I never met Leslie and unlike those of you
who did, I didn't know her beyond what was passed through pixels in IRC or
email. I do know that she affected me quite a bit and for the
better. At the time I started lurking in asgx, I was having a horrible
time - divorce and deep vein thrombosis were the main culprits. To help
cope, I started writing more than I had in years, posting them to
alt.society.generation-x and a related mailing list. Mostly I wrote
anecdotes or other bits of broken memories while trying to find some Greater
Around this time, I was working at Newfire and while at work, I had my old PowerBook on a table pulling in email. After work hours (and sometimes during), I would run an IRC client with Macintalk extensions so I could listen in to the gen-x group, if nothing else. Leslie was looking to start a zine and needed a suitable domain. I wrote a quick script that pulled a list of four letter words that I was willing to say in front of my grandmother (your own list may differ - I don't know your grandmother or your relationship with her other than the obvious genetic one) from my ISP's dictionary and started filtering out the "interesting" words and from that list, started seeing what hadn't been already registered as a domain. I ran the short list past Leslie and she chose 'smug' for her domain and as the title of the zine. I think I smiled a little bit every time I saw the masthead and slug lines on the main page. I ended up writing seven articles for Smug, including such diverse topics as wedgies, evolution, Valentine's day, and my penis. Leslie accepted my writing and, in her words, "put on [her] editor's hat", made corrections and suggestions and all the while being very encouraging.
At this point in my life, when it is too late to tell her, I realize that she was doing some very important work. Leslie was helping me find my voice. I think I knew this intuitively because I'd pretty much do anything I could to help her if she needed it. When her apartment in New York caught fire, I raised money from others in asgx with the promise that I would match all donations dollar-for-dollar. I don't remember the amount of the check that I wrote, but it wasn't trivial, and I wrote it willingly and eagerly and sent it off to her with a note to the effect that it wouldn't replace what she'd lost, but might help her start over. Remember that Leslie was a woman that I'd never met and who I didn't really know.
I think the most important thing is the why of it. I respected Leslie and I was changed by her in a very positive way. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this respect. I also know that, relatively speaking, I was a very tiny part of her life and can only imagine the effect that she had on those who were closer. I'm very sorry that I never directly said thank you and only hope that she had figured it out on her own.