Monday, July 18, 2011

That Time I Was a Door-Decorator for Eight Months (Or, Why Balloons are Important)

In my first year at the University of Toronto, I stayed at a residence that was brand new and had no name. We called it the 89 Chestnut Residence, because it was located at 89 Chestnut Street, and we were a really clever bunch. It was a hotel that the school bought to accomodate the extra influx of students accepted that year due to the Ontario double cohort of 2003. It is no longer a U of T residence and is something of a universal student dorm for several of Toronto's downtown schools, but for that glorious first year, it was just for the narcissistic bunch of us that made up U of T's off-campus first years. Also, part of Resident Evil: Apocalypse was filmed right outside while I lived there, and that was pretty sweet and one of my friends saw Milla Jovovich walking around Nathan Philips Square.

One of my floor-mates (17th floor what up) and sort-of roommates was a lovely young woman I'll call Kate. Kate was a sort-of roommate because our rooms were attached by a common door, and all four of us - Kate, myself, and each of our own actual roommates - got along really well and pretty much just left the door open all the time, treating the two rooms as one big kitchenless studio apartment. Kate was a great friend (as were the other two) and we spent a lot of time together that year.

It was my friendship with Kate that led to my participation in some residence activity I wouldn't normally have gotten involved in as a party-hopping alternativish 19-year-old. I was never much of a "joiner," but Kate was quite the opposite. We used to say only half-jokingly that she would become Canada's first female prime minister. (Canada's first elected female prime minister. YOU DON'T COUNT, MS. CAMPBELL.) I still believe this is a strong possibility. Kate became the president of our residence immediately and I believe that some time after I dropped out, she eventually became president of the entire university. When we were 19, I was trying to figure out how to get my friends into bars underage, and Kate was trying to figure out how to get her friends into voting. She was passionate about student government, and is now working for someone important in the province of Ontario. So as you can imagine, Kate was also a persuasive kind of person, and as such she pretty successfully managed to get some of her friends, like myself, to take part in things like the residence dance that I wouldn't normally have been interested in. And that's how I became one of my floor's two birthday door-decorators.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Talking to Children

I just turned 27. And part of being 27 means that I am going to be asked more and more pressing questions about the state of my uterus. You see, when you're 27, and in a long-term, live-in relationship with a man as wonderful as Mr. Caterpillar, people begin to take great interest in your uterus. They ask things like "Why is your uterus still empty?" and "Will you be filling up your uterus anytime soon?" and "Did you know that in a few short years, your uterus is going to get harder and harder to fill?"

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

The thing is, though, I'm perfectly fine with my uterus the way it is. In fact, it's not even empty - it has a fabulous thing inside it called an IUD! Whose sole purpose is to ensure that no one else is going to crash the uterus-party. The IUD is the current tenant of my uterus, and this landlady's only rule is for it to keep out unwanted guests. And then, one day, the lease will be up for renewal and I might decide to trade it in for two or three other tenants - one at a time, please - for nine-month leases in turn. But don't ask me when that day will be. Because I honestly don't know.

So my uterus is still, at this point, fetus-free. And that's cool with me! It's also cool with Mr. Caterpillar, if you were thinking about asking him. Neither of us is in any rush. And unfortunately, I've come to realize something about myself - I have no idea when I'm ever going to be ready for THA BABIEZ becaue I seriously have no idea how to talk to kids.

Babies are fine to deal with. When people have newborn babies, I'm one of those screeching ladies that is all for holding your kid and petting its hair and never ever putting it down, while I coo and freak out over absolutely everything. Tiny blankets and pillows? OMG. Cute little clothes with ducks in rainboots on them? OMFG YES. New high-tech toys that didn't exist when I was a baby? ZOMFGWTFLOLZ *crash* internetspeak implosion.

But then the babies start growing up and becoming real people, and you are expected to talk to them. Like normal-people talk, not that high-pitched, overly excited "SUCH A PRETTY DRAWING OF A WHATEVER" kind of talk for toddlers that anyone can fake. When kids enter into kindergarten, they're going to start to pick up on your condescending crap. And now you have to learn a whole new skill that no one taught you when you were learning math and friendship and how to braid your hair: Talking to fucking kids.

I don't know how it's done, but I'm convinced it's an art form as highly innate and unlearnable as being able to sing nicely. And I hate it. I do eventually want my own children, but it's more than that; I love kids. I especially love my friends' kids, who are adorable, hilarious, brilliant little prodigies that I swear are going to all grow up to be Ministers of Awesomeness in the Canadian cabinet. And I do think that they like me; maybe not as much as I like them, but they're usually pretty excited to see me. So I really want to be good at kids. I just don't know how to talk to them. If anyone ever wants to see a display of awkward, just watch me with someone else's kids for a while.

First, there's the swearing. As you may have noticed if you've been reading my blog since the beginning, I have something of a potty-mouth. And I am not around children often enough to have a ready-on-a-moment's-notice censor. If I had a penny for every time I've been eating dinner at a restaurant and I've screamed out "cockshitting bitchfuck ass!" just to realize there's a family of seventeen right behind me and every child is under the age of four, I would probably have...well, not that many pennies, because that was obviously an exagerration. But you get the point. Parents give me horrible dirty looks. My friends are always cowering in embarrassment at my poor vocal control and deliciously but inappropriately salty vocabulary.

When I'm around kids that I know are there - like when I'm hanging out with my parent-friends and their families and everything is planned in advance and I wake up in the morning ready to be Family-Friendly Caterpillar - I might be slightly more capable of censorship, but never as censored as I should be. I will let a "fuck" or a "bitch" or a "cock" slip out (that's what she said) and then I'll blush beet red and the parent-friend will either laugh it off and say whatever, the kid's a fucking baby, babies are stupid and they don't know anything; or, if the kid is in fact not a baby, they'll humbly appreciate that at least I care that I fucked up. That's because my parent-friends are, for the most part, awesome, and they understand the risks in bringing their children around me. They have already mentally prepared themselves for the string of curse words that their child is going to learn from Auntie Caterpillar.

But that doesn't mean that I myself don't feel ashamed. And worried. Because how does one stop something as innate and as fun as swearing? Swearing is awesome! It's colourful. It's sinfully good, like double chocolate cake or sleeping in on Sundays or Bobble-Head Jesus. It's even medically advantageous. So when I have my own kids, I'm pretty sure they'll be flipping the bird at the doctor in the ultrasound X-rays. Which is horrible, right? It makes me feel like I'm going to be one of those white-trash trailer park mommies who sits around in a ratty old metalhead T-shirt with a beer on her belly-shelf yelling "cocksucker" at the neighbour because his dog shat in my garden while my kid sits and listens and learns to be just like me.

But then I think, "no." I'm better than that. I'm not going to be that kind of mother. I am sophisticated, dammit. I keep my many shoes in three different closets and I have multicoloured purses for every occasion and high-end brand name makeup and organic skincare products. I recycle and use my green bin like a responsible middle-class liberal. I occasionally cook tofu and I order extra spicy bloody ceasars at the bar - I even eat the celery stick. I am a classy bitch.

But then that brings to mind another conundrum with kids. I don't really think I'm all that fun. When Mr. Caterpillar and I were at a family function a little while ago, his cousin's new girlfriend was there and she was meeting the family for the first time, and the kids loved her. She was chasing them around and playing with them and they were shrieking with delight that someone so utterly awesome could be amongst them. And I'm sitting there, watching her, sitting in my heels and my pretty dress with my legs crossed, raging internally with bright green envy. While I was spending all that time getting ready to go see his family and making sure I looked impeccable so I could make a good impression on people I'd already met many times before, she was chilling and threw on some nice jeans and a simple top and then just showed up and was awesome.

Don't get me wrong: as far as I know, Mr. Caterpillar's family likes me just fine. He's told me as much, and it shows; his relatives are warm, friendly people who've never hesitated to welcome me into their lives with open arms. And I like them very much in turn. I would simply like to be better at repaying the favour of their kindness by being completely and utterly awesome around their children. I want to be funI want to be so fun that children everywhere cry real tears when I'm leaving. I just don't know how. And it seems that the older I get, the less able I am to relate to little kids.

After all, it's of course not just about being able to bite my swearing tongue around kids, or having the energy and the sensible footwear to be a Super Fun Grown-Up. It's about just knowing how to talk to them. I'm overwhelmed by kids. Their curiosity, their humour, their weird TV shows - it seems like so long ago that I was one of these wide-eyed, sensitive little creatures that didn't really know what the point of taxes is and watched shows like Captain Planet with complete, unironic sincerity. I try to find a balance between condescension ("Oh, wow, a teddy, that is probably the coolest toy that has ever or will ever exist!") and treating the kid too much like an adult ("Hey, you know who you look like in that hairstyle? The chick from Saw 4 who gets her scalp ripped off by her ponytail."). But that line is becoming harder to walk, because the older I get, the more I become simultaneously distanced from my own youth and surrounded by other grown-ups having children all over the place.

I feel awkward around kids. I feel like they're so fragile and under development that anything I say or do could potentially affect their ability to live successful lives as independent, well-rounded adults. I also know that this is a load of narcisstic crap, and that hanging out with my friends' kids once in awhile is hardly going to turn them into foul-mouthed blibbering morons who have nightmares about Jigsaw slicing their limbs open. Yet I can't make that inability to relate to them go away. My fear is always present in the back of my mind.

So I am going to put out a call for help to all my parent-friends out there. What's the secret for kid-talk, guys? Maybe Alice could write a blog post on it? Or one of my other friends could just give me a nod of encouragement when I do something right, or at least not horrifically wrong, in the presence of their children?

I honestly adore hanging out with you, parent-friends, and your lovely families; I even had the pleasure last year of babysitting my friend's two kids while she and her husband had a night out to celebrate their anniversary. I was happy to lend a helping hand and give them some well-deserved alone time, just like I was happy on another occasion to (with another kidless adult present, mind) take a different friend's son out to a movie one afternoon when a local theatre was showing The Adventures of Milo & Otis and we realized this kid had to experience that movie. And in both cases, I think the kids enjoyed themselves just fine, and I know I did; parent-friends, I will gladly help you out again. Don't read this post as any resentment that I've been asked occasionally to participate in your kids' lives, because it's been an honour and a joy to know all of your fantastic children that I love dearly and am thrilled to watch growing up.

I just hope that I'm actually doing a good job with them, because my uterus is going to stay kid-free until I know I haven't broken your kids beyond warranty repair.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Them Juicy Leaves Archive: Harry Potter

Originally posted at Them Juicy Leaves on July 4, 2011

This month's edition: Harry Potter

Harry Potter is drawing to a close. The eighth and final movie is coming out on July 15th, and along with my friends, I will be waiting in line for the midnight showing on opening night - something I have never done yet and am psyched to do in honour of the last movie. I've been rereading all of the books and rewatching all of the movies in preparation, which also means my brain is currently Mugglified to the extreme and I am rather obsessive over things that I like. So I'm going to totally and utterly nerd out about Harry Potter.

(To my friends who fabulously watch all the movies but, unfabulously, do not read the books, I promise that this will be spoiler-free and I will not discuss the end-of-book happenings in Deathly Hallows that are likely going to crop up in the final movie. But if you have not seen the first seven movies then I promise nothing. Go get caught up already! And if anyone feels like commenting, please don't spoil the fun for everyone else. I am the Spoiler Police and I will delete your comment so fast you will fucking feel it.)

A lot of people make fun of Harry Potter. And I mean, of course they make fun of Harry Potter. It's about a boy wizard with a magic scar who has to save the world from someone unironically referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named. But you know what? A lot of people love Harry Potter too, and of course they love Harry Potter - it's about a boy wizard with a magic scar who has to save the world from someone unironically referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named! 

So I am going to prove to you all why Harry Potter is actually awesome and why the Harry Potter world is even better than our own - and I just don't mean stating the obvious, like the fact that they make magic potion and fly on broomsticks and listen to singing hats and probably have a spell called "Orgasmus Maximus" that puts our muggle sex toys to shame. No, I'm talking about systemic and trend-based proof of the wizard world's utter superiority.

Their villains are scarier

Have you ever been so afraid of someone you couldn't say their name? I can't even imagine that kind of fear. I mean, there are people I'm pretty scared of; my middle school gym teacher and Gary Busey both come to mind. But clearly, I can say Gary Busey's name, and even type it for the whole internet to read. So my fear of Gary Busey is nothing compared to an entire country's fear of *whispers* Voldemort.

I mean, really, who's the real-life equivalent to Voldemort, anyway? Some have said he's like a wizarding Hitler. But personally, I think that's just Godwin's Law. Comparisons to Hitler are so overdone that fucking Obama and Stephen Harper are being compared to Hitler, and I mean, come on now. The comparison has become so diluted that calling Voldemort a wizarding Hitler is hardly more effective than calling him a fluffy bunny with rabies. 

And besides - no one has ever, ever been so scared of Hitler they couldn't say his name. Look: Hitler. Adolf Hitler. Hitlerhitlerhitler. OK, I'm growing uncomfortable with myself and officially moving on.

Their tabloids are more honourable

When we were first introduced to the Quibbler, it was obviously a tabloid. I always imagined it as the National Enquirer of the wizarding world. Where muggles have our UFO's and Elvis sightings, the Quibbler has its Stubby Boardman and upside-down rune articles.

But the Quibbler was never exactly a greedy, profit-driven ethical nightmare like the gossip mags that dominate muggle tabloids. Our tabloids are based on nothing but the desire to sell magazines, and the writers and editors and publishers of tabloids are just preying on the public's insatiable desire for crappy non-news in order to make a hundred billion dollars a year. But the Quibbler is a small, family-run business just printing the stories its editor really believes in, no matter how stupid the rest of the public thinks him; I almost want Xenophilius to find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack because he's so damn devoted.

And eventually, the Quibbler started to grow up a bit. They gave Harry Potter his famous interview that opened the wizarding world's eyes to the dangers that lay ahead. The Quibbler is what small-beans journalism should aspire to be; it's an example of the underdog taking on the corporate machine and letting truth prevail. The Quibbler told the wizards of England that Voldemort should just straight fuck the hell off, and they publicly proclaimed allegiance with Harry Potter; that is, until the editor's daughter was kidnapped by Death Eaters and he tried to bargain with them, but I mean, no one can really blame Xenophilius for that one cause Luna also fucking rules.

Could you ever imagine the National Enquirer coming out during a time of war, and setting aside their stupid speculations on various celebrities' baby bumps that are actually just regular-sized stomachs, and calling for public support for the good guys? Yeah, no. The Quibbler kicks our tabloids' asses.

Their sports are rougher

Ok, admittedly, there's really only the one wizarding sport, at least only one that is talked about in detail in the movies and books. But Quidditch is so underwear-destroyingly insane that you could take all the most vicious muggle sports in the world and put them together into one giant "Super Violence and Bloodthirsty Kill Ball" game and maybe then it could begin to compare to Quidditich.

What is the toughest muggle sport in the world? Boxing, maybe? Rugby? Parkour

Well none of those sports are played on magic broomsticks about a hundred feet in the air. None of those sports involving whipping one another with heavy balls, trying to knock each other off their brooms so that the players face a very real possibility of death. Sure, parkour involves doing astonishing feats at neck-breaking heights, but the various participants aren't actively trying to push one another down. Rugby and boxing involve some crazy-ass brain damage possibilities, but those are not combined with the vertigo and anxiety of supporting oneself on a thin piece of wood high at death-defying speeds high in the air. Skinny 11-year-olds certainly don't play full-contact rugby against angry and muscular 17-year-olds without so much as a parental permission slip. 

And none of those muggle sports have the potential to last for weeks or even months of bruised and bloody agony until someone manages to catch a stupid little flying ball in such a ridiculously unfair scoring system that the non-Seeker players probably face constant self-doubt in their relevancy on the planet. Just read this.

Muggles have even tried to play Muggle Quidditch, and look at how ridiculous it is. We can't remotely adopt the sheer awesomeness of the Harry Potter world, no matter how hard we try.

But goddammit, do we ever try.

Many of their laws make more sense

Before the fans freak out on me: Yes, I know! The wizarding government is just as fucked up and neglectful and imperfect and prone to corruption as our own muggle ruling class. Shit be whack at the Ministry of Magic, yo; their priorities are based in discrimination, they're cowards in the face of fear, they lean on the media to influence public perception of important events, they tolerate slavery of certain races and heavy-handed punishment for crime. It's hard to imagine anything as cruel as the Dementor's Kiss for muggle lawbreakers.

But you have to give them credit for some of their laws. The whole Statute of Secrecy, for instance; it's pretty overwhelming to imagine an entire international underground society living and breathing among us for centuries without any muggle the wiser. Either they're really clever, or J.K. Rowling thinks us muggles are freaking morons. Sure, they're magic and all that jazz, but even considering that, they are keeping tabs on shit. Someone performs magic in front of a muggle? Boom - memory charm. Someone like Voldemort comes along who wants wizards to take authority and rule over the muggles? An entire war breaks out before he has any success and none of us muggles even notice the goddamn fighting, while our bridges are collapsing all around us and England becomes home to tornado country for no reason whatsoever. Witches and wizards are efficient as fuck at maintaining the ignorance of muggles, and they do so for important and honourable reasons: ensuring the prevention of exploitation and mistreatment of a weaker class.

There's also the matter of coming of age. In the muggle world - well, at least, in Muggle Canada and other places - our laws are so inconsistent. Here in Ontario, for instance, you're a legal adult at 18 but you can drive at 16 and you can drink at 19 and you can rent a car at 25. I don't know how that compares to Muggle England and I'm too lazy to look it up, but in magical England, you turn 17 and everything's finished. You can drink your Firewhisky, perform your magic, do your Apparition (assuming you've passed your test) - there's no question that you are truly and undeniably an Adult Who Can Do Things that Adults Do. Isn't that so much more sensible then letting a person who can't yet legally drink a beer join the military? "Oh, ok, Mr. John P. Canada: go ahead and die for the country! But don't you dare try to have a Coors, or we're calling your mother."

Everything has onomatopoeia

Fucking everything. And it's not just auditory onomatopoeia, either; every word evokes a certain metaphorical or visual image that is a perfect representation of the thing being named.

What is the nerdy awkward guy called? Neville Longbottom. What about the everyman hero? Harry Potter. The evil bully at school? Draco Malfoy. His blumbering idiot minions? Crabbe and Goyle. The sneering, greasy-haired teacher? Severus Snape. The short, squeaky-voiced teacher? Professor Flitwick. The hilariously pompous ghost who doesn't get that he's kind of a joke? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. The man who was first introduced to us as a dangerous mass murderer? Sirius Black. Sure, it turned out the guy was cool, but that name sure gave Prisoner of Azkaban some much-needed stormy atmosphere.

It's not just the characters, either. Look at the houses of Hogwarts: the heroic one we're all supposed to like is called Gryffindor, a word that makes me want to puff out my chest and raise my fist in the air and cry victory in the name of my homeland. The asshole house is called Slytherin and even before we know it's associated with snakes, we can picture the sneaky, underhanded, corrupt, slimy racists who sneer and hiss at everyone else.

What sounds more evil than a "Horcrux," with its dominant "x" sound and the word "whore" right there in the first syllable? More mystical and brooding than a dark, majestic "Thestral," only visible to those who've experience enough woe to handle it? "Muggles" are simple people living simple lives, "aurors" are the awe-inspiring heroes of the magical community, and a "snitch" is a tiny, quick-moving sneak that is difficult to catch.

If the real world was like Harry Potter, then earwigs would be called Scuttlecreeps. Roller coasters would be Whizwhipping Trackwagons, and platypuses would be Frumps. And why would anyone ever want to order a bacon hamburger with fries when they could ask for a Meat-Middle Breadbasket with pigstrips and crunchstrings?

Onomatopoeia and linguistic metaphor: do not underestimate the power of language.


So there you have it. I do believe I have just proven the sheer fabulosity of everything that is Harry Potter. Go read it. Then watch it. Then - as JK Rowling herself would say - "beam" at it and share it with your mates over a round of Butterbeers and treacle tart, because, Merlin's beard, it's bleeding brilliant.

People Who Like Things

My brother once told me that a nerd is just a "person who likes things." And I feel like that was a revelation that was so simple, so perfectly worded, and so damn accurate, that it pretty much changed my life. So I'm here today to perform a public service. I hope to pass on the nerdy wisdom, from brother nerd to blog-writing nerd to blog-reading nerd, so that you may benefit from this Book of Nerdist Teachings. Because I'm not just here to help myself blossom into a social butterfly; I want to help you get there too! And if you're a nerd, then part of that involves getting over the fact that you're a damn nerd.

Ok. So. I was a nerdy kid. And a lot of people say that they were nerdy kids, but most of them are just reflecting their own sense of social awkwardness they felt as children. So believe me when I say I was a nerd, I mean I was a fucking nerd. I was a thick-glasses-wearing, big-words-using, good-at-math bookworm with no sense of fashion or talent in sports. Always picked last for the team in gym class, always missing the dirty jokes that went right over my head, always the butt of a joke without really knowing it - that was me. I actually struck out in tee-ball. I have gotten in trouble on multiple occasions for reading at the dinner table and, when I was eight, I got in a fight with my best friend because I thought she used the F-word (she didn't) and I didn't want to be friends with someone who swore. 

This is what I looked like, at the approximate age of nine or ten. Note the book in each hand; it wasn't unusual for me to have more than one on the go.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "nerd" with this image and no further explanation.

Now, being a nerdy kid is dangerous business. I am grateful, to this day, that the bullies who picked on me were never the ass-kicking type bullies and were more the soul-crushing type bullies. I was, however, a sensitive kid, and having one's soul crushed day in and day out can do some damage to the psyche. It got so bad that my mom - bless her - actually appealed to the school board to let me change schools between grade five and six. Her parental outrage won me the right to attend a public school across town and out of jurisdiction. That's right: my nerdism was so strong it overrode the government.

So suffice it to say that when I entered adolescence, I became super afraid of my nerdiness. Like many other nerdlings who are poised to grow into fully formed nerdmasters, I was terrified of social ostracization. So I tried, really hard, to go bad. I pierced things and tattooed other things and exposed skin that made my poor parents weep. I drank. I dabbled lightly, but enthusiastically, in non-hard-drug use. None of this is necessarily that shocking - I won't suggest that I was some sort of rebellious dangercase heading straight for self-destruction and juvey hall. It was pretty after-school-special in the end; typical, mostly harmless, adolescent rebellion that my parents just kind of dealt with, knowing I'd grow out of it. But through all my attempted badassery, I never, even once, turned my back on school; I guess I felt like the piercings and belly tops gave me enough street cred to continue being a bookworm and to vie for academic success. I won't say I was a perfect student - oh, I skipped classes, I got detentions, I slacked a little on some projects - but I was a good student, for the most part, and rarely got a grade lower than A.

Now, I am 27. I am a real grown-up and a whole teenager older than I was when I started all this fear of nerdly associations. But I'm still a fucking nerd (although clearly, I am no longer afraid of people who swear). I have seen Back to the Future approximately 12,000 times. I watch, and get excited about, Glee. I go to Chinese take-out restaurants and cringe at the atrocious grammar in the menus. I like to try and stump my friends with riddles, and one time I actually got out a pen and paper and worked out the mathematical formula that made a particular card trick possible. I make bad puns like it's my job (and I'm earning billions). I sewed my cats Halloween costumes to make them look like Nintendo characters. I play board games with the enthusiasm of a frog in a fly factory. I use phrases like "a frog in a fly factory." I blog, for Christ's sake. And oh, my lord, do I read. Still, sometimes, more than one book at a time. Still sometimes at the dinner table (but I can't get in trouble for it now!). And I will go home from work today rereading the last Harry Potter book for the gajillionth time in anticipation of the premiere of Deathly Hallows Part 2. Which I have already purchased tickets for, weeks in advance, and will attend in a Gryffindor scarf - in the middle of July.

But the thing is, all of this seriously just boils down to what my brother said: I like things. Whether those things are Harry Potter, Glee, proper spelling or the mathematical formulae of card tricks - I just plain like stuff. And that's such an awesome fucking way to look at it! Nerds are, after all, the epitome of optimism. (And my nerdbrother, who wrote a nerdspeech about optimism and won awards and stuff for his nerdiness, would know.) Show a nerd the trailer or even the poster for an upcoming movie that looks pretty epic, and he or she will pop a nerdboner. Ask a nerd to help you edit their resume, and he or she will become stoned on the sheer nerdphoria that is grammar rules and design. Tell a nerd that the zombie apocalypse is starting, and he or she will be abolutely, nerdaliciously giddy that it's actually fucking happening.

All this boils down to one thing: positivity. And who the hell ever said that was bad? Holy Christkicking cows, nerdism is about joy, folks! It's about feeling like a kid on Christmas morning when you find a good Youtube video about linguistics or receive a hilariously-shaped meat spear as a gift. It's about experiencing that youthful, wide-eyed wonder all over again when you see a really awesome Super Mario cake.

So I am no longer ashamed of my nerdiness. I am proud to like things. I think everyone should like things. Liking things is far, far superior to disliking things. Disliking things leads to hate and fear and ignorance and war. Liking things leads to love and friendship and laughter and creation. NERDS ARE PEACE.

So, my friends, I am creating a new entire section of my blog in honour of the fact that nerds are just people who fucking like things and that is awesome, and every nerd out there should stand up and cry out and declare that yes, we are nerds, and we are proud, and we are not afraid of our nerdism anymore, or at least not as afraid of that as we are of the ball!

So, go check it out, yo. It will be devoted to various lists of awesome things, or essays about other awesome things, or excited ramblings about upcoming awesomenesses that I am getting really psyched about. And it's called "Them Juicy Leaves" because I have no idea what caterpillars get excited about, but I imagine they're pretty into leaves.

And I am devoting the very first column to the ultimate nerdthing in my nerdcloset: Harry Potter! Yeah, that's right. Go read about Harry Potter and why it's so awesome and why you're missing out on life if you don't read/watch/dream about Harry Potter. And I feel like if I didn't honour my Muggledom somehow in blog form in anticipation of the eighth and final film, I would be the worst muggle ever. I don't even care that you're making fun of me right now.

Because I'm a fucking nerd who likes Harry Potter, and like will always kick hate's ass - and in this case, with the force of a Blast-Ended Skrewt.