Saturday, February 04, 2006

Gettin' My Nerd On

In law school, my peeps and I would devise various ways to introduce the word "nerd" into common vernacular statements to describe the act of studying. Like, "let's nerd out." Or the title of this blog, "gettin' my nerd on." I also remember we had "nerd offs" to see which of us was the most loserly for studying on a Friday night until the library closed. We were all nerds. Day in, day out, till 1 or 2 a.m, after the library closed and we had to find an empty classroom to study in and the janitors would come in and look at us with pity--we were there, we were studying, we were nerding out. Yet I felt the nerdliest of all. I was in fact, a God Among Nerds.

I need not extend myself too far to demonstrate my nerd bona fides. My next purchase as soon as I save up the $69, is the LL Bean "Super Shockwave" Laptop Backpack. On my "I pine for it" list, once I move, is the Levenger Editor's Desk. In fact, I pore over my Levenger catalogue with excitement and desire--they are the "tools for serious readers." Who doesn't want a monogrammed leather International Pocket Briefcase to record your flashes of brilliance? A Levenger Lap Desk for those who like to study in bed or in armchairs? Yes please! Also, bear witness to my photo album of nerd accoutrements on the left sidebar. Yes, I do own a Star Trek pop-up book. Yes, I do possess two literary action figures, one of Oscar Wilde, the other of Jane Austen. No, I do not play with them--they are in mint condition, and I want to keep them that way. I do take them out to look at them from time to time though. I think I would be happy with just two more: Charles Dickens and T.S. Eliot, if they exist. This isn't even the entire collection of nerd accoutrements mind you--let's not get started on the office supplies, the filing system, the huge bookcase over-spilling with heady tomes of law, literature, poetry, Latin textbooks. I am Nerd. Hear me ROAR.

I'm not exactly proud of my nerdista self, but I'm not ashamed either. Law school made me realize that the nerds shall inherit the earth. There are many variations within the nerd race however. There is the Jock Nerd--athletic, sporty, cool, fun, but still smart and still to be found at the library when not at the gym. There is the ASB Class President Nerd, the perennially popular person who's just a natural born schmoozer, just born to be a lawyer/politician. There is the Sexy Nerd--the improbable combination of brains and beauty. There is Angry Activist Nerd--the nerds who spend their time reading Franz Fanon and bell hooks, getting progressively angrier as they get smarter. Finally, there is Hard Worker Nerd, who just toils away, works hard, and is relatively undistinguished and goes unnoticed.

I'm probably a combination of the last two--although you could flatter me by saying that if I did something with my hair, I might be a little bit of a sexy nerd (hey, girls at my school seemed to compete for who could carry 20 lbs of laptop and books on their back while tottering on stilettos and in tight Seven jeans). I'm definitely not sporty enough, or popular or schmoozy enough to be Jock Nerd or ASB Class President Nerd (who goes onto be the class president of the Student Bar Association). I'm definitely too geeky, what with the Star Trek obsession and the "I read high modernist literature and ancient Latin for fun" thing to be too sexy. (although I imagine, if I was a flirty type, and if I was more promiscuous and less discriminating, that a cute lawyer chick who's into science fiction is quite the catch. ) But I admit, in the nerd hierarchy, I am like a lowly eunuch. Not belle of the Barrister's Ball (our law school PROM). Not SBA class president. Not one to play tennis or squash (what the hell is squash?!) with the assistant dean for student affairs. And you know what? It's okay.

I somehow got through law school with only one (minor) breakdown, without dropping out, or getting cirrhosis. In fact, as to the last, I'm as dry as they come. Having a semi alcoholic father growing up kind of helps you avoid the hooch. Being so drunk I was sick and wanted to die precisely four times in three years can put you off alcohol for the intervening months between each episode. However, this trait of drinking moderately and tastefully (I'm an aspiring oenophile, fan of the French savoir faire way of drinking) is frightfully pretentious and self-righteous, and also very geeky. I can be forgiven for being a Trekkie (or as I prefer, Trekker). I can be a bookworm without fault, because we are all bookworms. I can even be a "I'm not in it for the money" kind of activist lawyer type, because that's noble, if "stupid." But to not drink? Sacrilege! I don't know why, but there is a culture of drinking in every graduate program (but especially in the three-martini lunch law). Lawyers do it more expensively, that's all. In grad school, it's a culture, in law school, it's a way of life. So I wonder if I will ever fit in anywhere, as a petite Asian woman who can handle up to 4 vodka drinks (wow!) but drinks much less--by choice. I definitely didn't fit in during law school. To not participate in 'Bar Review" every Thursday? To go home, every week on the prime drinking nights of Friday and Saturday to spend time with my approaching-70 parents and 8 nephews and nieces? What is wrong with you?!

I am proud to be a nerd. I am proud to be a sober, literate, Star-Trek-watching, nerd-accessory-accumulating, literary-action-figure-collecting nerd. But most of all, I'm glad to be out of law school, where the Nerd Olympics were crazy--nerd against nerd, mano a mano, till the pocket protectors and horn-rimmed glasses flew into the air and shattered upon the ground. There, even where it was the Nerd Mecca, where nerds were free to frolic and procreate with their own kind, there was a hierarchy. And just like in high school, there are the popular kids, there is peer pressure to do things you'd rather not, and there are, inevitably, "losers." The nerds may inherit the earth, but it is the jocks and the student body schmoozers who will get the biggest share. And you know what? Whatever. It's okay. They can have it. I have my kids, my books, my tape-recorded episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, my literary action-figures, and my health. I don't need much more (well, except tenure).

But now, I have to get my nerd on. Nerd out.


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