So, let’s define a couple words before we begin (for grins):
A nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many nerds are described as being shy, quirky, and unattractive, and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports. “Nerd” is a derogatory, stereotypical term, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity. (wikipedia)
The word geek is a slang term for odd or non-mainstream people, with different connotations ranging from “a computer expert or enthusiast” to “a person heavily interested in a hobby”, with a general pejorative meaning of “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual”. Although often considered as a pejorative, the term is also often used self-referentially without malice or as a source of pride. (wikipedia)
And they both seem to described in similar terms:
- Intellectual, academic, or technical hobbies, activities, and pursuits, especially topics related to science, mathematics, engineering, linguistics, history and technology.
- Hobbies, games, and activities that are described as obsessive and “immature”, such as trading cards, comic books, fantasy and science fiction novels, television programs and films, role-playing games, tabletop games, and video games.
- Interest in the fine arts, non-mainstream music, hobbies (i.e., collecting), or other “obscure” interests.
- Heavy obsession with a topic that would otherwise be mainstream (such as a popular TV show or a sport).
Basically, a nerd is a geek is a nerd is a geek. I have to admit to liking or preferring ‘nerd’ over ‘geek’, but I think that’s just because I have a soft spot for Nerfighters.
I have jokingly and in passing referred to myself as a geek or nerd in the past, but I’ve never really and truly embraced my nerdtasticness. Likewise, I have never really tried to hide it either. Lately, I seem to be immersed in a rather nerdy world (yes, predominately online). I’ve always had at least one of my feet over the threshold of nerdland, but in these last couple years, I have fully moved in and embraced nerdhood. I give credit to my son, and some to my husband too.
I spawned a gamer or rather a game designer, as he’s not all that interested in actually playing most games, but incredibly focused on designing game concepts, levels, characters, and music for games. I, on the other hand, LOVE to play games (and I also have a bit of a desire to do some designing, especially in the area of world design and game writing: narrations, scripts, journals, packaging, and hints, because I hate most of the writing in games — hint hint for anyone looking for an emplyee). I grew up with a console in my hand. I was born in 1982; the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came out in North America in 1985 and I am pretty sure that my parents bought one not too long afterwards. I remember watching my mum play hours of Tetris. Then I played tons of Tetris, Mario Brothers, and Duck Hunt; and I eventually went through every NES game that our local Blockbuster could rent out to me. I also played. All. The. Table. Top. Games. at my house and at my grandparent’s house when I stayed over. I discovered my love of crosswords and logic puzzles from my paternal grandmother, whom ALWAYS had at least two crossword puzzle books going at the same time. At some point I got a Gameboy and was made hip to the fact that we had the Internet on this thing called a computer — how rad! Then in 1991, again in North America, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was released and my nine year old self saved all my monies and bought myself one that Christmas. I was so fucking elated. My grandparents (I believe it was them, though it might have been my parents) bought me a tiny 10 inch TV to play my SNES on in my bedroom. Amazeballs!
So, the story doesn’t stop there, but a lot happened in the time between getting a NES and discovering American Online (AOL) chat rooms. I became a gamer and an online social network person who wasn’t even a teenager yet. I found out that there was a world of amazing folks online that I could chat with pretty much round the clock. And thanks to the ‘walled- garden‘ that AOL was, I could look up chat rooms by specific topics: video gaming, programming, hacking, class of 2000, Dungeons and Dragons, lesbians (um, yeah…), C++, BASIC, PRODOS, and various other random chat rooms. I was online as much as I could get away with. I wanted to absorb it all and take everything in. And it’s weird, because I also played outside and rode my bike like miles away from home and ‘normal’ kid stuff. In a nutshell, I discovered a world online that was, at times, more engaging and most definitely more accepting than my IRL (in real life) world. People who accepted me for me and without judgement. People who were honestly into the things I was into and who taught me all kinds of things that school was failing at. And it didn’t matter, nor was it creepy, that most everyone that I interacted with online was at least ten years my senior. I was 11 years old the first time that I hacked a payphone and made free calls; I felt like a badass and I was one, dammit! Discovering 2600 at the library via an IRC channel for queer hackers is a fond memory — I think that says something about me.
It was at this point that I became a bit of a computer gamer and less of a console gamer. In fact, I wasn’t exposed to another console until I was in 7th or 8th grade and played Sonic the Hedgehog with my best friend’s little brother on their Sega. And by play, I mean that I died a lot and mostly just watched J. play a lot. My next console exposure wasn’t until I married my husband in 2001; um, yeah, and I was still playing computer games then, but was watching him play Final Fantasy VII (“the greatest god damn JRPG ever made”, says he) on the PlayStation 1. I stuck with computer (mainly PC/Linux) games because as much as I enjoyed side-scrolling platformer games like Super Mario World, I really liked puzzle games and text-based adventure games, which were better executed on the PC. I didn’t revisit console gaming until after our son was about three years old and we bought him a LeapFrog Leapster hand held gaming system. He soon had a laptop and then we bought a Nintendo DSLite and a Wii and damn near everything since then (and in multiples w/ insurance, because E was breaking shit all the time).
One of my gaming loves that I wish I would have done more of and wish I was doing now was PnP RPGs (Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games) or tabletop RPGs. However, because my father is a heteronormative man (and assumed I was a heteronormative female) and was convinced that being alone with boys (the majority of gamers I knew) would some how lead me into a world of terrible things, I missed out on a lot of RPGing at a young age, you know, when I *should have* been doing it; RPGing would have kept me out of the world of terrible things I eventually found myself in, mainly because I wasn’t allowed to socialise like other children were allowed to (but that’s another ranty post all together) and well, when I was making out with fellow nerds in dusty basements or in bedrooms with the door closed (gasp!) it was rarely, if ever, with the penis-wielding nerds. I really like tabletop RPGs. I love creating characters, their back stories, and developing their personalities (even though most characters that I’ve made are nothing more than more awesome versions of myself or slightly skewed versions of myself, which makes things a little bit easier). Like, I would love to have a job where my main focus was designing starter RPG characters for folks or helping others flesh out their character ideas (hint hint to anyone out there reading who has the capacity to offer me a job like that).
In recent history, I have played a lot of Skyrim on PS3 (which I just absolutely love and was bought on the day of release for me by my incredibly awesome husband), Super Mario Brothers (Wii), Minecraft (Linux), Little Big Planet 2 w/ my son E (PS3), and my old standby Solitary (mainly played on my Linux-wielding laptop). I have also logged many hours watching and assisting from the sidelines while my husband plays through the Resident Evil and the Assassin’s Creed series of games — I like watching others play these games, but I’m not really into First Person Shooters (FPSs). And of course, I might have done a crossword puzzle or 50 and lots of rounds of Scrabble and Words With Friends recently.
Um, in case you want to start a game with me online using Scrabble or Words With Friends, find me on Facebook or start a game with fierylasirena. I sometimes have to skip a day or two of word-making, but I will happily play with anyone of any skill level.
Science Fiction (and TV/movies in general):
Because my mum is kind of awesome, I was raised on a steady diet of sci-fi (a tiny bit of fantasy): Star Trek franchise, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, Quantum Leap, Stargate SG-1, Futurama, Mork & Mindy, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, Star Wars, The Transformers, and OMG, I could fill up an entire blog post on how the television played a huge role in my childhood. She also has a love for procedural crime/police shows and movies, so I was able to hone my deductive reasoning and research skills from logging many hours watching Law & Order franchise, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, CSI franchise, Homicide: Life on the Street, Silk Stalkings, Miami Vice, and 21 Jump Street. Both of my grandmothers might have got me turned onto Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.
In later years, my husband has reintroduced or introduced me to lots of great things, such as: the Dr. Who franchise, Battlestar Galactica, the Star Trek franchise, Futurama, Monk, Psych, Criminal Minds, Columbo, and the Aliens & Hell Raiser movies. And of course, my son has picked up some great things all on his own, like Futurama, Psych, Red Dwarf, Torchwood, Warehouse 13, Alphas, and Eureka. William and I were talking about how most people who grew up being exposed to a lot of sci-fi are usually pretty rad, open-minded, and hopeful about the future.
Other Random Media:
I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos with E since he does most of his research for gaming ideas online. We watch Let’s Plays, game reviews, game MOD reviews, game walkthroughs, and gamer related content like: Geek & Sundry. We also watch most VlogBrothers, Vi Hart, Vsauce, and MinutePhysics videos together. I’ve been getting back into TED Talks and William just turned me onto another podcast, Girl on Guy, which is hosted by Aisha Tyler. I just recently listened the fantastically nerdy geekery of an episode of Girl on Guy, Grrrl Power edition that featured Felicia Day (whom I totally have a crush on). As an adult, I’ve also started to find a love for comics and web comics; some of my favourites are: xkcd, garfield minus garfield, Penny Arcade, and what if? (which is technically not a comic, but so what).
Things that Get Me Fired Up:
And can we just take a moment to talk about weird, obscure, or nerdy hobbies and interests that my nerdy self is into? I’m just going to list some things, because that’s, you know, easier than writing complete sentences (the end-of-post-laziness is setting in).
- Library and Research Sciences – I love to find things and would love a job sitting around finding things all day (hint hint to anyone needing to hire a research assistant or non-credentialed librarian) and well, I like to read and find cool books on interesting topics, though I have to admit to relying on the Internet more lately for my information gathering. I refer to myself as an Armchair Librarian, because I have no desire to go through a lot of the insane amount of college required to become a librarian; so much of the skills learned in ‘library school’ are innate skills for me and paying someone to ‘teach’ them to me again is not an efficient use of my time, energy, or money.
- Maths – I don’t think I really have to explain this one. I LOVE maths. Maths are sexy and everywhere; you can not avoid maths. I LOVE logic puzzles and number magic.
- Synesthesia – I’m a synesthete and I am really into hearing about other synesthetes’ experiences. I wrote a blog post about my crazy brain.
- The Accordion – I don’t play well, but I want to be able to. I love accordion music and people who play the accordion automatically get bonus ‘hotness points’ (not that I actually give anyone ‘hotness points’).
- Tea – I LOVE tea. Drinking and making tea is an art. I have my own tea ritual.
- British English – Yeah, I don’t know why either. But, there are certain spellings or phases that I find more ‘right’ or aesthetically pleasing (except for spelling synesthesia like, synaesthesia and no, I don’t know why that one word bothers me).
- Radical Unschooling and Education – How people learn, why they like to learn certain things or in certain ways, and how best to help them achieve their goals. How to make spaces constructive for learning to happen in organic ways. Proselytising the fact that children (and most adults) LOVE to learn and are naturally inquisitive; that all people learn best when allowed to explore their world as freely as possible and without the influence of external agendas. Working at a real freeschool or opening one of my own would be pretty rad; helping children in families who can’t or won’t unschool their children at home would be much more satisfying then the time I spent teaching at a public high school.
- Childbirth and Midwifery – I’m a traditional midwife who attends homebirths and I talk about birthy stuff a lot. I am kind of absorbed in that world.
- Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and ZenTangles/zendoodling/repetitive doodling – Have you seen some of the amazing ATCs out there? I love making tiny pieces of art to gift or trade with friends. Showing children and adults alike how they can turn simple doodles into master pieces is a huge passion of mine; everyone can be an artist if they want to be one.
- Crocheting – My mum taught me how to crochet when I was a very young girl and I’ve remembered how to do it throughout the years. It’s a great time passer at births and an easy way to whip up wash cloths, scarves, shawls, and other fun accessories.
- Languages and Linguistics (yeah, grammar too) – My latest language of interest is Romani, the language of the Roma (Gypsy) people. Other languages that I have a lot of past experience with or interest in have been Czech, Latin, Greek, Spanish, and of course, English.
- Magic – Not prestidigitation that would be my husband’s thing, but rather ‘real’ magic. Intuition, intention, energy, empathy, conduition (conduit + intuition), healing, and manipulation.
List of Distractions (started as a joke, but is truly representative of how I am easily distracted while writing a blog post):
- editing my blog layout
- watching The Guild
- investing an RPG
- trying to find new webcomics
- playing Minecraft
- reading up on suborbital travel
- dishes, cooking food for my boychild, more dishes
- being a parent
- in depth 140 character conversations on Twitter
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I was watching because W & I are going through the Chronology Project
- various YouTube videos w/ E
- Google+ Hangouts
- making sure that Free Comic Book Day was still the first Saturday in May
- investigating Gittip
- Facebook discussions about midwifery care and midwifery politics (weeeeeee! imagine an emoticon of me gagging myself with a spoon)
- …OMFG I am never going to get this thing finished (tantrum alert)
Yeah, it’s no wonder that it takes me two to three days to actually get a blog post done. Oh, well, I can’t say that I was bored.
And just in case you weren’t paying attention, I mentioned several jobs I would gladly take on:
- world design and game writing
- designing starter RPG characters for folks or helping others flesh out their character ideas
- research assistant or non-credentialed librarian
- working at a real freeschool – maybe as the librarian (oh, dear G-d, the awesome!)
And somewhere in all of that tangent, I was trying to say that I have recently been fully embracing my inner nerd. I hope all my fellow nerds out there are embracing their inner awesomeness too!
Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!