BLOGBUSTERS The Inner Non-Geek

The nation of Geekistan is one whose borders are always open but which, sometimes, only seems to let certain people in. We’re all so fixated, so caught up in the wonderful confections that are created by us and for us that it’s all too easy to look at your friends and see them as nothing but a loose collection of what they like or, sometimes, what we don’t like, but they do. And let’s face it, my friends, we’re more than that. We’re not a collection of preferences, of likes or dislikes, we will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! Our lives are our own! We are not numbers! We are free people!

You see what I did there.

So this week we’re going to talk about what we don’t normally talk about. Join us, as we ask and answer the question:

What’s the least geeky thing you’re into?

Steven Ellis: Hmmmm. Sci-fi and fantasy is my bag. I’m a fan of it in all its various forms… My home is a den of geek. I have hundreds of sci-fi books, thousands of sci-fi comics, shelves full of sci-fi films and TV series, sci-fi action figures and sci-fi themed art on the walls. There’s only one thing in my life that isn’t sci-fi and that’s my son, Henry, who’s almost two. I’m lucky enough to be a stay-at-home dad and I’m doing my best to raise him as a geek. When I’m not watching, or playing, or reading, or writing about sci-fi, or socialising with my geek friends, I’m taking care of him. Sometimes the two things overlap, quite often in fact; he is a geek in training, after all. Henry is by far the biggest thing in my life that isn’t sci-fi related and he’s who gets most of my attention. So, the least geeky thing I am is a father.

But even that is going the way of the geek…

I suppose I could find the time to learn a new skill or take on a hobby (my other half knits) but I have such fun teaching Henry the ways of the geek, such as the names of Star Wars and Star Trek characters, I’d much rather spend my time doing that. Although I could probably do with a little less CBeebies.

Alasdair Stuart: The martial arts. I’ve been fascinated by them my whole life, thanks to catching a couple of the reluctant, half-arsed Judo broadcasts that the BBC used to fill one of the few sections of Saturday afternoon not crammed full of athletics and horse racing. Everything from the iconography to the weird combination of courtesy and aggression fascinated me and that fascination led me through into pro wrestling and, later, MMA fandom.

Eighteen months ago, I started learning Judo. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, especially the first three months where if I got 25 minutes into the lesson without dry heaving then I was on a winner. I took up Judo late because I have a horrible body image; I’m tall, I’m broad and I’m overweight and I had so little physical confidence that the only things that could help me change that image were the things I was too unconfident to do. So, those first three or four months were, frequently, horrible. I used to get changed convinced I was horribly fat, that I’d injure someone, that I was crap at it. I used to get changed convinced that I’d never be good enough and every one of those first few lessons had a test of character somewhere along the way. The week I forgot my gi and had to wear a jacket that didn’t close was especially hard to get through.

But I persevered and I graded, and I got it. My red belt, the first real mark I was making progress. I persevered some more and signed up for a tournament, knowing full well I’d get my arse handed to me but also knowing that simply getting changed, simply getting on the mat meant I’d won a fight far, far tougher than any my opponent could give me.

Less than a week before that tournament, I was thrown badly and injured my knee. I couldn’t compete, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk without a limp and it took six to nine months to fully recover. I kept going, went when I could and finally, I graded again, got my yellow belt. I was still in the fight.

Now, the fight’s changed. I’m taking a break from Judo and am six weeks into learning Thai Boxing. I love it; it’s equal parts graceful and brutal and thankfully I’m at that stage where I’m way too much of a rookie to spar, but am fully capable of training. My plan is to go back to a grappling form shortly, keep training in Thai boxing and in a couple of years, if I’m fit enough, and if I want to, to fight a single amateur Mixed Martial Arts bout.

What fascinates me, what continues to draw me back to the martial arts as a fan and as a very, very amateur martial artist, is the combination of discipline and release, the idea of being able to throw yourself completely into a physical activity and know that regardless of the outcome, you doing your best is going to be enough. It challenges everything about me, from the fact I’m big to the fact I’m a polite, softly spoken academic and that only makes me love it more. This year, Thai boxing, next year, maybe Brazilian Jujitsu and Tai Chi and the year after that? Well, it’s scripted instead of competitive but I have to admit, the idea of taking a pro wrestling bout has a lot of appeal…

Laura McConnell: It’d be sports for me. I’m still at a loss to understand the geeks versus jocks thing because I was on both sides growing up. I wasn’t the nerdiest kid, and I wasn’t the sportiest jock, but I fit in alright in either group. I’ve played softball, football, volleyball, and American football. I ran track and was heavily into martial arts for years. In college, I played roller hockey every Wednesday night with my entire physics lab group. One of the profs was our goalie, and he was good! More mixing of the supposed social classes, that.

Seriously, though, jocks are just sports geeks, and they aren’t much different from sci-fi geeks deep down. At least not most of them. Knowing every episode of Star Trek isn’t so opposite knowing who threw a perfect game when.

But I digress. These days, I don’t play any team sports (though I would if I had the opportunity), but I still run and even spar on occasion. I also spend a fair bit of time training my dogs for different dog sports, like agility and flying disc competitions. And I’m pretty competitive. Then again, I was raised by one of those sports geeks, so I really can’t help it, can I?

Stacey Whittle: I’m a Knitter with the capital K donchaknow! I learned to knit when I was a child and made the odd scarf for my little girls every now and then, but then suddenly out of the blue about three years ago I became a Knitter.

The scarf wasn’t enough; I wanted to make other stuff. My Nanas who’d taught me to knit where long gone so I taught myself to read patterns. I made hats; I made my other half a jumper (that would have fit Quasimodo and been a bit roomy around the hump); I found myself unable to stop. I found Ravelry the best website for knitters in the world. But I also find that knitting is very geeky and oddly enough a lot of geeks are knitters. Our own lovely Rhian designs amazing socks (I’ve knit two pairs and they are awesome), several of the forum members are knitters and you can find a plethora of geek related knitting patterns. I knitted a Death Of Rats for my boyfriend for Christmas (it has a tiny toothpick scythe – awww!).There are so many Doctor Who -related patterns it’s ridiculous. I saw a pattern the other day to knit yourself a Princess Leia hairdo, and I’m on a waiting list for Grannyweatherwax inspired sock yarn! So I think knitters and geeks walk hand in hand somewhat, and I am very happy to be both!

Matt Risley: Eep…. I’m pretty much full-on nerd central. Although that said, I travel write in my spare time, with a noticeable slant towards trying the weirder and wonderful things in life. I’ve been lucky enough to have my share of bungee jumping, skydiving and zorbing experiences, so in recent months I’ve been trying out some slightly esoteric extreme sports in the hope of scratching my adrenaline itch – flying an aerobatic stunt plane was incredible, while Horse Boarding (skateboarding while being pulled along by a horse), Land Yachting (Mario Kart meets Yachting minus brakes), and Coasteering (jumping off cliffs into the sea) have been great fun.

So there you have it, we’re a white knuckle adrenalin junkie bunch aren’t we? Whether it’s dog sports, horse boarding, martial arts, knitting or the awesome adventure of being a parent (And believe me, everyone, if any child on Earth is going to get a classical Geek education it’s Kudos and Breyah’s), we all have our passions, our callings. Of course we’re all still geeky about the least geeky thing we’re into but that’s the beauty of it. Enthusiasm is enthusiasm, passion is passion, if you love something and you have fun doing it then run headlong at it. You never know where you might end up.

Whereas we, next week will end up answering this question:

Which fictional character do you must identify with and why?

Will we all want to be Batman? How many Doctors can you fit in a TARDIS? What if we ARE all fictional already? All these questions and more may be answered but regardless, we’ll see you in seven.

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