who wants trash?

artists life trash

There is an article in the Atlantic today: 'Is this the end of recycling?" that just reminded me of how everything is connected in ways impossible to fully grasp.

I am lucky enough to live less than 2 blocks from our town's little scrap yard and were it not for them I wouldn't be making the art that I make.  When I lived in Vermont the scrap yards were far and few between; that and they weren't usually very pleasant (manneristically or atmospherically, if they even let you in at all).  Forget about driving around in sub zero conditions on treacherous roads.  Much like a squirrel I had to get what I could in the Fall and wait until after mud season in late Spring to get more.  Here in Texas its the deluge of rain or stroke/like humidity/heat that stops me, but other than that I can go all year round.  True there is less stuff to get in cold weather but when I focus on the tiny objects for say my found object junk flowers, I can usually find a few things and if not there I go on my many walks around town to find debris on the streets and parking lots.

So the online article in the Atlantic clued me in on why our scrap yard no longer has their cardboard recycling dumpsters placed throughout the city.  They had been slowly cutting back on how many were out there last year.  I probably noticed it more than most since I'm the one walking behind mini malls and what-not looking for stuff, but its most noticeable when I go to the scrap yard.  It's much quieter there now. The hydraulic compressing machine was a cacophony of audible overload. They still use it for aluminum cans but there is no longer a devoted tribe of employees standing there seemingly all day long toiling over the machine which required much care and feeding as it would get jammed seemingly quite often.

I've often worried and wondered what will happen to my world if and when this scrap yard closes.  It is inevitable as it is located next to the greedy real estate beast that is our university.  In the 9 + years that I have lived here I have watched this stupid little town turn into a stupid big town (city).  I call it stupid but I like that it's stupid.  Stupid in that it appears to have little in the way of culture other than it's own antiquated mostly religious, geographic (can you say SAM HOUSTON?) & political history. (perhaps I'm just judgemental and clueless as I'm sure plenty would argue there is culture outside of god and government)....or there is the drug culture, weed is unfortunately the king of coping mechanisms even here from what I see and smell.

While the university continues to grow the students still flee on weekends and rarely touch the ground outside of the university boundaries unless they are speeding through it in their beefed up mustangs or trucks (which by the way are all newer and nicer than anything I've ever had). 

All around downtown there is a scary number of churches that spring up (i call them tax write off pop ups), there is a ridiculous number of vape places, tattoo shops, mini gyms, mini marts, quick loan/check cashing services ~ which makes sense given that there are about 23 prison units in the County, including one 2 blocks away from me that still executes people and releases about 100 or more prisoners on any given day.  I still am a little agog when I see the prisoners 50 feet from my apartment, wearing their black and white striped uniforms...farmed out as a cheap source of labor for the city's ground keeping and whatnot.  We also now have the ubiquitous strip malls splaying out alongside of the freeway luring everyone away from our 3 block downtown shopping area. 

There is a pocket of outliers here but I don't really have much in common with them.  Dare I say I have nothing in common other than my uncommonness. Don't get me wrong, there are GREAT people here. Big hearted folk that would help you in a moments notice.  HAVE helped me in a moments notice. And for now I still like living here because there are no distractions other than the one's my mind gives to me.  I like that i know so many people and they let me be.  They are friendly but not intrusive.  I have never lived anywhere as friendly in my entire life but i have little in common with most which is fine by me as I'm not looking for more distractions and have plenty of work to do on my  'self'.  It isn't a place I've been able to sell my art save for the occasional friend who thinks to purchase from me for gift buying.  It's all good...I'm where I'm supposed to be.  But back to the scrap yard.

I'm aware that things never stop changing, sometimes I forget that big things that seemingly have nothing to do with me do in fact affect me.  I had no idea about China buying a huge amount of our recyclables and now that they aren't we in America aren't inclined to be as resourceful with our trash and it invariably makes for more financial hardship in the scrap world.  Nearly all of the materials that I work with are trash.  Literally.  They are valuable [to me] and the price per pound has increased so I buy much less than I used to due to my income being nearly 75% less last year due to more (bad) changes on Etsy.  Hence this website which is still a spec in the sea of the internet and thus far has nearly zero visibility and netted me a few sales just from existing customers, THANK YOU VERY MUCH by the way. 

Anyhow, so now I'm trying to blog because I'm told it will get me better ranked and found.  I used to blog like nobody's business.  Honestly I don't feel the desire to broadcast my wares and woes like I used to.  It's even hard to want to post my latest work because I'm more quiet and just trying to get by in life. You either like what I make and want it or ya don't.  I find it hard to exclaim 'look at me look at my life look at what i make!" in order to seduce you into anything.  Making art is what I do but I no longer have any thoughts or desires that I'm going to 'make it big'.  I gave that up when I stopped making gallery wall art in 2008.  I love making functional art from bits of useless metal.  I'm not doing it to save the planet, I dont really know why I do it honestly.  It beats going to hobby lobby or other brick and mortar places to buy expensive redundant materials to work with.  It's much more affordable on my end and inspires ME when I find strange unknowable objects at the scrap yard, and it does lend for some interesting looking 'art' that you are not going to find anywhere else. 

So.  China doesn't want our trash anymore.  The scrap yard doesn't want as much of our trash.  By de facto my world feels smaller and trash is more valuable to ME now more than ever.  What I make will perhaps also become a rarity when the scrap yard closes.  The future is unknown which forces me to practice staying in the now and work with what I've got.



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