You Can’t Go Back.

Summer is summer, as usual, but this year things feel a little different. It’s much cooler in the mornings than it should be for early August in South Texas. “Much cooler” is relative, I know. Let’s not get crazy. It’s still 83 degrees with 70% humidity at 7AM, but the last few years have been so terribly brutal, this seems like an early reprieve from what has been an already not terrible summer.

For the last three months I have been wearing the same two skirts and two tank tops nearly every day, but my incredibly small wardrobe isn’t the reason for my readiness for wearing a different kind of clothing. Every year in August I always itch to wear jeans again. Inevitably, I try it out and immediately regret it.

We’ve been doing a large amount of driving. I go to physical therapy twice a week in a city that is not ours. It’s a four hour round trip just driving. Two times a week. We’re usually gone, all told, for about six and a half hours.

We take the scenic route, because it’s only ten minutes longer and well, scenic. Every time we leave the city limits of our current home, I feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders. As we roll through the Hill Country, I stare out at the vast vista baking under the hot Texas sun and remember that at one time I thought I could make this place my home.

I now know that even if I could, I don’t want to. This isn’t my place.

I’m ready to live somewhere where I have no memories, where the past doesn’t jump out at me in the shadows. I’m not as nostalgic as I should probably be. I’ve been swimming in these waters for so long, said my goodbyes to so many places so many times, that I just don’t feel connected here. It’s not denial. It’s acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that my time in this place is over. It gave me what it gave me, and now I’m ready to move forward.

One day, in the future, I know I’ll look back and miss the smell of certain things and the way the light falls on the ground in late summer. I’ll miss the familiarity of this, the place I’ve lived the longest. But I won’t mourn it. I know that already.

I’ve lived enough places to know you can never really go back. Even if you return, you can’t go back.

This time, I don’t even want to return.

When the tiny house sold at the beginning of June, Casey and I watched it roll away with its lovely new owner. When we turned around to look at the empty place where it had been parked, I realized that where there once sat thousands of hours of steel and lumber and nails, there was now a wide view of the sky.

The metaphor was not lost on me.

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Waking Up in Vegas!!!

So I finally finished writing a book.

It’s a novella! It’s about 20,000 words.

I was sitting around after my (successful!) surgery, feeling guilty for not having written any fiction in months. Okay, really I was just scrolling through Instagram endlessly. Then it hit me: why not try to write a short story that starts much like that? About a woman who is living her own life through looking at other people’s photos on Instagram?

Then I thought, “Why not try to make it an erotic romance story? Just for fun?”

So I started writing and about a week later it was finished, and it was no longer a short story. It had become a novella; an erotic romance novella  – an erotic romance novella that would be a part of a trilogy featuring the same characters.

I had so much fun writing it. I had even more fun writing the sequel (coming soon!).

Then I knew I had to publish it. But that required learning Scrivener formatting, setting up social media accounts, building an author website, and then publishing to Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Google Play, and All-Romance. I thought it would take me a day to do all of that.

HA. About nine days later, the above list is complete. My site is finished. I’m all over social media, e-book retailers, etc; and I even made three sales of my very first book in the first three days (two of which were from my parents, but hey! That’s cool. Hi mom and dad!).

For now I’ll be blogging over at I may migrate these posts over there eventually and have this page re-direct, but I’m not sure yet.

J.P. Friday is a pen name of sorts, obviously. The “P” stands for “Phuckin'” just because I really admire Amanda Fucking Palmer.

All I know for sure is that writing fiction is a ton of fun once I get out of my own damn way. I’m in this for the long haul.

So for now, you can buy Waking Up in Vegas at nearly every e-book retailer. Within the next week, the sequel (Breaking Up in Vegas) will be released. The conclusion of the trilogy will also be finished within a month.

Erotic romance not your cup of tea? I totally understand. My mystery novel featuring a bold heroine with endometriosis, The Dolls of Harper’s End, will be available within the next six weeks for purchase. On the docket after that (Late Summer 2015) is an as-yet-untitled dystopian future in which Texas has seceded from the US and been taken over by evangelical Christian and political extremists (tentative title: Tea Partiers Gone Wild. I’m kidding). This was the book I started writing last July when I discovered that a lot of people make money by fearlessly writing and publishing their fiction writing.

Also coming this summer: at least one romantic comedy-type-book (might end up being two of these, but I’ll know more when I sit down to finish the first) that if it were a movie would probably star Katherine Heigl, if Katherine Heigl’s characters were complete emotional, alcohol-addicted, circus-performer train wrecks and not just cutesy-cool professional women. But hey! It’s Jennifer’s (the main character) wedding weekend and everybody can relate to weddings!

Interested in any of those upcoming titles? Sign up for my newsletter. I won’t send more than two emails a month, and I will only send them when titles are published and available to purchase.

Hope you are all well!

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Tiny House for Sale – $19,500


My husband has a whole, comprehensive post detailing the costs, what there is left to do on the house, and photos over here.

We have $22,000 invested in materials plus over a thousand hours of labor. This is a WONDERFUL deal for anyone looking to own a tiny house. My husband over-engingeered this house to the nth-degree. This is over two years worth of work, ready to go and be completed.

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So you want to build a tiny house?

I had a really nice commenter ask if I had any suggestions for her about building a tiny house as a debt-free housing option. I started to reply and then decided to make it it’s own blog post so it wouldn’t be buried. Hopefully this helps some of you! For reference, the commenter mentioned she is a single mom with four kids in the North Carolina area. So if anyone has any additional help/advice for her, please leave it here!

Also, I want to note that the “you” is not directly at the commenter, it’s the Universal, Rhetorical You.

(ETA: Any time I say “tiny house” I’m referring specifically to “tiny houses on wheels.”)

So you want to build a tiny house?

I feel like I adequately explained the building code/shady neighbor/non-financial risk of living in tiny houses in this post (LINK) so here, I’ll be only talking about financial gain and savings since the commenter specifically mentioned tiny house living as a way forward for a debt-free living situation.

First off, I’d recommend to ANYONE embarking on a tiny house journey to check out Macy Miller over at MiniMotives for any questions and her huge blog full of content. She has a small baby and is pregnant with her second and managed to successfully build her tiny house (pre-kids); they have lived in it happily for 2 years (they are about to add a little addition to make room for the second baby). She is very open and honest and a LOVELY, wonderful human being who will always make time for you if you are also a nice person.

Here are questions that every single tiny house adventurer should ask themselves and answer HONESTLY, before building.

Are you absolutely, 100%, positively certain that building a tiny house is the ONLY way to have a debt-free living situation?

Have you checked around on Craigslist for a rental situation that’s low-cost?

Have you considered an arrangement with family?

Have you truly calculated the real cost of living in a tiny house?

Our situation: we built the tiny house for $22k and it still needs flooring, cabinets, and finishing touches. We bought land for $17k that needed $3k in improvements (bit of tree clearing, land-leveling, wire-running even though the big cost of having a full power and internet pole installed was already taken care of), would have spent another $2k on a rainwater situation and likely still would not have collected enough rainwater from our small roof to live off of (so cue having to pay a company to fill our tanks monthly). Our toilet would have been a simple composting bucket, but if we’d wanted a septic tank and a well drilled, that would have easily been another $10,000, at least (the land is on solid bedrock).

Let’s do some hypotheticals. Before someone gets on me for “Well in MY TOWN, a one bedroom apartment is X money.” Great, plug in your own numbers and do your own math, and PLEASE factor in the gasoline and wear and tear cost for commuting if you end up renting further outside the city for code reasons or because that’s where the RV parks are.

We could not find a rental situation close enough to town for work and commuting (even though my husband works at home; I have a part-time job in the city). RV parks would not allow hand built homes but if they had, it would have been $400/mo. We rent a 1 bedroom, 650 s.f. apartment here for $730. Let’s pretend that the RV park would have allowed us to park there, or that we’d somehow found a backyard in HOA-central to rent for the same price from a nice family. That’s a $330/mo difference; and the utilities would be somewhat similar. Let’s say the tiny house would save $50/mo in utilities costs, BUT keep in mind that where we live, we would have easily spent that money on gasoline driving (we have a very fuel-efficient car, too) because the RV parks are outside the city. For the sake of my exercise, I’m calling it square.

There’s a $330 difference between tiny house rental situation and living in a finished, built apartment.

The house, finished, would have cost us in dollars (not accounting for time) about $28,000. How many years would we have to live in a tiny house versus an apartment, assuming the apartment AND RV parks stay about the same price, JUST to break even?

Seventy-four months. Six point two years.

That’s nothing! You say. Consider that it takes most people 30 years to pay off their houses!

Great, sure. But over a 30 year average period, houses GENERALLY appreciate in value. Tiny houses do not. They just don’t.

But we’ll ignore that fuzzy math right now. Besides, I actually see a bigger issue. Six years ONCE THE HOUSE IS BUILT (so likely 8 years from this moment, at least): where do you expect to be personally? Just a best guess. I’m mostly talking children here. If you don’t want kids, I think that’s awesome, too, so ignore what I’m about to say.

IF you have children or are planning on children: what does the tiny house look like 8 years from now when you break even on your money spent? Can one kid, born today, fit into a tiny house with one or two adults from age 0-8 until the break even point? I think possibly! Sure! Why not?

Two kids? Three? Four? Five? Maybe! Every family and every tiny house is different. As kids get bigger and they take up more space, they need more privacy. For some this could just mean a curtain on a bunk bed. For others they may need a bit more.

Can a five-person family realistically grow into a tiny house on a trailer over 8 years? Two years to build. Six more in rental difference to make up the money. Or WHATEVER your numbers are: does it truly work out?

Life is unpredictable. We did not realize when we started this that three years later we would want different things from life. But kids are predictable in pretty much only one way: they will get older. They will get bigger. Almost without exception.

BUT you say!!! I will build my house for seventy two pennies and two shillings by scrounging for materials! My house won’t cost $28,000!


Let’s talk time.

Macy Miller built her tiny house for $12,000 and it took her nearly two years; she also had no kids at that point and could dedicate her after-work hours to hunting for free and low-cost materials. Do not underestimate the amount of time and gasoline money scavenging takes. There will be a LOT of hours committed to the task, which is why most people just end up shopping at Lowe’s.

Free things cost time. Free things still cost money.

Building a tiny house if you have NO HELP from people like handy friends (who have their own lives whether they have skills or not to help you; don’t over-estimate the amount of time they are able and willing to volunteer) will take a minimum of 1000 hours. That includes research time, which will be the bulk of the project, honestly. Like you get to the roofing part, and then it’s 20 hours of researching WHAT material and HOW to put it up, then buying the materials (you will drive to the store 8 times at least because you will need something and have forgotten it) or FINDING the materials on Craigslist…

Our house cost us in cash $22,000 and we only got to drywall finishing. So no flooring or cabinets or refrigerator. This does not include the over thousand (!!!!!) hours my husband spent building it. 1000 hours is, if you work every single weekend for 8 hour days both on Saturday and Sunday and NEVER take a weekend off to do ANYTHING like breathe or grocery shop or go to church or hang out with friends, is 62 weeks. That’s one year and three months, every single weekend, 16 hours a weekend. 8AM-4PM if you don’t stop for lunch, peeing, or drinking Gatorade. That is YEAR ROUND: through scorching summer, snowy winter, thunderstorms, etc. I don’t know what the weather is like where you live. You should think about it.

I think 1000 hours is extremely conservative if you’ve never built before.

If you try to pay someone to build the entire house: be sure to read reviews and get personal references for the builder. If you choose to be the contractor and sub-contract out (pay someone to do the framing, then someone else to do the electric, then the plumbing, etc), realize that this in and of itself is another full-time job. MANAGING construction people is a difficult thing, which is why contractors exist. Calling, getting estimates, trusting people, waiting for them to show up, hoping they will do a good job, articulating what you want exactly, then shelling out money for it…ALSO, we called many sub-contractors throughout our project, and only ONE of them followed through (the roofers). A tiny house is just not enough work for most professional workers to consider worth their time.

It’s a cruel irony.

If you’ve made it this far in this blog post and you truly still believe that a tiny house on wheels is a simple solution, do not build one. I am completely serious.

If you’ve made it this far and are sobered but still think it’s a good idea, just not a simple one, then here is my advice to you:

1) If you are building it yourself, save ALL of your money up front. All of it. I would estimate at least $25,000 that is solely for the tiny house, in a separate account. Not for emergencies. Not for paying taxes. Not to dip into if you lose your job. Solely for the tiny house.

2) If you’re scrounging for materials, fine, but do an experiment for a month: every weekend, go on CL and find something cheap or free you want to buy/acquire. Then actually go get it. Do this for 10 items and add up your time and mileage. Some of these will end in no financial gain; some will be losses. CL can be great but it’s a part-time job all on its own. People will flake on you, cancel on you; an item will be gone before you get there, etc.

Tiny houses are NOT the fast-track to having a debt-free living situation.

Everything in life has a cost, whether it’s in time or money.

Tiny houses have not been granted some cosmic exception to this rule. If you save money by getting free materials, you will use up more time. If you save time by buying retail, you will use up more money.

For us? We would have been much further ahead financially if my self-employed husband and I had used those thousand-plus hours of tiny house building and all the thousand more we collectively spent agonizing instead on making extra money through side jobs. We would be miles ahead financially of where we are right now and even in the long run, still including money spent on renting a boring, finished apartment from The Evil Corporate Man.

(Side note: If you think “I have neither the time nor energy to get a side job” then you DEFINITELY do not have the time nor energy to build a tiny house.)

If you are relying on the tiny house as a safe, stable living option that is needed in the next 24 months, you are setting yourself up for an early, stress-related death.

Never underestimate the power of a stable living situation on your psyche.

There are people for whom apartments are not stable situations. But the tiny house build? Will take WAY longer than you think it will (years, not months), and you will be unstable that entire time.

I think this needs to be emphasized more than it is in the tiny house community: building and living in a tiny house is RISK. Well, life is risk, you say. Great. Sure, it is. If you’re smart, life is calculated risk. And even a cute, adorable tiny house on wheels is risk. It’s riskier than a foundation-built house. You are at the mercy of neighbors and codes much more so than in a “regular” home.

IF you can find a parking situation BEFORE YOU BUILD, IF you can save all of the money BEFORE YOU BUILD, IF you have the time and stamina to take on a project that will take at least two years to finish, IF you can do all of that while raising children/holding a job/having friends/brushing your teeth: you are awesome.

If you made it this far and are thinking a tiny house isn’t for you, you are awesome too.

Everyone is awesome. Except for the person reading this who wants to tell me how negative and boring and stupid I am.

You, Internet Sir, are NOT awesome.

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A Worthy Profession.

Any time I tell myself that being a writer and writing fiction books and making things up and selling them to people is not a worthy profession, I need to stop and remember all of the times someone else telling a story saved my mind.

Right now I’m anxiously crossing off days on the calendar on the way to having my surgery. The last few weeks have been the usual mish-mash of pain, no pain, depression, happiness, fatigue, and energy. During the lowest points, the things that have saved me are things that, on the surface, don’t seem like worthy things for someone to have made or used time and resources to complete:

A series of “useless conversations” between three Englishmen.

The story of the brutal murder of a British boy played out onscreen by in-real-life adults pretending to be other not-real people in a completely made up story.

A prequel we don’t deserve about a skeevy lawyer that turned out to be exactly the prequel we all need.

These three things seem silly on the surface. It’s not “real” work. It’s “only” art. They’ve all been put together by adults playing pretend and telling stories: some real, some exaggerated, and some entirely fictitious. And yet, over the years, books and movies and television and stories have kept me sane and entertained. Stories are the things that make life exciting for me.

Telling stories is work worth doing. I don’t ever want to forget that.

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It’s February Again, We Must Get Older.

I’ve always hated birthdays.

When I was a kid, I had exactly one birthday party with birthday wrapping paper and a song with the word “birthday” in it sung to me.


The crying was off-the-charts. When asked why exactly I was crying, I managed to shake out a few words between wracking sobs “I-i-i-i-i-i d-d-d-d-d-don’t w-w-w-w-want to g-g-g-g-get old-d-d-d-der!”

And so it went. From then on, people sung me “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and birthday presents had to be wrapped in non-birthday paper. Like newsprint. Or Christmas wrapping. Thankfully, my birthday is in December, so it wasn’t too hard to find alternatives.

My mom had this theory about me as a kid that June-December was when I did most of my growing – “the halves to wholes” theory. That from my half birthday to my birthday I had a rough time of everything. I used to hang onto this theory until I became an adult and it seemed like an about even (in good years) mix of good and bad days that spread roughly evenly across the year, no matter the season (though summer can still fuck itself, especially July).

But one thing has always hit me with regularity: I fucking hate January.

I feel badly about it, since my husband and my mom and my uncle have January birthdays, but it’s really nothing personal. I just don’t like it much. And here in Texas, January means I’m in an allergic haze of existence due to mountain cedar.

January 2015 went by in a blur. Tiny house found, moving, apartment, settling, sick sick sick, endometriosis, pain, tired, uncertain, depression, fatigue, depression, sick sick sick. And then February came. I scheduled a life-changing procedure. And I woke up a little. Made some plans. Started writing again.

I’m due to have surgery next month. It’s out-of-state, for my endometriosis, with a specialist (for my endo sisters, the laparoscopy is wide excision). I’m terrified. Terrified of the painful pre-surgical appointments and invasive vaginal ultrasounds. Terrified that I’ll die on the table from some rare anesthesia-allergy-attack. I’m also excited. For a trip! For hope that within a few months I’ll recover fully and say “Shit, I felt TERRIBLE for the last eleven years. I forgot what it felt like to feel good.” I’m also terrified that I won’t feel different. I’m terrified to hope. I’m terrified to mourn the last seven years since my first unsuccessful, non-specialist surgery. I’m scared of the anger I’ll feel when I realize that someone could have helped me sooner.

But whatever I feel, it’s coming. Soon, soon. For now, we have February and some creativity goals for myself. With hope on the horizon again, I can wake up a little.

Regina Spektor released a song a few years ago called “Jessica.”

Some of the lyrics:

Jessica wake up.
It’s February again.
It’s February again, we must get older, now, so please wake up.
We must get older now, so please wake up.

Posted in this is my life | 8 Comments

Why We Won’t Be Living in Our Tiny House.

It’s been a strange few weeks, to say the least.

I’ve had to remind myself more than once that I owe nothing of myself or the details of my life to anyone on the Internet – nice people or mean people. You all leave comments, and then go about your business not thinking much of my own life. And nor should you! I don’t spend a lot of time thinking of other people’s decisions in my own day-to-day business. I have my own life to lead.

I still feel compelled to write down and publish the long list of reasons we won’t be living in our tiny house. For posterity, for my own sake, and really for anyone who has a genuine, sincere interest in our continued story. And maybe some of these points might help some of you in your own tiny house journey.

Many people think we’re selling our tiny house because it was stolen from us, and that we’re letting fear dictate our lives. (Anyone who knows us in real life finds the idea that Casey and I let fear controls our lives endlessly humorous). In reality, the theft was more of a tipping point than some singular catastrophic event that upturned everything.

1) We just can’t do this anymore. People who haven’t been through the process of building anything, even a so-called “tiny house”, simply do not understand the realities of construction. I only half-joke that the thing that makes tiny building so difficult is that there is just enough space to finally get a partial handle on whatever step of the process you are undertaking – and then that step is over. You never build up any momentum to carry the task out faster and better. Because the space is so small, it’s time to start from square one on the next step of the process before you even reap the benefits of having mastered the previous step. It’s not very satisfying to work this way. People say: “Oh, you’ve come so far! You’re so close to finishing!” No, we really, really aren’t. We’ve been “so close” to finishing nearly every month for the last two and a half years.

2) Where would we put the house now? There are many indications that the area in which we live had to do with the theft. I won’t go into details, but despite some VERY lovely neighbors, we also have some not-so-lovely neighbors, and to put the house back where it was parked seems to only invite the theft or damage once again. Some idiot asked me on Facebook if my apartment was broken into, would I just break my lease and move somewhere else? And the answer is: absolutely I would, if I thought the location of my apartment had something to do with the theft itself. This is so bleeding obvious I can’t believe he asked it. Welcome to the Internet.

We spent a long time looking for land that would allow a tiny house to be parked on it, and I have no desire to go back through that process again. Also, now that we have an apartment very close to all the places we need to be, it’s made me realize how nice it is not to face a 50 minute commute each way just to get to civilization. The unfortunate part of tiny houses is that the one place you can be relatively assured* no one will call the local zoning boards on you is the countryside. And living in the countryside means you have to enjoy driving unless you plan to spend all your time at home.

*I say “relatively assured” because Jonathan had issues even in the countryside. He ended up not living in tiny house, either. A lot of people (people who stand to make money off the tiny house movement itself) say things like “If you build it, the parking space will come.” This was the cavalier attitude I took at the start of the process. Once we started the build, we began to look for a place to park it. We looked at RV parks and were turned away (no homemade trailers allowed), we looked at unrestricted land that was way too big and too expensive, then we finally found a small rural neighborhood that seemed fine just to have it turn out that our house was stolen…all this to say that if you are thinking of building a tiny house on wheels, weigh the risks. If you can afford to build a tiny house and like being adventurous with the idea that you’ll find a place to put it “later,” by all means, do so. Otherwise, sincerely do your research before jumping in feet first to an expensive, time-consuming build.

3) The potential for theft. This is a small reason, but a reason nonetheless. I just can’t live wondering if my tiny house and its contents is going to be there when I get home from work or from play. Despite the new anti-theft measures we’ve put in (boots on the trailer, and a mega hitch lock), I just can’t. Once I had a stomach bug and happened to eat chili and noodles right before the symptoms started. Cue vomiting up chili and noodles all night. Despite the fact that technically the chili and noodles did not cause my illness, it put me off chili and noodles for life. All this to say: I’m not blaming the tiny house. But I still associate it with theft. For anyone reading this deciding on their own build, I’d say the only location I’d feel comfortable parking my house is in the suburbs somewhere: in someone’s backyard, behind a fence, with many, many neighbors around, and preferably some large trees that grow back over the tow-path. But then I’d have to live in the suburbs, and that’s just not for me. Also, finding a suburb like that is easier said than done. Dee Williams, in her super-progressive, liberal, Washington state town STILL had to get a special variance that allowed her and only her to be parked there, in that very particular space. If you have the stomach to go through a process like that, more power to you.

4) Our lifestyle has changed. The build was initially going to be 4-6 months in length. It’s taken 2.5 years, for various reasons that aren’t anyone’s business, but really came down to time and money. Since it’s taken so long, our lives have changed. We simply need more space – not for living, but for our businesses and creative endeavors. Our property had a little cabin on it that we were going to use as a studio. We can’t live on that land any longer for safety reasons, so the thought of having to come up with a solution to another accessory building in a new location is just too much. It’s ludicrous, when we could just have a larger apartment (650 s.f.) that’s already constructed (!!!!!) with plenty of space for our needs.

5) Our priorities have changed. Our main goal has always been to live in a place where we can be car-lite or car-free. Coincidentally, the week before the tiny house was stolen, we came up with a solid plan of where we want to live (next, anyway) without a car. The plan was three to four years more living in the tiny house, then moving elsewhere to a city where we can be active without a car. The house was stolen, and suddenly it looked like our plan could be moved up on the timeline.

6) I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to decide if I’m a country person or a city person. The answer appears so obvious to me now, I feel a little silly even asking the question. I hate driving and I love museums, libraries, public transit, good food, biking trails, parks, and concerts. Period. That makes me a city person at this point in my life. I realize now that I was actually spending the last 18 months trying to convince myself that I was okay living out in the middle of nowhere. I’m not okay with it at this point in my life.

7) I don’t want to compress my expectations any longer. Some people live in a tiny house because it truly makes their lives more simple, yet it gives them space to do the things they want to do. I realize now that the tiny house had reached a point that it was restricting our lives and our expectations. Again: it took us further away from city living and honestly, it put me in a mindset of not just extreme frugality (which is great!) but of extremely low income-making. Maybe I’ll expound on this another day, but essentially I convinced myself that making an exceedingly small amount of money was good enough for me, and it isn’t. I was trying to shrink my life and my goals. I was feeling a little suffocated. I’m not saying having a tiny house does this to everyone – it was just doing it for me.

8) A tiny house is not the only answer. Some people seem to think that not living in a stick-built, tiny house on wheels means “giving up the tiny lifestyle.” I realize now how silly I was to think a tiny house was the only way to live simply. It’s not. I don’t even know what living simply means, to be honest with you. Building a tiny house and trying to live in one in 2015 means you are a pioneer. There aren’t enough of them yet to have changed public perception, zoning laws, or local codes. There is huge risk in living in mostly uncharted territory. And we need people trying to do it! I just can’t be one of them. My energy needs to be spent elsewhere. Fighting the tide is not simple. It is easier to have a mortgage and a 9-5 job than it is to live in a tiny house and be self-employed. Depending on how you look at it, the former is the real “simple life” in 2015. A case can be made for both sides.

To “not fight the tide” doesn’t mean we are off to live in a 6,000 s.f. house in the suburbs (though there is NOTHING WRONG with that if you do; it simply doesn’t fit for us). It means we are channeling our energy elsewhere, toward goals that mean more to us.

We are not giving up. We are not fickle people. I think giving up would look like staying with our build even though we know it can’t work for us any longer. For us to say: “Okay, we came this far, even though every fiber of our being is telling us this is no longer the direction we want to go, we need to see it through no matter the cost” would be giving up in my book.

We are constantly re-examining where we are going and what we are doing, and I think that’s what makes us awesome. So many people continue to commit to things that are no longer working for them, and end up on their deathbed wishing they’d taken more risks. Even though this process has been almost nothing but stress and pain, I’d rather be sitting where I am now, having tried to build a tiny house and deciding it wasn’t for me after all, than to have never tried at all and be sitting around the rest of my life doodling floor plans in the margins and wondering if I was ever going to take the leap.

ADDENDUM: I just went back to read Jonathan’s post (mentioned above) from years ago, and the similarities in our situations are eerie in many ways. This sums it all up for me, almost to the letter:

“Even if I win, I will still be next to a neighbor who hates me. Even if I win, I will be 10 miles away from the nearest grocery store. Even if I win, I will be both physically and socially isolated, far enough away from everyone nearby to where visiting me is inconvenient, but not far enough away to where I’ll be compelled to seek out new things. I’ll be in an area in which the population is politically and ideologically at odds with my own morals and values. I will, in essence, become a hermit here.”

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Our house was recovered on January 2nd, thanks to the power of social media!!! It was intact. A very strange story indeed. When I am able to share the details, I will. Thank you all for your support!


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Grieving as An Atheist.

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica, and I am atheist.

Quick primer on what this means: I hold no belief in any kind of God, gods, or creator of the universe. The end.

Being atheist means nothing more or nothing less that this. It imbues me with no other characteristics. Atheists have no creed, mission statement, or set of common rules attached to atheism. There are nice atheists and mean atheists, short atheists and tall atheists, mustachioed atheists and clean shaven atheists. Just like there are mean people and nice people, etc. We have no code to live by as a result of being atheist. We have to find morality elsewhere, outside of religion. (And it’s easy to do; actually easier than parsing through a holy text to find what is right and what is wrong. I could dedicate an entire book to this singular topic).

Really, the word atheist shouldn’t exist. There is no word for people who don’t collect stamps or people who do not participate in roller derby. But the status quo at this point in time is holding a belief in one deity and/or another, so the word atheist is necessary to distinguish those who are different from the societal norm.

The last week and a half has been devastating. But the loss of our tiny house is not the only bad thing that’s happened to me over the last few years. I’ve suffered through a lot in a short amount of time, just like a lot of people. I wanted to address a common question that is offered to atheists: “How do you grieve without God?”

I realized I was atheist in September of 2012. The last few years have been stressful emotionally, physically, and financially. I have a chronic illness that I deal with on a daily basis. I’ve lost personal relationships. I’ve had financial losses. I’ve watched bad things happen to the people I love.

I also suffered through terrible events when I was Christian. I feel like I have solid comparative material of experiencing grief both as a religious person and a non-religious person.

I prefer grieving as an atheist.

Let me rephrase that: I strongly, absolutely much, much, much prefer grieving as an atheist. Grieving as an atheist is not only preferable, I actually suffer less now than I did before as a Christian.

When I was Christian and something bad happened, I had to stop and ask myself a lot of unanswerable questions. Questions like “Why me?” and “Why would a benevolent God do this?” and “What is the purpose of this pain?” and “Why has this test been put in front of me and what am I meant to learn from it?”

There was a lot of handwringing. A lot of misery, to be honest. Where many people find solace in religion, I find pain and discomfort.

Here’s what grieving looks like as an atheist: I go through all the same stages of grief that I did as a Christian, in varying order. I’ve been in denial, and anger. There’s bargaining, just not with God. And depression, and acceptance too. And back again.

All through these steps, I do my best to move forward. I take action. I don’t need to pray. I don’t need to meditate on it. I don’t need to wonder what things I did or didn’t do to deserve what came to me, I don’t need to divine some kind of meaning from the meaningless. I don’t need to wonder why this particular burden was “given” to me, because I know now that it wasn’t given to me. Bad things happens sometimes. That’s all.

I use the energy I used to expend on prayer and trying to fight my cognitive dissonance to take action to better my life.

I prefer grieving as an atheist. I don’t judge those who find solace in their faith. I just don’t find solace there.

When I need more comfort, I turn to Carl Sagan. Some people find the vastness of the universe terrifying. I find it comforting. Because I realize that nothing in the universe is trying to show me anything. The universe is not trying to teach me a lesson.

It simply exists, in the same exact way that I exist. The universe does not grieve as I grieve.

I don’t need it to.

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Every New Beginning is Some Other Beginning’s End.

EDIT on January 4, 2014: Our house was recovered on January 2nd, thanks to the power of social media!!! It was intact. A very strange story indeed. When I am able to share the details, I will. Thank you all for your support!

Radio silence over here for a few weeks. I originally wasn’t going to write about this, but it’s me, and I write about everything.

Our tiny house was taken from us last week. Stolen. Gone. Gone tiny house. Gone. You can read the whole post, the whole story over at my husband Casey’s blog.

I have some great readers on this site, but just to fend off the inevitable trolls: If you feel like posting anything resembling advice on what we should have done to prevent this from happening, DON’T. I will delete your comment. If you want to go to your own site and compose a separate article with ideas for tiny house loss prevention so you can foster discussion, please, go ahead and do that there. Not here. I don’t want advice. The horse is out of the barn. Don’t tell me I should have locked the doors or put up security cameras or stuck a GPS up the horse’s asshole. The people who took our house were determined, and they had all the time in the world to make this theft happen. If someone wants to take something: they can. There are bad, bad people out there. Sometimes they do bad stuff.

Also, if you have questions involving the tiny house, please read my husband’s post first. I think he answers most of them. If you read the post and STILL have a question, I’ll be happy to answer it.

It’s been a devastating week, but we’re not ones for dwelling. We are moving on as best we can. We are getting an apartment this weekend. We’re making it our home as quickly as we can. New bed! A real live sofa! A garden on the balcony! We’re making time for all of the things we’ve put off over the last three years of this grueling, grueling process. We’ve put off our friends, our hobbies, our free time, our health, and our budget. Ironically, all of the things that were the main reasons for building the tiny house in the first place were the things that were the first to go while we were building.

The last three years have been more stressful than I can adequately articulate, but they have not been a total loss. Casey has built up his business so he can work anywhere in the world. Our relationship is strong. I don’t know why we’re still married when so many other people who build houses don’t make it. I guess it’s our communication and our stubbornness. And also the fact that we got married knowing that we both were choosing to love each other. There was no fairy tale involved. We made a choice to love each other and be on the same team, and we continue to make that choice.

I also realize now that a tiny house can just be another “object” that can be used an excuse to put off living your life. It’s no better than that elusive perfect weight, or haircut, or sports car, or suburban home. You don’t need a tiny house to have a garden. You don’t need a tiny house to have more time to spend with your friends. You don’t need a tiny house to spend less money, or have less stuff, or have a lower electric bill. You can do all of these things where you are, right now. If there is one thing I can implore you to do, it is to examine your own lives. What have you been putting off because things aren’t “just right” for beginning? Begin them now. Don’t allow an object to get in your way. Just begin.

Casey ended his own post so eloquently: to go out and follow your dreams because we are both rooting for all of you. I just wanted to add that our own dreams are not extinguished. We are moving on from tiny houses and the tiny house community (such as it is), but a tiny house was not our only dream. It was a means to an end. We have always had bigger dreams, and those dreams are not by any means dead. The loss of this one dream means moving up other dreams on the timeline. It’s a dim silver lining at this point in time, but I’ll take it.

Thank you all for your support over the last three years! I’ll still be here. You’ll have to stick around to see what kind of beginning this end has created.

Go forth and live!


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