Being a geek is not just about consuming entertainment, but education and drive.
For instance, the literature I read around Lord of the Rings during the few years I was crazy about it was eye-opening, Middle Earth gave me a burning interest in hiking and maps. The Little Prince made me fall in love with the western desert, and fennec foxes; helped me appreciate heartbreak and loneliness, if that makes any sense at all. Neil Gaiman transformed the idea of “storytelling” into living, breathing characters, set in ridiculous, dreamy worlds, and it helped me appreciate the power of stories, making me want to tell my own. El Mariachi and Once Upon A Time in Mexico, sent me on a small quest to learn more about movie making, reading here and there, and even taking courses in filmmaking myself, which in turn made me fall in love with film art even more. X-Files, Lois Lane of Superman and Moshira Mahfouz of Malaf Al-Mustaqbal played a part in my choice to pursue investigative journalism. Karate Kid, and Batman Begins, and anime, encouraged me to dive head first into the Shaolin adventure, despite how eccentric it seemed to everyone around me. Harry Potter nerd-years introduced me to a great deal of literature and lore on magic, and the occult (not exactly in relation to HP, and that’s the beauty of it. It makes you go out and research other things, similar things).
And now being obsessed with Supernatural, and favorite character Dean Winchester, I’m re-discovering classic rock, and falling in love with muscle cars, and reading more about those.
Sure, I’ll never actually be Batman, I don’t have the money (or the batcave) to back that up. But Catwoman is not rich. And many superheroes are journalists, who have to make ends meet by working day jobs and so spend most of their time asking questions and conducting research anyway. Superman anyone? Spiderman? Both work at newspapers. (And mind you, Batman and Flash dated reporters before). So there, perhaps I’m not so far off.
I often find myself thinking of situations from the perspective of my favorite characters, just to get a fresh angle and feel less pressured. When the going gets rough, sometimes I say to myself “what would Starbuck [BSG] do?” or “what would Dean do?,” and it helps. You find a degree of courage, borrowed from a fictional character, but practically very real.
When I’m alone and afraid sometimes, I remind myself of cat lore, I relax and know that my cats will protect me, and that my large Gandalf action figure will not let anything evil pass. Its powers are derived from my own faith in it. And yes, it does make me sleep better at night knowing that despite the very disturbing notion that Stephen King’s Pennywise “It” the dancing clown could be out there, here or in a parallel universe, that if he is, he’s still a shapeshifter that I can end with a stab of solid silver or a whif from my asmtha spray inhaler if I stand up and be brave about it. When I feel misunderstood or outnumbered, it’s reassuring to know that my gold-haired friend, the prince from Asteroid B6-12 whose life revolves around three volcanoes, the drawing of a sheep and a flower (that is at once unique, and common), probably gets how I feel.
The world becomes less daunting.
A geek’s mind is an interesting mind, and the stories are like sacred texts for the religious. It’s not just about entertainment, but faith. A la Life of Pi, ours is the better story (it being fictional is irrelevant).
There are so many things that I read about, learned about that are outside my general interests and even my comfort zone thanks to a measure of geekery, and excitement about fantasy, sci-fiction worlds, and being part of cults around films or TV shows, etc. The charm of books, comics and movies extend beyond the last page and the end credits into the real world. And that’s when most of the fun happens.
A fascination with these worlds have sent me tumbling into new territories, got me talking to different kinds of people all over, meeting kindred spirits — experiences I’m eternally grateful for.
And yes, I get made fun of for being a “bit over the top” by my more moderate “balanced” friends who act their age (which I don’t even know what it means), and there are always snide remarks about how “when Pakinam gets into something, she goes crazy” … like it’s an illness (and maybe it is, some sort of a bug). My new goals in life range from wanting to teach myself car mechanics to learning Latin and finally attending Comic Con in New York (and I know it should be something more like, “settling down” as a married friend recently reminded me, “You’re not going to stay young forever. Don’t you want to have your own family?” Sure, I do. But, but–how does being passionate about things contradict that? I mean sure, to many all-Egyptian 30-something guys I sound a little crazy, messy even, perhaps “not marriage material” but, erm, *sigh*–anyway). Sometimes the friendly sneers can get annoying.
But truth be told, I wouldn’t give any of that up for anything. And being crazy, and having a family one day and “acting my age,” are not mutually exclusive.
And sure, I’m a nerd. But no one so far has successfully curbed my enthusiasm by exclaiming distastefully that “I get into things a bit too much” or by reminding me I’m not 15. So maybe try another tactic, friend? In fact, I’m starting to think it’s a gift that I can manage to do that afterall. That being a girl, living on this side of the planet, in the Arab world, during times of conflict, in this monotone culture, and at this age, I can still get super excited about Sandman or the new Star Wars movie in the making like I’m 12.
Yeah, sure, it’d be interesting to be less weird, or come back to Earth from time to time. But hey, a lot of people do that anyway. I’m sure one less soul, whose head is in the clouds, won’t hurt the statistics. And I guess no one would really get the appeal of living in other worlds, and not just in the head, unless they tried it.
So there, thank you, nerd/geek culture, for making me less boring.