how I came to be a décor refurbisher (garbage picker)

a few short months ago I moved into a new apartment. new neighbourhood, new roommate, new beginnings, etc. and in the spirit of all things new, i brought nothing from my previous existence and thus, didn’t have anything to furnish the place with. Literally nothing.

this new, materially barren existence was the enabler to what would be a life changing discovery of the treasures that line our streets one magical night a week, and the myriad of design opportunities that they hold.

as I lay on my air mattress, alongside the impossibly small suitcase that contained all of my worldly possessions (green snakeskin, a steal from the Lachute flea market - merci bien) night after night I imagined what furnishings would inevitably fill this new space and in turn transform my barren abode into my home.

after the predictable, fruitless trips to IKEA, EQ3, west elm, etc. two things became abundantly clear.

these trips were unnecessary as i discovered that i already had an IKEA catalogue at my disposal in my head.
and upon discussion with friends, i discovered that we, nay, everyone in the western world has an IKEA catalogue occupying some otherwise valuable space in their brain.

which can come in handy. like when you know that you need fish shaped ice cubes, or when playing pictionary and your partner starts drawing that familiar and simple easy chair (POANG obviously).
but outside of setting up your dorm or first apartment, when ease of construction and value are the purchase drivers, do you really want people to come into your home and be able to not only identify your furniture by name but also point out that your kitchen trolley was only $59? What a steal.

And 2.
most of the furniture in these stores (rant now includes the aforementioned) would fulfill my immediate furnishing needs but would make this new space my own. A reflection of me and my taste.

the furnishings all looked the same. Seemingly mocking the sterile and bland nature of the space I currently occupied - replicated in furniture form. Function but not my fashion.

although the design savy swedes clearly know what they are doing (proven by the ability to fit a complete kitchen into a few boxes and then turn any incapable partner into an accomplished carpenter in a short afternoon)i beg us all to consider the piles and piles of BILLY bookcases in landfills somewhere, before making the simple and mindless decision to fulfill your immediate needs with these mass produced, dime a dozen, templated pieces...
And instead consider keeping a closer eye on your neighbours on GBE (garbage day eve).

it was a fateful night on Palmerston Avenue when i put my two conclusions together. and the decision to create a sustainable furniture filled apartment was reached.

a huge old front door just laying there on the lawn.
my soon to be dining table begun busily constructing itself in my head. easy. saddle horse legs and this old front door providing the surface upon which friends and family could gather to break bread.

only problem, and something think about when contemplating the sidewalk shop, transport.
a PROUD zip car card holder, i rarely activate this luxury outside of desperation and instead rely on my treads for transit whenever possible.
but this was a particular conundrum. the large door was too awkward to fit in most cars, but solid wood and too heavy for any woman who doesn't professionally weightlift to carry. coincidentally, it was upon realization of my predicament, that my best guy friend's phone starting ringing...

it seems once this door was opened, the ideas flooded in. i started thinking of ways to use objects that i hadn't found and then going out looking for them.
today my walls are adorned with framed photos once left for dead on a curb found, collages of hotel coasters, and my newest addition, old REDHOT jars stuffed with branches. all thanks to a watchful eye on my neighbours.

now almost complete, this once echoing chamber has become my home. a place where my character is reflected in every room and where comrades and loved ones can come and relax and comment on the interesting furniture.


Hey the internet is making us dumb

I have sat down to write this out like ten times. But every time the blank page opens I have forgotten what it is I wanted to write about.

I know that the general idea is that the internet is making us dumb.

the oyster theory

so, i have a theory.
actually, it's not just mine.
my buddy phil also subscribes to, and is cofounder of, this theory. thus making it a School of Thought I suppose.

so, there is a school of thought, to which i subscribe whereby the whole idea of "the world being our oyster" is revised to be more relevant to myself and phil and peers of our "demographic" -young, educated and relatively healthy (and let me quantify that first adjective by saying that as "middle age" has now been claimed by the 60plus baby boomers, all generations below are rebranded accordingly, so i AM considered young.)

for those lucky enough to find themselves in this fortuitous position, the freedom to choose (everything from your life path to what you want for lunch) is entirely yours.
and if the choices we make are all steps in our search to find our part of the oyster, then simple logical deduction inevitably leads to the mantra of the School:

subscribe or don't, but either way: until you find your personal piece of the pearl package, enjoys some oysters and get frisky

enhancing conversational capabilities

If you haven't been making any new friends lately, you might be getting tired of what your current entourage has to say.

After years of sticking with the same crew, your interests and knowledge become a communal well. A meld of all your histories, memories and a peppering of the more resonant lessons ingested through some form of higher education or training.

There is something romantic about this melding experience. You will likely not be caught off guard by friends wine induced rants - political or otherwise - but you could just as easily have these conversations and debates in your head because, you are that familiar with the opinions and contents of your compatriots minds.

In this age of customization - where you can create your own cell phone plan and design your own jeans - can we customize our friends?

Being that the winter is coming and therefore that we wont be going outside as much to get a new batch of friends I think its time we explore options for making existing relationships more interesting.

So firstly, the big question is, what makes people interesting? And why do we run out of new things to talk about?

I often look back at the years of one off projects and independent studies and wonder where that information went.
For an entire weekend, a month or a semester, your whole life revolved around -insert completely random noun here - eg Jupiter.
Suddenly an astronaut. Fluent in the language of the solar system. Jupiter is the largest planet , 5th from the sun, and belongs to a subset of planets referred to as "Jovian" (the gas giant planets).
Then you handed in your report, gave your presentation, and immediately replaced that expertise with an equal or greater amount of information about the African snow leopard, muscular dystrophy, Fiji, or Che Guevera.

Later in life we seem to lose our enthusiasm for knowledge for the sake of it.
But its these very kinds of projects, and the substance and insight they provide that make some people more interesting than the rest.

So how can you broaden the scope of knowledge, and thus conversational capabilities, your current playmates represent to better resemble that of the crew you rolled with in elementary school? Well short of heading to your local PS and risking arrest when striking up conversation with tots at recess, you are going to have to force feed em content.

The way I look at it, this can be achieved passively or actively.

A more covert approach would be littering ones coffee table with books on an array of topics that you find interesting and want to know more about. Rather than read them yourself (as you are clearly too busy on the interwebs than to spend any time self-improving) the strategy is to leave them on the table - topics of highest interest at the top of the pile - and ensure that whenever a friend pops in, they are left waiting. I am confident curiosity will prevail. From down the hall the delicate sounds of pages flipping will signify the likelihood of new and shared conversational content for your rendezvous.

Although a seemingly passive approach, provided distractions like TV, blackberries or iphones( who on earth could read a book with an iphone within reach) are removed from the environment, this experiment will likely bear fruit in the form of periodic fact injections into your otherwise predictable repartee.

This will likely yield noticeable results faster than enduring the lengthy process of encouraging companions to go back to school or take up a hobby and then hoping that those experiences will translate into captivating conversation.

Alternatively, a more active strategy can be applied.

Start setting parameters and expectations and be vocal about it. A la “ I am going to need you to learn a little more about how airplanes work” or “what is it about yoko onos work that classifies it as art”. Explain specific objectives and expectations and ensure there is no doubling up - or you will just end up where you started.
These kinds of parameters are difficult to justify and some might say beyond reasonable expectation. So, if this doesn't alienate, you know two things right away. 1. you are a dick . and 2. your friends are already awesome so stop trying to change them.

No matter what strategy you apply, I think its fair to say that everybody wins. Your friends will be smarter and hopefully so will you. But if not, at least nobody loses. Except maybe you as you sit friendless and dumb.

Perhaps you should take stock of the quality of your personal contribution before implementing...