Meet Valarie. She’s the blonde on the left. Hotcha! I met Valarie around 1998 in a web forum. That’s right, I said web forum. When she first came to my attention, she was living on the East Coast, planning a drastic move out to California. She was a great writer, and a funny gal, and I enjoyed reading her. It was several years later before we met in person as part of a large group of pilgrims to Las Vegas. You can pilgrimage to Las Vegas, can’t you? I’m not sure either of us remember much of that meeting, and maybe less of our second rendezvous in the same city for a mutual friend’s wedding.
Either way, I’ve kept up with the Viper for all these years through LiveJournal and Facebook, and I have this to say: Valarie impresses me more as a human being than most people I’ve ever met. She is fearlessly honest with herself. She is willing to stand emotionally naked in front of a mirror and look herself in the eye, see what needs to be changed, and then work to change it. This woman is an inspiration. Nearly every one of her journal entries (except the ones about Manic Street Preachers–I’m clueless) clues me in to my own needs to reflect or change, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve taken what she’s had to say and shared it with my other girlfriends.
Valarie is a world traveler, a rabid hockey fan, and lover of British television. She is a shiny, sparkly, shoe loving, DIY queen. Happily, she has declared her affection for Richard Hammond, so I can safely declare mine for Jeremy Clarkson. One day, Valarie and I will go to England together and kidnap these fine men and force them to talk cars to us all day long. What happens after dark…well, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Age: 39 (really I can say that without hyperventilating. really) [Since Valarie answered these questions, she’s has celebrated the first anniversary of the 39th birthday.]
Job Title: Police Dispatcher/911 Operator
Industry: the Po Po
Who are you?
I’m…just me. And though I am a work in progress, for the first time ever I think I’m finally comfortable with who I am. I’m a very solitary private person and I think that’s both good and bad. Somewhere deep within is the Disney-movie-loving girl who believes in happy endings even though there’s also the cynical ‘outer crust’ that says that’s total bs.
Recently I’ve begun to integrate my past with my present and though disconcerting at times, it’s what I need to do and it feels good. It’s time.
Describe your family:
I haven’t spoken to She Who Birthed Me in 20 years. I could write a novel about that but instead of boring everyone with that, I’ll say instead that my friends are my family for the most part. They are amazing and wonderful and I wouldn’t be here where I am today without them.
I have cousins, aunts and uncles on my dad’s side that I talk to but I keep myself distant from them for a variety of reason that I fully don’t understand. I have made more of an effort recently with my cousins via Facebook.
What does the first hour of your day look like?
A good deal of incoherence and bitter mumbling if it’s a work day. Hit snooze – a lot – , stagger up, remember to put the phone in my purse, bathroom, shower, makeup, clothes, grab the Diet Coke out of the fridge and off to work.
If it’s a day off then it’s much more enjoyable. Wake up, turn on TV, slump back into the pillows and watch something while my brain warms up, usually aided by a Diet Coke.
What does the last hour of your day look like?
My day is backwards since I work at night and get home at 7 am. Usually stop at the grocery store, get mail, check mail, eat while watching Clean House or Clean Sweep or both, read, sleep.
What makes you feel successful?
Compliments from my guys at work, getting messages from them saying ‘Thank God you’re here now!’, knowing I did whatever I could to help them out and just being able to know in general that I did my best. Being/getting organized also helps in work and at home.
What brings you joy?
It may sound cliched but the small things – driving home and being able to see an amazing sunrise, having a favorite song come on the radio, being curled up in bed and at the optimum level of comfort and contentment, hearing from friends, drinking an icy Diet Coke, making someone laugh, seeing cute baby pics, hugging warm fat puppies, etc.
Also anything shinysparkly.
What were you like in the first, sixth and twelfth grades?
First: Don’t remember much. Good little girl basically doing what she was told and obeying all the rules.
Sixth: Mostly traumatized. I had skipped 5th grade and switched schools – my first time in a public school. I got braces put on and that was the year that my grandfather died (which turned out to be a lifechanging event). About the best thing I can remember is starting a food fight at lunch to get the attention of a boy I liked. And Mondrian in art class.
Twelfth: A rebel in my own way. I was in prep school and horribly unpopular but I had my own tight little group of friends and we adored each other.
What advice would you give yourself at each of those ages?
First: Relax. Really. Enjoy your childhood even though she didn’t give you much of one.
Sixth: It’ll get better. It’ll take a long time and there will be lots of pain but I will never ever forget you. He loved you and that will never go away.
Twelfth: Stand strong. You’re on the right path and yeah, she’s giving you a hell of a time but you have the love of your friends to give you the support you need. You’re only just beginning to realize your own strength.
Who do you admire?
I really can’t list everyone, famous or not, because I think I can find something to admire about so many people depending on what mood I’m in, what I’m doing, what the person has done. I do tend to look at moms a lot and I really admire good moms who truly love and cherish their children.