on finding my nerddom and the resurgence of make believe

When I was a kid, my favorite thing was to play pretend. I alternated between being Barbie, one of the Goonies, and a hobbit. Don’t laugh.

My first celebrity crush.

My best friend and I probably played pretend a lot longer than most people play pretend. Maybe not. I don’t know what other kids did. I never felt normal enough to say if other kids did the same stuff I did. But I can tell you that when we were old enough to want to kiss and stuff, we found a great excuse to do so in playing out the romance between Brandon and Ashley. Although truthfully, I had a serious crush on Mikey … yeah, the kid with the inhaler. That speech he gave at the bottom of the wishing well? *melt*

Ok, you’re allowed to laugh now. I’m sitting here snickering to myself as I write this. I desperately wanted an inhaler because Mikey had one. I swear.

Anyway, playing pretend fell out of fashion as the world of junior high school closed in on us. Every now and then we would try to revive that imaginary world which was once indistinguishable from ours, but after a certain age, it always fell flat.

I didn’t forget about playing pretend, though, and I often wished throughout junior high, high school and even college that I could go back and just live in a make believe world sometimes. Instead, I hung out at coffee shops, smoked a lot of cigarettes and wrote a lot of poetry.

Some of the boys I knew would sit around with dice, books, and stacks of paper for hours playing Dungeons and Dragons. I was curious about the game and would’ve seriously considered going out with a couple of them. Yes, they were nerdy, but um, we’re talking about the girl who had a crush on Mikey, ok? But when I asked if I could join their game, I felt distinctly unwelcome. They didn’t exactly say I wouldn’t get it, but they didn’t seem too eager to explain anything to me.

But this is not a woe-is-me tale of being the only girl at the nerd party. I found my way in, even if it was the long way. I discovered an anime club at my college, but after sleeping with one of the club members in a rather unfortunate fashion, I decided not to join. I went to some gaming conventions and a lot of LAN parties, but it wasn’t until I moved to Maryland and attended my first Otakon that I began to understand the sheer enormity of nerddom.

Now, a single blog post can’t quite trace my whole history with games, conventions, and my fellow nerds, but suffice it to say I adore geeks of all kinds, yet I always had this little sad spot in my inner geek life because I’d never played DnD. I actually felt sorry for myself about it.I didn’t want to play Magic the Gathering or any game that required me to collect things — especially cards, which I have a tendency to lose and/or soak with soda or beer. But DnD seemed like a fun and imaginative game that would allow me to finally become a well-rounded nerd.

I was so excited the first time a friend invited me to join her DnD game. I filled out some character surveys for a zombie apocalypse campaign and created a whimsical stripper named Sheila who carried brass knuckles, wore glitter at all times (obvs) and consulted a homeless psychic named Cerulean. Unfortunately, I had to drop out of that game because of complicated time conflicts.

This is my DnD token. I'm not actually playing as Rainbow Brite, but my character is sortof like if she went to college, had an intense feminist awakening, and then maybe dabbled with psychotropic substances and alternative religions ... and grew up in an underground vault society.


I was too intimidated to join a game at any of the local comic shops, where I have often been received with suspicion due to boobies and whatnot. However, I was very happy when another friend invited me to join a game. This time, it’s a post-apocalyptic world, and my character is something like Rainbow Brite if she were born and raised in a society of underground vault dwellers.

While the stereotype of tabletop gamers is that of the comic book pedant from The Simpsons, neither of the groups I’ve encountered is like that. My current group is open to all kinds of inventiveness, and while they stick to the rules for the sake of cohesion, they are by no means pedantic. They don’t even mind that I chose Rainbow Brite for my token.

After playing a couple rounds with this new group, I can say I finally understand why this game has been around for so long. It’s something I’ve been looking for ever since those early days of pretending to be a Goonie. It’s the chance to delve into an alternative world for a while, to be someone else who is also not entirely separate from myself.

Or as the Muppet Babies say, “When your world looks kinda weird, and you with that you weren’t there, just close your eyes and make believe, and you can be anywhere.”

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Stella and the Chickens

So, Team,

Things going on right now…

It turns out I’m writing a book, and it’s not associated with any of the projects I’ve already discussed here. That blue notebook? The five subjects? Yes. That.

The notebook and I had a little heart-to-heart, and here is what it said:

You have wanted to write a book for a long time. You have a particular subject in which you are immensely interested. You have a reasonable level of knowledge to start with and lots of people who would be happy to help you with their information and guidance. This is your project. Run with it. In the event that you find you don’t know what you’re doing, just take a deep breath and let the subject guide you. You will get there.

You can’t argue with a notebook, mostly because it looks crazy as shit. So, I am writing a book now. However, that doesn’t negate all the pre-existing projects, including one that has completely taken me by surprise.

Apparently, I’m going to help write a game. A flash game. It’s early in the project, yet, and I don’t like to reveal too much to start, but this is the most interesting way I’ve stumbled into a project to date. Basically, a guy who creates flash games was Googling his name (a reasonable thing to do), and he came across my site because we happen to have the same last name. On discovering that I’m interested in games and writing, he decided to contact me and see if we could work together. My response? Basically: This is bizarre and surreal. Let’s do it!

In addition, I’ve got some web writing to do for Blackstar Group, something you’ll all learn more about in the near future. And to balance all the tech-related stuff, I’ve got this incredible artistic project going on with my sister (the amazing artist). Think “Exquisite Corpse.” And finally, I’ve got my two beloved blogs.

Suffice it to say, I’m extremely busy lately but also incredibly happy. In addition, I’m leaving for Chautauqua in two days. I’m not sure what the internet situation will be like when I’m out there, nor am I sure if I’ll have any energy to spare for blogging. But rest assured, I am well and happy.

Sending you all much love!



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Nimbycon2010 and Wild Nerd Documentary

Wow, so that break from blogging was much needed and gave me the space to focus on some other things. For example, Nimbycon2010.

So here’s an unexpected form of creativity for me. When our friends came to town this past weekend, I started filming as usual, but I handed off the camera a couple times, and what came back to me was hilarious and surprising. Then, I had the pleasure of editing it all into a two-part documentary and a bunch of other clips. So here’s a little lesson: If you want to try something new, put someone else on camera duty once in a while and see what kind of material you come up with.

There are more videos to come, but these are the first ones ready. Youtube seems not to appreciate the amount of uploading I did last night, so Part 2 of the documentary has now been processing for about 12 hours. Hopefully, it’ll be available for viewing tonight.

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