Thursday, June 04, 2015

Alternate History X (Part 1)

As I mentioned I recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of my not-especially-considered choice to begin teaching English, and soon I'll be celebrating my 46th birthday. I've been looking at my life as it is, but of course one also considers the paths one didn't take in life.

With that in mind, here's a new feature called Alternate History X, in which I examine what might have been.

Now, possibilities are infinite. Any fucking thing might happen, and any fucking thing could have happened.

But I feel like I see one particular "future past" very clearly.

In Alternate History #1, I return from my backpacking expedition of 1994 exhausted, broke, and parasite-ridden, just as in real life. But instead of returning to Asia to teach English, I receive a phone call from my ex-girlfriend in New Orleans.

Alternate 1995 -- 

A tearful reconciliation ensues when I decide to visit, and I decide I want a home and a girlfriend. I use my last $1000 to get an apartment, and I find a job as a bartender at a restaurant in New Orleans. I promise her not to stray again and we move in together. I am 25, she is 20 at this time, finishing up college.

Alternate Late 90s -- 

We try to be kind of bohemian in our apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and in addition to some moderate drug use, I'm trying to write a horror novel. I start several but finish none. I finish some stories and send them to small horror magazines; but the late 80s / early 90s horror paperback craze is cooling and they find no takers, especially as the internet kills magazines. 

I don't especially like working at the restaurant, where I'm a day bartender, but the money is okay; my girlfriend finishes grad school and becomes a speech pathologist, which, as I approach age 30, makes me sort of realize with bewliderment that there are people with jobs both professional, useful, and well-paid. 

Alternate 2000 -- 

The best I can manage in terms of upgrading my life, however, is getting a job in a bookstore, which I manage in the year 2000 as I turn 30, something I always wanted to do. But of course the reality of it isn't particularly bohemian or literary, and my salary hovers slightly above minimum wage, even when I become a manager.

Alternate Early 00s -- 

I finish another novel, an autobiographical one about my college days in New Orleans, but it also doesn't find any home with traditional publishers. Discouraged, I quit writing, although I start spending a lot of time bitching about life on internet forums.

I eventually start a blog entitled, "Bookshop Guy X" but it is abandoned fairly quickly.

The girlfriend wants to get married and have a kid as she approaches age 30 in 2005, but I'm hesitant about it, feeling trapped and stifled.

Alternate 2005 -- 

Finally, Hurricane Katrina makes the choice for us. In 2005 we evacuate to Memphis during the storm. The bookstore I work at is destroyed, never to re-open, but her job at the hospital continues. We return to New Orleans but I am unemployed.

She eventually reveals she has been having an affair with a doctor she works with, and he has offered to marry her. She breaks up with me and gets married.

I am 36. 

Alternate 2006 --

I take it as a sign. I try to get a job at a bookstore in Memphis for a while, but it's clear, with Amazon, which way the wind is blowing. I do a bit of day bar-tending and hang out with my equally dissolute school friends, taking prescription pills and playing video games and watching TV. 

Then I decide to make a major life change ... and I get my CELTA.

I apply for jobs in Russia, having always been enamored of the Russian women who occasionally came into the bookstore. They hire me at a city I never heard of ... in provincial Russia ...

Alternate 2007 --

I arrive in Vodkaberg in January, just in time to meet Crazy Bob. The currency begins to tank shortly after I arrive, so I can't save any money, but I don't care. Other guys there tell me I missed the peak years, but I certainly don't feel like it.

Alternate 2009 --

I'm drunk as hell and partying like a rock star as I turn 40. They make me Director of Studies at Lingua-Fucks, since nobody else stays long. I meet the girl who is now my Girlfriend; she is horrified by this drunk-ass version of me, and we do not go out more than a few times.

Alternate 2012 --

The years pass in a drunken flash. Russians seem to intensely dislike Americans and the last remnants of the party-down mentality die out. Crazy Bob gets a job in the Middle East to support his children. I'm scornful of his choice, which sounds boring. I continue drinking a lot, peeing on the rug and blacking out frequently. A few more years roll by.

I wallow in my middle-aged party-boy existence in Vodkaberg, tolerated with a kind of affectionate contempt by the locals and my colleagues ... until the currency crashes yet again and the sanctions begin in 2014.

Alternate 2015 --

I realize (after eight years) that I'm stuck in a dead end job and completely broke at age 45. Finally fed up with it, I try to get a job in the Middle East to save some cash ... but my applications all go unanswered. 

In this terrifying alternate future present, I am stuck, broke, in Vodkaberg, Russia.


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective, X. Which scenario is better? I'm 32 and contemplating taking the path of alternate x.

Jimmy said...

Yo ETX. Does Vodkaberg have titty pics of all the sluts you bang, which will show up on my kindle paperwhite?

englishteacherx said...

no, Vodkaberg doesn't have many pictures, you can see all the pictures I have on this blog though.

Which part of the alternate history are you referring to, the settling down with the gilfriend and failing at it, or going to be an English teacher?

Jug Jugette said...

Why stop at so optimistic a point?
Having been turned down for a menial but lucrative job by every fascist petro-dictatorship on the planet, teaching ungrateful and entitled mummy's boys, Failure X (for he has changed his name), after several alcohol-sodden, vomit-coloured epiphanies and drug-induced bed wettings, decides the corporate life is for him.
En route to Burgerville, KY, where he is headed to take up a starter job patting patties with KFC, his plane, having struggled and lost a fight with turbulence, crashes and all passengers save Failure X and a solitary stewardess are killed. The impact of the crash, in addition to rendering both survivors quadriplegics, leads to a bonding between the two whose downward spiral into emotional dependency and substance abuse ultimately destroys both them and their extended families.

Anonymous said...

Haha yeah, it definitely coulda been worse. Imagine if you had knocked up some Thai bargirl at 25. I'm not sure how you would've handled it, but it would've been a shittier path than this alternative reality.

Anonymous said...

Interesting alternative history. I think that you probably would have found a job adjuncting English somewhere or fallen into something else. Since you have a fairly good amount of cash saved up, have you considered buying a condo or house in a nice tropical developing country and teaching part-time to pay for your expenses. You could probably keep a room or two open to rent out to backpackers or world travelers on Airbnb. Just some thoughts of how current X and alternate X's plans could converge.

englishteacherx said...

Yeah, you know, I will write a full post about this -- I did a lot of research, and every body thinks it's a good idea to own property to rent out, but everybody that I talked to who owned rental properties was either losing money on it or making less than 10 percent profit, aftertaxes, insurance, management fees, damage, court costs, etc. My general finding was that unless you are around to do the management yourself, or unless you own an office building or something, renting out cheap apartments or cheap houses is not much of a money maker.

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to be happy. Mr X leaves Russia and comes home to the US and takes on some interesting hobby, or distraction. People—friends, connections are important, not job or place. It shouldn't matter what has happened up to that miserable point—Do what gives you happiness; fuck the place; fuck the circumstances. People that constantly are reaching for things, positions and money forget the shit that is around them.

делай то, что хочешь твое сердце—когда-нпбудь мы обоих будут мертвы, нужно жить несмотря на место и положение)))

Anonymous said...

Good point X about owning property abroad. I had thought that if you were to live in a complex, it would be worthwhile. Maybe you just need to get yourself a small house on the coast somewhere and/or a condo in the big city. That way you can have the best of both worlds, and then only rent out spare rooms as opposed to apartments or the whole building. If I were you, I would try to get back to somewhere tropical where you can enjoy the weather, the scenery, and women looking for love with expats. After all, we all have a shelf-life, and I would prefer to enjoy my years before turning 60 abroad when you still have some appeal to different age groups, then afterwards.