Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Who Are You?

Self image and public image are inextricably, and probably inexpressibly, tied together. Who you are is really a compilation of facts you know about yourself, the judgments you hold about those facts, and your perceptions and beliefs about the judgments others will make about those facts. You're a boy, you're a girl, you're a man, woman, white, black, hispanic, American, Israeli, cult member, body dismorphic, gender confused, homeless, rich kid. You're none of that? Okay, you are some other oddball collection of facts that will give instant rise to emotional response in everyone you meet. The whole point of this blog is to help you get control of who you are, what that response becomes.

If we were picking animal spirit guides, mine would be the chameleon.

I've been thinking about a strategy that involves appearing to be a tourist. If you don't have anything holding you where you are, no people, no job, no great love of the scenery, it could be worthwhile to move your homeless household to a new city, a new state, and keep your old license and your old plates. Tourists are well liked because they take little, and spend a lot. Police are said to favor giving "warnings" to tourists, because they don't want to give them a bad feeling about the city. Business owners roll out the red carpets. You can get away with a lot with a camera around your neck and a fold up city map in your hand. Asking for help is easy; you aren't expected to know the ropes. This isn't a game I've played, except that as a tourist I've always noticed that a smile and a thank you and a can you help me? have had plenty of cache.

Who are you, anyway? It isn't that collection of facts, but they are your social identity. Take over control of that collection, and make the impact you want to make.


At 10:06 AM, Blogger aarondavidscholz. said...

I'm digging the constant posting. Keep it up!

I can completely relate to the tourist thing. Brilliant plan. The other day, I managed to gain access to the closed hot tub and sauna in a hotel by acting like a bitchy teenager being forced to go on a business trip with parents.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger temac said...

You may also be more likely to be mugged as a tourist. They have wads of cash and minimal local knowledge.

Perhaps it's less of concern, but I've also heard that rental cars tend to be targets.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Sure, the mugging issue is a problem. My feeling is that the tourist persona is pretty easy to put on and take off according to context. Wear it in places where it will bring advantage to you.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Marke said...

Mobile Homemaker, I've a book I'd like to recommend to you. I stumbled across it recently in a new bookstore that just opened in my city. The title jumped out at me from the moment my eyes skimmed past it. I read a lot of it right there in the store, and have since picked it up from the library. It reminds me very much of the things you write about here on your webpage. I think you might find some beneficial material within it's pages.

The book is by J.J. Luna, titled How To Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life. Take a look. I hope it can benefit you.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Skuz said...

a design prof of mine is constantly pounding into my mind the fact that we create ourselves and our reality by design. It sounds like you sat in on one of his lectures. We did a project once in his class where each of us was responsible to shed those images of ourselves and attempt to adopt another. You'd be surprised how differently people respond to you when they can't immediately identify your gender, your social affluence or your immediate desires.
I've found that most people in public function on a trajectory, including tourists, although a tourist is generally more concerned with the navigation of that trajectory (buried in a map) and a local is concerned with the outcome (getting to the coffee shop). When an individual functions outside a trajectory, they become suspicous.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Woolfey said...

I have functioned as the tourist quite a bit... the camera's help a bunch I have a Pentax "Photo student model K-1000' and a nice digital. My favorite for getting in places where the average tourist gets kept out of is my Graflex... Folks seem to think if you're dragging a dnosaur like that you must be a press guy or something important. I do have a couple roll film backs for it . not quite hardcore enough to be using cut film.
Changing your outside appearance does make a huge difference in how folks react to you.
Between the camper living and the camera's I don't feel I raise much attention outside of the area I spent the most time in recently. And in the area I recently spent the most time . I pass myself off as "Self-Employed", Working on a project at ...
Marke, I have seen the book, and I think I'll pick it up.
I really love this page. I read portions of it to my wife from time to time. Helps us feel less alone.


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