I would not consider myself an anxious person. Excitable, yes. Animated, very yes. But a Nervous Nelly I have never been (nor a Debbie Downer, but I did go through a fairly Prudence McPrude stage, if we’re going through the alliteratives).
On the whole, I’m even keel, calm under pressure, cool as a cucumber. One time this nun and I got stuck underground for 45 minutes on an uptown F Train and I was the one who talked her off a ledge.
So I assumed what little anxiety I did have would vanish once I arrived on the calm coast. California cool, right? Live the good life and hang ten and talk with a slightly slower cadence than the rest of the country. This is the place where I was supposed to practice yoga in the canyons and buy a juicer because I’m finally relaxed enough to waste 25 minutes making juice I could buy in a carton for $2.99.
So far, no dice. I am more anxious here than I’ve been in my entire life, and I spent six days in Sicily with zero hotel reservations and rudimentary Italian skills.
The full catalog of my LA anxieties has yet to be written (because I don’t have anything to write it on, because my entire life’s belongings still aren’t here, because they’re being driven across the country by a team of Hasidic jews, and it was just Rosh Shahana…) but here, after exactly eight days in the land where people start work at 10am, is my list of top five issues:
- Parking – where to do it, when to do it, how to do it without getting a ticket, how to do it, in general… To use or not to use the emergency break? Roll up or not roll up the windows? Close or not close the moon roof? Pull in the mirrors or leave them out? Is this corner spot likely to get side-swiped by a parking garage menace? If I valet should I actually use the valet key? Or – my greatest fear – what if I arrive at my destination and there simply is no parking. Do I leave? Do people here do that? Try to go to a party in the hills, find there’s absolutely no parking what-so-ever, and just abort mission?? You see.
- Uknown traffic rules – there was a time in my late teens where I was generally familiar with traffic rules but then I spent 9 years living in one of two cities, so it has been roughly a decade since who-goes-first-at-a-four way-stop mattered to me. On foot in Manhattan the answer was always me. Now I’m in a state where I’ve never driven let alone read a book recapping the rules of how it’s to be done sos not to receive a ticket. Also, I drive a red car. Like, look-over-here-at-me-incorrectly-going-first-at-a-four-way-stop red. Luckily I’m going to get a nice refresher on those rules when I take the California driver’s test required to get my new license. That could be another bullet, but we’ll just group it under this one.
- Being late – at the top of the short list of my pre-existence anxieties was being late. There is nothing that frustrates me more. I hate to keep people waiting. I hate to personally be kept waiting. And I generally think the inability to allow for an appropriate amount of transit time is a sign of weakness. I now live in a city where there is no sure-fire way to guarantee how long it is going to take to get from one place to any other place. I asked one friend how long I should allow to commute to work, and he said 20 minutes. I asked another and she said an hour. “Do people just constantly keep people waiting in this town?” I asked Mike. “Yes,” he said.
- Being over-dressed – I own one pair of sweatpants and seven gold belts. When I asked Nora what I should wear on my first day in the LA-working world and she said, “jeans and I cute top,” I almost slapped her across the face. This is going to be an issue. Not because I can’t adjust my scale of dress to meet a more casual look but because I absolutely cannot afford what it’s going to cost to do so.
- Remaining calm if/when I see a given list of celebrities – I’m not generally a star-struck person. I had the training of several years at the Tribeca Film Festival and lived in the West Village, so I can – say – pick up a CVS prescription next to Andy Sandberg and not lose my cool. That said, I cannot predict how I will react if I encounter a given small list of my personal entertainment industry idols (sounds like Don Coward…). My hope is that I will smile to myself and wait until said celebrity rounds the corner before texting my entire family, but I could just as easily gawk like a five-year-old at the circus, snap a cell phone picture, and place a phone call home while they’re still within ear distance. It might just be better if I never see them.
The list is slightly longer and includes issues like, “what will happen to my body if I consume avocado for three meals a day, every single day?” and “how am I ever going to handle Barry’s Boot Camp?” but those are back-burner anxieties for the time (because so far my digestive system remains in tact and all my sneakers packed are on the god damned truck…).
Maybe these are just “welcome to LA” anxieties – maybe after a few more weeks I’ll remember how to drive, learn how to park, figure out all the short cuts to work, find this Kitson outlet people speak of, and cross all the freak-out celebs off my list.
Or maybe it’s going to take longer than eight days to adjust to an entire new life.
Unfortunately, patient is something I will never be in any city, on any coast.