A 3-part journey of discovery

Part 1: Survival

I was a child of wild imagination. I had imaginary friends, I came up with stories for my 100 stuffed animals, and I dressed up at least one time with a basket on my head (the only other hats we had were of the baseball or winter variety, and I’m sure my six-year-old self figured a wicker basket was on par with a fancy straw hat. It went great with my dance costume, too. And sneakers. Mom still has the picture.)

It’s clear to say that I was a pretty standard little girl. Yes, I loved being rough and tumble with my brothers, but I liked dressing up, too. I read fluffy books like The Baby-Sitter’s Club. And once we got a VHS, I also liked watching princess movies.

However, as the youngest child, I rarely got to pick what I watched when my brothers were around. I got to watch what I wanted to only when they were too busy with playing video games while our parents were working.

That meant there was a steady rotation of Star Trek, Star Wars, and other science fiction shows (including, but not limited to Stargate, X-Men cartoons, and Starship Troopers). We lived in a small house. On sunny days I could go outside and escape it. On rainy days, I was subject to watching this nerd stuff with my brothers. The one benefit is that they were so wrapped up in the shows, they rarely bothered me. It was simply survival.

I wonder if human osmosis is really a thing. The more I was subject to those shows, the more I started to understand the story lines. The only one I still cannot get behind is Wrath of Khan. I’m still bored by that.

Unless Khan is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, then yes, please, I can totally support and understand that.

It started slowly. If Jared took out his set of the original VHS tapes of Star Wars episodes 4-6, I would ask if we could please, please, please watch Return of the Jedi. They had ewoks and ewoks were sassy little teddy bears. Plus, you got to see Darth behind the mask. So that’s cool.

If my brothers were in a Star Trek mood, I started with The Voyage Home (they had humpback whales! Cool!) then became more interested in the woes of Captain James T. Kirk in The Undiscovered Country.

It made acquiescence to their demands to watch the nerdy shows a lot easier. I was watching storylines I enjoyed, and it kept the peace.

Part 2: Denial and Hobbits

I was not, however, a nerd. No way. My high school and college years, I accepted that my brothers and their friends liked these movies. I could tolerate two hours while they enjoyed their thing. That was fine. It wasn’t going to be horrible. It wasn’t a third world country. We were fine.

Then Lord of the Rings came out. It wasn’t science fiction, but I placed it in a category of nerd entertainment and was done with it. When we were home from college over Christmas break, Jared had asked if I wanted to join him to see Fellowship of the Ring.

“Mom’s paying,” he said the magic words.

“Sure!” I said. Again, a few hours of my life that also included movie theater popcorn? No sweat!

Three hours after I sat down, I was entranced. This…was good. Not passable. Not tolerable. But good. Entertaining. Funny. Exciting. I looked around me and was confused, everyone looked like they maybe didn’t put hygiene too high on their list of priorities. They actually reminded me a lot of the nerds from my dorm at college. How could I like a story about hobbits, elves, wizards, and humans trying to coexist?

It was around this time that I also sucked it up and read the Harry Potter series. These were kids books. And look at the kid on the front? Hello, nerd alert! My friend insisted that I give the first one a try.

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said. When I took my baby-sitting charge to the library, I grabbed one of the many copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Two days later, I was back for the next one.

Within two weeks, I had read the first four, and was asked to be put on the pre-order list for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I went with a group of friends from college to see the first movie come out. And then the second. By the time the third came out, I couldn’t help denying that all the boys in the movies grew up very, very nicely. Even that bratty Draco Malfoy was pretty hot.

Despite liking these stories and movies, despite contemplating opening night shows, I downplayed my love for them. You’ll never catch me wearing a Hogwarts shirt. I would never spend money on a replica One Ring to Rule Them All. That’s just ridiculous.

Part Three: Embracing the nerd

A few years after I graduated from Northern and was in the real world, I realized something.

I’m a nerd.

Not just a dork and not just quirky. But I like nerdy things. Not just like, but love.

I joined a running club based on the theme of the Harry Potter fandom. I’ve been sorted into my house (I thought I should have been in Ravenclaw, but realized that the sorting hat was right. I’m a Hufflepuff.). I own eight copies of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite!) and six of them are from different regions/languages (England, France, Greece, Germany, Spain and Catalan). I’ve debated, in depth, the merits of Slytherins despite their bad reputation. My two oldest cats are Gryffindors and my baby Samwell is a Slytherin.

Speaking of Samwell? Yes, I named him after Samwell Tarley, the bravest of the Night’s Watch. He’s a black cat, get it? He took the black?

No? Ah, whatever. You Game of Thrones fans appreciate it.

I’ve read The Hobbit (much better than the movies) and the entire Lord of the Rings series. I’ve drank ale in Hobbiton, and dropped an exorbitant amount of money on a custom-made One Ring to Rule Them All from the ringmaker himself, Jens Hansen. I’ve used my Gollum voice when I see something very, very pretty. I own the extended versions of the trilogy, too. I’m convinced my cats are part hobbit because they need first breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, dinner, afternoon tea, and supper. Who can blame them? I like all those meals, too.

I’ve seen every Star Wars movie out there, from the let’s not talk about it episodes 1-3, to the original episodes of 4-6, and the generation of Rey in episodes 7-9. I can do the Jedi Mind Trick when someone in front of me is driving too slowly and I can’t pass. Go ahead. Laugh. And you will turn right at the next intersection; you’re holding me back from where I need to be.

Lastly, I, Amanda Dinkel, attended her first ComiCon last year. I went to Geek Speed Dating (meh results; hilarious stories). On top of that, I actually enjoy reading, learning, using mental math, play Sudoku, and right now I’m practicing some German on Duolingo. FOR FUN.

I’m a nerd, and proud of it. Nerds are interesting, passionate, and best of all, they embrace who they are unapologetically. So raise your Romulan Ale in a salute to nerds around the world.

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