I thought I was getting over my anger in 2015. After a few experiences of forced work sabbaticals from 2011, I finally landed a great job, which took me to a beautiful place in the country I have never lived before. My client is fantastic and the work is exciting.
But my anger never really left.
Not that I was expecting it to go away completely. I’ve always been “angry.” I like to think of it as funny “angry” though. Larry David angry. For my birthday this past year, two different friends gave me a journal. One is specifically designed to list out people I want to punch, while the other I can spell out my opinions on topics that basically make me angry. It’s pretty funny.
— And the answer is yes — I’m single.
While enjoying a less angry 2015, something happened in July. On my way to vacation at the beach with my DC Family, I learned from my Blood Family back in Ohio that my Dad had passed away unexpectedly.
Dad was never a man who took his health seriously. Although he didn’t drink or smoke, he never exercised either. He worked hard and his reward for getting married at 21 and eleven years later having five kids all under the age of ten, was eating whatever the heck he wanted. By 72 it had caught up to him.
And I felt angry.
I wasn’t really sure why I was angry. A part of it was Dad died almost 20 years younger than his father; a man who the second he retired from driving buses and trains in Cleveland, proceeded to perfect that seated position for the next 35 years in his favorite lawn chair. Like his youngest son, Grandpa didn’t exercise. He also sought comfort that food brought him. Unlike Dad however, Grandpa did manage to put away two packs of Pall Malls a day. Again, he lived until he was 93. My Dad took care of him for those 35 years. I have to think that made him angry.
I got my anger from my Dad which is pretty remarkable considering I’m Irish on my Mother’s side. Dad could get angry with the best of them. Causes of anger included; any team from our hometown of Cleveland, politicians, bad service, and any one of his kids at any given time. Anger never went out of style with Dad. He probably had 400 jobs over the course of his life, but anger was his specialty.
He passed down this anger gene to me. Want to set me off? Talk to me about Gone with the Wind, or mispronounce my Alma Mater. Don’t get me started about public transportation in our nation’s capital, it would take me awhile to calm down. I’ve got my own list of topics and people that make me angry. But that’s why it’s “my anger” and not yours.
But after Dad died, I’m mostly angry that I don’t think he deserved to go out like this. Cleaning out his apartment was the one of the worst things I have ever experienced. His increasing lack of mobility made his living spaces downright inhabitable. That made me angry. I feel like it didn’t have to end this way.
He didn’t seem to want to turn that anger into motivation to make his quality of life better. Or maybe he did and it never worked the way he wanted. Anger was never a topic of discussion between us. It was just an elephant in a room full of elephants.
The spare tire that occupied my Dad’s waistline for more than 50 years of his life finally won. At 40, I am embarrassed to say that my own spare tire has taken residence for almost half my life now.
I get pretty upset by what that outcome could be in 30 years; because I gotta tell ya, despite my consistent exercise, I smoked and drank with the the best of them. Where that puts me on the life expectancy chart between my father and grandfather right now is a mystery.
Overall I notice anger more. It’s everywhere. 2016 will most certainly be defined by white guys a little less educated and a little more work sabbatical-ed than I and their relationship with anger. More specifically: How will that anger shape our country?
What can I do to move past all the anger I have in general? For starters I dropped most of my social networks, like Facebook and college basketball message-boards. Maybe I could lose weight in a way that my Father never could manage? Exercise relieves stress, right? Stress causes anger, correct? If I’m thinner, I’ll be less angry then. Right?
It makes me to wonder: Are fatter guys angrier than thinner guys?
I plan to research and write about it. My relationship with anger will be front and center this year, and hopefully by 2017 those journals I received as presents will remain unfilled. I hope my friends don’t get angry.