Car(e) Free Los Angeles: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles #3– How Fast I Fall.

August 21st, 2008 → Leave a comment

Did you know that not only are there children in Los Angeles, but seniors, and people who use wheelchairs to get around? Yes! It’s true! I see them on the bus!

On the bus today there was an older woman with a big suitcase she couldn’t get onto the bus. She screamed, “Help! Help!” And this younger guy got out of his seat to help her carry it on. She was so thankful and kept thanking him. He smiled back. And it was the sweetest interaction I remember seeing between two strangers in this city in a long time. I mean, when was the last time you saw strangers helping each other in LA who weren’t expecting to be tipped?

So far, so good on the car free front. The bus has been good to me. My friends generously offer me rides when they can. And my friend Yen is loaning me her folding bike, so I have an easy-to-collapse bike option.

As I was filing old receipts, I cringed at all the auto bills from the last few months. I hate that car! There was easily a mortgage on a house in the desert in that car. Gone! No more investments that depreciate in value! Car Free! Here I come! For sure!

I have had weird anxiety dreams the last few nights about traveling. Last night, I had a dream that I was trying to get from Salt Lake City to Columbus, OH and couldn’t find a direct flight to save my life. In the dream I had to drive to Bozeman, Montana to get a flight that could get me to another city in Ohio. And the whole time there was a guy screaming that I would never be able to get to Columbus on a direct flight. Never! He kept screaming in my dream.

I had a meeting at TeAda today about my show in one month. That’s right! Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest hits Southern California for NINE SHOWS September 19- October 5! (By the way, the tickets are on sale NOW.)

I was telling the TeAda staff about my new life without the car:

“Last week I was a high class lady driving a fancy pink Mercedes down Rodeo Dr. And this week, I’m pushing a shopping cart filled with kitty litter past the homeless people on Santa Monica Blvd and sitting next to men who wear feces stained coveralls on the bus. Between that, my stimulus check, and the $40 coupon from the government to get a digital converter for my TV– I feel like a senior citizen on welfare. How fast I fall!”

(insert their laughter)

I know, I’m being dramatic. And it has been pointed out to me many times since last week, I am fortunate that making the decision to be a car-less citizen of Los Angeles is my choice, not an economics obligation.

But I can’t help but feel like a second class citizen of the city as I wait at these bus stops all vulnerable to the big noisy cars vrooming past me. Sitting with other quite-average-for-LA -standards people who many Angelinos forget also live and work in our city. It’s been great to get some reading done, to send emails from my blackberry, and to get a few blocks of walking in here and there– but I still feel very disoriented in my new identity as a car free citizen in this city.

I was on a big bicycling kick three years ago (remember when I did the AIDS Ride?) and left my car parked quite often. But there is part of me that feels invisible/ lost/ disabled without a big machine in my carport with my name on it– literally.

Though, I did kinda flip out today when I realized how much this car loss has hit my bank balance. The car loss was conveniently timed after all these expensive repairs, my return from an unpaid 6 week residency in Florida, and a long summer with virtually no shows dates scheduled. Lest my readers forget, this artist must survive in the same economy as you! I’m actually looking forward to the school year starting– schools shows! I need you!

Perhaps its a great thing that the car imploded. Because at this rate, it would take down every last cent I had.

By the way, I was just approved for the Zipcar carshare service yesterday. So I will have an option for a lo-cost rental car with free gas should I so desperately need a car in the next year. If you are interested in signing up, let me know, I can send you an email that will allow me to get $50 in driving credit!

Category: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles

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