Archive | January, 2012

Holiday Nerdery

9 Jan

Back to work after 17 days off. I’m pretty out of practice with my writing, so doing a blog sounds like a good jumping off point. Also, I haven’t posted anything for months, so it’s about time I get back to it.

As a way to ease myself back into my research I thought I’d go through some of my favourite holiday nerd moments. Because the truth is, while I might be freaking out about how I’ll ever manage to get back into work mode, the reality is, it never really went away.

6. Portal 2. My sisters and brother have been badgering me for months to finish playing Portal 2. I would be watching TV and all of a sudden I’d hear this whisper: “Play Portal….” And then another voice would join in and the chant would begin: “Play Portal. Play Portal. Play Portal”. And then my brother would walk past, my sisters would beckon, he would crouch behind the lounge (think Evil Demon Bob) and join the crescendo-ing chant: “Play Portal. Play Portal. PLAY PORTAL”. I shut them up by saying I’d play it in my Christmas break. Which I did. It’s hard to beat an afternoon involving GLaDOS, chicken Twisties, and the lounge. But turrets*!? What the crap Aperture Science!? I hate you.

5. Contact Lenses. This might sound a little anti-nerd, but I feel it intersects with the realm, so I’m mentioning it in this list. Almost two years ago to the day I went to the optometrist and he said I’d need glasses. All-the-time glasses. It took a while, but I really like my spectacles now. Yet every now and then you get ready to go out, you get your makeup right, or you’re going to a festival or something, and you think it would be really nice not to have to wear glasses. So I went back to the optometrist and asked about contact lenses.

When the lenses came in the optometrist showed me how to use them. I was in there for over an hour and in that time only managed to get one lense in myself. He ended up having to put the other one in, and after lots of fishing around and stressing out and a phone call from my brother saying he was locked out of the house, the optometrist took the lenses out for me. As I was leaving he gave me a pair of practise lenses to try the next day. His parting words were: ‘I’ll stay here until 6 o’clock. If you can’t get them out by 5:30 ring me and I’ll take them out for you.” He’s so nice.

I managed (after about 45 minutes worth of trying and my dad cheering me on) to get them in the next day. I got home from uni at about 4pm. I fished around for about an hour trying to get the damned things out my self. I stopped trying not to cry. I induged myself perhaps a little too much in the crying, partly in the hope that I could maybe cry the lenses out. In the end I rang the optometrist and took him up on his offer.

I walked in all puffy and mascara smeered. He asked if I’d like to give it one last go myself. My hands were amazingly steady as I washed them in preparation. The optometrist turned around to get something behind him. And like a ninja I had my fingers in my eye, the contact pinched, and before I knew what was happening I had got the right one out. I wasn’t very cool in my triumph. There was a lot of cheering and chest puffery. Buoyed with my success the other one came out just as easily. I couldn’t even feel bad that I had wasted the poor guy’s time. I was proud as punch. I went home with another practise pair and bragged to my family about how amazing I was.

The sad thing is, this scenario of tears, time and eventual triumph has been repeated a few times over. But it’s slowly getting better. It only took me ten minutes the last time I wore them to get them out myself. TEN MINUTES NERDS! No tears! Like a winner.

Basically, conquering contacts this holidays was pretty special.

4. Neil Gaiman. I’d bought my sisters and myself tickets to see Neil Gaiman in Sydney. Along with a couple of my Gaiman loving friends we drove up to Newtown (NEWTOWN!! Yep, I drove in the city! Rae: Conquering contact lenses and city roads since 2011!) to see this entertaining and clever man. He was accompanied by a string quartet called FourPlay who were pretty brilliant. We got seats in the second row, so we were close enough for him to spit on us… not that he’d do that, but, you know, if he’d wanted to he could have got us easy.

I think my sister described the night the best: Neil Gaiman last night was amazing – a lot like bedtime stories, a little like a dream. SO good.

3. Avatar: The Last Air Bender. See entry on Portal 2, but insert ‘Avatar’ in place of ‘Portal’.

My siblings love this funny little show. They’ve been wanting me to watch it for a long time. I always come in when they’re half way through a season and they don’t want me to be spoilered, but they also don’t really want to start again from the beginning just so I can see it. Like Portal I said I’d watch it in my break. I’m about 16 episodes in. It’s strangely addictive. What really gets me is the animation, the almost unnoticeable background details, little superlative movements, or facial expressions, or sound effects. They crack me up; like a group of villagers demurely cheering the return of the Avatar while one lone man goes completely hysterical to the point of mouth frothing  **; or Momo (Aang, the Avatar’s pet lemur) constantly stealing people’s food in the background, or Aang crashing into things or fidgeting behind other characters exchanging serious dialogue, or the ‘boing boing’ noise when someone is poked in the head. Watching Aang try and shove Momo into a tiny air vent was also surprisingly hilarious.

2. Doctor Who. This year was the second time since The Lord of the Rings films first came out that I was looking forward to Boxing Day more than Christmas. Because this, like last year, was the day the Doctor Who Christmas special was airing. I had been preparing my extended family for this event for weeks. We were going to my Aunty’s house for second Christmas on Boxing Day. I’d taken to just subtly throwing into conversations about Christmas prep the inevitability of the viewing: “So, I’ll make a trifle. Also, Doctor Who’s on that night, 7:30. We’ll need the telly. And salad? Yep, I’ll remember ”.

To their credit they remembered and generously allowed their geeky kin to withdraw and shed happy tears over their special show. The episode was beautiful; silly, funny, and magical. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of my all time favourite books, it gives me tingles. It’s one of those stories that gets closest to feeling tangibly magical. To have this combined with Doctor Who, which also manages this magic thing was super affecting. Hearing the Doctor ask “What do they teach you in school these days!?” was a definite highlight***.

My sister also got series 6 of Doctor Who on DVD, so I spent quite a bit of the holidays re-watching episodes from that. It was also nice going over to my friend’s house on new year’s day to relax and geek out with some Who. What can I say, the show brings people together:-)

1. Everyday Nerdery. I loved the taken for granted nerdy things that just went on in the background every day. Things like over-hearing conversations like this:

Mum to brother who had just got home after spending New Years Eve playing some roll-play game about Cthulhu… probably… I just remember hearing him tell Mum he was going down to Nowra to participate in an “eldritch abomination” to bring in the New Year.

Mum: How was the game?

Brother: It was great! I played this rich guy. Actually, I was kinda a bad ass. (Lots of details about his bad assery and what happened in the game. I think there was a buggy or a carriage or something and maybe explosions…?)

Mum: (doing an admirable job of sounding interested) Cool! Where did you stay the night?

Brother: At my mansion. I had this massive estate that had heaps of rooms for guests (continued to describe his fancy house)

Mum: Oh, um, I mean, in real life…

Brother: Oh. At Grandma’s.


This is what nerdity is all about. Right there. The imaginative becoming the real. It makes me happy.

I also loved consuming an entire season of Community in a day. And losing time on Tumblr. And having my sister ask which shoe I wanted and then telling me it was fighting another shoe that my other sister had chosen to represent and as such we must fight each other to death on behalf of the shoes. And re-realising I love The Cook and the Chef (problematic gendered implications re. the title but they’re both just so darn nice). And having one of my sisters attempt to explain the storyline of the Sandman comic book series by Neil Gaiman before we went to see him. And being jealous of my cousin’s sonic screwdriver screwdriver. And my other sister watching cricket and working out how it worked in terms of how it is like Quidditch and then describing how it should be more like Quidditch. These everyday nerdy things made the Christmas/ New Years break all the more enjoyable. So thanks to everyone who contributed.

As you wish xx