Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October update on the project and "Why?"

Okay, it has been TOO long since an update. In the last month (sept) we sent out about 165-170 postcards, which was then topped by last weekend’s 36 hour fest (almost without sleep) which finished with an amazing 72 postcard finished and posted in both the US and Canadian post - yes, all in just under two days. Here is a picture of just a portion of the postcards that were sent out. (you can’t blow the picture up because everyone hasn’t gotten their card yet and I want it to be a surprise).

For those just joining, this is the Postcard Project, which means all you have to do is email me: mpshiel at with the title Postcard, and you will receive your first postcard in about two weeks. There is no cost to you, there is no obligation to respond in any way. I, along with those who help me, hope those postcards make your life a little bit lighter in some way, maybe bring a smile, knowing that someone wanted to make something special, just for you. And that is what is about. If you want to reply, please do! If you want to send postcards to other people, please do.

I have been fortunate to be a fencer (yeah, with swords) off and on for years and thus have a more than a few female friends who can appreciate a woman who knows how to use a blade to her advantage. I had been saving this particular postcard a few months until I could send it to the right person (good stance, good guard). I remembered a person who I cared about, but due to the nature of my disability, I had lost in some of the blank spaces of my mind (I have Brain-go-boom times, mini-strokes, seizures, a whole theme park of brain related fun!)

In a lot of ways, it is guesswork, we have a vague idea of what the person likes and we try to make the best possible match, sometimes, often it works fab, but sometimes it doesn't. Knowing your orientation is helpful, or knowing what orientation you would like on your card helps, like this lesbian (or Yuri) themed one. We send cute anime boy/boy love (yaoi) cards to straight women (and men if they want them), the same is true with Yuri, we send cards to straight couples, we send cards to single people, people of every different religion and we try not to offend but find the card that matches YOU (if you ARE gay and tell us, also try and mention if you are not OUT, because otherwise we will send you a gay postcard - which could be awkward). But we try and find the right postcard for every person and mood, even if that means you are deep in space.
Once the postcard is selected we start the stamping, using rubber stamps mostly, but we also have some cards, which have printed material built in. Again, we try, as time goes on to give you a new experience each time, but after getting your 6th card, you have to realize, I only have SO many rubber stamps (though a couple of readers decided to send me rubber stamps which we immediately put into use!). So the backs are varied again usually around a theme, here is one that is stickered up with a Halloween theme and ready to write on.
I also have received donations of postcards from various readers, and put them immediately into use, often sending them out that very week (I hope you don’t get your own postcard back – oops). But I also spend about 15 hours a week finding each individual postcard that will be sent out that week – well actually not that week as often they are in Japan, or Florida or France and need to purchased and then wait for them to arrive which can take up to six weeks, and then wouldn’t you know it, a name rotates up or a request comes in which could use JUST that postcard.

There are, because I like anime, admittedly more anime card than average, but we also do at least 4 to 12 cards a week to youth under 12, and more to teens. So we have to be flexible, we do baby animal postcards, we do TV series, we have nature scenes, artists, anything that might interest someone, make them happy to see the card in the post. I just happen to find that in anime world finding boy/boy love is easy, as is boy/girl love, fun crossdressing, dominant women, a little light bondage, girl/girl love, and beautiful anime girls with big guns (no actually, that’s not slang, they have guns, like the one in this card top right here!). So whatever you want, as long as it isn’t X-rated we will try to provide and we have had some rather SPECIFIC requests and tried our hardest to fulfill those and I hope the people are happy who got them.

The question comes up a lot, simply because of the time, the effort involved, on why a person with limited hand motion, with tremors would hand write over 30 postcards on average a week, would hand stamp them (sorry about the ones that go awry!), would sticker them. Why? First, I don’t do all that, if I can’t stamp or sticker I get Linda or Cheryl who help me to the extent it is often like a big quilting circle with us going, “Where’s the blue ink, no that dark blue” and, “I’ve got someone who loves spiders, I need all the spider stickers!” And second, I was taught this: we don't do things because they are easy, we do them because they are the right thing. How am I going to convince anyone, much less myself, that they as a human being, regardless of disability, depression, feelings of isolation, political or religious difference, are worthy of everyones complete and equal respect as a human being if I do not start. And how I do that is by giving YOU my complete and undivided attention for about three hours, to create something JUST FOR YOU. Because you are an individual human being, and because you matter.

In this post, these are the postcards from a few weeks ago, which I hope have all already arrived at their destinations.

Again I am asked: Why? It is expensive, it is time consuming, it is exhausting. Well, that is one way to look at it. Or it is rewarding, it is fun, it is deciding in a tangible way to make a difference in someone’s life.

If you are lonely, if you are depressed, if you are disabled, visably or invisably, if you want post of your own, if you want to know that there will be, as long as I live, SOMEONE out there who cares, then ask for a postcard. As my writing teacher said, “People are the only game in town.” I know there is a good argument to be made for cats but they don’t send a lot of mail/post. Nor are they good at reading it. They can shred it quite well however!