I am writing this post today to celebrate two things. My doctor’s visit today not only came back with positive post-op results (no cancer cells in the cyst), but it was free. And while I waited at Walmart for my prescription to be filled at the pharmacy, I found the two Equestria Girls that finish my collection. I spent the co-pay (that I didn’t have to pay) on Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (I made that rhyme without a try!) Yay me!
But I have also come to the sobering realization that my collecting mania may actually be a form of mental illness. After all, my daughter is now 20 and not really interested in My Little Pony any longer. That excuse no longer flies. My wife has lost interest in collecting also (although she still collects clothes and shoes with a gusto that shames Imelda Marcos.)
So why do I do this collecting thing so relentlessly? Is it a serious mental disorder? As always I turned to the internet to diagnose myself with life-threatening conditions based on one, or possibly two symptoms. I may be doomed. What I found was an explanation of Hoarding Disorder.
Yes, I inherited it from Grandma Beyer. She hoarded all sorts of stuff in her little house in Mason City, Iowa. In her basement, when they cleaned out the house, she still had wrapping paper from Christmases in the 1930’s. It was in stacks. neatly folded and ready to be re-used. According to the Psychology Today website article about extreme collecting, one of the first signs of the disorder is the inability to part with personal possessions no matter their actual value. Never in all the years we spent Christmases together did I ever notice Grandma re-using wrapping paper. She actually kept that stuff for the memories they invoked and the sentimental value they held for her. My mother ended up throwing out all that wrapping paper when the house was sold.
Another indicator is the extreme cluttering of the home, to the point of rendering living spaces unlivable. One glance at the upstairs hallway sends shivers down my weak little hoarder’s spine.
There are any number of things that might concern a psychiatrist in this hallway. Of course, the blocked door in the back is where the old non-working air-conditioner is stashed, so there is no room in there for stuffing more stuff. This picture reveals that I have a vast collection of collections… not merely one. I collect stuffed toys, HO model railroad stuff and trains, Pez dispensers, stamps, coins, comic books (in the boxes in the back corner under the stuffed toys), and books… gobs, and gobs, and gobs of books! (“Gobs” is Iowegian for “lots”, not “sailors”.) In fact, the door on the left is actually the door to the library.
A quick scan of Toonerville along the tops of the bookshelves reveals the full extent of my madness. Here you see HO-sized buildings, most of which I painted myself or built from kits. You also see the Pez dispensers that suck money out of my pockets at $1.50 a shot. My trains have been around for many years. I shared that obsession with my father (Grandma Beyer’s eldest son) when I was a boy and most of these trains were either gifts from him, or purchased with allowance. (I haven’t bought anything new in seven years.)
So, the evidence makes it clear. One day soon I will be locked up somewhere in a padded room. I hope, at least, that my children still like me well enough to sneak in Pez dispensers when they come to visit.
Finding My Voice
As Big MacIntosh welcomes more little ponies into my insanely large doll collection, I have been reading my published novel Snow Babies. The novel is written in third person viewpoint with a single focus character for each scene. But because the story is about a whole community surviving a blizzard with multiple story lines criss-crossing and converging only to diverge and dance away from each other again, the focus character varies from scene to scene.
Big MacIntosh finds himself to be the leader of a new group of My Little Ponies.
In Canto Two, Valerie Clarke, the central main character of the story, is the focus character. Any and all thoughts suggested by the narrative occur only in Valerie’s pretty little head. Canto Three is focused through the mind of Trailways bus driver Ed Grosland. Canto Four focuses on Sheriff’s Deputy Cliff Baily. And so, on it goes through a multitude of different heads, some heroic, some wise, some idiotic, and some mildly insane. Because it is a comedy about orphans freezing to death, some of the focus characters are even thinking at the reader through frozen brains.
The ponies decide to visit Minnie Mouse’s recycled Barbie Dreamhouse where Olaf the Snowman is the acting butler.
That kind of fractured character focus threatens to turn me schizophrenic. I enjoy thinking like varied characters and changing it up, but the more I write, the more the characters become like me, and the more I become them. How exactly do you manage a humorous narrative voice when you are constantly becoming someone else and morphing the way you talk to fit different people? Especially when some of your characters are stupid people with limited vocabularies and limited understanding?
The ponies are invited to live upstairs with the evil rabbit, Pokemon, and Minions.
I did an entire novel, Superchicken, in third person viewpoint with one focus character, Edward-Andrew Campbell, the Superchicken himself. That is considerably less schizophrenic than the other book. But it is still telling a story in my voice with my penchant for big words, metaphors, and exaggerations.
The novel I am working on in rough draft manuscript form right now, The Baby Werewolf, is done entirely in first person point of view. That is even more of an exercise of losing yourself inside the head of a character who is not you. One of the first person narrators is a girl, and one is a werewolf. So, I have really had to stretch my writing ability to make myself into someone else multiple times.
I assure you, I am working hard to find a proper voice with which to share my personal wit and wisdom with the world. But if the men in white coats come to lock me away in a loony bin somewhere, it won’t be because I am playing a lot with My Little Ponies.
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Tagged as My Little Pony, Snow Babies