Happy New Year from Berlin (2019)


It had been two weeks since I’d written anything. I felt like a dead Christmas tree. One of those discarded ones lying face up in the alleyway, dreaming of the garbageman. I felt like I was disintegrating. I can’t cope without my art. I start getting depressed. The past awakens, the future terrifies. Dangerous and self-destructive musings pour into my head. I start seeing scorpions, and hyenas, and parasites, and goatfish, and poisonous snakeweeds instead of humans. Don’t do it. Don’t stand between my art and me. It’s like standing in the middle of the Yerba Buena Tunnel as a drunken oil tanker driver comes bearing down on bald tires. I say don’t do it.


That was the cause this time. Two weeks of nasty flu, waking up with a Medieval skull crushing device on and drenched in a sea of stinking sweat. Sheets soaked, shirt sopped, bleary-eyed. I was at Erica’s parents’ house in England. And for 5 nights in a row it happened, despite her room being a veritable
meat locker. Something about the heating system. One night I saw my breath in the bathroom and my feet were blue as a pullet’s gizzard. I couldn’t pee straight
(my hand was shivering so much). I took my glass of water up the stairs, the water flying out the glass, dousing the walls, the railing, the carpets. My trembling hand
barely managing to set the glass down straight on the nightstand. I threw myself under the covers, my teeth chattering, my voice howling its agony loud enough for everyone downstairs to hear. So much for English manners. So much for Christmas.
The second one in a row I’ve been incapacitated by flu. But I made it through. And now I’m back in Berlin, feeling almost human. I drank cheap grocery store bourbon last night. And prosecco. Went on a hungover walk along the Landwehrkanal with Erica today. Read Martial (a Christmas gift), the Roman epigramist. And now writing this.
With plans for empire in 2019.

Speaking of which, I just came up with a new character for my Berlin novel. He’s a Marzahn call center employee who in a former life broke both shoulders playing loosehead prop for a bottom-of-the-barrel rugby team in Glasgow. His name: Malcolm



14 thoughts on “Happy New Year from Berlin (2019)

  1. So sorry to hear that.
    I totally understand you btw. When I don’t read or write, I feel sth is missing and I feel so lost and empty. This is my sanctuary where I feel right.
    I had prosecco too. No hangover though. The fireworks shook me up. You know how crazy these people are for NY Eve’s shooting.
    All the best M and lots of success in 2019.

  2. glad you’re feeling better and able to write again. Hope 2019 brings you better health and a lot of great things! The Marzahn character sounds interesting 🙂 I almost got sucked into working for a call center by the Berlin job center. It’s one of the first jobs offered and I had to come up with an excuse of why I couldn’t do it

    • Hi, Dorthea. Thanks for the New Year’s well wishes. Hope it brings you much of the same. As for the call center, I applaud you for getting out of it. I’ve been a busboy, a bagboy, a delivery driver, a janitor, a laudromat clerk, a dragger-of-tree-limbs-to-the-wood-chipper, a security guard, etc., etc… I’d do any of it again before sitting in a call center for 8 hours a day. NEIN DANKE! 🙂

  3. Two of the dearest in my family suffered similarly at the same time as you. One brought the misery all the way from London to South Africa. It was a suffering Xmas. Glad everyone is over it now and you found your pen again.

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