DIY : The Room (and Toilet) of My Own – Licity Collins – Medium

Clarity of Space and the Comfort of Knowing Where to Poop

The Open Diary is an intimate companion to my music — A living love letter on the intimacies of music making, tiny-space living, and inner and outer fires. I am posting excerpts here on Medium.

The Room (and Toilet) of My Own

Gerry Rafferty “Home and Dry”
Gerry Rafferty “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart”
Licity Collins “Weather Gets Warm”

Friday December 1, 2017
Now Playing: Gerry Rafferty “Home and Dry” from the album City to City on the Turntable

I am so relieved that December is here. There’s no particular change that is occurring because of it, but there’s something in the ritual of flipping the calendar to the next page that feels like a fresh start.

I love where I live so much. I lie in my bed and stare up at the redwood plank ceilings and think how lucky I am. They are so woody and rich, sometimes I think I can smell them. A neighbor told me the place was originally built as an artist’s studio behind the main house. That fits. It has that kind of good vibe to it. Apparently the artist used to do inlay work and must have had a good eye for vintage house parts, because the front door and one wall has windows inlaid with pink, blue, green, and yellow colored glass. The place has one-of-a-kind character. If I turn on my side I look out a big clear sliding window that takes up most of the front end wall. I piled pillows and quilts on the shelf in front of it and made a window seat where curl up and look out at a canopy of trees. Spots of sun shine through the woven branches. I fall asleep there sometimes in the afternoons. It’s dreamy.

The solace of having a stand-alone place where I don’t share walls with anyone is tremendous especially after trying to have roommates in my old place. I can play loud music, cry, talk on the phone, and no one hears me. That kind of sanctuary and freedom is golden. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I appreciate having the main house near by. I like the people who live there. Two chefs working as cooks, one who is a drummer, and one who has a thirteen year old daughter who lives there too. It gives me just the right amount of housemate face-time. We have good chats at the end of the day, or when I use the oven to make granola. We know what’s going on with each other and we care, which is something special to find with people to whom I am basically a stranger.

And of course, it is nice to have a place to take a shower. I was going to rig up an outdoor shower, but I hate being cold, which is one of the reasons I hate showers in the first place. I’m always cold in a shower. I miss having a regular bath. I suppose I could clean out the bathroom I technically share with the male housemate, (the mom and daughter share her bathroom) and remove the disgusting slime-accumulating (but somehow still cute) red suction cup mat thing from the bottom of the tub, but I haven’t broached the subject with him yet. He might be attached to it. It’s been three and a half months since I had a bath. I miss them. I miss the way every small muscle fiber of my body feels permission to rest when it touches the hot water. I don’t relax much to begin with and baths were the one place I could. In many ways being in a hot bath has been my substitute for being touched, held, and comforted by a person. Climbing into the water feels like being enwrapped by a safe and loving embrace. But but that’s one of the things I gave up to live here. I try not to think about it.

Before I found this place I had a strong craving for “a room of my own.” I was living in a two bedroom cottage which felt much too large after my dog died, and for over a year I had been struggling, scraping, and sacrificing in order to afford it. After a gig in the Bay area and a long walk in the woods, I came home and made choices. I gave up my queen-sized memory foam bed for a used metal framed futon and moved into the smaller of the two bedrooms which I had been using as my music room. I listed the big room on AirBnB and strangers coming to town for a few days at a time paid half the rent for a couple of months. That worked until my landlord threatened to “evict and sue” anyone who illegally sublet their cottage on AirBnB. (I hadn’t read my lease since I moved in five years earlier). That led to a secession of roommates. The last of those left me a death message when she moved out. It was a string of threats and accusations scrolled in black marker on the back of a piece of my garden art, like a hidden hex on my home. She literally wrote “Death to you.” Also she accused me of working for Satan. It was a lot.

Then a romantic notion overtook the angst. I must have been watching some British period piece where one of the characters takes a room in a boarding house. He has a bed, a small table, a basin, and a chair. The images brought a calm inside of me. That’s all a person needs to have a clear life. Clear. That’s the word that kept coming to mind.

Now that I am living in this 9×19 foot room of my own, I have that sense of clarity. And that clarity gives me so much comfort. I cut my expenses drastically. My entire monthly budget is just a bit over what my rent was before. I can see who I am and what I am here to do. When I walk in I am greeted by the first dollar I ever made from music sitting in a frame on top of the bookcase. My guitars are always within reach. I have a small fridge and a hot plate, my sawdust toilet, and a closet made out of dowels and 2x4s. My record player is wired to a set of speakers in the middle of the room which fill my home with the sound of crackling vinyl.

It was that clarity that woke me up excited to run to the computer this morning. The mastering engineer said she’d get the new revision of the test track to me first thing. My adoration for the project has returned and my anger at it has subsided. The album, as usual, is smarter than me, and has its very own sense of timing. It knows when it wants to be released and I will do my best to hear its wishes and adhere to them.

Now Playing: Gerry Rafferty “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart” from the album City to City on the Turntable

My toilet seat has a crack in it. It’s a black plastic seat that snaps on top of a five gallon bucket and I suppose it was only designed to be used for the occasional camping trip, not for three months of continual daily use as I have so tasked it. Luckily, last week I picked up a free homemade version of the “lovable loo” box (usually an eco-posh $400) from the garage of an elderly couple I know who no longer wanted (it was falling apart). I had decided against using it as it felt huge to me after getting used to the simplicity of a bucket with a seat snapped on top of it. This new contraption is a three-sided plywood box with a hinged lid with a hole in it. It seems to take up an enormous amount of room for no real purpose. It’s a lotta toilet. It’s funny how things get into perspective when one downsizes. But as my old seat is threatening to break in two, I fixed this box, brought it inside and put it in the closet. But it lacks the comfort of an actual toilet seat. So I am off to the hardware store to see if I can get a decent bum-cradle for under $10. They are having a Christmas sale. Maybe I’ll see Pete and he’ll flirt with me, that’s always an added bonus of going there.

So I didn’t get a flirt from Pete (he wasn’t working) and the toilet seat I wanted was $16, and not on sale. I guess toilet seats aren’t a big Christmas wish-list item. But I did come back home and scrounged out a $5 coupon the store had sent me in the mail which brought the cost of the wooden toilet seat down to $11.79. I am obviously quite pleased with myself. So now I have this quaint little box around the bucket on which to sit when I need to relieve my innards. It’s kind of nice actually. It’s solid, and the white bucket comes up to the rim of the seat and kind of mimics the look of a water toilet. Nice, but

unnecessary. Why is it that when we make changes in our lives we can only do so insofar as it seems like we are not making any change at all? Must we always make the new thing look like the familiar thing we are giving up? Am I sitting on the vegan cheese of toilets? (yeah I know, tell it to my gluten-free pasta) It’s silly. I am pooping in a bucket, should I pretend I’m not? I think facing reality is better. Vegan cheese is not cheese. It’s nuts (literally, it’s usually made from nuts). Although I admit I did put the yellow gingham ruffle I made around the bucket box. You can’t do that with a flush toilet, and it’s so darn cute that way.

Okay, good. That’s over. How much can one person write about toilets anyway. They are such a huge part of making the tiny-space thing work, it is hard to avoid. And I don’t find it crass. It’s life. When I was visiting an undergraduate classmate who lives in the woods in two tiny houses “doing buckets” was one of the highlights of my education. Knowing where you’re gonna poop is kind of important.

Now Playing: Licity Collins “Weather Gets Warm” from the album One Girl Town, Test master #13

The revised test master finally arrived this afternoon. The sound isn’t quite where it needs to be yet, but it has all the indications that she’ll get there. She’s got a precise ear which is wonderful to have on the project after the broad swings the other mastering engineers took at it. Our deadline is looming. The studio starts re-mixing the tracks on Monday and I have to tell him how they need to change and can’t really do that until this test master starts to make sense.

Some creature is making scratching noises…I hope it’s outside and not behind the curtain on the inside. There are so many creatures here (thankfully no more roosters). Cat fights on the roof in the middle of the night. Squirrels of course. Opossums I assume, but haven’t yet seen. Snakes have been reported. Last week I was defrosting my small refrigerator outside on the back porch and heard the sound of one of the shelves falling out and when I went out to check there was a very large raccoon staring back at me and hissing. I am told a family of five of them lives nearby.


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