Posted by: Shanna Germain | 05/20/2009

Pg. 50: Dear Dear,


Hand-written letters and hand-made cards from home. Plus all the pretty postage stamps!


  • Weather: Windy. I have six inches of dirt and silt and sand in my eyes. -cries-
  • Mileage: A five-mile jaunt to the nearby town and then up a rather muddy trail (shocker) and back. Later, another mile-plus, in a much slower meander.
  • Discovery: The cleanest public restrooms I’ve ever seen in my life. They were… spotless. And then some.
  • Media: Bloodhound Gang. Lacuna Coil. The Killers.
  • Worst Thing: The discovery that some people eat their salads with mayo as a dressing. -shudders-
  • Best Thing: Friends who sent pictures of their new, healthy baby boy.
  • Quote of the Day: “Ucket.” Yeah, it’s one of those in-joke things, but I laughed a lot.
  • Word of the Day: Besom. A difficult woman. I, of course, don’t know any of those.


Little cramped words scrawling all over
   the paper
Like draggled fly's legs,
What can you tell of the flaring moon
Through the oak leaves?
Or of my uncertain window and the
   bare floor

From “The Letter,” by Amy Lowell. Read the whole poem here.


When I first started freelancing (oh, so long ago!), email wasn’t the standard way to submit queries. Instead, you had to print out your query letters and your article submissions and send them via snail mail. It was the one time in my life that I can remember waiting impatiently for the mail carrier to arrive, hoping against hope that someone, somewhere was going to say yes and give me an assignment. If I lived in a place where the mailbox was far away, I’d find a million excuses to make the trip to the box, checking to see if there was mail yet. If the mailman came to the door, I tried very hard not to accost him on the front steps. “What do you mean all you have for me is fliers and things addressed to ‘homeowner’? Are you sure there’s nothing else in that bag of yours? Come on, come on, don’t hold out on me!”

I don’t know why I was so impatient, truly. At least for the first few years, almost all of the responses were something along the lines of, “Dear Miss Jermaine [sic], Thank you for your submission. It’s well-written and has some wonderful points, but it’s not quite right for us. Best of luck elsewhere.”

But then, sometimes, so very rarely, but sometimes, I’d get that letter of blinding hope. “Dear Mr. German [sic], We enjoyed your piece very much but it’s not quite right for us. We encourage you to try us again in the future.” (Which, I might add, I would typically do, and which more often than not not, would result in another “Best of luck elsewhere,” letter).

Still, I was determined. And the first time the mailman brought me a “Yes, we’d love to publish your article” letter from a magazine, I would have kissed him if he hadn’t gotten into the habit of throwing the mail somewhere in the general vicinity of my porch and running away as fast as he could.

That was years ago, and email replaced snail mail and I stopped molesting the mailman. (Mostly. See: the time I thought he was a stray cat and tried to scare him away with loud clapping and yelling).

But here, here in this far-off land where friends are far away, and phone calls are expensive and email is sporadic, I’ve begun to wait for the sounds of postman feet down my hall. Today brought letters — two of them, and a gorgeous handmade card of birds in flight. I sat down on the couch, in a rare moment of sunshine and opened them slowly, savoring the time and the words, the fantastic, funny pictures, drawn by a friend on the Thinkpad that she adopted from me, and the amazing artwork card created by another friend. I keep the notes on my desk, along with note from my mom that urges the local librarian to let me have a library card (just in case the “official-looking” address on the envelope wasn’t enough). They’re tactile, permanent pieces of ‘home’ that I savor, that remind me of all the amazing people in my life. And I’m so incredibly grateful for them.

And, while I’m on the subject: The flat, as I believe I’ve mentioned about a million times, is four flights up a circular staircase. The postie (as he’s called here), climbs those stairs every day with a full bag of letters and a cigarette in his mouth just to shove a few bits of mail through the slot. Imagine his despair, his dilemma, when all he has is a flier or a “For current resident” to deliver. Does he climb the stairs, knowing that he’s got nothing, truly to offer? Or does he just throw the flier in the nearest recycle bit and figure I won’t miss it? But he does, bless him, he climbs the stairs and slides the sale ad into the door and goes on his merry way.

To which I say: Help a poor postman out, will you? Give him something fantastic and sexy and meaningful to arrive with. Give him a reason to walk up all those stairs and stand outside my doorway,flexing his well-muscled calves, puffing on his smoke, while I wait, as nervous and excited as a girl on a first date, to see what he’ll deliver. I promise not to accost him. Unless you send something like cookies or good coffee, in which case, I’ll probably meet him on the first floor, drooling and trying oh so hard not to lick his…uh…package.

Far and fast, s.


“Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something. ” ~Ernest Hemingway



The other way to communicate. I feel like if I entered one of these, I’d leave wearing a sexy spandex costume with a big red S on my chest.



  1. Oh Mr German, you make me laugh! I love the post too!

    N x

    • Hahah! That made me laugh too! šŸ™‚

  2. /adds besom to her list

    Ooh thanks, a new one to add to my list when people say I’m bossy and stubborn (the ones with less dipolmacy, or bigger balls? not sure, say I’m a bitch :p)

    Now for my excitement *squeee* you finally got it!! My god, I think the pony express took it from Wisconsin to one of the coasts jeesh!!

    More is on the way darling šŸ™‚

    • I know, right? I want a shirt that says “Besom” on it. Then everyone could ask me what it meant šŸ™‚

  3. Hmmm, you know… I think I’d like to see that sexy spandex costume! And for some reason, I thought I couldn’t mail anything to you over there hehe. But now that I know, expect a package sometime!

  4. LOL, Dakster. I’m in Scotland, not on the moon!

    -waits eagerly for her package to arrive-

  5. […] So, come on. Take me up on the challenge. Send me your pictures. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it will mean I won’t have to accost the postman! […]

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