Monday, July 27, 2015

Moving soon, etsy store soon on hiatus

In mid-August I'll be moving to lovely New Hampshire. I can't wait! I love New England and I'm so excited to be back up there again... but I really dislike the actual moving part, especially long-distance moves. (But really, does anyone ENJOY moving?)

It's time to pack all my stuff. Ugh. Packing stationery is not so hard, it's not fragile and it lays nice and flat in a box. Packing fountain pen inks, not so fun. Anyhoo, I'm going to leave my Etsy shop open a while longer, but eventually I will have to close the etsy store briefly while items are packed and being moved.

If you've had a yen to pick up any of my writing themed goods from Missive Maven on etsy, now is the time. I don't know the exact date I'll close the shop yet, but it will be sometime in early August... depends on how the packing goes.

My etsy shop isn't closing for good, of course: I'll re-open once everything is settled and unpacked in our new location.

Wish me luck packing!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happy 10th birthday, Postcrossing!

Bremen town musicians #postmark on #postcrossing #Postcard from Germany #showandmail

Happy birthday, Postcrossing! I've been an enthusiastic Postcrossing participant for more than 9 years now -- almost the entire time Postcrossing has existed, and certainly longer than I've had this blog -- and it's enriched my life in more ways than I can say. Postcrossing is now 10 years old and I invite you to explore their birthday celebration, and if you've never checked out Postcrossing before but you're curious, I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to do so.

The photo above shows a postcard from Germany I recently received via Postcrossing. I often show the postcard image or the postage stamp in a blog post, and in this case both of them were fairly pedestrian, but wow - what a NEAT postmark! It shows the Bremen Town Musicians, a fairy tale that has made the German town of Bremen famous. It's certainly what I think of when I think of Bremen, and as soon as I saw this postmark I recognized the icon and the story. This is just another fine example of all the wonderful surprises that Postcrossing brings.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 26, 2015: Historic day for equality in the USA!

Image via Newsweek

Yesterday - June 26, 2015 - was a history day for civil rights, equality, and LGBT rights in the USA.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the USA ruled that everyone has a right to marry.

Many of us knew the decision was to be announced yesterday, and along with millions of others worldwide, I awaited the decision. I wish I could have been downtown (I currently live in Washington, DC - capital of the USA, home of the Supreme Court and the White House, pictured above) with the revelers, but when the decision was announced, I was alone in my office at my day job. I started crying when I learned the news. Friends and family called, texted, and emailed throughout the day, and I went around crying and hugging my co-workers. When I came out nearly 20 years ago, I never imagined I'd see this day in my lifetime. This is an amazing victory and I think June 26 should become a national queer/LGBTQ holiday!

All kinds of wonderful support was evident yesterday, and continues to be so. Last night the White House, home of President Barack Obama and the First Family, lit up in rainbow lights in support of the decision - pictured above.

This post has nothing to do with mail, but it has so much to do with my life, and I had to share the joy. As I have mentioned before (see "I'm a day late for National Coming Out Day" or the labels gay or transgender for more info), my husband Alex is transgender and I am bisexual; we identify as a queer couple, not straight. We are legally married already, but that is really only through luck. Alex happened to be born in a state that, for a certain period of time, allowed folks to change their birth certificates, and he got his birth certificate changed at the right time to allow us to marry legally. This would not have been possible if he hadn't been able to change his birth certificate, and if he hadn't been able to jump through all the hoops to change his gender legally from female to male, on the right documents (birth certificate, driver's license, passport, etc: a different process for all). I'm not going to go into all the details about that, but we were one of the few queer couples who was lucky enough to achieve that legal status. Yesterday that right was granted to all couples in love in the USA, regardless of gender - no more discrimination. All our friends and loved ones can marry if they wish, and those who have already married in states that previously allowed it will now be granted all the federal benefits, and their marriages must be recognized all across the country... even in the states that had previously explicitly banned and refused to recognize their unions.

Please join me in celebrating this occasion that holds immeasurable joy!

UPDATE: It is worth noting that just moments after my tweet about this blog post, I received my first homophobic hate tweet. It is hardly that bad, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. We are going to see a lot of backlash to this decision from those haters. Haters gonna hate. Buckle your seatbelts, because we are in it for the long ride.

LOVE STILL WINS.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

India releases International Day of Yoga stamp


Thanks to PhilatelyNews on Twitter, I've just learned about this FANTASTIC new stamp release from India: International Day of Yoga stamp.

June 21 was recently declared International Yoga Day by the UN General Assembly. I may not write about it very often on this blog (if at all?), but yoga is another of my favorite hobbies, or perhaps better stated, lifestyle and fitness habits; I've been practicing yoga seriously for about 5 years now. So I was extremely excited to see this stamp release that showcases an essential part of India's heritage (and I recognize here that India comprises many different cultures!)... which also happens to be something that has changed my life and health.

Also, it's a lovely stamp! I actually like the selvage around the stamp even better than the stamp itself, particularly the colorful representation of the various asanas, or poses. I am also delighted that they kept the figure on the stamp gender-neutral. Yoga is for everyone, and for every body.

If any of my blog readers are in India and would be willing or able to send me mail with this stamp, please let me know! I'd love to do an exchange. I'd be so excited to see this stamp in person!

Does anyone else know of some cool yoga stamps out there?

UPDATE: Philatelist blog-reader Albrecht shared this other yoga series from India, 1991 issue.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thinking of my grandfather on Father's Day

My grandfather the postal worker dials stamps

Happy Father's Day! Today I am thinking a lot of my grandfather, of blessed memory. That's him in the photo above (read the great "Dialing for stamps" story): he was a career postal worker, and a casual philatelist and stamp collector. I think a great deal of my love for stamps and postal service trivia must have come from him. Certainly a lot of my vintage stamps did come from him: he gave me his stamp collection a little before he died. He didn't mind that I use some of the stamps for postage, he just wanted the collection to go to someone who would appreciate it.

He passed away 6 years ago. I am so thankful for all the time we had together, and that I wrote him a lot of letters, particularly in his later years. My mother and I cleaned out his house after his death (he had lived in that house for 50 years!), and along with a great deal of postal memorabilia, I had the joy of finding a lot of my letters to him stored in the drawers right next to his favorite chair, where he spent the vast majority of his time... he clearly took them out and re-read them frequently. I was so touched that they meant so much to him. (I've lived halfway across the country from him, and the rest of my family, for all of my adult life.)

You can read more posts about my wonderful postal-worker, stamp-collecting grandpa, but in the meantime, I hope all the fathers out there - both mail-loving and otherwise - have a great day. I am very thankful that my own father is in good health and happiness, and I'm going to call him shortly.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Coming full circle: a transition back to music

I hinted in a previous post that there were changes afoot, and now is the time to share some personal information. I've held back from sharing professional information on my blog, because this is a hobby blog and I have felt strongly that it's important to keep that part of my life separate. I still feel that way to some degree, but I have some big changes coming and I would like to share them.

When I began this blog in 2008, I was, professionally, a musician and music teacher. I'm not going to bog this post down with too many details, but for a variety of reasons, when we moved to Washington, DC in 2013, I had to give that up for a while and work a non-music, non-teaching office job. It was more challenging than I had imagined, and I think that was a big part of why I had such a hard time with DC. I am sure that my distaste for Our Nation's Capital is in many ways my transferring my dissatisfaction with my life here to a dislike for the city itself. Regardless, I have been unhappy in DC, and DC will soon be in my past. I'm thrilled to be able to be returning to music in the fall, when I will return to my alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, for graduate school. We're moving back up to New England in a couple of months (HOORAY!) and I will be a full-time grad student. I hope to return to performing and teaching in the future, once I am a Master of Music. (What a strange term, but I'll play with those words.)

I am a classically-trained improvisational singer, and I explore many styles including jazz. If you are interested in taking a look and a listen, here are a couple of links from two of my favorite performances in the past couple of years: Both of the arrangements are my own, as are all the performances in each of those video playlists. In the future I hope to have a professional website to share, with more recordings and videos.

The next few months are going to be a big time of transition for me, as we do a long-distance move and I switch from working in an office full-time to being a music grad student full-time. I am looking forward to this change more than I can possibly put into words, so I won't even try to articulate it. I do hope to continue with this blog and all my mail habits as best I can, though I may be exploring the possibility of ads on this blog. I will apologize again for posting less than I had hoped throughout the past year - auditioning for grad school took up a lot of time and energy, and I kept that under my hat for a long time! - and I thank all my blog readers, both longtime and newcomers, for staying with me through the journey.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing letters and postcards, and I promise - the next post will be back on track and mail-related!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Krtek the Mole postcard

Krtek the mole #Postcard - artwork by Zdenek Miler via #postcrossing

I recently received this great Krtek the Mole postcard from the Czech Republic, CZ-597292 via Postcrossing. I have received a few of these throughout the years, and love the children's illustration by Zdeněk Miler. I don't know much about it, other than it was a much-beloved Czech animated show for many decades -- I just think the artwork is very cute and makes a lovely postcard.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

U.S. Postcard stamp rate increase to 35 cents on May 31

Well, this came out of nowhere (I do pay attention to these things!):

The postcard stamp rate for domestic postcards in the USA will increase from 34 cents to 35 cents on May 31, 2015.

Thank you, Letter Writers Alliance, for alerting me to this surprise change! Read all about it on the LWA blog. Essentially only metered mail (and eww, ick, who uses that for fun mail?) and postcard stamps will increase in price. I searched for new 35-cent postcard stamps but haven't found any yet, so I sense this change went through pretty quickly. Well, add on some 1-cent stamps to those USA postcards, and cross your fingers that the new postcard stamp design will be as awesome as the current hummingbirds.

UPDATE: thanks so much to FinnBadger for alerting me to some more information about the new stamps: New US stamps planned for new rates. Very interesting concept: postcard stamps will now be "Forever" at the postcard rate, as will additional ounce stamps. I am still undecided as to how I feel about this. Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A good mail weekend

Outgoing mail, 11 May 2015

I've had a lot of other stuff going on in my life lately, and I haven't been spending as much time on mail as I'd like... but this weekend, especially Sunday, I got back into it and wrote a bunch of letters and postcards. It felt wonderful to immerse myself in mail all day long again!

There are changes afoot, and I will share the news in due time... but for now, I will say I am thankful for the wonderful world of mail as a longtime hobby and passion that has sustained me through many circumstances and changes.

Happy mailing, everyone!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Champion letter-writing in unexpected circumstances

Letter Postcard to the Central African Republic3

I was at a party last night thrown by a friend, but I didn't know very many people there. They were mostly Alex's colleagues, English grad students. To my surprise, I got into a conversation with Emily, who sought me out to talk about letter-writing. She had found my blog through my post on Alex's recent PBS appearance, which was of course the topic of a number of other conversations at this party. Our conversation expanded to include Danielle, and soon we were all talking about letter-writing, mostly me going on and on about how great it is, and how there really are a lot of people who do still write letters, and you CAN find people to write you back. I went on at great length about Postcrossing, and how that's a wonderful way to ensure an equal ratio of received to sent items. (The photo I used for this post is of a Postcrossing postcard I recently sent to the Central African Republic - a first to that country for me. The postcard is in an envelope because the recipient expressed a preference for that.)

I won't detail all the facets of the conversation, and in some ways I'm preaching to the choir since most of my blog readers are already dedicated letter-writers - but I wanted to share with you how charmed I was that I was able to champion letter-writing in unexpected circumstances.

I will also note that I felt a touch guilty about said post on Alex's recent PBS appearance because it really didn't have anything to do with letter-writing, but it still led to bringing other blossoming letter-writers into the fold, albeit from a different direction than I usually experience. (I'm used to my blog readers finding Alex through this blog, not people who know or search for Alex then finding my blog!) So here's to the opportunities to sing the praises of this fantastic mail hobby.

This post is for Emily, Danielle, and anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of starting to write letters - give it a try!

Oh - I almost forgot! Speaking of a great way to share the love of letter-writing: this coming Sunday, May 3, the Letter Writers Alliance will be hosting another Virtual Mail Social at 4pm EST / 3pm Central. I've done two of their mail socials so far (both, I think? Have there only been two?) and they are a fantastic way to connect in real time with other mail enthusiasts, and share the joy of mail and letter-writing.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alex Myers: the 'quiet revolution behind the word transgender'



Tonight PBS NewsHour aired an excellent segment that featured my beloved husband Alex Myers, entitled "the quiet revolution behind the word transgender." I like to think of Alex as a quiet revolution, and the video is a nice portrayal. I believe it is the first in a series entitled "Transgender in America." I hope you enjoy watching it. (Yes, they did include two photos of the two of us together - I'm still stunned by the idea of my photo on national television.)

NewsHour also filmed Alex speaking recently at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, and they have posted a video of his entire unedited 20-minute talk, which he wrote as a more in-depth exploration of his identity and how he has become who he is. Check out "How a label can empower the transgender community", which I think is a more thoughtful exploration... but of course, I'm biased because he wrote it.

And if you're really ambitious, you can watch the entire hour-long NewsHour episode with multiple stories from today.

In essence, I think Alex is a magnificent ambassador for the #trans community, and it is my hope (and I think his hope, too) that by submitting to this media exposure, he can open some minds and hearts, and perhaps provide a lifeline to other queer, #trans, and questioning people - particularly youth. If you know anyone who is questioning their gender identity, or wants to know more, I hope these videos and Alex's writings (and his speaking at schools - he does regular speaking engagements at schools and colleges and posts a lot about them on his Facebook author page and has contact information on his website, should you be interested) can serve as helpful resources.

Oh yeah - he also wrote a pretty amazing novel, "Revolutionary", so check that out, too!

There are some crazy people out there, so I have vowed not to read internet comments on the Facebook posts and YouTube video pages... but this is a more select and loving audience, and I would welcome your comments here. What did you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alex Myers on PBS NewsHour April 23



My beloved husband of 12 years, author Alex Myers, will be featured in a "Transgender America" segment on PBS NewsHour on Thursday evening, April 23. You can watch it live on your local PBS station (it airs on the east coast at 6pm), stream it live at www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour, or stream it later on the evening it airs at PBS NewsHour videos. I will be sure to provide a direct link once it is available!

While I was not filmed for this segment, they did ask for a photo of the two of us together, plus the correct pronunciation of my name, so hopefully I'll get mentioned (and hopefully they'll pronounce my name correctly)! This is really very big exciting news for us, and for Alex's amazing novel Revolutionary. And of course it is very exciting news to spread awareness and education about gender and gender identity.

I'll be streaming it live at 6pm on Thursday evening - tune in if you are interested!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Great stamps from China, with cat stamp

Stamps on Postcrossing thank-you letter from China

I received a wonderful thank-you letter from China recently, in response to US-3101799 that I sent on Postcrossing. The sender told me a truly beautiful pet story (in my Postcrossing profile, I ask for a beloved pet story if people are wondering what to write), which was heartwarming and sincere. He also sent me some great stickers from China, including some cute cat stickers like the one on the envlope -- and the postage stamps were a gift in and of themselves! Sometimes I get fairly boring stamps from China, but not this batch! Can you guess my favorite?

China Cat Stamp

The cat!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Passover 2015!

Happy Passover!

It's almost seder time, and we're almost ready.

For all who celebrate Pesach, Chag Sameach!

Post-Seder update on April 4, 2015: that was the best gluten-free matzo AND the best kosher for Passover wine I've yet found. Highly recommended!