Adventures in Minimalism – L.A. Bedroom Tour

Last winter, I watched “Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix, and like a lot of Americans, I was hooked. After struggling with clutter and organization my entire life (yes, really), it seemed I had found my answer in minimalism.

By the time I was planning my trip to L.A. in May, I had done a lot of minimizing at home, but there was still a long way to go. My trip was a wonderful opportunity to take a “minimalism vacation” and find out if I would really enjoy living without the stuff. By then I had discovered all the famous minimalist bloggers, like the Minimalists, Courtney Carver, Joshua Becker and Leo Baubata. I had whittled my LA wardrobe down to 33 pieces, (with a dress and a few sweaters boxed up for winter). I had minimal toiletries and possessions, and everything fit nicely under the sleeping platform I had constructed out of inexpensive plywood and an old futon mattress for my SUV. That way, I could save on motels as I drove across country. I packed up food for the road, including several healthy meals I made ahead of time.

When I got to LA, unpacking was a breeze. I gave away the futon mattress and donated the lumber to my landlord – an old family friend who was a handy sort and would have a use for it.  I was renting a small bedroom in a two-story condo with three bedrooms and two and a half baths. Most of the summer I had only one roommate while the landlord looked for tenants for the master bedroom suite. She and I shared a bathroom and she brought her furniture and kitchen things, which she allowed me to borrow. My room contained a full-size mattress and box-spring, an old desk and some shelves. I added a light folding chair, a night stand and lamp from Ikea, and with a nice, big closet, had everything I needed. The only other things I bought out there were some cleaning supplies like a broom and dustpan.

My roommate was patient with my minimalism, and we quickly fell into a routine that worked for us. She would put things out on the kitchen counters and the bathroom shelves, and I would put them away in drawers and cupboards. If she placed them back on the counters, I appreciated that she wanted them there and left them. Most of the things I put away stayed away. It made it very easy to clean, and I was happy to do most of the cleaning in return for her sharing kitchen equipment, pots and pans, and her furniture.

After three to four months of living with minimalism, I was more hooked than ever! It was wonderful not being surrounded by “stuff,” and it made everything much simpler for me. Minimalism may have been my favorite part of what was truly one of the best summers of my life.

 

There and Back Again: a Writer’s Tale

Karen Venice Beach June 2017
Karen Venice Beach June 2017

Last spring, immediately upon graduating from my MFA Program, I hopped in the car and drove from my home in New York City to Los Angeles. My plan was to submerge myself in the world of entertainment and look for any kind of work in the industry, hoping to form alliances and make contacts that would lead to a staff writer job in TV Drama.

My real hope was that I would find enough success that my family of hardcore New Yorkers would pull up their deep roots and join me there. The fallback plan was that if it didn’t work, I’d come back to New York and keep working on my career from this end. Since you can tell from the title of the piece that I am back in New York, you already know the ending of the story. However, there’s a lot more to tell about the middle. In fact, I think I might be writing about this trip for a long time to come.

Dylan, Bobby and Jess at a restaurant
Jessica’s 21st Birthday

At first glance, the trip would appear to have been a failure, but it was far from it. In the next series of articles, I will write about my experiences there from several perspectives. First and foremost, I want to write about the realities of being fifty-something with a whole lot to give and not finding anyone who’s interested because they can’t see past your age. Secondly, being married for twenty-two years to a wonderful man and mom to two now-grown children, this was the first time I was on my own in the world. Sure, I had their support and probably couldn’t have managed the trip without it, but having three to four months of independence from family living was fantastic. I feel guilty even writing that sentence, but it’s true. Of course, I missed them, but I’d recommend the trial separation to anyone who has been married a long time if only to appreciate what you have.

Third, I will write about the reunion with old friends that I enjoyed in L.A. and how wonderful it was to see people I hadn’t seen for a quarter-century and find that the connections that made us friends still existed. I’ll speak of my unexpected love of the city of Los Angeles and the kindness of people who reached out to me after hearing my story of chasing my dreams. I’ve lost count of how many articles that makes, but there is another topic I want to address that may not seem to fit in with the overall topic of the blog but has become very important to me, nonetheless: minimalism.  And I haven’t even broached the topic of career!

I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming L.A. series, and I look forward to hearing your comments on life changes and anything else you’d like to communicate. Keep writing. 🙂