30 August 2005

To TV Or Not To TV

When returning to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, I urban camped in 3 places before moving to the bottom floor of Kate and Adriaan's house while they were in America for 6 months.

(#1: Dory and Kees let me stay 3 days with them. Since I was practicing "non-accumulation," I gave them everything from the Christmas package my employer had given me.

#2: I moved into Frans' and Phia's Rotterdam apartment for 2 weeks while they were in France.

#3: I stayed over at Rose's house for New Year's Eve.)

Kate and Adriaan rented the top two floors out to a family while I lived in the ground floor.

Staying at Kate and Adriaan's house was the first time that I had no TV.

I have never had a TV since.

Technorati tag:

29 August 2005

Nowhere ---> Now Here

When Nienke returned, I spent 10 days in the empty apartment above Jasper's and Martijn's Rotterdam house after the exchange student they had been renting it to went back to Japan.

Next, I went to the States. I spent the first day in my sister Lisa's house in Kankakee where 5 generations of my family have lived.

Then, I spent 7 days in my sister Amy's Topeka house.

Next, I lived 2 weeks in my parents' Bourbonnais house.

And I spent 1 day in my friend Jason's Chicago apartment.

Finally, my friend Tricia and I stayed one day in the Chicago Doubletree Hotel where I used to bring friends swimming.

Technorati tag:

25 August 2005

Anti-squatting Agencies

While urban camping at Nienke's house, I called my friend Victor to find out how he had acquired cheap housing when he was a student.

He recommended two agencies that 'hire' people to stay in empty buildings so that 'squatters' don't move in.

I never ended up calling them because other opportunities presented themselves.

ADHOC - tel. 070-358 56 44 Mondays - Fridays call between 9-12. Their office is in The Hague but they also do some work in Rotterdam.

Schrader & Schrader tel. 020-689 88 83 or schrader@schraderamsterdambv.com. They work in the Amsterdam area but might know of something in Rotterdam.

Technorati tag:

24 August 2005

Where do you live?

I was house-sitting Nienke's Rotterdam apartment while she was in Australia for 1 month.

As I walked up to her door, two young neighborhood girls, whom I had never met, jumped up and down as they giggled and repeatedly asked me, "Where do you live? Where do you live? Where do you live?"

I had no idea how to answer that question so I just ignored them.

Technorati tag:

23 August 2005

First Urban Camping Motto

As I exited the month-long stay in my studio, I developed my motto ...
Urban Camping is to housing what carpooling is to urban transport. Homeless by choice. A vow of chic minimalism. A symbiotic relationship with homeowners in the urban jungle.
... and moved into Nienke's house.

Technorati tag:

Be Careful What You Carry

When I bought my KARRIMOR rolling suitcase (that transforms into a backpack), I came across a newsletter that reminded me to CARRY LESS.

The September 2002 Simsara newsletter on Vipassana meditation had what seemed like the transcript of a speech given in 2001 by Ven. Mettavihari.

I am not familiar with and do not fully understand the subject, but, a few passages resonated with my desire to streamline my life.

The 'article' discussed an 'attentiveness' that reminded me of how Abramovic felt so 'awake' after breaking down 'walls of routine'.

Passages from the article:

"When one way or another you carry it, then you're not free. We carry a lot in our life, therefore we practise this practice of intensive care. Care for your mindfulness and motivation. You only have to care for your mindfulness, not to carry it. If you carry mindfulness it's a bigger burden even.

"...I want to repeat again, that if you carry mindfulness it's wrong. Mindfulness is attentiveness of your being. It's a constant attentiveness. It's not something like a stone or wood or like things that you must carry, but attentiveness only."
Technorati tag:

22 August 2005

Furniture For What Comes Next

Sitting in Gary's Bagel Shop, I saw a truck on the street.

I read the big letters printed on the side: "Haworth - furniture for what comes next."

Back in my studio, I assembled a compact, monochromatic, wrinkle-free, hand-washable wardrobe with interchangeable layers that could be worn in casual or fancy situations during summer or winter.

I had very few items of clothing, but each was a favorite piece that I 'loved' wearing.

I tried to buy high quality so it wouldn't wear out too fast, but when it did, I 'traded it out' for a new piece.

I put it in a small Karrimor (airport 70L) suitcase that could be rolled on wheels or made into a backpack.

I loaded a day-pack (nomad pack) with small versions of kitchen, office, bathroom and bedroom supplies.

I purchased a small sleeping bag and air mattress.

Technorati tag:

20 August 2005

My Re-occurring Dream

Believe it or not, my one re-occurring dream has to do with houses. I thought about it during the 4 weeks in my studio.

When I was five-years-old, my family moved to a new house. The dream started on the first night in the new house when I dreamed of a secret door in my closet that led to a secret room.

Ever since, the dream has evolved into an endless exploration of huge asymmetrical hotels, condominiums, apartment buildings, mansions, etc., each with an endless number of rooms, hallways and staircases.

Every place is unique. Sometimes I step out onto a balcony only to find myself overlooking another room.

Sometimes I wander a hallway that widens at one point to become a room with furniture and narrows again into another hallway.

Often I sense there are other people living in those rooms. Once in awhile I end up talking to someone along the way.

And always without fail, every dream has more corners than I can possibly look around in one night's sleep.

Technorati tag:

16 August 2005

Alternative Shelters

In my atelier, I also found an article advertizing the previous year's Motel Mozaique festival in Rotterdam where the public is invited to stay overnight in artworks.

The clipping had a picture of a tent hanging from a tree like a big tear drop.

My friend Kate gave me a page torn from an airline magazine featuring four alternative hotels:

The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi in northern Lapland, Sweden melts every spring and is re-built each winter from thousands of tons of ice and snow.

Hotel Sidi Driss can be seen in Star Wars as the home of young Luke Skywalker. The labyrinth of centuries-old subterranean Berber cave dwellings is now a hotel found in Matmata in Southern Tunisia (pictures).

The luxurious Royal Tents of Rajasthan, India give a whole new meaning to camping.

A Cedar Creek Treehouse sleeps five people 50 feet up a giant cedar in Washington's Mt. Rainier National Park.

Seeing pictures of all of these alternative 'shelters' left me feeling very optimistic and creative.

Technorati tag:

Urban Campers: Ulay & Abramovic

During the month in my studio, I came across a page I'd originally Xeroxed from a book on artists Ulay & Abramovic for an artists' discussion group dealing with the topic of vulnerability and aggression.

The page explained that the artists' Art Vital motto included "no fixed living place," "permanent movement" and "mobile energy."

For them, this involved living in their van for years, traveling around Europe like nomads.

Abramovic described the experience, "I am completely open to everything which happens .... Routine is built up like walls around our sensitivity; travel is a good means of tearing down these walls again and again .... It is precisely this vulnerability which makes one so awake."

Technorati tag:

15 August 2005

Vulnerable and Resilient

After Gail's and Thaddeus's house, I occupied Caroline's house across town while she was in Mexico for 2 weeks.

Then, I spent a very full 4 weeks in my atelier.

During that month I took a 2-day trip to Tilburg to run a video camera in an art performance piece; I spent 3 days with my friend Kate at a farmhouse in Drente; and I took a 48-hour trip to a Toronto business school convention as cross-training in the marketing communications office for which I worked.

I read 2 news stories while in Toronto.

The Toronto Star's article broke my heart: "Tent City Folds: Squatters Forced Out of Ramschackle Homes."

CNN's article reminded me that humans are resourceful and resilient: "Man Rescued After 4 Months at Sea."

Technorati tag:

10 August 2005

Setting Up Base Camp in the Global Village

About a decade after my first 'urban camping' experiences, I found myself in Rotterdam at the end of my marriage.

Did I want to stay in the Netherlands? Go back to Chicago? Somewhere else?

I needed to feel 'light and mobile' as I considered my options.

Recalling SARK's creative housesitting reminded me to think outside the box.

(It seems SARK also took vacations to a tropical place where she would sleep on lounge chairs by the pool when she couldn't afford a room at the hotel.)

I moved my belongings into my studio as Gail and Thaddeus said I could stay in their Rotterdam house while they were in Canada for 3 weeks.

Over the next 11 months, I would stay in 24 different places in the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, USA, Brazil and Argentina before buying an apartment in Holland.

This would be my second of three urban camping experiences.

My first experiences with urban camping were in Chicago when I lived in a 'walk-in' closet.

My third urban camping venture started in Rotterdam when I wanted to change directions and I missed my nomadic lifestyle.

Technorati tag:

09 August 2005

Symbiotic Exchanges

S H A R E -- Y O U R -- P L A N E

While 'living outside my box' in Chicago, I discovered The International Association of Air Travel Couriers.

As a courier, I flew to London for just a couple hundred dollars.

The courier company bought the ticket and sold me back the seat.

I would travel with carry-on luggage only and they would use my luggage space for 2 reasons:
  • It's often cheaper for a courier company to have a person check freight through as luggage than it is for them to ship freight as air cargo.

  • Shipping material as luggage also helps it clear customs quicker, whereas 'cargo' often sits in customs for days.
It's a great 'symbiotic relationship'.

S H A R E -- Y O U R -- H O M E

During this same time period, I also came across a book by SARK called A Creative Companion. On page 24 she talks about how she once put an ad in the paper that said, "incredible housesitter seeks incredible house."

Within days she had a 4 bedroom mansion on Russian Hill in San Francisco where she lived rent free for 2 years.

The owners were moving out of state and wanted someone to occupy it until it sold.

I'd come across another great 'symbiotic relationship'.

Technorati tag:

03 August 2005

What Is Urban Camping?

I can't coin the term ... it's already out there ... Google and you'll find plenty of 'urban camping'.

For instance, in June, some guys named Zach, Paul, and Amit practiced their version of urban camping by pitching tents in Times Square.

I've never set up a tent in the city.

My 'brand' of urban camping started when I lived in a studio apartment that was so small I told people I lived in a walk-in closet behind the Hancock building in Chicago.

The truth is, I only slept there. I 'lived' in the neighborhood.

When friends visited, we swam in the roof-top pool of the hotel across the street (read this).

We sat and chatted in the lobbies of fancier hotels.

We walked 2 minutes to the beach or the theater and 20 minutes to Second City.

We were surrounded by a landscape of restaurants and cafes.

My first experience with urban camping was the realization that you need a place to sleep at night, but it is not necessarily where you LIVE.

A great city invites you to come out and play, to think and live outside of your 'box'.

Over the years, my urban camping philosophy and interests would evolve from this experience into two urban camping trips.

Technorati tag:

01 August 2005

Here We Go

The countdown begins! I start my 12-month quest today.

Last night, I slept in my atelier. This morning, the rooster in our backyard woke me up at 5:30.

Tomorrow, I hand over the keys of my house to Samantha.

Although I have mixed emotions at this moment of transition, I know from my previous 'urban camping' experiences that I'm about to see the world from new angles.

I'm curious and welcoming, wondering how I will view my life on 1 August 2006.

Technorati tag: