I recently started watching Breaking Bad. I’m not sure I’ll see all the seasons before the show’s final six episodes air in August, but this seems like an easy, attainable goal to set for myself—not quite as pressure-filled as finding a new job, getting freelance work and getting rid of cancer. I actually recently put that last one on my to-do list.
Breaking Bad is meant to fill the void left by completing The Wire and the end of this season of Mad Men—although this last season, for me, was a little more meh men. And, of course, this seems like the perfect time to be watching a show about a man with terminal cancer driven to cooking meth to pay his medical bills and support his family.
I can sometimes relate to Walter White’s uncharacteristic outbursts. While I’m not in the nothing-left-to-lose frame of mind, sometimes something very little sets off anger—or sadness. This small thing happened and I have cancer.
It doesn’t happen very often for me, although I joke that Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza is my spirit animal. However, after having my biopsy surgery in March at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to confirm my Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, we had to catch a cab back to Brooklyn. Groggy and newly stitched, I wasn’t in the mood for cab drivers who just don’t like to go to Brooklyn. We were also facing drivers in between shifts. That’s how I ended up hanging on to a cab’s locked door, screaming at a visibly alarmed driver, “I just had surgery and you can’t take me to Brooklyn!”
Once the crazy lady was made to wait on the sidewalk, we got a cab. On our way home, my boyfriend looked at me and noted, “You can’t keep a good woman down.”
And even with insurance, cooking meth for extra cash seems pretty tempting. Obviously, my situation isn’t nearly as dire. But sometimes, in the middle of the night, the snakes from the medical symbol slither from their post and curl up in bed with me. “$$$$” they hiss, one in each ear. “Thi$$$ i$ going to be expen$$$$ive.”
Of course, aside from the whole moral dilemma, there are a few other reasons I’m not following in Walt’s footsteps. I have no idea how I got through high school chemistry. One of my lab partners and I set a paper towel on fire—she decided to start cleaning without turning off the Bunsen burner. Another lab partner almost set a fellow student ablaze, because she was goofing around and setting his apron strings on fire. The fire would quickly go out, but one time, it took an extra second for it to go out, and I have to confess, I just stood there with my mouth open. Looking back, I probably should have stopped my partner from actually playing with fire.
I also recently failed to bake cookies in our new oven. (Well, new to us.) I put the cookies in and then the apartment filled with smoke five minutes later.
So it’s probably best I don’t work with volatile substances.
I don’t think I’m cut out for a life of crime, either. I’ve always been a goodie-goodie. I don’t jaywalk. I get upset when people don’t come to full and complete stops at stop signs. I’ve thought about making a citizen’s arrest when local police have driven through the traffic light at the end of my street. (I’m told that won’t go over well.) But I figure my new unemployment will give me time to finally patrol the streets and keep them safe. I also might become a pet detective and look for all the lost animals in the neighborhood.
Alas, neither will bring in much cash, so I just buy a lotto ticket every now and then. And now that I have Breaking Bad to catch up on, my citizen patrols might have to wait for now.