YAY! A fellow manual transmission enthusiast! All my vehicles have been sticks since...let me think...well, for about 35 years now. I learned to drive on an automatic, but I never really felt like I was DRIVING. One day, when my husband and I were young, broke, and my car had broken down (and we had no money to fix it), a friend offered to let us borrow his car--a stick. That night, my husband taught me the basics--complicated by the fact 2nd gear was missing. This was an old Karmann Ghia, with three speeds. The next morning, driving to work was quite the adventure, especially when I approached a hill from a standing stop. I couldn't quite get up the hill... I don't know how many times I rolled back, and I was either in tears or almost (it was 100 years ago, so I'm not sure any more), but finally made it up the little hill. You'd think after that I'd never want to touch a stick shift again, but a few years later I declared that my new car would be manual and that was that! Now I take HUGELY steep streets (which people think only San Francisco has, but LA has some, too) without even thinking about shifting--it's just natural. And when our daughter was ready to learn to drive, she moaned that all her friends were learning on automatics. We told her, well, both of our cars are manual--and if you plan on using them, you'll have to learn how! She's a great stick shift driver now, too, taking on San Francisco when she lived there, plus any time she goes abroad and rents a vehicle, they're always manuals, so she's good.