The art of manifesting and hard rubbish drives


The hard rubbish drives of Melbourne are some of the most exciting times in the suburbs. A large pile of assorted rubbish can yield screams of excitement from me like nothing else. Now my children yell at me to stop, or send me photos of items from a walk home from the train station with a question mark attached to the text. Yesterdays yield gave me bamboo stakes for my sweet pea trellis, and a few weeks ago I found a selection of wonderful ceramic and terracotta pots. Granted they were stuffed with dead plants, and heavier than me, but thanks to my brother, we emptied them and brought them home for our garden.

Other winning items have been an old church pew garden chair from outside a manse in Brighton. A dining table that I sold for good money. A set of retro tulips drink stands and a hand carved rosewood table base, that now is now bearing an indoor tree fern, planted in a pot that I found, you guessed it on the side of the road. A small animal carry cage for our newly bought rabbit, who was due to go to the vet the next day.

Want versus need is why we have landfill and why we are subjected to flatpack furniture. I often think I want things and they don't come my way, or what little money I do have to is spent on things I need like bills and food. But what I need? That often comes into my vision on a curb somewhere.

As a former card-carrying hippy, I do believe in seeing what you want in your minds eyes, and that every decision you make should have that vision in mind, but that's at a very high level. Do you hold the vision of drink tulips in your mind as you go about your day? No. What you do hold is the aesthetic that resonates within you and so you're more attuned to spotting the gems.

More often than not I leave things for other people to find. When David and I first moved out, nearly everything was from the side of the road or charity shops. Everything is useful. The trick is to see what you need and take only that.

I have put out as many items as I have collected. Good things that I knew would be exciting for a roadside raider to find. Sometimes, and this might be considered odd, I would listen to people find things on my front nature strip. Once a man knocked on my door, telling me he was a refugee, and could he buy the single white bed out the front for his daughter who was sleeping on the floor.

"Hell no!" I stated. "I don't want none of that sad refugee business here. You want a bed for your floor sleeping kid? You gotta earn it!" (I was living in Brighton at the time, a heavy liberal influence meant I turned into a cunt).

No, that didn't happen. He was given the bed, a set of cute sheets my daughter deemed too babyish and girly, and a bedside table with spongbob stickers on the side. And I helped him put it in the car.

Hard rubbish connects us. We all have the same needs, wants, and crap in our house, but what is one level of crap for me, is a goldmine for someone else.

So slow down, take a look, and if you're lucky you might mind that thing you've been looking for and you didn't realise it until you saw it down your street.

Happy hunting, bunnies.




Sticks and Stones


In 1989, I was eighteen, and I worked in my first real job as a watch salesperson at a fancy jewelry store. I could spot Longines at 500 paces and silently judged you for your choice in an electric blue fake snakeskin band. With my first real pay check, I bought a Filofax, and a Perri Cutten silk shirt, because Tess McGill from Working Girl was my spirit animal, and I was having a tepid affair with the store manager.

It all seemed very exciting and cosmopolitan then, until I remember now that I was being paid $8.25 an hour and the manager was a balding, angry man, who liked to do a martial arts using sticks, called Kendo.

I once watched him from the inside of his house, as he made noises with sticks and wore white pj's in the backyard of his parents house. He made me stay inside as though I might be injured from his stick skills. He wasn't particularly good at it, and I wasn't particularly interested in watching, but it's all grist for the mill, and so here we are.

Working in the city was a thrill, and having a good friend work at the jewelry store opposite meant we would wave from the window displays every morning, and she would take me to eat sushi at lunchtime. Sushi was a big deal, and she knew about such things because she had travelled overseas with her boyfriend, and had sushi on a train in New York? Or did the sushi come on a train? I was never sure and not confident enough to ask, even though I was wearing a silk shirt, and a green blazer from Esprit, and our lunch date was confirmed in my Filofax.

I was a good salesperson when I tried, which was seldom, because, what was the point? There was no commission. My job was secure, thanks to the Crouching Manager with Sticks, and I was planning on world domination soon, it was marked in my Filofax, so it was definitely going to happen.

I went exotic stores, and bought earrings shaped like silver planets, and read Slaves of New York, and wrote essays in my down time on Woody Allen films which I would eventually show to no one.

I went to jazz clubs and drank Mateus Rosé, and then burned candles in the neck of the bottle, the wax, dripping down the side like a sacrificial offering prop. I was, after all, a slave to New York,  Melbourne, wasn't I?

One day, an elegant woman came to looks at Longines watches with her partner. She had a blowout, and was the Katherine Parker to my Tess McGill, wearing in camel-haired coat, and smelling of Chanel No. 5. Then she smiled, and I saw a pubic hair in between her front teeth. I couldn't look away and I couldn't wait for them to leave.

Across from me at the jewelry counter, a less glamorous couple than my hairy toothed customer were looking at  engagement rings and discussing the size of the stones. The jewelry girls who served them were a step above everyone else in the store, because they wore a loop around their neck and could pick out a flaw in a stone or a person at twenty paces. They were trying to add their expertise to the mix, but the male kept saying, 'You don't know shit about stones, ya bitch,' when he then grabbed the tray of rings, and ran from the store, his fiancé following swiftly behind him.

Sensei Stick Man was furious. With whom, I wasn't sure? One of the loop girls started to cry, and soon the police had arrived.

I watched them, in my silk shirt, cleaning above the omegas and pulsars, ensuring there were no pubic hairs on my counter from the previous encounter.

'We're closing the store,' Sensei announced grandly. This was exciting, I thought. An actual thing had happened that I could go home and discuss over dinner. Would I have to give a statement? What had I remembered about the couple? Years of Trixie Belden's advice came back to me and I mentally ran through the details but my mind couldn't keep focussed.

The couple with the camel coat and pubic hair kept interrupting my recall. Had she just had a sneaky sexual encounter in a laneway? Did it happen at work? Why didn't she check her teeth when she left wherever she had been? Why didn't he tell her?

By the time the police came to my counter, I had nothing to give them. I had own mystery that needed to be solved.

'Why wouldn't he tell her?' I asked my friend over maki and sake later in the evening.

'Maybe that's their thing,' she said with an arched eyebrow.

I didn't know if she meant the sexual act or the wearing of the hair like a trophy in her teeth, but I didn't ask. She knew things I didn't. She had lovers. I had a Filofax.

The next day, the loop wearing girls guarded the ring trays by holding onto them tightly, their frosted acrylic nails, weaponlike when they showed a couple their future in a stone on a tray.

Sensei Stick Man brought a stick to work, ready to strike at any moment.

And I brought dental floss and kept it beneath the counter. The last thing I needed was raw fish between my teeth. I couldn't think of anything worse.

Actually, I could.  One can never be too prepared.