Comments: 95 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

iWant_To_Play_A_Game27 karma

How did you go from homeless to not homeless?

EvaYin1082 karma

Thanks for all the questions you guys. I really enjoyed our exchange. The post got deleted.

If you want to read more about how I got clean and got my life together, you can read my memoir here: http://www.amazon.com/Running-Circles-Memoir-Eva-Yin-ebook/dp/B01EFD9C3I

CheesyName3411 karma

What was the scariest thing that happened to you while being homeless?

EvaYin10835 karma

There was this huge black man at the park. I watched him break open a young homeless guy's face with a thick steel thick. It was crazy and totally unexpected. One minute we were all just hanging out and the next, blood was flying through the summer air.

Later I found out this same man repeatedly raped a homeless girl so violently that she was hospitalized. This guy started coming after me, trying to get me to come with him to "parties" and asking to be alone with me. I tried to get him arrested, he was heroin dealer so I called 911 when I knew that he had some heroin on him. The cops came searched him, found it but let him go for some reason. They also told him that a young woman had reported him. This put me in danger. Later I did it again from another payphone. I went into a bathroom to fix up afterwards and when I came out for a smoke, a cop tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had just used the payphone. I lied easily but the other thing that saved me was that it was a Japanese restaurant and there were so many other Asian women. He was confused.

They never arrested that big guy and later he tried to pull me into a paneled van with his friends. He told me that he was going to a party and that there were other women and lots of drugs. I refused and he got so angry, as angry as he had been when he smashed that guy's face with a chain. I made myself seem small and pitiful and then I hugged him and asked in a baby voice if he could please let me stay at the park with my sister. Then he left in rage and disgust.

That was just one incident of many but I think it was one of the scarier moments.

Oh another scary moment was when my friend who I had met on the streets smoked some pot and had some kind of psychotic episode. He scaled the fence and tried to jump into the freeway at East River Drive. None of the cars slowed down. I caught onto his pants leg and stopped him but he kicked me and got free, then he jumped. Miraculously a huge bus was driving by and he managed to push himself against the bus. He landed on the floor with a sprained ankle and got away.

Shady_Connor7 karma

Did you ever resort to begging? Did you try to get a job, were you ever pushed around or hurt, what got you out of it all?

EvaYin10822 karma

Oh yeah, I begged all the time. We called it spanging, it was short for spare-changing. I could easily make over $80 an hour just because I was young, Asian, and I seemed trustworthy. I usually told people that I was stranded and needed money for the train. Unfortunately all that money was shot directly into my veins in the form of heroin haha.

Yes, I was offered jobs just because I looked pretty clean-cut. I didn't take any when I was homeless in NYC. I'm back home and going to school in California now. I've been clean for more than 7 years.

Oh I was pushed around a lot. I had to sleep with my face covered on the street so that people walking by couldn't tell that I was female. I was robbed many times. Some pimps tried to force me into prostitution. That was on the second night I became homeless. I was young and naive. They tricked me to come with them somewhere. Then it started dawning on me what they were after. I decided to do it but the job didn't work out. The customer thought it was a police sting because I looked underage. Then the pimps brought me to a park and said that they would give me some heroin but that I had to do them a favor too. I was scared and in a dangerous situation so I just agreed to it. I gave one of them head and they gave me a small bag of heroin. Turned out it was only worth five dollars.

Getting clean and getting my life in order was a long process. I talk about it in detail in my book. The short story is that I just realized how useless it was, how I was spending so much energy, time, and fucking my life and relationships up just to chase a feeling. A feeling that was only temporary.

Tpyos3 karma

Wow, you ever want to go back? I would go spanging for a few years If I got 80 bucks an hour - most doctors earn less after taxes and it sounds like you don't even have to be homeless. Your story was getting change for the train so it wouldn't be odd to actually take the train to an apartment.

EvaYin1082 karma

No, I would feel bad asking people for money now honestly.

sakelover7 karma

How's your twin sister doing now?

EvaYin10814 karma

She's doing great, getting her Master's to be a nurse practitioner. She's clean and got her life together now. :)

charlie_do_5626 karma

What gave you happiness while you were homeless?

EvaYin10810 karma

Not enough.

I had moments of peace from the hectic pace of the streets. When I was wrapped up in my boyfriend's arms. This was a different boyfriend, after the first one. He was actually close to my age, half black and Puerto Rican and very handsome. I had other moments of peace when I was sitting slumped over in a bathroom with a needle in my arm.

Once I woke up on the sidewalk and someone had put a five dollar bill in my pocket. That was sweet and it touched me.

keyboarding1016 karma

What steps did you take to get a more stable place to live and how long did it take? Did you level of appreciation change at all in any way?

EvaYin1087 karma

I answered another question about how I got myself to a stable place above. My level of appreciation definitely did change. I'm really grateful to have a roof, food, and family. Also one of the things that hurt me emotionally when I was homeless was the social rejection. Some people refused to look at me because they were scared/embarrassed/ashamed/guilty. Now every time I pass a homeless person, I look them in the eye and engage them, even if it's just for a few moments. If I don't have any change I'll tell them but I'll treat them like a human being. I think that's worth more. People don't realize how lonely it can get even if you are surrounded by a crowd of people.

showmewutugot5 karma

What's your favorite color?

EvaYin1087 karma

I have many. I really like gold right now.

LurkAcctNoComment5 karma


EvaYin1088 karma

Unfortunately during the time I was homeless, all my energy was spent looking for money for drugs or trying to cover our basic necessities: food, shelter, places to shoot up. We would walk endless city blocks just to find somewhere to sleep, only to be driven away by the police. Then we would have to find somewhere else. I guess we sat around in parks a lot. I didn't get to see much of NYC actually. We stayed in the same area in the Lower East Side because it had places where we could get food handouts, and places where we knew we could sleep. We stayed in a cemetery in Queens for a few days, that was cool except for the mosquitos.

Mackinstyle4 karma

In another response you said you've been clean from heroin for about 7 years now. How often do you struggle with addiction these days?

EvaYin1083 karma

I'm actually a good girl now. I quit smoking, drinking, all recreational substances. I binge-watched six seasons Game of Thrones recently. Does that count?

Mackinstyle2 karma

Haha nope!

I think what I meant was: do you still ever have struggles, like cravings or difficult moments where you have an urge to relapse? Do you have any lasting impacts caused by your time with drugs?

EvaYin1083 karma

After I quit I had urges a lot. After a few years, I would only get the urge if I was very upset, like in the example of fighting with my boyfriend. Because I had used heroin to deal (or really NOT deal) with my negative emotions. But even when I got the urge, I didn't follow. I just spent some time seriously considering what the costs were. I had fucked my body, my hands and arms were puffy because I had damaged my veins, so much. I almost died from a blood infection from a missed shot, I actually left the hospital against medical advice to go to New York with my sister.

I really thought about the consequences and about how I was killing myself, slowly but surely. Now rarely sometimes the thought of using flashes across my mind but it doesn't hold much weight. It is always followed by another thought "Wow, that would be stupid."

Strangely I've been dreaming about shooting heroin with my sister quite a few times recently. Even in my dreams I refuse, so I think that's a good sign.

HookersForDahl20174 karma

Did you ever do any glory hole action for a few bucks?

EvaYin10811 karma

No, but I sold myself in other ways -- even in ways that aren't technically considered prostitution. I quickly learned that on the streets I needed a bf for protection. I wasn't even very attracted to my first bf, he was this big black guy who sold drugs at the park but the other men were scared of him. Once I became his gf, was offered some measure of protection.

HookersForDahl20175 karma

He sounds dreamy

1768304938279891 karma

Is he single ?

EvaYin1083 karma

He wasn't single at the time although he told me was. Later I caught him in the bushes making crazy animal sex noises with a white woman who looked 9-months pregnant. Apparently he had a baby-momma the whole time.

ShaneH76464 karma

Cats or dogs? Which did you meet more of while homeless?

EvaYin1089 karma

Both actually. I guess there were dogs than cats. I only remember one cat and she belonged to a woman who looked homeless and hung out with homeless people but apparently she had an apartment nearby with her mom. But she was maybe trying to get a away from a difficult situation at home. Sadly she lost her cat. We helped her put up fliers but she never found it.

There were a quite a few dogs and they usually helped their owners get more money while begging.

grrrallnamestakengrr3 karma

How long were you homeless for? How did you turn your life around?

EvaYin1086 karma

We were homeless for about a month. We went back to California and I think the experience really helped us get clean. So much had happened to us. I really realized that I had hit rock-bottom. Rock-bottom was the beginning and I used it to push myself up.

Perdin3 karma

Hows your relationship with your parents?

EvaYin1088 karma

My relationship with my parents has greatly improved. Especially since I got clean. My parents are proud of us and their support has been a big part of how we got clean. If they had just kicked us out or refused to let us come home when we were strung out, I'm sure I'd be a prostitute or dead.

GarbageBucket3 karma

So when do you become doctor?

EvaYin1082 karma

I'm not planning on earning a doctorate degree.

girlfromoz2 karma

Where did you usually sleep?

EvaYin1087 karma

Me and my identical twin sister went to NYC to visit her bf who she had met in rehab. He was a lot older than her and she thought twice about the relationship once we got there. She refused to sleep with him and he kicked us out. The first night we slept next to Tompkins Square Park on the sidewalk. We had gone there before to cop heroin and we didn't know where else to go. Later we made friends and they showed us other places to sleep. Next to a large church near Stuyvesant Square, East River Park. The church was nice but we were woken up every morning by a priest or pastor some religiously-garbed man. He always seemed so sad to have to wake us up. We had to be careful at the park, the cops would drive by at night and give us tickets and kick us out if they found us. Once they waited till the early hours and came upon us at the park. They didn't give us a ticket then but they stole drugs and money.

girlfromoz2 karma

I have a lot of questions but I see a lot have been asked so I won't double-up.

I have to know though... Is your sister clean now to?

EvaYin1084 karma

Yes, she is and she has a great job in the medical profession. I'm proud of her. :)

AccentFiend2 karma

What was your best day as a homeless person like?

EvaYin1087 karma

One of the best days was when the drop-in center we went to paid for a bunch of homeless kids to go to Coney Island. That was a blast, we rode the roller-coaster so many times. But really the best day was when I finally got to go home.

logically2 karma

How are you now Eva? If you need s free room in the Midwest got an empty basement. Two bedrooms and bath.

EvaYin1085 karma

Aw, thanks. :) That's so sweet. I'm doing well now. I just finished a Bachelor's degree in Art and Anthropology about a year or so ago. I'm back at my parent's home in CA and taking a break before going to get a Master's in Visual Anthropology. I plan on becoming a teacher.

JerseyWabbit2 karma

You said you were homeless in NYC for about a month- what season?

EvaYin1081 karma


Spiritofchokedout2 karma

What was the toughest weather to endure? Heat? Rain? Cold? Snow?

EvaYin1082 karma

Rain. We were only there during Summer so there was no snow or cold. The rain stranded us underneath freeways and anywhere else we could find shelter.

AlexOfBrennenburg2 karma

What do you think of "Housing First" programs that provide homeless people with apartments, no questions asked?

This is what I'm talking about: http://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459100751/utah-reduced-chronic-homelessness-by-91-percent-heres-how

Despite these sensational statistics, as anyone who's been to Salt Lake City will tell you, though, this issue is far from resolved. Plenty of homeless people, everywhere.

I'm curious to hear what you think about it.

EvaYin1085 karma


I scanned the article and it sounds like a great idea. I did some anthropological fieldwork and research about homelessness after I got clean. Most people that I interviewed became homeless because of some traumatic situation such as losing their job, spouse, home, etc. Then many homeless people turn to substances to deal with the harsh realities of being on the streets. Homeless people are victimized emotionally and physically and then they use drugs to help them deal with this trauma. It's a terrible cycle and I think that if homes were provided for these people, it will ease their suffering and thus help them to become more productive members of society.

fw69512342 karma

What made you go to the streets and how did you recover and get a bone for yourself? Do you resort to drugs when you hit the streets?

EvaYin1089 karma

I answered the question about how my sister and I became homeless in a thread above. No, we were already using before we became homeless. I was introduced to heroin when I was 13 years old. We had a lot of problems in the family so I was a pretty unhappy kid. I was drawn into the punk scene and started hanging out with homeless punks in Berkeley, one of them gave me heroin when I was 13 years old.

Even though I was already using, once we became homeless the drugs were definitely a way to escape our harsh realities.

NinjaHDD2 karma

How did you become homeless in the first place?

EvaYin10813 karma

My identical twin sister and I went to stay in Queens with an older Irish man that she met in rehab in Long Island. Once we got there she started feeling weird about their relationship. She didn't want to sleep with him anymore and he was getting frustrated. He said he was cool with us staying there for a month and with us doing heroin but one night when we came back, she had a hickey on her neck from some cute homeless boy she had been making out with. It pushed him over the edge and he claimed that his landlord had come into his apartment when we were gone and found our needles and paraphernalia. He said that he was getting kicked out of his apartment and that it was our fault and that he was kicking us out. Then when we starting packing he admitted it was a lie. But my sister didn't want to stay there anymore. She felt pressured to have sex with him and she didn't want to anymore. She wanted to leave so I stuck with her and left too. We were young and stupid and we thought that it be an adventure to be homeless. We were very wrong.

1768304938279892 karma

What's your funnest/best memory of being homeless ?

EvaYin1085 karma

One of the funniest things that happened I already mentioned briefly but I'll relate in detail now. We were sitting in East River Park with our friends. We heard really strange sounds. We were freaked out. Strange animal cries. Then grunts. Wild yells. We thought somebody was being killed. Then the noises reached a crescendo and we heard the sounds of flesh against flesh. My ex bf (who had assured me that he was single) came out shortly leading a heavily pregnant white lady by the hand. It was terribly funny to me just because of the context.

Chipatamawey1 karma

You were homeless for a month and wrote a memoir about your addiction. Why is your experience noteworthy?

EvaYin1081 karma

It was noteworthy to me. It shaped my life significantly and became the turning point for me in terms of getting clean. I didn't write a book because I felt that my experience was noteworthy. I wrote it because the things that I had experienced were so traumatic that I needed to get it out of system. I published it in the hope that others who suffer from addiction could see that there was a way out.

Kittypie751 karma

What steps did you take to get your life back in order?

EvaYin1085 karma

When I went home to California, I started processing all the things that had happened to me on the streets of NY. I got clean. I started taking more classes in community college and becoming more serious about my education. Also I wrote a book about being homeless and being a drug addict. Writing really helped me to process my feelings. Also I started finding healthier coping mechanisms. Yoga helped me initially. Then I started meditating. Buddhism gave me a different worldview and an understanding of suffering, what causes it, and how we can be free from it.

footsenpai0 karma

did you have any sort of motivation through your life on the streets and while getting your life back together? what made you do all this?

EvaYin1084 karma

When I was homeless I was only motivated to get drugs so that I could momentarily forget myself. This was my habit even before I became homeless. I suffered some traumatic events when I was a kid and instead of dealing with it, I got strung out on heroin. When you inject heroin, the initial rush is so intense, the ability of coherent thought is lost, there’s no place for it — you are overcome. You disappear. This was the feeling that I chased, over and over again. It was a feeling of of selflessness, I didn't have to deal with my problems because I wasn't there. But the problem was that everything I did to chase this only made me more selfish and only increased my problems.

SHEfartedDuriN690 karma

Did you ever run into any of New York's organized crime? Or darker areas? Of yes, what were they like.

EvaYin1082 karma

No, I didn't run into organized crime but I saw plenty of disorganized crime. The police could be pretty unfair to us, stealing drugs and money from us at times. Does that count as organized crime?

EvaYin1082 karma

But, not all cops were bad. When I was taking the Greyhound home, I weighed less than 90 pounds. I was so hungry that I stole food from the Greyhound station. The cop who came looked at my ID, saw how young I was and how much weight I had lost from my usual 120 pounds and let me go. "Go home" he had said, his eyes were filled with compassion.

My_Dogs_Are_Stupid0 karma

Did you ever weigh the pros and cons of continuing heroin use and if so what was it. Was it a constant struggle or a simple choice?

Also what was the experience of being on heroin like?

Not sure if that's too personal

EvaYin1082 karma

It was a constant struggle, a lot of back and forth until I got clean. Then I was pretty consistent after that. A couple of times I got in some bad fights with my boyfriend and really felt like using but I didn't. That was a few years after I got clean. I've never looked back since then. I have a better boyfriend and better coping mechanisms today.

The initial rush from shooting heroin felt like a wave of euphoria radiating from your chest. Pleasure so intense it drowns out coherent thought. But then after I got strung out, dope sickness would feel pretty bad: the shits, cold-sweats, discomfort and anxiety.

oogachucka-4 karma

Guess what? No one fucking cares and no one wants to buy your book. You know how many real homeless people there are in NYC who don;t write their memoirs and put them on Amazon?

Fuck off with you you fraud

EvaYin1084 karma

Just because I was able to get away doesn't mean that my experience wasn't real. I'm not a fraud, I'm just lucky and I count my blessings.