Ten Years Later

Today, Nerdy Girl Notes turns 10 years old.

Ten years. A decade. Almost a third of my life.

What a wild ride.

There have been times along the way when the ride has felt easy and smooth—and other times when it’s felt rough and bumpy. There are times when I’ve sat confidently in the driver’s seat on this journey—and other times when I’ve felt like I’d lost control.

But that’s how life feels.

And NGN has always been a reflection of my life.

A reflection of me.

Looking back on 10 years of posts, that’s what stands out more than anything else—the versions of me contained within these pretty pink borders.

I’ve spent months trying to plan what to say in this post. Ten years is no small feat when it comes to content creation on the internet. And there have been plenty of times when I’ve doubted I would get to this milestone. So I knew I wanted to celebrate today.

But what should I celebrate?

That was the harder question.

And it was made even harder to answer this week when a lovely second line showed up on my COVID test, confirming that I was going to be confined to my couch on a day when I was supposed to be toasting to 10 years with a cocktail at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. (Fear not, friends: I’m working with a relatively mild—though still not fun—case, and my WDW trip has already been rescheduled for a few weeks from now.)

So what should I celebrate on a day when I’m feeling pretty far from a celebratory mood? (And when doing too much celebrating would undoubtedly trigger a coughing fit?)

Honesty.

When I think about all the versions of me contained within these pretty pink borders, I think about all the versions who would have been afraid to talk about something frustrating, hard, and not anywhere close to positive on a day like today. But I also think about all the versions who took baby steps to get to a place where I can stand here and say that I know today is a big day—but I’m not really in the mood to make a big deal of it.

It took a lot of baby steps to make NGN what it is today. To make me who I am today. And every single one of those baby steps is chronicled in some way on this site.

When I look back at 10 years of posts, that’s what stands out the most.

Every single post is a chapter in a story.

And it’s the story of a woman finding her voice.

NGN began as a place for me to reconnect with the kind of writing I missed doing after I graduated from college—analytical, academic, using “I” as little as humanly possible. As time went on, I eliminated some of that distance by writing more from a place of enthusiasm and less from a place of academic insight. It was closer to my authentic voice—but it was still self-conscious, still trying to present an image to the world. But instead of the image of a smart, critical media analyst, it was the image of an always positive, always happy fangirl.

But some time in the last couple of years, I stopped presenting an image and started just being myself—my messy, vulnerable, unfiltered self.

I found my voice. Not the voice I thought would make my college professors proud. Not the voice I thought would make me liked by my fellow fangirls.

My voice. Mine.

And those of you who are here have found the most honest version of me.

You’re all a part of this story too.

That’s another fascinating part of looking back on 10 years of posts. I was able to see the first comments left by people who have become some of my closest friends (Does it shock anyone that Heather left NGN’s first comment?), comment threads where lasting friendships were forged, and stories shared that have helped me hear so many of your voices as I learned how to find mine.

In so many ways, the story of NGN is a love story. It’s the story of how I met so many people I love, how I strengthened relationships with people I loved long before this site first took shape, and how I learned to love myself through speaking myself—finally letting go of my need to be perfect and accepting that the thing I really needed most was to be honest.

So this post gets to be another chapter in the story of NGN—the story of me. Some chapters are high points (going to NYCC, that time I thought I was going to write a book, all the love posts and reviews of incredible hours of television and letters to fictional characters who stole my heart). Some chapters feel lower (the rare times fandom drama bled into NGN’s comments, posts about depression and anxiety, that time I did not actually write the book I thought I was going to write). But they’re all a part of a larger story.

My story.

And that means they all have their place. They all matter.

Ten years.

What a wild ride.

And I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Some Long-Distance Love

Galentine's Day

Courtesy of the official Parks and Rec Twitter account.

Happy Galentine’s Day, all you poetic noble land mermaids!

Leslie Knope was right (as always), Galentine’s Day should be a national holiday. It’s a day to celebrate female friendship in all its forms—from the sisterhoods we established in school to the best friends we found in fandom and all the love we’ve chosen and nurtured along the way.

And if ever there was a year when we needed Galentine’s Day—a day designed to remind us that friendship is a valid and essential kind of love, a day to reach out to the women in our lives to tell them we’re thinking of them and that they matter to us—it’s this year.

We’re all a little more isolated this year.

Last year, we found ways to connect—we had Zoom happy hours and FaceTime dates and coffees shared on porches or in parks. But this year, we’re all a little more tired, a little more burned out. So many of us have faced struggles even beyond the universally traumatic experience of living through a global pandemic for two years, and we bear the scars of it.

Connection is hard when you’re just trying to keep your head above water, when all you can think about is surviving from one day to the next or how you’re going to find the energy and strength to get out of bed in the morning.

Even on the Internet, the place where we should be connecting with more depth and enthusiasm than ever before, things have changed. Social media has become even more of a void we all just shout into, an increasingly negative space that so many of us have had to take breaks from for our own sanity.

Things are hard right now.

Loneliness and loss of connection is hard.

But there’s a difference between acknowledging that and staying in it. And today I refuse to stay in it.

So consider this my hand, reaching across the void to pat you on the shoulder or hold yours or offer you a hug or a cup of tea or a mimosa (fair warning: I make them strong).

I see you—whoever you are.

And I’ve got you.

Today, on this day to celebrate the power of women and the bonds we form with each other, I’ve got you. I’m here to remind you that your struggles are valid—no matter what they are. I’m here to celebrate your victories—no matter how small they may seem to you. And I’m here to remind you that even when things feel lonely and weird and hard, you are loved.

You are so loved.

Yes, this is obviously a love post (see the bottom of this post for how to play if you’ve never been around NGN for one!), but I know that’s not everyone’s favorite kind of content. So if you don’t want me to shower you personally with love today, please consider this a general blanket of comfort for all of us to snuggle under until things feel better.

I love all of you. NGN wouldn’t be what it is without all of you. I wouldn’t be who I am without all of you.

And no amount of time, distance, or global pandemics can change that.

I love you on the days you feel like a badass and the days you don’t want to get out of bed. I love you not for what you give to me and to everyone else, but for who you are. Because if you’re reading this post, chances are we’ve interacted in some way, and if we have, then I love you.

That’s just how my heart works.

So if you ever have days when you don’t feel loved, Bookmark this post, even if you choose not to leave a comment on it to get some specific love. Read it and remember that even if we don’t talk often or we’ve never met or we live thousands of miles apart, I love you. I see your struggles and your strengths, and I feel honored to call you part of this family. Because even one visit to NGN—if you come with an open heart—makes you part of the family.

Join the love today if you’d like, but if you’d rather just lurk and enjoy from afar, I hope you still know that today is a day I’m celebrating you. Because you deserve to be celebrated.

You deserve to be and feel loved.

That’s what today is all about.

Ladies celebrating ladies.

What a day to be alive.

**For anyone new to a Love Post, here’s how it works: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, if you want to, you can share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are.

Even if you’ve never posted at NGN before or think no one will know or remember you, leave a comment. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

Lights in the Dark Forest: 2021 in Review

wandavision-westview-hostage-torture

My journey through the dark forest of 2021 began with Wanda Maximoff. (Source: TVLine)

“Believing in rom-communism is all about believing that everything’s gonna work out in the end. Now, these next few months might be tricky, but that’s just ’cause we’re going through the dark forest. Fairy tales do not start, nor do they end, in the dark forest.”

I can’t write about Ted Lasso.

But every time I think about 2021, I come back to this quote.

(And maybe that’s why I can’t write about it.)

So much of the last two years has felt like a long walk through the dark forest. And in 2021 things felt like they got even darker. So it was hard for me to watch a show—whose first season had given me so much comfort—take its characters through that dark forest and not quite out of it yet.

I didn’t like that Ted Lasso had changed.

And I felt that way about a whole lot of media this year. From The Rookie’s decision to all but abandon the challenging storylines that had made the first half of its third season so compelling to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s emotional farewell that took its characters in different directions, some changes were for the better and others less so, but it still seemed like a lot of the media I had used for comfort through the toughest parts of early pandemic life had changed.

And I hate change.

When I look at the only piece of scripted television that motivated me to write on an almost weekly basis, the only one that consistently moved me and stayed with me in a meaningful way, it was a show about a woman who resists change so strongly that she creates an entire new reality to escape the fact that her life had changed in deeply painful ways.

WandaVision is a show about a woman in the dark forest who spends so much time refusing to admit she’s in there that she builds herself a home and a life in the middle of it because even if it’s an illusion of control, it’s still better than the terror and unknown of the dark forest.

Control—however fake, however fleeting—feels better than uncertainty.

I don’t have a lot in common with Wanda Maximoff. I don’t have her powers or her tragic backstory or her tortured romance with an AI system turned sentient. But her need to hold on to some sense of control in a world that feels scary and lonely? That I get.

I spent the beginning of this year trying to build a world that I could control—a place that felt like nothing had changed even though everything had changed (both inside and outside of me).

There’s a reason WandaVision was the show that produced the most writing from me.

When I couldn’t control anything else, I wanted to control this little corner of the internet. I wanted it to be what it was when things felt better and brighter. I wanted to be who I was when things felt better and brighter.

Because, like Wanda, I didn’t want to acknowledge one of the truths of the dark forest: You don’t come out of it in the same place you were when you went in.

Slowly, steadily, my writing has started to move toward that truth. NGN has started to move toward that truth. Instead of being Westview—a place created to desperately hold onto a piece of the past because the present is sad and the future is scary—it’s growing into something that feels more real, something that feels more honest. It may not be sitcom shiny—a beacon of constant positivity where every problem is fixed and hurt is healed by the end of a post—but it’s stronger because of its messy reality.

I’m stronger because of my messy reality.

I’ve changed so much this year, and that means my writing changed too. And that’s part of life. Change is a part of life.

You can’t grow if you refuse to change.

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You Got Me, I Got You: Nine Years of NGN

Today, Nerdy Girl Notes turns nine years old.

Nine years. Almost a decade.

So much has changed in those nine years—the kind of writing I do here, the number of posts I write, and the version of me who’s writing those posts.

But today, I’m not really thinking about what’s changed.

I’m thinking about what hasn’t.

And that’s you—my friends, my fellow fangirls (and fanboys), my NGN Family.

No matter how long I go between posts, no matter what crazy new obsession I try to drag all of you into, no matter how much I overshare, you’re still here.

And this year, more than any other, that knowledge saved me.

I have made no secret of the fact that this year has been one of the hardest—if not the hardest—years of my life. And for a long part of it, I actively stayed away from NGN, despite the extra time I had and the fandoms I could have written about. I stayed away because I was afraid that I would come back to this place and it wouldn’t feel the same. I was afraid that this would become just another online space where I was screaming into the void. I was afraid that this little corner of the internet that had been my most fulfilling source of connection for so many years wouldn’t be that anymore at a time when I needed connection more than I’d ever needed it before.

I was so afraid.

But then I did something that’s really hard for me to do when I’m scared—I stopped running away. I wrote one thing and then another (and another…). I opened my eyes after keeping them shut for so long because I was afraid that I’d see that even this—my safe space for the last nine years—had changed in a year that felt like it had changed everything else.

But when I opened my eyes, there you were.

And I knew—even though things still felt bad and I was still scared and every post was an exercise in trusting that I wasn’t going to chase all of you away with my vulnerability and obvious clinginess—I knew things were going to be OK.

Because I have you.

Because I came home.

Home means different things to different people, but to me, home has always meant safety.

That’s what NGN has become for me over the last nine years. It’s the place where I feel safe enough to be myself, to share hard things, and to trust that I’m not alone in whatever I’m feeling.

And that’s what I hope it is for you too.

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Here’s to Women

Today is International Women’s Day, which means that it’s likely we’ve all seen this quote a million times on our social media feeds:

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”

It’s an empowering quote—one that I’ve said myself more than once and shared often. But this year, something about it isn’t sitting right with me.

I don’t feel strong right now. I haven’t felt strong for long stretches of the last year. And there’s a part of me—a tired, broken, sad part of me—that sees this quote and feels like the only kind of woman worthy of being admired, celebrated, and seen is a “strong” woman.

What about the women who are struggling? What about the women who cry, the women who lose their patience, the women who have days when they can’t get out of bed because everything feels like it’s too much?

Most of us will be these women at some point in our lives because to be a woman is to be human, and to be human is to fail and falter and feel big, overwhelming, messy feelings sometimes. But all too often, when we feel those big, overwhelming, messy feelings or when we snap at a loved one or when we spend most of our waking hours in tears on a bad day, we don’t give ourselves the grace to not be okay—to not be strong.

Because somewhere along the way, in our quest to inspire and empower, “strong” became synonymous with “good” and “worthy.”

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A Galentine’s Day Love Post

Happy Galentine’s Day, all you perfect sunflowers!

Galentine's Day

Courtesy of the official Parks and Rec Twitter account.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Although it was created as a fictional holiday spearheaded by my life inspiration Leslie Knope, the world beyond Pawnee, Indiana, has embraced this day of ladies celebrating ladies, and we’re all better for it.

Galentie’s Day is a day to celebrate female friendship in all its forms—from the people we share offices with to our travel partners, internet support systems, and all the sisters, chosen family, and platonic soulmates in between. It’s a day to honor the positive impact women have had on our lives—from our mentors to our mothers and every friend who’s ever given us advice or comfort over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. And it’s a day to raise a mimosa, a waffle, or a big plate of bacon to the ladies who’ve lifted us up and made us laugh, held our hands through the hard stuff, and inspired us to be the best, bravest, and brightest versions of ourselves.

This has been a hard year for friendships. Zoom happy hours and FaceTime dates and long text chains can only go so far in replicating the warmth and joy of spending time in the presence of the people you love. Skype isn’t a perfect substitute for girls’ trips. Five-minute, outdoor, masked gift exchanges aren’t the same as birthday dinners. Group chats aren’t the same as group hugs.

And this month in particular—with the one-year anniversary of the start of this mess right around the corner and the pandemic depression bearing down like a heavy weight—feels like a struggle. We all seem to be feeling a little lonelier, a little sadder, a little less patient, and a little more exhausted. The desire to compare our struggles to others’ social media highlight reels seems stronger, and the grace we should be giving ourselves seems to be wearing thin. Old insecurities have reawakened, and new anxieties have made their presence known.

It’s times like these when all really need our friends.

But in the midst of all of this isolation, we’re finding our way through it. We write cards and make virtual dates and send gifts just because. We celebrate when someone’s mom gets her vaccine and commiserate when we hit the working-from-home wall. We still cry together and laugh together and support each other—even if the ways we do it look a little different.

So today, I wanted to bring a little bit of my yearly Galentine’s Day celebration to all of you. Because all of you—my NGN Family of smart, strong, complex, and caring women—deserve to be celebrated. You inspire me every day, and your support and love has played a huge part in helping me become the woman I am today.

You know what that means…

It’s time for a Love Post!

For anyone new to a Love Post, here’s how it works: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, if you want to, you can share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are.

Even if you’ve never posted at NGN before or think no one will know or remember you, leave a comment. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll start things off below just so you can see how it’s done, and I hope that by the time this day of ladies celebrating ladies is done, the comments will feel like a true Galentine’s Day party.

Cheers!

GalentinesDayCheers

Source: The Atlantic

New Year, New NGN

The beginning of the year has always been a time of new beginnings at NGN. This site started as a New Year’s resolution, and January has always been a time for reflecting on this little corner of the internet and how I can make it the best it can possibly be.

For a few years, I wasn’t sure how to do that. My career changed in a major way in 2016, and with that, the time I could devote to this site—especially in the form of weekly reviews of shows—drastically decreased. But it was more than just my job that changed around that time. I changed. My relationship with fandom changed. My relationship with writing about and for fandom changed.

I felt like I couldn’t be what fandom needed me to be.

For years, I’d built a reputation as being a force of unstoppable positivity in fandom. And I relished that reputation. I encouraged it and took it very seriously.

But sometimes it’s hard to be positive.

Sometimes you can’t be what other people need you to be.

So I all but disappeared because I felt like I couldn’t be what fandom needed me to be—what fandom expected me to be. I couldn’t keep up with The Fan Mail Project (remember when I tried to write a book?) thanks to my grueling workload and packed schedule. I couldn’t post as often because I was burned out from writing all day at work. I couldn’t be as endlessly enthusiastic as I used to be because I was struggling with a prolonged period of anxiety and self-doubt.

I felt like I was letting people down, and I didn’t know how to deal with that.

I wrote when I could, but after my posts about The Americans ended, it was hard for me to find my groove—to find my voice.

But I think I’m starting to find it again.

And I have you—my NGN Family—to thank for that.

The encouragement you gave me when I wrote about what Schitt’s Creek taught me about coming home. The kindness you all showed when my year-end posts took a different—and more honest—tone this year. The sense of community that’s filled this place again in the last week.

It’s all reminded me that the people who matter—the people who’ve made the NGN community what it’s been for almost a decade—don’t need me to be anything but myself. My messy, vulnerable self. It’s reminded me that NGN can be a safe space not just for the people who visit it, but for me too. And it’s reminded me that nothing makes me feel less alone than connecting with people through the kind of writing that I’ve always loved bringing to NGN—writing about the things we love and what those things say about who we are.

So with that in mind—and in the spirit of new beginnings—I’m excited to announce that I’m bringing back a couple of old features from NGN’s past that I think will focus on that kind of writing and allow all of us to share enthusiasm and love the way we did this past week—and the way we’ve been sharing for more than eight years.

The first of these is The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week, which will return to its Sunday slot starting tomorrow! The second is an updated version of NGN’s old Daily Dose of Feelings feature that discussed some of my favorite emotional moments from TV. However, my life doesn’t really allow for “Daily” posts anymore, so instead, Right in the Feels is going to pop up at least a few times a month to focus on moments from movies, TV shows, and other aspects of pop culture that have brought me to tears throughout my many years as a fangirl. (I have a working list of moments to write about, but if you have suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments!)

It’s my hope that these features—along with more essays throughout the year—will allow us all to continue to connect with the joy, enthusiasm, and community that’s been buzzing around NGN for the last week and that has always made this little corner of the internet so special.

It may be a new year, but I’m ready to rekindle a little bit of that old NGN magic.

Finding a Reason to Celebrate

Today, NGN turns 8 years old, and in the spirit of honesty (because when have I ever been less than honest with all of you?), I have to admit that it feels weird to be celebrating this year.

First of all, I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve written some stuff in the last year that I’m really proud of, and focusing on quality over quantity (and writing about things I really care about instead of things I feel I have to write about) has made me a much better writer overall. But thanks to more shuffling around at work, I was left with less time than ever before for nerdy fun. I’m glad to still be in the blogging game eight years after I decided that I needed an outlet for all my impassioned ramblings, but it’s different than it used to be. I’m different than I used to be. And sometimes I really miss this site—and the version of me who ran it—when it was at its peak. It all feels a bit bittersweet.

And then of course there’s the fact that celebrating anything at all while a pandemic is raging feels strange. I’m writing this from my dining room table, which is where I’ve been working from home for the past three weeks, and I haven’t left the house at all (except for walks) for more than two weeks now. I feel so blessed and lucky to say that I’m surrounded by my immediate family, we have our health, and I have my job—and my heart breaks for those who cannot say those things anymore. It’s a hard time for literally everyone. I haven’t had a day pass this week that hasn’t either started or ended in tears (or sometimes I opted for both). So patting myself on the back for something in the middle of all this feels a little more hollow than it might have a month ago.

However, we have to look for the joy where we can, right? Whether that’s reality TV, Star Wars marathons, Zoom happy hours, yoga, board games, baking, online shopping, or the rare burst of springtime sunshine, we have to still find reasons to smile and get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon…). And we have to embrace the things that give us comfort when times are hard. That’s not going to be the same for any two people, but whatever it is, I hope you find it and get to hold onto it with both hands during this hard time.

For me, NGN has always been a place of joy and comfort. It’s the place where I found myself and the place I return to when I need to feel like that version of myself still exists under all the stress and anxiety and obligations that come as life changes. But the real reason why NGN gives me joy and comfort is because of all of you who—over the past 8 years—have become my NGN Family. You’ve been my confidants, my teachers, my defenders, and my friends for almost a decade now, and I’ve watched so many of you become that for each other too.

I hope that this time provides an opening for me to get back to some of the writing that brought vibrancy to this place for so long and that still fills my heart with hope and healing every time I get to do it. And until then, consider this post me reaching out to say that I’m thinking of all of you and that I know things are hard right now, but I also know that this community has always had a bit of a magical way of helping us through hard times. So if you’re struggling, I’m here for a shoulder to lean on, and if you’re feeling strong today, I’m here to champion your strength.

NGN has only made it this long because of the family we created, and that family is what I’m choosing to celebrate today.

Lucky Number Seven

Nerdy Girl Notes turns seven years old today!

If you would have asked me back on April 2, 2012, what I thought my life would be like seven years later, that young woman’s predictions would have been very different from how things turned out. But all those years ago, I knew I wanted NGN and the incredible people who make up the little family surrounding it to be a part of my life for as long as humanly possible. And I feel so blessed to know that seven years later, even after so much of my life has changed, NGN is still here for me to share my hopes and fears and thoughts and FEELINGS with all of you—and even more blessed to know that so many of you are still here for me to share all of those things with.

NGN itself is so different from what it was seven years ago. It’s gone through different stages (How did I ever review five shows a week?!) and chronicled different obsessions, but one thing remains the same: It’s a place that is driven by enthusiasm and love. I still love being able to write whenever inspiration strikes and the timing is right. And that’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on what’s coming to NGN in the next few months!

After what has felt like the longest hiatus ever, NGN is returning to weekly content starting the week of April 15th! I’ll be back with my final round of Game of Thrones Moment of the Week posts (and maybe more about the show as we lead up to its finale), as well as weekly posts about FX’s new limited series Fosse/Verdon. As a dancer, a musical theater fangirl, a choreographer, and a reader who devoured the Sam Wasson biography this is based on, I have been eagerly awaiting the show since its announcement last year and knew right away I had to write about it. I’m not sure what form my posts will take yet and they’ll be starting after Episode 2 (because I’ll be soaking in the magic in Walt Disney World during the premiere), but I can’t wait to share all of my Gwen Verdon feelings and Cabaret love with all of you.

The fun will then continue into the summer with coverage of Big Little Lies and maybe some fun posts about movies, which I don’t write about enough around these parts.

Needless to say, I’m feeling very inspired lately and ready to share that inspiration with you. And I can’t think of a better mood to be in on NGN’s “blogiversary.” This little corner of the internet was founded on the belief that everyone needs a place where they can unashamedly love things, and I’m so thankful that so many of you continue to embrace that mindset along with me.

If you’ve been here for seven years or seven seconds, if you comment regularly or would rather remain an anonymous reader, if you visited for a specific show or have followed me through more fandoms than we can count—thank you. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your humor, and your heart. Thank you for your insight, your honesty, your recommendations, and your inspiration. Most of all, thank you for your friendship. I never would have made it to Year Seven without my NGN Family behind me, and knowing I have you in my corner makes me excited every time I open a blank document and get ready to write.

It’s been an unpredictable journey and a winding road so far, and I can’t wait to see where this year’s twists and turns and fangirl flights of fancy take us!

Sharing the Galentine’s Day Love

parks-valentines-muskox

I love you all like Leslie loves Ann.

Happy Galentine’s Day, you poetic, noble land mermaids!

Galentine’s Day may have started as a fictional holiday created by my hero and ultimate life inspiration Leslie Knope, but it’s now become a day celebrated by women around the world who want to honor the ladies in their lives. Seeing this holiday grow from something shared only by our beautiful little Parks and Recreation fandom to a day that has its own decorations at Target has been incredible, and it brings me so much joy to know that so many people are taking time today to tell the women in their lives how special they are and to honor the power of female friendship (hopefully with lots of breakfast food).

I’m so blessed to be surrounded by the smart, funny, passionate, protective, warm, and welcoming women I call my friends. They support me and surprise me; they’ve challenged me and changed me; and they’ve helped me embrace the best and most authentic version of myself. My female friends have been the great loves of my life to this point, and I can’t think of a better group of people to call my soul mates.

And that includes all the brave and beautiful women I’ve met because of fandom—and NGN in particular. Over the years, this has been a place where friendships have formed both for me and completely independent of me (which is the coolest thing in the world). Even if our comment conversations aren’t as plentiful as they once were and even if our interests have diverged, I still treasure the moments and memories we’ve shared in this little place that I’ve called home for so long. The friends I’ve made through fandom are some of the best friends I could have ever hoped to have, and I love having a day to single out just how special you are.

With that in mind, I wanted to take a page out of Leslie Knope’s playbook and tell all of you how amazing you are. It may not be a 5,000-word essay, but I want to take a moment today to shower each of you with a string of compliments that would make my sitcom spirit animal proud.

So let’s have a LOVE POST!

Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are. Even if you’ve never posted at NGN before or think no one will know or remember you, leave a comment. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll start things off below just so you can see how it’s done, and I hope that by the time this day of ladies celebrating ladies is done, the comments will be the best virtual Galentine’s Day party ever.

I’ll bring the waffles!