Readjusting and in Need for Ideas

I can deal with the cold, I love me some nature, and I don´t mind taking showers at the gym. I can change my backyard scenery as I wish, don´t pay rent, and hey, nothing more cozy than a toasty warm sleeping bag on a cold winter day. Getting fat is not an option, the lifestyle keeps me fit, and I´ve picked up some important life lessons along the way.

I´ve been hoboing around the Midwest for roughly 2 years now and I already know that someday I will look back and say “I am glad I was crazy enough to do this”. I refuse to die with a bunch of could-haves and should-haves inhabiting my head. I refuse to let society dictate how I ought to go about finding peace and happiness on this planet. I refuse to make my life anything less than awesome (for lack of a better word that hasn´t been ripped to shreds by our youth culture).

There is one aspect of my lifestyle that I am getting really tired of: Having to hide. Like a criminal I have to hide from law enforcement. I am hiding from my housed neighbors, nosy dogs on leashes, playing children, maintenance workers, grannies on excursions, morning commuters, the curious, the bored, the alert; in short; everyone. I´ve been pretty successful thus far, but my goodness I am tired of it. Entire parking lots and neighborhood streets are empty at night, but society sure doesn´t want no hobos sleeping there. Buy a house – damnit!

So, how can I readjust my lifestyle to comfortably fit into my niche again? I need to find a place at which I can legally park my tiny mobile home. I am about 1/3 through my Master´s program and have steady employment and thus have pretty deep roots within society. Running away to some remote camp site is not an option. The idea of asking a sketchy trailer park owner for a little plot of land is not very appealing. Buying land is not going to happen while I am a student. I need more ideas! Do you have any semi-crazy ideas swirling around your mind on how I can solve this issue? Leave a comment or send me an email – standalonehobo@mail.com .

Take care fellow nomads!

Frozen

(aka hobo tales, aka bad poetry)

  • It´s cold as fuck
  • I have no luck
  • all my shit is frozen
  • Can´t wash my hair
  • as in despair
  • I see my shampoo ´s frozen
  • My breath is bad
  • I´m getting mad
  • My mouthwash is so frozen
  • Can´t feel my feet
  • because indeed
  • my socks are really frozen
  • Stand by my car
  • because so far
  • the damn doors are too frozen
  • Despite cold feet
  • I´d like to eat
  • but all my food is frozen
  • Can´t blow my nose
  • man, this is gross
  • my nostrils too are frozen
  • Cant you believe
  • despite all grief
  • this life is what I´ve chosen

Blind at Night

With the sun setting earlier this time of year, I find myself in relative darkness as I take care of evening business inside my tiny mobile home. Not wanting to alert my housed neighbors, I refrain from lighting a candle and instead rely on my other senses to guide me.

I know all my clothes by touch and purposefully arranged them. Daytime clothes on the upper shelf, nighttime clothes on the lower one. Both shelves are organized the same, starting with shirts and ending with pants. Easy. Only difficulty are same-kind-different-color-socks. Can´t discern those via touch. Needless to say, I wear mismatched socks a lot. Even funnier, I own two pairs of Converse and yes, I´ve mismatched those before. People thought I was trying to be fashionable.

I know all my hygiene products by touch and those who share the same-shape travel containers I know by smell. No problem here. Brushing my teeth is a whole other ball game. I either brush using a mountain of toothpaste or barely any at all. That is, if I manage to actually get toothpaste on the brush. Eye-hand coordination is much trickier if you can´t use your eyes. Keeping your unusually large mouthwash bottle next to your unusually small laundry detergent bottle can lead to “clean cotton” breath, which sounds a lot better than it tastes. Trust me.

All important and much used items, such as my car keys, phone, chap stick, and pepper spray, each have their own spot. That doesn´t mean that each item actually makes it there. There is nothing more fun than searching for you phone in complete darkness!

I spent a large portion of my day reading books, working on my computer, and writing papers. If I could, I may be tempted to spend my hour before bed doing even more reading! Instead, I frequently download audio books and meditation music. It is very relaxing to look up at my glow-in-the-dark universe while listening to Edgar Allan Poe.

I´ve gotten so used to the darkness, really, now it´s part of my routine. It´s a time of relaxation, reflection, and contemplating the universe´s mysterious ways. Darkness can appear threatening, cold, and overwhelming. Over the years, I´ve found that darkness doesn´t provide cover for dangerous creatures. Rather it reveals the creatures that roam your own mind.

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Dream On

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During one of my many discussions with my family regarding my lifestyle (“Houseless? What´s that supposed to be? You are homeless, whether you´d like to admit it or not!”) I realized that really, I only have one issue: People. My tiny mobile home is comfy and very much a “home” to me. I am well-fed, warm, healthy, clean, and happy. I am employed, working on my Masters, and am self-sustaining. In short, I have everything I need and I am everything I want to be.

For many of us, the trouble starts when we are trying to find a decent place to sleep. Society decided that living on the wrong side of those four walls is utterly unacceptable. So we have to be quiet and invisible. I´d love to do a little reading before bed, but any light would give me away. How relaxing would it be to sit outside my car, or even just roll down a window, to watch as nature lays itself to rest; can´t do that either. It´d be nice to be able to open my doors in the morning to let in some much needed air, but, as you´ve probably guessed, that´s not a good idea either.

Even worse than being frowned upon, is the fact that my lifestyle can get me in trouble with the police. Society decided that living outside of a house or apartment is such a horrendous act that it should be against the law! Somehow I imagined freedom to mean something different… I´d very much appreciate being a full member of society instead of living in the shadows.

This leaves me dreaming of a society in which I can freely admit to my lifestyle without being judged and prosecuted. Oh how nice would it be wave a hello to my housed neighbors and watch the sun rise without worrying about being seen.

What makes us human?

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Sometimes I don´t want to go back. Who needs society, right? I am tired of traffic, people, dogs, stores, advertising, and cement. I could just leave. I could!

Of course, it is not that easy. No, I am not talking about a mortgage, partner, children, job, house, or whatever else might tie me to the man made world. It´s not about the conveniences either. I do just fine without a shower, a bed, a house, manicures, and television. No, it is about something so basic, so deeply embedded into our DNA, that I doubt I could ever fully get over not having it: Human Connection.

Now, the question that plagues me, is this need a curse or a blessing?

Why would you wanna live like this?

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I suppose this post will end up a little more personal as I really can’t speak for anybody but myself. I can assume that others may have similar reasons for becoming a hobo, nomad, houseless, or homeless, but I can’t be sure.

To this day my family is rather… dissatisfied with my lifestyle. Although they’ve finally started joking about it (If she gets a dash cam it’ll be traffic and home surveillance), which is good, but I know that they are still far from fine with it.

Why would I want to live like this? Let me try to explain.

  • Freedom is important to me

I don’t enjoy being held back by my possessions or obligations. Think of all the things that come with renting an apartment for example. You have to keep it clean, you have to work your rear off to pay for it, you are stuck in a particular area at least for a while, you own furniture and carpets and curtains and desks and chairs and tables and oh my! You spend all your time at work, at school, outside, running errands, just to come home to a place that is half the reason you are never home. Is this madness or what?

I own a vehicle, which gets me from A to B. I also rebuilt the back to offer a bed, storage for clothes, food, and hygiene articles, and an area to relax after a long day. If I drive anywhere, I already have everything I need. I can leave for the mountains in the spur of the moment. I have time for personal growth and living life. And, other than my student loans, I do not have to worry about money.

  • I save A LOT of money

If you are like me and absolutely cannot deal with having roommates anymore (it worked for many years, but I am just over it), you’ll pay at least $800 a month for an apartment in my area. If you are fine with random shootings and living next to a bar and a liquor store, then you may be able to squeeze by with $650 a month. At just above minimal wage, I’d have to work 22 hours a week, just to pay for an apartment. By the time you add food ($125 a month), gas ($130 a month), utilities ($100 a month), and cell phone costs ($25 a month), I’d need to add another 10 hours of work per week. What about clothes, hygiene products, cleaning products, fixing the car, and school supplies? Add another 5 hours for good measure and I’d be working 37 hours a week just to scrape by. And of course I am a full time student, which means I spend an average of 20 hours in class and studying. Why on earth would I want to live like that? Just in the last year, I saved a little over $6000, which will be my down payment for that van I’ll be purchasing soon.

  • Psychological factors

These factors may overlap with my need for freedom, but they are not quite the same. My upbringing was very restrictive and abusive, and while I have done well for myself after leaving home, some things stuck with me. Being inside for long periods of time is depressing to me. I feel locked up and lonely. Not being able to spend time outside within nature and enjoying life leaves me depressed and anxious as well. I simply cannot be spending every day of the week working AND be happy. I become miserable if I don’t get to break free every once in a while. I need quality time to enjoy life. Who doesn’t?

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  • What I do actually matters

I’d rather spend hours setting up a camp, cooking food over an open fire, scouting out new spots, or cleaning my vehicle, than spend 40 hours a week at work. What I do matters for my survival and health. When is the last time you’ve done something at work that actually mattered? Sure, there are many professions, such as police offices and doctors, who matter in most of the activities they do at work. But how many of us sit at a desk, push papers, and spend countless hour staring at a screen just to receive money at the end of the month? In comparison to withstanding mother nature in one’s daily journey of survival and LIFE, what does it really matter if I copy another student’s paperwork and enter it into the system. To me, that feels like a cushioned version of what could possibly resemble life. But not life as it is “meant to” be lived.

  •  Nature

Even before I began living life houseless, I wasn’t consuming as much as most people around me. These days, however, I am consuming even less. I don’t have my own electricity, running water, or heat. I buy a majority of my clothes from goodwill, buy used whenever possible, recycle, and walk everywhere.  Of course, my vehicle is the great exception eating up resources like a starving wolf on a sheep farm, but I suppose that’s the price of keeping one foot in society. Overall, I’ve not just gotten closer to nature, I feel like I am a part of it.

What’s on your mind? Comment!

Enjoy!

Dumpster Diving?

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Ever since I was a little person, I have been fascinated with abandoned goods found in or near dumpsters. I used to collect magazines, old pictures, and random plastic containers for the “office” my friends and I “worked” at. We had our little card board desks hidden away in the bushes and spent hours going through papers (it’s amazing how many people don’t shred their confidential documents!).

These days you won’t find me hanging out in random suburban bushes, but I am still very much interested in free treasures other people call trash. Now, I’ve tried a little “trash can diving” at the local library and thus far have found an unopened bag of gummy bears, a chap stick ball that makes for a great pill container, and lots of newspapers and magazines. Another great venue for freebies is the student center! During the evening, the event management typically isn’t too worried about cleaning up quickly. This allows me to enjoy buffets filled with fruit, bread, salad, cheese, crackers, and have some lemonade, iced tea, or soda to go with it. Sometimes, I even get a full dinner for free.

I am very much into recycling and reusing items. 99% of my clothes come from Goodwill, which is a massive second hand clothing store here in the U.S. I collect all my recyclables and take them to my relatives who have contracts with recycle companies. I am not afraid to reheat the pizza nobody wants and in general, my co-workers know they better not be throwing out food without asking me first. I actually do wear my clothes until they are dirty or smelly and squeeze the rest out of abandoned shampoo containers at the gym. I walk several miles every day, which keeps my vehicle off the street and is good for my health. Not only do I enjoy making a small but nevertheless positive impact on nature by reducing my consumption and waste, I also save an average of $800 every month compared to others who live in the same area.

I want to make the jump from a small scale opportunist trash can diver to a full blown dumpster diver. Really, dumpster diving appears to be the next logical step. However, I am not sure where and how to start. There isn’t much information online and I don’t know anyone personally who could get me started. This is why I am asking you, my fellow hobos and free spirits, to please comment the living heck out of this post if you have any experience in the field or know of any useful websites.

Take care and keep your insanity!

Outside Year-Round

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Being exposed to the elements year-round is an interesting experience as it forces us to live by the rhythms of nature. As I am writing this, a mighty snow storm is sweeping through my town. It is -15° Celsius (5° Fahrenheit) out and I snuck into one of the closed campus buildings for some internet and a couple hours of warmth.

Ever since I started living life houseless, I realized that the weather affects my mood more than the usual “winter blues” or “sunshine happiness”. The most crucial factor, by far, is temperature. Fall and spring became my favorite seasons because of the mild temperatures. Currently, I´d say I enjoy summer over winter, but I distinctively remember cussing up a storm over cloudless 90° F (32° C) days. 

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In addition to temperature differences, the amount and length of daylight varies greatly throughout the year. I used to find myself ´down´ a lot more when I spend already short winter days inside. These days, I am able to absorb every last ray of sunlight. Something as simple as a sunny morning makes me happy.

I feel more connected to our past; maybe even to our animal roots. Living outside, sleeping in a cold place, having to work hard for water, food, and heat, are much more than mere lifestyle differences. When you lie hidden beneath a mountain of blankets trying to get warm while hearing nature raging around you, you realize how dangerous this planet can be. If you are able to rough it out here, fear transforms into pure awe. And what follows is respect and a deep appreciation for our planet.

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Sure, my life is different from what our ancestors experienced. I buy my food from the local supermarket and I am able to study and work in a warm environment. However, being this close to society has its downfalls. Instead of sleeping, eating and sitting by a warm fire, I have to rely on layers to warm up and go without warm meals unless I leave the city or have access to a microwave. I am constantly moving my tiny mobile home as I am not allowed to set up a camp. Ultimately, it is not going back to the “old ways” that connects me to our past, it is experiencing nature that does.

I enjoy experiencing nature. Rather than living a perfectly air-conditioned life filled with the daily “issues” of society, ranging from a lack of Starbucks “Coffee” and fitting in with the fashion world, to working 40 hours a week to afford said Starbucks product and many! more items, I want to experience life. I enjoy experiencing life and not just society, if that makes sense. I allow nature to ruffle my feathers. I allow her to fill me with real joy as much as I accept her gray-rainy-ugh-days. I am not going to cover her up or hide from her. I don´t want to walk through life wrapped in bubble wrap. I want to feel the world.

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Hard Work, Damnit!

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I’ve received a variety of reactions regarding my lifestyle ranging from “Oh wow, I love it” to “Are you out of your mind?” to “Whatever works for you”. Some people think I am living the hippie dream and others think I am in desperate need of some serious mental health services. I won’t pretend that I don’t care what others say. However, my actions typically reflect my own motivation and goals. In other words, just because I don’t enjoy hearing negative comments, doesn’t mean I am going to change my life tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, I received a reaction I couldn’t have anticipated. I was spending the holidays with relatives who live a couple hours north. I was having a great time: frequent excursions to the mountains, game nights with friends, catching up with family, and some lazy days sprinkled in between. During one family gathering, I got talking with my stepmother.

“When are you heading back home?”

“Oh, probably around the 15th”.

“The 15th???”

“Yeah”

“Don’t you have to work or things to do?”

“No, I decided to take a month of.”

“Hmmm.”

Her “hmmm’ was full of contempt and disapproval. Her reaction communicated so much more. How dare you take a month of? Don’t you know that HARD WORK is the only right way? The American way. The principle this country is founded on? Don’t you know how our forefathers… blah blah blah (I’ve heard it all before).

Now, why exactly should I feel bad for other people’s lifestyles? You need a upper-middle class house, new clothes, eating out on a regular basis, 4 kids, and those fancy phones, laptops, tablets, and kindles? Well, then you better get to work! I want to be close to nature and a warmer sleeping bag this year. Oh, and time. Which I can afford.

In addition, roughing it can be just what it sounds like: rough. The constant cold during the winter can wear down anyone. Living without amenities can be frustrating and exhausting. Keeping oneself healthy, fed, and safe can be challenging. So, while I am very pleased with my current life, it is anything but easy.

You have a great life going or are on your way to live life to the fullest? Ignore the negative voices that try to force their opinion on you. Freedom is about making your own choices. Sometimes that means making very unique choices. Be proud of your ability to choose. You don’t have to be another sheep.

Lazy Morning: Hobo Style

Sometimes I forget to relax.

I wake up in the morning and think about what all I need to do. What food will I pack? Do I need to pack different kinds of clothing? Should I wash myself in my car, at the gym, or at the library? Will I go to the gym tonight anyway? Do I need to take my books and my laptop? Do I have any appointments? Where will I sleep tonight?

As a hobo, it is crucial to plan your day thoroughly. I start organizing my day as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. It gets me into a habit, which in essence is similar to patterns regular people in regular homes follow. When does the repairman come? Did I pay rent? When should I go grocery shopping? When was that meeting again?

As the picture below depicts, there are days even a hobo just wants to lay in bed (or wherever one sleeps). So, after waking up, I stretched, pulled my covers up a bit more, and enjoyed being warm and comfortable. I began thinking happy thoughts of nature, comfort, and freedom. I thought about how lucky I am. Lucky to be free. Lucky to be healthy. Lucky to be able to afford dedicating my current life to education without working myself to death. A few minutes of happy thinking and relaxation in the morning can work wonders. When I (finally) got up, I managed the rest of my morning with ease and stayed calm and relaxed throughout the day.

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