My Geektastic Life (aka: Why I am Not a Nerd)

Nerd AlertFor starters, I am not a nerd. Got it? Yes, okay, so I used to compete on a forensics speech and debate team in college. And yes, I have read the Harry Potter series seven times and even have my own homemade quidditch robes. And fine, I was once captain of my school spelling bee team, and it was my (sadly unfulfilled) dream to attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But that does not make me a nerd! Revenge of the Nerds Tri-Lambs

Look, I have nothing against nerds. I am not a geek-a-phobe. I have known some very nice and interesting nerds in my life. Like back in middle school I was closet-friends with this guy named Michael. He dressed like Steve Urkel and I swear he probably grew up to join the Tri-Lambs. I couldn’t be seen with him around campus, of course, but he and I were the only ones in the computer club (and probably the whole school) who knew how to operate the Apple IIe. When no one was looking, he and I had a great time playing Summer Games and Karateka (Omg, Karateka was the best!).

But I can’t possibly be a nerd. For starters:

  1. I have never attended a Con. That is like a serious prerequisite to being a real, live nerd.

 

  1. I do not read comic books. Okay fine, I used to read Archie and Betty & Veronica. But that doesn’t really count.

 

  1. I have loved computers since before they were cool. So doesn’t that make me less of a computer geek and more of a techie hipster?

 

  1. I do not own Alienware or any type of badass gaming computer. (But I do have plans to build one soon, so maybe I should earse this one from the list)

 

  1. I am physically coordinated. I play soccer. I dance. I am athletic. I even like to watch sports. So I’m pretty sure the nerds wouldn’t even let me into their club for this reason alone.

 

  1. I am way too hot to be a nerd. ‘Nuff said.

Sexy Nerd

So you see, that proves it. I may geek out about GPUs and geocaching, I may be the Queen of Scrabble, and I may just happen to work in the IT industry, but you’d better think twice before slapping that Nerd bumper sticker on my back, or else the next virus you catch may just be on your PC.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Haha…see? Sense of humor and everything. I’d make a terrible nerd. Evolution of the Geek

 

Chess, Life, and Other Games (aka: Taking Risks)

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

super crazy stuffI saw this on another blog, to use as a sort of journaling prompt. My mind immediately began to rewind back to a number of crazy things I’ve done – stupid choices and embarrassing mistakes. But then I stopped myself. It is too easy for me to focus on the negative crazy things I’ve done. But what about the positive crazy things?

Some people dive into life headfirst. I’ve browsed through dozens of blogs and social sites showcasing the lives of the brave people who walk among us, or skydive above us, or fly past us on motorcycles, setting the wind on fire, on their way to the next grand adventure. I stand back on the sidewalk, staring in awe, knowing that I can never be that person, but admiring their courage and spark and zeal for life all the same.

I take so few risks in life. It has usually been my habit to think and analyze and research the heck out of every possibility before finally deciding on the safest, most practical path. I suppose it is like playing chess with life. There is no way to avoid being defeated (as every one of us will eventually face the Checkmate), but at least I can protect my pawns, bishops, and knights for as long as possible. Chess is Life Bobby Fischer

Okay, enough with the metaphors. What’s the craziest positive thing I’ve ever done in life? Okay, well, maybe this one is only semi-positive, but here it is. When I was a senior in high school, I worked as a student assistant in the school library. It was a great job for an introverted book lover like me, with access to tons of books and, well, some private student records, too. So one day, I became curious. At the time, I had just turned sixteen, which made me the youngest senior at the school. And I wondered – who was the absolute youngest student in the school?

ninja_girl

It took a lot of research. There were around 2,500 students in my school, and the student records were all on paper, stored in file boxes. Whenever the library was quiet and there was little work to do, I pored through the records, scanning birthdates, until at last I found him. Let’s call him D.W. He was a freshman, and had just turned 13. The youngest in his class.

 

I could have let it end there, having satisfied my curiosity. But that’s when I got a spark of crazy. I copied down his school schedule, then wrote my first note.

Dear D.W.,

You don’t know me, but I am hoping you’d be interested in playing a little game. I know that you are the youngest student in the school. I am the youngest senior in the school. Let’s see if you can figure out who I am.

Sincerely,

A Mysterious Stranger

BU009237

I folded the note into the shape of a frog (because, why not?), then used my student assistant powers to have the note delivered to D.W. in one of his classes. The game had begun. During the days that followed, I had several other notes delivered to D.W. containing small clues about my identity. I also learned that he was friends with a friend of mine (weird coincidence), and that he spent his lunch period playing games with a group of role-play gamers (what!). According to my friend, this kid was very into the game I had created, and was doing everything he could to figure out my identity. Ohmigosh, so fun!

Nerd Games

Eventually, he won my little game. He learned my identity and became an instant friend during the last few months of my high school years. So I guess that makes it a good kind of crazy thing. Of course, it could have ended up completely the opposite, with him getting all creeped out by this senior stalker and me getting in trouble with the library staff for misusing private student records. But maybe there was something about our shared experience of being young, somewhat-nerdy, so-called geniuses that put us on the same wavelength and kept the game in perspective.

So there you have it. Nothing exciting like swimming with sharks or bungee jumping (*shudder*), but definitely out-of-the-ordinary and risky.

Waiting for My Hogwarts Letter (aka: Still a Harry Potter Nerd)

Happy dance! I am such a proud mother right now. No, not because my kids had great report cards or other outstanding  achievements. I am feeling super-proud of my 9-yo son, who is more than halfway finished reading the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. Not only is he enjoying the books, but he has been happily exploring the Pottermore website and talking with his friends about the books. He and his buddies have even created their own game of wizards, complete with magic wands and spell books full of magical spells to memorize and perform on each other. Hooray!


Harry Potter Book Collection

To understand why that makes me so happy, you must know that I am a hard-core Harry Potter nerd. Or, as we like to put it, a Potterhead. Ever since I first opened the pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone years ago, I became rather smitten – no, obsessed by the mysterious and magical world of Harry Potter. It is an understatement to say that I have merely read all seven books. I have read them each at least three times, and once in Spanish. I have listened to both the Jim Dale and Stephen Fry audiobook versions at least twice, and geeked out by comparing and contrasting the narrator’s styles. (Okay, I said I was obsessed, right?). I have watched each film several (dozen) times, collected the Lego figurines, and even have a beautiful book of postage stamps, which will never, ever be pasted onto a piece of mail. HP postage stamps

And every summer, I stare out of my window, anxiously hoping that this will be the year in which an owl will arrive with my acceptance letter into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. (Or some adult-school version of it).

Creds to http://sammy4586.deviantart.com/

What’s that? Still not convinced that I am a true Potterhead? Okay, well, I was also a member of the Mugglenet community for years, tried my hand at fanfic (not successfully), and yes, I sewed my own Gryffindor quidditch robes and wore them to the July 2007 midnight release party of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even cooler, I once had the privilege of having my quidditch robes autographed by Arthur A. Levine, the American editor for the Harry Potter books.

My homemade Gryffindor quidditch robes. (I know, I weighed a lot more back then. Shh…no teasing).

Okay, okay, enough of making you jealous. 😉 I’m sure that you’re convinced now that I am a genuine Harry Potter nut. I had such high aspirations for my three kids, too. I was sure that I could pass on to each of them my love of literature, and especially for J.K. Rowling’s amazing world of fantasy. Sadly, my two oldest children are rather indifferent to Harry Potter. Sigh. Muggles. But thank goodness, at least my youngest son has discovered the joy of magic. Smart kid. No wonder the Pottermore sorting hat placed him in the house of Ravenclaw.

Surrounded By Friends (No Kindles Allowed)

The Kindle is an impressive bit of technology. Really. I can see why so many people love it. Just download a few dozen books, and voila! An entire library in the palm of your hand. No need to surround yourself with cluttered shelves overflowing with books. Such speed! Such convenience! Such an improvement, right?

For some, yes. But not for me. You see, books are more than just clutter for me. During a lonely childhood, books were my faithful companions. Throughout a turbulent adolescence, they were a source of comfort. Whenever the world has grown too noisy, books have been there to soothe me with a gentle whisper of rustling pages and the faint smell of dust and ink.

Many people, I imagine, would prefer to sit in a stark, spotless room and read stories on the glowing screen of an e-reader. But in my daydreams, I am curled up in a soft, shabby chair, worn novel in hand, surrounded by shelves overflowing with my very best friends.

Favorite Books of All-Time

(Note: This list could change at any time, as I am always reading and discovering great new literature).

To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee

East of Eden — John Steinbeck

A Tale of Two Cities — Charles Dickens

David Copperfield — Charles Dickens

Harry Potter Series — J.K. Rowling

The Lottery (a short story) — Shirley Jackson

Brave New World — Aldous Huxley

About Love and Other Stories — Anton Chekov

Pride & Prejudice — Jane Austin

Jane Eyre — Charlotte Brontë

Inherit the Wind — Jerome Lawrence

Websites for Readers

Goodreads

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Shelfari

What Shall I Do Now? (a secret revealed)

Okay, brace yourself. I am going to let you in on a secret about me…a little-known secret from my past. But you must be careful not to judge when you find out, okay?

Here it is:

My very first computer was a Commodore Vic-20.

20111111-223330.jpg

I was six years old when my stepdad bought it for me for Christmas and hooked it up to my bedroom television (which looked a lot like the one in above photo, btw). I was smitten from the first moment my hands began to type on the clunky keyboard. I had discovered my calling. I was destined to be a geek.

And really, it took a true geek to love the Vic-20. These days, playing a game means popping in a CD-Rom or downloading a file. But the Vic-20 didn’t have such fancy-pants technology. Games either came on a cassette, like this:

20111111-224733.jpg

Or you could do as I learned to do at the age of six: spend hours copying BASIC code out of computing magazines in order to acquire new games. See, I told you…geek from the very beginning.

And the Vic-20’s best game ever? Adventureland. Ohhh…I spent so much of my early childhood glued to the screen, playing God in a very nerdy, BASIC, text-based kind of way.

I’M IN A FOREST. TREES. WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?
(answer) kick tree
OKAY. WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?
climb tree

Yes. That was computer game bliss in 1981.

Eventually, as time passed, I moved on to better, more powerful systems (Commodore 64, Apple II Plus, Apple IIe, Packard Bell 486…skip a few…iPad 2). I no longer program my own games, though I am still quite the gamer. Only now when I play God, it is usually to a family of Sims or a squadron of strategy-game soldiers with wa-a-ay more pixels and power than my first little personal computer could churn out. But my Vic-20 is the one that started it all, the one which opened the door to techie adventure, and taught me always to wonder, “WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?”