A quick recap: I'm quitting my job and moving out of the truck/state of California.

As a person who doesn't like having stuff they don't need/use, I'm getting rid of the truck. More specifically, as a person who recognizes the utility of money, I'm selling the truck.*

Using the blog in this fashion is probably the closest I'll ever get to monetizing it, but I think posting this here also makes sense for one other big reason:

The truck is weird.

Allow Me to Explain

There are ostensibly two groups of people who might be interested in this truck:

  • People who'd use it for moving things - As I'm more than happy to attest, the truck is great for moving things. I've lost count, but I've used the truck to help people move on 15-20 occasions. But a truck for moving doesn't need a sunroof...or the interior door, and is that insulation on the walls??
  • People who'd live in it - As I'm also more than happy to attest, one can totally live in this truck for long periods of time. That said, it's pretty bare bones. There's no power, plumbing, or any meaningful climate control, it only really makes sense if you're spending most of your waking hours elsewhere.

If the Venn diagram of "people who'd be interested in the truck in its current state" contains more than just, well, me, it's likely one of you, dear blog reader(s).

And so, here we are.

Sweetening the Deal

But selling things is generally such an uninspired affair, so I've got some ideas to keep it interesting:

  • I'll deliver the truck to you, no extra charge - If you live in the contiguous 48 United States, I'll take a road trip to give you the truck. I get one last hurrah with my soon-to-be-former home, you get a box truck straight to your front door. The only catch is that, if anyone actually wants to take me up on this offer, they'll have to put down a deposit for half the truck up front.
  • You can have my stuff, also no extra charge - The few things I currently own are pretty useful for truck living. In no particular order:
    • Tool Cabinet (strapped to the wall with earthquake straps)
    • Tools (saws, socket set, drill, etc)
    • Fireproof document safe
    • Lots of plastic tubs and trays for organization
    • Flashlight
    • Battery packs
    • Clothes hangers

Of course, if someone wants none of those things, I'd just remove them all. I also have a bed and raised bed frame, if those are desirable. You can't have my clothes though, I think I'll still need those.**

Product Description

As for the truck itself, it's in pretty great shape. I've never had any mechanical problems, and I've gotten regular oil changes and replaced the tires and brakes. I also had the left headlight/fender and top radius/corner caps replaced for aesthetics and stopping leaks, respectively. Attempting to be a good custodian of the truck, I have the paperwork for all of the above mentioned things.

I've only put two or three thousand miles on it over the past six years, mostly helping people move and driving it around to keep the battery charged and fluids moving around. I think it has 165,000 miles on it, but I can get the actual numbers for the actuarially inclined.

My asking price is $15,000, which I think is pretty reasonable, especially given that I've paid at least half of that in improvements alone. If you're interested, leave a question or email me at brandon AT frominsidethebox DOT com. I'm more than happy to answer any questions/send photos/etc.

If this fails and nobody here wants the truck, I'll probably just do A More Normal Thing™ and put it on Craigslist or similar, so no pressure.

*I've also tied up pretty much all my semi-liquid savings with this in-progress house purchase, so the cash infusion would certainly be useful.

**Well, at least the shirts, for video conferencing and whatnot.


Source: It's...exactly what it looks like.

I've always said that I'll keep living in the truck as long as it keeps making sense in the larger context of my life. And for the past ~6 years (plus or minus a pandemic), I think that's been the case. I'm young*, healthy, unencumbered by other humans depending on me for survival, and have had access to food, gyms, and other useful resources provided by employers. But now I've gone and quit my job to start my own thing, and suddenly the truck doesn't look quite so sensible any more.

On one hand, I certainly didn't plan on living in a truck for the rest of my life. On the other hand, I never knew when I would stop. Well, I think I've got that last part figured out now, and it turns out it's in like a week.

The Next Chapter

Originally, I was going to talk about my new work adventures here, but that ended up being long and only tangentially related, so I'll save that for another post. The long and short of it is that I've started an organization with a good friend/old co-worker of mine, we'll be running it as our full-time jobs, and I'm terribly excited about it. I'm in the process of purchasing** a modest place in a small, nature-y town in the PNW, where I plan to live for the foreseeable future.

Finding a Good Home

Speaking of good homes, I'm also looking for one for my beloved box truck. If you're in the market for a vaguely habitable*** vehicle, hit me up. I plan on giving it the full post it deserves within the next day or two, just putting it out there now.

Getting Somewhat Sentimental

Few who know me would describe me as a sentimental person; I don't attach a ton of significance to things or places or dates or what-have-you. That said, I think it's second nature for people to organize their mental models of time into personal epochs, like being in college, working at a job, being in a romantic relationship, etc, etc, and I'm no different in that respect.

I definitely think of the truck as an era of my life, and an important one at that. Hell, I've lived in the truck longer than any other place since my childhood home, and I haven't lived there for like 17 years. I'm not the same person I was when I moved into the truck six and a half years ago, and I think the truck has played an outsized role in how I've changed since then.

Which is all to say that there's a certain bittersweetness to transitions like these. I'm excited for what the future may hold, but I also recognize that I'm giving up a big part of how I've lived for most of my adult life, and it'd be silly to not at least acknowledge that.

And a Bit Existential

As for the fate of this blog, I haven't really figured that one out yet. I enjoy putting stuff on here, though as anyone who's looked at the time gaps between the posts can attest, I take my sweet, sweet time in actually publishing things. I've also accumulated maybe two dozen half-finished posts over the years, so I should probably either finish those or toss them if they prove themselves completely irredeemable. We'll just have to see what happens!

Oh, and one last completely unrelated note — I was totally right about my sap situation, because I found the truck looking like this after a particularly warm day.

The sap from the roof melted and dripped down the side, because I was parked on an uneven road. As hideous as it looks, it's great validation for my "melting sap" theory.

*Though not so young as I was, mostly because of the linear nature of time and whatnot.

**For anyone keeping score, this will be my third home, but the first one I'll actually get to live in (my family lives in the other two, on the east coast). I don't know how many homes you need before you get to call yourself a "real estate mogul", but I'm feelin' pretty mogul-y.

***The things that make it "habitable" are the skylight, interior door, and maybe insulation. Aside from that, it's just a normal box truck in all-around good condition.


Being back in the truck wouldn't really be complete without some semi-inexplicable phenomenon causing me troubles (cough cough). And thankfully, the truck hasn't disappointed. I say this because I came back to the truck a few days ago to several large mounds of thick, sticky sap on the floor of the truck.

This would be odd under normal circumstances, but to make things further befuddling:

  • My sunroof was closed, and
  • I wasn't parked anywhere near a tree.

Certifiably odd. But years of strange truck happenstances mean that my first reaction was along the lines of "This needs to be gone now", instead of just general confusion. I've witnessed one too many ant et al infestations even without any food in the truck, I sure as hell wasn't going to sit around and find out if they find sap tasty or not.*

So I busted out the cleaning products and scrubbed, scraped, or otherwise scooped up the sap. Once that was done, I was ready to be confused and/or befuddled.

A Grand Theory

Okay, so I've got a rough idea of what actually happened here. For a while leading up to the incident, I was indeed parked under a tree. Usually, I'm a big fan of trees, the shade and CO2 sequestration and general ancestral predisposition toward them and whatnot. This tree however, not so much. It is a sappy, rude tree.** I don't believe that trees feel emotions in the same way that humans do, but if this tree could feel anything, I'd imagine it would feel nothing but unmitigated spite. It truly seems like this thing was purpose-built by nature to remove happiness from the world. As far as I can tell, this tree has two main hobbies:

  1. Dropping infinitely sticky, gum-like sap bombs
  2. Coating the world in pine needles, at a rate that logistically doesn't seem possible

I know I'm really hamming up the tree description here, but it'd be hard for me to overstate just how obnoxious the sap was. I'd hear it dropping at steady intervals, a substantive *thunk* on the thin metal roof. After a few days parked in the same spot, the sap was so thick on the sunroof that it no longer let light in. The potent combination of sap and pine needles made the truck absolutely filthy, and running the windshield wipers with torrents of washer fluid barely made a dent. I had to spray down the truck with a pressure washer to get most of it off. This whole sappy-mound-in-the-truck ordeal played out after I had already cleaned the truck. But anyway, here's what I think happened, in haiku form:


Sap on the rooftop
Pine needles invade the cracks
Summer heat, sap melts.

Basically, pine needles crept into the (usually waterproof) crevice between the sunroof glass and the liner, leaving a really small gap. One exceptionally hot day melted the sap on the roof (which I couldn't reach to clean off with the pressure washer) and it proceeded to seep through the gaps and plop onto the floor, where it cooled and solidified into a hateful mound.

And sure enough, when I took out the sunroof glass and swept a cloth around the crevice where the truck roof meets the sunroof bracket, it was full of pine needles. With that out of the way, a quick and preemptive Q & A.

A Quick and Preemptive Q&A

Why did you park there in the first place?

I didn't know what I was signing up for.

Why didn't you move the truck once you realized it was getting covered in sap?

Pure laziness.

Where are the pictures? I DEMAND PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

I took one photo afterwards if that counts:

A corner of the screen where sap streamed through, one of the mounds was directly below it.

Of Trucks and Troubles

As always, the truck shows an infinite capacity to be problematic in new and exciting ways. This is as entertaining as it is annoying. Especially after the long and relatively problem-free hiatus, I don't mind being kept on my toes a bit. Plus, how else would I get fed fodder to fuel this feed? (Okay, okay, I'll stop now.)

*This is all a long-winded explanation for why I don't have any pictures of the mounds of sap. Years of truck blogging apparently still haven't instilled any instinct to take photos first and destroy evidence later.

**As you can probably imagine from the context, I'm talking about "sappy" as in "produces a lot of physical sap," as opposed to "enjoyed the movie The Notebook".


Source: The metaphor here being that living in the truck is like riding a mechanical bull, which is especially apt in the sense that cars (and trucks) are basically just mechanical bulls/horses. Okay, I'll stop now.

To be honest, it's been kinda weird trying to maintain a blog about living in a truck when I haven't, you know, been living in a truck.

It's sure a good thing I'm back in the truck then.

Yup, you heard read that right. After a long, long year (and some change), I've sloughed off the normalcy of a one-bedroom apartment and slithered back into my truckly digs of yesteryear. And while the amenities and convenience of things like "electricity" and a "bathroom" and "not living in a legal grey area" were nice additions to my life, I've got to say that I'm glad to be back.

But Brandon, you were this close to being a well-adjusted member of society, what happened?

For starters, offices opened back up, which was really the main thing holding me back. As a rampant pragmatist, living in a vehicle has usually been about making good use of the resources available to me. And it turns out that tech offices are pretty great resources. But more directly, I think the truck still makes sense in the larger context of my life and goals, at least for the time being. Plus, I think I'd regret not giving the truck one last hurrah. How long will this last hurrah last? Who knows. Probably somewhere between a month and a year, I see a couple things on the horizon that might change the whole "does this still make sense?" equation. In any case, I'll let future Brandon take stock of the situation and make a call on that one.

The Situation

A lot has changed since the last time I was truckin' it, the main thing being that I traded the comforts of my cushy big-company job for a comparatively scrappy, single-digit-number-of-people startup. I'm not walking distance from a dozen different buildings I can go into, I don't have cafes making me my every meal, yada yada. The new office is a unit in a larger business park, which changes the rules of engagement a bit. All in all, it's definitely required a bit of adaptation.

Because I'm consistently tardy with my posts, I've actually already been living my new truck life for like two months, and I think I've settled into a decent rhythm. I wake up around 5:30ish, bike ~15 minutes over to the office, hit the gym, shower, cook myself breakfast, and start my day.

Breakfast?

Breakfast, indeed. The office has got a microwave and a fridge, and that's enough to make some microwave egg sandwiches,* and oatmeal with peanut butter. For the uninitiated, I know the phrase "microwave egg sandwiches" might sound a bit odd, but they're legitimately fine, and a useful tool in anyone's van life cookbook. One can find any number of recipes online, so I won't do you the disservice of trying to explain my probably mediocre variant. Not much needs to be said about oatmeal with peanut butter, it's delicious and nutritious and probably the closest thing I have these days to a religion.

Gym?

I've previously detailed what I'd been doing for "exercise" within the confines of the pandemic. It amounted to aggressively deforming rubber bands and biking like I actually had a place to be. Prior to that, I'd been doing basically the same routine with slight variations for over a decade.

When I first saw the gym at the new office, I almost wept tears of joy. I didn't know if there was a gym at all, and if there was one, I was expecting the kind of gyms you see in hotels, which have a few decrepit treadmills, dumbbells between 2 and 17 pounds, and maybe a Smith machine. What I actually found was a fully loaded fitness center with not one, but two (!!) power racks, which is really all I need for my daily ritual of picking things up and putting them down. It took some MacGyver-ing to get the safety pins at the right height for every exercise so I can do them safely without a spotter, but with that squared away, I haven't had any problems. I'm very happy, and, after a year+ of not lifting, very sore.

Everything Else

The other main thing that has changed for me is what I do outside of work. In the Before Times, I had access to a vast campus where I could amble around and do whatever away from my team, and I spent most of my free time in an unrelated-to-my-day-job building in a cozy and quiet corner, reading a book or working on any number of esoteric projects. But now, there's not really anywhere obvious for me to go after I've put in my eight-or-so hours. I could go back to the truck, but at ~4pm it's still like 120 degrees, which isn't great. Plus, the whole point of the truck is that I don't spend time in the truck, so if I'm spending time in the truck, that seems…wrong? Instead of that, I could hang out in the business park courtyard, but my co-workers would be able to see me from the window, which would blow my cover, or at least encourage all sorts of questions that I don't have great answers bold-faced lies for.

My solution has been to rediscover libraries. This happens to me probably once every five years or so, when I remember that libraries exist and am completely blown away at what an incredible resource they are. So after work most days, I'll bike ~15 minutes to a nearby library (which I picked up a library card for), and do my usual shenanigans there. Sometime around 8pm, I'll bike back to the office, get myself ready for bed, and head back to the truck.

All in All

I'm glad to be back. I appreciate the regimentation the truck provides for my schedule, and the bike ride to/from work and the library ensures that I'm vastly more active than I have been for the past year and a half. I know that it's not something I'll be doing forever, but I'll be damned if I don't enjoy it while I'm here.

*I learned about the concept of microwaving eggs from an on-again off-again van-dwelling friend of mine. I was incredulous at the idea such a thing could be good, but Srini made me a believer. So thanks Srini!


I can be a completely insufferable person to be around. Part of this is because it took me a long time to learn the difference between someone seeking advice, and just wanting to vent. If I think I see a problem, I tend to look for solutions. Couple that with a bit of obnoxious optimism and an inclination towards simplicity, and the outcome is that I trivialize problems and offer deeply unnuanced "solutions".

Case in point: whenever someone complains about rain, I mechanically regurgitate some devastatingly cliché remark about how, without the rain, we wouldn't appreciate the sunshine.

Now, if they were just trying make conversation or kvetch, this is normally the point in the conversation where their eyes would roll back in their head so hard they'd be doing an impressive impression of a slot machine.

Even still, I think it's a valid point (fully acknowledging that I overdo it a bit). After all, us human beans spent the past four billion years* getting really good at handling whatever the universe threw at us, and the net result is that our experiences don't exist in absolute terms of "good" and "bad", but are instead relative to some ever-shifting baseline. If every single day was a perfect 73° F and sunny (or substitute your own particular perfect weather), we'd learn to complain on the rare day where it was an absolutely abysmal 72° F and partly cloudy (but still mostly sunny).

If you think I'm being dramatic, you've likely never lived in the Bay Area — that example was plucked from something I witnessed on many a mostly-sunny-day.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that rain helps set a baseline and add perspective. An "oh, so it could be worse". A poor man's negative visualization, if you will. And if you won't, that's fine too.

Anyway anyway, that's what this post aspires to be about: the wonderful world of less-than-ideal things.

The Best Medicine

I've dedicated a decent chunk of this blog to the times when things have gone suboptimally, awry, or just downright wrong. This is partly because writing about things going right would be significantly less interesting, we're all suckers for a good tragedy. But more than that, things frequently just don't go the way we expect them to go, which is doubly true when trying to live out of things not explicitly designed for living in, like box trucks. As such, I think it's useful to have some kind of framework for reasoning about undesirable outcomes. I never explicitly sat down and thought about how to handle things going wrong (until now, I guess), but I find myself coming back to the same few thoughts:

  • Bad Things™ are rarely existential. Take an objective look at the Bad Thing you're currently dealing with. Will it matter in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 days?** Usually, the answer to at least one of those questions is no, in which case you can just mentally fast-forward to the point at which it no longer matters, and save the energy you would have spent stressing over it. For the occasionally cataclysmic Big Bad Thing where it really does matter, even in the long run, your energy is likely better spent on figuring out how to deal with this life-altering incident than feeling bad about it.
  • Adversity provides opportunities for growth. We grow when we step outside our comfort zone. Bad things are perhaps necessarily uncomfortable, or they probably wouldn't be considered bad. Therefore, dealing with Bad Things makes us more capable human beings, which seems like a Good Thing. Every time my bike or car or truck has broken down, I learn something new about how to fix them. Same for software things at work. Minor inconveniences build character and patience, etc, etc.
  • Things going according to plan is straight up boring. You ever read a book or watch a movie about someone having a great day and then living happily ever after? Probably not, because that would be a pretty uninteresting book/movie. On some level, it's because we like complications. Why not take it one step further and apply it to our own lives? Getting your car towed isn't a problem, it's a plot point. Enjoy the adventure.

The upshot is that I've Stockholm Syndrome'd (or Pavlov'd? I'm not a psychologist) myself to laugh reflexively when things go wrong. Bonus points if I'm the reason they went wrong. The worse things go (up to a point, naturally), the more hilarious it is. Some examples:

  • Stubbed a toe? Gentle snicker.
  • Car won't start? Light chuckle.
  • Ripped my pants in public? Hearty laugh.
  • Dropped an entire pot of baked beans? Roaring cackle.
  • Biking uphill in a freak rainstorm? Abject hysterics.

Laughter is chicken soup for the soul. Or vegetable soup, if that's more your thing. In either case, there are few problems so existential in nature that they're worth not-laughing about, and I'd prefer to laugh than be stressed, given the option. And that option is pretty much always on the table, especially if we know we'll get over whatever it is we're dealing with. I think folks frequently underestimate how much of a choice it really is to be stressed out or overwhelmed. "Just don't be stressed" is definitely one of those un-nuanced oversimplifications I'm oh-so-fond of, but at the end of the day, we're really the only ones responsible for how we feel.

Aside from uncontrollable laughter, my other favorite antidote for adversity is apathy. Over the past few years, I've found that I have less and less energy that I'm willing to dedicate to feeling bad about things. In the grand scheme of things, life is pretty short, mustering up the energy to be petty or upset or stressed or down on myself just doesn't seem as gratifying as it did when I was an angsty teenager. As a result, I consider fewer things problems than I otherwise might have in the past. Things that were problems are now just exciting detours that will make great stories later.

Making Misteaks

A special subset of "things going wrong" is "things going wrong because of you". I don't mean to brag, but I'm really good at messing things up and finding myself in that latter category, which folks usually call "mistakes". At one point or another, I've messed up pretty much anything I've ever done in some way. Whether its crashing cars, falling off bikes, making bad investments, ruining important relationships, breaking software systems, or any manner of truck-related tragedies, I've had my fair share of personal failures.

If you've been reading my ramblings for a while, it might not come as a surprise to to hear that I'm pretty proud of (most of) my blunders, and more than happy to document them in an unnecessarily public forum. That's because, in my mind, mistakes are a Good Thing™. Being bad at something is usually the first step to being good at something — it's a lot easier to learn from failure than from success. Through that lens, getting things wrong usually means I'm doing something right.

The only failures I truly regret are ones where I'm not the only person I hurt, or where I've made the exact same mistake more than once. The former one doesn't require any more elaboration***, and the latter means that I didn't learn anything from my mistake the first time. And publicly documenting my mistakes has the added benefit of making me (slightly) more accountable for those mistakes, and less likely to repeat them, at least in theory.

Wrapping it up

Recently, I've been reading this book**** about "antifragility", a way of describing systems that benefit from volatility (usually to some finite extent). The human immune system is a prime example — not only can it handle stressors (viruses, bacteria, etc), which would merely indicate robustness, but it actually benefits from such stressors, mounting a more effective response the next time around.

I only mention this because I think the same way about bad things more generally: anything that forces us outside our comfort zone is naturally an opportunity for future resilience, which is just a convoluted way of saying it makes us better people. I find the prospect worth smiling about.

*I recognize that human beans have only been around for about three hundred thousand years in their current bean form, but I imagine that we were also picking up useful adaptations as monkeys and mice and amoebas in our prior incarnations.

**I use a different number (e.g. 7) and different units (e.g. jiffies? microfortnights? dog years?) every time, because 1) I can't remember what it was when I originally heard it, and 2) the actual amounts of time are mostly irrelevant, it's the underlying idea that this thing doesn't matter long-term that's important.

***For all you sociopaths who need an explanation: it's because hurting people is bad.

****The author's got some pretty strong opinions on a wide range of topics. It probably goes without saying, but I don't necessarily agree with him on all of them.



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