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The Shannon who still has most of his hair
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I'm not active on the Lego scene anymore (for many reasons, some of which I will explain), but I do check in on the 'pages and flickr from time to time to see what folks are building. Usually I'm only interested in looking at neat builds, if any -- I guess I'm jaded because it seems those eye-catching builds are becoming rarer and rarer, when in reality the general average skill level is so much higher now than when I first broke in. Anyway, for some reason I find myself reading the confessionals here instead, and even stranger, feel like sharing myself...

My first Lego was a small basic brick tub with some plates, slopes, wheels in there too. My first "real" set was this: http://brickset.com/detail/?Set=920-1, which I got for my fifth birthday, or maybe Christmas (they're two days apart, so same difference). I was hooked. I've lost or broken pieces over the years, but the overall collection has always been with me. I always know when I come across one of those 30-plus year old pieces, because it's got my childhood teeth marks all over it. The brick separator was a great invention, I wish they'd been around back then.

When I was a kid I divided Lego into two categories: "space legos" and "earth legos" (city). I had no use for earth legos. Earth legos were boring. I fully believed that by the time the 21st century rolled around, I'd be living in a colony on Mars and jetting around in my flying car. Space legos was where it was at. Then the gray castles came along and they were pretty cool too.

I never cared about GI Joe or He-Man action figures or Hot Wheels or many other toys and it's a good thing too, because my parents couldn't have afforded much of them. We were solidly lower middle class. Lego was a perfect toy for a creative child with an overactive imagination. I would much rather create my own little universe than play in someone else's, and that remains as true today as it was back then. I never had any of the really big sets -- with only so much to spend on xmas/b-day, Mom and Dad felt several small and medium sized packages under the tree seemed more impressive than one big one.

When I was thirteen or fourteen I was deemed too old for Lego, and stopped getting sets as gifts. Before the internet if you were made to feel like a freak because you still wanted to "play legos" as a teenager, there wasn't any place to go for validation. (The online community really acts as a big support group, and I mean that in both a positive and negative way.) So I mostly stopped, but every so often I'd break out the bucket o' bricks and noodle around with them.

In my twenties it was mostly the same, not really building much, but I would buy sets here and there if something caught my eye -- the Ninjas line of the 90s is still a personal fave, and the UFOliens and Insectoids sets, though looking laughably dated now, provided some welcome alien figs at that time. I bought a lot of Technic sets as well. One day at a Toys R Us there was one monorail set on the shelf but I didn't buy it because it was over 100 bucks. I couldn't see spending that much on one set (little did I know what the future held). But it ate away at me and the set got cooler and cooler in my mind as I obsessed on it, so finally I went back but it was gone. Nope, won't be getting any more of those in, the clerk said. I'm still kicking myself. Coulda had a monorail!

In 2003-05 I was writing a book. I had always sorta kinda wrote, attempted a few novels, but this was different. It was serious. (Sadly, it remains unpublished. Anyone want to read a post-apocalyptic epic poem in free verse? Of course you don't. Never mind the fact that it's brilliant, it'll never sell.) I KNEW I would finish it, which was a strange wonderful feeling because I had a bad habit of never finishing any project I started. When I was done I was still boiling over with all this creative energy but no idea what to put it towards. I hit the Lego, hard. The internet was still (to me) this weird newfangled thing, and I thought, there's all sorts of crazy stuff online, I wonder if there's any Lego?

I found something called the Cool Lego Site of the Week, which was already discontinued even then, and that led to MOCpages. I lurked for a while, and when the siren song became too tempting, I actually bought a digital camera for the sole purpose of joining. So many people of my generation say that the Star Wars sets brought them out of their dark age, I guess I'm one of the very few for whom those sets had nothing to do with it.

I became a pretty regular poster for a few years but then real life nonsense began to intervene and my output went way down, became more sporadic, and eventually ground mostly to a halt. When I'm not building I don't feel any real connection to the "community." I'd been drifting away from the social aspect of the hobby anyway, it's always been about the brick and not the people for me. Not that I'm averse to making friends, because I have, but that's never been the priority. I always kind of looked down my nose at those who seemed more into talking than MOCing, purely for selfish reasons -- if you weren't building cool stuff on a regular basis for me to look at, what good were you to me? In a strange way, the gregarious chummy atmosphere most of you seem to relish so much helped push me away. Not blaming anyone, to each their own, I'm the freak here and totally realize it. Just trying to explain why I don't come around much anymore, rarely leave comments, and mostly avoid the groups. I know many people when for whatever reason they don't or can't build, remain active online so they can still feel connected, and that's cool. I'm just the opposite. Lego was almost always a solitary pursuit as a kid. I guess it just feels more natural that way.

For the past year I've also been writing another book that I've really been into -- it's like I have only so much creative juice, and when I get serious with my writing, I don't have much left over for Lego. I was always writing little stories to accompany my builds, or building things to illustrate little stories... it siphons too much out of the tank! When you start looking at Lego as some sort of weird psychic vampire, it's time to put down the brick for a while.

(The new book is much more commercially viable, by the way -- I fully plan for it to be the Next Big Thing, you know, kid-friendly, my own Harry Potter, with the blockbuster movie franchise, and of course the Lego licensed theme... you see, even when I'm not building, those little hunks of ABS are never far from my mind. They really ARE psychic vampires!)

Well, you got not only an origin there, but something like a decline and fall, and a few unrelated tangents as well. I didn't mean to make such a long rant, sorry about that. I found everyone else's Tales of the Brick interesting, so hopefully you found mine interesting as well.
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| July 7, 2012, 5:58 am
Definitely an interesting story, your insight into the "physic vampire" aspect was especially intriguing.
Permalink
| July 7, 2012, 10:01 am
Fair enough. I'd like to read the book that no-one else would though, any chance you could email me it?
Permalink
| August 12, 2012, 1:13 pm
 Group admin 
Shannon, I DID find it interesting, even months after you first posted it! Thanks for sharing.

~Dave
Permalink
| October 28, 2012, 3:35 pm
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