Thursday, March 30, 2006

Split Shifts Suck

For five years I worked in this fucking place and I never had to do split shifts. Classes were, almost without exception, scheduled between 4:30 and 9:30pm.

Now, suddenly, since we have like 8 or 9 teachers compared to the 2 or 3 we used to have, they begin claiming that everyone has to have split shifts, that it's no longer possible to find enough students to fill the 4:30 - 9:30 hours.


This argument would be a lot more convincing if I hadn't worked here for FIVE YEARS only in the evening.

It's the typical bullshit -- when there were only three of us, and it was hard to get new teachers in Russia, they treated us well. Now that there are lots, and plenty of fresh new applicants ready to go to Russia, and even Vodkaberg here, which is shaping up to be THE NEXT FUCKING PRAGUE, they begin treating us like the scum that we are.

That's it, I'm becoming a bank robber.

Repeat after me, class: "Don't move or I'll fucking blow your brains out!"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Risks of the Business

So this girl I know comes over last night. This morning we had sex when we woke up around eleven.

Then I go into the bathroom, fragrant with the usual musk and pheremones and sweat, and there's no fucking water at all.

None. No hot, no cold.

A class was scheduled for one-thirty today -- by that time it was almost tweleve. I take the girl to the bus stop and then run down to my sports club -- a twenty-minute walk or so -- and have a shower and get in the sauna a few times. Annoyingly I forgot my towel, and had to use my t-shirt for one.

Then I go grab a couple of sushi rolls and some trail-mix at the supermarket by way of lunch, and get back here at 1:20, ten minutes before the driver is supposed to arrive to take me to the class.

I sit down to check my email, and the school calls me and tells me that the class is cancelled for the day.

Another day in the life of a professional English teacher abroad.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cultural Shit

I always manage to rub the culture of whatever country i'm in the wrong way -- in Thailand it was because i didn't smile like a moron all the time, in Korea it was vaugely related to the fact that i didn't like Korean pop music, nor karaoke.

So I thought Russia should be easy beans, because it's a country where everyone is pretty much constantly surly, drunk, selfish and rude. I should fit right in.

But there's one thing I can't get used to, and it causes problems.

See, in Russia, everytime you see a guy that you know, you're supposed to shake hands. (To a limit of twice a day, I suppose -- the first time you see a guy and the last time.) This is a gesture of respect among equals.

Now I always forget about that. It seems stupid to me, and I never think about it.

So all the drivers and workmen at our school don't like me because I never shake hands with them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Moscow Freestyle

So, have you ever looked around your language school at all the pathetic yet colorful wrecks and their horrible misadventures and thought, "Man, somebody ought to make a documentary about this place"?

Well, somebody has. A well-established maker of documentaries, in fact, a Russian living in Canada named Julia Ivanova.

Actually, it's not so much about English teaching as about a bunch of foreigners living in Moscow at the end of 2004, when terrorist attacks were happening about every week. (The Beslan school massacre, which gets my vote for most fucked-up, cowardly terrorist attack ever, happens during the film, too.)

But an English teacher is the star (as such) and this documentary well captures the life of an English teacher in Russia -- the loneliness and frustration, the seedy apartments and the washing clothes in the bathtub, the clashes with administration, police and surly locals, the drinking, bantering and wandering around at night, the bruised romanticism and idealism. . .

I had the pleasure of seeing an advance copy last night and I recommend it. The website for the film is:

It's going to be on Canadian TV in April, and I'm suggesting to Julia she edit an uncut, expanded version, with more drinking binges and arguing, and sell it on the Internet.

(And no, before any of you ask, I'm not in the film anywhere. I don't live in Moscow. A mutual acquaintance recommended my site to her, and she decided to use the line "God watches out for drunks, little children, and English teachers" as a sort of tag line for the film.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Story of Accomodation: the ten-inch chocolate-brown dildo

So English Teacher C decided to come back to Vodkaberg here, and they needed to find him a place.

There was a place that English Teacher A had rented (with the school's money) then abandoned. I hear different reasons for this; one was that the heating was bad there and the place was too cold to live in, and the other was that the landlady kicked him and his girlfriend out because they made too much drunken noise.

The school ended up keeping the apartment though, as it wasn't bad otherwise, and apparently one of the managers was using the place as a fuckpad -- a place to take random women and prostitutes to.

Strangely the manager didn't bother to clean the place out before English Teacher C moved in, so a few days after he moved in, English Teacher C found a 10-inch long chocolate-brown dildo in one of the drawers.

"What did you do with it?" I asked.

"You think I fucking touched it?" he said. "It's still in the drawer."

I suppose the manager must just have forgotten about it. Perhaps he'll think, one of these days, "Gee, I wonder whatever happened to the ten-inch chocolate brown dildo?" But he'll be too embarrassed to ask English Teacher C about it.

So there the chocolate-brown 10-inch dildo will lie.

(Not lay, lie.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Finally! Some negative press!

I've been a little disappointed with the lack of negative response to my website. Those (admittedly few) who read it mostly seem to find it funny and honest, though the adjectives "sad" and "disturbed" are also often use.

So imagine my pleasure today when I googled myself and found someone calling me disgusting and immoral!

This is a blog -- ESL in TN -- by a young woman studying ESL at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, full of all sorts of rosy-cheeked idealism about teaching and writing extensive posts about suggestopedia.

I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun watching her become disillusioned and cynical. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Hook-up By Any Other Name

Russian girls, all too often, have a very limited range of names -- Marina, Natasha, Elena, Olesya, Irina, Jhenya and Jana pretty much make up the majority of all female first names in Russia.

So of course, you go to a nightclub or whatever, and you meet some girl, you get her number, and then you end up with the same name on your phone several times.

So you can't reallly remember the long surnames in Russia, so you can add simple suffixes like "Elena 2" and "Elena 3" but that doesn't much help when you're trying to remember who they are. You can try physical features -- "Elena Blonde" doesn't help much because they're pretty much all blonde. "Marina Big Jugs" is ok, but God help you if she sees it on your phone and asks what it means.

My own personal system is to identify them by the bar or club where I met them. "Irina Degenerate Bar" or "Natasha Jungle" or whatever.

So I saw this girl I had sex with once during the summer -- a typical skinny blonde little club kid, I haven't gone out with her for a while but I saw her at a club last week and she came up and said hello and checked to make sure I had the same phone number -- and she had me down by my first name and the name of the disco she met me at.

Don't know why, but it kind of offended me. How many foreigners with my first name does she know?