The city, boobs, and lots of colorful people

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The city! What can I say? City life is exciting, fast, loud, overwhelming, fascinating, delightful, filthy, eye-opening, and, and, and. While I most definitely wouldn´t enjoy being a full time hobo in a city like Denver, I do enjoy coming here to people watch, check out novelty stores, go to events, and walk through parks and market places.

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Although I had been planning on attending an international sister cities event, I found myself so intrigued by the pagan festival downtown, that I ended up spending most of my day there. It seemed like every last hippie, goth, nature lover, shaman, eccentric Joe, witch, and herbalist gathered and celebrated diversity and mother nature that day.

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Much to my surprise, I also encountered many men and women who in observance of the “National Go Topless Day” did exactly that while marching down the streets and hanging out at parks.

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Before leaving the city, I went by my second favorite museum in the world, the DAM (Denver Art Museum), to check out their new modern art exhibit. I wasn´t disappointed! The “Women of Abstract Expressionism” event was filled with beautiful, grotesque, intriguing, and stunning paintings. Below is my absolute favorite! Painted on metal, it has this nice metallic shine to it that reminds me of the industrial revolution.

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That´s it. A day in Denver in a nutshell!

(And yes, these are individual plush fries in their plush fry box)

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When you think you´ve heard it all…

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I like the Springs. Beautiful mountains that can be seen from pretty much anywhere, feels like a city and mountain town at the same time, and lots and lots of great hobo parking. Well, I guess shit happens everywhere. As a result of the city´s decision to ban urban camping while leaving the issue of lacking homeless shelter beds unaddressed, more and more homeless individuals are forced in to the inhospitable and dangerous parts of the city. The following excerpt illustrates the violence that is erupting on the streets and details the story of a homeless woman who suffered through unimaginable torture.

A homeless woman was thrown from a ledge and repeatedly raped for days at the spot where she landed beneath the Cimarron Street bridge – unable to escape because her legs were paralyzed, Colorado Springs police say.

The torture ended when a passerby found her May 2 lying beneath the bridge south of America the Beautiful Park, court documents unsealed this week show.

The assault comes at a time when homeless people are left with little choice but to risk their safety and live outside, because too few shelter beds exist in El Paso County, homeless advocates say.

That reality has exposed one of the region’s most vulnerable populations to theft and violence, especially women.

“It’s the worst part of not having enough shelter space,” said Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of the Urban Peak youth shelter, which is often at or near capacity.

For the woman found beneath Cimarron Street, living on the streets nearly turned deadly.

See full article here.

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Rougher than a cat´s tongue

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Here I am. This is my first week in a new city, a new tiny mobile home, new job, new school, new everything, and it´s been rough to say the least.

I had no idea how incredibly comfortable I had been in my old Ford and how easy it is to get ready for bed when you already know all your spots. While I´d almost been bored with my daily routines this past year, trying to figure out all the hows and wheres in my new house is driving me up the walls. These days I have to rely mostly on neighborhood parking, which is a whole different animal compared to the mountains, Walmarts, and Park´n´Rides. Additionally, my new ride looks so ridiculously fancy, I just don´t fit in my usual kind of spots anymore.

It appears that my adventurous spirit went for a vacation and I am left to figure things out on my own. The cozy-comfy-cave feeling of my old Ford has been replaced with the unsafe feeling of living in a fishbowl (which is probably due to the fact that I major messed up those curtains and sleep on top of an actual bed). Nothing really feels right at the moment and there is still a lot I need to figure out.

What can I say? I´m just going to have to hang in there and hope for the best. And enjoy the last bit of summer.

Take care fellow hobos!

Minimalism 101

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I could (and will) give you plenty of advice on how to manage your resources wisely and save money left and right. However, as I was planning this post, I realized that a large part of the minimalist lifestyle is about why you do it rather than how. Confused yet? Allow me to explain.

As previously mentioned, my family is quite the opposite of excited about my lifestyle. My grandmother in particular frequently regurgitates a list of “inconveniences” and “hardships” the houseless have to deal with. “I wouldn´t want to go to the gym to shower” or “Isn´t that so much trouble to keep food without a fridge?” are only a couple comments on her list. Sure, it isn´t always easy to live life houseless, but what kind of life is easy? She sees troubles, I see savings. She sees hardship, I see adventure. She sees a lack of “home”, I see freedom. What´s all this got to do with my initial statement? If you truly are a person who needs an air conditioner, new fashionable clothes, the latest smart phone, and cable television, then minimalism is going to very very difficult for you. If you, however, can do without these things, enjoy finding new ways to reuse and recycle, and feel proud when your self control kept you from buying unnecessary junk, then minimalism is an easily obtainable goal.

In other words, minimalism is a mindset.

Clothes

I can´t remember the last time I purchased new clothes from a store. I almost exclusively shop at second hand stores and am amazed at the many dollars other people regularly spend on clothing.  I can walk out of Goodwill with a pair of pants, three shirts, a belt, and a pair of shoes and still pay less than what others pay for a shirt at Kohl´s. Now, it is true that Goodwill doesn’t always have an abundance of fashionable clothes. For nicer clothes I typically go to stores such as Plato´s Closet.

  • Shop second hand as much as possible
  • Buy new clothes on sale
  • Resist the urge to throw out old clothes simply because they are old
  • Use old clothes as rags or make a blanket out of them
  • Choose short and cool wash and dry cycles as much as possible; your clothes will last longer
  • Let your friends and family know that you will take unwanted clothes

Groceries

There are many ways to save money when it comes to groceries. I tend to save between $2 and $9 for each major shopping run just by using coupons from websites such as this one. Additionally, I save around $10 by purchasing cheaper brands and by only buying necessary items such as fruits, vegetables, and bread. Whether you´d admit it or not, items such as coffee, candy, soda, chips, dryer sheets, and energy drinks aren´t absolute necessities and should be viewed as little luxuries that can be purchased every once in a while (if at all).IMG_20160802_165243[1]

 

  • Buy items you have coupons for but only if you´d save money as compared to your usual buying habits
  • Avoid buying well known brands; compare labels to ensure that the no name product´s quality is reasonably high despite the lower price
  • If at all, buy unnecessary items on sale
  • Avoid going grocery shopping when hungry
  • Eat your leftovers (just do it)
  • Don´t buy bottled water
  • Don´t buy preportioned produce
  • You don´t need fancy meals every day; a good soup once a week is healthy and inexpensive
  • Avoid buying soda, iced tea, energy drinks, flavored water, and similar drinks; all your body really needs in terms of fluids is water

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Utilities

Although many people take their access to running water, electricity, and gas for granted, it is that thoughtlessness that could cost you a lot of money. Every household has at least some potential for great saving and resource conservation. Personally, I´ve been using community facilities for quite some time now and don´t pay for personal running water, electricity, or heat.

  • Collect the cold shower water while waiting for it to warm up
  • Treat your electricity, heat, and water like a valuable resource; remember your last camping trip and how precious every last bit of these resources appeared to you
  • Avoid (over-)using large appliances such as dryers, dishwashers, and washing machines; wear your clothes until they are actually dirty, and hang them outside to dry
  • Use candles for some evening light and reuse unused wax
  • Get rid of/unplug unused devices such as DVD players, game consoles, that second fridge in your garage, and desktop computers.
  • Regularly go to the gym? Shower there!

Check out this site on how to lower your utility bill.

Stuff

Most of us own a whole bunch of stuff and by stuff I mean things that may be somewhat useful and nice, but aren´t a real necessity. Egg slicers, camping chairs, baby wipe warmers, phone stands, fancy dinner ware, jet skies, vases, automated air fresheners, and decorative everything are only a few of the many things we own, but don´t really need. However, more often than not, things are unnecessary simply because you already own one of it or it is overly fancy. Do you really NEED two or more can openers, pencil sharpeners, glasses, cars, purses, pillows, or hair brushes? Do you really NEED fancy shampoo, $200 bed sheets, or that expensive drill set?

Now, you might say, “Well, most of those things are pretty inexpensive”, which is true. As mentioned previously though, minimalism is a mindset. Not only does getting rid of stuff (and not accumulating more of it) free up your living space and your mind, it also teaches you to value your belongings. Imagine what life would be like without that one hair brush you own, and suddenly the $5 hairbrush lasts for years because you take care of it.

  • Ask yourself “Do I really need this” before buying anything
  • Avoid going shopping as a past time activity; there is more out there than the “joy” of consumerism
  • Enjoy and appreciate what you own
  • Unless an object is unusable, dangerously defective, or extremely difficult to use, it doesn´t need to be replaced
  • If a knick knack doesn´t fit in the category “beloved” or fills your heart with an excessive amount of joy, it´s not worth having.

Reuse and Recycle

To me, this is the fun part about minimalism! Be creative and think outside the box! Pretty much anything you own can be reused in some way, shape, or form. An empty milk container can carry water for your camping trips, old shirts can be used to make a blanket, grocery bags can be used as trash bags, old socks can be made into stuffed animals and dog toys, old electronics make for great art projects, empty grape bags function as strainers, used tea bags still have enough herbs in them to be used for beauty products, and, and, and.

Recycling pretty much stems from the same willingness to get the most out of our resources. Paper, plastics, glass, and many other materials can make a come back instead of slowly rotting away in a landfill.

  • Before throwing trash away, ask yourself if it can be repurposed
  • Try dumpster diving! You wouldn´t believe what people throw out.
  • Shop at markets and stores that allow you to bring your own containers
  • Donate unwanted items to charities

Check out this website for 101 tips on reusing and recycling

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That´s it fellow free spirits! Do you have more ideas in regards to reusing and minimalism? Comment!