It’s been 10 years since I’ve driven a car

Usually in my time-impaired obliviousness, I’m pretty fuzzy about what the date is. I just had a vague idea that it was late October. And I knew Fiber Expo was coming up this weekend, because I’ve been dyeing up a ton of yarn and fiber to get ready.

(Here’s some of the fiber I’ve been dyeing.)

combed top for fiber expo

Then it hit me. Just what was the date of Fiber Expo?

I looked at Google Calendar.

October 27 and 28.

Oh. My. The 10th anniversary of the last day I ever drove a car, and the 10th anniversary of the day I vowed never to drive again.

Now, a lot of people who know me know I don’t drive. But people who don’t know me really well or who didn’t know me 10 years ago don’t really know why I don’t drive. I think they probably assume I can’t drive. No one in our society who can drive just chooses not to, right? So they probably assume my license was revoked or I have a medical condition that precludes driving or something, and those things aren’t polite to ask about.

Nope. I have a valid driver’s license. I had one ticket for speeding when I was 19, but that was it. (Oh, yeah. I never told you about that, Mom! Hi!)

So what happened?

Well, to make a really super long story super short, OCD happened. You all know I’ve got OCD, right? How could I be a fiber artist and entrepreneur and not have OCD? Duh.

You can read the full story here and here, but the medium length version is that I’ve always been interested in environmental and public health issues, and one day while I was driving a new thought occurred to me. It was obvious that cars were a source of pollution and pollution was a major contributor to rising asthma rates, but it occurred to me that if I was driving, I was causing pollution. I was contributing to rising asthma rates.

Naturally I obsessed on this thought.

For weeks.

I could not rest until I had gone to three bike shops, procured the perfect commuting bike, and started riding to work every day, with the intention of selling my car as soon as I was confident I could really get along without it.

A year later I was only driving once every 3 months or so, so I sold my car, glad to be rid of the expense, and borrowed my then-husband’s car to continue my quarterly motorized errands. And on one of these errands, the car died, leaving me stranded out in the country, miles from home with no cell phone, at the mercy of strangers who thankfully didn’t duct tape me to a chair but did look at me like I was something their cat puked up. The whole day was a major ordeal that just reinforced for me how much I hated cars and hated driving, hated their pollution, hated their expense, hated their use of non-renewable resources, hated everything about them, and I just decided that I’d had enough of that shit. I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

So I decided I would figure out how to get along without driving at all. I didn’t want to drive anymore and no one could make me, neener neener neener.

Um, yes. I did say I had OCD, didn’t I?

So. How has it gone the last 10 years? Well, I rode my bike and walked pretty much everywhere I went for several years. Eventually I stopped cycling after I injured my Achilles’ tendon. I took some time off for it to heal, but when I tried cycling again, it still felt like someone was cutting the back of my ankle with a knife. I tried again a few years ago after a long break, and there was the same pain again. So my cycling days are over. I sold my bike last month.

Looking back, I can see now that while enjoyed riding my bike (before my injury, of course), it definitely exacerbated my asthma, especially during the winter. Even though I used an inhaler before riding, I often coughed for up to 3 hours after cycling. And encounters with rude and sometimes threatening motorists frequently left me feeling angry and drained.

I don’t miss that part of cycling at all.

I still have absolutely no desire to drive again. Sure, there have been times when it would probably be more convenient if I drove, but honestly, I don’t even remember how to drive anymore, and the thought of driving brings the phrase “anxiety attack” to mind.

I still think we need fewer cars on the road. I still think there’s too much pollution from cars, and it’s making people sick.

I’m happy to take the bus on trips around town. Most of the bus drivers are friendly, and I can knit on the bus. Riding the bus is way cheaper than owning a car, and if I’m ever in an accident, I’d much rather be on a bus than in a car or on a bike.

I wish there were more buses going to more places and running longer hours and more frequently.

And I feel like a hypocrite for spending so much time in an extended cargo van going to fiber festivals.

Yeah, I’m not driving. Rob is driving. But still.

He likes driving, unlike me. But the pollution is the same. The use of non-renewable resources is the same. And the cost is the same.

I did something this month that I should have been doing all along. I calculated the gross income, total expenses, and net income for each of the shows I’ve done in the past two years.

Ouch. Let’s just say that there are some shows that aren’t worth doing again. Some shows had a nice gross, but a really dismal net, mostly because of the travel expenses (though in a few cases the booth fees were just way too high).

I’d really like to not travel so much. Partly because it’s really expensive. Partly because it makes me feel like a hypocrite. Partly because it’s exhausting.

But most of my income is from shows.

I’ve been pondering ways to dye more in a day without working longer hours so wholesale becomes a more viable option. Still pondering.

I’m sure I’ll eventually find some way to make it work. That’s the advantage of OCD.

In the mean time, at least I don’t have far to go for Fiber Expo. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by!



  1. Sheryl

    Thank you for sharing your story. If you have to be OCD about something, how great that you used it to do something that benefits every creature on the planet. All you need now is an electric car and a solar charger, and you will be set!

  2. Riin

    Well, I’d still be obsessing on all the resources used and pollution produced by the manufacture of the car and the charger, because, ahem, OCD. Obviously I won’t be satisfied until I’m living in a cave, surviving on nuts and berries. Sigh…

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