Buy bookshelves. Then buy more. If you can’t afford them, find a friend with a hatchback, go to the closest lumber store and buy some 2 by 4s, a hammer and some nails. You and your roommate are going to have enough books, tapes, DVDs, comics and collector’s editions to make a small-town library ashamed in comparison. (This is a normal part of fantopia, just like the cats.) Plan ahead on putting up bookshelves wherever you can find space, and decide whose things are going on which (separate) shelves. In the event of a sudden move, you’ll want your books in a place where they won’t get mixed up with your roommate’s, and while you can put things in storage, I’ve known too many folks who’ve had their comics collections lost, stolen or destroyed. Put as much as you can up near you and store what you can live without.

Establish guest rules and stick to them. Some fans like to be surrounded by fellow fen and will have week-long sleepovers while they marathon all of Babylon 5. Others would rather go out to find people and come home to silence. If your roommate is not a social butterfly, be kind and go elsewhere for the fannish puppy piles, or at least give her plenty of advance warning.

Establish financial responsibilities and stick to those, too. Do not get a joint account unless you also plan on filing domestic partnership papers. As a rule, it’s usually best to have people buy their own food. Hopefully it won’t come to where you have to label the foodstuffs with your names, but if it does, establish that, too. If you’re sharing meals, you’ll want to work out an equitable system for paying for the staples. Find out what works for you both, and talk about it every so often. This is also important in paying your rent. Some people choose to pay one roommate who then pays the whole thing. Others include separate checks in the envelope. My living arrangements tended towards alternating months. If you can’t pay your share of the rent, your roommate may or may not float you, but never go into a living situation expecting that this will happen. Get a (second) job if you have to, flipping burgers or stocking shelves if nothing else. When you are living somewhere that isn’t home, rent/mortgage is your number one priority, then food, then your internet connection. (These last two might swap positions in your household.) Early on, decide what the rule is for opening windows and using the AC. If you sweat at anything above sixty-five Fahrenheit, and your roommate is freezing at anything under eighty, you will likely spend a lot of time on your blog complaining about the air conditioner bills, and that is less time spent on squee. We like squee.

Your roommate is not your therapist. While you might be perfectly comfortable relating the terrible things that happened to you in your past, you have no way of knowing if bringing up those topics is going to send your roommate into a bad mental place of her own.

You don’t always know what your roommate has been through in her life, what’s triggery for her, what’s going to make her revisit things she thought she’d dealt with years ago. Respect her boundaries in this regard just as much as you want her to respect yours. It’s always better to preface a conversation with: “Will this put you in a bad place if I talk about it?” than find out you’ve triggered someone’s PTSD. Abuse and assault are unfortunately common, in and out of fannish groups, and everyone has a story.

Speaking of stories, one of the bonuses of having a fannish roommate is the live-in beta reader aspect. Before you take advantage of this, though, ask yourself if you can deal with having your heart-wrenching prose red-penned by the person you’re sitting across from at suppertime. Many a fantopia has fallen due to one too many grammar corrections and a cry of “Split THIS infinitive, you tramp!” Don’t let this be you. If you are sensitive about your stories, domestic harmony suggests you ship your work elsewhere for beta.

This also applies to cowriting. Some roommates can write together. Some can’t. If you don’t know, start small. Do a drabble series together. The epics can wait until you’re sure neither of you will break the lease and run screaming away because Spike should have been the bottom instead of the top.

Your roommate does not exist to entertain you. You do not exist to entertain your roommate. Not every conversation should involve Jack Harkness, as much fun as that might be to try. Even in fantopia, sometimes you just want to talk about the weather.

Headphones. 1. Buy good ones. 2. Use them. More politely, as someone who is fannish, you will have an eclectic, one might even say a unique, taste in music. Be careful how much you share with the people who live in adjoining apartments or houses.

Respect your roommate’s allergies and medication schedule. Again, as someone who is fannish, you have a higher than likely average chance of taking some medication or another on a regular basis, or that the sight of a strawberry will kill you dead. Ditto for your roommate. I once had a roommate with a medical condition that included getting extremely ill if she didn’t get a large amount of sleep. That meant no late-night gatherings at our place, and occasionally tromping upstairs to ask the people above us to pipe down at midnight. Fantopia comes with a high pharmacy bill and odd rules sometimes.

Fantopia seems like a lot of work, I know. You’d think it’s the ideal, and in some ways it really is: better to live with someone who understands the importance of defending your choices in narrative structure than with someone who thinks quoting the William Shatner “Get a life” skit from SNL is the height of humor. It just takes some forethought to get right, and getting it right is worth it. You preserve friendships, you build your fannish cred, and most importantly, you don’t become “Oh … THAT fan …”

But I mean it about cleaning the litterbox.