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Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 5: Life online

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 251

Day 1751 - 4/17 - So very very tired

Today I am so very extremely tired. In the morning I took a look at the school stuff. No update on my last assignment nor quiz have come in. I did take a look at the next assignment. While it isn't due for 2.5 weeks I fear it is still too complicated for me to do quickly. I may indeed need to drop the class and retake the one before it in its new form, or maybe over the summer try and find some kind of information on what I'm stuck on that re-explains it. What is in the book and found by online searches doesn't help me at all. I fear I may need a re-introduction to those concepts. For now I'll still just wait and see if she says anything. I have until Sunday to drop, so there is class tomorrow and Friday after to see if anything is said. With her lack of helpful comments so far though I doubt she will say anything helpful in the future. And that really baffles me the most. On the very first day she had us fill out a survey of how strong and weak we felt on various subjects, and I specifically noted I'm not very good with this exact concept. So why she ignored my explanations of my weaknesses, why she insulted me, why she didn't instead say, 'try reviewing x to y pages in chapter z', why she didn't seem to look at that survey at all... it's all beyond me. Again, if this were a masters level course, sure, but reviewing and fixing hundreds of lines of code a week in an intro class... no. That doesn't seem right.

I guess my day was ok other than being stressed about that all day. I am extremely exhausted and was half asleep most of the day. I think at a few points when my game was paused I actually was asleep for a few seconds here and there.

Well... nothing really I can do about things but hope that tomorrow is a better day.

Day 1752 - 4/18 - No better off

Today I was sad. Class in the morning was interesting. Everything that she talked about I got. I had heard most of it before. However, I got a 50% on the quiz. Which is, obviously, terrible. She had not at all graded the lab from Tuesday. Apparently she has some family crisis stuff going on and has no time for anything really. Well, I can understand, sympathize, and forgive her for that. She said we should talk for a few minutes after class. The talk confused me. On the one hand she praised me in a way, saying parts of my code were 'beautiful' and 'really well thought out', yet the parts I don't get obviously don't work, and something is wrong. I explained I make code in a single block, make sure it does what it's supposed to, then pull it into functions. When I do there seems to be a 50/50 chance the code will no longer work. She asked if I have a learning disability, if some things made perfect sense while others confuse me. I don't know. I've never been tested, and because of how I fail in life I've often wondered if I do. She told me to try and do the quiz problem and see if I could sort out the lab that we turned in. After class I spent some time working on it. I smiled at getting the quiz problem to work, but it took 1.5 hours. That portion of the quiz would have had about 10 minutes allotted, without the program. Doing it by hand on paper as we did there is no way I could replicate that in that amount of time. The lab, well, I tried adjusting it but after 45 minutes I was no closer than before. I had code that showed no errors, but when I pushed run it did absolutely nothing but generate an empty code result window.

So, the meeting confused me. Her parting words were that she thought I could do it and expected an A+, which implied she felt my grades weren't yet so bad I couldn't get that. But I don't see how that would be possible with things like it taking me 1.5 hours with the program to do something she thinks should people should be able to do in 5-10 minutes on a quiz. She obviously didn't read how my last lab took me 3 hours to get running in the incorrect form. I don't know. I wrote her another email saying, 'here is the code for the quiz, is this right', and explained how long it took. If she responds positively I'll stay. If I hear nothing before Saturday I'll drop. It seems like even if I did get why it works and other code doesn't work I may just perform too slowly to proceed.

After class I did my podcast. I tried to be not sad and do the best I could, so hopefully it turned out ok. But like my life, I may be laughing and sounding ok, while really what I'm feeling is lost, lonely, and very sad.

Day 1753 - 4/19 - Pondering moving on

Today I was extremely tired, and sad as always. There was still no reply from the teacher on what she thought about it taking me 1.5 hours to do something I basically was supposed to do in 10 minutes without the program. I've been pondering if I should move on. I'm really happy doing editing work. Maybe that's what I should look for a degree in. Last I recall, checking the Jr. Colleges didn't really have much that would help. Audio work doesn't really seem to exist, and film seems to be more on the theory of film than the creation and editing of it. (Creation in terms of the technical aspects, not the art / design / philosophy of it.) But I think, in terms of my experience, my hobby currently shows greater strength in editing as something that could help me get a job than my hardware stuff. Everyone in computers knows that stuff, but very few I think know editing. I've always been creative and such and maybe there will be more opportunity there. I don't know. I guess the first step is wait until late afternoon tomorrow and see if she replies.

And sleep. I so very need to sleep.

Day 1754 - 4/20 - Heart feels broken

Today my heart feels broken. Most of the day went by with no word from the teacher about the assignments. But in late afternoon I got a message that she corrected / graded it. I went to the site and looked. It was indeed zero points for the new part I turned in, as expected. But she put, 'this should be bla bla and this should be bla bla. Turn it in late bla bla.' Which seemed like encouraging words, if brief and rushed. I inputted the first changes. Woah. What do you know it kind of worked and those errors were gone. And, I could maybe see the logic. However, I'm running on only 6 hours of sleep, so I didn't really grasp it yet. Things were looking up. I inputted the second changes. Now I have 25+ errors. And what's worse, I don't understand why. Right back to being confused and not understanding a major concept.

I went to the drop page and hesitated over the button. I am homeless. I do have lots of time to see tutors. I could try and get tutoring to understand my problems. I went back to the calendar for the class. There is a like 300 lines of code thing due Tuesday, no way I could do that. I don't understand enough of what's wrong with it or how to fix it in time. Another lab is due in a few weeks - exactly the same kind of issues on it that I don't get now. Another quiz in a few weeks, no doubt more testing of these same concepts. So, I could have stayed, tried to get tutoring and be pressured by more and more things due. Or, I could surrender, do practice things on my own and maybe visit the library and try and re-read a book and tutor myself over the next 4 months before the school shuts down for a month before starting for the next quarter. Practice problems without help is less than ideal. But, I have the program (it's free), and the book, as long as I'm not denied access at the library. (Which they probably will cut me off shortly after dropping, which means I could only look at stuff which is not on reserve.) I decided studying on my own and trying to gain understanding without the pressure of more and more deadlines was the way to go. I went back to the page and dropped. When I pushed the button something strange happened. I felt a cold chill pass over me, as if my heart were suddenly broken because something really incredibly terrible had just happened.

I've never given up before. I've never felt so lost and helpless that stopping entirely would be the better option. (Hopefully this doesn't affect financial aid and they don't come after me for loan stuff.) Am I really not smart enough? Is it because this is so against how I normally think I simply will never get these concepts? Now that I have quit, do I just try again after practicing on my own during the summer? Or is this it, being that this is a gateway class, are the others beyond me and I am now lost in my direction in life?

Sometimes I wish I lived in one of those small towns. Those with only a few thousand people where everyone knows each other and you seemingly find a place in life and you do ok. Maybe such a time and place no longer exists. Maybe I am just lost and will never find my way back.

Day 1755 - 4/21 - Gotta tape it

Today feels weird. I still feel odd that I had to drop the class. When I pushed the cancel button and felt the chill come over me, a feeling I've only felt a few times in my whole life... it was as if I'd seen someone shot and killed. But it was the logical thing to do. I really was very unlikely to get enough help and keep up with the new material. And, if I do practice and try and learn what it is I'm missing over the summer I won't be giving up on myself.

Today was a strange mix of emotions. I was sad because now school is on hold until basically September. But realistically none of the last 14 years of school have helped me get a job. It hasn't even helped me get interviews. I feel relieved, as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don't have assignments to worry about. I don't have tests to worry about. I don't have past due assignments lingering behind me pushing against assignments coming up. For now, I have no worries about needing to do anything but my regular work. And what with all my lost sleep lately I may just go back to trying to get more sleep at school in the mornings.

Today at work there was a snap from my headphones. What was left holding the left side gave up. The left ear was dangling from a single cord. I put it back in place as best as I could and taped it. It's held ok for the rest of the night. I didn't know if it will make it all the way through tomorrow or not, but my new ones should arrive by 10, so I should be ok.

It was nice working today and then not having anything requiring my time or attention when I was done. But, as has been for several years now, I had no home to go back to when I was done. I had to go somewhere public, somewhere crowded. And while it was ok, I was not sitting comfortably, I was too hot, and people's fragrances around me made me sneeze. I wonder if I will ever be able to go home again.

Day 1756 - 4/22 - Wondering

Today was sad. I spent much of it wondering if I will find my way. Even if I pick new classes when next quarter starts, will it be the right path? I've been trying for so long, turning when a path is blocked, choosing a new one, yet they never lead back home. They only seem to take me deeper and deeper, becoming more and more lost.

I suppose I am used to it. I've always felt like an outsider. Even when I was on a regular path others took I was still the one who fell through the cracks and got in through loop-holes or ways I shouldn't. I know I may never have a normal or regular life, but it would be nice to have enough I can find my way home.

Day 1757 - 4/23 - End of a terrible week

Today is going to feel odd. I have no class. I have no worries about class or assignments due. I can do my regular playing, watching shows, looking for jobs, and maybe think about my next podcast.

I suppose everything will work out, but I can't help but wonder if financial aid will come after me. Will there be any difference in my life now taking a class later? Will studying on my own actually work? Will this be the right path, or still wrong in a seemingly series of wrong paths?

I suppose there is good news for work. Yesterday someone asked if I'd cover his Thursday shift, as he can't do it anymore. So that's an implied permanent +1 shift every week. It wouldn't normally seem like much, and really since it won't be enough to get into a home it isn't much, but it is a 50% income increase, which actually is kind of huge right now. If all goes well that means I can have a real savings. And, if my calculations are correct, and not too much is lost, by Halloween I should have enough ($1500) for a new system or car should either fail. I won't have to worry about either being lost from then on and not being able to replace them. Yearly I should be able to put double that into savings if it's not spent. So that is a something. I'd still need double my new hours before I could consider living in a home again, but at least it will remove the worry of loss of my important things. Although, I did start work with three shifts a week and was dropped down to one, so I won't count on anything lasting forever.

I suppose though, as it has been for nearly five years now, I can only take life one day at a time. I can try and find work. I can try and relax with games, shows, and movies. And I can try and not be so sad about all the things in my life. As always though, it seems I have little to no control, and that is what keeps me the most trapped.

Week 252

Day 1758 - 4/24 - Just a taste

Today was ok I guess. All day I was super tired. I should have napped at school, but when I got up to move in the morning I didn't really feel tired. It wasn't until the afternoon that I felt exhaustedly tired. I just did regular stuff today. I looked for jobs, played my games, and watched a few shows. It felt weird not being in class and all. And I am worried for my future.

With nothing to do and little to look forward to in terms of life change I worry I will wind up like this guy people call 'Dougie'. He's this homeless guy that hangs out in the area. I see him different places, but he's pretty much near school. He's got like one bag of stuff and a sleeping bag. His hair and beard are wild. His cloths probably haven't been washed in weeks, if not months. He probably needs some kind of medication because he is always withdrawn, alone, and seems to have no desire to reintegrate into society. Granted, he's probably between 55 and 65, so it might be very difficult, but still. When I hit low times like I have recently I think how close I am to being Dougie. If I lost my job I'd rapidly be unable to keep up with gas and other car related costs. If I weren't in school I wouldn't have a free bus pass should I need one. (I'm glad they do that now. It's good for emergencies.) Without a place to store my stuff for free my life would be forced to be sheered down to just one travel bag (and my backpack). Nearly everything I own would have to be sold or given away. With as difficult and troubled as my life can get, I at least know that at any moment I could get my stuff and move in somewhere. But if I lost a key piece of what little is left, it would rapidly collapse into Dougie's world. With my difficulties now I can't imagine how I would recover from genuinely losing everything. While it is all in storage now, at least that means it is only a spiritual loss. It may challenge my psyche to deal with that loss on a daily basis, it may cause me to question who I am without access to it; but it is still there, ready to go back to its proper place when the time comes. But when times get extra tough... it is difficult to know how I will avoid not entering Dougie's world at some point.

While today seems extra sad, I am really not. Well, no more sad than every day. I'm really just more exhausted than anything else. As summer approaches my sleeping hours are forced to change. More times are more dangerous, causing more stress. In time I may need to go back to taking naps in the morning at school to keep up with sleep, but for now I am trying to adjust.

Today was actually kind of good. I was low on calories before dinner, so I decided to get a yummy cinnamon crumbly cake slice. Now that I have it though, my tummy doesn't want all of it. It just wants a taste. So, I'll compromise and have half in a bit and half in the morning for breakfast. I think the diet is still working, but I seem to be losing weight very slowly. I guess it will be close to my birthday in a handful of months before any real progress has been made.

But like all days I worry I may never recover, and what little I have left will eventually be lost and never recovered.

Day 1759 - 4/25 - Rebalancing

Today was ok I guess. I was pretty lonely and tired much of the day though. I did my podcast in the afternoon, which was a mistake. I originally was going to do it in the morning, but I thought it was too chilly. It was a mistake because in the afternoon I was baking. I was pouring sweat by about half way through.

Today I guess I was rebalancing. It was odd to again not be in class. I was dealing with some of the lingering emotions about that. I again was sad I get just about nothing for my site and podcast and need to keep going to school and have my current job instead of doing that for a living. I am balancing to new meals since I am no longer going to the restaurant. (That may change depending on connection needs, we'll see.) And I suppose I am balancing around my new Thursday shift.

Today wasn't too bad. I wasn't too tired. But that may be because I'm so completely sleepy and exhausted by afternoon these days.

Day 1760 - 4/26 - Had to nap

Today was ok I guess, but it felt lonely. Noone was around that I knew online. It's been quiet for days. Not many people at the coffee shop either, so it was pretty quiet. I wasn't too tired in the morning, so I finished the podcast editing to post it. But by the afternoon I was just about falling asleep while sitting up. I went over to school and zonked out for a few hours before coming to work. I think in the morning if I haven't gotten a lot of sleep I'll have to sleep in at school.

Nothing special happened today, just like every day. Tomorrow the Steampunk convention is happening in my local area again. Well, I guess I lost track of it and it started today. I guess it's ok I didn't plan on a pass. Not only would it be $65, which prior to my extra shifts would have been very pricey (even now it is still kind of pricy), I work tonight and Sunday, so that is about 10 hours of the weekend I'd not have been able to attend. I am sort of considering going to the open public areas tomorrow, but it would basically just be the dealer room and museum. While I may see some cool stuff I couldn't go to panels, nor would I be there long enough to make any connections with the people. It could be cool, but I think more likely, as it was the first year I happened upon it, that it would just remind me of the connections I'm missing out on due to my sad life. Even with my new income, conventions not in my area would typically be $500 or more, as each would require air fare, hotel costs, food cost, etc.

Maybe someday my life can be normal again, but sadly it seems less and less likely as time goes on.

Day 1761 - 4/27 - Imaginary ground

Today was pretty sad. In the morning I did play with someone online. It was an unexpected surprise, as he's an ex-guildie I rarely see, but it was fun.

In the afternoon I pondered if I should go to the Steampunk convention. I wouldn't be able to go to the panels, so I would just be visiting the dealer room and museum, like I stumbled upon years ago near the start of my terrible journey. I decided not to go, that it would make me sad. Once upon a time when I was young (later teen years) I went to a couple of gaming conventions regularly. It was a weekend away from home. A weekend I had a certain amount of money allotted for food and other things. A taste of freedom and vacations I would have in my adult life. It took all day to get familiar with people at the con. People were all slow to warm, particularly back then. I'd do games and hang out with friends. Though I always hoped I would, I never made new friends during the convention. At least none that ever lasted past the weekend. But this con, this one day, for these few hours, would not gain me what I have been longing for. I would have no costumes to wear. I would have nothing to offer for conversation. My common ground would not exist. It would only be imaginary. While I suppose it is possible people would reach out to me, and now that I'm not going I may never know, I felt there would instead be too much sadness about everything I could not do. My adult life, as imagined in my youth seemingly so long ago, would not come to be. I can't afford conventions anymore. I have no friends to go with to share the experience. I would be no less lonely there, but almost certainly more so after.

Day 1762 - 4/28 - Blistered paws

Today I am tired. I am sad. I am lonely. Though my online friends did check in with me, so that was unexpected and nice.

My poor paws have blisters on the sides and backs of my feet. I don't know why. It's as if I'm walking more, but, if anything what with dropping class, I'm now walking less. I don't understand. They aren't too bad yet, but my feet are tired and sore all the time. They are so fragile and I can't ever really take them out to rest for more than a few hours at night and a few hours at work. I guess it is just yet another thing I must endure.

Day 1763 - 4/29 - Scorching heat

Today was super hot. I avoided most of it by being in the coffee shop most of the day. Even in the morning though when I went to move locations just after sunrise it was already a touch on the warm side. I was a bit uncomfortable wearing my hoodie. My car was almost too hot to drive in the afternoon when I left for laundry and work. My sodas in the trunk had been warmed so much the one I drank for dinner was nearly soup. Hopefully those still in the trunk will recover and taste ok. Once soda gets truly hot it rarely returns to its former state.

I think my feet are overly dry and cracking. I think that is where the blisters are coming from. I know that for a very long time now the bottom of my heels have been so hard that poking them with my fingernails results in no feeling. They have never been this tired and sore, let alone turned to such hard leather they could resist pain and not feel anything in that area.

Nothing special or interesting happened today. I put out a resume, which is rare, but I can't even remember the last time I got a reply in the form of an email or call. It's probably been at least two years, if not more.

I'm exhausted. My eyelids have been half open for days. I've been starving too, likely from the extra energy used these few more hours every day. To compensate in my app I'm now counting every hour of lost sleep (less than 8 hours) as 15 minutes of calisthenics. That seems to be a good balance for the extra calories I eat. I don't know if that's an accurate balance, not that it really matters if it shows as over or not, as the weight lost is all that really matters. Sadly the lost weight is still hovering at 3-5 pounds lost for this entire time. The diet doesn't seem to be working, and I may need to wait to make a serious effort when I'm re-established and can exercise. But for now I will continue to persist for a while.

So many sad things to consider, yet I am too tired to go over them again. Maybe in the morning.

Day 1764 - 4/30 - Locked in time

Today I am feeling lonely, and alone. I know I am not. There are several online friends I've made during my terrible journey, some of which care about me very much. But I feel sad about how my life has gone. I had few friends when I was a young teen, and they all moved on in time. I never really gained new friends. My days, particularly these ones while homeless, are lonely and there are no friendly voices around me. When I was young I thought I'd marry and have little ones, and the voices of friends around me would fade as the voices of the little ones and their friends grew stronger. These days, particularly lately as we approach summer, there are fewer and fewer voices interacting around me. I see young people. People I, once upon a time, may have been friends with or possibly dated; young people who may, in a different world, be friends of my kids or my kids. But none of that has come to pass. In almost every way it seems I have become locked in time. I spend my days much as I did when I was 12. I do what is required of me to the minimal satisfactory amount, and I spend the rest of my time hoping to see friends, but most often simply wind up alone and try to entertain and occupy myself until better days come.

I don't know if I really want to be mainstream in every way. It is probably impossible for me to be that way even if I tried. I love being around young people. I can see and hear about things that interest them, what gives them hope and what they look forward to, what perhaps in their lives may come to be which has not in my life. But I am not in their lives. I am stuck outside looking in. It is as if I have become time itself, seeing life change and move around me, evolving, cycling. But I lie outside of it, unable to interact. I am little more than a whisper on the wind, a passing shadow. Though I may manage to live and linger here a bit more, I think in time even that will fade, and to others I will be little more than a fading memory.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2013
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

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