Living with Geek Flag(s) at 1/4 Mast

Growing up geek and a girl, I struggled with finding a way to fit in most of the time. Theater has always been my life, so that flag was always flown loud and proud, but I also love super heroes, dragons, hobbits, magic, Disney, and Harry Potter.  I also went to a Baptist school for a large portion of middle and high schools.  Care to guess how well those interests went over?  Let’s just say I got to know the guidance counselor really well.  I also figured out very quickly which of my interests would be tolerated by my surroundings vs. which would get me labelled “hedonist” and “satanist.”  Pressure to be accepted, even slightly, by my peers became huge.  I wanted so desperately to not be told I was going to hell on a daily basis that I eventually caved.  People around me seemed at least mildly tolerant of the theater stuff, so that became my focus.

I established “safe places” for my geekier interests.  My cousins were always great. Spending summers with the four of them gave me the chance to read their comics, play their video games, and actually play.  To this day one of my favorite memories is playing TMNT with them, especially the episode where April gets turned into a mutant cat.  So Much Fun. I also had an awesome friend in the house behind me who shared my interest in magic and ancient Egypt.  We used to control the wind with our badminton rackets.  But kids grow up.  I saw my cousins less, and backyard mystic sessions became fewer, farther between, and eventually non-existent.

For a while I was able to get away with visiting the local comic shops to keep up on Batman and X-Men, but that didn’t last long. It turns out that shop-keepers don’t like it when you come in once a week but never actually buy anything. I quickly became persona non grata.  (I’ve been told I lucked out there, what with so many varying/convoluted story lines that all my favorite comics had to be rebooted various times.)  That part of my life became limited to an after school cartoon, a weekly BTVS viewing, and before bed reading, which was ever discussed with anyone.

By the time I found an environment where all of these things would be easily accepted by friends (college), I wasn’t really sure how to fully be myself anymore.  I definitely used some of them as an outlet, which made things a lot easier.  I slowly got more comfortable letting more of my interests be known, and even exploring some new ones.  It felt really good to have open conversations about Gandalf vs. Voldemort or where the real life location of Gotham probably is.  Things like that helped me start to figure out it truly was okay to be who I am.  I reevaluated my proverbial flag pole, and started having weekly viewing parties of “Big Bang Theory” with my “geekiest” friends.  Turns out, it’s a much better way to live.

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18 Months Ago

“If you can’t get on board with video games, we’re probably not going to work out.”  These were the first words The Viking said to me in our very first apartment together, and initially I thought he was joking.  I even giggled at him while unpacking my myriad kitchen gadgets.  Then I walked into the living room and realized: he wasn’t joking.

I stood there gaping, both in awe and slight fear, at the sight in our living room.  Seven consoles plugged into our television through various HDMI cables, auxiliary cables, and a multi-in av box (which I had never seen before) were the first things he unpacked and set up. I recognized three of them.  The Nintendo and Super NES were staples of my entire generation’s childhood, and I’d seen XBox360 at a friend’s house once or twice before but never played one.  The rest I had never seen before; some of them I didn’t even know existed.  (Sega Saturn? Seriously, what even is that?)  Next to follow were his collection of toys action figures and collectibles, followed by his wall hanging of someone called “The Major” and a framed picture of the most demented Alice and Cheshire Cat I had ever seen.

I knew he was a geek.  I knew he played magic and video games, watched anime, and collected comic books and graphic novels.  Before moving in together he challenged my “NORPness” on a regular basis by exposing me to science fiction writers, taking me to superhero movies, and making me read some of his graphic novels. He even brought the Super NES to a hotel once for a weekend just to so we could play Mario together.

What he didn’t know was that I was sort of a geek too.  I secretly loved Batman, X-Men, and Dr. Who (which he had surprisingly not seen).  I grew up watching and playing TMNT and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with my cousins. I never missed an episode of “Batman the animated series” because I was obsessed with Harley Quinn.  I would vehemently defend Buffy as THE female superhero of a generation.  I even went to anime club in college for a brief time, but stopped because I came in half way through a series.  I just didn’t talk about such things.

That was 18 months ago, and while I’m still learning to accept a lot of what makes me a geek, I’m having a lot more fun with life now being open about it than I ever did trying to hide it.