Nerd Lite™

Nerd Lite

/nərd līt/

Adjective, informal  

A person who has some knowledge of a nerd subject, but not enough to be considered an expert or “super-fan” of the subject.

“I could tell you all of the captains’ names from Star Trek, but I can’t remember the rest of the Enterprise crew. I’m a bit nerd lite when it comes to Star Trek.”


I am definitely a little bit of a nerd. I play Pathfinder every weekend, I basically have the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time memorized, and I religiously follow the release of new horror films. I’m also surrounded by nerds, including my husband who has been playing tabletop roleplaying games since he was a child, a close friend who has an eidetic memory when it comes to fantasy character names and quotes, and my regular GM who listens to H.P. Lovecraft stories to help him sleep.

Well, being surrounded by such huge nerds, I sometimes feel like a fake nerd. But then, when I go back to work and talk about my life, people look at me like I’m the biggest nerd they’ve ever seen. The first time I ever experienced this weird dichotomy was when I went to see “Trek in the Park” in Portland with a friend who has literally seen every Star Trek episode multiple times. I felt like such a wannabe nerd hanging out with her. Well then I went back to work and told my coworker I got to see “Trouble with Tribbles” performed live over the weekend. She didn’t know what tribbles were, which was so strange to me. To me, tribbles are like culturally iconic. Even non-Trekkies know what a tribble is, but then I had to explain it to her. I felt like a huge nerd.  

That’s when I came up with the term nerd lite. I’m definitely a nerd, but when it comes to some topics I’m not a “huge” nerd. I’m still a nerd, but with fewer calories. Nerd lite.

There are lots of things I’m nerd lite about besides Star Trek, including Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and H.P. Lovecraft to name just a few. Some of these things I picked up just because they’re such an integral part of our culture while others I picked up from my friends who are serious nerds. Sometimes nerdy things are like colds, you can’t help but pick them up when in proximity with someone who has it.

Unfortunately, we live in an age full of elitist nerds who will try to make people feel bad for not being nerdy enough. Nerd lite would be an insult to them, as much as nerd used to be in the 80s and 90s.

It was John Green who said, “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is not a good insult at all, like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness”

I love this description and honestly think it defends both the people who are too nerdy and the people who are nerd lite. When someone calls me a fake nerd what they’re saying is, ‘You do not like this thing enough in my opinion,’ which is one hundred percent bullshit.

You are allowed to like a thing as much as you want. You are allowed to like a thing because your friend likes it and you like your friend. You are allowed to only know bits and pieces about a thing and still enjoy it.

And when it comes to being nerd lite, you are allowed to exist in both worlds. There’s no such thing as a hard line between a nerd and a non-nerd. Like many things, nerdiness is on a spectrum and right in the middle of that spectrum is nerd lite.



Becoming a Piece of Art

No matter how hard I try to plan out my week, I always end up writing my post at the last minute. I spent most of last night working on a birthday gift, reading American Gods, and wrangling a baby ferret.

Fijit figured out how to get into the kitchen sink last night. I definitely need that extra reflex save bonus because Fijit’s cuteness will only save her up to a point. I definitely need an extra benefit to owning this little ball of mischief.

Thankfully, I pretty much know exactly what I want to write about. I want to write about tattoos.

This past Tuesday I had work done on my Ganondorf thigh piece. I’ve been a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series my entire life and I’ve always wanted a tattoo to reflect my love. I already have a Navi piece on my shoulder and a Majora’s Mask tribute on my other thigh, but I really wanted a massive tribute to my absolute favorite villain of all time, Ganondorf, so I sat down with my artist and we came up with a fucking massive tribute to him.

Whenever I get a new tattoo I get asked the same set of questions: How much did it cost? What does it mean? Why did you get it? How are you going to feel about it when you’re 50?

Well, I’d like to answer these question here so whenever I get these questions I can just refer them here.

How much did it cost?

Obviously I can’t create a “stock” answer for this question because every tattoo is different. My Ganondorf piece at this point has cost four times as much as my bees and it’s still in progress.

The question I can answer is how do I justify paying so much money for a tattoo? Why do I spend so much money on tattoos?

Well, first of all, I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone but myself and my spouse. As long as our bills are paid and our quality of life is stable, I can spend my money how I choose. Also, I bet if I add up all the money you spend on going out to each and getting fancy lattes and buying new clothing, it would be comparable to how much I shell out for a tattoo. So don’t judge!

I choose to sacrifice my ability to go out to eat and buy new clothing all the time because I want quality tattoos. I’m turning myself into a piece of art and I want to make sure it’s good art. If I have to spend a little extra cash that’s fine by me.

What does it mean?

This is another question that will have different answers depending on the tattoo. My slug tattoo is for my grandmother who used to collect banana slugs for her Master Gardeners group. My paw prints are for my beautiful babies, Bandito, Crush, Fijit, and Herman, and for all of my future ferrets.

Well, on the other hand, my bees are just because I like the phrase “bees knees.” My Zelda tattoos are because I like Zelda. Definitely not as poetic as my other tattoos, but again I don’t have to justify my decisions to other people. Getting a tattoo because it’s cute is just as valid as getting a tattoo for a deep personal reason.

Why did you get it?

Why do I get tattoos rather than, for example, investing in art that represents parts of my life? Well, first of all, I like tattoos. I love how tattoos look and how they make me feel. Second of all, there’s something very satisfying about permanently displaying a part of your personality on your skin.

Let me explain.

There are so many instances in our lives where we have to conform to other people’s expectations. When we go to work or go to family functions we have to fit this specific image and it never stops. We never get a reprieve and it’s exhausting. It’s during these moments, when I’m “playing a part,” that my tattoos are the most comforting. Yes, I have to stand up in front of these people and be this other person, but underneath my blazer or my slacks my true personality is permanently displayed on my skin. The world can’t take that away from me.

And, when I get home and change back into my comfy clothes, I get to look in the mirror and be reminded of who I really am.

Wow, I’m feeling very emo. Excuse me while I go to Hot Topic and purchase some band t-shirts and fish nets.

How are you going to feel about it when you’re 50?

Now this question is the most infuriating for me because the person is obviously assuming I didn’t think this through. I know exactly how long tattoos last, thank you very much.

Anyway, I know for a fact that I’m going to love my tattoos when I’m 50. Reason one: I’m going to be able to look back on my life and know that I did what I wanted when I wanted. Regret goes both ways, my friend. I could regret getting these tattoos or I could regret being too afraid to go out and get inked.

Reason two: Yes, maybe in 30 years I won’t be as in love with Legend of Zelda or bees or ferrets, but for right now these things are my world. These tattoos not only represent my life, they represent a time in my life that I will always look back on fondly. When I’m 50 I’ll look at my skin and remember who I was in my 20s and it will warm my heart.

Reason three: These tattoos are officially a part of my body. Yes, I might look at them and wish something was different, but after carrying them with me for 30+ years I’ll have come to accept them as part of me. Does that make sense? I guess when I think about hating my tattoos, I compare it to hating my nose or my thighs. Yes, there could be days I dislike them, but it’s important to accept the things you cannot change. I realize that I didn’t actively choose to make my nose look the way it does or to make my thighs thick, like how I chose to get a tattoo, but still I’m not going to waste energy hating parts of my body or regretting my decisions.

Sorry! This was quite a rambly post for me. Hopefully this all makes sense.


The Moments that Define Us

I’ll always remember the Christmas we received our Nintendo 64.

There was a huge pile of presents on the couch next to the Christmas tree. I distinctly remember most of them being wrapped in red paper, but it was so long ago I can’t be sure. Anyway, we began pulling presents off the top, doling them out to everyone like we always did. Then, we moved one present and underneath a face was peering up at us. It was a cartoon face, with big blue eyes, a brown mustache, and a red plumbers hat. It was Mario.

Now, I’m pretty sure I remember what you said next:

“It’s a Nintendo! Dig faster!”  

We started throwing presents left and right until we finally unveiled the prize underneath: a brand new Nintendo 64. It included a copy of Mario 64, which I remember playing with you while we gorged on the cheddar popcorn from one of those oversized holiday tins. You were struggling with that penguin race in the arctic level. It was a Christmas to remember!

Unfortunately, I don’t remember when Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time arrived in our house and I so wish I did. That was a moment that would define the rest of my life.

The Legend of Zelda franchise shaped my childhood. I spent so much of my youth drawing fanart and trying out new games. I specifically fell in love with Majora’s Mask while I was in elementary school. My friend Shelby and I rented it from Hollywood Video and played it in her garage. It was so fun.

Sometimes I wish I had the power to step back and look at my life from start to finish. I want to step back and appreciate all the moments in my life that, at the time, seemed small, but in reality set me on a completely different course. I remember when we got the Nintendo 64, but I can’t remember the day Shelby and I walked up to Hollywood Video and it makes me a little sad.

In a previous post I mentioned that you were the one who got me into Harry Potter. I don’t remember when you brought the book to me, I just remember we were living in Vancouver and you said I should read Chamber of Secrets because I liked horror stories. Your decision to do that is the reason I’m married to Michael and, at the time, I had no idea that such a little thing was going to make such a big difference.

I vaguely remember the day my professor approached me in my college journalism class and said she wanted to put my name up for an internship with the communications department. If I hadn’t gone for it, I wouldn’t be working where I am today. That internship got me this position. What if I had decided not to go for it? What if I had decided to pursue one of the many other internship opportunities there were? Where would I be now?

Thinking about these little moments also makes me think about the decisions I’ve been making recently and I guess I would say it’s making me appreciate the present more. I want to remember the little things so that when I’m older and in a completely different place, I can remember what put me on this path.

So what are you defining moments, Dan? Can you remember the first time you rented a Mega Man game? Can you remember when you decided to pick up a pencil and start drawing?