Rach Gee, England

Rach Gee
gives this PenPal Interview for Sandbook PenPal Magazine, July 2011, issue 9.

Hello there! How are you doing? Tell us more about yourself, your hobbies, personal life, interests.

Hi! I’m doing well. It’s the weekend so it’s time to chill out! My name’s Rachael, Rach or Rae for short and I hail from a small town in the heart of England. You asked me to describe myself, so here it goes…Crazy, tattooed, pierced, gum chewing, chain smoking, tea swilling, fiction writing,day-dreaming, world creating, randomly blogging, cross-dressing, gender disorientated, red-eye travelling, engineering loving, little rock chick. By day, I’m a kick ass events manager. By night, when I’m not saving the world, I’m an author, photographer and documentary film-maker. Sorry! It’s me again! I promise I won’t take up too much of your time! I share my life with my wonderful family and our crazy, loveable extended family. Oh, and the neighbours cat. Obviously the grass is greener on our side of the hedge…

If you have to describe yourself in only 5 words what would they be?

Doesn’t play by the rules!

Tell us something about your town, city or country.

The town I live in used to be the heart of the textile industry. Interestingly enough, my surname (different to the one I use online before anyone makes a noise about it!) is associated with French artisans, in particular textile workers. So winding up living in a town associated with clothes and textiles is an interesting addition to our history. I’ve lived all over England but I always wind up coming back to the Midlands and my family. Home is where the heart is!

How did you start penpalling? When was that? And why did you decide to start Penpalling?

I started penpalling around 1998. Because I’ve moved around a lot, I used to keep in touch with old friends. When they fell away I missed it. One day I was searching an online bulletin board and came across someone looking for penpals. I replied to her and, over 10 years later, we’re still in touch. For me, I like the personal side of it. As many people say, there is nothing better than getting a letter rather than a bill through the post.

What do you like / dislike about Penpalling/correspondence?

I love everything about penpalling! From the stationery and stamps, to becoming family with people across the globe. There is a great sense of community among people who are into letter writing and it’s what prompted me to make the film.
Dislike – I think it would be returning full FB’s. I’ve lost count of the amount that have been returned to me because the addressee no longer lives at that address. Please, if you’re into FB’s (or label bags, decos, slams, crams whatever!), include an email address so we can check your address! It would be much appreciated and save a lot of hassle and money.

How do your friends react when they discover you are into Penpalling? Are they also into it or they give you the “strange” faces?

I’ve converted some of my friends over to penpalling! In truth, I rarely tell anyone. It’s not one of those things which really comes up in conversation. Only if a similar topic comes up do I mention it. And all the friends who know are very supportive. They know that I’m a creative person and penpalling is just another extension of the crazy things I like to do! One of my closest friends, even though he would never write a letter, always picks me up nice stationery and pens when he sees them. Yes, when HE sees them! It shocks me as well!

issue914Do you still stay in touch with your first penpal? Tell us about your first penpal even if you have lost touch with them. We might be able to help you locate him/her.

As I mentioned above, yes, I’m still in touch with my first penpal.

How many Penpals do you have? Where are they from?

I probably have about 15 penpals. I like to only have a small number so that our correspondence becomes very personal. I’m not a big fan of short letters because, for me, penpalling is learning not only about other places, but also about making deep and lasting relationships. Obviously this doesn’t work with every person you write to, neither is it everyone else’s opinion.

Are you searching for new Penpals? If yes, please give us some contact information that we can publish in the magazine so that people can write to you back.

I might be… Why, are you asking?!

What are you looking for in a penpal?

Someone I can relate to. Will we click? Do they have a good sense of humour? Can we relate to each other in any way, even just a small way? From small acorns grow huge oaks!

Where do you find new Penpals from? Do you rely on FBs or Facebook or other websites/blogs.

Mainly from penpal websites like Sandbook.

Tell us a funny/interesting story from your Penpalling experience?

This was a recent one. Someone emailed me and I got a bit of a strange feeling from them. But I’ll give anyone a chance and told them that I’d prefer if we emailed back and forth for a couple of weeks before starting to exchange letters. Anyway, in their second email they gave me their postal address. In the third one they demanded to know why I was taking so long to reply to emails (I’d explained that, like them, I had a day job and wasn’t permanently attached to my computer). I thought it would be nice to write letters and visit them as they didn’t live far from my sister so I could spend my time with two lots of people. Then, in their forth email, which came two days after their first email to me, they demanded to know why I hadn’t sent them a letter yet! My gut instinct had been confirmed and that email address has since been spammed. What made me laugh is they mentioned that their last penpal had mysteriously stopped writing. I wonder why…?!

How do you keep track of your mail? Share your tip on how to organize ourselves.

Haha. I’m actually quite disorganized! My mail sits on top of my printer. I stack it in the order it’s received and reply to them in that way. All my stationery is stacked on a shelf to the left of me and all my pens are in a mug in front of me. Let’s put it this way – the hard drives with my footage and photos on are more organized than my letter writing! Although I do hope that my disorganization shows through in my letters. In a good way of course!

issue915Do you swap things? Do you like sending gifts to friends? If yes, what is the funniest gift you have ever sent/received?

Of course! It’s always fun to send things! I swap FB’s, decos and goodie bags. As for gifts, I send whatever takes my fancy. The funniest gift I’ve ever received was a blow up guitar. It goes with me when I go to concerts!

Have you met a penpal? If so, let us know how the meeting went.

Oh, yes! She has become a sister to me and her, and her family, have been there for me through the good and the bad. We’re never off the phone to each other and now I’m making plans to move closer to her, even though I only live an hour away now! I’m looking forward to the day I can call her up and we can go out without having to spend weeks arranging it. That will be a great day!
But all of my penpals are family to me. I’m so blessed to have wonderful and supportive pen-friends. I hope that I appropriately reciprocate the love they give me.

What do you usually like writing/reading about in the letters?

I like my letters to be like a normal conversation, so anything and anything. I try not to follow a format, so to speak. Just put the pen to the paper and see what comes out.

When it comes to making cute and personal letters, everyone has his/her own style. Tell us your trick how to make a letter/envelope unique? Do you decorate it? If yes, how. Give us some tips on how to make the letters more interesting.

To me, it’s not about what the letter’s written on. However, I like mine to look nice. It’s always better if it turns up in something other than a white or brown envelope. Whenever I see white envelopes, I think of bills and credit card statements! So I buy coloured envelopes and I always try and get interesting ones. The most recent ones have roses embossed into the paper. And I’m a real sucker for nice paper. Again, it’s that personal touch of being able to pick something nice that your friend will appreciate. Whenever I’m shopping, I’m always looking for cards and bits and pieces that my friends will like. But if it’s a great letter it could be written on toilet roll for all I care!

Where do you buy your stationery supplies from? Do you prefer traditional shops or e-shops? If so, give us some links.

I buy all of mine online, mainly from ebay and Janet Store ( www.janetstore.com ). However, if I see something I like when I’m out and about, then I’ll pick it up.


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