Things about which I am geekish (by which I mean I will watch/read anything that involves them and could edit Wikipedia entries on them) are not limited to:
sci-fi/fantasy, dragons (duh), Elizabethan history, Disney, Shakespeare, Laura Ingalls Wilder, classic rock/metal, 90s-to-mid-2000s alt rock, cookie recipes, hockey, the Ottoman Empire, British comedies and scrapbooking.
Yes, scrapbooking. One of my geek friends called the other day and interrupted her soliloquy on “The Walking Dead” (she could tell I wasn’t listening, thus it was a soliloquy) to ask what I was doing. “Scrapbooking my Disney trip pics,” I answered. She snorted and said, “You’re like the most sarcastic person I know, you’re over-read and a total geek and then on the other hand, you’re like this archetypal stay-at-home mom who scrapbooks.” I agreed that I scrapbook; I love pictures from life events (mine and others) and I like seeing them in albums with embellishments and glitter letters. I just listen to Pantera or Alice in Chains while I do it. (Nothing eases the neck stiffening tension of painstakingly gluing tiny gem centers into one centimeter tissue-paper flowers like listening to “Angry Chair” while you do it.)
There was a TV trope in the 70s and 80s of a family inviting guests over and then pulling out the slide show reel and the guests discreetly groaning in horror. I never understood this trope: Show me your holiday photos, please! Does your grandma long for someone to listen to her go over the family album? Invite me over! This is my niche, my schtick, my kink!
When my son was first born and I started staying at home, I crafted an album on my pregnancy, his birth and the early newborn days with a feverish obsession. Raised, textured, diaper pin shaped embellishments? Gimme! But it was lonely. The friends I have who had flirted briefly with scrapbooking or photo album compiling now had their cutting and pasting kits moldering in a closet next to dusty treadmills and bags of “limited edition” Beanie Babies. I was alone, adrift on the Isle of Glitter Gel Pens and Glue Dots.
So I did what anyone would do: I posted a personals ad on Craigslist (it’s not just for used appliances or an anonymous ménage à trois, you know) looking for a local, OKC-based scrapbooking buddy. I listed my influences (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Beatles, Amy Sedaris, etc.) and waited for the replies from hep, funny chicks with a predilection for glue sticks to come rolling in. I got one.
The irony is that the friend I gained from my Craigslist ad, Cheryl, was a casual scrapbooker (she has two kids, she has photos and albums) but she was amused by my ad and wanted to meet the stunning wit behind it (I mean, who wouldn’t, right?). From this ad, my husband and I gained in Cheryl and her husband two of our closest couple friends and now have someone to share babysitting, pet-sitting and movie nights with. That was almost four years ago, and our friendship is still going strong.
Now, I understand that to many people, looking for friends on Craigslist or online at all is sketchy at best and somewhat dangerous at worst and may make you give me a side-eye of “That’s kinda creepster, Sue.” But I already had tons of experience in the online-to-real-life friendship arena and had gained pretty good instincts in sussing out the “harmless geek” vs. “To Catch a Predator” traits in potential internet BFFs.
In the early 2000s, I was workshopping a novel on an online writer’s group (a novel I never finished; Alan Rickman-voice: Obviously) when I met my friend Carrie, a then D.C.-based lawyer who was writing a novel and thinking about going back to school to get an MFA in creative writing. Now, Carrie claimed to be a single, twenty-something woman who grew up in a loving, tight-knit Mormon family with a love of banana pudding, Shakespearean sonnets and pub quiz. But she could have been an actual cannibal or a militia member or even (shudder) a Nickelback fan. It’s the internet — she could claim to be an elderly Dutch woman, and who’s to say she’s not, if we’re in the elderly Dutch chat room?
After sharing emails and phone calls for several months, I invited Carrie to visit my husband and me in Oklahoma and we had a lovely week long visit where I showed her the lakes, fried vegetables and fine breakfast establishments of the Sooner State. She was totally normal (in that she was a complete geek like me) and did not once try to axe-murder me or get me to read “The Watchtower,” (which would have been odd, since she’s Mormon).
Carrie introduced me to online genre TV fandom, specifically that for the Buffy fandom, and the online friends floodgates exploded. I made internet friends with people from all over the world: of different races, religions, schools of thought, orientations, backgrounds, philosophies and generations. Through this group of online friends, I made several phone friends, lots of email chat buddies and a few real life visitors. Some were as far away as New Zealand and some were almost local (Texas is big on the vampire shows, Lord love ’em). But then, wonder of wonders, I met one of the most important people in my life.
I met Vinnie almost ten years ago when she agreed to proofread a story I had written for online publication. Again, Vinnie claimed to be a twenty-something college student from El Paso who loved alt rock, the Lakers and Lewis Carroll, but she could have been Brett Favre just ready to blow up my smart phone, amirite?
Through months of phone calls and emails and then years of visits, emails, tweets, PMs, Facebook posts and then almost daily phone calls, Vinnie and I discovered that we’re practically the same person; merely separated by the Red River, race and ethnicity, religion and a twelve year age difference. Piffle, really.
While I have made the majority of my friends the traditional way: college, church, work, etc, I am grateful that I took a chance on unconventional avenues of finding like-minded people. I’ve always been very lucky with friendships: people seem to like me despite my rambling and flightiness (the secret: being funny and baking will bring all the cool kids to your yard). But it’s rare that I find like-minded people locally (and by ‘like-minded,’ I mean enormous geeks) and the fact that I found people who not only share my passion for genre television and sci-fi/fantasy lit but also my world view and love of travel, wine and dining and storytelling is pretty much what I think “pursuit of happiness” is all about.
Despite the unconventionality of our friendship’s beginnings (not that convention is a construct I give much credence), I thank Joss Whedon daily for making me dork-out enough to find a best friend I might have never known. My life would have been lesser without the laughter and joy she adds to it. Even if she mocks me for scrapbooking while deconstructing a zombie TV show and listening to Metallica.
And you knew you weren’t going to get out of here without having to look at some my scrapbooked holiday photos:
And now for the obligatory recipe (and a “round up the chat room geeks, it’s a BBQ!” one it is). A few years ago, I hosted several of my online friends for a weekend at the Oklahoma City International Gay Rodeo Finals (my interests are legion) and threw an old fashioned heartland spread with the following low-fat potato salad (we needed the calories for everything else).
Red Potato Salad
12 servings: Calories: 163 | Total Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 79mg per serving
- 3 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- 1 dill pickle, chopped
- 1/3 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 dash hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 dash onion salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, eggs, pickle, celery, green onions, and hot sauce. Season with dill, garlic powder, onion salt, salt, and pepper. Pour over the potatoes, and gently toss to coat. Chill at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving. Source: All Recipes.com