I once wanted a tiny house. I wanted one desperately! The reason I wanted one was because I needed a place to live. I had none. Big houses were out of my fiscal league. Why not a small one? No house is too small when the alternative is sleeping in your car. (Yes, I slept in my car among other oddball solutions… sometimes it’s nice but usually it sucks.)
Then came the “tiny house” movement. I was delighted! Except it all went wrong. Eager trustafarian pinheads made tiny homes into a “green” thing, a “political” thing, an “it’s not an off grid/straw bale/geodesic/yurt but it’s just as impractical” shining example of snobbery writ small. They managed to push the idea that a tiny house ought to cost a fortune and backed it up with photos of free standing closets that were as utilitarian and attainable as Faberge eggs. All I could think was “what’s the point”? I had a concrete need. They had an ethereal agenda. I never forgave them.
There’s room on this earth for someone who can’t or won’t float a mega-mortgage. Room for someone who doesn’t want fifty windows to wash. Tiny homes killed the most recent iteration of that idea. Killed it with delicately arranged spice racks mounted next to wicker seats beneath stained glass windows where plywood and benches might serve in good stead. All the good intentions in creation stink of bullshit when some hippie turns 180 square feet of “roof over your head” into the Whole Foods organic kale of the housing world.
I never got a tiny house and I never liked the way “a cheap place to sleep” became just another trendy way to signal “specialness”. Now I own a house. It’s huge. I have spare rooms. I have spare closets in the spare rooms. I have spare shelves in the spare closets in the spare rooms. We scarcely use any of it. Some areas I don’t heat. Who cares? It was cheaper than a tiny house! I’m a fat bloated American and my initial tiny home humility was defeated and gave way to a battleship sized atrocity where I repair whatever room I need and merely maintain a roof over the rest. Sometimes the cat gets lost. (That said, the cat’s an idiot.) I’ve got a basement big enough to create a bunker, and a secret lair, and a dungeon, and a mad scientist’s laboratory, or whatever else I could want; if I ever get around to it. My furnace, which I scarcely use, has more square footage in which to live it’s life than a Japanese apartment for a family of four. My house is huge enough to be practically unmanageable but it was cheap.
I also have a house for my truck; I call it a garage. I’ve got another house where I stack firewood; I call it a woodshed. There’s another house where the chickens live; I call it a coop. It all sits on a lawn measured in acres. If I watered it I’d uses more water than Fresno (and it’s my water so California can bite me); but I’m too damn lazy and if the grass dies it’s nobody’s business but mine. I have fields and forest and my own damn property extends as far as I can afford. I’ve got a giant driveway which is a bitch to plow and where where I park my truck (because the garages are filled with shit). I’ve got it all because a small cheap place never worked out and I went to the dark side. Hippies and real estate markets ruined Thoreau’s cabin so I went for a Redneck’s Homestead Empire. Fuck ’em!
I never mentioned my tiny home frustrations because who cares? A bunch of freaks in Seattle nibbling at the edges of zoning laws? Whatever. Plus, unless you’ve really scratched it out in a car or a van or a tent or creaky old RV or experience some other personal solution to the “not a regular house” dilemma, you can’t see the irony. I never heard anyone else call out the tiny home people either. Until now…
First, pure awesome from Claire:
“…c’mon, people. We’re dealing with reality here. Where are the Kleenex boxes, the alarm clocks, the bottles of ibuprofen, the glasses of water, the heaps of books, the midnight snack foods? Where are the bedside pistol or shotgun, the dog’s blankie and toys, the fuzzy slippers, and the laid-out clothes for tomorrow?”
“…when you go spending $50,000 on something the size of a small travel-trailer and thinking you’re doing Great Work for the environment … when you judge the worth of your possessions by whether or not they make your heart sing … you’re living in some dreamland of intellectual and financial privilege. You are not only having first-world problems; you may be a first-world problem.”
Brilliant and true!
Then comes Joel who has the same reaction I’ve had:
“Their precious interiors, architecturally-fashionable boxiness and clearly professional construction did not make me in any way hostile. No – I’m far above that. Bastards.”
“My main problem with all these tiny house articles involves the same question I have about every house or apartment ever featured in any fashion magazine anywhere: What’s with all the throw pillows? Do people really live in that? Because it looks more like it was built to be looked at.”
“Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses,
Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house*?
You look so freakin’ happy in that Dwell Magazine article or Buzzfeed post, but c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t lie awake at night, your face four inches from the ceiling because the only place your bed fits is above the kitchen sink which also acts as your shower, and think, I’ve made a terrible mistake.“
“…where do you put your shit? You still have some clothing and shoes and towels and all that jazz, right? Or do you just wear overalls now? Overalls and Birkenstocks and one towel that you share with your entire family. Where do you wash that towel, hmm? Do you have a tiny river that runs behind your tiny house? I bet you do. I bet your whole Goddamn property is whimsical.”
I about died laughing. If you’ve ever lived in a “less than optimally sized dwelling”, or just like to laugh at hipsters, you absolutely must read it all.
Finally one last mention of my
misspent youth lifetime of experiences: For many years, when people asked “where do you live?” I’d channel Chris Farley and shout “I live in a van, down by the river!” One of the best performances in our lifetimes.
While I’m at it I’d like to post a photo of the real hero of Tiny Homes; Bubbles!