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!
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.
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!
9. Quick-tempered – that is probably my worst quality, but nobody is perfect.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 email@example.com and I’m on Interpals, so please do not hesitate to write me!
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.