DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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August 25

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

The lack of air conditioning in my car for the second summer in a row (and in SoCal, summer typically lasts until the end of October) is taking its toll. While I remember needing it maybe one or two days last summer since we live by the coast with its cooling effect, this summer we are in the middle of a giant heat/humidity wave, with no end in sight. It was hot and humid in August. It’s been hot and humid for all of September. And, I just looked at the five day forecast, and it shows 91 degrees for Oct. 1. Holy guacamole!

Not having AC is making me grumpy and irritable and prone to meltdowns because of the most ridiculous things sometimes. Like a nearby Starbucks not having a hook on the unisex bathroom door, where I could hang my purse. All I wanted was to hang it up and use the amenities, but I was so hot and bothered by the time I walked in the door that I stormed out of there in a huff over the hook-less door.

But somehow in this fit of pique, somehow I managed to notice – for the first time ever —that the word “Om” is in the word “Women.” As a yogi, I can’t believe I never noticed that before. How sweet that the universal sound of Om, which some believe is the original sound of the Universe being created, is embedded inside “Women,” just as creative, fertile energy is embedded inside the female womb. This tickled me so much that I forgot for an instant about feeling hot and bothered.

But, back to the matter at hand. The lack of AC in my car reached an extreme when I had to go to L.A. for a writing job interview. I was definitely not going to take my car for the minimum 2-hour drive to L.A. and arrive dripping with sweat. But Simon’s car does not have AC either – see we were made for each other. Luckily, all we needed to do was fill up his car with Freon. Where in my case, our trusty mobile mechanic made me swear up and down that I would not sink any money into reinstalling AC in my car after he bypassed it last year to fix the transmission. He told me it would just be a bottomless money pit – that whomever I went to would probably charge me a small fortune to reinstall the AC, and then I’d have to keep bringing it back for repairs since my car is so old. I trust my mechanic implicitly, so I sacrificed my coolness to the altar of saving money.

So, to get myself to L.A., I spent 15 buckaroos, plus a case of soda, for our mechanic to fill up the Freon in my boyfriend’s car. Then, I took it for an oil change, just to make sure everything would be copacetic for the long drive to L.A. But, a few hours later, on the day before I was supposed to drive it to L.A., the left signal blinker goes on and decides to stay on for good. Try as I might, I could not figure out a way to turn it off. So, everyone driving behind me thought I was in a perpetual state of turning left. Perfect for a liberal, huh?

This just would not do in terms of my drive to L.A. Not only was it unsafe, but it was irritating to have the blinker sound going on and off like an eternal metronome. So, despite everything I had done to prep my boyfriend’s car for the trip to L.A., the blinker issue pretty much negated the whole effort.

What to do? The morning of my interview, I took his car back to the oil change place, thinking maybe they had done something inadvertently to trip the blinker wire. They hadn’t. But they were finally able to figure out that it was a faulty relay. So, they took the relay out of the car, which finally stopped the left blinker from blinking non-stop. But it also took out the right blinker, leaving me with no blinking ability. So, there was no way I could drive safely to L.A. with the car in this condition either.

Oh, to be one of the 1% with a brand new, fully-loaded car, with air conditioning and working blinkers. Since we are still waiting for that to manifest, I had to come up with Plan C. Aha. The train. While I had taken the train on vacations up and down the East and West coasts before, I had never taken the train to L.A. or even thought about it. I would just go on automatic when I had to go up to L.A. and get in my car and drive, and drive, and drive, and be stuck in traffic, irritable and grumpy. So, the train was the perfect solution. I could kick back in the cool air of the train car and let someone else do the driving. I would have to take a bus once I got to Union Station, but it was only about a 10-minute bus ride each way, and voila, I was at my destination. All-in-all, the round trip took about 5 hours, but it was one of the most relaxing ways to get to L.A. I’ve ever experienced. And, it opened my eyes to a new way to travel, which I will surely take advantage of in the future. So, thank you Amtrak. Your old-fashioned mode of transportation was perfect.

And, while I didn’t get the job because, of course, once I got there, it became apparent that the editor wanted to hire someone who already lived in L.A., I did get some freelance work out of it.

So my lesson for the day? Be flexible. There is more than way to get to my destination. I was grateful to be back in OC after the bus and train ride home. Simon and I celebrated by going out to Taco Tuesday and bringing the tacos to our favorite park to watch the sunset.

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