Monday, February 24, 2014

What is a tiny house and why would anyone live in one?

A tiny house is just what it sounds like. It's a house. And it's tiny. Typically less than 300 sqft kind of tiny. I could try to describe it to you, but it's easier to show you.

The ones I like best are built on trailers so you can move them around with you if you want to. This means if you get a job on the other side of the country, you can take your house there with you. Or if your job includes a lot of travelling, you can always have a place to stay. Like these guys, who spend all winter skiing for work.

Most people who live in tiny houses build them by hand with the help of friends. Like Ella...

She's kind of my hero. And I've met her! It was awesome. This is the inside of her completed house.

Some people hire others to do the labor for them, which I totally get and... let's face it, is what I would probably end up doing. That's what Tonita did, and her house is completely lovely.

Tiny houses are both super expensive and super cheap, depending on how you look at them. Compared to a normal-size house, they're about a tenth of the cost (at least where I live, in the Bay Area). But in terms of cost per square foot to build, they're much, much more expensive than a typical trailer or an RV or a small apartment or something like that. That's because they include all the expensive elements of a regular house--bathroom, kitchen--compressed into a much smaller footprint, which almost always requires custom designing things to fit just right. 

It's basically like living in a sailboat, except without the water. You know how sailboats are super efficient and beautifully crafted? That's what a tiny house is like. And also like a sailboat, they're not for everyone. I get that. But to me, they are beautiful. 

And part of that beauty lies in the fact that there is no wasted space. That yen for utility is probably at the root of my love for all things IKEA and also why I really dig Howard Roark. But those are side stories that I'll save for future posts.

Tiny houses require a certain lifestyle. When you don't have much space, you can't have much stuff. You have to choose what's most important to you and let go of stuff from the past. But when you don't have to worry about a mortgage, you have the freedom to do the things you really want to do: travel, write for fun instead of for money, retire early, go back to school. Tiny houses are also really good for the environment because when you take up less space, you use less electricity, water, propane, all kinds of things.

This one is my current favorite. It's Tumbleweed's Linden 20 Horizon. I like the idea of having a designated office space downstairs, where I could write.

Right now I'm just a tiny house dreamer. But someday I would really love to become a tiny house dweller.

If you want to learn more about Tiny Houses and what makes them so awesome, check out these sites and blogs:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What have you learned from watching 4 and a half seasons of Parenthood in the last month?

Disclaimer: The only reason I am qualified to give this answer is that I was sick for most of last week, and Parenthood was my go-to show in my time of illness.

Looking back on it, I probably should've used all that recuperating time to read more. Or write more.

Oh well.

19 lessons I've learned from watching Parenthood

1. Some people can actually talk about their emotions out loud and not rely wholly on subtext. I am not one of those people yet, but Amber Braverman is. I wish I was a bit more like her.

2. Don't give up on yourself. Even if you're forty and you never went to college.

3. Everyone needs a family. Even that jerky Mr. Baldwin person, who didn't have anywhere else to go on Thanksgiving.

4. It's okay to live at home as an adult and it's okay not to live at home as an adult. I've done both myself. 

5. Berkeley is awesome, even though they don't really film there. Since I started watching this show, my trips to Berkeley have increased by 200 percent. Maybe someday I'll move there.

6. Families support each other and spend time together. 

7. Don't wait. Cancer or not, life is not a dress rehearsal. 

8. With your family, you can be as goofy as you want to be. 

9. Be committed to your relationships. Be trustworthy and dependable and stable and responsible. Like Adam.

10. But be willing to take risks and follow your heart. Also like Adam, later on in the show.

11. Be yourself and don't be afraid to change or stand out. Tangent: I feel like this is the hidden agenda behind every piece of entertainment these days. It's like the message of our generation. Everything from Frozen to NCIS. But you know what? I'm okay with it. I think it's a valid message.

12. Parents stress out about the weirdest things when it comes to their kids. 

13. There is always a way out of whatever mess you've gotten yourself into. And it's okay to ask your family for help if you can't figure out how to get out of the mess by yourself.

14. Hot and sensitive English teachers will still be interested in you years later because you actually are that awesome. Possibly this only applies for the beautiful people, like Lauren Graham. But the rest of us can dream, right? :) Also, I love The Sound and The Fury. Just saying.

15. People who can play an instrument are so much cooler than those who can't. That's why Crosby is so cool. Or at least one of the reasons.

16. Relationships take work no matter how old you get or how well you think you know the other person.

17. You can actually opt out of a conversation, but only for so long. If you are not emotionally ready to talk about something, just say that and you can be done with the conversation for awhile. I honestly didn't think about this as an option. Of course, eventually you will need to have that conversation you keep trying to put off.

18. Bangs look really bad with curly hair. Like really, really bad. Poor Haddie.

19. It's okay to be best friends with your siblings. In fact, it's kind of awesome.

Have I really learned all these lessons? I don't know. I noticed them. But some I've already blatantly ignored. Like when I got a haircut three days ago and I got bangs, even though my hair is kinda curly.

On the other hand, I have been spending more time than usual with my family, soooo....? Make of that what you will. I'm off to Novato to hang out with my sister-in-law!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why are you doing the same job as a fifth-grader?

I remember my very first babysitting job. I was eleven years old. I had lots of experience babysitting my siblings, of course. It's kind of inevitable when you're the oldest of seven kids. This was different. These kids were not my siblings. I barely knew them. And the job seemed to last forever. I was so tired when I got home. It was not some life-altering moment when I thought, "This is what I want to do forever." 
And yet, here I am, twenty-nine years old and working as a babysitter. Actually, I usually call myself a nanny. But that's just semantics. The fact is, I spend every day pushing a stroller to the park, wiping sticky faces, putting kids in time out, reading Berenstein Bears books, and painting acorns. And most of the time I really love it, but I also spend a lot of time wondering what got me here and whether or not I'm really doing what God wants me to be doing with my life. Honestly, I don't know for sure.
Between that first babysitting job and now, I've done a lot. I finished elementary, middle, and high school. I went to BYU and graduated with an English degree (insert disparaging remark about English majors here). I worked lots of jobs during college, including a stint at Walmart, one at Toys R Us, and a job at the LDS motion picture studio archive. That last one was pretty cool. I was also a TA for a religion professor and an editor for BYU Independent Study. I really love editing. I struggled a lot in college until I decided to go into it, so I'm only half joking when I say that grammar and punctuation saved my life--or at least my GPA and my mental health.
Oddly enough, I never considered writing. I thought writers were weird and narcissistic and I got annoyed by how their eyes lit up when they were talking about their latest story ideas. I'm not sure if I was jealous of their creativity or what. I do know that I only took one creative writing class ever. It was my last semester at BYU and I enrolled in the class so that I would have a better idea of how authors felt when I was working as their editor.
It was while I was in that class that I was offered a job at Cedar Fort. I loved working there. I loved the people I worked with, weird and narcissistic authors included. I loved creating books. I loved seeing the whole process. I even loved the deadlines.
But I did not love Utah. I tried. I bought a house there, in hopes that I could love it more. And the house helped, but . . . I missed home. I know not everyone understands the appeal of California, so I won't try to explain my choice by telling you about the gorgeous winter weather and the year-round hiking on lovely rolling hills and the fact that the beach is only an hour away. I won't even mention San Francisco and its unique history and culture and vibrancy.
I will say that my family lives here. And that was a major factor in my decision.
I think if I were married and starting a family of my own, like most people my age, it might not matter so much to me if I lived far away from my family. I don't know that for sure, but I assume I'd be able to satisfy that family craving with my hypothetical husband and kids. As it stands, my parents and siblings are the only family I have. (Not counting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and 54 first cousins with their spouses and kids.) I missed being able to hang out with them. My youngest brother was only three when in left for BYU. I don't regret moving home and getting to know him.
Also, I get really attached to places. I'm not sure why that is. But it's comforting to me to know that if I wanted to right now, I could drive to the park where I played as a kid and it would still be there. And not just that place but lots of others: my high school, the house I lived in when I read the Anne of Green Gables series, the trail where we used to take Sunday walks as a family, and the street I would ride my bike to when I wanted to run away. Sometimes just being in a certain place is the only thing that can make me feel okay.
Well, this post has turned awfully tangential. My apologies. Back on track...
So I moved home, thinking I would stay here for awhile and then go teach English abroad. Only I fell in love with this place. As you can tell by my rambling, I'm still in love with it. But I needed to find work here so I could stay and feel like a productive member of society. Not to mention the fact that it is crazy expensive to live here and I knew that living at home with my parents was not a permanent option for me. I'm not judging those who do it. I just need my independence.
So I applied for some editing jobs. A few. I was hesitant because the idea of working in an office was not appealing. And in the meantime, during my job hunt, I babysat to earn a little extra money. Until one day I realized that babysitting was a valid option. Sure it doesn't require a college degree, but it pays well enough around here for me to live on my own, as long as I'm careful with my money, and I am. And it's so fantastically flexible! I get to arrange my schedule so that I have time to work at the temple, be a freelance editor, write books, be a seminary teacher, spend lots of time outside, and go on vacations with my family.
Yes, there are some downsides too, but that's true of any job.
In short, I don't know if I'll do it forever, but for now, for me, babysitting is what I do. It's what I love. It's what I'm good at. It fits me.
And I think my Heavenly Father approves of my choice.

Ugh. So much talking about myself. I promise to make my next post way more light and way less personal.

Remember that part when I didn't mention how close I live to the beach?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Question: What Is this Blog and Why Are You Resurrecting It?

I feel like I need to be upfront about something. I just want to get this out there, right at the onset.

I do not like blogs.

Then why are you writing one, Heidi?

Well, to be completely honest, my publisher said to me, write a blog because you are an author and you need to start acting like one or we will stop publishing your books. My publisher is right: if I want to keep thinking of myself as an author, I should start acting like one. And since I do want to keep thinking of myself as an author, and since having a book come out every year certainly helps with that . . . I am writing a blog.

But I also want to be upfront about what this blog will and will not contain. For one thing it won't be all about my books and writing. I just wouldn't have enough to say about that. I'll mention my books, of course, but I can't promise to talk about that side of my life in every post. The truth is, my life consists of lots of different elements melded together into a semi-cohesive whole, and Tiny Talks is only one of those elements.

There's also...

     - Tiny houses, which I can't wait to talk about because they're so awesome
     - my social life (and lack thereof)
     - the fact that I've never had a credit card
     - my creative process as a writer
     - why I quit my job in publishing and started babysitting for a living
     - how much I love the ocean and being outside
     - TV shows I get addicted to
     - grammar, spelling, and punctuation peeves
     - my bike, a big pink beach cruiser named Daphne
     - reflections on my religion
     - my advice on love (because I obviously know what I'm doing in this department)
     - whether or not sarcasm works in a cyber setting
     - why I feel obliged to make up terms like "cyber setting" just because this is a "blog" on the "interwebs"

Okay. I'm done listing things. The point is, if I'm going to write a blog, it's going to have to be about me. Like all of me. All the different elements that make up my life. And it's going to have to be brutally, ridiculously, and sometimes boringly honest because that's just how I am when I write to myself. And I do that a lot. I've been keeping a vomit-of-the-pen kind of journal for eleven years. You can see the evidence of all that journaling in the photo below. 

I know how to write to myself. What I don't know is how to let others in on that conversation. I guess I'm hoping that's something we can find out together.

Want to find out with me?

Well, here's your invitation. Welcome, world. I hereby invite you into my life.

The format of this blog is pretty straightforward. It's a question and answer process. If no one asks me any questions (highly likely since I doubt anyone will read this) I'll ask them myself. And then I'll answer them. So go ahead, ask me anything. I can't promise that I'll be able to give you a correct answer, but I can promise to be honest.

And now comes the part where I cross my fingers and hope this isn't a big mistake.