Growing up geeky in my generation wasn't always easy. I had much different interests from other girls my age. I remember well, sitting in my pyjamas at the age of 10 with a loose tooth, playing through Super Mario RPG on my Super Nintendo. In grade 6, when I went to a brand new school, I was bullied and teased for my braces and my weird sense of style. I went home in tears nearly every day. My mom gave me a Sailor Moon doll to help give me incentive to stay at the new school, because I wanted to leave so badly. While I didn't play with my doll, she was a part of my growing collection of Sailor Moon toys and other items: another sign I wasn't like the others.
|Summer Fear III led to me getting zombified.|
No one wanted to be near me at school dances, which, for some reason, I took to heart in an extreme way. I was that girl you saw, sitting alone in the corner, crying because I was lonely.
I didn't really have anyone to spend time with at school for about a year, when a boy named Johnny and I decided we were destined to be best friends. We'd trade Pokemon cards and watch anime together. I'd go to his house for lunch and we'd play Harvest Moon or Ocarina of Time on his Nintendo 64. We'd spend hours on the phone, giving play-by-plays of the shows we were watching and the games we were playing.
We weren't teased any less, but at least we had each other.
Later on in high school, I had a bit of a broader set of friends--nearly all of them guys. We played card games and our GameBoys together in empty classrooms at noon. Some of my "in-between" friends--not overly popular, but not teased either--couldn't figure out why I wouldn't just hide my weird interests and wear my makeup differently. They told me I could get a boyfriend easily if I changed a few things. I didn't want to change, though. And that did pay off, because now I'm actually married to Brad, who is one of those guys I used to play card games with.
Growing up geeky, as I said, wasn't always easy, and in fact, there were a lot of times that it would have been easier to hide my interests. But, I didn't, hoping that one day it would pay off. When I finally got out of high school and made my way into university, it did.
I lived on dorm by myself, which was fine with me. Brad would come to visit me on weekends, so living alone gave me the freedom to have him over whenever I pleased. The two of us would stay up until the wee hours watching anime and playing Baldur's Gate on my GameCube. I didn't have many friends in university right away, but having Brad visit from the university he attended helped ease the loneliness on weekends.
One day, as I was leaving my dorm room, I caught a glimpse of my neighbour's door and saw a poster that read "Animaritime". Reading further, I saw that this was an anime and gaming convention--something I had always wanted to attend, but was sadly unavailable to kids in the Maritimes. I was instantly on the website from the poster and signed up for the forums. I chatted with people about the event and, eventually, I met my neighbour--through the forums! We exchanged private messages, and she invited me over to her room to hang out.
A year later, I was walking to class. A keychain of Sakura from Naruto dangled off my backpack. The girl walking behind me hurried to catch up, and she quickly engaged me in conversation. We were fast friends, too, and were a big part of each other's lives for the next few years.
Animaritime was a cornerstone for me to find more people who like the same things I do, and with the intensity I like it. I got into cosplay and started becoming friends with the people I met at conventions. It seemed like, for the first time, I had found my people.
In 2006, I started getting tired of waiting between Animaritime events to cosplay and see people, so I decided to spearhead an event of my own. At first, I just referred to it as "Moncton Cosplay Picnic", but with some help from my good friend and fellow nerd Tom Savage, we came up with the name Picnicon. The event has been happening on a yearly basis ever since, with a break of only one year in the interim.
After Animaritime one year, Brad and I were invited by a local gaming store to start up a Pokemon League for kids to learn how to play and meet other kids for free. Five years later, we're still at it--Brad's a League-officiated Pokemon Professor, in fact. And yeah, we're pretty pumped for X and Y. I'm getting X, because that deer is too fabulous to pass up.
Attending Animaritime as a staff member this year, I got to witness firsthand as teenagers and young adults made new friends, brought together by the love they feel for various geeky pursuits. I thought to myself how lucky all of these kids are, growing up in an age that these events take place on a regular basis. When I was young, Maritime con-goers would have to travel to Quebec or Ontario to enjoy a large-scale event. Now, after nearly ten years of Animaritime, the event has reached over 1,700 attendees. This is a far cry from the 200-something attendees that were there the year I started going, which was their second year of operation.
Picnicon 2013 is coming up very soon, with thanks to my staff and the attendees for their ongoing support. Picnicon will never be a 1,700 person event, but it has been expanding every year and has been a lot of fun. Just last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Harbour Con-Fusion to meet people who have made an incredible living off being awesome and geeky. Some day, I hope to be among them.
I could go on for hours on this topic. To end, here is an amazing video featuring super-nerd Wil Wheaton that, I feel, sums up why it's awesome to be a geek today.