The Opposite of Schadenfreude

I first met Nikki of Moms Who Drink and Swear fame at a bar amongst a gathering of other ChicagoNow bloggers in the Spring of 2011.  I was with the gal that convinced me to move my blog there and she happened to work for another branch of the Tribune.  She had met Nikki a week or two prior and was singing her praises.

Much of our discussion about Nikki was about her numbers.  Her ridiculously insane high number of Facebook followers.  At the time, it was around 125K. I had approximately 50 readers and no Facebook presence at all.  I hadn’t even met Nikki and was already self conscious.  I was like in spring training for park district T-Ball compared to Nikki’s major leaguer who had just won an MVP trophy.

Somehow, she seemed to like me.  Impossibly.  I am shy when I meet new folks and in the presence of someone like Nikki, who has wattage to spare, I tend to clam up, retreating from their shine.  Not with Nikki.  We chatted kids and she taught me silly things about sex that I forgot as soon as I left the bar (Catholic repression, yo).  I liked her, too.

You can't see it, but the gal who took this photo could roll her own cigarettes like a ninja, but did not know how to press the button to take the photo.  We were dying, but working hard to be polite.  Pfffft.
You can’t see it, but the gal who took this photo could roll her own cigarettes like a ninja, but did not know how to press the button to take the photo. We were dying, but working hard to be polite. Pfffft.

A month or so later I saw that she had shared something I had written with all of those multitude of fans.  I had my first spike in numbers and I liked it. What a thrill.  I didn’t even know how to thank her, as we were not yet friends. I just sort of basked in the glow of it all.

A month or so after that she shared something of mine again.  She thought I was funny, what I had written was funny.  Squeeeee!  I made Moms Who Drink and Swear laugh!  That time we got friendly.  I bit the bullet and submitted a friend request to her.  She accepted.  Squeeeee redux!

Nikki taught me about blogging, about Facebooking, about sharing, and about what she called, “doing the work.”  “You’ve got to do the work,” she would say.  That meant writing, posting regularly, cultivating a community on Facebook — doing the work.  We talked about our writing a lot, our goals, our ambitions.  Yep, a couple of moms with keyboards and ambitions.

She has been a kind and generous friend, supportive of my pediatric cancer advocacy to the point that enables that advocacy to grow, as she gives it an audience.  Turns out, Moms Who Drink and Swear also care.  A lot.  I know Nikki to be a ferociously loving daughter, wife, and mom.  To see her parent is to feel inspired and capable, a great combination for such a formidable task.  Plus, the gal is just funny as hell.

I respect Nikki immensely.  She is funnier than I am, more irreverant, doesn’t give a damn about some of the petty stuff I hold close.  I am still learning from her.  I once told her she was a character, which made me love her even more.  That rubbed her the wrong way, as she had heard that her whole life and with a negative connotation.  To me, a character is someone who is precisely, exactly who they are no matter where they are.  A character holds themselves the same way whether they are speaking with the President of the United States, Mother Theresa, or George Clooney.  My Dad is a character.  To call someone a character, to me, is the highest of praise. There are not enough characters these days.  Too many of us are morphers, chameleons.

Flash forward.

It's here!
It’s here!

Today I walked into a book store and asked to see Nikki’s book, published today.  Moms Who Drink and Swear:  True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind.  Nikki has worked really, really hard on this book.  No selling out, no cashing in.  She “did the work,” just as she encouraged me to do two years ago.  It’s rare that we see our work so tangibly presented.  Words on paper, bound together, our name and a title.  Nikki did the work.  And I am so damn proud of her.  And honored to call her friend.

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