Vanna's insides

Vanna's insides

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Letter


Everything you are feeling right now is right.  Everything you are needing/wanting right now makes sense.  I will always hold you, love you, breathe you in.  You are strong and sweet and kind and sincere.  You bring good things to the world just by being you.  You will always have a home.  You are good.  Enough, always--forever.  Stay open and gentle.  Be sweet.  Follow simplicity, use love as your guide.  Keep trying--it's your success.

Remember to laugh.  Because it feels good, and that's worth it.  Let others see, touch, feel your soul, but don't let them take it.  Remain beautiful--because you're never not.

Rawness is good.  Scars are ok.  Deep breaths do wonders.  Participate in good-byes, they're special and worthwhile.  Dying is ok, being sad is too.  Feeling things means you're living.  Allow yourself to feel.  It's part of the experience.

If the water is calling you, seek it out.  You'll be better for it.  Say you're sorry when you're unkind to yourself.  Feed yourself bedtime snacks and chocolate covered treats.

Balloons are dumb.  Plants are not dumb.

Eat good food.  Let others journey their own ways.  It is not your weakness to have given another an opportunity to hurt you.  It takes strength to bend, courage to open, and endurance to be still.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finding Flow

I'm not gonna say there was a urine "incident" because there really isn't any need to be dramatic, BUT there was a urine "event," if you will.  Something that is important to take note of, the standard yogurt container holds a litre of fluid.  The 26 year old female's bladder, however, can hold more than a litre of fluid...  You see what I'm saying?  So needless to say, today was laundry day.

Quinn is doing great.  We've had one serious instance of agreeing to disagree over the leash (she won), but other than that, she sleeps, walks around, pees, and daydreams out the window like a boss whilst the van is in motion.  She grew accustomed to the whole scenario almost immediately, really.

Two things that I need to be sure to pay attention to living this way are drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.  I try and bring my travel mug with me wherever I go so I remember to fill it up and keep drinking, because otherwise sometimes bedtime rolls around and I haven't had much to drink all day and no way to tide myself over til morning.  The second point of interest is getting enough sleep.  I'm a person who needs a lot of sleep.  Now I'm finding tho, that I go to bed once the streets have gotten quiet (no earlier than midnight lately) and wake when everyone else is getting up for work around 7 or 8.  I've definitely been dragging a fair bit, and am trying to come up with a better sleeping regimen because napping doesn't really work during the day.  I can't really help when I wake, and once I'm awake I realize how cold my face is and I'm then up for good, but I should be able to control how early I go to bed, so that's something I'm going to work on.
Lady Quinn: regal, ain't she?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So, Now What?

I've always been much better at drastic changes made immediately, big alterations in life plans, rather than slowly working, day by day, to achieve my goals, and/or affect long-term change in my life. 

So now I live in a van.  And it's exactly what I thought it would be... maybe better.  Now I have to actually take advantage and put into practice all the reasons I gave for deciding to do it.

Talking to a friend today (who kindly let me park in their driveway last night and use their shower this morning), I realized that this, just like shaving my head--though a little strange--feels like a more truthful way of being for right now.  There's something to peeling back the layers that I have built up around me, the different ways of hiding I've created.  Shaving my head was an incredible decision, one that I'm so grateful for (even if I have to remind myself to feel gratitude during the current awkward growth stage).  The most obvious effects its had have been on my self-esteem, my relationship with my body and sexuality, and my way of dressing.

My body matched my personality: loud.  I received a lot of attention for my curves--from men and women, often, negative (or unjust).  A few years ago I had a breast reduction; after bic-ing my head (that's just an expression, in actuality I used my Venus-- I'm a modern girl after all), I realized that for all of this time I've been dressing in a way of warding off the assumptions often made about me and my "big rack."  Shaving my head gave me the freedom to explore my femininity, sexuality and way of dressing because all of a sudden I felt like the assumptions (slut/tease/what have you) no longer applied, because in my mind, men would no longer find me attractive without hair so I was safe to explore fabrics, shapes, cuts.

I don't know where van life is leading me yet, but hopefully given some time, the results will be equally as beneficial...

After dozens of times being asked why I shaved my head, the answer came out spontaneously and (100%) truthfully: to get to know myself better.  I think this will be somewhat the same.  So here's hoping I like what I find, ya?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When Everyone Else Jumps off a Cliff...

You should too.
Because they obviously know what they're doing, and you do not.

I spent three nights (seriously, I have no idea if that's accurate, I've truly lost all track of time) screwing around with the damn window coverings, when in fact, if I'd just followed every single blog/article on vandwelling regarding window coverings I wouldn't have had to go through all this nonsense in the first place.

Yesterday was 11 non-stop hours of going from store to store gathering the supplies necessary to comply with the solution I've known all along and thought that I knew better seeing as I knew nothing about vandwelling and most people who do don't know what they're talking about.

I couldn't find Reflectix anywhere in the city (which is the brand that all the forums and blogs recommend for window coverings for insulation and privacy) nor a product like it--BUT I was able to find (for cheap) those aluminum foil heat reflective blankets, which I'm sure is all Reflectix is anyways, grabbed a ton of cardboard from Home Hardware, and black garbage bags from Dollarama (my original ingenuous solution to the bitch that is window coverings) and went to it.

I laid all the crap out on the floor of this semi-empty, well-lit parking garage, and cut and duct-taped like a fiend for several hours until I'd finished the 5 covers.  The front is still bare at night, but I just had to call it quits last night.  The entire day was dedicated to this ridiculous craft time, so I was mighty exhausted since the night before had been such a shite sleep.  Also, I took advantage of the electrical outlets and charged my phone and laptop so that when bedtime arrived I curled up in the back with a movie streaming from McDonalds free WiFi.

No regrets.  Vanna keeps me on my toes.  Still just putting in a lot of hours getting things right, looking forward to when things just flow.

Monday, January 27, 2014


When I woke up and, for about 1 1/2 hours after that, I hated absolutely everything.

I cannot speak highly enough of getting one's period during their first week of vandwelling.  TRULY: more fun has never been had.


Yesterday was a day of firsts: first time peeing into a yogurt container (Ladies!  Do not invest in the female urinal products, SO unnecessary); first time washing my clothes in the YMCA's sinks.

I couldn't sleep last night, and my "ingenuous" solution to the window coverings still seems to need some work.  I imagine I won't be able to talk about the damn windows for awhile because of the magnitude of frustration it is causing to my nights.

Last night I took advantage of the parking lot lights of the 24hr Thriftys and read for an hour.  Struggled with the cold again last night/this morning, the vandwelling sites reccommend Reflectix for the windows to keep the heat in.  Will investigate.
Victoria... I guess you aint so bad.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


The hardest part of this entire process (which began mid-December) has been telling people about my decision/current circumstances.  It's really hard for people to understand, and they seem to want/need more from me than I can offer them.  Why am I doing this?  Well... I think I'll have perfected my response in a few months, but for now, I may still be trying to figure that part out myself.

But some of the reasons, are as follows...

- having an apartment to retreat to encourages hiding from the World, which in turn creates loneliness
- the lifestyle i was so privileged to grow up with is no longer something i am financially able to sustain
- the lifestyle i was so privileged to grow up with is no longer something i am morally able to sustain
- the amount of space i had encouraged me to buy more and more things to fill it/maintain it/decorate it
- i had a messy roommate
- i was feeling a little trapped/stuck/locked down
- this feels like an adventure
- it excited me
- it will force me to live with intention (actions must be planned out, it it nearly impossible to realize you've just spent three hours surfing the internet/scrolling through facebook/reading blogs)
- i will become a part of a city in a way i've never managed to before (i always have to be somewhere)
- i will simplify my life

Dinnertime blogging
Considering the reactions I've received to the news of living in my van, I'm surprised by how not extreme the adjustment has been; granted, it is day 1...

I feel supported and taken care of by my city and my community.  I had originally planned to get out of Victoria this afternoon in order to really bond with my situation, become used to/comfortable with my new circumstances, but there is nothing about it that feels unnatural or necessary to adjust to.  I had been most worried about it feeling like a last resort, as though I was stuck with returning to the van at night, but it really hasn't been that way at all.  It feels precious and special and all mine... which it is.
People's reactions/confusion/fear/assumptions to the news are hard.  I often feel sad when I'm unable to make people feel about my life the way I feel about it, but it's something I'm becoming used to the more times I tell people.

Quinn is responding great to van life.  I feel much more confident about her ability to adjust now.  I bought a leash to test out (which will be another blog post all its own), and will take her a-wandering soon.

Til next time...

Bon appetit!

It's Official...

Yesterday was the first time the thought "is this crazy" passed through my head.  The subleter moved in and I moved out, and I started to question my thought processes.  Mostly, I was worried about Quinn--is this fair to make an animal live in a vehicle?  That was what I was struggling with most yesterday.

When I left the house with Vanna packed to the hilt, I headed to the underground parking at the mall to take advantage of the shelter from the rain and the overhead lighting.  I organized and reorganized, and became acquainted with my space.  Quinn also became acquainted and figured out where and what the purpose of the new litter box was.

I was really tired last night, hanging out with a friend and using his facilities to take out my contacts and wash my face and brush my teeth.  I headed back to the van which was parked in the ideal spot around 12:30 and drove around the suburbs for close to an hour in extremely heavy fog before i realized that the suburbs are not ideal for vandwelling due to the lack of street parking, and for whatever reason, the suburbs felt gloomy and not inviting.  I headed back to the exact same spot I'd vacated an hour earlier, parked there, and set up my new window coverings (an ingenious and simple solution: black garbage bags, dollar store Velcro stickers, boom).  It actually kills me to think how frustrated I was over the damn drapes that original night.

The Weather Network tells me it got down to 2 degrees last night, with a 'feels like' temperature of -1.  I did need the heater which I'm bummed to admit.  I'd been hoping to return it to Home Hardware for the $76 refund; but I awoke at 7:30 this morning with a very cold face and a kinda cold sweatiness all around.  I uncovered and cracked the box open to figure out, what turned out to be, an incredibly simple system--it just took me longer than it should have because I was just functioning as "Morning Pam" who just isn't as quick as "Any Other Time of Day Pam."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Maiden Voyage (sorta)

So.  Last night was the first night in the Van (or, Vanna, as she will now be referred).  Quinn (my cat-child) and I didn't peace out of our apartment for our test run til the anxiety was at a bare minimum---which meant lying on the couch with Morgan (roommate) until 2am when I finally felt courageous enough to follow through with the plan.

I am not officially homeless til Saturday morning, but I wanted a safety net for my first night so I could work out the kinks before everything was for real and, potentially, awful.

Quinn and I hit the road and headed up to Sydney -- a 30 minute drive from Victoria.  We took a wrong turn, got lost, and almost arrived at Tsawassen, the Ferry Terminal, by mistake.  

I had forgotten to use the washroom before leaving the house, so I was debating between finding a 24hr place or utilizing the yogurt container I'd set up by my bed for emergencies. After trying a faux-ly lit up gas station, I found a 24hr 7-11 which gave me use of their facilities.  (I will have to try out the yogurt container method another time.)  

I parked around a few apartment buildings, out of the streetlight, and off the main strip at around 3am.  Then the frustration kicked in.  The plan originally had been to hang curtains from sticky hooks I'd stuck to the back 4 corners of Vanna, however they proved useless.  Two had already fallen off and the other two unstuck as soon as I looped one of my mauve drapes over it.

I used safety pins stuck into the roof material as plan b, and I think without a cat-child this could have worked a little better than it did.  I was getting ready for bed in the dark, and Quinn kept pulling down the curtains, and all the extra fabric was draped over everything and kept getting pulled down in all the mess of things.

My space is super organized, but my down duvet is so damn big that my once spacious living and sleeping quarters now felt like it couldn't fit me AND all that feathery softness.  I'll have to set everything up better later today, see if I can come up with a better system.

I was too tired to set up the litter box, so I used an ol' cat-trick I picked up in the army: prayer.

Once I was able to actually lie down, what struck me was the silence.  I felt more still than I have at bedtime lately, and I think that could be the lack of electronics.  Not going to bed with my phone and/or computer at hand.  It felt surprisingly calm.  I had expected to lie there stressed, and a little scared the first night, but I fell asleep quick and slept pretty soundly til 8am.

It went down to 4 degrees last night.  I didn't used (or need) the propane heater I purchased a week ago.  There were times in the night I'd have to re-cover up body parts which had grown cold and unexposed, but mostly I was pretty ok temperature-wise.

A lady leaving her house woke me up this morning.  I lay perfectly still, certain I shouldn't move lest she alert the authorities to a squatter in her driveway. I tidied up my space a little, grabbed some drive-thru (stress eating, really wasn't hungry that early with so little sleep), and headed back to Victoria.  

The broken gas gauge on Vanna only tells me FULL or EMPTY, and it flashed when I got back into town.  Seems like I just filled her up, so I'm not sure if I believe her communication style or not, but I'll check my records to see how many km that last tank should have lasted.  Vanna breaking down or lasting is my main concern.  She really wasn't taken care of, and even though driving was really smooth on the high-way, it'll be a while before I really trust her to carry me through.  

Quinn dealt pretty well.  The method of prayer held up so well that come morning, when I actually set up the litter box for her, she refused to acknowledge it... which stressed me out to no end.  When we got back to town, it was only on the walk between the car and the apartment that she started to freak out and try to get away.  But driving is pretty funny, cause she sits on my lap with her head against the window.

Driving buddies.
Probably gonna work out the kinks of window coverings and bed comfort tomorrow, and then Saturday will be my first official night of vandwelling.

Here goes nothing...