Postcrossing! Or: Jen got a new hobby

All of the postcards I've received so far! Pretty awesome to look at when I enter my apartment.

So a Facebook friend mentioned a website in a status awhile ago, and so I had to investigate. And as a result… I got sucked into a new hobby.

Postcrossing is a website that allows registered users to send and receive postcards from people all over the world. So, once you register, you request addresses to send out postcards. They give them to you, you write the postcards, mail them, and then once the people receive them and enter the unique code you put on the card, you can get postcards in return!

So far I’ve had 30 postcards received with 8 more in transit, and I’ve received 27 from all over the world. My latest postcard came from Istanbul, Turkey! Each one is unique and each message is fun to read. I’ve learned a lot about the different cultures and people who have sent them to me.

I’ve also acquired a few great penpals! I’ve not only reconnected to my cousin Kayla in New York, but I’ve met three great people from Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands! I love receiving letters from them!

What about you, dear reader? Do you have penpals? The art of letter writing seems to be dying, but not if I have anything to say about it! In the comments, tell me about your penpals. Or, if you are a part of postcrossing, tell me about your experience! What’s the most unusual postcard you’ve received? They most exotic place you’ve received a postcard from? (Mine has been from Siberia!) And if you’ve found my page from Postcrossing, let me know!

Maybe we can direct swap postcards!

For more information on Postcrossing, check out the website!



Hi everyone!

Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I’ve discovered a new thing! Well, it’s not really new, but it is new to me. It’s called postcrossing. This activity involves signing up on a website, for free, and sending postcards to people around the world. And the coolest part is getting postcards from others around the world!

I’ve been on a letter writing kick lately, so when this came to my attention, I had to do it. I LOVED getting postcards from friends as a kid. I haven’t gotten one in years, but I still remember being excited whenever one came in the mail. I loved sending them, too. Whenever my family went to Maine, I had such a hard time picking out the right postcard to send to friends and family back home.

So now that I’ve signed up and sent my first five postcards out, I can’t wait to see where mine come from! My first five went to Minnesota, Russia, Germany, Taiwan, and China. I even had a girl from Russia contact me for a direct swap which is sending them to each other without having to register them through the website, kind of like pen pals. So I just wrote hers out and will get stamps for it tomorrow or Tuesday.

Finding postcards in Connecticut is hard, though! Of course I forgot about museums selling them, but other than that, where else? Literally EVERYWHERE in Maine sells them. But Connecticut? I finally found some places with the help of my coworkers. The Town Hall in Manchester sells Manchester based cards, and Hallmarks do sell them as well. They’re for the state and local area. I’ll have to stop in at the Bristol Hallmark when I’m back in town. I also checked out the local stationery store right up the road from me and they have one for Vernon, which is exciting. I wish there was one for my apartment! It’s such a cool old building, it would make a great picture. Maybe I’ll create one and send that out and explain to everyone how I live in an old factory!

If you want to check this out for yourself – which I highly recommend – go to this website: Postcrossing. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m eager to receive my first card! I would love to do this with my students and post the cards on the wall with a map pinned for their location! That would be cool.

Run For Your Lives Zombie 5K: Boston, May 5, 2012

I survived.

I mean, I survived the day, but not the race. Sort of?

I didn’t win, I mean to say. I was definitely dead. I lost all my flags, but I DID complete the race – my first ever 5K – even if I did come in 386 out of 393 in my heat. My time was 1:41:54.4

Not good, I know, but not bad considering the entire course was mud and I fell half the time I tried to run.

Still, it was a blast. I enjoyed every moment and it was well worth the pain. Even today I feel aches in my legs and ribs, yet I feel accomplished. After all, I did run part of it, and I screamed a lot at zombies.

By a lot of mud I mean HOLY MUD. Up to my HIPS in mud at some points. And I was filthy at the end. It was pretty awesome.

The picture to the left shows my friend, Jess -sorry I stole your picture! – in one of the water obstacles. It was a river of mud with logs tossed it. When I passed by this area, someone behind me came running through very fast and face-planted right in the skunk cabbage. Nasty!

If you want more pictures, check out the website: Run For Your Lives





For REAL this time…

I sent my final read through to my editor. No, really. I swear. It’s the truth! D: I read through one last time to make sure there were no missing words and whatnot, and I’m glad I did. So it is now back in her capable hands, and I can rest easy for the next part.

The weather was fairly nice all weekend until today. It’s been pouring all day and I worked at my second (or is it third…?) job. It wasn’t bad, though. Even though it was rainy outside it was warm and cozy inside, with the lighting just right to make it charmingly cheerful. And the customers are pretty awesome, too. They always make things interesting.

Like! I learned something new today from a customer who collects these things. I know about tea cups. I enjoy them, to be honest. They’re pretty and it’s fun to sip tea out of them. They’re also very different, and I’ve always wanted a nice collection. Well the woman today explained to me what the larger plated tea sets are called. They’re “snack sets.” They have a space on the plate for the cup, like a traditional saucer, but they also are larger one once side so you can put cookies or small foods and such. How cool!

I would love to have a tea party one day with snack sets.

Maybe I’ll buy one next time I work…and take a picture for you all!

On Collections: Manga, part 1

One thing most people know about me is how I love to collect books. Even if people don’t know me well, it’s usually the first thing I tell them. What can I say? I’m proud of my collection. I collect whatever interests me or catches my eye. Some authors I must have in hardcover (Anne Rice). Other authors I must own every single work they’ve produced, even if it means their covers were reprinted with new images (Ally Blue). If I start a series in Mass Market size, it must be continued in Mass Market. If I start a series in Hardcover, it must be cotinued in Hardcover. I collect certain genres (YA LGBT fiction and adult LGBT fiction) and certain subjects (anything on Hadrian is fair game).

I also collect manga.

Manga is a Japanese style comic that often reads from right to left if printed as it was in Japan. It is translated (though I do have many volumes untranslated) and comes in a variety of genres. I have my favorites, but in general I just love the art and storyline. Sometimes even if the story isn’t great, as long as the art makes up for it I don’t mind. Likewise, if the art is poor quality I can deal with it as long as the story is fantastic.

I remember back in college when I started collecting manga. It was 2003. I was able to list off the top of my head every title I owned and they all fit on the shelf above my computer desk. (Pictures to come in future collections posts.) Now I have only some volumes above that desk, and most of it packed into my closet. Some series are in boxes sealed up, others are on shelves built into the back. I will not lie when I say I’ve amassed quite a few in the last nearly 10 years. My original collection expanded from 5 or so series and maybe 15 volumes to nearly 300 different titles and over 600 volumes. I say over 600 because I haven’t counted it recently. Most series are around 5 volumes a piece, and I try to complete every series I start.

Heaven in a box!

Recently I ordered a lovely box from Akadot Retail because they were having a sale on titles I have been unable to get since Borders closed. Unfortunately Barnes and Noble does not carry the manga I read, so I have to search online rather than browse a bookstore. I was able to get out of print titles dirt cheap, and so I splurged with 47 new volumes. I’ve completed many series now. And the great part is nearly all of them are sealed and brand new, and opening the volumes was always my favorite part.

I’m trying to take it easy with my reading of them because there are so many. I could easily polish them all off in a week, but I want them to last. After all, who knows when I’ll be able to enjoy such a large purchase again!

Sailor Moon

Ahh… just the name brings back feelings of nostalgia from my childhood. It was the anime and manga that got me into Japanese culture as a whole. It’s like a gateway drug into anime and manga – or at least it used to be. I was about 11 or 12 when it first came out over here and I watched it religiously from beginning to end. Then I got into Dragonball, but Sailor Moon was always my first love. The excitement! The magic! The romance… sigh…

I remember recording every single episode MULTIPLE times just to make sure I had backups of my backups. I had the CD with the songs from the show on it. For an entire year I listened to it every night as I went to bed, sometimes two or three times a night if I couldn’t sleep. There is one episode – the one where Darien and Serena (US version) reveal themselves to each other, and Serena is found to be Princess Serenity. I cried every single time I saw that episode and it still makes me tear up, especially because of the song!

I remember the fanfiction, roleplaying, creating my own senshi (Sailor Sun was my favorite… I still have my artwork of her somewhere around) and playing with them in groups. It may seem funny, but you know what? It actually helped develop my writing.

When I finally went to buy it on DVD when they first came out… I couldn’t afford it! They wanted $150 for half of a season. And I was broke. And then… it disappeared. The manga faded in popularity and went out of print. The companies that owned the anime lost their license for it.

BUT IT’S COMING BACK! Codename Sailor V and Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon are back as manga! Is the anime next? Season five was never shown in America, probably due to some of controversial issues (the Sailor Starlights are male idols during the day, but when they transform they become female senshi since only women can be senshi in the series). I will admit that I found the entire series on DVD for sale – including the movies – and splurged on myself and bought it. I cannot wait for them to come in! I’m going to have a field day watching all of my favorite episodes!

Letterboxing, Books, and Counting Down

I don’t have a release date for Andy Squared yet. I’m sure I won’t get that for awhile. However, I decided I would do something fun to countdown, help gain some interest in the book, and also bring to light some interest in other great books! My idea was to combine two of my favorite things (new and old) into one: creating stamps for letterboxes from the covers of some of my favorite books.

Each month I’ll plant a new box to honor one of my favorite books (and I have a lot of them!) and hopefully by the end I will be able to make a stamp for the cover of Andy Squared!

First Finders will get a copy of the book that the stamp is based on (if the book is available to me at a reasonable price, anyway, because some are out of print and hard to find).

For November I did Geography Club by Brent Hartinger. Those interested in finding the stamp can check out the clues on AtlasQuest here. I was really proud of the carve, too. It’s not 100% accurate to the cover, but that’s okay. I added my own little flair to it. What do you think?

Letterboxing Event!!

I swear, soon this page might end up letterboxing only if I keep it up!

Today I went to my first letterboxing event. It was a blast! I was really nervous at first because I knew no one except for my boxing buddy, who was called a noxer at the event and I think it fits him, hehe. But I met some amazing people who were really nice about exchanging stamps, telling stories, and showing off some of the AMAZING stamps they’ve found. Though the event was smaller than it would have been had it been the week before – the original date – it was perfect for getting my feet wet. If too many people had been there it would have been overwhelming. I met about ten other boxers, most of whom I have seen stamps of on the trails!

One of the couples, the two who put the group together, went boxing with us after the event. It was cool finding boxes with other people, and we had a lot of fun. I saw some interesting things I thought I would never see while hiking, but that’s neither hear nor there…

I have quite a few more stamps to log, and I still haven’t filled out my logbook yet – which is a mess! Too many stamps of different categories all over the place!! AHH!! – and I haven’t found all the exchanges I made.

Oh! And I got my first cootie and flea! The flea was handed to me, but the cootie was tossed into my bag. I think I had gotten up to use the bathroom because that was the only time I left my bag unattended. It’s pretty funny, though. Now I have to wait to pawn those off at another event. Can’t wait to do that!

Further Adventures in Letterboxing!

This weekend I went letterboxing again with my boxing buddy, and we ended up hiking EIGHT MILES. Eight! That’s insane! On Saturday we did five miles at Sleeping Giant State Park (again) and Sunday – today – took us on a three mile trail that was all flat and quite easy. But after an exhausting day just before this one, it was still hard!

Saturday we took the Orange Trail at the Giant, and it was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. The views were gorgeous, but it took us a long time to even find the first boxes. I found out after we got home that we had bypassed eight on the way to the first one. Whoops…

By the time we got all the boxes, we were on the other side of the park. So we had to go all the way back around to get to our car. We took the yellow trail this time because it was slightly easier according to the trail map, and we found even more amazing views like this one. There is a wide open area of rocks and in the distance you can see New Haven. It might not be clear in the picture, but it was spectacular. One of these days we’re going to hike up to that spot and have a picnic.


Sleeping Giant State Park - Yellow Trail





Letterboxing is a relatively new hobby for me, but man is it fun! I really enjoy them. Prior to this weekend, all of my letterboxing adventures were under a mile and were considered “drive-bys” on the website. This weekend, however, I went with one of my letterboxing buddies on a few hikes at Sleeping Giant State Park.

The first box I wanted to get was freshly planted and I wanted to be the first finder. It told us to take the blue trail, so we did. We got there at five, paid to park, and took off.

Only to find after the fact that the blue trail is the hardest, and longest of the trails! I’m talking vertical climbs up and down in some places! INSANE! We had to stop and rest a LOT and before we got to the second box of the three box series… we had to turn around and go back. One look at the vertical face of one wall and we said forget it. (It also didn’t help that the directions said turn around and go up the backside and we decided to forge on because we were so close to the other number.)

The next day we returned and got eleven more boxes on a hike that went up a gentle slope, but round trip was over three miles. It was exhausting at first, but I ended up feeling pretty good! The hikes are a great way to exercise, and having everything in a backpack instead of a handbag was a great idea. It was perfect for storing our water and snacks, and trust me, we needed it.

For more information on letterboxing, check out this website: