Friday, June 22, 2012

Just When I Thought I Was Out . . .

The American Consulate in Moscow denied my girlfriend a student visa, on the grounds that she didn't have enough strong ties in Russia to ensure that she would return. They asked her twice if she had any children.

Pretty funny, because I personally know two girls who abandoned their children to go to America to work as strippers, after getting student visas for classes they never went to.

I wonder if anybody in the American embassy ever examined statistics about what percentage of single mothers abandon their children to stay in America.

And what's more my SERE class was cancelled, as not enough students pre-registered.

However, spending a few days with my father, who is suffering from Parkinson's and dementia, has sort of made me reconsider my interest in survival; it now seems a lot better to die of starvation in the woods or to get killed by terrorists than to die of old age.

So the world awaits me again.

But god, doesn't travel seem like something that only the douchiest, dorkiest, and most hopeless do, these days? The middle-aged frumpy EAT PRAY LOVE women, the humorless, douchey sex tourists, the slavering conspiracy theory escapists . . .

And I was really looking forward to a year without airports.

But anyway. Gotta play the hand you're dealt. Some choose, others are chosen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

American Badass

The trip was hellish, as always -- 24 hours total: 18 hours on planes, 6 hours in airports. And an hour long car ride to / from the airport on each side.

Of course I missed the deadline for VODKABERG, my memoir about Russia. But despite jetlag and the usual other family / friend / administrative things involved in coming back to America, it's very close to finished; give me another couple weeks.

The Russian Girlfriend will be going to the embassy in Moscow next week to see if she can get a student visa. If she does, we'll live here until next summer. If she doesn't, I'll probably meet her for a couple more holidays, maybe go to Russia for a while, and then try to get a job in the Emirates and try to get her over there.

But as for America -- I have a lot of grand plans, of course. It would be premature to discuss some of them, but I thought I'd give a brief outline of the American Dream as I intend to live it over this summer:


- Obtain a concealed carry handgun permit, as part of a grander plan to exercise all of my constitutional rights.

- Obtain advanced training with said handgun. (If I can't use my real cock for random controlled destruction of targets anymore, I'll use my artifical cock -- a .40 Beretta PX4 Storm.)

- Take martial arts lessons at a strip mall.

- Learn how to change the oil / spark plugs / serpentine belt / fan belt on a car

and something I'll be starting in about 9 days:

- SERE training. That's Survival, Evasion, Resist, and Escape training -- a 5-day civilian version of the military class. It's a few hours from where I live, taught by a well-known private contractor, bounty hunter and military trainer.  (I'm not sure if it's appropriate yet to plug the school; I'll consider that.)

And here are some American issues I plan to address in blog posts in the next couple weeks:

Hookers in Small Town America

Illegal Migrant Farm Workers Vs. English Teachers Abroad


A Statistical Analysis of the Hotness Quotient of Women at the Walmart, the Target, and the TGIFridays

Stay tuned folks, English Teacher X Version 3.0, and VODKABERG, coming soon.  

Thursday, June 07, 2012

So Much Beauty In The World

"And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

-- from the film AMERICAN BEAUTY

Or, you know, maybe it's just a plastic bag blowing in the wind.

So, signed, sealed and delivered: I am officially through with this job.

I got my final documents put in and received my last pay check, plus my sizable end-of-contract bonus, after quite a bit of running around to different offices. The people in the offices were helpful for the most part, but hampered by the fact that they generally had no idea what I was talking about, as there are a tremendous number of people employed in government offices just to basically sit around.

Finally we found the one guy who knew the answers -- an accountant in a corner cubicle -- and we got our final paychecks. Then yesterday, after an hour or so of fucking around at the bank, I got all my money sent back to America.

I tweeted, twittered, whatever, about this -- my office mate, a guy who I worked with in Russia in 2002 / 2003, the guy who basically got me this job -- got forcibly retired.

He's 64 -- basically most people retire at 60 here, so they had to get contract extensions for him and a few other guys here -- and every year they seemed to get them with no comment.

But then, a few weeks ago, he got a call from the Big Government Office across the street inviting him to a retirement party.

And he was horrified to find it was his own retirement party. Well, not just his, but a group of teachers who were leaving because they hadn't extended their contracts.

That's the way the world does things east of Istanbul, in general -- getting a direct answer, or straightforward conversation about something negative, including the impending sudden loss of your job,  is pretty much impossible.

My office mate spent a lot of his time grousing about how much he hated it here, about how English teaching was beneath him in general -- but every year he adopted the "one more year" refrain that so many aging English teachers spout.

(I myself did it for several years in Russia, although my motives were a lot different.)

So that's English teaching -- leaving with proper notice and under good terms, and getting all the money you earned, is much rarer than a midnight run or losing your job unexpectedly for reasons you can't control.

It's always good to have a plan about what you'll do next, and what you'll do if you lose your job suddenly.

And if you find yourself saying "just one more year!" and then saying it again at the end of that year -- do some serious reflection on your life.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Free Whores and Alcohol

A little more than a year ago I made available my ebook TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY, a collection of stories about my first five years of teaching abroad.

Feedback has generally been positive -- here are some Amazon Reviews --

"a fun, quick read that was about travel, sex and debauchery (3 of my favorite things)" -- Carmo

"It's an amazing, breathless ride" -- Book Girl

"I was completely enthralled and immersed in it, and found myself reading the entire thing in one sitting." -- R. Kern

But I did get a few complaints that the ending was rather abrupt.

So here as a little gift to ETX readers, as a celebration of my leaving Saudi Arabia, as a celebration of my turning 43, and as a celebration of the satisfying reader response to my ebooks --

I have added a few new paragraphs to TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY, including the last chapter, which hopefully make the ending feel a little less abrupt.

In addition, I have included a sample chapter from my forthcoming novel VODKABERG, called THE SUMMER OF LOVE: RUSSIA 2002.  

And what's more? For this month . . .

IT'S FUCKING FREE ON SMASHWORDS. Seriously. Absolutely free. You can download it in any format there -- or even just read it online. GET IT HERE ON SMASHWORDS.

IT'S FUCKING 99 CENTS ON KINDLE, for the month of June, and then in July I'll put it up in the Kindle Prime thing and give it away there for free for five days, after which time you can borrow it for free if you're a member.  GET IT HERE ON AMAZON

So, if you already read it? Read it again, with a few new paragraphs. If you haven't read it, read it, and brace yourself for my magnum opus about my nine years in Russia, VODKABERG.