My Halloween costume this year was painfully appropriate.
I had made a last minute decision to buy an old time prisoner outfit, complete with striped shirt, pants, and cap.
I didn’t think much of it, at first; it was just a standard issue costume intended to get me through the holiday. But it got a lot of positive responses, especially from total strangers.
“I know you,” one young man said to me as my sister and I rode the F train. “We did time together in Alcatraz.”
We were going to our friends’ apartment in lower Manhattan and we had a wonderful time, starting with the doorman who threatened to call the cops the moment he saw me.
Our outfits were a big hit (my sister was a nun), we met some great people, and ate too damn much.
When we left our friends’ apartment, I started running for a bus, prompting a man walking his dog to point at me and say to my sister, “he’s getting away!”
Everything was fine, at first, but then the evening suddenly morphed from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. And I morphed right along with it.
Apparently the entire New York subway system was possessed by an evil spirit, as we had to contend with closed stations, rerouted lines, and one train that hid in the tunnel like a frightened gerbil just outside the Canal Street platform and refused to come out for several excruciating minutes.
I tried to keep my temper in check, honestly, but as the misfortune piled up I got angrier and angrier, and by the time we got to Brooklyn I was bouncing off the four walls.
Even when we tried to get car service to go home, some stumblebum with a shopping car managed to get into the place ahead of us and snaked the last car. It sucked something fierce.
But it didn’t end there. The following night my sister, auntie, and myself went out on one of our theater escapades and after dinner we called car service to come pick us up.
Ocean of Sins
And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. The car, which was supposed to be a few minutes away, was nowhere to be seen. It was raining cats and dogs and elephants, and baboons and still there was no sign of a car.
I wasn’t wearing the convict outfit, but I was a prisoner nonetheless, held captive by volatile emotions.
I’ve written so many posts about my anger issues, how I can’t stand living this way, how I’m going to change my ways. And then I freak out all over again.
It’s been almost a year since I went to confession during my Hawaiian vacation and finally admitted my problem. I remember how the priest told me not to get discouraged if things don't change immediately.
I tried going to confession Saturday, but apparently Charles Manson was in the booth ahead and seeking mercy for every sin he’s committed since birth.
As I waited, I felt the anger starting to rise in me once again…until I realized that losing one’s temper while waiting to confess to the sin of losing one’s temper seemed especially ironic.
He or she must be hurting pretty badly to be spending so much time with the priest; maybe they were hurting even more than I was. I’ll go back this week.
Now one thing about Catholicism is that there’s a patron saint for anything that ails you.
A quick Google search revealed that Peter is the patron saint of anger management and so I’m asking for his help with this runaway rage of mine.
Peter is an excellent choice, as he is the apostle who denied Jesus three times but still became a saint and holds the keys to the gates of Heaven.
One of the prayers to St. Peter asks him to “lift me from the ocean of my sins,” a very powerful image to me since losing my temper feels an awful lot like drowning in the middle of some very hostile waters.
I’m not making any more sweeping promises to change because that only leads to sweeping disappointments. Like any other addict I have to confront my demons one day a time.
But the only day I want to be a prisoner is on Halloween.