April 8, 2017
- As I mentioned last week, I'll be traveling this week and the next few weeks and won't be able to post links to articles I find
interesting related to current events and/or women's health. My travel is going to be a bit... unconventional, and friends have
asked I blog about it, so here is part 1 of a daily journal I've been keeping. The "experiment" concludes April 11th and then
I'll be taking a more conventional vacation and try to wrap up my thoughts on the experiment, so let me know if there are any
questions you have that are so far unanswered. I do intend to look back at this from a lens that takes into account my health,
race, and gender when I conclude, but day to day I've been a bit more focused on just what I'm experiencing rather than the
privileges which enable my ability to do this:
April 3, 2017
- This is a terrible idea. As I sit in an airport preparing to embark on a bit of a living experiment with
myself as a test subject, I can't shake the notion that I've underprepared for what I'm about to do and that several portions of
this experiment are gravely ill-considered. I guess I'll find out soon enough.
Basically for the next week, I'm going to be conducting an affordable living experiment. I won't be living on the street per se,
and I've actually very carefully considered where I intend to spend each night. Where I'm sleeping is not, however, the type of
place one might expect. I'll be sleeping for six nights on a bus. More specifically I'll be spending each night on a
long-distance bus ride traveling between Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and/or San Francisco. This will be my only opportunity to
sleep, in theory.
It's part of a larger experiment to see how much I can actually reign in my finances. Bus tickets between these cities can
be purchased for as low as $1, and with housing costs in the US typically costing at least five figures annually, the idea of
reducing my housing costs to less than a tenth of this figure has very high appeal. The problems with this are obvious. I can
take very limited things with me. The sleeping will be uncomfortable. And even if this does solve my sleeping situation,
there are still other things on which I spend my finances that I will need to address.
But for now, I've carefully mapped out locations where I can potentially get food, internet, electricity, and bathe all for
free or relatively low costs, and test the viability of such a living situation. I've packed a week's worth of clothing into
a backpack, and do intend to try to do laundry at the end of the week to test that portion of the plan as well. Tomorrow
will probably be a better gauge of how much sleep I can manage to get and how well I function on it. In the meantime, all
I can say is that this is a terrible idea.
April 4, 2017
- Today the experiment truly begins. I arrived in Los Angeles at 6:30am after spending 9 hours on a plane
and 5 and a half hours on a bus. The bus ride was much longer than I anticipated or it really should have been, but with all
that opportunity to sleep, I feel like I got a decent amount of rest yesterday.
After getting off the bus I made my way towards the University of Southern California campus. Security has ramped up after a few
recent incidents on campus with outsiders, but at least during the day, the campus is still relatively open and since my time as
a student certain things, such as which bathrooms are both easily accessible and vacant, have remained the same. I make a point
of changing clothes in such a bathroom, carefully selecting a USC T-shirt to "blend in." Other than using deodorent I don't do
much about my hygene. I don't think an opportunity to shower will present itself for a couple more days. Hopefully, I'm not too
smelly, though I have been walking a lot.
After changing I make my way to one of the libraries, hoping I still look youthful enough to pass as a graduate student, and do
some writing, including this blog. The library, like the campus itself, remains relatively open during the day, and is probably
considerably safer than the numerous public libraries I had also considered.
It's now 1:30pm and I still haven't eaten anything since the snacks on the plane yesterday, so my next quest will be dealing with
that situation and making my way back to the bus terminal. I want to wait until at least 3pm though in the hopes of avoiding a
sunburn. I'll also be swinging past a 24-hour gym about potentially gaining membership for the week. The plan had always been
for a longer duration trip to use a gym for showering, however, getting a membership just for a week seemed like a waste of money
and for much of this trip I will instead be relying on friends I have in the area.
This evening I head to San Francisco. Hopefully I sleep well and get some food.
April 5, 2017
- I think I vastly underestimated the importance of hydration yesterday, and spent most of the night
salavating for water. Otherwise my quest for extremely cheap food went pretty well, though I did take advantage of a generous
Ben and Jerry's franchise hosting a free ice cream day promotion that netted me three free ice cream cones. Or rather one free
ice cream cone and two sorbet cones as I reasoned that the sorbet would be moderately better for me than ice cream, especially as
my discovery of this promotion coincided with a desperate and utterly futile search for a public drinking fountain, forcing me to
ultimately take water from a sink in a public restroom. But hey, free ice cream, even if such situations are not something upon
which I can regularly rely.
Otherwise the food I consumed yesterday consisted of an entire loaf of bread purchased for $0.87 and ten chicken nuggets from
Burger King (with plenty of ketchup and barbecue sauce) taking advantage of their 10 piece $1.49 deal which worked out to $1.62
with Los Angeles's 9 percent sales tax. This means I spent a total of $2.49 on food yesterday, keeping my cost below the $3
threshold I was hoping not to cross, though I had been willing to go up to $5 had I been unable to find suitable food
Despite my announcement of intentions to seek out a gym, I didn't actually go, and it's been quite some time since I worked out as
the biggest problems I'm now facing are due to being incredibly sore, mostly from walking, rather than particularly tied to my
sleeping arrangements and the hydration situation. A travel mug to fill with water is looking like an absolute necessity were I
to pursue this in the future. In the meantime I boarded the bus from Los Angeles to San Francisco incredibly thirsty and luckily
stumbled upon a Target with a drinking fountain not far from where the bus dropped me off.
I then headed to the San Francisco Public Library to write this blog and work on the comic. The library's open until 8 today
which will make it a perfect spot to camp as a wait for the bus taking me back to Los Angeles, though I do wish I was more
familiar with the city to explore other areas as the library would not be sustainable on the rare federal holiday when it closes.
It does, however,provide many amenities that make it a perfect place to camp for now and it even has a public drinking fountain
April 6, 2017
- So after my last entry there was some kind of incident on Market Street near the library as I went to get
food, so I'm a little uncertain of staying in the area after dark, but not sure if I'm just being paranoid. Regardless I made my
way back towards the bus pick-up location after meeting briefly with my friend, H., who lives in San Francisco and grabbing the
same meal as yesterday, minus the ice cream and plus some additional costs due to being in San Francisco instead of Los Angeles.
Securing food for less than $3 a day is looking manageable for now, though I think I may "splurge" on a buffet when I get back to
Meanwhile, If I was beginning to think this plan might be viable yesterday, that was somewhat dashed today as I've been extremely
tired and have caught myself dozing off a few times already today. I think part of the reason may be that this was the first
night I couldn't claim a double seat on the bus, and thus didn't get as restful a sleep as other nights. Furthermore, the rush of
excitement over this plan may also be wearing off, making me more tired.
In truth, perhaps the biggest problem may be that there just isn't much to do in the area immediately surrounding union station
and I'm not sure whipping out my computer in an area where I'm uncertain about the potential of robbery is a good idea, leaving
me with nothing to do but wait until the area gets brighter and more populated. Addressing boredom had been a concern of mine,
but for the most part as long as I had access to my computer and wi-fi, which has been much easier to come by than I first thought
it may be, it hasn't been too difficult to stave off boredom.
Fortunately after waiting a few hours I met up with met up with my friend K. and gained the ability to finally take a shower at
her home and also spend some time with her husband and son. Dealing with hygene has been an interesting experience. Simply
changing into clean clothes each day feels fantastic and the shower was much needed and felt even better. I did bring my own
soap, but used their shampoo. In the future the plan would be to raid hotel rooms weekly as I spend the one night a week in
Vegas just to guarantee myself a decent night's sleep and generally recuperate, but I'll discuss that more next week when I get
to it. It adds significant cost to my expenses, but I think the benefits are too important to ignore.
Sorry if this entry feels a bit scattered. Between my lack of sleep and spending significant time with friends my focus for
today's entry is a bit diminished and I haven't accomplished nearly as much work as other days. But tomorrow I return to San
Francisco and may once again be spending significant time at the library which may afford me the ability to write a more focused
April 7, 2017
- My bus was delayed about 20 minutes, but I don't think the delay was significant enough to warrant any
form of compensation, even though past experiences on busses led me to believe this could happen frequently enough to potentially
allow me to "game" the system to some extent. I'm not sure this delay allowed me to get any more sleep, but I am feeling much
more rested today than yesterday, even though I do not feel I slept all that well last night.
Yesterday I departed from my usual meal a bit and had a costco hotdog which came with a drink that I refilled multiple times for
$1.50. I also had a banana and another loaf of bread and once again remained under $3. The bread is getting increasingly
unappealing though but I think I'm resigned to have it for two more days. I think I'd probably switch it up some with a can of
tuna or beans if I did this again, but alas, much like a travel mug, I don't have a can opener (and too cheap to buy one of those
luxurious cans that comes with a pull tab).
Today I'm back in San Francisco and had to wait until noon for the library to open. But I'll probably just stay here for the
rest of the day working until I swing back to the Safeway by the bus stop and grab yet another loaf of bread (I already had my
daily chicken nuggets and they were frustratingly skimpy on the sauce (i'm supposed to get two, it says so on the advert)).
San Francisco's also a bit cold today and that brings to mind questions about how to deal with weather. For this week I think
I've been and (knock on wood) will continue to be relatively lucky, but I do wonder what it would mean I should pack were I ever
to do this long term. Questions to consider at a later time perhaps. For now, it looks like it rained overnight and I somehow
missed getting stuck in it, giving me another reason to appreciate my bus's delay.
Next week: the conclusion of this "experiment."