Alright, alright!!

cos-mo-post-al-an [koz-muh-postal-en]: adjective/noun
1. a person
who belongs to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world; can make their home anywhere in the world.
2. a person who believes fully that postage stamps and mail connect the world, regardless of where, from or to, they go.
3. the joyful experience of knowing you're a local because your mail made it to its destination

The postage stamp is truly wonderful. It can travel the world, experience the lives of a million different people, go through the doors of strangers; and never once lose sight of where it's headed.
Welcome to the land of cosmopostalan : travel, mail and words. It's a crazy little place in my corner of the woods; wherever that may be!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sending Mail...

Destination: The Mail Box, MA. [U.S.A.]

My POSTAL PONDERING and subsequent outgoing featured piece (for today) belongs to a new penpal of mine.
My aim for the piece was to incorporate maps and travel into an envelope that will travel greatly to reach its location. I used an old car map of Houston for the envelope:

and decorated it accordingly:

I decided to add some of my handmade stationary and stamps:

To create a final piece of mail art joy and fun:

I hope my recipient enjoys this piece of correspondence!
What mail did you make today?
Was today a day of wonderful POSTAL PONDERINGS?

Send mail--send love,
                                 ~ Ms. Always Traveling

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Call for Correspondents!

Call for Correspondents!

I love mail-art, and I love penpals -- but there are never enough!! So, with this post, I would love to expand my penpal collection! If you would too, comment below letting me know, and then go ahead and send me some mail! I will be sure to reply as quick as I can, and it'll be legit!

Mailing Address:
                   Ms. Always Traveling
                   c/o Riley
                   P.O. Box 57023
                   Babson Park, MA
                   USA 02457

Please note: it is important to me that you let me know before you send me anything, so that I know to expect it. Also, I believe that all mail is good mail, but I also believe that one must send good mail in order to receive it! You feelin' me on that one?

To connect the world through mail is to revive the world of a medium that is otherwise dwindling -- and I never want to lose post offices, postage stamps or the magic of the written word.

Join me--
                Ms. Always Traveling

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Destination: The Birthday Party

Destination: The Birthday Party

A birthday party, at any age, is a wonderful celebration of the years of life one has been alive. It is an accumulation of friends, family, joy and fun -- and it is the perfect time to tell someone you appreciate them!

Growing up in a society where, no matter the occasion, you always give a gift to your host, I have grown accustomed to making and giving presents and gifts to people; whether I know like my the back of my hand, have only had the opportunity to meet in passing, and don't know from a bar of soap. The truly wonderful thing is that giving a present, requested, expected or not, always makes a party just that little bit more deliriously scrumptious.

Tonight, I will be attending a birthday party for an acquaintance of mine. We are not "bosom-buddies" but we aren't "eye-contact kids" either. We know each other, just not well enough for me to buy--or make--her the kind of present that will cause her to recall joyful sepia memories of our childhoods. So, I thought it fitting to give her a universally acceptable female gift: a small purse.
The purse itself is a teeny, tiny, blue purse with an optional cross body strap, or clutch useability. It's pretty cute. (I neglected to get a photo before I packaged it up...oops.)

But as I was waking up this morning, I realised that it was in need of some cute wrapping. 

Originally I was going to use wrapping paper, but then I decided against that. Instead, I opted to gently wrap it in white tissue paper and place it inside one of the many boxes I have sitting in my room waiting to be recycled*. (*By this I mean boxes that I have received gifts in that I then recycle by putting my outgoing gifts inside.) 

The purse couldn't have fit more perfectly.
I then adorned it with a little sticky tag:

and then some cute little (recycled, of course) ribbon:

and it was done:

I sure do hope she likes it!!

Upon completing this project I have decided to do a little something called "Giving Gifts" -- from this point forward, I will post any arty lil' gifts I create!

Off to celebrate! Have you given any wonderful gifts recently?

Giving gifts -- giving joy,
                                     ~ Ms. Always Traveling

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Springtime...

It's Springtime...

While I'm not really the biggest fan of Massachusetts or the "New England Mentality", I do have to say that Massachusetts' spring is pretty a-okay. For the first time in months, I can hear birds chirping and singing, yelling at me to get off the front step and clamber through the trees with them. For the first time in months, the sun in shining on grass -- not snow; not dew-covered greenery; not leaveless trees...grass. For the first time in months, I can hear kids playing out on the street and see cars driving past with their windows down.
Unfortunately, unchanging for months -- people are still not managing to smile.

Now seriously -- what could it be?! The weather is too legit to quit, good food is on it's way to being in season, and every day is closer to summer.

I don't get it.

It's probably because they aren't getting enough mail.

I wouldn't blame them -- a day without good mail is like a day without sunshine; grey, moderately chilly, and always leaving you wanting more. But...they have the weather now so...all they need is the mail.

Even though it's "a dying art" (similar to the Latin language, "It's a dying language"; or skinny jeans, "They're a dying trend"; or guacamole facial washes, "They never were a trend...?"), mail brings so much joy to everyone. Especially if it's GOOD mail -- personal letters, travel postcards, thank you notes, "I'm thinking of you" messages.
My bet is that people here just don't get enough of them.

So what can we do to fix that? I've (and continue to) spoken to strangers whilst walking around the town pond, I've said my please and thank you's, I've smiled when the bumbling grocery bagger misplaced my Coffemate (now that stuff is legit). I wish they could do the same!!

But today, my call is for something a little different. (I'm hoping these people will thaw as summer approaches, and the sunshine will bring them a little bit of inspiration and compassion.) With the beginning of spring--and summer fast approaching--, I'm calling for correspondence!

Today, I propose that you write a letter to someone who means a lot to you, someone who impacts your life in a small way, a big way, or in a way that they aren't even aware of. Write a letter to your brother, your neighbour, the deli assistant, that girl that always smiles to you in the hallway. Write to someone who makes a positive impact on your life; and tell them just that.

There is nothing like being appreciated.

In this technological age, the written word is hard to find. Times New Roman replaces handwriting, Inboxes replaces mailboxes, and racing towards nothing replaces being in the now. You never know what someone is going through--what they have experienced--what they are dealing with--what they have discovered--until you ask them, or extend an ear (or a hand) to listen to (or to read) what they have to say (or write). And what better way to get started than with a letter in the mail?

Here, I'll help you get started:

"Dear stranger,
I just wanted to let you know..."

Send mail -- send love,
                                    ~ Ms. Always Traveling

P.S. I'd love to hear if you did just that! Comment below and let me know :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Destination: The Mailbox

Destination: The Mailbox

Life makes one very busy, and quite unable to post articles during times of incredible busyness. But, in such busyness, the purest cure is writing letters.

Today, I would love to show you some of my mail art. Every personal letter (that is, a letter to a pen pal or dear friend, rather than a reply to a bill or a survey from the hospital) that I send is enclosed in some kind of mail art. Mail art, in case you were wondering, is basically decorating an envelope or other traveling container so that your recipient receives something that truly makes their day. A better, more professional definition is this one: Mail art is a worldwide cultural movement that began in the early 1960's and involves sending visual art through the international postal system. Mail Art is also known as Postal Art or Correspondence Art. The term networking is often used to describe Mail Art activities, based on the principles of barter and equal one-to-one collaboration. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
In my vocabulary, mail art is sending something that will make your recipient think, appreciate and reply. Although, I'm still working on the "reply" part; a lot of my dear friends love receiving letters and mail art, but can't find the time to reply, or the energy to write. Which can be frustrating, but receiving little notes of "I got your letter -- it was wonderful! Thank you!" make it all worth it.

Mail art is especially wonderful because there are no guidelines or rules that one must follow, other than for it to be able to fit in the mailbox slot at the post office. Mail art can be as expressive, wild, colourful, insane and reflective as you want, and will be artistically appreciated regardless.

While there is a great mail art community across the globe, I myself do not participate in their activities and gatherings. Instead, I read their published books, follow their websites and remain completely and wholly mesmorised by the delicate wonders of their ideas.
I like to think that my mail art is seen by more people than just my recipient; reaching the hands and eyes of various mailmen and women across the globe. It's truly wonderful to imagine exactly how many people see my mail in transit -- and it adds to the wonderful joy of the entire experience.

Mailart headed to Australia and Florida, respectively [ (c) Ms.AT 2012]
The above mailart made its way to two destinations in Australia and a little beach house in Florida, all locations where my dears received the mail and told me so. My aim for the "Levi" piece was to incorporate great amounts of red and gold, as well as maintaining the Kraft Paper look too. For the "Girl" piece, I used inspiration from a previous piece of mail to paint (with traditional acrylic paints) my concept of winter -- to a friend who was experiencing a lovely summer. The third, "Urgent; A Postcard", incorporated the idea of old timely behaviour and modern-age "fun" into a piece that reflects the dependence our society has on electronics. Ironically, the writing behind the piece is from a French travel magazine, exploring the importance of exiting daily life and dependencies when traveling. I thought that was neat. 

Yesterday, I made a new piece of mail for a dear friend in Oz who is 97 days away from visiting me here in the States. Because of this, I wanted to make a piece to reflect the excitement we are currently sharing. Through this piece:
One of my favourites -- along with another of my favourites; my Olivetti Lettera 22. [ (c) Ms.AT 2012]
Those keys are the keys to my heart... [ (c) Ms.AT 2012]
I aimed to encapsulate everything we are superbly excited to do -- travel together.

The hand holding the mail makes me pretty excited too -- it's not often that you can create a true old world mail feel with true old world instruments. I looks pretty legit.

Mail art is the kind of art that has no boundaries, can do anything, travel anywhere, and make any statement anyone could ever possibly want. It's truly a free medium.

I encourage you today to send a piece of mail, mail art or not, to someone you love and care about. I guarantee you they would love to hear from you, and especially to get something in their mailbox handwritten instead of typed from a form sheet at the bank.

Send mail -- send love,
                 ~ Ms. Always Traveling

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Destination: THE FUTURE, Anywhere&Everywhere

Destination: THE FUTURE, Anywhere&Everywhere.

A listmaker is "one who makes lists of various anythings in order to keep track of their future plans"...right? So what does that make "one who makes list of various everythings in order to keep track of their future plans, desired meals, postage correspondents and 'Fruits Tried Thus Far'"?


I don't plan to write a whole lot today, but I do hope to make a point. My point being that of a bullet-point on the large list that is life. And by that I mean--yes--a list of some sort; or maybe nine lists of some sorts.
I'm not wholly sure as to what it is that makes listmaking such a pleasureable hobby. Surely it isn't what goes ON the list, because more often that not one makes a list to keep track of undesirable commitments in an attempt to make them pass by faster. A lot of the time, lists are used to make mundane things ALL. THE. MORE. MUNDANE.
Take for example, grocery lists. They seem to be quite delirious figments of the imagination, as one never follows what sits upon a grocery list. It is always merely an outline, a "skeleton" if you will, of the things they know they must buy and can't bear themselves to forget. Forget the "toilet paper", "milk--2%", "rye and wheat" and "bikkies"; I'd like to offer my kudos to an individual who adorns their grocery list with such items and assignments as: "extra sweet maple pancake-mix-in-a-bottle", "fourteen unripe Granny Smith's", "shake the hand of the cashier", "a box of choccies for Spencer", "nutricious dog treats for Spencer" and "walk aimlessly in aisle nine in attempt to catch the eye of the box-kid". At least if that list got dropped out of a pocket, you'd be able to narrow it down to a few people from the various characters standing in the aisle in front of you. For one thing, it certainly wouldn't be the grandmother with the cat in her purse--obviously not a dog lady, or the college kid with the thick, "all-the-rage" glasses--he's more focused on the various deoderants and cheap perfums that line the hygiene aisle than apples; and it certainly wouldn't be the box-kid.
The likelihood of following a grocery list is very, very low. One writes their common needs on a grocery list, not their life story. Unless "eggs" and "shampoo" are motifs for "the joy of birth" and "'Won't you have a drink, Sire?'", it seems that other, more creative, lists are required in our society.

And then there is the ordinariness of "To-Do Lists". We all have them, and I can guarantee you that every person I've made eye-contact with today either has one in their back pocket, on their crowded desk, or on the forefront of their mind. It's just the way it is. "To-Do lists", however, also aren't too inspiring. We all tend to write "To-Do lists" as a means to keep track of the things we need to get done--things that add up in to a suffocating mess and glare at us with looming eyes, saying "Imma squish you if you ain't careful."
I'd like to separate "To-Do Lists", as in those which we write to keep track of the things we HAVE to do before a certain deadline, from "To-Do" Lists, as in those lists which we write to keep track of the things we WANT to do; the dreams and experiences we want to acheive before a certain time.

So it is with great excitement that I digress into my personal "To-Do" List for this blog. In the next six months, I aim to achieve, experience and write about the global ventures that I undertake. Although I do love "To-Do" lists, I feel that for this particular undertaking, I don't need to create a set bunch of things that I want to experience, because that will probably only limit what I feel I want to do (which is quite ironically the opposite of grocery lists). I look forward to seeing, finding and documenting anything and everything that strikes me as being interesting, freaky, complete hilarious, beautiful, organic, genuine and documentable.

But whilst I document my experiences, I don't want to lose sight of the perfect beauty of  solidly written "To-Do" Lists and their equally solid ability to be undertaken.
For that reason, I feel it necessary to end with a list.

  1. Do not write a list of things that are necessary to be completed by a timeline. Live with the journey as a method of measuring time itself.
  2. Write a few lines of information that may, or may not, be read by someone else other than myself.
  3. Buy some postage stamps--whichever they may be (I'm still finding it hard to decide!!).
  4. Bring a few words of wonder to the wide land of the internet...
  5. ...and keep track of how many letters I've written today...and how many have yet to be written.
Time for a list?

Keeping track,
                       ~Ms. Always Travelling

Monday, March 12, 2012

Destination: A Small Town Post Office, MA [U.S.A.]

“The postage stamp is a flimsy thing no thicker than a beetle’s wing, and yet it will roam the world for you exactly where you tell it to.”—E V Lucas

Destination: A Small Town Post Office, MA [U.S.A.]

I decided today to venture to the post office that is cleverly located minutes from where I am currently abiding. I like to think that it was cleverly located there by clever locals who, upon hearing I was coming, cleverly located it in its current clever location because they were clever enough to know it would be the core life source for the duration of my stay at this location. The post office itself was teensy -- not much bigger than a public bathroom at the beach, but it was full to the brim with character; and characters.

If I might, I'd like to just take a quick moment here to inform you of what it is about stamps and mail that makes it such a wonderful thing to be passionate about. Being a traveller, I'm constantly experiencing new things and adding memories to my "Mem-thora" (Plethora of Memories); and it is a pleasure of mine to be able to share such experiences with those dear to me. I love writing letters, as the concept that my words will never be lost in passing, or forgotten, or misconstrued, brings me incomprehensible joy. And there is a beauty in the global mail service. Receiving a piece of mail that bears your name at a singular location in the world is truly unfathomable, if thought about enough -- which I do. The idea that numbers and characters thrown onto an envelope will arrive in your hands, wherever you might be, within weeks is absolutely mind-boggling. But the wonderful things inside the letter would never get where they need to if the ever important postage stamp did not grace aforementioned envelope.

Let us return to the teensy post office.

The United States Postal Service has been in its current operation since 1971 (although it has been "in action" since 1775 with Ben Franklin as its' first postmaster general), and employs over 574,000 workers. The current price for a First-Class mail stamp is now sitting at 45 cents. I send mail to various locations in Australia, America, Europe and New Zealand as it stands, and my cash flow is cut off bi-monthly (either twice a month, or once every two months; depending on the month) by my postage stamp splurges. I have a collection of in-circulation postage stamps, and mix'n'match them for each piece of mail sent.

Which brings me back to the post office.

Todays' journey only called for sending two letters, a postcard and a small package, so I wasn't too out of pocket. The post office space itself had enough room for the front desk, a self-serve side desk, a chair and a small wall bracket full of various postal regulatory paraphernalia. It was one of the cosiest things ever; all that was missing was a rocking chair, some tea-cups and my great-aunt, Jill. Behind the desk stood an older gentleman, with the signature Post Office employee uniform bearing the USPS logo -- a personal favourite of mine. To his left sat a collection of postage stamps in colour coded boxes, rubber date-stamps, packing tape and Express Delivery sticker rolls.
It was fabulous.
I didn't bring enough moola with me to buy any extra postage stamps (dang that "destination:Australia" package!!) but I did happen to peek behind the desk and see a copy of USA Philatelic ("The official source for stamp enthusiasts") sitting on the counter, ready to be placed in the expertly located "Recycling!!" bin. Bill (-- while the gentleman did not receive this name at birth, and probably not from anyone since, I feel the need to affectionately refer to him as Bill, as well as all other male USPS employees, due to the fact that it seems such a fitting name for a man who spends his days handling the paper, and cardboard, magic of the universe. For all female USPS employees, I'd like to adopt the name "Jill"--) was a real beaut when I asked if I might be able to have his copy of the magazine, and handed it to me with complete trust. (Oh, postal employees -- they're of a whole other breed; and I relish it.)
Since then, I have spent my day reading and re-reading the pages of the "2012/VOLUME 17/QUARTER 1" Comprehensive Edition USA Philatelic. I've circled my favourites; stamps that I just HAVE to purchase and use before I head back home. Current favourites are either the "$1.05 Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania" stamp, "$0.85 Birds of Prey" stamp, "$Forever$ Danny Thomas" stamp, or "$Forever$ Pioneers of American Industrial Design" stamp. They are SWEET. The thing that makes my heart palpitate the most is USING THEM.
"The time shall come," melodically whispers the evanescent Bill.

I must say, these American post offices have got it GOING ON. I have never felt so completely warmed by government employees in my life. The local employee at my hometown in Sydney could take a leaf from Bill/Jill's book.

A whole other breed -- of wonderful. And dang; those stamps are legit.

I must return to the pile of letters sitting at my feet, waiting patiently to be given replies. In order to send them, I'm going to need to invest in some more postage stamps. I'm stuck between the $Forever$'s -- Danny Thomas, or Pioneers of American Design.

Maybe Bill can give me a hand.

Postally yours,

                ~ Ms. Always Travelling

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Destination: Boston, MA. [U.S.A.]

"Massachusetts has been the wheel within New England, and Boston the wheel within Massachusetts. Boston therefore is often called the "hub of the world," since it has been the source and fountain of the ideas that have reared and made America."
~ Rev. F. B. Zinkle, Last Winter in the United States (1868).

Destination: Boston, MA. [U.S.A.]

I have found, in a short amount of time being here, that this part of America has much natural beauty, but it's lacking a certain something in a serious way. The season where the flower buds grow back and animals exit their burrows is upon us, and shall soon explode into a vivid display of colour, sound and delight.
But until then, we're stuck with the teasingly cold weather, L.L. Bean coats and too many boat shoes. It's not even sailing season yet.

The city, of Boston, itself is pretty. A college town encompassed with working men and women, college students, and families, young and old, bustles with an energy that is truly on its own level. The city is old, because it's the "home of America", and the architecture of some of these buildings is quite ornate and spectacularly detailed. The Charles River reminds one of winter and summer, all rolled into one, especially when accompanied by the arduous rowers and crew-members that row endlessly, day and night. Street corners hold a combination of "school stores", cutesy cafes, secondhand clothing stores, convenience shops and high-class chains. The suburbs of Boston, whether they be in the forests or by the water, feel like they're on a whole different planet. Luckily, with the efficient T-Rail system, no one is ever truly disconnected.

It's hard to compare cities, but I can honestly say that this place in unlike many I have been before. There is a truly...eclectic feeling...about this place, where the strangest bouts of niceness, and most lethargic displays of ignorance, are out in the open for all to see. Take for example, the wonderful seafood of this town. Lobsters; crabs; clams; various other misnamed shellfish; collections of deep-fried fish; it's all in great abundance, and it's bloody delicious -- particularly the delicacies on offer at "The Barking Crab".
But it's mirrored by the large collection of pearls, pastel sweaters and moccasins. Strange, isn't it?
In certain parts of Boston, and by this I mean the surrounding towns, people will be either nice, rude, smiley or dismal depending on their situation; which is only to be expected--it's like this everywhere. However, it feels particularly different here.
Some suburbs here have too much money. Some don't have enough. The education is ridiculous(ly GOOD!). Boston suburbs have schools where you honestly cannot go wrong. The people, on the other hand, are hit or miss.
In my time of being here, an extremely small amount of people have been friendly straight off the bat. Mathematically speaking, 0.02% have said "Hello" when they walk past. [It's very foreign when compared to almost everyone (99.3%-ish) in Oz who grin "G'day" to strangers.] Upon reflection, the only people who have gone out of their way to say "Hello" while making deliberate eye-contact (not the "awkward kind" that most people here seem to try to avoid) have been middle-aged, working class men who adorn sweatshirts with the words "Such-and-such Plumbing", "Joe McWhoever's Electrical Company", or "[Insert Name Here] & Sons". I don't know why that is. If anything, I hope they can permeate some grins and smirk-age into their families so the next generation smiles when walking around the Charles River.

Because that is what makes a city beauty--I feel, especially when travelling in a foreign city. It's not the amount of architecturally amazing buildings, or old museums, or historical landmarks. It's not the price of handbags in shop windows, or collection of trinkets, or specialty items that are only available in that town (--I'm yet to try Boston Baked Beans).
It's the people who make you want to come back.
It's the smiles that you receive from strangers, the "Hello! How are you?"'s that make you feel like a local; not a tourist. It's holding a door open for the person behind you; leaving space in the elevator; stopping the bus driver when you see the young foreigner with his overly obvious backpacker's bag; giving a few extra dollars to the girl in front of you who is $1.19 short on her coffee.

If Boston could make a few changes, and bring some smiles to their streets, they'd have one heck of a chance to become a serious American hub.  I haven't been everywhere in Massachusetts; in fact, it's hard to say I've been anywhere, but I'm certain that a few smiles would have made the trip 100% better.

And if one more person doesn't put their life on hold for the 2.3 seconds that it takes to extend their arm and keep the door open, I might just tear off some prawn heads.

Next stop,

                 ~ Ms. Always Travelling

Destination: NOW.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." ~ Lao Tzu

It is hard to say how many times I have read Tzu's quote and felt completely inspired, but I'm willing to say at least a bajillion times. It is the quote that graces cheap travel journals, sits in plastic frames at $2-stores and adorns little trinkets at street markets. But it is also the message that inspires me in everything I do. Movement, time, space are all elements of travel, and nothing is even remotely comparable to travelling. The ability to move between places of polar scenery, food, people, values and beliefs is utterly astounding, and hence the reason why I love it so much.
And that's why I've decided to write this. Every single time that I have ever travelled, I have kept a journal. It is a religion now, and has been since the age of eight. But due to my travelling life, I haven't always been able to share all of my experiences with my friends across the globe. And so here we are. With around 150 days until we embark on our first trip to Europe, I feel it is only fitting to be able to share this experience with those I love across the world. Because, at this point in our technological timeline, I can't teleport you a hard-copy of my journal -- which stinks. So let's go.

I can't wait.

Until then,
                                   ~ Ms. Always Travelling