Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Joys of Snail Mail

Mo doesn't drive; she took lessons in high school, but admittedly had problems differentiating between the accelerator and brake pedals. She has a VCR, but hasn't made the switch to DVDs and probably won't until such time as her little TV/VCR combo gives up the ghost and forces her to buy something new. So when Mo bought a computer a few years back, I was sure that it was a sign of the coming apocalypse.

At my and Brian's recommendation, she bought a used iBook, an old clamshell style (I think it looks like a toilet lid) ones. She bought a printer to go with it. We helped her set up AOL, showed her how to open MS Word and save a document, and which plugs went where. Brian was a better teacher than I was; I had way too much fun teasing Mo about her lack of technical savvy. And I tended to talk to her in the kind of patient yet condescending tone someone would use if dealing with a two year old. To be fair to myself, sometimes Mo acted like a 2 year old while learning computer skills. A fractious, grouchy two year old.

The printer is still in its original box, tucked away in Mo's shed, but she did master the basics of email, Internet use, and MS word. And since we lived in different cities, email was a convenient way of staying in touch. But back when I first moved away from San Diego to Los Angeles, Mo and I wrote a lot of letters. Whenever I went back to Michigan for vacation, I'd write long letters describing all of the food I was eating and the fun of being in a place where the changes of the seasons were marked by falling leaves, thunderstorms, and snow. We both loved buying and sending eclectic cards and postcards - I had a picnic hamper full of them, as well as most of the ones that Mo sent me over the years.

Email changed that for me. I got out of the habit of sending snail mail. The cats peed on the hamper and I had to toss a lot of the cards I'd been saving for just the right person and occasion. Mo and I called one another or exchanged emails. And that was fun too.

I mean, email is a wonderful tool for staying in contact with old friends, as well as developing new relationships. You can find out a lot about someone through daily correspondence, as much (and sometimes more ) as you can getting to know them in the flesh. This is, of course, going by the precept that the person you're corresponding with isn't a crazy stalker, compulsive liar, or one of the many loser men trolling the likes of Yahoo personals, trying to get laid. But psychos and jerks aside, the written word is a powerful tool for developing and maintaining relationships. When you only see someone once a month or so, email conversations save you the the necessity of having to spend those rare occasions playing catch up. But never assume that it becomes less potent just because you see someone on a daily basis. And also don't make the mistake of thinking that email can ever replace the fun of getting a card or letter in the mail.

Recently Mo's email access became sketchy (she's on a dial-up modem with AOL, so what else can you expect?) and our schedules made catching each other on the phone nearly impossible. So we've reinstated snail mail. I've been buying cards again, printing out copies of postings on my blog for her to read, sending her bad writing samples, keeping her up to date on my life in San Francisco. Lots about food and wine, of course. I've been making my own stationary with images found on the 'net. She's been sending me slice of life letters written on Nancy Drew stationary (stationary/envelopes that look like the old Nancy Drew book covers), telling me about the trials and tribulations of being a hot nanny in La Jolla (she's known as the 'nanny with the legs'), her latest home and garden decorating projects...and lots about food and wine, of course.

I find this return to a more traditional method of communication very comforting. A sign that as much as things change, some things remain pleasantly familiar. Like the fact that Mo and I will always refer to each other as 'Dude,' no matter how old we get. And that we'll always be entertained by the minutiae of each other's daily lives.

Especially the parts about food and wine, of course.


  • At 12:10 PM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    Ah, yes ... the ORIGINAL word processor: pen and paper. How quaint!

    There's no spell checker, so you have to use m-w.com (or the ORIGINAL dictionary, called a b-o-o-k).

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    I actually spell more acurately when I'm writing longhand...


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