I've been living in my van at Duke University since January of 2009. I've pledged to not take out loans or borrow money from anybody. I've done this in order to: 1. Afford grad school and 2. Have an adventure. The following entries detail my experiences vandwelling.
9/2/11 Some tips on how to afford college
FIRST SEMESTER - Spring '09
1/6/09- I find my the van on craigslist and buy it.
1/8/09- I renovate (or pimp out) my van.
1/14/09- I read "Walden" for the second time, reflecting on why I've decided to live in a van.
1/16/09- It gets down to about 10 degrees F.
1/26/09- I spend five hours trying to figure out how to combine the Flight of the Conchord's "Business Time" with 20 seconds of footage of my backseat turning into a bed.
1/28/09- With funds rapidly dwindling, I resort to doing MRI studies for money.
2/5/09- My van leaks and I deal with smells. Not the first, nor the last time I deal with this chronic issue.
2/11/09- I'm lonely as hell, so I tell a bum my secret.
2/16/09- I describe how I cook in the van.
2/18/09- I unveil my cookbook.
3/1/09- My mom finds out about van; thinks I'm crazy.
4/5/09- I get food-poisoning and throw-up in the van.
4/19/09- I take pictures of myself doing resourceful things.
4/22/09- I get my tax return and reflect on wealth
5/5/09- Some passersby compare my van to the A-Team's while I try to nap.
5/6/09- I entertain my first guest and discuss what it's like to tell other people that I live in a van.
5/8/09- I clean out the van and reflect on my first successful semester of vandwelling.
5/9/09- I break down my finances and compare them to the average American's.
[I go to Alaska to work as a backcountry ranger for the summer. Click here to view my "Alaska" series.]
SECOND SEMESTER - Fall '09
8/26/09- I shave off my summer beard and reflect on celibacy during the process.
8/27/09- North Carolina is F-in hot in August.
9/3/09- Ants take over my van.
9/30/09- I'm lonely in my library.
10/3/09- I almost witness an orgy unfurl.
10/9/09- Mom finds out about the blog.
10/16/09- I read aloud an article about living in my van to my travel writing class. The article would later be edited and submitted to Salon where it printed.
10/19/09- I eat trash for the first time and enjoy it.
10/25/09- I cook up another pot of spaghetti stew.
11/4/09- I go to halloween dressed as Thoreau. Also reflect on the miseries of grad school.
11/9/09- Some guy inspects the van while I'm in it.
11/16/09- A family has a picnic next to my van for 4 hours. I must remain still.
11/20/09- I record the sounds of vandwelling.
12/2/09- I find a pile of something mysterious in the back of the van.
12/7/09- I print an article in Salon. Chaos ensues.
12/13/09- I reflect on my newfound fame.
1/6/10- The Buffalo News does a story on me.
THIRD SEMESTER - Spring '10
1/11/10- I talk about going to the gym. Videotape myself shooting the hook.
1/25/10- I get in an accident and sprain my knee, cleverly blaming my blunders on a girl
2/2/10- I'm interview by radio host, Dick Gordon.
2/22/10- I stroll through Duke's infamous K-ville.
3/1/10- A picture tour of the van.
3/5/10- I have some mice problems.
3/20/10- A sleeping bag company sends me a free bag. I review it.
4/25/10- I hurt my tongue in a game of pickup basketball and use the opportunity to reflect on my lack of health insurance.
5/16/10- My parents visit me.
5/30/10- I talk about the people I met this past semester, including David who'd let me stay at his home for the summer.
6/8/10- I issue a belated manifesto and give back all the money people had given me over the past couple years.
[I spend my summer with a hermit in Stokes County, North Carolina in a cottage called Acorn Abbey. Click here to view stories from that summer in my "Other Travels" series.]
FOURTH SEMESTER - Fall '10
10/20/10- I learn that I've been illegally parked on private property so I say goodbye to my lot. Also, Duke decides to prohibit all students from living in their vehicles.
10/22/10- I write a letter to Duke complaining about their new law to prohibit on-campus vehicle-dwelling.
10/27/10- I create an adventure scholarship.
11/13/10- I'm running out of money!
11/17/10- A local TV station does a segment on me.
11/25/10- I go to Wal-Mart on Black Friday, and reflect on the ridiculousness of our economic superstructure.
11/29/10- I publish Part 1, of my op-ed to the student newspaper in which I complain about how the "university experience" makes us into debtors
FIFTH SEMESTER - Spring '11 (Final Semester)
12/19/10- I return to Acorn Abbey where I'll spend the rest of the semester writing my final project.
12/26/10- I reflect on my religious upbringing
3/6/11- Spring at Acorn Abbey
4/7/11- Summer's coming to Acorn Abbey.
4/14/11- I'm getting worried about my future.
4/19/11- I prepare for my last week at Duke
5/21/11- My conclusion to my vandwelling experiment. My mom films the speech I give at my department's ceremony.
6/3/11- I leave Acorn Abbey
6/10/11- I do an experiment wrap-up radio interview with NPR Buffalo.
Go to my Alaska section to read about my travels after my vandwelling experiment.