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Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 3: oh noes

This is my journal I wrote during the time I was homeless. It is broken up by week for easier reading. Feel free to read it on the web or download the complete .pdf version and print it for reading offline.

Week 131

Day 911 - 12/29 - Thoughtful day

Today has been a thoughtful and reflective day. It started last night with listening to one of Wil Wheaton's podcasts. In it he's saying goodbye to what was a big part of his life. I never knew this, but apparently he chose to leave his role in Star Trek. In his podcast he's reading from a book he wrote he says goodbye to that part of his life as he's selling a collectable figure of himself. He's finally (after something like 15 years) dealing with the emotions that he's been struggling with if he made the right choice or not. As he says goodbye his words and feelings somewhat mimic my own feelings saying goodbye to parts of my own life. A loss of self is really not something you can describe in words. It's the worst loss of all I think - except maybe compared to losing someone to cancer. You are losing a part of who you once were against your choice in pretty much every case. Until you are really ready and really able to move forward you can't ever let go of the pain that loss causes.

In hopes of my own moving forward I applied to a new job today - a job not in my state. On the last day of Saturday's class the teacher said maybe I need a leap of faith. So, that's what I took. Will it make a difference? I don't know. The job is in donations, specifically Child's Play. For those of you not familiar with it it's an organization that gets much needed toys and games to children who are sick in the hospital. I love kids, and I love gaming, so maybe this is the job Fate has planned for me. I guess we'll see. Where I am now I'm not happy - much more so emotionally than physically. But physically, there really isn't any reason for me to stay. The things I do and enjoy are all online really, or available anywhere, like movies and fast food places. So moving... I don't think that would be a big deal at all (emotionally). In fact, I think (baring things like weather I can't avoid or dangerous or scary neighborhoods) I think I'd welcome the change.

Day 912 - 12/30 - New Year's eve's eve

I don't really feel too sad today. It's odd considering how bad things are going compared to just 6 months ago at the end of book 2. Back then everything seemed positive. I was working a decent number of hours. I was getting out applications here and there. I was feeling positive about my classes. I was only weeks away from getting a gaming laptop. Now, at the end of the year, it's the opposite. I had to replace a dead car. While I got out an application yesterday it's been weeks since there have been any to apply to. School feels like it's just wasting my time. And now what little I've saved for the laptop that remains is going to need to be used to cover negative threats by the end of February, leaving me with only half of what the guild gave me.

I don't even know if the system I have is 100% stable anymore. While it seems so during non-gaming, when I'm playing my game it seems to always crash now. The last four times that I've played it's crashed every time. The most recent time, this morning, was within about 10 seconds of my logging in. I suppose there is a chance it's heat related, so I'll try to play while the system is cool to test that. But the more likely explanation is that the game's new expansion uses code that the netbook can't handle. Either way, it would be unsafe to continue after my month's time that I bought expires. I guess I've got about a week, maybe two, of time left. It just isn't safe to risk all my data to play when I only get about 10 FPS. So, what used to be the one game that I could actually play in order to be social also seems now an impossibility.

I'm warm for the moment, but only because the car is in the sun. Outside the car it's a chilly 50F here. While that may be a lot warmer than some of you readers are experiencing in your areas, here in the Bay Area that is an extremely cold afternoon. We Bay Area natives have no protection from this weather. We are dumb and don't have winter clothing for truly cold weather.

As always, I try to keep hope alive in my heart and mind, but the struggles and troubles of my life make it difficult.

Day 913 - 12/31 - Smelling fires

It's New Year's eve. For several days now in my wanderings I've smelt fires in fire places. It kind of smells like home. I suppose it's like that for many people. But I still have no home. All day when I was out and about I heard people wishing each other Happy New Year and talking about parties. But there are none for me. As the years before, I am spending tonight in ways I would not normally spend it, in places I wouldn't normally be, all the while wishing I were some day in the future when I'm not homeless and I have friends and love once more.

Time passes

I'm scared and sad now. There was an unexpected close call at a sanctuary, so I've moved to a different location. I hid my car in shadows, and put away all evidence of food and cloths into the "trunk". I'm hiding in the dark hoping I don't get discovered here, hoping too that if for some reason I do need to flee from this location that what are, no doubt, increased poliece patrols don't decide to target me for being a lone car on the road.

The wind is pretty fierce tonight. It presses on doors, and the leaves are pushed along the ground and sound like a monster scratching it's claws at the building.

I'm sure things will be fine in a few weeks, all back to homeless normal. But for now I am reminded that the sanctuaries are not entirely safe, even though I'd gotten into a routine and been able to avoid detection for a while now.

But now, at least for tonight, the fears of those early days are back. Was I discovered? Will patterns change and become unpredictable? Will I be pushed into cold, dark, unfamiliar places once more?

It's a reminder that I'm homeless. That I don't belong. That I have to hide and be among the shadoes. And even when I am, I'm not entirely safe.

I don't want to feel like this. I want someone to call me, say it will all be ok, and to "come home". But I won't get that call. I am alone. I am exiled. I have noone that will help me. I can not help myself. I am homeless and abandoned.

Day 914 - 1/1/11 - A new day

It's super late, like 1:45 in the morning. I spent much of the day at a person's house who I haven't seen in like 10 years. I had a pretty good time, but most of the people here were not ones I'd have normally hung out with. Much of the night there were little ones, so there was a lot of loud noise and running around. It was extremely distracting to me being among the adult people trying to play games.

None of them knew I was homeless save for the person who is my friend (who has invited me to stay, so I'm still at her place.) One was briefly talking about his divorce and how he's got three of the top mediators, one is supposedly top in the world, and how there are three different divorce settlements signed and that the reason it isn't finalized yet is that there is over a million dollar discrepancy between them. I can't imagine a world where the difference means you have multiple millions in assets total. That's such a completely different world from mine. Here I am at someone's friendly gathering. Me, the penniless sitar player, and two seats over someone with multiple millions in assets. It boggles my mind how just a tiny fraction of that would completely change my life.

I made an icon for my podcasts, should I wind up doing them. I still don't know everything that would be involved, but if people would be interested in hearing my ramblings and it would be entertaining, then why not. I expect though that things won't come together until after school starts, when I have the time to research it more.

I had more to talk about but the people are still up at now past 2, so my brain isn't working so good anymore, so I'll just say night for now.

Day 915 - 1/2 - "Back to where you was before"

It's pretty late in the evening. It's cold and raining off and on. I'm still living a life unchanged. While I did sleep in until about 10:30 and visit with my friend (until about noon) nothing else has changed. With a husband and a two-year-old she can't offer me shelter, though she seemed fairly disappointed at that realization as she sighed and her tone changed as I left.

Tomorrow things will be back to where I was before the holidays. I'm very much looking forward to sleeping in (on campus). The first time I'll have been able to sleep in for weeks (not counting last night, which we didn't sleep until nearly 3 AM and there were several distracting noises all night). I'm even looking forward to my regular work routine.

Last night was odd and difficult to explain in words. When we were talking about my sleeping there she thought it odd as I told her I was fine with the couch as a couch and to not worry about putting it like a bed because it was too much hassle. While the folding couch bed things are always a hassle it was more the fact that I knew it would be too unfamiliar to sleep on easily. As it was the unfamiliar comefort of cushions and flat surface took getting used to before falling asleep. In fact, when I first laid down it was a bit painful. My back creaked and groaned as years of being put into wrong positions slowly released enough tension to relax a little and straighten out a bit. Though I did start to return to normal sleep at C&H's, that was some 6 months ago. And, the stress of our falling out, well, that rapidly returned more stress and back pain than the stay cured.

It seems so strange that so many basic things seem so foreign to me. And in a way they are even scary because I've not had them for so long. Like just today I was driving around, peeking into homes as I often do these days. I passed a two story house. On the upper level a window had its drapes drawn open. I saw posters, nick-knacks, and part of a book shelf or bed. It seems so strange to me now to think about having a room, or a home, to put my stuff wherever I wanted, to decorate as I saw fit and desired. Such a commonplace thing. Such a simple idea. Yet it's one of those things people take for granted and have no idea how important it is to have your own space until those things are lost.

Day 916 - 1/3 - Altered routine

It was very nice to sleep in today. I slept and slept until about 11:30 when I was woken up by someone's thumpy stereo which was so loud it was echoing its vibrations through all three levels of the garage. Seriously? Are you that deaf that you have to have the music vibrating your and everyone else's car in what is likely a several hundred feet diameter in order to "hear" the music?

Since I'd slept so late I didn't do much. It was only a few hours until I left for work early because I was going to stop and do laundry on the way. Working on Monday is strange, but not completely unfamiliar. I think it was only about 6 months ago I had a Monday shift. Ah, those days of working three times a week, how very much my wallet misses you. Speaking of money I may be getting a bit extra a week to do some work for someone. I don't know if I'll wind up doing it though. I may not have the right skills. We'll see tomorrow. It's not much, about $30 more a week, but it would help me balance. And after balancing I could put the rest towards laptop savings.

In other altered routines I'm getting signs of odd patrol times at the current sanctuary. I may have to enter later than I have been by a few hours. What was starting to feel like a routine and was early enough that I could have at least a few hours of private time to play on my phone or listen to podcasts may now be lost, returning me to the overly bright lights and noise of public space. Of course, we can always hope things change for me soon and I get a home, and all my hiding, sneaking, and homelessness is gone. Wouldn't that be a nice New Years gift, eh?

As always I try and stay hopeful, but it becomes harder and harder with each passing day where nothing changes.

Day 917 - 1/4 - The unexpected haunting

I encountered another ghost today. One I think I talked about way back in the early days of year 1. There I was, sitting in the room at school that I spend most of my time at when an unusual person caught my eye. He was bald but fairly pale, what little of his shaved hairs you could see were gray and white. His charcoal gray and black handlebar mustache completed the look of an 1800s carnival showman. His vest, while newish, was the stuff not commonly worn for a good 20 years. After looking him over two or three more times as I ate my dinner I thought to myself that he looked like someone I once knew and haven't seen in 10 years. A someone who had turned old, tired, and about 75 pounds heavier. But I'd heard rumors since the last time I saw this person, rumors which would match this description.

I didn't approach him, nor did he approach me. Though I was wearing my rabb1t hat and could have easily been identified, I look very similar to the last time we saw each other some 10 years ago, something a person would easily dismiss as not the person they know because that's not normally possible. I very much doubt he noticed me.

I decided to not watch the remaining 50 minutes of my show that I'd started. I shut it down and quickly finished dinner and headed to the library. I don't think he noticed me as I left. He certainly didn't call out a hello.

We didn't part on bad terms or anything. It's not that I would have disliked chatting, but I found I had mixed feelings about an encounter. While there are many fond memories from our late childhood and early adulthood, some as clear as if they were yesterday, when last we were talking... well, I was doing all of the talking. We'd been growing apart for a number of years. He had been frequenting coffee shops and pubs more and more, neither of which I was interested in. Things I invited him to he stopped attending. Our mutual interests had dwindled to our shared memories and miniature games, which I didn't play because I could never afford them.

So, as I rushed to finish. I decided to leave the past in the past. It's been over 10 years and he's had lots of opportunity to find and talk to me. When we last spoke some five years ago I sent an email about 2-3 email pages long (probably 1.5 printed pages). He never replied, to any of it. It was then that I decided I was done trying. If the haunting continues it will be what it is but I will not seek him out. I will not look for him on these Monday evenings. I will not approach him. I will continue to look for something new. And even though many of the things that I desire I once had with him, I think he closed his heart and mind to those days long ago.

Maybe I haven't grown up. Maybe I'm stuck in my mid to late 20s because that was the last time I even remotely remember being happy with my life. I may never find new friends to do what I miss in my life, but I think some graves are better left undisturbed.

Week 132

Day 918 - 1/5 - Routines

I had a dream, two mornings ago I think. (I more often dream in the mornings once I'm at school then when hiding at night.) In the dream I was dating a beautiful younger girl. I think in the dream she was in her mid 20s. I was quite a bit younger than I am now in my later 20s (as I often am in my dreams.) We were dating and doing ok, but then I forget what happened, there was an event or a party, something where I revealed more of me and my history. After, we were more physically affectionate and I knew we were happily in love and she was ok with my being older and my experiences and what came with it (in terms of world timeline associations).

I've been thinking a lot about that, and about matches in general, and how I've longed for friends but more so a sweetie with similar habits to mine. I want to both be sleepy and wake up around the same time, be hungry around the same time, enjoy similar foods, enjoy similar shows and show watching habits, and to enjoy similar hobbies. I don't know if it's that I want these things so we have things in common to share or because I have my routine and I like it.

Most of all I miss my routine. I miss going to bed at a certain time. Waking up at a certain time. Showering shortly after. Watching my dinner time shows after I've made dinner. Having all the lights basically off when watching shows or movies. Watching my rented or newly bought movies on Saturday night... all of these and more.

I wonder if I will ever have friends or a sweetie in my life again. I know I would like to. Last night there was an extremely attractive girl in class. And while my mind more often wandered to how nice and small/fit she was, and how nice she would be to caress and snuggle, what seemed more important was how she wasn't a match as we discussed things more. She spent too much time doing this, she wasn't interested in that. The fact that she mentioned a boyfriend made all my thoughts moot. But I wonder... are these routines really important? I know lots of couples are just fine with different routines and different interests. But with me, with my ex-wife, these were what broke us up.

Being single and alone, I wonder how it is for others.

Day 919 - 1/6 - Nothing special but feeling a bit special

I guess today was ok. I have love and fame on one board I'm on, so that makes me feel like my help is appreciated. Class tonight went ok. First week, so it's all new. The day passed pretty quickly though. I didn't really do much of what I set out to do. I did a little bit of work for my friend. I can do it whenever, so that's good. I got kind of stuck and had to pause for clarification. It seems easy enough, so I should be fine to do it and get the $30 a week. That's something at least. It will buffer what would have been the devastation of the guild savings. That, plus a low estimate for my tax return should give me about $500 by February when I get the return. I estimated half what I got last year to be concervative. If I get what I got last year I'd be just about within reach of a laptop. We'll know more in a few weeks when I get the bits of info to do that.

That's all for now. Nothing really special today.

Day 920 - 1/7 - Waning focus

Didn't do much today. I got up pretty late, so I only had a few hours before I needed to go to work. I did some of the online work for my friend and that's about it. I guess it's good to have a busy day but it would be so nice if I could truly stop. If I could watch the movies I get on a regular screen without headphones. If I could eat a dinner that wasn't microwaved or already ready to eat. If I could shower in a private shower. So many basic everyday desires, yet seemingly so impossible for me to get.

Day 921 - 1/8 - The stupid bank

It's Saturday, which means there was no chance for real change or moving forward. In fact, just the opposite seems to have happened. Apparently my bank has a "federally mandated" policy of only allowing four withdrawals/transfers out of savings per month. They failed to inform me of this directly. As those of you know who have pretty much kept up to 'real time' know, I've needed to move savings money into checking to cover lost hours over the holiday. Silly me for doing so in the smallest amounts possible. Also, they seem to have a policy of only charging for overages once per quarter. So, apparently when I exceeded that number in November, which closed out some six weeks ago, they quietly snickered to themselves knowing they would charge me $12 at some point in the future. That date happened to fall within two days of when they closed out December, during which I also unknowingly exceeded my unstated number. So, in the past few days I've lost $24 in fees that I didn't know I could incur. Not a good day today as I argued with the bank manager about the stupidity of not alerting clients to this. Seriously, how hard would it be to send an alert email? 'You've used one of four possible withdrawals from savings this month.' Then, 'You've used two...' I have an 800 number to complain to, but supposedly being federal policy I likely will never see that money again.

Nothing much else to say really. The cute redhead is at the coffee shop near school again. She wasn't there for a while, but then neither was I. She seems sad all the time now though. I'd ask her what's up, but I'm not her friend. In fact, I myself had forgotten I flirted with her and gave her Easter candies way back in the day until I'd seen her a few times. I guess that must have been just a few months short of two years ago now? I don't think it was last Easter. But then time is passing so oddly for me lately it could have been a month ago.

I am still constantly so very sad. I know enough money would fix almost all of my problems. I could get a place to stay, a new desktop, update my movie collection, and eat and sleep right again. But it's the things "money can't buy" that I wonder about. Will I ever be at a job I'm happy at (that pays me enough)? Will it just be a place I'm working and earning money, or will it be more emotionally? Will I ever find love again? Will I ever have friends whose company I truly enjoy that I can play games and share my life with? Or will my life continue as it has, lonely, sad, and feeling that I'm only barely enjoying my hobbies because everything else about my life is unfulfilled.

I know I have the potential to be happy, truly completely happy and to share that with loved ones in my life... but I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be given that chance.

Day 922 - 1/9 - Life without choices

Today I feel like I'm living a life without choices. I went to buy chips to have with a sandwich and I asked myself what I wanted. I wanted Bugles and Sun Chips. Once upon a time I could have had them both. In fact, in a home it isn't uncommon for me to have two or even three snack food items at a time. I can choose according to my mood at the time. But no, due to space, due to not wanting to seem obviously homeless, due to not having good containers to store things in, I could only get one. The rest of my day seems similar. I don't have a choice in where to go. If I want to be warm I can go here or here, both are in public areas. If I want quiet I can go here or here, but then I don't have Internet. It's not like in a home. I can't have quiet and warmth and Internet and gaming or movies like I did once upon a time.

I don't know what else to say for today. Though I did likely help a not small number of people today updating my site with the new Intel stuff. But outside of that I feel like everyone else is better than me. I feel like I'm the only one failing and that it's so unusual noone wants to be around me, noone wants to truly help to work towards a true and long-lasting solution. And my heart and chest ache. I feel as if someone smashed through my breastbone and tore out my heart. There is a great emptiness where I used to have love, laughter, and hope. Now I don't feel that anymore. I only feel the ache of what should be, sadness about what is, and frustration about what is not.

Day 923 - 1/10 - Netbook could be dying

I'm noticing a growing trend with my netbook that could be an indication that it's dying. Back about a week ago it was blue-screening when I'd try to play my game. In the past few days at school it's had more and more trouble connecting online, even when I've been only about 5' from the router. And when it does finally get connected, or just in general, it can take forever to open a program, open a website, or change windows. I think it is, at least in part, dying. I guess I'm not surprised. I did really push it there for six or eight months with gaming. And too, it isn't really designed to be running as much as I do. There are probably some days where it's been up and running as long as 14 hours. Being a netbook it's really only designed for a handful of hours here and there. Thankfully it still seems ok for offline things, so I don't think the most critical parts will die yet. At least I hope not. I don't know what I'd do if I lost it completely. Sure, things are backed up often enough so I wouldn't really lose too much, but going back to having to borrow public systems all the time whenever I wanted to do anything (not counting very minor things I could do on my phone, like light board surfing or news reading)... I can't even imagine. I still remember how sad things were, how time consuming, how much of a pain it was to try and keep my site updated. Hopefully it won't fully die and I can keep using it until it's replaced with a real laptop.

Things moved a tiny bit forward in terms of my doing a podcast. I got some free software that got some decent reviews. It's not like the free Garageband software that you get with Apples, this free PC stuff seems woefully inadequate in comparison, but it will have to do for now. All the other software seems to be not free, and I'd really rather not pay for stuff just to get a few other features. Nothing seems to really be equivalent on the PC side. If I were rich I'd just get a small Apple laptop and set up a whole area for doing podcasts. You know, design a space physically and mentally. It's the kind of thing that needs it. It's in part why I've had so much trouble with my hobbies lately. Most hobbies require a physical, and more so, mental space to be in in order to be creative (or enjoy them). I just don't really have that while homeless. Times are few and far between when I feel truly comfortable, relaxed, and at ease to be in a creative mood. Still, I have to do what I can. I have no choice.

Day 924 - 1/11 - Preparing to prepare

Today didn't go as planned. Not really in a bad way, just in an 'I didn't do what I was expecting to do in the order I was expecting to' kind of way. I was expecting to get up, have lunch, relax a bit, find a place to use to do some podcasting stuff, and take a look at the software to get that all done. I didn't really do half of that. After I got up and had lunch I wasn't quite in a podcasting frame of mind, so I went to watch a show. But I got distracted and did board helping for over an hour first. By the time I finished that and got through my show it was pretty late, early evening even. I looked around the library and all the group rooms that I planned on potentially doing my podcast in were locked or busy. I was going to ask one of the friendly librarians I know to sneak me in, but the super cute one was the only one on duty I knew, and she was swamped with people every time I checked. I decided to look for a half dozen sound bites I want to use, but I spent over an hour trying to find one. So tonight was really just preparing to prepare.

After class I may still get a chance to try and start the podcast, but I expect I won't have enough time to do really much of anything. I'll probably only have about half an hour. If it were warmer I'd just do it in my car. That'd be a private, probably quiet, place to do it. I may try tonight, but I think there will be too much setting up and learning of the software to do it. It's been cold and raining today, so I expect it will be too cold to want to sit in the car.

I guess that's it for today, as well as this fail week. At least this week didn't really end any more sad than usual. I suppose that's something.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2011
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

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