January 30, 2011

Life on the Couch: I am a basement dweller.

Somehow, I always end up living in the basement.

It all started when I finally left my mother's house at the age of twenty.

Yes, I know. Let's just move on, shall we?

I ended up in the basement of a friend's parents' house for nearly a year. There were things stored in my bedroom that weren't mine, and large horrible unnamed creatures which would occasionally perch on the wall above my bed and stare at me with all their legs until I was forced to sleep in my papasan. Needless to say, it was a relief to get out of there and into my own apartment.

Some years later there was my aunt's basement. Once again I was forced to live with some of my host's things, as well as the constant threat of the unthinkably-legged creatures lurking over my head as I slept.

More time has passed, and now I'm back in the basement. This one is in a townhouse that I'm sharing with two roommates (a married couple) and our combined four cats. The walls are industrial white brick, the floors are concrete, and there are tangles of cords and pipes between the beams of the ceiling. A thin false wall with an open doorway is the only thing separating me from the furnace, air conditioner, water softener, and washer/dryer. The ceiling squeaks and thuds noisily as my roommates move about the upper level, and I can hear the kids playing and listening to music in the adjoining townhouse like they're in the room with me. It's always ten degrees colder than the rest of the house and my space heater is my best friend.

I spend most of my time here on a futon that it quite literally falling apart. It's sagged down to nearly to the floor and is missing several of the support rods, creating holes into which the cushion is slowly disappearing. It's the saddest excuse for a couch I've ever seen. I daydream about vegging out on a real couch with cushions and springs and arms. One that I don't have to flail and heave my way off of. Someday...

So, are you feeling sorry for me yet? You shouldn't. Every time I face the possibility of living in a basement, I make the choice for some reason or another to do so. (Ok, yes, the reason has pretty consistently been a money thing.) I always end up staying longer than I intended, and by the time I finally do get out of the basement, I can't wait to go. It's always my choice to be here and I accept that.

It won't stop me from whining about it though.

It's really not a terrible place to be, but I do long for the day when I can watch rain or snow fall outside the windows, and when I don't have to cast uneasy glances at the spiderwebs on the ceiling to check for eight-legged interlopers. I can't wait to live above-ground again. With any luck, in six months or so, that's exactly where I'll be.

Until then, I am a basement dweller.

January 27, 2011

Geek Weekly: I am a geek.

In the past few years, it's become cool to be a geek.

You've got Wil Wheaton and the characters of “The Big Bang Theory” (not to mention dozens of others) showing us how easy life is for a geek. But see, there's a secret no one's telling you. Are you ready for it? You sure?

It's actually no cooler to be a geek now than it ever was.

The thing is, most of the stuff that geeks have traditionally loved (translation: obsessed over) have become mainstream. All those people out there claiming to be geeks? Most of them are just “normal” people who happen to like the Lord of the Rings movies or read the Harry Potter books. The true definition of a geek is somewhat different.

Take a look at this handy visual guide I found on the internets to see what I mean:

Geek-Nerd-Dork Venn Diagram

See, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Geeks (or nerds, or dorks) tend to have poor social skills. They obsess about the things they “fan” to a degree that all those other people find disconcerting, if not downright alarming. They have such a difficult time relating to the world around them that they prefer to live in a universe created by George Lucas or Neil Gaiman. They can only find a certain amount of acceptance among other geeks. The only reason they seek acceptance at all is because human beings are social creatures and want to be with other humans. Well, that and they want to make sure as many people as possible know how much they know about “Doctor Who.”

Another thing about geeks? They are fiercely protective of their status. They are True Geeks because they have suffered. Unfortunately, in their (usually futile) attempts to shelter and protect themselves from The Bullies, they often end up shutting themselves off from the world instead. It's a vicious circle, really.

I consider myself a geek, although I don't feel that particular sense of protectiveness. If the backward-hat and khaki-shorts wearing college boys want to play D&D on the weekends, or to wait in line for a midnight showing of Avatar (the third re-release, with 28 seconds of new footage!), then more power to them. The fact that they like something that I like, causing it to become popular, can only benefit me. It means that more of the things I like will get made, because they bring in the almighty dollar.

To be honest, I sometimes feel on the outside even amongst geeks. Because no matter how much you've always wanted to be on the inside, no matter how much pain and suffering you've gone through to finally get there, once you've finally arrived you look at those poor souls still on the outside trying to get in, and you lock the door against them.

It's even worse, now that it's become cool to be a geek.

But enough of that emo shit. (Don't you hate emo kids? They're so lame.)

In spite of that, I wear my geek badge with pride. Because the best part about being a geek is that there are so many flavors. Mine is based largely on a Star Wars/“Star Trek” background, with a healthy dose of Stephen King and a massive affinity for horror movies thrown in. My tastes have changed over the years, evolved into something different with every new discovery. After resisting for years, I finally dove head-first into the world of Harry Potter and never looked back. More recently I discovered the joy that is the “Doctor Who” reboot (Eccleston is totally my Doctor). About a year ago, my obsessive tendencies drew me to a strange little German soap opera called “Alles Was Zählt,” because of the gay storyline. And that's only scratching the surface of my fandom experience.

There is so much more about me that makes me a geek, most of which I'll explore at a later time, because this entry is already too long as it is.

January 23, 2011

An introduction.

So. Tell me a little about yourself.

You've had a job interview, right? So you've probably heard that before. Every time I hear it (because yes, I've had more than a few interviews in my life), my brain just sort of shuts down. If I can bumble my way through the response, I consider the interview a success. It doesn't matter if I get the job or not.

Now here I am, putting myself out there on the intarwebz, and I'm facing that damn question again. But if you really feel compelled to get the answer, click the “About Melanie” link to your left. No really, I think the description I wrote is kind of cute. Go ahead, I'll wait.

There's a rerun of The Real Housewives of Atlanta on, I can keep myself busy.

Done? It was brief, I know. But it kind of sums me up. I like nerdy things like the Star Wars movies, the Harry Potter books, and various cult British shows. I get a lot of joy out of what I like to call Gay Entertainment, which can range from all things Bravo TV to German soap operas with a gay storyline to anything starring John Barrowman. My favorite movie experience is one that scares me so silly I can't even really watch it the first time because I'm too busy hiding behind my scarf. I make fanvids and write fanfiction and have experienced the good and the bad of fandom. I am a geek.

I also deal with anxiety, depression, and a number of other Issues. I like to say that I have so many Issues that my Issues have issues. Which is nothing unusual in today's world, or so I like to think. Those will come up here too, but I hope to handle them with humor instead of making this a wailing wall.

And! I'm working on starting a new direction in my life. I'm working on my application for the University of Minnesota, and if I get accepted and can pull off the financial aid, I'm going to quit my full-time secretarial job and go back to school in pursuit of a degree in English and/or Film Studies/Acting. Which means I'm essentially giving up on the real world to jump back into following my dreams. Oh, did I also mention I turned 33 years old a month ago?

So now you know a few things about me. There's a lot more, don't worry. It will all come up in one way or another as I continue writing here.

I think my life is about to get pretty scary and exciting. I plan to post to this blog twice a week... Sundays will be about me, my life, my issues and my observations. Thursdays will be all things geek. And if I feel like throwing something out there in between, it's whatever I feel like. If you want to see what happens when a thirty-something single girl decides to start over, come back and see me. I'll be here.

Whew, I muddled through. Success!