Listling Without Commentary: 17 Things My Mom Has Mailed Me This Year

Although some adult children living in cramped apartments/rooms seem to enjoy a wide breadth of storage space in their family homes, my mother is not a fan of having any of my shit in her apartment and therefore she has taken to mailing all of my worldly possessions from birth until the present, one by one. She sends these things in packages containing other, more exciting things, like matzoh ball soup mix. Also, sometimes she just sends me really random things she finds at garage sales. My Mom loves garage sales. Real talk: I also love garage sales.

17 Things My Mom Has Mailed Me This Year

1. “My Point… And I Do Have One” by Ellen DeGeneres

This was my favorite book for at least two months in 1995.


no really everybody had this haircut back then

2. Samantha, My American Girl Doll

I had to pull this baby out of the deep recesses of my closet to photograph her for this list, because my girlfriend banished her from our bedroom due to her apparent “creepy” nature.

really don't see how anybody could find this creepy

really don’t see how anybody could find this creepy

3. Letter From My Friend Who Babysat My Samantha Doll While We Were On Vacation

Apparently I took doll-care really seriously. And paid the doll-sitter in stationary.


to be fair, samantha is just as purrty as she is pretty

4. Box of mixtapes I made circa 1991-1998

stuff my mom mailed me

[click to enlarge]

5. Enormous T-Shirts Commemorating Memorable Personal Life Events Of The Early 1990s

I wore really giant shirts despite being a really tiny person. I’m saving these for if I ever get pregnant.

stuff my mom mailed me2

6. Possibly Homemade (???) 90’s Style Candlesticks


art deco

7. “Dress Me Up David” refrigerator magnets, sans David

Totally unclear regarding what happened to David.


really excited about those jockstraps

8. Letters From Mysterious Pen Pals

Seriously who are these people


i hope i asked for more information about the nautrul foods


there is something very wrong with checkers

I think this girl [below] was the daughter of a childhood friend of my mother’s. I was addicted to pen pals so I kinda picked them up wherever I could find them.

i have a lot of questions about what exactly happened on he jenny jones show

i have a lot of questions about what exactly happened on the jenny jones show

9. Jewish Propaganda

The good news is that if I ever become a better Jew, I will have plenty of materials with which to celebrate said Jewdom.



10. This Baby Deer


11. This Jewelry Box Circa 1988

You might be surprised to learn that I made most of these delightful accessories myself.


Clearly my true destiny was to be a jeweler.


watch out harry winston

12. Phil Collins’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” / “I Don’t Care Anymore Single”



13. “The Ways of Fishes,” discarded by the Interlochen Library with inscription from my gay BFF Ryan

The summer after he graduated high school, Ryan would send me variety-box packages similar to the ones my Mom sends now — two or three tiny beanie babies, random books, assorted food items, greeting cards. Now that she’s started mailing me the things he mailed me, shit is getting meta.

stuff my mom mailed me1

14. My First-Ever Acceptance Letter, 1993

Spoiler Alert: they accepted everybody who submitted. IT’S A SCAM!


my poem was about winter fyi

15. Lots Of Old Greeting Cards


what can i say, i was pretty fucking special


poignant observations

16. Inexplicable Assortment of Stale Pistachios

This was not what I expected to find at the bottom of this package

taking "packing peanuts" to a whole new level

mom is taking “packing peanuts” to a whole new level

17. This Thing

Actually this item has come in quite handy. I’m not sure what its intended purpose was, but you can store small items in the back, like dental floss, lighters and chapstick. Thanks Mom!


also, it’s true

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3182 articles for us.


  1. this post is my favorite. the captions on the images are pure gold. i can’t believe your mom has been mailing these things! my parents keep threatening to move out of their big suburban house that has a BASEMENT and my mom keeps saying “THEN what will you do” in menacing tones but so far my samantha doll (and her bed! and the chanukah outfit i bought her even though obviously samantha was not jewish) remain tucked away in a box in newton, mass.

    but seriously this is the funniest, i laughed out loud for real at multiple junctures while reading. A+.

    also it should go without saying that i love riese’s mom. i hope she comments on this post!

    • If you were to go into my basement in Newton, you would also find an American Girl Doll with a Chanukah outfit. Just FYI.


    • Thank you Vanessa! It’s nice to know that someone appreciates me, or at least my random postings. btw-the candles are Sabbath candles, and I figured Marie and gf would prefer candlesticks that are a bit more stylish than the traditional brass ones. A traditional gift, (re: my Jewish Grandmother) for someone in their new home is candles (for light), bread (so they should never be hungry) and salt (symbol of hospitality). I’m saving the bread and salt part for when I visit them in person.

      • awwwww hi thank you for the response directly to me! when i moved into my new apartment my mom told me i had to go out and buy bread and salt, but she didn’t mention candles…and she made me get them myself! hmmm…

  2. I love this so much. I think my favorite is the pistachios and I too am very curious about what went down with the Jenny Jones show.

  3. Samantha is 100% not creepy. My sister has her! Well, actually, my parents have her now and are saving her for my future children ’cause my sister said, “meh, give it away.” BUT STILL NOT CREEPY.

    Also, I, too, would read this even if it were much longer.

  4. 1. riese, i love you.
    2. i think laneia needs that stuffed deer.
    3. i also wrote a poem about winter/the seasons that was accepted into a poetry anthology for young americans or something. wtf? i think i was in 6th grade.

  5. 1. Pretty sure this is a listling with commentary. That said, love the commentary.
    2. Read while listening to the Indigo Girls. Gay? Gay. GayGayGay.

    • i think we should do a reader series, too. i wanna see what everyone’s mom sends them. my mom sends me a LOT of newspaper clippings and then guilts me when i say i haven’t read them yet.

      • My mother once sent me an entire birthday cake through the mail. It almost made it 5 provinces unscathed. Almost. But usually I get things I don’t quite know what to do with. Like an egg coddler… What?

      • My mom sends me handmade cards and little candy gift packages for holidays, but so far, I haven’t gotten any of my old stuff that’s stored away.


        …I have a feeling I’ll be getting a phone call about my stuff soon.

      • My mom sent me a spatula for Valentine’s day, along with a card with a dog on it. 100% of cards from my mom have animals on them.

      • This is amazing. Just remembered the 6 lbs boxes I would get in high school from my mom. Everybody would wait for them, they’d be full of chocolate “para todas tus amigas” and shirts that she bought that reminded her of me -most of which did not remind me of me.

        Emily, it really is good to know we were not alone in this unexplicable packages experience.

      • My mother occasionally sends me common but necessary objects, no message included. For example, I went to summer camp and didn’t bring soap. So she mailed me soap (I could have bought it at the tuck shop). Soap in an envelope without a card is the saddest package to receive at camp.

        Similar mailings include a pair of old shoes (intentionally left behind when I moved!), and my sister’s ancient stained bedsheets (“if you buy sheets in England you’ll find that most are a polyester-cotton blend. That’ll make you sweat and smell bad. These will be better”).

      • My mom sends newspaper clippings of vaguely-relevant things, but also bags of Zapp’s potato chips; it’s a brand you can pretty much only find in Louisiana, and they have awesome flavors like “Voodoo Gumbo”, so it’s actually not super random. I hoard those chips and ration them out like an apocalypse survivor.

        My grandma, on the other hand, sends not only newspaper clippings but truly random things like rubber gloves, athletic socks that are too large for me, and knee-high nylon stockings (I’m a trans-guy, and um, also not 70 years old). So instead I cut those up and used them in staking tomatoes and trellising peas. Thanks, Nana?

    • If I didn’t live in Australia, I’d be getting packages like this ALL THE TIME.

      As it stands, I only get them about once a year…

  6. This is way better then what my mom does with my child hood memories….throws them out without telling me.

  7. Old t-shirts would make a great quilt! I see a killer “Make A Thing” just waiting to be created!

    • omg, my mom totally DID make me a quilt of old t-shirts!! maybe it’ll show up in the mail one of these days…

  8. There should be a post where we all share the horrible mixtapes we made in the 90s. And then compile a best (worst) of mixtape from the responses. Comedy goldmine waiting to happen.


    Also this just reminds me of the care package I got from my grandmother one year that included a partially complete word-search, beef bouillon cubes, and a handful of Wendy’s plastic silverware packets. There were other random things in there too but those bouillon cubes stick out in my mind the most.

      • also, I mean with Downton Abbey I’m sure Edwardian is gonna be back in vogue. All the hipsters will be wearing ironic straw boaters and corsets soon.

      • Someone must have cottoned on to the fact that Samantha dolls clearly turn girls into lesbians and they decided that wasn’t their idea of All American. Homophobes ruin everything.

    • Grrrrl, you’re only saying that because you didn’t personally experience the gloriousness that was the American Girl craze of the late 80s – mid 90s.


        • This “discontinuation” shit is like the so called “Disney vault”: locking up classics and later rereleasing them to pull in more $$$ and pump nostalgia into the veins of consumers everywhere. Twatbags.

      • Grrrl… you’re right… I was more interested with melting ants with a spy glass than dressing dolls.
        That doll is creepy as fuck.

  10. Riese, if you ever want a new pen pal, my handwriting is only marginally less legible than the average 7 year old’s and I promise to draw ridiculous pictures of my pets. :D

    Also, I think I had some poetry accepted to that anthology once upon a time. I’m pretty sure it was about how I was an alien… I was a strange(strangely awesome)child.

  11. All my mom has sent me recently was an e-mail about how I don’t pay enough attention to her even though she calls me at least once a day and texts me even more than that, and she was worried I love my dad more than her. So yeah, I’d much rather have pistachios.

    Also, I think Melissa was flirting with you at the end of her letter. “You look nice in your pictures.” Get it, Melissa.

    • “GET IT, MELISSA” oh my god this is the post that keeps giving and giving and giving

  12. Riese, it makes me so happy when you post random stuff. It makes me feel like I’m back in ye olde Autowin/personal blog days. Were we ever so young.

  13. I laughed so hard. The pen pal letters especially because they remind of the days when being awkward wasn’t awkward because we hadn’t gone through puberty yet and didn’t know awkward was a thing. I vaguely remember watching Jenny Jones when I was home sick from school.. so I had to google it.

    “When the series began, a traditional talk show format reminiscent of Oprah was used. However, ratings were low the first two seasons, and by 1993 it began to move away from serious subjects and began to take on more unusual subjects and theme shows such as paternity tests, out-of-control teens (including shows in which they are sent to boot camp), confronting former bullies, makeovers for people who had no sense of fashion or style, celebrity impersonators, talent contests (and at times, people who made it an obsession to enter them, especially parents of the children who enter the pageants/contests/shows), feuding neighbors, strippers and secret crushes. ” Disappointingly, it looks like your friend may have been on it before things got crazy.

    • ( i have no idea why i’ve retained this information but here goes – around 1994 all those shows took a turn, i think lead primarily by the burgeoning popularity of jerry springer’s new brand of shock television, after he sort of revamped his show. Jenny Jones actually became the site of a massive controversy when they did a show on people revealing their secret crushes to co-workers, friends, etc., and a gay man revealed his crush on his straight friend on the show. the straight guy then murdered the gay guy! and tried to get away with it by using the Gay Panic defense. but he failed and I think is still in jail. )

  14. My old Addy and generic brown-haired American Girl dolls are in my closet too, on the highest shelf, because my girlfriend also finds them creepy. To be fair, the generic one is missing an arm. I loved her a lot.

  15. We had the Dress Me Up David fridge magnets in my college house, but somehow ended up with just the nekkid statue and a pair of Chuck Taylors…

  16. Aw, Samantha. She was the second-best of them all. Felicity was the best, clearly. She had a horse and red hair. My oldest sister got her. My other sister got Samantha. Who did I get? Kirsten. Because my grandparents were Swedish, I guess? I learned to love her, even though it was clear where I fell in the parental affection ranking (just kidding, they love us all equally, I know that. Now.)

    • I wanted Samantha or Felicity, but do you what I got instead? One of those “looks just like you!” American Girl dolls. Didn’t even have a book. Worst birthday ever.
      My younger sister got Kit, and my older sister got Josefina. Still bitter.

      • I got one of those too, probably because none of the official dolls are Asian. The last time I saw her she was lying in the back of my closet, wearing a red dress, face smeared with nail polish. Rest in peace my creepy not-doppelganger.

  17. Sorry, Riese, but I’m on Team Marni in regards to the creepy-factor of Samantha. What the hell is an American Doll anyways?

    • Thank you, Paper and Cat. I’m horrified that that thing has even been brought back out into the living room. I guarantee it’ll still be out when I get home and I’m going to have to look at its fucking creepy dead eyes.


  18. I assume you tried the pistachios, and thus found out they were stale. I, too, would have tried the pistachios.

    • In defense of the pistachios … I was aiming for an environment-friendly packing substance, and they were fresh right out of the bag.

      • Aw this reminds me so much of my mom, when she hears me talking to my friends about something she did that I found inexplicable. She’ll be like, “Wait, context!” and I’ll be like, “Oh,” and my friend (on the phone or whatever) will be laughing so hard.

        In conclusion, Riese’s mom: you’re awesome and I like you.

  19. Due to the fact that Melissa’s mom was getting married in Chicago, I’m going to guess that Melissa’s new step-dad was actually Kanye West, and she just made the common mistake of spelling it Kayne. We’ve all done it.

  20. This post was awesome!

    I want a pen pal now. I missed the last round of Autostraddle pen pals. :(

    • Do you live with a rabbit? My bunnies could write to your bunny. We could start the first ever autobun pen pal club.

      • That’s the most adorable idea! Unfortunately I don’t have rabbits as I live in Queensland, Australia where rabbits are banned. :( :( I do however have many stuffed toy rabbit, and also a unicorn pillow pet called Steven. Maybe they could write to your bunnies? :)

        • Hehe. I think their royal bunnynesses would be happy to discuss their plans for world domination with some stuffed toy Aussie buns. Katie in particular might be interested in getting to know a unicorn. She still needs a fitting battle steed.

  21. I totally got that poetry contest letter too! A few times. I think I fell for it more than once, but in my defense, I was about 12. They also invited me to a conference that cost thousands of dollars.

    • my grandparents framed and hung the poem that got published in that book and it is still on my grandma’s wall to the best of my knowledge, much to my eternal chagrin

  22. Thank you for the laughs!

    My parents are soon moving and I’m sad I’ll have to actually throw out my childhood :p

  23. This post is love. Did American Girl magazine have pen pals or am I making that up?
    Also once Autostraddle gets pen pals I will be ALL OVER THAT SHIT. My first letter will have a pencil drawn portrait of me and my Kirsten doll. Maybe some Kero Keroppi over on the side. Ladies???

  24. awww she’s so not creepy, poor dollie. she is elite. Reminds me of one i had a faraway place, only mine was blonde…

    • i have been laughing out loud about this comment for almost the entire time you’ve been at the store

  25. I never had nor wanted an American Girl doll, but there was this porcelain doll at my grandparents’ house that I named Snow White because her skin (“skin” aka porcelain outtards) was literally white, and I mean literally literally, not in the slangy sense of “emphatically.” Except for her two rosy cheeks. And her hair was black. She was so pretty and I loved her so much, so my grandparents had (what they thought was) the genius idea of getting me a porcelain doll for Christmas one year. However. The doll they got me was that sort of peachy color that “white” (Caucasian? European-descended?) people are, with red hair, a green dress, and FRECKLES. I mean. That is so totally opposite of this adorable fairy tale white-white Snow White doll with her scarlet velvet dress and perfect black hair and ugh. I didn’t want a porcelain doll that looked *real*! I wanted a porcelain doll that looked like a porcelain doll.

    Anyway I’m pretty sure I hid my disappointment okay and even tried to like the one I got. But man if they ever ask me what I want out of their will, I know just what to say.

    Wow I should not still have so many feels about this. It has been at least twelve years since that went down.

  26. This is amazing. Also, that Ellen book! I was obsessed with it. I lent it to my friend Kristi, whose parents are super Baptist, and my mom got an angry phone call from her mother because apparently I was lending her child inappropriate reading material. Cut to years later, when all of these people above seemed surprised I was gay.

  27. I LOVE this. And could also read ~100 more. My favorite parts (of the letters):
    1. How poor Nicole feels the need to explain why she and Evan have such weird names.
    2. I legitimately thought I might have written Sarah’s letter for a second but then remembered my birthday is nowhere near December 3rd. I, too, can attest that being strangled by seaweed is a grose and terrifying experience.
    3. How Melissa feels the need to double-underline emphasize that you need to let YOUR mom see this (like, not hers, or someone else’s mom but YOURS specifically).


    (Totally unrelated but I need a forum to discuss this)- did you all know that Oprah’s real name is “Orpah” like oRpah?! Apparently people pronounced it wrong so she just started going by Oprah. There’s even a video of her explaining this so it’s not just some wiki hack (though it’s on there too). I just found out and am freaking out.

    Also, those pistachios tho.

  28. Oh man, I had that Mickey Mouse stationary. I was confused about American Girl dolls because my name is Samantha… but I identified with Molly. Basically I only read the “action” books for each girl. And finally, those damn poetry book scams. The one I have is such.crap.

  29. Oh man, this post is two years old. Knew it felt like I’d read it before.

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