Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Advice on Living in A Van

I don't recommend anyone live in a van. Let's get that out of the way first. Living in a van is reactive, it's a symptom of a greater disease that's too complicated to discuss here. Suffice to say, that society or urban living is the status quo, yet deeply unsatisfactory to many. So, the reaction is to combine urban living with a nomadic lifestyle in a modern conveyance. Migrating from one urban environment to another, or within one urban environment, alone, simplified to only what a covered wagon can carry, but driving a gas car. It makes no sense. Migrants in covered wagons were not migrating endlessly. They did live in and out of their covered wagon, but it was a necessity of the times. Now we're combining the 1860 era covered wagon lifestyle inside a modern vehicle, but literally driving in the tracks of history, either in reverse or otherwise. What the fuck? It's a messy solution and I can justify it because I intend to deconstruct the larger disease by providing myself isolation to focus. That's the only justification I can accept: you desire to withdraw from society. The reason you want to withdraw can be your own. The reasons are all variations of the same quest for contentment and belonging, contradicted by a suspicion you don't belong. I get it. But if this is not your reason then you will be distressed to learn that's what's going to happen no matter what you want. You will withdraw, you will drift, you will migrant, you won't belong, and that's why I don't recommend you choose to live in a van. You are choosing exile whether you think you are or not.

Now, if you want exile, as I do, then you have no choice because other styles of living will draw you back to society. But living in a van will alienate you from the bulk of society and it may be irreversible. I prefer to warn people of what they might be getting themselves into rather than tell them how to stay warm in the winter. Exile is the fate that waits for the one who lives in a van.

When I started the van blog in 2008 I was not aware of any online community of van dwellers reporting their experiences. Am I a pioneer? That's for history to judge. I've lived in vehicles off and on for 20 years, but ever since the covered wagon people have been living in vehicles. But the idea of reporting on the lifestyle is very new because except for a few rare essays that record the lifestyle, no one could very well film their entire life, edit it, and upload it to a public theater that anyone can watch at any time. Well, that's now possible. It was possible probably as early as 2006, when tube video formats began. Well, that would mean I was a 1st generation van blogger because 2007 was probably the earliest anyone had the idea to video and write a diary about living in a van, and one year later I made my first entry without having seen a single example of someone else doing something similar. In fact, I remember blogging about my plans to move into a van on a totally different blog, and it crossed my mind that with my digital camera and the video option on blogger, which I had lazily been updating since I moved to Los Angeles in 2004. So, the acceleration is obvious: 2004-first Oggy Blog. 2007-first easy youtube option. 2008 - Oggy moves into van and begins to blog about life in van for next 8 years. 2016 - Hundreds and hundreds of van dwelling bloggers actually funding their trip with donations. I didn't consider starting a channel on youtube because I am a writer and the video aspect was more for the music and some skits I was developing. I prefer the format of blogs to write essays, long form discussions and analysis. But I also accept this was bad instincts on my part. youtube channels with interesting videos, characters, skits, good music and good footage is the accepted model to gain an audience. If your desire is to 'go viral' then youtube is the way to do it, refine your abilities to connect via video essays or skits. As a writer I want to think the internet is a means to communicate longer essays, but this is not true in the case of van dwelling. People in general are visual, and van dwelling has the element of action that only video can capture. The deeper analysis is possible through an essay, but only if the writing is good. I wonder if my writing will last as digital cave scrawling. I don't know. I've seen a lot of average attempts to be entertaining...that reminds me of my first mandate: entertain. When I started the blog I had to decide how I was going to frame the entries. What was my attitude? At first it was theatrical, and false. I was trying a personality out that I thought might be entertaining. I only leave those posts published to demonstrate my humble beginnings. I was aiming for a comedy skit but the first posts seem more desperate and false. Being homeless reduced the way I could write, and I had no mobile access so everything involved a visit to the library for free internet access. It was tedious, nothing like today where kids post their morning videos instantly, live chatting their breakfast, instantly edit videos. It took me hours to post anything and it involved many attempts to upload the video and them embed the link. It didn't work many times and required more than one attempt. It was new and tedious and I only persevered because I thought it would be at least a good record of my origins with the van so I could look back on it. I thought the idea itself had potential but that fortune would never make my blog popular. Maybe my blog isn't popular because I write too much, too many words, not entertaining enough for the short attention span. Yes, I can see that.

I don't ever see myself accepting donations because it poisons my creativity. I'm not above taking money, but the idea distracts me and affects my thought process and creative output. So, the cost is not worth the benefit.

I'm rambling because it's late and I've become nocturnal and there is mold growing on my ego and I want to memorize the melody to Tangerine, and I love Nat King Cole.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.