Monday, January 5, 2009

tramps, vans, and resumes

Yesterday and today were new lows on my Vantasy. I'm a little bit depressed, I must admit.

The initial thrill of being back home has been replaced by the creeping despair of being homeless. Today I think about the book Nickled and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, in which she temporarily gives up her upper middle class, educated life to become working class for a few months, and then writes a book about her struggles. I've always had a problem with the one insurmountable shortfall of that book: that you can never truly be working class if you were raised middle class. Sure, she can bury her checkbook in her underwear drawer and promise herself not to touch it for a few months, but she can't take away her education, her sense of security, fallback plans, stable family support system, ingrained sense of entitlement, command of proper English, orthodontically improved teeth, etcetera, etcetera. All I'm saying is that while I appreciate her trying to draw attention to the plight of working class people, it feels a little paternalistic for her to write the book for them, and I'm not certain that it's possible for her to really pull off writing about the experiences of the working poor when she will never be a member of that group.

That said, I think that today I developed a teeny, tiny awareness of the hopelessness of finding a job as a homeless person. I don't live on the streets. I have friends who let me take showers when I need them. I am educated. I don't have any addictions. I have connections and a pretty stellar resume. I voluntarily chose my mini-homelessness. But I feel grubby. I don't have any nice clothes. I put my expired make-up on in the dark and hope it looks okay. But no matter how I try to pull it together, I don't feel clean. I feel like a van tramp.

I don't think my situation has anything in common with that of your average homeless person. I just know that my situation has me suddenly depressed and feeling ugly and unkempt. I feel like I can't bear to walk around peddling resumes and fake smiling. "I'm Eva VanTramp Darling! I look and feel like I live in a box! Hire me!" And if I feel this miserable and hopeless, then I sort of understand why real homeless people just give up.

How I feel I look: cracked out*

*this picture was taken after getting drunk, carefully applying lots of dark, heroine-chic eye make-up, sleeping on it, and then putting lipstick all over my hungover face and driving in the morning to Walmart for a joke family photo with my friend Amanda, who used a similar make-up application and drinking technique. We're still waiting for the photos, but I guarantee you'll be seeing them posted on my blog.

Living out of my van, amazingly, lost all its tolerability the moment I rolled into Portland. I want my life back. It's cold and rainy. I'm trying to be patient, but this is starting to feel like an unbearable limbo. I am ready for heat and showers, and room for yoga, and naked time reading books on my couch, and drinkng beer while assembling a casserole. And the relative security that comes with being a member of the working poor.


John Judy said...

Remember the ritz.

Rachel Tamed said...

I have a genuis plan that involved convincing your sub-letter that your apartment is haunted...we should discuss this over drinks.

And you know you are welcome to come squat with me at Jenn's anytime, and clothing is optional ;)

Jeanie said...

Three Cheers for us poor folks! Fingers crossed you get a decent job soon, sweetie!

Anonymous said...

What happened to your apartment? Will you still get mail at that address? Cuz I mailed you the pictures....

Trina said...

Eva, I like Rachel's plan (and I can tell you some real-life ghost stories if you need help) but you should also come to my place and make some food in my kitchen. I'll gladly help you eat it.

Also, I love you, but this post isn't helping my tendency ever since you returned to worry about you constantly. Over and over in my head, "Is Eva warm? Does she have a place to poop?"

Oh! And you gave Barbara Ehrenreich's book the exact review I would have given it if I could put words together like you. And if I'd actually read the book.