Let me ask you if this sounds familiar: You were president of the chess club (or your sister was). You lived for concert band practice or saw Star Wars 50 times (or have a brother who did). Or maybe you logged in 5,000 hours of Atari or wore that Michael Jackson glove to school every day, even after it was cool. You survived middle school, escaped high school, arrived at college and, finally, it came: validation. You found your tribe and realized you were not alone. For all you folks out there who at one point in your life were called a nerd or a geek, this issue is for you.
It is no secret that people who were considered geeks in high school rule the world when they grow up (case in point: page 70). All those A/V geeks and Dungeons and Dragons players you knew back then? Retired Microsoft millionaires.
I certainly don’t rule the world, by a long shot, but my life is a whole lot more interesting than I ever thought it would be. I was a music nerd (a flute nerd, to be precise). I somehow breezed through the horrendous middle school experience everyone talks about precisely because my friends and I were oblivious in our own musical/theater bubble. To further my nerdiness, when in high school, I lobbied and won for musicians to be able to “letter” in music the way athletes can in sports. Sure, the music letter was a sissy cursive “C” as opposed to the collegiate blocky font, but it was a letter nonetheless.
Kids have it so much easier these days. Being a nerd is glamorized on shows like Glee (choir nerds!) and The Big Bang Theory (physics nerds!). And now that I’m a parent, it is my life mission to raise my boys as good, thoughtful, hard-working nerds. When they pick up their Wii, I remind them that they, too, could work at the magical nearby place where Mario and his friends were born—if they study hard and do good work.
And I couldn’t be happier that we are living in a place where they are free to be. I asked my husband, an enthusiastic (ahem) sci-fi fan, about why he thinks Seattle is a good place for geeks. “Here, you are not an outcast,” he explains. “There is a community of geeks and there are plenty of opportunities for geeks to be geeks and not be beat up, ostracized or chased.” (Ouch.)
Seattle is not just a hotbed of nerdiness, it is also a melting pot of nerds. Here, high-tech computer-programmer types, figurine collectors, gamers, sci-fi fans and more all feel at home. We have built cathedrals to our literary obsession (see Seattle Central Library and its neighborhood offspring). We have depth to our nerdiness; our local body of knowledge goes far beyond the stereotype of the IT department. This issue celebrates our local nerds who are innovators and influential, and showcases our areas of nerd specialty (Seattle as a center of software development, graphic novels, computer gaming, the race for consumer space travel, to name a few), and encourages you to embrace your inner nerd (we know it’s in there!).
Seattle wouldn’t be the city it is without our nerds. You probably live next to one. You probably work next to one. You probably are one.
Our older son is on a bit of a musical path, and has particularly taken to the recorder, which all-third graders learn at his school. When he comes home and tells me he skipped recess to test for his orange belt in recorder karate (oh yeah, we’re going for the black belt!) it couldn’t make a mother prouder.
Until next month,