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The Best Thing Ever: Snail Mail

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The other day, I received a plain envelope in the mail.  I wasn’t expecting it, and was perplexed as to what it could possibly be.  The return address was from one “Crystal Skull” in Chicago.  “Crystal?  Who the hell is Crystal?  I don’t know any ‘Crystal’ in Chicago,” I thought to myself.  It was 7am– I had just gotten up to get ready for work, and spotted the envelope in the disheveled pile of mail on the kitchen table during my half-asleep stumble to the bathroom.  The pun hadn’t quite registered with me yet.  I examined the mysterious envelope, wondering if it might be Anthrax, or hate mail, like the kind that I got in 2010 from some crazy stalker Welsh girl who claimed that the random hostel employee I made-out-with-and-never-thought-about-again during a five day stay in Rome in 2007 was now her boyfriend so I’d better step off.  (“Facebook shows me that you’re doing well as usual, you rich American Daddy’s Girl.  As for me, I HAVEN’T BEEN HAPPY SINCE 2008!!!”).  My hands trembled as I pondered what to do with the potentially dangerous envelope, but I eventually decided that I must have just forgotten about something that I ordered off Etsy, and tore it open with reckless abandon.  This is what I found inside:

A postcard, featuring an image of a bedazzled cranium.  A crystal skull, duh.  And in familiar handwriting:

Best Newsletter Ever!

Join our weekly newsletter so we can send you awesome freebies, weird events, incredible articles, and gold doubloons (note: one of these is not true).

“A Crystal Skull has found YOU.  Feel free to ask it THREE questions, and promptly send to [Crystal Skull’s address].

It was from my friend Dorothy, and it was referencing the fact that my step mom is a psychic and her and her friends once tried to talk to aliens through a crystal skull that one of them found at a thrift store in New Mexico.  It was also the best surprise that I could have ever received, period.  You see, snail mail– especially that of the surprise variety– is pretty much the Best Thing Ever.

Snail mail is an awesome way to let faraway friends now how much you care.  In a world where it takes approximately two seconds to send a text or a Facebook message, snail mail takes some effort.  It’s hand-written, and you have to find out the recipient’s address, and you have to have stationary and stamps on hand which– let’s face it– how many people do?  Sending snail mail let’s your distant buds know that you’re willing to take those extra few steps for them– that you love them the price of a Forever stamp, which is… about 45 cents.

Which brings me to my next point– snail mail is a hella cheap way to make a big-ass statement.  Stamps, paper, pens, envelopes– those things cost practically nothing, yet receiving a surprise letter in the mail can truly make the recipient’s day.  For this reason, snail mail is hands-down the best value gift that a penniless person could ever give.  To quote the infamous J. Lo, “Love don’t cost a thing,” babies!  Love comes in an envelope with a picture of a diamond-encrusted human skull inside.

Snail mail is also an excellent opportunity to– to quote another pop diva– “express yourself.”  Goofy animal-themed cards, Lisa Frank unicorn stickers, middle school-era metallic gel roller pens– all of these things have the chance to shine like the treasures that they are when showcased on your next piece of snail mail.  Get creative and have fun, like a bunch of textured-bob-with-bad-highlights suburban moms in a scrapbooking class! My friend Claudia is the queen if jazzing up her snail mail by stuffing little bonuses into the envelopes– I’ve gotten Hello Kitty Band-Aids, magazine clippings of Iris Apfel, wallet-size high school prom pictures, and, mysteriously, sanitary napkins inside of her letters (maybe she was going for a Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantyliner theme?).

Lastly, snail mail is an excellent way to add shock value to surprise pieces of information.  Like the time that my friend Dorothy– the same mastermind behind the Crystal Skull– sent me a postcard from Vegas informing me that she had eloped.  “Scary Bradshaw, get ready to meet your new daddy!  That’s right, someone married this!  Married, married, married, married, married!”– my jaw dropped to the floor, to say the least.  But after I composed myself, I got to thinking– what if snail mail was the choice way to inform people about other out-of-the-blue happenings, like unplanned pregnancies, sex changes, or discovering that you actually look good in mustard yellow?  Everyone loves surprises, right?  Especially surprises in their mailboxes that aren’t bags of dog poo placed there by delinquent teenagers.

Bust out the homemade collages, funky penmanship, and FREE HUGS coupons, and get to work on showing your friends how much you care via epistle.  I’ll be busy debating over which pressing questions to ask the aliens through Crystal Skull–what are those crop circle thingies, anyway, right?

Photo credit: Yorkie Fantasy

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.