It’s been a few days. I’m trying to get as many posts in here before school starts, because I know once I’m a complete basket case who’s drowning in academia it’ll be hard. It’ll be hard to write things that make any degree of sense that aren’t coated in despair. I’m one of those irritating students who refers to my academic stress in any real-life conversation and I feel bad for anyone who has to talk to me during school months. It used to annoy me when I’d bump into my high school friends and upon asking them how they’re doing they’d tell me they’re at the UofA (my school) working on their poli sci degree and dive into a story about it. All I’d think is “WHO CARES” but now I totally get it. Sorry, high school friends for thinking that. It is an all-consuming kraken that may or may not one day help us get a sweet job. During school, I’m swimming in the stomach acids of the academic kraken. Sometimes you deal with it just fine, but sometimes you get burned, depending on whether the kraken has heartburn or not. The heartburn happens when you get a prof that doesn’t post notes online.
Anyhow, the way I deal with the stress is by the deep rituals that are tightly laced in the grand schedule we call our lives. I wonder if it’s because of my heavy anti-theism, and I adore my rituals. I would describe them as both languid and intense. The intensity of my 15 minute morning routine that includes a 5 minute drive to my bus stop is one. Putting on the Amelie soundtrack during an hour and a half bubble bath with a juicebox of coconut water and some candy crush on my iPad is another. The majority of my online shopping also happens in the bath. Those ones might end when I drop my iPad in the tub. Lets hope that doesn’t happen. My rituals that make me the happiest are the moments each day I spend with my dogs and my indulgence in geekery.
Here’s a brief history of my journey into geekdom. It started with my parents picking the Sega line of gaming consoles for my brother and I. My Game Gear and Genesis were my best friends for a good three years while I spent my elementary years playing every Sonic game out there. Sleepovers at my Nintendo friends’ houses were a necessary indulgence and to this day I still play Mario as often as I can. Next came Tolkien. Along with every other 10-12 year old out there, The Hobbit is one of the first “big kid” books we read. Some of us are completely enchanted, while others decide that The Babysitters Club is more for them. I was one of the kids completely enthralled with the world Tolkien masterfully painted and graduated to Lord of the Rings. This morphed into more fantasy literary “masterpieces” with almost all of the Dragonlance books. Lame? Doesn’t matter. I loved those books. This was during the time that I started dating a guy who was the epitome of geek. His job, his appearance and his interests were molded around geekdom and we bonded over that for a good four years. I loved watching him play Neverwinter Nights and meticulously painting his warhammer figurines. The best way to describe him is the guy from 40 Year Old Virgin, minus the virgin part and including the lavish breakfasts. I was 16 and he was 22, and it was strange but I feel my geekery put me into a higher level of maturity that allowed this relationship to be okay. Now, I’m a 28 year old with the maturity level of a 20 year old, and I relish in that. It makes it okay for me to do the weird things that I do. So I was this person, who loved Star Wars, Warhammer, Tolkien, old school console gaming and any indulgent fantasy book I could get my hands on. Then I met my husband, Andrei. During the infancy of our relationship, he eased me into MMORPG’s. He got me to start playing WOW and I attribute the success of our marriage to my love of this game. We’re not hardcore with it anymore but still play. 7 years of history with World of Warcraft could probably get me a decent management position at Best Buy or something if I put it on my resume. It’s my greatest indulgence, hands down. And the rituals I’ve created in this game have been one of my greatest sources of joy. Paired with beer and loud gaming-appropriate music? That’s my heaven. Now, I spend my spare time watching Voyager and TNG, watching Geek and Sundry, playing Magic the Gathering and so forth. It’s still the dominant force in my life.
I understand how the sense of ritual that religion gives us is a positive thing to a degree. For theists, it’s prayer, mass and conventions that keep their faith growing. Since what I know to be true is that religion is a complete fallacy, I’ve placed my rituals elsewhere. They live in places that are constitutional to who I really am. If it wasn’t geek culture it would be something else. Maybe fashion, maybe drug culture, maybe something else. Who knows. When I went to Blizzcon in 2009, I guarantee you that was so much better than a Youth Convention that any theist would attend. If you haven’t been to Comicon or Blizzcon etc and love geek culture, think about how mindblowing and awesome it is to be in a room with 30 000 other geeks. It’s incredible. I’ll never forget those three days. Even standing in line for my pass was an epic bucket list experience. Funny enough, the Anaheim Convention Center was also housing a christian youth convention. There were lots of funny exchanges. My atheist self laughed at the exchanges between hyper geeks and devoted christians. So, these rituals that I’ve created for myself have filled the “void” that christians and other theists consider us to inevitably have.
The idea that I get to fill my ritualistic desire with whatever I please is awesome. It helps me get through school, helps me appreciate my relationship and helps to keep me busy when I have nothing to do. The obligation is only encouraged by my own desire, and it makes me happy. I have tried praying before as a kid. Those were the days when I felt envious of my religious friends and wanted to go to church, yet I felt silly. At my bedside I’d be like “hey Jesus, ummmmmmm. Can you make sure I have a good day at school tomorrow?” And then I’d get bullied by the same group of mean girls that would bother me every other day. I never believed, but I tried to. I’m proud to say that I yearned for more. It seems like a lot of people who are a part of geek culture feel the same way. Most of my geek friends aren’t religious and are too busy trying to get through Diablo on nightmare mode than worry about some scripture. It takes skill and an open mind to enter this world, and it’s an incredible place to be.
If any borderline skeptics are reading this, come to the geek side. It’ll fill that void that religion left for you and you’ll leave a better person, trust me.