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Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 12: Unknown Beyond

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.

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These include the Table of Contents, Glossary and links, all weeks, all pictures, and index.


Week 611

Day 4271 - 3/11 - Doesn't feel good

Today I am feeling pretty bad emotionally. There has been a lot of panic about the virus lately. School has become more and more empty. Today there was official word that starting Monday they are shutting down most services and classes will either continue in hybrid mode or simply finish early, depending on the professor. Technically I am basically done with both of my classes finals. I even turned them in early. But, if they require more work, or the professors want me to do more I won't have the software. My system can run it fine, but I don't have the $25 I need for other school costs, nor the $40 for car insurance due on the first, let alone $40 for the 6-month license to the software.

So today things don't feel good emotionally for a number of reasons. People are happy for the time off from work and school as places shut down for the virus. But I have no home. I can't just 'stay home' like everyone else can. I'm forced to be out in public, like it or not. So I worry what if it does spread and I'm exposed because of that? I can't just avoid it. What if I become a carrier, and again, can't avoid people so I wind up spreading it.

And what if panic continues, and school remains in its hybrid form? I don't have any extra money for the software or other costs. Will I be unable to do projects if that happens next quarter?

And what about food? My food choices are bad and limited enough even with a microwave. Losing access to school cafeteria and the microwaves I'd be limited to lunchmeat and other ready to eat food.

I'm better than I have been feeling in the past few days. My forehead feels almost cool to the touch, certainly not at all feverish like it has the past few days. Sneezing is finally decreasing to only a few per hour. Though I'm still congested it's not super bad congestion. There is still a touch of swelling in my lymph nodes in my neck, but that is also getting better.

But with having a cold and not feeling well I feel bad emotionally. With all this virus scare I worry. With all the closures I wonder if I'll lose access to connections to get online, and places to be. And what about prying eyes? As outside population continues to become more and more rare I'll stand out more and more when I am out.

I still worry about my unpaid bills. I worry about things like my mouse starting to disconnect at the slightest touch on the cable. I worry about wear and tear on the laptop overall, on my car, and on me. My otherwise dark times seem to be getting even darker. And all I can do is try to hang on. Hopefully extra help and donations come soon in these dark times. And hopefully I can continue to hang on until they do.

Day 4272 - 3/12 - Basically over

Today my quarter is basically over. I turned in my finals early, and outside of any unannounced projects that should be it for the quarter. I do half expect the professor with somewhat unrealistic expectations to bust out a previously unannounced project, but hopefully that won't happen. Hopefully what was due is all that will be due.

I guess today was pretty good though. The class with the professor I chat with was good, and he used my final I did yesterday as an example for the class on what would be done to print them out. (Which we can't do due to the lost time.) And we chatted about a few movies and I recommended one to him he actually hadn't heard of, so that was good.

My cold is generally better. I don't feel my symptoms or fever at all. I think I may have sneezed a total of four times today. My chest still has some congestion. That seems to come and go depending on the time and day. I still feel pretty exhausted, but hopefully these extra two weeks off will help with that. Though the extra stress of everything may interfere with any extra restfulness. I guess only time will tell.

I'm pretty tired. I'm extremely worried about the bills, as no help has come beyond what the two people who help monthly sent. Very rapidly I'll get into trouble if that's all there is. I feel forgotten about. And with all the fear of the virus I think there will be even fewer worrying about me as time goes on.

Day 4273 - 3/13 - Feeling very sad

Today I am feeling very sad. I'm still extremely worried about the bills. I get little enough help and attention as it is, and with the virus it seems even less likely people will reach out to help in my time of need.

And my sad life situations don't help, as more and more areas go into lockdown type practices I get more and more worried I won't have anywhere to go. Not only worry because it would be a psychological relief 'to be safe at home', but also because then I would be limiting exposure. While I can spend most of my time in my car instead of out in public, there will always be that fear, however small, that because I need to buy food basically daily, because I have to clean myself in public showers, that these activities will put me at risk.

And so it again feels like my life being at risk is out of my hands, out of my control, and all because of my sad homelessness.

But all I can do is try my best. Try to continue to manage my fears of everything. And try to continue to hope that help will come in time. Before the bills and other things get too bad.

Day 4274 - 3/14 - Library closure

Today there is more bad news. As of 3 this afternoon the library system in the entire area declared they are closing for basically at least a month (until at a minimum April 12th), possibly longer. So while there may still be areas I can be at school the next two weeks, after that, and on weekends, the only place I have access to is the food store. Which seems pretty high risk at the moment. I was there for a bit today and it was extremely crowded. The person who is at the library and food store a lot said he talked with one of the managers and he said they were seeing sales that topped even their highest sales days. So, in terms of ordinary people, at least right now, the food store is at the highest risk it could be. So I may have no choice but to do what I did in the very early days and just spend hours and hours sitting outside in my car.

In good news I got a good sized donation. It won't clear all of my recent bill worries, but it will certainly be a huge help. So that's something.

Up until the notice of the library closing I was having a pretty good day. The loss of my being at school was settling in and I was getting mentally prepared for about three weeks at the library. I guess that is all flipped around now and all I can do is hope enough areas at school are open long enough that things won't be weird. Though that will only cover me for two weeks, at most, and then I'm completely out for a week.

These days seem little more than a reminder of how much is out of my control. And it seems all I can do is try my best to hang on physically and emotionally. And hopefully help will come in time. And hopefully things won't get worse.

Day 4275 - 3/15 - Felt like high risk

Today I again felt at high risk. It was still raining, so I was again forced to be at the food store where there were a ton of people. I was very sad and felt at high risk. At the end of what I could handle my lungs felt... bad. And going to the bathroom, where I know probably 50 or more guys had been that day, and that they only clean once a day, I was almost hurling from anxiety.

I guess though the day wasn't completely terrible or as bad as I expected it would be. There was... enough... bandwidth to do important game things. Though with how much I had to blast the game sound to even try to drown out the store noise around me I had a hard time enjoying things.

I checked what was left of my one class' final assignments. I was supposed to turn in two more sketch projects for the final, but those assignments seem to have disappeared. I would guess the professor removed those parts of the final since the change to the online format. I sent a message asking about it, but got no reply back by the time I went offline.

The day isn't over yet, and we aren't into night. But so far I made it through ok. I survived another day. And hopefully I can continue to hang on emotionally and physically and more help will come to help me through to better days.

Day 4276 - 3/16 - Shelter in place

Today things went from weird to bad to completely insane. Around noon someone posted a link to a 'shelter in place' article for my area (like eight counties.) Effectively it means the entire area is sort of in lockdown for three weeks. People aren't supposed to really be out of their homes, and almost all businesses will be shut down. While I suppose I could stay at the food store during the day, since that's the highest exposure it's more likely I'll just visit quickly in the morning for critical things, then probably just be out in my car in the parking lot. (Out of range of connections.)

It will be extremely bad, very like the early days when I had no devices, but I'd rather not be that openly homeless, nor would I want to be continually exposed to shoppers and homeless who will likely converge there.

I will likely have extremely limited play time for a while. And I'll likely be losing 85% of my entire day to doing nothing at all. But I don't really have a choice if I want to stay safe during the lockdown. And even if I do make it through these weeks, what then? This likely isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I've heard predictions that this may last as long as 1.5 years.

These dark days just got a whole lot darker for me. And while I can hope help does come to cover the bills, I'm now more worried than ever that I may not be able to make it through.

Day 4277 - 3/17 - Simulated apocalypse

Today is the first day of the simulated apocalypse. I'm sure it will be bad. With the library and school closed my only public connection left is the food store, which would be extreme exposure. So unless things change and I have more options it seems the vast majority of my time will be spent in my car, basically doing nothing. With a very rare dip into the food store or the ex-garage to check online for news.

For most I'm sure this will be an odd vacation. I know if I were in a home I'd do just about my regular game and show watching and not really be affected by the closures or shelter in place rule. I'm a pretty private person and don't go out much, so I already live like that. But now, with public access to things shut down, and I'm sure what will become rapidly diminishing outside populations, my future seems less and less certain.

I try to continue to hang on, but with the bills that is hard enough. Now losing access to my only outlet to try and feel normal, my games and shows, I don't know how well I'll be able to hold on.

Week 612

Day 4278 (V:2) - 3/18 - Sick from worry

Today is the second day of the quarantine state. My heart has been feeling like it's racing most of the day. Even though I know people are saying 'just wash your hands' I get so nervous when going in to the food store to buy something or use the bathroom I feel like I'm going to throw up. (I'm even going to try using my 'tablet pen' at the store instead of my fingers. It was too wide to use for my tablet.)

No matter what I do or think, without being able to play games or watch my shows, my brain is consumed with worry and fear. I am trying to listen to podcasts to occupy my time and reduce my fears, but my mind can't stop worrying if this virus will be the thing that ends me. Will I not get a fair chance to have a home and a normal life again? I have no control as it is. Losing access to the internet, and even just places to have power and set up my laptop to do offline things, is shattering what little is left that I have to try and hang on keep it together.

Maybe soon I won't worry as much. Two police came casually strolling through the edge of the parking lot yesterday, and two sheriffs today. None stopped. They were even kind of going too fast to give anything a serious look. And by about 10:30 there were enough shoppers coming and going I was easily disguised and visually ignored the rest of the time. It basically seems like any other regular (non-lock downed) weekend day in the store parking lot. So, if things don't get weird I may be able to calm myself emotionally a bit. Though if I'm not mistaken there are 24 more days in virus lockdown, so I worry it may become a ghost town and I will start to stand out and become very obvious.

I'm writing early, only 2/3 the way through my day. Much of yesterday and today I was freaking out over things so much I started crying, shaking, and felt like throwing up. I have so little left and now much of what I have left is being taken away. And if things get worse I may lose even more. I feel so empty now. I feel like what was in me has been hollowed out and I'm an empty fragile shell, and with nothing left inside that will shatter into a million pieces at the slightest further damage.

But I am writing now, while I still have the strength to do it without crying uncontrollably. I don't know what the rest of my day will bring, but it's been raining for a bit now, and so hopefully that will help me and maybe bring some comfort. But I have very little left of me. It seems all I can do is try to hang on. And hopefully there is enough left to hang on to that I can make it through.

Day 4279 (V:3) - 3/19 - Cold, hot, crying

Today was very bad and very rough. I hid well enough in the parking area at the food store. People are still shopping as if it's a pretty normal weekend day.

The day started out cold, chilly even. It was raining and cloudy in the morning. By noon it cleared up a bit, but the heat was blasting through the clouds. I got so hot I needed to open all the car doors for a bit to let the very slight breeze carry out the heat. Thankfully it only remained hot for three hours, then rapidly cooled to a touch chilly a few hours later when more clouds came back.

Emotionally the day was one of the worst ever. I have old podcasts to occupy my time with, sure, and music I may listen to from play lists I've created. But I don't have much else. I connected to try and keep up with things for a couple of minutes every few hours, but I still feel very much alone. More of an outsider than ever. And even though I know the ways to protect myself, I still nearly feel like I'm going to throw up from stress when I go into a public restroom. I even feel pretty nervous not touching anything and just going in to pee.

My ex-roomie said she had some sanitary wipes for me. I picked up the packet last night. This afternoon when I went to put some separately in my car glove box (from the main package in my backpack) I saw she had written my name, drew a smiley face, and I started freaking out and cried a little.

I'm still allowed to be in the ex-garage a little bit, so I can visit my bunnies, hug them, cry a bit, change cloths, and now do a critical recharge of my devices because I have nowhere else really to charge. Those few moments are the only way I can keep it together. But with how many V-days remain until the quarantine is lifted and things might open again, I wonder how I will make it through with what little sanity and emotional strength I have left.

It's so easy for everyone to be cautious when they are out. Then they go home and are safe. But I am left out. I feel so very alone. So few seem to care at all. And with almost nothing left I feel like if things get worse I won't make it through.


Clouds and rain.
Large

Day 4280 (V:4) - 3/20 - A very brief moment

Today I am writing early in the morning to start. Things were happy and sad this morning. This is the second day of peeking online in the morning at the small bank at the food store to get my daily MMO login bonus (a struggle at about 5 FPS unplugged), check news, gather podcasts to listen to, and watch a very brief video about a game I would be playing if I had access. (It occurs to me now with all the shock and emotional loss lately I didn't go over the food store sitting area closure. I think it happened after I'd submitted last week on Tuesday is why I forgot. They closed down their seating area, which had three tables with about 12 sitting spots referencing the rule about no social gatherings. Most places in the area have shut down their sitting areas. Apparently the store people don't mind if there are people at the tiny bank there though (which has now temporarily shut down completely), but there is a standing bar, and only a very small space for one person to sit. So even if I wanted to stay in the food store for a connection, it's no longer a real option as I can't plug in and am not supposed to be staying around. (Though a regular homeless vet does.))

Over a very brief 15 minutes or so I started to feel somewhat normal. Instead of seeing people in masks and gloves and fearing for my life constantly I saw people talking about games in chat, talking about general life things, and remembered fun times. For a very brief moment I felt like my more stable homeless self.

I am out in my car again now. It's still pretty early morning. Sadness and fear once again are starting to settle in and consume my thoughts. Though I am 'safe' in my car I am still very fearful. I don't have a regular life. I can't just play games and watch shows and cook foods at home and ride it out. I am an unwanted, and often feel like an unwelcome, outcast. And, true or not, I can't help but feel more than ever people would rather just leave me to die than offer to help.

The crowd around me is pretty high already; a crowd normally not as large as it is for a couple of hours from now. Maybe that's a sign I'll be better hidden. We are still a long way from the 12th when things might start to re-open, so I hope this is a sign people are starting to relax and adopt a normal routine and it will continue. But I can't help but feel the opposite will happen. And soon it will be obvious to everyone who sees me why I am there, as opposed to now where it is only a few local workers who give me more than a passing glance.

Day 4281 (V:5) - 3/21 - Hands of Fate

Today I was listening to something and was reminded of fate and fortune reading. I looked at my palms and they seem very foreign to me. I remember three big lines, but now there are many breaks, many smaller folds, and cracks between them. Most noteworthy seemed an insane number of lines that looked almost like scratches running down each thumb pad and thumb web area.

People use the expression 'like the back of your hand', but the back is still smooth. The back has always been wrinkle free. And while the cell marks may be interesting, they seem almost unchanged since I last recall, unlike the palms which look foreign to me.

These days are long and very sad. The day has been gray and sometimes sprinkled. The grayness helps me hide, as people don't pay attention to what is around them in the rain when they have something to do. If a thing isn't in the way, or the thing they are doing, it's ignored.

At least the day so far. Technically there is still 1/3 of it left.

Though I only went into the store for a 10 minute peek along with my laptop, then three more times very briefly to check later, I feel exhausted. The memory of the bright artificial light and basting music burns in my mind. Maybe because I'm not feeling well. The lunchmeat I've been having is reacting badly to my tummy. Three times I had to make critical trips to the bathroom. I don't know if it's just too much lunchmeat lately or if that is a bad batch. I'll probably eat just a little bit more then toss what's left. (About $1.50 worth of food.) Maybe salad tomorrow for my main food will help.

Today was another horribly rough day. A few times I almost started shaking, panicking, and crying from stress. But I managed to get through. Hopefully I can stay healthy and make it through. But I feel more broken and alone than I ever have.


Hands of fate.
Large

Day 4282 (V:6) - 3/22 - Missing comforts

Today I am very much missing my comforts. It is extremely difficult to manage my stress and anxiety without at least being able to play offline games. But without power that isn't an option.

I did my morning check of things and dipped to about 55% laptop power. I discovered there was a final thing I had to do within the next few days, but I burned out of the remaining power before I could finish. I was nearly done, so I rushed in and plugged in with the hopes the forced shutdown didn't lose what I had. Thankfully it started back up and finished fine.

In the afternoon I started to crave other comforts. I wanted cookies, but most of the kind I eat would be destroyed during the day. It actually rained very big drops today for about 30 minutes, with thunder too, but there was still about two hours of nearly unbearable warmth. I'm beginning to wonder if my arms are going to be sun burnt soon if this keeps up. I may get animal crackers. They are pretty yummy and would be the only ones that could survive the warm times.

I also had a craving for fries. The store does have potato wedge cut fries in their warm food area (which I'd have to pay for out of pocket since food stamp money doesn't cover cooked food), but I'm not sure if that would still be 'open'. I checked the bulk mixed food area and it's wrapped up and 'closed'. They have also started to individually wrap things like donuts and bread. I may look into like $2 of wedges tomorrow, but I have to be extremely careful as I'm almost out of money.

It's very hard to make it through these tough times. Even more so now that this lockdown is also preventing my using the few comforts I could have.

It's not even really evening yet, as there is still 1/3 of my day before things settle down. All I have is my car, the hope I can stay safe in it, and podcasts to kill time on my tablet. As always everything seems out of my control. I feel very alone and isolated. But all I can do is try to hang on, hope everyone stays safe, and hope enough help comes to make it through.

Day 4283 (V:7) - 3/23 - Detour

Today there was a big detour in the morning to hopefully get a shower on campus and then use the super good wireless for a bit. As expected though everything was locked up. When I arrived there was even an electric cart with student security that came by. So, sadly, it seems highly unlikely I could use campus wireless outside, or even the bathroom they normally leave open for the bus drivers.

Since the library is pretty close, and a stronger connection than around the food store, I decided to detour over there. I had a quite ok time there and even did a touch more than normal in the morning. On my way out I knew there was a plug by the coffee shop, which is closed, so I stopped by to recharge there a bit. To my shock I got a decent wireless signal at the plug. (I'd recalled previously I couldn't.)

So, that might actually be a viable spot to get a signal and play from. The downside is it is fully exposed to anyone within about 100 feet along the road, and in direct line of sight for about four condos just across the street. So, sadly, I probably shouldn't do that. And if I did I should probably just limit my play to an hour or less. Which, after having my heart broken and 'gotten used to' nothing at all might do more harm emotionally than good, since it would only be once every few days for a very brief period. (And likely even then still an increasing fear with each visit.)

The rest of my normal 2/3 of my day to this point was pretty regular. Maybe a touch happier, as so far I've not seen evidence of police or sheriffs. I'm still constantly worried they will start to question people being in their car. (Though upon quick inspection it looks empty. I put everything in the trunk save for a small bit of food hidden in a bag under my legs/feet. So I would look like any other random person just waiting in their car.)

Lately there is a constant ringing in my ears and a slight dizziness. No doubt from the extreme stress and lack of safety, not to mention lost sleep. In the warmer hours of the afternoon I often fall half asleep, as many nights, like last night, I only get 5 hours of sleep.

Everything still seems like some kind of crazy fever dream. And I keep hoping someday I'll wake up and be back to my regular homeless life.

Day 4284 (V:8) - 3/24 - Worried

Today hasn't begun yet, but I am getting very worried. People are starting to notice me in my waiting spots. I may need to change spots, at least part of the time, or do something like take more walks outside of my car so it seems I'm coming or going (instead of just 'waiting' in my car.) I can't control what people will do or think though, all I can do is hope things stay as they are and people don't worry about why I am where I am.

I still try to hang on to hope that a miracle will occur. Maybe things will suddenly get better and the quarantine will be lifted and things will go back to homeless normal. Maybe my ex-roomie will somehow convince her boyfriend, or he will become compassionate and change his own mind, and he will agree that I can be in the garage to be safe from all the things during the quarantine (and ideally, if the wireless reaches, let me be on for at least part of the time each day.) But again, I can't change the world. I can't change others. I can only be and do me, and hope that what I do influences others in a positive way. I try to stay hopeful, but I am scared and panicking nearly all the time now. All I can do is hope I make it to better days.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2020
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

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