Tuesday, October 30, 2012

End-of-Summer Clearance



So, I don't know, my final impression is that it was a disappointing summer -- even the last Batman movie sucked -- although I did accomplish most of the things I wanted to.

As you may remember I had a little checklist of things I wanted to do during my American summer. Ostensibly these things were to make me feel more adult, competent, and masculine, as well as keep me occupied until the Girlfriend arrived. (But of course that didn't work out.)


GUNS:

So I ended up taking about $1800 worth of gun and practical gun-related self defense classes, as well as maybe a thousand bucks worth of ammo. There are plenty of gun enthusiasts here in the Dirty South, and it was tremendously fun and I met some interesting (albeit pretty right-leaning, politically) people.

But of course, the more you train with other people - we used airsoft guns for practical training - the more you realize that you are just very well advised to avoid gunfights at all costs. A lot of those guys training were cops, or former and future military or people who often go in harms way, so at least they kind of had a reason.

(And of course, as it seems, I won't be living in America anytime soon, so I won't have access to guns anyway.)

I got a concealed carry permit; it was interesting to go to the local county jail to get my fingerprints done - they had a very modern CSI electronic fingerprint setup in the crumbling cruddy local lockup.

Actually carrying a gun around with me was kind of cool and nerve-wracking until I got used to it; then it's just another thing to worry about. (Hmmm, let's see, wallet, phone, keys, handgun ... )



I love this video: "realistically, unless you consort with the criminal underclass, you are unlikely to be the victim of violent crime; you buy drugs, you frequent prostitutes, you hang out at the bar on the wrong side of town, etc."

Hey, don't we all?

ORGANIZATION:

On that note, one of the best things I took away from those classes were tips about being more organized. (First hint: always put a particular thing in the same pocket or pouch every time.) One guy who taught one of those classes, daily, carried around with him: 2 guns, 2 spare magazines for the guns, 3 knives, a multi-tool, a lighter, a flashlight, spare batteries for the flashlight, a small survival/first-aid kit, wallet, keys, phone, lockpicks, and a USB memory stick with all his important documents and personal information on them.

And what's more -- he could find whatever he needed instantly. Fuck being a tough guy, THAT'S the guy I want to be -- the guy who can find his stuff.


CARS:

Cars are sort of my bete noir, and not having one is one of the things I really love about living abroad.

I wanted to learn how to change the oil on a car and do basic maintenance, however, mainly in anticipation of living and working in America; since that's not going to happen my enthusiasm for that project waned anyway, and my mother was extremely hesistant to let me mess around with her car, especially after I backed it into another car, causing an expensive hassle for both of us.

Anyway, fuck cars.

MARTIAL ARTS AT A STRIP MALL:

Also fun, though I had to divide time among so many cities that I only got in a few lessons. I did a mixed program with some emphasis on Escrima stick fighting. Sure they do MMA and modern street combatives, but I kind of missed the old pajama-punching days so we did that too, a look back at the nostalgic days when there was time for tradition, respect, and ceremony in martial arts, and not just rear naked chokes and ground-and-pound. 

SURIVIVAL AND FIRST AID:

Alas, scheduling things made me not able to take the classes I wanted in those fields. (I wanted to take a SERE class but it was cancelled, and a Wilderness First Aid course, but I was in Cyprus.)

Although, as mentioned, my comprehensive knowledge of people being fucked up on drugs helped me to improve my father's condition, and we did get some info about dealing with traumatic injuries and bullet wounds in one of my classes though, so there's that.


MONEY:

So all of that was fine; but nothing makes a guy in his 40s feel more mature or cool than making money, though, and I'm happy to say that I've been pulling in around $1500 a month from ebook writing projects. Now here's the tease - only about half, or less, of that comes from ETX books.

What's the other project? Well, that's going to be a very funny story one of these days. But as I suspect a lot of these guys who make money online do -- I'm ONLY GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT WHEN I'M SURE THAT I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE MONEY FROM IT ANYMORE.

And then I'll write a book about how to do it, and sell it.

But anyway, it did take time; four to six hours a day, sometimes. But when you can work at your own pace in your underwear while listening to Howard Stern or whatever, that's a whole 'nother vibe from getting dressed and going to the office.

BLOGGING ABOUT AMERICA:

As well as the general poor health of America, I blogged about small-town American streetwalkers, and compared English teachers to Mexican immigrants, as I promised.

I promised something about the Hotness Quotient of American women, and though I certainly didn't go out much, I'll get a more comprehensive entry about that up next, combined with something about my 25th high school reunion. A complete entry about employment prospects in America is coming, also, based on the experiences of my erstwhile former colleague Crazy Bob.

As for the American Dream, what am I going to say about that that hasn't already been said. Things aren't going well here, that's clear. It's a nation divided, unhealthy, and unhappy, and most frighteningly deeply in denial and insanely illogical about it.



I would however, blame the honest hardworking folks of the country a bit more than Carlin does. Stop being stupid and fat, first step.

BACK INTO THE WORLD

Because me and America, it seems, we're done. I'm going to Costa Rica next week for 6 weeks, I'll come back here for Christmas, and then in January I'm off again, back into the world.

I just wrote a big backlog of blog entries, so there should be at least weekly blog updates.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh, By The Way ...

HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD is available for free until December on Smashwords and Amazon.



GET IT HERE FREE ON AMAZON US

(The international Amazon stores are apparently still charging 99 cents for it. Hardly a fortune, you cheap bastard.)

GET IT HERE FREE ON SMASHWORDS

So this is a nice breezy little book I wrote which covers all aspects of living abroad other than English teaching, such as:

- funding your travels through means fraudulent and otherwise
- why cheap countries aren't necessarily that cheap
- are foreign women really the best choices for wives?
- personal security and you
- how to rip people's throats out with your bare hands
- where to hide stuff

And much more. Part memoir , part survival guide, part self-help book, and part savage fucking parody of all of the above.

And it's got actual links to useful information, too. UNPAID ones. That's how much fucking dignity English Teacher X has.

Here's an excerpt from CHAPTER THREE THE ACTUAL TRAVEL PART

EXCERPT:

MODERN AIR TRAVEL IS FUCKED

Whatever glamorous notion of international travel you have, you will be quickly disabused of in the blandly homogenized yet vaguely terrifying modern airports of the world, as you pass through ominous checkpoints manned by cheerless security personnel who at best will harass you with intrusive questions and high-radiation scanning and at worst will feel your genitals and selectively enforce arbitrary, pointless rules by confiscating harmless items from your luggage, just to keep you from getting too complacent.

People will be strewn about the airport like it’s a refugee camp, desperately seeking a comfortable place to sleep, contorting themselves impossibly in the chairs, trying to bathe themselves and move their bowels in the overcrowded bathrooms.

Air travel is like bus travel used to be – your fellow travelers will be refugees and dregs of society, traveling for plenty of reasons, none of them pleasurable.
Now the one percent travel by private plane or by yacht; the rest of us suffer in airplane seats designed like medieval torture instruments, and airports that are more like high-security shopping malls.




GETTING IN

To be fair, the volume of people passing through airports in the modern world makes it unlikely that airport personnel will select you for more specific harassment.

But they certainly might.

They can do anything they want to you, let’s make that clear.

They can search all your possessions, look inside your laptop files, read your personal correspondence, and even decide to take a look up your asshole, should they deem it necessary.

Now, you might read of people saying you have rights not to answer questions, or to refuse them, etc.

And you probably do have those rights, as long as you are willing to be arrested.
You, as a young person with a lot of stamps in your passport, do probably fit a certain profile, so it’s likely you might get asked more questions about where you’re going and where you’ve been and so forth.

As long as you have your visa in order, you’re not likely to be bothered much when you’re entering another country. Even if you don’t have a place to stay, get the name of some hotel off the internet and say you’re going to stay there.

A nice prosperous Western doofus like you is much less worrisome for the customs and passport control people than the stream of Bangladeshi manual laborers, African refugees, Albanian gangsters, Filipino sex slaves, and so forth that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Getting back home, however, might be more troublesome.

If you’re just kind of traveling around, have a nice innocent itinerary in mind to talk about. I’m sure no one is moronic enough to wax rhapsodic to customs about the awesome time they had doing drugs and banging whores in Thailand or Amsterdam.

If you’ve been abroad a while, and are returning to your home country after a lengthy absence, I can recommend saying you’re an English teacher. I’ve found that customs almost always loses interest in me when I tell them that. They see plenty of us scrubby bastards going back and forth these days, I suppose, and they know we’re generally broke, harmless, and beneath notice.

If you happen to have parental funding or have your own shady internet business, claiming to be an English teacher is a good cover story that will probably save you some hassle.

I’d imagine saying something vague like “I’m a consultant” or “investing” would also, but who knows – they might get interested in what you’re doing with your money, and where you’re keeping it. English teachers don’t have the problem of foreign bank accounts, because they’re usually broke.

You might consider familiarizing yourself with the name of a school in whatever country you’ve been in, of course; I’ve been asked if I had anything to prove where I worked, so if you really feel you might need it, get something with school letterhead, or a student’s book or whatever.

I’ve only had my shit torn apart by customs once, when I was coming back from Thailand in 1996. I was underweight, haggard, mumbling my answers, visibly nervous, and didn’t have a clear answer about what I was going to do when I got back to America.
Not that I was up to anything illegal – I just didn’t have any plans.

So, you know, try not to be underweight and haggard, don’t mumble your answers, don’t appear visibly nervous, and have some clear answers about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Don’t get defensive or argue with them. They didn’t make the laws. They’re getting paid like $12 an hour by Homeland Security to ask you some questions, so try to make it as easy as possible on the both of you.

But make up a story if you might need one, and get some details in.

Remember my experience with customs in Russia when I got a business visa – I had to explain what I was consulting about, and where.

It’s not like you’re a master criminal, anyway, so just give them a few clear answers. That’s all they want.

They just don’t want to be held responsible if you get into the country and commit some horrendous act of mayhem.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Exodus


As I mentioned, during the summer, I backed my mother's car into a parked car in the street, causing enough damage that I had to pay the $500 insurance deductible. (Of course the dumb rednecks who owned the car I backed into padded their damages enough that I couldn't just pay it out of pocket. You know how that goes.)

So to pay off this debt, and just in general to earn my keep, I did gardening work around the house -- my stepfather keeps a very large garden and of course that requires weeding, mulching, picking and trimming, and I also did some more strenuous stuff like moving dirt around in wheelbarrows, etc.

I often found myself working alongside of the Mexican gardener.

He's been working in America for about five years. He works as a gardener, cleaner, and general lawn worker during the day for about $12 an hour, and also occasionally works in the evening as a bartender for a catering company. (Mexicans in the small town where I live are in great demand for the quality of the work they do so they can command a relatively good salary. "They do much better work than the stoners and the college kids," as my mom says.)

Like me in Saudi Arabia, he had a goal and he recently reached it -- he showed me a picture of the house he'd bought -- a comfortable-enough looking two-story bungalow in an area of Mexico I'm not familiar with -- and he will soon be returning to Mexico to see the wife and kid he's only seen a couple of times in the last five years. (I have no idea how he gets across the border.)

He beamed with pride as he showed me the picture of his wife and kid, and he spends a lot of time talking to them on the phone.

Anyway -- my point -- he went to work in another country so he could make more money and provide for his family. That's the way people have been doing it for centuries. I worked alongside Pakistanis and Phillipinos in Saudi Arabia who were doing the exact same thing.

But now -- in general in the world -- we've got scads and hordes of entitled Americans and Europeans who are going abroad to work in positions where they make LESS money, in general search of more free time, and more specifically, in search of a better quality of sex. (Women are doing this too, don't kid yourself.)

So, I'm just wondering -- is this precedented? Has there ever been a Great Cootchie Hunt migration before, in human history? I mean, evolutionarily speaking, maybe it's a good idea. In search of healthy breeding and all that.

I don't know, I guess plenty of people have migrated in search of Religious and Political Freedom, in human history, and that's just another way to spell fuck, right?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Historical Literary Perspective on Drinking, Travelling, and Fucking

Continuing on the theme of perspective --

So every generation likes to think that they invented drinking and fucking, and recent generations like to think that they invented traveling. With that in mind, here's a list of some REALLY old books about those things, so we can all keep our heads straight.


Some of the first prose works to be identified as novels were pretty much about travelling and fucking around: THE CANTERBURY TALES, from  within its framework of tales being told during a pilgrimage, includes THE MILLER'S TALE, a Tucker Max-like tale of drunken students chasing a guy's wife, analingus and red-hot pokers being mistakenly jammed in farting assholes. This was written at the end of the 14th century by the way. Nothing new under the sun, they got "Tucker Max Drunk" back in ancient Egypt, dude.


CANDIDE, the 1759 novel by Voltaire, features an optimistic, sheltered young man being thrust out into the world where he encounter one bizarre adventure and tragedy after another. (Gee that sounds kinda familiar.) To quote from the Wikipedia synopsis regarding his adventures in Paraguay:

When Candide proclaims he intends to marry Cunégonde, her brother attacks him, and Candide stabs him through with his rapier. After lamenting all the people (mainly priests) he's killed, he and Cacambo flee. In their flight, Candide and Cacambo come across two naked women being chased and bitten by a pair of monkeys. Candide, seeking to protect the women, shoots and kills the monkeys, but is informed by Cacambo that the monkeys and women were probably lovers.














Most people are probably familiar with GULLIVER'S TRAVELS from the many g-rated cartoon adaptations; but this 1735 tale of incessant travel and non-stop snarkiness even puts snarky travellers like Paul Theroux on the trailer.

As far as depravity, Gulliver visits not only a land where he is a giant -- there is a mention of the residents being startled at his penis size during a parade -- but also a land where he is tiny and everyone else is a giant. The local women seem fascinated with him  -- he is placed on a giant breast:

I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious reader an idea of its bulk, shape, and colour. It stood prominent six feet, and could not be less than sixteen in circumference. The nipple was about half the bigness of my head, and the hue both of that and the dug, so varied with spots, pimples, and freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous.

and then:

The handsomest among these maids of honour, a pleasant, frolicsome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples, with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.

Hey now! Talk about sex tourism!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Turn And Face The Strange Changes



Okay, first order of business is to address some comments made recently on the internet along the lines of "Oh,English Teacher X is full of shit, he just got old, Russia hasn't changed."

First of all -- I DEFINITELY got old. I'm 43. I have flecks of not just grey but pure WHITE in my hair. I cherish them as reminders of my mortality.
My middle age is really the only reason this blog is still relevant -- there are younger guys out there travelling far more widely and fucking around far more enthusiastically than I ever did. (I'm sure I don't need to link to them.)

But what I have to offer you is perspective -- what happens at the end of a long run like that? Is bitterness and death inevitable, or is there a happy ending? How do you extend, change or conclude a life spent fucking around?

'Cause we're all getting older baby. Me, you, Britney Spears, everybody.



Second of all -- of COURSE FUCKING RUSSIA CHANGED A LOT! I was there for NINE YEARS! I first went there TWELVE FUCKING YEARS AGO! A lot of you were probably in middle school then.

Back when I got to Russia, people listened to CASSETTE TAPES! You know what those are? No of course you don't. Google it and find out.

Can you still get laid and have fun in Russia? Well hells yeah! Where did I say you can't? You're a fucking awesome playa, right?

But it's a Russia that costs four or five times as much, has a lot more restrictions on drinking in public, has high-speed trains and shopping malls, has about eight times as many cars as it had, has 8 percent of the world's billionaires, and has 116 countries that Russians can now visit without visas. You don't even have to go to Russia to meet Russians anymore!

In general for a foreign visitor there, it'll be much better than it was back in 2000. There's a wider choice of food options, it's easier to get clothes and electronics and shit, and easier to get around without speaking the language. And you probably won't have to wash your clothes in the bathtub.

Someone made the comment:

Less enjoyable is all this business of this is a Russia that’s gone. Really? Shopping malls and Russian x factor aside, you can still see a 3 wheeled car on a motorway and still get put in jail for 2 years just for doing a silly dance in a Church…

Yeah, you know who was doing that silly dance? A feminist punk rock art collective!

The mere fact of their existence shows how much shit has changed. Feminist art rock?? Russian pop music in 2002 consisted of 16-year-old fake lesbian schoolgirls:



So it's not like I was there for two years or something, I was there for nearly a DECADE. The whole WORLD fucking changed. Now the USA and EU are broke and China and Russia have big cash surpluses.

So it's still Russia and it's still a Russian experience, and Russian chicks are still awesome, but it's changed tremendously. Don't take my word for it, get a second opinion.

You know what's worse than an old guy who complains that everything has changed? An old guy who hangs around pretending nothing has changed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guess Who's Back

I'm back! The modern world, holy crap. One minute you're sunning yourself in the Mediterranean, the next you're in your mom's spare bedroom staring moodily out at the rain and catching up on all your internet shit.

I stayed off the internet pretty much completely during the holiday, although I did write some stuff, so I'll be posting a lot the next few days.

So! Here we go.


GENERAL THOUGHTS ON CYPRUS

Of course three weeks doesn't really give me any great insight into a country that despite its rather tragic history of colonization, revolution, and invasion, still manages to embrace cheap Jaeger shots and cocktails named after sex acts.

The touristy areas of Ayia Napa reminded me an awful lot of the Florida spring breaks of my youth, from the beer bongs and cheap shots right down to shops that sold "this is your brain in Cyprus!" t-shirts and swords and throwing stars. Except with Russians and Norwegians.

(Of course there weren't any Russians in clubs in those days. That would have been a Red Dawn situation if that shit happened.)



Yet Cyprus impressed me! Great weather, crystal clear water, reasonable prices, and if you should happen to tire of the bronzed and busty Cyprus babes, there's always the hordes of Russians (both resident and tourist -- about 50,000 resident Russians there, I heard.) Even my taxi driver was a good-looking Ukrainian woman.

And also an interesting array of historical sites, including a church with the tomb of famous undead zombie friend of Christ, Lazarus.



THE GF

As far as the girlfriend -- we're still at a bit of a stalemate -- she doesn't want to leave her job until she has a ring on her finger. I offered to move her to Cyprus in January, where there's a well-developed "marriage tourism" industry for Russians -- and she agreed to think about it -- otherwise I'll go back to Vodkaberg, just in time for the Dead of Winter. And the Olympics.

In the meantime? Got a few interesting ideas, none of them much involving America.

Stay tuned -- same X time, same X channel!