On a hot, humid Kansas day in August of 2007, Maria walked into a classroom at the University of Kansas where she was attending a week-long seminar on being a GTA in the English program. She was late (as is her unfortunate habit) and the 20-or-so other grad students were already seated for the lecture. Katie, a recent transplant from southern California, looked up with her bright, friendly smile (kind of a rarity in literary graduate classes) and pointed to the seat next to her: “Sit by me.” Maria was grateful for the random act of kindness. She hoped to remember how a small gesture could make someone’s day that much better. Katie was jealous of how cool the late-comer looked with a cute scarf wrapped around her head. She hoped some of the coolness might rub off on her.
The two have been pretty much inseparable since. (Really. Other people in the department must have thought it was a little too Single-White-Female. For four years, Katie and Maria took all the same classes, taught their own classes at the same times, shared an office, shared a syllabus, shared lunches. They planned their pregnancies to be at the same time so, unfortunately, they waddled together in the same ways to their same classes at the same times.)
Originally, Katie was getting her MA in literary criticism and Maria was enrolled in the MFA creative writing program. Once Katie mentioned that she had written some herself, as an undergrad, Maria asked her why in the world she was taking classes on criticism of WWI composition and not doing some composing of her own. Katie left the dark side to join the MFA program and the two discovered they share a mutual love for Anne Lamott, E.B. White, David Sedaris, Scott Russell Sanders, and Sloane Crosley, all essayists. Both Katie and Maria composed their theses as essay collections, Katie’s being on faith and Maria’s on motherhood. Both love to use pretty superficial stuff as catalysts for digging deeper into their topics.
While they share similar tastes in food, books, fashion, philosophy, and fun, they also have their differences. Discussing these differences thoughtfully has led to a deeper friendship, more open minds, and more compassionate worldviews for both of them. After Maria moved to the Bay Area in 2011, they decided to keep their friendship and discussions going the best way they know how: through writing.