Changes pt.2

My garage, after a lot of purging and reorganizing in preparation for my friend’s van going in

Early in the summer, I heard about a new artist space opening up in Outremont. The idea excited me, because for a while I’d been thinking that my “garbage life” was far too isolating. More often than not, I pick alone, I sort alone (in this garage), I write alone, I research alone, and I sell alone.

My theory was that, by splitting a space with other people, artists in particular, I’d feel a little less alone, maybe make some new friends, benefit from some new connections, etc. And I did enjoy being there, for a bit. But eventually, reality set in: for all that craving for social interaction, for a feeling of community, and so on, I also really wanted to work less hard. With rent at 320$ a month, I realized I had to hustle 320$ a month harder (or close to 3840$ a year) to just to survive.

I’ve talked about burnout here a lot, maybe you’re sick of hearing about it. But I found a way to make trash picking into a lot of work. Finding the trash (10-15 hours a week) is usually kind of fun, when I’m not getting yelled at by idiots. But when I do get a big haul of stuff, I suddenly have a carload of stuff to deal with. So I have to empty the car / drop off all this junk at the storage, and organize it again. The more interesting stuff gets sequestered together (by the spot where I found it) for future blog photos, and the less interesting stuff goes straight to the yard sale bin, or a shelf if it’s something I want to research a bit more. When I actually get around to taking these blog photos, that’s pretty time consuming, and I don’t really get paid for it. And then there’s the stuff that’s worth nothing or close to it, that I devote energy to redistributing anyways because I hate waste, the actual garbage I have to take out (inevitably I take things I shouldn’t, especially when I throw whole bags in the car), and the bins and bins full of yard sale stuff that I have to keep from overflowing and making my space a disaster zone. And then, there’s the blog writing, photo editing, social media, and etc. Blogging + photography, in the past sometimes took around 15-20 hours a week alone back when I was really pumping them out, and doing these monster posts with crazy amounts of pictures.

I can empathize with poor Newman here, because the garbage never stops, and all the work above is a job in itself, in my opinion. But maybe you noticed that, despite all those tasks, I haven’t actually made any money yet. Yard sales are more fun than work, especially now that I pay a friend to help me (I can’t believe I used to do them all by myself), but they’re still work (often close to 10 hours) and a lot of my money is made on eBay. That’s where my more valuable finds go, but it can take minutes or hours to figure out what something is worth (not to mention the items where no matter how much I “do my own research,” I’m not qualified, or just don’t feel qualified enough to make a final evaluation). Listing itself can take 5-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the item (I’d say the average is like 10-12 minutes, between taking the pictures and writing the description, adding shipping costs, etc). Until it sells, you have to store it somewhere, and then when it does sell, you have to put it in a box and ship it out. Most of the time the transaction goes off without a hitch, but once in a while something goes wrong and you have to do something. And all the while, “the garbage never stops,” so there’s always some new thing to deal with / worry about.

Me looking haggard at the “new space,” surrounded by years-old crap, and some fresh finds as well

So anyways, short story long, I get this new coworking space. I bring a bunch of my junk from the old space, but then I realize there’s not really all that much that I actually wanted to bring. And a lot of the stuff I did bring, were finds from literally 2-3 years ago, that I hadn’t actually gotten around to doing anything with beyond many rounds of sorting (they were often “complicated finds,” or things that needed a lot of research and attention).

And why was I still hauling around such old finds? Probably because there was no way for one person to stay on top of this much stuff. Then I think of the 320$ a month price tag and freak out a little, because it means that not only am I going to have to keep hustling my ass off just to make rent, I’m actually going to have to hustle harder.

So, that didn’t work out (on top of those issues, the space was also on the 2nd floor which wasn’t really very convenient… I was really looking through rose-coloured glasses when I made the initial decision). Thankfully I hadn’t had to sign a lease, and had kept control of the garage (I tried renting some of that space to friends for winter vehicle storage, to save a bit of cash, but my landlord apparently doesn’t want me doing that for some cockamamie reason, so that’s off now too… a whole other story though not a very exciting one).

And now I’m back to square one, where I spend way too much time alone, operate out of a fortress of solitude where the rent has recently increased from 200$ a month to 250$, and wish I was part of something bigger. However, I did learn one thing from this experience – that I don’t want to devote so much of my life to work, at least not in the way I have been.

I think that’s enough words for now, next time maybe I’ll get into my ideas for how to proceed going forward, in a way that’s more fulfilling and less work intensive.

Below is a photo dump of some stuff I found pre-pandemic, but never got around to sharing here.

(On a side note, some of my economic anxiety also has to do with the fact that since a spectacular 2020, the garbage has sucked much more often than not. Finds have been a bit better lately, but I’m still not finding much in the way of gold, and neighbourhoods that were once cash cows have been mostly wastelands for some time now. So, these expenses that might not have stressed me out previously, are stressing me out now… but either way, the work/life balance was an issue I was going to have to deal with regardless).

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Changes pt.1

Sorry about the lack of updates. I just haven’t been able to get into the writing mindset. I think I just reached peak burnout, and eventually I realized I had to switch things up if I wanted to really enjoy life. It’s been a busy few months figuring that out, but things are falling into place (I think) and I feel some creative energy returning.

Got lots of things to tell you about, but I’ll break them into a few different posts, because these short posts are much easier to write.

I guess we can start with the most recent, which is that I bought a “new” (to me) car. It’s a 2012 Kia Rondo, which I think is a nice size for my purposes. Big enough to fit a lot more stuff (and not have to do so much sorting on the spot), but not a boat like some of the bigger vans out there (like the Dodge Grand Caravan). For trash picking in this city, it’s nice to have space, but it’s also nice to have a maneuverable vehicle that’s easy to stop and park. It’s also big enough for camping if that’s something I want to do.

I’d been looking for a new vehicle for a while, but the used car market is a bit crazy right now. Personally I think prices have come down, but a lot of people are still trying (unsuccessfully) to sell their 10 year old beaters for 2x what they’re worth. I played the waiting game, and eventually found one that was reasonably priced. I paid 4450$, which I think was very fair. So far, I’m pretty happy – it’s very clean, feels well maintained, and is also a lot more comfortable and powerful than my old subcompact beater, which was a bit of a lemon as well.

Here’s some finds from a spot in St Michel earlier this summer. I miss this spot.

These guys were travel agents I think, and apparently never threw away an old paper. I found lots of boxes packed like this, with travel ephemera dating mostly from the 50s to 70s.

Here’s the contents of a big envelope marked “Ontario.” There were several envelopes filled with similar content from different provinces. I listed some on eBay, but the listings don’t seem too popular. Maybe it’s better sold at yard sales, or on Instagram.

I love a good map, and there were a lot of good ones here. This is PEI in the early 60s (iirc). I heart the colour scheme.

Some of the ephemera was a little older, like this Quebec booklet that was published in 1934. No need for me to take more photos of this, when the Quebec Archive has already scanned it!

I also like a good vintage box. This Kraft processed cheese box is pretty neat, I didn’t know they once had a factory in Outremont. From this document, it looks like they were operating from 20 Bates in the early 50s, and likely a bit before and after.

Not as vintage, but still fun is this Steinberg’s skim milk powder box. I doubt there’s too many of these kicking around! I’m guessing it’s from the late 70s or early 80s based on that font. People around here love Steinberg’s memorabilia, so it definitely has some value to a collector.

This is one of those spots that produced so much cool stuff that it was kind of overwhelming. Going forward, I’m going to have to be a bit more picky about what I take pictures of… but I’ll get into that more in my next post.

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

Existence

The ol’ brain hasn’t been working particularly well recently. To be honest, it hasn’t really worked all that well this past decade. I know I’ve mentioned it often enough recently, but I haven’t ever mentioned that the dominant struggle has been with panic & agoraphobia. The main anxiety triggers greatly resemble “existential OCD,” which is succinctly described by Google below.

So basically, I haven’t been able to leave the city for about 10 years. Going “too far” from home (which is currently about a 10km radius by car – one thing my brain is good at is geography, and it knows when I’m getting close to that) results in massive panics attacks that revolve around existence ending suddenly, the foibles of perception and reality, the immensity / tinyness of it all, and all kinds of other things on the laundry list of wild & crazy stuff you can contemplate. These days I can hardly sit down, let alone go anywhere or do anything “fun” without getting these extremely sharp, intense intrusive thoughts that activate the fight/flight reflex and make me want to bolt, but of course you can’t outrun your own thoughts and these grand, unanswerable questions.

I’ve tried a lot of medications and none have done much. I’m on my 11th different one now, and it’s not looking like this one will do much either. I don’t expect any medication to miraculously cure me, just hopefully take the edge off to make existing a little less overwhelming.

The only positives are that I’m still able to leave the house (some agoraphobes become “housebound”), and that I can still drive far enough to access a wide variety of trash days. But after a decade of doing this I’m starting to get a bit squirrely. It doesn’t help that a lot of good friends have moved away in recent years, and that being so anxious and limited basically makes one undateable. As such, I’m also as lonely as I’ve ever been by a longshot, lonelier than I ever could have imagined. But maybe it’s good that the status quo is becoming intolerable, because sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize you have to make some big changes in order to move forward.

I’ve been thinking about trading vehicles, switching to a van, maybe something like a Dodge Grand Caravan, that I could camp in (even if it’s lame camping, like in a Walmart parking lot), which could possibly help change the definition of what my “comfort zone” is to something less restrictive. I can always try a new medication and hope it’s the first one that works. But I still won’t get very far without lifestyle changes, including finding new ways to approach these thoughts. That would probably involve more therapy – I recently heard about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which sounds up my alley (CBT and talk therapy hasn’t done much either). Getting away from the computer/tv screen more often could help, but then again, the reason I spend so much time looking at them in the first place is because they provide an escape from all the thoughts.

Needless to say work has been a bit of an afterthought these days. I still get out picking, it’s one of the few things I truly enjoy doing these days, but my appetite to hustle all this junk I collect is at a low. For example, I have a flatscreen TV in my garage right now that probably works fine, but I need to test some features before I can feel comfortable saying that it’s working, and then I’d have to list it on Facebook Marketplace and deal with all the flaky people and the dumb questions there… and that all seems like a lot of hassle for something I’ll get maybe 50$ for. My garage is filled with stuff like that, and I’m a little sick of dealing with the constant influx of these mid-range finds that need lots of effort to sell. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes sit back and wonder “what’s the point?” to all of it.

All that is a bit embarrassing to admit but that’s where I’m at these days. Generally, I think the world would be a better place if people were more open about their feelings and their struggles, so there you have it. At this point, I can’t really pretend I’m “normal” anyways, and even if I could I’m sick of pretending. If you have any ideas, advice or similar experiences to share, please leave a comment!

As for the finds, I’ve had a pretty good few months, but all my good spots have run dry in the past few weeks. The lead photo was a great one-hit wonder. It took me about two hours to sort through all the bags, but I never saw anything there again.

I saved loads of quality yard sale junk. The most notable finds here were a set of new, never worn Olympics hats (which were sold on Instagram), a busted – literally taped together – antique Chinese vase (late 1800s if I remember right), and another nice vase that I’m told is probably Korean. The maker’s mark is below, if it’s anything special please let me know.

I found a good number of 1980s-1990s sports collectibles here;

… a bunch of Atari games (unfortunately, none seem to be super valuable on their own – I also found the console, which sold for around 40-some dollars);

… as well as several vintage McDonald’s giveaways, lots of toy cars, and some other fun stuff. Zoom in for a closer look!

My most valuable finds were a very cool Targetti desk lamp, which sold for a bit over 200$ (mine was yellow – I didn’t take a picture, so I had to borrow one from the internet)…

… and a 10k gold class ring from 1989. Gold wasn’t quite so expensive back then, so jewelry from this time tends to be bulkier than it might be today. Weighing around 9 grams, this is worth about 270$ in scrap. Unfortunately, the price of gold is down a bit lately. Here’s hoping it goes back to something closer to 2000$ US/oz soon, in which case it’ll be worth something closer to 315$.

In other news, I sold that Quistgaard Pepper Mill for a very nice price. I’d like to thank the folks that helped me price it here. I figured I had found one of the rarer varieties, but I might have priced it lower still if not for the tips given here. For that kind of money, this definitely deserves to be recognized as my first “omg” find of the year!

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow me on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.