Anatomy of a Panic Attack

Posted: October 3, 2013 in McTrip posts
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anxiety art 3Three weeks ago I was told I had to move, for reasons way too convoluted to get into here. I will just say the timing is out of my control. This being the sixth time in five years that I’ve relocated, I decided I needed to make the next place somewhat permanent.

After looking at about 15 apartments and submitting four different applications, I was finally approved for an affordable and very cute one-bedroom in a good part of town — within walking distance of lots of cool stuff. It seemed to meet most of my requirements, so I was ecstatic. For those of you in “normal” cities, where finding a decent apartment at a good price in a good neighborhood isn’t akin to finding a cure for cancer, let me just say this: in Los Angeles sometimes it seems that curing cancer might be easier.

I was out of town when I got the news, so I had the weekend to think it over before signing the dotted line.

It didn’t take long for me to start dwelling on all the negatives, mainly the lack of reserved parking. Depending on where you live in L.A., reserved parking can be as important as indoor plumbing because many of the older buildings were not built with enough spaces. So residents are often forced to battle for limited street parking which invariably comes with restrictions and limitations that can drive a sane person bonkers.

This particular apartment is situated in a densely populated neighborhood which means parking is at even more of a premium.

When I returned from my out-of-town trip, I raced over to the apartment building to reassess. It was around 5 p.m., and already the parking situation looked grim. Then I noticed the street sweeping signs. In this neighborhood, you can’t park on one side of the street from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Mondays or on the other side of the street during the same times on Tuesdays. (Many L.A. neighborhoods have street sweeping between 10 a.m. and noon, which is much more desirable for stay-at-home, non-morning, people like me). I often have catering gigs at night and don’t get home until the wee hours. Which presents the very-likely scenario of me circling the neighborhood after work trying to find a parking space on the non-street-sweeping side, or get my ass out of bed at 8 a.m. the next morning and move my car, competing with all those other people who work from home (or not at all) who are out in their pajamas moving their cars to avoid a hefty parking ticket.

And a panic attack started simmering. For starters I was supposed to meet with the landlord the next day to sign the lease, hand over money and get keys. And now I was having serious doubts. Not to mention that I only had four more days to get out of my current place. And I really did love the new apartment. But I couldn’t come to grips with the potential parking fiasco.

Then Life Coach Laura stepped in. Yes, most life coaches deal with weightier matters like motivation, focus, clarity and direction. In this case, I couldn’t resolve whether I should take a great apartment without parking or be left essentially homeless in a couple days.

Only time will tell if her advice will be a blessing or a curse. But she insisted I NOT take this particular apartment. Mainly, she said, because I was compromising. Taking the apartment was just another example of how I’ve been willing to lower the bar, in so many areas of my life, in recent years.

“Is it impossible to find an apartment with everything you want at your price?” she asked (I believe the answer is no). “Then why are you negotiating away things you want and deserve? This is not an unrealistic expectation. Knowing where you’re going to park your car when you get home shouldn’t be a coveted luxury in life,” she said.

Then we talked about “home” being my sanctuary, where my creative work will live or die. And if it’s a place that causes me anxiety, or a place I grow to resent, then we’re going backwards again.

Plus I want to have dinner parties. “But no one will come, because there’s no parking!” Laura insisted. Or they’ll come once, spend eternity looking for parking, and vow never to do it again (or maybe they just hate my cooking).

The point is, yeah, this parking thing appears to be damn important!

In the end, I passed on the apartment. As of this writing, I have 48 hours to be out of my current place. So I’ve made arrangements to put everything in storage. And now I sit here working the phones, planning my couch surfing. Feels a little like being in college again. Although if I had kids even THEY’D be too old for college. But for now the panic is gone, I’m looking only at apartments with assigned parking spaces, as well as all the other amenities I want. And I won’t settle until I find it all. And then I’ll live happily ever after. Or at least until I have to move again.

(To be continued…)


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