The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir

A Built-It-Myself Memoir

Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.

More than ten years ago, a near-death experience abruptly reminded sustainability advocate and pioneer Dee Williams that life is short. So, she sold her sprawling home and built an eighty-four-square-foot house—on her own, from the ground up. Today, Williams can list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her about ten minutes to clean the entire house. Adapting a new lifestyle left her with the ultimate luxury—more time to spend with friends and family—and gave her the freedom to head out for adventure at a moment's notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch.
"Visitors to [Dee Williams'] property may be forgiven for thinking someone had taken up residence in a beautifully built pine-and-cedar toolshed out back....[an] affecting memoir...she writes in The Big Tiny of finding a centeredness and peace in her little house, of being less fearful, more alive. Some of the best passages are when she describes the sensory experience of being inside: smelling raw cedar and knotty pine; listening to the weather."
-Steven Kurutz, The New York Times

"[N]o one makes the idea of living in a home the size of an area rug more appealing than Dee Williams...Williams' inspiring memoir will resonate with anyone on a quest to downsize, de-stress, let go or feel at home...an endearing, funny writer...[The Big Tiny] is a book as intimate and draw-you-in-close as Williams' little abode. She reveals her fear and fearlessness, allowing readers to feel like visitors across her tiny table, knees touching, her dog by your side."
-Janet Eastman, The Oregonian

"[A] delightful encounter with the Tina Fey of the sustainability world, an empowered woman unafraid to admit she accidentally glued her hair to her house, as well as an incisive thinker on contemporary experience....a hilarious and poignant memoir...Williams does more than share the travails of building, moving into and living in her bitty abode. She writes a down-to-earth manifesto for living life with intention and for geeking out, diving in, caring too deeply and trying too hard in general."
-Mary Louise Schumacher, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"In The Big Tiny, Dee Williams creates a portrait of humanity through her own compelling experience. That she has written about home and life with such humor and vulnerability, and in her own unique vernacular, makes her story all the more universal."-Jay Shafer, author of The Small House Book

"Williams has built an engaging and inspiring how-to/memoir that goes beyond the DIY perspective."

"The Big Tiny is irresistible. Dee Williams is as much fun on the page as she is in person. Comic, silly, and soulful, she takes us on her journey to simplify her life and along the way tunes in to our own inner desire to pare down to our nearly naked selves."-Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide and Truth Like the Sun

"The Big Tiny is a beautifully written narrative, one that goes beyond happiness and living simply. The power of Dee's words will touch your heart, make you laugh, cry, and change your life."-Tammy Strobel, author of You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap)

"The Big Tiny is comedic, eloquent, and damn informative all at the same time. If Dee Williams' story hasn't inspired you to reevaluate your life already, this book just may be the swift kick in the pants you need-the final awakening blow all rolled into one biblio-burrito of bad-assness."-Derek "Deek" Diedricksen, HGTV host and honcho of Relaxshacks.com

"Dee Williams aims for happiness 85 percent of the time, but I think you'll be 100 percent happy with the wisdom she shares in this beautiful book."-Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup

Dee Williams and her overly ambitious Australian shepherd live in the shadow of the house of dear friends in Olympia, Washington.

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  • This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.
    Copyright © 2014 by Deann Williams

    Happy Enough(Olympia, Washington, April 2012)

    For months now, I've been waking up at four in the morning. I've got this system down: I toss about in bed for a while, left to right, right to left, then lie flat on my back to stare into the knots in the wood ceiling. I watch my dog breathe as she sleeps, watch her legs jolt as she dreams of chasing rabbits. I look out the skylight window, watch the clouds and the moon; I stare at myself in the reflection of the window a few feet from my face, and wonder if I look as shadowy and pensive in real life as I do right now, a thought that causes me to make exaggerated sad-clown faces as in an old black-and-white movie-which cracks me up. I close my eyes and listen to the my own whistling breath, and wonder if have a vitamin deficiency, if I'm aging ungracefully or will die in the next half hour, which leads to the question of whether I'd want to be "found" in this position in these long johns with the elastic blown out at the waist, with dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair on the carpet, and a compost toilet full of pee. I rearrange myself, smooth out the blankets and uncrinkle my forehead, and think about the neighbors. I wonder if they are also awake and worrying about their vitamins.

    Later, when I actually see the neighbors, I probably won't follow this line of questioning. Instead, I'll say something neutral like "s'up?" Or if there's more time, I'll bring up the clouds or the wind, or one of a thousand other things I've noticed floating around in the predawn backyard. I might describe the catfight in the alley or the way seagulls were cracking open clams by flying over and dropping them on the carport roof. I might not even mention that. People don't really want to hear about that kind of long-winded stuff when they casually ask "How you doing?" while they're dragging their rubbish bins out to the curb before driving off to work.

    When I mentioned my early-morning waking to the old witch down the street, she explained that this is the time the "ceiling is the thinnest," the moment that the earth's creatures have the greatest access to the heavens; the time when nuns and priests wake to pray, shuffling in their prayer shawls and pouring themselves into the cosmos; the time the raccoons waddle down the alley into the nature preserve that is really just the woods behind the grade school, and the most common moment when people die. It is a magical time, or so she said.

    Hearing all of that helped me feel less resentful about waking up so early, and now it seems less necessary to punch my pillow like bread dough. Instead, I wake up and I think about the day ahead or the day before, or I might try to decode a particular night sound-a porcupine or feral cats, a possum on the porch, or maybe college kids drunk and stumbling down the alley. I toss about until I can't stand it anymore, until I pitch everything to the side of the bed and carry my dog, RooDee, down the ladder, like she weighs twenty pounds instead of fifty, like this is what normal people do.

    If the weather is good, I'll make a bit of tea and amble out onto the front porch to watch the sun crawl over the neighbor's garage. On the surface, it's nearly the same every time: I spend at least five minutes trying to make the dog's blanket (a hairy but warm apparatus) double as a seat cushion and a backrest, then I'll spend several minutes looking for my lost glasses, which I find on my head, and then I might notice that it's warmer today than yesterday.

    If it's raining or cold outside (like it is all winter), I stay inside. I might jog in place while I brush my teeth, or I'll put on a hat and mittens while I light the cookstove. I've even gotten into the habit of warming my underthings by dangling them over the stove while I make coffee. I'm so comfortable with this work that I don't
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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 304
Altersempfehlung ab 18
Erscheinungsdatum 28.04.2015
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-14-218179-9
Verlag Penguin US
Maße (L/B/H) 19.5/12.8/2.5 cm
Gewicht 222 g
Abbildungen b/w photos and illustrations throughout
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Fr. 23.90
Fr. 23.90
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