Source: Water Life

So I've already laid out my pros and cons of why I'm actually doing this, but there's another aspect to it that I didn't really explore in that post, and it basically revolves around the idea of minimalism.


We do things big in America. We love our malls, our big meals, our bigger televisions, and our huge trucks and SUVs. We live in a time of unprecedented opulence and convenience, but that doesn't come without its own issues. The main one is that it is completely and utterly unsustainable. I remember learning in a high school environmental science class that it would take the resources of four or more planet Earths if everyone on the planet were to live the way Americans do. We're supremely wasteful and consumptive, and it's a lifestyle our grandchildren will certainly not be able to "enjoy".

My Thoughts

I feel that I've always been pretty content with what I have, and I don't generally buy things that I don't need. That said, in high school I bought a 46 inch television and a 1000 Watt sound system, which was completely excessive by any stretch of the imagination. I got great use of them yes, using them right up until my graduation from college, but they weren't necessary for me to live the way I wanted to. I gave them away to my sister and a friend, after all, the only things I brought to California with me were some clothes and a laptop.

And from here on out, I'm going to be perfectly content without unnecessary material. I get the most enjoyment from self-improvement, and for me, that comes from books, exercise, and working on personal projects (like this blog). I wouldn't be any happier with a 50 inch television or a Playstation 4, because those don't align with my goals for life*. Being wealthy isn't a function of material, it's a function of contentedness.

*Disclaimer: I do own a smartphone, nice headphones, and a laptop, and as a result I have undoubtedly contributed to the suffering of many child workers in factories at Foxconn and elsewhere. I view these devices as necessary 21st century tools for doing my job effectively, and I strive to take care of them and only replace them when necessary.

One important part of this whole process is turning the back of a truck into a livable, comfortable space. I have a number of plans and ideas on how to do that, and I'm going to chronicle my attempts at turning them into realities in this "Home Improvement" series. This one is a super basic one, but hey, baby steps. If I plan on living in this thing, I'll need a place to sleep, naturally. So I wandered over to Craigslist, found the sketchiest new mattress and box spring set I could find, and placed an order. Notice the word "new", that's super important, because I'm not in the mood for a case of bed bugs or crabs or whatever else you can catch from a used mattress.

Anyway, all I actually did to make this a reality was the following:

  1. Pick up the bed.
  2. Remove the plastic from the bed.
  3. Find desired location for bed.
  4. Place bed in desired location.
  5. Make bed.
  6. Tie it down with the rope that I mentioned in a previous post.

Voila! I now have a bed.

With the bed out of the way, I was ready to try bigger and better things. The next thing on my list was a place to hang my dress shirts and pants. In a real-world setting, this would be called a "clothes rack". So I took another trip down to Home Depot, which is quickly becoming the most important place in my life, and I picked up some screws, a screwdriver, some clothes hangers, two mounting brackets, and a 6 foot long wooden rod. If I had done everything correctly, here is how the process should have gone:

  1. Screw in mounting brackets, approximately 6 feet apart.
  2. Place wooden rod on brackets, screw into place.
  3. Place hangers on wooden rod.

So right off the bat, I realized I bought the wrong screws. How did I realize this, you ask? Well for one, they were clearly marked "Sheet Metal Screws", and I was working with wood. I quickly learned that the difference between the two is the threading, which is far more dense on sheet metal screws and makes it really hard to put them in, especially without a drill. So after 15 minutes of painfully torquing one of these screws into the wooden railings of the box truck, I was sufficiently satisfied with how far into the wall it was. I put the mounting bracket on over it, tightened it a few more turns, and moved onto the next one.

That doesn't sound all that bad, right? Well that's because I haven't adequately set the scene for you. It's a beautiful, sunny 75 degree day in Santa Clara, and I'm in the back of a nearly ventilated box truck, trying with all my might to fit square pegs (sheet metal screws) into round holes (wood). So anyway, I exhaustingly put up the second mounting bracket (without measuring because that would be reasonable and take all of the fun out of it), only to find out that I've placed the two mounting brackets 6 feet and 1 inch apart, meaning that the wooden rod for hanging the clothes won't rest on the brackets. Tragic. Repeat the bracket mounting process, but now 6 inches over.

Throw in a couple extra screws, because a little over-engineering can't hurt, and the end result is pictured above. How well will it work? Who knows! Only time will tell, but in the mean time, I'm fairly pleased, and ready to take on some even more ambitious home improvement projects as I refine my newly-pioneered form of crazy.

Source: Dream Views

I did it.

And by it I mean sleeping in the box truck for the first time. I still have a corporate apartment until Sunday, but I wanted to try out living in the box truck, because at least I still have the flexibility of normal human housing, and this way, I could work out any potential kinks.

A Whole New World

Okay, maybe that's a little bit dramatic, once I was in there, it really just felt like being home, in my own bed. It was pretty comfortable, especially for a mattress that only cost me $99. The eventual goal is still to get a super comfortable memory-foam, fancy-shmancy bed, mainly because I feel that without a solid sleep foundation, the rest of my day suffers and I end up using caffeine as a crutch. Not ideal.

Being completely new to the whole process of living in a van, I was pretty anxious for most of the night. I set up the environment on my work computers to my liking, played some Dance Dance Revolution at an arcade (in my office!), grabbed a late dinner with a few friends, and then headed over to my super secret hiding spot. Interestingly enough, the place I picked to park the box truck was already inhabited by more than a few equally sketchy looking vehicles: an RV, a few hippy vans, and a large truck or two. I have a hunch that I'm not the only person doing this.

Heading to Bed

I felt like a criminal walking across the parking lot. It's 9:30 PM, a dark truck with tinted windows slowly drives by just as I'm approaching the box truck. My heart is beating out of my chest, I slow down until it drives past, and then open up the back once I'm convinced they've passed. I re-lock the door behind me, leaving it slightly open for ventilation and so that no one can lock me in. I spend the next ten minutes quietly getting undressed and unpacking the suitcase I threw in early in the morning, completely paranoid that someone is watching/listening and going to bust in at any second. I shut off my lantern, and spend the next half an hour listening intently to the silence of the parking lot, interrupted only by the occasional thuds of doors closing and squeaks of suspensions going over speed bumps. Eventually I fall asleep, waking up intermittently because of strange truck and security-related nightmares. When my alarm goes off at 5:30 AM, I silence it immediately. I grab my already-packed gym bag, and I start my day.

I did it.

Source: Evolved MMA

Don't worry, I'm not going to post about every single night I spend in the box truck, but this one was markedly different than the first, and deserves to be noted as such. When it was bed time last night, I wasn't feeling the same type of anxiousness that pervaded the previous night. I was much more relaxed and confident. I still did my best to be quiet, but I wasn't stopping every few seconds to make sure that nobody was watching. The overall experience was much more pleasant this time around, and I slept like a small child.


I don't know what made me so much more comfortable with the idea and the whole situation after only a single night, but I have a few theories about what is going on with me.

Acceptance of the Situation

Maybe I subconsciously realized that it's not the big of a deal, if I have to talk to security or a co-worker, it doesn't really affect anything about my situation. Absolute worst case scenario: I have to move the truck. That's really the worst thing that could feasibly happen, and that would be far from the worst thing that has ever happened in a human being's life. Realizing how large the world (or even just my workplace) is, and how nobody is particularly out to get me, was a big step in calming my nerves. Having the first night go so smoothly made it clear that this whole scheme is actually viable.


I've mentioned before how I already have accepted that I'm completely crazy, and that normal human beings don't do these types of things, but I can't help but wonder if some mental safeguard has actually snapped, and I'm actually losing my marbles, starting to become comfortable with the fringe lifestyle I'm in the process of adopting, like an even weirder form of Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe the first night was so traumatizing to me that I've now lost all mental faculties keeping me even remotely reasonable. Who knows?

Regardless of why I settled into the new routine so quickly, it shows me something that I think will be increasingly important for me, especially in my future travelling endeavors. It shows that I can adapt. Adapt to an unconventional situation and adapt to a new life. And like I mentioned in an earlier post, this experience and capability will be crucial as I travel around the world without much more than a backpack.


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