Tag Archives: reading

Get A Life!

At Emerald City Comicon this year there was a floor with some really intricate and amazing Lego stuff. By Lego stuff I mean the Hogwarts Castle & Grounds made of Legos, the Shire from Lord of Rings along with a bunch of other equally amazing things all made of Legos. I looked at all of them, the detail was fantastic and I found myself admiring the people who took the time to put these creations together. Then I heard someone behind me say “Wow, someone has no life.” Then they walked away. That really bummed me out and made me kind of mad. Why? Because many of the creators were sitting right behind the displays, and because it was Comicon! A place where many people who are told on a regular basis to “get a life” can be themselves and love the things love without fear of judgement. And then some yahoo comes in and says that?!

I didn’t let that one comment ruin my experience though. I enjoyed the rest of the Lego displays and the rest of the con. But I still think about that comment now and then. I think there is a ridiculous double standard with that comment.

If you think about it, the people who enjoy “nerdy things” like comic books, building with Legos, LARPing, D&D (etcetra, etcetra) are told on a regular basis to “get a life.” But people who dedicate their lives to “regular things” like athletics, academia, art or work are not told to “get a life.” So where is the distinction? Why is someone who enjoys playing D&D regularly told they have no life when someone who plays basketball all the time isn’t? What’s more why are things like sports and “regular hobbies” encouraged while LARPing and “nerdy hobbies” generally not?

Perhaps it’s the amount of enthusiasm our interests seem to generate. When a nerd loves something, hot damn, do we LOVE it. We allow ourselves to get sucked into whatever we’re doing and that’s part of why we love it. As a D&D player I totally get this.

For a couple hours each week I get to pretend I’m not a single mom, but a stealthy Eladrin rogue capable to dealing out massive damage to monsters and enemies. It’s fun to lose myself for a couple hours with friends and after it’s over I go back to real life. I know there are some that have a hard time slipping back to reality. I’ve heard some really tragic stories of some people who became so obsessed with whatever their hobby was they simply couldn’t separate it from real life.

So there is a dark side to these “nerdy hobbies.” But I think there also is a dark side to “regular hobbies” as well. The most obvious of these can be work. Ok, so I guess work isn’t really a hobby. The way I look at working is that it’s a means to do the things you love. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a job you love, then it would be like me getting paid to read books and comics all day. Oh if only!

With work it’s very easy to find the dark side. We’ve all heard of workaholics. Those folks who can’t separate their work life from their home life. Their children are ignored. A spouse neglected, friends lost simply because they can’t manage to leave work at work. So why is a workaholic not told to get a life? In many situations the obsession with work is rewarded with promotions or praise for work ethic. Why is this?

I think society has a lot to do with it. I think we’re taught from a young age what is “normal” and what is “weird” and a lot of what falls into the “weird” category are these nerdy things. Things like sports are easy to understand, it’s a game of athletics. Something like Role Playing Games can be really difficult to understand unless you’re in that world. A lot of people are not in that world because it’s “odd” maybe even “uncool.” But just because it’s odd doesn’t make it bad and it certainly doesn’t rob the participant of a life.

I met this guy while I was in Vegas a couple years ago. We started talking about Star Wars. He told me how much he loved it. The more we talked about it, the more I could see he was sort of geeking out about it. Then he told me normally, he would never talk about this stuff. I asked if his friends would be uncool about it and he said no, it’s just not something he should be into. He was also a wrestler, going to school to become a cop and doing the “normal person thing.”

Personally I don’t feel abnormal because I enjoy reading comics, watching anime and playing D&D. They’re just things I enjoy and I’m not going to be ashamed of them. Just because I like those things doesn’t mean I don’t have a life, on the contrary I think it helps me to have a life. By allowing myself to escape into the pages of a comic, the scenes of a show, or the person of my D&D character I can come back from those things refreshed. I feel more ready to take on real life if I have an escape every now and then.

Unfortunately, I doubt something like this will change any time soon. The stereotypes that surround these types of hobbies will continue to endure and those who enjoy said activities may have to learn to grow a tough skin. Because there’s always going to be someone with a raised eyebrow muttering in our direction, “Geez, get a life.”

I Love the Library

So many things to love about the library.

Lately I have been rediscovering how much I love the library. As the weather turns colder and wetter here in the Great Northwest it gets difficult to find free activities for me and the kiddo to indulge in. The library is perfect. At my local Seattle Public Library branch the children’s section is located further from the library itself, so it’s not a huge deal if Jack talks in a normal voice or acts like a toddler. There’s a great selection of children’s books and DVDs to check out. They also provide puzzles, puppets and great reading areas. Jack and I could easily spend two hours reading, puzzling and playing. The bonus is Jack gets to pick and choose what books he brings home. (I limit it to five or six simply because he wants to read all the books he checks out every night before bed.) Not only does it entertain the kiddo for a couple hours and make the time during a rainy day fly by, but I also feel very at home at the library.

As a bibliophile the library has always been a special place for me; a place where I can browse for books, take them home without paying for them and bring them back again. It’s a place where I can preview a book to see if I do, in fact, want to add it to my ever growing collection of books. Countless times I have checked out a book convinced I was going to love it, only to find that I didn’t really feel the need to own it.

The library also holds some personal memories for me. My first “real” boyfriend and I went to the library down the street from our high school a few times a week to hang out after school. We got scolded by the librarians for cuddling up together in one chair and we shared one of the most memorable kisses (at least for me) right outside in the courtyard. I watched him work on his French homework and filled out my application for Assistant Director of the school play there. It doesn’t matter what library I go to I usually always remember those things, when I walk through the doors.

Besides triggering happy memories from high school, one of my favorite things about the library is checking out an almost new book. One that you can tell has been read by only a few people. I got one of those books the other day. It had the “Received On” stamp in the front and it was received at the library this year, so I knew it would be a good one. I flipped through it quickly, that’s when I noticed something I hate. Someone had crossed out the word “fucking” with a pencil. I’ve seen this before. In elementary school I was reading a chapter book in the school library and noticed someone had crossed out the word “ass.” I took it to the librarian to show her. I don’t remember her reaction at all, but I know what mine was, how disrespectful!

I felt this feeling again as I stared at the line carefully drawn through the swear of all swears. When I took the book home I sat down to read it with an eraser. I noticed right away that only two swears at the beginning of the book were crossed out. It seems whoever was reading the book could only abide two swears before giving up. I used my eraser to get rid of the marks, but I still was annoyed, they’d pressed so hard with their pencil that a gouge was left in the paper. I couldn’t get rid of that, but at least it was less noticeable with the pencil mark gone.

I really wonder why people feel it’s ok to do that. Making notes in the margins or crossing out words that offend your tender eyes is really rude and what’s more is it’s distracting. You know someone else might want to check out the book so why not keep it as nice as you can, out of respect for the next person? Would you ever mark up a library book? Am I being unreasonable here?

Finding Yourself in the Quiet

A few weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw someone’s status update. The update was from a mom. It  said something about a relaxing activity and then asked how other moms relaxed.

I thought about that for a long time. I thought about my usual routine for the day. Jack takes a nap in the middle of the day so that seems like the opportune moment for relaxing. Usually I would use that time to work on my writing, clean the house or more likely cruise stupid Facebook for two hours until Jack wakes up. Those activities are not so relaxing. What’s more is I would usually have music on in the background or a podcast if I was working on something crafty.

I don’t mind noise normally, but I haven’t been feeling myself lately. I’ve been going overboard on the negativity and complaining. Part of that might have something to do with me being stupid lonely all the time. I don’t get enough time with adult people since my sister moved away. I know that’s somewhat on me. I could join a MOPS group or start going to those single parent meetups again. It’s just a matter of me getting out of this funk. It’s hard enough trying to make new friends without having a dark cloud hanging over your head.

So I’m taking small steps to feeling better. I’m trying to reach out  more to the friends I already have, making an effort to reconnect with them. I’m also trying to take better care of myself. There are two things I’ve been trying to do each day to accomplish that.

The first thing I’m trying to do is get up before Jack wakes up. If I do that I can workout, have a shower and a cup of coffee and feel more ready to take on a toddler each day. This has only been mildly successful. To get up early I have to go to bed early and I don’t like to do that. Because I’m stubborn and the night is my time. I don’t have to watch Alice in Wonderland (for the millionth time), I can watch Battlestar Galactica or Russell Peters. I can read a book, I can have a bubble bath, hell I could dance around naked if I wanted to, cause my kid is asleep!

I don’t have to play “crawl under the bed to explore a cave” or “trapping mama and tying her up.” As much as I love playing with my child, my adult mind can only take so much before I start to think, really you’re chasing me around the house with a rope again? So it’s hard for me to get to bed early enough to get up before Jack, because I like being able to do what I want for a change.

With that said, I have had a little success this week. I’ve only worked out once, but I think I’ve been up before the kiddo every day so that’s a step in the right direction.

The second thing I’m doing in an attempt to make myself better is having a quiet naptime. That’s not to say I’m taking naps. I hate naps. My house is quiet at naptimes though.

I’ve started giving myself one chore a day during nap, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, make an important call; then after the chore is done and things are in relatively good order I pick up a book, sit in my reading corner and read until I hear the stirrings of an awakening toddler. So far this has been working out really well.

I love books and adore reading, so this has been really healing for my mind and soul. That sounds ridiculously cheesy, but it’s true. My house may be a little less tidy, but at least I’m getting an hour or more of something I love everyday.

There is something so rewarding to me about reading a book, finishing a book. I’m a big nerd and keep a journal of the books I’ve read. Yes, a paper journal where I write down every single book I’ve read.

This is my book journal. I love it!

I started it in 2006, but I don’t remember why. I even used to write mini-reviews of each book, but stopped that, too much work. I love to look through it and remember how each story impacted my life. How it made me feel, what I was doing when I read said book, how long it took me to finally finish one, seeing those months where there’s nothing makes me so sad, thinking I had no time to read.

I make it a point to read now. Because reading and books is part of who I am. Loving the written word is so deeply ingrained in my heart that I just feel crappy when I don’t read something. So I sit, in the quiet of my house, while the wild thing slumbers, I lose myself in a good book. And I really am starting to feel better.