Believe it or not, there was a time when I didn’t care about Star Wars. I didn’t know the name Joss Whedon, I couldn’t define cosplay, and I could have cared less about who the final Cylon was. It’s a shock, I know, since these things, now, are so near and dear to my pixelated heart. (Which, also would have confused me, as I wasn’t allowed to play games growing up.)
As a child I was a bit of a tomboy. (You’re shocked, I can tell.) I enjoyed being outside and building forts, climbing trees (and falling out of them), playing basketball, riding my bike all over my neighborhood and coming home dirty and stinky and sleepy. I surrounded myself with guy friends, and their friends, and I was just like them. It was awesome. Until I got boobs.
Contrary to popular belief, Bella’s Boobz haven’t always been so dominating.
When I started to hit puberty, boys got awkward, and I became more of an introvert. Reading and writing and listening and watching. My parents were amazing about letting me know that I couldn’t have everything I wanted, but any book I wanted was always available to me. So, I threw myself headfirst into everything and anything I could read. By the time I was in third grade my reading comprehension was at a senior level, and my teachers didn’t know what to do with me. So, outcast from my “boy” friends, and outcast from my interschool support – I became more withdrawn.
My father, being incredibly in tune to these things took me further under his wing than I already was. He encouraged me to keep my head in books, but also egged me on to participate in conversation about space, math, music, science, movies, television, metaphysical theory and religion. When I wasn’t delving into the mad psyche of Fyodor Dostoyevsky for hours on end, I was enjoying contemplating mythologies and mortality with my father. And, when we weren’t doing that, we were watching action movies and TV dramas.
Up to this point, I was just Sara. (Yes, my real name is Sara… moving right along.) I had identified as a tomboy as a child because that’s what children called it. I had identified as an introvert as a prepubescent because that’s what teachers told me. I had identified as Sara, through all of it, because that’s what my dad called me. As I got older and more interested in abstraction, my father introduced me to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I fell in love. I learned Klingon. But, it’s just what I did. I didn’t know it had a label.
When I was graced with the luck to live into my teens, I attempted to remove myself from all of these identifying facets of my life – like so many teenagers do. I threw myself into figuring out what music and movies defined who I actually was, because clearly, Star Trek wasn’t acceptable. I was wrong. It took me through high school to learn this. High school was rough. I was taller than most people. I was bigger than most people (yes, I am a “BBW”, deal with it). And, I was smarter than most people. They didn’t know where to put me.
In lieu of graduating two years early, I opted for a dual enrollment with our local community college. I took the standard courses in biology, literature, advanced mathematics, but I also took advanced writing and theory courses. It was in one of these classes that I was introduced to my first Graphic Novel. I was familiar with comic books. But this was something all together different. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. I was in an advanced seminar class with two other people, one of whom’s name was Sonya. She was older than me by about 15 years, but we struck up a friendship quickly. She told me about this amazing story, and I was hooked. I went to the library and checked them all out. I read them all back to back to back in a day. When class started up the following week, I gushed about Sandman. The art, the story, the character development, the <insert what every 17 year old girl feels ever here>.
And that was just a taste of “nerdy” things to come. I moved on from that tiny college, met my now-husband, and moved away from home to a university town. I was 18 and living away from my family and the small town that kept me securely locked away in a bubble of personality qualifiers -– none of which seemed right – all of which were judgemental. This new life brought me new friends and new experiences that were more nerdy than I had ever experienced. I learned that I had geekabilities I wasn’t aware existed, and the first one would be my defining “geek” moment.
As I sat in my apartment making some sort of art or another, I remember watching Conan The Destroyer. Scott (Doktor Schadenfreude) sat next to me, and my roommate entered the room. “Oh, you’re watching Red Sonja?”, she said flippantly. I was stunned. What did she mean Red Sonja. This wasn’t Red Sonja. How do you not know the difference between Red Sonja and Conan?!?!?! “NO.” I said. “THIS is Conan The Destroyer.” “Oh, right, the one with the snake.” I blinked. Confused. Angry. “NO.” I said. At this point, Scott sat back and let the show carry on as I began to explain to her the difference between the two Conan movies and the singular – and unrelated – Red Sonja movie. “You’re a fucking nerd.” Was her reply, as I wrapped up my tirade, and she left the room. I blinked again. Confused. Intrigued.
I looked to Scott for an explanation. What had happened. Why, did this, of all things make me a nerd? He smiled, leaned forward and simply said, “You’re such a geek. I love it.”
FINALLY, a label that I understood. Something all encompassing of my love for the weird and uncanny, for the science fiction and fantasy, for the board games and the cartoons, for the books and movies that fueled my desire to be creative and silly and fun. THIS IS WHAT IT WAS.
My brain wrapped around this, like I wrap a warm blanket around my body in the winter. It was snuggly and warm and made so much sense. I was a nerd. I was a geek. I was also, Sara. And, it was okay to talk about the things that made me geeky and nerdy. If anyone was going to understand me, it was going to be other geeks, like Scott. I embraced this. I reveled in it. Other geeky things found me and I embraced them. Some of them, I love(d). I could write tomes on my love for geek culture and what makes me tick as a nerd/geek and a girl. But this is an article about my defining geek moment… and those are articles for another day.
1 fuck was given in this article