Vanna's insides

Vanna's insides

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just a few little thoughts

Yes.  You are living in a van... and hard as you may try and avoid it... you will eventually hang an Ani Difranco poster on the ceiling.

Some common misconceptions about van living:
1.  Parallel parking with a cat is not easier than not parallel parking with a cat, despite what the myth will lead you to believe.  It's kind of like how having one kid is a lot of work and you assume that having a second kid will be twice as much work -- BUT it turns out to be 100x the work.  You know.  I assume.  I have a cat, after all, not two kids.  BUT I imagine parallel parking with a cat is SIMILAR in difficulty level to parallel parking with two kids.  Do you see what I'm getting at?

2.  Your life is not perfect.  HOWEVER it will probably be better than anyone else's that you know.  SO.  When you meet the unavoidable roadrage-y drivers at 9 in the morning who could potentially take your life over a parking space (one in which you have clearly signaled you are about to pull into in every single fashion that north American society has deemed necessary as well as a few that haven't been), let them have it.  They do not live in a van.  They do not have a life as high on the perfection scale as you.  You can at least cede the parking space.  Really, you could let them have the parking space every single day for the rest of their working life, greet them with balloons, a coffee, and a home made cake from your best friend's grandmother every single morning, and your life would still be exponentially better than theirs... So give them the parking space.  The lady in front of them is pulling out anyways.  You can park there.

3.  You'll think it's cute and kind of endearing in a clueless and naive kind of way the days you deem it unnecessary to spend at least 15-30 minutes on general upkeep/organization/cleaning of your space.  Then you'll go at least three days before you forget your resolve to never do such an idiotic thing again that increases the amount of time it takes to accomplish any task 10 fold.  Then you will (endearingly) repeat the process.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When You Live in a Van

When you live in a van...

You may be forced to slow down--because rushing in tight spaces kills any and all drive to stop and smell any flowers and often, that’s how spills happen.
You may one day forget to pack a bra when headed to the gym to get dressed, and you may realize: you prefer it that way.

Your homie/best friend/and resident lifepartner, Quinn, may grow bolder, attempting to venture beyond the van’s limits… And although this adds further stress to your life, you secretly cheer her bravery and uncageable spirit because she always comes back.
You may hurt yourself and your feet by squishing them into high heels for your job, feel sad, and be forced to be honest with yourself as you rub your battered sole/soul in the evening.

You may forget what having a bathroom to yourself feels like, do not fret.  Go to the gym on a Friday night…  Essentially, that will be the same thing.
You will lose any modesty you held around nudity and your body.  You will understand the appeal of going topless, you will applaud the naked bodies around you, all ages and shapes, that forgo the private change stalls for simplicity and ease’s sake.

You will earn your rest every single day.  You will become familiar with the night’s sounds, so much so that your earplugs which you’ve needed since University Residence will now become unnecessary.  You will scare your parents.  You will “BLOG” for the first time.  You will lie to employers…  For the first time, you will forget you own pepperspray.  The streets will no longer feel like dark threats, but homey, vacant rooms for rent.  You will stop explaining yourself, because it makes no difference, to you, whether you can or not.  You will not feel special, but you will feel honest.

You will worry your brothers, and maybe, write poems about them for the first time.  You will become diligent about litter box upkeep.  You will find and appreciate warmth like never before.  You will be surprised and confused by all the love being showered on you.  You will worry about the unfairness of your own luck and blessings.  You clap your hands in excitement on the first of every month when a rent cheque doesn't go through.  You will become an expert at purging and culling.  You will forget how important time to yourself is, and then?  You will remember.

You will turn down offers to sleep on other’s couches, you will feel incomplete when away from your own bed, you will go no where without you homie/bestfriend/resident life-partner, Quinn. You will be happiest in the moments without radio, ipods, phonecalls.  You will relinquish your data plan, feeling grateful when you find WiFi communities, and peaceful when you don’t.  You will turn off your phone a lot more.

You will time and time again wish your life on everyone you come in contact with.  You will write less, but breathe deeply more.  You will see the water daily.  Your love of blankets and cuddles will only increase.  You will consider it a blessing in disguise anytime you lose a superfluous thing like jewelry that was taking up space.  You will forget about meal “times” and will only follow your body and her needs.  You will get a phoneplan that lets you call your mom and best friends more.  You will cherish your surroundings, and build courage in exploring them.  You will see femininity and masculinity in everything and everyone.  Your own luckiness will scare and confuse you.  You will let go of many many things, and you will hold on to so many ones.

When you live in a van, you will live.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Parking Tickets and Late Night Creepers

Well, in the past two weeks I've managed to accumulate 10 (giver or take... actually no, literally 10) parking tickets.  In my life, I have never before received a parking ticket, but apparently Victoria is harsher than most cities (apparently parking infractions are the city's sole source of revenue), and I also began work this week and, it would seem, have lost the ability to correctly read and comply with city parking signs.

At first, the tickets were causing me distress, then I began to see them as a game being played between myself and the 'meter-readers,' and this was simply their way of saying 'hi.'

(Note to future van-dwellers: when your fiscally conservative father asks about van living and tickets, jokingly tell him you only received one valued at $20, then assure him you have since learned your lesson.)  (Note to future van-dwellers who start a blog and send their blog's address to their fathers: don't.) (I'm just kidding, Dad.  I've only received one ticket, valued at $20.  And I have absolutely learned my lesson.)

I have officially become a professional, who dwells in a van.  Every morning I rise, pee in my pail, head to the YMCA to shower, don my suit and heels, and head to my office.  So far?  It's going along swimmingly.

Working again has affected my sleeping patterns, I'm having trouble putting the job out of my mind at the end of the day, so I was pretty worn down this week.  Last night I slept for a minuscule 13 hours, and awoke in a state of bliss that was only amplified when I turned on my wipers to four tickets under the blade.  I was flattered that the city of Victoria parking violation enforcers cared so much for me.  Truly.  (Not truly.)


One other incident of note, one night I was tucked in, all cozy-like, and had just drifted off -- still in the zone of not quite full asleep -- when around 2am, some hooligans were coming home from the bars and (even though I was parked in a fairly residential neighborhood) were having some kind of altercation, and someone hit my 'bedroom' with some part of their body, causing a bang and me to jolt awake in a state of fear.  They had some sort of short conversation before running off.  Nothing of the like had happened before this night nor since (that was at least a week ago).


Last thing...
Quinn took off yesterday.  I was pretty concerned that that may be the end of her van-dwelling experience.  I was transporting some furniture for my office and left the door open by mistake in front of the building.  She scampered off and explored the bushes and grasslands of the apartment complex across the street.  I set out a bowl of cream and treats for her to coax her back, but I was mostly concerned because I didn't know what she would try and return to: I had to move the van to an appropriate parking space half a block away (lest give the parking bastards another point in the game) and she'd never been to my office before.

For over an hour I would catch glimpses of her across the street, and even the neighbors got involved in trying to win her over (I wished them luck in their endeavor).  But ultimately, I just sent out a prayer to the universe, because I had to get going to a meeting.  And, lo and behold, it started to rain and the little kitty's sensibilities were threatened causing her to race back to the van's awaiting open door to use her own facilities (opposed to squatting in the dirt and rain like any common stray)... where she then indulged in a dish of the finest whipping cream the local Indian Cuisine restaurant could provide.

Til next time,

Pam (Van Dweller)
Lady Quinn (Reluctant Van Dweller, but van-dweller none-the-less)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Victoria: A lady's main squeeze

Who's to say who chose whom...

Victoria (YYJ) has been romancing me all day, giving way more than I've given back. I knew she was my lady, but I guess now I know I'm hers as well...

I've had two rough nights in the van.  Terrible sleeps, lumpy bed, achey joints; so today, instead of finding a couch to crash on, I've spent the day re-wooing Vanna.  Getting re-acquainted with my girl.  I splurged at Value Village and bought a mattress from a pimped out chaise-lounge to even out the lumpy bits that have been causing so many painful nights/mornings/days for my hips and back.  I cleaned her top to bottom, inside and out, gave her a good vacuuming and scrubbing and am now feeling like I'm out of the doghouse for having abandoned her to the cold during that week of 'house-sitting.'

Something you'll notice once you take up van-dwelling?

You live every day.  

Please re-read that sentence ...  I can wait.

If you already have been, seriously: power to you.  I was not.  But now, I am...  And it's wonderful.

I took a nap under a rainbow today--just because I could.

Happy Valentines Day...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back At 'Er

So for the past week I've been sleeping in a friend's guestroom while they were out of town.  "Housesitting" is the official term, however really I've been hiding from the cold...

It's amazing how quickly one adjusts.  I'm feeling a lot of the apprehensions I was feeling initially (all over again, after just a week reprieve), and again am worrying about Quinn adjusting.  I'm writing this post at the community centre at midnight as my cellphone charges, then I'll get out and park and get some sleep.

It's so incredible, the traps of consumerism.  I hate it, and yet I'm still reluctant/scared/nervous about relinquishing it's grips on me.  All the crap I've accumulated that serves no purpose.  All the shitty 12 dollar rings, makeup, unnecessary toiletries.  It's all so MUCH.  There's just so much to DO that really just seem hellbent on distracting us from sunsets and parks and each other and moving our bodies.  I actually kept my bikini waxing kit... really?!

It's all so freaking non-nonsensical, and yet I'm scared of giving it all up.  Not fitting in, choosing not to play the part...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Mama Didn't Raise no Fool

So it's cold.  So I've decided to take my friends up on their offer to housesit for the week.  Because it's cold.  And I'm providing a valuable service.  Not because I'm a wuss and it's cold...  But seriously, it's really freaking cold.

But on my last night in the van for a week, I post this as one more reason for van living--

My office, bedroom, and kitchen view

Monday, February 3, 2014

Things to Remember...

YOU are not the odd one in the Y change rooms.  EVERYONE ELSE is strange for NOT being in their bathrobes and brushing their teeth at 7pm on a Monday.  And as you pop your zits and hear ladies whispering in a language you don't understand, feel safe with the assumption that they are marveling over your immaculate pores.

And as you are blogging on your laptop beside a lady blowdrying her hair because you need the free electricity, remember that your YMCA membership PAID for that blowdryer...


It can't be taught, I'm afraid...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

When People Think You're Pathetic...

They do extra special things for you.

Like bake you a 10lb bag of chocolate chip cookies.  And offer to run you a bath whenever you come over for tea.  AND offer to do your laundry...  I would have appreciated all these things JUST AS MUCH before vandwelling, but I continue to let people think I'm pathetic in order to take advantage of their incredible-ness.

Things you will need to live in a van:
- a van*

* negotiable, same experience can be had with a similar item

Things I've found useful to live in a van:
- baby wipes (for non-showers)
- sweaters
- more blankets than you brought
- a live cat AND a stuffed cat (for when you and the live cat are fighting)
- bungee cords (for innumerable things)
- portable propane mr. buddy heater with low oxygen sensor
- a network of couches to sleep on should you hate it
- a spare key for when the live cat locks you out of the van by walking on the autolock buttons during your fight over the vacuuming you just did

I'm sure this list will be added to over the course of this experience.  And hey, it's been over a week and still no regrets... So that's something, right?

Orange glow, bottom right?  The heater.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

People are Strange (and How to Deal With Them)

People are weird.  Those that love you will have a lot of trouble understanding the decision to live in a van and calling it a 'choice.'  In the same breath they will say, "How will you stay warm?" and "How will you keep your food cold?"


Tell them they only get to ask one of those questions.

They will say, "I can't believe you got rid of all your stuff!" followed immediately with "What if someone steals all your stuff??"

If you are female and alone, it will be much greater for people (parents/relatives) to understand, do not be frustrated by this.  Their intentions are good.  Be gentle with people, we all feel threatened by the unknown; it is even more threatening when it involves a young female loved one--accept people's concerns love in whatever manner it comes then, leave it behind you with a smile: you are cared for, and that's nice.

Next: drive to Sooke.  Sit by the water.  Take a nap when you get sleepy in the afternoon (I used a grocery store parking lot--parked in the sun).  Sip tea at a Serious Coffee; leave you laptop, book, and journal closed.  Drive back to Victoria and head directly to the community rec centre.  Sit in the hot tub for as long as feels good.  Let the jets massage your strained calf muscles from yesterday's run.  Smile at those around you: feel confident that they get it.  Have a steamed milk at Starbucks before bed.  Kiss your cat and invite her under the covers with you.  Sleep well, you've earned it.