Opinion, Pulp

The +/- Analysis of Having a Pen Pal

Recently I started a whole email chain with a Twitter pal who I’ve been “friends” with since before I moved to Chicago (circa 12/09). It was a goal of mine, in an odd way, to participate in neutral conversation where I could get a whole bunch of stress off my mind with unbiased advice, and also to maintain some sort of interesting constant contact that would allow my words to just straight flow.


It’s been three days. And already I’m getting the positives and the negatives, and I’m going to jot them down because I simply adore expanded lists and analyses.





Plus Column

It really is helping my writing. Rather than just stare at a blank cursor on the screen, I’m interested in what this person has to say and am overflowing with ideas of why I’m living my life this way or trying to find a description for just how much I love snow. Ideas are triggered with constant engagement and it’s the easiest thing in the world to write off-the-cuff about your life. Any exercise is good exercise.


It’s helping my schedule. This, I don’t believe will benefit anyone else. But when I see a personalized letter to me in the morning, I start thinking hard about every phrase and I want to get up and do some research, reply, get productive, etc. Hey, look, whatever works will fucking work.


I’m aware of my (bad) decisions and actions. When you have someone to talk to everyday that doesn’t know you on a face-to-face basis, but there’s some intimate connection (by way of confession, not attraction), you don’t want to judge one another. So I can confess to this person the most embarrassing and shameful actions of this year because they aren’t going to tell anyone I know – we share no common friends – and if anything I just get to see my actions written down and this person tells me, hey, dude, it’s fine, you’re only human. So then I am forced to confront myself with the summation. It helps, I swear.


Email isn’t boring anymore. Look at normal snail mail. You have bills and more fucking bills and catalogues for popcorn in tins and bill reminders and flyers for Target (those are kind of fun), but when you get some personalized, to you, you kind of flip your shit for a second. What the hell is hidden in there just waiting to be absorbed? I don’t care how much of a loner you are, human interaction can be devilishly addicting when it’s totally personal.





Negative Column

I discover I really am still impatient. Look, at this age, we all have some sort of work to do whether we’re technically employed or not. I, on one hand, sit at the pixelated computer screen all day writing, drowned in articles and research, generally reading or consulting, and catching up on the news. I literally need the internet to survive, daily, because it pays the bills. So waiting for an email from someone without that lifestyle, can super suck. You automatically know when you hear that ping that you have new mail. They may not be as ADD with gmail’s auto refresh since they aren’t online every second. If you’re impatient, the fact of waiting for this super sucks.


This pays absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, a lot of my best writing goes into letters to people. And when you have an email pen pal, you end up writing pretty much daily. And then you have to wonder why you have to read and re-read what you wrote and think “that sounds so complex, so deep, so…..worthy of a paycheck, why can’t I get paid for that 15 minutes of introspect?!?!”


You end up developing a crush. Dude, this is just common sense and it happens to everyone. You get some writing connection with the opposite sex, and suddenly you’re wondering “if only…” You have to know how to deal with this since it’s pretty much expected to happen. You need to use your inner adult to curb it and AVOID the thirteen-year-old teen bop squealing in your head so you aren’t “innocently” asking too many questions about their love life. Avoid stalking.


Nothing more to say. It hasn’t even been a week of conversation, so this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I have to admit to it being a slight fear. It could be attributed to the first negative point I made – impatience – but eventually you have to run out of things to say, right? Am I wrong in this? It’s been great back-and-forth, so I just worry it could run its course at any time.



I feel like I’m missing something, but maybe that’s because I’m only on day three.


About emja

Emja* was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where her parents were giant stone heads. She has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of her hands and she can turn her legs into tigers. On Sundays, Emja enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. Her favorite color is greenish-transparent and her favorite movie is the one you just watched. Emja is in charge of uploading the staff bios to the website, and no one has checked over her work. *name has been changed