It felt like I opened my eyes to yesterday. The whole pack of cigarettes was knotting in my throat, taxing a toll on each breath I began to draw. Tried to force a cough in the bathroom, ended up with two dry gags and a thin trace of blood in the sink. I stared at it for a while trying to decide wether I’d prefer it coming from the throat or the lung. Then I brushed my teeth and went back to bed.
The next moment I was tearing the plastic wrap off another pack and officially declaring it a fresh new day. What’s ice coffee without cigarettes but of course I’m officially quitting for real after I finish this pack. Today I’m reading a book I threw in the shopping cart sometime last year just so I could qualify for free shipping. It’s pretty corny, starting with the title. The author had this terrible habit of using two adjectives at a time, always linking with a comma and both ring equally hollow. “…an alert, tactful glance”, or “his quick, intelligent face.” If not this, then adverbs when there is no need for one: “a look about him of deep calm”, “the sun burned down riotously bright,” and “in his face there came to be a brooding peace”, all in the matter of a paragraph. I mean who writes like this, except for me? I was reminded what the court conductor said of Mozart’s new opera in Amadeus: “too many… notes!” She mentioned Mozart in the first chapter too, spelled it as “Motsart” to make it, I don’t know, more credible? “The maestro said it was Mozart but it sounded like bubblegum.” It’s almost too much to bear, bright and early in the morning. It’s shaped to be a bad day. But I keep at it, maybe I finish it today there will be a fresh, new day tomorrow.
At lunch table I saw it on the news that Robin Williams killed himself. Didn’t Philip Seymour Hoffman just ODed a few month ago? At this rate Paul Giamatti probably won’t make it to Christmas. I made a mental note to listen to “Vesti la giubba” again when I get back to my desk.
4pm I repaired to 32 for my daily meditation on being laid off. It’s like kind of a reversed prayer, the hope is that if I spread the certain amount of agony it is liable to cause over the matter of months, it would not materialize one day and hit me on the blind side.
On the subway I read a New Yorker article on Nina Simone. It turned out to be a perfect antithesis of Dr. Copeland in the morning. The article gave a detailed account of the composition of “Goddamn Mississippi”, although the terrifying rage she tore through in that performance hardly needs any footnote or background story. But somehow I think after that first night, every time she performed this song again it diluted the raw rage a bit, until it eventually became just “a show tune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet.” Another self-realized prophecy. I closed my eyes in that smelly car and played that song in my mind again, down to the uneasy light laughter from the audience. It went well with the rheumatic clankings of the train.
Life in between.
Turned in and read an article on Robbin Williams: “‘You’re only given one little spark of madness,’ he said. ‘If you lose that, you’re nothin’”. I remember thinking, as I took another deep drawn of the cigarette this morning, am I just another Dr. Copeland. A life with a baseline of steady flow of worries, but I lost the ability to be enraged a long long time ago, fits of blind angers on the phone notwithstanding.
Turned out the light and listened to “Vesti la giubba” again. Then a few more times. Stirred up only a trace of stale sadness but primed myself for another night of dreamless sleep. R.E.M.