I really was a lonely kid. I was home-schooled since the fifth grade, and then we moved to the middle of nowhere. It was a long time before we got the Internet, which turned out to be my lifeline. I remember how excited I was when I convinced my mom that it would be a good investment to get hooked up to the Internet. I remember the rush of those first flame wars on the Rob Zombie message board, the triumph of bootleg anime. And I remember building my first real web site, MangaPunk.com, which turned into a community site built on Drupal. It was on that site that I started making friends, real friends, who have been with me for so long ever since. I am very grateful for the love and camaraderie they have given me all these years.
But even with friends online, I had few to none in my local surroundings. I didn’t own a car, had to borrow my mom’s, and thus getting out was hard. Sometimes I’d hitch a ride with my mom on trips to the nearby communities like Stuart, Floyd and Mt. Airy. These places had pharmacies, diners, libraries (where I first used the internet, thanks to Bill and Melinda Gates’s generosity). I would sometimes just walk through the makeup aisles in the Rite Aid, picking up and examining every product on the shelves. The different colors and possibilities fascinated me the same way watercolors and paper in art supply stores did. This is probably why I know so much about makeup!
Ping pong holds a special place in my heart. When I was seventeen I went to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s summer program for teens for two weeks. I got a wee scholarship and took a bus up there. I met so many cool girls my own age. At one point, I called my mother and told her, “I have a posse!” It was so great to be friends with other nerd girls. We played ping pong in the cafeteria in the afternoon and watched Hamtaro in the mornings. We ruled that place. To this day, ping pong brings back great memories. If I have to work in-house again, I hope they have a ping pong table.