Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Ode to 100 Yen Stationery

Oh, how I long for the days where I could go into a hundred yen shop and buy riduculous stationery to my heart's content!

When I lived in Japan, one of my pasttimes was shopping in the 100 yen stores - where everything really is 100 yen ($1), AND it's practical stuff (NOT like dollar stores here in the US where most of it is garbage). And you could find some real treasures in their in terms of their comedic value.

My all-time favorite 100-yen purchase was a mug, the first mug I bought in Japan. Sadly, the mug shattered a few months ago, but I did manage to write down the poetry before I threw the pieces away. It read:

I hope to fly! (caterpiller)

the sky is and wants me
when I can fly! (birds)

Look at our beautiful legs
All our acts look like dancing (flamingos)

If I flew more and more high,
If I were free to swim in the blue sky,
Through this blue sea!! (Dolphins and whales)

Let’s walk more slowly today.
I can walk faster, but I feel like doing (armadillo).

What a pretty flower!
Oh….Something has a break on my nose.
My nose tickles. (Dog)

This is my lvely place!
My friends, little bard,
be coming soon.
(Deer and birds)

I was sad my favorite mug broke, but the words live on.

Hundred yen stationery was equally delightful, and in a similar, nonsensical vein. I've talked about 100 yen stationery in previous posts, but I needed to write about it again today, because I found some in a local shop and it brought back memories.

This particular set says "Look! Isn't that dog cute? Is it a dachshund? It looks like our dog but much longer." Now, this actually makes more sense than most 100 yen stationery. One of my favorites was called "Cool bone guy". It had skulls and crosses on it, and it said:
"I am cool bone guy. Girls are gutlessnesses in such me."
Gutlessnesses. Gutlessnesses?! One can imagine what he was going for, that Cool Bone Guy....

The 100 yen stationery at my local shop sold for a whopping $4.80. I still bought it. It also made me realize that I should start a 100 yen stationery importing business.

The other fantastic thing about 100 yen stationery is that it comes in a set with matching envelopes and stickers, making the letter writing process that much more enjoyable!

This is my ode to the 100 yen stationery!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2011 Year of Letters Review: Reflections So Far

At the end of 2011, I did a big, self-reflective year in review process, largely based on the suggestions of Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Nonconformity blog. I thought about 2011, what went well and what didn't, and what I'd like to make happen in 2012.

I thought I would do a similar, though shorter, process for My Year of Letters in 2011.

I started MYOL in July 2011. Since then, I've sent an average of more than one letter per day, although I didn't realize my goal of actually sending a letter a day (ie, I might send 7 letters in a week, but I might have sent 2 in one day). This happened a few times when I traveled, lost track of time, etc. In 2012 I'd like to stay on track with the practice of writing a handwritten note everyday regardless of circumstances. However, life happens, so all I can do is try my best!

I had started out keeping track of how many letters I sent and where I sent them too. However, over time I found this to be a bit tedious - not having time to update the lists in addition to actually writing letters. On one hand, I really wish I knew exactly how many letters I've sent so far! On the other hand, I don't think it really matters.

MYOL started out with me sending letters to almost everyone who's address I have. I also started sharing these blog posts on Facebook, and through that, received more addresses. This, combined with having wedding party invitations, thank you notes for the gifts we received, and holiday cards, took up the bulk of the year. When I started the project, I thought at some point I'd have to start sending random letters to people I might not know - famous people, politicians, etc. That hasn't really happened yet (I did write a few letters to Congressional representatives), although I would still like it to. I'll set a goal for 2012 to include more "random" letters in my writing.

Through my initial round of letters and Facebook posts, I developed a few lovely pen pal relationships from friends from various phases of life. That has definitely been the most rewarding part of the YOL. As I've mentioned in previous posts, letters are special - you have a different kind of conversation than if you were sitting over coffee or talking on the phone. It's also given me a chance to reconnect - one of the initial goals of the project. I treasure my correspondence with these friends. In 2012 I will continue to nurture these relationships.

I've received so many letters! This is a pure bonus of the project. Right now they are all in a shoe box, and I rotate the ones that I display on my bedside table, kitchen counter or bookcase. I want to get a nice, special box to put my letters in - just looking for the right container.

I also got involved with Postcrossing, which has been a really fun little project. However, I do rely on Postcrossing if it's the end of the day and I'm not feeling inspired to write a longer, more involved letter. Good or bad? Not sure. But I do know that I've really enjoyed participating in the project, have a really nice postcard collection, and have some new friends from all over the world :-)

In short, it was a good start to MYOL. Now I'm about half-way through the year, and my intention is to keep it up - in fact, my overall intention is to keep it up for the rest of my life, but let's take it one day at a time :-)