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.
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).
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: firstname.lastname@example.org – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.