Wednesday, August 29, 2012

May I Present VODKABERG: NINE YEARS IN RUSSIA


All right, here we go. The mid-week, no-fanfare drop of the long-delayed memoir about my nine years in Russia. VODKABERG.

BUY IT HERE FOR THE AMAZON KINDLE FOR $3.99

BUY IT HERE AS A PAPERBACK AT CREATESPACE FOR $12.99

BUY IT HERE FOR ALL OTHER EBOOK FORMATS AT SMASHWORDS

Now, I should say that the Smashwords version is inferior to the Amazon version, because due to the size limits of the file, I had to leave out most of the pictures. (Trying to figure out a way to fix that.)

So I offer you this coupon if you want to buy it on Smashwords -- 50 percent off --

Promotional price: $2.00
Coupon Code: GP66M
Expires: September 29, 2012


So here it is. It's big -- more than 118,000 words, which is like more than twice as long as my other books. It's also complex, with lots of characters, and probably a lot more dark, weird, difficult, and depressing than my last memoir.

But -- you want to know what my time in Russia was like? This is it. That's the only claim I make for it.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Death and the Manchild


Yep, no shortage of Death around here lately.

In addition to two notable massacres, America has been beset with a horrific heatwave and drought, West Nile Virus, and raging wildfires. These are becoming the new normal -- get used to them all. (Another mass shooting has occurred as I write this.)

On a more personal note, friends of relatives and relatives of friends are dropping like flies, or fighting chronic illnesses of various sorts. A fried of the family was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in the space of less than six months.

All the gun and self-defense courses I've taken this summer just seem like kids playing Commando, at the base of it; we all know that dying in a blaze of glory gunfight is far less likely than a more boring death. In fact, last year, at one of the ranges I was taking lessons from, one of the instructors died of a heart attack the night before the class, at the age of 59. Here he'd spent his life training to shoot his way out of trouble when he should have been watching his cholesterol.

As I said, America seems very old and very sick. The small town I live in hosts the regional medical center; giant billboards advertise cancer treatments and "assisted living" facilities. Perfect strangers in the Walgreens strike up conversations about amputations, chemo therapy, and surgeries.

It's a good question as to what my generation is going to do now that the baby boom generation is getting old and sick. Because we certainly can't afford to take care of them and most of us lack even the most basic sense of responsibility.


BUT ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE

But on the brighter side -- funny thing happened.

My father, as I mentioned, is suffering from both Parkinson's and a head trauma that seemed to be causing serious dementia.

But, when I was with him -- I realized something. He wasn't acting like a guy who had senile dementia.

He was acting like a guy who was Fucked Up. Drunk or drugged. Slurred speech and staggering are also caused by Parkinson's, but something about his stream of consciousness speaking, glassy eyes, and giggly impulsive behavior just seemed too familiar.

I've seen people with senile dementia and Alzheimer's -- I had a few colleagues in Saudi who were more than a little senile, and I once cared for a grandmother with Alzheimer's. They have more of a blank "nobody's home" look, not the aforementioned glassy look.

My father doesn't drink, so I started examining the medicines he was taking, and sure enough, he was taking way too much of one medicine and my stepmother was occasionally giving him some of her Vicodin painkillers, unprescribed, for recurring pain from a shoulder injury.

Anyway, long story short, with proper medicine management, he is much much better. I mean, his Parkinson's isn't going to go away and he's still old, but he's much improved.

So there you go. What did I get out of all my years abroad? A very comprehensive understanding of people who are fucked up on drugs, and how to deal with them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Where the Hell is VODKABERG?

I promised a book about my 9 years in Russia in "spring or summer 2012."

I'm now at least two months behind the first deadline. The book is basically done; it's with my editor now, getting a final edit, and then it'll come back to me and get formatted for publishing -- and then it'll be up.

When will that be exactly?

Well, uh, soon!

So mea culpa. I've had a lot of shit to do. I got a sick father and a stressed-out girlfriend, in addition to all the time I spend running around in the woods playing guns.

Anyway, while you're waiting, here's an excerpt:

excerpt from VODKABERG

Russia, 2002.

(Our hero begins to discover the joys of incessant womanizing, and begins to practice "defensive dating" by dating several wanton, unfaithful women at the same time.)


The dental student often came to the Saturday parties before going to the Degenerate Bar, but we had a problem. I was too embarrassed to take her into the other room and have sex with her while the guests were there, and she couldn’t stay with me because her husband would always pick her up from the gay bar at 2:00 am.

We made out in the bathroom and she fondled my cock in the hallway. I got her in my upstairs molestation corner at the Degenerate Bar many times.

“When will you come visit me?” I asked in my halting Russian.

“Wait,” she said, smiling.

One evening, Crazy Angel called me as I was coming home from work.

“I’m coming over tonight. Get ready to have a lot of sex,” she said.

“Sounds good!” I enthused.

She arrived at about 10:30 pm and we had a couple of beers and she told me that someone had given her some sort of “Viagra for women.” She showed me the small tube and said that a friend had told her that rubbing it on her pussy lips had driven her wild.

I examined the tube; it seemed that the only active ingredient in it was menthol. I supposed that it would do nothing but create a painful and unpleasant burning sensation, but I certainly didn’t want to deter her from a night of crazy sex.
We made out a little and she got in the shower, where, as usual, she stayed for nearly 45 minutes. (The centrally provided, unlimited hot water was one of the nicer things about living in Russia, although in the summer, it can disappear for a month or two.)

I drank another beer, waiting for her expectantly. But when she got out, I saw that her mood had changed; she was mercurial and intractable, and I knew there was no point trying to change her mind. (And definitely no point trying to force her, which would lead to permanent loss of vision and ruptured testicles, if not painful death.)

“I don’t know, I’m tired now. Maybe on the weekend,” she said.

“I can get some Viagra, the real stuff, they sell it at the pharmacy. We’ll have a contest to see how long we can fuck.”

She agreed that sounded like a good idea. I had dealt with her enough to not be bothered by her behavior; we curled up in bed. Still nursing a hardon, I eventually drifted off to sleep.

Then the next morning, as she was getting ready to go to class, I got a text message from the dental student saying that she was free from work that day and could come visit me.

Inside, I chortled with glee.

The dental student arrived; it was a bright cold March day. She was removing her high-heeled leather boots and I removed her sweater and T-shirt, revealing her blue lace bra.

We kissed and she pushed me down on the bed, unzipping my fly; her eyes widened and she smiled.

She took my cock in her hand and I prematurely ejaculated for the first time in 13 years.

We spent more than an hour having oral sex and fooling around but, discouraged, I couldn’t get more than a semi-hardon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meanwhile, In The Year 2027 . . .


Today by miraculous advances in time-travel technology, I present an interview with English Teacher X 2027, the 58-year old version of myself.

I travelled through time to meet myself in the Happy Boom-Boom Bar in Angeles City in the Philipines.

I was living in a small room above the bar, but we conducted the interview in the bar rather than the small room, which only had one chair, a bed, and a sink which smelled suspiciously of urine.

The bar was full of pudgy bar girls with bad skin and teeth screeching "Hello!" and "I love you!" constantly for no discernible reason.

Me: It's a real pleasure to see you.

ETX 2027: COUGH COUGH COUGH HACK HACK HACK SPIT Why thank you there JESUS CHRIST YOU JUST CAN'T GET ANY GOOD CHEESE IN THIS COUNTRY! MISERABLE FUCKING LITTLE BROWN SAVAGES!

Me: I see you have lost several of your fingers somewhere along the line, and most of your teeth.

ETX 2027: Yes, diabetes or some shit. I don't know, I never go to the doctor. Those fucking idiot sawbones around this place, I wouldn't send my dog there, if I had a dog. I hate dogs, too.

Me: Do you work here?

ETX 2027: No, there's not really any English teaching anymore work since the Nanomolecular Instantaneous Translator app was invented for our Apple Brain Implants. I just live off my ebook income. Almost $300 a month! My latest book GONORRHEA SUNSET was a big seller. I think that we can all admit that this is the fucking epitome of being alpha dog -- do enough stupid embarrassing funny shit that you can support yourself writing books about all the stupid embarrassing funny shit you did, and telling others how to be as cool as you.

Me: Gosh. $300 a month, that can't be very comfortable, though, can it?

ETX 2027: It's fine as long as you don't eat any cheese. FUCKING CHEESE IN THIS COUNTRY IS OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE THESE GODDAM LITTLE FUCKING SAVAGES! I eat a couple plates of rice and rancid fish every day, I burned most of my taste buds away with the whiskey years ago anyway.

Me: Are you married?

ETX 2027: Hmmm . . . let me think . . . no, I don't think I am, at the moment. Number five just ran out on me. She took off with my life savings. Almost $800! Good riddance, miserable little cannibal savages!

Me: Cannibals?

ETX 2027: Sure. She ate me nightly HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH HACK HACK HACK SPIT

Me: Any children?

ETX 2027: Next question.

Me: Do you still travel a lot?

ETX 2027: Sure! It broadens the mind!

Me: Any advice for the younger version of yourself, or your readers back in 2012?

ETX 2027: Seize the fucking day youngster! HACK HACK HACK HACK HACK COUGH COUGH HACK HACK HACK COUGH COUGH

Me: Any regrets?

ETX 2027: I wish I'd fucked a few more whores and drank a few more whiskeys! HA HA HA HA HACK HACK HACK COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH Did I mention how FUCKING EXPENSIVE CHEESE IS HERE? GODDAM MOTHERFUCKING SUERMARKETS SUCK BALLS HERE!

Me: Do you think you'll ever go back to America?

ETX 2027: Jesus Christ no. I think some whore stole my passport a couple years ago, anyway, and I never got it replaced.

Me: Any last words of wisdom?

ETX 2027: Well, I'm reminded of the story of the ant and the grasshopper. I can't remember the whole idea of it, but I think the idea was that grasshoppers have better lives. Hopping around, rather than slaving all day in the ant hill! Serving the queen and all that shit. Live free or die! GET OUT AND HOP AROUND, MOTHERFUCKERS! Something like that. I don't remember. Hey, there's my latest 17-year-old piece of ass!

17-year-old Whore: HELLO! I LOVE YOU! BOOM BOOM! HELLO! 100 DOLLARS!

ETX 2027: (Leering bloatedly) That's my girl!







Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Precipice

The girlfriend and I are considering breaking up.

To recap, I met the Girlfriend shortly before I left Russia in 2009. To my surprise she remained a loyal and steadfast part of my life for the three years I was in Saudi. We had a week-long vacation every two-three months, and I visited her in Russia during the summers. She was on Skype ready to talk pretty much every single night at 9.00pm.

From the beginning I was pleased, but skeptical. She is a responsible and serious girl; I'm an English teacher. Enough said. I was honest with her from the beginning about the realities of my life as an English teacher, which puts me on par with being a migrant farm worker or a carny.

But you know how that goes, human nature being what it is. The more I told her she should find a better guy, the more she said she wanted to wait for me.

Three years, I told her. I would stay in Saudi Arabia for three years, with the intention of saving six figures.

And she hung in there.

(I should say I was faithful to her during this period; unless you want to count some pervasive "sexting" with various girls over the first year or so.)

So after Saudi, Plan A was to bring her to America to study English for a year, meet the folks, and decide if we wanted to get married.

That fell though, as mentioned. She was denied a visa by the American consulate in Russia on the grounds that she didn't have enough strong ties to Russia to ensure that she would return.

Plan B was that I would go to Russia for a few months in fall of this year, and we'd there decide if we wanted to go get married. Or, possibly, we could go to someplace like Cyprus or Malta for her to study English for three months, or maybe even go together to someplace nice Russians could go easily, like Brazil or Indonesia.

But now we're on the Precipice.

Being denied the American visa was like "a cold shower" for her, she said; it showed her that everything I'd been saying about the possibility of life with me was completely true. It would be a succession of problems with documents, sudden job changes, no fixed home, no pension or social security, and irregular hours at my work.

So she wants until the end of August to think about it.

"I waited three years, you can wait until the end of the summer," she said.

After which point, I might be single again.

I'm not TOO shattered at the thought of it; what is a life of travel and fucking random women, if not training for a life alone.

But then again, I'm 43. I don't particularly want to be one of those grey-haired fat red-faced men that prowl the whore-filled bars in Bahrain and Bangkok and Rio and so forth. Or the old English teacher living alone with some cats.

What's more frightening, life alone, or life with somebody?

I got no answer for you on that one. . .not yet, anyway.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Another Completely Arbitrary Test of My Manhood

The Long Hot American Summer continues. As I said, the SERE class – survive, escape, resist, and evade – was postponed because not enough students pre-registered. The only other class available during a free week this summer for me was called Tactical Scout, which in addition to instruction in woodland sneaking and camouflage teaches the basic of small unit maneuvering and how to lay and evade an ambush. (We used airsoft weapons for this – like plastic bb guns, but kind of extremely sophisticated full-auto ones.)

Now such pseudo-military, pseudo-violent conflict stuff is obviously pretty patently silly; if you’re really interested in such shit, you should probably just go ahead and join the military instead of futzing around with plastic bb guns. Plenty of conflicts to take part in, world-wide.

Of course, I’m much too old for that.

Nonetheless, ya gots ta do sumfin, ain’t ya? And I’d already paid for the SERE, and I’m not sure where I’ll be when the next SERE rolls around, so I went ahead and took the Scout course.

It was insanely fucking hot – 100 plus degrees every day, more than 50 percent humidity, in hundreds of acres of the absolute worst kind of miserable American South wilderness – thick underbrush full of thorn bushes and stinging nettle, poison ivy, sharp rocks and an abundance of mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers. Without so much as a camp shower in site.

Sound like fun? Okay, and then imagine crawling through that shit wearing heavy camo coats, long-sleeve shirts, and pants and boots. And being shot at with plastic BBs.
CONCEPT CHECKING

Even one of the instructors – a former military sniper -- dropped out after the first day for “personal reasons.” Several of the students, who’d been in Iraq, said the low humidity of desert heat made that kind of heat much more pleasant than sweaty Southern heat, and I’d definitely concur.

The second instructor, a guy about my age who’d been an Army Ranger for 20 years, impressed me a great deal with both his friendly, good-natured clear-eyed military bearing and his excellent communication and teaching skills; he clearly explained things, asked questions to make sure we understood, offered feedback on our physical practice, and then asked more questions about what we’d learned.

(Someone pointed out to me that military officers need good communication skills, especially concept checking, because a great number of the people they’re communicating with are not especially bright. That’s certainly a feeling I know.)

JUST PLAIN FOLKS

The students were a mixed bag – a couple of young would-be hipster mountain men; a couple of older bush hippie types; some shy ex-military farm boys; and a middle-aged female veterinarian who slept with a handgun in a chest holster.

I didn’t hear many particularly extremist, right-wing, or racist views expressed – mostly people talked about gear, like backpacks and knives and stuff, and a fair bit about deer hunting and primitive living stuff like building long bows. (However, the female vet made a rather crude anti-Obama comment at one point, which went unremarked upon and which I won't repeat.)

PREPPED

I did okay; at least I didn’t disgrace myself and I completed all the activities without collapsing from heat stroke. I’d say I learned a fair bit, too. If I’m going to be sneaking up on your command post any time soon, you best be wary.

The airsoft fighting, though, just showed me that in a case where a bunch of people are shooting at each other, usually a bunch of people get shot on both sides.

So, I’m one step closer to being ready for The End of the World. Hooray for me.

Then, leaving from my brother’s house the next day, I backed into a car parked into the street, which will cost me at the very least $500 for the insurance deductible.
Rest of my life is falling to gory pieces, too – more on that soon.

RE: Vodkaberg -- it's still cooking. All I can say is that the more time it takes me to get it finally ready, the better it will be.