My Friends!

Closest Friends

These people are all in my inner circle of friends. Regardless of how often I see these folks, they're the people I tell things to, have fun with, give my support to, and can depend on.

Meghan has been my best girl friend since high school. We have an indescribable connection, but the good news is we also have some very easy-to-describe common interests and attributes. She is intelligent and loving and kind of has always played Mommy to everyone she knows (which is quite appropriate since she is also a literal mother to two beautiful children, Katelyn and Benjamin). We both appreciate British comedy, anime, fantasy and science fiction, baking, reading, and silly music, and have been known to make people stare in public by doing very odd things. (I will never forget the sneer face she made at the preppy girls when we were younger, nor will I forget going to the mall wearing fairy wings walking around nonchalantly with her.) I'm not even sure how our friendship started, exactly. We met and we fell in love, and that's kind of it. I think we first bonded over music; we knew all the same lyrics to songs and our eyes kept meeting over the crowd at the gatherings, and after a couple fun times we may not have known that much about each other but we'd sort of become sisters. Meg has an incredibly beautiful soul, as well as a startlingly loud and infectious laugh. She's musical (not just into music, but can sing and play violin!), and she shares my love of reading. And she's the only person I know with blonde eyes. I introduced her to her husband, Brendon, and I was maid of honor in her wedding. We don't live in the same city, but our friendship has endured, and we keep in touch by phone and online and through somewhat frequent visits, including fun vacations like Disney trips. Meggie currently works as a nurse in Jacksonville and takes care of her family.

Victor and I met on MuMu Land--a telnet talker--in 1996. We're very different and very similar in many, many ways, and what's great about the ways we're different from each other is that usually they end up complementary. Victor has the honor of being my very first Internet friend that I ended up meeting in real life. We talk on the phone every week while I draw my webcomic, and it's pretty clear we'll never run out of stuff to talk about. Victor is a fantastic artist and is so creative it's almost overwhelming, and one thing about this guy is that the dreams he has at night make amazing stories. He's really good at crafty things and figuring things out and solving problems, and likes a lot of geeky stuff like toys and games and anime and comics and whatnot. It's a shame that the whole WORLD doesn't know Victor. And one day, when we both get superpowers, we'll rule the world together. Don't worry, I'm joking. Really. He lived in Philadelphia for many years and we'd see each other once in a while when he came down to Florida to visit me, but then he moved to Tampa and stayed with me until he got a job and moved out on his own. Now he lives in town and we get to see each other for everyday events! It's pretty awesome.

Jeaux and I met on the Internet when he was just searching around looking for cool people who like The Tick. He decided to talk to me because we had common interests and both like to write. Every week since the year 2000, there has been a Jeaux-day: one of the most important and satisfying fixtures in my life. Jeaux and I hang out after I get off work and have dinner, and we watch things and talk. He likes to write and play games, has an awesome sense of humor, is great with computers, and has attained a level of comfort with me that is practically unparalleled. We go to each other's family events and are heavily involved in each other's lives, and I can't even count the number of times I've leaned on him and confided in him about absolutely anything and everything. Because of our closeness, people tend to think we're dating, but there's nothing romantic about our friendship; it's definitely one of those friendships that I'd never describe as "just" friends, though, because there's no reason to demote it below some hypothetical romance in importance. We both worked at Books-A-Million for years (different stores) and honed our intense dislike of customers before quitting the retail scene around the same time. Jeaux got a computer-related tech support job and works at night. Yay for him and his big fat brain.

Jessie and I met on the Internet after sharing some stories of what we had in common. There probably aren't too many people on this Earth who are more like me than Jessie is. (I haven't met one yet, anyway.) We're both writers, artists, ridiculous creative types, and somewhat childlike idealists who nevertheless know how to be grown-ups. We write incredibly long e-mails to each other, as we tend toward wordiness, and though some of our interests diverge, we seem to find the same things appealing because of an uncannily similar mindset. We both had websites since the 1990s featuring our original writing, and both developed something of a following doing so, and we're both content to spend a day doodling our characters. And Jessie has definitely been one of the most helpful people to review and edit my novels. We joke that she will be President one day and I will be her vice president, and that our platform will abolish word count limits everywhere. Jessie has visited me in Florida and I've visited her in Michigan and in DC, and though we're unlikely to ever live in the same state, I'm sure we'll stay lifelong friends.

Fred and I met in a rather unusual way; he was the online friend of my friend Jessica. We became friends through being acquainted with her, and have since had many, many visits even though he's always lived far from me, and we have marathon phone conversations when we can. He is a generous and fun person who always remembers all the little details of whatever we talk about, and I love being his friend. He has involved me in a great many of his vacations; our first visit was July 4, 1998, and we've since been all over the place together. We've gone to California and Las Vegas together, and he's friendly with my family and with many of my friends so he's enjoyed coming to visit me and them over the years. He came to Meg's wedding and our Anna Maria beach vacation. Fred is incredibly intelligent, emotionally open, appreciative of humor, and spiritual. He can really appreciate a good meal and has a unique and hilarious laugh, and he's very into bowling, biking, swimming, hiking, and outdoor adventures. He hangs out with his girlfriend Kathy these days.

Cara was originally an Internet-only friend who appeared in my life because she liked my online empire. The peculiar thing about our relationship is that she is more than a decade younger than I am, which was especially unusual at the time we met because she was a child and I was in college. But despite her youth, Cara consistently displayed surprisingly mature and eloquently relayed perspectives during our correspondence, and I just knew she was going to be someone special in my life. I got to watch her grow up from a distance as she corresponded with me through e-mail, journals, and connected Web projects; she even ran a fanlisting for me for a while. It took a long time for us to ever talk on the phone and even longer for us to meet in person (which we did for the first time while I was visiting Jessie), but she remains a very close friend and consistent person in my life. She's read many of my books, drawn pictures for me, and talked to me about everything from relationships to life philosophy. No matter how long we go without talking, Cara and I stay in touch.

Ronni and I have been Internet pals since the late 1990s. We were both weird gals who had our own websites (hers is Anywhere-Is!), and we bonded quickly over writing and our tendency to send long, soulful, heartfelt e-mails. She's a Disney girl, a romantic, a mommy and wife, a romance author, an editor, and a yoga chick. We've edited each other's books and supported each other during the ups and downs of trying to break into publishing (and it's pretty awesome that was the first person in my social circle to become an agented author!). I visited Ronni for the first time as a side trip while visiting my friend Bunky in Ohio, but we only had enough time to chill in her apartment and eat SpaghettiOs. In 2004 I visited her and her first husband Chris and son Aidan in Ohio, and stayed at their house for a few days, where we had a blast. And then in 2008, I was a bridesmaid in her wedding to Adam, and made a visit out of that! Her son is really fun to be around (and he's a good artist). I love being a word nerd with Ronni and I hope we stay in touch forever, even though we'll probably always live far apart.

Mike and I met in the late 1990s at a local anime viewing club. He didn't talk much during the meetings, but when we discussed an anime convention via e-mail, I quickly found that he was interesting to talk to. While living in Gainesville, I saw him here and there through the last semesters of my college years, meeting up to watch our favorite animes. Eventually I moved across town and he had to ride his bike to hang out with me, but soon enough that changed and he became a neighbor in the same apartment complex. We met pretty much weekly for a while, baking and cooking together, spending certain holidays together, and doing a lot of media sharing. We even went to a couple plays! When I moved to Tampa it was sad, but he comes to see me a couple times a year with the assistance of Greyhound. Mike is, as you might expect, an anime fiend. We also share an interest in atheism and certain aspects of pushing for social change. He is quite enthusiastic about my writing and has read more of it than most people know exists.

Sarah was my co-worker at the bookstore job. We had a few talks during the time we worked together, but after continuously running into each other at the grocery store and in the neighborhood, we decided we should do something sometime and became friends. She and her husband David moved to a nearby Florida city around the same time I moved back to Tampa, so seeing each other can be a pain, but they come into town to visit me now and then and I've been out to their house to let them pamper me. We even went to Disney World together once and had a blast. Sarah is a housewife, a cat person, and a big fan of coupons, and she is always a good listener and a compassionate person. She's probably my girliest friend, enjoying the girl talk and the manicures and the scented candles stuff, and we keep in touch through telephone conversations and occasional visits. We're very different people, but still have a lot of common ground.

Stacy, like Sarah above, was my co-worker at the bookstore job. (I have no pictures of us together, and she's not an Internet person. I don't know if she'd be cool with me posting her picture.) Stacy was the paperback specialist for a while, working part-time, and she was always a fantastic person to talk about terrible customers with. We share an interest in science fiction and fantasy, as well as an appreciation for reasonableness, so we became friends and kept in touch after she left. Stacy has a daughter named Sam and is married, and we saw each other through very occasional visits for a while but I really don't see her now that I've moved out of the area. She's been a big help and a solid encourager when it's come to my writing career, and she's so patient and pleasant to talk to. I'm really glad we kept in touch after working together, even though we hardly ever see each other due to our busy lives and the distance.

Kim and I met through her son, Michael. Mike was an Internet friend, and we connected through common interests and eventually met in real life. He lived a few cities away in Sarasota, and he didn't drive--and on top of that was very close to his mom--so she would come along too on our visits, and even though she'd leave him at my place for a few hours so we could hang out while she went to the bookstore, I got to see her a bunch in the coming and going, and one time we all even went to the Renaissance Faire together. Another time they actually picked me up to hang out all the way at their house so I could see his room. Unfortunately, a couple years after we met, Mike unexpectedly passed away at age twenty--he had some health problems and disabilities, and this was a complication of one of them. I went to his life celebration and bonded further with his family, and have kept in touch with his mother ever since. (I'm sort of weirdly between her age and her son's age, so it felt appropriate to me.) Kim and I have similar interests in the magic of the world, and sometimes we used to check out cool events, discuss philosophies, and recommend books to each other. I don't get to see her now that she's left the area, but we have never dropped off each other's maps, and I hope we never will.

Jeremy is a fellow writer friend whom I originally met on a telnet talker in the late 1990s. We knew each other through MuMu--there, he was artman--and his humor and capacity for intelligent conversation drew me in. He eventually began checking out my writing and talking to me through other channels, and I introduced him to where we both contributed many articles. Jeremy likes to write humorous stuff and sort of modern fantasy stuff; I've edited both his fiction and his nonfiction work, and he's looked at my stuff and given me wonderful comments. We've only met in person during one trip (and it was sort of an accident of luck that my apartment happened to be on the way for a vacation), but we keep in touch through e-mail and social networking. He lives far away in St. Louis and has four sons. (Yes, four sons!)

Kari was originally an Internet friend whom I met because of common interests and began to hang out with in person whenever she could travel to my area. (Someday I'll get a picture of just the two of us together.) Kari and I shared some very similar outlooks on relationships and love and whatnot, which is always refreshing to find in another person, and because she was also long-haired and vegetarian and vertically challenged, I dubbed her my evil twin. (We're both the evil one, by the way.) She likes anime and art and creating characters. We went to an anime convention together once, with some of her friends. She is fantastic at drawing; she's done quite a lot of doodles of my characters and has given me art of them as presents, and whenever we talk we always go on for hours. Kari is now fixes and maintains airplanes and lives in Georgia, and she has a partner who I've never met, but whenever she comes into town she usually tries to gather friends and hang out with everyone. I even stole a bunch of her friends through these parties! After keeping in touch for so long after our initial Internet meeting, I have no doubt that we'll be friends for life.

Reeny--who isn't into having pictures public so I won't put one--is a great friend from Australia whom I've only communicated with online and on the phone. We met years ago through e-mails and have consistently stayed in touch, and whenever Reeny sends me a package it is always going to be full of really interesting, really fun, really cool stuff. I sometimes refer to Reeny as my music pimp because there are SO many artists I'd never have been exposed to if it weren't for those CDs and recommendations! Anyway, we have a ton in common when it comes to perspectives on life, and we are sympathetic to each other's issues even when it comes to issues we don't personally have in common. I really appreciate that I can always count on Reeny for long and in-depth responses to my e-mails, even though our communication is sometimes sporadic, and every once in a while I get a surprise request to sign onto Skype and we'll talk. I really feel like I can say just about anything when we talk, and not get judged or put down. Reeny is a big music fan, and likes movies (though a lot of scary ones I probably would be too wimpy to watch), and has been supportive with reading/reacting to my writing and drawing me occasional fun fan art and quirky doodles. I don't think I've ever met someone with quite the same sense of humor, either. I hope one day we can visit each other; Reeny is the only person on the "closest friends" list I haven't met in person. Someday!

Eric and I first met at a massive OKCupid gathering, but though we sat at the same table at a karaoke after-party, we didn't really interact. Eventually, though, we ended up chatting through OKCupid and I called him to take him up on an offer of a ride to some other event, and we ended up talking for hours about science fiction and life philosophy. We ended up always going to the same parties, and Eric started a monthly Drink and Draw club which I attended whenever I could get a ride. Eric's a fantastic artist and has excellent taste in entertainment, and he's quite a technology expert too and writes articles for How-To-Geek. (He even used my photo in an article once.) We've gone to an anime convention together, and have discussed comics, played games, and talked about lots of social issues. He makes shirts for a living and draws on a professional level, and he dabbles in writing fiction (which I've read some of). Eric's also got a great ability to listen, learn, and respond in a way I don't experience much of in other friendships--and he's also got this really great sense of humor. I love talking to him for hours on end; usually if we get together that's all we do. I went to Disney World with Eric once.

Joy and I met through mutual friends, and always ending up in the same room together kind of made it inevitable that we'd be friends. Joy comes to the same parties and gatherings and whatnot, and she is an intelligent, honest, very friendly person who's one of the most open-minded folks I've ever met. She likes singing (sometimes we sing together, even!), and she's one of the only people I currently talk to who practices a Pagan tradition, too, so it's nice to have another person around who knows/cares about the things I do. I'm always finding out something new about her that makes me like her more. Also, she is the real-life version of Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. So there.

Good Friends

Now here are some awesome people whom I consider very good friends and am still in touch with reasonably regularly. They're the people I hang out with sometimes, the people I'd go to parties with, the people I e-mail and chat with if something cool happens, or the people I have a decent amount of history with. This is alphabetical by first name just for funsies.

Ammy is a gal I met in high school who's one of the friendliest people I've ever met. When I met her as a teen, her tastes ran mainstream but her weirdness tolerance was super high, so she was able to mesh with just about anyone, and found humor in the goofball stuff my friends and I liked. We were in chorus together and had many of our classes together, and palled around outside school all the time at each other's houses. She's always been a very dedicated student and studied more than anyone I knew, and was outgoing and so much fun to be around. When we graduated, we both went to UF (though we shared no classes because she was in engineering), and I helped her move into her first dorm. Later she moved in with me during our last year of school, and she was an excellent roommate; sometimes they say you shouldn't live with your friends, but she never made me sorry. Sometimes we'd both be on the computer in our respective rooms laughing through the wall as we Instant Messaged each other. Occasionally we'd watch anime or talk about books. We even went to an anime convention together in costume once, and I got to help her celebrate successfully becoming an engineer. Post-college we still hung out whenever we could. Ammy joined the Air Force after graduation and ended up moving away, which was totally sad, but we've still seen each other sometimes when she comes to visit family, and we chat on the phone and online sometimes.

Avi and I met on OKCupid after he was searching for local vegetarians to have potlucks with. We got together for some pizza and hit it off, so from then on we invited each other to gatherings and parties, and sometimes just hung out one on one when we felt like it. He was also instrumental in convincing me to come to a large OKCupid gathering, where I met many people I consider very important to me today. Avi is from a Jewish family, like me, and sometimes we talk about that, and we share opinions on a lot of social issues. He likes quirky music, like me, and is a badass DDR player--so he gives me some competition! We've had a lot of great times at video game parties and potlucks and Drink and Draw activities, but he has the nomad gene, so he wanders a lot and I don't get to see him. As of this writing, he headed off into the sunset with his partner, Mari, and they had a son named Sora, but he's one of those people I don't think I'll ever completely lose touch with when he wanders.

Ben: We met through Pitch Wars, a writing contest. I was a mentor and he was a mentee, and I picked him out of over 70 entries to be my primary project. Not only did I like working on his book, but I liked working with him, even though I torture him a little. In the course of my grooming his book and pitch for success in the agent round of the contest, we had long conversations on Skype and later on the phone, and have become pretty solidly convinced that we're cut from the same cloth. We've moved into a critique partner and friend relationship beyond just mentor/mentee, and he's one of the best people I've worked with on literary pursuits. After he got signed to an agent as a direct result of the contest, we became submission buddies and publishing good-news buddies too!

Brendon I met online while I was in college, and he invited me to come see him in a play he had a part in. We met afterwards and got to know each other better, and started hanging out sometimes even though he had to travel to see me once he moved out of Gainesville. He's come to quite a few of my Halloween parties in fabulous costumes. We have shared our writing before--though he seems more interested in comics and screenplays than my kind of flat paper fiction--and he's a really good singer and actor. He married Meghan and is stepfather to Katelyn and father to Benjamin, and they live in Jacksonville. We don't really talk on the Internet anymore, but occasionally I see him in association with visiting Meg and the kids.

Brent is an OKCupid friend once removed. I met him when he was invited to all the same parties I was, and I was amused by his silly ways and lack of shame at completely being who he is. He's a quirky and compassionate person who tends to go out of his way to help people he likes (and has assisted me with rides to our mutual friends' events more times than I can count!). Brent has cooking skills and a degree in Criminology, and he's quite a good listener. He's very into his cool toys, especially Transformers, and listens to some pretty neat music. He moved away from the Tampa area to be with his parter, Heather, in Pennsylvania.

Corinne: My much younger Canadian friend is fantastic. We have had a ton of amazing conversations through e-mail; she's critiqued my writing in depth, philosophized on dozens of subjects with me, and allowed me into her own world. We've exchanged gifts and baked each other cookies even though we've never met, and we both have a huge amount of respect for the written word. Certain circumstances prevent us from being as consistent with our communication as we once were, but I can always count on her to write me a long letter even after a silence. Maybe one day I'll get to meet her.

Derek was originally an OKCupid friend. He messaged me hoping to be a "platonic friend" with me and made it clear that we had a lot in common, and it turned out to be true, so we hung out. Turned out we started hanging out with the same OKCupid people sometimes and getting invited to each other's gatherings, though some of my hangouts with him have had nothing to do with the group. We've gone to karaoke and he's come to my parties and whatnot. He likes Ghostbusters and some other eighties stuff, and is very dedicated to the anarchist cause and the discussion of atheism. (He even interviewed me on his show once.) He's also a writer type and likes games and stuff, so we always have a lot to talk about. Whenever we get together it's always great to catch up and have long discussions about writing or society.

Gary and I met on OKCupid and first met in person at a large OKCupid gathering. He discovered that I am a baking goddess (as advertised) and has since been one of the biggest fans of my treats (though he tends to teasingly attribute my cookie-baking abilities to my supposedly elfin heritage). Gary is a big music geek who goes to a lot of shows and is very knowledgeable about music, and he's sunk a lot of time into running an online journaling contest annually until its last run in 2014. He also spends a lot of time with his partner Cynthia. I see them at parties and gatherings since we have all the same friends, but I've never gotten to hang out with him individually because neither of us drives. Gary is very insightful and kind, and though he's silly pretty often, he isn't afraid to be who he is and has a lot of wisdom in him. (He'll deny it, though.) When Gary isn't kicking hippies, he's devoting a lot of love to his cats.

writing comic through her husband, I think, and wrote me a love note full of infectious enthusiasm. We became fast friends and friended each other on various social media, and I became one of her coaches for submission of her first novel. I supported her through rejections, query letter massaging, and of course beta reading, and she's read some of my stuff too. She eventually got signed to a great agent and I couldn't be prouder of her! Heather is married with her lovely crop of boy-children in North Carolina, likes improv theater and filmmaking in addition to writing, and she's kind, dedicated, smart, creative, and sincere in a way you don't see much anymore. I can trust her to talk about creative-people problems, political issues, family, and good entertainment!

Heather and I met on our first day of tenth grade in Spanish class. She was enthusiastic and we liked some of the same music, so we became friends, though she wasn't in any of my other classes and didn't really jive with my main friends. Heather went through some speed bumps in her life and ended up living with my family for a while--actually, she was still living there and going to school when I graduated and went to college. After a few more glitches, Heather ended up in Australia and got an MBA, and she got married to an Australian man named Matt, returned to the U.S., and . . . moved in with my mom again. They were my mother's roommates for nine months, moved out, then moved in again for another period of months, but eventually they moved to several more other states and Heather went back to school and eventually got divorced. Having been "adopted" by my family for such a long time, my mother used to joke that she was her "point-five daughter" (as in, my mom claimed to have 3.5 kids), and she used to come to family events. In the past we've enjoyed going skating together and discussing music and health, and she loves nature and animals and exercise.

Jay: I met this awesome guy through a literary criticism group online (i.e., we make fun of the same books), and he got in my good graces very quickly by complimenting my comprehensive book reviews. We ended up having a lot of stuff to talk about--mostly book nerd stuff, but overall we just have a lot in common when it comes to attitudes and perspectives, especially when it comes to writing. He is also a writer and after we started exchanging our work we became pretty solid critique partners. He's one of the best I've worked with--both as a commenter and as an author--and I think he'll be successful with his writing one day. Jay and I have read each other's books and exhaustively discussed Authors Behaving Badly, and have even tried entering a writing contest together (no, we didn't win). He's one of the only people I know who can write long e-mails without getting impatient, and he's always got something hilarious and scathing to say about Book Nerd Things. We're going to take over the world. I hope I can count on him as a supporter and continue to support him throughout our careers as super successful authors. ;)

Jef and I met through Kari. He was roommates with a very close friend of hers we called Kit (and acquaintances with Kari), and so he was at a get-together she threw when she was leaving Florida for her Georgia job. Jef and I hit it off right away in a rather unusual way; we had a strong and intense reaction to each other that a lot of people might describe as like/love at first sight, and kind of ended up talking each other's ears off even though we were supposed to be paying attention to the gathering. Anyway, we kept in touch by e-mail after that and had a bunch of great conversations, and since then we've had somewhat rare get-togethers (because we don't live super close together and neither of us tend to be initiators). Jef has come to my Halloween parties and to Renaissance festivals here and there, and we always seem to talk about philosophy, art, relationships, and unusual perspectives. He's a game designer--as in, he creates board games--and though he's creative in a different way than I am, we both know what tapping into that well is all about.

Jessica and I met in one of my first music classes at the University of Florida, but she tells me she spotted me during Preview before classes even started and decided we should be friends because I was the only person who looked interesting. When we had our first class together she signaled to me on Day 1 like I should sit by her, and at first I thought I must already know her, but that was just her evil plan. Ha. Anyway, we spent that class getting to know each other and discovering we were both weirdos with mischievious senses of humor, and we drew amusing pictures of our classmates and made fun of our teachers together. However, she was a horn player and I was a singer, so we only had certain general classes together, and when she changed majors I didn't see her for a semester until I changed majors too and we were in the same education classes! We continued our tradition of LONG talks and strange pranks. I've rarely met another girl so much like me; usually I get along better with guys, and we have had the same experience with random people trying to worship us. We spent some years both living in Florida and having occasional visits, and I even went to her wedding after-party, but she eventually moved out west and I don't see her now, though we keep in touch through the Internet here and there. Jes is good with computers, loves horses and animals, is a hoarder of weirdness, and has introduced me to quite a lot of odd ideas and media. I wish she was closer so we could still hang out.

John and I met through Meghan. I was still a junior in high school when Meghan introduced me to her future college roommates John and Dena, and plans were made for me to move in with the trio (though as it happened, by the time I got there Meg herself was no longer living in the apartment). I got to know John's explosive, vulgar humor style and appreciation for loud musicals and absurd behavior, and by the time I became his roommate, we were already good pals. John introduced me to all sorts of weird musicals and included me in the inside jokes and took me under his wing a bit when I was new in town as a college freshman, and though living with a "LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE!" theatre major was sometimes a challenge, he humored my artistic weirdness as well and remained one of the coolest people I met during that time in my life. John and I took a road trip once, and even after we graduated we continued to keep in touch whenever we could through visits wherever we happened to be living. John's now a successful producer in New York, and he's the type of person I can just pick up where I left off with. I can always count on him for the most lovingly rendered filthy insults.

Kim and I met through OKCupid, meeting in person through a large gathering and ending up doing a duet together at a karaoke bar that night. We've maintained our friendships with the same people and I see her now and then when she manages to make it to gatherings like Drink and Draw or parties. Kim's a music and math nerd, and she's awesome with both. She can play a few instruments and sings pretty good, with a unique and fun-to-listen-to voice that makes me wish we could sing together all the time. She's super generous and understanding and (of course, like most of my friends) quirky. And she likes swing dancing and video games and stuff. She's very kind and fun to be around, and I wish I got to hang out with her more but she and her partner Robbie live too far away.

Laura and I met on MuMu Land, the Internet talker, in 1996. She and her friend Jessica were really close confidantes my first year of college, and we chatted and talked a lot about unimportant things (and occasionally stuff of consequence). We organized a meetup for spring break which involved them visiting me and taking me to Six Flags, and during summer we met up again with me staying with Laura most of the time (but spending a little time at Jessica's house). Circumstances prevented visits beyond that, but Laura a.k.a Blink and I stayed in touch over the years. What's awesome about her is that she's even more of a book nerd than I am, and she read some of my early writings and commented on them at length. After spending some time in a computer career, Laura went back to school and became a school librarian, and sometimes we exchange thoughts about books and life in general. She's a really cool person who also shared my love of author Francesca Lia Block (and we ran an interest-based e-mail list on her for a while). She lives in Virginia, and even though we don't talk often, we stay updated on each other's activities.

Mandy and I met on OKCupid. We have a lot in common--especially the tendency to write very long rambles about our lives and share a lot about our thoughts in text--and she seemed like a really fun person so we ended up eventually meeting up during certain OKCupid-people gatherings. Mandy is a music maniac. She loves collecting and listening to music, going to shows and clubs to dance, and sharing opinions about it. Mandy is also a big fan of theme parties, and has thrown quite a few herself. She's good at organizing, and has a talent for fashion and decoration. She even likes karaoke and Dance Dance Revolution, like me! We don't normally hang out one on one, and we've had limited conversation time because we usually see each other at parties where she's bouncing off the crowd, but even though she's much more of a party girl than I am, I appreciate her for our common threads and for her open-mindedness about everything in existence.

Michael Thomas and I met online after he found my writings and decided to e-mail me. He introduced himself to me as Squirrel (and that's what I called him for years until he had to tell me to stop). We exchanged some writerly e-mails, attempting to get to know each other, and eventually started visiting. He writes poetry and adores music, and during our visits we've often watched or talked about something brain-spinningly weird. (I definitely wouldn't have seen as many bizarre movies in my life without him.) He's an artistic and philosophical person with Buddhist leanings, and now he's got a really cool partner named Megan. We don't talk anywhere near as much as we used to, but I think we'll always be in touch.

Mikey and I met at the bookstore when I was working one day. He was startled by my singing--he thought it was the radio!--and ended up talking to me on Halloween 2004 because my costume and jewelry intrigued him. We quickly found we had a lot in common and lent each other books, and finally we went out for coffee and cake, and then I had him over for potato pancakes and . . . well, ya know. We have similar philosophies in certain areas, enjoy good literature, and have shared stories and poems with each other. He's a generous, eclectic, very interesting person, and yet he can also appreciate the basest filthy song or the most disgusting insult. He's very knowledgable about books and cars and a whole lot else--kind of one of those people you don't see a lot of who just seems to know something about everything. He has a deep appreciation for all my various art and writing and has given me great feedback on it. We helped each other out a lot when we decided to move from Gainesville, too. We've been on a number of outings and road trips: Florida Tour Summer 2005, Butterfly Gardens 2005, Road Trip Spring 2006, Road Trip Fall 2007, and Dalí Museum 2008, plus going to the Renaissance Faire together in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. He was even willing to dress up for Halloween events! Mikey also has a spiritual side and we shared some philosophies on Paganism, and for some time we engaged in moonbathing. And sometimes we'd even get together for DDR or play sports. Another common activity we'd do together was baking or cooking and then eating while watching movies or TV shows. We had some really fun times together when he'd make me food and spoil me. I'm not sure how or why exactly we ended up not really talking anymore, but I hope he's doing great.

Phil is . . . actually my ex-boyfriend. We met in high school when I was a sophomore. The details are kind of long and boring, but the gist is he had a crush on me and didn't really want to take "I'm aromantic and asexual" as an answer, and I had a soft spot for helping people with low self-esteem, so I eventually ended up dating him because I hoped I could teach him he could be loved. (Yes, very bad reason.) We went on dates and went to prom and stuff, but it was a pretty rocky relationship because of our mismatched interest in sex and his sort of hot/cold interaction style. We didn't work out primarily because he was convinced real love would eventually manifest through sex and I wasn't willing to give it to him, so his attempts to get me interested drove us into a breakup. But after some healing time, he did decide he wanted me in his life even if it was on MY terms, and we were able to reconcile and remain on friendly terms. We both like science and anime and foul humor, but other than that we don't actually have that much in common, and I don't see him often, but we do keep in touch. He's a science teacher and maybe twice a year he'll stop by and take me to lunch.

Richard was originally an Internet friend I met through AOL. Being that we were both music nerds and language geeks (him more than me, probably in both cases), we hit it off, and had lots of great conversations about life, religion, music, philosophy, language, family, personal stuff, and writing. He eventually started calling me once in a while and we kept in touch through phone calls when the e-mails tapered off. And about ten years after I first offered to let him visit me, he actually took me up on it and drove across the country to meet me and celebrate his retirement. We had some fun talking and traveling and munching. It was great to finally meet someone I'd only known online after so long. We don't get to talk all that often these days, but he's someone I can catch up with easily every time we touch base. I wouldn't know about a lot of my favorite music if it weren't for Richard!

Steve was part of my high school posse and my "big bro" whom I met through Meghan and the crew. I found that a lot of people misjudged Steve, but he's deceptively intuitive and eloquent when he chooses to show that side of himself to people, and some folks aren't willing to accept it. Steve has always been protective, a little silly, has a great sense of humor, and has a special talent to call people out on their bull without being nasty about it. He's also really loyal. Steve and I talked on the phone and went to our group's events together, and we were even in chorus classes together, and he was very intertwined with my boyfriend Phil's family because he lived with them for a while. He ended up in Gainesville with everyone else, though he didn't go to the college, and we maintained our friendship through that period until we both ended up in Tampa again. Steve and Meg have always been very close too, but never dated, and people often seemed to misread their closeness. Eventually Steve found a younger girl named Jessica and ended up getting married to her, and we all stay in touch. Mostly we just talk about the old days.

Aw, I don't have a good picture of us together.

Stephanie and I met at a large OKCupid gathering, and she happened to be in the group that went out to karaoke after our picnic, but we didn't really start conversing until we started coming to more OKC-people parties. I had a great time getting to know her through game nights, Drink and Draws, and various gatherings, though while she was dating Eric I mostly only saw her along with him. Stephanie comes across as bubbly and friendly, and is full of the funniest stories because her life has taken her so many places. She's smart and can be quite talkative, and always seems to be willing to listen to another person's experience. She even picked up DDR like a pro at one of Mandy's parties once. I always have a great time talking to her and singing with her, too.

Other Pals

And here are people with whom I maintain friendly relationships, but aren't in my closest circles. They may be either cooled friendships, developing friendships, or acquaintances.

Amanda: We met through some AVEN meetups and ended up having some pretty great conversations. We also have a lot in common (not the least of which is both being asexual and interested in networking about it). When the regular meetups started dwindling we ended up mostly talking on Facebook, but we support similar stuff and both like drawing, folksy music, and speculative fiction.

Angel: We're pals on Facebook, but we met in real life first through an OKCupid gathering. I've been to a couple of her parties, and we have the same birthday (except she's more than ten years younger than I am). I liked that she was very upfront and unabashed about her sexuality without thinking I was a freak for being asexual, and she always struck me as a pretty awesome person even though we didn't know each other very well.

Anita: We met through Kari; Anita was roommates with Kit and Jef, and so she'd sometimes be around anytime I saw them--at dinner get-togethers, at parties, at trips to the Renaissance Faire. She's friendly but not outgoing, and has been vegan as long as I've known her. She's always got a cool hairstyle, and we've had some nice little chats about DDR and other things we like.

Brent: When we first met online, Brent went by the name Dieter, and despite our significant age difference, we have very similar takes on the world. We share a sense of humor and appreciation for the absurd in life, and he has been in my presence more than once. We both like DDR and weirdness and making websites. We've had many an honest conversation on the Internet and on the phone (because he lives in Georgia, nowhere near me), and he's just plain not afraid to say what he thinks while being a genuinely nice guy.

Dan: This guy had the sole distinction of having read and reviewed all of my online short stories and probably read more of my website than most people alive. Very cool. We e-mailed and talked a bunch in the beginning of getting to know each other, though that seems to have tapered off and we just chat and joke on Facebook. He's a very level-headed dude who's talked with me about everything from politics to religion. He was also partially responsible for my decision to write my novel Bad Fairy, because in his review for the short story version he said I should write a novel version of it, and I was like, "Okay!" Dan is married and lives in Utah. I've never met him in person.

David: I met David when I was 18 and had just recently moved to Gainesville for college. He worked in an indie bookstore and I would come to the bookstore and chat with him sometimes. Even though he was significantly older than I was, he was happy to talk to me and I guess kinda humored me. We hung out a few times outside of the bookstore later, and kept in touch after I moved. David's a poet and writer, and quite refreshingly irreverent in his discussions about religion. He likes organizing and performing at spoken word open mic events.

James: Originally an OKCupid pal who eventually decided to contact me after being aware of me for like a year, James and I hit it off after chatting through e-mail and on the phone. We're both music nerds and fans of both intellectual and extremely stupid humor, and we can have frank talks about anything. He's good at seeing the unpopular side of things if he wants to--guess it helps that he's a lawyer--and seems to be equally good at talking and listening (which is kind of rare). Us both being busy and not really having the same friends prevents us from hanging out as much as we'd like, but it's always a blast whenever we get together.

Kit: This artistic gal is a friend of my friend Kari (and her real name is also Kari, which is why I prefer calling her by her nickname). We met through Kari-organized gatherings and end up seeing each other once in a while because we have mutual friends who go to the same things in the same areas. She's creative and often somewhat quiet, and she's into so many neat things, some of which I like too (such as anime, folklore stuff, and some comics). She is a supergeek and into many different kinds of games, and her art--especially her fox-related stuff--is professional and quirky.

Max: and I met through his younger brother Alex, who was in my grade in high school. He is also a friend and roommate to Phil, and when we were in high school he hung out with me and our friend Mia sometimes. He had interesting hobbies and a lot of knowledge about comics and geeky stuff that I thought was cool but didn't get. I think he was around when I was having my first exposure to anime in high school, too. He's into video games and I think he has an appreciation for medieval stuff too. We've only seen each other rarely since graduation, but we're quite friendly online if we see each other.

Michael: I met Michael at a Renaissance Faire gathering through mutual friends, and this pirate-like Pagan dude became a fun friend. He has come to a bunch of my Halloween parties and always seems to have a lot of really cool stuff to say. He stayed late after a party once and chatted with me until the wee hours. He likes books and nerdy stuff like I do and we can actually have an in-depth conversation about stories. He also worked at the same bookstore chain I did and we've had very long conversations about customer service and the book-selling industry.

Monika: She and I met through OKCupid and the first time we met face to face was briefly at an OKC picnic. We live close enough to see each other once in a while, and had mutual friends for a while so we'd occasionally see each other at parties, but for the most part we keep in touch by e-mail. We had a pizza and movie night once (to watch the movie I was in), and we've had some pretty awesome chats. It's nice to have someone around who is open-minded and really laid back. She's also a good artist and her stuff is really unique.

Pedro: We met in a really odd way: He e-mailed me through OKCupid, but it took me a while to message back and he had deleted his account before I could. His message was so thoughtful and fun that I was really sad about losing a chance to talk to him, and made a public journal entry about it. He found it more than a year later by searching for his usual screenname, contacted me, and we became friends! Our first meetup involved just hanging out in my living room drawing, and he's been to Drink and Draw with me (but group gatherings aren't really his thing so we usually hang out one on one). Pedro likes to talk about philosophy and life and relationships and books and everything else that affects people, and he always seems very laid-back and willing to listen as well. He even introduced me to a movie that became one of my favorites. I'm glad that against all odds I got to have him in my life.

Raúl: He and I met on the Internet in the early days and talked about writing a LOT. We've never met in person, but we've had a ton of e-mail and IMs and telephone conversations. He's one of my oldest writer buddies and even though we lost touch for a while we got back into it through occasional contact on Facebook. We also share some taste in music and some perspectives on philosophy. It's nice to have someone around who knows all about the writing life.

Rob: We met on OKCupid as a couple of smart music nerds who wanted to get to know other smart music nerds. Rob has taught music in schools and is a composer, so he's way more of a music nerd than I am, and believe me, that's a good thing. He's divorced with two sweet daughters. We hung out now and then when we first met, but after some hard times, he moved out of the country to do some teaching, but eventually came back, and we keep in touch. Rob is good at offering alternative opinions on issues, being supportive, and appreciating under-appreciated art forms. He also does some writing, and I've read some of it.

Robin: We met and connected initially through mutual love of certain New Age musicians. Robin sent me a bunch of his favorite music and I did the same, and we had long phone conversations that involved philosophies of life, stories of experiences, and perspectives on creativity. He likes various types of visual art and experimenting with media, and once drew a picture of me as a fairy. He's commented here and there on my writing and art and singing, and is a fan of my long hair. We've never met in person, but maybe one day.

Scott: I met Scott through an AVEN meetup and he seems like a pretty cool person. He's big into exploring non-traditional relationships and has a refreshingly open-minded view on the world. We also share basic beliefs on religion and some political philosophies, and we both like science fiction and some of the same music. I've hung out with him at a couple meetups and parties.

Shelby: We met at Drink and Draw through mutual friends. After having a pretty cool conversation about writing and whatnot, we connected on Facebook and she volunteered to read the book I was working on writing. And after she gave me some valuable comments, I realized she was the kind of person I wanted to be friends with! We've talked about writing here and there and have been to a couple gatherings together, and she appreciates nerdy and silly culture. We have a pretty significant age difference but that never really matters to me. We both majored in education so we have that in common too. She's someone I'd like to get to know better in the future if we keep having opportunities to connect.

Sk: We've only met a handful of times, always through mutual friends, but Sk is such a kind and sincere person that I definitely had to mention her! She's one of those people who is giving you her undivided attention when you speak and has nothing but supportive and kind things to say. We have a few common interests and I think I'd enjoy getting to know her better, but so far we've just connected a few times at karaoke and Drink and Draw and stuff.

Steven: We met after our mutual friend Jessica's wedding. Being two of the only people who hadn't brought our bathing suits to a swimming party, we ended up on the sidelines chatting, and quickly found out how much we had in common. We had quite a connection and spent hours talking about life experiences and philosophy and sharing anecdotes. We kept in touch even though we only met that one time, for well over a decade, and we're sure that one day we will see each other in person again.

Yasmin: I got a random Facebook message from Yasmin in 2008 saying we had a lot in common and lived in the same area, so after a few conversations we became Facebook friends and occasionally rambled to each other or found ourselves in each other's threads battling ignorance from similar perspectives. Then one day, Yasmin noticed I was having a Halloween party and they lived close enough to come, so we finally got to meet! Since we have similar outlooks on social justice and queer perspectives and personal responsibility and whatnot, we developed a pretty good rapport. I'm looking forward to more adventures together.

Significant People

Now here are folks who have been influential and supportive and wonderful, but with whom I don't seem to be in regular touch anymore. They're people I still call friend, but who seem to have drifted apart from me for some reason or another. Also alphabetical for funsies.

Aaron H.: We were in high school together and he was one of the crew. He drove his truck and enabled us to get to our fun times pretty often, and I called him my older brother for a time (he was Wakko, Bryan was Yakko, I was Dot Jr. because Meg had already taken Dot). He made some pretty hilarious faces back in the day. He got married and moved away and we never talk. The last time I saw him (and Bryan) was at Steve's wedding in 2009.

Adrienne: This rockin' gal moved to Portland and escaped smelly Florida (believe me, if you ask her, she'll tell you all about how crappy our state is). She is quirky and exactly the kind of introvert I like. I have hung out with her on a few occasions, usually in association with Mandy. She is into cool drinks and music, and makes a really cute cat.

Ally: She was a pal who was much younger; we met when she took her brother to the Pokémon League I ran at the bookstore years ago, and because of common interests we kept in touch. We used to trade video entertainment and stuff. She moved away.

Aoi: We met because we were both on an e-mail list for people who sleep in weird ways (Uberman schedule, if you're curious), and he sent me a private mail off the list because he appreciated my attitude and wished to model his sleeping schedule after mine. We started talking through IMs one day and found we have plenty in common. He lives in Brazil and is much younger than I am, so one would think we wouldn't get along, but like many other areas of both of our lives, we're proving the masses wrong. I've lost touch with him too. I hope he changes that.

Blake: I actually officially met Blake when I was in college, but for some reason we didn't decide to cling to our very vague notion of each other's existence until we realized we were going to lose it forever if we didn't keep in touch when I moved. We exchanged information after a chance meeting at the grocery store mere days before I left town. Our first meeting was at a poetry jam, but he knew "of" me before that because I was the chick everyone had seen on her funky bike (he'd even written a poem about me, the tassel girl!), and I knew "of" him because he was the dude who did the paintings for the reading space's walls. Anyway, he's an artist and music lover who lives near Gainesville.

Bryan: The other buttless brother (along with Aaron) who played my big bro in high school. (He was Yakko.) Bryan was always a playful guy who often functioned as the voice of reason--perhaps a bit more conservative than the rest of us sometimes, but way fun to be around. We were pals throughout college as well, but mostly lost touch after that. He's married and we really don't talk.

Cliff: We worked together at Books-A-Million, and he was still working at the store when I left, but quit shortly afterwards. He's into movies, computer game creation, and stuff about Japan (he moved there at some point). He was really helpful when I was moving and a fun friend to have at the store.

Chad: We met on OKCupid and hung out several times, going out to eat and talking to each other about stuff we mostly couldn't say to other people. He kind of disappeared after a long string of e-mail discussion, but maybe he'll pop up again.

Daniel B.: For many years, Dan was the president of our anime club back in Gainesville. Every week Jeaux and I would go to the bookstore and watch Japanese cartoons with a few other cool people, and Dan was in charge of it. We'd also sometimes have the events at his house, and although I rarely hung out with him alone, we did do a few things. Once we even went to the Ren Faire together. He seemed like a nice person even though we didn't have a lot in common besides anime. He's married and still lives in Gainesville, and likes tabletop games and video game stuff.

Diana: I was close with Diana when we were working together at the Books-A-Million store. She's a horror movie nut and I never seemed to be able to offend her, and we had a great time blowing off steam ranting about customers together. She always loved my lemon cookies and other baking things. She moved to the Ocala store and that was kind of the beginning of the end, and though we touched base a few times through phone and Internet, we've basically lost touch.

Emerald: I met her while working at the bookstore. She was an older Pagan lady who was learning about Wicca and wanted my informed opinion on what books to buy. We ended up hanging out a couple times just talking about spiritual matters and she shared her personal perspectives with me. I used to help her get the calendars she wanted, and though I tried to keep in touch when I left the city, she stopped returning my e-mails, so I don't know what happened to her.

Eric K.: A high school pal who used to hang around with my high school boyfriend Phil a lot. Eric's a smart dude who likes games, movies, and food. He always struck me as a witty and intelligent guy, and he loves traveling and adventures. We got to see each other in a mini-reunion of high school kids in town for the holidays back in 2009, but we don't really talk unless mutual friends are putting us in the same room.

Ian: Through my friend Kari, I kind of accidentally met Ian, who IMed me once to find out why Kari didn't visit him on an expected trip. Since we lived in the same town, we started talking (I was attracted to his very correct sentence structure in IMs), and I invited him over for baking one time and the rest is history. He shares my taste in cartoons and humor and bizarreness, and was willing to put up with my silly friends. Besides the silliness, I found him to be an extremely caring person who gave me advice and support when I needed it and sometimes gave me thoughtful gifts. I don't really hear from him now but I guess that's the way things go!

Javier: I met Javi working at the bookstore, but then he quit to get a "REAL" job. He said he wanted to keep in touch, so we did, and went out a few times. I liked talking to him because he was full of awesome when discussing terrible customers and offering intelligent perspectives on dealing with the public. We lost touch after I moved, though.

Jessica P.: I met Jess through MuMu and knew her as Rowan, and we had a couple of fun visits. Row commented on my writing when it suited her, and I had fun bringing out her dirty-mouthed side and chatting with her about other fun and nerdy things. We haven't seen each other since we were both in college, but there was a long period of keeping in touch through online journals. She's into the welfare of the environment and probably went on to do something awesome with her life but we haven't talked in a long time.

Jim: My super-pal ol' Bunky and I go way back. We met in the "Creative Weirdos" chat room on AOL and became close friends, and we've had a couple of good visits. Though he's another victim of that sad trailing off of communication, I still love him and it will never be otherwise. We had some connections over our beliefs and wonderful expressions of the view of the world, though sometimes he had to deal with some sucky situations and I had a hard time cheering him up. He got addicted to EverQuest and disappeared off my map for like a year, and that was kind of the beginning of the end there, but I don't think we'll ever not be in touch completely. . . . He comments on my life now and then, and that's pretty cool.

Kevin: We met on the Internet and got together a few times for food and fun and sometimes movies. Kevin is a camera guy and has at times talked about making a movie of his own. Every once in a while we'd talk on the phone or get a pizza, but I haven't heard from him in quite a while so perhaps he's moved on.

Leanna: My old apartment manager Leanna keeps coming back into my life here and there. We met when we kept seeing each other around the complex and in the leasing office, of course, but when I left Gainesville I gave her my contact information. She and I had similar beliefs in certain ways and I was able to help point her in the right direction when she was curious about my leanings. She's a very spiritual person and a great mom, and loves intricate costume makeup.

Mark B.: This goes way back: Markie is this guy I met when I ran the Kids' WB! room on AOL. He shared my obsession with Animaniacs and we talked a lot once I trusted him enough to show him my non-online-host persona, and was one of my best and most thorough editors for my learning novels in the House That Ivy Built universe. He's a very smart guy with musical talent, and we have a lot in common even though we have our basic differences too.

Mark M.: This was a dude who used to come to anime meetings with Dan, Jeaux, and me. I appreciated his perspectives on philosophy and sometimes discussed stuff in depth. We have an interest in some of the same video media and sometimes he sends me an interesting article. I stopped seeing Mark once I moved from Gainesville, though we'd chatted on the phone a few times while trying to keep in touch. He got married and I haven't seen him since the time he introduced his wife, but he's still around once in a while.

Marty: We actually met in ninth grade gym class and spent almost every track day together trying to avoid running. Along with another guy in our class, David, we tended to lump together as an unathletic bunch and talk about whatever we had in common (most notably, I guess, that all of us came from Jewish families). I appreciated that Marty was musical, and we chatted on the phone a couple times before I moved, but then I met him again in college when we found ourselves both majoring in music at UF. We had a casual rapport and didn't keep in touch much after I left the College of Fine Arts, but the Internet has let us stay in occasional contact.

Mike G.: My old college pal Mike! He was a theater and English geek who attracted my attention at Poetry Jam because of a button on his bag. He had cool hair and drank coffee. We became fast friends and started hanging out more than we should have, playing stupid video games, eating vegan grilled cheese at his dorm, and going to Denny's at 1 in the morning. He would sometimes invite his friends over with me and we'd party and I'd watch them get drunk, but nobody in the group ever pressured me to drink or smoke or anything because they didn't really care if I wanted to; they still thought I was fun. Mike and I began drifting apart when he got a girlfriend and very suddenly stopped asking to hang out with me unless it was our whole group, and I lost track of him mostly when he moved back to New Orleans.

Rodney: This was a guy I worked with at Books-A-Million, and he was definitely entertaining. He had a sick sense of humor as well as a well-developed intellect, so he was always fun to bounce things off of. He helped me with pranks and fostered the weirdness in other people, and though he wouldn't stop joking about me being an elf all the time, I guess it was my fault for dressing like one at Christmas. (And speaking of Christmas, sometimes we still send each other cards even though we're both in very different places in life now!)

Scott: When I was in college, I met Scott during the latter half of my education curriculum. I knew he'd be my friend when he walked into Math Methods wearing a Yoda tee shirt. He was a wacky Weird Al fan who was great to hang out with even though I spent inordinate amounts of time making fun of him for various reasons. I helped him study and a lot of the time we did our projects together. He was (is!) a generous friend who confided in me and brought us closer, and we still jokingly call each other "bitch." His wife Melissa is my friend by association, and we get along fabulously, she's very sweet. He's now a teacher (unless something's changed that I don't know about), and he likes Jai-Alai.

Sushil: This is a guy I met on a bus. Weird, eh? He asked me a question about the bus time and we ended up talking about writing. Turned out we were both fantasy writers. We exchanged e-mails before the bus ride was over, had a long e-mail friendship wherein we shared our novels and critiqued each other's writing, and we met up a few times subsequently on campus. I did keep in touch with him vaguely after the fact. He's still floating around the Internet.

Tia: So we met on OKCupid, and later found out we had mutual friends (Mandy strikes again), and eventually got to meet because of said mutual friends. This is especially great since I got to meet her before she moved to Portland. We haven't really been in contact since she left, but she was a pretty cool person and I haven't seen someone quite like her before. And we're both short, which makes it possible to have very cute hugs.

Online Pals

And here are some people worth mentioning who I've connected with online and whose friendship I value:

Alicorn: Someone I met through my online writing . . . who has pretty much gobbled up everything I've written and reacted to some of it (at times providing really helpful critique on the longer pieces). At one point I read her book too. She's imaginative and very literate, and has also done the webcomic thing.

Amanda K: We began as e-mail pen pals to discuss writing, and we still mostly discuss writing, but now we include pretty much every other aspect of life too. She is always willing to weigh in with a well-reasoned opinion or perspective on something going on in my life, and I love that she really pays attention and has a good memory. I hope we stay in touch forrrrrever.

Amethyst: E-mail pal whom I've never met in person, but we have had all kinds of conversations and she's kind and literate and funny. We used to be pals on LiveJournal but I guess she decided to run away. In any case, she has given me a few gifts that were related to my writing, including fanfiction. :)

Andrea: We met weirdly through our mutual friend Brent (back when he was known as Dieter). I never met her in person but we exchanged some e-mails and found we had common interests. She goes to anime conventions and made some cool anime music videos that impressed me. She even sent me a cool mix of music once and the songs on it are among my favorites many years later. She got married and had kids, and her family is adorable.

Becky: This writer girl is waaaay younger than I am but we connected on the Internet and ended up discussing author stuff and following each other's blogs. She's going to be a pretty amazing writer one day, I think, and I'm glad we started talking.

Brianne: We met online and bonded through our hatred of willful ignorance and atrocious behavior. We talked a lot about gender and identity and all the stuff we have in common, and ended up staying in touch through Facebook and occasionally we e-mail jackass conversations to each other. She's very supportive of everything I do and I think she's one of the coolest people I've met online.

Cat: My librarian book nerd pal from the Internet. We're both word nerds and like to talk about books and language and writing, and she's supported my creativity on the Internet (actually commenting on things!) and has favored me with many stimulating conversations!

Chris: My old pal Chris was actually a friend of an Internet friend, and I became just as close with him as with the original friend. :) Chris (and James) ventured to my apartment from Alabama when I was in college and proceeded to entertain me quite a lot. Chris visited again by himself for Halloween another time. He is super talented at playing weird songs on the guitar and singing hilarious (and offensive) lyrics that put me in stitches even to this day. Chris and I have mostly kept in touch here and there, occasionally doing weird duets over the Internet or having surreal conversations.

Clare: She likes horses and making jewelry. She contacted me after finding my asexuality videos through our mutual friend Jack, and we became pals. I have ordered handmade jewelry from her before and she's super cool.

Dallas: We basically met because she was familiar with my work and was recommending me for a job--writing asexuality articles for a sex-positive magazine--and not only did I get the gig, but I got a new friend. Dallas and I are both in the asexuality awareness movement and enjoy discussing its perks and pitfalls. She tends to be very attentive to my online content and I love having her support. Dallas is a sexologist and appreciates the Insane Clown Posse.

David C.: I met this guy because he saw my picture on The Long Hair Site and we became e-mail pals. He is from Malta, but oddly enough, we got to meet when he came to the United States for a visit. (He wins the prize for "traveled farthest to meet me.") During our visit I got to show him how much Americans in college towns love football, and he got to meet my friends and do some things he couldn't do in Malta. We've stayed in touch since then off and on. We have at times discussed relationships and psychology, and he's a pretty sharp guy.

David J.: My pal and fellow pioneer in the asexuality awareness movement. I'd just dubbed myself "nonsexual" and ranted about it on the Internet a couple times, but a couple years after that he created a whole network and brought awareness to a new level. We'd chatted on the phone, Skyped, and exchanged text-based communication over the years, but I did finally get to meet him in January 2013 when we were doing asexuality awareness work at a conference. He is an extremely energetic and positive person with infectious enthusiasm, and he's pretty awesome at roller-blading. (I got to see him do it in the documentary we were both in.)

Deborah: She and I met at Ronni's wedding. We unexpectedly ended up staying in her apartment together while she was off on her abbreviated honeymoon, and since we're both writers we ended up talking all night about the weirdness of being an author. She was really quite a kindred spirit, it seemed to me, and we did exchange information and have a few chats since then, but she seems to have fallen off the map for me. Maybe one day we'll reconnect.

Emily: I judged a writing contest once, and Emily was one of the authors whose piece I picked to promote to the next round. She was so impressed with my comments on her work that she contacted me outside the contest, and we ended up chatting enough about writing together that we became critique partners. We each edited and commented on each other's books, and now we just cheer on each other's publishing efforts while chatting about our families and exciting events in our lives.

Gaia: A great photographer gal who has done a bunch of great asexuality awareness activism in Israel and other places. We connected through our activism and have exchanged some communication, have done videos for the same channel, and usually have similar outlooks on things. She's very creative and artistic and really just a joy to know.

Holly: We met on a literary criticism group online and she contacted me to discuss critique partnering. We read each other's novels and offered feedback simultaneously, and got to know each other in the process. She's an unrepentant geek and very interested in history, and one of the better writers I've edited for.

Ivy: She contacted me because she liked my website and we had the same first name (though mine is a nickname), and I thought her style was pretty awesome so we became friends and connected later through Facebook. I enjoy hearing her perspective on disability inclusivity and experience, since she is very active in her community for inclusion in schools and always seems to be doing something cool. She's a huge fan of Pearl Jam.

Jack: We connected over writing and asexuality awareness activism. Jack had me offer editing comments on one of his books before going on to self-publish, and he's very much a self-made man with his motivational speeches on personal growth and whatnot. He sometimes blogs about his female-to-male transgender experience and his autistic perspective, and has helped a lot of people over the years. I think he's pretty great.

James: We met on the Internet in the 90s and he came from Alabama to visit me (bringing his friend Chris along). We both like anime and some of the same nerdy stuff. I was a big fan of his pigtails back in the day.

Jessica: A great LiveJournal pal turned friend. She's quirky and full of silly phrases, but she also knows how to be serious when she wants to. We have talked a lot about spirituality and writing and asexuality and whatnot. She's a pretty interesting person who discusses disability/chronic illness and Judaism/Paganism online sometimes, and sometimes we enjoy getting things off our chests through blathering to each other.

Kaite: She and I first met at an OKCupid gathering and ended up having a lot of mutual friends. Oddly enough the only time I really got to hang out with her at length was at her good-bye party. We ended up competitively playing games online against each other for a while. I have mostly lost touch with her but I still admire her photography skills.

Katie: We met on OKCupid and discussed the experience of being sort of arrogant because we know we're better than other people. Hardy-har. Anyway, she likes long communication and I respected her intelligence (not something I can say about most of the people who message me on OKC) so we hooked up on LiveJournal, where she blogs about Taylor Swift and fashion and Hannah Montana and being a brilliant scientist basically. We stay in touch through our journals here and there. She's pretty neat.

Katie M.: I started talking to her through her comments on my webcomic, and we connected in other places online and chatted here and there. She likes to write and has good perspectives on literature, so I enjoy having her around.

Kristin: Kristin is a musician and art nerd I met through our mutual friend Jessie. We met in person once when Jessie and Kristin stopped by my apartment during a visit to Busch Gardens, but Kristin and I did keep in tentative touch after that because of the stuff we have in common.

Libby: She and I met on Witchvox when she was still living in my area, and we hung out a couple times and had some nice interaction. She has a really cool laugh and I would tease her about it and try to make her laugh. She moved away and had a bunch of kids! (I only got to meet her first son, but she keeps me up to date with pictures.) She's a pretty cool Pagan hippie sort.

Lisa: This aspiring writer connected with me over asexuality and novel-writing. Mostly we just support each other's efforts and I cheer on her geeking out over Disney stuff. She's fun people.

Markus: He used to e-mail me from Germany. We'd discuss writing and read each other's stuff and sometimes send music to each other, and even though he's not communicating in his first language it's really cool that he's read my books! He used to show me pictures of his kids, too, and now they're all grown up! Every once in a while we say hi to each other.

Natalie: I ran into her on YouTube when she was making videos about her experience as an intersex asexual person, and she ran into my asexuality videos, and we kind of stalked each other and knew of each other before we ended up talking. I like that she's very frank and open with her life. She's into computer animation and makes music sometimes.

Paul: This guy's a great friend who connected with me on SingSnap. We both like singing and he was willing to invite me into his world, leveling with me about his lifestyle and imparting details of his experience with chronic illness. He always sponsors me as a SingSnap gold member, which is nice, and I love that we can talk about philosophical perspectives and that he always has something cool to say when I post stuff about online jerks. :)

Rie: So we're LiveJournal friends and I like her a lot. She's into women's issues and academic writing and all kinds of interests that we share. We both like Francesca Lia Block and musicals and vegetarianism, so it's kind of like having a lot of the same experiences and liking things for the same reasons makes us kindred spirits. I value her contributions to my life.

Sara Beth: Powerhouse of asexuality activism whom I am proud to call friend. We've been connected on the Internet since before she started her organization Asexual Awareness Week, and we've even been quoted in the same article, but I really got to know her better as a person when we were both in the asexual contingent at Creating Change 2013. She is so forthcoming about her life and her challenges and has managed to really knock it out of the park with her organizing--she's really quite a whiz with networking, while I'm more of a content creator, so we're a pretty good team in our activism. She is into speech, gay rights, photography, and even studies Chinese.

Steph: Ah, my favorite cartoon nerd. She is a very silly person whom I met through our shared appreciation of Animaniacs and voice actor Rob Paulsen, and I have watched many of her videos wherein she is behaving in a very goofy fashion. She is not shy about being a giant geek about the toons she likes, and she's into video games (especially Sonic). We've never met but if we did the world would probably explode.

Old Friends From School

And here's just a quick review of my most significant friends from school who didn't morph into adulthood friends. These guys were great and I still sometimes wonder about 'em.


Aaron: I met this guy online because we were both writers. While it lasted it was nice, going to Pojam together and eating at Denny's. Years later, he e-mailed me and I did some editing for his novel.

Bob: We met in psychology class and took a couple more classes together beyond that. He was a middle-aged student going back for a degree, and people seemed to think it was odd that I was friends with a dude who was older than my parents, but we saw eye to eye somehow. We both had unconventional views of family and relationships, and had quite a few famous conversations. He came to my college graduation party and once I started working at the bookstore he used to sometimes drop by my workplace and chat or pretend to be a pervy old man offering me a ride home. It was a good time.

Brian: I met this guy online and we just used to meet up now and then to hang out. We actually didn't have much in common but I thought he was a pretty nice dude and I also got to know his roommate. We all used to hang out and do stupid college things together. I think sometimes it involved video games.

Dena: College roommate! We lived together during her last couple years and my first couple years of college, in our apartment. She was into silly cartoons and science fiction shows, and I shared a lot of interests with her, though sometimes we were definitely not on the same page when it came to our opinions on how to manage the apartment. (Haha.) She also had a habit of taunting Happy Fun Ball. . . . In any case she did end up welcoming me to the apartment with a full lexicon of the apartment's inside jokes so I wouldn't feel left out. It was pretty amazing. She was a business major. We went our separate ways after graduation.

Derek: Derek and I shared similar takes on the world and met after a very short getting-to-know-you period, checking out weird movies to blow up each other's minds. He was a great conversation partner and knew a crapload of computery stuff, but we lost touch. Aw!

Donny: We met through mutual friends and bonded over our interest in anime. He and I attended a convention with Jeremy and his girlfriend. We hung out a lot for a while, usually just discussing life or watching cartoons. I also remember he was kind enough to help me and my mom move a couch into my apartment. We didn't keep in touch but there wasn't really a reason.

Jeff: There was a guy I met named Jeff who liked my long hair. We used to go to Denny's and hang out, and he praised my cuteness, which showed his good taste while making me occasionally tell him to shut up. We had some good times, though, even going to a Ween concert once. He got seriously involved with a girl, got married, and got divorced before he was twenty, and for like ever I didn't see him. Randomly got in touch with him again when I ate at the restaurant where he was working at the time. :) I probably won't see him again now that I have left Gainesville.

Jeremy: We met through our mutual friend Brian (who I'd met on the Internet). Jeremy was Brian's roommate and we started hanging out on our own when I started coming to their place more often. He was kind of outgoing and uproarious and had some similar interests with me (especially anime and certain movies), but was also heavily involved with whoever his girlfriend was at the time and sometimes that made it hard to catch his attention. We went to an anime convention together in Atlanta once. We lost touch after a long period of dwindling Internet contact.

John: John and I met hanging out in Gainesville and he said I was "lame" 'cause I like Madonna, but we were pretty good friends for a while. He told me about Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf and I thought it was funny. It was nice to have him drop by every once in a while just to be weird.

Melissa: My college roommate Mel was a friend of Ammy's (she was my other roomie) and we lived together for about a year. We weren't very similar people--she was a big party girl and VERY outgoing, and thought it was a shame to stay in on Friday night no matter how much fun you were having writing a novel, but her friendliness and sense of humor made me feel she was more of a friend than a roommate. She spent a lot of time hanging out and going out with her best friend Jen. She was into humanitarian causes and, well, fun.

Noelle: We were friends in school and knew each other before we had a class together. She was interested in Paganism and knew more than I did when I met her, so I learned a few things from her, but overall it was just nice to have a person around who was kind of quirky in the College of Education, since so many of the other ladies there were very strait-laced and conservative.

Shawn: This dude that I met online was a pretty steady fixture in my life for an amazingly short time. We used to hang out now and then and one day he just told me he was moving. He was into custom cars and stuff, so we weren't really interested in the same things, but he was kind and compassionate and just fun to be around.

Steve: I met Steve online, and we got along really well and talked about my writing. He always had great advice and thoughtful comments about my work, and commented on a lot of my short stories. He used to say that he was sure he'd get to sit in his armchair reading one of my published books one day. I am very, very sad that he died a while back and I never found out what happened.

High School:

Alex: He shared my classes now and then in high school at Chamberlain, and he usually came to the parties and events or let me hang out with him, his brother, and Phil at his house. We fell out of touch somewhat after high school. I have fond memories of his catch phrases, his obsession with rats, and his silly charisma. Alex and I have the same birthday.

Amy: My friendship with her is kind of a sad story because we were practically inseparable during our sophomore and junior years and sort of drifted apart toward the end. (I think I annoyed her to death with my friends whom she didn't like and my obsession with Animaniacs.) We met during chorus--she was an alto, I was a soprano--and quickly bonded over such silliness as Weird Al, Spam, and dumb in-jokes. We also rode the same bus and were prone to bursting into song, sometimes in harmony. We arranged some duets and group harmony projects which we got to perform in actual school shows, and we had a few famous pranks during our chorus trip to Washington, D.C. In science class, we frequently threw balled-up paper with silly phrases on them at each other, and she helped me try to get a rodent elected class president. We were lab partners and partners in crime for a good deal of our high school career, though we pretty much never hung out outside school unless there was a party or something. (I got her to sleep at my house once, but she never invited me back.) We went our separate ways after graduation.

Andrea: Andrea and I were mostly just silly classmates who drove our science teacher up the wall. We only hung out outside school a few times, and sometimes she seemed shy, but her quietness didn't seem to interfere with her ability to express herself and I liked that about her. We didn't really keep in touch after I moved.

Dustin: He was a guy who lived in my neighborhood and went to my high school and occasionally hung out with my sister. We didn't know each other super well, but we spent some time defacing newspapers together once, and sometimes had fun chats on the bus. He was a self-labeled goth with dyed hair and fake vampire teeth, but seemed oddly cheery about it. He introduced me to The Church of the SubGenius and The Happy Mutant Handbook. Sadly, he died young, and I hadn't been in touch with him for a long time when I found out.

Jamie: She was a girl in my chorus who hung out with a lot of the same people I hung out with, and we did have a few one-on-one fun times. She was willing to read my writing at one point (though her feedback was odd), and we saw each other here and there up through the end of college until we lost touch.

Jason B.: He was a year younger than I and was friendly with my sister and some of my high school crew. Sometimes he was willing to take us places in his car. We sometimes called him "Smeg" because of a shared Red Dwarf in-joke, and I used to be amused by his willingness to do odd things like bathe in the water fountain or yell Russian phrases about pants in the hallway. I don't know much about his current life except that he got married.

Jason S.: He was a guy I met through my friend Emily. We mostly just had a phone relationship. He was quite a bit older than I was and he was one of the first people I was able to have a real philosophical conversation with. Sometimes his aspirations rubbed me the wrong way, but I missed him when we fell out of touch, and only managed to meet him in person once when I arranged to do so with Emily at a fair event. He did not go to my high school, but I met him when I was in ninth grade.

Jenn: She was also known as "Little Jenn" in high school because she was probably the only friend I had who was shorter than I was. We were in chorus together and some of our pals were shared. We only hung out one-on-one a couple times that I remember, and we went to a few high school parties also. We later caught up online after college and have occasional contact.

Jenny: . . . Or Jen, or Jennifer--I never really settled on which one to call her--was a girl who took chorus and Spanish with me. We shared our chorus friends and both knew Mia, and she was delightfully inappropriate. She could even sometimes say stuff that shocked me! We were often seated right next to each other because we were first sopranos and often chosen for solos and small groups, and we passed dirty notes in Spanish and horsed around at lunch. There were a few outside-of-school events too, but we didn't hang out regularly.

John: He was a friend I met through Emily and I never met him in person. We chatted on the phone a lot and I got grounded when my parents found out he was nineteen. (I was only fifteen at the time.) I enjoyed chatting with him while it lasted, but he was also sort of pushy about sexual conversations and tended to hit on me (even though I had a boyfriend) while thinking I was too innocent to tell. It probably wasn't a very smart friendship.

Kristen: She was someone I was vaguely aware of during middle school but only became friends with really in high school. She was very friendly and enthusiastic and we enjoyed listening to music and hanging out, but she sometimes got peer-pressured into activities I did not want to share with her. We had a few parties, and she was in the chorus with me but ended up dropping out of school part-way through the year wrapped up in various issues. I lost touch with her after ninth grade, but she was one of my first friends that caused me a lot of stress over my inability to make her life perfect.

Mia: Lordy, what to say about Mia. She was a great friend in high school and some of college. She was a year younger so we didn't have classes together, but she tracked me down after reading some of my silly writing and we became fast friends. She had a video camera and we shot a movie based on my story (which was incredibly stupid), and we had a ton in common. We both liked to draw (and we tended to do so in a silly notebook that we passed back and forth with notes, coded messages, and cartoons); we both liked the same music (most notably Ween); we liked Animaniacs and had all kinds of shared jokes about it; and we enjoyed a lot of the same books and humor. She was nothing like anyone I'd met, and we had such a close relationship that some people teasingly (or not so teasingly) accused us of being more than friends. In any case we actually both dated Phil (at the same time), and we went to an amazing concert together. For a couple years we enjoyed our filmmaking, art-making, tennis-playing, dumb-ritual-creating high school silliness, and then I graduated. I spent a year with only visits from her until she graduated too and moved in with me, but by this point she had a boyfriend. Reuben was a very nice guy too but I didn't know him well, and she spent most of her attention on him so we grew apart somewhat. After graduation it became harder to get her attention at all, so I stopped trying. She did attempt to contact me once after a six-year silence, but it didn't go well. We aren't in touch now, but I hope she found happiness.

Michelle C.: She was a quirky gal who liked silly music and with whom I occasionally got to share a moment of weirdness. It's a shame we didn’t keep in touch.

Michelle D.: She was a pal from science class who hung out with me and Andrea driving the teacher up the wall. She was probably the most outgoing of our threesome and she even kept in touch with me a little while through letters after I moved away, but we lost touch after a while. I admired her cool hair.

Mike: This dude (who goes by his middle name) was a high school friend who bonded with me over a love of music and literature. Some of my friends didn't like him and thought he was an annoying hippie, so he wasn't often included in my main group, but he was fun to be around. We had some chorus and English classes together, and even in those days he was very focused on being a poet. We often rode around in his cool car listening to music and going places. When we graduated we both went to the University of Florida, but had no classes together because he majored in English and I didn't. We hung out with a lot of the same people and went to group picnics in the plaza and silly adventures and poetry readings every Thursday for years. Eventually he moved away and got married, but he sometimes came back to see me and my sister and we went camping or went out. I kinda removed myself from his life after he hit me up for a professional favor after not talking to me for years (and when I pulled an all-nighter to complete the favor, he never thanked me and never paid me), and then after I decided I disagreed with too many of his politics, I stopped talking to him. It was nice while it lasted, though!

Molly: I got to know Molly through Mia. They had a friendship that extended from before I knew Mia, and some of their silly jokes ended up spilling over into my social circle too. We were also in Interact club together. She was a peculiar person in that she looked very mainstream/"normal" but would frequently say some of the most brain-spinningly odd things, while smiling and wearing pink of course. We went to the same college too and had psychology together, and she made Abnormal Psychology bearable for me.

Moni: She was a close friend from chorus who sang in the alto section with me. We got into All-State Chorus together and did a few social things. I don't know how much else we had in common besides music, but she was easy to get along with and came across as very outgoing. We didn't keep in touch after I moved, though, and we didn't seem as close toward the end of the year after we both made show choir and went to chorus camp.

Peter: He was my first boyfriend. I met him through Kristen, who had a crush on him, but when I tried to help get them together he ended up asking me out instead. He was a kind person and we enjoyed some of the same music, and just seemed to get along well when we hung out or went on our casual dates. (Usually to the mall or to play video games.) We'd eat lunch together most days. He wasn't musical and I wasn't into his shows or games, so sometimes we just had nothing to talk about and ended up getting bored of each other, but I did get to try a sort-of romance with the guy and I later appreciated that my first boyfriend hadn't been pushy.

Middle School:

Cara: We met in school and started being really good friends somewhere around seventh grade. She lived on a farm and wasn't mainstream, so I related to her in not sharing a lot of the culture at our school. Like a lot of silly kids, we enjoyed potty humor and some old-school video games. She also had two younger sisters and we were able to talk about the special issues of that. I could count on her to come to my birthday parties, and sleepovers at her house were fun because she had a clubhouse. We lost touch when I moved.

Emily: We met in middle school and mostly hung out together in our exploratory classes. We had some outings, sleepovers, and amusing chats, and she once came to my Halloween party as a creepy Death character thing. However, what we mostly had in common was that we weren't accepted by mainstream kids and still weren't sure where we fit in that regard, and while I usually dealt with it by being shy and avoiding notice, she dealt with it through attention-getting behaviors. I don't know that we were very alike, but I think neither of us was in a position to be super choosy. Sometimes we called each other "best friends." We continued to hang out during our first year of high school, but she was going down a path that put me off--interested in drinking and dating scary guys and talking about sex a lot--and I ended up not keeping in touch with her once I'd moved.

Gregg: He was an older boy who rode my bus and played in the band. Since we lived in the same neighborhood, we'd often walk home together, and since he would frequently try to stop bullies from messing with me on the bus, I had a very high opinion of him. I figured at the time that since I was a girl and he was a boy and I liked him, this must be a crush, so if people asked me sometimes I'd say that he was the guy I "liked," but besides our shared interest in classical music, I don't think we had much in common. I lost track of him after I moved.

Jenna: She was a bubbly and enthusiastic girl who developed a propensity for boy-craziness right at the end of middle school. She was really fun to be around and I remember eating lunch with her and her group sometimes. We met in middle school but continued to have a friendship up through ninth grade, and I do seem to recall that she was the only thing that made sitting through a class tolerable when we both had to take a learner's permit pointers course. Her nickname for me was "Blonde."

Jennifer K.: This gal was friendly to me, which was pretty much all I needed in order to want to be friends with someone, and she regularly invited me over (sometimes with other friends whom I did not know) to have parties, watch movies, and play popular video games. We were pals toward the end of middle school, and even declared ourselves best friends at one point (though I think we had to get one of those heart necklaces that split three ways to include someone else), but we lost touch once high school hit.

Lyndsie: We met on the first day of seventh grade in our homeroom. She had extremely mainstream taste in music and I didn't have much in common with her, but while her enthusiasm for her interests seemed to push people away, I understood what that was like and developed a decent friendship with her even though her desire to read me dirty parts of Stephen King's books or hairspray my bangs in homeroom drove me up the wall. We spent a couple years going to the mall and to each other's houses, but didn't keep in touch into high school. I had several other friends and acquaintances who didn't like her, and I hated being put in the middle, so when they were cruel to her I often didn't defend her like I should have because I was a stupid kid and wanted their approval. Not stopping some of the teasing that I knew was going on behind her back is one of the things I regret about my younger years, even though plenty of it was aimed at me too.

Matt C.: He was a younger boy who lived in my neighborhood and often wanted to play with me. He was a little young to have a crush on a girl, but sometimes I figured he probably "liked" me. We played outside sometimes with other neighborhood kids--ball games like four square and kickball--but more often I'd be trying to get him to let me play his Nintendo. We also sometimes rode bikes or played games that didn't hold my attention (because he liked war games and stuff). He was a cool neighborhood kid but sometimes his tendency to exaggerate made me mad.

Melissa K.: She was a year younger than I and rode my bus. After we discovered each other's existence, we sat together and had fascinating conversations about books and stories we wanted to write, and sometimes got rants off our chests about kids at school. I wish I hadn't lost touch with her after middle school because we never got a chance to have a long uninterrupted conversation, and she was unique. I bet she's a writer somewhere now, but I can't find her online so I don't know what happened to her.

Melissa L.: She was a quirky girl in my school who I sometimes sat with to eat lunch. We had a few mutual friends and I got invited to her parties. She wasn't afraid of people thinking she was weird and that made me more comfortable with her. I still remember her ridiculous made-up songs and her reaction to pineapple.

Sara: We met on our first day of school and enjoyed each other's company. We both liked to read and were relatively quiet, and we thought a lot of the popular music of our time was not anywhere near as good as everyone thought it was. We sometimes hung out at each other's houses, but our friendship didn't last long--I think she moved first and we didn't stay in touch.

Elementary School:

Ashley, Charley, and Dana: These were girls I had a very short-lived friendship with when I met one of them at Arts Camp and hung out with them to play dolls and make phony phone calls. I think they figured out something was weird about me when they wanted to have the Barbies discussing their Kens and my Barbie invented a hovercraft made out of a plate.

Ellen: She was my first long-standing best friend. She lived down the street from me and was in the same grade as my younger sister Patricia. We played imaginative games and confided in each other about our secrets. Ellen liked dancing and some of the same cartoons I liked. Our families were on good terms and for a while my sister and I went to the same gymnastics lessons she did. When I moved to Florida from North Carolina, we kept in touch through letters and occasional phone calls, but our communication became sporadic as we grew up. I believe I last spoke to her when we were both in college. It's odd that even though we were very good friends, there aren't any photos of us together!

Grace: She was a classmate who was interested in dance and music and seemed more mature than other kids her age. We were early best friends and we had sleepovers sometimes. My mom sometimes babysat her after school and let us play together.

Meghan: She was a classmate who was pretty popular with other kids, but still seemed to like me. We were in the same class several years in a row and at one point she defended me when some other kids were turning against me for something stupid, so I always appreciated that. We had occasional sleepovers and went bowling together sometimes with our friends. We kept in touch through letters for a little while after I moved, but that didn't last.

Missy: This girl had another girl in the class who was her best friend, but sometimes she would let me play with them or invite me over for imaginative games. We made a hilarious play tape (she was the mom, I was the baby) that I still have.

Stephanie: Okay, so this one was probably not really a "friend," but she was a much older girl from my neighborhood who didn't mind letting a weird precocious kid join in to play Monopoly games and lose at Atari.



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