Origin Story

I love comic books. I am unashamed. The pulp nature of it, the gleeful tossing aside of scientific reality for the sake of story and fun, the “because it’s cool ok” justification for just about anything … It is a medium more accepting of the fantastic than just about any other. It has great potential that is largely untapped, so many stories that could be told. Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series and Bill Willingham’s “Fables” series demonstrate just how versatile the medium can be. Comics are not just about superheroes – though really, who doesn’t love superheroes?

I have my own ideas for comic stories, but that’s another post. I started thinking about my own Origin Story, as they are known in comic lingo. What made me what I am today? Sure, there’s the boring stuff, where I grew up, who my parents were, all that. Big deal. The defining moments were much smaller.

My big brother is seven years older than me, and several levels higher in Geekdom. He’s a computer programmer with a blacksmithing hobby, for crying out loud. But way back in 1992, when I was but a tweenager, my older brother was a rock musician, a gamer, a college student and, as always, Way Cool. (Okay, so he’s still Way Cool.) And somehow, he knew exactly what his little sister needed to follow in his geeky footsteps. He sat me down one night and made me watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation” with him. A Wesley Crusher episode. I don’t remember which one. Now I know people dis Wesley, and as an adult I cringe at some of the stories they put this character through. But in 1992, I fell. In. Love. Here was a handsome, highly intelligent, awkward, GEEKY teenager, only a few years older than myself. And people were paying attention to him, praising him, rewarding him for being exactly what he was.

So down than slippery slope I happily tumbled. I watched “Star Trek” whenever it was on, which was happily two or three times a week. I read the novels. I went to conventions. In costume. I helped win a trivia contest at one of those said conventions, in said costume. I still remember that last question … What rank was Commander Data in the novel Imzadi? Commodore, of course. Psh. Everyone who was obsessed with that book knew that.

Fast forward to 2010. Things are rough. I stay home with my two children. I can finally admit, though still with a significant amount of guilt and disappointment in myself, that I am not good at being a stay at home mom. No one’s really happy. I struggle with loneliness, inadequacy, rejection and depression. I write, spin, knit, etc., trying desperately to find something that will not only make money but that I am happy doing, that I’m good at, that will impress someone – anyone – other than my long-suffering husband or a handful of friends. Two steps forward, one step back. Things are getting better, but boy, is it slow, and the down days are still Really Down Days.

At my friend Jen’s behest, I started reading Wil Wheaton’s blog. Yup, the guy who played Wesley Crusher, now a fully functional and non-space-suited adult. I read with great empathy about his troubles post Star Trek, finding meaningful work (or work at all), about his love of geek culture, his complex internal life. I read his books – Dancing Barefoot, Just a Geek, and others. And I fell in love all over again, not because he was handsome (though the guy is still smokin’) but because he was genuine, intelligent, and ultimately, like me, like the title of his book, just a geek. Now, my life is significantly different than this geek-culture-celebrity’s, because he actually HAS found a meaningful life, but I feel a kinship with his struggles. His story gives me hope, that I can be just a geek too, and work – and eventually, happiness – will follow.

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1 Comment

  1. Jen McCown said,

    May 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I gotta tell ya…I’m a big, big fan of yours. Seriously. You’ll find what you’re looking for. This stage, this little kid stage of your life, it’s just what we call Paying Dues. A change is a-gonna come. Meanwhile, I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!!!


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