Category Archives: Growing up

You Say Nerd, I Say Who Cares?

"If we let him call us a nerd, he'll leave us alone..."

“If we let him call us a nerd, he’ll leave us alone…”

So, maybe I’m a nerd.

I say “maybe”, because I’m honestly not sure. It used to be that I would be called a nerd against my will, and then I would have to be sad about it. If I wasn’t sad about it, people would be angry, and then they would progress to calling me worse things. It’s like how a bear might want to eat you until he thinks you’re dead, because then you’re no good to him. Unless it’s a California black bear, in which case he will eat you no matter what (Unfortunately for us, “smarter than the average bear” doesn’t mean he wants your pick-a-nick basket; it means he knows your little opossum act is BS).

Things have changed a little bit since I was younger, though, and now people all over are applying the title “nerd” to themselves of their own volition. At first I was confused and afraid. What did this mean? Not only for myself, but for my younger siblings. Was this some kind of trap? Were the pretty and popular kids trying to lull all the nerds in to a false sense of security?

“Wear your nerd badge proud!” They’d say… but maybe it was all some cruel rouse to get the geeks to come out of the word work and identify themselves. From there, the massacre would begin.

It seems, for now at least, that my fears were mostly unfounded. So far, no nerd lynchings have occurred. Not in public, anyway. I can’t vouch for what goes on during pep rallies and home coming games. Mostly because I never went to those. I can only hope that my fellow unpopular brethren that managed to find themselves there, behind enemy lines, made it out okay and with a story to tell. In any case, I still do find it strange how the social climate has changed. Suddenly, thick framed glasses and video gaming are cool again. Or, maybe, for the first time. I’m not sure I remember a time when they were cool before. I don’t necessarily remember a time when they weren’t cool, to be honest, but I know some old school nerd proponents who would beg to differ.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where people could just like the things they like, and not worry about other people liking it, or not liking it, or not liking them, or wanting to slam them in to lockers.

What I think, and this may not be a popular opinion, is that there’s a very strange territory war going on these days. We have the original nerds in one corner, the new nerds in another, and a slightly overlooked group of people who probably are nerds but don’t want to be called that in the last corner. The original nerds associate their childhoods with lots of being bullied and having to nurture their WoW obsessions in dark closets. These were the people that other people called nerds. Naturally, they harbor some animosity toward “new nerds” who failed to establish their nerd credentials early on in life, and therefore escaped the hell that was growing up an outcast. And make no mistake; growing up an outcast is, in fact, hell. Where I think this opinion might get unpopular is right about here: Everyone’s fighting over something that no one really wants to be.

I think what a lot of people are failing to understand, is that there is a disconnect between what people are associating with what being a nerd is, and what a nerd actually is. It’s just a word. The meaning behind the word has evolved, but the status of people who once had this term forced upon them has not. PC gaming is still made fun of, skinny kids are still pushed around, brainy quiet kids are still excluded. That hasn’t changed. Life is still a popularity contest, and some people are still losing it. The kids who were called geeks in high school are now flocking to defend their status, because they had to suffer for it. If you can’t beat something, you learn to be proud of it, or it’ll end up controlling you in the end. Nerds learned to be proud of being the outcasts, the subverts, the unique ones. It doesn’t hurt so bad to be pushed away when you decide that you want it that way. Or, at the very least, pretend to. These people, like anyone else, are wary of new comers being insincere or trivializing their experiences.

This, while understandable, is pointless.

Why pointless, you ask? Look, who cares if the Victoria Secret model wants to put on a pocket protector and broadcast the fact that she plays TF2 on the weekends? Who cares if your local neighborhood hipster wants to wear pony shirts and rattle on and on about his favorite Dostoevsky quotes? Who cares if people like saying “LOL I’m such a nerd!” It’s not hurting anyone.

My beautiful nerds, in trying to exclude someone from taking an interest in the things you like, however noble an endeavor you think it is, you’re doing exactly what was done to you. All this is going to serve to accomplish is creating more bitterness and animosity in the world… When there really should be more hugs and Doctor Who? balls. They exist. I’ve been to one.

The point is, I think it’s a waste of time to worry about what other people are doing. Labels are for suckers.


5 Reasons No One Likes You



You know, I find that most people are actually pretty easy to like. It’s easy, because I want to like everyone. I like to think of myself as extremely friendly. If there was one thing people say about me, my hope is it would be that… Actually, my hope is that they’d say I’m funny and incredibly intelligent, but closely after that I’d like them to think I was really nice. It’s such a waste of time and energy to hate or dislike someone, so you could say this writer is too lazy to be choosey about people. Every once in a while, though, I encounter a person who wants to make me work to think well of them… and that cuts in to my me time. If you make me have to work to like you, if you make anyone have to work to like you, you’re doing it wrong.

Everyone’s different, and everyone finds different things irritating, but the following 5 things are personality traits that are more or less deal breakers for me when it comes to wanting to be around someone. Maybe you’ll agree, or maybe you won’t… but at the very least, please tell me I’m funny and incredibly intelligent.

1. You’re rude.
You may think that this is common sense, but it’s not really. Maybe having a bad day can lead you to being short with any kind of service staff you come in to contact with, even if you’re usually a nice person… but, really, that’s not an excuse. Rudeness is rudeness no matter what day of the week it is, or how many texts your boyfriend got from Suzie. Also, if you look at it from the other side, the person you’re being rude to doesn’t know that you spend your weekends nursing sick baby dolphins back to health. All they know is that you are unusually angry that your latte wasn’t exactly 143 degrees, and had one crystal too much of sugar in it. Nope, they will dislike you with reckless abandon now, and you have no one to blame but yourself. Everyone has a bad time every so often, but not everyone chooses to take it out on the world, or especially on people who really can’t fight back. That’s just mean and kind of cowardly.

2. You’re a serious pedant.
Being educated is great, and you should be proud… but you shouldn’t be pretentious. No one other than you and your book club is really going to care that you spent your weekend reading War and Peace, or Les Miserables for fun. I had a roommate who loved to get in to weird pissing contests with his girlfriend over who knew more about obscure historic details. It was always under a thin guise of trying to have an interesting conversation, but usually just came off as two freshman college students talking about everything they just learned in the first session of their Introduction to Facts course. A freshman will assume they know everything now (because they have not yet learned the golden rule of “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know”), and assume everyone else knows nothing. Some people don’t needlessly lord their intelligence over others… and it’s probably because they’re too smart for that.

3. You complain too much (you’re negative).
You have to be a special kind of person to delight in Mondays, and yeah, traffic kind of sucks. The thing about it is, if something is bothering you, you can probably bet you’re not the first person it’s bothered. If you’ve studied psychology at any point in your college career (which, as it turns out, is most everyone), you’ve learned about something similar the Fourfold Table of Life, wherein people tend to have selective memory and perception in recalling instances in their life. It often leads to thinking stuff like “I always end up choosing the slow line in the bank”, or “crazy people always come out during full moons.” It’s easy to remember when crappy things happen as it’s more significant to you than when they don’t. This is relatively normal… But when a person convinces themselves that bad things constantly happen to them and only them, and that they somehow have it worse than everyone else, they become very difficult to be around.

At any given moment, if pressed, I’m sure everyone could count things not going right for them off on their fingers, but they probably weren’t forcing you to listen to them hate their lives. Voicing concerns, looking for support, and needing to vent are all perfectly acceptable, and everyone needs to do it sometimes. If you’re the kind of person who adopts a “poor me!” kind of attitude, however, you suck the life out of everyone around you. Not everyone deserves to be miserable just because you are, and you’re going to earn yourself the reputation of being an emotional tyrant: No one gets to be happy if you’re not.

4. You’re dramatic.
This one really needs to stop, guys. You know something’s irritating when even a 16-year-old boy thinks it’s immature. For some reason, there are those who like to make a show of their problems. Everything is made to seem like a much bigger deal than it actually is, and eventually everyone involved is exhausted. We all have someone in our lives who can’t enjoy themselves unless everything is revolving around them. Let’s not mince words here, friends. If you’re one of these people, please rest assured that people think you are nuts. They think this, because you probably are… or at the very least, you seriously come off that way. If you’re passed a certain age, there’s no excuse for drama. It’s manipulative, and it’s childish.

As a personal aside: PMS is not an excuse to be a terrible human being.

5. You’re kind of a fun killer.
If fun was painful, the “fun killer” would be called Tylenol.

One night, some friends of mine and I headed out for some good old-fashioned drunken karaoke. I decided to invite a coworker to come along with us. Now, karaoke isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Making an ass of yourself in front of strangers is kind of an acquired taste. I made it very clear to her what kind of people we were and that we were going to be getting in to it. She still agreed to go. Unfortunately, from the moment she sat down in the car and realized the level of eccentric she was dealing with, she made it relatively clear that she was not going to be having fun that night. What’s more is that she wasn’t even going to bother trying.

The whole night, no matter what anyone did or said, she just sat there with her head in the palm of her hands. We danced, we sang, we laughed… and she refused to have any of it. To this moment, I have no clue what was going through her head or why she took it upon herself to go on a Crusade for Fun Killers United, but she all but sucked the energy out of the table.

The honest truth, though, is that the girl is very sweet and pretty easy to be around. So, I think the lesson we can learn from this is that even if you’re a relatively cool person, you can come off as a Fun Hater 2000. Which will make it hard for people to like you. No one wants to be around you if you’re going to make it hobby to be bored. So, you know, knock it off.

Of course… there are probably exceptions to all that. I’m pretty sure if you suddenly pulled the plug on all the electricity everywhere, and the world was suddenly plunged in to darkness, people would probably cut you some slack if you were stressed out and unhappy for the rest of your life. Of course, everyone would probably hate you anyway, so I suppose it wouldn’t make a difference to you one way or the other.

I think, at the very least, we can all be glad that there isn’t a Great Big Plug to Everything. Until there is, try to make it hard for people to dislike you, and be cool, Ringo.

Be cool.

Through the Crazy Looking Glass

Alice realizes she doesn't quite feel safe in the company of The Hatter...

Alice realizes she doesn’t quite feel safe in the company of The Hatter…

I’m afraid of a lot of things.

I think that’s fair. A lot of things are scary. When someone recently asked me what the scariest thing I could think of was, however… an odd thought occurred to me. It wasn’t my debilitating fear of worms. It wasn’t my ironic fear of the ocean. It wasn’t even my childhood fear of teletubbies. Nope. My worst fear? The absolute most terrifying thing to me? It was a paragraph in the Stephen King novel “The Shining”; the character Danny’s description of The Lady in the Bathtub’s thoughts. He said that all he could see when he looked in to her head was blackness and anger, and all she wanted to do was hurt him. There was nothing beyond that. Just thinking about that kind of makes me go cold.

This is sort of a two pronged fear. I guess, firstly, you could say that I have an irrational fear of irrational things.

Oompa Loompas, for instance, are evil. I don’t like that they’re short and orange, and that they sing weird little sadistic songs every time something potentially life threatening happens to a child, while everyone else just kind of stands around and says “well, I guess this is just how they do things in the candy factory.” Why would that be how things are done in a candy factory, and furthermore, why is everyone so nonchalant about a race of orange faced, green haired trolls that they didn’t know existed before? It doesn’t work in the real world. Along that same idea, Tim Burton movies are like hell to me. All his characters are thin and sallow, and no one stops to think “you know, these under eye circles sure are getting out of hand…”

If I tried to sit there and have a talk with an Oompa Loompa, I’d be terrified that they were going to completely ignore what I was saying and end up breaking out in to song about something bad that was inevitably going to happen to me. Meanwhile, all that is probably going on inside their heads is a fiendish desire to harvest children. Alice in Wonderland bothers me for the same reason. Alice drops down through that weird hole in the world, or steps through her crazy looking glass, and suddenly she’s in a land full of things that can’t give her a straight answer to save their lives. They’re all running around being insane, and nothing has any real reason or rhyme, and what the hell is up with the crazy hat guy and his bunny being able to slice cups of tea in half? Tea doesn’t slice! That’s just physics. What’s just as bad, though, is that Alice doesn’t seem to mind it so very much. Why doesn’t Alice flip out? Why don’t Charlie and his grandpa sneak out the back way of that damn chocolate factory and alert the proper authorities? It’s creepy, and it’s wrong.

Now, I say most of this with a tongue in cheek kind of amusement at myself. The root of this fear, though, is very real, very simple, and goes deeper than just being disturbed by movies and fictional characters. The second part of the two pronged fear: The idea that there is nothing behind a facade.

I feel like, living so close to Hollywood these past few months, I have come face to face with this fear quite a lot.

I meet a lot of famous people, for instance. Just today I was confronted with an actor from HBO’s True Blood. I know him only by face, and not by name, and I couldn’t have cared less about him… But he hid underneath his hat and too big sunglasses, and whispered to people around him so as not to call attention to himself. That’s weird. People shouldn’t live like that. I know everyone thinks the world revolves around them to some extent, but feeling a certainty about it seems like too big a responsibility to bother with. I feel that being famous for too long can have a profound impact on a person’s psyche. The normal part of them seems slowly to start to recede in to the shadow that is deep self involvement, and then I can’t imagine there is any kind of living with them. Talking to a famous person, who no longer knows what it’s like to be unknown, who, for all intents and purposes, has forgotten what it’s like to want things, makes me uneasy. When a public image is no longer discernible from an actual sense of self, it dehumanizes a person in my eyes. All I can see is a mask.

If The Shining’s Danny could look in to their heads… I wonder what he would see.

On a more relatable level, this is also how I feel about younger generations. There is a marked disconnect between me, and anyone who is anything more than 3 years younger than me. They use words and wear clothes that I don’t get. What the hell are jeggings? Dammit, they’re awful. I was invited to a birthday party for a girl who was turning 24 and I thought to myself, “I’m too old to hang out with you.” I could only imagine sitting quietly in a booth while they talked about setting the world on fire for fun or… I don’t know, planking or something. Not that I have anything against her for being younger than me; I just can’t relate to her. When you say something and look in to someone’s eyes, you can tell when it goes completely over their head. Not because they don’t understand it, but because they don’t understand you.

I get this often when I attempt to talk to people about my tea parties, or my weird tendency to name all my stuffed animals Thomas after my big brother. Some people can only manage blank stares as they vaguely try to register what it is I’m going on about. I can’t blame anyone for this. I don’t blame anyone for this. That doesn’t change the fact that it almost leaves me feeling like I’m not talking to anyone at all. There’s nothing beyond their present, there’s nothing more than what they emote on their faces. I’m not saying everyone is like this; I’m not even saying most people are like this… But, to me, it comes off as empty.

It’s funny. Hollywood’s an interesting place to be for someone who doesn’t like masks and facades. You know what they say, though…

Something, I’m sure.

Dance Like Everyone Is Watching

Drink tea like no one is watching...

Drink tea like no one is watching…

You know, it occurs to me that I never found the time to grow out of the things I loved as a child. I say “never found the time”, because it seems to me that a lot of people make a special kind of effort to leave their childhood behind. I’ve seen a lot of little girls get to a point where they don’t want to wear pink because it’s “too girly”, or they don’t want to wear shirts with care bears on them anymore, because Care Bears are… Well, I can’t blame them for that. Care Bears are scary. Putting that aside, I hope my point is clear. As we get older, through television, the media, our culture, etc… we are talked out of loving the things we love.

In fact, I have to feel a bit sorry for people who were pressured in to giving up their beloved hobbies/interests before they had a job and therefore money to explore that hobby to its real and full potential. When I was little, I was obsessed with tea parties and the beautiful dresses women wore in times long passed. Now that I have the funds, I throw elaborate tea parties (sometimes for gaming events, but mostly for no reason at all), and am able to buy museum quality replicas of antebellum attire. You can judge me if you like, and you can call it a waste of time and money, but someone once said that time you enjoy wasting is not wasted… And I agree emphatically.

I’m lucky that I ended up in a circle of friends, including Dan, who seem to understand my stance. I’ve been asked more than a few times if Dan’s heavy video gaming bothers me, usually followed by a statement a long the lines of “it would drive me crazy.” I mean, I get it. I do understand why people can’t, or don’t think they would be able to, handle a significant other immersing themselves in a hobby that takes so much of their time. Me? I’m solitary by nature, so his long bouts of PC gaming would never bother me for that reason. After I give that answer, however, people go on to the next question: “But… I mean, games are for kids, aren’t they?”

If enjoying what you love is for kids, then give Dan and me a bowl of Trix.

… Get it? Because Trix are for kids. Selfish sociopathic kids who can’t spare one measly box for that poor pathetic rabbit who, from the looks of it, is one scheme away from landing himself in a men’s correctional facility. General Mills knows what it’s like to still have their childhood interests close to heart. Either that, or they might possibly be trying to make a point about the potential hazards of drug addiction, but I digress.

There’s nothing wrong with doing whatever you want with your free time, or your life. I feel like we’re supposed to believe that if you don’t wear the right things, or if you spend Friday nights inside reading or watching TV, you’ve messed up somewhere along the way. We’re supposed to go out and spend time with people that we probably don’t even really like that much just so that when someone asks us what we did over the weekend we can give them an interesting answer. How did that ever become a measure of self-worth? No one should feel bad for not enjoying what everyone else does, and no one should feel bad for enjoying what everyone else doesn’t. Unless it’s illegal and egregiously immoral, but I’m not here to preach. In any case, I believe this spills over in to other facets of life. People don’t wear what they want to wear, they don’t say what they want to say, and they don’t do what they want to do. Everyone’s so terrified of being judged or not fitting in, that they’ll do just about anything to avoid it.

What’s really troubling, is a paranoid idea I have that a lot of people just want everyone else to like and do the same things as them, except they don’t want anyone else to be as good at it. People don’t like when a heavy girl wears clothes that don’t flatter her, because… why? Because it hurts them to have to look at her? No. It’s because, in a way, they begrudge her the confidence it takes to put herself out there like that. Confidence, that maybe, they don’t possess themselves, and therefore can’t understand in anyone else. It confuses and annoys people, and so they feel like it’s necessary to tear her apart… When, really, that kind of confidence is amazing. The older I get, the more I think that the people who actively dislike others for being different from them really just can’t stand the fact that someone is better at something than they are. Otherwise, I’m convinced, they just wouldn’t care.

Basically it’s like your mom and dad always said: If people don’t like you, it’s probably because they’re jealous.

Either that or you’re kind of a jerk and might need to work on your personality a little. Even then, though… Maybe it’s more important to be yourself than to mindlessly be nice to people when you don’t want to be. I don’t think that radically, but I can still see the logic.

In the end, who cares what anyone else thinks? Who cares what everyone else does? Don’t dance like no one is watching; dance like everyone is. The only person you have to be with 100% of the time is yourself, and if you like you and the things you do… no one else should matter.

So, pour yourself a cup of tea and bowl of Trix, beat Half-Life 2 on Expert, and live life on Awesome.

… Er, unless you don’t want to.