Another week is starting, so to make your Monday more bearable, here’s a Penpal of the Week interview.
Please tell us about you!
Name: Sonnia Jean Kemmer
Age: turning 43 on November 15th
Location: Residence is in East Bay, CA; Work is in San Jose, CA
Occupation: Construction Coordinator
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SonniaJeanKemmer
Me and Lizzy the Ladybug Amigurumi – I love ladybugs,
and I collect anything that captures my eyes.
Family: (1) husband named Alan or Shaggy (his band nickname), (2) one 18yo son named Daryl, (3) two stepkids: one 14yo boy named Michael, and one 11yo girl named Catalina.
Interests/other info: long walks, photography, music (plays a bari saxophone, an alto saxophone, and keyboards), listens to Sirius XM radio, addicted to Netflix, an avid reader of paranormal/sci-fi/mystery books/films/TV shows, a published author, an aspiring novelist (presently finishing two novels), and an ESTJ when it comes to Meyers-Briggs Personality.
Me and my husband, Shaggy, during a Luau.
I’m a Type 2 Diabetic, and I decided to eliminate carbs and sugar in my diet. However, when I accidentally eat fast food, even though I don’t eat the obvious carbs, I get flare ups with the sugar. That’s why I try to cook my own food nowadays.
I’m also a plannerholic. I jot down everything, because my memory is bad. HeHe. I get to decorate my planners, and I get a bit OCD organizing my calendar and stuff.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Loving, Thoughtful, Caring, Patient, Honest, Compassionate, Emotional, Resourceful, Hopeful, Funny
I made my South Park version of myself. I’ve always wanted to
have a pet cat, so I included one. I also love photography.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I started penpaling in 1989. I was in first year college back in the Philippines. There were not much computers around at that time, and snail mailing thrived. One of my female neighbors introduced me to IPF (International Penfriends Club of Dublin Ireland). She gave me a membership application and explained to me how to send payment using IRCs (International Reply Coupons). I succeeded in applying and received my penpal list several weeks later. There were 14 names and addresses. I wrote them all. I got a lot of penpals ever since. After four years in college, I had to stop penpaling because life became difficult. I only reinstated my membership with IPF last February 2013, and I received new penpals. The first penpals I wrote to have disappeared. I tried searching for them online (Facebook), but only found a couple of them. Not everybody replied from the new IPF penpal list, so I searched Google for new penpal groups. That’s when I found LEP. It’s been great ever since!
This is my Ink Lady LEP photo drawn by Beth Sobel.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have 32 LEP penpals and 38 non-LEP penpals. Different countries and U.S. states.
For the international ones: There’s one from Sri Lanka whom I exchange used stamps with. He doesn’t write me often, though. Then I have a few from Australia, one in Indonesia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, several in UK and Germany, one in Northern Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, several in Canada.
For U.S. states: Puerto Rico, Michigan, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, Missouri, Maine, California, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, Alaska (I think, I need to consult my planner. Can’t remember them all. hahaha). I love to get postcards, that’s why.
I’m a plannerholic.
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
Work, Vacations, Kids, Food, Events, Books, Movies, Music, Friendships, Collections, Frenemies, Issues, Science and Aliens, The World
What are you looking for in a penpal?
I love to read long letters, but I know that not everybody writes long letters. I look for honest penpals who know how to converse through paper. There are some who just talk about themselves without even asking how I’m doing. I mean, I’m not their diary. Although, I do write like I’m writing on a diary, but I converse with my diaries. LOL. I consider my diary a friend. Of course, I consider penpals better than a diary.
One of the pages of my planners.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
Handwritten letters are becoming a lost art. Writing legibly is actually becoming a lost skill. I don’t want it to totally disappear. I don’t want to rely on typing communications, or texting messages. The slow flow of thoughts while writing letters by hand makes a big difference in communication. Penpaling enables me to practice my handwriting and experience a certain serenity through it.
In what language(s) do you correspond?
English. But I’m also fluent in Tagalog (Filipino language) if ever there is someone who would like to engage in it.
Sample of my handwriting.
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I normally write using my mechanical pencil that is a 0.9mm with a 2B graphite lead refill. I don’t answer letters as soon as I receive them, because I have a pile going on. In good days, my pile is either 10+ or 20+ in count. In bad days, I tend to be under a writing rut, so it goes to 30+, or worst 40+. The length of my letters are normally over 2 half 8×11 pages. I’ve written 18 half-pages before. All by hand.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
Unfortunately, there was one weird incident which made me discontinue correspondence with one penpal (non-LEP). She was from Letternet (which is now a defunct website). She typed her letter which I didn’t mind, but she sarcastically told me that she’s unable to read my handwriting. I mean, there’s a proper way of telling me that. I didn’t like her tone. I would have let it pass if it was only that, but she also stated a lot of things that didn’t click with me. In simple words, we didn’t match when it comes to personalities, and I couldn’t tolerate writing to someone who made me feel uncomfortable. Example of her being different: She hates cats/dogs. Sorry, but I’m a pet lover, even though I don’t have a pet right now. I consider pet haters part of the criminal system. LOL (Sorry, if I offended anyone by that. I was being funny. If it’s not funny, please forgive me. I have a weird sense of humor that I only understand sometimes.)
LEP Bay Area first Meetup photo 1.
Have you met any of your penpals?
I have met three penpals when I was in the Philippines around 1992. One from Japan, one from Italy, and one from Canada. All male penpals. I’m still in contact with the one from Canada. He and I went out while he visited to meet me, and it was all platonic for me, but not for him. I think I broke his heart then when I turned him down. Luckily, I connected with him again and found out that he is happily married. The other two I’ve lost contact with. I wish I could reconnect with my past penpals. I just couldn’t recall their names. I’m so forgetful!
Recently, I met three LEP members, and two of them are my penpals, Kari R. and Jenn VB. We had lunch, talked about our lives, and walked around to shop/windowshop. It was so fun! We will have another Meetup in November, which I’m so looking forward to.
LEP Bay Area first Meetup photo 2.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
I’m “inactively” looking, meaning I don’t send out intros anymore. However, when I receive an intro from a new penpal, I don’t reject it. I do write back. Everybody just needs to understand that I don’t reply at once. The only guarantee I could say is that I do write back. I give ample time for each letter, or I do read the received letters and answer them as I go through it. Everybody is welcome to write me. I give quality time for each letter. The reason why I do this is my belief that I should never turn away an opportunity. However, I do remember that not every opportunity fits, too. The important thing is to be open-minded, see if it works out, and if it doesn’t, then I can say that I tried. No harm in trying.
Thank you Sonnia!
If you’re reading this and are passionate about letter writing, please get in touch with me – I’d love to interview you too!