Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gas budget?

From April 4th until 21st, I spent almost $84 on gas. I did have to do a bit of running around, but really, I think that's pretty realistic to maintain. Assuming I can scoot as much as I'd like I'll be spending no more than maybe $5/day on gas.

Vehicle budget: $180 insurance (both vehicles) + $150 gas (both vehicles) = $330/month.

This is already half of what I used to spend on rent.

Hmm. I think if I can keep out of the van once I'm not moving my shit around, it should be better.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On the corner of setback, setback, setback

I have a patio set of which I'm quite proud. The table is a heavy wrought iron, round, black table which I procured during my tenure as partner 1082825 at Starbucks #167. I didn't steal it, though. We had like sixteen of the fuckers, and they were heavy. Each one had four little nuts which held the base to the top. The thing is, a few of them were missing a nut or two. Cleverly, I consolidated the nuts until I had 15 good tables, and one table with no nuts whatsoever. I then took the table with no nuts, and brought it to my assistant manager, who was one of those crazy lifers who has put in over 10 years, but could never make manager because he was too dumb (which at Starbucks is one heck of an accomplishment!) I told him how I was going to go to Home Depot and get new nuts and just take a paid-out at the till. He took one look at the table, and said, "Throw it in the dumpster!"

Now, the dumpster was all the way across the strip mall. It was one of those gigantic dealies with the compactor built into it. It was a great place to hide and smoke or maybe make out with a colleague on shift. I took the table back there and put it next to the dumpster. After my shift, I drove by in the van and took the table.

My chairs are from JJ Bean on Commercial Drive. I didn't have to steal them though. They're all bent, so JJ (yes, that's actually a guy) said I could borrow them until such a time as he really really needed them.

This was the state of my set after my birthday party.

Part of my endeavour to store all my stuff includes lending people things they need so I don't have to pay to store everything. Scott has my red couch now. I took my patio set to the Enchanted House for the girls to enjoy. I was whizzing down Fraser, windows cranked down, rocking out to the Organ on this beautiful spring day, and it reminded me of when that record first came out, back when I first had the van, and back when I first stole that table. Back then, I worked for a coffee company where the sort of guy with the initiative to fix the table is ignored by the guy who hasn't done shit in 10 years except punch the clock and not fuck up bad enough to get fired. Now I work for a company where initiative gets you promoted three times in two years. Back then, I wanted to live in Vancouver so badly. Now I do. My life is way way better than it was back then.

I loaded the patio set onto the patio to surprise the girls. A guy honked at me in the alley and glared at me when he passed me, which distracted me, and I subsequently locked my keys in the van. Now I'm waiting for Scott to come back and bail me out with the second set of keys. The worst part is how the 4 way flashers are going.

Here's the patio set in place.

Here is Keri inspecting the set. At least I have somewhere awesome to hang out while I wait for Scott.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moving time.

I got paid on Friday. Instead of saving any money for rent, I spent $377 insuring my Vespa P200 for another five months.

This plays into my cost/benefit analysis as outlined in the first post on this here weblog (Mission Statement). See, now, I do have a van, and it is on the road now, but the way I look at it, if I'm going to live all the way on the other side of a giant mountain (at 52nd and Fraser), and if I'm possibly going to live other completely crazy places like North Vancouver for example, I'm not necessarily going to ride my bike everywhere. Since I'm pretty sure vans burn up crazy fossil fuels, and since my van costs $90/tank to fill up, I'm of the belief that if the weather is favourable, I might only need the van for moving shit around and sleeping in most of the time. I still have half of the tank left that I put in on April 5th or so. That's pretty good. $105/month for the van, and about $75/month for the scooter is less insurance than a lot of people pay for a nice new car. Now I have a backup if one of the two craps out on me and I need to get somewhere (not unlikely), and I'm saving crazy gas getting to work everyday. The scooter costs me maybe $5 every few days. When it runs, it's definitely cheaper than riding the bus. Right now it's running pretty rough when first started, and the turn signals and horn aren't working at all, but whatever.

The ladies of the Enchanted House (well three of them) called me again today, having procured another couch from Attic Treasures on Commercial Drive, and having already paid for same. Ironically, when they called, Ian and I were in the process of loading my couch into the van to bring it to Scott's house.

Scott has only one couch, and is into storing mine for me in his living room while I'm homeless/in Europe. The more stuff I can store for free the better. My house is getting more and more empty.

We moved that couch, and then I dropped Ian off and went to pick up the girls. There turned out to be four of them, because they were with a friend. Three stowed away in the back of the van.

Now, hopefully they have enough couches. Laryssa did the test sit again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Last night was my birthday party, but sort of the end of the house party too. The Enchanted House girls were representing in full force, taking over the stereo, and making it a dance party.

It's agreed here at the Backside House that it's officially time to move now that we've had the party. I'll be moving my stuff out of here and into storage over the next two weeks.

I took Keri and Amanda to pick up a couch they scored on Craigslist. It turns out that my hilarious van now has yet another problem. It has a perma-tape. The perma-tape is an interesting phenomenon resulting from ejection-failure. My mom used to have a Mazda GLC with a 90-minute perma-tape of two Neil Young albums back to back. My van seems to have taken a shine to a 90 minute tape of the first three Ramones LPs, and now doesn't want to give it back. As Keri pointed out, at least it's a really good tape. Incidentally, as I was rolling down Main Street with them explaining the transition from the Guelph House to the Colourful House to the Backside House, I included the days when my sister would come home every day and blast The Smiths, which was the C.D. that one could never get out of her ghetto blaster. It turns out Keri actually had a perma-tape of the same album (The Queen is Dead).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Laziness vs. the van

Yet another pitfall of the love/hate relationship with my van:

This morning, I was too lazy to move the recycling box out of the way of my van, so I ran into the garage instead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Neaves Road

Here is a screen cap. from Google Maps of what the Neaves Road yard looked like before the bulldozers came through.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Board and Tired

Well, I suppose at some point it will be necessary to introduce the van after which this weblog is named.

I never wanted to drive. I mean, don't get me wrong; I actually love to drive. I love going on tour, I love road trips, and I even didn't mind delivering pizzas a few years back. It's just that for environmental reasons, I think that one should strive to live a reasonable distance from one's work, and most places one wishes to go.

I own a modest van which was originally purchased for the purpose of going on band tours. Exactly two full tours and a couple short trips have occurred in the past six plus years. Now I have a van that has been parked outside, not being driven, for years. I'm comfortable with this lifestyle choice. Let's just say that although I've kept the miles off, the thing is pretty haggard. It also has some rather charming features, such as windshield wipers that never stop.

Now I could spin a yarn or five about the van, but I will leave that for another day. Suffice it to say that when one owns a vehicle, but considers said vehicle to be a low priority, or is simply poor, the result is inevitably poverty on wheels. My van definitely exemplifies this principle.

Case in point: Ever since I put it on the road with the thought that I might end up sleeping in it, I've noticed a rather ominous scrunchy sound whenever I've gone over a curb or speedbump or one of those barriers one isn't allowed to cross. Today, this sound was interrupting one of my favourite songs (Transistor Radio by the Methadones), so I got annoyed, and went to the rear passenger side to investigate:

As it turns out, my running board was bent so severely that the pointy corners were scraping the tire. Um...I think that's bad. I took a tire iron and pried it away maybe a couple inches. It didn't move much, but it stopped making the sound. Crisis averted, I guess.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Last night, I was too drunk to drive so I went to a house that's like 100 years old to sleep. I've decided for sure that I want to be in a place that old when I come back and look for somewhere to live. Places like that were something I loved about being in Ontario when I went there in 2002. I don't think I can come home from Europe feeling like living in another new build.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Phase I: The Enchanted House

This whole idea was kicked off at a time when I was looking for housing solutions, but I was dissatisfied with the options presented to me, and unsure why. The last place I looked was perfectly reasonable. The dudes were nice, the room was big, the price was the same as I was paying, but something was holding me back.

Enter: Amanda.

Amanda is a chatterbox, and artist, a vegan, and generally a kind person. She told me that I could stay in her solarium in a house with three solaria. She lives with three other women. They're artistic, they're tattooed, and they love communal, house-based, inclusive activity, such as pizza-making parties with crazy-toppings.

So basically, the first appealing idea that came along was sleeping in a room of windows where I can't sleep the day away because it's too bright, and where positive-minded girls won't let me waste my life because every day is a new adventure.

Yes please.

Here is the house:

Here is my solarium, one of three:

Here's an amazing photo stolen from Malloreigh of the yard:

I've campaigned to nickname it the Enchanted House, and I think that will be sticking.

Friday, April 10, 2009

On Home

Up until recently, I lived in a house that we used to call the Colourful House at 637 East 11th Avenue. For the first months of this house, and for the last months of this house, my sister lived with me, although she left for some three years to finish her fine arts degree in Halifax. One thing she said after only three months of living in the house was that it was the first place that seemed like a real home that she had lived since we had both lived in the Neaves Road house in Pitt Meadows. This was our childhood home of 14 years. This feeling remained, and played a factor in her returning to the house.

During my three plus years at the Colourful House, this was something I really appreciated. One of my excuses for not travelling over the past few years was that I really appreciated having the house, and I didn't want to give it up. It was cheap, it was central, and it was home.

The Neaves Road house, however, has continued to be a sacred place for me. We grew up in the farm lands, in an area where the Dutch had turned a bog into fertile dairy fields. Ten gigantic hazelnut trees were there, as well as a plum tree, two giant cedars, and a jungle of blackberry and elderberry bushes in which we would build secret hideouts.

The last time I was at the Neaves Road house was a night that I couldn't sleep. I took a drive at four in the morning with my then girlfriend to watch the sun come up in the fog in the spring and smell the smells I used to smell when I was there. We saw a coyote. That same day, I drove all the way to Kits and severed my ties with Starbucks, which might have been one of the best breakups I'd ever experienced. The Siren had a hold on me for quite a while, but things had gone more sour than Breakfast Blend.

Where I'm going with all this is that I've been evaluating what makes a house a home, and what makes not having a house unimportant. I've always been tied to material things. I'm not materialistic, per se, but I get a little sentimental when I sell a car in which I had a lot of good memories. When I move, it's always particularly heavy, and no move was worse than the one from the Neaves Road house.

I got a text from my sister yesterday which stated that our ex-neighbour had sent her an email saying that someone levelled the house (which is a little sad) and the entire yard (which is totally fucking heartbreaking). That yard, and those trees remained beautiful and sacred.

Here are the cell phone pictures my mom showed me today of the house, gone.

This is a song called West End Road by Teen Idols. I believe Phillip Hill wrote it. It always made me think of that house, and it came out shortly after I left there.

Drove past the old house today
And couldn't realize
Why my new friends couldn't see
The home that I saw with my eyes

Then I remembered that I hadn't
Been there in so long
And the things I'd seen
And things I'd done
Were memories that had gone

They'd just laugh and call me
The old sentimental fool
I know they're right
So I'll try to hide the pain
Because it breaks my
Heart to hear them say

Tear down the house on West End Road
It's been condemned a year and a day
Its paint is chipped, the bricks are old
The city says it's just in the way

Tear down the house on West End Road
It once was home to all of my dreams
Back when we were so young and bold
Has it really been so long
Since we fell apart at the seams

(Seems) Like just the other day
I saw it the first time
It needed paint, it needed work
It was run-down, but was mine

You wouldn't know it if you
Went and looked at it today
But that house hold the most
Treasured part of my past, in a way

Takamiming on the street.

My dad gave me his extra guitar for my birthday. "Here, if you're going to be homeless, you can't be playin' an electric guitar." Sage advice, to be certain.

He's playing a song.


Things I somehow can justify: Spending $500 on a phone.

Things I somehow can't justify: My paragraphs when posting from my $500 phone.

I guess you can't win them all.


Silly expense to log: $2.99 U.S. for an application to update my weblog from my phone. Now if I sleep in my van, my legions of fans will know.

Mission Statement.

I've grown to appreciate weblogs that exist for a specific time and purpose. Any previous endeavours into online publishing of a more personal nature have fallen by the wayside for a number of reasons. The specific purpose of this is to document a planned period of a little over four months in East Vancouver (or thereabouts) with no fixed address.

Recently, various turns of events have led to a parting of ways with roommates. I've usually not had much of a problem finding rad pads at which to live, but I have a little debt, and the thought of spending a very high percentage of my income on not-so-great housing solutions did not really tickle my fancy. The Olympics are coming, and gentrification is in full effect. The $650 apartments of two years ago are gone, or they cost $850 now. You have to move farther South or farther East to get the same place for the same money. Your apartment is shrinking right before your eyes.

Consider that since I've lived in Vancouver, my rent has increased 42%. Each of the three times I've moved, I've moved a little more East, starting at 300 West, and ending up (at least until May 1st) at 1200 East. The first place in which I resided is still there (and I'd love to know what it's worth these days), while the second has been knocked down along with six other houses to make condominiums ("The Block" is what the ads say they will be called.) and the third place has been purchased by the sort of people who would probably love to buy in Kitsilano, but simply can't afford it. Nice Honda Ridgeline, by the way.

My current house is a new-build duplex, and is also expensive as all get out compared to our last house. Of course, I'm sure it's a lot more expensive than whatever was standing there before.

Don't get me wrong. All this is progress. If people want to buy the city out from under me, that's really none of my business. Suffice it to say, I'm not stoked.

The next part of the equation is travel. I'm almost 30. I've never had a passport. This is a problem. It's hard to save to travel when one has debt, and when one has well over half one's income going towards basic bills and housing. While lamenting this situation, as well as the lack of housing solutions to Amanda from work, I was offered a temporary solution for May. I will be sleeping in a solarium for free.

This got me thinking. There are house-sits, there are sub-lets, and there are kind, kind, friends with couches. I've decided to be voluntarily "homeless" from May 1st to Mid September in order to clear some debt, and to save up to go to Europe. This weblog is to be a record of that, as well as a cost/benefit analysis of doing so. Basically, if I eat out enough times, and if I buy enough things for kind hosts, and if I spend enough money on the storage space, my van, and whatnot, I might not actually save that much money. Let's find out how well I'm really doing:

Former Expenses (which were almost guaranteed to go up if I found somewhere new to live):
Rent I've been paying: $638/month
Hydro I've been paying: $8/month
Terasen gas I've been paying: $25/month
Shaw Cable I've been paying: $19/month

Total costs reduced: $690/month

New Expenses directly linked to "homelessness":
Van Insurance: $105/month
Gas: Seems to be about $90/tank. Let's find out how much I use.
Storage Space: I haven't obtained one yet.