It’s 5:00 a.m. and you are listening to Los Angeles

I hope everybody had a beautiful holiday season and that 2019 is off to a good start (though a chilly one for my Minnesota friends.)

Over the next year, I’ll be sharing more from It’s Never Going To Work - and more in general, including a few new articles I’ve been working on. In honor of the new year and many new adventures beginning, here is the opening chapter from my book.

Happy New Year!


It’s 5:00 a.m. and you are listening to Los Angeles

Lakewood, CA—September 2003

Brian and I woke up at the crack of dawn. We loaded up the car with our meager belongings, then circled my parents’ house one last time for anything forgotten.

My mom packed us two little coolers with snacks and treats, because she’s amazing like that. She stood at the edge of the curvy walkway that leads up to my parents’ house, arms crossed and trying to smile, my dad beside her. And there they remained as we backed out of the driveway, turned down the street, and gradually drove out of view.

As we wound round the mountain roads on our way out of the L.A. basin the sun began to rise, beautiful bright reds and oranges that almost made it hard to see the winding roads ahead. I knew my Social Security number by heart (thanks, college!), but I was twenty-three and still had no idea who I was. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life, exactly. But I knew I wanted to try life someplace new.

That was how I left California, after several months of planning and prep, in the wee hours of the morning. My boyfriend and I spent our last few weeks in my old room at my parents’ house, having escaped none too soon from a spider-infested apartment. And rather than it being stressful to live with my parents again, it was good to spend a few weeks of concentrated family time before leaving.

A mom now myself, I can only fathom how hard that must have been for my own mother. Even writing this makes me choke up a little and want to go wake up my finally sleeping toddler to give her a little squeeze. Adventures like these are a little ways off for her, but I know they’ll be here before I know it. When they come I hope I’m half as gracious, brave, and encouraging as my mother was—my whole family, for that matter. And as my travels would tell: attempting to live in a new place is one of the best ways to bust out of one’s comfort zone.


This post is adapted from It’s Never Going To Work: A Tale of Art and Nonprofits in the Minneapolis Community illustrations by Athena Currier. ©2018 Jamie Schumacher.

It’s Never Going To Work is a light-hearted, illustrated book that offers real-life insights on founding a community space and nonprofit. It provides tools, tips, resources, and camaraderie to community organizers and anybody attempting something new.

Chapter Title - Mike Doughty.