I should suppose the biggest walk-off home run for me would be to be finally rid of all the anxiety attacks and migraines I’ve been having throughout my adult lifetime. A lot of them came from food-mostly caffeine-allergies anyway, and most of that trouble has diminished quite significantly. My headaches are rather infrequent these days and my anxiety appears to be easily manageable. For well over the past decade, I’d gotten an insanely violent rash all over my body, with scratch marks that kept showing up in different places at different times. Oddly, I started noticing that since both my parents died last year, my rash has been entirely gone. Maybe it’s only a post hoc ergo propter hoc kind of thing but who knows? Perhaps there’s even a connection somehow. I know perfectly well that I’m able to do anything that anyone else is capable of. I just wish, though, that I didn’t have to go through all the frustrating jitters.
I don’t think I can say there’s only any one specific thing that can be counted on to get me out of the doldrums when I’ve been having a hard time. Coffee and tea, I’ve noticed, are most certainly top contenders for the best way to cheer me up. I’ve always drunk tea, both hot and iced, ever since I was a kid. I never got started on coffee, though, until I was in my late teens around the time I got out of high school. Often people say that alcoholic beverages are traditionally referred to as spirits because they appear to have a virtually Satanic ability to take control over people’s lives. While that may be true I’ve seen lots of proof that that’s quite a major characteristic of coffee and tea too. We who are fans of theirs are truly devoted. In my younger days I liked black coffee with no sugar. Soon, I found out the hard way that it had quite a nightmarishly evil effect upon my stomach so I started putting milk into it. It used always to give me nightmarishly bad migraines if I drank more than two cups each day. I couldn’t handle a significant amount of caffeine. After a while, though, I noticed that the headaches started going away. People often complain that the caffeine begrudges them sleep but I don’t seem to be able to sleep well anyway. Over the course of the past quite a few years I’ve been drinking coffee with flavoring in it. Those General Foods and Bailey’s creamers, among others, taste really nice. A lot of people only like coffee without flavoring. My parents always liked it plain. Steve occasionally reminds me that it loses the very property that qualifies it as coffee in the first place when it has flavors in it. I really enjoy the flavors though. I make sure I make my daily trip to the Coffee Nut Cafe here in Long Beach unless I’m absolutely incapable of getting there. Tea has also been quite a favorite of mine and I follow exactly the same rule. I enjoy it straight. Unlike coffee, though, it doesn’t bother me if I don’t put anything into it. I also really like a wide variety of flavors in it besides the traditional honey, sugar and lemon. One of the advantages to coffee and tea is that each works just as well as an accompaniment to some other activity as it does alone. I can have some along with something else as easily as I can indulge in it instead of an activity. Conveniently this is an interest of mine which I share with quite a significant number of others. There are a lot of books, periodicals and websites that cover the exceptionally large variety of coffees and teas that are currently available as well as a history of them. If I really wanted to I could get involved with all sorts of fan clubs where I should be able to compare and contrast the different varieties of teas and coffees. Like sports, music and several other things, they have outlets for mere voyeurism as well as for the times when people are determined actively to participate.
To my chagrin I haven’t always been very confident. I can remember always having been quite a shy kid, especially with new experiences and in the company of strangers. That problem has remained with me, at least slightly, throughout my entire lifetime. I have no way of knowing, with any certitude, whether it technically qualifies as impostor syndrome but it has been known to lead to quite unfortunate consequences. Over the course of my lifetime I’ve never been conventionally popular. After a while though, I arrived at the conclusion that I seem to be a sort of underground cult popular, with an offbeat appeal somewhat similar to that of the kind of bands and movies whose fans hang around in weird head shops. Once I figured that out I stopped letting that kind of insecurity bother me. During my late adolescence, right around the time I graduated from high school, I first began to succumb to the simply irresistible appeal of the demon coffee. I even presumed to drink it black with caffeine. I have no idea whether the black coffee started all my troubles or whether it may have provoked my already extant troubles into even further flights of frenzy but I started getting anxiety attacks, migraines and a sick stomach. Eventually I started decreasing my coffee intake and my troubles abated. Since I honestly can’t say I specifically expect the worst possible consequences of each thing I do I can’t explain all my anxiety. Especially during my young adulthood I was prone toward being overwhelmingly frustrated before having to go on any kind of significant trip, especially when I was forced to fly someplace. I’ve never minded, and I’ve always enjoyed, specifically being on a plane but I used to have a lot of trouble with anxiety on the morning of a flight, before I boarded the plane. I still have trouble, to a lesser degree, with anxiety before any long trip. I assume that most of my current and recent anxiety, that is only slight, can be attributed to a kind of nervous energy and restlessness. As an adult I’ve always been compulsively punctual. I seem to have a lot of trouble, when I have either to go someplace or to do something, merely getting ready for it, and then waiting for a significant length of time until it’s time for it to happen. None of my insecurity seems to come from a lack of confidence in my intelligence or competence, or from the expectation that someone will deliberately try to thwart my attempts to get things done. It all simply appears to be the result of some kind of an unresolved tendency to feel inordinately uncomfortable under pressure. Hep Larry always knows that there isn’t any reason for things to go wrong. Real Larry, however, always tends to cringe with frustration even when it’s not entirely necessary. I’ve always seen myself as a combination of Charlie Brown and the kind of character Woody Allen has typically played in his movies. Like Charlie Brown, who is constantly frustrated in his attempt to win the heart of the little red haired girl, I always seem to have lots of trouble dealing with life’s entirely typical problems . Like Woody Allen’s movie persona, I’m a bespectacled intellectually inclined neurotic New Yorker stuck in one frustrating misadventure right after the other.
At least since I’ve been an adult I’ve never been able to sleep the least bit well. I often tell people that I haven’t gotten five minutes of sleep since the presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon. As far as I’m concerned I qualify as an insomniac. No matter what I do, I always end up lying around wide awake in the middle of the night, and frequently go back to sleep for only very short periods of time. I know that I get some sleep because I often end up perceiving circumstances that couldn’t possibly happen were I awake. Frequently I dream of the long ago past, and my dreams are populated by people who are long deceased, or whom I don’t even remember ever having met. At least once I dreamed that my cousins Vinnie and Noreen, who both live very far away, were in another room as I lay in bed in the very pajamas I was wearing that night. I heard both their voices as literally as if it were real. Over the course of the past few decades I’ve tried all kinds of gimmicks to help me sleep. I usually avoid coffee or anything with caffeine late in the day but that doesn’t help. People have told me that I go to bed too early. When I’ve tried to go to bed late at night I’ve woke up with bad headaches and in a bad mood. I’ve found, over the years, that it’s best for me to go to bed as early as possible, preferably before 9:00 p.m. , and to get up extremely early too. As anyone who’s ever been in my company late at night can tell you, I’m not an interesting character when I’ve stayed up too late. When I worked for the postal service in Bethpage, I often was forced to work overnight, from 8:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. One of the most horrible parts of that job was the fact that it was impossible for me to sleep during the day. Having been to high school reunions and several other overnight occasions, I’ve noticed that no matter what my circumstances are at night, I simply can’t possibly sleep for any significant length of time during the day. I can remember once, though, in the late 1980’s when I was working at Citicorp Retail Services in Farmingdale, when I fell asleep for a few hours late in the afternoon. When I woke up to a clock that said it was sometime after 7:00, I couldn’t figure out whether it was a.m. or p.m. I need as much dark, and as much peace and quiet as possible, to sleep well. Noise has always been an unwelcome part of my life. Over the course of the past few years I’ve always lived close enough to airports that I appear constantly to be subjected to the perpetual sound of jets flying by. It literally never seems to end and I’m quite hypersensitive to that. I’ve never been able to sleep in a moving vehicle either so travel presents yet another problem. Unlike many people I can’t watch television , read or listen to music to pass the time in the hope that it will put me to sleep. Those kinds of things only make me groggy and even more frustrated. They increase my risk of getting a headache. By now I’ve learned quite well how to handle all this annoyance. My inability to sleep well has even become quite a part of my image. Instead of bothering to complain I simply deal with it from an early to bed and early to rise standpoint.
I’ve always been subjected, especially since I’ve been an adult, to succumbing to a lot of anxiety when I’m under a significant amount of pressure. When I was very young I was quite prone to anxiety and panic attacks. In those days I always got violent migraines and a sick stomach when I was subjected to too much tension. My hands shook and my mouth got dry. Since then though I’ve learned how to handle things much more easily. Much of my trouble came from too much coffee. Anyone who’s been the victim of a food allergy knows that it can be quite a nightmare if not properly dealt with. Upon my having learned to accept the fact that caffeine was provoking all this trouble in my life, I started making sure I stayed away from coffee under circumstances that required my undivided attention and competence. Absent mindedness has always been quite a problem for me when I’m under pressure. My mind wanders and I forget important things. The best thing for me to do is to make sure I write down, in advance, anything that is absolutely required of me. I also always make sure I go to bed early each night and get up early each morning, especially when I have to be available for something important. Even now that most of my problems with anxiety have very much subsided I still tend to get restless and frustrated when I’m kept waiting for something. I’ve always been compulsively punctual to the point of showing up obscenely early for everything. Although punctuality is considered a valuable asset at any job, or for any task in general, most people get quite frustrated at my knack for showing up entirely too early. Things that ordinarily shouldn’t be very stressful, such as a long ride in a car or plane, or having to deal with strangers or new experiences, often drive me to inordinate kinds and degrees of frustration. I’ve been noticing, as time goes by, that I can do a much better job now of hiding most of the frustration and restlessness I feel when I’m put on the spot. Most of the time all I really have to do is simply to apply myself to the task at hand at any given time. The weird thing is that I’m never really afraid of the risk of any specific kind of failure. It’s just a case of my reacting inordinately unfavorably to the mere fact of my having to deal with something either new or important.