Archive for November, 2008

Jesus Loves Vodka!

November 30th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

It turns out that partying with people over 30 isn’t all that different than partying with younger people my age. I guess once you’ve got enough alcohol in your system, everyone acts like wild teenagers. It’s the original great equaliser.

So Amanda’s flat-warming party was slated to begin at 8, and since I have no life I got there at 8:05 and was the first one there. Amanda handed me a beer, a Rothaus Pilsner, the pilsner of choice down in Ichenheim and a beer I’m particularly fond of. We had a few minutes of casual conversation about work and stuff, and then the first of the other guests arrived. It was a German couple, some long-time friends of Amanda that she met at some point during her previous 5 years in Hannover—a guy named Oliver with a beard and long curly blonde hair, and his girlfriend Lena, a pretty German girl with dark brown hair.

I busted out my mad social skills with Oliver while Amanda and Lena talked, and learned the basic information about what he does and where he’s originally from and whatnot. He was sympathetic to me because he lived in Ireland for awhile and knew what it was like to be new to a foreign country.

Anyway, more and more people came filing in—mostly Germans of various ages but also an Australian guy and his German girlfriend. I talked to him for awhile. Apparently he teaches geography and economics at the International School, and because I have a substitute teaching certificate I’d probably be able to offer myself as a substitute teacher there, which apparently pays really well.

But one thing I gathered just from talking to a few of the teachers there is that when it comes to language teaching, you don’t really need any qualifications whatsoever as long as you’re a native speaker. I kind of suspected that, but I confirmed it last night. You don’t need a TEFL-certification even though it helps, and you don’t need a college degree even though it helps. Apparently any native English speaker can easily find employment in Germany.

I was a bit surprised when Frank, the boss and owner of Planeo came to the party. I’ve never drank with my boss before, but hey, it’s a different world. He told me he was surprised to learn that I didn’t have my working papers because he assumed I had to have them if I’d been hired at Inlingua. But apparently this wasn’t a problem—his company just contacts the bureaucracy and says they need papers and that’s that. All of this Ordnungsamt bullshit was kind of just unnecessary tedium on my part. So that was nice to learn.

I went out for a few cigarettes throughout the night. It actually turned into a very nice night, not too cold at all (the alcohol probably had something to do with that as well) but there was a lovely fire in a pit in the patio out back. Amanda lives in a little apartment building with just three apartments in a little back alley and right across from her landlord’s house. While we were out smoking her landlord came and grabbed a beer and smoked and talked with us. He seemed like a nice guy, but so did everyone at the party.

At around 11:00 some people started to leave, and me being about as buzzed as I normally get when I drink casually by myself, I decided I might as well get out of there as well. I hadn’t been talking much because I didn’t know anyone there except Amanda and Alan, and I mostly found myself just scanning the room while other people socialised and I sipped on my beer.

I went out for one last cigarette and intended to walk home right after, but some of the other people who had the same idea went back upstairs and I figured what the fuck? How often do I actually go to a party? I might as well stay a little bit longer.

I went back upstairs and grabbed myself another beer and sat down, talked to Alan a little more, learned about the political climate in Khazakstan, and watched as the others filed out. Soon it was just Alan, Amanda, myself the two other guests who first arrived—Oliver and his girlfriend Lena—and a couple of gay German guys who I hadn’t yet met or talked to. That’s when Amanda passed around the vodka shots. I made a half-hearted attempt to refuse but she poured me just a little one so I figured why not? I was at the point where I’m just over the “buzzed” line but if I stopped after one more beer I’d be just fine. But that’s also the time where you’re the most susceptible to doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do like take shots of hard liquor.

Some more conversation ensued. Someone mentioned London, and I found myself telling everyone my London story about being pissed on in St. Christopher’s hostel. That story was a big hit. I finally got some use out of it.

The gay guys went home soon after, then more shots were poured and mine is now at least three times the size of the original one. But the first shot had lowered my inhibitions just enough to take that second shot, and I found myself toasting with the rest of them and downing the nasty poison. There was no turning back now. All my chips were on the table. I knew I’d be paying for this tomorrow with a nasty hangover, so I might as well enjoy it now.

I guess Amanda had the same idea because she cleared the living room floor, tossed on some faster music and cranked up the volume. Amanda, Lena, and Oliver start dancing to the music which I think was something by The Cure, and the next thing I know I find myself up and dancing too. When that song ended, another random song started and the dancing continued. Alan was a bit more reserved about it than the rest of us but he soon got in on it too. So for a very long time the five of us were just drunkenly dancing like complete fools all over Amanda’s apartment. Quite a few beer bottles were knocked off tables and bits of shattered glass were all over the floor so everyone made sure their shoes were on and we just continued dancing.

I’d rather not go into the details of what a complete ass I made of myself, but needless to say I was totally drunk and had no inhibitions whatsoever so I had no qualms about any of it. Playing really bad air guitar, climbing up on the beams above the living room (though Oliver did that first), and shouting my own made up lyrics to some of the songs, like during James Brown I would shout things like, “Jesus loves vodka” to the beat which everyone thought was hilarious.

I found myself lying on the floor a few times as well, and at one point they picked me up by the wrists and ankles and swung me back and forth. Normally I would find this extremely uncomfortable and would tell them to please don’t fucking do that, but in this situation I just laughed and leapt to my feet when they let go to continue dancing. At one point Lena pointed out that I was bleeding from the elbow, which I hadn’t felt at all and still have no idea how it happened but I just washed it off and kept partying.

Every time Amanda went over to the stereo I expected the volume to go down and for this dancing to end, but it always went in the opposite direction. I expected the Polizei to show up at any time, but they didn’t come. Then finally Amanda’s landlord walks through the door and I figure it’s time to wrap it up. But he just walks over, grabs himself a beer, and dances with us for about twenty minutes before saying goodbye and leaving us to continue the ridiculously loud escapade.

We continued dancing around like morons for a long time until finally the music stopped and Amanda at the stereo didn’t seem like she was putting anything else on. That felt like the right time to leave, so I stumbled around the apartment speaking German for some reason. “Jetzt soll ich gehen. Wo ist meine Jacke? Ich bin betrunken.” Lena was the only one still standing and she helped me find my jacket and said “Guten nacht” to me.

The walk home was much more fun than the walk there, as I stumbled along the sidewalk listening to Moby’s Hotel on my I-pod and passing by all the other people outside of bars that were just closing and who were also stumbling along, just as drunk as I was. I got home and somehow didn’t pass out for another hour as I kept myself up in order to eat something and drink massive quantities of water.

And today I feel much less horrible than I imagined I would. I’m definitely feeling the effects but there’s no headache or sick stomach or anything. I knew I’d have to pay for it but if this is the price I sure as hell got my money’s worth. So that was easily the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been back in Germany, if it wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in Germany period. Looking back at my own actions last night I definitely feel a twinge of embarrassment because I was so damn foolish, but the whole point is that everybody else was too. There’s something deeply satisfying about that kind of bonding experience, where you all just fuck your brain up and act as stupid as you can while throwing judgment completely out the window. It really brings you down to earth somehow, perhaps by reminding you that underneath all that intellect, you’re really just a dumb animal after all.

Emotion Control

November 28th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

I’ve been in pretty good spirits throughout the whole week, which was about as routine as it can get with my job. I had some substitutions on Tuesday so I had to get up at 6:30 which sucked, but they were intermediate to advanced level classes that I’ve had before so it was fun.

Yesterday I had my third lesson with the apprentices in Helmstedt, and that was probably the most fun lesson I’ve had so far. This time, Tereza did manage to dig a little deeper into my heart’s eye (why can’t that be a real expression?), as she looked better than I’ve ever seen her. She was wearing a touch of makeup, and a splendid little outfit with a red top and black pants that made her slightly-larger-than-my-taste ass only look curvaceous and sexy. I’d like to think she was trying to look her best for me, but I know better. Still, I do seem to get a vibe that she might be a little bit attracted to me, at least in a slight school-girl crush-on-her-teacher sort of way, but I don’t trust my ability to read vibes at all—at least not positive ones.

At any rate, I thought about her a lot more after this last lesson than I did after the previous one, and as it stands I feel like there is a faint glimmer of a possibility that this will turn from mild, casual attraction to full-blown infatuation on my part. This raises many questions, the first of which is to exactly what degree do I have control over this? Is it completely out of my hands, or am I in complete control? The obvious answer is that the more I think about it, the more it will develop, so if I just don’t think about it nothing will develop. But then you get to the far more difficult philosophical problem of how much control we actually have over our thoughts. The thoughts just pop into the brain like they’ve got a mind of their own, but I guess there’s some degree of control as to whether I dwell on them or move on to something else. And I certainly have control over how much time I spend writing about it. Once it becomes a continuing story-line in the journal, we’re half-way there already. I’ve turned it into a thing where there might not have been a thing otherwise.

Now having answered that question, I have to turn to the even more important one: do I want to become infatuated with her? Half of me says yes. I like being infatuated with someone. It gives me something seemingly meaningful to think about. It gives me something to feel things about, although most of the feelings are usually negative. Which is why the other half of me says no, that I’ve gone the route of hopeless unrequited infatuation eighteen million times already and fuck me if I let myself do it again. I’ve gone for the past year or so without any of that shit and I’ve been just fine. Nothing stops me from enjoying myself, unlike when I’m in love and I can’t enjoy myself unless things are going well on that front. I hate having my emotional balance completely dependent on somebody else. That sucks.

Finally, we come to the question of whether an infatuation really would lead to the same old bullshit, or whether there is actually a chance this time of achieving the R-word. As far as those chances go, it seems more possible than in previous instances but still quite a long-shot. At least she’s not extremely beautiful by any “objective” standards. She’s got a cute face but I can totally see other people thinking her ugly, and she’s definitely not going to make tons of money by modelling with that extremely average body of hers. So it’s not like she’s way high above me in the physical looks department.

Then of course there’s the fact that she seems to be a little attracted to me, which is even more encouraging because a reciprocal attraction in my life is about as rare as a total eclipse at the north pole—it just doesn’t happen. But then there’s the fact that she lives in some kind-of-far-away town which makes for logistical problems but that’s not an insurmountable issue. And finally, she’s my student so if anything were to happen between us it would just make things weird in class. As if that were a huge deal or anything. But it’s not like it would be if I was a public school-teacher. There’s nothing illegal about it and I’m a freelance worker so it’s not like I could be fired for it or anything. I would not be the first English teacher to get romantically involved with a foreign student. Not even close.

So basically I’m neither here nor there yet with regards to this might-be-infatuation. For all I know I’ll completely forget about it and never mention her in this journal again. I just wanted to get my thoughts down about it because if something happens I have a record of how I felt at the very beginning of all this, and if nothing happens I can refer back to it in future instances where I feel like I might be developing feelings for someone and see that it’s all just a bunch of mind-games I play with myself. And as negative a connotation as that has, I enjoy these mind-games so if I don’t like it, fuck me.

Moving on. Last night I was invited out to another bar for another quiz night with Alan and Amanda and a couple of her friends. I had to get up early this morning so I only had one beer during the hour and a half I spent there, but I had a really good time. One of Amanda’s friends was an American from Georgia, though he worked in New Jersey for awhile as a D.J. for an independent radio station out of Jersey City and he’d actually heard of The College of New Jersey. He is an electronic musician who has been travelling around Europe for awhile now but apparently he met a woman in Hannover—this woman he was there with—and wants to stay so now he’s thinking about becoming an English teacher for Planeo. He seemed like a really cool guy. He might have been from Georgia but there was no trace of an accent, and he expressed optimism over the Obama victory, talked about articles he’d read on the Huffington Post, and made some very funny jabs at Sarah Palin. A guy I could totally relate to. It felt a little weird that I was the only person in the group under 30, but that also felt good in a way. Fuck people my age. Older people are generally more fun to be around, provided they’re the right kind of people, and these are definitely the right kind for me.

The American and his girlfriend left after round two, and after the final round the three of us who remained went out for a cigarette. Amanda is having an apartment-warming party on Saturday which we’d been talking about earlier, and I’m really looking forward to it.

As for today, it was just another regular old Friday going to Helmstedt and doing the beginner classes, although for the first time in three weeks more than one student showed up to the second lesson. On the way to the train station I did pass a noteworthy person—a big fat bearded guy who looked like a homeless Santa Claus, waddling about and loudly talking gibberish to himself and laughing. That made me smile. It almost put me in the holiday spirit.

Early Winter

November 24th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

So I was either misinformed or misunderstood when I heard that it never snows in Hannover. On Friday night, during my drinking session I stepped out for my one cigarette and was shocked to see everything completely covered in snow. I hadn’t noticed it falling but it fell, and it was unbelievably beautiful. On Saturday morning I had a lesson with Mr. Dörge from 11 to 12:30 and I planned to take a walk through the park that afternoon. I asked Mr. Dörge about the snowfall and he said that it’s not uncommon, it’s just not very beautiful in Hannover because it melts very quickly and turns to slush, so it’s just wet and annoying. But he said that between December and February it probably snows about 10 times.

I have a hard time believing him. It’s only November—not even technically winter yet, and it’s already snowed twice. Bus as he said, it melts very quickly so I didn’t go for that walk on Saturday. By the time our lesson ended, all of the snow had melted off the tree branches, which is the most beautiful part of a fresh snowfall so I figured a walk through the park wasn’t worth it, especially because it was also hideously cold and windy.

But I woke up this morning to a nice pleasant surprise that it had snowed again, and since I had nothing else to do I decided to get out and go for a walk as soon as possible, which ended up being about 10:30. I put together a whole playlist on my I-pod with ambient Moby tracks and headed up towards the Georgengarten, with it’s 3 or 4 kilometres of trees all in a straight line, all covered in snow. The last time I was there all the leaves had just about fallen, and now they were all gone and so it felt like autumn is officially over and we’re in the winter season now.

For the first time since I’ve been here I wished I had a camera, but finding a picture on the internet was not so hard although I couldn’t find one where the trees were covered in snow. But I walked the whole length of the alley listening to “Hymn”, “Into the Blue”, and “God Moving Over The Face of the Waters”. It was fantastic. On top of that, apparently not a lot of people go there on a Monday morning in November, so it was the most sparse I’ve ever seen.

When I got to the end, rather than turn around and walk back through the park part of the garden (with the paths and the pond and little bridges) I decided to go back into the Großer Garten for the first time since that one day many weeks ago when I had to pay to get in. They’ve dug up the plants and shut down the fountains now, so the gates are open and nobody is manning the entrance. I just walked right in and walked around.

Just a few moments after I got there, my I-pod ran out of battery power in the middle of “Alone” which only pissed me off for about a quarter of a second because the sound of near silence is nice too, and I walked around for the rest of the time with that nice beat and melody in my head, which was perfect for the atmosphere of the place anyway. It couldn’t have been more different than the time I went there last in early Fall. Other than a few workers trimming hedges here and there, I was the only person in the whole place. It was like a ghost-town, with flowerless gardens, leafless trees and hedges, and everything covered in a nice thin layer of snow.

After taking enough of that in, I headed out, just as the sun began to bleed through the overcast sky and I knew the snow on the tree-branches would not last very much longer. I walked back through the Georgengarten, admiring the pond and the snow-covered fields, and when I reached the end and cut back into the alley, the layer of snow on the trees was noticeably thinner. I had gone just in time.

So that was a great way to start the day.

Changing Weather

November 21st, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

On Wednesday night I commemorated the ten-year anniversary by reading old stuff I wrote from that period about Aimee, specifically my childhood-through-beginning-of-high-school memoirs and the first part of my first journal in which I had just got back from my second stint at the mental institution and wrote excessively about Aimee with whom I shared a biology class at that point and who was very much in the habit of completely ignoring me. I’ve reread that journal many times, but I think each time I’m more surprised by just how crazy I was back then. I was a complete solipsist at that point, believing I was the only conscious person and everyone else was in on some vast, cosmic conspiracy against me. I thought life was a puzzle I was supposed to try and figure out. That Aimee was my soul-mate on another dimension where we are always together and it was only in this illusory lifetime that we’re apart.

My mind has certainly changed a lot in some respects. Not so much in others.

Anyway, back to the present. Yesterday I had my second class with the apprentices from E.ON at Helmstedt. This time there were 9 people in the class as opposed to 4, so it was a very different atmosphere, and the most actual teacher-in-front-of-class-like dynamic I’ve ever had, compounded by the fact that they were all between 20 and 22 years old, so it was almost like a weird kind of flash-forward to my hoped-for-future of being a college professor.

Tereza was there and looking just as cute as last week, but there were two other very attractive girls there as well, so although their faces were a lot more plain, she didn’t really stick out as someone I’m going to pay a lot of emotional attention to. She did come up to me after the first half of class and told me she was really enjoying it (we’d been playing some fun games up to that point) which felt really nice, but I still don’t think my feelings for her will ever grow beyond the point of very minor, barely mentionable infatuation. I guess I’m glad about that, although the part of me that still craves hard-core emotional drama is disappointed.

Today was kind of annoying, as it’s the only day I have to wake up early so I’m not used to it and getting out of bed at 7:20 was a chore. I had to catch an 8:30 train to be on time for my 10:00 class, but the super-efficient German rail system was not too efficient this morning and my train was 20 minutes late, thus causing me to miss my 9:15 train at the layover in Braunschweig. So I had to wait until 10:10 to catch the next train to Helmstedt (which I could have got on in Hannover at 9:30 thus sleeping an extra hour) which meant I had to cancel the 10:00 class. So although the same amount of free time was eaten up, I didn’t get paid for the first hour. And in the 11:00 class, for the third week in a row only Siegfried showed up, and since neither he nor I wants to do a 2-hour one-on-one beginner-English lesson (that’s seriously a nightmarish prospect), we only met for 1 hour again. So I spent a good 3 1/2 travelling today to do one 1-hour lesson.

But I did get one consolation prize that almost made the entire thing worth it: it was snowing in Helmstedt as I walked back to the train station. It doesn’t snow in Hannover, and indeed no snow had fallen when I got back in town, but apparently just 50 km away it snows, and I was able to see the first snowfall of the year. If I hadn’t gone home from Santa Barbara last Christmas it would have been the first time I’d seen snow in over two years, but this was definitely the first “first snowfall” I’ve seen in that long, and it was fucking beautiful. So I couldn’t be too pissed off about the major “waste of time”.

Reflections from Ten Years Down the Road

November 19th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

I never thought I’d live to see this day. I was sure I would kill myself long before I got to this point, but I’m still here, still living, still breathing, still capable of looking back on that night, and most importantly still looking back on it as the most significant night of my life. That was the true crossroads. That night left two paths open to me, and the one I followed would determine the pattern I would follow, the course I would be on for the rest of my life.

On the night itself, it seemed as though I had finally found what I was looking for—that very soon I would have a girlfriend, an experience of a relationship to serve as a foundation for all future relationships—a rock upon which I would be able to build more and more experience until finally finding the right person and living the life I’d always imagined—a life with a loving wife, happy and successful.

Little did I know that ten years later I would still not have a girlfriend—that in all that time I would never even have anything close to resembling a real relationship. The path I took after that fateful night—the night on which I met Aimee during the high school’s spirit-fest preparations—would eventually lead me here: thousands of miles from everyone, and completely alone.

It couldn’t be more appropriate that the dream I had last night took me once again back to high school. It was the right place but the wrong year. I was in Mrs. Harrod’s creative writing class, doing a writing prompt in which I poured out my emotions regarding unrequited love as I did so many times back in those days. I was supposed to have written a story from my life, but instead I had just written whatever I was thinking at the time, like I do in my journals. I couldn’t read it in front of the class, so I had to wrack my brain to think of a good story from my life to share with everyone, which was incredibly difficult and I kept trying to get myself out of the task somehow, even asking if I could make it fiction, but I couldn’t.

Part of me feels it’s pointless to even recognise the date. What’s an anniversary anyway? I don’t celebrate my birthday because it seems silly to throw a party just because the earth is in the same relative position in its orbit around the sun as it was when I was born. So the earth is now in the same position as it was when I met Aimee. It’s circled the sun 10 times now since that happened. And what’s the significance of the number 10 anyway? The fact that we have a base-10 number system is purely arbitrary. If we had twelve fingers, then 12 would be the significant number.

But 10 years is significant because human perception makes it so. We divide the century into chunks of 10—we think of recent history in terms of decades. The 90s were better than the 80s. The 00s were a lot worse than the 90s. And more importantly, we divide our lives into these chunks of ten as well. She’s in her teens. I’m in my 20s. He’s in his 30s, and such. When it comes to time, to marking milestones, 10 is significant. The 10-year anniversary is always a big one, and this is my 10-year anniversary.

Only rather than celebrating 10 years of a relationship, I’m commemorating 10 years of a non-relationship. And not just with Aimee—she was just the beginning. In the 10 years since I met her, I’ve never had a relationship with anyone. What these last ten years represent is the slow death of hope. Even in my darkest most depressing times, a part of me still thought, “there’s no way I won’t find anyone in the next ten years”. I figured that I would at least find someone in college. But that didn’t happen. Even during my year in Germany, when I thought being an American would make me interesting to girls, that turned out to be completely false (and my current experience only reconfirms that). Then I thought maybe I had a chance in California. Maybe Jersey girls and Germans just weren’t the type for me. But California girls were even more out of reach than anyone.

And it’s not just being unattractive, or fearing rejection—it’s the playing and replaying of the same basic pattern that first clearly manifested itself with Aimee. Boy is attracted to unattainable girl. Boy meets girl who seems within reach and redirects his feelings to her. Boy gets rejected by girl. Girl becomes new unattainable object of boy’s affection. It’s that scenario that’s played itself out in one way or another since Aimee. First with Lauren, then with Jessi, and then to a lesser extent with a bunch of random names that have appeared and disappeared from this journal time and time again. Marie-Lena. Jessica. Stefani. Faith. Elle. Probably some others.

It was the template that was firmly established with Aimee, and it began 10 years ago tonight. I went to spirit-fest preparations because I wanted to get closer to a girl named Liz. Instead I met Aimee, we hit it off unbelievably well, and I went home that night feeling incredibly high, like I’d found something that at long last made my life complete. In the following weeks, a series of events took place that turned all of that hope to despair. I heard that she was interested in me through my friend Drew. She learned that I was interested in her through Drew. She started avoiding me. I wrote her a note, a poorly-thought-out, overly honest slice of my over-emotional mind, and in reading it she decided not to go out with me. I went the route of friendship instead, hoping I could make her less nervous about me and then she’d be willing to give me a chance. In the middle of December I asked her to a dance “if she wasn’t going with someone else.” She said “sure” which I mistook for a solid “yes” rather than a conditional, as she declined to mention that she had been asked by someone else. I told other people I was going with her. She got angry at me for my presumption. I was told by her friends to forget about it—to not even mention it to her ever again. But I did, trying to clear things up about the misunderstanding. She was clearly bothered by it and had no desire to talk to me, and it was that conversation that should have indicated to me that all of my chances had already passed. Still, I continued to try to be friends with her throughout the year, deliberately not noticing how much she didn’t want to talk to me and how much she was struggling to be nice to me. As she started to ignore me more and more overtly, I had to drag the information out of my friend Lars, who really really didn’t want to tell me this, that Aimee said she hated me. It all culminated on February 11, at the Valentine’s day dance, when I felt overwhelmingly compelled to ask her to dance despite knowing full well that she didn’t want to—I just had to see for myself—to gauge just how much she really hated me. And she turned me down. With a sweet smile and a “no, sorry” she ripped my heart apart so viciously that I’ve never been able to put it back together.

Ten years later and I still haven’t been able to let it go. At least I’ve stopped counting the days. In the years that followed, I would always know exactly how many days had passed since 11/19/98. I did the calculation today: 3,653. I would also calculate for what percentage of my life I’d known her. Then it was less than 10%. Today it’s about 40. It feels more like 90. My life before 14-years-old seems to be a completely different life altogether.

So in all that time, all the time of my life that really counts, I’ve never let myself have a relationship. I’ve never pursued anyone that I didn’t think there was at least some chance I’d be able to feel as strongly about as I did about Aimee. But as I’ve come to slowly realise, I’ll never feel that strongly again. I came close with Lauren. And I may even have met her match with Jessi—fuck knows my love for her was just as deep as it had been for Aimee, perhaps deeper—but I was older and less vulnerable at that point. A rejection by Jessi, devastating though it would have been, would not have hurt me nearly as deeply as that final rejection by Aimee. That rejection was the night of my first suicide attempt, as I went to sleep with a plastic bag over my head, and woke up in deep disappointment that it had migrated to the floor during the night, and I now had to face life in a world in which I could be completely certain that the one thing I wanted more than anything—more than anything I had ever wanted or that I would ever want in the future—was something I would never, could never have.

So this is the path I’ve taken. I’ve remained true to that ideal since it first formed—the striving for the unattainable. And it has brought me a lot of misery. A lot of loneliness, pain and regret. I wake up some mornings assaulted with memories and find myself reliving that period of time over and over. The mark Aimee left on my soul, if there is such a thing as a soul, is deeper than any that anyone has ever made, save maybe my biological father for abandoning me, which is arguably even more the origin of all of this than Aimee was.

But there is a positive way of looking at all of this as well. The day today is about reflection. A melancholy reflection no doubt, but without forgetting that I am who I am today because of all that, and I don’t necessarily hate who I am. Had I gone the route of normal, relationship-having, steady and stable teenage-life I might have found myself a normal, relationship-having, steady and stable boring twenty-something working some stupid job (probably making more money though), going to church on Sundays and listening to terrible music.

The day after my failed suicide attempt was the day I read Illusions, the day I first opened my mind to metaphysical possibilities other than the biblical. It was the first step on a journey to questioning every conviction I’d ever held, that transformed me from a conservative, straight-edge, loud and unapologetic asshole to a quiet and reflective, drug-experimenting, mind-expansion seeking, radical liberal full of compassion for humanity. Had I got the relationship I wanted with Aimee, I would never have been struck so deeply by The Wall, I would never have truly understood Dark Side of the Moon, or appreciated Wish You Were Here, Animals, Meddle, or the rest. If I was presented with the option of going back in time ten years, and either getting it right with Aimee and never discovering Pink Floyd, or doing it all over again exactly the way it had already gone, I would have a very difficult time deciding. During darker times I would lean towards the first option, during more optimistic times I would lean towards the latter.

Which brings me back to the dream I had today. After struggling so hard to think of a story from my life, something really good to share with the class, literally scanning my journal entries in my mind in search of a story worth telling, I remembered that I had travelled the world. I’d been in London. I had seen Pink Floyd at their reunion performance!

With that revelation I immediately woke up, the significance of having that dream, and of waking up on that very thought not lost on me at all. How can I seriously look back on the Aimee thing with nothing but regret when I know that had the situation gone differently, had things worked out the way I so desperately wanted them to, I would never have been in London for that show. I would probably not even have paid any attention. But because things happened the way they happened, because instead of chasing girls I spent my developing years expanding my mind and deeply appreciating other kinds of beauty—mostly that of music—I developed a different desire. My desire to see Pink Floyd live became just as deep as my desire for a loving relationship.

Ten years later, and one of those desires has been realised. As for the other, it was probably worth the trade.

Younger Students

November 15th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Although I’m afraid writing it here will jinx it, I didn’t get sick. I felt shitty on Thursday but I went to sleep early and despite still not getting enough sleep on Friday morning—having woken up an hour and a half early—after doing some light drinking last night I feel better today. I swear there’s something medicinal about German wheat beer.

Anyway, the only thing interesting about the last couple of days was my lesson Thursday afternoon. This is a group of young guys and girls who have graduated Gymnasium (high school) and are working for E.ON as apprentices to learn the ins and outs of the energy industry before continuing their education. Apparently, there should normally be about 11 students, but on Thursday there were only 4, three girls and one guy, all of them 20 years old. Their English-speaking ability was about as intermediate as it gets. Thank god they weren’t complete beginners—I fucking hate teaching complete beginners but it seems most of my students are at that level—but they weren’t super-advanced either. Some were a little bit better than others but there were no huge gaping differences, which Frank warned me about before I started the course. Maybe there will be more differences when all 11 of the students are there.

Of the three girls, one was unattractive, another was attractive in the traditional sense but had “you’re not my type” written all over her, and another, my “contact person” for the group, a girl named Tereza, had a terribly cute face but just a decent body. Decent enough anyway. One ass-size smaller and I’d be smitten. She seemed to have a great personality too. But of course she lives in some far-away town so the odds of any of my fantasies about her coming to pass are, well, about the same as any of my other girl-related fantasies coming to pass: 0%. But she might get mentioned frequently in this journal.

Other than that, there’s really not much to say about anything. I’m glad it’s the weekend. I’m off tomorrow and then have just one lesson a day until Thursday, so it should be another fun week of wasting my time reading blogs and building galactic empires.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Metaphysical Experience

November 13th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

I had one of the most awesome lucid dream experiences ever this morning. There’s no need to go into details, but I’ll only mention a few of the craziest things about it. The whole thing got sparked while I was sitting at a hotel bar in Hannover and a girl I knew very briefly in college sat down beside me and we recognised each other and started talking. In real life, I never got past the casual in-class flirtation period with her, but now she was all over me, hugging me and stuff. When a few other random people from my past showed up, I knew something was up. The girl was constantly embracing me, and it felt really good, but I couldn’t help but say, “Oh fuck, this is a dream, right?” She instantly turned cold, pulled herself away from me, and said, “Why’d you have to go and say that? Couldn’t you just play along?” I recognised my own tone of voice in hers, understood that she was nothing but an external manifestation of myself, and she suddenly went stiff like a puppet whose puppeteer had just stopped pulling the strings.

It didn’t bother me that much though, and I proceeded to float around and examine things, then felt myself drawn up and away. I entered a kind of trance, chanting “Om” and taking very deep breaths, not controlling anything but constantly aware that I was dreaming. I floated about through the constantly fluctuating dreamscape, through walls and into strange places in all different colours—a room where everything was blue, a strange out-door landscape all in red tones, and so on. Finally things got so abstract that I was nowhere resembling Earth at all. I could no longer chant “Om” and all I could hear was the sound of my breathing which too eventually died away as I found myself a disembodied consciousness just drifting about through the universe.

Then I heard a voice. Maybe it was just a whisper—maybe it wasn’t a voice at all but just a thought. But I remember exactly what is was saying: “Everything is a perfect mathematic harmony. But the universe is infinite. At one point in the universe the equation fails. This irrationality is necessary. The imbalance is permanent. It is the cause of everything you know. It is thought itself.”

After my mind was sufficiently blown, I fake woke-up, back in my house in New Jersey. I didn’t feel like sticking around there much longer, and even my parents encouraged me to float away to the centre of the universe again. But this time I found myself drifting in a different kind of way. It was as though I was moving not through space but through time, and soon I found myself lying on the floor of my actual apartment here in Hannover—not the real thing but a dream-representation. I floated through the floor and down, finding myself in another apartment but more like a very nice house, floating around through the rooms as they appeared in exquisite detail, with the idea that this was where I would eventually live in the future.

Just at the edge of the house a television was on and sports scores were being broadcasted. A basketball game had just finished. Florida State 74. Florida 7. I thought this was some sort of message. If I woke up and found that this was the actual score of a real basketball game in real life, I’d know that everything I’d seen was a genuine spiritual vision. It was difficult to wake myself up but I did, then I ran downstairs to a computer to check the scores and with a little bit of difficulty I found them. Florida State 74. Florida 7. For an instant I was in awe. Then I realised I hadn’t actually woken up, and was still very much in the dream world.

I didn’t really wake up for real until my alarm pulled me out, and I instantly wished I was still in R.E.M.-land. I felt like shit and I had to go to the Ordnungsamt of all places for my appointment to get the residence permit. From the centre of the universe to the Ordnungsamt, all in the space of one earth-hour.

The Ordnungsamt venture was half-successful. I got a permit of some sort (don’t quite exactly understand whether it was a residence permit, a work-permit, or both) but it’s only good until February unless I get my employer to fill out a form which I can then bring back and get it extended. Of course, I had to pay 70 euros, which I could only do because I got money from Planeo yesterday to buy two train tickets. Now I’m seriously teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and the only way I’ll make it through the month is by eating only one meal a day and never going out. Oh well.

As for that protest yesterday, I asked Mr. Dörge about it at our lesson last night. As I had thought, school is paid for through taxes, but some parts of Germany impose a fee, and they might be thinking about imposing it in this area. So the students were protesting a bit of legislation that hadn’t even gone through yet. They don’t want to have to pay even to go to a university, which they don’t have to now. Crazy. A big protest over a non-existent law, to fight for a right they already have, a right that Americans don’t even have.

Anyway, I hope this shitty feeling doesn’t turn into a shittier feeling. It’s been awhile since I had the “sick” feeling and I was hoping everything really had been psychological and it wouldn’t be bothering me anymore. All I know is that life as a disembodied spirit in the dream-world generated by an imbalance in the universal equation is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than consciousness encased in a body in the world of objects subject to mathematically precise physical laws.

Random Demonstration

November 12th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

I just took a walk to the Planeo office to take care of a few things, and on my way back I was stopped by a big student protest marching down the street. They had a bunch of signs, none of which I completely understood, a giant stereo on wheels blasting loud music, and a wagon with a megaphone through which some girl was shouting things so muffled that I wouldn’t have been able to understand even if I spoke perfect German. I stopped to watch the spectacle, hoping to figure out what they were protesting, considering going up to one of the many attractive young girls in the march, but instead just asked a group of boys standing to the side right next to me. I didn’t understand the German and they couldn’t explain it in English, so that was a bust, but while I was talking to them someone handed me a flyer.

When the march passed I got home and translated the flyer, and I’m still confused. Apparently they’re protesting “educational fees” which could mean a lot of things. I don’t know enough about how the German educational system is financed, but I thought it was all through taxes. I’ll have to ask some Germans about it, but in any case it felt cool to live somewhere where you can be walking down the street and all of a sudden find yourself in the middle of a big protest march.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Autumn Walk

November 11th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Since I’d had the whole day off today I thought I’d be spending most of it playing Spore, but the weather was nice—cool and partly cloudy—so I went for a walk along the river and back through the Georgengarten while listening to the new Enigma album on my Ipod. It was quite pleasant. Most of the leaves have fallen now, but it’s still nice and colourful, and the crisp autumn air is such a nice atmosphere that the people in southern California are missing out on. There were a lot less people there than before, either because winter is approaching, it’s a weekday instead of a weekend when I usually go, or both. There were more than a few joggers though, which bothered me because I haven’t gone in over a month under the excuse that it was getting too cold now and I’ll just start again in spring. But I do miss jogging and feeling in shape. On the other hand, I haven’t felt “sick” since I stopped, so I’m thinking maybe now there was some connection. Maybe I have some weird condition whereby jogging releases nasty chemicals into my system and I feel sick. Probably not. Anyway, I can at least feel good about taking advantage of the foliage one more time before it’s all gone.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Falling Into Place

November 11th, 2008 No comments

[Originally written in a private journal. Back-posted in 2011]

Last night I finally had my second “date” with Frau Sen. It’s didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped, but I suppose it always takes a little time for teacher and student to completely warm up to each other, and for me to figure out the optimal way of doing this. I spent most of the time having her read an article I’d found the day before about how Obama will be reversing many of Bush’s policies regarding the environment. It was a bit too long and a bit too difficult, but now I’ve got a better idea of her grasp of the language (which is very good, but still limited).

There is a standing invitation every Monday night for me to go to Quiz Night with Alan and a few other Planeo people. Yesterday Alan said Amanda wasn’t coming so if I came it would just be the two of us. I said I’d come, and after my lesson with Frau Sen I invited her to come along too. She politely declined, having been up at 6 in the morning and just ready to go to sleep. But she did give me a ride to the pub—or rather she asked her ride to give me a ride to the pub. So like all good “dates” this one ended with me being driven to a bar by her boyfriend.

Quiz Night was just as fun as last week. I really like Alan—we have a similar sense of humour and outlook on life, so we’re instant friends. Although no other Planeo people were there, a German guy named Thorsten who spoke good English and whom Alan had talked to a few times before on other Monday nights came to join our team and really helped us out with a lot of the questions. We still came in fourth place though, so we still had to pay for our drinks.

At one point I went out for a cigarette and there was just one other guy there, but my inhibitions were low enough at that point to have a nice conversation with him about the weather. I was quite presumptuous by beginning the conversation in English because apparently he was German, but he spoke well enough to bullshit about the weather and tell me a few interesting things like how ten years ago it was so cold during the winter that the tram lines froze up, and that the Maschsee completely froze over and people could walk on it and go ice-skating. But that hasn’t happened for a long time and probably won’t happen this year thanks to global warming.

Anyway, I now feel like I officially have a social life, even if it’s just one night a week. Alan said I could call him on the weekend if I wanted to get “rip-roaring” which he was surprised I haven’t done yet in the three months I’ve been in Germany. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to take him up on it. One night a week is all the socialisation I really need, and at this point all I can really afford. Plus, getting “rip-roaring” is a hell of a lot of fun while you’re doing it but you have to pay for it all the next day. Still, it’s worth it every once in awhile. I guess I’ll wait until I’m so inclined.