[old friends]

Yesterday, out of the blue, I got a message on Friendster from an old high school friend, Nicole Kristal. She was a sophomore when I was a senior, and we were never that close back then, though we had a number of friends in common. But we worked together on The Voice of Troy, the school newspaper, and we developed a certain mutual respect as capable writers who actually cared about both the craft and the purpose of journalism.

I hadn’t talked to Nicole since we were both in college, so I was fascinated to learn of the twists and turns her life has taken since. After earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1999, she found her way to Los Angeles, where she tried to make it as a singer-songwriter (if the audio links on her website don’t work, you can find some samples here). To make ends meet, she fell into “tutoring” rich kids, which ultimately meant writing their papers for money.

This demoralizing career did get her published in Newsweek, no small achievement, and even got her on the CBS Evening News, where you can see a clip of her speaking in what used to be my accent. (Her troubling career also inspired a lengthy article about hemmorhoids for Ostrich Ink.)

She’s now a staff writer for Backstage West, a wholly more decent line of work, and has a book coming out — The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe, a tongue-in-cheek work to be released in October by Alyson Publications.

We talked last night for the first time in years, and we’ll probably chat again soon. Unlike a lot of my high school acquaintances, who’ve settled into boring suburban babymaking lives and with whom conversation is a tedious chore, Nicole is actually interesting to talk to. And it’s always kind of interesting to catch up with people you knew way back when.