For me, nothing beats the beauty of going above and beyond to create a warm, loving, special letter and then sending it along to a faraway, but much loved friend with many positive and loving thoughts. Or that indescribable feeling of finding a letter that your friend poured their heart into in your mailbox, and then reading it while sipping on a cup of your favorite tea. To me, a letter is a piece of someone’s heart – a beautiful thing. It is rare when we form such close bonds with people we see on a weekly basis, but somehow, letters allow us to do just that with amazing people who live in another part of the planet!

 

Did I mention that Natalia and I actually met through penpalling?

 

I believe that my very first penpal was my boy cousin. We were good friends and only saw each other once a year during the summer. Our mothers exchanged letters and packages all the time, so we decided to start as well! We started writing to each other when neither of us could actually write… so we exchanged doodles, drawings, small presents and such. Our correspondence continued until we were both in about second or third grade.

 

I started looking for actual penpals from overseas when my family first got a computer with internet connection when I was 12. I have always longed to reach out to people who live far away and live a different kind of life than I do. My very first pen pal was Shalindri, a girl my age from Sri Lanka. Our letters normally took from three to four months to arrive, so we often sent small notes and gifts ‘in between’. We got on so well and understood each other perfectly, despite the different lifestyles. I still remember staring at the photograph of her she sent me: she was grinning widely, standing in front of the vast Indian ocean. I remember dreaming of traveling there and meeting her, getting to know her and her family and home of which she wrote so often. We sadly lost touch but recently reconnected on social media. Shalindri said she would love to start our correspondence again later, as she is currently still studying and very busy.

 

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Natalia and I enjoying a fun winter walk outside.

 

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

I currently have about 11 regular pen pals. All of them hold a special place in my heart and mean so much to me. I have some penpals who write very often, and some who have longer answering gaps – and that is fine!

 

First of all, there is Saija from Finland – we have known each other for almost 8 years, since school. We’ve always had so much in common that it indeed felt like we’ve lived parallel lives. Both of us have been exchange students. We’ve always shared not just letters, but snacks, photographs, videos recorded on DVD’s, posters, drawings, everything!

 

My other pen pals that are all important to me in many ways are Lejla from Bosnia, Krisztina from Hungary, Angela from Macedonia, Natali from Brazil and Marta from Poland. All these ladies write incredible letters that I look forward to very much! My penpals are not just some random acquantances that I write to, they are all dear friends!

 

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A precious thing – a friendship album with favorite pictures and

friendship poems and quotes by my Finnish love, Saya.

 

What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Almost everything. I love to talk about interests and hobbies, about families and friends, about where we live and where we travel. I love to discuss my daily life and exciting and mundane things that take place. I adore hearing about their everyday lives, the small things they do and see. I love sharing life’s ups and downs. To me, a penpal is someone that I share my heart and life with. I love to be there for them when they struggle and celebrate their successes with them. I am a long letter lover, so expect chatty responses at all times! There are only two topics I won’t discuss, and these are sex and money issues. Don’t get me wrong, you can write me about these, but to me, sex is an intimate issue I prefer not to discuss, and money… Well, I once had several e-pals who would ask me things like ‘How much do your parents earn? How much do you earn? How come you’re still so young and already travel by yourself, where do you get the money?’, and that made me uncomfortable. I will not ask such things of my penpals, and would like the same courtesy. However, you are always more than welcome to write about these things when you need to vent or express your joy!

 

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Another painting I did – I love small village life and creating paintings that represent it!

 

What are you looking for in a penpal?

I am looking for something very simple yet very complex: a friend. A genuine, long-lasting friend who is as committed as I am. I am not picky when it comes to age (really… I love to write people who are older or younger, I get along with everyone!), nationality, religion, views, gender, whatever. The only criteria that I might have is that I ask my penpals to take our friendship and letter writing seriously, as I do. I am not asking for anything huge, like super long letters sent once a week, but I would like my penpals to also make effort and try to respond regularly. I am not asking for anything that I do not give myself. As I said, all of my penpals hold a special place in my heart and I always do my best to keep in touch often, send interesting and creative letters, and always try to brighten up their day.

 

I also love to hear about the daily lives of my friends. Some people find that boring, but I do not have the same access to the things they do, and love to hear all about that! I also love when people are even slightly creative with their letters by using fun stationery, or decorating their writing paper or envelopes. It won’t take long, but it will certainly make a friend smile.

 

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This is me on a beautiful fall day.

 

What do you like the most about penpalling?

I am tempted to just say: everything! Because really, everything about it is something I love. I love the process of writing and the joy of reading and looking forward to letters. I also adore the thought that somebody took time out of their busy life to just sit down and write a letter to me. With that being said, I would like to let you all know that I have not thrown away a single letter in my life. I keep them all lovingly, even those written by penpals who disappeared without saying a word. These letters still made me happy, and hold a place in my heart.

 

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A couple of my envelopes I have made!

 

In what language(s) do you correspond?

I currently only write in English. I do not have any Russian-speaking penpals and my level of knowing other languages is too lousy for me to correspond in them.

 

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

I am very creative with my letters. In Russia, it is not easy to find cool/fun/cute writing paper, so I usually design my own stationary or decorate my writing papers with unique drawings or paintings or stickers. Other than that, I love to tuck in small gifts or trinkets, such as teas, stickers, postcards, bookmarks, crafts. I do not ask for anything in return, so I do not make it a swap/trade. I just love to surprise my penpals! I usually write back within several days or a week tops when I am too busy with work.

 

Another habit I have is that I love writing first! You don’t hear that often in the penpal world, do you? I’ve gotten penpal requests where a person asked me to write first and in case I declined, they would disappear. I was so disappointed by that that I decided to be different! So I am always happy to start and I never run out of ideas, BUT I do have some conditions. I have to know you better so as to be sure that you will not flake out and will reply! No words can describe how disappointing it is to do your best and create a letter and never hear back from someone. :( However, sometimes I can be too busy and will ask the other person to start out. We are all human. With that being said, if you are writing the first letter to me, you can be 100% sure you will hear from me!

 

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My street on a snowy winter afternoon.

 

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

Oh yes! Since I’ve had my address openly in pretty much every penpal group/website, I once got a, believe it or not, snail mail stalker! It happened several years ago and the other person was from China. I have no idea who they are and if they were really… not completely altogether or just pulling a prank at me. So this person would send me weird notes and creepy pictures of murder and such saying things like ‘I’m following you everywhere’ or ‘I know your friends because I found you on all social media’. I was so weirded out. I was scared to tell my mother because I was still underage back then and feared she would not let me penpal anymore. What I did was write to all the admins of all the penpal sites I was part of, telling them about the experience and adding pictures. I am assuming they found that person (even though there was never their return address or name included, that is why I still find this so childish and cowardly), because I never heard from that Chinese creep ever since.

 

Have you met any of your penpals?

The only penpal I met in real life so far is Natalia. We not only met, but also started living and working together, so yes, penpal connections can sometimes be the strongest ones! I am so thankful I met my best friend and beloved sister through this amazing hobby of letter-writing.

 

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My handwriting sample.

 

Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Oh goodness, YES!! I am always looking for more penpals to write to. If you think we could make a great penpal match, please please let me know! I would accept anyone from any country, of any age! My email address is elizam4jc@yandex.ru and I’m on Interpals, so please do not hesitate to write me!

 

Thanks Eliza!

 

Before I go get ready for my pajama party, I would like to remind you that there are just a few hours left in the 48 hour flash sale! It’s not too late to get your hands on a few of our newer designs that aren’t in the Etsy shop.

 
February 23rd, 2016

Penpal of the Week #181

 

My wife cooked a delicious pasta dinner, I’ve had some wine and now I get to post a new interview here on the blog… a lovely evening. And now I fully intend to make it even lovelier by sharing Marco with you!

 

Please tell us about you!

That’s always a good beginning: My name is Marco Batenburg, almost 51 years of age and residing in a village called Nunspeet, in the province Gelderland, The Netherlands. Google Maps

 

The greater part of my days are usually filled with portrait photography and only a small part with issues about safety in the workplace. So, in the first place I am a portrait photographer and in the second a senior safety officer.

 

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Self-portrait 1 – the one I use as calling card.

 

In May 2013 I managed to get married to the loveliest woman of my universe. I met her in a photography shop, where I worked at the time. She walked in the shop to buy a camera, I looked at her and was completely in love, and she smiled the sweetest smile to me, as if she knew. I think I could fill a whole book with the story of how we met and how we got married. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. Please tell me I need to.

 

My wife is a teacher with Special Kids. Kids who have all sorts of special needs, physical or mental disadvantages or syndromes (you know Down syndrome, Asperger and what not). I like to go to the school whenever I can. Visit, drink coffee. It is such a delight to meet them all.

 

My own family is my little sister who lives in Switzerland with her four brilliant kids. And my own four brilliant kids, who are either married, living somewhere or still living with their mother. The family I married contains of a lovely mother-in-law, seven brothers- and sisters-in-law, who are all married and have loads of kids. So lots and lots of people.

 

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Just us two happy people.

 

Behind our 1930’s house is a garden filled with all kinds of houses for pets. Chicken coops, bird houses, aviaries and a bunny rabbit house. And a variety of plants and huge trees from that same era. My interests seem to be all over the place. Check it out: gardening, pet animals, caravan camping, portrait photography, reading books, drinking coffee, cooking Italian and Indonesian food, drawing and painting illustrations, watercolour painting, copperplate calligraphy, writing letters, writing books, creating and sending postcards to people who have their birthday, or anniversary, or to people who are ill, or who just need to receive snail mail so they know someone is thinking about them. So, a whole heap of things to do and keeping me busy.

 

So anyway, if you want me to write you a letter or make you a nice postcard, or you know someone who needs a postcard saying hi… just let me know. No costs. Just… snail mail. ☺

 

All my details to reach me are as follows:

 

Postal address:

 

Marco Batenburg

Schoolweg 10

8071BC Nunspeet (Gelderland)

the Netherlands

 

Email address:

mba@denbaat.nl

 

My website is currently only in Dutch, so rather troublesome to read for outlanders. And needs to be updated and refilled with nice photographs of beautiful people. ☺

 

Details about my height and weight are not that interesting. I was a redhead but since my early twenties it’s all bald on top and I have a big walrus moustache under my nose.

 

By the way: Fair warning to those who feel the urge, or the need to act like a nincompoop, a dunderhead, numskull or ignoramus regarding my detailed address and only sends inappropriate mail, gets no further warning, but will be viciously attacked by one of my silky chickens. (Not you, dear Denise, nor your lovely Julie – do not fear)

 

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One of our bunnies. ☺

 

Describe your personality in 10 words!

Big cuddly huggable bear with the patience of twenty monks.

 

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

It feels like I have been penpalling all my life. From the early teen days when my cousin and I wrote letters to each other all the time and several friends all over the country I wrote with on and off through the years. There is a significant gap after I got hitched the first time at the end of the nineteen eighties, but since about ten years I picked it up again, and it has become a part of my life. Writing letters, nice writing paper from La Papierre, ink, fountain pens…

 

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

Most of them are in the United States, but there is one in India, several in Europe, Canada and Australia. There’s about twelve of them. Male and female mixed. From librarian to professor and from housewife to medical professional. Brilliant people. A lovely mix of lively people. All with their own sets of troubles, blessings, questions and memories.

 

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The last card I made for a birthday girl.

 

What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Whatever is happening right now? What someone is doing during that day? Little details, something they saw or experienced, something nice or something that raises questions. All sorts of things. Life.

 

What are you looking for in a penpal?

Precisely that. What somebody is doing and would that somebody be willing to write about it in a letter?

 

CaravanShoot

Our little caravan I take with me on big shoots.

 

What do you like the most about penpalling?

Writing. Putting words on paper with a fountain pen. Folding the paper, stick it in an envelope, lick a stamp on it and whack it in the postal box. Snail mail.

 

In what language(s) do you correspond?

The language I was born in, is Dutch. And the most used language whenever I am in my own country. I know German, as in reading and writing. And if I have to, speaking it with an awfully bad accent. I know way too much Swiss-German, which can be heard in the part of Switzerland my little sister lives. I know way too little about Italian. The language. I know a lot about the Italian food. ☺ But the language I love the most by far, is English. I can read a book in English much faster than the same book in Dutch. And my writings are not too bad if I may say so, but there are some grammar issues. I think English is by far the richest language, at times rather complicated, but fun to read and writing in English, like this collection of ramblings about my own person. (I hope I don’t overdo it.)

 

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Example of my handwriting.

 

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

I have a small desk in the only guest room in the house, with a lamp, all my art supplies, pens, papers, envelops and what not within arm’s length. Usually I try to write back within two weeks and a letter can be as long as four A4 sides. Or eight A5 sides of paper. All written with a fountain pen or dip pen, which depends on my mood or the speed a letter needs to be written in.

 

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Self-portrait 2 – made while testing new lights.

 

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

Sorry, no weird, strange, funny or inappropriate requests were penned to me. Not in a long time anyway. ☺ The last snail mail that reached me and made my jaw drop down several feet (cartoon style) was a letter from Lady Pamela of the Jane Austen Alliance. It was wonderfully sealed with string and a gold coloured wax seal. Beautiful. But the letter contained several strange formulated sentences and I couldn’t find out why they were there and build the way they were. When carefully searching the envelope, there was another envelope. A very small one, with the tiniest of letters within. And in that letter was a kind of quiz about the life and works of Jane Austen. The answers on these questions were carefully ‘hidden’ in the main letter. Hence the somewhat strangely formed sentences. Brilliance.

 

Have you met any of your penpals?

No, I haven’t. Well not lately. The only penpal, no, the two penpals I have met are my little sister in Switzerland and my cousin I mentioned earlier. My sister in 2014 when I last saw her and my cousin sadly passed away in his early forties in 2010.

 

Wedding-Special kids

The class my wife was teaching at our wedding.

 

Are you currently looking for more penpals?

There is always room for one more. Be it with animals in our garden (too bad my darling better half won’t allow a dog, cat or birds in the house. I know, right?), or people in and about the house. So the answer is yes. Not actively looking, but snail mail is always welcome in our letter box.

 

Thanks Marco!

 

As I was putting this post together, I thought that Marco is probably a good giver of hugs. I have not been to The Netherlands… but if I ever go, I would like to meet Marco and give him a hug!

 

Virtual hugs to you readers… I’m off to go watch some episodes of Nurse Jackie with my love.

 

Hello!

My name is Julie and I'm 36.
I'm French Canadian and fell
in love with an American,
so I'm now living in Vermont
with my wife.

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 pens and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.


This is me with my wife,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after in the
Stationery Kingdom.

Denise blogs here too and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 40 years old,
from South Dakota,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

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