Frogs, Lizards, and the Ghost in the Machine

With Halloween coming up, it feels like a good time for a spooky car post. That, and, I had to postpone the planned “Steve Jobs vs. Magneto” post because Steve Jobs didn’t premiere Oct. 16 in New Orleans like I thought it would. (Damn those “select theaters.” Sometimes I hate being “everywhere.”)

Froggy was tiny
Froggy was tiny

So, three weeks ago, while on my way to lunch at the Starbucks on Upstream, there was a frog in my car. “Froggy” feels more appropriate, because she or he really was a tiny little thing. (Wait – can’t amphibians change gender? The internet tells me that is not something Michael Crichton made up for Jurassic Park. So does it really matter whether I call the frog a he or she?) Regardless of gender, it was still a bit disconcerting. So I rolled down the window, and little froggy jumped to the side (wing) mirror. Poor thing hung on like a trooper, but abandoned ship just blocks before the Starbucks. I hope it won its game of Frogger on Jefferson Highway.

Then, exactly one week later, on the way back to work from the Starbucks, a lizard pops up from the lip of the hood, where the windshield wipers live. He hung onto the hood, which thrilled me. (That’s my favorite aspect of any car chase – the person hanging onto the hood. I have an ancient SNL sketch ingrained in memory, where William Shatner did a spoof of himself as T.J. Hooker. He hung onto the hood of a car for the duration of a cross-country trip.) Fortunately, I’m pretty sure the lizard did not connect with Jefferson Highway, he just sort of disappeared back under the lip.

Both little creatures make me think of witches up to no good (eye of newt, and toe of frog. . .I blame Shakespeare). And it’s not lost on me that they both appeared in my car, which has had its share of gremlins over the nearly five years I’ve had it. I’ve had all the ignition coils replaced. It has excessive oil consumption. Audi settled a class action suit over the oil consumption issue.

But I don’t think the little fellas were trying to tell me my car is cursed. Because I think there’s a logical explanation for my car’s issues: it’s likely that Audi, and its parent Volkswagen, consider the 2.0 engine their Chump Engine, and don’t put the same care and design love into it as they do their Quattro engine. Volkswagen’s recent emissions scandal did not really surprise me. It disappointed me, but did not surprise.

Plus, I think the poor little frogs and lizards get a bad rap. After all, cats are affiliated with witches, too, yet they’re the darlings of the internet. So I consulted said internet to get their totem meanings. Here’s what said about frogs: they remind us of the transient nature of our lives. They represent support in times of transformation or metamorphosis. They indicate it’s time for cleansing – physical, emotional, spiritual or energetic.

And lizards – according to, lizards tell you to heed your own intuition before anyone else’s. And lizards can help in detaching, or objective evaluation of a situation.

So do I think that since an amphibian and a reptile randomly appeared in my car in a short span of time that there is some sort of hidden supernatural message to be sussed out? Not really. The weather’s changing here, and the little fellas were probably attracted to a warmer place.

But I do believe that God is in the details. And the creatures’ appearances prompted me to investigate their cultural symbolism, and read about transformation and intuition.

So how about this? Rather than my car being cursed, and the creatures of the earth trying to reclaim it, maybe the car is a symbol for this writing journey I’m on. I’ve had it nearly as long – I purchased it about nine months after I first put pen to paper. And maybe, it started having its hiccups with the ignition coils around the same time I began to write more consistently. Perhaps it was echoing me – complaining about getting up at 4am, and not having a clue about how to develop a writing habit, and whether what I was doing was any good.

I was very fortunate that the ignition coils were covered under warranty, just as I am fortunate to suffer my writing pangs while earning a living doing something unrelated. The goal is to one day earn a living from writing, but it’s nice now to not worry about how to pay the mortgage. Or the car note.

So why the symbols of transformation and intuition now? Maybe because my writing career is in flux. I’ve had the domain name reserved for three years, and I’ve (finally) begun to publish content here. I’ve opened the door to my writing closet, and said hello to the world and all its lovely inhabitants. I’m learning to trust my instincts about my own career. I’m more excited than worried about where this could all lead.

The warranty on my car will expire soon. But I’m not as worried as I might have once been about that implication. There’s only three payments left on it, and if it behaves long enough to give me a year or two (preferably two) with no car note, I will be grateful.

And finally, I can’t put the name of the very first album I ever owned into the title of this post and not mention The Police. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” is still one of my favorite songs. And their subsequent album introduced me to the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung.

Maybe there’s a bit of synchronicity going on with the frog, the lizard, the Audi (and my writing). God is in the details.

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