Life continues. i’ve had little work this month and will have almost none in August. Just got the first part of the bill from the French, for the night in hospital (half of the money i’d saved to pay my taxes & survive summer), no doubt the ambulance bill will come separately; things will get difficult then, as it should be about 4 – 6 months’ wages.
Money perplexes me. i am not too prodigal, rarely go out, rarely buy things, but every year i slide further into debt. i was doing reasonably well in spring then decided to visit my family & friends in England, so splurged on a plane ticket for June; went to France in May; nearly died; had to buy another train ticket to leave a day early; then couldn’t afford to take time off work to go to England; then i couldn’t get a refund from the airline; so between now and spring i’ve gone from feeling i might survive to autumn, to feeling i probably won’t get past August, though i suppose i’ll muddle through somehow, borrowing yet more money and sinking deeper into shame & infamy.
When i compare myself with Michael, i am responsible and sane. He came to Germany about 6 months ago, was fired from McLingua for blazing his female students, missing too many classes because he’s too disorganised and lazy, getting in fights with bouncers, and being a bestial monster from New York. He then drifted, sponging off others, without a fixed place to live or a job, spending recklessly, e.g. getting 100 € from his grandmother via Western Union and spending it immediately on booze. He got a new job at another language school and was fired in the first month, for telling his boss to fuck off.
Now he plans to go to Malta to join a friend, off whom he says he can indefinitely sponge if need be (and since he can’t hold down a job, it seems necessary). However, he lost his passport somewhere in Berlin, was too lazy to get a new one, and so is trying to get to Malta by train and ferry, to avoid passport checks. He has no money for a new passport or transport, as he spends every penny he gets on booze and drugs, immediately. It is hard to imagine a more feckless and irresponsible human being. He reminds me strongly of Richard Savage, as he emerges in Johnson’s life:
To supply him with money was a hopeless attempt, for no sooner did he see himself master of a sum sufficient to set him free from care for a day, than he became profuse and luxurious. When once he had entered a tavern, or engaged in a scheme of pleasure, he never retired till want of money obliged him to some new expedient. If he was entertained in a family nothing was any longer to be regarded there but amusements and jollity: wherever Savage entered he immediately expected that order and business should fly before him, that all should thenceforward be left to hazard, and that no dull principle of domestick management should be opposed to his inclination, or intrude upon his gaiety.
He has been ejected from i think 5 flats since coming to Munich – so about one every month or two. It always starts the same, he says it’s a really cool place and his flatmates are great, then after a few weeks he says they’re douchebags and look at him funny and complain about him, then they ask him to leave and he somehow finds a new place.
i don’t think i’m as savage as Michael and yet i owe vastly more money, to friends, family, and my bank. True, i’m 13 years older and when i began work in 2004 i didn’t owe a penny, was even in credit; but all the same, i feel a little taken aback to be even worse off than Michael. i am a reasonably good teacher, have never missed a single lesson through laziness or disorganisation, am rarely late, my students often request me again and sometimes even refuse to take a different teacher; and yet, in terms of our bank balances, i’m further in the red than Michael. i don’t even earn much more, as i have almost no work now that it’s summer.
It doesn’t seem to make any difference what i do, how i act, if i spend money or don’t. Bad things happen and i suddenly find myself stone broke and facing homelessness once more. i can take some strange consolation in the knowledge that this is not so uncommon for English teachers: i know very few who survive purely from teaching; most have a partner with a real job as it is almost impossible to survive in this profession. You have good months where you work 16 hours a day, then bad months with nothing, and at the end of the year you have less than nothing.
In a sense, my asthma is the physical expression of my total inadequacy as a human being, that i cannot breathe the same air as others. It isn’t made for me, just as the world is not my world. It’s not that i belong in some other world; there is no other world. Hence some of my students regard me as an exotic and improbable beast, an elberry forsooth. And just as Richard Savage should probably not have been born, so with myself.