Tip #4: Keep an eye out for opportunity
When you get an opportunity, take it.
There's never any real certainty when you're homeless, you have to be able to adapt to circumstances, which means keeping an eye out for opportunities.
Whether it's gaining access to buildings at night, finding keys, or sneaking past people, pay attention to creative opportunities.
Here we go. 🎈
After taking a "shower" in North Pool at around 3:30am...
Day 4: May 14th, Monday
I leave Kaufmann and start walking towards SAC and bruin walk.
I'm not sure what I'll do now, but I consider finding somewhere to sit so I can write or otherwise go to sleep again. Out of curiosity I try to open the front doors of SAC, but they are locked. I continue walking around the side and decide to check the side door just out of curiosity again, not expecting it to... open. ?!?!!?
I walk in and carefully close the door behind me so it makes minimal noise. I'm careful to walk as quietly as possible so I can pay attention to other people's footsteps if there are any. I hear nothing, there's really no one here.
I head to the SAC pool area front desk and check the male locker rooms, the handle doesn't turn, but the door opens. Nice. Regardless, I hop over the front desk since I recall that usually the doors are completely locked and that there's a button that needs to be pressed to open them. Sure enough, when I'm the other side, there's two buttons, one for the girl's locker room, one for the guys.
At this time, it's 5:07am. I consider going to Ralph's to buy food, but instead head to the lower level of SAC and pass out on the comfy blue couches. There's still no one around, and the silence is only broken by some odd machine that whirs and makes electrical noises behind a wall near me. I hear myself breathing as well, it's quiet and still, strange while at UCLA which is always moving.
After getting kicked out of Covel Commons at 1am...
Day 9: May 19th, Saturday
I finish my journaling and head to Easton Softball Field to see if it's possible to sleep there.
When I arrive, the stadium lights are completely on, which means it'll likely be in use tomorrow morning. I shake my head, I guess I won't be sleeping at Easton anytime soon, and I head back down the way I came.
I don't know where I can possibly sleep that's indoors at this moment, so I end up near Covel Commons again, but it would be impossible to sleep there. I pace a bit to the left of Covel near the mail rooms and Delta Terrace, then suddenly, I see my opportunity: a white male with curly hair, an athletic build, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved button down is walking quickly into the courtyard of Courtside, which I know has no Bruin ID check, carpeted floors, and is (obviously) indoors —exactly what I need for a good night's rest.
I make sure to speed walk to catch up to him, making sure I'm ready to enter whichever building he enters.
We arrive at House 6C, and we both take a seat on the opposite ledges immediately outside the main door. He pulls out his phone with an upright and cheery demeanor about his boy; I sit and look up at the sky, holding my Ralph's grocery bag (which is filled with my blankets), my shoulder's slightly bent from the weight of my backpack, and contemplate sleep. He glances over at me, looks at my grocery bag, and says in that idle-conversation tone mixed with a veneer of excitement that wants to comfort itself by distracting itself, "Laundry?"
I nod my head, "Yeh, the worst," I say.
He smiles, "Do you live here?"
"No, I'm waiting for a friend."
He continues, "Yah, I live in De Neve, it's so crowded there!"
A tall blonde girl wearing sweat pants with curly hair and a majestic air opens the door half leisurely, the girl and guy exchange greetings and she says to the guy, "I'm going to fill up my water bottle," in a sort of loose and airy tone that is reminiscent of hushed tones in a bedroom.
I walk past them and head inside.
The guy says, "Have a good night!" as I pass, to which I reply, "You too!" and he will be having a good night.
Courtside brings back memories of Gina, whom I met in college and lived in Courtside. I consider the guy's excited happiness, the girl's leisurely air, and how once upon a time I'd been in that situation as well. It's strange seeing it from the outside, and I wondered if I gave off the same excitement that that guy did, but somehow I felt the answer was no, and that I was happy, but not excited. If that's the case, how can two people go through the similar experiences and leave with completely different feelings about them?
I lay down in the corner of the carpeted stairwell, pull out my laptop, lay it propped open horizontally to match my sideways sleeping orientation and try to sleep. For the next several hours, doors continually open and close, 7-8 students pass my "sleeping" body, and I hardly sleep. I finally decide to check the time on my laptop, 5:47am, what the hell are people coming back at 5:47am for? I'd expected it to be quiet since it was nighttime and because it's Courtside... how many people could there possibly be in this section of a stairwell? Also, who knew that carpet could be so painful to lie on... I guess because there's concrete under it. I attempt to close my eyes and sleep, but it's not happening. I check the time again, 8:30am. There literally was not a single hour without doors closing. I decide to pack up my belongings and begin my day —but my mind is already thinking of where I can sleep tonight.
Day 13: May 23rd, Wednesday
I found a white room card key on the ground near the Magnolia room bathrooms! This means I should be able to access residential hall bathrooms and maybe some other doors.
Turns out this room card key opens the laundry door at Hitch Suites!
Not having a clear idea where I would sleep for the night, I ended up at Blackstone Launchpad and decided to see if I could get locked inside for the night by chance.
Day 14: May 24th, Thursday
I head to Covel Commons and see Keith in Blackstone Launchpad, so I head in to talk with him, then end up working there. I'd met Keith two years ago as he was the mediator between Gene Block and the student team (which I was a part of) for Code for the Mission. I actually wasn't a student at that time either, but I pretended to be an undeclared third year, so I was able to work on the team.
Keith asks how I have been and what I've been doing. I told him I dropped out of college, went to Canada, worked at a bunch of startups, all true facts —but his timeline is a bit skewed perhaps.
He's been working to find a way out of working; he's thinking of small business ideas, and he told me how he tried an e-commerce business using Shopify that completely failed because he didn't want to continue posting Instagram pictures of products in order to drive purchases. Doing that sort of work for an eternity (year or two, but hey, that's a long time to be posting pictures everyday for the chance of getting a profitable business), would be terrible, so he's re-thinking his approach. I commiserate with him; we're all trying to find a way to do what we'd like to do.
Keith leaves, I stay, a student group called "Design for America" comes in —four asian girls, and they sit around and talk briefly about their days. They don't do anything club-related, and one by one the girls leave. This makes me sad; they too are trying to figure out what to do, and it's just not working. They're trying to escape into ambiguous but high values: "America" and overlaying it on an activity: "Design" in the hopes it will latch onto their hearts and propel them forward, but it won't. The heart wants what it wants, ideals can only get in the way —impacting the world won't save you from not knowing what to do.
At 9:30pm, Sid comes in and we chat briefly. We talk about student organizations. He's hosting an "Out of the Box" meeting tomorrow. He leaves; I stay.
Checking the time, it's almost midnight, which is when the building closes, so I decide to stay where I am. I figure if they spot me, I'll just say I was working and leave. No harm done since I didn't have a place to sleep anyways. If they don't, then I'll sleep here, and I'm praying that I'll be able to sleep here...
Day 15: May 25th, Friday
Serendipity has spoken! I will sleep here. An arm reached in to close the door, slammed the door shut, and didn't bother to peak around the corner to check for anything. Ridiculous! I'm going to sleep tonight! Unfortunately, there is no bathroom in Blackstone Launchpad —I need to pee; I need to brush my teeth. Happy Friday.
At 12:30am I place my ear on the closed double doors and try to listen for footsteps. It seems like the building is clear. I open the door, careful to deadbolt it so I don't lock myself out. That would be a tragedy. I head to the right; another set of closed double doors need to be opened that lead to the hall to the bathrooms. I press the handle down and try to open the door quietly, but it requires a bit more force to move the pins —this makes a loud noise that reverberates around the empty Covel Commons interior. No footsteps. I enter the hallway and close the door behind me. The bathrooms are still unlocked; I pee; I brush my teeth. I imagine what would happen if I saw the CSO officer that had caught me on the rooftops. I exit the bathroom, listen briefly for footsteps outside the first set of double doors, open it, close it shut, head over to Blackstone, undead bolt, close, press shut, breathe. The double doors are quite difficult to close completely since they have pins that need to latch in, that generally requires an extra push that equates into a slam, but satisfied that I don't hear any footsteps, I turn off the lights in Blackstone Launchpad and sleep on the comfy couch and use one of the cushions as a pillow —infinitely better than my backpack.
Student dorms separated into 8 sections, relatively quiet since there's less people than in the big residential hallways. ↩︎
One felt genuinely anxious, perhaps didn't expect his luck, and the other felt in control (in a cause an effect way) and therefore didn't question that the result could have anything not to do with himself.
In college I was very rigorously methodical, and I treated people in a similar way; call it coping. When the world is chaotic, it's natural to try to coax it into form and attempt to systematize it, influence it, and feel that those influences can be attributed to yourself.
The difficulty is that that attitude is correct in technical, political, and economic pursuits, but not wholly with people.
There is influence on other people based on what you do, but when it's rigorously thought of, detachment from yourself is what results because emotion takes a secondary role, and influence, behavior becomes primary. This is a failure since relationships are entered into precisely for the emotions they evoke, and yet, because many of us wish to evoke specific emotions, we try to influence the relationship and therefore make it transactional (influence-based, think work relationships), in which case emotions begin to divorce themselves. ↩︎
Here's the brief news article. ↩︎
But actually, obligations are good thing —but that still necessitates a choice in which obligation, which can be a want. ↩︎
From Anna Karenina, "this ability to act for the common good, of which he felt himself completely deprived, was perhaps not a virtue but, on the contrary, a lack of something – not a lack of good, honest and noble desires and tastes, but a lack of life force, of what is known as heart, of that yearning which makes a man choose one out of all the countless paths in life presented to him and desire that one alone," (p. 169) ↩︎