Monday, August 16, 2010
541. Annals of the Bad Day Syndrome ::: Broken, Unreliable Cars or "Autoshop Education on Unexpected Days"
Clips that I wrote along with the images.
>>Annals of the Bad Day Syndrome::: Broken Cars. I only seem to learn about the composition and operations of the beastly machine with wheels that I house and transport myself in so frequently... only when it breaks... always at immensely inconvenient times. Writing about auto-break-downs is probably the only possible way to transform negatives into positive, humorous reflections. Good luck to ME!
>> My poor wittle green, 225,000-mile Toyota Tercel resting in front of Bob's Auto Service, at the intersection of Magnolia and Jurupa. George has been the "doctor" for this car since my ownership (back in 1999 I received the car as a high school graduation present, at 70,000 miles). I want to drive this car until it dies, but now it has electrical problems (and it won't start!)!
>> I waited at Bob's Auto Service for a half-hour today, until my father (knight-daddy-in-shining-armor) came to rescue me in Ray's being Toyota Camry. The parking lot is a bleak landscape, it symbolizes my mind's state of depression. Life keeps happening, and I wish it would stop happening, so I could sit down and reflect.
>> I am learning all about my Toyota Tercel every time something breaks. This time the car doesn't start and it makes a clicking noise. Jules and Wes said it could either be (1) the fuse box (above), (2) the little switch behind the clutch, like a light switch, (3) something in the key-ignition area, or (4) bad starter. George says if I'm hearing a clicking noise, it looks like I have a bad starter. I am developing a lack of trust in my once very reliable Toyota Tercel. It's mortifying that such a tiny little issue is preventing the car from turning on and driving! (I had to replace a couple of fuses in the past, not too many times).
>> Jules and Wes were messing around with this little "light switch" or sensor behind the clutch. Jules even took it out and messed around with it. Apparently that's not an issue. George said he started the car, no problem. Both my father and I are pissed that we wasted our morning towing my car and my body around. I used one of my "4 times" for AAA auto club tow. The tow-truck guy was a very nice, jovial person at least!
541. Annals of the Bad Day Syndrome ::: Broken, Unreliable Cars or "Autoshop Education on Unexpected Days." The most beautiful and most sacred aspect of writing (and storytelling all together) is the ability to transform a very negative event into a positive, humorous reflection. And that nothing that happens in life is a "wasteful experience." And such is the case with today... another day to go down in the books of "Annals of the Bad Day Syndrome."
The other benefit of broken-down cars is that is when I am forced to learn about cars. Basically, I feel cheated by my education system. I was explaining to Larry (in San Diego) the other day that my high school system rewarded students for taking courses like physics and chemistry and higher math, but the the bureacracy penalized students who decided to take more practical, real-world courses like "auto-shop." So, instead of taking a year-long course learning all about the mechanics of cars (and receiving maximum B+ for all my efforts), I ended up taking physics and all these other geek courses that I still feel like my mind is not intimately connecting to my daily life. But cars... cars, especially old cars that break down frequently... IS everyday life. Jules even says that I can get away with not knowing anything about cars (not even knowing how to exactly change my oil, as my housematie Kyle was trying to teach me) because "I'm a gurrrl." Jules says that all I have to do is just smile and act like an idiot female and the guys will take sympathy and fix up my car... ya and jip me and jip me even more for my ignorance, until I feel like today I would have $1000 in the bank if I knew more about cars and did not allow auto mechanics to take advantage of my "feminine ignorance." I feel like a lot of people are earning a lot of money because "certain people don't know certain things that if they had a little extra time and brain space, they could easily learn and save a lot more money." In other words, people earn money because they know certain things that their "customers" don't know. So much for economic rationality.
Well, I'm tired of the "I'm-a-girl" excuse and I'm just going to have to learn slowly, in my own bizarre, painfully experiential ways... how cars work. Ideally, I would love to build a car from scrap, and understand how to build all these energy and electric feedback loops... I would love to start with the Conceptual, treating the Car like a Biological Organism, with organs-parts and flows of energy and fluids (energy, water, and air) (I had a music video vision of overlaying an aerial view of car mechanics repairing a car with an aerial view of doctors performing a surgery on the human heart, one day I will write a poem about this... maybe I already did... is it called "Nonlinear"?)... then the Conceptual can be mapped onto the detailed Practical Nuts-and-Bolts but how I am learning as of present is "something-broke-so-how-do-I-fix-it." Kind of like how doctors learn about how human bodies work. So, right now my car knowledge is limited and fragmented, and "tuition" is expensive, but at least you get a two-for-one "education plus a car repair from a mechanic who might just not jip you and appreciate the customer's inquisitiveness, and take the time to satisfy her inquiries."
I have had two "psychologically destroyed" days--today (Monday) and last Friday--due to a novel electrical problem with my Toyota Tercel car. On Friday, I was innocently pulling up to a USA Gas Station in Lemon Grove, San Diego, and when I finished pumping gas, I tried to turn on my car, but my car wouldn't start. Thankfully I was nearby Jules' house, and he came to rescue me in about ten minutes... and with his magic touch, he was able to get the car started one more time, as we were able to get the car back to his house from the gas station. Then Jules took a break from his work making buoys for his lobster traps and helped me tremendously trying to figure out what was wrong with my car... either being the electric sensor behind the clutch, the fuse box, the ignition, or the starter. I was extremely stressed out and he asked me to wait inside while he messed with my car. We waited for Wes the auto expert to come home, and after an hour or so, Wes came home and he started the car without doing ANYTHING! Jules and I raise our hands, clueless and stunned, and then I was off on my way to Riverside for a hike to Mount Baldy the next day! So, my car worked fine throughout the entire weekend... Saturday a little bit... Sunday all day... and then Monday morning, the car became moody in front of the Rite Aid at the Canyon Crest Towne Center in Riverside (where I met the Great Raguzi, magician!). I discussed with my father and mother on what to do, as I spent my half hour messing with the little electric sensor box behind the clutch and all the fuse boxes, but nothing started!
A very friendly tow-trucker came by Rite Aid very fast after my phone call to AAA Auto Club. He unfortunately had a broken hand from an on-job accident three weeks ago! I ran out of the Rite Aid (trying to buy Werthers and trash bags to consolidate the crxp in my car; I just abandoned the purchase all together!) and before I knew it, the tow trucker and I were on our way to Bob's Auto Service, where I proceeded to clean and patch up the car's front seats a little bit, so George could work without trash being in his face (our family has much respect for George at Bob's Auto Service; he has repaired my car ever since I came to own it back in 1999; I think I knew George since I was 10 years old). My father was frazzled and pissed that his morning was disrupted, as he had to come save me as Bubsy-Knight-in-Shining-Honor.
I waited in the parking lot of Bob's Auto Service, feeling quite depressed and down and empty-headed. My mind craved some serious stimulation and work out, and it unfortunately was not getting any (the previous day was very hard for me, because I spent the entire day patching up meeting notes for the Cal Sea Urchin Commission, I had no mental ownership of my own brain). After a half-hour of gross sweating, my father picked me up, and we pareused over to the Starbucks for coffee (at least to cheer Bubsy up and calm him down!) and then I attempted to drop off my father in front of his office by the UC Riverside Geology Building, but all these bulldozers were destroying the entire geology loading dock behind the building. We wasted another 15 minutes trying to find parking by the botanical gardens or at the visitor's lot by the Science Library, but no, you can ONLY park for two hours, that's it! Where's the lot for whole-day parking? There were no full day visitor passes?! Finally, I dropped my father off, and decided to head toward the University Starbucks to work for a little while, at least (to let you know, that's ANOTHER SYMPTOM of the BAD DAY SYNDROME, when MORE THAN ONE HOUR PER DAY OF YOUR LIFE IS DEVOTED TOWARD FINDING A PARKING SPOT, ESPECIALLY BY A UNIVERSITY, ATTEMPTING NOT TO GET A TICKET). By that time, I was considering suicide and how my life was falling apart... and then... I ventured into the Starbucks, and started writing, venting, writing.... Here I am trying to draw cartoons of highly conceptual issues, and I need to massively catch up with myself at the level of writing. I feel the bubble of ideas inside me.... I most certainly need some streamline writing exercises.... just to sort out my mind and untangle an overwhelming accumulation of un-accounted for experiences.
Then the other dilemma is that "I feel guilty for writing because I'm not writing about anything pertinent toward my Ph.D. or pertinent to society." WELL, FXCK EVERYONE WHO MAKES ME FEEL GUILTY, BECAUSE I HAVE THE RIGHT TO WRITE, JUST AS I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREATHE AND THINK ABOUT ANYTHING THAT I HOOHAAAHEY WANT TO AND I DON'T GIVE A FXCKING FXCK THAT MY WRITING HAS NO FXCKING MEANING ANYONE FXCKING ELSE AND I DON'T CARE IF MY WRITING DOESN'T FXCKING ADVANCE TOWARD MY PH.D. BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH CLOGGED BRAINS DON'T PRODUCE MEANINGFUL PH.D. DISSERTATIONS ANYWAY! AND EVERYTHING IN MY BRAIN IS FXCKING CONNECTED WHETHER PROFESSORS LIKE IT OR NOT; IT'S FLIPPING FEMALE NEUROBIOLOGY, WE'VE GOT MONDO CORPUS CALLOSUMS, OKAY? AND IF "THEY" (GENERIC "THEY") EXPECT ME TO STARE AT A SUBSET OF A SUBSET OF A SUBSET OF A SUBSET OF A SUBSET OF A SUBSET'S SUBSET FOR 5+ FXCKING YEARS, THEN THIS WHOLE ACADEMIC SYSTEM IS FLAT OUT FXCKED UP! Well, now that I said this, and I feel a bit better, I sincerely hope no one reads this.
And then again, people have the right to be emotional when they have car problems. I thought flat tires and worn clutches, being stuck in the middle of the 101 freeway on the Camarillo Grade were "anti-climactic," but when your goshdanged car doesn't even start, with some put-put clicking noise in the background, it's so pathetic, you feel your car is dead, and that you're dead and gone. And I'd rather have a flat tire on the 405 freeway than have my car not start in some calm parking lot. I don't want my car to die! I don't want the flame to go out!
Okay, ya, so here I am at Starbucks, writing about writing, as what writers do, tend to write about themselves writing about their friends writing about writing, because they're writers and they are paid for their "writing labors" (well, at least I'm writing about my car!). I'm just trying to convince you that writing is no longer a valuable skill, because anyone can write nowadays! Earlier I rapped up a blog, updating about my mother's bizarre eating habits... and now I feel a little bad for saying all that I did say because I just got off the phone, and my mother was willing to pitch in $100 toward the repair of my car starter...
Aha! The Car Starter? So, while I was writing away this afternoon, George called and told me "I started your car without doing anything." And I was like, "What?!! That's not possible!" And I told my father over the phone and he was pissed. And I told George, this is bizarre; this is exactly what happened last time... on Friday. George said he was suspicious that the problem could be traced to the starter, but he wasn't willing to do anything unless if the car wouldn't start. He wasn't exactly interested in fixing a car that actually worked. So, I made arrangements to pick up the car this evening, and then, after my blogging about my bizarre mother's eating habits, I start to look up information on the internet on the costs of a car starter (with solenoid), and it seemed like the average cost ranges from $83-$100 for re-manufactured starters. Then what was really cool was that I found some instructions on how to replace a car starter on http://www.ehow.com, and even COOLER was I found some instructional videos on how to diagnose and replace your car starter, which I watched, and it seemed pretty straight forward, but every car is different, and one may have to move around some other parts to get to the starter. And then what was SUPER COOL, no, no, SUPER MONDO COOL, was that I accidentally found some websites that specifically and directly addressed the exact same symptoms my Toyota Tercel was experiencing (Tercels, 1995-1999 models). And these 5 or 6 websites all pointed exactly toward the same diagnosis: if there's not too much corrosion on your battery, and your car battery is very secure, AND your lights come on (electric's fine), but your car is clicking, and not starting... then it's the bad connection between the solenoid and the starter, and so it's best to get the starter complex repaired. Routine symptoms, routine diagnosis, routine treatment. And I became very excited because I was unsettled taking back a car that could just stop working in the middle of nowhere in particular, and finally... something could be done!
I called George back and he said... "Sure, no problem, I can replace the starter, but you can't get your car back today." I'm cool with that. I asked for a quote, which was $290 parts and labor. *Gulp!* Then I called my mother, and I will be paying $100, my $100 birthday money will go to the car, and my mother will pitch in $100 more. My mom told me not to tell my sister Jenny because she always compares and such, and plus my parents helped my sister a lot during her schooling (but my parents did and DO help me a lot too, and I will need lots of help this upcoming year). But my mom always says that "don't tell your sister," maybe she is trying to make me feel special. And honestly, it's nice sometimes that people try to make you feel special, even though in the broader scheme, you're just an object, a body count, a number in the system.
I called Jules and he was pleased with the situation. He's going rock cod fishing tomorrow. In a certain way, this day was a total waste, but in another way, I learned something about cars... in an unexpected manner.... Bad day turned good. I didn't control my ocean today, but I had to ride unexpected, and unruly waves.