The Wong San Wheels Chronicle #14: One year of carless martyrdom down. how many more to go?

August 14th, 2009 → 2 Comments

The praying mantis on the bus says, “Happy one year of carless martyrdom Kristina Wong!”

That’s right kids. A year ago today, I was on the side of the 405 as my pink biodiesel Mercedes was engulfed in 20 foot flames. And I thought, “Oh my god, I am so lucky to be alive.”

I’ve made it one year without owning a car. Yes, it is possible to be carless in LA. But admittedly, it sure does help to know the city as well as I do, have very generous friends who will loan me cars in emergencies or give me rides, and also work from home most of the time and leave town half the year on tour. But yes! It is possible!

I do admit that despite the success, this has really FELT like a challenging year, but I would say that mostly has to do with the recession which hasn’t been easy on everyone. Things were escalating quite rapidly in a wonderful direction last year with the CBS showcase, the South Beach Comedy Festival, the commencement speech at UCLA, really great tours, etc. But this past year has FELT much more challenging as I watch both non-profit and commercial ventures that once supported me have had their budgets decimated. And moving by foot and by bus can sometimes make me feel robbed psychologically of control. And people in LA, they need to always feel in control.

I’ve really spent a lot of time thinking admidst what seems like apocalyptic times… “What is it that I really need in life to make me happy?” Especially with all this recession time talk of what expenses we can cut out, I’ve been looking around and seeing all the clutter that’s held me back.

So what is it I want? To perform, to have enough to eat and a comfortable bed, to have human contact that’s meaningful, to feel like I am of benefit to other people’s lives, to plunder an occasional yard sale. When it comes down to it, I’m a lot more simple than I ever thought.

I still often wonder if owning a car would at all help me “live better.” Or if the cost of “convenience” would actually hinder me. I’ve decided that I’m going to go carless for as long as possible, or at least, until I get this new show on carlessness going. I also have been getting a lot of reading done.

It’s an ongoing debate that’s been oh so great for material. (Trying to do 7 minutes of new stuff on the carless life tonight at Bang Comedy Theater in West Hollywood.)

Since my “Cash for Clunkers” post, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I went to the library for the first time in forever and started to check out books. It was kind of mindblowing to be able to take books from the library and not worry about having to pay for them. I have been looking at this book called “Your Money or Your Life” which I thought was just a financial planning book, but what it examines on a much deeper level than how to be rich, is to ask what is it you want to accomplish emotionally with your life. It asks you to look at the financial clutter of stuff in your home– expenses that you’ve made that have given you little to no satisfaction back and yet you hold onto them. And also it asks you to weigh your “life energy”– making the point that its not worth it to have a high paying job if you feel emotionally bankrupt at the end of each day. Or if the expenses to be at that job (corporate wardrobe, nice car to roll up in), end up eating most of your income.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the over abundance of shit we produce as an American culture. Many of the belongings we have we don’t use 95% of the time. If we lived in communities that were more inclined to sharing, we could easily find ways to share a lawnmower or a blender or bbq pit. We wouldn’t have to amass so much stuff and then struggle to pawn it off at our yard sales.

There’s one wonderful tactic I’ve discovered to get around town that I want to share with my fellow carless siblings. I put updates on Facebook telling people where I need to go and at what time and leave my number. I’ve gotten two rides like magic. I was in Little Ethiopia and needed a ride to the beach. Bam! I walk out of the restaurant and in ten minutes, my friend calls that she can come get me because she was already headed there. The 21st Century carpool.

Category: The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles

2 responses to “The Wong San Wheels Chronicle #14: One year of carless martyrdom down. how many more to go?”

  1. philpalm says:

    I am carless but have been trying hard to get an electric vehicle to meet my needs.

    Theoretically an electric scooter that can fold up and carry me a distance of five miles would be the best option. It probably wouldn't work too well if the electric scooter is heavier than 20 pounds.

    I used to have the same last name as yours but it was the Wong name, we changed it in the 60's when they allowed Chinese to revert to their true last name.

  2. Creative Beast says:

    hey kristina!
    i love this post and i'm so glad that you are reading "Your Money or Your Life" – i read this book many years ago and really loved the principle of "life energy" and managed to get a used copy for $1 that i should probably reference again.
    If more people actually thought about what they are trading for their "life energy", this world would look a LOT different, i'm sure of it… but that would mean people would have to take a hard look at their lives, which I'm not banking on happening any time soon 😉

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