An exposed nerve, part two: panic! at the disco, sans disco

The first part of this series, taking a long shot of myself as regards relocating from Cleveland, Ohio to Austin, Texas, got me almost all the way through the 1,388-mile road trip.

This part finds me arriving in town and then proceeding to begin a total meltdown.

i went to sleep happy and awoke the same way. Not another crapshoot motel stay! A relatively short three hour drive! At the end of it, the swanky studio apartment discovered and arranged for through grand master-level Google-fu, accessible only after signing a couple of forms and it would be all mine!


It was during this leg of the journey, the last one, that i began taking note of all the cars whizzing past me on the highway. Every one of them was much nicer than mine. Not a hard feat, mind you – i’ve never been one to invest in a solid automobile, instead prescribing to the philosophy that they’re just a means to get around. Also, i’m cheap, already in debt thanks to school and years of irresponsibility, and of a mind that i’d rather buy used, drive until beyond reasonable repair and repeat. i mention this only to help illustrate that, amongst other emotional instabilities, self-consciousness over my social status is one of them.

Nevertheless, i made it without incident and headed inside the apartment management office, Cosby’s carrier in tow, to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. We did a walkthrough and the place looked nearly identical to the photos and 3-D tour i’d looked at online about a million times. Disappointingly though, it does not have faux hardwood floors throughout – there is carpeting in the half-wall cordoned off bedroom area. That was a bummer.

After unloading all my stuff (a few duffle bags, armfuls of clothes on hangers and a bicycle), i set about putting unpacking. During this process i noticed, as is inevitable in these situations, that online photo galleries and even first looks often mask all the little defects and faults in a space like cracks around the windowsills, shoddy caulk jobs in the bathroom, jangly water faucets and the like. Also, the stove did not work.

In other words, not the perfect pristine palace my hopeful imagination informed me the place would be. Took a quick walk over to the office to tell them about the stove, but they were out for 30 minutes.

Still, i had my lists: “How i’d like to decorate,” “What i want my living space to look like,” and so on. Before getting too deep into interior decorating though, there were plenty of practical items to pick up like a shower curtain, cleaning supplies, some groceries and who knows, maybe get crazy and get a chair to sit on.

Off to Target! Ah, Target, the bastion of consumers everywhere. Fun fact: the poverty line is the line beneath which you shop at Walmart instead of Target. i’m kidding of course. Why would i shop at Walmart when i’ve got a Target Redcard?!

Before heading out i shot a quick email to the HR contact at my new job to let her know i’d arrived in one piece and was enthusiastic about starting work in a few days. It was late in the afternoon, and it was a pleasant surprise to get a quick reply from her welcoming me to Austin and recommending a couple of places to check out. Her quick, friendly and personable communication throughout the whole process is one of the things that most impressed me and made me feel good about this endeavor.

It’s worth noting that, back in Cleveland, it was around 20 degrees and snowing while i set about my move-in day errands in sunny 70-degree weather, my Northeast Ohio winter-thickened blood escalating what back home would be a perfect day to borderline uncomfortable. Not that i’m complaining – i’ll take feeling warm over bone-shivering cold any day.

Back at my modest studio apartment with non-list worthy decor (although i did find a teal, fabric-covered padded chair for $12 – a much better option the the WWE-style folding chair i might otherwise have wound up with), i felt pretty good overall. Pizza was in the oven, Newcastle was chilling in the freezer and i wasn’t sitting on the floor in a completely empty apartment.

This general satisfaction was not to last.

For a bit, i was preoccupied putting my bicycle back together in riding shape. A minor setback of some piece of the front brake line snapping off was a drag not only because i had no idea how to fix it, but also because it meant i’d have to finagle the bike back into my car, this time without taking the front wheel off, in order to get it to a bike shop for a repair. It would not have been difficult to fit without the tire, but then i’d have the same problem back at home trying to put the brakes back together.

The downward spiral began in earnest while partaking in what to me is the quintessential move-in day dinner (the aforementioned pizza and Newcastle). i was doing some figuring for the umpteenth time on my budget, what all my bills were and what my income would be.

My chest tightened up like Bigby’s Crushing Hand had been malevolently cast on me and i rolled a 1 on my save.

Bigby’s Crushing Hand is a D&D spell. Imagine me in place of that umber hulk there.

What if i can’t make ends meet? What if i fall behind on my bills? What if i get deeper in debt? Fail miserably at this endeavor? Wind up with nothing? Was this a big mistake? Maybe this whole job offer was bogus, some sort of cruel prank – and i’d just signed a year lease. Did i jump the gun? Take the first offer that came along too readily? These and many, many other insecurities, worries and concern gripped me with icy desperation.

Before leaving Cleveland, i’d told myself and others plenty of times that the worst that could happen is things wouldn’t work out and i’d end up back there. Certainly not new territory for me – i’ve done that quite a few times already.

i took a few deep breaths. Still, panic had it’s tendrils around me.

i cradled Cosby for security, hoping his easy purr would settle my rapidly-fraying nerves. i felt more anxiety – here i was dragging this poor kitty into a potentially tough situation.

i began to pace around the apartment – not a big undertaking at 396-square-feet – and that’s when i noticed them. Just one at first, skittering along the carpet. And the windowsill.

The wall.

The doorframe.

The bathroom counter.

This place has a bug problem.



On the edge of your seat yet? i know i sure was, uncomfortable to relax even a little when there are creepy crawlies both seen and, terrifyingly due to unknown numbers unseen, all about.

Yep, i had a full-on panic attack the likes of which i have never experienced. Doesn’t that sound like a fun reason to come back for the next part of this series?

What sorts of things instill anxiety and panic in you? Or do you have nerves of steel?

i certainly do not, and just about everyone i’m close to was about to find out just how much, which begs the question – why didn’t i ever get into acting? Because apparently i mask what’s going on inside pretty well.


  1. Great read and relatable on SO MANY levels. The bugs thing would push me over the line too. I actually had a very similar situation when I first moved to L.A. Anyway, although worries and anxiety can often damper the good things, you should be proud of yourself for seeing an opportunity and just going for it. I wish you well in this next chapter of your life.

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