- Books by ETX
- Teaching English Abroad
- Interviews with Real TEFL Teachers
- On Being Masculine and "Alpha"
- Message Bored
- Posts about Russia
- Return to Vodkaberg
- Russian Girls Attempt to Defend Themselves
- Books on Drinking, Fucking, and Traveling: A Historical Perspective
- Travel and Other Destinations
- Degenerate Tales
- Interview with ETX
Saturday, September 13, 2014
(I probably could have hired a dominatrix to give me the same experience more enjoyably; perhaps that's a project for another time.)
So anyway, I just finished what will probably be the swansong of my survival courses -- a seven-day survival hike in the mountains and canyons of Utah. (For once I will link to the company.) It was more of a hippie "primitive living" style thing, not the paramilitary themed stuff I did previously.
|I walked across this entire canyon. Seriously.|
We hiked more than ten miles a day (on average) through spectacular scenery -- pine forests, sage brush fields, mountains and canyons -- and ate nothing but berries and plants for the first 30 hours. We drank river water, though we did treat it with Aqua Mira drops. We slept under improvised shelters made from rain ponchos and wool blankets and paracord, and started our own fires with bow drills.
It was an amazing experience -- albeit an expensive one -- and anybody who thinks that hippies are unathletic or helpless needs to check out these people -- they run up and down the mountains in sandals with the agility and stamina of billy goats.
And our highly competent, tireless, and self-sufficient "alpha" head instructor?
A 31 year old female.
ME! Positive and enthusiastic!
What do you think about THAT?
Monday, September 08, 2014
High salaries and less debauchery aside, the English teachers are still pretty off-kilter there ... and here's an example of how the schools still fuck the teachers over any chance they get.
* * *
Some guys just can’t catch a break.
English Teacher R was one of the younger guys there, in his early 30s; sensibly he was working towards ridding himself of the massive student loan debt that he and so many of his generation had amassed.
He was certainly no better or worse a teacher than any of us.
There were a few smaller things; once he let his students out of class to go to the computer lab; some management higher-ups were visiting the institute that day and stopped the students, asking where their teacher was. R was still in the classroom, shutting down the computer and organizing his things, and a group of angry management people descended, asking why his students were in the hallway unaccompanied.
Thinking fast, the only excuse that R was able to come up with in a hurry was that he had to fart so had stayed behind to do so.
“Christ, couldn’t you have told them you forgot your pencil or something?” I asked.
“It was just the first thing I thought of,” he said miserably.
He always just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. Once he didn’t check his email and missed a class he was supposed to cover; another time he missed a test proctoring session he was supposed to do.
They set him to work being the monitor in the computer lab, keeping track of people who entered and making sure no one brought in food.
It was generally thought to be the assignment that you got before you were fired suddenly. That’s where they’d put the last couple of guys they’d fired.
Bored there, he made a series of photoshop pictures of various teachers’ faces on the bodies of different characters from LORD OF THE RINGS. Naturally the rotund South African teacher whose face had been grafted on the dwarf Gimli's body didn’t find the joke particularly amusing, and told him to erase those before he filed a complaint with the management about them.
“I thought it was funny! It was supposed to be a joke to raise staff morale,” he said. “I asked him if he minded if I used his picture!”
“You gotta feel out the atmosphere,” I said. “You can do shit like that at the English First in Istanbul or Barcelona or whatever, and it would be a funny joke, but you know how on-edge people are here anyway.”
He finally decided to have a sit-down with the principal of the unit, and asked the guy if the school was unhappy with him, and if they intended to get rid of him. If so, he assured them he would offer them his resignation with no hard feelings and begin making plans to leave.
They assured him that there was no problem. That in fact, being monitor of the computer lab was an important job.
He went on his second leave, two weeks in Italy with his Filipina girlfriend.
On the day he got back, there was a message from his contractor saying his contract was being cancelled due to problems with his background check, and he should clear his desk and come to the nearby city to begin his out-processing.
He ran around the office in flustered circles, collecting the various odds and end from his 8 months he’d been there. “Motherfuckers motherfuckers motherfuckers,” he muttered.
“They can’t do this to you,” I assured him. “I’m with you. I’m gonna leave, too!”
“Ha fucking ha. At least you get your end of contract bonus.”
“Well, I got a promise that I’ll get my end of contract bonus, so far, not the actual bonus.”
“Any advice on finding a job in Russia?” he asked.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
This is Part Two of a story from my next memoir, REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND, about a weekend I spent in Miami with a Russian stripper of my acquaintance who I originally met in Vodkaberg.
Read PART ONE here
(This happened in June of 2013, before I began my second job in the Kingdom.)
I told her more about my life as an itinerant English teacher and I could tell she was charmed.
"You're more interesting than most Americans," she said.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Where has X been?
I immediately took off for Vietnam with Crazy Bob. (We drank enormous amounts of Tiger beer, I got the flu, and he had sex with a 180 pound British girl who squirted.)
|Girlfriend in Malta last May|
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A lot of people lately are busy breaking their arms to pat themselves on the back for "detoxing from social media."
Delete your Facebook account! Pare your twitter feed down to like, three people! Turn off your telephone for six hours a day!
Yeah, well, I've got news for you: I LIVED FOR 28 YEARS WITHOUT THE INTERNET, 32 YEARS WITHOUT A MOBILE PHONE, AND 38 YEARS WITHOUT FACEBOOK!
And did that make me some kind of fucking awesome productive god?
Me and EVERY OTHER FUCKING HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET?
No, not particularly.
You can waste your time any number of ways; the internet and websites are just extremely effective tools for wasting time.
A ROSE BY ANOTHER NAME
I remember back in the day, back when I was in college on a strict 90's KILL YOUR TV phase, when I was bored, I'd walk down to the bookshop or the library and just kind of mill around looking at random books and magazines for a few hours, reading an article here and a paragraph there.
What was that, if not primitive websurfing?
I didn't have a TV. But I saw all kinds of fucking stupid movies that I wouldn't bother with these days.
And, let's see, I wrote letters -- much in the same spirit of the blog entries I make now -- and sent them to one or two people, who also wrote me letters. Occasionally we included cartoons and pictures.
Primitive blogging and emailing and social networking. And I'd say that managed to take up even MORE time than I spend blogging, to less effect.
Were those somehow purer and more genuine forms of communication? Well, hell. Probably not.
I irritated everyone by refusing to answer my phone except during a period in the evening -- of course, that was a way to get away from telemarketers and automated messages as well of course as a way to be fucking cool.
As going on some kind of idiotic "media diet" of avoiding the news and whatever pop culture shit -- you'll be happily meditating in your room with no phone when the volcano eruption destroys the whole city -- that has already been evacuated -- except for you, keeping it real with your media diet and lack of telephone.
HATING ON THE HATERS
As for all the "flame war" arguing and "hating" that goes on -- yeah, that can consume a lot of your time. Tons of it.
But people do that in real life too, you know. Back in the day, how much time did I waste having dumb half-baked political arguments with people in real life? How many hours did I spent listening to people at college parties bitch in an ill-informed way about Central American Reagan era nonsense?
You'll be reading about my office mate Heinrich in the next memoir -- he was one of those guys who used to think he knew everything and was happy to argue with the other guys in the office about politics, race, religion, whatever.
In this case the internet was usually used to STOP his mouthing off. We could quickly look up facts and shut him down.
The internet is a tool, like a chainsaw -- you can use it to cut your legs off or you can build a house with it. Yes, if some activity you're doing makes you unhappy, than by all means stop it. But if like me you find the internet an incredibly useful tool for keeping in touch with people and accessing all sorts of useful and interesting and entertaining media and information, then don't be ashamed of that, either.
WASTING TIME MORE EFFICIENTLY
I can remember back in the 90s getting bored once when I was hungover; didn't feel like writing or reading or going out. What did I do?
I would occasionally lay on the bed and bounce a tennis ball repeatedly off the wall.
A bit better in terms of physical activity than playing ANGRY BIRDS I guess, but equally pointless.
Once, I remember, I took the front cover off the box fan I had, turned it on high, and spent about thirty minutes throwing pencils at the front of it and watching them bounce across the room.
I put it to you -- if you're not wasting time on the internet, you'll probably just waste it some other way.
Of course, you might be better served by going out and say, taking a walk or something, rather than endlessly checking your Twitter feed or whatever, but now you can do like I do and listen to podcasts or online lectures while you walk.
Now, excuse me I'm going to get back to my free course on graphic design that I'm doing on Alison, then talk to some friends in Russia on Skype, and then watch an exploitation movie from the 70s on Youtube. G'night.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Any of these covers particularly appeal? (The elements may not be aligned and placed exactly, just looking at some general designs.)
|#1 - Barbedwire|
|#2 - Skyline|
|#3 - Dark skyline|
|#4 - Negative barbedwire|
|# 5 - Yellow skyline|
|# 6 - Beach|