sketchy times

amber and i graduated with our super nifty certificates of achievement (b.a., english) and launched ourselves into a brand new environment full of wonderful opportunities for learning, growth and personal development - homelessness.

we were actually a little more houseless than homeless. for almost two months we had friends, family, connections, a car and one and a half laptop computers...  just not enough money for an apartment. we were also cows.

undeterred by our houselessness, we cows smile for the
camera with a famous plastic horsey.

if you'll recall part 1 of this story, amber and i had full-time jobs with a company that had just shifted our start date forward one month.

with no current job and no place to live, things changed very rapidly for us. we stopped thinking about papers that were due next week, and started thinking about where we were going to sleep that night. suddenly, there was no need to go clean the bathroom... instead we spent our time looking for a place to shower.

but with the lack of resources came a certain abundance of liberty. we were free to do whatever we wanted. the world was our sidewalk; here's what we did with it:

what to do with your houseless self (5 easy steps)

1. pick up some odd jobs
even for folks not paying rent someplace, food is still a need. it weighs heavily on the wallet. coffee, beer and gas can also be expensive. but, not not worry, you can offset these costs by working odd jobs. working on a job-to-job basis can be difficult to get the hang of. a couple of hints:

- craigslist.org has a site for most cities in the states. you can often pick up temporary gigs that require little to no experience in the general labor section under jobs. a more helpful, but perhaps less obvious place to look is the gigs section just below that. craigslist is extremely easy to navigate. the one drawback is that a large percentage of posts on there are scams; be careful.

- if you have attended any university or community college, they are likely to have a career center and a corresponding jobs site. i have sometimes picked up jobs from the lbcc job service in albany and uo joblink in eugene. many of these do not require special training or a college degree.

farm, yard work and weeding gardens kept us busy and sustained our finances while we waited for our brand new full-time jobs to start. sometimes we would...

2. crash with friends
in areas that you know people, staying on a friend's couch or floor at night can be a great way to get out of the weather and into some great conversations. amber and i did this on numerous occasions, though you may find that it's significantly easier to pull off in areas where you have lots of friends and/or family.

crashing with friends is also a great way to get to use a kitchen when you're houseless. you can get some grocery store food and cook a big meal for you and your hosts. suddenly, everyone's happy and your visit has been a help rather than a potential annoyance. make sure you do the dishes.

3. rice and beans
for home cooks like amber and i, the transition to lacking access to a kitchen was kind of difficult. living in a car, we'd often have to resort to eating prepared food from a fast food restaurant. that can be pretty nasty, and surprisingly expensive. to get around this, we started getting rice and beans from baja fresh.

baja fresh offers rice and beans for $2 in many u.s. locations. when you add in complimentary chips and free salsa, you have enough food for 2-3 people at .75-$1 apiece. and we were full. this was a huge help.

4. become a carnie!
back to the getting-jobs-on-craigslist thing: amber and i were digging through sketchy little cl postings, and found a brilliant opportunity to join the carnival! she sold ride tickets and i handed out snow cones to little children.

working at the fair is a great way to make some cash and stay on your feet during houselessness adventures, but beware: there is a strong possibility that they will try to cheat you.

inconclusive proof that carnival fixtures are, indeed,
strung together with paper clips.

5. sleep at community college
folks who are staying in rural or suburban areas have the opportunity of sleeping at their local community college. amber and i found this extremely entertaining. we had a safe and inexpensive (free) place to sleep, free and uncrowded showers (rec building), and plenty of peace and quiet - a nice contrast from the bustle of the streets. we even had 24-hour free internet access (courtesy of a friend with a student login).

sleeping at community college is a great way to have a safe base camp from which to venture into the world. thanks to recent budget cuts, the security team at your local community college may be too short-staffed to worry about courteous folk with bachelor's degrees sleeping in their woods and lawns. i would highly recommend this option for anyone who pays taxes.

so, there you have it. you now have some idea of what it takes to stay on your feet when you have no steady place to live. it's important to me to stay houseless, and not cross the line into homelessness... but that's another story. on to bigger and better things!

as ever,


p.s. this may not be true, but definitely it's definitely classic:


  1. JOELLLL!!

    I didn't know that you guys were houseless for a while. Ugh, I feel so ignorant and i really need to keep up with this blog more. Perhaps that's why you haven't picked up when I called!!

    And this is what you meant about the carnival thing, too? Well, dang.

    I'll do better to keep up with the lowercase blog.

    Take care, both of you.


    P.S. I am a fan of the cow picture.

  2. @rachel:

    "need to keep up with this blog more. Perhaps that's why you haven't picked up when I called!!"

    - definitely not! not your fault at all. i am just not the greatest at deep long-distance friendships. i am trying to get better. til then, you are welcome to move to oregon : )

    "Well, dang."

    - yep.

    "I am a fan of the cow picture."

    - me too!