How can I begin this blog post without sounding horribly fatalistic and defeated? I was going to start,
“Tiny house progress continuing painfully along.”
or, “Do yourself a favor. Don’t build a tiny house.”
or my personal fave, “Casita strangling me slowly.”
Not too much good cheer or positive attitude to be found in the above words for someone who just got half the soffits up, the door trim up & ready for painting, finished sealing the door, cut & sealed the bottom edge of all the siding, and got some more siding up today with the help of Claudio the Carpenter. Still, this project is killing me softly.
I know it’s going to end and be finished and I will have a beautiful house to live in that I build with my own two hands but the terminus of this path is still far out of sight. Summer has nearly come and gone and still the outside of my house is lingering unfinished, not to mention the mountain of tiny tasks remaining inside. I realize I say this as though I have little control over my situation, which of course is not so much true. The brutal truth is that at this point, I just want someone to finish the house for me and say, “here you go, enjoy,” and be done with it so that I can go travel far far away to India or Tasmania or somewhere in the Caribbean or anywhere but here and have no more rooting, obligation, or worry for the material realm. I chose a tiny house to be free… And somehow I’m finding myself more enslaved than ever.
Oh, I know, no one likes to read about the unpleasant. If you’re such a person, you can forego this blog post altogether. But it’s not easy to make something you’ve never made before, with little time, money, or gumption. People say anyone can build a tiny house, and in theory I believe that is true. In practice, however, you must have very hearty helpings of resourcefulness, inner drive, friends or family with skills and time, or plenty of cash. With a deficiency in any one of these areas, your tiny house project may be floundering excruciatingly like my own. Don’t flippantly decide to build your own house; You might find yourself suffocated by its weight.
Now that I’ve sufficiently wallowed in front of all of you, I can get on to describing what I’ve been doing for the last month. What have I been doing? It’s a blur, really. The house gets worked on in short and completely erratic bursts. A little window sealing here, a little sanding there, a few boards screwed into place there. It’s ridiculous how high my expectations are for speed and how low the actual velocity is.
With that said, I did get three of four sides of the house sided. Efforts were repeatedly thwarted by aggressive nesting wasps in the eaves, which I sadly sprayed (and have continued to have to spray) with poison. Killing things feels bad. I don’t like doing it and I feel sad to be in a situation necessitating the damage of their homes and bodies. Today we got soffits in the long sides of the house, although the ends are going to take more time. There was a lot of precision cutting involved but fortunately we had a glorious day for the task, with dry air to speed the setting of stain application too.
A friend of mine in Massachusetts connected me with a local meditator who happens to do construction for a living, so he came over one day and helped me seal my windows. I decided to try using Claudio’s version of Waterlox, since I couldn’t find any quart-sized containers locally and the gallons were way out of my paycheck-to-paycheck price range. It seemed to work well, although it’s going to need several more coats and I only had time to do two on each that day. I also re-sealed the fascia and trim with this mixture with good results, although they need another coat or two. Likewise I tried the same mix (2 parts tung, 1 part linseed, 1 part spar varnish) on my front door, but for some reason had rather tacky results there, so I sanded it down and applied straight exterior-grade poly spar with much more beautiful effect. The last coat (who knows how many at this point?) is drying as I write.
In short, everything takes two or three times as long as I think it will. Almost without exception. You would think a person would stop having this kind of issue after 15 months on the job, but no. Impatience reigns. Each task is painstakingly slow. I guess that’s how it goes when you have no idea what you’re doing, every step of the way.
Two things bobbling around on the surface of my mind that I would note for next time:
- Acrylic-based products are crap. I know they’re supposedly more eco-friendly, but I don’t think they actually are in practice, because you end up using more of them, more frequently. Next time I would use all the chemy, oil-based primers, paints, and stains for exterior wood surfaces. Period.
- If I could do it over again, (and I might) I would have listened to the people at Salamander Stoves and bought a Hobbit instead of the Pipsqueak. This thing is way too small to be everyday practical. But yes, I paid half the price.
Maybe I’ll be finished in a year. I estimate that I will need another $5,000 to finish the project and I’m really not sure where that’s going to come from, since at this point I’m just shaving off what I can from each sad paycheck. Having a tiny house may ultimately free me from the cycle of making money to pay for rent, but until it is completed, I am stuck in the rat race of an inadequately-paid part-time job that I don’t like and no time or inspiration to find a new one. Ordinarily in this situation, I would take off or do something drastic, but now I’m rooted to this house. I have considered doing a Kickstarter campaign or something of that nature, but somehow it feels like it’s not right to ask other people for money for a personal endeavor when I should be able to go out and get it myself. It’s strange, isn’t it, how some people just fall into money, while it eludes others interminably?
But good news! The blog exceeded 40,000 hits!
What is the point of possessing anything really, anyway? Maybe even a tiny house is too complicated for this wanderer. I keep saying it’s time for big changes. Yet here I am, treading water longer & longer, caught in a whirlpool of a dysfunctional paradigm. What is my message here? I guess that it’s really not about the tiny house, people. It’s not about what your reality looks like on the outside, but how it feels on the inside. Aren’t we doing the same old materialistic bullshit to think that we’re going to be better people, or happier people, just by living in 130 square feet instead of 1300? Maybe I’m just a little lost right now, but I don’t think the size house you live in or the eco insulation you use or the used plates you buy have very much to do with how pure or happy a life you lead. Maybe those things will come naturally as byproducts of your purity and happiness. But to focus on them in reverse, as though they will somehow fix all of our deep and real mental problems that are keeping us unhappy to begin with… I just don’t think it works that way.
So I’m struggling once again, to find my way back to myself, to focus on happiness inside, to find what makes me feel free and do that more. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, to live a truly authentic life. To live for yourself. To live in such a way that one’s heart remains unadulterated by the “should”s of friends, family, or society. This all feels somehow paradoxical to my efforts to finish the tiny house now. I guess I just don’t care very much anymore. So I’m re-evaluating. I want to finish what I started. But somehow I’ve lost my way over the last year and a half since I began, so that I’ve broken into a little chaotic pile of myself, and I’m hoping to build myself back together. Silver lining? This is most likely a very beautiful gift from my Life that I just can’t recognize as such yet. Sometimes I’m stubborn and it just takes a little while to get moving again.
News flash: If you’re poor and building a house by yourself, don’t build it unless you’re willing to be rebuilt yourself. Love, a very reluctant rebuilder.