You are standing silently in your living room with your hands on your hips looking around blankly at the walls. It's not that your walls look bad or that you are depressed and feel "trapped in life." It's not that kind of blank gaze. It's more of a searching gaze, one that ultimately leads to the unruly acquisition of something you kind of really want but definitely don't need.
This is when you obtain an item that sits handsomely in your home and also on the back burner of your sense of self, contributing to that interesting person that you deep down know you are. And upon that triumphant feeling of higher self-understanding this item might become the catalyst for a collection of items. And that collection might begin to define the person you become when you look in the mirror and puff your chest out like a warrior, narrowing your brow and flexing your fists every morning before you start your day. Just me? OK. Moving on.
For some people this catalyst item can be a piece of art, something that puts them at ease, matches the décor of the rest of the room, and eventually inspires them to collect more art and observe things with more precision and tact, or become a painter or go into therapy. "Cushion art" even; like that sassy lip shaped pillow. It's easy on the pockets and adds to a living space that speaks "contemporary playful" of your personality.
Eventually you start to collect more things with lips on them, and then you become the "lip guy." But it's cool because you now know everyone knows it's because you're romantic. To some it's decorative plates with stands. Depending on the image on the plate it announces to guests "I like Elvis as well as art, but with a twist because it's a plate!" Others might find their centre in beaded doorway curtains or a stack of coffee table books about electric cars. I don't know. For some, it's decorative weaponry. Sharp and often bedazzled, a pair of crossed swords above the kitchen conveys to guests "don't fuck around," and to the owner, "in another life I could use this very adeptly."
In a nutshell, I am of the latter ilk. And I know I'm not the only one who appreciates a more pointed form of decoration based on the number of people I've seen dragging replica weaponry around FanExpo and conventions of the like. The fact is, your item (whatever it may be) will fuel your intimacy with your interests and it will empower you. Books featuring electric cars can empower you to make a wiser choice on your next automobile purchase. A beaded curtain in the doorway can empower you to see through to the neighbouring room with ease. A weapon can make you understand that somewhere deep inside you, you really are a warrior. I'm not talking about owning guns. That's another kind of collection for another kind of article. I'm talking about fantastical, magically inventive, masterfully fictional weapons of another place and time.
All of that to say, 60 per cent of casual weapon collections begin with a rudimentary acquisition spurred from an often subconscious moment of living room reflection. I won't lie, that is a made up statistic. I'm not entirely sure the research has ever even been done on this thesis, but it sounds reasonable. Anyway, once that first seed of warrior-hood has been planted in your apartment above your television, it's between you and your demons to decide what comes next. And this is where that one fateful item starts to define part of who you are. My collection began with Hadhafang.
Hadhafang belonged to the Elven princess Arwen in the Lord of the Rings films (this particular weapon did not actually appear in the books, lore and design by Weta Workshop). The Sindarin inscription on the blade translates to "this blade is called Hadhafang, a noble defense against the enemy throng for a noble lady," but it was the last and omitted section of the script (due to lack of space on the final prop) that spurred my mum and dad to present this to me as a gift on my 18th birthday. "I hel en aran Gond dolen" translates to "daughter of the hidden rock."
It was the year I left home to seek whatever my future held on the other side of Middle Earth...er...Canada. I was young but I was sure, and this was the perfect sentiment to carry with me to my new territory of conquest. It was the first time I felt, in some other-dimensional way, enabled to fight the battles that were coming. And inevitably they were. Maybe not with ringwraiths and orcs, but with work and life and love (and lack thereof). Especially concerning my impending courting dance at the gates of the music industry.
So there I sat in a small, lonely apartment, staring blankly at the wall featuring Hadhafang and a giant fresco I had given it of a Wonder-Woman-esque beauty wielding a golden axe, proclaiming "zombies!!" ferociously. I needed more. I was excited to be learning what made me come to life and I wanted more of it. Plus, there was an unsightly gap over there by the little tube TV. Without disposable income for what are logically unjustifiable purchases, especially when buying from the produce aisle bargain bin in order to make ends meet, more exquisite weaponry was out of my reach. I went for a walk through China town and outside of a store that seemed to sell everything, I spotted a box titled "Broken Toys $1." I snatched a gold gun with a big bubble through which you could see its menacing mechanics. I slid a Looney across the counter and threw it in my bag. It was ravishing!
The gun, albeit from another era, hung beside Hadhafang, proud and on the ready in case of intergalactic emergencies. In this other world, the trigger had not been snapped off by a most likely meddling customer. My insatiable desire for symmetry/inventory led me to begin spray-painting and antiquating dollar-store water guns. Before I knew it I had a growing collection of steam-punk ray guns arranged smartly on the wall. It sated my taste for arms, but only for a time. Deep down inside I knew these were just toys -- a conk on the head at best if push came to shove. My parents, merciful to my situation, presented to me on my next birthday a handsome particle displacer from Weta Workshop's Dr. Grordbort collection. It was called the Righteous Bison and weighed the same amount as a "small brown trout or two pints of Pale Ale." Soon after that I obtained a vintage Flash Gordon spark gun. My collection was becoming real and beefing up nicely. I was only just getting started.
The influence of ray guns made a very prominent mark in my life. It began to appear in all of my imagery including my first round of merch pins, my debut EP's insert art, in my promo photos, on T-shirt designs, in videos, and even as a sound effect in one of my early songs named I Owe You One. I was becoming the space vigilante of my own realm. I was happy to return home to my armoury. But Hadhafang always had the edge. She was graceful and sharp and fast. There was golden ivy woven into her wooden hilt. She was herself, beautiful and noble. I needed more of that.
On a cold, winter afternoon wandering downtown Toronto I found myself in a kitschy shop on Yonge Street featuring crystals and katanas in the front window. Towards the back there was a display case filled with fantastical daggers of all shapes and sizes. The small Asian woman behind the counter saw my eyes widen and said, "30 per cent off because you a girl!" Sold.
I walked the five frigid kilometres home with a long box. As I screwed L-shaped hooks into my wall to support a silver dagger featuring a transformer-like face with blue gems in his eyes I felt triumph. The dagger era was ushered in. My music started to take me to new places, and with each destination I tried to find something to bring home to the armoury: twin dragon daggers from the Edinburgh castle in Scotland, a swordfish tusk blade complete with clay sheath from Costa Rica, a pair of boot daggers from Germany. It was about marking the place and time taking a piece of cold, hard proof home. I was growing my edge.
Over the following years, new weapons entered my life serving as markers of the times, the lessons, and the people in it. My four-foot strong Solomon's Wisdom blade shows me wisdom is as much a weapon as a weapon itself. The royal blue Zelda Master Sword is the link between youth and adulthood, preaching never to walk too far away from whence you came. A replica from the Bleach manga named 'Zangetsu', which, in Bankai state (its unsealed spiritual form) is a massive, thick, black sword reflective in size of the bearer's spiritual strength, hangs in my apartment to remind me of the side of life that is harder to see.
The Twinblade of the Phoenix is a custom-built incarnation of what I perceive to be the most graceful weapon from a favourite game of mine, World of Warcraft, and a gift from loving members of my fanbase and guild within the world. With its wide, red wings spanning the hilt, I saw the Phoenix always rising from the ashes. The oversized, matte-black Batarang that splits into two matching daggers provided countless hours begging the question "how the hell does this come apart," made me better at puzzles, and is really badass looking. Frostmourne, another replica and gift, is a constant reminder that an insatiable thirst for power will lead to an ultimate and evil demise! (see Wrath of the Lich King lore). This list goes on. There are over 40 different weapons where I live now, each one as different and special as the last.
Today, I stand in my living room with my hands on my hips staring at the walls. I'm moving to a new place, my armoury doesn't fit here anymore. My cold hard proof is hanging on every inch of the wall and wedged in leaning stacks in the corners. I leave you with this: what often starts as an irrational desire to fill space can end up being a very rational filler of your empty spaces. Whatever your item of choice is, be it mugs from around the world or Beach Boys paraphernalia, if it interests you it's never too irrelevant or too minuscule to be meaningful. It hangs around in the background. It's your haven. Enjoy the dumb little things. They're for you to live amongst and for the real world to stay out of. And you'll never know what you might learn from them.