I'm quitting smoking again. I'm quitting everything. I'm not so sure this can be done. But today a San Francisco venture capitalist told me: "All games have to end now. No more shortcuts." He was referring to the global economy, to China and the Euro and the Budget, but I've become confused these past few months: my own problems and the world's are starting to merge. It feels like the septic mid-70s to me, with Nixon and junkies and movies about murderers and everyone getting divorced in my small town, a time that only stopped scaring me ten years ago, a time when adults felt free and kids felt sick.
And last night I watched the second episode of season one of Breaking Bad, that series about how American dads and husbands are secretly savage, narcissistic gangsters -- or would be if they were allowed some fantasy running room. Walt, the hero-villain, same name as me, that monster of non-metropolitan masculinity, the only man on TV who actually looks like one, was holding a drug killer hostage in a basement, bike-locked by the neck to a stout pole. The killer had inhaled acid in Walt's meth lab and was this far from dead but then came back to life, groaning and heaving the way my mother did when she expired in the hospital three months ago from a freak infection of the brain. Watching the guy brought me back to that hard moment, making me want to smoke, but I held fast.
My mouth tastes metallic from the departing chemicals. It feels like I inhaled acid in Walt's lab.
And then, just this morning, they failed to cut a budget deal, crashing the stock market, a weekly occurrence now. I care about the stock market these days. When my mother died, she left me a few shares of companies she believed in. 3M. Apple. It wasn't like her to believe in things, but after a while, if you have an extra few bucks, it's pretty much mandatory that you try, especially if you want your money to grow. It hasn't grown, though. It's faltered faltered and it's fallen. That she's not around to absorb this fact consoles me. It also saddens me. She died so faithful. When you occupy Wall Street, remember them: the suckers.
And on Twitter today the comedian Albert Brooks asked if the news was bleaker than it's ever been or was it that he'd bookmarked depressing Websites? I have an answer for him: it's both, of course.
When I don't smoke, I can't write. Not well. Not smoothly. That's evident here. But I'm starting not to care. Coherence is not a thing I've noticed much of bike-locked to my pole and losing money the toxins departing the wars the jobs all gone the freak infections the violent TV shows. It feels like when I was a kid and had my mother but knew in my heart there was nothing she could do. Or maybe it's history passing through the body, and not just mine, perhaps.
Yours as well?