Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview With Crazy Bob


I don't know who your favorite male character was in Vodkaberg, but mine was definitely Crazy Bob. Combining high intelligence and a genial disposition with near-complete depravity, he was a much needed shot of energy into the region when a lot of us were suffering from lassitude and lethargy.  And unlike Slappy, he didn't usually leave me holding the bag after he fucked something up, and only occasionally borrowed money without paying it back. 

The following interview was conducted by e-mail in late 2012. 



1) How did you start teaching English?

When I was 25 years old my friend A. called me to say that his really good friend had died of a cocaine overdose and would I please consider taking his place as a camp counselor in Central Europe that summer. Free ticket, free stay, free food. I asked if there was time to break off from the kiddies and go tryst around the Continent. There was. What did I have to do for those two months with 200 yapping teenagers from the CIS? Just talk. ‘You might have to force them to take showers when they don’t want to, but overall, you just have to talk.’

Wasn’t it a bitch to be born middle class in the USA?

By the end of two months in the language camp I had fallen in love with a Russian girl. A remarkable, even startling beauty she was. Proud and coy, she had a face like the wild blue eyed daughter of a ravaging Khan.

The rough, truculent voice of my mind seemed to mellow a bit for this one. I made room for her vision. She was so beautiful, you see. Art flowed in the chilly air of the mountain twilight. The forest echoed with the sounds of the eternal.

I was destined! Someone big was smiling over my shoulder, and really, how not? It was me, after all! I was a fucking one of a kind flying wunderkind with the power to pull pony tails and make the owner purr away her fear. In those warm days there wasn’t any human being in the world I didn’t have the power to make perfect harmony and sense of. It’s so easy to help people who smile, or cum once, and then cease to exist!

When I felt the benevolence of the Lord and saw his orange light fall upon the green hills, every hysterical bone in my body piped up to tell me in a roaring chorus of passion that destiny lay in la Russie; that I should prepare to last out a night in Russia, when nights are coldest there.

I made slapdash arrangements to quit my job and end my relationships.

For me, teaching English abroad was just an afterthought. Even so, it’s true when I say that I became an English teacher because of a sign from God.

In no time at all, (and really, in no time at all you and I will be nothing but rot) I was hand in hand with my otherworldly love, walking gently through the soft snow along the walls of the Kremlin. This was all mine. The forbidden was opening up, and it was impossible not to dream that dreams come true for those truly worthy.

Angelina would chide me that life had no fairy tales in store. She couldn’t believe in fairy tales because she was a real person - a person who could respect others as well as herself.

Dreams come true to unreal people, to people who have no respect and are guided by forces that are not even human. Empty men are filled with magic and the powers of glorious deception. They only believe in heaven because to them come angels.



2) Eventually you left that one, and ended up running wild in the streets in Vodkaberg. What kept you teaching English, when there was family pressure not to continue?


All the family pressure in the world couldn’t disintegrate my grand dream, at least not in the long, long beginning. The power of dreams made me very strong, and I put up with so much. Hours spent in Russian polyclinics, analysis after analysis, would have awakened mere men to the condition of things, but I had to complete my mission. Mother and Father would see Bob again when he was good and ready, trophy in hand, destiny fulfilled!

There was always work to keep from going poor. The beginning of the 21st century is a time to bilk those who need your language in order to support their families. No educated Russian can comfortably raise children when they earn 10,000 rubles as engineers. They need that special promotion, or the job in big Moscow to even imagine having enough money to send a child to university; you need their money to keep posing as a prospective young man. A flat, a Western passport, a clean face and a convincing backstory – it doesn’t take much to keep up your nasty lifestyle.
Like a lot of English teachers, I dared to dream big.


3) You briefly returned to America and tried to go straight. What have been your experiences trying to get a real job?

Bob can’t get a job in an economy that only employs skilled people. Alas, it’s people who’ve learned how to do something productive who have a chance today. With the exception of IT professionals and machine operators who’ve had their jobs exported, other skilled workers with credit problems, lawyers and insurance agents struggling in an oversaturated market, or those simply too old to be worth retraining, the great ranks of America’s unemployed are filled with coddled saps who’ve spent five years earning their BA in drug abuse. For them, there’s nothing to do but teach English to foreigners.

Crazy Bob's stunning decolletage

4) What do you think the future holds for you?

Bob, in the course of his wandering ways, has become father to an intelligent and beautiful little girl. He is intensely proud of her, and in his pride he finds the strength to look more honestly at his past and at his general condition.

Despite all the love I have for my precious, innocent daughter, I genuinely fear that my future could be to live as a vagabond on the earth, just as English Teacher X says about himself. Since a father cannot think this way and remain sane, I try to focus on the positive vision of raising my lovely little girl. I seek out work in places where the compensation tends to be greater. I believe so hard in the magnanimity of the creator toward his children.



5) Any words of warning for the kids out there?

Bob will be earnest here and urge you not to go abroad in search of wild, mentally stimulating sex if you suspect you’ll never have the strength of character to give it up. Whether at 30, 40, or some other age, you’ll realize that most middle aged men need more to offer than an enticing twinkle in the eyes and the promise of an exotic encounter to even begin dreaming of bedding soft, supple Tatiana.

Crazy Bob's dorsal region after being savaged by a Russian girlfriend
Girls are going to start wondering why you work a job that doesn’t pay you enough to buy a car. Yes, you thought that owning a car was a suburbanite trap. Yes, you skateboarded to your job at the coffee shop where the dude with the massive holes in his earlobes insipidly informed customers that his beer gut slinging girlfriend’s performance art troupe would perform on Tuesday nights. You rode a bike to your temp job with the Green Jobs contractor, not aware that your surprisingly attractive emo coworker was getting the ride of her life in the bosses Mercedes M class every morning. Yes, you thought that you were a limber young thing, so much smarter than those other sadsacks. White bread boy gets really real on the metro bus, even said ‘aright’ to the driver!

In every city around the world, using public transportation comes with a stigma. It’s just a matter of what circles you find yourself struggling in. Everywhere there’s someone attractive who thinks you’re too poor, and in most Eastern European places, these girls are growing in number. By the way, who do you think is going to be in your class learning English? It’s usually not the homespun chicks from the village with nothing to compare.

Clothes are important. So are private trips to interesting, out of the way places. You’ll need time and imagination for more elaborate dates!

Your handsome face? It’s not what it used to be. Proud of your wholesome, economical abode? Small, cluttered apartments tend to appear even tackier when awash in middle aged male pheromones.

You have to start asking yourself unpleasant questions, like Do you have the material support to maintain your charm as your body ages?

Do you have the means to project wealth, or at least stability? Can you imagine developing in new, lucrative directions? Will you need a new job? After years spent drinking all night with other miserable souls, will you even possess the minimum brain power necessary to trick a hiring manager into bringing you aboard a better paying operation?

Can you convince intelligent men to buy products and services for large sums? Do you know how to implement cost-effective solutions using cutting edge software in ways businesses need right now? Can you operate heavy industrial equipment for the petroleum industry? You can’t?

Unless you’re an heir, or a beautiful woman, plan on a life of gradually increasing financial insecurity. You’ll teach here, and you’ll move and teach there, and then you’ll fly really far away and try to teach somewhere else, and somewhere along the way you’ll begin to regularly kid yourself that this is leading somewhere promising. You’ll talk big to the girls that you’re just using TEFL as an exercise in slumming, with an eye to eventually nailing a job in international business. You’ll think that they believe it. You’ll get older. Eventually, you’ll reach the point when your sense of middle class entitlement evaporates and you come to accept that you’re just like most common people. Life now consists of grey anonymity, frustration, loneliness and regret. You finally made it, you’re ‘real’, dude.

The other possibility is to come to terms with the fact that you probably are the first person destined to stay young and healthy forever. In that case, I urge you to quickly perform a Google search for TEFL related jobs pages. A world of almost never ending irresponsibility and abuse, both of yourself and others, awaits you.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Final Transmission from America (Leaving On a Jet Plane)

Everybody's got a price, they say.

Mine is apparently $7700 a month.

I'm leaving for the Sandbox in a few hours, where I'll start a one-year contract as an English teacher at a big corporate job.



I don't particularly want to go, but that kind of money at this point in my life is pretty much impossible to pass up. If we can define "selling out" as doing something you don't want to do, only for the money, then I'm selling out.

This is the first time I've ever felt like that. I'm feeling fairly low, actually.

The last Saudi job wasn't that bad at all, and I desperately wanted to get away from my frantic, self-destructive social life in Russia. Working only 20 hours a week and getting more than 3 months of holiday a year, it barely even felt like a job. It felt like a very profitable rehab.

Now though, I'd be better served, psychically, by going somewhere more lively. I'm beginning to enjoy solitude far too much.

This new job has six weeks of vacation, but two of them come at the end of the contract, so it's really only four weeks. (That's still quite a bit, compared to most people, I guess.)

Geographically it's not far from the place I was before; one of the nicer parts of the Kingdom, near the beach but also near the big refineries. There are still a few people I know in the region, and Crazy Bob and Chuck from VODKABERG are working nearby in the Emirates.




So, America, and my attempt to start a "normal life" was an epic fail, for the most part. The girlfriend failed to get a visa and we failed to work out some other alternative. I failed to make any kind of meaningful re-connection with my home country.

But also interesting are the other things I failed at:

I failed to start drinking again -- I've tried several times and am always relieved to stop again, as my body just can't take it. My body just rejects it, as a similarly-aged colleague phrased it.

I failed to become a middle-aged whoremonger -- Maybe it was just that I'm not overly attracted to Latin / Caribbean girls, but I had absolutely no desire to indulge myself in them. Ukraine didn't do it for me, either.

I failed to become a sugar-daddy, in the yet-to-be-described incident in Greece with the 25-year-old Russian girl.



Still, by most standards, it was a pretty good year:

I supported myself pretty much entirely on e-book earnings, so I still have almost all of the money I brought back from my first tour in the Kingdom;

I spent 3 weeks in Cyprus, 5 weeks in Costa Rica, 3 weeks in the Dominican Republic, 1 week in Greece, 1 week in the Ukraine, and 3 weeks in Vodkaberg;

I did several new (albeit touristy) activities such as zip-lining, climbing an inactive volcano, and white-water rafting in CR;

I spent a lot of time with my ill parents (they're both doing surprisingly well, actually), and my brother and nephews. (Although, of course, at this point, I've spent far more time with them than any of us would like.)

I trained to a rather advanced level with a handgun, and just completed a tactical shotgun class, although in the wake of all those massacres and the Zimmerman thing, that doesn't feel as cool as it otherwise might have;

I learned how to escape from handcuffs, resist an interrogation, and survived a night in the below-freezing wild in a Survive, Escape, Resist and Evade class;

And lest you think I've become completely asexual, I had carnal relations with a couple of female Russian acquaintances, one in America and one in D.R., and a few weeks ago went to Miami and had an insane night out at a really awesome strip club with a couple of Russian strippers. (There's a story you can look forward to.)

But indeed, it all does feel a bit flat in retrospect; the only thing outside my comfort zone, at this point, would be getting married and getting a normal job ...



But lacking that ... back to English teaching, and back to the Sandbox. Back to the Desert. Alone. Watching. Waiting ...

Not the hero you need, perhaps, but the hero you deserve.



Or is it the other way around? Oh well. Anyway. See you next week from the Kingdom.




COMING SOON: Interview with Crazy Bob






Saturday, July 20, 2013

First Encounter With Oh, Thailand 1995 (Old Journal Entry)

I found a rather lengthy journal entry which entails the first time I saw Oh, the Thai prostitute I wrote about in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY.

 It also (I hope) provides an evocative description of Nana Plaza at that time. (I don't imagine it's changed too much.)

I'm trying to remember -- this is maybe the second or possibly third time I went to Nana Plaza, after I'd been working in Bangkok a few months, and before I'd actually had sex with a prostitute.

So here's a night out through the eyes of a whore-virgin 26-year-old  English Teacher X. Practically a new-born. 


* * * 

Monday June 12, 1995 -- 

I'm think I'm just too softhearted to be a good whoremonger. 

Last night I went to Nana Plaza with T and S, for a little enjoyment of Thailand's simplest pleasures, the little brown doe-eyed waifs. 

First we tossed down a couple of "Beer Sings" (Singha beers) outside of a place called Bubblegum, where a lot of guys were getting drunk and watching England versus Australia in Rugby. I stepped over to the Hollywood Lounge, not being overly interested in watching burly guys in short pants banging heads.

The place was packed, polo-shirted Aussies and florid Germans and drunk English guys with bald spots, and dozens upon dozens of little naked (or barely naked) brown nymphs running around, smiling and laughing and dancing, everything quadrupled in the mirrored walls. 

Soon I had a little g-stringed sylph rubbing against me. Her name was something like Tan. We went through the initial "where you from" exchange and it turned out her English was in fact pretty good. Curious, I gave her my level 4 book to see if she could read it and she breezed through it, no problem.

I was a little cold at first, but she finally said, "Is there anything I can do for you?" 

"Hmmm ..." I thought about it. "A back rub?"

She quickly and expertly began kneading my shoulders. Once she jokingly made as if to choke me; she was quite strong for a small girl. 

"I bet you feel like strangling people a lot in this job," I said.

She shrugged.

(Here, in the original journal, there's a lengthy description of our conversation, in which she said she was studying business and computers and would be graduating from university soon, and hoped to get a good job, and wondered why I would work in Bangkok when I could be making more money in America. I explained I could actually save more in Bangkok since food and drink was so cheap, but she was not, understandably, convinced -- Editor X)

I bemoaned my long hours and she rolled her eyes at me. "I work 9 hours a night and only get 3 days off a month." That sounded horrible to me until I remembered that I only get 4 days off a month, although we do get public holidays.

She went up to dance on stage after a while, and I handed her a 100 bhat note when I left. (About $4) She kind of got a look on her face like, "Sucker!"

Back at the Bubblegum, S and T were drunker, cheering on England in the rugby match. I wandered around a bit, looking at all the flashy bars. Most of the girls seemed overweight and often not all that cute. I mentioned this to T, and he said, "Yeah, sure you've got better looking whores at Patpong, but here you can relax, they don't try to rip you off." (He and S were busily accumulating a huge bar tab as they watched the rugby.)

Then I was literally dragged into a little strip bar by a rather Rubenesque, gap-toothed, but appealingly cheerful Thai whore who immediately tricked me into buying her a 60 bhat drink, by asking if she could get some water, and then returning with the bill and saying, "Oh, I put some whiskey in it."

It was a creepy little place -- four rather bedraggled whores danced on the bare stage while a couple of oddly ghoulish-looking older men made up the total audience. 

My whore cheerfully went through the "Where you from?" spiel, then told me she was just back from two years in Hiedelberg, Germany. She hadn't liked it much, but she liked Amsterdam fairly well. 

"Do you like Bangkok?" I asked.

"It's a business," she smiled toothily. 




I made a fairly quick retreat from that place, and back at the Bubblegum, S and T had become depraved. S had a cute, muscle-assed, boyish-looking Thai girl on his lap, one hand on her ass and a hamburger in the other, and loudly proclaimed that he'd found paradise, or at least the Buddhist state of Nirvana. T was draped all over the hugely-fat and ever smiling Mama-San of the Bubblegum, drunk and leering in an Aleister Crowley sort of way, kneading big handfuls of her soft Thai flesh. 

It occurred to me to admire that kind of depravity -- my own depravity being rather predictable and commonplace, especially in Thailand. (Teenage girls? Bondage? We do that before breakfast here, mate.)

(This was a blog entry that I made about T, who was sort of my mentor. -- Editor X)

Reminiscing about it this morning, T said, "She was ALL woman. I think I could have got her for free, too. Next time."

I wondered back to the Hollywood, which was still crowded; I quickly set my eyes on the sexiest young Thai girl I've seen in this country. Pointless, perhaps to describe her: the long black hair and smooth brown skin, the long legs and hard-muscled ass; but she was put together in a most luscious way, jutting breasts, full lips, all the cliches. 

She moved sinuously across the stage, and I noticed she was watching herself in the mirror, which turned me on greatly. (I'm a notorious self-watcher myself.)

I bought her a drink and sat with her; she spoke almost no English, as it turned out, had a rather bad case of snaggle teeth. But my god! The legs! The ass! I rubbed her all over, mesmerized. She politely took it. 

She got up, stripped off her bikini suit, and danced naked. I watched and quiet awe, and she just watched herself in the mirror. 

But I think I'd had my fill; they don't mind being touched, and they're warm and beautiful, but they're like dolls, they don't respond when you touch them, other than in mechanical sorts of ways. They spend all night every night being touched, what could you do to turn on such a creature?

Something so unsexual about it ... and yet ... I think that's why Thai whores are so popular, the combination of innocence and complete sexual abandon ... 

* * *

So it was probably like, a couple weeks later I had sex with her, the first of the dozen or so prostitutes I've had encounters with.

What could you do to turn on such a creature? The answer, I would find, is that you do the same thing you do to any girl you pick up, and the outcome is likely to be similar.

 You can read that touching story in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY, of course, or you can read the original version here on the blog.


On the subject of whores in general, when I was in Thailand last year with the Girlfriend, she asked if I'd had sex with any Thai prostitutes, and I admitted that I had. She said, "Fy!" which is Russian for "Yuck" and I said, with the Asperger-like reflexes that have made the rest of my life such a challenge, "Geez, I had sex with lots worse girls for free out of nightclubs in Russia."

To her credit, she was only angry for about an hour.

It's true, though, all the whores I met were extremely conscientious about hygiene and protection.



I never met any of the ones with razor blades in their vaginas, fortunately.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Random Journal Entries from Thailand, 1995

Back before blogs, we had travel journals. Now you see backpackers sitting in cafes with their tablets or laptops; back in the 90s, we had nothing but hard copy.

As I said, my next memoir will have a "flashback" section about my younger years leading up to me being an English teacher, so I was scanning all those old journals recently.

I was surprised how unengaging a lot of it was.

It's like they have all of my experiences, but none of my perspective. They lack the bigger picture; they're just moments in time.

(And of course I see all the developmental -- that is, sucky -- parts of my writing at that time, and like most young people, I was far too interested in myself.)


Here are a few random journal entries from Bangkok, Thailand, 1995, written by a newly-hatched English Teacher X, at the tender age of 25. (Like a little tachyon transmission from the past.)

An entry after returning from a Malaysian visa-run:

Sautrday August 19th 1995 12:30pm

I am lacerated by coral, bitten by bedbugs, scorched by the sun, and beaten of spirit. My neck hurts because I had to sleep on the floor to get away from the bedbugs. The sky is hatefully blue and the sun is merciless.

I smell bad, too, of course.

Evidently it didn't occur to me to change hotels or take a shower. Self-pity bordering on self-abuse.




Then of course we can see some energetically purple prose:

Saturday August 26th, 1995 7:15pm

Endless sheets of poisonous rain fall on traffic-clogged streets ... a real turd-floater, as English Teacher D called it.

It's been raining like fuck for hours now. I'm in a maniacal sort of mood, playing with my butterfly knife.






And naturally I see plenty of dismissive social criticism as well as self-pity:

Sunday August 27th, 1995 11:30pm

Hole in the Wall bar filled with losers and miscreants. Stray cats and stray hippies. Somebody's got a laser pointer, shining it around.

1:52 am -- Moment of reflection -- this gonna be your life, X, stumbling around foreign streets full of would-be counterculturals?
Moment of realization: well, yeah. maybe.

I don't know what I want out of life, but I know I want two of them.

(Already quick with a pithy sound-bite, even at age 25.)




But there are a few charming details that had escaped me, like:

Monday September 4th, 1995 10:45pm

After I got home I was jacking off in the room and I'd forgotten to lock the door, and one of the stupid Japanese hippies started to walk in. Don't know if he saw me, because he quickly backed off.
"Solly" he said through the door.

After that, I saw a cockroach on my shelf. I slammed a can of shaving cream down on it, the concave bottom severing its head and trapping its body. I moved the can and the body scurried around in a circle, twitching spasmodically. The head kept twitching, too, the antennae thrashing.
I put them both in the garbage bag, and after an hour they were still moving around; not just relfexive twitching, either, but purposeful (if disoriented) movement.

Check back five days from now, and you can read some journal entries about the first time I saw Oh, the lovely young gold-hearted prostitute I wrote about in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Complete Collected Cartoons

Nobody demanded it, but I did it anyway:


This is a collection of all the cartoons I did between 2003 and 2013, many of which have been retouched for visibility, legibility, and general quality.

Available here on Amazon. FREE FOR THE NEXT FIVE DAYS.

Also available here as a paperback at Createspace, in FULL COLOR. Costs a lot, but hey, so does platinum. Weren't you really dreaming of a full-color paperback edition of cartoons about people wondering whether it's possible to pee in somebody's butt? You could leave it on the coffee table. If you had one.

Collected here are (in)famous English Teacher X comics such as:

Doofus and Valiant
The Thanksgiving Porno Story
Disgusting Bar Conversations
Typical Teacher Types

and many more.

This collection compiles cartoons that previously appeared in the collections CHRISTMAS IN BANKGKOK, DISGUSTING BAR CONVERSATIONS, DOOFUS AND VALIANT, and the 2013 edition of GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD.

And of course if you want to buy the cartoons a chunk at a time, the shorter collections are still available:



This is the 2013 edition of the book formerly entitled DISGUSTING BAR CONVERSATIONS and includes about a half-dozen new cartoons. 

In this new 2013 edition, some of the cartoons have been corrected for legibility; the book also contains sample chapters from TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY and VODKABERG




Friday, July 05, 2013

Alpha or Omega: A Couple of American Actors

This month on ALPHA OR OMEGA, we feature two well-known American actors. (Kind of a no-brainer, really, this one, but we haven't played this in a while.)

First contestant: John C. Homes.



John "Johnny Wadd" Holmes was an American porn actor with an enormous cock, somewhere between 10 - 14 inches long. He claimed he had sex with about 14,000 women, though given the unlikely math of that (2 women every day for 20 years) the real number was probably closer to 4000. And he even got paid for it ... but then again, so did most of the women.

He, uh, also had sex with some dudes.



Just a few "dick moves" attributable to the guy are: pimping out and beating his 15-year-old girlfriend, informing to the police, dealing and abusing massive amounts of heroin and cocaine, and last but not least, being involved in a gruesome quadruple homicide, after setting up two drug gangs he knew to rob each other. He also had sex with porn stars after he knew he already had AIDS, including Italian member of parliament Cicciolina, (but fortunately he doesn't seem to have transmitted it.)

Oh, but he did reportedly canvass door to door for "Save the Whales." Okay then.

He leaves as his legacy a slew of porn films that are unwatchably stupid, a rather unduly optimistic portrait of him in the film BOOGIE NIGHTS ... and a line of dildos.



We'll give him a few extra points for his mustache, I guess. Died of AIDS broke, under indictment, and generally despised in 1988 but he still rots in hell as ...

VERDICT: OMEGA!

Next contestant: Paul Newman



So, yeah, sure, Paul Newman was just an actor, which is a profession of no great importance -- strutting and fretting on the stage and all that -- but I must admit he was pretty exemplary at it.



(Now there's some life philosophy there for you -- "the look of the country changes because of the men we admire.")

He also excelled at race car driving -- competing at LeMans and racing up to age 70.

But the dizzying scope of his philanthropic activities impresses the most, going far beyond the usual tax-deductible donation. He started his own line of food products that donated its earnings to charity - $300 million by 2010, giving $20,000,000 to charity in 2008 alone. Started charity camps for disenfranchised children, foundations to help prevent drug abuse and domestic violence, and helped found the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

Jesus, anybody else feel lazy and worthless just reading that? I certainly do.

Married for FIFTY YEARS to Joanne Woodward, and was unswervingly devoted to her. "Why should I go out for hamburgers when I have steak at home?" he famously said.

Damn, man.

Died of cancer at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends.



(He won the Academy Award in 1986 for this one.)

VERDICT: TRUE ALPHA!!




Monday, July 01, 2013

Call to Action: New Edition of HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD

Okay, to continue in the modern tradition of 4-hour work-weeking, my new edition of the book HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD will include real interviews with people who live or have lived abroad.

That is ... if any of you have any interesting stories to tell.

This is a bit murky for a new cover, but I'm always working on 'em

This being ENGLISH TEACHER X, I'm looking for mainly unsuccessful and horrifying stories; but just anything interesting will do.

So if you've had any wacky experiences with the following, drop me an email at englishteacherx(at)yahoo(dot)com to be interviewed:

-- ever been savagely mugged / scammed / robbed?
-- ever had a particularly awful experience with illness abroad?
-- anything intriguing to say about supporting yourself abroad (without English teaching?)
-- ever had a heartbreaking experience with a foreign woman (and who hasn't?)
-- ever had a scary experience at customs or immigration anywhere?
-- ever been arrested abroad?
-- ever had a bizarre experience renting an apartment in another country?
-- ever had a frightening experience with documents / visas / your passport?

If you happen to know of any funny stories on these topics, maybe just something you heard, we could probably work with that, also.

Of course I can't (or at least won't) pay you, unless you want some free e-books.