Summer of Snail Mail Update

The second letter has been mailed. I can only assume it has been recieved, though I have not heard for certain.

Something weird came up while writing this SSM letter. I got completely and totally self-conscious. Here’s a stream-of-conscience list of things that went through my head before, during, and after writing said letter:

I haven’t written to XYZ in a long time. Maybe ever…

XYZ knows a lot about me from Facebook, so I can’t put THAT stuff in here.

I’ll just talk about what I’m thinking.

What if this isn’t cool enough for XYZ? Because XYZ is pretty cool…

Did I just write that?

That was lame. Follow up with something less lame.

Should I even finish this?

I should start over.

I should not mail this.

I will wait until I have something better to say and a better way to say it.

Dammit. I wish I had a backspace delete on these notecards.

I’ve run out of room and I’ve said nothing good. This was supposed to be a good, cherishable, keepable, awesome letter.


In the end, it was stamped and mailed.

Isn’t that weird? I’m *mumble mumble* years old (more than 16, fewer than 40) and I’m getting nervous and self-doubty writing a letter to a friend. A friend! There’s nothing on the line – XYZ isn’t going to give me a job or a book deal or send me money if my letter is a certain caliber of awesome or degree of worthy or whatever.

I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my self-consciousness.





  1. You could do me a great favor by not calling it “snail” mail. My dad and thousands of others worked tirelessly delivering the mail for decades. He worked 6 days a week for years before they went to a 5-day week; he chased wayward envelopes over snowy fields; he fixed downed mailboxes; he kept track of who lived where, with whom and who moved; he put injured wildlife out of its misery when other drivers left them to die; he checked on those who hadn’t picked up the previous mail; he reported fires and floods…I could clearly go on. There were no discounts received on postal products. He didn’t get to take a vacation unless his substitute was available. He did it for quite low pay and never once did I hear him complain. For my dad, my hero, and the countless others, it’s “paper mail”, “postal mail” or just “the mail.” Thanks!

    • I personally don’t have a problem with calling it snail mail. I think snails are pretty awesome creatures – strong enough to carry their houses on their backs and whatnot. Also, maybe you could read my posts about letters as just that…I’m USING the U.S. postal service. Whatever I call it, whatever you call it, aren’t I actually helping to employ people like your dad by paying to send correspondence via paper?

      • And I imagine you’d use a similar argument for flying the rebel flag in the south, maintaining names and offensive logos such as Redskins or Chiefs, and saying you were gypped, etc. Your 50 cents and not feeling any pain makes it all okay.
        I had higher hopes for you.
        Oh, and I’m sure you have a backspace, so “recieved” was intentional?

    • Oh, Dirndl, you’re quite a scamp, aren’t you?

      You’re conflating a creative, descriptive and actually kind of cute name for the process of carrying and the speed of delivery of letters with the individuals who’s job it is to carry them, and that’s… well, that’s… I’m sorry, it’s just stupid.

      We’re all oh so very pleased that your dad was good at his job and conscientious in his work and I’m sure the good Lord in Heaven above has nothing but praise to rain down upon him, but that’s got nothing to do with how long it takes for a letter to arrive. Your insistence that it somehow impugns your good father and the many other fine postal personnel (not to mention, I must assume, the surfeit of extraordinarily shitty ones who consistently mangle letters, lose deliveries and are rude to their customers) is misguided and your comments are, indeed, unwarranted and insulting in tone, most especially your baseless comparisons vis a vis the rebel flag and offensive sports team names. I can only imagine that you must also constantly rail against the habit of calling airline attendants “stewardesses”. How that injustice must stick in your craw.

      Your second comment was without question an attack, and don’t even TRY to deny it or we shall have no recourse but to consider you a liar in addition to being a total douche.

  2. Ddrhl – you need to stop attacking my friend on her own blog. She has been my friend for 20 years, and she is an individual of outstanding character. You have never met her, so I am shocked that *YOU* would stoop so low as to attack her character online. Comparing the term “snail mail” to the rebel flag or to sports teams named after native Americans is a completely ridiculous comparison.

    I’m sorry that you have a problem with the term “snail mail”, but it is a common term for paper mail and is *not* a derogatory term. The term was used in a news article in the early 1940’s, and came into use more widely in the mid 1980’s to differentiate it from e-mail. The postal service actually used the term in ITS OWN ADVERTISING in magazines in the 1960s to encourage people to use zip codes. There is nothing derogatory about any of those uses!!

    Furthermore, as my friend graciously pointed out, she is actually *USING* the postal service to send out her letters – she is in no way making fun of the postal service or its employees.

    Ddrhl – it’s time for you to get a grip and stop attacking my friend.

    • Karen…I didn’t attack thwritingspider. It’s her blog. She invites commentary for a living. That’s why I asked her for the favor. Thought she could have a positive impact on others.

      Your history of the term serves to reinforce my comparisons with the flag and team names rather than severing the connection.

      You don’t know me either. In fact, I had complimented her on her writing. I’ve referred lots of people to her posts regarding teaching. I thought it was one of the best places for teachers negatively impacted at work to first turn.

      You are her friend. You are passionate about her. You commented. That’s great! My dad is awesome. I’m passionate about him. I commented. That’s great, too.

      • Oh no you didn’t… Seriously, you are still hell- bent on comparing the term “snail mail” with the rebel flag and sports team names?? How can you possibly compare them?

        To compare the lack of rights and of an entire race and oppression of native people to a term (used by the USPS itself) that does not describe a group of people or even a profession – just a term that means “non-instananeous” (as opposed to e-mail) is downright disgraceful.

        I’d like you to try to rationalize that comparison to African-Americans or to native Americans. I’d bet you wouldn’t be so confident after such a confrontation.

  3. Ddrhl-
    Your comments are a little over the top. “Snail mail” is not derogatory. Take off your sensitive pants and realize this is a term that is widely accepted.. Whether or not you personally like. My brother in law takes no offense to it and he works for the postal

  4. Seriously build a bridge and get over it. Or start your own blog about how every saying you know, and how it’s an obvious personal attack on your family. I did once say “step on a crack a break you mother’s back.” Man I’m a jerk. And yesterday I mentioned that a coworker “stop being a slacker” guess you have an aunt or uncle that’s a taylor. Seriously you can tell there was no honest intent of insult “flying of at the handle” …(Who knows who I offended with that one) is perhaps a bit much.

  5. My mom is retired USPS and while I admit that I do have some issues from growing up in the “postal life” (It was a very unionized and us vs. them culture), thank God I haven’t been so sheltered that the phrase “snail mail” could cause me to have conniptions.

    Let me take this moment to formally apologize to the Fates. A single mom with no college education and a chronic debilitating disease having an employer that provided enough stability, income and benefits to care for my grandmother, baby brother and myself seems like a miracle now that I’m an adult. At the time all I knew was having a mom who had to work third shift box mail most of my childhood meant she was asleep and grumpy the few times I saw her. She desperately wanted to move to day shift so she could be a more “normal” mom to us. It took years to get top seniority and once she did I remember how disappointed she would be every time she didn’t get clerk. Not because I understood about her career or life desires, I was like 9, I had no clue about those semi-important adult things. I remember because she also used the n-word when she would get passed over for promotion because of quotas.

    You see, even a child understands that HATE and PREJUDICE are important things. Much more important than what people think of your employer or your work ethic is whether they respect you as a human being. Which considering all our neighbors were African American, that the majority of my classmates and friends were black, that even our priest was black, illustrated to me quite clearly at a young age that racism is very real.

    My mother was never outwardly racist, and she would argue that her resentment and feelings were justified, especially once she did become a window clerk and outperformed everyone else year after year. But she *is* racist and I’m glad I saw it because otherwise I might have been as disgustingly naive as the commenter who compared the trappings of racism to fucking SNAIL MAIL.

    Oh, and, that feeling that a hand written letter is special and that awkwardness at wanting to make it memorable is one of the reasons snail mail will never die. Your experiment is a lovely tribute to the postal process and its importance in our 21st century lives. Ignore the crazy people. And try drafting on scrap paper next time. My mom always had us draft out postcards before the real thing. It’s one of the other good things she taught me. 😉

  6. Just want to clear up one thing. I don’t invite commentary for a living. I don’t know where a certain zealous commenter got that idea, but…nope. Not making a living inviting commentary. I just do it for shits and giggles.

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