Sunday, June 21, 2015

Post 12 (June 21)-At a Standstill/Choices

Kacey finishing the BirdBlock.  Happened a few weeks ago, but I hadn't shared the picture yet.  Look at his smile--it's great fun to work on this project together.

Spoiler Alert: much of this blog post will be unrelated to our tiny house build.  I'll let you know when so that you can stop reading if you'd like :)

Up until this point, we couldn't make progress fast enough--we had all of the framing materials delivered to the house, and we needed to get a deck on the trailer and put the tarp on it to keep the water out of the insulation.  We had to frame out the walls and put the sheathing on so that the framing materials didn't sit around and get moldy.  We had to get the roof on so that we didn't have to tarp the house to keep the rain out.  We had to get the house wrap on so that we were ready when the windows were delivered.  We were running as fast as we could to keep up with our own (albeit somewhat arbitrary) schedule.

Now, we wait.  We wait for a service call for a few defective windows.  We wait for the rabbited bevel cedar siding to be milled and delivered.  We wait for the metal roof to be quoted, made, and delivered.

In our waiting, we did a few important, extremely unimpressive, and dreadfully time-consuming things:

  • To vent the house, we had to drill a series of holes in some of the supporting 2x4s.  I'd take a picture to show you, but I'd hate for you to fall asleep.  If, however, you are suffering from insomnia, let me know.  I'll send you a few pics and that should do the trick.
  • One of the 6x6s on either side of the front door twisted so we had to jury-rig a few shims to keep the door in straight.  See the previous comment about insomnia and pictures.
  • We bolted the top of the house to the bottom of the house.  Okay, this is less boring: remember the all-thread rods that connect the walls to the trailer?  Kacey thought it would be a shame for the roof to blow off while the walls were still secured to the trailer.  He bought all-thread rods which we used to secure the roof and dormer to the first-floor walls which, if you remember, are secured to the trailer.  A really good idea, a really boring thing to have to do on a Sunday.  See the previous comment about insomnia and pictures.

Earlier I wrote a blog about how frustrating if was for us to make invisible progress--the stuff that needs to be done but is not glamorous and not really photographable.  It's the tiny house build equivalent of the mandatory Saturday trip to Costco and Safeway.  Important and unremarkable.

I keep thinking about David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, nowadays referred to as "This is Water."  It's an invitation to change how we perceive traffic jams, errands, commutes, and perhaps the tiny house tasks that we completed today.  I must admit that I didn't completely escape the "default setting" he references, but at least now I know that it's my own attitude that's keeping me down.  I smiled as I wrote that last sentence.

That's all for the build, folks!

Non-build-related portion of the post

This week I've had many opportunities to think about the multiplicity of life.  Indeed, there are many ways to live a successful life, and we are often quick to judge and discredit those who make different choices than we do.  In fact, I used to be one of the worst offenders--I'd look around at the people who sat next to me on the 6:30 A.M. train into San Francisco and notice with a bit of disdain that the snoring gentleman beside me had dirt under his fingernails that he rested on his rising and falling beer belly, had holes in his work pants, wore a dirty jacket with a construction company logo embroidered on the left chest pocket, and had haphazardly placed a 10-year-old cooler in the aisle.  Why doesn't he take better care of himself, I thought.  As I type today, I look down at my own fingernails--two of them are cracked and all of them are dirty, my work pants are covered in glue, and I guarantee that when I work a hole in the knee of these pants, I will be proud, I'd love to have a cooler next to me to offer a bit of relief from the heat, and man, I'd love to be able to chat with that sleeping gentleman.  What should we do before we put the siding on?  Any tips for putting on a metal roof? Any advice for a novice builder?

From where I sit, there seems to be a great deal of social pressure to live a life within the constrains of a pretty narrow lane.  Make more money, work longer hours, wear more makeup, get your nails professionally done, wear expensive clothes, stay out late at night, meet and date rich young software engineers.  Maybe where you're sitting, the set of social pressures is completely different--find a husband already! buy a house already! trade in that BMW for a more practical vehicle! give me grandchildren already!  And maybe someplace else, you take a look at the various expectations of you that society has, and you think that they are perfectly aligned with your expectations of yourself.

The point is not that social pressures are bad and you should disregard all advice you ever receive, nor that all social pressures are good and you should jump out of your skin to live up them, but rather, that the set of social pressures that we live within are one option.  And, just like in your favorite Mexican restaurant with 7,000 items on the menu, you get to choose.  You might have to turn to the very last page of the 17-page menu to find the dish that you really want, and you may have to send a few dishes back to the kitchen in the process, but ultimately, you are in charge of your entree and you are in charge of the choices you make in life.


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