How did your tiny-house obsession start?
I was working in tech, and I basically had a mental breakdown, I guess you could call it. I decided to start living in city parks and just get rid of all my bills. And then after about a year of doing that, I decided I needed some sort of lean-to. So I built a lady a garden shed in exchange for living there for six months. It was really hard to find someone who would let a homeless man live in their yard.
But then I built another one for another lady, and that one was a little better—the first one was a total piece of crap. And then the third one was like a real house, and people started looking into it. So the next two or three places were easy, I had my pick—I got the most beautiful yards in the city!
What is Tiny House University?
We build a tiny house from the floor up. I take 20 students. And it's interesting because they're mostly, like, soccer moms who are tired of having contractors make them feel like they're getting ripped off. You wouldn't believe how excited someone is to use their first nail gun. It's very empowering.
What advice would you give people who want to live in a tiny home?
You only get two pairs of shoes, and if you can't handle that, you should just stop even thinking about it. You have to downsize way more than you think. You get two forks, two coffee mugs—just the basics to live. But it's incredibly freeing. Getting rid of stuff is the best thing you can do with your life.
And on your spare time, you’re in Seattle’s oldest Appalachian clogging troupe….
We’re called the Eclectic Cloggers. I play the music for the band. And we are huge with 80-year-olds across the board.
Ha! What are they like?
They're tough old broads. Bluegrass goes really heavily with whiskey, and so they're constantly trying to basically grandmother us into behaving a little more properly. But occasionally you can get them drunk, and they're wilder than we are!
You're also in a sea creature band?
It's called the Mermen. We dress up like sea creatures: half man, half sea creature. But the bottom half is the man and the top half is the sea creature, because, you know, we have to be able to procreate. Or else there will be no more half men, half fish!
In a couple of weeks, we'll play the Cephalopod Appreciation Society annual meeting, for any squid and octopus enthusiasts. And cuttlefish. I believe they will be the next dominant land species, many scientists do.
Well, the whole family. Octopuses and squids are some of the smartest creatures in all the world, and now they can walk on land pretty far. So all it takes is one sweet natural disaster and a couple million years, and it's going to be such an octopus party! I'm looking forward to it.
You're practicing archery pretty seriously now? I see you have a quiver full of arrows in your bag.
Every year I do a special project, and I teach myself how to do something. I'll get all the books, and I'll test myself. And so every year I gain a new skill. If I go to a new town, I can just immediately pull out one of these things. I can play music, I can build houses, I can talk to hummingbirds—things like that.
You are obviously pretty adventurous! What's your life goal?
I really want to focus on waking up and living in the present, which is I think what it takes to be a completely feral person, which is my goal. I think being feral involves being fully in the now. Like who cares what happens tomorrow at all. Who cares what happened yesterday at all. I am here now. I don't know if that's a good place to live permanently, but I would like to get there.