I want to tell you about the most awesome person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’m of course talking about my friend Kimberly Chapin (also known to me as The Kimby). And I don’t just say this because of the recent events, I say this whole heartedly and mean it. Kim was amazing.
I first met Kim in college while working at Best Buy in Kalamazoo. She was applying for a job in the media department, and had come into the store with her then boyfriend (now husband) Levi. Kim was this tiny little ball of energy and excitement, who immediately bonded with me over our mutual love of anime and movies. Suffice it to say I pulled some strings and got her hired immediately.
Before Kim started at Best Buy, most of the employees in the store had questioned if I dated women. Once she started, they immediately thought we were dating. In truth, I quickly became Kim’s best girlfriend in college. But a boy. Who likes girls.
Kim and Levi
I then met Kim’s boyfriend Levi – a long haired easy going guy who was quiet at first, but opened up to me rather quickly. The three of us became fast friends.
Kim and Levi had apparently gone to the same high school together, and after she had a bad breakup the two of them got together and had been that way ever since. It was a sweet love story with a happily ever after. But I’m getting ahead of myself….
In the spring of 2004 Kim wanted to share her love of anime on a whole new level, and we traveled to Chicago for my very first Anime Central convention. She had wanted to go meet some artists, watch some anime, and eat some pocky. What she ended up doing was revitalizing my love of anime, my thirst for new storytelling, and my interest in attending conventions as a professional. I had stories from that weekend that I will cherish forever. The girl had a mad love of all things Sailor Moon, but would also talk your ear off about Cowboy Bebop or any other series. She was a little kid trapped in an adult’s body, and loving every second of it.
Over the next several years, I would get back into comics in a serious way – starting off with the web, and eventually moving into print. But just a second, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Kim and Levi eventually invited me out to where they grew up in rural Michigan, where her family raised horses. Kim was an experienced rider, having competed in several fairs around the state. And this particular weekend was her return to the fair – and my first go at it. I met many of her childhood friends, all of which were very friendly and accepting. Kim’s horse didn’t place in the fair, but it was the look of seeing Kim’s face when she rode that made the entire weekend worth it. Her face was pure joy. She loved it.
Back at college, Kim and I would spend hours hanging out in her apartment complex’s hot tub, talking about anime or stressful class assignments. Or our dreams for the future. We talked about everything, hung out all the time, and became best friends.
Not long after college, Kim and Levi got engaged and they asked me to be part of their wedding. I was humbled beyond words to be a part of their special day, and of course accepted. During the rehearsal, while the priest was going through the sermon in fast forward, he skipped ahead to the part where he says, “If anyone objects to these two being wed, may they speak now or forever hold their peace.” Being the bold jerk I am, I snapped my fingers and said, “Hey, right here. I have an objection.”
I don’t even remember what it was – probably something about Levi and I running off together – but when everyone looked at me with confused faces, I eventually conceded and said, “Fine, they can get married.”
The next day was the happiest of her life, and during the ceremony the priest finally came to the part where someone can object. Of course I had no intentions of actually screwing up her big day, but when he said “…if anyone has any objections to these two being wed,” the entire wedding party – and the priest – looked at me. We all had a good laugh at that story, and it’s one I still tell at conventions. Kim had a sense of humor that was unique, and allowed me to get away with antics like that.
Kim on the happiest day of her life
Her wedding reception was an incredibly fun time, filled with great people and air guitar competitions. Speeches were funny and entertaining, and everything captured the essence that was Kim and Levi perfectly. The right balance of nerdy, funny, sweet, cute, and innocent.
All of the groomsmen playing air guitar.
Not long after that, Kim got a job in Florida producing local news. Her professional demeanor landed her some prestigious honors among her peers and co-workers.
Unfortunately around this time we started to grow apart a bit, as we both focused on career – and I also pursued my budding comics career – largely influenced by that first ACEN she took me to years previous. Through my continued attendance at ACEN, I would meet some of my best friends today – and they would influence me to make the books and do the work. But the origins of my being there in the first place are solidly placed on the small shoulders of Kim.
Kim (as a Sailor Scout) and myself at ACEN, 2011
In fact, ACEN became the place where we could reconnect each and every year. Since she lived so far away and I had recently moved to Chicago (at the time), traveling to see each other was not something we could do on a regular basis. Except for ACEN, the show that she took me to back in college. Our mutual love of anime and all things nerdy also turned out to be the one event every year that we got to hang out at time and time again. Although she was attending the show to cosplay and have fun, and I had switched into the professional realm and started attending the show as a guest. But I don’t think that influenced Kim’s enthusiasm to see me every year at that show. I think she would have been just as excited to see me if I were just walking around on the floor of the show.
Kim’s latest haircut – the short look!
This last year at ACEN 2012, the show had moved the comic guests to a new area – but Kim and Levi found me all the same. And in the same sailor outfit she had worn the previous year, she had the same passion and enthusiasm for the show and the fact that we got to meet there every year. This year was something special for her, because it fell on her birthday (April 29). In fact, on Sunday of the show (her actual birthday) she got guests Johnny Young Bosch and his band Eyeshine to sing her happy birthday during one of their panels – the highlight of her weekend by far. She loved Power Rangers, and Johnny was one of the few she hadn’t met yet – and upon meeting him, one of the nicest memories she had of meeting a celebrity.
So why am I writing about my good friend Kim, you may ask yourself? This week I received an e-mail from Kim’s mother saying that on Sunday, June 3, Kim passed away from a massive seizure. She had been plagued by them her whole life. And unfortunately, she was taken from this world far too soon.
Usually during situations of loss people tend to focus on the negative. And while I could curse the heavens at her untimely passing, I choose instead to focus on the positive – the person she was, and the legacy she left behind.
Kim was a goof ball, with a child-like innocence (and a dirty little mind). Everywhere she went she was having fun, and this energy radiated off her and influenced the moods of everyone she met.
She loved Mt Dew, candy, and playing video games until all hours of the night – even when she had an early shift the next day.
Kim was so full of love, and you could tell immediately that love was returned in kind. I’ve never met a person who had anything negative to say about Kim. If you were having a bad day, all you needed to do was hang out with Kim for 5 minutes and whatever your problems might have been were washed away in a sea of pocky, anime, and squishy silliness.
Kim was also sensitive, a side she rarely showed to anyone. Her sweetness masked it well, but she always wanted to be seen as a mature adult – a professional – and a girl who was more than cute, but was desirable. She often didn’t realize that she was all of these things and more.
I was extremely lucky to have met Kim, and everyone was extremely blessed to have known her. She was the most awesome person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. And I don’t say that lightly – I say it because it’s true.
Wherever you are Kim, I hope your energy and goofiness continues to affect those around you. And that you’re happy, drinking your Mt Dew and eating your pocky. And hopefully – just hopefully – there’s no work tomorrow so you can stay up all night playing video games. I love you, and you are missed.
Kim was fearless, even the T-Rex didn’t scare her!
Kimberly Diane Bozek Chapin, April 29, 1985 – June 3, 2012