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"Remembering Nina"

[written December 16, 2001]

I received word last week from some old mudding buddies that a good friend of mine died. The first person that I was close with who's died.

Her name was Nina, but I knew her better as Killary, or Jimmie, or Wynder, or Winnie. We met many years ago on The Sierra Network. I was playing The Shadows of Yserbius (a sweet MMORPG [Massive Multiplayer Oriented Role-Playing Game]), or actually its sequel, Fates of Twinion, and leveling up my ranger. I began seeing someone else covering the same areas as myself, a red square representing Killary. We partied up a few times and talked, and we got along great.

Since the game was split into something like 12 servers, people would frequent their own server and you'd get tightly knit groups of people. Killary and I hung out a lot and even played cards in the TSN Clubhouse a few times. Maybe even SierraLand a bit. She was very good at cards and we partnered up well in Spades.

After a while, a whole lot of shit with TSN went down, like it being bought by AT&T and turning into INN (ImagiNation Network) and eventually INN got rid of their unlimited hours plan so it turned into a mass exodus for all the hardcore INN users.

During this time I also managed to rack up some hefty phone bills and I got kicked off the service by my parents (understandably) a few times as well. That was always fun. $500 bills. But this is merely a sidenote.

At this point a lot of the people I knew had to find a new place to spend time, and Nina mentioned the Internet to me. Wow, huh? Well, back then, it really wasn't much. SLIP/PPP accounts weren't really widely available yet and Nina told me that there were MUDs on the Internet that were text-based and that you could play for free. I wasn't too excited about it but she explained the whole situation to me and helped me figure out how to get Internet access and connect to the MUD.

I used my dad's university account to connect to the university's special online menu interface and then telnet to Stick in the Mud, the MUD Nina found.

So there we worked ourselves into a new community of people communicating through a still-primitive network. Nina and I took to it quickly and we became immortals (different kinds of administrators) together. We worked our way up to high ranks on the MUD. Not to bore you, but we branched off and formed our own MUD with a few other guys, Loping Through The Mud. It worked great but our programmers left and the project halted development. After some more time, Stick in the Mud became embroiled with controversy at the highest levels, and things started to get nasty.

I had started my relationship with Anna at the time, who had also played on the MUD. Nina looked over me in a motherly sort of way, since I was maybe 15-16 and she was twice as old or more? Anyway, through all our experiences, I did quality stuff and she helped me get even better. But she objected to my becoming involved with Anna because she did not trust her, and we had a sort of falling out. It didn't help that I told Nina I didn't have time to help her with her new MUD, The Foundation, that she started to splinter off from Stick in the Mud, which had become inhospitable after one of the head immortals basically abused his powers and embarrassed the people who actually ran the MUD day to day...those people being us.

I was just starting college, and didn't feel like I could do the work I wanted to do on the new MUD. I still have a slew of great ideas I one day want to implement, but I doubt I'd ever have the incentive to put the time forth to do it.

Nina wasn't happy with me for that. We stopped talking. It was a weird time for all those involved. I also stopped talking to a lot of the other people who came with us to the MUD. I was getting serious with Anna at the same time. I guess it's that whole thing about people dropping their friends when they get into a new relationship. I could try to justify my actions but I guess that's basically what it came down to.

Later on, The Foundation, Nina's MUD that she paid for and did a lot of work on, had problems of its own with the higher-ups. It was the same thing that happened on Stick in the Mud, really. The highest immortals who could do anything to improve the MUD had disappeared, leaving people who showed up every day to sit around, powerless. A power vacuum. Nina was one of those who went missing.

She got sick of the politics, plus she was working hard on her job, which was requiring her to telecommute more. The truth is that I really never knew that much personal info about Nina. It doesn't always come up when you know people online. It isn't always important to know real life details when you're sharing a different life online.

I knew that she worked at Coke in Atlanta as a techie, so she always got the best computer stuff and the best Internet connections and I envied her for it. =P I knew that she had two children, both of whom are now geniuses from what I can tell. I knew that she was valedictorian of her high school class even though she was raising a child as well at the time. I admire her for that. She had no one to help her out and she got an education, made a very good living for herself, and raised successful children. She was hilarious, witty, very warm, and extremely intelligent. She always kicked my ass in trivia, and I'm pretty damn good at trivia. She is one of those readers, like Anna is. You know, the kinds who know all these absurd things because they read compulsively. The kinds who everyone wants to be like but never will have the willpower to become.

But last week I received messages from a couple people informing me that one of them had e-mailed her to see if they might meet since he was going into Atlanta for work, and her daughter responded to tell him that Nina had had a brain aneurysm and died three weeks later. I e-mailed the guy for more details but haven't received a response yet.

I'm not sure if I feel bad that we stopped talking -- we sort of grew apart at the time and moved on to other things. One time I called her at home after not talking a long time, because I wanted her to come back to The Foundation to assert her leadership upon the struggling MUD. She came back, saw how things went, and never appeared again as far as I know. I kinda wished she would've cleaned up things there, but for whatever reason she didn't. I wanted to but I was out very early in that project and there was no way I'd get any respect from anyone there.

That was the last time I talked to her. On the phone. I mentioned to her that Anna had been a couple for a few years, so she'd know that I did something good regarding Anna, but I don't know how she felt about that. She was very protective of me before Anna.

So there it is. That is my experience with Nina. That's what I know best about her. She and I spent many hours together playing games, and we shared many projects and new learning experiences together. We were successful when working together. She introduced me to the Internet. She taught me how to use the Internet. Before many people even knew it existed. She is a positive influence in my life. She did good for all those whom she met.

Successful on her own, but willing to spend a lot of time being a mentor towards all those seeking guidance. Someone who I hope I can be.

I don't want this to be cheesy. She hates cheesiness. So I'll end this now. Bye, Nina. I'll miss you.

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