birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Without Running Water

I live in Alabama in a house without running water. I’m barefoot but not pregnant or I’d be a walking white trash cliché. Yes, I grew up in a trailer park. I was born and bred in Bama. I love cornbread and fresh beans and wearing denim work-shirts. But it was Universities brought to this life more than any of that. Before my husband was my husband when he was just a cute and sweet guy working down the hall from me, we visited Auburn’s University’s rural studio. And those houses made of recycled materials built by architect students inspired him to build his own house by hand with his son. I was applying for MFA programs at the time. I wanted time to write. I wanted a creative life. I loved his idea of building a place, save on labor and rent, to have time and a place to write. After a few more months, I was deeply in love with him and his son, but I was going to the University of Oregon to study poetry. There I had time to write and wanted more of it than the two years there. Jim began building his house and kept loving me and visiting me and we decided we’d make a creative life together. Of course, all the love and longing and visits and eloping kept the house from getting built quickly. Once I graduated we had a roof and floor and not much else, so we built like crazy all summer and moved in that September before we had filled in all the walls. Living in a place slows the building. And living without walls means that living without running water isn’t that bad. And living that way until you can get to it, means things evolve. We have a water cooler for drinking water. We have a canister of water for washing our hands and a five gallon bucket under the sink to catch the waste. This past summer we devised an outdoor shower that I love more than anything. We’ve had cowboy bathtub we use in winter for a couple of years now. After four years, no running water is normal. Maybe we get used to things easier because we both grew up without air-conditioning in the south. My trailer park background and his farming one means we know how to get by on little and we don’t mind working hard. But we do it for the creative life. A life we sought out and committed ourselves to at one university after another.

Not the Clown's Wedding

The Reluctant Chaperone