losing what little grasp of reality I still had, while God was quietly laughing

focus on where you want to go, not where you are

You‘ve got a plan? Really?

Good luck with that.

When I was a teenager, my only two goals in life were not to be an alcoholic like my dad and to avoid English teaching.

Like my mom.

Guess what.

Since moving back to Germany in 2001, after living here as a small child, and finding out my clarinet playing wasn’t an option anymore (the Germans play a different system of clarinet apparently), I had to find a new career.

And start drinking, of course.

When in doubt, drinking is always an option. It takes the edge off. Makes you tolerable. Made me tolerable, at least. Or so I’m told.

Until it didn’t.

About to celebrate another not drinking anniversary and to be blunt, it’s about the best decision I’ve made up until now.

Not judgmental about others and their drinking, at least I try not to be, but for me it just wasn’t working anymore. I was losing what little grasp of reality I still had.

While God looked on. Quietly.

Now? My relationship with reality? Not so good.

As my alcoholic dad used to say:

‘Oh well.’

I wasn’t going to write about this, but then I read something and it touched me.

At that point I thought, ‘Oh, jeez. Am I really going to blather on about something as dreary and boring as how I used to be?’

Apparently I am.

I drank so poorly while back in Texas, that I was banned from quite a few of my favourite drinking establishments.

After driving my 1985 diesel Daimler into the front of a cafe in the Montrose, I apparently offended some of the patrons, as well as a friend of the owner.

A few months later, that same friend happened to be drinking at Valhalla, on the campus of Rice University, and announced in a loud voice as I entered, ‘If that guy’s allowed to drink here, I’m leaving.

Notorious isn’t the right word.

Sad.

I was sad. And sad to watch, purportedly.

As my car deteriorated, while parked in the Fiesta parking lot at W. Alabama and Dunlavy, my closest friends drove by and often considered how I could be helped.

I couldn’t be.

Their help I wanted was for them to spot me a tenner, so I could get some Shiner Bock and a fifth of whiskey.

Incorrigible.

Hopeless.

Without a rudder.

Back to how I began this whole thing.

My plan?

Not to start drinking again, that’s for damned sure.

I’ve been trying for nearly twenty years to move past English teaching as a job thing.

Have worked as a translator, journalist, Texter (as the Germans call a copywriter), dog trainer, babysitter, patent law clerk, stage hand, personal coach and I even spent a few hours doing Premier League colour commentary for an online betting company.

That was a lot of fun, to be honest.

All of it while not drinking.

Now?

I get gigs for translation, and at this point the odd opportunity to write an article comes along rarely.

An editor reaches out and asks if I can write about Pegida or some such nonsense — I always try to be available for such things. They normally fall apart before they ever get out out of the negotiation stage.

Am I difficult? I don’t think I am.

Ask my wife.

Wait, don’t ask her.

Ask my dog instead. She thinks I’m great.

Or she used to, I should say.

Some unemployed people say they’re ‘between jobs’.

Instead, I’m between dogs.

It’s miserable.

So? What’re you gonna do?

Good question.

You tell me.

Maybe write a book. Who would even want to read such a thing?

Maybe go back to northern Spain to walk the Jakobsweg.

Perhaps Miriam, the progeny, our new dog, and I should just go permanently back to our place in Italy and just enjoy the good life.

Make a plan and God laughs.

Sometimes louder than other times.

Can you hear him laughing now.

Softly.

Faintly.

It’s there if you listen.

He’s got quite a sense of humour, that God.

I don’t put anything past him.

That God.