I'm 5. Precariously perched atop the kitchen table in my idea of a heroic pose, I'm busy yelling the famous opening lines from my new favorite show and hoping I don't get in trouble for knocking over the Corn Flakes. I end with "To boldly go where no one has gone before" and smile gap-toothed at my dad, who calmly observes this display over the morning paper.
My father cocks his eyebrow, and I sigh and correct myself. "Where no man has gone before." I clamber down and plant myself on my father's lap.
"It's just not fair. How come girls can't boldly go?" I pull at my pigtail. Dad chuckles and folds his newspaper.
"I'm sure Captain Kirk will make an exception for you." He kisses my forehead and I run off, temporarily appeased.
It didn't take much detective work for my dad to realize that I was genuinely interested in Star Trek from a very young age. One week, my father found me planted in front of the television, acting out the episode using Barbie and Ken as stand-ins for Kirk and Uhura. That was all the evidence he needed; the next week, he began my Star Trek education in earnest. Gradually, he introduced me to the original series, then the movies; soon we were exchanging Wrath of Khan jokes at the dinner table in lieu of the traditional "What did you do at school today?"
When I was 7, an entirely new world opened up to me. Thanks to an odd scheduling choice by our local NBC affiliate, The Next Generation directly followed Reading Rainbow in the afternoon programming line-up. Each day I rushed home from school to watch Geordi read me a story and then go on great adventures with the rest of his friends in space. Suddenly, Reading Rainbow's life lessons were backed up by Star Trek metaphors ("See, Catie, it's really important that we be nice to everyone, just how Captain Picard is friends with Worf even though he's different"), and while I already suspected reading was cool, it was Geordi's comprehensive knowledge of the ship as Chief Engineering Officer that taught me the importance of a good education - even if I wasn't entirely sure how he made it from the library to the spaceship in time for takeoff.