Post #7 from my old favorite pen pal, Richard Hicks. He and I used to keep an e-mail chain going that must have been a hundred pages long. Richard Hicks is the type of guy who starts a blog (or multiple blogs), writes a whole bunch of cool posts, and then deletes them, so you can never go back and read your favorite ones. Well, not this time, mister. This post is staying here permanently. =)

When Lisa asked me last week to contribute a guest post for her blog’s 10th anniversary, my first thought was: Holy crap, it’s been a decade since we started blogging?  And my second thought was: Wow, it’s going to be really hard to write something that succinctly captures how awesome Lisa is, and what a great writer she is.

First, a little history: Lisa and I first met when I was in middle school, and our mutual friend Chris Tamayo invited her to our neighborhood basketball court to shoot some hoops.  Chris had a crush on Lisa, and in our adolescent dude brains we thought it would be a winning strategy to invite her over and wow her with our nonexistent awesome basketball skills.  The plan was that we’d all get on the court, and Lisa would watch Chris sink a couple of 3s, recognize him as the next John Stockton and profess her undying love for him right then and there.  If you’ve met Lisa, you know that she’s not the most physically imposing person, and watching her shoot free throws on an eight-foot basket is a lot like watching two-year-old Trick Shot Titus gazing up at the 10-foot hoop at Wichita State.  Her height disadvantage notwithstanding, she schooled us on the court that day — in both around the world and the complexities of winning a woman’s affection.

Lisa and I continued to cross paths a bit in the years that followed — mostly, again, because of mutual friends.  In high school she dated a guy named Mike, and their relationship was about as serious as a teenage relationship could be.  Mike went on to Virginia Tech after high school, and Lisa went to JMU and ended up transferring to Tech after her first year so she could be with Mike.  Mike was a great guy, and all indications were that he and Lisa would get married after college.  While Lisa and Mike were in their relationship, I was in an equally serious relationship with one of Lisa’s best friends, Jamie, and it became just as sure a bet that Jamie and I would get married after she finished college and I got settled into my first assignment in the military.  Against all odds, both relationships ended, and over time and across the miles, Lisa and I drew closer as friends — at first to try to help each other get over the breakups, and then later because I kept seeing more and more what a great person she was.

In 2004 I transferred to Japan, and during the two years I was there I kept in touch with Lisa regularly.  Just about every Saturday morning I would trek over to the Internet cafe on base to do two things: call my family and write Lisa an email.  On a weekend trip up to Nago Pineapple Park on Okinawa, I gathered up a bunch of pineapple trinkets and sent them to Lisa (the inaugural name for Lisa’s blog was actually “Ramblings of a Pineapple Enthusiast”).  When I left the military in 2006 and moved back to NJ, Lisa and I would get together whenever she was home and go for a run on the Belmar boardwalk or the running track in our hometown municipal complex.  I drove down to Virginia Beach one weekend in 2007 to visit her, and we went to a Shins concert at The Norva and bought each other T-shirts (I still have mine, but since the only size available at the concert was small [not a problem for Lisa], it was converted into a dust rag a couple of years ago).  We hung out with a couple of her friends in Virginia Beach (in my usual way of remembering dogs more than people, I don’t remember the friends’ names, but I remember that they had a boxer), and one of the friends told me in a sidebar conversation that Lisa always got him an “A” when she edited his college papers.  We agreed that she was the best writer and editor we’d ever met.  To me, she still is.

I went back to her old LiveJournal to refresh my memory for this guest post (we both started LiveJournals in 2003 — Lisa kept up with hers, and I think mine fizzled out after post #2), and as I was clicking through her post archive, memories started flooding back.  I laughed out loud at these two conversations Lisa had with her brother, Stephen: (1) “An Intelligent Conversation With My Brother”; and (2) “An Update on Stephen Getting a Job.”  Her early 2004 posts about her little cousins are all great (the guest post that her little cousins submitted last week is a must-read).  I think my all-time favorite post, though, is one Lisa wrote on Memorial Day weekend in 2004.  It captures everything about summer at the Jersey Shore that I love and miss.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fellow fan of Lisa’s blog, and you don’t need to be assured that it’s worth your time to keep reading.  For anyone who hasn’t been fortunate enough to meet Lisa in person, and only knows her as a two-dimensional Internet person, please accept my assurance that the person behind the blog is just as smart, funny and awesome (and fashionable) as you know her to be here.  Happy 10-year anniversary, Lisa!  Keep writing!

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