Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
Introductions Are Always Awkward

Introductions Are Always Awkward

Hail and well met! Although my first blog here shared a very intimate piece of myself after one of the most awful things ever, I figured doing a legitimate introduction piece may still be merited as, you know, I am the new kid on the block. Talking about myself has never been my strong suit—I tend to prefer to get up on soap boxes about random topics and bloviate about whatever suits my fancy of the day. Introductions via writing feels like I am setting up a profile on a dating site—HERE ARE THE REASONS TO LIKE ME, DO YOU LIKE ME? I THINK I’M PRETTY COOL. So, bear with me as I meander through the awkward get-to-know-me phase and into some ideas I have for what I will likely to continue to write about.

My husband once said that when we introduce ourselves to new people, the first question is usually “what do you do?” as a way of measuring our value and status against each other. My husband is also not a people person and likes to challenge social norms with an antagonistic and sardonic attitude, but I still accept the challenge to not introduce my job until later on. So, I’m Brianna, or Bri, whichever is easier, and unlike my husband, I actually tend to like people!

I live in Bellingham, WA, a moderately sized city 90 miles north of Seattle and 20 miles from the Canadian border, not the last stop on your way up the I-5 corridor, but the last major one (no hate to Ferndale or Blaine!). I came up to Bellingham in 2007 when I went to Western Washington University for college. At the time, I was warned by people who lived in Bellingham to be careful of the “Bellingham Vortex,” people come here for college and either get sucked in or try to move on but most boomerang back. At the time, I laughed at the notion. As an elitist Seattleite, there was no way I was staying in this town when I come from the great 206. WELL, GUESS WHO WAS DEFINITELY 100% WRONG.

Bellingham ended up being an amazing place, particularly for a person like me. Known for its breweries, coffee, community culture, and outdoor adventures, how could I leave this place for the ever growing beyond capacity Seattle? The Bellingham Vortex got me.

My interests and hobbies are expansive but generally circle around what the world considers nerd or geek culture. You can usually find me playing Dungeons and Dragons, video games, board games, reading comics and fantasy novels, indulging in my Funko Pop habit, consuming anime and cartoons like I’m thirteen, drawing, painting, knitting, and any other craft that seems interesting at the moment. I bow to my overlords Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBO, Paramount, and Disney on the regular. I am the person who loves Star Wars AND Star Trek, I don’t knock the prequels (much) and I prefer Picard to Kirk. I CAN tell the difference between different blends and roasts of coffee (and yes, I do drink coffee black). I have several tattoos that are ALL references to geek fandoms from Lord of the Rings, to Sailor Moon, to Doctor Who, Legend of Zelda, dragons, and so on. I love music, all music, except country (I tried, I really did), and if my life offers me a hot minute to myself, you can find me at shows (when there isn’t a plague, I mean). I try to pretend to not be a “pop culture” person but, as my interests have become more and more mainstream… I have to accept the fact that I love pop culture.

I have one progeny, Asher. He is three and we are full force into threenager-hood. I know I am mom, so I have bias (like, a lot), but he’s a super happy kid, very charming, and full of energy. The kind of kid who runs and runs until suddenly they just drop, asleep—no in between. I have done my best to raise this turkey as every good nerd-mom should: EXPOSING HIM TO EVERYTHING GOOD. Kids are never too young to start being indoctrina— I mean, to learn about really cool things the world has to offer. His current favorites (in no particular order) consist of Aquaman, Tarzan, Pokemon, Paw Patrol, dragons, unicorns, Batman, and Lego Star Wars.

Asher’s haul from Free Comic Book Day 2021
Halloween this year, Asher is Ferdinand the Bull!

The person who helped create the progeny and shares life with me is Brandon. Meeting Brandon was funny—I was dating another person at the time and that partner’s brother invited us out to his home for game night with his fiancé. The game night included myself, my partner, partner’s brother, brother’s partner’s fiancé, and Brandon. Why was he there? I don’t know. I later found out that Brandon was an ex-partner of the fiancé… and then I learned that if you grew up in Bellingham in the 70s-90s, you have essentially dated EVERYONE in your age group. Brandon was not covert about his immediate interest, at all. That year, he and I kept running into each other and when I was single again, he asked if I wanted to hang out. Now, Brandon is ten years older than me. And me, at the time, being very new to my 20s, had ZERO clue that some one older than me would be actually asking me out. So, what do I do? I say yes, go to the place that would be our first date, sit down in my “who’s your daddy?” Darth Vader shirt and ask:

“Who shot first?”

Taken aback, Brandon took a moment but did respond correctly. That’s when I knew he was good people and could keep up with my interests enough to hang…. And then he paid for dinner and it suddenly clicked. WELL THEN.


The rest is history. Brandon and I have been together at this point for… 10 years or so… married in 2016, now he’s stuck with me. Brandon brings to our family his STRONG interests in high fantasy and will probably beat you in a Lord of the Rings trivia night. If it’s high fantasy, especially if the lore is from novels, Brandon knows it.


Also in our home is Leia, our tuxedo potato cat, and three ferrets: Dexter, Fred, and George. I have been raising and fostering ferrets since I was nineteen. It all started when I wanted a pet but lived in apartments that didn’t allow them. But, I found a loophole: caged animals DON’T count as pets. They count as furniture. I believe I have raised sixteen weasels? Somewhere in that number. Dexter, Fred, and George are my last three for a while. As Asher gets bigger, it’s getting harder to give all the creatures in the home equal attention. They are so much fun—very good pets if you can keep up with them!


See? I have done a great job not referencing my work! I DID IT.

So, to get on that… I am a mental health therapist. In 2015, I completed my MA in Rehabilitation Counseling which is a therapy-social justice- disabilities advocacy hybrid degree. Following that, I got a nice job with the state as a social worker/counselor for folks with disabilities looking to get back into the workforce and managed a caseload consisting solely of Transition Students (14-21 y/o) for the whole county. If your teen lives in Whatcom County and had an IEP or 504 between 2014-2020, it’s likely I had at the very least met them.

I decided to punish myself again and went back to grad school and received my M Ed in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis in 2018 (a month before giving birth to my kid because, go big or go home, right?). Now, I know ABA is controversial, and I completely acknowledge and validate all perspectives, but that’s for a different post. Using that background, I blend counseling and theoretical approaches from both mentalism and behaviorism and became an Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) therapist specializing in autism, ADHD, anxiety, and neurodivergent individuals.

I left the state and opened my own practice literally, and I mean LITERALLY, the day before WA state shut down for the pandemic in March of 2020. Let’s just say that, at first, suddenly being self employed when no one was leaving their homes was a bit scary, but it evened out and now I help kids, teens, families, individuals, and the occasional couples. I continue to utilize ACT methods (along with others), but also became a Geek Therapist which means I am trained in applying therapeutic approaches using games (TTRPGs, board games, video games), comics, film, pop culture, etc. It’s been a lot of fun and really lets me get on my clients level and connect with them where they are at—working on hard stuff is a lot easier when we can have fun too, especially with the littler ones.

I am a big Sailor Moon and Legend of Zelda nerd. You will likely see me referencing them CONTINUOUSLY. I snicker a bit because I have a distinct memory of my dad, who was exasperated that I taped hundreds of pictures all over freshly painted walls, telling me I would outgrow my obsession and feel very silly someday. WELL, LOOK AT ME NOW, DAD. I have other interests that have persisted since I was a kid, but if you ask anyone who knows me what are things I love, those two are usually the first out of anyone’s mouth.

For this blog, I will likely be addressing topics such as parenting a nerdlet, revisiting old favorites I had as a kid now that I am an adult, topics around social justice in geek culture and how can we tackle problems within it, geek culture and therapy, and other topics that are similar. I know I am in no way an expert in any of these things, but I like to think people may find my perspectives and thoughts at LEAST amusing. I join Atomic Junk Shop following the loss of Greg Hatcher. My technically first post recounts a very summarized version of my life with Greg; after he passed I had reached out to Jim to try to set something up on AJS for Greg, which of course everyone was already on. Following that, I was invited on if I had interest and I said: “sure, why not!” It is sad that it took a huge loss for me to connect into AJS, especially since my link in was literally Greg, but nevertheless I am stoked to give this a shot. Now, the hope is that I can keep up with some kind of schedule and I don’t pull a Gandalf too frequently.

…you were still late, Gandalf.

I’m very interested in getting feedback from others about topics that could be fun so hopefully I do AJS justice!


Thanks for having me, y’all!


  1. Welcome.
    Country music is a VERY broad category, existing in recorded form in this country for about a century. I would recommend Ken Burns’ PBS thing about it. You may (or not) find a lane that appeals to you.

    1. Brianna Longwell

      I will definitely check it out! I always make room for opinions and preferences to change, the music industry evolves so quickly I try to check in every so often to see what’s going on. 🙂

  2. Julie

    I know Greg would be so proud to have you on the AJS team, as I am. Great introduction article. I think any of the subjects mentioned would fill columns for decades. An article that I think would be helpful for all in the world right now is dealing with anxiety during these challenging times. How does one engage in the things they love while still being safe and practicing good self-care. Just a thought from your adopted Nerd mom.

  3. Edo Bosnar

    “His current favorites (in no particular order) consist of Aquaman, Tarzan, Pokemon, Paw Patrol, dragons, unicorns, Batman, and Lego Star Wars.”
    *sniff* You’re a good mom…

    Otherwise, the Kirk vs. Picard thing has always been tough for me, I’ve gone back and forth many times; for me, though, it’s additionally tougher because it’s usually a three-way contest between those two and Janeway.

  4. Welcome Brianna!
    “My husband is also not a people person” My wife discovered during the pandemic that when she used to say “I don’t need anyone except you and our dogs” she was spot on. I’m a lot more social. She has made exceptions for our two stray cats.

  5. Le Messor

    Hey Brianna! Welcome aboard.
    You’ll usually find me shoved aside to the quiet room, so don’t worry about learning my name.

    Just a clarification:
    my partner, partner’s brother, partner’s fiancé
    Did you mean your partner’s brother’s fiancée?

    Enjoy all the dragons!

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