Mountain; High Enough

Several years ago, I climbed a mountain.

It was a (relatively) small one, on Mount Desert Island in Maine. One of the ones in Acadia National Park.

If you’ve never been to Acadia, it’s a prime example of northern forest. Beautiful and quiet, interspersing a cathedral atmosphere with trees reaching towards a distant sun with sweeping views of rocky coastline. You can stand at the boundaries between earth and water and sky, imagining yourself battered by wind and waves like something out of Hemingway or Melville.

This was in another era of my life. In the time of a bad relationship, in the time of fewer tools for dealing with my broken brain. I had camped the night before for the first time in about 10 years and the tent had been battered by rain. I was exhausted. I was not okay. Nevertheless, I climbed. I was unused to serious hiking. I was creaky and slow and self-conscious about being so.

Nevertheless, I reached the top.

It was a deeply emotionally trying day for both me and the ex. The path was steep and I was in deep freak-out mode and it was too misty to see any views from the thousand-and-some foot elevation at the top.

And it wasn’t till later till after sleep and food and a return to my hemmed in urban life that I realized how absurd it was that I’d been feeling bad about having reached the top of a mountain more slowly than someone else.

* * *

When I was young I repeatedly read a book by Richard Bach (of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame) called Illusions. It was full of a very seventies brand of philosophy which many still turn to – visualizing what you want as a way of instantiating it. More or less the same brand of philosophy that The Secret espouses, as I understand it. Doesn’t work, of course. Visualizing without planning and working does fuckall.

I absorbed it though, at far too tender an age.

There are lines I can still remember. Bach’s amended golden rule “Do unto others as you truly feel like doing unto others,” is one that has some value in some contexts. The pithier one, the one that stuck with me harder is “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”

What toxic bullshit.

* * *

If you had told me at 10 or 15 or 20 or even 30 that accepting one’s limitations is one of the most freeing things that could ever happen I would have been deeply skeptical.

The fact is limitations are not the same as rules or circumstances. If there’s one most helpful thing I’ve learned from therapy and from all the self-examination and self-reconstruction that came with it, learning yourself and the way you work can free you up to bust through your circumstances and harmful boundaries.

It is much easier to change your environment to help you work better than it is to change yourself to suit the environment.

Accepting this can help you to function with maximum return on investment.

I don’t mean you don’t try new things or learn new things, but there are plenty of habits whose roots are so tangled with other things in your past or your brain chemistry that digging them up is absolutely not worth it and will probably be unsuccesful. There is no reason why you can’t change your living circumstances or your practices of daily self-maintenance instead of roto-tilling your brain.

This all goes double with physical limitations, I think. You can learn new skills, you can grow, but we all have physical limitations and they’re not the same as everyone else. All the positive thinking in the world is not going to help someone who can’t stand and take steps to go up a flight of stairs. Nor will all the positive thinking in the world make doing so hurt less for someone who experiences chronic pain.

We accept a lot of our limitations without thinking too hard about it. We wear coats in the wintertime. We have houses to keep the rain off. We have cars and planes instead of pushing ourselves to learn to run faster or to fly.

I currently work serving students with disabilities — we have this mindset as a culture that certain kinds of help count as not getting help. A lot of people look at an accomodation as an unfair advantage. They’re not seeing that learning is learning regardless of how it happens. A car is an accomodation for people who can’t run sixty miles an hour. A grocery cart is an accomodation for people who can’t carry fifty pounds of oddly-shaped items. A coat is an accomodation for people who can’t keep their body temperature up sufficiently when the temperature gets to a certain point.

As a culture, we’ve agreed that these kinds of help count as nonhelp. And anything beyond them counts as help. Or “extra” help.

We’re focusing on tasks rather than the goals.

To accept your limitations is to free yourself to focus on the goals instead of the tasks. Is the goal to remember your keys? Is it easier to berate yourself about remembering where you put them down or to install a special hook right inside the door and leave them there.

Is the goal to remember your meds? Is it easier to tell yourself to just remember and then remember that you took them or are there systems and helps you can put in place that will take that mental load away from you? (daily pill organizers, alarms on your phone, a sign on your fridge, etc.)

Is your goal to get up and get to work in the morning? What will make that easy on you? How can you make that happen without punishing yourself or squishing yourself into the same shape box you think everyone else is in?

These are the kinds of questions I ask myself. And when I figure out something that will make my life easier, I do it, regardless of how weird it’ll seem to other people (who even has to know) or how contrary it is to what I was taught growing up.

Focus on what you want to do — focus on goals and behaviors instead of tasks and external milestones. Stifle your inner Calvanist that says that how hard you work is more important than what you get done. It could get you farther than you think.

It’s an engineering problem. This is the load your materials can carry. How can you use them to build a strong bridge that will let people cross it? How can you use it to keep the rain off or make yourself safe? It’s what you have. You cannot trade it or buy something new. How can you use it effectively?

Give yourself credit for whatever mountains you’ve climbed, no matter how slowly. And give credit to other people even if their mountains or the way they reach their elevations aren’t the same as yours.

Ever since I started to be self-analytical, I have realized that I use media as some kind of emotional anesthesia. A constant flow of *story* is one of the most reliable thing to keep my personal demons at a dull roar.

When I was younger, this meant I would sneak in reading pages of a book between school or work tasks. Then later, I’d listen to audio dramas and still later I’d sneak dvds in to work to have them playing in the background of my computer.

Modern technology has really opened up my ability to do this. I can just have a steady stream of podcasts, or netflix shows or youtube videos in my ear as I go about my daily business. Like some kind of a reverse Harrison Bergeron, the constant stream of distraction allows me to do more and live in greater peace.

I truly am more productive with it than without it. There are days when it’s all that keeps me from just falling into a giant pit of existentialism.

I have wondered if I could somehow break myself of this habit if it wouldn’t be better for me in the long-term, somehow, but it’s really difficult to value long-term growth over near-term functionality.

And maybe it wouldn’t be better after all. Who knows? It’s impossible to say, from here. And it’d certainly be a shame to do all the work to hollow myself out and build a different me if it turned out they were no better at achieving life goals than I am.

Narrative – especially character exploration and development – is my favorite drug. And probably it always will be.

Of course a given narrative, even a true one, is never the whole story. And I do worry, sometimes, if one of the main negative effects of feeding my addiction isn’t delusions of plot arc. Lives don’t go the way stories go. There’s no climax and denouement. There are no morals or lessons. There is character development, but it’s a strange, fungus-like outward creep rather than an arrow pointed at a particular goal.

It is difficult, maybe even impossible, to keep from looking at isolated sectional views of my life as narrative arcs. It doesn’t fit in well with the narrow, reactive day-to-day business of survival. It feels like…if life is to have meaning, it needs to have that arc. But life is bigger than that. It has all the details that get left out of a good story and lacks the interpretive thrust that gets put in to one.

Which isn’t to say that I will stop trying to spin stories out of my life – stories are how we teach and learn and understand. From ‘one train leaves St. Louis travelling at 40 miles and hour and another leaves Chicago travelling at 65’ to ‘What is Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba’ to even ‘in the beginning was the word’ or ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ we use stories to give us new frameworks for our own lives, to interpret current and past events, to find the harmonic resonances in ourselves, to admonish, to grow, to learn and to teach.

A story doesn’t have to be true to contain Truth. And it doesn’t have to tell the whole truth and nothing but to elucidate important things.

After all, humanity is the storytelling animal. Our ability to draw sense out of chaotic events and bullshit our way into the truth is what separates us from other fauna.

If telling myself the story of my own life helps me to interpret it and understand myself better that isn’t a bad thing, nor a small one. It’s only when I bow under the weight of an old narrative and can’t create something newer that serves me that it becomes a problem.

A lifetime is a host of stories. They don’t all wrap up neatly and they don’t have a moral. They aren’t neat and pat and they intersect wildly. As long as I can hold onto the notion that I am not a story, but a rampaging herd of them, that framing is as useful as any to apply meaning to life.

I mean…probably, right?

I remember saying once to my therapist that trying to address my mental illness felt like living in a crumbling house while I was trying to fix it. And getting therapy felt like putting up scaffolding on the crumbling house – you feel safer on it than inside. It also makes it easier to work on the wreck of a house. It doesn’t mean it’s actually easy. Nor does it mean you won’t be envious of people whose houses already keep all the rain out.

It’s also a little like trying to read, write and market a novel at the same time as you’re constantly editing and polishing it. Nightmare. But feels better than getting no writing done at all….most days.

Anyhow. The metaphors are stories, too. So where do they end? They don’t. They’ll always be coming into me and going out till I cease to draw breath. And then they’ll still be happening everywhere else. Maybe even, if I’m lucky, about me…

In the meantime, if stories are what gets me through the day, I’m not going to avoid them out of some neo-Calvanist sense of self-denial equaling virtue. Whether they’re the ones I tell to myself or the ones I get other people to tell me, I’ll accept their smoothing of my road.


What’s funny? The Curse of Corrosive Snobbery

[This post contains spoilers for A Bad Moms Christmas and Bridesmaids]

A friend of mine, after I posted about not liking cringe humor a few weeks back, asked me what kind of humor I do like in movies.

She loves lots of cringe humor and considers that we have very similar senses of humor (we definitely find a lot of the same stuff funny) and wondered, I think, where the disconnect is.

I generally don’t consider myself a fan of comedy movies qua comedy movies. So many of them seem to feature humor that is cruel and punches down (humor that hinges on mocking people who are already disadvantaged in our culture), or takes someone else’s embarrassment and expects me to laugh at it.

A prime example of this kind of humor is Bridesmaids, which I went to see because all the media around it kept harping on the notion that it was a make or break for women in comedy — as though if that movie failed, there would be a decade before there were any more comedies featuring women.

As it was, it did pretty well and paved the way for The HeatGirls Trip and Pitch Perfect and a lot of the other great women-led comedies of the past several years. (Not that it was the only thing paving the way for these films, but without it, some of them may not have been green lit.)

I found a lot of the movie terribly funny, but some scenes made me squirm and at least one made me want to wither and die right there in the theater. The scene where one of the characters, bitter that everyone else can afford to fly first class and she can’t, gets super drunk and makes a scene on the plane.

Watching someone continuously and egregiously push social boundaries like that tweaks my anxiety in the worst way. I’m sure there’s plenty of psychological issues inherent in my reaction, but it goes well beyond finding it not funny. It hurts.

I enjoy absurdist humor. I enjoy fourth-wall breaking and self-aware self-mockery. The Heat‘s humor all came out of the main characters being unapologetically what they were and then doing the best they could. They weren’t incompetent or bumbling, but they did behave outside of expectations for their jobs and gender sometimes. They felt real and honest and well-drawn. Most of the humor came out of their methods conflicting with each other and how they each learned to roll with the other’s style.

So I don’t actually hate comedies. I like them. But I’m wary of embracing them all sight unseen as a group the way I do scifi films or horror films. Yes there are films I can’t stand in the latter two genres, but there are a lot fewer and it feels like the reasons I don’t like those films are individual and specific rather than a systemic issue that builds to a whole sub-genre of things that make me squirm in discomfort.

Of course, this disinclination to engage with an entire genre can lead me to miss stuff that I should see.

This weekend, I saw A Bad Moms Christmas with a friend. In spite of my adoration of Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell, I hadn’t seen the first film in the franchise. I saw this one because I’ve been having a nagging feeling that missing the first one was an error.

BMC may be my new favorite Christmas movie. It was hilarious. It was also moving in places, but wasn’t too heavy. Perhaps the funniest scene in it involved one of the main characters waxing the genitalia of a male stripper and having a romantic meet-cute conversation with him at the same time. It was genuinely a sweet conversation but the juxtaposition of the sweet words with over-exaggerated waxing sound-effects and matter of fact descriptions of what was going on out of the camera’s sight lines made it so fucking funny to me.

Everyone in that scene was happy. No one was (emotionally) uncomfortable. Yet I laughed my ass off.

Humor and laughter are a way of processing disrupted expectations and assumptions. So is anxiety. I almost feel like they’re two areas of a spectrum the way that anger and sadness are two areas of the spectrum of dealing with hurt and disappointment. It’s not really a surprise to me that something that provokes laughter in one person might well provoke anxiety in another.

Opening myself up to a broader range of art always feels like a good thing to me. And the knee-jerk snobbery and fear that leads me to avoid entire franchises or entire genres, sometimes always winds up leading me astray in the end.

So I don’t know exactly where to draw the lines. Maybe they should just go entirely. After all, being anxious for a little while in a movie isn’t the worst thing in the world. But, of course, lines always get drawn because I can’t see everything. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here’s a short (and incomplete) list of comedies I really, really enjoyed:

The To-Do List

Love and Friendship

Pitch Perfect

Obvious Child

Dear White People

Top Five

What We Do In The Shadows



What do all these films have in common? Not freaking much, as far as I can tell.

It’s finally getting genuinely cold, here. Today is clear and bright with a crisp breeze. It’s just the kind of autumn day I like the best. It makes me want to take a journey (not a trip…a serious Journey) or contrarywise to do picturesque fall things like baking or trekking through the woods in big boots and a chunky sweater or reading in a big chair under a hand-knitted blanket with hot tea at my elbow.

Of course, I work at a university, so autumn is usually the time of year I am least able to do things like that. Fortunately for me, actual fall weather held off till the second week of November, here. I can do all the picturesque things I want in the deep dark of evenings when the sun sets an hour and a half before I get off work.

It’s a season for comfort in food, in living space and in mind. We sit in the brief pause between the Halloween feasting season and the endless festive crawl that is the Thanksgiving into Hanukka into Christmas (and in particular all the relentless commercialized frivolity the latter exposes us all too, which are awful even if Christmas is a holiday you celebrate and can be a freaking apocalyptic nightmare if you don’t).

Just anticipating the mix of good and bad of stress and fun together that the Festive Season represents can make me feel as small and irrational as Gir in Invader Zim. Who eats his cupcake and then cries about it being gone.

Gir crying and saying 'Awww...I miss you, cupcake.'

We can all take this pause before we’re exposed to endless parties with uncomfortable co-worker chitchat and tense family meals where you’re just bracing yourself for some relative to say something microaggressive (or, indeed, just aggressive) about something near and dear to your heart, to feed our souls before the storm hits.

I feed mine with comfort foods and with comfort fictions. After the spook-fest of Halloween, I often like some serious rose-colored glasses viewing and reading material. It’s the time of year I’m most likely to re-read the Oz books, for example. Or to watch some of my favorite classic movie musicals like Hello, Dolly or Singin’ In the Rain.

Sometimes I also like to re-watch favorites from when I was a kid like The Muppet Movie or Pollyanna or the Winnie the Pooh Disney movie.

I also like shows with unreasonable amount of idealism (Vicar of Dibley) or an unreasonable amount of fantasy wish fulfillment (Leverage).

The real trick is to find something that I’ve never seen before that feeds the gaping maw of my small, irrational feelings to stave off the weltschmerz that winter can bring.

In the same way that it can be difficult, in adulthood, to find something that *blows your mind* and excites and captivates you as much as the things you loved in your youth, it can also be difficult to find anything that makes you feel as safe and as positive.

This is the time of year I go out on limbs for high-quality schmaltz. I like to find small, happy stories that make the best of the world shine a little brighter. I think this is the impulse at the back of the scores and scores of truly awful Christmas films and specials that infest everywhere in December. But I am looking for something more emotionally resonant than those — something that can truly soothe the savage anxiety brain-weasels and make the dark seem cozy instead of opressive.

It’s rare enough that I am not sure I can name the last time I saw a film that struck me this way, though a few things I’ve seen this year vibrate on the same frequency.

Table 19 is a comedic drama that has realistic and bitter moments, but has an overall warm and human feel that makes it well worth the ride. It’s difficult to describe without giving away the twists and turns but suffice it to say: the trailer is not remotely using the full emotional palette.

The Big Sick is on the very short list of romantic comedies that I adore. Perhaps because it’s a story straight out of real life. Perhaps because the comedy is tempered with plenty of heavy things. Probably, though, it’s just because it doesn’t follow any of the stupid compulsory-heterosexuality tracks that romcoms often do.

Logan Lucky is a story about people being much more clever and devious and ingenious and persistent than other people believe possible. And then developing a nefarious plan that is applied for good. It felt almost like a lost Leverage episode to me, in some ways.

Hidden Figures is another inspired-by-life movie about awesome women kicking ass against a system that is one hundred percent designed to hold them back. It also has bonus space nerdery. (Space nerdery is always a point in something’s favor for me.)

Gifted is a movie about family being difficult and human and also being super important.

I’m sure I’ll encounter more movies that are almost right before next fall. And if I am very lucky, maybe I’ll find a film that will be worthy of watching in a double bill with The Music Man….while sitting under a hand-knitted blanket with hot tea at my elbow.

In the meantime, I wish you mashed potatoes and gravy.

My roommate (who we shall call A) and I have this concept we call the One Day Internet Expert (Or odie for short, obviously).

We’ve all probably been this. You spend a few hours getting sucked down into a wikipedia spiral or flipping through educational sites and now you know the 20 most important basics (plus random facts) about the history of helicopters or about the methods of tanning leather used in medeival Germany or the genus Hydrochaeris.

It can be fun and fascinating to get dragged into such a knowledge alley and get a tiny glimpse of how interconnected all the pathways are. And then you get to impress your friends with random trivia.

Knowledge is power, but more importantly, knowledge is fun. Knowledge is entertainment. Knowledge is hearty food for your brain to masticate and feel satisfied.

It’s funny to me that people would ever consider that a waste of time, though I understand there’s this urge to be *doing* and in general our culture contrasts learning and doing as two completely different things. It’s like the manmade/nature split or the mind/body split. There’s really no chasm between these two things. Humans are part of nature. The brain is made of flesh. And self-distraction and self-directed learning are both activities that are important to fulfillment and health.

Sometimes I can’t act on these beliefs, myself. When the brain weasels attack, I wind up feeling pretentious for seeking meaning in pop-culture and the pursuit of same. But on my better days I can recognize the utility in it, as well as the entertainment. The brain thrives on making connections and teasing out meanings. It’s a muscle that gets stronger with use.

I used to come up with these mini film-festivals to put on for friends of mine. I’d pick 3 or 4 movies on a theme and folks would come over and watch them and chat about them. I had some centered around a particular actor, but more often, it was a theme like “The Destruction of the Nuclear Family” featuring films with unusual family structures and which addressed the nature of what makes a family, or “The trick is, you have to find the ones without the hoedowns” (hat-tip to Sports Night from which I stole that title) which featured unusual musicals.

I come up with more all the time, though I don’t always have the werewithal to put them on. It takes energy to convince people to show up to your house for 7 solid hours of movies, after all.

Anyway, here are some of the ones I’ve come up with recently:

The “WHAM! Out of nowhere” mini film festival: featuring action films that prominently feature the music of George Michael.
Potential movies include:
– Deadpool
– Keanu
– Atomic Blonde

The “Getting there is delicious” film festival: featuring films where road trips are taken in food trucks.
Potential movies include:
– Chef
– Magic Mike XXL
(This one needs more films, but it’s too good of a theme to let go of.)

The “Skewed Scares” mini fest: movies with horror elements that aren’t horror films:
Potential movies include:
– Warm Bodies
– Fido
– Only Lovers Left Alive

It’s a fun game. Once you come up with a ridiculous thread that connects films, you can start to imagine how they interplay – what themes they have in common, what makes them distinct, the way each of the films in a mini-fest might influence one’s perception of the next, etc.

The fests are the most fun if you can come up with a theme so loose and bizarre it brings together movies that are nothing like one another and then think about how they relate. It’s also just a good excuse to show movies you like, of course. And to make and consume popcorn-based snacks. Not that you need one.

In 2012 I fell into the depths of a really horrible depression.

It was part inhereted mood disorder, part circumstancial, but either way, I was sleepwalking through work, and just not getting out of bed on the weekends. I felt like there was nothing to look forward to. The year was a little up and down, but mostly down, and by January of 2013, it had crystalized into something so firm and heavy, I knew I’d be carrying it for quite a while.

Around the same time, I went to a movie alone for the first time since I was about 20. It used to be something I hated doing. I considered it an alienating experience. But there comes a point when one is alone and an adult that one does things alone or not at all.

By this time I was in a different city in a different state with a very different feel and culture. When I dragged myself to a few movies alone, I found it wasn’t so bad. I can walk to two different little indie theaters from where I’m living and when I got there, sitting alone in the warm dark, waiting for the screen to show me a story and not needing to be doing anything else was the most peace I was able to manage.

I started going to see at least a movie a week. Picking out what to see and when to see it gave me just enough of plan to pivot my days around without being demanding on me emotionally or physically. I couldn’t pause it and wander away or put it down like I could at home if my self-distracting entertainment got at all uncomfortable. I could do it year round, which isn’t true for everything in my area. And due to living in a college town where it’s as easy to find a lecture to go to as it is to find a concert, there are a lot of tiny theaters that show fun, strange or out-of-the-way things. There is a national arthouse chain, a nonprofit theater that shows foreign films and artistic stuff as well as revivals, the aforementioned two local indie theaters that sell the cheapest tickets around (when I started my project, it was $9 for a regular evening ticket or $6 for a matinee), some colleges screen things you can’t see anywehre else, as well as pretty easy access to two or three more traditional big-chain multiplex theaters.

Being in a place like that, with all these resources available will turn you into a movie buff before you know it.

I am lucky. I have gotten to see films from festivals, silent films with live music, classics on the big screen, documentaries I had never heard of, films with discussions with actors, writers and directors. It is an education. And, as T. H. White once said, there’s nothing quite as good for being sad as to learn something.

So an effort that started a way to give myself something to pivot my day around so that I’d get out of bed before noon on Saturdays and actually eat something became a larger quest.

I made rules for myself: movies only count for my once weekly film if they’re new to me and I see them in the theater. I get two weeks off a year for behavior, so the goal is fifty films each year (I’ve always gone past that total, to be honest with you). I will not wait till a friend is available to see something I want to see, because that’s a recipie for missing it. Instead I will go again with a friend unless I really, really hated it.

I don’t go out of my way to see erudite films or educational films, but I don’t avoid them either. I have seen high art a few times, but have also seen plenty of big summer action films that are like friendly huge dogs with more explosions and pectoral muscles.

What this has led me to is a broad and incomplete understanding of the craft of movies and the field of movies as art and entertainment. There is a lot I don’t know. I’ve never studied film per se, and I may never do so. But each and every film I’ve seen, even if I have thoroughly hated it, has taught me something about the way films work or fail to work. There are classics I never particularly want to see, and I adore movies that other folks think are trash. (Never let me corner you to talk about how much I loved “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”.)

Like any medium, it’s full of ideas and traditions and gestalts that many of us absorb without examining them. And each generation thinks they’re inventing it anew, even though they are, as as we are all, standing on the shoulders of giants.

As for me, During the five years I’ve been seeing a movie a week, I’ve been getting better. Not because of the movies, at least not directly. I’ve spent time in therapy and time on meds and time with friends and with soul-searching and journaling and meditation…I’ve brought every tool to bear that I can think of and I’m now way more okay and functional than I was in 2012 or 2013. Which some days is still not very, but I’ll take it.

And, at some point my fifty-movie project became something beyond a tool for me. I love the form. I love going to the theater. I love being able to recommend films that suit each friend’s preferences and avoids the things they don’t like or make them uncomfortable. Mostly, I adore the ability to escape into someone else’s world, whether it’s a real one or fictional. And it’s always going to be part of what carries me forwards, regardless of how I’m doing.

I was born into the age of the geek.

I know many other nerds of my generation will happily tell how they grew up oppressed and marginalized, bullied at school, isolated with few friends. I have some stories like that, too. How I didn’t have many friends in my year and wound up playing Magic: The Gathering and Warcraft with my little brother’s friends. How I ate lunch in teacher’s rooms, or the school library, just to avoid exposure to other students in the cafeteria…

Those experiences may have helped shape my personality, but no one can call us marginalized now. And, even though science fiction and nerdy games have both been around much longer than I have, arguably the turning point between “science fiction is this weird, niche thing for people who read pulps and see b-movies” to “this is now a huge portion of the common cultural currency” is the release of Star Wars in May of 1977. One day after I was born.

Alec Hardison from Leverage saying 'Age of the geek, baby. Stay strong.'

Now I am so spoiled for choice of scifi and fantasy television, movies and books, that I can be truly selective about what I take in.

I mean, I am not selective, by and large. I still like me some b-movie cheese, for sure. But gone are the days of reading everything in the science fiction section of the library just because they only had so many choices (whyyyy did I read all those Xanth books?). Gone are the days where everyone has the same science fiction knowledge as each other. And gone are the days where knowledge about specific things (Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, They Might Be Giants, Gary Gygax) were the cultural shibboleths we used to determine who was in our exclusive club.

I’d like to think that gone are the days when these things are considered exclusive at all. As my youth has passed away (#pretentiousold), I have become less and less interested in shaming people for what they’re into or for what they haven’t been exposed to for whatever reason, and more interested in sharing things that bring me joy and listening to other folks about what brings them joy.

My housemate and I like to joke that all media safewords are repsected in our house. Everybody has corners they don’t want to poke into and that is fine with me. God knows, I have plenty of my own. And I don’t appreciate it when people try to push on my boundaries or mock me for what they are.

So no mocking, here. No expectations. If this is the age of the geek, then I believe there are rooms for all kinds of geeks in it. I just want to share some of the things that I’m enthusiastic about. And I hope you enjoy.