She is a deep thinker, a child prodigy of sorts with an abundance of knowledge and eloquence. She is a writer, a poet, and spins words on paper as easily as she speaks them. She is fiercely loyal, compassionate, and a great listener. She is also a science fiction-fantasy junkie, which is part of what balances the remarkable woman with childlike fun. She is Valerie, one of my dearest friends, whose life I celebrate today: her birthday.