Friday, August 31, 2007

I count the 29th of August as the day that I truly stopped drinking. Looking back on it, I may have actually drunk the way I used to drink for the last time on August 27th of 2005. One thing is for sure, I am now two years sober.

Drinking. And not drinking. I sometimes make these lists, these lists of the pros and cons, the pro and cons of drinking and not drinking.

The other day, I was at the grocery and there was this wonderful vodka display, all of these fabulous new flavors, or what seemed like new flavors, or maybe old flavors made new, flavors by Stoli, by Absolute, by vodka makers unknown and maybe Russian and slightly criminal.

I thought for a moment ‘I could go on a bender. I could go on a Chinese bender. I could get Mao silly. I could spend the last of my vacation sloshed. I could drink. I could drink myself into a silken slithering drunk.’

I didn’t. I won’t. At least, I don’t think I will. I will stay sober a little longer.

What do I like about not drinking? Not drinking. I like not drinking. I like waking up feeling good. I like waking up with money in my wallet. I like waking up

And, I still enjoy my drinking friends. Occasionally, this summer, I played designated driver, a somewhat new role for me. During the meteor shower night, early in August, I drove Charlie out to Spencer, out into the countryside outside of Oklahoma City. No offense, but Spencer seems to be the type of small town that would house meth-labs and serial killers. My apologies to anyone who lives there; that was just the feeling I got during my brief encounter with the town. Spencer may actually be paradise for all I know.

Aimlessly, I drove us half-heartedly looking for this Buddhist temple where we would park the car and watch said meteor shower. After driving around for ages, or what seemed like ages, we found the temple but a gate was pulled across the parking lot, barring our entrance. There was no music playing in the car, no meteor shower music.

At that point, we looked for another viewing area. There was still no music playing in the car. Nothing presented itself immediately. Charlie had fortified us with food and beverages, $25 worth of food and beverages. This he got at the 7/11 on Western in OKC on our way out of town on our excursion into the countryside of meth-labs and maniacs. He bought assorted beef jerky, a couple of big bottles of water for us both and then milk and cigarettes for himself. We never got around to drinking the water. Most of the beef jerky we ate immediately. He may have bought some variety of potato chips as well. I do not remember.

As we drove, we looked for the perfect location, the perfect meteor shower location. The time had to be about 2:30 am. We had stayed at the Hi-Lo all night. At the Hi-Lo, I drank soda water, soda water after soda water, maybe 20 soda waters altogether. Charlie drank shots with his beverages. I do not know what he was drinking with the shots at the Hi-Lo but I know it was alcoholic, maybe blue Hawaiians or Mai Thais.

As we drove, we passed a well kept country cemetery. The headstones glowed. I do not remember if there was a moon. I think there was a moon. I do not remember if it was full. I think that is was not full but I do not remember.

Charlie said we should pull in there, pull into the cemetery, that would be a great place to watch. I tried to ignore this. I kept driving. He said it again. Then he said it again. We were the only two in the car. He told me I should turn around and go back to the cemetery. We could watch the shower from there. I couldn’t ignore him. He was somewhat drunk and insistent. He wanted to watch from the cemetery. This had all of the fixings for a cheap Saturday at the cinema b-movie.

Some people really love the calm, serene, nocturnal mood of a country cemetery in the deep hours of a hot August night. I don’t. I like to leave the eternal nocturnal slumbering to their slumbers. Let them lie. Let them peacefully lie without two guys - one drunk, one not – tromping around on their heads.

Reluctantly, I pulled the car onto the gravel road of the cemetery. I stopped the car in the entrance. Charlie wanted me to go in deeper. I didn’t want to but I did. I went in deeper.

Before we got out of the car, I told him that I really did not like this. I really do not like cemeteries at night. This is nothing uncommon. Most people are probably a bit spooked by cemeteries in the night, the late late night. I am one of those spooked people.

Sure, I believe in ghosts, no doubt about it but I also believe in nutcases, crazies that hang out in places like cemeteries to hack their craziness into innocents, to carve a bit of their legend into the skin of the unknowing, the unknowing watching meteor showers, the unknowing watching meteor showers and gnawing on beef jerky, the unknowing who have forgotten that they have a couple of bottles of water with them, the couple that keeps gnawing away mindlessly on the three different varieties of beef jerky. Or is that your pal’s dismembered digit that you are gnawing on while watching the meteor shower?

As we got out of the car, I looked for limping ghouls, machete wielding crazies. I did not see any. We did not stay out that long. We walked away from the car. In the distance was a grove of trees, the trees where the crazy man slept or crazied himself into a crazy fit of machete love ready to spill some of his machete crazy love onto an innocent bystander. Since Charlie was drunk, and had recently broken a foot and a rib during two separate occasions, I figured I could run faster than him anyway if a machete crazy tried to attack.


Now, I am back in Shanghai. No machete crazy attacked me. Or did he? Am I a ghost in Shanghai? Am I wandering around as part of the walking dead, eating noodles as if I were still alive? Some people see me some people don't. Am I now a ghost?

School starts on Monday. I will be at Xiang Ming Public High School again. This I just learned recently. Most of the summer, I spent not knowing if I would be back there again. There are not as many students this semester so I have fewer classes. My company has arranged for me to teach at another school on Thursday afternoons and Fridays. This, I thought, was because I have been deemed part-time at Xiang Ming.

Today, I learned that I am considered full-time at Xiang Ming, still. The person who I really like at the office of my company told me this. On Thursday afternoons, I am scheduled to have a class at Xiang Ming but that is one of the days that I am to teach at the other school. I told said office manager that I could ask my contact at Xiang Ming if class on Thursday could be switched. This is when I was told that the school still looks upon me as fulltime. The school was told by the president of the company that places me that we would work around their schedule. Thus, I realized that the company is getting my salary from the school and then getting a little extra from this other school which they were not going to volunteer to tell me. I should probably be pissed but I am not. I know that if the new school does not work out I can just tell the company that I can only teach at Xiang Ming.

Now, I should mention that the new school is an international school (uh oh!) and along with high school students, I will be teaching mid-high students (uh oh! Uh oh!) Headlock anyone?! Usually meltdowns come in threes.