Minimalism? I’ve Got To Start Small…


If you read any of the home magazines, you know that January is the month we are supposed to clean up our living spaces and paint all our walls and floors white. This is the publishing world’s way of thumbing their collective noses at us for listening to them last month when they told us to buy anything red or green and that “more is more.” Evidently, color and decorative objects are “so last month.”

But, this month, it’s minimalism all the way.

And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a clean environment as much as the next person, but getting there is a lot of work.

So I’m starting small. I’m going to throw out any ballpoint pen that no longer writes. Monumental, right? Maybe not for you, but it is for me. I’ve enjoyed a lifelong love affair with writing implements, and I find it hard to part with them. They’ve kept me out of therapy and provided me with enough money to buy a computer. And that, in a way, is the problem. Except for writing out the occasional check, I type everything. So a non-functioning pen really is just taking up space. Out!

But I’m not going to stop there. All the single socks? Out! The squeaky shoes? Out! The combs with teeth missing? Out! My hoarder side argues: “Those single socks could be made into puppets! Those squeaky shoes could be fixed with Super Glue! That comb could be put into your glove compartment as a spare!”

Then, thank goodness, my lazy side pipes up with “Nahhh.”

The magazines are showing furniture that looks like it has been pieced together from giant matchsticks. I suppose we’re supposed to toss out everything we got from Mom and Grandma and replace it with this stuff. Hmmm.

As an experiment — to see if I could do it — I took the orange crushed velvet swivel chair that had been universally hated by both Grandma and Mom (before they got the bright idea of “gifting” it to me) and set it out on the curb. After all, the next day was “large pick-up” trash day.

No matter — it was gone in five minutes, picked up by a truckload of giddy college students.


So I bravely took the olive green ottoman with the gimpy leg and set it out there. Gone by lunchtime.

This was kind of fun! Next to go was a desk I had never liked, three kitchen chairs and a wastebasket.

The desk and chairs were gone in a matter of hours, but not the wastebasket. It is virtually impossible to discard a wastebasket. Nobody’s ever sure about your intentions, not even the garbage men.

By the next day, I had achieved the perfect minimalist household. It was so clean and neat it looked like I lived in Denmark. Light flowed freely in through the windows, the floors and countertops shined, the coffee table sported one bonsai in a flat square dish. It was magazine-perfect.

Unfortunately, I have nowhere to sit, sleep or eat. To type, I sit on a cushion in the corner with my laptop. So here’s what I’ve learned: minimalism is uncomfortable.