I didn’t self-identify as a geek for a very long time. As a child, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 80s, but that wasn’t particularly geeky, because all kids my age liked the Turtles. In a third grade spelling test we were told to spell the longest word we knew, and I managed to get out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, not because I was an academic overachiever, but because I thought that Mary Poppins was an awesome movie. I liked reading, but I was much more drawn to writers like Roald Dahl and, later, Jeffrey Archer and Michael Crichton, than Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. I didn’t even touch a Marvel or DC comic until I was about 20.
But the reason I’m writing about my unassumed geekiness is because I was once presented with the question, “but what kind of geek are you?” and I was speechless. That question left me stumped for days. How on earth do you answer something like that? I’ve had geeky interests my whole life, but they just haven’t presented themselves to me as geeky per se. I just thought that they were interests that everyone had. Everyone likes Ninja Turtles, right? Everyone wants to be a superhero, right? Wouldn’t that make everyone a geek?
I never realized exactly when I was a geek, but that’s like a tree trying to figure out what a city is. Old, bearded, freaky, geezer geek. Ample, scruffy, multi-media maven, publicizing new underground music and culturally provocative books and weird cool movies from my deep nerd-pit of pop culture obsession. When I interview bands for fanzines, I do it here: a one-bedroom piled-high apartment where it seems like Octavia Butler could hang out with Nardwuar and Elvira. Musicians always give better responses when they know how deep my crates go. If you can’t bond with someone over the ideas, characters, sounds, and images that give electric meaning to our lives, you’re not trying or they’re not really in the game.
My little brother representing the Minnesota Twins while I geek out as Raphael the Turtle.
One of my clearest childhood memories says so much about me as a person, it boggles my mind to this day. My cousin Nick and I were playing at our grandmother’s house and discussing kindergarten, which we had both recently started attending. He boasted, “You know, I have a girlfriend now. Her name’s Sarah.”
Ever overly competitive, I shrugged. “Yeah? Well, I have a boyfriend.”
Nick was instantly skeptical, seeing right through the lie. “Yeah, right!”
“Really, then what’s his name?” he snapped.
I hesitated for a split second, then practically yelled the name of my very first crush of all time. “Raphael!”
Needless to say, Nick was soon telling all of our relatives about my belief that I was dating a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
It wasn’t until high school, though, that I realized what I was and am: a big ol’ geek girl. Rather than picking up romance novels like my older sisters did, I was content to curl up with Archie comics. Each year I took as many writing classes as possible, and wrote papers on things like lava lamps and the history of Goosebumps books. To top things off, every summer my friend Amanda and I would dress up like pirates and bury toy-filled treasure chests around town for children to find. No joke. We were cosplaying it up without even knowing the term.
From “dork” and “nerd” to “weirdo” and “geek,” I was called ‘em all by both my classmates and my closest friends. And I accepted them with smiles! Even if I’d denied my geekiness, my Batman shirts and wire-framed glasses showed the truth.
I was just always trying to have fun, and this often led to activities that are now considered hipster and cool: thrift store shopping, crocheting, rollerblading, being obsessed with my family’s cats. Nerd is the new black these days, of course, but living without at-home internet access in a town of three thousand people, I had no inkling of the impending geek-chic explosion.
Lifelong crush: Even as an adult, Raphael’s my dream “man.”
Since moving to Seattle a couple years ago, I’ve made a home-away-from-home at Shorty’s, a local pinball bar. Its circus theme, retro arcade games, and spicy nachos are always rad, but that’s not what draws me there every week. The regulars are a variety of tattoo-showing, superhero shirt-wearing, art-creating, punk music-listening geeks, much like me. I feel as if Shorty’s—and even Seattle at large—is the place where formerly outcast nerds congregate for fun and to feed off each other. If I could go back in time, I’d tell my adolescent self to hang in there because there’s a place out there that’s awkward and poetry-filled and amped up about dorky things, too.
Between the wonderful dweebs in my life, the adulthood acceptance I’ve found, and GeekGirlCon’s encouragement, I have never been happier to be a geek!
I admit it: I am one. I have been once since sixth grade. I will be one until I die.
That’s me on the top right!
Band geek certainly wasn’t my first label growing up. It’s definitely not going to be my last. But it’s certainly the one I’m most proud of.
I started playing piano in fifth grade and then flute in sixth grade. Taking lessons from the public school music teacher meant I was automatically in the band, and my first concert was the holiday concert that year. The grammar school band led to the junior high band, which led to the high school band, which led directly into the college band. Along the way, I made some incredible friends—friends who liked me for exactly who I was. We were tall and short, thin and overweight, and (as we know now!) gay and straight. We did really fun, daring things like listening to REM and They Might Be Giants on the bus all the way to Florida from Wisconsin for a bowl game. We also gathered at each other’s houses to play Trivial Pursuit and then piled into a couple of cars and headed to Denny’s.
My high school memories revolve around these friends and the ridiculousness we loved in each other. Many of us are still in touch, thanks to Facebook. I have a reunion coming up this year, and these are the friends I will want to hang around with.
Smurfette is the shorter one, Sassy is the one without her hat on.
Band in college was a completely different animal from the innocent junior high and high school band days. I learned to play the cymbals, drink beer, and do just enough work to get fair grades in my classes. Along that road, I made two of the best friends I’ve ever had. I call them Sassy and Smurfette.
They’re both married with children now; Sassy is with her family in Wisconsin, while Smurfette and her family are currently on assignment for a couple of years with her husband in Poland. I miss them all very much, but we keep in touch via Facebook and texting, along with phone calls and the occasional silly present in the mail. We also get together for alumni band reunions, which gives us the opportunity to geek out about those band days all over again.
Last year’s alumni band reunion, Wando’s Bar, Madison, WI
Being a geek can have so many sources in your life; if you played Dungeons and Dragons growing up, you have that. If you hung out at comic book stores with your friends waiting for the release of the new Spiderman, you have that. If you listened to awesome music with your parents or an older sibling, you will always have those memories, as well as a solid foundation to win all those music categories in your local pub quiz.
The best thing about being a geek these days—whether you’re a music geek, a Magic geek, a Potterhead, a Twilight junkie, a motorhead, a John Hughes movie buff, a knifemaker, a writer, or anything else—is that geeks aren’t ostracized nearly as much when we become adults. All-around geeks like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have paved the way for us to come out of our Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles half-shells and into the bright, wide world. I think it’s because we learn to recognize each other and group together in places like GeekGirlCon; we build our chosen families from those who understand us, even if we don’t necessarily geek out about the same stuff.
The world seems to be quite a dangerous place, in general. Finding our geeks helps us to find the safety we’re looking for, and the comfort of a place to belong. Even if it means you’re one of over three hundred people on a football field for a half-time show.
I’m a huge reader; I read the classic Nancy Drew mysteries before I got to first grade, and proceeded to plow my way through the children’s public library at breakneck speed.
Photo from Wikipedia
My best friend, Andrea, came to school one morning when we were in seventh grade, reading a Star Trek book: Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan.
Andrea told me how great it was, and she loaned it to me as soon as she was finished. I decided to give it a shot. I loved it completely; it’s still one of my favorite books.
Star Trek: The Next Generation started on television that same year. Within the first few minutes of the pilot episode, I was completely hooked.
Photo from Wikipedia
Andrea and I started going to Star Trek conventions around Milwaukee (where we lived) and Chicago (a far off city of wonder and very tall buildings). Our first convention was at the old Red Carpet Hotel across from the airport in Milwaukee, where we met Walter Koenig – the legendary Pavel Andreivitch Chekov from the original Star Trek series. I smiled like an idiot when I met him (back when autographs and pictures were still free!) and Andrea later told me she had no idea what I said to him; she literally could not understand the words coming out of my mouth. *sigh*
This pattern continued as we met much of the original Star Trek cast, as well as some of The Next Generation cast: I smiled like an idiot and the star managed to get me to spell my name so they could sign the book or picture I thrust in front of them. James Doohan, Scotty on the original series, actually signed my copy of Uhura’s Song, telling me as he did so that my name was spelled correctly – Sarah – because that’s how his grandmother spelled her name. I nearly swooned.
Photo from Wikipedia
The one person I wanted to see most, Patrick Stewart, never came to Milwaukee or Chicago. He went to a con in Michigan every November, but it was always the same weekend that I had a standing commitment throughout high school, so I never got to meet him.
Andrea and I went to Star Trek conventions together through our freshman year of college, and then we sort of stopped; she went to college in Illinois and I was in Wisconsin, a good six hours from her. I did go to one last convention in Madison, Wisconsin, with a boyfriend, but it just wasn’t the same.
Happy 2013, everyone! While the New Year is here and the holiday season winds down, take a look at these geektastic events in January!
Saturday, January 5:The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis in Seattle! Geek girl music at its finest! From the Facebook event page: “There’s no cover charge, but we do the indie “suggested donation” thing – so if you can afford it, please support the tour with a donation of $5 or $10 – or maybe buy a CD or a poster!”
Saturday, January 12:Seattle Elvis Invitationals at the EMP Museum From the Facebook event page: “The 16th annual search for Seattle’s best amateur Elvis Impersonator. **Buy tickets in advance, this event sells out every year!** 21 and over with ID required.”
Friday, January 18-Sunday, January 20:RustyCon From the website: “Rustycon has a focus on literature, science, art, costumes, and gaming. After dark, many fen can be found enjoying the various parties and night time events. Join us as we explore the alternate worlds of the human imagination.”
Saturday, January 19:Vox Fabuli Beginning Puppetry Class From the press release: “In this fun, dynamic class, you’ll learn the foundations of good stage puppetry – focus, physical commitment and basic puppet operation. We’ll focus on how to make your puppet seem alive and connect with the audience. You’ll get lots of hands-on time with professional arm-and-rod puppets plus a simple practice puppet to take home so you can keep working on your skills. No puppet experience required, class recommended for ages 15 and up, and class size limited to 16.”
Saturday, January 13: Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival From the webpage: “EMP in partnership with SIFF will present the eighth annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival on January 19, 2013 at the Seattle Cinerama Theater. The festival brings together industry professionals in filmmaking and the genres of science fiction and fantasy to encourage and support new, creative additions to science fiction and fantasy cinema arts. The festival will showcase animated and live-action in science fiction and fantasy films.”
Monday, January 21:Nerd Nite – Gotta catch a ball! From the Facebook event page: “Eat your heart out, nerds! This month we’ve got Pokémon… we’ve got board games… and as always, we have fabulous new, nerdy friends and ample amounts of beer!”
Wednesday, January 23:Central Cinema’s TV Dinner featuring GeekGirlCon presents “Red Sonja” From the invite: “Whether your introduction to Red Sonja was from her debut in a short story in 1934, her first appearance in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic series in 1973, or her own feature film in 1985 (this one, in fact), you can relive the action of Red Sonja’s revenge on Queen Gedren. Enjoy snacks or a meal while attending a showing (or two) of Red Sonja.”
Friday, January 25:An Evening at Merlotte’s Burlesque Show From the Facebook event page: “You are cordially invited to a special night of music, burlesque, and vampires with the citizens of Bon Temps! Join us for one of two shows, either at 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. on January 25 at the Highway 99 Blues Club for a celebration of all things True Blood.”
How are you going to celebrate the first month of 2013, readers?
Never fear! GeekGirlCon’s Last Minute Geek Gift Guide is here!
Kinda Last Minute
There’s always Amazon, but if I can, I like to think a little smaller. CafePress, ThinkGeek, Etsy, and HalfPrice Books have a wide variety of products guaranteed to appeal to the geek in your life: t-shirts, toys (both pop culture and scientific in nature), coffee mugs, movies, books, bumper stickers — and the list goes on!
Local comic and games shops may offer gift cards or gift certificates if you’re overwhelmed by the amount of geek one place. Find out what genre your geek loves the best, then ask an employee to point you in the right direction. It saves time, and gives your shopping experience a personal touch–as well as giving that employee the opportunity to show off their own geek cred.
Mostly Last Minute
It’s definitely time to go local, people. If you’ve got a steampunker or a scientist in your midst, shops like UW Surplus, Second Use, and Hardwick’s are goldmines. New and used machine parts, tools, building materials, furniture, and stuff you never thought about using might be just what your geek is looking for.
There’s also a search option on Etsy for “shop local”. Find something you think your geek will like, and contact the artist. If that handmade awesomeness is available, it’s as easy as meeting the artist at a local coffee shop to exchange your money for the nifty gift.
TOTALLY Last Minute
Tickets to local events can be found on Brown Paper Tickets, a fair-trade ticket company; you can print them and hide them in a festive box for your geek to open. Brown Paper Tickets sells tickets to concerts, movies, author readings, and conventions. For instance, you can gift your geek with passes to GeekGirlCon ‘13! (shameless plug, I know…)
I don’t know about you, but I love to poke around in museums and educational attractions. Don’t tell the kids about the educational part, though, or you might have a fight on your hands! Some suggestions for local places and events:
Pacific Science Center: The big one going on now through January 6, 2013 is the King Tut Exhibit. There are also rotating movies at the IMAX Theater, as well as camps and scientific exploration stuff for the kids.
NO TIME WHATSOEVER
As an absolute last minute option, there is probably a gift card rack at your local supermarket or convenience store. Those racks have gotten bigger over the years, and sometimes that card is the gift your geek will value most. They get to pick what they want at their leisure, online or in a store, and you don’t have to worry about having your gift exchanged or returned. Some racks contain gift cards for iTunes, a favorite restaurant, or online gaming sites. Even a gift card to that Seattle coffee chain looks pretty in its little envelope, and geeks love their caffeine.
Barnes and Noble Gift Card
My favorite gift, for anyone looking, is a Barnes and Noble gift card. Any denomination welcome. *wink*
Do you have a tabletop gamer in your universe who has been on the AWESOMESAUCE list? Can’t figure out what to get that d20 high roller? Well, take a gander at a few of these gift suggestions!
What’s great about DiXit is there are 3 expansion sets! That means more illustrations and endless fun!
Asmodee’s Dixit is a favorite in my household. My husband and I have introduced many of our friends to this fun game, which is recommended for folks as young as eight. With beautiful illustrations and tons of replay value, this game is sure to be a favorite with your geek.
Guesstures, 1st Edition
Guesstures, a table top twist of the game charades, is a classic for players 12 years old and up. Act out suggestions from drawn cards and have your team guess them all before the “mimer-timer” runs out.
Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook, 4th Edition
Now, I just started playing Dungeons and Dragons, and I am having a blast! Whether you’re a seasoned GM (game master) or it’s your first time picking up a character sheet, one can always benefit from some D&D swag!
Do you like some crafting along with your tabletop game? Warhammer is going strong. Visit the Seattle Bunker or a store near you to learn about all the armies and games Games Workshop has been developing. If you are a fan of The Hobbit, there’s a game to go along with it.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — The Bundle.
You can never go wrong with a couple of accessories! For the steampunk enthusiast, check out this steampunk dice set:
A plethora of dice is a tabletop gamer’s ally.
So many dice and no bags of holding in sight? Check out a few of these dice bags on etsy!
Check out this sweet Galileo ornament! Festive! (Photo by Sarah Grant)
Happy Holidays from your friends at GeekGirlCon! If the winter chill has got a hold of you, gander at our awesome list of geeky events to keep you warm with nerd comfort and joy!
Friday, November 30 — Tuesday, December 4:Princess Bride Quote-a-Long From the event page: “The swashbuckling fairy tale to end all swashbuckling fairy tales returns to the big screen complete with quote along subtitles for all the best lines, free inflatable sword props, and Rodents of Unusual Size LIVE in the auditorium!”
Saturday, December 1:: Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks: The Dammit Liz Holiday Special From the Facebook event page: “Known for organizing and producing geeky and off-the-wall events and entertainment, “Dammit” Liz Smith brings together some talented nerd folk for a holiday extravaganza! Get ready for an evening of music, comedy, and holiday merriment in this all-ages show! Featuring special guests Molly Lewis, The Doubleclicks, Kyle Stevens (Kirby Krackle), NerdProv, and Stepto! Holiday cosplay encouraged.”
Saturday, December 1 — Sunday, December 2:Urban Craft Uprising From the webpage: “At Urban Craft Uprising’s shows, fans can choose from a wide variety of hand-crafted goods including clothing of all types, jewelry, gifts, bags, wallets, buttons, accessories, aprons, children’s goods, toys, housewares, paper goods, candles, journals, art, food & much, much more. Each Urban Craft Uprising show is carefully curated and juried to ensure the best mix of crafts and arts along with originality and uniqueness.”
Tuesday, December 4:Buffy the Vampire Slayer Trivia Night at Central Cinema (SOLD OUT) From the Facebook event page: “Hosted by the inimitable Brandon Ryan, inscrutable Shane Regan, special guest host Brittany Cox, and MAP Theatre! Teams of 1-5 are welcome. Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & last place, door prize, costume prize, and random other prizes for being awesome. You don’t have to be good at trivia … just come on down to ole Sunnydale and relive the Glorificus with us.”
Thursday, December 6GeekWire Gala From the website: “Make our gala your holiday party, close out 2012, and ring in the New Year in style. Join the “geeks who give back” and consider supporting Vittana. Bring old friends, your colleagues—and yes, your significant or insignificant others—and enjoy an evening of conversation, tasty treats and festive cocktails with our region’s vibrant tech community.”
Friday, December 7:Ladies Gaming Night at The Raygun Lounge From the Facebook event page: “The Raygun Lounge will be hosting the first Queer Geek! Ladies Gaming Night! All LGBT-friendly female-identified individuals are invited. Hetero ladies are welcome, but no dudes- it’s our turn to hog the games! Beer and food will be available at Raygun, and some board games will be provided. Feel free to bring your own games as well. If you’re new to tabletop, role-playing, or board games, come on out- we’re a friendly bunch and happy to show you the ropes.”
Friday, December 7:Teens Celebrate Art with GeekGirlCon and SAM From the press release: “Join GeekGirlCon and the Seattle Art Museum for an evening in celebrating the accomplishments of women and the arts. Hear live music, watch dance performances, play instruments, talk about global women’s issues, and create your own works of art at workshops inspired by Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou Paris and Elles: SAM. Free admission for teens 13-18 (and accompanying adults). Stop by the GeekGirlCon booth in the South Hall to play a game of “10 Things I Know About You,” a game about female geeks and geekery. Spin the wheel for a topic and then name everything you can think of about it for the next 30 seconds. Surprise yourself with how much you know and maybe even win a prize!”
Friday, December 7:Slog Happy Hour From the event page: “We’ve been telling you about the Raygun Lounge, the bar-and-gaming venue that was Kickstartered into existence by the good folks at Gamma Ray Games, for months now. The Lounge’s temporary liquor license finally came through this morning, which means that it’s time to celebrate with Slog’s nerdiest nerds.”
Friday, December 7 — Sunday, December 9:Gremlins at Central Cinema The rules are simple: 1. Never expose them to sunlight. 2. Never get them wet. 3. Never EVER feed them after midnight! This holiday season, Central Cinema is going to be full of GREMLINS!
Saturday, December 8:JENGA Tournament at Central Cinema 32 players enter…….
Only one remains victorious!
Prepare yourselves for JENGA Thunderdome
Saturday, December 8: Second Saturday SciFi Cinema at Wayward Coffeehouse,
6417 Roosevelt Way NE #104, Seattle It’s a brand new monthly event at Wayward Coffeehouse, hosted by SciFi Commons and Wayward Coffeehouse. This month’s cinematic feature is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!
Sunday, December 9:December Mourning Market From the website: “Mourning Market is Seattle’s premiere dark themed market. An artists collective, featuring the Pacific Northwest’s spookiest artists, crafters and vendors. Hosted at El Corazon, Mourning Market is not your average show. It is an experience. Encouraging artists and supporting its unique culture and dark romanticism.”
Thusday, December 13:Seattle Girl Geek Dinners Enjoy dinner, and a guest speaker for the holidays with Seattle Girl Geek Dinners! Featured speaker is Lisa Koutek, Senior Director of Customer Experience at Cobalt.
Saturday, December 15 — Sunday, December 16:GeekFest From the website: “The holidays are coming, and you don’t want to be caught without some shiny gifts to give to your friends and family. Now’s your chance to get all your holiday shopping done and get your groove on with some geeky entertainment. We’re bringing together vendors from all over the Pacific Northwest with wares sure to charm your inner geek. Special guests include Kirby Krackle, Hello, the Future, NERDprov, and many others.”
Got a geeky event you’d like to see on our Geek About Town? Email Shubz at email@example.com! We at GeekGirlCon do reserve the right to include or not include any submissions.
These are just a few of the things I “geek out” over.
For those scratching your heads, these are stats used in baseball, football, and soccer—stats I analyze while playing fantasy football or rooting for my favorite players and teams.
You see, I grew up wanting to play basketball like Gary “The Glove” Payton. I will never forget that night, during the magical season of 1995, when Ken Griffey Jr. rounded third base and scored the game-winning run to beat the Yankees. Or being live at the Rose Bowl to watch Brandi Chastain tear off her jersey when the U.S. Women’s Soccer team won the World Cup.
And I am not a crier, but this song makes me tear up.
If it wasn’t clear already, let me say it loud and proud: I love sports. I love feeling a part of a team, a part of a culture that spans the world. I love that a sport can empower girls to feel strong, to feel in control, to feel limitless.
But it amazes me when those in the geek community put sports down, as if you cannot be into “geeky” things and love sports at the same time. Perhaps it is because the jocks from our younger years were the meanest to us. I’m not sure, but I hear it again and again—little jabs or snide comments to feel above those who enjoy sports.
As a “geek girl” and “sports girl,” I find this sad. Particularly because the same mistreatment of women and girls found in geekdom occurs in sports as well. Let me give you some examples of the common themes I hear in both worlds.
Girls can’t be “real” sports fans. (Girls can’t be “real” geeks.)
Girls don’t know how to play fantasy football. (Girls suck at playing video games.)
Girls’ sports are boring; they don’t sell. (Movies with strong female leads don’t sell.)
Let me infuse these statements with a few facts.
Fact: The U.S. women’s victory over Japan in the gold medal soccer game at the London Olympics attracted 4.35 million viewers, a record for the NBC Sports Network. An additional 1.5 million streamed the event live online, a high for any Olympic event.
Fact: Female participation in high school sports has increased 979% since Title IX passed in 1972.
Women and girls can be sports fans. They can play sports. They can also like Doctor Who, Star Trek, video games, and coding.
Case in point: This gymnast from Mexico, who performed an Olympic floor routine to the Legend of Zelda theme song. A lifelong gamer and an athlete.
It’s time to move on from the stereotype that women can’t like comics AND cricket, Buffy AND basketball, or Hellboy AND hockey. And it’s time to stop arguing that women can’t be “real” geeks or sports fans.
I know I have fellow sports geeks out there. So tell me, what’s your favorite sports team?