Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six Month Update - Entry #23

Six months.  Over 180 cards and letters and stamps.  It’s hard to believe it has been six months since I began The Writing Project.  During this period I have made sure individuals receiving the mailing from me should have it delivered by the U.S. Post Office.  For some, I could very easily drop them in a neighbor’s mailbox or send them to colleagues via intercampus mail, but then the presupposed effect would be lost.  We receive so few letters among the mountains of third-class-mail, circulars, bills, and catalogs.  Discovering a stamped piece of correspondence among the detritus makes us want to “Put on a Happy Face,” as Dick Van Dyke declares in the musical, Bye Bye Birdie:
Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!
Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
Put on a happy face

During this first half-year period I have occasionally received a card in return from my correspondence.  These missives are gratifying to receive especially from colleagues or friends I have not been in touch with for a long time.  But, for the most part, I have not heard back from individuals on my list, which is fine.  I never started this journey thinking I would be inundated with return cards or letters.  However, when I see people face-to-face it’s a different story.  Case in point—earlier this month I attended the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Region I Conference (New England and Canadian Maritime Provinces) in Mystic, CT.  I had been very involved with the organization in the late 1990’s and early turn of the century.  This year, in August and the first part of September, many of the recipients of my cards/letters were to my former colleagues from the group.  At the Regional Conference a number of them, many I had not seen in a few years, were in attendance.  Upon seeing me I received hugs and huge smiles.  “Your card is right on my desk,” was a constant refrain.  Even the Director of the national association, someone I’ve known for 20 years (and the recipient of a card on August 30, 2012), exclaimed that my card was displayed prominently on his desk.  Their reactions put a smile on my face and made me realize that even though I do not receive correspondence in return my cards/letters are being appreciated, which in essence, was one of my goals.

While I have kept up with the basic tenets of The Writing Project I will concede I have not always been true to the cause.  Two examples:
1.  The Fountain Pen – I must admit I have not written recent cards/letters with the silver coated fountain pen I purchased just for The Writing Project.  In the beginning, I would sometimes forget to bring it with me when I would be composing away from home.  On other occasions I would lose patience when it would lose ink as I glided it across the page.  More recently, the ink cartridges that provide the sustenance for the fountain pen have all run dry and I haven’t been back to the store to purchase new ones.  Instead, I’ve used a very inexpensive Pilot Rolling Ball marker.  It is lightweight and skims across the paper.  Until I make the time to purchase new ink cartridges the Pilot will be my writing utensil of choice.
2.  A Card a Day – My intention of a card a day, when I first began, was something very achievable.  However, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks melded into months this undertaking became harder to maintain.  Sometimes two or three days would go by before I wrote cards, needing to catch up to stay on track.  Other times, if I was in a groove, I might churn out correspondence to be 2-3 days ahead of the game.  Nevertheless, I have been able to maintain a +3 to -3 range throughout the six months, which I think is an acceptable fluctuation.

So, as the holiday weekend winds down, with 180+ to cards/letters to go I think of my colleague’s words of encouragement--“It’s all downhill from here.”  How true.

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