Late Blooming Geek

Most of my friends at work and in my personal life collect or read comics regularly. Some geek out on when new issues are released and buy all the alternate covers for each issues. Others are more casual about it and subscribe to some of the online comic services. They reminisce of series they have read, writers they like, and artists they love.

Most of these same friends also identify with being geeks.

My family had an TI-99 4a growing up, but I didn't really understand the point of BASIC. I just typed in the example code in the manual and a block figure danced across the screen. I didn't really explore. I had a neighborhood friend who's family had an Apple IIe and a IBM Personal Computer. I played with both of them when I visited his house, but again it wasn't really that intriguing at the time.

What I did growing up was more or less what you see depicted in movies, magazines, and books about your typical American boy upbringing. I played lots of sports, rarely played inside, played more sports, set fire to grass clippings with a magnifying glass, played more sports, and rode miles upon miles around my neighborhood on my sweet BMX bike. What you would probably assume if your typical jock upbringing.

As I got more to high school age, I really liked the computer course I took as an elective, but I never thought it would amount to a career. In fact I started college wanting to study Pharmacy. Three years into that plan I took a Computer Science I course as an elective. My thought process was that I knew almost every industry was moving towards computerizing as much of that industry as they could. If I could get a jump on that I would have a leg up when I got out into the real world of working in a Pharmacy.

The CS class wasn't exactly what I had imagined it to be. We learned the basics of Pascal, wrote simple programs, and then ran them on the VAX. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but it wasn't that hard to me either. We moved on to introduce more and more complex logic and control flows, etc. and it still wasn't that hard to me. In fact it came sort of naturally it seemed. What was hard to me though was knowing how to synthesize a methylated alcohol in my chemistry lab and having to memorizing the infinite possibilities of chemical bonding to benzene rings. It was utterly maddening having to memorize all that exceptions to the rules for organic chemistry. I wanted a rule that I could apply to something and I could get an expected result.

So I get into my second go around of Organic Chemistry I and II because I didn't get a high enough grades in them the first time around to get into pharmacy school. It was still just infuriating as it was the first time I took them, but I did better in them the second time, but not as well as I would have liked. All the while I'm still taking CS courses because I'm using them as my filler course since to me they were easy A's. Turns out not everyone thought that they were easy A's. As a Pharmacy major, I was blowing the curves for CS majors. Long story short, I finally made the decision to switch to a CS Major because it was less effort for me and it had a really bright future.

Back to the storyline, I was a college Junior before I really got my first taste of geekdom. I was writing programs for fun, I was logging into BBS's, and playing Hexen 2 and Doom 2 in all night LAN parties with my friends. I even became the Computer Club president and the operator of a local BBS. I got a CS related job and moved to Austin.

I was slowly edging towards geekdom, but I didn't identify as one yet. I was doing more and more geeky things, but I still was a fanatic about watching sports and participating in them as I could.

A truthism about working in the software field is that there are a lot of like minded people gravitating towards those positions. My circle of friends evolved into a people who consider themselves geeks. Over the years I've been exposed to most of the geeky things through those friends and colleagues, but I've not participated in a lot of them. I was too busy watching or playing sports, out enjoying Austin's nightlife, or floating on one of the Central Texas rivers.

But over the years, I've gotten older. I don't play sports anymore, I don't have that much interest in watching sports. I don't watch a lot of network TV. I mostly just work. I enjoy it and it gives me something to do with my extra time. I now identify as a geek myself, and even when I'm not working I'm probably still playing a PS4 game or working on a personal web project on the side.

But when I listen to my friends and colleagues talk about the things they do on the weekends and things they do for fun seems really foreign to me. I've never really played board games, and I haven't ever bought and read a comic book.

The more I listened to those people, then more intrigued I've been about what I missed had I had started out with a geek background. One of my good friends is much like me in his background, and we were chatting about this very thing, being a Late Blooming Geek or better yet a person who identifies as a geek much later in life.

While I overlap with my friends in our love of technology and programming, I don't relate to them talking about playing Settler's Catan, or going to the latest comic convention, or even reading the latest issue Amazing X-Men. It's just not something I've ever been exposed to.

Like everyone else I want to belong to the group I identify with. It's part of our human nature. So I'm trying to set out to remedy this.

Tonight as I was picking up dinner there was a comic store next door. I stepped inside and was almost overwhelmed with sheer number of choices. I felt embarrassed, but I asked the person working, "I don't know anything about comics, how do I get started?"

Tonight I picked up my first comic ever.

Ray Pierce

Web Developer, RetailMeNot, Mentor, NodeBot builder, Texan

Austin, TX Ya'll
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