Monday, February 28, 2011

Going Homeless and Living in the Computer Science Building


Most of my friends know that during 2006 - 2007, I went homeless and lived in Nichols Hall at Kansas State University. Oddly enough, one of my friends at Kansas University went homeless too except he got caught after three weeks. I was homeless at K-state until I left graduate school (about a year).

At the time, I was both a graduate teaching assistant in Mathematics and a graduate research assistant in Computer Science. I had a full work-load, and I wanted to work more. I had a little cubicle in Cardwell Hall with other graduate students, and I had mine filled with books and my behemoth of a computer.

When I would retire for the evening, I would walk to Nichols and blow up my air-matress (had an automated pump) and lay my bones to rest.

In the morning, I would wake to the sound of students rushing about. I would head over to class and teach students some math and answer questions. After which, I walked or biked over to the Rec where I would take my shower (with a bunch of naked old guys).

Tip: old men are not shy and will wave/shake their cocks high and proud. Once, I was putting on my shoes and I got boxed in my two chatting old men. Too both my left and my right were two old cocks. While this was awkward, it did make me appreciate my youth and fearful of aging.. Eww.

After my shower, I would get on with my homework, my research, or my projects. Occasionally, a student would ask for help. I had the most hard-core office hours out of all professors and other GTAs. It was from 9am to 9pm. How can anyone not make those hours? Well, they didn't because they were lazy. However, one student did take my offer seriously and I mentored him from a D student to a B student where I gave him an A for effort. He then earned a righteous A in the next course. It is an awesome feeling to have actually helped another human being a serious setting as he was on the verge of dropping out; now, he is an electrical engineer doing amazing things.

Before I went homeless, I had stuff. I hate stuff as it just accumulates and then needs to be moved for no good reason. I developed an algorithm using a self-storage unit where I put everything into my unit and then would bring stuff I needed into my car. Beyond some books and clothes, I didn't need anything. After six months, I just started giving stuff away. Free 36" TV? it went to a gentleman by the name of Kyle. GameCube and a bunch of games? It went to a gentleman by the name of Brad. Salvation Army got about $4K of goods, and I sold $500 worth of stuff at a pawn shop. I kept my books, computer, and paperwork.

Having spent an entire semester homeless, I decided that it was stable. But then I decided to take the path of a start-up technology co-founder. So, I lived at our first office which was an apartment (that we kind of ran out of room). However, I was not on the lease, so I was technically still homeless.

I got my own apartment when I found my woman Effie (who is now my Wife).


All you need in life is an air-matress (which is optional if you tune your body to hard surfaces), food, a woman (or a man), two songs, and work. Sometimes, I would play, but play is just another form of work. A car is nice too.

I'm fortunate to find joy in Mathematics and Computing.

Sleeping outside is a lot of fun. Sleeping in my car was fun until my back started hurting. Sleeping on top of my car was very fun (again, until my back started hurting). Sleeping naked in a field is way awesome.

Blasting movies/music/video games in the Math building at odd hours is really fun. You can't do this at an apartment building.

When work ends naturally, taking time to smell the flowers and watch the world in motion is very relaxing. Going homeless enabled me to catch up on both my homework and my research, this gave me the time to go sit in the quad and watch the machinery of university and appreciate the groundskeepers.

Buying people lunch is fun.

Having plenty of time to enjoy campus is awesome.

Being able to be generous with your time to help other students is very fulfilling.

Final Observation and Why?

I was primarily using graduate school to prepare for an awesome career as a Professor/Super Developer/Ultimate Hacker. I was working really hard to become one because I reasoned that would be where I find happiness. Little did I realize that going homeless would make me happy and enable me to live in a way where I was rich in spirit.

Going this route enabled me to be selfless and find a new kind of joy. See, I changed when I knew that no matter what that I would be fine. I knew that I could be generous and helpful rather than hold on to what little I had. If you need lunch, then I will buy it. If you need a hug, then I will give you a hug.

This path in life changed me so much that it gave me a greater perspective and enabled me to find compassion. Compassion and selflessness didn't make sense to me since it seemed like I was voluntarily losing something. I saw life as a game where there are winners and there are losers, and I was competitive to a fault. Seeing the game, my goal was to win. The problem is that winning in every aspect of life is hard. What makes a person great at work can make them terrible in a social setting.

Professionally, I am a winner. Socially, i was inept.

If I had continued what I was doing, I was going to be alone because I was confusing the social and professional worlds.

Going homeless and surviving on less than $6K a year enabled me to realize that no matter what life threw at me, I would be fine. This meant that I could devalue the need to be a winner in the professional circuit. This gave me the flexibility to study the social aspects of life.

My fellow peers were delighted and noticed my mood and friendliness changed, and they became my friends. I was generous with my time which enabled me to ad-hoc mentor computer science students.

Fast forward to the present day, I'm married to a woman who inspires me every day with her compassion, empathy, and delicateness. She is the flower of my life, and I'm working hard to separate my professional work and my life with her.

The change I made in my life enabled me to go from some social inept nerd to a happily married man with an abundance of friends.


  1. Thanks for sharing, good stuff. You deserve your grey matter.

  2. Amazing story! I have a lot of things, but the ones I use frequently could be stored in a backpack (computer stuff, mostly). Maybe another backpack for research stuff and that would be it. But then, life gets in the way and you have way too much stuff at home for the "what if?" mentality.

    But I'm glad you found a wife and an apartment :)



  3. Sounds like you were ready to work at Netscape. You could work all day long and sleep under your desk. They liked that type of productivity.

  4. Thank you for sharing that memory.

    I got in a similar situation around the same time and was very stressed over it. I felt really bad over having such episode ever since the story with Stanford physics lab impostor & squatter broke