Nothing about writing today, because I didn’t work on anything writing related last night. It was a time to relax and recharge, and I’ll get into things a little tonight after I return from getting my nails done and grabbing something to eat. No, I needed a nap and the need to sit and watch some TV last night, all the while thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while.
It has to do with geekdom. If you’ve followed the blog for a while you’ve seen some of my posts about my various steps into things geeky. I’ve been into a lot of different things over the years, and I suppose I could say that I’ve tempered that love with a sense of reality, turning my love of various fandoms into a thing that I nurtured and cherished.
However . . . this year I’ve stepped into a “geeky gift exchange” that was limited to a small number of people, and since joining I’ve been going nuts. No, really: I’ve been really beating myself up the last couple of weeks over being in this group. I should point out that I get like this with any gift exchange, because I’m fairly particular about giving gifts. It’s not the value that I want someone to remember, but rather, I want them to have something that comes from my heart and speaks to them.
And then I begin reading what people in the group already own, what they’ve collected–and I began feeling bad. Not for them, but rather, for me.
To paraphrase Karen Blixen, I had a collection in geeky things in my library in my home. It wasn’t big, but it was growing, and it covered a lot of different things.
My first love had always been book–science fiction to be exact. I was a space travel junkie, but there were a few other stories that I loved just as well, and in the 1960s and 70s I spent hours reading and trying to find stories relating to my favorite authors. I collected Omni and Twilight Zone magazines, both sadly gone these days, and both of which offered fantastic stories and information while they were out. I had nearly every issues of the first and all the issues produced during the Twilight Zone‘s short, two year run. Twilight Zone was famous for first-run printings of Harlan Ellison’s Grail and Paladin of the Last Hour, among his best writing and my favorite stories, as well as Steven King’s The Jaunt and his now-famous review of The Evil Dead where Steven pretty much lost his shit and gushed out his love for the picture.
Then it was Doctor Who, which I started watching in PBS in Chicago about 1980. Yes, twenty-five years before all the fans who today talk about how they’ve seen ALL THE EPISODES of the show, starting with Rose in 2005. Uh, huh, sure you have. I was fortunate to be able to watch the show on one of only two networks in North America that ran it at that time. (The other network was a station in Toronto, Canada.) After a while I began taping the show so I could go back and watch episodes when the mood struck, and when our local station finally managed to get access to the then full catalog of existing episodes (just under a hundred are missing, having been destroyed during various BBC vault purges), I was kept busy buying VHS tapes in bulk.
Then I asked for a scarf.
The Forth Doctor was my first Doctor, and he was known for, among other things, his long scarves. My first wife, pregnant with our son, felt like she needed something to do, so she found a pattern for the multi-colored, eighteen foot scarf, and made it for me. It was big and heavy, but it was also glorious. I would actually wear it out and to work, and I didn’t mind the stares shot my way by people who wondered what in the hell I had wrapped around my body.
I few years later I wore that scarf to a huge convention where I met several of the actors, watched the first North American viewing of the Doctor Who episodes The War Games and The Caves of Androzani, and eventually had my picture taken standing alongside a full-sized Dalek that two guys had made in their auto body shop in high school.
I went to several DW cons over the next few years, cosplayed a few more times (we just called it “dressing up in costume” because we didn’t know what I was going to get labeled in the future), and met more actors. At one con I managed to spend nearly forty minutes chatting with Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, and we just talked about things–not always about the show, but stuff about what it was like to act, what it was like to be in other shows, what it was like to live in England and have to hop a flight to Chicago where he’d find himself talking to people like me. We did get to talking about his not being allowed to have a Regeneration Episode, and he had a . . . few . . . choice . . . words on that matter. Still and all, Colin was an extremely nice guy and a lot of fun.
There were several other things I got into over the year. Role Playing Games, of which I have dozens, and some of the games I ran during the 1990s were, in a way, legendary. I collected Battletech miniatures, some of which are impossible to find. I’d have people paint them and put them on display around the home. During the period I was between my first and second marriages I began collecting anime: some movies, some OVAs, a few wall scrolls, more than a couple of figurines that could only be bought in Japan–which, thanks to the Internet, was doable. I also began collecting animation cells from various productions. Of these I don’t have many: maybe a dozen. The majority are from the original Sailor Moon and Urusei Yatsura, with a couple coming from Song of Escaflowne and Silent Mobius.
All old school stuff, but as they are the original, hand-painted cells, they were and are worth a big of cash. I know a couple ran about $200 in late 1990s money, and I believe the head shot I have of Lum set me back about $300. The one I really wanted, the one I got into a bidding war with two other collectors, was for a full-body portrait of Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, which was about as rare a cell as they came. I stopped when my $850 bid was passed, and I later learned from the seller that the winning bid was $1,100. Yeah, the things we did twenty years ago when we had money.
So what happened to all this stuff? Well . . .
You see, while I was happy in my geekdom, and wanted to continue adding to the collection, others close to me–otherwise known as First and Second Wives–had other ideas. My first wife grew bored with my geekness–as she did with just about everything else pertaining to me–and began getting pissy with my collections and my interest. When I got to where everything I did turned into a big argument, I stopped the pursuit of all things geek, though I didn’t actually curtail my gaming on the weekends. It was during the time just after I moved out that I lost my Omni and Twilight Zone magazine collections: my ex told me she sold them at a garage sale, but I’m more of a mind that she tossed them in the bin. I later lost my Doctor Who VHS collection to my stepson, who my second wife allowed to make off with my boxes of tapes. I was also “convinced” by my second wife to give him my scarf, because there wasn’t any need to keep it, right?
Some of the other things that happened during my current marriage has been the boxing of my figurines and the removal of my wall posters. Some of them went to my daughter, but most of them have gone into garage storage. I was told having them around the house looked–well, not good, right? My Battletech miniatures are boxed up as well, since I was informed that it wouldn’t be a good thing to put them on display. I never managed to frame my animation cells, either, and right now they’re sitting in my closet back in Indiana, still in their shipping sleeves. I’m heading Back to Indiana in a week, and I promise to get a few photos of these and put them up for you to see. One day my daughter will get them if she really wants them; if not, I’ll probably give them away to someone who’d love a pissed-off looking Sailor Mars about to fireball someone’s ass.
I really have no one to blame for my current geeky apathy other than myself. Yes, I received little to no support in my pursuits, and in so many instances I felt as if I was working in a vacuum with my fandom, because the only one who felt an interest in these things was me. Just like with my gaming–which I eventually stopped because I was told by someone that they didn’t understand why I gamed, and kept wanting me to scale back my weekend endeavors in that area–I agreed to curtail these activities, and ultimately I lost interest in the act of surrounding myself with things that reminded me of those interests I loved.
These days I keep my geekness to the area of intellectual endeavor, because I can always look something up and memorize facts and use that knowledge to kinda keep me warm a cozy. It’s not always comforting, however: it’s like the difference between having a sweater that keeps the chill away, and curling up under a comforter with someone you love who’s going to whisper in your ear, “I’d blow up a star to be able to speak to you one last time.” No, not nearly the same.
Which is why I see what others I know have and love, and brings on the tears because it reminds me of what I once had–
And what, over the decades, I’ve lost because I didn’t want to upset people who didn’t support me.
Hey, it’s never too late to turn that around, is it?