Tip #1: It gets cold outside... and inside
I really didn't expect this.
I'd been homeless previously and slept outside before, but it gets really cold. That's why this time, I thought I was smart and came up with different indoor locations I could sleep in to avoid the cold outdoors.
Not only was I wrong —the insides of buildings get sufficiently cold, but damn UCLA A/C is actually the worst thing ever when you're trying to fall asleep.
The three primary locations I slept at were Easton Softball Field, Covel Commons Rooftop, and anywhere there was a couch in De Neve.
May 12th, 2018: Saturday, Day 2
With this, I decide to call it a night and head to Easton Softball Field. As I arrive, luckily, it seems like the event is over, it's dark, and I make my way. I hop over the outermost wall of the softball field near the outfield and walk across the field towards the bleachers. There's a few tables set-up and some balloons that say, "SENIORS" in the outermost ring of the stadium. This makes me hopeful that this was the last major softball event that would be hosted here for the quarter, and that I'd be okay to sleep here for the rest of my time being homeless. I head up the bleachers careful not to make too much noise. It likely doesn't matter, but hearing the bleachers creak makes me paranoid, and I wouldn't want to take any chances regardless. I make my way to the announcer's box, drop my belongings on a bleacher, and climb up to the roof of the announcer's box from the side using the door handle and the fence besides it to hoist myself up. On the roof, there's an entrance to inside the announcer's box which is where I'm planning to sleep. The roof latch is tied down with rope, but I'm able to push the latch up just enough with one hand for the other hand to be able to reach in and undo it. After the rope is untied, I head inside, open the locked door, and bring my belongings inside with me: my backpack and a bag with two blankets and a small foam pad used for yoga that I ironically found when I was still in Long Beach in the hallways that I took by chance since it was purple. It's around 10pm. I lie on the artificial looking grass with my two blankets over me and my backpack as my pillow, close my eyes, and try to sleep. I move my head around to different spots on my backpack to find a place that's not too lumpy or hard. I also adjust my blankets slightly since it's relatively warm. This makes me happy since I remember sleeping outside a few times previously... it gets cold, and the relative warmth of the announcer's box gives me confidence that tonight will be good. Eventually I find a position that's suiting, prone, looking straight up, head cocked at a slight angle, and I fall asleep.
The Next Morning...
I wake up at around 2am shivering and tired. I'm still getting used to the onset of sleep deprivation, but my brain kicks into gear, and I realize that I'm not going to be able to fall back asleep in this cold.
I get up from my blankets and walk around a bit thinking of what I can do to stay warmer. I consider moving myself under the tables and pressing my back against a wall to reduce the surface area where heat can escape, it doesn't really help in practice. I climb up to the roof and consider closing the latch fully that I'd left open slightly because an electrical wire was running up and through the latch from the inside. If I unplugged the plug, I'd have to plug it back in in the morning and for some reason, this doesn't seem appealing to me —it's not good to touch or move too many things, so unfortunately I can't close the latch, not that it would help now anyways since it's already cold inside.
I wrap myself up in my blankets and pace around the rectangular announcer's box, which is really just the size of two or three walk in closets, to keep my mind off the cold and keep warm. I'm evidently disappointed that it's cold, but too tired to recognize this thought.
I sit in a corner and shiver, closing my eyes and passing out occasionally, then waking up; regardless, I keep my eyes closed to rest.
It's too cold. I open my eyes and consider going into my backpack and putting on the spare change of clothes I have for extra layers. I topple over in fetal position, already bending under the strain of sleep deprivation. I resign to my fate, my eyes zoning out, focusing lightly on this rectangular object in front of me.
I'm not sure what it is, but it's rectangular, has a metal grate on the front of it with those cheese grater-like holes, a few light-like bars behind it, and a few dials on top. It's some sort of machine, but my brain isn't processing that, it just sees a thing. In my tired state, I hesitantly twist the large dial on the right a bit, but it doesn't move well, so I don't twist it further. I keep looking at the thing. I press the dial on the left, which does nothing since it's a dial. I continue looking at it, and looking at it, until eventually, somehow, I end up turning the right dial with more force, it clicks into the first location. I pause, the thing is no longer a thing, it becomes a machine and begins to shake a bit as if warming up, the bars begin to glow a slight orange. At first, I don't realize what's happening, but then, the machine begins to feel warm. I smile. I can't believe it. Someone left a space heater in here, and it was in front of me this whole time. I crank the dial up to the third and last location, and wrap myself near it. It's actually a bit too hot, and I worry about potentially burning myself or a blanket somehow. I dial it down to two, and try to place it at an angle so I won't melt. I close my eyes.
I wake up sometime later, probably around 7am and decide it's time to leave. I turn off the heater and make sure to put it back exactly as I found it. I pack up my blankets, and I head over to De Neve Rec room. For the rest of the day, I do the maintenance tasks I need to: I eat at In N Out, work at De Neve Rec Room, pass out occasionally while working, contemplate life, and read.
For the next several days I tried returning to Easton Softball Field, but always found that there seemed to be events going on. Eventually I decided I had to give up on it, so the next location I tried was the rooftop of Covel Commons.
Day 5: May 15th, Tuesday
At 10pm I head for Easton Softball Field, and when I arrive, I notice that the car guardrails to the back entrance are open. I stand there for a few moments to contemplate what I should do; I'd expected Easton Softball Field to be free of people since they just had a formal Senior Banquet like event, but now it seemed like that wasn't the case and the events had just begun. I decide to head to Covel Commons and check if the storage closet on the third floor near the center room was open or not. I'd slept there previously my first time being homeless (it's a room full of chairs... like hundreds of chairs stacked on top of each other in a ~7x7 space), but when I'd checked the door a few nights ago (since I was on the Hill) it hadn't opened. Maybe it'd open this time, or so I hoped, then I could sleep on top of the chairs and make a nice floating bed. No one would go in the storage closet during the night either nor did I expect people to go in there during the day unless there was an event. I walk down the Hill to Covel in nervous anticipation.
I arrive at Covel and head up the stairs, I check the door, the handle goes down, but the pins don't engage. The door is locked. Disconcerted, I head to the bathroom and decide to brush my teeth. My brain is considering all the options for where I could sleep, would I be able to hide somewhere in Covel? I had to sleep inside, being outside would be too cold. I consider going to the study room at the end of the second floor hall. I consider sleeping in the stairwell. I finish brushing my teeth and place the toothbrush and toothpaste back in the zip-lock bag and pack it up. I decide to explore Covel and try whatever doors I can to see if something opens. I have no idea what I'm going to do, so I'm just trying anything I can. Miraculously, the first door I try on the way out of the bathroom opens, its a storage closet with tables, and I'm relieved because I think I can sleep in this room just like the chair closet room. The tables are blocking the way, but I roll them inwards and bring all my belongings in. A student walks past me on the way to the bathroom and sees this but doesn't mention anything. I shut the door behind me. I consider how I would sleep, to minimize the chances of me being caught. The chair room is nice because there's so many chairs a lot of them act as cover incase anyone opened the door. This room is not the same, it's a passage-like storage room so there's doors are both ends, not to mention a stairwell above me —and then it hits me. Stairwell... my brain brings up a memory of an afternoon when I spent time with Megan, a short-haired asian girl whom I'd met at a UCLA blockchain event. We were just walking around campus exploring, and we'd decided to try opening the door that had led up to the room of Covel Commons. It opened, and I couldn't believe it since it was my first time visiting this particular rooftop, and I'd visited a lot of rooftops. I'd climbed down from the stairwell on that day to see where the doors below us went, and this was that exact room.
Here's a picture of it from the stairwell:
I was at the bottom, so all I had to do was climb up and that would take me to the rooftop of Covel Commons. Once on the roof, I knew the exact spot where I could sleep. I used a stool near the wall to prop myself up, and I threw bag of blankets over the railing onto the stairwell. I panicked a bit, and imagined what would happen if someone happened to open the door to head to the roof at this moment. I place my poetry book on the stairwell by sliding it through the railings, put on my backpack, grab onto the bottom-most railing and hoist myself up. I quickly grab the rest of my belongings and head to the roof.
Here's a hint of where I am:
Basically, if you look straight from the bottom of Covel, I'm on the outsides of that ring. The place is indoors, heat rises, and I feel confident that no one would ever come here. I set up camp, and try to sleep.
Day 6: May 16th, Wednesday
I wake up at 2am shivering. Apparently it gets pretty cold at night still, and the building is no longer warm since the bustle of everyday people has also left it. I get out the extra blanket I'd used as a pillow and use my backpack instead. The backpack is lumpy and hard in some places so I try to adjust it but it doesn't work out too well, and I'm tired. Regardless, the demands of sleep compel me to fall asleep intermittently between shivering, dreams, and rolling around on the concrete floor. When I see the sky is bright, I decide to get up and leave before the building is too populated and people are walking around in the stairwells potentially. It's around 7am. I head out.
Well, eventually Covel Commons Rooftop fails me too, but I'll explain why in a different tip, so eventually I end up at De Neve...
Day 10: May 20th, Sunday
We get back at around 2am. I'm exhausted. The night continues; a group of us, Dmitri, Khatija, Nina, and I head to Denny's to eat. We exist in that temporal state of fatigue and fatigue —tiredness and hunger melded into one blend of fatigue, it weighs heavily on us while we await our food which takes much longer than anticipated and is much worse than we expected. I pay the bill. We split ways. Dmitri and I take an Uber back to his apartment, Ophir Terrace, I walk to De Neve as it is the only location that I can think to get into this late and that doesn't have security immediately. I think of sleeping in De Neve Auditorium but I'm worried because out of all the places, De Neve Auditorium is the most accessible and accessible always means more chances of being caught. I opt to sleep in the Magnolia Room near the water fountain on the second floor of De Neve. I take my laptop out, open it and place it on the desk, then turn off the lights and try to sleep classroom style, face down on the desk. After not falling asleep, I decide the position I'm sleeping in is futile and head to De Neve Auditorium. I take the elevator down to enter De Neve Auditorium (since the main doors are locked) and once inside, make my way to the back of the auditorium by the main doors. I consider how I should sleep to give myself the maximal amount of time to prepare and leave the auditorium if I hear janitors coming. There's only two sets of doors between me and being spotted, and there doesn't seem to be a better place to sleep that would be out of sight. I prop my backpack against a wall and lay down, leaning my head against my backpack. After a few moments, I realize I won't be falling asleep since my paranoia is kicking in, and footsteps outside the main doors (though they are student footsteps) prevent me from feeling secure in my location. I get up, exit from the main doors, and sit in a couch next to the entrance. I keep my laptop open on my lap, I prop my head on my right arm which is in a 90 degree angle using the armrest of the couch, and I fall asleep intermittently from 4am to 10am. A light is right above me, and even when I close my eyes I can feel its glare, but having no choice, I fall asleep. I wake up and switch my head to my left arm, I fall asleep. I see a student pass in front of me, I lean back in the couch and turn my head sideways so its supported by the couch, I fall asleep. I wake up, check the time: it's 9am, and fall asleep. Finally at 10am, I get my bearings and start my day. I head to In N Out for burgers.
My favorite color. ↩︎
I'm a side sleeper but rip, can't have everything. ↩︎
2am-4am is around the coldest time of the day. ↩︎
on-campus housing at UCLA is called "The Hill" ↩︎
Despite not being a UCLA student at the time of the event. ↩︎
The others offered to help pay; I just don't like dealing with the whole Venmo thing. ↩︎