Better Off than 98% of People in the World, But Still Whining

I’m always without running water, but this week I have no electricity.  This lack has led me to wax apocalyptic (in my head, if not this space) about my tragic circumstances.  This morning I finally recognized what a huge baby I am, and how completely seduced I am by First World life in the beginning of this new century.  Just a quick review of my morning illustrates this well.

When I woke today, I was inside the Tiny White Box which, admittedly, is small with an exterior footprint of six by 12 feet and interior dimensions, inside of bed, cabinets and closet, of six feet by eight feet by two-and-half feet.  (To put that in perspective, the interior space of the tiny white box is 120 cubic feet, the equivalent of a four-foot deep closet with door five feet wide and six feet tall.  In other words, a closet.)  Once I grant that it’s small, let’s look at its benefits:

  • It’s waterproof. I don’t need to worry about getting wet when it rains or about mold growing on the floor or in crevices.
  • It locks, keeping out potential evil-doers, whether they be human or ursine. There are bears here, but they seem to be more the dig-through-the-trash than the tear-out-your-lungs type.
  • It’s ventilated. I’m able to get all the fresh air I can inhale and can safely transform oxygen into carbon dioxide without worrying I’m going to die.
  • The difference between exterior and interior dimensions is used to make an incredible amount of storage space. Almost half the interior is used to hold all my stuff.
  • Made completely of wood by a fine craftsman, the Tiny White Box feels more like a ship’s cabin than a trailer. Add to this that the craftsman is Gavin Beland, a friend of mine who undertook the project as a paid labor of love.  I don’t want to sound too New Agey, but his spirit and that of our friendship inhabits some of the space.

So, I awoke in the Tiny White Box with no electricity.  The bedside lamp completely useless to me, I had to pick up one of the three or four flashlights here from atop the small crate of batteries on which it lay.  I couldn’t reach over and turn on the electric heater to take the chill off before getting out of bed.  Oh, the indignity!  Instead, I had to walk all the way across those six feet of floor to turn on the propane heater, for which I have at least two month’s fuel supply.  (For the record, the propane heater immediately warms up the place, unlike the electric heater.)

Wanting/needing caffeine, I couldn’t simply turn on the Cuisinart coffee maker and wait four or five minutes.  Instead, I had to light the propane burner and put the Bialetti espresso maker on the flame, waiting about 90 seconds for espresso.

Wanting breakfast, and unable to use the microwave to make oatmeal, I had to boil water over that same flame and mix the oatmeal.  Because I was adding the hot water as I stirred, the oatmeal came out exactly the way I like it—thick, not gruelly, no aftertaste of Oliver Twist for me.

I could continue describing indignities, but instead a quick word about food and water.  Inside the Tiny White Box, I have about a two-month supply of food, if food is defined generously.  That is, I’ve got enough oatmeal for 60 days, 40 cans of soup/chili/corned-beef-hash, 20 cans of various beans, two small burlap sacks of Basmati rice, five or six large packages of crackers and a small cabinet devoted to dried fruit (cherries, apples, bananas, craisins, raisins and blueberries) and huge chocolate bars.  So, after 60 days without fresh vegetables on the above diet I’d be badly constipated, lacking most vitamins and probably 10 pounds heavier.  But I’d be alive.

As for water, it’s harder to say how long a water supply would last, but I’ve always got at least five gallons inside the Tiny White Box with another 25 gallons in the shed/tent out my back door.  Given that, in a survival situation, I wouldn’t be likely to be bathing daily with drinking water and that Gavin made a water-purification system for me which I keep in the shed, water will not be a problem.

To sum up, Constant Reader, I live in a safe space on which I owe nobody nothing, a place that keeps me warm and dry, hydrated and fed.  I can survive without leaving the Tiny White Box for two months.  I have no reason to feel food-anxiety, water-anxiety, heat-anxiety or safety-anxiety.

But the internet across the street is still out, and even when it works it’s sooooooooo slow!



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