last night we fought.  levi had gone and sat in some tree sap.  he had the sticky stuff on his side.  while i was in the shower, andrew took a pair of scissors and cut levi’s hair off to get the sap out.  he cut a large patch of hair on the dog’s side, leaving a bald patch and jagged lines.  i yelled at andrew.  i yelled at him for cutting the dog’s hair, when hot water and dish soap would have gotten the stuff out.  i yelled that it was my dog.  i yelled that he did it while i was in the shower because he knew i wouldn’t approve.  i yelled because andrew has been depressed for weeks, and i am so tired.  i yelled and stormed off, taking levi with me.

when i got home, andrew appologized.  he wasn’t thinking clearly.  he hasn’t been thinking clearly for weeks.  it became a discussion about his depression.  i explained, again, how when he is in that foggy and negative place, i find myself caught between two impulses.  i want to hug him and love him out of his darkness.  at the same time, i want to kick him in the balls.  as if i could startle him out of the mood he’s mired in.  it feels so selfish the way he falls inside himself.  he doesn’t see me.  he doesn’t think of me.  he hardly looks at me.  but i know it’s because he is looking inward, and he is not liking what he sees, and so he averts his eyes, as if to hide. he gets caught because the only place to hide is in the self place, where he remembers that he doesn’t like himself, and then — since there is nowhere else to go — he crawls deeper down in defeat.

he raises his hand, like a child in school.  i pick the hug any day, he says.  i move to sit next to him and put my arms around him.  i hold him snuggly with my left arm, while i rub his back and chest with my right.  why are you so nice to me, he asks.  because i love you, i answer, so very much.  i let go of being the girlfriend.  the girlfriend wants balance.  the girlfriend wonders about how you would deal with this depression and raising children, or buying a house, or moving.  the girlfriend counts the number of nights since she was free to be the sad one, the one who needed the loving.  i let go of her and i am the best friend.  the best friend doesn’t count those things.  she just sees what drew needs free of past or future context, free of any silent contract or agreement.

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people don’t think that los angeles has seasons, but from our tiny home in the canyon, i can tell you that it does.   this weekend drew and i pulled a thick olive tarp over our outside bed and the deck.  after a so-cal summer without rain, we had our first drizzle, and it was time to button down and prepare.  this morning i woke up early.  it was the first morning in months that i woke to darkness.  levi had nuzzled his way under the covers during the early morning hours, and when i crawled out of bed at 6am to turn the hot water heater on, he stayed in bed.  he always follows me out of bed, but today he was cold and it was dark, and he stayed.  as i tip toed across the wet deck — which had been covered in the night with the moisture that comes with warm days bookended by cool nights — i thought, fair enough levi, fair enough.  i also resolved to get the little man a heated doggie bed before things got serious.

i lit the pilot on the hot water heater, turned it on, and then went into the airstream to make myself a cup of hot tea.  i hung my work clothes up in the bathroom, so that the wrinkles would steam out as i showered, and i reluctantly disrobed.  that cold and naked feeling brought me back to so many showers i had taken as a child growing up in Vermont.  i found it oddly comforting and satisfying.  there is something nice about way one’s muscles and skin become taut in the morning chill, each nerve ending alert, alive, awake.  the leisure of summer, the carelessly seductive way we throw our clothes about us, cover some skin, uncover other skin, was gone.  in autumn one finds the blankets again, is reminded that it is a boundary time, that there are so many thresholds we cross all the time without ceremony or remorse.  today i walked out of sleep and warmth into waking darkness, stepped out of my soft sweatpants into the vacuum of the still bathroom air, and then found relief under the warm water i had so patiently fired up and waited for.

i left the boys sleeping under their goose down blankets, took my ceramic mug still half full of milky chinese black tea with me, and rolled out of the driveway to dawn in my tacoma.  as i turned to leave the canyon, prepared myself for the next threshold onto the 101 freeway, an orange burst of light lit up the sandstone rocks that loom over our tiny home. autumn, like in vermont, is full of orange, as if all the warmth we are losing in the ground has gathered itself up and now hovers just overhead, dancing across the tree tops, enveloping the mountain tops, and giving us visually what we are only beginning to understand we already ache for physically.

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party in the canyon

Sunday night we had a party in the Canyon.  Andrew was napping in the tent, and I was reading some cases for work inside the Airstream when we heard Daniel’s whistle.  It’s a nice thing to be summoned by whistle, and nicer still when it’s a familiar and welcome sound.  Andrew lifted up out of the lazy summer evening comforters and I peeked out the door.  Daniel stood in the front yard in his board shorts, shirtless, and as tan as the red rock hills.  We’re firing up the grill, he summoned.  We’ll be up shortly, Andrew answered.  I dug around the fridge for an offering to the group and came up with a much prized 5 dollar melon I had picked up that morning at the Atwater farmer’s market.  I changed from one loose fitting cotton outfit to another and we walked up the driveway.  Five or six cars already were parked in a jovial array around the lone pine tree in the center of the driveway turn around.  The evening golden light was getting just right across the santa monica mountains.  The party was in full swing.  One girl was wearing, what we would later decide was the most seductive maternity dress we’d ever seen.  The night sprawled out before us like the food.  A big bowl of guacamole next to a girl who just broke up with her girlfriend and another girl who wasn’t afraid to discuss her views on circumcision.  And we laughed.  And the dogs swerved between our legs and picked up small pieces of lime covered fish and melon and fresh bread.  The dinner party was like a sweet drunken hug from an old friend even though the faces were all new and I thought there is something magic in these hills that when we sit here surrounded by their might we let the rest of our pretensions go and can just talk and eat.

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our new full sized bed

Yesterday, we finished the basic box of the bed.  It’s the same bed design that my dad made for me and my sisters growing up, and that I then copied and reconstructed for college, and then again for law school.  This is the third time i’ve made this bed.  Andrew improved it a little.  Although, at first it hurt my feelings when he modified my father’s design.  My family doesn’t have heirloom recipes.  Well, unless lentil soup counts.  Instead, we have this simple bed.  Andrew put the corners together with bolts, not screws, and he cut the one board longer so it fit outside, not inside, the box.  The important part is, we slept sprawled out like the full sized humans we are.  I tied Levi to the bed so the coyotes couldn’t eat him.

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messy morning


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the size of a woman’s bed

our bed inside the Airstream is 43″ across.  your standard full size mattress is about 57″.  i wonder how many inches wide my back is.  how many inches wide is Andrew’s back.  if you add those two numbers together, i would bet that it is a number larger than 43.  so, we are building an outside bed.  we will put it on the deck we built and sleep under the stars.  we will have to figure out what to do about Levi, how to protect him in the middle of the night from coyotes.

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staying home sick today

I stayed home sick with a stomach bug.  Drew took this picture of me and Levi as he pulled off for work around 9:30am.  Levi is looking peeved because he’s on the leash.

It was a hot day in the Canyon.  I read a chapter or two and then fell asleep with the Airstream door open.  I awoke around 1:30pm, played Devotchka on the ipod, made myself an avocado sandwich, and fed Levi some turkey (don’t tell Drew) in exchange for his sit, down, rollover, and shake routine.  After late lunch, I shoveled some dirt into the wheelbarrow.  It’s time to start our garden.  That was all I had.  I returned to the trailer.  Time to rest inside the tiny home.

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Produce Nightmare

Levi jumped onto the bed an hour earlier than usual this morning.  It was 5am and I was awake.  I suspect that the dog sensed my consciousness, picked up on my more rapid breath.  I was awoken by a dream I had.  More like a produce nightmare.

Andrew had gone to the grocery store and had bought far more than our little mini fridge could ever handle.  I can still see his proud display of produce, spread out across our table.

My dream self wondered in silent dread, where would the watermelon, collard greens, zucchinis, snap peas, carrots all go?  How would we possibly store all this food? It was going to be a big messy waste.

Andrew has often lamented the size of the Airstream’s fridge.  I don’t want a bigger fridge.  I like the little one.  I think it holds just enough and that we should eat the collard greens, drink the Pacificos, finish that fresh mozzarella first — before we buy more food.  Andrew likes to grocery shop, and he is always saying that we have no food.

I pick up the small dog body that is standing on my chest with all four legs and put Levi on the floor of the Airstream.  He springs back up and crouches between me and Andrew, as if he could hide in the small folds of my down comforter.  Andrew sleeps, probably having happy dreams of abundant produce and full sized fridges brimming from shelf to shelf with snacking options.  I wrap my arms around the small doggie torso once again, set the pooch on the edge of the bed, whisper get down, and give his small bum a shove.  He gives a small yelp and lands on all fours on the floor.  I turn over for another hour of sleep.  Please let it be free of 2-for-1 red pepper deals!

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organized his / her

i like to have things organized.  Drew thinks my labels are silly.

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A dog

Today Andrew took off for a two week ski trip to Idaho.  I had been dreading the trip.  I don’t like being home alone in the Airstream.  I don’t like being anywhere home alone.  We had been brainstorming kinds of pets that might fit into our lifestyle.  Dogs were out because they were too big and needed to move around.  Cats were out because they would wander away.  I looked on Craigslist for racoons and skunks.  I had heard that either makes a good pet if you get it as a baby (and with its stinky glands removed).  No luck.  We thought about chickens.  The eggs would be nice.  Chickens weren’t going to make me feel safe at night, though.  A turtle?  Nah.  One day Andrew joked that we could get a tea cup chihuahua.  I had always had a certain disdain for small dogs.  I grew up with German Shepherds.  On a lazy afternoon at work, I peeked at the best friends animal shelter website.  On a whim, I clicked on the chihuahuas, just to see what they had….

A few days later, I ended up here, today, Friday.  I drove to Best Friends.  I called my sister from the parking lot.  Eeeep!  I’m going to get a dog today.  I can hardly believe it.  Opening my mind to the possibility of a small dog was an amazing breakthrough.  I didn’t even realize how big-prejudiced I was when it came to dogs (which is ironic when you consider that I love TinyHomes).  I could see it before I even when into the shelter.  My little bud.  My sidekick.  My mini me.  My little bestest friend.

I started going down the isles of pups.  I am embarrassed to admit that I saw Levi, gave his nose a scratch, and kept walking.  He rolled on his side and cowered when I put my hand through the cadge.  He looked funny all hunched on his side and submissive.  I didn’t want such a timid dog, I thought.  I asked to take a dog named Raymond into the play room.  That dog was handsome, but he bounced like a wild thing all around.  Such a spaz.  Also the people at the shelter said he made noises like a goat or crying newborn when you left him alone.  Too wild, too much goat baby and not my dog.  I asked to play with a dog named Hot Rod.  She was so timid she just stood near the door and wouldn’t come over to me.  The guy showing me the dogs, who was really my guardian angel that day, said you know, if you like this light brown color, there is another dog about the same size and color that you might like.  He went out and got Levi.  Levi landed in the play room and he stood up straight, and he came over to me, and he lifted his ears, and I knew.  He nuzzled up to me, and then he went back to the doggie caretaker and he nuzzled up to him.  He went back and forth between the two of us, making sure we both got lots of love.  I took him home.  Andrew calls him a “Honey I shrunk the dog” dog, because he looks like a big dog that got made mini.  Meet Levi.

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The deck

It wasn’t long before we decided that we need a flat space.  We agreed that it would be nice to have an area we could hang out on.  A place we could set up a table and grill.  We could maybe even get a tent or gazebo one day and sleep outdoors.  We started to build the deck.

The deck was going to be about 20ft by 12ft.  A big flat area.  The first thing we had to do was build a retaining wall and to pour concrete beams.  Next would be joists and buying the wood.  Here are some pics from along the long way…


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I cooked us a lovely dinner for two in the airstream — you could at least do the dishes.

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Traveling north today. It’s a low dull light and a long road. Family on the other side and the ceremony of hunger to make us so.

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the details

When you live in a small space, you notice each item.  A small picture of cowboy boots resting by a wooden bed becomes like a large wall tapestry.  It sets a certain mood.  Here, it feels country and cozy and homey.  Don’t mind the dirty dishes, fruit, water, and aluminum foil (to be recycled) on the kitchen counter.  Swim through the clutter to the pretty moment.  Or, yell at Andrew again to clean up after himself.

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Hi Drew

Where are you going? Why are you leaving the airstream bubble? it is lonely inside the Airstream without Drew.  Especially at night.  I can hear the little mice making nests in the floor.  I know they are tiny creatures dragging in twigs, but against the metal, under my feet, it sounds like dog sized mice clawing from below with human-sized rakes.

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Airstream living

Working from home. Snacks on the cutting board. Hot water heater heating up.  There are things about the Airstream that I love.  I love the proximity and simplicity of all my treasures.  I love falling asleep to the sound of Great Horned owls and Coyote pups.  I don’t love the small closet I have for my wardrobe.  My clothes are constantly getting crunched and shoved and squished.  I don’t love having to fire up the hot water heater 20 minutes before I want to shower.  I don’t love the way you can’t walk off a big meal after dinner.

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working from home

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Topanga, CA

My dream was to park the Airstream in Malibu.  I envisioned getting up in the morning to surf, having the beach at my doorstep, being surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains.  I drove out to Topanga Canyon one weekend morning after a surf sesh.  I had made little paper signs with a picture of us + the Airstream, and I hung them up at the general store.  I cut little tabs at the bottom of the sign with my cell phone number on them, and I wrote:  looking to park Airstream trailer for 1-3 months in exchange for work or reasonable rent.  One day when the jack wouldn’t move and Andrew and I were feeling particularly not in love with the Airstream, we got a voice message.  A woman in Topanga said she might have a spot to park the trailer.  I had to stay with the Airstream, to trouble shoot the jack problem with Andrew’s dad (on the phone), while Andrew drove out to Topanga to look at the property.  Once I got the jack to work, I took off on my bike to work.  At work, Andrew finally called me.  How was it?!  I was dying to know.  Giuls, you should have seen it.  You’re gonna love it.  It’s a 40 acre olive farm in the mountains.  The woman who owns it is the most interesting woman.  It was so great, and she said we could work in exchange for parking it there.  We had found a place to park our home.


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homeless shelter or the circus school

Finding a patch of dirt to park on was a lot harder than I expected.  It was becoming apparent that I was going to have to be creative to place this little house.  I began brainstorming with the Judge at work.  He is very involved in a homeless shelter on the east side of Los Angeles.  We went on a tour to visit the shelter, and he introduced me to the shelter’s manager, explained to her that I was looking for a place to park, and she said that would be fine.  I looked around at the parking lots that surrounded the warehouse like shelter.  There was a small patch of grassy area in between a parking lot and a road, with a wire fence running along it.  I worked on imagining the trailer parked under the lone tree.  I imagined pulling out a lawn chair and shooting the shit with the folks hanging around.  I bet there would be lots of stories.  I could do it.

The next week I thought to email a few Vermont transplants that I knew out here in L.A.  I had heard they had started a circus school and were living in a place their mother had referred to as “the compound.”  Jenna emailed me right back, and she said I was welcome to come check out their place.  They had actually been thinking about getting a trailer on the property for their mom to stay in.  I set up a time to go visit.  A circus school could also be fun, right?


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parking in Los Angeles

For the first couple weeks, we parked on Hill Drive in Eagle Rock.  Eagle Rock is a residential neighborhood on the east side of Los Angeles.  Andrew crashed with me and my three roommates.  The girls were not thrilled to have a live-in boyfriend, and I knew Andrew and I needed to find a place to park our TinyHome Airstream asap.  But where?  Parking a live-in trailer in the City of Los Angeles turns out to be much harder than you’d think.

I started scoping out nearby empty lots.  Would anyone notice if we pulled onto the abandoned property?  Probably.  I put an add on craigslist.  Looking for place to park 16′ Airstream trailer.   I called around at RV parks.  There is an RV park  at Dockweiler beach, not far from LAX, but it was booked up every Saturday night from now through next summer.  And it was expensive, possibly more expensive than renting a 1 bedroom would have been.  There weren’t a lot of options.

We couldn’t just park the thing and relax.  We were constantly reminded of our need to find a place to land because we had to keep moving the Airstream.  By law, in L.A., you have to move any car or trailer parked on a public street every 72 hours.  Moving the Airstream was no small task.  Each time we had to hook it up to Andrew’s van.  That doesn’t sound too difficult, but the jack is highly temperamental.  It didn’t always want to rise or lower.  We couldn’t always move it exactly when we needed to.  Andrew and I were both getting stressed out.

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