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Facing the Music: I'm just me, nothing more or less, and not "that" - The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
Facing the Music: I'm just me, nothing more or less, and not "that"
It's time to face the music and admit a few things.

First, I'm not pretty. I can't pretend to be cute, geeky, hot, fashionable, hip, or any of that. The best that can be said about me are basic facts like 'male', 'white', 'pale', and 'awkward'. Average height, average build, just average. Maybe a little worse for wear in the physical appearance charts, but I'm no bear, twink, or anything between. I can accept that some people find me attractive, but they're very few and very far between. You don't need to pretend otherwise for my sake.

Second, I'm not a social butterfly and I don't want to be one. It would be safer to say that I'm a social chameleon: I blend into the background and can get along with, on the surface, a number of different types of people. I'm a fairly generic person and don't have any extreme interests. I like a number of things, but I'm no expert or raving fan of anything. I'm strongly opinionated about specific aspects of programming, but that's really it.

Overall I'm okay with it. I don't need to be pretty, sought after, or approved. I would like to be noticed from time to time. My philosophy is largely "To each their own" and "Treat others as they want to be treated". I'm probably the most non-judgmental person you'll ever meet when it comes to people's personal lives. Furry? Okay. Nerd? Gotcha. Hipster? Whatever floats your boat. Gamer? *nods* Artist? Cool. Actor? Neat. Into BDSM? Sounds interesting (just not really for me, thanks). etc etc etc

I've got a few friends, a few acquaintances, and a few people to play games with. Some of them aren't local, but I'll take what I can get. I'm thankful for what I have and I'm happy to be just me.

So what does that mean for the future? Probably nothing specific; just business as usual.

Current Mood: pensive pensive

12 comments or Leave a comment
marklevoyageur From: marklevoyageur Date: December 28th, 2012 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Average is good, I don't have to worry about breaking you. A super model I want to enclose in glass - untouched.
mai_neh From: mai_neh Date: December 28th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a generalization out there that the "very good looking" fellas aren't that good in bed, because they don't have to try ;-)
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: December 28th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like to second, third, and fourth that sentiment; it also applies to guys who may not look great, but are narcissistic.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 28th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could see that being true. Also the young (why seemingly every older guy wants to get their hands on some 18-19 year old boy like it's the hottest thing since buttered toast, I've no clue).
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: December 28th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
We can discuss that "not cute" comment in person sometime.

As for the cliques... I've never much cared to belong to one, and contrarily have enjoyed attempting to confound any attempt at shoehorning applied to me.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 28th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is why I said the ones who do think I'm attractive are few and far between. Between you and legolastn being on the complete opposite side of the country, and/or taken, there really aren't that many people who like the non-cliqued people. At least there's a few who will tolerate me over here so far.

So yeah, when are you visiting Seattle? :-D
legolastn From: legolastn Date: December 28th, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, accepting yourself for who you are is the most important thing, but I like your jack-of-all-trades-kind-of-socially-awkward-get-along-with-lots-of-different-people-ness and think it makes you pretty unusual. Of course, I also think you're cute and geeky. :)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 28th, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. :)

I lack the depth to say I'm geeky because I'm not a fan of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and am mystified by the fanaticism behind Doctor Who and the Tardis. I like Star Trek, but I'm not obsessed with it and I don't know every episode by heart. I don't make holiday ornaments out of old computer components, or have half a dozen computers set up around the apartment. And in the programming world I easily get discounted for not being a "real" programmer because my specialty is PHP, a "scripting" language (aka Not A Real Language). So, what all this boils down to, is when someone says geeky, I don't assume they're someone I can relate to.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: December 28th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess maybe it depends on your reference group and/or your standard of comparison/cutoff. It sounds like you have lots of major geeks to compare yourself to, which makes you feel less geeky. Whereas most of the people I know are probably at about my level or below of geekiness so I feel more geeky.

For example, I don't feel I'm a computer geek - that's not a central part of my geek "identity"- but I'm probably the most knowledgeable about computers in my extended family and probably in the top quarter-to-half of my extended friends network, so I'm affirmed as a geek by most of the people I know. I don't have much interaction with the programming world, so people who do program, such as yourself, are among the people I would consider true computer geeks. Other things that tend to place a person in that category for me would be: people who have more than one personal computer for reasons other than convenience, such as running a dedicated Linux box (or, someone who only has a Linux setup).

Similarly, while I do consider myself a fan of Star Wars and Doctor Who, and enjoyed Battlestar Galactica well enough, I would say my level of engagement with these is probably about the same as for Star Trek for you. I wouldn't say it rises to the level of fanaticism, but I guess that depends on your cutoff. :) To be fair, Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth enthusiasm probably does qualify as fanaticism, although even here comparing to major LotR geeks I pale in comparison (I don't have a cosplay costume, have never been to a con, etc). For me, just being interested in these series qualifies as geekiness. Among my extended family, anything more than passing knowledge of any of these is rare-to-unique. Among my friends, again, I'd probably say I fall somewhere around the quarter-to-half percentile of enthusiasm (although, in this case, I think there is an overall higher level of enthusiasm/knowledge than with computers).

Maybe also it depends on what extent you've internalized it as an identity versus thinking about it as a (potential) descriptor. While I'm actually probably more nerd than geek being in academia perhaps by default gives me cred and identity in both areas - it's integrated into my identity in a way that makes it resilient to outside influence. Likewise, I do identify as a gamer, and that's attached to geekiness (ie, gamer geeks). But even there it's relative since, for example, I don't really see the appeal of many so-called eurogames, although I wouldn't make the statement I'd never get into them, and many genres of video games hold no appeal to me and I can definitely say never will.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 29th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Given that I'm a programmer, practically all programmers are also geeks, and that tends to be my social circle, yeah. Programmers tend to be very judgmental and all about the respect. If you don't share their interests then chances are they don't care about you or what you can do. If you're a better programmer than they are then they fear you and try to lower you in any other way possible. Very very few programmers are willing to admit when someone else is better than them, at least not if they can't consider the other person equal or lessor in some other way (e.g. BSG, ST, SW, number of computers at home, sports, alcohol, etc).

When it comes to being a computer geek, I have limits. I know programming, concepts and specifically PHP, but you won't find me trying to hack the hardware or create a new programming language.

This conversation got me thinking about what makes it so daunting, and I realized part of it is that "initiated" versus "uninitiated" mindset. Someone who knows even a little about BSG knows some of the terms, characters, and plot, so having a conversation with someone who doesn't have even that limited knowledge can feel like a painter trying to tell an electrician how to blend colors. The worst part is that the initiated probably doesn't even realize there's that barrier and just rambles on about terms and plot, while the uninitiated nods politely and stares back blankly, probably thinking about the leftovers in the fridge. XD

When I went to the local gay gaming group no one was inviting me to join their game, so I was left out. When I went the second time I asserted my willingness to play games, but I still had the barrier that I didn't know any of the games they had there and were all so used to so I was still completely lost. When I went to their GameWorks meetup it was almost exclusively drinking beer and talking about BSG, Doctor Who, gay gossip, beer, and the hot topic console game. I was so completely lost, and no one seemed particularly interested in getting me up to speed. I stood there, I nodded politely, and I thought about how bored and lonely I was despite standing around a dozen other people. In essence I felt useless and unwanted. It was obvious they had their own clique established, I didn't match it, and they didn't care about making me feel welcome.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: December 29th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
The programming world sounds horrible. Not that there isn't some amount of dick-waving/alpha male personality in academia but there's plenty of more friendly, collaborative atmosphere, which is where I steer.

I think since geeks/nerds tend to lack social skills there is probably a prone-ness to doing that sort of rambling about things people don't know/understand. People with social skills ask things like, "do you know about ?" and if not either try to explain or try to move on to a different topic of mutual interest.

That gaming group also sounds like my worst nightmare. I think there's generally an expectation in any group welcoming new people that existing members actually make an effort to be welcoming and (in the case of a gaming group) invite new people to play games, including make an effort to play a game they are familiar with and/or help them learn to play a new game and/or pick a game that is new to all/most so everyone is learning together. Or at least invite them over to watch so they can start to learn the game by watching and be included in the conversation. So, yeah, either a clique of assholes or people so socially unskilled they don't even realize they're operating as a clique.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 29th, 2012 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
There are good environments for programmers, but they're harder to come by. Programmers seem to like to argue (PC: "debate"), whether it's about if there should be 1 tab, 4 spaces, 2, spaces, 3 spaces, or mixing spaces and tabs, or if it's about the structure or the design. We're supposed to question designs and find the most efficient one, but that's usually not the motivator.

Programmers are also afflicted by a lot of other problems as well.
"Not Invented Here" syndrome says that if they didn't write it then it's not right. It's too complicated, bloated, not customizable enough, not in the right coding style, or whatever the excuse may be. Software architects with this problem are even worse, as they'll stipulate no one can use software library XYZ and it has to be reimplemented by them in-house.
"It's better than it was" is often used as an excuse to stop trying or excuse bad behavior or performance.
"This is the way it has always been done" is an excuse to stop learning.
"Change" becomes a dirty word.
There are older guys who have been programming for 20+ years who believe they've seen everything and know better.
There are young whipper-snappers who think every new idea is a silver bullet without thinking it through.

At my first company I was the odd ball out. A few people liked me, but for the most part I was insignificant. Only one person really hated me.

At my second company I was feared, so I heard. I had an air of knowing what I was doing and not being afraid to say so. I always backed up my thoughts and decisions with logic and reason (... are those two words to say the same thing, or do they actually mean two different yet related things?), yet I was still told people feared saying anything different to me. So I was told, anyway, by the manager. I did recognize that the Java developers actively avoided involving me in their PHP project if at all possible. Me, the 'PHP Expert' they hired specifically to be on hand to assist, was usually the last person they invoked for assistance.

I learned long long ago to not assume people know what I'm talking about. I learned to recognize the blank stares when most of the family had no clue what I was talking about about computers, so I try again and again until I saw the light of comprehension in their faces and eyes, or we moved on. Now, I regularly get compliments from my gaming group that they love when I explain the rules of new games. They'll tease me for reading the rules, but I can tell it's mostly just in jest.

It's funny, and sad, that the gaming group I get along with best is the one that's a 45 minute bus ride out of town and isn't advocated as gay-friendly, yet is. Also, everything you've said about what makes a good welcome to a gaming group seems like common sense to me, and why I loved my group in Las Vegas because the hostess did exactly that. I now try to be as welcoming as possible to new people. Most don't come back anyway, but a few do. Doesn't mean I shouldn't still be friendly.

Edited at 2012-12-29 03:55 am (UTC)
12 comments or Leave a comment