Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On possession(s)

I got into this a little bit with the "storrowing" post from before, but really, at the time I was moving and settling in, I seriously did not have time to even get into the details. I have quite a bit of stuff. Some of it is amazing, like my homemade 10-foot oak dining-room table which my boss made and which I love. Some of it is simply neat. Some of it I've just had forever. In the absence of places I can always go, setting up the same things in every place that I go has been a comfort, although perhaps one I didn't recognise.

After all this business politicising the housing market here in Vancouver in an earlier post on this here weblog, and after pulling the typical left-wing crap blaming the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games for at least a huge chunk of the problem, who rents both our house and the other side of the duplex? American consultants who are working for VANOC, and who only need a place to stay through until the Olympics are over, that's who! The blessing there is that they didn't have any stuff, and they were more than happy to take a couple pieces of furniture off my hands when my storage locker became much more full than I had planned for it to be.

I had this wardrobe. It's been around over 20 years. My grandmother bought it for me for my birthday. It's from Ikea, which is pretty amazing if you consider for how long I've had it. I liked it purely for sentimental reasons. I had to ditch it. I looked long and hard at it, and I asked myself if I would buy that thing if I didn't already own it. The answer was no, so I gave it to the Americans.

My sister, as it turned out, could not accommodate the nine foot bench I have, which was ripped out of the Triggiano's coffeeshop when it became a JJ Bean. This is the sort of thing I have that's awesome when it's set up, and the worst thing ever when I'm moving. When people comment on it, I use it as an example of how I've never paid for furniture in my life. That's right. My dressers were all free, as were my bookshelves, my bed, my table, my bench, my couch, and my giant stereo. Part of being homeless is finding crazy places to put all this shit. Storrowing the stereo, a dresser-set, my patio set, and my couch were no problem, but the benches ended up sliding around in the back of my van for over a week prior to my finding a solution. After already having jettisoned a lot of stuff, I wasn't really into getting rid of the benches, especially in light of the fact that I have no chairs.

I went to the Gary Hustwit film Objectified recently with my sister. Part of what I liked about was the part in which many designers interviewed explore the reality that all which they design ends up in the garbage. The introductory shots to this section include footage of an Ikea store. I've lived with people who have a lot of newer, cheaper furniture. I've seen as chunks come out of it and I've been party to abandonment of a lot of it in alleys. Numerous times, I've rescued it from alleys myself. Aside from my couch, which I don't really love, I dig all of my furniture at this time. I've paid for none of it. The only new thing I've ever owned was that wardrobe, which I gave to the Americans. If fashion and wear and tear are going to make everything we use on a daily basis ultimately disposable, there will ultimately be more and more free things to nab. Considering the number of tables and sundry other things I've abandoned in alleys or handed off to a friend, there is no shortage of stuff to be had. People give it away. I've resolved to not spend money unless something is really nice, and meant to be kept forever.

With that in mind, I recently invested in an oak rolltop desk. At a time when I've stored all my furniture, and when I've had to give up some furniture, and when I'm not even enjoying my own furniture, I'm finally spending money on furniture. It's contradictory to my whole project, but I think it makes sense. It took second-guessing the value of everything I own for me to put enough thought into objects to spend money on something that takes up valuable real-estate. Plus it was a really good deal.

As for the nine foot bench, I cut a deal with riki-lea to put it in her cellar. The deal was I had to take a half a dumpster's worth of garbage and/or thrift store stuff out of the spot where my benches were going to go. When she went camping for a few days with her entire house, I slept in her place for a few days so I could concentrate on school with nobody home. Ian and I got rid of all the stuff and replaced it with the benches.

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