For a very long time I have always had quite a seriously nasty problem with unresolved anger and impatience. In the sense that I’ve extremely often been treated entirely nightmarishly unfairly by precisely the very people whose trust I should have had the most significant right to count on, I’m no different than anyone else. To my chagrin, though, I tend frequently to get excessively angry. Somehow my ire has never come out in any overly drastic way. I have always had quite an extremely seriously nasty problem with hypersensitivity to noise. Over the years I’ve frequently told the story of the time I worked in the Sales Processing department at Citicorp Retail Services on Long Island. There was a department right next to ours where the people there absolutely constantly yelled and, for some insane reason, laughed incessantly without its serving any known purpose whatsoever. My notoriously bitter anger and resentment, combined with utter impatience, really seethed entirely out of control. Ultimately I should like to think that I can be considered quite an exceptionally good natured, jolly good fellow in general but when my much nastier character defects start kicking into gear, watch out, bucko! I very much like to think that I’ve always given each individual each and every single possible opportunity to treat me with a sufficient minimum degree of respect, and that I’ve always done quite a sufficiently reasonably good job of humoring everyone about all his quirks and attitude problems. There’s that nasty side of me, though, a sort of evil alter ego, that keeps bouncing around somewhere inside me. Under most circumstances I can be counted on to be quite an eminently lovable neurotic. The very good news is that anger and impatience are like fear, ambition, envy and other character traits in the sense that if they aren’t acted upon they don’t count. If someone doesn’t take advantage of a character strength of his, he doesn’t get credit. If he doesn’t succumb to a weakness, he doesn’t get any blame. That’s why I try quite hard not to act very much on my anger.
I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’ve always considered September 11, 1971 quite a major watershed moment in my lifetime. I was on the verge of turning twelve years old and had virtually always, for as long as I could remember, lived in Jackson Heights in Queens until then. On that date my parents, Mary Anne and I moved to Lindenhurst, two counties away in Suffolk County, in the middle of Long Island, on the south shore. To this very day I can still remember having made up my mind, in quite a determined manner, to make it quite clear that I may have been in Lindenhurst but I would always consider myself from Jackson Heights. Some people, upon being bombarded with such a seemingly infinite supply of cold turkey irrevocable changes, seem to thrive on such an adventure. I found it all entirely too nerve racking. Upon my having said good-bye to St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, I went to Copiague Junior High School for two weeks. From then on I went to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School, in Lindenhurst, until the end of the eighth grade. Perhaps I would always have been an excessively shy neurotic with all sorts of lopsided ways anyway, even if I would never have moved at the beginning of my adolescence. That much change, in that short a time, didn’t help though. Eventually by the time I started high school, I no longer minded all the new circumstances. The best thing about someone’s being a high school freshman is that he’s only one among many other freshmen. During my first two years in Lindenhurst, though, I was practically the only new kid there. There was a girl named Cindy in my class at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who started the same day I did, but everyone else was already an established member of the old guard. The other most memorable moments in my life were when my parents both died, at eighty years old, within forty five days of each other, last autumn. In November 2012 my mother started getting very violently ill with cancer. She was forced to spend the next ten months constantly going back and forth to Medical Oncology Associates in Kingston, the Geisinger Hospital and General Hospital in Wilkes Barre, and John Heinz Institute of Rehab in Kingston. She died on September 23. My father died around a month and a half later, at the Veteran’s Hospital, on November 7, of a heart attack. Everyone knows this brings about quite a significant change in an individual’s life. I was forced into making quite a lot of significant decisions and changes that would have been otherwise entirely unnecessary.
Because of their having lived until I was fifty four years old, their having always been around had most certainly been quite a significant part of my identity. Their good and bad qualities, character strengths and defects are now all in the past tense. One of the properties this had in common with the move to Lindenhurst from Jackson Heights was its irrevocable, cold turkey nature. Surprisingly, although I’ve never dealt very well with stress, I got through all the hospital trips and both funerals fairly well. Whatever I was supposed to do, I must have done in an acceptable manner. What still boggles my mind is that things go on and neither of them is available anymore. All the things that transpired between November 2012 and November 2013 are now permanently embedded into my memory. Like a change of address this milestone marks the beginning of a new era of my life and even a new identity for me.