Whoa!…I have how much LEGO?!

Like a priest in the confessional, my trusted mover Adam broke the news gently to me the other day…”Jenn, you have a lot of stuff.” Yeah, Adam I know that. But, the realities of just how much “stuff” was made clear as we went through the details of what is currently in storage in Victoria, on a eastbound truck, and left in Ontario in the care of my ex. Adam knows his stuff, and estimates my LEGO and belongings total at least 15,000 pounds. Yeah, that means about 10,000 of that is LEGO….Whoa.

His tone was gentle and his demeanor evocative of a shrink trying to get a crazy person to see the blatant disconnect in her behavior. It was a conversation not lost on me as I had just spent a horrific several weeks packing up vast quantities of bricks and belongings under a very strict deadline…and believe me, moving all of this cross country each year is not cheap! I felt weighed down by all that I own and it made me seriously want to evaluate this hobby of mine.

When I moved west last year I brought with me only the LEGO that I wanted to build with: my mosaic studio, my transparent element collection, and my LEGO MINDSTORMS parts. I was excited to settle in to my large apartment and have my LEGO room functional with what I felt was the perfect amount of bricks to fill it. Since just about day one however, the urge all fans have where colourful ABS is concerned overtook me and I steadily added to my stash brick by brick. Now I am questioning that habit…or at least my checkbook is.

I have this vision of my future that sees me land wherever an interesting job takes me and that allows for me to relocate on a whim. -that is not possible in my current state. Is my need for more brick a sickness? Am I the only AFOL questioning my need to acquire more and more LEGO as each new set/element/collectible is launched? …Is there an episode of A&E’s Hoarders reserved for me in future??

I have gotten an education these last few weeks, one that really makes me think about what I want going forward….Well, I guess there are a few minutes I can spend on that today while driving across Idaho!

One GIANT Step Backward…

As many of you know, I have recently completed a four year bachelor’s degree in just twelve compact, fun-filled months, at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. I am pleased with my accomplishment and ever grateful for those that helped me along the way as I could not have done this without you! Most of my classmates are now job-seeking –poised to begin careers with their newly minted degrees. I however, am not yet able to launch myself into the job market, though that is what I so desperately want. Due to something completely outside of my control, instead of making a progressive leap forward in life, I feel as if I am going in completely the opposite direction.

Several weeks ago I received some news from my doctors that threw a Mega Blok into my little world. A medical condition I have struggled with since I was very young has reappeared and I must leave the island to have it resolved. My last surgery of this nature was nearly 18 years ago and the hope is that this next round of surgeries will again give me relief for at least that long. Unfortunately, my surgeon is in Toronto and I had hoped my life would be here in Victoria starting NOW. Instead, a year of purgatory back in Ontario is the pill I must swallow for the next twelve months.

My ex-husband is taking me back in for the recovery period, and though I am reluctant to hold him to his promise, my kids are ecstatic to have me back in the house for the entire next school year. Admittedly that is an unexpected thrill for me also –so there is a silver lining…but my heart is sore that I must pack and move my LEGO back to the place I so happily left one year ago.

I am slowly finding small joys in this turn of events. Not working will allow me to catch up on things I have not had time for and I envision months of LEGO sorting, book reading, studying, and scrapbooking (This is what I tell myself folks –though it is unrealistic, don’t burst my bubble!) I also get to spend unexpected time with my kids, my cats, and the friends I left behind in the east –and those are great things. But my desire is to be back here as soon as I am well enough to work.

I will return Victoria!!

Over the next several weeks I will share with you my journey. It begins with packing my furniture into the big yellow box that is pictured above –that has been a chore I tell you! In a few days the moving van will arrive to cart my LEGO east to be reunited with the equally enormous quantity I left in Ontario storage…and that is another thing I look forward to –having almost all of my LEGO in ONE place again!

I Have A New Space To Fill

These days my hobby seems to be ever expanding, at least in footprint.

I have recently gotten permission from my landlord to put in a shed at the side of the house so that I can move some more of my LEGO from Ontario to BC. Yes, that’s right; I cannot fit all of it here, so another 2,000 lb load is making its way to me out here in Victoria. Pictured above with my special pink screwdriver, is my ‘one friend in Victoria’ (he loves it when I say that) John Langrish, whom I manipulated into hauling patio stones and giant plastic shed parts this weekend. Doesn’t he look happy about it? That’s because I gave him some LEGO for his troubles. The poor boy initially thought building the shed would be like building a great big life-size LEGO set. :-)
So now I have a shed to move my stored bricks into. But, shouldn’t a single AFOL living in a two bedroom 1,000 square foot apartment be able to house her entire collection within its walls? This question plagues me as I contemplate my latest reorganization. Is there an amount of LEGO that is too much –for me and my personal building pursuits?
I am quite conflicted by these thoughts. Part of me wants to simplify things and pare down my collection to items I know I *must* have, and the other part wonders if doing so would stifle my future creativity. I am mindful of living amidst and ever increasing pile of plastic bins and baggies full of bricks though….and that’s a life I have lived unhappily before. I told myself when moving out on my own into a great big apartment, that I would keep my LEGO compartmentalized in the second bedroom and not have it creep out into the rest of my living space as it is wont to do.
Is that really possible?
I know a LOT of fans, and have had the honour of visiting many of them in their homes, and I can tell you I have only ever met ONE who kept their collection in such a cloistered environment, with no evidence of LEGO-love anywhere else in their dwelling. Am I someone who can regulate the size of her stash to such a strict size constraint?
I guess you all will see as I work these next several months to try and fit my thousands of pounds of bricks into my house, one Rubbermaid tub at a time.

Colossus Star Wars LEGO Mosaic build

This weekend I had so much fun!!!! I was invited to help out at an exclusive Star Wars LEGO build for the grand opening of the 3D version of Episode I – The Phantom Menace. There were only 13 cities in North America chosen to have an exclusive LEGO opportunity and as there is no LEGO store yet in Vancouver, they needed someone to staff this build. Jenn to the rescue! LOL

I took along a good friend, LEGO Ambassador John Langrish, and we set out from Victoria at 5:00AM Saturday morning. After a nice long nap on the ferry and an hour’s drive we arrived at the Langley BC Colossus Theatre and began setting up the build area. The model shop at LEGO’s US hub in Enfield CT has a sweet little set-up for this one-day build and it took about five minutes to get the mystery mosaic unwrapped and assembled for the event. I will post more pictures on Flickr later so you can see it for yourselves, but essentially there are bins of bricks on one side of an A-frame contraption, and on the other side the mosaic board pictured above. In all this 12 large baseplate sized board holds 12,648 1×1 LEGO bricks.

As a part of the excitement at this movie theatre, members of the 501st were enlisted to entertain the crowds dressed up in their Stars regalia. We had Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Jedi, and an adorable remoted controlled R2-D2 flirting around us the entire day. Oh, and the centre of all the attention was definitely our friend Mister Maul as you can see above! His make-up was flawless and the background music throughout the day was the giggles and screams of the kids he chased around the lobby. The guy never dropped out of character. These Star Wars icons were joined by smaller versions of themselves when the face painters got hold of all the younglings and went to town. There were definitely talented artists among their number as you will see from my Flickr gallery.

The crowd came in fits and starts and the build progressed slowly. We had set a goal to be finished at 6PM, but with an hour left we still had 25% of the bricks to place with barely a soul around to help us build. Fortunately we found help and about eight dedicated Star Wars fans braved studded finger calluses to rapidly finish the massive undertaking. I was absolutely thrilled to see how eager they were to help out, and they took up the challenge to finish this beast with absolute enthusiasm. When we called it done at 6:17PM they didn’t stop and spent the last several minutes sweeping the floor clean of every brick dropped in our frenzy. We could not have asked for a better group of fans as we had in Vancouver.

Thanks everyone! You made our day!!

LEGO as a Fashion Accessory – These boots were made for gawking!

Last year I found these great boots on sale for virtually nothing – the store was practically giving them away at twenty bucks! Of the seven pairs of fashion boots I own, they have become my favourites and I always get compliments on them. But, after about three wearings the ring shaped zipper pull came off in my hand so that now they are a bugger to put on each morning. Despite being my faves, the trouble pulling up the right zipper has relegated them to the back of my closet.

This morning I dug them out and finally did the surgery I have been meaning to do for the last ten months - I replaced the original pulls with LEGO keychains purchased from a LEGO Brand Retail store (you can also find them online here: http://tinyurl.com/84q6ja3). I chose to be subtle and use black 2×4 brick chains, but there are a wealth of different shapes and colours to choose from if you want to get creative.

The only tool I used was a small set of needle nosed pliers, and the whole job took about five minutes. Simply insert the pliers into the jump ring at the base of the brick and pull the handles apart a bit to open the ring, then slip the chain out. Voila! A brick with an open ring is ready to be threaded onto your zipper and then closed again gently by squeezing with the pliers.

I am really happy with my revised boots and actually grateful that the darn pull broke in the first place! If it hadn’t I may never have gotten the idea to dangle LEGO from my knees in this way. I encourage all of you LEGO fans to consider your clothing and see if you can revitalize, or enliven your zippered pieces as I have done. I can’t tell you how much it pleases me to look down and see those bricks throughout my day.

Why not join me and add a little LEGO to your wardrobe?

New! LEGO Fan Event Calendar

Well, it’s been a few days since I have had the chance to post here, but my thoughts have been on it since Monday when I last had the chance to write.

This morning I woke early to a clear ice blue sky and decided it is the perfect day to add a new feature to this website. You can find the results of my efforts on the “Fan Events” in the black bar above. :-)

Please know that this will be a work in progress and I am adding events in no particular order. My intent is to feature mainly fan run events from all over the world and I encourage you to help me with this effort. If you know of an event not yet entered to the calendar, please post a reply on the event page and I will get it entered promptly.

Wish me luck! It has been a desire of mine for a long time to have a comprehensive list of events all in one place and I appreciate any suggestions. :-)

Be My Heroica…Play With Me!

Oh, it’s Monday…and I find myself not quite ready to start my week. Yesterday was supposed to be a killer homework day that would see me accomplish a ton of things…but instead, the Universe conspired to host a catastrophic windstorm and knock my power out all day. Boo to THAT!

The worst bit about the power outage wasn’t the unproductive studies though; the worst was that I couldn’t call my kids as I do religiously, at least once a week.

I’m already the “worst Mom ever,” as I have chosen to follow my passion and have left them behind in Ontario while I study, so this blow was much harder than the gale-force storm outside. As a result, while I was falling asleep last night, I was thinking of them and our wonderful Christmas together here in Victoria. (I was fortunate to have them here for 20 days and it was the first time I had seen them in over seven months!!) This morning I’ve decided to share with you our experiences playing Heroica over the holidays.

LEGO’s Heroica games http://heroica.lego.com/en-us/Default.aspx were high on my wish-list long before Christmas, and I was fortunate enough to pick up copies of all four -3857 Draida Bay, 3858 Waldurk Forest, 3859 Caverns of Nathuz, and 3860 Castle Fortaan- in November while travelling.  Shortly after New Years Taylor, Quinn and I sat down together and played the game and I have to tell you –it ROCKED!

I was worried that we would be overwhelmed by trying to play all four in one big conjoined mass the first time out, but it wasn’t a problem as you basically play through each game in series, so the learning curve was not at all steep. The only areas we had problems with were in rule interpretation, as my son Quinn (above) was the “master of training” and for him this is not a natural fit. Do you think his older too-cool-for-LEGO-anymore sister was going to let him dictate how to play? Uh-Uh…she was the self-appointed rule breaker, and spent a lot of energy trying to mess with him and make him lose his cool. Quinn was a trooper though, and even when the competition got truly heated and Taylor had pushed him to his limit -he didn’t flip his lid. He was as keen as I was to see the epic game to its end.

That is the power LEGO has over my 12-year-old son.

What Freedom Means to Me

When I asked for a divorce more than two years ago, I did not have the financial means to actually leave the family home and strike out on my own. That meant spending the better part of those years cohabitating with my ex and my kids while trying to find a way to make my freedom possible. Neither were easy tasks! Frank and I tried very hard to keep things amicable between us (and thankfully succeeded), but the economics of my situation made moving out unattainable until seven months ago when I decided to go back to University and train for a career I could really get excited about.

The best part about my choice is that school is so far away from my home of the last 23 years. Knowing that I would live on the other side of the country for a year meant two things. One, I would only see my kids once or twice in that length of time –which truly sucks. And two, moving away meant living alone –truly alone—for the first time in my life.

So what is a self respecting AFOL (adult fan of LEGO) to bring with her when she moves thousands of miles away from her sizable LEGO collection? I knew I wanted some bricks with me…even while knowing that I would be so busy that finding time to build would be unlikely at best. But, deciding which ones was not an easy task! After much deliberation I chose to bring my mosaic parts, my MINDSTORMs parts, my entire selection of transparent elements, and a few boxes of sets I had not yet built.

Just to make it clear, the size of my collection is substantial and this decision meant having my movers bring well over one thousand pounds of bricks to Victoria, which is less than one quarter of my LEGO collection.

But just look what having those bricks here means…I am living alone now AND I have a kick-ass LEGO room to build in! :-)

For me freedom means a place to build with my LEGO.

The Saga Begins…

It’s now been ten months since I first planned this blog, and over the last six, I haven’t been at all sure it would ever happen. Luckily, fate, in the form of Professor Gilbert Wilkes, has intervened and I have finally begun. Whether I would have done so if this were not an integral part of my course grade is a question I cannot answer.
I suppose I should begin by introducing myself. I am Jenn Wagner, age 43, mother of two, currently divorcing, and avid LEGO fan who drives a lime green VW Beetle decorated like the one pictured above. Oh, and I am also a newly minted University student.
One of the reasons I have taken so long to start this blog is that I have no idea what to write about (Did you notice that statement is in the present tense? I still do not know). To write on what I am passionate about is a challenge because there are already so many LEGO-centric bloggers on the web, and I cannot think that anything I have to say on the subject is worthy of being read.
I have had the incredible fortune to be included in some intriguing LEGO projects in amazing locations over the years, so I could write about those…but that seems so self congratulatory that I balk at doing so. I don’t engage with the LEGO community or the company in order to blabber on to anyone who will listen about how lucky I have been, so that is definitely not the right fit.
And yet I am instructed to write a blog…and am graded on its success in gathering an audience…*sigh*
Okay, I think I will do this. I am going to ignore you (my readers –if any), and proceed with a blog that is more a diary than anything else. The changes and upheavals in my life have left me with more than enough material to spill out here, and this way I can share what is important to me at the moment, without too much stress given to what my subject is.
I will try to share pictures, and give you an idea of where I am with my hobby as I struggle through figuring out my future. Like many others, I am in transition and integrating my hobby into what I want my life to be is always a challenge.
I will show you my life as it is now, as best as I can. If you choose to read on –you are very welcome!