still not whistling dixie

All hail ye mighty dumpster! Cornucopia of produce, filler of the so-called “bottomless salad bowl” we keep in our kitchen, and generous giver of bread and sugar-filled baked goods! Provider of sustenance, clothing, typewriters, furniture, and stereos! We salute you! (A moment of silence please…)

Maybe it’s just spring madness setting in–the madness being that “spring cleaning,” for many, translates into “throwing completey functional and often expensive things away”–but this morning I found one of my housemates actually SCRUBBING THE KITCHEN FLOOR and me, I’ve been on reconnaissance missions almost every night, scouting out new dumpsters, taking old dumpsters by surprise, and generally practicing my ninja-like skill of moving through enemy territory in complete silence.

“What’s that, the hundredth time you went dumpster diving this week?” Garfield yelled to me across the wagonplatz when I came home with another bike trailer full of scrap wood for the wood stove. That’s right, you can even dumpster heat…

The night before, restless and having just finished reading Evasion again in search of passages about the mythical dumpster gods, I grabbed my backpack and went on a mission. I had been scouting a nearby grocery store that we never really took advantage of and that I had been scouting out entry points to for several days. I had tried the “over the wall in the front by the road” only to be greeted by a police car circling the block. “Tonight is not the night,” I thought to myself, walking briskly back the way I’d come. Then Scissors told me you could get in just as easily from the back, away from the prying eyes of patrol cars and late-night pedestrians.

It was almost too easy. I got in, looked around leisurely, invited a few vegetables into my backpack, and walked home through the park. The booty wasn’t much compared with the usual swag, but gee did that avocado taste good on my toast this morning. That afternoon I had perused the inside produce section, smiling to myself and thinking, “Soon, you will all be mine!” and practicing my evil villian laugh. The produce at that particular store always looks like plastic furniture store food, but by the time it gets to me, it looks edible again. The only place I’ve ever found tomatoes and avocados ripened to perfection at the grocery store has been in the dumpsters out back.

Dumpster diving always makes me wish I could whistle. Riding home with a bag full of free food, that “it’s a beautiful morning” feeling creeps up through my limbs, makes me want to shout, do cartwheels, write tribute songs. That night the return trip led me to a sperrmüll (ie, usebale trash: furniture and cookware and clothing and the like) spot outside of an ugly student apartment building I’d never noticed before, and I thought, “One thing is certain: the dumpster gods will always reward the wanderer.”

On top of a sopping wet mattress I found a little white lamp. I took it home wtih me, wanting to whistle more than ever–we’d been looking for another lamp–and not only did it work despite having been rained on, but the people who’d thrown it away had left a perfectly good lightbulb inside. It doesn’t take much more to convince me that the majority of the population is completey insane…

So tonight, by the light of my new little lamp, dumpstered wood crackling in the stove beside me, my stomach happily full of salad and avocados and garlic bread, I raise my wine glass (found in the trash across the street last week) to you, sweet guardians of vagabonds and wanders, mysterious keepers of the trash!

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