Category: loneliness

home #99

Robson & Richards, Thursday night. Two reasons this was a significant vandwelling evening: it marked my first night parking/sleeping right in the heart of downtown, and it was also the night of the very first post-renovation van party! After the super-testosterone charged Glitch Mob show, four friends and I piled into the van and had wine and late night appies, laughing our asses off and making fun of the downtown crowd passing by the window… then along came a group of very attractive steampunkish kids we recognized from the show. We asked them how their night went and their answer was to offer us some freestyle rhymes and beatboxing in through the window, all mushroom-warped dub style… it was these guys! Bottomless thanks to Trevor, Jay, Miranda, Niki, The Funginears, and the GM for a night of ridonculous fun. And an especially big thank you to Trevor for his quick draw on the iphone, capturing the moment forever… Here’s the clip:


redesign part 2

I have the foam!!! This is exciting for many reasons. I’d made the old bed out of a 3rd- or 4th-hand foam mattress, seriously butchering it trying to cut it down to 4 inches thick from 6. Then of course there was the mold event, which left it looking even worse. And to top it all off there was the problem with the crack between pieces. So finally I have my very own clean brand new foam, sized to create my new living room arrangement (I called it limo mode in Redesign part 1), and best of all cut at an angle so there’s no cracks to fall in even though it comes in five different pieces. Here’s a photo of the pieces in bed mode so you can see the angle cuts, and a couple photos of how it looks with the new daytime living room arrangement. Way more comfy to do math in, ha ha. Come on over, you’re all invited!


A few weeks ago I wrote that people can’t really come over to my place, seeing as it’s just a bed in a van. That wasn’t entirely true; they can and they have, and in fact I’ve had a couple of really nice visits on cold sunny days, lying comfortably by the beach with a friend, sun streaming in the windows. Still, it’s only the most devoted of friends that are willing to come visit you lying down.

Anyway I thought a lot about how to improve the situation, and came up with a new design for my bedroom. I cannibalized the first bed and just finished reassembling the frame in its new form yesterday. It converts from bed mode to limo mode; so cool! The old one converted to a long sideways bench that wasn’t very comfortable, so it wasn’t worth the effort of tearing apart my bedding, only to have to re-make when it was time to go to sleep. This one is way more rewarding. It makes a cozy little social space for four, and one of the seats is angled backwards for more comfortable lounging. There’s a little ledge that can either be the place to rest our drinks, or be a little perch for a fifth person. Whereas in the old arrangement I could only drive in bed mode (the bed platform locked the bookshelf in place), with this arrangement I can drive safely in either.

I’m very excited about this… you know after a show when there’s a group of people and you’re all juiced up and not ready to go home but it’s late and you all live in different directions and you can’t decide where to go so you all give up and go home? Those days are over, my friends… now the afterparty’s right outside, at my place!

Next step will be to go to the foam shop and order pieces for the mattress/cushions (I’ve tried cutting foam myself before, with lousy results). Once I have them, you’re all invited! Check it out:


No one’s ever asked me directly, but I’m sure some people wonder if vandwelling is lonely. WordPress can tell me what search terms people have used to find my blog, and every so often ‘vandwelling’ and ‘lonely’ show up side by side… pretending not to notice each other of course.

Well after almost five months of living in the van, last night was the first in which loneliness walked right up and said hi to me. I’d been out dancing, some of my dearest friends and a whole extended community of beautiful caring people all around me. After the show we’d gone to the Naam and pigged out, an old and comforting late-night tradition that brought me back to my high school days. We had a really nice time… so no excuse to be lonely, right?

I got back to the van around 3am, and felt it immediately. For 3 hours I listened to my favouritest music trying unsuccessfully to stave it off, and somewhere in those 3 hours it occurred to me that loneliness might always be nearby, but usually masked by reading, friends, exhaustion, music, etc.

What is loneliness anyway? I don’t think it measures a true lack of relationships; at times in my life I’ve felt deep loneliness despite having lovers and close friendships. At its simplest I think loneliness is the evolutionary trait that compels us to gather together: the desire to connect with others improves our chances of survival. But for me its most poignant moments appear when I’m confronted with the ways in which I create distance despite my need to connect. It’s the bleakness I feel as I push people away, without even realizing what I’m doing. Dancing is interesting, because everyone is there to connect through our shared experience of music, but last night I noticed that even in that context, some of the little things I do really don’t make it easy for people to get closer to me.

So no, I don’t think living in a van is any more or less lonely than living anywhere else. But making the choice to live in a place where people can’t even come over to visit says something about my readiness to let people into my life right now, doesn’t it? Not complaining, just noticing. After all, this is a time in my life when I’m supposed to be self-absorbed ;)

Here’s the music I listened to: two mixes by Ana Sia, who I’ve lavishly praised before and now you get to hear her, and one by Max Ulis. You might listen to parts of these and think “Geez, no wonder he was lonely!” But for me they’re familiar and warm, and even in their darkest moments I find them beautiful. Enjoy!

INSTRUCTIONS: Don’t just click on a link; right-click on it instead (mac users: ctrl+click, or 2-finger tap on a laptop), then choose “download linked file” from the options menu, that’ll save it directly onto your computer so you can listen to it anytime. Virus-free, I promise!

160 dripHOP


max ulis 2008