Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Summer of My Discontent (September 4, 2011)

It's the end of the summer, it's the end of the season
Those days are gone, it’s over now were moving on…
MALOY/CONNOLLY/BRENNER/BACK © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Labor Day has traditionally become the unofficial last day of summer, as children prepare to return to classrooms this week, vacations have been taken, lifeguards no longer patrol public beaches and a trace of autumn seems to be in the morning air. Nonetheless, there are still several weeks left before autumn, according to the calendar, but the hazy, crazy, carefree days are behind us.
However, this was a summer to remember — news, weather and otherwise.
Days before the season kicked off, Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned, following weeks of media accounts about his involvement in Internet sex. Though he apparently never engaged in physical contact with any women, like so many embarrassed colleagues before him, in the eyes of the public and the press his on line activities were deemed improper for an elected figure, particularly since he lied about the details when they was first revealed.
Perhaps if he made a clean breast (or another body part) of it when the reports seemed like idle gossip, the scandal would have gradually vanished, instead of snowballing to prematurely end for what was once a promising career.
A few days after the summer solstice arrived, New York became the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage, following weeks of divisive arguments in the state legislature. Conservative-minded and provincial people were appalled by the decision, while gays, liberals and many moderates applauded the long-awaited legislation that had been brewing since the genesis of the gay rights movement over 40 years ago.
For New York Yankee fans and baseball purists, Saturday, July 9, 2002 became a memorable day as team captain Derek Jeter accomplished a milestone never attained by any other pinstripe player — his 3,000th hit. And he did it with a home run.
The count got to three and two, before Jeter fouled off two pitches to heighten the already intense drama. On the eighth pitch, he connected and as the ball soared over the wall into the left field stands, as the standing-room-only crowd erupted in a thunderous ovation.
For me, the day was extra special, since I was in right field seats with my oldest and closest friends — Larry Lichtig and Stephen Richman — to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Almost two weeks later, summer in the city was personified when the temperature reached 104 degrees.
Not only did temperatures make things uncomfortable, but, in addition to excessive heat and humidity, a heckuva lot of summer rain soaked our city, too. That was magnified near the end of August when the season’s first hurricane caused lots of death and destruction up and down the East Coast.
As residents from Florida to New England cautiously kept track of weather reports about the path of the first hurricane to strike the U.S. in three years, Mother Nature gave us a bit of a bump. Before the wind and the rain, we got tremors and vibrations. Tens of millions of residents from Boston to the Carolinas got an unexpected and taste of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, centered in Virginia. East Coast residents felt the Earth move under their feet. They were all shook up when they got a little taste of shake, rattle and roll.
The rock & roll references are clichéd by now, but they made for instant jokes when most New Yorkers felt a ten-second tremor just before 2 p.m. on August 23rd.
The heat, the hurricane, the earthquake, good news and bad are just grist for this essay and now seem trivial. For me August 11th turned the season into my summer of discontent when I was fired from a job at which I labored and, mostly loved, for 15 years. When I contacted old and new friends and started to network with acquaintances, they were shocked, but offered heartfelt words of encouragement that helped me get though the first anguished days.
The future, as my past, is up to me.
Life is what happens (to you), while you're busy making other plans. John Lennon