By Mandi Bierly
July 05, 2007 at 02:00 PM EDT

It’s a special post-Independence Day edition of the PopWatch Confessional, because I’m off like a dirty shirt for the rest of the week. In honor of our ongoing discussion about what it means to be a geek, I thought we could all share the moments that first clued us in — or should’ve — that we’d become general pop-culture junkies. I share mine; you share yours.

• My freshman year biology teacher encouraged the class to “think outside the box” for our year-end projects. You know, don’t just paste some images of the animal she assigns you onto a poster. I wrote a rap about the Cooper’s Hawk to the B-side instrumental of “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” I recorded it by holding my boom box up to the record player, and then lip-synced it in front of the class, with three of my friends reluctantly performing as my backup dancers. (Yeah, I’m only still in touch with one of them.)

• During my junior year of high school, I would watch Life Goes On (starring Chad Lowe and Kellie Martin, pictured) with my friend Mark over the telephone. We would only talk during commercials. Luckily for my parents, it was a local call.

• I started writing for Syracuse University’s Daily Orange student newspaper as soon as I stepped on campus. At first I wrote for the news department: a two-part series on hate crimes here, a four-part series on the state of women at SU there. Then one day, I walked down the hall to the Lifestyle office and got assigned a piece on college students who plan their schedules around their favorite soaps. (One of the students I interviewed, incidentally, was Guiding Light devotee James LaRosa, who would go on to to write CBS’ seminal Spring Break Shark Attack.) I was home.

addCredit(“Life Goes On: Everett Collection”)