Nerdette Rule #1: Stop Being So Damn Nice to Creepers and Stalkers

One of the worst things about being a nerdette is that we carry our obliviousness regarding social boundaries with us into adulthood. We spend most of our early years figuring out how to be comfortable in our own skins and making peace with the fact that we favor cuddling up against a book instead of a football player (unless he is a preppy and wears soft sweaters, rugby shirts, flannel, and plays soccer instead of football…sigh…sorry for my lapse into New England nostalgia).

Let’s go to my house on the Cape where I will paddle you with my…paddle? Ignore what I just said and look at the bright Ralph Lauren logo on my shirt instead.

Society has become much more accepting of nerdettes so in a way it’s easier to be one now, but in a way not, because being nerdy has become more sexy. I don’t know when this happened or how (or sometimes even why). As much as it pains me to say, such a development brings with it certain difficulties for us geeks.

You see, we lived as outliers in some respect, even if we were liked (“She is soooo nice!!”). And in doing so, we developed compassion for kids like us, who were awkward and thought too much and asked too many questions about life and over-stepped personal boundaries in our incessant quest for insight into others (and the universe). So when we encounter someone as an adult who seems to perhaps cross the line into our “safe space”, we give him/her the benefit of the doubt. And that’s where the trouble begins.

Nerdettes are simply ill-equipped to discern which newcomers in our social circles are friends versus creepers. We suck ass at it! We try to be NICE. Why? Because not everyone was to us. So we don’t want to be like those assholes, we don’t want to be the baddies, we prefer to be the…goodies? (That sounds weird, but maybe it’s because I’m not British.) We want to be compassionate and kind, understanding and accepting of all.

You’re socially awkward? I was, too! I get you!

So, please let this nerdette convey a message to others like me, especially those who are entering adulthood: stop being so damn, freaking nice. Just stop. STOP.

You will inevitably encounter some guy who seems weird and quirky, but harmless. He will pester you with strange questions and requests. This person will attempt to engage you in conversations about topics that you find interesting because people like him unfortunately are also kind of dorky and know all sorts of trivia that you find interesting. He will be annoying, but you will not be able to deter or shake him off because he is not directly threatening.

He may call with random observations about life and if he does, he will ask you what you think about them. And you, being you, will always respond because you are answering the question itself, not him, forgetting that there is an actual person on the other end of the line, or text, or email, or whatever. And when you’re done, you will think to yourself, “Why did I just do that? I told myself not to engage him anymore!!” and you will be mad and frustrated at yourself instead of him.

He will make you severely uncomfortable and you will want to get away from him whenever you see him, but your stupid brain will excuse the skeeviness you feel by rationalizing that he is just socially backward.

When you describe his behavior to others, they may say dumb crap like, “Awww, he sounds cute!” or “He just has a crush on you!”. Don’t listen to them. Because, my dear, you have just described a creeper.

Cut him off. Before he becomes a stalker. Because the only thing worse than a creeper is a stalker. You do not want that shit.

Trust me. You do not want this.

People who were dorks, geeks, or nerds – however you classify it – as children are pre-programmed when they morph into adults to be nice to others who don’t fit in. That’s all well and good, but allow me to sound a note of caution: there is such a thing as being too nice. Cut those creeper suckers off. I say this from years of unfortunate experience, from a perspective that automatically utilizes logic in evaluating others’ behavior instead of gut instinct. It is a weakness in nerdettes. Trust me. If someone is creeping you out, cut him out right now.

The Mismeasure of Man

I was an expatriate as a child. If you don’t know what it means, here is the definition:

We called ourselves “expats”. It’s much easier to explain what this means to other people nowadays. Years ago, people would scrunch up their faces and say, “Whuuut?” and I would invariably resort to the explanation of, “It’s kind of like being an Army Brat, you know, living somewhere not in the States.” That usually got the point across.

One of the thing us expats had to do while attending our ________ (fill in the blank with whatever city/country you are in) American School was to take the Iowa Test. I knew nothing about Iowa. Or why the University of Iowa had any say on the issuance and administering of the test to evaluate the skill and achievement levels of children who…I don’t know, not only not live in the States, but live in areas than span an entire continent? How can you possibly rate kids according to one standard when people from North Dakota find it difficult to understand even the speech of someone from Alabama?

Say what?!!?

Standardized tests are ridiculous. This, of course, did not prevent my mother from looking over my resulting scores and percentiles, drawing her brows together over the ones that dipped below 90% and then castigating herself about how she had failed as a mother and human being in allowing her daughter to be an utter loser in areas such as Capitalization and Punctuation (my weaknesses in English writing, as may be attested through my many related errors in my blog entries, I’m sure).

Same goes for the SATs. What a scam. What they should call these tests are “Evaluation of the accuracy of what you remember from officially sanctioned guidelines and details of school lessons.” Okay, that’s not a very sexy description, but neither is “Standardized Tests”. What they do not do is predict how well a person will succeed in life. I know people who know zip about algebra, American presidents, English literature, or world history in general who make gazillions of dollars because they possess unique skills that simply are not measurable through standardized tests.

That skill set? It encompasses things like likability. Charisma. Niceness. The ability to emote.

I lack all of these. What I give off when someone meets me for the first (and second, and third, and fourth…) time is usually one or all of the following.

  • Judgmental Schoolmarm
  • Snarky and Snippy Gerbil
  • Snooty Know-It-All
  • Uptight Schoolgirl
  • Aloof and Remote Wolf
  • Entitled Spoiled Brat Who Pretends Not to Be
  • Awkward, Socially Backward Nerd Who Does Not Belong

You can see the trend. It’s something that has been a hurdle for me, again and again, to the point that I’ve pretty much given up and admitted that for whatever reason, that is the vibe I emanate. I don’t know why (maybe because I use words like “emanate”?), but there you go. I’ve come to accept it, not embrace it (yet), because no matter what I do, I can’t change those aspects of my public image.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, has the opposite in spades. As I detailed in a previous post, John truly is like a friendly, slobbery puppy. And that comes across. People warm up to him pretty much instantly through no reason that I can ascertain. Don’t get me wrong, I love him to bits, it’s just that he has a presence that frustratingly can’t be examined and broken down into things he does or says. He’s just…down to earth and projects a genuineness that can’t be faked. He likes people. He likes talking to and interacting with them and getting to really know their personal life story.

John: See how likable I am?

He is that way, as opposed to someone like me, who has to force herself to remember and act out the social niceties.

Me: Stay back. Move away. I hate people.

So although I appreciate what the Iowa Test, SATs, and other standardized tests are trying to achieve – measure the success of a child’s progress through school – I have to point out that they all devastatingly fail to address a fundamental element of a person’s personality profile, which is their earnest and sincere ability to connect with others.

Baltimore: Please Clean Up Your Doggy Poop

My boyfriend, John, has been discussing the possibility of us moving to suburbia hell, somewhere like Columbia or Ellicott City. I get it, I really do. Marylanders understand what I’m talking about. Howard County is nice, clean, and in select areas, upscale. It’s a place most strive to live in due to the wonderful public and private school systems as well as the high “standard of living”. Stepfords love it.

Where are those delightful toast points that enhance the flavor of the medium-grade caviar I usually serve? Aisle five? Thank you!!!

It’s just that I’ve always been a city girl. I adore the dirty, gritty toughness that pervades urban life and in Baltimore, the grumpiness of my old-school neighbors (ones who have been here for decades). I also love, love, love the fact that conveniences are within walking distance: restaurants, bars, random dives, grocery stores, pharmacies, and cute little stores are all within a ten to fifteen minute radius around my house. The city? It’s down to earth. Tough and frustrating at times, but more about reality than the projection of perfection.

I’m starting to waver on the issue, mainly because I want to have kids at one point or another and, to be honest, I really don’t want to send my kids to a public school here in Baltimore. Right now, we can afford to send one little tyke to private school, but I’ve been told that those spuds grow up more quickly than you think they do and then, wham! You realize that you have to deal with something (like pay for a much higher tuition) all of a sudden.

Spuds or as close to as possible. Much like kids, as I’ve been told. But these are so cute!!!

Also, John’s friends are kind of cool and not at all the Stepfords of my imagination and still go out and/or party (without serving up, on a regular basis, shrimp cocktail) so if they can swing suburban life…maybe it’s not that bad after all.

One of the negatives of living in Baltimore which John has not directly mentioned, but which I know bothers him is its dirtiness. And I agree. It’s gotten a lot better, but it is still pretty dirty. And I live in Canton, probably one of the nicer of the “downtown” areas (okay, I know officially Roland Park and the like are part of Baltimore City, but who are we kidding, those neighborhoods are so not).

And most likely, specifically, one of the huge factors for John is that people do not clean up after their dogs. And, again…I agree. It’s annoying. There is a pile of poop right now sitting on the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house which means it is mere steps away from our front door, since we all live in narrow rowhouses. It is sitting out there, in plain sight, unabashedly disgusting and smelly and, I guess, representative of Baltimore living to a certain degree.

I don’t understand how people can let their dogs squat, poop, and then leave a steaming heap behind, whistling all the while as they walk away. I’m not a religious person, but I really do think there should be a special section in the Bible and other religious texts that address this issue. Such as: “Thy will burn in hell forever if thy allows a beast under thy safekeeping to befoul the property of a fellow man without proper redress.”

One sentence. That’s all I’m asking for.

And the problem is unfortunately rampant. People talk about all the time how their pets are like their children. How close they are to them and how they are family. Would you let your kid poop on someone’s stoop or front lawn without doing anything about it?!!? Really??!? Would you throw your kid’s dirty diaper in someone else’s recycling bin that is empty after the city workers have collected the contents to let the owners of said receptacle to deal with it?!? Would you?

WOULD YOU?!!?

I don’t think so. Therefore, if you are one of those people, don’t go complaining about how people leave the city to live in suburbia, taking their potential consumer dollars with them. Or how they don’t have a vision or tolerance of urban life. Or how others don’t understand how your dog is one of your kiddies: “Don’t people have hearts? Poochie is like a child to me!!!”. Or why America in general eyes Baltimore in skepticism and still paints it with muddy, industrial, and drug-ridden tones when describing it. I mean, Baltimore has enough of a PR issue as it is. Please clean up your doggy poop. It’s the least you can do.

Wow, I Am Kind of Loving My Blog

Bunny smile to you all.

I can’t believe it, but I am kind of loving my blog.

I am not one of those who embraces new, culture-shifting phenomena easily. My paranoia about Big Brother and skepticism about the genuineness behind sudden trends and their supposed goals to better humanity often lead me to be a late-adopter of movements involving social media and global communications. For example,  I used my Motorola flip-phone forever, until it died about two to three years ago. I was (and am) convinced that since it was a flip-phone, any texts I sent and information I stored would be totally immune to the data crawler programs deployed by the federal government to retrieve and analyze crucial facts about me. A vital variable in my deduction of this was the fact that it had lacked any location/GPS capability.

Am I a spy? No. Do I work in an industry involving me to be privy to highly classified, sensitive state secrets? No. But I am somewhat fearful of how easily the government of this country can retrieve and store data about me and others.

The day my flip-phone died, I was so frustrated that I finally caved to the desire to throw my phone against the floor in my house, soap-opera-style. You see it in movies and tv shows; a character flings her phone against the wall or another person while crying and shouting obscenities. I chucked that phone onto the floor and watched as it shattered, dark blue bits of plastic skidding across the kitchen tiles. I gathered them up and tossed them into the trash can and shamefacedly trudged to a T-Mobile store to sign up for a new plan and phone.

“We welcome you!” they said. “If you trade in an old phone, we will give you X dollars off your new phone!!”

“Uh, what if the phone is in pieces?” I responded.

They looked at me in incomprehension. “In pieces? As in no longer working?” I had to reply in the affirmative at which point they said that it was no problem, so I plodded back home, dug up the sad, dead bits of my flip-phone and returned to the store. Then I pushed the parts across the counter as I signed up for my new plan (and phone), looking up at a ceiling corner so I wouldn’t have to eye-admit to the T-Mobile representative that, yes, I am handing you pieces of a phone. And why? Well…long story.

My tendency to shy away from new “data gathering” technology has stopped me in great part from starting a blog or posting my writings (“What if they figure out who I am?”; “What if people cruise by my house and pelt it with rotten apples?”; “Perhaps they will uncover my identity and ridicule me online?!!?”). But, eventually, we all have to put ourselves out there, right? At this day and age, it takes a concerted effort to remain under the radar and it can be taxing. I know. I have personal experience in this area. So I finally started my blog.

I have to say that I am kind of loving it. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because I’m finally starting to write again after all these years or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I feel as if I have a voice that others may respond to and want to encourage them to share their thoughts. So far, writing for my blog has been loads of fun which believe me, is not something I think any of my friends would have expected (“fun” not being a word that comes instantly to anyone’s mind when hearing my name).

I truly hope that anyone reading my blog or the posts from it on Medium.com or other venues also experience some fun, joy, or insight when reading my entries. So this is a shout-out to my followers. Thank you, all.

MUTANT CRICKET!!! MUTANT CRICKET!!!

I don’t have a fear of insects. Or of getting rid of dead ones found in closets or under beds. What I hate to do is kill one by stepping on, smushing, or swatting it with something. There is an ickiness scale with mosquitoes and flies being on the low end (no problem there, I hate those suckers!) and cockroaches on the high.

It has something to do with the crunch you feel and/or hear when killing certain insects as well as having to deal with the sticky aftermath that completely grosses me out. But I can usually still deal with whatever insect that crosses my path that needs to be eliminated.

Until I encountered the mutant cricket.

A few months ago, I went down to my basement (which is finished, so it’s not as if it’s a damp, dark cellar) to retrieve my laundry from the dryer. I own a stacked washer/dryer unit which sits in a closet with a door and in front of it, I saw this:

You know that is not normal.

I immediately freaked out. You can understand why. That is not a creature of this earth. I swear. It’s an alien. OR a mutant.

Let’s just say that the laundry sat in the dryer all day as I periodically peeked down the stairs to see if the creature was still there. It was. By the time night arrived, it had disappeared, so I girded up my panties and dashed down the stairs in madcap fashion (arms and legs flailing everywhere), grabbed all the clean clothes, and rushed back up again. “Phew!” I thought, “Thank god that’s over!!” But it was not.

That eerie insect appeared, ghost-like, again and again throughout the following weeks. And always in the same way: there would be blank carpet and then all of a sudden, there it was. And it never moved. It never hopped. It never swiveled its head. I never saw the feelers (if that’s what they actually are, maybe they’re laser guns, who knows?!!?) twitch. Nothing. AND it would camp out in front of that damn laundry closet, the entrance to the bathroom, or (the worst) at the bottom of the stairs.

“Come closer, my dear…that’s right, there you go….” is what I would hear whenever I saw it.

Finally, in anguish – since I hated to admit that I couldn’t handle it – I asked my boyfriend, John, to kill the creature. Which he promptly did. “It’s just a cricket,” he said. “No, no it’s not!” I cried. “It’s an alien or okay, if it’s a cricket, it’s a mutant cricket!!” His response? “Nope, just a normal cricket. They all look like that.” (No they don’t.)

THIS is a cricket. See how cute he is?

But I was fine with letting it go. “Phew!” I thought, “Thank god that’s over!!” But it was not.

It appeared again several days later. “The cricket’s wife or husband or whatever is downstairs!!” I wailed to John, “Please deal with it!!!” He trounced down the stairs. I heard a “whomp!” (his shoe) and the toilet flush. I sighed with relief. “Phew!” I thought, “Thank god…wait. Let’s not jinx it.”

Too late. I think there is a nest of them downstairs, but I can’t tell, because only one appears at a time. As of this entry, there have been five of those scary, weird, mutant crickets that have appeared and been “taken care” of. But they (the indestructible, resurrecting he? She? It?) keep showing up, over and over again. To the point that the other night, when I saw one of them, I frantically took a picture of it and texted to John, “MUTANT CRICKET! MUTANT CRICKET! GUARDING THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS!!” And yes, I used all caps. I had to in order to convey the height of craziness and terror that the mutant cricket has taken me to.

Update on Crazy Cat Lady

I am such a horrible neighbor. I learned last week that the neighborhood crazy cat lady (about whom I wrote a previous entry) died in February of this year. And I didn’t even notice that I never saw her around anymore until September or so. It’s true that I started a new gig around March and was bedridden for a week or two at a time from May until July or so, but still…I feel bad. I was the only person around here who spoke to her and didn’t try to drive her out and I hope, she was comfortable with conversing (with no expletives).

Even my term, “Crazy Cat Lady” is something I mentioned to her and she laughingly said, “Yeah, I’m crazy, that’s right, they can come right on over and try to take my house from me!” so the moniker is quite reflective of who she was. And she owned it.

I couldn’t find any other details about her passing, but I hope it was peaceful and she has found peace at last.

I Hate That I Am Susceptible to Holiday Commercialization

I fall for this cutesy crap.

Year after year, my brain tells me that crap like the stupid Coca-Cola Polar Bears is part of the company’s (successful) attempt to 1) sell more soda and 2) totally capitalize on the cuteness that is those cavorting bears. But I fall for it every time. Why? Because they are so adorable and sled down mountains of snow and watch moonrises and are friendly with Santa and…drink Coke!!

The other perpetrator of this is Hallmark. And I’m not referring to the cards, but those cheerful snowmen plushies that play music and move around. I am talking about these:

Please buy us!! For no reason whatsover!!

Coca-Cola, Hallmark, and other companies do this shit on purpose. You finally fold and buy something like the above one time – just one – and then you feel some inexplicable obligation to buy another one the next year and then the next. Because, you see, you have to own a SET. And establish a TRADITION. Forget that we’re not talking about Fabergé eggs here. But companies count on most people not being able to afford Fabergé or Chippendale anything to add to their collections, so they trade in on what they think people can afford and entice them to buy silly polar bears and snowmen stuffed animals and ornaments.

But I am in no position to judge because I do love those polar bears. I’ve never bought any of Coca-Cola’s “Limited Edition Commemorative _________”, but they…well, are pretty damn cute.

Food Moochers

This is going to be my boyfriend, John, and I this Christmas (moochers, not Samuel L. Jackson):

Sorry!!!

Per a previous post, I was going to buy a cooked duck, all nice and done with crispy skin at a local Asian grocery store for our Christmas meal. However, I was informed that instead, we were going to be visiting various friends’ Christmas get-togethers and…well, I guess basically being moochers!

In our defense, we have invitations from all of them to join them in their celebrations. And they are our friends and we will be exchanging gifts. It’s not the same as one year, when I was at a Thanksgiving dinner, a couple showed up and were actual moochers, brazenly pulling up chairs around the table (there weren’t enough to accommodate them for obvious reasons). One of the hosts worriedly remarked as an aside to the other in a whisper that he wasn’t sure if there was enough food to go around since it wasn’t a big gathering. This frustrated me, but at the same time, what can one do? Kick them out? Feed them PB&J?

Fortunately, there was enough of the feast, although I think it was due a little to the fact that the rest of us not didn’t take as much of the turkey and duck as we would have otherwise. Also luckily for the people John and I will be visiting this year, I have the appetite of a hamster, so nobody will really suffer from lack of yummies due to my presence.

True food moochers are those who don’t order a meal when you go out with them and ask to taste your and others’ entrées, then get separate checks. Or order something delicious and expensive and then say, “I’ll get it next time”, only they never do. They also do things like eat all the food set out at companies for sharing or bring home ALL the leftovers. I hate food moochers.

At one place where I worked, we stored the Christmas party leftovers in the refrigerators and the next day people discovered that someone had taken all the shrimp. I personally didn’t really mind as I didn’t think it tasted very good to begin with, but others saw it as a huge travesty. Some had brought in Old Bay or cocktail sauce or even ingredients to make shrimp salad (yes, they did).

People tried to deduce who it could have been by comparing notes on everyone’s departure and arrival times the previous evening and that morning. They also cross referenced who was in the kitchen at what times and which ones of us seemed to particularly enjoy the shrimp at the party (some even side-eyed me, since they knew that I love oysters and crabs). Nobody admitted to taking the container, leading most of the rest to concur that the culprit did indeed know that he or she had committed a NEFARIOUS ACT.

There was teeth gnashing and hair tearing and employees roamed the halls hysterically bemoaning what had happened, saying things like:

  • “I can’t believe that someone who works here would steal!”
  • “I didn’t bring any lunch since I was going to make shrimp salad!”
  • “What about the rest of us?”
  • “WHY??!!!?”

All I could think of was that they were taking it just a little too far.

Now…WHICH ONE OF YOU DID IT?

The “theft” became a legend the next two years I was there during the holidays. It was re-told often with further speculation as to who the criminal was (more side-eyes to yours truly). I termed it “The Great Shrimp Conspiracy” to the co-workers I was friendly with. I am sure that everyone there still brings it up.

On principal, I think it wasn’t the right thing to do, but…let it go already! It was just shrimp and really, the person was probably simply embarrassed to admit to being a food moocher. And if he or she still works there, I believe it’s punishment enough to hear about The Great Shrimp Conspiracy year after year, knowing that they are the “evil villain” that the company is still trying to hunt down after all this time.

I am a Child When it Comes to Christmas

When I was actually a child, Christmas sucked ass. My mother would grumpily put up the tree and decorations while waiting to hear from my father on whether or not he would show up to celebrate the holidays with us. I didn’t care much about it since I saw my father perhaps a month each year (at most) if you added together all the days he made it home. My mother explained that he was a busy man and an entrepreneur, which he was since he owned a company in Tokyo that was ahead of its time back then: a firm that invested capital in new ventures. I was always told that he ran a bank, which I guess was the easiest way to describe new venture financing to a child.

If my father made it home, at least one of my parents would get angry during the visit. My father, if he felt that my mother was demanding too much from him and my mother, if she felt that he wasn’t contributing enough. Often, it would be both. At some point, my father would fork over a stack of bills, in the style of the movie Goodfellas, which is why for the longest time, I took the phrase “pay in cash” literally. My mother would then cast a withering glance at him as she counted the money, signifying that however much it was, it wasn’t enough.

My sister and I would open up our presents on Christmas morning, in the midst of the surly environment that this fighting caused, only to find socks, underwear, and other practical gifts that made us hate Christmas even more. It’s ALL we received, They weren’t sprinkled in among a bunch of other great presents. To be fair, though, my mother struggled a lot to support and keep us going through the ups and downs of our family’s financial standing so we were lucky to get anything at all. It’s just that when you’re a kid, you don’t really understand that. You also don’t get it when you’re told, “Our gift to you is your private school/college tuition.” I appreciate it a lot now, not just then. One year, my mother told me, “I gave you the gift of life.” How can you argue against that? No way.

I didn’t mind the boring gifts. What I hated was all the shouting and crying as my parents fought or the loneliness and misery my mother projected if my father didn’t make it home in time for Christmas. One year, when my sister was in college, she changed her flight in order to leave earlier than planned. Our holidays were that painful.

One of our usual Christmas presents.

A few years after I graduated from Hopkins and got my own place, it cost an arm and a leg. But I was willing to work for it (two jobs, but also to help out my mother, which is another story) because I was done with roommates and sharing space with others. I wanted my OWN place. One that was just mine. And one of the first things I got when it came around to Christmas? A tree (albeit fake).

It is set up now in front of me as I write this entry, all these years later, because of my insane sentimental attachment to it. It has shed a ton of its leaves and therefore is now probably 72% of its original size, but I still have it. My boyfriend, John, mentioned gently the other day that “perhaps it’s time to get a new tree” and I stared at him with a stricken look on my face as if he had suggested that I kill a puppy or donate a vital organ, like a kidney.

Come back! I didn’t mean it! We can still be friends!!!

To be honest, I don’t know if I can ever get rid of my tree. I may be able to relegate it to a secondary role if I end up in a house big enough, such as the small tree in the office. It can be an understudy.

As far as traditions go, I used to make duck every year for Christmas as an ‘eff you to the Thanksgiving turkey, but I’ve discovered that it’s much easier and less stressful to buy meals and side dishes prepared beforehand from Harris Teeter and Whole Foods or the like (this year, I plan to get duck from a local Asian grocery store. Yum!). Also, I don’t have any children so have zero pressure to create family holiday memories with me and the kids in the kitchen. So I don’t have any afternoon or evening rituals involving the preparation of the awe-inspiring Christmas dinner.

Instead, I take immense pleasure in other activities.  I’ll do things like hide my presents from others so they can’t find them (as if they would search for them) and look outside daily hoping for a white Christmas (“Is it going to snow? Do you think it’s going to snow? Will it snow?”). I’ll heat up mulled wine to sip and on Christmas morning, bounce down the stairs in my pajamas and make hot chocolate, carefully placing puffy marshmallows in mugs. I’ll put on cloyingly sweet Christmas music as I wiggle my toes in warm, soft socks and randomly dance to the tunes. If I had a working fireplace – I have a fireplace, it just isn’t usable – I swear I would probably build a fire and try to figure out how to roast chestnuts on it.

Each year, I take out my decorations and put them on the mantle and furniture while artfully positioning ornaments on my tree. I also love stringing lights everywhere (John: “More lights?”) and bask in their (literal) glow as I pad around the house during the cold nights, thinking, “This is my home. This is my haven. I love my life.” John moved in with me late last year so now I also think, “And my love is upstairs, sleeping comfortably in our bed.” I’ll go up nowadays and scratch his head and give him kisses before lying down next to him, thinking of the upcoming Christmas. Sometimes he will snuggle up next to me and kiss the top of my head, for no discernible reason to me whatsoever (why the top of my head? Perhaps because I’m short?).

Recently, I discovered that John had put a present in my stocking. I excitedly hopped from one foot to the other, looking at and shaking it, thinking “What is it? WHAT COULD IT BE??!!!?” as if it was perhaps a surface-to-air missile or an original Gutenberg Bible. I don’t know what it is about shaking gifts to try to figure out what they are. I think it has more to do with the thrill of Christmas morning than any detective work. However, I always do this, which has led my friends to give me gifts that aren’t fragile. Then, of course, I have to try to guess what the presents are. “Is it a book?”. “Is it a sweater?”. “Is it a priceless diamond necklace?” (it never is) and often the person would smile and say “Why don’t you open it up and see?” as if I were actually a child.

Which I am, during Christmas. But give me a break. I’m a sulky adult the rest of the year. I just love making this season my own. Creating it through joy and happiness. I can make it mine, in any cheerful way I choose. It’s great. I simply, unabashedly, LOVE Christmas.

Why is Orson Scott Card Such a Douche?

I love sci-fi. Let me just disclose that right now. If you couldn’t already tell from my posts, I am somewhat of a geek. Usually (although I’m not sure why), that involves a love of either science fiction or fantasy literature/movies/tv shows. I recall, as a child, discovering the Seven Citadels series by Geraldine Harris, a pretty unknown set of books. My reading of them introduced me to the world of fantasy fiction, as did The Belgariad a year later by David Eddings.

At my school, you needed to have a teacher’s written authorization to access the middle school library if you were in elementary school and when I finally got one, I felt like I had scored the golden ticket.

I’m not sure when I was allowed entry into those hallowed halls, but I think I was in third or fourth grade. Back then, I thought I needed to work really hard to obtain that privilege, but as an adult, I know now that they would have granted it to me sooner rather than later since apparently, most kids don’t like to read and I had awesome teachers; they would have wanted to encourage me in the exploration of literature.

I actually hated book reports since I’m somewhat anti-authority (I told my boyfriend, John, more than once that the surefire way to ensure that I do something is to tell me that I can’t, such as, “You can’t…” or “I forbid you to…” which of course resulted in a string of sex related statements from him). A requirement in fifth grade Language Arts was an X number of pages read, tracked through submitted book reports. I was so frustrated by this prerequisite since I clearly loved to read that I handed in only one the entire year on The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which clocks in at around 850 to 900 pages (take that! I’m such a rebel!!).

I madly consumed Piers Anthony (not a fan), Frank Herbert (“Fear is the mind-killer”), Ray Bradbury (genius), and Issac Asimov (classic), among many others before stumbling onto Orson Scott Card. I quickly read Ender’s Game and instantly fell in love with it, as I believe any child who is somewhat accelerated in his or her reading skills would have. Ender’s Game is the perfect nerd book, celebrating intellectual achievement over the physical in precocious children, giving affirmation to us dorks that it is not only a-okay to be one, but kind of cool.

Orson Scott Card confirmed my love of science fiction. To this day, I’m not much for the fantasy genre, although I still like to read the likes of Robin McKinley and similar. That is why I hate, hate, HATE the fact that I found out a few years back that Orson Scott Card is a racist, homophobic douche. I can provide a list of his related comments, but you can probably look them up much faster and more comprehensively through Google; let’s just say that he is a hardcore, Mormon asshole.

Noooo!! Why with the racism and homophobia?!!? From OSC. Not the book.

Are all Mormans racist? And homophobes? I’m not sure. I think that the religion itself is pretty exclusive and I can say that I have personal insight on this matter through my mother’s stories, as she attended college on a Mormon-sponsored scholarship. She lived in Ogden, Utah, which is probably one of the worst places you could have lived in the 70’s if you embraced diversity (sorry, Utah!!). Apparently, the church was keen on converting her, but not so much on including her in the community or helping her land a job of any kind, setting aside the most lucrative of them for their actual, church approved members. Of course, she was somewhat clueless about all this in the beginning, mainly seeing her scholarship as an opportunity for free, higher education, which it was, but it came at a price. I think even now, the time she spent in Ogden has negatively colored her views on Mormons and organized religion in general.

I don’t truly understand how people who clearly have above average brain cells can be closed-minded instead of the opposite as the latter is a crucial trait I count towards rating a person’s intelligence. It requires people to consider others’ points of views and acknowledge the weaknesses of their own, propelling them to shift through data and opinions that they may have discounted earlier, possibly arriving at new conclusions. Such as Thomas Edison. So many of humanity’s discoveries have been due to the fact that people admitted that they may have erred in their perceptions and findings, making them to try and try again.

So it infuriates me that the author of the Ender series – which fired up my love of sci-fi – is a racist, homophobic jerk and that this fact alone unfortunately takes away from the pleasure I get from looking forward to and reading any new books written by him. It does. I can’t love art for art alone and exclude the artist because that’s just the type of person I am.