Saturday, August 5, 2017

TEST Post.  Just got back in after being locked out of this blog for several *years*!  Nothing to post right now, but at least me and the blog are still alive;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oich,....it's been exactly a year since my last post

Well, the blog is still up, it still seems to function, and hopefully, I will be either taking up where I left off, or  redoing it entirely.  I apologize for my blog-neglect - it's been on my mind to continue, and I haven't forgotten about it - I've just been super-distracted with work, life, and well, economnic survival in the "New Normal"  which is pretty taxing in it's own right.  Be well.  Hopefully, I'll get back on track in the very near future.

                                                                                           Scoob

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Little Beauty Amidst the Doom - 10 Year Old With Incredible Voice

So, You're Going to be Homeless - Part 3 - Hitting The Road (Continued)

   Once you've scoped out a couple of good places for the night, take advantage of the daylight hours to scope out a few Saturday day-time spots for the rest of today, and for next Saturday. There may be areas and facilities available on a Saturday, that may not be suitable or available on a Sunday. Take the rest of Saturday "off" - if it's a nice day, go check out your local public park, or beach - stretch your legs, do a little walking or jogging, clear your head, relax, and enjoy the day, the free time, the fresh air, and yes, even your newly-nomadic situation.  Think about what you are going to have for dinner tonight.  Will you eat out?  Get take-out?  Drive-through at a fast-food joint?  Get a cold hero for later?  Some snacks for later?  And think about what you're going to do for entertainment this evening - read by candlelight, Coleman-type lantern or battery operated light?  Perhaps rent a DVD and watch it on your portable player - hopefully, having had the foresight to use a car-adapter to charge it and your other small electronic devices while you were driving around earlier, running the engine *anyway*..

   It's Saturday evening, you're off from work tomorrow, and it's going to be your First Night in the van, so treat yourself tonight, indulge a little - it'll lift your spirits and make you more comfortable with your new situation, and bolster your confidence that you can definitely "do this", even for an extended period - *months*, NOT weeks - and that living in your van does not have to be a miserable, unhappy existence. To the contrary, with today's modern electronics and cellular and wi-fi networks, you not only can keep yourself entertained, but engaged and connected with others.  Granted, you're not in the best of situations right now, but it's only temporary (unless you LET it become permanent), but making the best of the situation you're in, will go a long way towards keeping up your morale, your sense of "normalcy' and your ability to function in, and later, transition back to the "normal" world.

  At this point, I want to touch on a cautionary note regarding electronic devices, car-chargers, inverters, and your van's battery. First and foremost, you do NOT want to have to call "Road Service" because you ran the battery down in your vehicle.  It can be expensive, inconvenient, embarrassing and even revealing(<--<< in a negative way) when you need to summon someone to come give you  jump, in the middle of nowhere, because you fscked-up and surfed the `Net too long, losing track of your vehicle's battery capacity in the interim.  The last thing you need, is to have to get someone to give you a jump.  Not only can it be expensive and seriously inconvenient, it also can, depending on where you are when that happens, bring unwanted attention upon you and your van, quite possibly, from the Wrong People.  If you can afford to spend $75 bucks or so, the ultimate protection against your needing anyone to come give you a jump, would be to pick up one of those portable, self-contained jump-thingies they sell at auto-parts stores - just make sure you buy one that can be charged off of your cigarette-lighter socket, and not just via battery-cable or home 110v AC. Having one of these, will allow you to get yourself out of jam, should you accidentally run your vehicle's battery too far down.

   Avoid using inverters (12v DC - to - 110v AC) as they can quickly drain your battery, and tend to put a substantial load on your alternator if you're running your vehicle to power whatever 110v device you happen to be using.  Much better to stick to electronic devices that were designed for low-voltage DC use to begin with.  In other words, don't try and run a small 110v AC TV in your van off an inverter.  Instead, get a TV that was made for battery/12v DC usage to begin with.  The same goes for computers, DVD players, ect.
Whatever you run, keep the volume to a minimum or use headphones - you want your parked van to look like,..well, a parked van, and not a residence. 

   Another caveat: as night approaches, you may feel like having a few beers - after all, it'll help you sleep and relax a bit,.especially since this is your first night as a mobile professional.  Totally understandable, IMHO, especially since you figure you're parked for the night and won't be driving anywhere until the morning.  But I would strongly advise against it for a couple of reasons:   you really DON'T know if you'll have to move on later that night or in the wee hours of the morning.   If a cop rousts you and tells you to move on, and you have enough alcohol in your system to the point where passing a breathalyzer is not a given, you would either have to take the chance and hope the cop doesn't notice you aren't quite sober, (or worse yet, DOES notice and simply waits until you get in the driver's seat and start the engine before making an arrest), *or* you'd have to admit you are probably still a bit too buzzed to drive safely, in which case the cop may decide to ticket you for having open containers of alcohol in your vehicle(if you didn't dispose of all the empties before hitting the sack).  Then, there is the matter of you driving around, late at night, half asleep and not quite sober, hoping to get to your alternate parking spot without getting pulled over by another cop,...and that's assuming you simply drove off after being told to move by the first cop.

   The last thing you need, is a DUI, a ticket for open containers, or worse, getting your vehicle impounded. It may be your new temporary residence, but in most cases, the law is not on your side.  In fact, the laws are stacked against you from the git go - from that little physical address problem, to your living in a non-RV vehicle, to issues of expectations of privacy while in public,...because the law views your van no different than any regular car or truck.  RVs, however, are a different matter.  IIRC, once an RV is "encamped" (parked for the night, evidenced by things such as having it's leveling jacks down, being plugged-in to electric, water hooked-up, ect, ect), it is perfectly legal to get soused and pile up empty beer cans or booze bottles inside, to your heart's content.  Additionally, one can make the argument that the RV *IS* one's HOME (as evidenced by a full-timer's RV insurance policy,(and therefor, subject to the same privacy protections and legal protection against searches without a warrant - at least, while encamped anyway), and probably prevail in court, should it ever come down to that.  The takeaway here is, realize you're vulnerable, and act accordingly - an ounce of prevention and all that.

   Of course, you could add a small travel-trailer to your "rig", and be in a better place, both legal-wise and comfort-wise, but that still won't do much for you as long as you rely on employing the guerrilla-parkings and boon docking method as your daily routine.  At some point, you want to secure yourself a more semi-permanent arrangement with at least some rudimentary electricity, and I'll get into that in a later chapter in this series, but for now, It's just you and your van against the world ;-)

   Now where were we? Oh, yeah,...ok...you turn-in for the night, and have a bit of beginner's luck - no one bothered you all night, and you actually got a decent night's sleep.  Between that little schwiggy of Nyquil, you took, the steady rythym of the traffic on the highway a half mile or so away and the realization that you don't have to worry about coming up with the rent next month, you were able to finally relax and drift off to sleep.  Not surprising, since the stress of the last couple of days had left you exhausted.  It's Sunday morning, and you head out for breakfast, choosing a place you know has a decent restroom so you can kill several birds with one stone. 

   This might be a good time, to review your intended paking spots for the night(keeping in mind that, come Monday morning, your surroundings could change considerably), and maybe do a dry-run to work, if you're not sure how long it will take you in the morning.  You might also want to pick up any "loose ends"-type stuff that you forgot or didn't realize you needed when you left your apartment that day.  A small mirror, a manual can-openener. any needed shaving supplies, candles, a few batteries, something to read in the evening (if you're so inclined), ect.  You might also wnt to pick up some inexpensive canned goods that you can eat cold, such as baked beans, ravioli, spam, tuna, fruit cocktail, pineapple slices, and small cans of chicken and ham.  For now, you'll want to avoid buying any perishables, or at least, any more perishables than you would consume in one sitting, or would consume before it goes bad.  Try to eat healthy - I know it's not easy, especially in your present circumstances, but try and avoid high-salt, high-fat, high-cholesterol types of food as much as you can.

   As Sunday draws to a close, and darkness starts to fall, decide wether you want to hit the shower at your gym club now, or wait until the morning, and set your alarm (wind-up clock or cellphone-alarm) accordingly. Heck, you might even actually hit the treadmill while you're there - not only does that help make you appear just another "normal" gym-club client, it also helps you keep fit and counterbalance some of the damage living in a cramped van and eating not-so-good take-out and canned food may be doing to your physique.  After you get cleaned up, you head for your Sunday night parking spot, not being able to remember that last time you were SO looking forward, to going to work in the morning.  The routine and normalcy will be good for you, and a welcome change from the previous 2 days.

   Next up:  Keeping Up Appearances

                                                                         Stay tuned,
                                                                           Scoob

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So, You're Going to be Homeless - Part 3 - Hitting The Road

   "Moving Day" is upon you, and rather then get into all that unpleasantness and public spectacle that occurs once you have Deputy Sheriffs aiding your egress, you've agreed to move out, and have spent the previous day moving the 90 or so percent of your stuff into your vehicle.  Morning has arrived - your last morning in a place with electricity, a microwave, heating and air conditioning, hot and cold running water, a toilet that flushes, and a shower.  You take advantage of these amenities one last time, grab your remaining belongings, and head out the door for the very last time.  You get in your vehicle, start it up, and after a brief pause, pull away from the curb with a deliberateness of someone heading off to work, as usual.  But it's Saturday.  And you don't work on weekends.  As you drive off, you look in the rear-view mirror, and watch, almost transfixed, as the place you once called "home", recedes in the distance.  By the time you turn the corner, it sinks in, that you really don't have any place to go right now.

   You drive down the familiar streets of a neighborhood that, up until a few minutes ago, you called yours for the past 3 years.  You get to the main road, and turn right, as you always do every weekday morning on your way to work.  It wasn't even subconscious, it was automatic.  As you drive down the main road, on a Saturday - something you rarely ever do as you've always enjoyed just staying home and relaxing on weekends - and for the moment, you're lost.  Like a GPS receiver that has missed a turn, your brain takes
a few moments to reorient itself to it's new position and heading.  You slept poorly last night.  No surprise there, so you pull into the gravel parking lot of an old,  free-standing deli, lock your vehicle, and go inside  In all the years you've lived in this town, you've never set foot in this deli, even though you passed it every day on your way to work - you`re not sure why - perhaps it's because you were always too frugal to pay $1.25 for a cup of coffee you could make at home for $.25 cents.  Once inside, you aren't surprised that no familiar faces are to be found.  Perhaps this is a Good Thing, you think to yourself, because right now, you wouldn't know what to say anyway, if you met anyone you knew.  Any casual conversation right now would be strained and awkward on your part.  You order a large coffee, pick up the newspaper for something to read, and head out back to your vehicle.

   You unlock it and get back in, just now really noticing how loaded up with stuff it is. You vow to further reduce your "Stuff I Really Want to Keep"-stockpile at your earliest opportunity.  As you sit, idly scanning the newspaper with no real intent or effort to actually read any of the news articles, you browse the real estate sections "Rooms" and "Apartments" with some interest, but see nothing, suitable or otherwise, in your price range.  You feel conflicting emotions - on the one hand, you feel relieved to be out of your apartment, and experience this weird sense of total calm,...almost serenity, although it likely more akin to the euphoria one experiences due to oxygen-deprivation, or nitrogen narcosis, rather than from anything good or healthy. In a way, you're glad it's Saturday so you have a couple of days to get yourself situated, and wrap your brain firmly around your new and strange situation, but on the other hand, you WISHED it was Monday morning, so you could just go to work, as usual, and escape, even if only for 8 brief hours, the ugliness of the outside world, or perhaps more accurately, your new place in it.

   As you finish up the last of the now luke-warm coffee, you try and take stock of your situation, but it's a little bit too early in the grieving process.  You've actually done pretty well so far - you skipped past denial and anger, and went right to acceptance.  You pull out of the parking lot, and again make a right turn onto the main road, perhaps subconsciously projecting your desire for some normalcy, by heading closer to your workplace.  Your next destination unknown to you beyond a vague idea of somewhere, anywhere, you can sit and park for an extended period of time without being bothered or bothering anyone by your presence.  You just want a couple of hours of extended, uninterrupted me-time, to formulate a real plan from the vague outline you had been rehearsing in your head for the past several weeks.

   The pity-party that had been setting up the place mats, plastic cutlery and drink cups, preparing for the festivities in your mind, is abruptly postponed, when you see a homeless man pushing a shopping cart.  As bad as your situation is, you realize some other folks are FAR worse off than you,  and you console yourself with the fact that you are far, far luckier than most.  Perhaps "luck" isn't the right word, because although you've fallen into homelessness, you haven't fallen too far, nor too hard.  You knew it was coming, and you prepared for this day the best you could with the resources you had.  You've maintained your driver's license, you car insurance, registration and inspection, your cell-phone, your PO box mailing address, and your appearance.  If you had to look for work, no one would suspect you were homeless, nor would anything unusual turn up were anyone to run background, credit or MVR checks on you - increasingly common in this age of high unemployment. 

   You knew your Honda Accord, while a great, reliable and economical vehicle, and a real asset under normal circumstances, was totally unsuitable as a residential abode-on-wheels.  Yes, you took a bath when you sold it, as the buyer, like a dog sensing fear, sensed your urgency and interpreted that as desperation.  Yes, you again took a bath when you bought your cargo van - a local contractor wanted it as well, but time was not on your side, so you offered more than it would normally have fetched.  But that's water under the bridge at this point - you're damn glad you bought it, and aren't facing a night of trying to sleep in the Accord.

   As you drive past a homeless man pushing a shopping cart, it dawns on you, that at least you have both transportation AND shelter - something the man pushing the shopping cart doesn't have.  For the first time in your formerly middle-class-cum-lower middle-class-cum-lower-class life, you say to yourself: "There, but for the grace of God, go I"  Everything is relative, and relative to the man pushing the shopping cart, you are almost rich, by comparison.  You have one other thing he(and, increasingly, many others) don't have: a JOB. Yes, your job sucks, you are underpaid, probably overworked, and undoubtedly, under appreciated.  It's little more than a subsistance job, but you have direct-deposit, and your pay, as paltry as it is, is reliably deposited into your checking account each week like clockwork.  It doesn't pay enough for you to keep a roof over your head at this time(obviously;), but it WILL keep you in food, gasoline, kerosene (for heat), propane(for cooking) with enough left over to pay your cellular bill and pay down your credit card debt.  In short, you won't freeze, starve, or default on your bills, as long as you continue to work, and continue to live in your vehicle..

   In addition to maintaining your driver's license, et al, you've also maintained your credit - or, at least, haven't trashed it yet.  Every piece of plastic in your wallet still works.  You always were the responsible kind of person that your parents raised, and although things were often tight, you managed to make at least the minimum payment plus a few bucks, every month without fail.  But your sense of responsibility, is also now your downfall - you had a medical issue last month, and wound up going to the ER, were admitted, and spent nearly a week in the hospital.  The bills totalled over $12k.  You didn't have health insurance, and you didn't make a lot of money to begin with.  You paid the radiology and doctor's fee, which was separate, with money you had in your checking account, leaving you with a little over $100 in your account.  Heck, you wouldn't even be getting a paycheck the next week, as your employer doesn't "do" sick days.  The $12k hospital bill, however - for 5 1/2 days of bad food, a cot, and some IV antibiotics - is another story.

  At this point, most "judgement-proof" folks would've walked away and skipped, but not you.  After meeting with the hospital's social services person, and being told your lofty $16k annual salary was too high to get any help from Medicaid, you make an offer-in-compromise of $7k, which the hospital agrees to accept as payment-in-full, provided you pay within 10 days.  It isn't for purely altruistic reasons nor solely a sense of honor that compels you to try and pay the bill - you worked long and hard to build up your credit, and didn't want to see it trashed by defaulting on a medical bill, if you could avoid it.  Settling the bill for less was, for you, simply being pragmatic.  Of course, skipping out entirely on all the bills would have been equally pragmatic in your case, but less honorable, so you chose to pay.

   .   You may be deep in debt, but your FICO still says otherwise.  If you had to rent a vehicle, you could.  If your vehicle broke down, and you had to get it fixed, and had to stay at a motel for a day or two while you waited, you could do that as well.  If you came across a suitable apartment complex that required decent credit, you wouldn't be automatically excluded.  You've also largely avoided scrapes with the Law, and outside of a couple of minor "youthful indiscretions" are pretty "clean", so renting in that conveniently-located and inexpensive mobile home park, not far from where you work, would not be off-limits to you if and when you were ready to re-join the ranks of the housed.  Unfortunately, the APRs on your credit cards went up, leaving you in the unenviable position of having to choose between paying the rent, or paying your credit card bills on time.  You tried doing both, choosing to be late on your rent rather than your credit cards, because your credit cards report to all 3 CRAs, and your landlord doesn't.  By the 2nd month, your balancing act lost it's balance, which is what brought you to the point where you are now.

   You continue down the main road, and, by now losing the battle with an irresistible urge to swing by your workplace. You know it's closed, but just want to get a fix on things, and scope out the surrounding areas.

   But once again, I digress. Sort-of.  The above, was a somewhat-intentional shift in writing-style.  "Somewhat" because I didn't plan it this way, and "intentional" in that once I saw where my proverbial digital quill-tip pen was taking me, I simply followed along for the ride.  The above accurately describes the psychological issues and feelings that a newly-homeless person might feel and experience, and also gives an example of how someone who is employed, had a home, and was "keepin' it together", could easily be pushed over the tipping point by one unfortunate event, one large, unexpected expense.  It happens every day here in the US, especially in these times.  If it isn't a medical bill that sends someone to defaultville, debt, bankruptcy or foreclosure, it's a job-loss.  The above also offers some insight into what is important to hold onto, and why.  It is useful information in novella-format.  I will now, pick up where I left off, but shift back to "how-to"-style

   Once you've had some time to adjust and come to terms with your new circumstances, it's time to scope out and survey the local area.  It's Saturday, now around noontime, and you want to drive round a bit and select a good place for your first night in the van, as well as at least one alternate spot in a different part of town, should your first selection turn out to be not as ideal as you thought.  And when you DO locate these spots, you AREN"T going to park there.  Not YET.  Not during the daytime.  You'll need to locate several other spots for daytime usage, and expect to move on and rotate those spots every 2-3 hours.  In my experience, your daytime and nighttime spots are *not* interchangeable.  The world is often a very different place in any one location, depending on whether it's normal weekday business hours, weekends, or at night. Spots that are suitable at night, may be extremely unsuitable during daylight hours, and vice versa. 

   When I was doing the "van-dweller"-thing, I found myself taking advantage of my intimate local knowledge of the area, and already had some foreknowledge of what places were likely to be deserted enough at night so that nobody would care or pay much notice to my van sitting all night in one spot, yet not SO deserted that my van would stick out like a sore thumb, and be noticeable or suspicious to those in the immediate area, nor to a passing patrol car.  It can be a delicate balance, at times.  Depending on your town/area, "hiding in plain sight" might be an option.  And, again, hiding in plain sight means, ONE(or more) place(s) for daytime usage, and ANOTHER place at NIGHT - you can probably get away with parking in the parking lot of an all-night supermarket, but don't push your luck and continue to stay there into a late Saturday or Sunday morning.  If the supermarket-manager or property-owner saw your van parked for 6 or 8 hours at night, he's probably not going to take much notice, figuring you're probably an overnight stock-person or other employee of the store,  This can work night OR day, but NOT *both*. Pick one or the other.  If your van is parked in that parking lot much more than 8 hours, *someone* is going to get suspicious, and if they don't confront or question you directly, they may call security or the local cops to check you out - in which case, your cover will be blown, permanently, night OR day.  So don't get lazy, complacent and "push it". Know ahead of time, develop a sense/intuition, of when it's time to move on.  Don't wait for someone else to make that decision for you!

   So why all the emphasis on "hiding", you might be asking?  SEVERAL reasons, actually:

   In many parts of the country, whether by State law, County codes or Town/Village ordinances, being homeless is technically illegal, and in some places, de facto criminalized - perhaps not overtly, perhaps not even intentionally (<----<< giving serious "benefit of the doubt"  here on THIS one), but, for the most part, just by BEING homeless, you are ALREADY a violator and probably, a "criminal", too, in many parts of the country.  Heck, even on a Federal level - you're technically-required to provide your true physical address when you apply for a PO Box - and technically-required to update that address within 10 days of it changing. Putting down "Homeless" is not an option, or at least, wasn't an option when I was "of no fixed address".  Ditto for your driver's license - in most(but not all) States, "Homeless" isn't an option.  Them there's that little matter of the "garaging address" you supplied to your auto insurance company, and that other little matter of your living in your vehicle - a usage you didn't sign on for with your auto insurance company, and one they wouldn't allow anyway.

   So you see, you're already technically-guilty of multiple violations and at least one misdemeanor(which is a "crime", and not a "violation"), before you even get in, and turn the ignition key.  The point is, you want to keep your little "address problem" to yourself, as much as and as long as you can, without creating new problems for yourself.  Here, an ounce of prevention (not being noticed in the FIRST place), is worth the proverbial pound of cure. If no questions are raised, none need be answered, which could be not only particularly-important(depending on who is doing the asking), it also avoids the need to get into a Catch-22 situation, where telling a member of any Authority the truth, could cause you almost as much trouble as getting caught lying to them.  Technically, in most parts of the country, you CAN'T win - the best you can do is to not lose.

  You DON'T need or want any scrutiny from anyone - not the locals, not the police, not the public-safety or code enforcement critters, and not social services.  You want to remain invisible - you don't need to get noticed by the local cops, rousted and told to move-on (at 2am, probably - Murphy's Law and all that), and you really don't want to get cited for vagrancy or trespassing, as these not only get you into a database you'd rather not be a part of, it can cost you money for fines, and cause you problems at work, when you have to take time off for a court appearance, and need to come up with some plausible explanation for your need for time off.  And if, for some reason, you're unable to pay the fine or make your appearance, this sort of thing can quickly snowball into a Kafka-esque nightmare from which escape will be difficult and expensive. Avoiding these unpleasantries will be your new Job #1 - right up there in priority with maintaining your paying job, which brings us to next potential cunundrum:

   Your job -  should you tell them, or let them find out, perhaps breaking the news to them slowly?  Or should you keep it a secret?  I'm afraid I can't answer that question for you - there's too many variables and too many unknowns for me to suggest you do one or the other.  Ultimately, only you can answer that question.  I would say it depends on several factors, with the pragmatist in me asking: "How likely are they to find out, ANYWAY?  And how SOON?"  While you can certainly keep up appearances for a VERY long time, and can probably explain-away your sudden acquisition of a cargo van and the sudden, permanent absence of your Honda Accord, there may be other factors in your town, workplace or general situation that will tend to reveal your Nomad-status to your employer and/or co-workers, eventually.  Or perhaps not.

   I would think that, in an industry where lower pay is more common, and where most of your co-workers, and perhaps even some middle-management, are routinely living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling with the economy, you'd be more likely to find a sympathetic and understanding environment, than you would be in a more upscale industry, where even the lower-paid employees get paid pretty well, all else being equal. I suppose it also depends on your relationship with your employer, how long you've been there, whether you do a good job, have been reliable, ect, ect.  A sympathetic employer might even let you keep your van parked at work after hours - perhaps even offer you an extension-cord and or use of the bathroom, but I wouldn't push it, nor would I take advantage of any such offers for very long, but that's just me. YMMV.

   Note: Part 3 - Hitting The Road, continues in the next installment

                                                                       Scoob

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Little Levity Amidst the Doom - Dog Dances the Merengue! ;-)

So, You're Going to be Homeless - Part 2 - Your Stuff

   While you're still "of a fixed address", now is a good time to go through all your possessions, sort out what you *NEED* to keep, followed by what you Really Want to Keep, followed by everything else.  Too often, I've seen people allow their possessions to own *them*, rather than the other way around.  To give you an example, I know a woman, who was on the verge of getting evicted - she was seriously short on cash, and, I suppose, "between jobs".  Rather than pay her rent for her little apartment, she chose to pay the rent on her storage unit, which was costing her a pretty penny every month.  I asked her if perhaps she could get rid of some of her excess stuff, and downgrade to a smaller and cheaper storage unit?   She said she couldn't. Curious as to why, I ask her "What do you have in there, that you need so much room?"  She said: "My good FURNITURE!"

........Furniture.

   Furniture that, as it turned out, would simply not fit in her little studio apartment.  Her work situation had actually started to deteriorate a year or so earlier, when she lost her decent-paying, decent-benefits job at the local hospital, and after finding a not-so-decent-paying, no-benefits job nearby, found she could no longer afford to stay in the 1 bedroom apartment that once held all her Good Furniture, and moved into a little studio, took what furniture would fit, and put the rest in storage. And while she could, in theory anyway, afford the rent on her studio apt, she couldn't really afford to pay the additional rent at the public-storage place, as well.  She was barely squeaking-by as it was, was unable to save any money for emergencies or other unexpected expenses, so inevitably, all it took was a small "bump" here and a minor "ding" there, to put her in the red, and start backsliding into debt.  When your weekly income *barely* covers your weekly expenses, it doesn't take much to start the debt-snowball rolling down the hill.

   Her attachment to her furniture was understandable...it was her mother's, it was old-world quality, and had been in the family since she was born, her mother long deceased.  It obviously had a lot of sentimental value for this woman - perhaps reminding her of better times and the happier days of her childhood.  But there comes a time, IMHO, where such an attachment to an inanimate object becomes unhealthy.  Had this woman come to terms with her inability to keep this furniture in storage for such a long period, and made peace with the fact that it simply had to go, she would not now be looking at possibly having to sneak into the storage center at night, and join her beloved furniture, just to have some shelter.

   This is a case of where one's possessions have come to own them.  When you are treading water, financially-speaking, you don't need possessions that serve only as concrete life-preservers, pulling you down into the sea of red ink, and causing you to drown.   There comes a time when you simply have to let go, when you have to make some tough decisions, and prioritize the disposition of your possessions.  You are about to be homeless, you are probably broke or close to it, and have limited space in your vehicle.  Now, I don't know what eventually happened to that woman, but failing some rapid improvement in her financial situation, my guess is, her furniture was eventually sold at auction, to some unknown bidder, bidding on a lot of items he can't sift through, while hoping to turn a profit from his haul.  That's a rather ignominious end for some very special and beloved furniture.  In retrospect, she would have been better off on more than one level, by gifting this furniture to a good friend - and in doing so, would`ve saved herself from eviction.

   You, dear reader, will likely have to make some hard choices as well, as you transition towards vehicular living. 

   First things first - your important papers, documents, plastic, et al.  If you're already employed, I suggest you keep your driver's license, registration, credit and debit cards in your wallet, and put the rest aside for now.  If you are in job-hunting mode, take your SS card, and either your passport or your birth certificate, or your naturalization certificate, or green card, and keep them in a safe but accessible place - you'll probably need these items to prove your citizenship or provide proof that you are legally allowed to work in the US. It ain't like it used to be - blonde hair, blue eyes and a heavy Brooklyn accent is no longer sufficient to erase any doubts about your eligibility to work in the US.

   All the REST of your important papers and documents, you really should put into a safe-deposit box at your local bank.  I don't know how much that costs these days, but leaving this stuff, particularly those "irreplaceable" documents in your vehicle is tempting fate. If you don't want to go the safe-deposit box route, at least put those documents in one of those small, inexpensive, fire-resistant boxes that open from the top, and consider *leaving* it UNLOCKED. This way if someone breaks into your vehicle while you're away, they'll grab the steel box, thinking this must be your stash of valuables, only to have the cover open right up as they grab it, revealing only useless(to THEM) papers.  Chances are they'll simply leave a mess of papers on your floor, but the important thing is they LEAVE them.  If the box was locked, your papers would've been GONE - next week's trash in someone else's dumpster.  So leave it unlocked - you still get the benefit of the fire-resistance, as long as the box sits level with it's lid down.  Keep your plastic ON YOU at all times, and hide your valuables.  In fact, now is a good time for you to take any gold jewelry you aren't ferociously attached-to, and turn it into much needed cash.  Gold prices are at an all time high, and you obviously could really use the cash.  That much less to lose or have stolen, too - another benefit of selling your jewelry - you're less of  target.

   Next, it's time to sort out the stuff that you Really Want to Keep.  In a serious pinch, ALL of these items should be seen as expendable and optional.  You may have to get rid of a couple of things due to lack of space, but hopefully, you won't have to make too many compromises and sacrifices.  Take stock of these items.  Determine what you do or really don't have room for.  All else being equal, if you have to leave some stuff out, jettison the largest and bulkiest stuff FIRST. If you find you HAVE to leave an item of sentimental value, don't beat yourself up over it.  You simply can't help it, and at the end of the day, whatever it is, it's an inanimate object - it doesn't have feelings.

   Once you've sorted out what you're going to take with you, take stock of what's left.  are there any items someone else may find valuable or desirable?  If so, put it up on your local Craigslist with a photo if at all possible, ask a reasonable price, "nnegotiable", of course.  And using the time you have left at your soon-to-be ex-residence, and turn it into some cash.  Give away what you can't sell.  Donate to the thrift shop. Put a "curb alert" on Craigslist and then put the excess stuff outside free for the taking.  Anything is preferable to taking up space in a landfill, which does NO one any good.

   Keep your bedding, comforter, pillow, et al, a reasonable amount of extra clothes, and don't forget to take any of your non-perishable food items with you when you leave, as well as a manual can-opener.  If you have some cookware, take that as well, even if you can't use it right away.  Take your favorite electronics, too, even if you can`t use them right away.   If you have room, and the vehicle doesn't already have a microwave or little fridge, and you happen to own the micro and dorm-sized fridge in your room or apt, take them along as well. You can simply use them for extra storage until you can hook up with some electricity.  Got a fan?  Or a small AC?  If you have the extra room, take it with you.  You may not be able to use it now, but when you finally get some juice, it's gonna be a Great Day!  And you won't have to go out and re-buy what you already own.  ust don't cram the vehicle with so much stuff that you can`t even turn around inside, without bumping into something.  You need room for YOU, as well!  Also, don't forget to take your razor, shaving cream, liquid soap, shampoo, deodorant, and the like.  You'll soon be needing them and it would be a shame to have to go out and re-buy this stuff when doing so was avoidable.

   Flashlight, candles, matches, ashtray(if you smoke), plastic drinking cups, paper plates, plastic cutlery, napkins, paper towels, salt, pepper, spices, ect, ect will all be stuff you'll need, and will be glad to have on-hand when you DO need them.  Also, don't forget BOTH the 110v AND car-chargers for all your electronics!  Any Tupperware stuff is good, too.  Don't leave it behind. As (aHEM), "Moving Day" approaches, have all the stuff you don't use daily, already packed away into either suitcases, knapsacks, hefty-bags, or cardboard boxes, so you won't forget anything.  Keep the stuff you use everyday, out in one place, until it's time to go.

                  Stay tuned for Part 3 - Hitting The Road ;-)  Thanks for reading.
                                                                 Scoob