My Friends

If you really want to know someone, just look at whom she calls her friends. Not to mention the silly things she does with them!

Obviously these are not all of my friends. Mostly they're the ones about whom I had content to share, and who didn't mind having it put on the Internet. So please don't feel hurt and left out if you're not on here—I'm already trying to come up with fun ways to represent other people. (I gotta do a JET section next, so if you've got something you think would go great on here, by all means, tell me and I'll put it up!)

So for now, the groups I'll share are these:

The Hobbits: Kalamazoo College

Here are (most of) my closest friends from college: from left to right, Rana, Megan, me, Lara, and Aileen. Megan and I were were roommates sophomore, junior, and senior years, which just goes to show how well we get along! I lived with Aileen, Lara, and Rana in the spring of my freshman year. Lara and Aileen lived across the hall sophomore year, and the four of us shared two connected doubles senior year. (Best dorm room ever!) Rana lived right across the hall, claiming that she could't live in our actual room because we distracted her by providing ears to listen to her many stories. ;-)

Rana also came to visit me in Japan, and you can see pictures of that too if you like!

Megan is a Sociology/Anthropology and Religion double major and has gone on to get her Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago. Aileen and Rana are math majors and both are going on to get PhD's in mathematics. Lara's an art history major and got her master's degree through a program in Florence, Italy. I love having friends with such diverse interests.

"But wait," you may say. "Why the heck did you call them 'the Hobbits?'"

Ah, yes. Allow me to share a story with you.

While I was writing my SIP (senior thesis), I saw in the appendix to The Lord of the Rings that Frodo began his quest September 23, while my SIP quest started September 22. Major milestones after that point lined up as well. SIPs and the One Ring also have comparable evilness quotients. So when I was having a particularly bad SIP day (after the others were done with their SIPs already), I took to wearing a replica One Ring on a chain around my neck to remind them of my continued suffering.

That was how I ended up as Frodo, and Megan became Samwise Gamgee, and Lara and Aileen were Merry and Pippin, which were all oddly fitting. When I finally turned in my SIP, Megan and I made an elaborate show of climbing the hill to Humphrey House (where the English department is) to cast it into the fire turn it in.

We also cast people on campus as Gollum (my SIP advisor, of course!), Treebeard (Rana), Gandalf, Bilbo, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, Boromir, Wormtongue, Eowyn, Sauron and Saruman, Rosie Cotton, a few extra hobbits, and even Four Boils the Orc. It got a little out of control.

I photoshopped the picture above one day while avoiding work on my SIP. (The original is here. It's Stetson Chapel, overlooking K College's quad.)

And now for some selections from the Hobbit Quotation Book, as compiled by Lara, with some of my favorite photographs mixed in.

While eating a dessert called "Death by Chocolate" at Bennigans:
Megan: What are you trying to do? Kill me?!
Lara: Isn’t that the goal?

On slacking:
"All right, back to my SIP. You know it’s bad when you’re looking at Weather Channel" —Jessie

"The light from Trowbridge is shining like a beacon of freedom! ...Aileen? What’s a beacon?" —Lara

Above: Aileen, me, and Lara being stored for the summer in Rana's giant tupperware, 2001.

One night, we were all listening to a CD in the lounge. Aileen started to sing along, which apparently broke Megan’s concentration.
Megan: I’ve just added a new rule. No singing.
Lara: Hmmm...Megan, you’re like the legislative branch of our quad.
Megan: No, I’m definitely the executive branch because I’m the president.
Lara: No you’re not. You’re an overbearing tyrant who usurped power to get where you are! You’d better watch out or we’ll all rise up against you and slay you symbolically at the foot of your own statue! If each person’s dagger doesn’t enter at least once, then that person is a traitor to the republic!!!
(There is a pause while Jessie bursts into laughter)
Lara: And that was my dorky allusion to Roman history for the day.
Jessie: (shooting Megan a menacing look) Yeah! Beware of the Ides of March!

Above: Megan, Rana and me at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, 2004.

While discussing Lara's crush on a Harry Potter look-alike:
"I am not a stalker. He just sometimes happens to be where I look.” —Lara

Our Official Lyrics to "The Imperial March" (Darth Vader's theme)
Don’t mess with me or the door I will shut.
It will get you right on the butt!

Megan: My mom has this know, that she hangs clothes on.
Aileen: You mean a clothesline?

Every year at K College, classes are cancelled for one day in the Spring Quarter. This is called the Day of Gracious Living. Our DoGL tradition was the making of a sidewalk chalk mural across the upper quad. Here you see Aileen, Rana and me hard at work on our senior year mural. It covered much more of the ground than you can see above.

I also wanted to include a picture of my friend Katie! She was my first friend at K when I met her in the dorm orientation on Orientation Week. She and I have a lot of interests in common, too—we're both creative writing majors and both studied Japanese at JCMU and then did the JET program, though in different years for both because of my inability to schedule things in a normal fashion.

Clockwise from the top are Megan, Jessie, Aileen, and Katie.

During the summer of 2003, I happened to spot these pink, blue, and green dresses at Sears and immediately thought, "POWERPUFF GIRL DRESSES." Possibly because most people do not want to look like Powerpuff Girls, they were marked way down. I bought one of each, called Megan (who's a big PPG fan), and told her we had to find someone blonde to be Bubbles because I had just found the best Halloween costumes ever. (No, they didn't come with the stripes. We sewed those on.) We had to find some for the Halloween band concert that night anyway, but we took it one step further and wore the costumes all day. (And got some brilliant comments. "Wow! The computer lab assistant is a Powerpuff Girl!") Our friend Kate helped us out by wearing the blue dress to the concert. Megan and I also went trick-or-treating. Yes, we were 21-year-olds. Yes, we got giant stashes of candy that made everyone else at the band concert jealous. So much fun.

This isn't with the Hobbits—this is just something else silly to share from my K days. My friend Mike and I (he was Gandalf, actually) made this poster to advertise our Advanced Fiction Workshop reading. Hee. There's our prof Andy, all of us in the class, and...Leo Tolstoy. (Who, like me, was born on August 28. Apparently that day is bad for being concise.)


And that's a small segment of my Kalamazoo College quote 'n' photo collection. Just enough for you to get to know our particular kind of crazy.

JCMU and the US Pavilion Guides

My JCMU friends and my Expo friends are mostly separate groups, but there's some overlap, as we did our Expo training at JCMU after the regular semester, so I'll group these two together.

One drawback to studying at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities is that you often feel like you're in a dorm at a Michigan university instead of in Japan. The silver lining to that, however, is that it's a dorm full of fun, "good weird" type of people.

At the end of the term, I did a drawing of all us students. This was especially fun because no one really knew I was an artist. My roommate Erin and a couple other kids there were known for their drawings, being art students and all, but not me. So everyone was really surprised when I showed my picture to them. Someone (no, not me) made it desktop wallpaper in the computer lab and they put it on the back cover of the JCMU memory book. Awww! So instead of our actual group photo, I'll show you this.


Then there came the Expo. Ah, the USP Guides. They told us before the Expo that the guides from previous fairs (especially Seville '92) tended to form really strong bonds and keep having reunions for years to come. We seem to be following in that tradition, having had one major reunion in Myrtle Beach in 2006 (complete with rooms paid for by the US Pavilion and official T-shirts) and a few mini-reunions after that, with more to come, I fully expect. So I present to you the United States representatives at the 2005 World's Fair!

Here we all are at our hotel in Tokyo just hours after arriving in Japan on January 2, 2005. (I say all, though there were a few more guides who joined us in May. I don't have any group pictures with them, though. Sorry about that, "New Guides!" Send me some if you want.) I'm the third from the right in the front row.

This was our first visit to the Expo site in January. They weren't done building it yet, so we had to wear hard hats! That's me in orange in the front.

Friends I met on-line

There are some people I consider good friends whom I've never met in person. I therefore don't have any pictures of them, though they have more than earned a spot on this page. For now I'll share two for whom I have content.

My friend Jen and I first met back in 1998 because of our shared interest in multiple births as well as fictio nwriting. She has successfully completed and published three novels. The fact that they're self-published doesn't make it any less impressive; she could have gotten these published by a regular company if only she hadn't published the story on-line first, back before we knew about first publication rights. She also dedicated the first volume to me, which was one of the nicest gestures ever!

Take a look at Jen's books!

My friend Ivy and I met on-line in 2006 after I read about her in an article on and followed a link to her fantastic website from there. I have since hung out with her twice in person! She lived not too far from a collection of roller coasters that I was already planning to visit when I was in Florida in January '07, so that worked out really nicely.

People who have been to Japan just can't help making the peace sign in photographs. (Ivy's sister taught English in Japan through the JET program, just like I'm doing, so Ivy went to visit her.)

And then in June 2010, she flew up to Michigan to visit! She's got an album from the trip up at her web site, so go check that out if you're interested in pictures of epic creative fun.

See? We even did so when hanging out virtually. Someone needs to break me of the peace sign posing habit. Now that I've spent even more time in Japan, it has only gotten worse.

Non-human friends

No page of my friends would be complete without one friend who always stuck with me through everything, good or bad, for 13 years of my life. She always was there to cheer me up if I needed it. This is my kitty cat Puffy, whom we adopted on April 27, 1991. We lost her very suddenly on April 10, 2004. I miss you, Puffy.

We do now have a kitty named Athena, because she showed up during the Athens Olympics in August '04. At first I called her "Not Puffy" because I didn't want a new cat yet, but now I've decided she's a pretty great cat too. :) She's also the loudest, most communicative cat ever.

About the Author / Home