Okay, here’s the skinny:
I’m a nerd.
You are surprised by this revelation, I know. “It’s not possible!” you say. “You, a nerd? Lies!” Protest all you wish, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
There are oodles of examples of my nerdiness: my enjoyment of doing laundry, my hatred of all things with too many legs (bees, roaches, wasps, etc.), and my weird obsession with color-coding my Word documents (blue for what someone else said; black for what I said; red for what needs to be edited; and lots of highlighting). I suppose I could get all psychoanalytic about it and try to figure out from whence all this nerdiness comes — but Freud always came back to blaming the mother, and while I do have my mom to thank for some of my weird habits, plenty have been developed over the years without her influence, or even her knowledge.
I am greatly influenced by those around me — especially, sadly, when a person near me happens to be an attractive male. It was my Best Friend who got me playing World of Warcraft, as well as getting me hooked on such Fantasy authors as Piers Anthony and David and Leigh Eddings (a husband and wife writing nerdy books together? Fantastic!).
It was my dismay at my lack of decent sex education that led me to take a Human Sexuality class in college, and what I learned in that class led me to take more classes, lead and participate in experiments, and minor in Psychology. It’s one of my favorite sectors of non-fiction to read for funsies, especially anything involving Evolutionary Psychology — and I really love leaving the books around so that unsuspecting guests may “accidentally” pick up Why Women Have Sex (seriously, who doesn’t want the answer to that question?).
Authors such as Jane Austen and Baroness Emuska Orczy (and since last week, Georgette Heyer!) fulfill my need for swoony, swashbuckling, over-the-top romantic nonsense, and I love testing my understanding of literature, grammar, writing, spelling, and puns (how I love puns!) by reading Jasper Fforde.
It was my love of stories and storytelling that led me to major in Dramatic Media, and keeps me interested in marketing, branding, web design, and blogging.
It all comes back to books, stories, and storytelling. Which, in turn, comes back to my original statement: I am a nerd. It kinda sucked in high school, but the older I get, the more I come to realize that I can’t and shouldn’t apologize for who or what I am. But that is the subject of another post. On to further insanity!
One of the nerdiest things about me is the fact that I have a Commonplace Book. The long-winded explanation is this:
“The commonplace book emerged in the early Renaissance, and usually took the form of a writer’s notebook in which were recorded apposite quotations from other writers were by turns inspirational, motivational, philosophical or meditative. This resulted in a book that was not merely a miscellany, but a unique reflection of the compiler’s thoughts and mind. By keeping an account of the key points of his readings, he made a journal of his own, stamped with his personality.” (Rosemary Friedman)
For those who hate reading long paragraphs (so what the hell are you doing here?), I’ll give you the short and sweet:
Commonplace Book = notebook full of quotes from any and everything
I have a Commonplace Book, and it is on my list of Stuff to Save if the Apartment Catches on Fire (along with my private journal and pink monkey stuffed animal). I’m sure that some people enjoy writing on fancy paper in little journals, but my Commonplace Book is a simple 9.5in x 6in blue Mead notebook (150 sheets, College ruled). I really wish that I had written my starting date on the inside cover, but I didn’t; so I’ll have to tentatively place its beginnings sometime in 2001 or 2002, because the first quote is from the film “Shallow Hal.”
“Do me a favor and stop saying that I’m pretty and that I’m not fat, okay? Cause it makes me uncomfortable. Look, I know what I am, and I know what I’m not. I’m the girl who gets really good grades and isn’t afraid to be funny. And I’m the girl who has lots of friends who are boys, and no boyfriends. I’m not beautiful, okay? And I never will be. And I’m fine with that, you know?” (“Shallow Hal,” 2001)
Obviously I had some self-esteem issues back then. Still do, in fact, but not really the same ones. It’s very interesting to go back and see what I thought were good or interesting or meaningful quotes. It’s a way to look back at my younger self and remember what I was like. A lot about me has changed since then — even my handwriting.
Not surprisingly (at least to myself anyway), many of my quotes are lovey-dovey. What can I say? I’m a sucker for sap! I also have lots of lyrics to awesome songs, and apparently went through phases like “Biblical Quotations” and “Poetry.” This latter phase comes in and out more often than the former, because my taste in Bible quotes doesn’t change much, whereas my taste in poetry tends to wander around. For example, the most recently added poem is one by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (I recently rediscovered his writings):
“Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The fire-fly wakens: waken thou with me.
Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
And all they heart lies open unto me.
Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.
Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.”
Now, I know what I think this poem is about (bow chica wow wow!), so it’s no real surprise to me that it’s in my book. What is surprising, however, is that it’s not in there once, but twice. I’ve done this with several poems, as well as with a quote from 1986’s “Crocodile Dundee.” (Don’t ask me why — I don’t know, either.)
A Commonplace Book is a lot like a life: there’s a beginning and end, bright spots, funny moments, meaningful experiences, and (in my life anyway) lots of singing and storytelling. As in life, however, there are certain portions of my Commonplace Book that I always skip: quotes scrawled by a person I hurt; poetry written to an ex-; and even some quotes that remind me of people, places, and things that were bad, or at least negative. I’ve often been tempted to tear out those pages, because I don’t like being reminded of my mistakes or shortcomings, or of my negative thoughts about myself. But I’ve always been able to avoid that.
I try to make it a point in my life to not have regrets. Not only does this mean avoiding situations which I think would lead to my making a bad decision, but it also means trying to see the value of the decisions I made that I thought were good, or were right for me at the time, but were poison to me in the long run. At times my OCD has kicked in, and I’ve wanted to get rid of duplicate quotes (like the examples mentioned above). But in the end I can’t do that.
To alter or remove pieces from my Commonplace Book would be tantamount to destroying a part of my history — a part of myself. Each quote is a window into what I was thinking or feeling in that moment, and I can’t scrub any of that away.
“Years of ballet as a child,
She walks on toes pointed out,
Soft as snow steps.
Costumes now hang
In a closet. Bright lights,
Boardrooms, no men
In tights. She’s learning
To set her heels,
Solid like ice.
Make-up still masks
The pain of a pirouette.” (“Dance,” by N. Bisson)