Tuesday, July 31, 2012


How Ya Been, Pin Pals?

You know how sometimes you open up your email inbox after being gone for a couple of hours and you have 20 new emails and you go “Oh, man, really? Ugh” and then you click over somewhere else to avoid dealing with it for the next two minutes? Well, imagine that your call to arms just got published on the Hairpin and you leave the computer for a couple of hours and you come back to FOUR HUNDRED unread emails.

Response to the Pin Pal project has been overwhelming! More than THIRTEEN HUNDRED ‘Pinners have signed up and been matched with Pin Pals! We have representatives from every continent except Antarctica, every U.S. state, nine of the 10 Canadian provinces, and five of the six Australian states. 'Pinners in more than 30 countries are now sending and receiving mail as a result.

The ‘Pinner to ‘Pinner Pin Pal Program (sorry!) has so far been a rousing success, since more than a thousand people are now receiving letters and cards and funny postcards and weird items in their mailboxes to brighten their day. Sometimes email and Twittering and Facebooking isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s cathartic and wonderful to sit down and write a long letter to someone who has no idea what your life is like. Plus forcing yourself to write yourself out can give you this light feeling, like you’ve mailed away all your troubles. And receiving a letter from someone who lives far away can be like getting a letter from Mars — maybe your Pin Pal sat down at their kitchen table after a long day at their totally-different-from-yours job and ate a meal you’d never fix for yourself, and they wrote you a letter all about how they love their pet snake, and snakes terrify the crap out of you. Reading a letter from a random person is one of several million small ways we can learn more about one another.

If you would like to sign up for a Pin Pal, email me at  hairpinpals@gmail.com with your name, address, and whether or not you're okay with international mail. I’ll match you up with someone as fast as I can! (Just don’t expect any miracles because I have to do all the matching and emailing by hand, guys. Be patient with me and be patient with your Pals and be patient with the postal service! It’s like extended meditation on mail.)

Lindsey Palka holds a Master's in Canadian history, but works in a bridal salon to pay the bills.

144 Comments / Post A Comment


AH, thank you for the kick in the pants. I don't have to leave the house tomorrow for ANYTHING, so I have no excuse not to write a letter. YAY.

Also, thank you for matching us all up!!!!


@billie_crusoe Eek, I've neglected to write my Pin Pal since moving out of my last apartment... IN JUNE. Hanggg on Nicolle!!


That's just beautiful.@y


I got a letter from my PinPal today! And I cleared my schedule and sat down and wrote her a massive letter right back because I knew I wouldn't get round to it for weeks otherwise. I hope she likes ridiculous children's stationery because that's what she's getting!


@laserbeams That's usually what mine gets. Then I started wondering if she thinks I really am stuck in childhood or something. I just have a lot of Lisa Frank stickers hanging around from 1995 and want to put them to good use, you know?

sarah girl

Pin Pal and I have each sent one letter to each other! It's my turn at the moment, and it keeps slipping my mind :( But I haven't forgotten entirely!!


Oh! Good - my pinpal has deserved a letter from me for like, a month. I will write when I get home!

Spinach Party

@NorieY Ditto!


Thank you, Lindsey for organizing this. I am super excited because I got another letter from one of my pin pals today after over a month of silence.


Thanks for the reminder as I have been a Bad Pinpal and not mailed a letter in some time! She even sent me the loveliest little note written with great big letters so it filled up the page. Thank you so much for organizing!!


PinPal! I'm sorry! I will write you soon!


And 'Pinners unite to save the postal service.


@shumacumlaude yesss

Briony Fields

My pin pal never wrote back, but I want to keep writing her letters anyway, is that weird? I worry that she'll think I'm creepy or that she'll think I'm pressuring her to write back, of course I want her to but I also just like writing letters.


@Briony Fields I haven't heard back from mine in quite some time, but I think I might send her another letter anyway. 'Cause I'm a giver.

Briony Fields

@Bittersweet I think I will too. I am probably over thinking how she might interpret another letter. Relax, self! Who doesn't love getting surprise/extra mail?


@Briony Fields You're way braver than me! Mine never wrote back and I'm too scared she didn't ~~liiike meee~~ to try again. (So... if you're out there, pin pal... write me a letter? Or I'm sorry you don't like me? xoxo from Winnipeg)

Cat named Virtute

@Briony Fields I would say three letters at least a month apart is a good interest barometer, and not at all creepy. If you don't hear back, maybe your 'Pin Pal is just busy and overwhelmed, but you can email Lindsey for a new one!

Briony Fields

@Cat named Virtute Thanks for that scale. Ok, I'm definitely clear to write another letter. I'm giving my pin pal the benefit of the doubt for now, I haven't always been the best correpondent either so I have faith that she'll send me something sooner or later!


@Briony Fields I hadn't talked with my Pin Pal in a few weeks and one day I got a cute post card and I thought that was just the best little reminder!


@Briony Fields I've been neglecting mine, but she sent me a card (second since I last wrote) and it arrived on my birthday! Which she would have had no way of knowing! I love that she didn't wait for me to write back.

down the rabbit hole

@Briony Fields Mine wrote me shortly after we were matched, and I wrote her back an excessively long letter the minute I got hers. Now I am scared that my three double-sided college-ruled pages were terrifying or something. it's been radio silence since then!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@Briony Fields Mine hasn't responded yet to my first and so far only letter -- I've been wondering if I should write her again? Now I think I will!


@kickupdust Same here! I wrote her in...February, I think? And never heard back, and then I was too chicken to write her again. But...maybe our letters got lost in the mail? We should both just man up and send another letter.


@kickupdust Winnipeg?!?! Meee toooo!!!


@C.SanDiego maybe they did get lost! you're right, maybe a postcard or something wee would be good...

@CoffeeAddict204 yes indeed, ye good ol Winnipeg is where I'm at!


I just signed up! Sorry for making your life harder in order to make my life more interesting!


I like my pin pal! Just sent a reply to her yesterday (Sorry! I was out of town!) and look forward to hearing from her again -- she is funny and has excellent taste in note cards.

Better to Eat You With

@City_Dater Do you happen to be in Baton Rouge?


I like my Pin Pal a lot. I feel bad though because some times I wait to open mine because it is such a treat!


My pin pal sent me a letter, and I sent one back to her, but I haven't heard anything in a while. It makes me paranoid that my letter somehow got lost, and it will be delivered to her address 50 years from now. But that seems unlikely, I guess.


@dtowngirl The last letter I got from my pin pal came late and in a plastic bag because the postal system tore up the envelope. 50 years late is probably unlikely but I wouldn't write off the possibility of a shorter delay.


I knooow. I wrote (to Pinpal #2) and never got a reply, but what if her letter got lost? Now I just want to write multiple letters all the time in case one goes missing.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@dtowngirl This is my fear too! What if she thinks I don't like her, but really it's the USPS being dastardly?!


My pin pal mentioned she liked that maple sugar candy they have up here in Canada in her last letter, and I found some in Montreal last week so I mailed it yesterday! I hope it doesn't get too broken.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@phlox Damn, phlox. You are an amaaaazing pin pal. (Also who DOESN'T love maple candy????)


Yay! My Pinpal is getting a letter AND CANDY super soon.


Juliaaaaaaaa I swear I will write SOON

Jane Err

I totally read through these responses and wonder if/which one of you is my Pin Pal. It's pretty great.


@Jane Err I'm doing the same thing. I just sent my Pin Pal a postcard from my trip last week, so now every time someone on this thread mentions a postcard, I feel sleuthy. "Is that you, PinPal?"


@Jane Err Yes! I'm doing that, too.


My pin pal from Brooklyn sent me a letter and I replied last month but I haven't heard anything else, hope I didn't scare you off!


@Interrobanged Ok, that might be me if you are from the great friendly country to the north. If so, You absolutely didn't scare me off! I'm just horribly forgetful and maybe very lazy....but the good news is (if you are indeed my pin pal) I finished a letter tonight it it will be mailed tomorrow!

Lily Rowan

Thanks so much for doing this, Lindsey! My Pinpal and I are doing pretty well, although I definitely owe her a letter. Maybe tonight!


I love my Pin-pal! I will actually be moving to her country (about 2 hours away) soon and so I think I may have to get another long distance pin pal...What do you guys think I should do? (I would not be giving up my current pin pal)

Anna Jayne@twitter

My Pinpal has lovely handwriting. I bought fancy stationery on which to write to her!

Anna Jayne@twitter

@Anna Jayne@twitter also when I get a card from her I sing a song to the tune of the Maude theme song that involves her name, city of residence, and occupation and ends with "SHE'S WRITING ME LETTTAHHHS"


I literally just dropped a long-overdue reply to my Pin Pal in the mail yesterday. Sorry Pin Pal!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@themmases ME TOO. Except I have two pin pals and I haven't written back to the other one yet so I still feel baaaaaddddd!

Chesty LaRue



My Pin Pal's card got put in the mail today. Holly! I'm sorry! I procrastinate! And I don't understand how international stamps work.

Are we allowed to sign up for a second Pin Pal? One in our same country?


@antipretty I did because I am greedy and I like writing allllllllll the letters!


@antipretty Omg, that is my name and I haven't heard from my Pin Pal! Are you her? If so, I also owe you an apology. For procrastinating. And for living in another country. :-(

But glass half full, we already have something in common.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@antipretty I have 3! Only one of them writes to me ever, but she's pretty great.


@puncturedbicycle yes! I think we're 'Pin Pals. I promise to be less lazy in my correspondence! Hopefully you see my card in two weeks or so.

Miranda Everitt

I love having a Pin Pal! I am writing on recycled paper rather than fancy stationery usually because I am *such a stereotype*


Hi, PinPal! I mentioned this in the Friday Open Thread, but in case you didn't see it:

I am so sorry for taking so long to reply to your last letter (and we were on such a good streak, too!), but it was an awesome letter that made me giggle several times! Anyways, I am leaving for vacation in 2 days, so I will be taking my letter-writing materials with me so that I can write to you whilst sitting on the beach. So expect a letter from me in approximately a week (depending on how long mail from Florida to Philly takes). <3 you, PinPal...ie!


@dtowngirl I too have this paranoia - maybe our letters both got lost and are now hanging out together somewhere in the postal system.

Briony Fields

Also Lindsay, thanks so much for organizing this. I can't imagine how time consuming it must've been, matching over 400 people! I am in awe.

miss buenos aires

@Briony Fields Yes! Much appreciated.




I need my Pin-Pal (who has sent awesome cards, btw) to write back because I have a really random postcard from my summer vacation to send, and there's NO ONE ELSE who deserves it!

(p.s. thanks! pin pals!)

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@thisisunclear Don't wait! Just send! Mine did this and it made me feel less bad about taking so long to write back. Like, it let me know that I hadn't Ruined Everything by not replying to her latest communique.


So, i'm just curious about how people are approaching this. My pin pal and I know nothing about each other - neither of us have disclosed what we do, relationship status, age, etc, and I quite like that. I like for these things to emerge through the course of conversation about other things. She seems to like it too, so it's a good match (thanks Lindsay!)

How are other 'Pinners doing it?


@rararuby, My pin-pal and I have talked about all those things. There are gaps in my knowlege about her, like most of her life story, but we tend to talk all about our lives at present. I like knowing that she has very similar issues half a world away.


@rararuby I told her my age, job, and relationship status, and where I grew up and a few of my past jobs. I also might have mentioned something about my college, but not its name. We haven't shared our Hairpin names or last names. I like the anonymity of it... I like having some details, like hometowns or current neighborhood, but I like not knowing everything right away.

Also, I have a picture of her in my mind, but I don't care if she ends up looking nothing like it. She hasn't described her appearance at all, so I totally made it up based on people I know with her first name.

miss buenos aires

Hypothetically, if you (the Hairpin commentariat) wrote a letter and never heard back, would you:
a) write your 'Pin Pal again
b) ask for a new 'Pin Pal
c) keep watching "How I Met your Mother" in marathon sessions when your boss is out of the office, instead of doing anything even remotely productive.



@miss buenos aires I'd say options a and b. They might respond if you write another letter, but having two 'pin pals raises your chance of actually getting letters from anyone.


@miss buenos aires , A and C.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@miss buenos aires I would do ALL THREE. I have two pin pals just 'cuz.

Sgt. Exposition

Now I feel bad that my Pinpal can't reply to my (first) card, because I sent it out right before I moved and didn't include my new address. There will be a letter soon, I promise!


Am I the only one who hasn't signed up for a pinpal because I KNOW that I will be the person that everyone is talking about in these comments that doesn't write back for like ten years? And it wouldn't be because I didn't like my pinpal, it would be because I am the worst and keeping up with those kinds of things?

Anyway, gigantic kudos to Lindsay. Seriously.


@HeyThatsMyBike I never wrote back. I am The Worst. (I don't even know where her letter is in my piles of stuff.)


Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@HeyThatsMyBike Nope. I'm that person. I signed up to try and NOT be that person! (But I am still that person.)

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@HeyThatsMyBike It sort of feels like we're all that person, so you'd be in good company?


Thank you so much Lindsey for making this happen for all of us. And even better, after my worries of her disappearance on last Friday's open thread my Pin Pal responded upthread! Yay!!


I'm afraid my awesome Pin Pal will never write back to me again after I let her know that my BFF and I read the Twilight series out loud. For the giggles. I promise, Pin Pal!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@njellybean Teehee! That is exactly the kind of thing we should be sharing and giggling about :)


Pin Pal! I replied to your last letter later than I should have and I know you said that you're moving at the beginning of August so I'm really sorry if I screwed it up and you need to wait for it to be forwarded to your new address. I feel like it should have gotten there in time but also I don't know how long it actually takes for letters to get to Canada.


kalamazoo pinpal, I hope you got my card! I'm sorry I was such a turd in sending it so late :( It had a whale on it.


My pinpal is awesome! And I owe her a letter. My excuse is that I was waiting until I had a new address in my new city to give her, and since I FINALLY have a place to live, now I can do that!

Lustful Cockmonster

Oh man, I owed my pin pal a letter and I wrote it on Friday, but then I got anxiety because I thought it was dumb and I didn't send it but I did bring it to work and stuck it in the mail today! So maybe it is dumb, but DC pin pal you will be getting an overdue letter this week, and it is basically a list of things about me, so...get excited I guess? The next one will be better!


I have been neglectful of my pinpals. Sorry, ladies! I will try to write over the weekend, since Monday is a holiday.


I just heard from my Pin Pal last week! She picked a lovely card which I am actually considering using in a framed photo collage as decoration, it is so pretty! I promptly wrote her back and am now eagerly awaiting a reply. No pressure though, Pin Pal, take your time!

Grace Anne Boucher@facebook

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Your name just made me VERY happy. Congrats on being awesome.


I missed the earlier call for Pin Pals! Work, you guys, so evil sometimes... I did just sign up, but I fear I might also be that person who has long periods of inactivity. But I am good at mailing fun things. I just mailed my sister a giraffe. (Okay, it was a tiny nanoblock giraffe that she even had to assemble herself, but it was still fun.)


I sent mine several months ago but it looks like I shall never receive :(

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Danzig! Send again! And then maybe also ask for another?


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me I would but I'm on vacation for three weeks and I feel like I should make it a project bigger than a witty postcard, y'know? I sent some mix CDs in my last one.

I think getting another might be a good idea, though!


I'm just hoping my 'pin pal doesn't notice that every letter I send is dated the same day as the most recent "SO HAVE YOU WRITTEN YOUR PIN PAL??" Hairpin post.


@baumer i think we should be pinpals....like alot.


Devaky if you are reading this I got both of your letters and a response is in the mail!

Coal Tar Epoxy

Ah, I'm one of those bad pin pals who has only responded once. I did enjoy the Christmas card! And will write back when I get home tonight, promise. Next week's mission is to find ridiculous dinosaur post cards while in Drumheller. Woot!


@The Angels Have the Phonebox THAT'S MY HOMETOWN. And the dinosaur postcards there really are ridiculous.


Hmmm. I have been meaning to sit down and write my PinPal for the first time, but she hasn't written me either. Great so two procrastinators matched together... I've never had a penpal before, any advice in how to start the communication?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@BuffyBot Don't tax yourself. Just a quick note or card (seriously, just a postcard or little note card is sufficient) to introduce yourself and get the ball rolling.

Ex: "Hi, Pin Pal! I'm [BuffyBot]. I live in a cute little duplex in [neighborhood], which I guess is best known for its [great Ethiopian food/college town vibe/being overrun with yuppie hippie co-ops], with my [friend/partner/cat/dog/bird/mouse/self]. Did you see that post on the Hairpin about [thing you really like reading about]? I thought it was [funny/so touching/enraging/the weirdest thing I have ever heard of]. So, I'm looking forward to hearing back from you! I hope you have a great [week/weekend/holiday of relevance]! ---[BuffyBot]"

Faintly Macabre

I keep reading all of the comments, hoping that my 'pinpal will say, "Oh, I'm so sorry person who wrote me the world's most beautiful [ly decorated with foodstains], fascinating letter [about her dog]! My letter to [you know where, 'pinpal] is on its way!"

Sgt. Exposition

@Faintly Macabre I'm right there with you, worrying I've offended them with my ironic Spam notecard.


Or worse yet, my detailed explanation of haggis.

Faintly Macabre

@dona_rodolpha I would be THRILLED with a detailed explanation of haggis. ARE YOU READING, PINPAL?


I left my house on really bad terms with the people who live there now, and I got my most important money related mail changed but not my pin pal. Pin pal in Australia, I think I might you enough to go back to my former residence and pick up a letter you may have sent...

Dear Prudence

I am having a total mental blank - I've been waiting for ages to get a letter back from my Pin Pal! I know I wrote a really long chatty one (included a picture of my baby and everything!) but I have literally no memory of posting it. However, there are many things which I do not remember but which I know to have definitely happened (thank you postpartum memory loss) ... in any event the letter is no longer in my possession so I am sure it has been sent. I'm worried if I write another one then I'll totally scare her off!


@Dear Prudence if you are, in fact, my pin pal, which i am not sure you are, I loved the baby pic! it was posted. and read. but then i wrote you back. I think. But I blame myself for my memory problems, not having brought a beautiful squishy baby into the world. and then i moved. did you send me another baby pic?

Dear Prudence

@robyn.andrews Hmm, maybe there is some crazy twilight zone doppelgänger tomfoolery going on as I definitely didn't receive any reply after my last letter (enclosing the baby picture) ... maybe you are not my pin pal and there are two of us Australian new mama pin pals! Is your user name your real name? Are you Canadian? Because if the answer to the latter is no and/or to the former yes, you are probably not my pin pal (unless you are my pin pal and gave yourself a nom de plume solely for pin pallery?)...
I'm talking myself in circles here! Maybe I'll just write my pin pal/you a new letter, I am beginning to have a sinking sensation that it is in fact me who is the derelict correspondent ...


@Dear Prudence my name on the hairpin is my favourite pseudonym. I am not as creative as some of the awesome ladies. I am Canadian. But! don't write me a letter. I will email the pin pal coordinator and she can pass on my new address to you. And I can get a refresher on yours...

Ladies Who Punch

I was actually thinking TODAY that I never got a response from my pin pal. It's been about 2 months I think. I'm pretty sure she was eaten by wolves or fell into a vat of poutin gravy [what? she *is* Canadian!]

Ladies Who Punch

@Rebekah where are you Alice?


@Rebekah OMG OMG your user pic

Ladies Who Punch

@whateverlolawants :)


OMG I am so sorry Pin Pal I have not written you back in several weeks. But I am gonna do it this week!
P.S. I have the EXACT SAME postcard that you send me, as I got it in a Glymm box. FOR THE SAME SCENT of that perfume too.


I got my first pin pal letter right before I left Canada for three months. So I haven't written back. I'm the worst! Sorr pin pal in Columbus, I suck. I'm going to write her tonight.


@octagonfudge Oh maybe this is me! It's okay! I was just really worried I messed up the postage.


I can't wait to have a 'Pin Pal!!!!!!

I smell burnt toast

I wrote my pinpal a letter and, around the same time, she stopped commenting on the 'pin. I knew her commenting name because the email matching us up told me, so I decorated the front of the envelope with a picture of her commenting name. I creeped (crept?) her out, didn't I. I scared her off the hairpin. Come back, pinpal! I don't care if you never ever write me! But it is probably more likely that Life Got in the Way.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@I smell burnt toast It's also possible she had to change her name because her old account stopped working and none of her comments were showing up? (I am not your Pin Pal, but I had to do that, so...maybe!)


Of course the question on everybody's mind is: Who Got Melis?


If someone ever DOES sign up for Pin Pals from Antarctica, I call dibs.


@KeLynn @KeLynn Me next! I wrote a long, stupid story as a 6th grader that was just a bunch of girls' emails to each other from around the world. The Antarctica girl lived at a research base with her parents. I didn't get how email worked in 1997, so I just made up a website for each girl that I wrote at the top of each email.


Naomi, I am the worst! I am mailing one tomorrow! I am so sorry! (!!!!!)


My pinpal and I are actual soulmates. Seriously in real life we would be Anne and Diana (of Green Gables, duh).

Which is why I feel SO guilty for not writing in several weeks. oops.


My letter is sitting on my bedside table. Written but not yet sent. Must get on it. Thanks for the reminder!

oh well never mind

I panicked and never wrote back :( Honestly? Her letter was too well-written and cool and I felt inadequate and couldn't think of anything to write! And I'm a shocking procrastinator, so there. Sorry Ana :(


@moosette That's actually why I wrote the minute I got my pin pal -- because I kneeew if I got a letter from her before I wrote one, I would be intimidated by her coolness and never ever write back.


@moosette You should write back. If your 'pin pal is anything like me, she probably still occasionally thinks "What if my 'pin pal didn't write back because she found my letter poorly written and uncool?" Even a late letter is better than none.


Argh, timing. I really want a Pinpal but I'm living with my bf's family right now and hoping to move very soon, so I guess I don't really have an address to give. :(

social theory

just signed up!! get ready for some awesome postcards/letters, future pinpal! i can't wait to meet you!


My PinPal and I have been exchanging about one letter apiece per month, which seems decent to me.
BUT- I can't remember if when I disclosed my Hairpin commenter name, if I said that she didn't have to tell me hers if she didn't want to. So, MSD, don't worry!! Aaahhh!


I love my pinpal. I actually owe her a letter, but we are pretty good about writing back and forth. I save her letters to read on my commute into work. Makes the train ride a wee bit more bearable.

And I didn't know we could have two! I might do that.


GAH, I want one! But I'm moving in a month and I feel like by the time we get everything together my address will have changed. So... please post a reminder in a month-ish?


I sent a letter to my pinpal in the UK but I haven't heard back :( :( :(


@beeline96 hi derrr....im nice...wanna....be my pinpal...

Elizabeth Grey

I want a Pin Pal! Yes please!


My 'pin pal and I have exchanged exactly one letter apiece (I hope she got mine..), but all you gals are inspiring me to break tradition and just send her another little something in the mail! Watch your mail, Miss E!


Urgh I signed up for this shortly before my life kind of fell apart and then never wrote because I'm the worst. Although I never heard from her either.


@Amanda@twitter HMMMMMMMM are you in NC? by any chance?


I always wanted a pen pal as a kid, but it never really worked out. No one ever wrote me back. *sadface* Maybe this time!

Ramona Quimby, PI

I sent a second postcard today after no response from the first! Ahhh. BUT! The two times I have purchased postage to the US for this purpose, they have been completely different stamps, stamp amounts, and dollar amounts. Which has me all kinds of freaked, obviously.


I recently sent my 'Pin Pal a postcard from the beach where I was spending a weekend! It was quick and easy and I did not feel pressure to craft the most perfect long-form letter. And personally I love to get postcards from my friends' travels, so I hoped she might enjoy it as well.

We have each written one long letter so far. Before I sent the postcards it might have been over a month since I got her last letter. I do not hate you, 'Pin Pal! And I did not forget! I just get hung up on "must write long letter" pressure and I should just get over it and send shorter notes.

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