Oct. 12, 2020

14. Joanna, IGGPPC Director

14. Joanna, IGGPPC Director

Today’s episode is a discussion with Joanna, an International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club Director, Content Editor, Keeper of Commas, and Spreader of Smiles and we will be talking about Pen Pals and the ever-expanding world of Girl Geekdom.

 

Founded in March 2013, the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club (aka IGGPPC) was designed to bring together the geek community through shared interests in all things geeky, a love of stationery, and an interest in making friends.

 

 What are the IGGPPC Houses?

                                 House Quinn are ages 17-21

                                 House GlaDOS are ages 22-29

                                House Organa are ages 30-44

                                House Ripley are ages 45+ 


Legend of Korra

Star Wars: Clone Wars

The Mandalorian

 Charm Bomb Podcast

Sharpies

@MyCatIsPeople

Needle Felting Kit


International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club

 IGGLEs On Twitter

 IGGLEs on Instagram

 IGGLEs on Facebook

 IGGLEs on YouTube


 Instagram

@joannavolavka

@gneissguyco

@stationeryorbit

 

 You can also write to me at:

Stationery Orbit
 Attn: John West
 P.O. Box 621
 Golden, CO 80402  

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/stationeryorbit?fan_landing=true)

Transcript

SO ep 14 tk 3.sesx_mixdown

[00:00:00] John: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 14 of stationary orbit, where we can all learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West and today's episode is a discussion with Joanna an international deep girl pen pals club, director. Content editor, keeper of commas as Fred or smiles. And we will be talking about pen pals and the ever expanding world of girl dictum.

Hello Joanna. Hi John. So the D girls pen-pal club was founded in 2013 and it's designed to bring together the geek community through shared interests in all things, geeky, a love of stationery and an interest in making friends. So Joanna, what is an IGGLE? 

Joanna: [00:00:35] So an IGGLE is one of our community members as the international geek girl pen pals club.

We shorten our acronym to IgG PPC. And so you take the IgG at the beginning of that and you have EGL, it was a nice little term coined by the community. So they call themselves IGGLEs I love it. Yeah. 

John: [00:00:55] That's awesome that you actually have something that's grown out of the community as their [00:01:00] own nickname.

So they all, they have ownership of it. Yeah, they really do. So the, the next one is what is the hashtag IGGLE knobs? 

Joanna: [00:01:08] Ah, so  is actually another community initiative. We have several of them, the community likes to get together around activities that they do together. So we have a whole lot of IgG PPC activities.

You can find a tab for it on our website and IGGLE noms as one of them. So that is the group that loves cooking and baking and all things, food, and they like to celebrate food holidays. They do baking challenges. But some of our other activities, we have IGGLE flicks, which is our little, our group that likes to do movies.

We have IGGLE bookworms that have a monthly reading club on good reads there's IGGLE comics that talks about all things, comics and manga, like all kinds of activities for anything that you want to do. Yeah. I 

John: [00:01:55] definitely consider myself an omnivore. So what is your favorite [00:02:00] IGGLE hashtag. 

Joanna: [00:02:01] Oh, my favorite one.

My favorite IGGLE hashtag is the IGGLE boost. So anytime that anybody in the community and it needs a signal boost either for, if they need some words of encouragement, if they are having a fundraiser, if there's some cool project that they want shouted out, we can use the hashtag IGGLE boost to find that and then promote it and give it a signal boost to our community so that they can find each other and connect.

John: [00:02:28] That is really awesome. It's something that I've really started to embrace as I've gotten more and more into the creative letter writing world and more into the fountain pen world. And that kind of thing. It's just how important this, this tribe building is so that we can all be there and help support one another and build that community.

So that's really awesome that you guys are doing that with the IGGLEs. Yeah, 

Joanna: [00:02:51] I would say, I would say that the community is the best part about all of this, for sure. 

John: [00:02:57] One of the unique things about the D curl pen [00:03:00] pals club is the fact that you sort your members into houses. So can you tell me about the IGGLEs houses?

Joanna: [00:03:06] So we have four houses that are based on, uh, age groups. And the idea for that is to sort people into similar life experiences so that you have somebody who you might geek out about the same geek lives. You may, you may be into the same things and have similar interests, but it's also, I think, important to have that kind of shared life experience.

So our houses are grouped into ages 17 to 21. That's how Quinn. A house. Gladys is age 22 to 29 house or Ghana is age 30 to 44. And then house Ripley is age 45 plus, and we've put those age groups together, basically based on the number of people that have signed up in them over the years. But also because you know, a 17 to 22 year old has a much [00:04:00] different life experience than someone who's in their fifties.

John: [00:04:02] Completely agree. I was taking a look through some of the stuff on the website and it looks like the IGGLE houses have been going through a bit of a, an evolution. How have the house has changed since the pen-pal community was founded in 2013? 

Joanna: [00:04:17] Oh sure. When we first started a house, our Ghana was the, the last house.

So everybody 30 plus was there and we actually had a house Granger that was for 13 to 17 year olds. So we initially started off pairing teens with other teens, students with other students, but we found that. Not only was there less interest in the younger age group, but really for safety reasons, uh, as our community grew and as it expanded and because we had so many older participants, we made the decision several years ago that we were going to phase out the younger house.

So we no longer have house Granger at the younger end. And we ended up [00:05:00] expanding it because we did have so many people. That we're signing up at older ages that we really needed to split off or Ghana starting at age 30. So basically your entire adulthood. So we did another demarcation kind of based on the number of people signing up in each age bracket and created the house that's for 45 plus 

John: [00:05:19] house Ripley

yeah. So I think that's, I think that's great. It's, it's nice that the group has being reactive to the needs of the community and that changing demographic. Yeah. As a percentage, how much of being an IGGLE is being a pen pal versus being a 

Joanna: [00:05:35] geek? Oh, my goodness. I would say it depends entirely on the individual person.

Your mileage may vary. I know some people that sign up and only write letters and only communicate through snail mail. I actually have a pen pal that we only communicate via snail mail. In fact, it seems a little weird. We do follow each other on Instagram and occasionally comment on each other's posts, but it's, it's a little [00:06:00] weird because normally we just talk through letters.

And then there are other people that are full in on the community. Cause we do a ton of activities and we have events and things like that. Um, but maybe they don't write to their pin pals super often or maybe, you know, they signed up for a pen pal a long time ago, but haven't signed up again recently for whatever reason.

So I think it's really a choose your own adventure situation and we're welcoming of however you want to IGEL, it's up to 

John: [00:06:27] you. Yeah. And I think another thing that's worth mentioning is the fact that the IGGLEs have their own discord, which is a whole nother genre of being pen pal type communications, where it's completely digital completely real time.

And I'm sure that there are a lot of folks that are taking advantage of 

Joanna: [00:06:45] that. Oh, yeah. Our discord is very popular and we have a ton of places where people can chat about their geek loves. Cause our goal is to connect people and build friendships like that is, that is the big ultimate goal is to build connections and build [00:07:00] friendships, especially in an increasingly digital age, it can be hard to make those interpersonal connections.

So we want to foster a place where people can do that. And snail mail is a really great way to do that, but because we're also at the intersection of, of geekdom, we can get together and geek out about things without even having to write letters about them. But that being said, our discord also has a lot of our snail mail related.

Things in it. So for instance, we have a pen pal limbo channel, where if you signed up for a match and your match, maybe didn't reply, which just, unfortunately sometimes happens. You can come to the pin, Pell limbo, channel and posts, and then reconnect with people who are all in the same situation. And then we have swaps that run.

We have about six big swaps that run throughout the year where you get a one-off match just to trade cards or care packages that all is run through our discord, all kinds of good stuff. Many opportunities. 

John: [00:07:56] So one thing that I've seen in other online pen, [00:08:00] pal, snail mail communities, and this kind of, kind of feeds off of the mail art thing of that anyone can participate and there will be no rejections and documentation for all that.

Even though a lot of stuff is happening in the snail mail world. And it's about the correspondence that the online community then helps support that because people are able to check in and say, Hey, I got your letter. It came through as a wax seal came through beautifully, or the wax seal got obliterated.

Those kinds of things. Is that similar or does that kind of thing happen on the discord for your snail mail? Oh, 

Joanna: [00:08:35] absolutely. Um, we have a mail call thread where people can post their incoming and outgoing and we, we love seeing people's mail and how creative it is and you know, all of the beautiful, artistic things people do, but for our swaps as well, that's a big one where people like to check in.

So for every swap that opens, we have a separate discord channel and you can go there and find information about like when the signups are. When [00:09:00] signups are closed when your swap matches going out and people check in, they're like, Hey, you know, I got this box. This is what was inside and they can talk back and forth about it so that you get that little extra, I guess it's like a sense of security that you know, that your thing arrived and was appreciated.

It feels good to see people get happy about stuff like that. 

John: [00:09:19] Yeah, totally. It's you know, like you said, if you have that level of appreciation that you know, that something got received and that it was really, it brought joy to somebody's day, that's going to encourage you to do it more. And that's what this is all about.

Joanna: [00:09:34] Get that good dopamine. 

John: [00:09:36] It looks like the geek girls pen pal club is very LGBTQ friendly. And I was wondering how do, how do the IGGLEs welcome to that community? 

Joanna: [00:09:46] We have been very friendly to the LGBTQ plus community from the beginning. So you can tell from our branding that, you know, it's still it's skate girls.

That's what it says, but we wanted very quickly to include [00:10:00] people from all different gender identities. So we, but we also appreciated that some people are coming to the community because it's a safe place for women and femme indentifying people. So the way that we do this is through our pen pals signup form.

You can list that you are, you identify as. Man as woman or non-binary and you can choose if you are, you know, a woman, you can say, I want to be paired with another woman and, or you can choose to be paired with anybody. And we kind of do this to be as inclusive as we can while also. Helping people have a certain level of safety when they sign up.

But we have a ton of wonderful, like people from all different gender identities that are part of our community. And we just, we love being inclusive and welcoming. And if you want to be an IGGLE, you can come be an, 

John: [00:10:53] you go. Then I'm going to kind of skip ahead here just a little bit, because I wanted to talk about the [00:11:00] trombone podcast later, but I'm going to bring it up now because I I've listened to the first couple of episodes and I thought it was so cool to hear on that podcast where you were talking about the chilling adventures of Sabrina and the storyline with CEO going through that gender change and how supportive and just like.

Do you are totally fan girling on it. And I thought that was, I thought that was really exceptional. 

Joanna: [00:11:28] Yeah. It's I mean, chilling adventures of Sabrina, I think has done a great job of having that kind of representation. And obviously there are all kinds of different stories. Like every, my trans and non-binary friends each have an individual story.

Right. But it's so nice to see it represented so positively in the media that I just, I appreciated it a lot. 

John: [00:11:51] Very cool. So I was, I used the word fan girling and what I want to get to next is what have you been fan girling recently? 

[00:12:00] Joanna: [00:12:00] Oh my goodness. Uh, recently I have just finished watching the legend of Korra for the first time.

So that was pretty great. Other stuff I've been super into animated shows lately. So earlier this year, I was very excited for season seven of clone Wars. I'm a huge star Wars fan, and I love soca Tano so much and was so happy with how clone Wars ended. And I will say nothing else about it because I don't want to spoil it for anybody because it's amazing.

If you haven't watched clone Wars, you should go watch clone Wars. Um, 

John: [00:12:32] Dave Filoni is going to be the savior of the star Wars universe. I just know it. 

Joanna: [00:12:38] Oh, it's so good. And I'm super excited for Mandalorian season two for other things that I will also not spoil, but like, I'm super excited about that. It's hard to talk about stuff because I'm like, Oh, I want to talk about things, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

John: [00:12:55] Well, I don't think we're, I don't think we're spoiling anything because it's been [00:13:00] out there, but all the, all of the geekdom needs to be excited about the fact that they've announced that Asoka Tano will be hearing. 

Joanna: [00:13:07] I am so excited. Yeah. , I'm super excited to see Asoka in, in live action. So yes, 

John: [00:13:18] that's super cool.

I love the, that there there's so much out there and honestly, we're, we're living in a time where the phrase, the geek shall inherit the earth is truly coming true. And I think that it's the way the world is going now where the, the folks that are going to geek out are, have safe spaces to do that now.

And I think that's just exceptional and really says something hopeful about the world. 

Joanna: [00:13:48] Yeah. You know, I honestly think that. There were a lot more geeks out there, but it was harder to find one another before the internet, or maybe harder to feel like you could express that [00:14:00] before the internet. So maybe you kept it kind of on the inside.

And it's been really neat to see everybody be like, you know what, forget it. I just, I really love this thing. I on ironically love this thing and I'm passionate about it and I want to share it with people. And I just, I love 

John: [00:14:15] that. Yeah, I think that some of that gets into before there was this idea that you, you either had to conform to the big ideas and what was coming from the big TV networks or what was coming from the big news outlets and these kinds of things.

And we've started to see this concentration where all it takes is like that thousand true fans. To catapult something and make it sustainable and , that's really become a thing. So I want to kind of kick back into some of the snail mail and pen palling. Do you have any screening tips? Because this is one thing that I thought was really great about the IGGLEs website is their safety policy, but do you have any tips for screening?

Joanna: [00:14:58] So do you mean. [00:15:00] On a personal level. Like if you get matched with someone or on a matching level from like the backend, 

John: [00:15:06] I think from the front end, where , if you're actually going to be accepting a pen pal or getting into that relationship of making sure that, that person's what they say they are, who they say they are, where you can verify them before you start that and power relationship.

Joanna: [00:15:21] Right. So one of the things that we recommend for people is to exchange several emails back and forth first, to kind of get a feel for the person before you actually share any of your personal contact information. Like for instance, when we pair people, all we give as a first name and an email address, we give nothing else.

We don't even say what he loves you got matched on so that you can initiate that conversation. And we always say, if anything at all, doesn't pass the smell test. If anything in your gut doesn't feel good. Just stop talking to them. You're not required to keep exchanging emails. And we encourage people that sign up with us to reach out to us and let us know.

And then we can kind of, you know, keep an eye [00:16:00] on, on things and see if that's somebody that we need to not pair in the future. Unfortunately, with, at least for us, it happens very, very rarely. But yeah, I would say always go with your gut and always be careful about giving out your information on the internet.

 There's a certain level of trust that's involved with, , getting a pen pal through a service. Absolutely. But I think talking to somebody a little bit, usually can kind of weed that out. 

John: [00:16:25] Okay. And going back to the website, there's actually one tip on there that I thought was exceptional and just kind of breaking the mold of what you're seeing in terms of safety tips, but it was so clever and ask them to snap a picture of themselves with your name written on an index card and send that to you.

So that way you can identify and verify that person and what they actually look like. And I thought that was exceptionally good. 

Joanna: [00:16:54] It's all about using the internet in smart ways. And internet safety can be [00:17:00] hard, but you can also, you can make it work in your favor. So we always want people to be safe online 

John: [00:17:07] slowly, and that goes brilliantly into the, my next question, which is what should you do if you expect that a pen pal may be fraudulent.

Joanna: [00:17:14] the first thing that I would do is stop all communications with them immediately. And then I would reach out to the place, the service, the platform, however you found them and try to let them know what's going on and see if there's a resolution that you can have through that. Because again, like we tell anybody, if anything just smells a little bit off it in touch with us so that we can help because we want to make sure everybody stays safe.

John: [00:17:44] Completely agree with that. That's one of those where if there's any line that you have that you don't think should be crossed and it gets crossed, I'm completely with you. It's like you just stop everything immediately. Don't allow an abuse to continue whatever that happens [00:18:00] to be because no one needs that in their lives.

And it's best to just kill it as, as hard as you can. Yeah. If it comes up now, we're going to get into  we're past the whole stage , of making sure that everything looks good. Everything's bright and you're sitting down and you're ready to write that letter and the inevitable writer's block, she hits you.

What do you do to get past writer's block as a pen pal? 

Joanna: [00:18:24] I think there are a couple of different ways you can go about it. , because we pair people based on gloves. I always recommend writing about what you're geeking out about right now. What was the last show that you watched that you love? Maybe? What was the last book that you read?

Is there a podcast you're super into something like that and talk about the thing that you care about because you might either find that you have that thing in common, or you might be introducing your new friends to something new, to check out and you can be excited about it together. The other thing that I think is kind of cool is to paint a picture of where you are and what it's like, [00:19:00] where you are.

And it sounds super old fashioned, but even just to sit down and be like, you know what, it's Wednesday afternoon, it's raining outside. I've got a big cup of tea beside me. This is what I did this morning. And really like capture that really specific moment of you sitting there writing the letter. It creates this little window into your world that your pen pal might not.

Otherwise ever, no, because these are not people you often meet in person. So, you know, describe the room that you're in or describe the way that the weather is or describe your cat asleep beside you, whatever it is. I think that stuff is way more interesting than people realize. There's a reason that slice of life, TV shows and books and things are so popular.

John: [00:19:47] To me, if you're a pen palling and you're sitting down and you're putting pen to paper and writing, even if you consider yourself to be a horrible writer or a horrible pen pal, you're still writing. And that's one of the things [00:20:00] that really makes beautiful writing. Beautiful is taking something where , you're describing something and giving it your flare, giving it your viewpoint.

And I mean, , there are writers. That, you know, just in the first couple of paragraphs of a book, Oh, this is going to be a really good book because of the kinds of descriptions you get of what could have been mundane, but they make magical. 

Joanna: [00:20:25] Yeah, I totally agree. And I want to, I want to touch on, you said there are people that feel like bad pen pals.

I think that secretly all pen pals occasionally feel like bad pen pals. I see so many people say, Oh my goodness, it's been this many months since I wrote to my pen pal, I feel so bad. So the first thing I would say is if you have writer's block and it's been a little while, it's totally okay. It happens to everybody.

You know, life, life happens. The other thing I will say is one of the things that helps me when I feel like it's my turn to write, and I just don't have that mental bandwidth. I send a [00:21:00] postcard. And I just say, Hey, there's a letter coming soon, but I wanted you to get something in the mail thinking of you.

John: [00:21:06] That's definitely a nice, nice touch and definitely a nice tip because you're exactly right. I was barely takes you any time at all. It's just a quick note and it's in the mail and it's still going to bring a smile to your pen pals face, and especially in the light of the fact that. Yesterday was rolled mental health day.

I think it's important for people to be forgiving of themselves. And even though you might look at something and go, Oh, it's been two months since I've written, I must be, I must be a horrible pen pal of reframing that conversation with yourself. And saying, yeah, I spent two months, but now it's time to get back to writing.

And now I'm going to be a good pen pal instead of concentrating on the negative, getting into the positive, uh, I've just found myself, valuing mental health so much more and valuing the ability to give people [00:22:00] tools for, for better mental health here recently. And it's become very important to me. 

Joanna: [00:22:07] I think.

I think that connections through snail mail are very valuable for mental health too. You know, we live in this increasingly. Individual, like you've live in this little individual pod, both because of this year, but because of social media and technology and the way that things are, we don't get those opportunities for interpersonal close interaction.

The way that maybe you would have 30 or 40 years ago and snail mail really sort of bridges that gap. It gives you a tangible connection to another human. And I think that's really, really beautiful. 

John: [00:22:42] Yeah, it does. It breaks down that isolation that people can end up feeling. And the only way you get past that is by doing something.

And whether it's writing to Oman as a pen pal, sending an email, getting on discord, whatever it takes to make that human connection. [00:23:00] And that gets into my next question, which is how often should you write to a pen pal? 

Joanna: [00:23:05] You know, I think this is another one of those things where your mileage may vary. And I think that it's something that you should chat with your pen pal about when you first start writing, you know, how often do you want to write?

Because some people like to write back and forth every single week. Some people want to write every month. Some people it might just be as life happens. I think that if you have clear expectations, I think it's important to communicate those clear expectations because your pen pal may be on a completely different page, but as long as you let them know, Hey, I'd like to write back and forth every month, then you can kind of figure that out together.

The two of you, you know, on the other hand, I have a pen pal that we write maybe once a year and that's totally fine. So, you know, it just, it depends on the individual life, circumstances and personalities. I think. 

[00:24:00] John: [00:23:59] And I completely agree with that because it's just like any other friendship. There are friends that you feel the need to chat with every single day.

And then there are friends that you might talk to, like you said, once a year, but the second that conversation starts, it is just like no day had passed. And like I said, your mileage may vary, but, and every friendship is going to be different because every person is different. Yeah, exactly. If any of you had hadn't figured it out yet.

Joanna has a pretty good radio presence, podcast presence, and that's not by accident because Joanna is part of the charm bomb podcasts. So could you tell me a little bit more about your podcast? 

Joanna: [00:24:42] Absolutely charm bomb is the geek girl pen pals podcast. We put out an episode about once a month, uh, but don't hold us to any specific schedule.

And it's a conversational podcast between me and one of my co-directors summer where we talk about. [00:25:00] Usually a lot of tea drinking, cause we're always drinking to you and we're recording, but we talk about what we are geeking out about. At the moment we take questions from, uh, from our listeners who want to submit to ask charm balm and then summer gives me a top five where I have to on the spot, come up with my top five, whatever random things summer has come up with this week.

Um, it's super fun. Uh, we tend to be under 45 minutes, so we're also a relatively quick listen. Yeah. It's like hanging out with a couple of friends and talking about stuff you geek out 

John: [00:25:32] about. That's brilliant mentioning things that we geek out about. I tend to geek out about a lot of the stationary stuff that goes into the creative letter writing process.

So I need to know, do you use fountain pens? 

Joanna: [00:25:45] Don't be sad, but I do not use fountain pens. I am, I am a Sharpie pen lover. I have Sharpie pens and every color that you can imagine. And I love using Sharpie pens and everything. 

John: [00:25:58] Yeah, I, I work in the [00:26:00] environmental field. So we're using Sharpies as a way of life.

That's not a choice. Yeah. My favorite use of Sharpies in stationary stuff is actually when I do the wax seals of being able to use the metallic Sharpies over the top of the raised impression in order to give the black seals more character. 

Joanna: [00:26:21] That's so clever. I've never tried that 

John: [00:26:22] before. It's almost like dry brushing in like model painting or sculpture painting.

And you just lightly run over the top of the impression with the Sharpie. 

Joanna: [00:26:33] I will absolutely have to try that because I have some excellent wax seals and some metallic Sharpies. 

John: [00:26:40] There you go. All the tools you need now just got to do it. You had mentioned Sharpies. Do you have a favorite pen? 

Joanna: [00:26:48] So my favorite pen changes constantly.

My go-to is very boring. I like the big ultra round pens that come in black and blue and red. They [00:27:00] just write so smoothly. You can buy them bulk because I write a lot by hand. So my pins try to tend to run out pretty frequently. But other than that, for me, a good pen, it's all about the weight. Like I love a good, heavy pin and I don't like it to be too thin.

I like it to be a thicker heavy pen. Something that feels really nice in my hand. 

John: [00:27:21] Yeah. No, that's, that's awesome. Because as much as the fountain pen world tends to get wrapped around itself, there's a reason why brands like BIC and ballpoints are so popular because they have gotten so good over time.

There, you can pick one of these things up and it could have been sitting there for six months or six years and you pick it up and you're right with it. And there there's something to be said for that. 

Joanna: [00:27:47] Yeah. I I've always, I keep one tucked inside of my wallet to be totally honest, because you never 

John: [00:27:52] know.

Oh, I, I always have a, uh, either like one of the uni power tank pens, or like the pilot down [00:28:00] force or one of them that, that tends to have like a pressurized ink tank to it on me as well as a, uh, a field notes, expedition notebook. I always have those things on me because I never know when I'm going to need to take down a note.

And if it's raining on me, I need to be able to still take that 

Joanna: [00:28:16] note. Huh? I also have field notes and can appreciate them. They are amazing. 

John: [00:28:23] Yeah, they are. And again, it's one of those where you can really appreciate the amount of creativity that it takes to make that brand and to make those products. And it's really about appreciation.

Yeah. So that might actually tie into my next question. Do you have a favorite paper? 

Joanna: [00:28:41] Oh my goodness. Favorite paper. So I use all kinds of different stationary, so it's not necessarily based on weight. I tend to collect stationary based on the gloves to be totally honest. So I love scifi and fantasy. So I have some [00:29:00] beautiful stationary that has dragons on it.

I could not tell you where I found it. I've had it for a long time and I use the pages very sparingly. So if you ever get a dragon paper from me, know that that is a special gift. Um, yeah, and I like, I like using. Heavy heavy card stock cards, especially the ones where it's just like a single rectangle where you can write front and back.

I like using that a lot. Um, especially plain ones where I can use Sharpies or gel pens or something and create art around the edges and kind of make my own for me. It's all about the texture though. It's got to have a good, I don't want it to slippery. I don't want it too smooth. It's got to have a good, like coarse texture.

John: [00:29:46] I tend to go with papers that are a little more forgiving because of how heavy some of my pens put down ink. And as well as the amount of stamps that I end up applying to letters of not wanting paper, that's going to [00:30:00] allow that stamp to ghost out the other side. 

Joanna: [00:30:03] Oh yeah. And you don't want any warping either.

John: [00:30:05] Yeah. Oh yeah, exactly. If you end up with saturation, it ends up causing crinkling that's that's not good either. Absolutely. Where I was talking about stamps. And before you had talked about wax seals, do you have a favorite embellishment for your snail mail? 

Joanna: [00:30:21] I honestly love losing stickers. I have a massive drawer of all kinds of different adhesive seals and stickers and things like that.

And I have them for all different seasons. So I will decorate the envelope or I will decorate the paper sometimes I'll clip individual stickers and put them as inclusions for my pin pal to open on the other end. And it's usually something that coordinates. So if I have decorated the envelope with seasonal acorns and leaves and things, because it's autumn, then you'll probably have little autumn stickers included for you as well.

John: [00:30:53] Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. That's definitely something that I've seen a lot more following the hashtag snail mail [00:31:00] revolution on Instagram is how heavy the sticker uses in that is something that I definitely need to look into more to help up my game. 

Joanna: [00:31:10] They're really fun. I like that they are so customizable and then you can order even personalized ones.

I just, I really enjoy them. 

John: [00:31:18] Cool. We've talked before about some of the different things about writing pen, pals and D dealing with writer's block and those kinds of things to safety. But what is the one thing you wish people knew about pen pals? 

Joanna: [00:31:30] I wish that people knew that it's such a great way to form a friendship and just like a real, genuine friendship.

We do. We do pen pal, pairing rounds, 10 months out of the year, we take off July and December and we use themes that are just some fun flavor for each rounds. Every round has its own imagery and things like that. But in September, we did a meme theme. Uh, that was all about like old school internet memes.

And as I was searching for [00:32:00] pen pal memes, I realized that a lot of them were not very kind. They were not positive things about pen pals at all. And it made me really sad cause I was like, but this is such a positive thing. So many people love sending snail mail and, and it brings so much good, like interpersonal connection and community and friendships to so many people's lives.

So I just started making my own snail mail meats because why not a meme? Generators are great. 

John: [00:32:27] Nice. Yeah, that's something that I, I stole an idea from another podcast and it's due by Friday with Merlin Mann and, and the folks from cards against humanity. And one of the things that they said there was don't yuck, someone else's yum

and I, first time I heard that I kind of tilted my head like a dog, and I'm like, Don't yuck someone else's yum but the longer I listened and the more I thought about that, the more it set into my head of what a brilliant way of saying that, that you, you just [00:33:00] need to allow other people to be other people and don't be negative.

Don't yuck someone else's yum yeah, 

Joanna: [00:33:05] there is no reason at all to be negative about something that makes someone else happy. You don't have to like the thing, not all things are for all people. And that's why it's so great. There's so many things there's you just can say, you know what, that thing's not for me, but I'm glad you enjoy it.

John: [00:33:23] Mentioning things that we enjoy. I've got a list of rapid fire questions that I, I tend to give over all of my guests and the start starting out with blank, mind, grid or dot grid paper. 

Joanna: [00:33:34] Oh blank. I like blank paper. If it has to have something on it, then I want lined paper, but it has to be very specific width.

John: [00:33:45] There you go. Yeah. That's another one. Don't don't you have somebody else's yum. Yeah. So there are lots of people out there, and that's the reason why you have to have all of the different types of paper, because everyone has their use for it. And they're going to be multiple uses for multiple people in a lot of cases.

[00:34:00] So, are there any artists out there that are doing just amazing work that the stationary lovers need to know 

Joanna: [00:34:06] about? I follow a lot of artists who do stationary, but not as their primary thing. I personally really like this Instagram account called my cat is people and it's an artist and she has, she's an artist and she has two cats.

And she makes really great cards that have little illustrations of her cats on them that are great. And I just, I 

John: [00:34:31] love them. I follow a lot of cat, Instagram accounts and, and cat artists that are out there as well. And yeah, there definitely some, some fun accounts out there. 

Joanna: [00:34:42] Yeah. 

John: [00:34:42] So what is your favorite purchase stationary or not in the last six months?

Joanna: [00:34:47] If it can be not stationary. 

John: [00:34:50] Absolutely. 

Joanna: [00:34:51] Yeah. I bought a needle felting kit about five months ago and I've gotten really into needle felting and [00:35:00] it's to the point point where I'm probably going to needle felt gifts for my pin pals this year for the holidays so that I can, I can make them something handmade.

Plus felt like wool is so lightweight. It's it's easy to ship. 

John: [00:35:14] Yeah, it's amazing to me. Once I started getting more into the Penn community and letter running community, how many litters there are in the community? 

Joanna: [00:35:24] There are, there are a lot of knitters. There was a period about, I would say four years ago where we had a whole community of people where their geek loves were T Sherlock and knitting.

And it was like they would all talk about, they would watch Sherlock together and knit and drink tea and it sounded like the coziest thing. It was just, it was great. 

John: [00:35:45] And mentioning cozies when you described that, I just imagine a huge market for like British union Jack tea cozies for putting over your teapot while you're watching Sherlock.

Joanna: [00:35:57] Oh, totally 

John: [00:35:58] not that I haven't done that. [00:36:00] All right. So where can they find you on the internet? 

Joanna: [00:36:04] So they can find geek girl pen pals at geek girl pen, pals.com or on all of the major social medias at Geek Girls pen pals. If you want to listen to charm bomb, we are on pretty much all of the major places where you would find podcasts like iTunes and Spotify, or you can go to geek girl pen, pals.com/charm bomb to find the full feed.

You want to look for me? I'm on Instagram at Joanna Volavka J O N N a V as in Victor, O L a V as in Victor. K a 

John: [00:36:37] excellent.