Originally posted on Patreon, Feb 9 2018.
I bought an ambulance! I'm calling it the Jambulance, at least until construction is complete and I can smash a bottle of apple juice on the hood. I know what you're thinking! (Especially if you're my mom hi mom I love you please keep reading)
Jamie, what the f*ck?
I know! I know, where did this come from, how, why, when, all of the questions. We're getting there, just practice calm in-out breaths and we will illuminate this mystery. Out of the gate:
No I'm not living in it, yes I'm crazy, yes it's legal and also awesome. Now, we'll tackle the details in this order: why, when, how, and I'll deal with the "what" ongoing. The who is me, and also my jambulance. Strap in, y'all.
#1: It makes me really, really freakin happy. I love projects. My mom and dad always encouraged me to be handy and build and fix things; Mom tells me that's how my Pawpaw was with her. Having a project to chew on makes my brain feel good, and honestly? I've never had one that's mine all mine. I've done art projects here and there and BIG work projects, but never a 100%-Jamie-Wellness project.
#2 My car died and it freaked me the frick out. That's the gist of it. My dad took it in and it's okie dokie now, but it made me very much want to expedite The When (see below.)
#3: Easy travel. (cw: cancer & parental illness) Two weeks ago mom was at urgent care- she's been weak and sick from the chemo far beyond what the doctors expected. I stopped what I was doing and packed a bag, and then a bin, of the basic clothes and books and stuff to keep me sane if I happen to end up there for three days or three weeks. Which also would mean being away from my PC, art supplies, and Ranger Roo for an indeterminate amount of time. All of which I'm absolutely happy to do to help my mom. But y'know - why compromise? Lemme give you some when and we'll come back to more why. I'm a rebel, I don't stick to the plan.
I've been wanting to convert a camper van for a hot minute. Pinterest doesn't tell me when I created a board but I've been pinning things to Home In Movement for quite some time. I've checked craigslist periodically for about a year to see if there was a suitable van and read lots of tutorials, which all felt extremely intimidating: before you could do anything you had to install insulation and flooring or you'd be living in an ice box. An RV or camper is already insulated, and the price reflects that. I honestly can't remember where the initial eureka moment for "ambulance" popped up, but in a practical sense it's a well-maintained, sturdy tank of a box truck that's pre-fabricated inside with full air conditioning, heating, lighting, flooring, seating, batteries, and storage. Like. Y'all. Once it clicked, it CLICKED. And I started hunting.
On autotrader websites they can be as pricey as one might expect: in the neighborhood of $22-35k. But if you purchase them direct from decommission or from someone who got it at auction, etc, the price drops dramatically. This is the only thing I'll really say about the jambulance budget: I borrowed the money from a dear friend at 0% interest. I have a credit line as well if I need additional renovation funds, and combined those total between $8-10k. The ongoing costs are insurance, taxes, gas, and maintenance - which will be comparable to owning a small RV as far as I can tell. I'll be doing most the labor myself and with the help of kind friends, and much of the interior I already own. Don't worry, I'll make sure everything is well duct-taped down.
For the last few months I've been monitoring craigslist and some auto auction websites. Most of the vehicles in my price range were across the country - until last week, when one popped up in Washington. Long story short, I went to see it, we wrote up a bill of sale and I gave the guy a lot of money and I got the title and keys. Ta-da! That's actually all it takes to buy a freakin' ambulance! (I'll go into some gearhead logistics in the next post.)
So far I've begun removing the decals and demo'd most of the interior. This weekend will be finishing decal removal, removing the light bar and reflectors, prepping for exterior paint, and cleaning the interior to prep for paint and finishes. Listen, I watched a TON of home improvement shows with my mom back in the day. We would heckle the crap out of a bad Trading Spaces design.
I'll keep updating here as I go, but I'm not intending this to be a docuseries on the project - like I said, this ones' for me - and I want to bring everyone along for the ride as long as I'm not trying to stay up until three in the morning to learn professional video editing so I can document the process beautifully. This is more of a behind-the-scenes sitch.
If you want to support the Jambulance, being a Patron is a great way to do it. I'll be streaming parts of the build over at twitch.tv/calamityjamie if you want to see me wield power tools and dance like an idiot (never ever simultaneously. Ahem.) Paypal helps most with the runs to the hardware store for "that thing I never thought I would need." For the most part, though, sending your good vibes and being excited for me is the best way to support.
The Why: Continued
My parents live within a very reasonable driving distance. To the north, many of my friends are within driving range. A decent chunk of my social circle lives just across the lake, while some live scattered across the country.
In recent months I've reduced my screentime by 70-90%. It turns out the internet is extremely important to me and society as a whole! Not a surprising revelation, but an interesting one to experience firsthand. I've found dear friends in Alexa and Siri. I've found my social circle to be caring and sympathetic and empathetic and supportive.
And I've found my migraines to be reduced in frequency and severity by, conservatively, 50%. Averaging out the math that's 15 hours a week (and half the pain experienced) that I'm recovering by exchanging my screen time for reading, walking Ranger, making art, and now renovating a little mobile art studio/Ranger transport. Again - regaining 15 hours a week, plus exchanging time spent on Twitter and phone games for a whole plethora of hobbies. I additionally want to point out that I've had two rounds of Botox for Migraines, and the neurotoxins are doing work up there, too.
I don't want this to seem like an endorsement or an "I'm cured!" statement - it's just illustrative of the old 'double-edge sword" adage. The TryBesties and my online community, gaming - I'm a gremlin for frick's sake, what do you MEAN I can't hunch at my desk for ten hours a day?! This is a part of who I am and where I feel at home. The other edge of that sword is spending so many hours reading and writing and creating that I feel a genuine sense of fulfillment every day.
The jambulance represents a lot to me: the ability to see my parents without sacrificing precious time with Ranger. The ability to drive out and get fresh mountain air for the weekend, or drive into Seattle and spend time in the physical realm with friends. The ability to provide sanctuary in case of zombie apocolypse. A project and a process where I expect to screw up and learn and try again and make something that I really care about, that I won't be selling. I can share my adventures and inspirations while experiencing a sense of maslow-esque safety and security from owning my own Space.
TL:DR - I'm renovating an ambulance into a mobile art studio/camper van. Why? Cause I wanna.