Speak Out With Your Geek Out!

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Last week I travelled to Atlanta to spend the weekend surrounded by our native people, the geeks and gamers and fantasy fans at Dragon*Con.  My family and I arrived on Thursday, wanting to get checked in to the hotel and registered for the con early enough to avoid the truly massive crowds expected later.  We were dragging our luggage through the tunnels connecting the hotels, passing people wearing everything from sci fi t-shirts to full steampunk formal wear, when we came upon a group of men in business suits, all chattering together excitedly.  “Did you see that guy?” one man was asking.  “He was wearing a Star Wars helmet!”  My husband and I laughed and kept moving.  The businessmen clearly hadn’t spent much time in geek company before, and if he was surprised by the stormtrooper in helmet and jeans, he was in for one very startling weekend.  But as we continued on our way, I couldn’t help thinking about my youth, a time when my hobbies and likes earned derision from my peers.  I learned pretty quickly to keep my mouth shut about what I read and did.  If it wasn’t school  or church-related, the kids I went to school with didn’t want to know.   Reading science fiction?  Playing Dungeons and Dragons?  Not considered cool.  It wasn’t until I was 17 that I learned to accept who I was regardless of my peers’ feelings on the subject.  It wasn’t easy, but it was the only way I could survive.  I don’t like to imagine how miserable my life might have been if I hadn’t toughened up and flown my geek flag with pride. I met my husband playing D&D in college.  Some of my closest friends are people I met when I joined the Wench’s Guild and began visiting Renaissance faires on a regular basis.  I certainly never would have found the courage to write and submit the work for sale if I hadn’t let my geek girl out to play.

This week is Speak Out With Your Geek Out week.  This week is about making sure you all know you’re not alone.  Are you over 40 and still happily playing role-playing games?  A single guy who spends more Saturday nights online than out dancing in clubs?  Do you have more Renaissance garb in your closet than ordinary work clothes?  Are you a bank employee/insurance salesman/dental hygienist who reads fantasy at lunch and writes on Sundays?  I hear from other authors all the time, talking about their lonely adolescences spent with books as their only friends.  We all made it, and now we know that being weird in high school only meant we got to grow up and be interesting adults.  These days the geeks have more outlets to find their way than we did thirty years ago.  My beloved geek son has bonded with people in his dorm over video games and AutoCad.  But there are still people who like to laugh at the “freaks” when we wander by.  That’s okay – let them laugh.  In fact, we can laugh right back.  Individuality is a beautiful thing, so embrace it.

I’m Misty, and I’m a geek.  I read and write fantasy, I spend entirely too much time in fabric stores cooing over the silks and planning my next costume for con or faire, and lord help me when Beatriz and I happen to wander into a Big Lots or a thrift store together.  I belly dance. I collect dragons and pirate toys. I drive an awful lot of miles to spend the day at Renaissance faires.  I pretend to be a pirate captain, and I have 20 people who pretend to be my crew.  I play D&D on a regular basis with my husband, my son and our friends.  The nice part of all these activities is that they feed my imagination, and sometimes I find myself writing new things into current projects based on what happened at faire or in game.  I discover great lines from things people say when we’re pretending to be pirates or wenches.  People who wonder where we get our ideas?  The kind of life we choose to lead supplies us with all the ideas we could ever use.  I could be ordinary, but I’ve chosen to be weird.

Are you a geek too?  Tell me about it.

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32 comments to Speak Out With Your Geek Out!

  • mudepoz

    You must be from a small town, girlfriend:) I went to a huge school (2500 students), my neighbor was a dungeonmaster. We all played stratego and monopoly, graduated, and did the same thing in college.
    Fond times. We grew up. This is my best friend and her husband’s (oh, the neighbor who was our DM:) Vardo. They do Civil War Enactments. Due to girls being relegated to campfollowers, they went a different route and are gypsies. My friend, an inveterate researcher discovered the role of the Romani fortune tellers during wars. She reads a mean palm. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1203495003311.2032338.1106691725&type=1
    Of course, I turned out perfectly normal, not a geek cell in my body. *Kof* Pardon me, the blood, frogs, locusts, fetal pigs, desiccated flies and the rest of the plagues, need to be unpacked.

  • It wasn’t a small town, but it wasn’t big either. 420 people in my graduating class. I had geeky friends, but we were vastly outnumbered by the kids who found us unacceptable.

  • I caught all kinds of crap growing up because I was one of the geeks in the lunchroom playing D&D instead of running around outside. How else was I supposed to maintain my perfect pasty-white complexion? I grew up (yeah, right) to read and write fantasy literature, have an unhealthy Joss Whedon obsession and own more comic books than any grown man should.

  • Just posted mine on my site. TESTIFY!

  • I’m an adult onset geek. While I was always different as a kid, I can’t say that I liked D&D or ren faires, gaming, Doctor Who, Star Trek or whatever it is that makes a geek. Instead, I was an avid reader who was obsessed with history and fiction. Sometimes I even read them together. Seriously, I grew up in a geek unfriendly household in a geek unfriendly town. Not that my parents wouldn’t have supported me had I been interested in these things. I just wasn’t exposed to them so wait for it…I didn’t know that they existed. I grew up in a time before the internet and even if the internet had existed, I wouldn’t have had it at my parents’house because my parents weren’t able to get affordable internet until May 2011. I’m only 33 but I might as well be 63. Still, I relate to the ostracism stories because despite not being a geek, I was a smart bookworm in a place where that wasn’t valued. It wasn’t until I got to Clemson that I realized that it wasn’t weird to like to read and to want to be smart.

    As an adult, I met geeks and, thanks to them, developed a passion for Doctor Who and urban fantasy which I suppose puts me into the geek realm. I’m still learning about all the fun that is associated with the literary and visual media side of geekdom. So I guess I’m proud to be an adult onset geek.

  • My name is David, and I read and write fantasy. [“Hi, David . . .”] I own the complete DVD sets of THE WEST WING, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and PLANET EARTH, the BBC’s nature documentary. I birdwatch. I run the local butterfly census every summer. I can spout baseball statistics like nobody’s business. I can name all the U.S presidents in order (a lingering side effect of my history Ph.D.) I would rather use Lightroom to process my photographs than watch football or wrestling or NASCAR. I spent my adolescence trying to be “cool,” without realizing that I already was. I love being a geek.

  • So, random question. I swear, I am just curious. Does being a geek preclude a love of sports? Because I love them as much or more than I love my geek pursuits. At Dragon, I sat in full costume watching the end of the Auburn-Utah State game with other Dragon attendees so maybe it doesn’t?

  • Vikki, I sure hope it doesn’t – I’m such an obnoxious Carolina Gamecock! I never had a smart phone until this summer, so in years past when I had to dance at faire on game days, I would march up to patrons who were checking the scores on their phones, and talk football for a few minutes. 😀

    David said, I spent my adolescence trying to be “cool,” without realizing that I already was.

    Yes. This.

  • The nice thing about geing Geek, is that we accept all the other Geeks even when we are different. I’m a tom-boy Geek. My dad made me debate him about current affairs over dinner when I was 12, forced me to lean about boat and car motors. And my parents allowed me to run (a wild hooligan) in the woods behind the house with my pals. They let me read everything. I had my nose in a book while sitting in the top of a tree — and believe me, climbing a tree with a book in hand is not easy.

    I’m Faith. I run Class III rivers. I make jewelry. I read fantasy. I write fantasy. And I believe in magic. Hi guys!

  • Hi Vikki! I don’t think it immediately excludes sports–I love football and watched it, college and pro, all weekend. I was bummed I was too tired to stay up for the late game last night (I’m on the East Coast).

    I was a nerd in hs more than a geek, if we can split hairs. I was academic, did the literary magazine and speech & debate. I read horror and some fantasy, but it was the stuff I got off my mom’s bookshelves. Clive Barker’s “The Theif of Always” made we want to write books when I read it in high school. So I tried to write. It was hard, so I stopped. I didn’t start writing again with any kind of earnestness until I got to grad school, so my mid-to-late twenties. I always figured I wasn’t really good enough. (And hey, maybe I’m not, but I’m going to let the industry tell me, not my own insecurities! And if I don’t succeede, it will be because the industry is hard, not because I’m not talented or driven.)

    Since then, I’ve been more open about geekdom. :) I still don’t role play, and never have. No D&D. It isn’t as much a choice as a lack of opportunity. Though in high school my best friend and I made up stories about vampires–they were essentially role playing, without at DM or dice. And now, my best friend and I make up stories about faeries. hopefully someday millions of folks will read them. 😉

    That said, I think it might be easier to be into “geek” stuff nowadays than it was when I was a kid. Though Stephen King was huge in the 80s and early 90s when I was growing up.

  • God bless the Big Bang Theory for popularizing geekdom. If those guys can succeed, how can the rest of us do less than conquer the world?

  • Unicorn

    I ride horses in the light and write stories in the dark. I believe in unicorns, but not the little dainty ones, the ones that fight dragons. I’m a geek. I’m different from many people around me. So is virtually every hero in the fantasy genre, so I’m not complaining 😀
    Thanks for the interesting post and discussion, Misty.
    Unicorn

  • Yes indeed!

    At PAX a few weeks ago, walking back to my hotel, I got stopped by a mother pushing her babies in a stroller. She asked me in a panicked voice, “Why is everyone dressed up?” I explained that it was a video game and geek convention. “We’re all a bunch of geeks,” I said with a smile. She anxiously pressed, “But you’re normal people, too, right?” As if being a geek was either an alien race or some sort of cult religion. I was so tempted to say something outlandish, but I’m too polite.

  • Misty, I want to be part of your crew! 😀

  • I guess I should have written “Haz pirate garb. Will travel.” on a bit of driftwood and brought it to D*C.

  • Laura, that’s one thing that always blows my mind…how frightening we can all seem to the mundanes. I mean, really, if I’m dressed in a corset, three skirts, a pirate coat a tricorn hat and leather boots, do they really imagine I’m going to try anything dangerous against them? Gee whiz, that might stain or damage my garb!! *laughs*

    LScribe, that would have been seriously cool! *grins*

    If you really want to join up, it’s the International Fellowship of Royal Privateers and my ship is the Thanos (there’s a surprise, huh?) I can use gunners and swabbies – this is my crew roster if you want to see who’s doing what on board.

  • I grew up a nerd as well. A computer and electronics nerd (esp robotics). I did spend most of my time sequestered in my room hacking away, and I was rather happy doing that. I did have friends, both nerd and not, but still, most of my time was spent with a keyboard or soldering iron. Or sci-fi books. Asimov, etc.

    Fortunately, nerds were making inroads. Revenge of the Nerds. Weird Science. Real Genius. (and ultimately, nerds ended up ruling the world, it seems).

    These days, I’m still a nerd, and but I’ve branched out. Writing, bellydance, lurking in creepy goth clubs, dressing as a pirate or the queen of Mars. It’s all good fun, and to heck with the muggles. The road less traveled leads to a far more fulfilling life.

  • I had the following conversation with a student yesterday mid-Shakespeare class. Student: “Are you a closet NERD?” Me: “Honey, there is no closet. I’ve been a geek my whole life and I’m proud of it.” As I said it with a big grin on my face I could see three of my other students breathe out sighs of relief. Their thoughts were plain on their face – the professor is a geek! We’re safe in this room. One of them came up after class to tell me all about working the Ren faire during the summer. Another one shyly asked if I’d ever been to a Con and if I thought she’d fit in if she went. Score one for the geeks!

    One of my sweetest moments was early in my college career, seated around a cafeteria table with a bunch of male engineering and having one of them say, as if ratifying my membership in their exclusive club, “Of course she’s a real geek. She’s just a literature geek. I’m a theater myself.” I had found my tribe.

  • Misty! Scribe and I are thinking about going to the Carolina RenFaire down in Huntsville this year since we haven’t been since college. If you’re going, let us know which weekend 😀 We should coordinate!

  • Beatriz

    “Hi, my name is Beatriz and I’m a ge…”

    Uhm. Wait a second. My name, according to my drivers’ license, is Melissa. However, my pirate and wench guild name is Beatriz. I prefer my made-up-fantasy name to the one I was born with and everyone outside of my 9 to 5 job calls me some variation of Beatriz.

    I’m a geek. We dungeon on Saturday nights. I wear garb to movies or to Sir Ed’s. I have more ren faire/steampunk garb than I do business clothes.

    I know 42 is the answer and where my towel is.

    I can name all the wives of Henry VIII. In order. AND tell you what happened to them.

    My name is Beatriz and I’m a girl-geek. REOWR!

  • Raven, excellent! I know I’ll be there the second weekend, Oct 15-16, but I’ll be trapped behind the table both days. If you want to come and wander the faire with me, so far I know I’ll be there in a purely patron capacity Oct 22, and Nov 5, 12 and 20.

    Beatriz said, I know 42 is the answer and where my towel is.

    I raise a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster to you, my darling!

  • Razziecat

    Well, this looks like the place to be! I am 54 and have been reading SF & fantasy for, good lord, must be close on 40 years now….My brother brought me into it, now there was a geek! He read Asimov, Heinlein and Wells, along with Tolkien, Dickens, American history and more. I started writing in my late teens, continued into my 30’s, and then had a dry spell for years while life got in the way. The year I turned 50, I took it up again, and found the missing piece of my soul. My sisters both also write, and we live together, so it’s a pretty geeky household overall.

  • John G. Hartness wrote:

    “I caught all kinds of crap growing up because I was one of the geeks in the lunchroom playing D&D instead of running around outside. How else was I supposed to maintain my perfect pasty-white complexion? I grew up (yeah, right) to read and write fantasy literature, have an unhealthy Joss Whedon obsession and own more comic books than any grown man should.”

    Wow. Replace the bolded text with “science fiction” and “1950s SF TV shows” respectively and you’ll get my, right down to the comic books.

    A couple of years after teething on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons I discovered the greatest superhero RPG of all, Villains and Vigilantes, and I ran a pretty-much uninterrupted campaign for about ten years. I met my wife (Angela Blackwell, who also posts on MW) during that time, at a Star Trek fan club meeting. I think that goes a long way to establishing the family’s Geek Cred.

  • Not only is it speak out with your geek out week, but programmer day: http://www.programmerday.info/ hooray!
    Yes, I’m a nerd. I’m the nerd who organised the computer programming club at high school and the college accredited role playing club at senior high and the official Southern Cross University Roleplayers Club and uni.
    I spend pretty much every day typing on my computer, either programming, administrating, project managing other programmers, writing computer games, writing fantasy novels, playing games or blogging about some combination of the above.
    I also have the required geek “focus” or “foci”: marathons, gardening, brewing beer and carpentry.
    PS: I don’t like team sports because, though I’m extremely fit now, I used to be one of the “fat” kids and thus never picked.

  • sjohnhughes, I, too, was always picked last for those blasted team sports. I was lucky enough to discover horseback riding, and spent junior high and high school riding hunt seat and dressage. The thing I enjoyed was the personal challenge – instead of having to try and be better than another person, I only had to be better than myself. It went a long way toward increasing my self-confidence.

    Last night I watched a sneak preview of a TV show called The New Girl. It’s a comedy about a somewhat geeky woman who moves in with three guys after she finds out her boyfriend was cheating. At one point one of the guys is trying to help her stop grieving, and tells her she should go out with them. He promises to be her backup, and she says “Like Gandalf through Middle Earth?” He grimaces and says, “Let’s take the LotR references and put them away in a deep dark cave, where no one will find them.” And she says, “Except Smeagol.”

    Geek girls, FTW!

  • Hi, my name is also David. (no response) I’m a jock/nerd/geek combo. I studied university level classes in high school, and loved physics, calculus, history, and English. I played tackle football for twelve years, including a year at university, European team handball for 11 years, and ultimate frisbee also for 11 years. I’ve also played on school and club soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball teams.

    Growing up I played DnD (1st through 3.5e), read fantasy and sci-fi, collected anything Conan (books, comics, magazines, trading cards, art portfolios, graphic novels, games, figurines). My fantasy/sci-fi movie collection is over a hundred titles, my fantasy books take up two of my bookcases. Most recently, I’ve embraced geekdom, blogging about storytelling in movies, comics, and games.

    Girl Geeks are Hawt! lol
    NGD

  • Hi. My name is Lyn. Or Change. Or Slinky. Or Dammit. Just depends on who you ask.
    When I was 12, I spend the summer with a friend in Redondo Beach (just outside LA for the non-left-coasters), CA. Back then (we’re talking 1970), there were Surfers, Lowriders, Freaks, Geeks, and a host of other cliques/gangs/social clubs/other and everyone was expected to associate with one. After a week or so, someone asked me what I was. I smiled and answered, “I’m a GDI.” The other person smiled and nodded and when on his way. My friend turned to look at me and asked what a GDI was.
    “Gawd Damned Individual.”
    I ran wild in the mountains, rode my horse bareback from dawn to dusk if it wasn’t a school day. Read books in the tops of trees (Yes! Faith!) and on horseback, and during recesses and school breaks. I remember every car I ever dated, although I can’t remember most of the drivers. I like history. I have a degree in Computer Science. I play pool, cheer for the ‘Noles, Auburn, The Tide, and the ASU SunDevils. I love shoes and power tools and ren faires and cars and cons. I build bookcases and window seats and other things that I decide I can make out of wood. I collect books, dragons, gryphons, and gargoyles. I have tickle fights with my son. I collect books and write fantasy, science fiction, horror and poetry.
    Am I a geek? I dunno. I think I’ll just keep on being me and keep on being a GDI.

  • Well – that didn’t work… LOL.
    I have to remember not to bracket things, since HTML thinks I’m telling it to do something. *sigh*
    What I was trying to say was, *BIG GRIN*

  • Alan Kellogg

    Of course I’m a geek, why do you think I’m here? :)

    Started with Andre Norton in 1964, and now I’m re-reading Dangerous Journeys: Mythus so I can get ready to run a game some day soon now. :)

  • Ronda Swolley

    geek for all existence here – watched Star Trek in the original episodes when they came out, because Dad wasn’t around to interfere; read everything I could get my hands on, and when the animal adventures ran out I turned to fantasy and science fiction in middle school; I don’t think that the librarian actually read some of the stuff that was in that place or it likely would have been banned.
    I bought so many comic books with my paper route money that I had boxes of them – still have some, but my first husband burned a lot of them out of spite when we split up – the entire X-Men, Teen Titans, and Warlord collections from issue 1! up in smoke! – no chance of reconciliation after that.
    Being geeky landed me in no end of trouble in school. SMALL doesn’t begin to describe my school – 51 in my class (biggest ever), 12 in my sisters (smallest ever) and by graduation both of them had lost numbers to attrition due to pregnancies, marriages, alcohol related deaths, and shooting accidents. I think sis had 9 graduate with her, my class had 47 and one was both married and pregnant…
    Anyways – most boys had rifles for deer and bird hunting in the back window of their pickup trucks which they drove home to the family farm every day, and the girls almost all wanted to be jockettes or cheerleaders. There were of course those few that were druggies, but I didn’t fit in with them. There was a small group of purely intellectual types, which I almost but didn’t quite fit into – since even though I had the grades, I never studied and they spent every free moment doing exactly that.
    The only other near-geeky guy was a senior when I was a 7th grader, which my father would have murdered if he caught us hanging out. He went to CA and got into the music industry, I heard years later.
    After high school I rose to my element when I went out into the world and met other like minded individuals, discovered D&D, and actually got some friends. had to move far, far away to find them, but I did!
    Now, my geeky kids bring thier tween geeky friends home to meet me, and give them geeky advice. Feels good to be able to help the next generation of geekiness move forward!