I’m also toying with the idea of getting a stall at the upcoming Egg Scramble Jamboree here in Lamar—and, later in the year, getting on at the South Carolina Bigfoot Festival in Westminster, South Carolina—to see if I can, y’know, actually sell some of these paintings. If I try and fail, then I’ll know it’s little more than a self-indulgent hobby that I can keep to myself.
So I thought I’d throwback to a post from last March, one in which I showcase some of my wacky paintings.
Astute readers may have picked up on my love for little things: bric-a-brac, LEGOs, short piano pieces, etc. In that regard, I am like a little old lady with her Precious Moments or Hummel figurines.
To self-indulgently psychoanalyze myself, I think this love the miniature comes, in part, from my own girthful size. I’ve always been big (and, frequently and currently, fat), so there’s something appealing about disappearing into a tiny little world. My brothers know that I am exceptionally good at disappearing during family social functions—usually to read a book or to take a nap in some forgotten corner of whatever relative’s house we’re visiting.
Even in fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs for my n00b friends), I like to play small rogues—halfling thieves, Wood Elf bards, etc. That stealthy, crafty quality appeals to me, especially in a compact package.
Regardless of why I like small things, I do. That is certainly the case with the arts; besides piano miniatures, I like short stories, and blogging is, in many ways, short-form essay writing.
That extends to painting, too, and a collection of small canvasses that I slowly turned into a substantial body of amateurish works.
There’s something about these winter doldrums that always get my creative juices flowing, and I’ve embarked upon a new composing project, which I wrote about briefly last week. Piano miniatures—and mine are mini-miniatures—are a fun way to attempt to express a musical idea in a very brief format, much like “flash fiction” or very short stories.
Last year I penned Péchés d’âge moyen and a short sequel, then my composing pen laid fallow for much of the rest of the year. I’ve sketched out a few short pieces that will eventually (probably, maybe) make it into Pdam III, but nothing with the drive and focus of the original and its shorter follow-up.
Then I hit upon the idea of taking the small red tardy slips that students bring to class and composing short pieces on that very small physical medium. I now have a small stack, and it makes for a fun way of composing first drafts.
With that mini-project in the works—it’s perfect because I can take five minutes even on a busy day to jot down a few bars of music—I thought it might be fun to look back to the origins of what would become Péchés d’âge moyen. As my red tardy slips project suggests, there are frequently “arbitrary and absurd sources for inspiration.”
Last February I found myself in a rather discouraging place—dumped and dejected, wiling away my time with designer LEGO sets and DiGiorno pizza. Unbeknownst to yours portly at the time, I’d embark on two relationships: a short-lived, doomed-from-the-start imbroglio with a hyper-progressive, anxiety-ridden schoolmarm, then what I thought might be “It.” It didn’t last, and I found myself in a similar mindset around Christmastime.
Ironically, watching It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) helped immensely. George Bailey’s frustrations and struggles very much mirrored my own (except that he resented his big family and happy marriage), and I understood his character’s despair and broken dreams palpably.
I’m in a better place—no need to send Clarence—but some of those enduring frustrations still hold fast. I’m not nearly as bitter about it as I was when I wrote this piece, but no amount of frozen pizza can mend a broken heart.
Over the last year, my childhood (and childlike) passion for all things LEGO reignited with all the intensity of a nearly-middle-aged man with disposal income and no children. It all started with the Medieval Blacksmith (#21325) set, which I purchased for myself as a self-indulgent birthday present (and probably as a way to distract myself from a recent breakup… maybe there’s a connection there somewhere).
That splurge resulted in quite a few more, both for myself, friends, girlfriends, and family. I’ll soon be starting on a very cool build that I will detail here soon.
I haven’t documented every build over the last year, but I’ve tried to give readers a glimpse into a world in which it is increasingly socially acceptable for a grown man to play with toys.
Regardless, in casting about for a good throwback post for this week’s edition of TBT, I settled on this detailed retrospective of my build of the Medieval Blacksmith set. It was an incredibly engrossing and fun build, and I still admire the detail and craftsmanship that went into the design of the set. Eventually, it will be the centerpiece of a hodge-podge LEGO world I’m currently constructing and planning.
Ah, yes—the bleak midwinter. A time for eating frozen pizzas and warm soups, washed down with hot, black coffee. A time for turning in early at night, indulging in the warmth and comfort of fleece sheets and heavy quilts.
I see why bears hibernate right now: ’tis the season for coziness, to embrace the hygge. I certainly eat like a grizzly preparing for a few months of hibernation, but I don’t sleep off the excess fat stores. It just gets added on until another round of gastrointestinal self-denial kicks in after I gaze at my double chin too long.
It is with the spirit of the hibernating grizzly that I write this post. I love writing, but like most writers, that love is sometimes coupled with hate—or, in my case, weary indifference. It comes in waves, most of them brief, but I’m currently riding one at the moment—or flailing about frantically amid it, my head occasionally dipping below into the briny deep.
I’ve been writing this blog for so long now, it’s amusing to see how cyclical life is. Apparently, I was running a low-grade fever right after Christmas 2021; this year, I was running a higher-grade fever around New Year’s 2023.
I’d completely forgotten that I rang in 2022 by going to bed at 10 PM after nearly a week of puttering around my house in a sickly fog. My Christmas Break in 2022-2023 was much more action-packed, but that just meant the “slow down there, sport” illness hit right when I was supposed to go back to work. D’oh!
That said, I do enjoy—in limited doses—the life of a hermit. I’m very thankful to have a supportive family, and a strong support network of neighbors and friends nearby who can help me out in times of trouble. But there is something appealing, especially during this dark, cold months, about holing up in my warm little house, eating frozen pizzas and watching horror movies.
For those that read my Tuesday post, here is a quick health update: I think I am on the mend. I went back to work Wednesday, as my fever broke. I’m still coughing a bit and have some gnarly congestion, but my voice is back, which makes teaching possible—hurray! Here’s hoping that as my health improves, I can use some of this slower wintry time to get crackin’ on several long-delayed book projects.
Growing up, school always started back on my birthday, and this year is no different. I’ll be ringing in my thirty-eighth year with a long day of mind-molding, followed by a few after-school lessons.
I’m also sick, with the same mysterious respiratory malady that struck me last year. I can tell that I am on the mend—at least somewhat—at the time of writing, and I hope to wake up today breathing free, but I’m thinking it’s going to be a long day of popping cough drops and chugging water.
^Since writing that earlier on the day on Monday, my fever worsened. Here’s hoping it breaks overnight and I can get to work, but it’s possible yours portly will be sick on his birthday—and at home. I hate missing work if I can’t help it, so for me to contemplate taking a day off is a huge deal. An at-home test for The Virus came back negative, but I’m running a fever of 102.5-102.9 degrees Fahrenheit (Ponty, convert that into Celsius).
I was going to write a bit more about goals and aspirations for my thirty-eighth year, but I’m going to stop here. It’s time for a hot shower and some Vick’s Vapor Rub.