Did you know that Grey Havens YA started recruiting in October of 2013 when we had our FIRST EVER Fandoms Unite? We continued recruiting through November and started our first book meeting in December of 2013.
That means it’s Grey Havens YA’s birthday! We have officially declared these next three months BIRTHDAY SEASON. (Because why celebrate one day or one month, when you can celebrate THREE months?)
In honor of Birthday Season, we’d like to share a story from one of our member’s moms. Angela first shared this story with us at Geek Show, and we used some of her wonderful thoughts in our Mythcon presentation. We are pleased to share the rest of the story with you here. This is Angela’s story:
The Nerd in the Closet
“Being a Nerd is not about what you love, it’s how you love it” – Wil Wheaton. Sitting in on a Grey Havens YA get together; I listened as the young members finished their meeting as they do every meeting reciting this quote they’ve dubbed their “slogo.” The smiles on their faces, the enthusiasm in their voices and the open acceptance to everyone in earshot, including me, a parent, left me dumbfounded but I wholeheartedly joined in, it was infectious. There was such a broad range of youth represented wearing a hodgepodge of “fandom gear” declaring them as “Otaku,” “Whovians,” “Bronys,” artists and bibliophiles, none of them seemed to fit together in what one might describe as a clique or even a club, but all of them were there working together, openly enjoying each other’s presence and company, all of them showing a deep appreciation for their respective “nerdy-ness,” no matter what they may have been “geeking out” over. All I could think was, “How cool, I wish this club existed when I was younger.”
When I was a kid, being a Nerd wasn’t hip or cool. It meant you were an outsider, beneath the mainstream, a lesser being. You accepted your Nerdyness and took the torment and bullying or you hid it away and denied your true interests as I did. I was six the first time I let peer pressure and pop culture dictate for me what was “cool.” I was watching Sesame Street and was a huge Grover fan but he wasn’t cool. Finding merchandise or “fan gear” was nearly impossible, but still I watched everyday hoping it would be an episode that featured him.
As I grew older, all the “hipsters” were watching the Muppet Show because that was “late night” TV and if you watched the Muppets you could stay up until 8 or 8:30PM. It was about this time when I remember being introduced to cartoons on the big screen. We all went to the museum to see The Hobbit. My cousins were bored senseless and left to wander the exhibit halls before Bilbo found “Sting” but I was glued to my seat. I was so enthralled by the story of “monsters” and “strange creatures” outside the human world. I secretly longed for a great adventure like Bilbo and a mentor like Gandalf. Someone to answer the really big questions running through my very young mind, like how did Gollum get to be in the cave, why were Orcs and Goblins enemies, and mostly in having someone to tell me it was okay to dislike the lake people for killing Smaug, I mean wasn’t there another solution? It wasn’t for many years that I would come to learn these questions could be answered in books. Questions that lingered with me for weeks after the movie but I had no one to share them with. I tucked these things away with my other closet fandoms and secret love of the un-cool and Nerdy.
As I grew up, TV brought us shows like The A Team, Knight Rider, and MacGyver where I really loved how Richard Dean Anderson normalized the logical and scientifically minded. That year all the cool kids were getting “partylines” but I got a Ti99 computer, secretly I wanted to be Professor Falcon’s female counterpart in “War Games,” but programming just wasn’t something girls did so my TV monitor gave way to the Atari and “Pac Man Fever.” It wouldn’t be until my college years that I found “my people” as the Grey Haven’s YA group has found in each other. Not long after this I met my own Nerd. One of our first dates was to see Phantom Menace. We got married at Sunset with vows we’d written ourselves including quotes from our favorite books. We honeymooned at Ren-fest and spent hours discussing The Wheel of Time, you think it’s hard having a character die, try losing the author mid series?!
When we welcomed our baby girl to the world she had a subscription to the book of the month club before she had a social security card. The first piece of furniture in her nursery was a bookshelf and a big comfy chair. She was a musical person from her first cry and adored animals of all kinds. She loved “Barkley” on Sesame Street but Dr. Suess and Eric Carle stopped her in her tracks. We celebrated her first day of Kindergarten by going to Build a Bear workshop but had to stop by the library before we went home so her new fluffy friend could have a library card too (the library was most accommodating in getting her a piece of cardstock and making her stuffed animal its own card). We grabbed a copy of “Slinky Malinky” that she read to her baby brother and her new friend. Her love of animals spread to “Scooby Doo” but she wanted to be “Kim Possible”. Her first crush was on a “Digi-destined” and when we took her to her first Ren-fest she looked all over for a dragon scale (‘cause where else would a dragon loose it’s scales), all so she could meet Max and Emmy at Quetzal’s.
She loved “not taking [her favorite TV personalities’] word for it” that a book was a good read, but continually had to remind her father that his name wasn’t “Geordi” but LaVar Burton. Her first responsibility as a pet owner was to a blue Kacheek but soon traded him in for live mice after reading Redwall. She developed a love for theater and once performed with OperaColorado at the Ellie Caulkin’s theater, but she’s a quiet spirit who enjoys a small circle of friends where she can discuss her love of Japanese art and animation. She loves her Grey Havens family because they “get it” when her heart is breaking over the death of her favorite fictional characters or even at the end of a great book series, or when she discovers a new series that she can’t wait to share.
She is more at home reading even at high school football games than following the “in crowd.” She is fiercely loyal and still wears the friendship bracelet she got in middle school that she promised to wear until it fell off. She has a huge heart and a love of travel even if only through books, for now. She refers to us at home as her family but to Grey Havens as “her people.” Reading The Hobbit as the inaugural book of their reading group opened her to world of new possibilities for her future as a writer or maybe a computer game creator/animator. Grey Havens has helped the world to change a little bit by helping to “grey out” the lines of “cliques” and redefining labels. It’s given kids a safe haven to be a full on Nerd about something while exposing them to other fandoms they might not have otherwise experienced on their own.
It cultivates a love of reading with a healthy dose of Pop Culture and vastly different mediums to express their interests or love of a storyline, world, or characters within an equally broad spectrum of YA literature, TV or Pop Culture. Acceptance is the only rule to belong in this group and as their “slogo” states, “being a Nerd is not about what you love, it’s how you love it.” Grey Havens and Grey Havens YA have helped us all love it out loud, whatever “it” might be for us…
Send us an owl: Wow, thank you so much, Angela! Did anybody else break out the tissues? If you’d like to share a part of your story, please leave us a comment or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you all for being a part of something amazing! How will you celebrate the Grey Havens YA Birthday Season?