Thursday, February 14, 2013

Confession to make

OK, you readers have been too polite to say anything, but I hear the whispers of the questions through the vibrating power lines. My mechanical parts feel the doubt building in the stray electrons left by my posts.

"Christopher, why don't you ever post pictures of your painted minis?"

Because there are none. Not new ones anyway. To be honest, I haven't applied paintbrush to mini in over two years. And the last time all I did was spray-prime my nascent zombie horde.

It hasn't stopped my planning and acquiring minis to paint, obviously. You've seen those photos.

It's not for any insecurity about the results. I'm a decent painter, to what I consider a good tabletop standard.

My problem is finding, or rather making, space to paint.

Because I'm a hoarder. Every surface in my home is crowded and cluttered. The floor, to me, is a low, flat shelf.

God, it feels good to admit it in a public forum. I. Am. A hoarder. (Warning: Personal revelations only tangentially related to gaming follow. If you're a tl;dr type of person, you may want to skip to the end.)

For years I thought I was just sloppy. And lazy. And I am both those things, for certain values of sloppy and lazy.

It moved into full-fledged hoarding over the years, as health crises and family events chipped away at my stability. It's not to the degree of the people you see on television, mainly because I don't own property. (And no cat skeletons under the furniture here. Our cat is very much alive and a multi-clawed threat to my safety and well-being.)

My wife and I rent a two-bedroom duplex, and the clutter and collections and trash, sometimes all intermingled, have taken over both bedrooms and are threatening the living room and the kitchen.

If it were just me, I might ignore it and just go full-on batshit crazy and become "that guy" in our little town, with the house the kids warn each other away from with the judicious use of campfire tales and sleepover horror stories.

But even as the indecision, insecurity and, at times, obsession inch closer to overwhelming me, I am consumed with something more powerful.

The love of my wife. I love her with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns. I would pull the stars from the sky for her. I would drag souls to hell for her. If I could heal her crippling genetic disorder with a smoothie made of severed heads and blended babies, I would become the greatest mass murderer this planet has ever seen.

But I can't. So I won't. (Who am I kidding? I abhor violence IRL. I even have trouble transgressing my own moral code in a VIDEOGAME. I am the only person who plays Grand Theft Auto and stops at the stoplights.)

Instead I am fighting the bad programming in my head that makes the stacks of boxes and mounds of clothing feel like castle walls and parapets, protecting my too-oft-wounded heart. Even as I shoulder Sisyphian guilt over the condition of our home, I also feel safe. The clown prince of clutter. A king of rags and patches.

I gradually make headway against the clutter littering the floor, which has reduced the amount of our home my wife can access to about 25 square feet.

Unfortunately, even if it were spotless, she couldn't move much farther anyway. She suffers the genetic disorder ankylosing spondylitis, which I think I've written about before. It's sometimes called "bamboo spine," because as it progresses, it fuses the spine into one solid mass of bone. It hinders her movement and leaves her in constant pain. She gets about some with a walker, mostly by wheelchair. Drugs manage most of the pain and the muscle spasms.

She has made friends across the world on the Internet, as have I. I try to make sure she has as much access to information, communication and entertainment as possible. Now I'm fighting my own brain, my fear, to return our home to a state of which she can be proud.

It approaches irony that the artistic release of painting minis would do much to ease my mind and soothe my brittle feelings. So all I can say is ...

Yes, soon. I made big strides on my days off this week, and I plan to do a little more each day. Eventually, I'll have enough of a clear work area that I can drag out my minis and paints and get to work. My goal is within two weeks. I'm also using this as a motivator:

Studio McVey painting competition on Wamp

Having just acquired Sedition Wars (and having a few of the metal SW minis as well) I am spoiled for choice. And the entry deadline isn't until April. Even I should be able to hit that.

I'll be back later today with more about the Empire of the Dead: Requiem kickstarter (to which I've already pledged.)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


  1. Heh, you sound like me...the thrill of the hunt is more exciting than the painting. To me painting sometimes is a chore, but a rewarding one once it is on a table and you hear comments about it. My wife always grumble about the "clutter" in my hobby room and the amount of stuff I have.

    1. If I could contain my clutter to one room, that would be glorious! Perhaps when I make some more progress I can set up a good and proper Man Cave ...

  2. Look forward to seeing what your paint up

    1. Thanks, Simon. Me, too, actually. It'll surprise us both, I hope!

  3. A lot of your story sounds familiar. I constantly have to fight back against the tendency to horde as well. Happened on both sides of the family tree, as a reminder how things could go for me. Luckily my wife has helped me confine it to "my areas," the storage space in the basement and my desk. And we also rent, so no real dedicated painting space, but I keep the paints and supplies in an easily-transportable format, so I can make do there.

    Keep up fighting the good fight!

    1. Nice to know I'm not alone in this. I remember as a teen helping my church group clean an older woman's house. She was of the generation that had grown up during the Great Depression and she hoarded old newspapers, bread bags, rubber bands. I remember thinking then, "Wow, this is crazy." And now I know it is, from the inside. But sometimes going a little crazy is all that keeps us functioning.

      I'll keep that in mind aobut the easily portable painting area. Maybe I can cobble something together that'll work!

  4. To tell the truth, I'm kinda the same. My painting speed is woefully slow compared to my buying speed. And at times I felt I had too, not cause I wanted to, but because it's "part of the hobby".

    I've got to the stage of thinking the hobby is what you make it. If you want to paint your figures do it, if you just want to game, do that instead. Thankfully the people at my club aren't total paint Nazis, only playing people who have fully painted armies etc.

    Still I strive, mostly because I do actually enjoy the end result, just have very little patience to get there.

    I look forward to seeing what you paint up though.