July 14th, 2002

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The Religion of the Geo Metro

We moved to Los Angeles in 1991, when a work assignment required my presence 'full time' out there. Eventually, it became clear we would be there for years, after my law firm split along Texas/California lines, and I elected to stay with the California group.

By 1994, we were saving to buy a home. While in the Dallas suburbs, homes were so inexpensive at that time that raising a down payment was little more trouble than raising a security deposit for rent, Los Angeles was a different story. A housing boom had made the cost of a simple three bedroom stucco workers' housing structure, hastily built just after World War II, roughly the same as a home in Dallas' most luxurious neighborhood. We saved assiduously, when we weren't reeling from sticker shock, or bewailing our fate.

The time came in 1994, though, that I needed a new car. The used Cadillac land boat which I had had my Oklahoma cousin the Caddy buff acquire for a song and then drive across the desert to me had served me well, but its days were numbered. I wanted something new to drive, but we wanted to spend as little as possible, to continue our down payment savings program.

One day the newspaper had an ad by a huge car dealership in the inland Santa Clarita Valley for a new Geo Metro at a ridiculously low "loss leader" price. We dispatched my wife, who withstood long sales harangues in efforts to sell her options or lure her to a different car. My wife could have sat on the round table. She emerged with a Geo Metro, at the loss leader price as listed in the sales ad.

This Geo Metro was maroon, with four doors. It has an engine with only 3 cylinders in it, and automatic transmission and an air conditioner guaranteed that what little power it might have had was consumed by the options.

This Geo Metro taught me much about life, though. It answered all the fundamental questions that arise in Los Angeles. "Can I accelerate to pass this guy?". Why, no, you don't have the pick-up to get around him. "Can I make this left before the oncoming traffic arises?" No, are you kidding? "Should I try to change lanes?". No, you'll never make it before that truck creams you.

The Geo Metro taught me that sometimes you have to accept the lane in life you're in. Sometimes, viewing the scenery around you is more satisfying than trying to accelerate out of it. Sometimes, you have to forego that left turn, stop at that yellow light, and wait patiently as you slowly climb up that mountain pass. I learned a lot about life behind the wheel of that maroon Geo Metro, and I loved it absolutely, as anyone might a guru.

Ultimately, the LA housing market collapsed, and we bought a tiny home in the foothills, just in time to watch the market recover to our advantage. I drove that Metro daily into downtown LA, and on weekends into the Angeles National Forest, past beaches and past desert landscapes.

I gave that Geo Metro to our church, so that the church could sell it, and we could take a tax write-off. My parents gave us a Ford sedan with far fewer miles, when they got something nicer. I still miss that Geo Metro, because it was beautiful.

Norman MacLean said this better, but I'll share my epiphany
anyway. You see, life is just an endless highway. The traffic comes and the traffic goes. Ultimately, all lanes merge into one. It carves its way through the rock, and will do so until the end of time. And a Geo Metro runs through it.
  • Current Music
    "Sunday", the Cranberries
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Small steps on the long road to creativity

Last night we had dinner with my brother and his wife. My brother is thirteen months my junior, and I am glad they live so close to us. We went to Texas Land and Cattle Company for dinner, and then returned to their house. My brother is a computer-skilled guy, who always knows how to do everything. He showed me cool CD labels he was able to create with the "stomper" software, which looked much, much nicer than I had thought I could do at home. I now believe that when I get my little ambient whimsy put together, a nice label on the CD plus a mini-jewel-case is more my speed than a jewel case insert. I am glad to "see" my way to final produt on this one, as economy and a certain "I cannot say what" are my goals for this silly recording idea.

Today I tried to use the weedeater on the yard, but it still acts as though the battery is not charging. My mechanical skills run out at changing the oil and cleaning the carburetor on our little gas lawnmower. I hope I can figure out what I am doing wrong.

Weed-eating thwarted, I had at least three pressing chores to do.
But I made three postcardx cards instead--I took photos I'd taken, drew sketches on the white side, addressed them to people pulled up by the random postcardx search engine, and mailed them. I'm not concerned about this relative sloth; it's only 4:45 p.m. and I feel alive and ready to do more useful stuff.

I noticed that somehow I have managed to pick up all sorts of
odd things at the Dollar General store lately. One set of things is a one dollar set of 500+ stickers. Now, I'm your basic 42 year old, paunchy, bespactacled middle aged boring male lawyer-looking guy, in need of a solid Sunday haircut and a shave to restore me to an appropriately professional look. I am not really a "cute stickers" kind of guy. But the way to the cash register at Dollar General is paved with odd merchandise is are difficult to resist. I will be stickering my postcards for a long time to come.

I had a mild burst of creative genius. I went to nervousness.org and offered the following exchange to the community there:

"I'll trade you my poem with an MS Paint drawing in an envelope decorated with silly stickers, in return for your poem with MS Paint drawing in an envelope decorated with stickers".

Within fifteen minutes, I had a taker. Who says art cannot be marketed? It's all about panache. Panache admixed with liberal
doses of needless self-criticism--that's the true Artist's Way.

Speaking of which, I have another Dollar General purchase which I would like to offer to the ether. I have a package of Ultimate Spiderman Reusable Tattoos. The package promises they are "original bodycals", and that they are "the world's # 1 reusable tattoos". The package includes Spideys, Green Goblins, a Doc Octopus, and a couple of little laughing pumpkins. If anyone would like to have this future antiques roadshow product, then
be sure and let me know. Exchanges are welcome, but are never required. It's just another exchange brought to you by an eye which roves in Dollar General.