So I accepted this job in America.
I started on Monday. I was supposed to have a week of training, but of course they ended up just tossing me into a class on the second day, as several teachers were out sick and a few others left with no notice. I'll just say it's a job teaching English to foreigners, mainly Middle Easterners, and it pays fairly well by American educational standards. ($50,000 a year.)
It's in a small town in the southwest, not the same town where I grew up (as described in REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND) but with a lot of striking similarities.
It is, perhaps, even more charmless.
I'm surprised at how many people are actually living here.
The people living in these hotels are mainly Mexican immigrants, likely undocumented, and people and families who don't have the credit and legal history that would allow them to pass an apartment background check. It's not scary - they frolic in the pool or have quiet parties gathered around their trucks in the parking lot.
The sun bakes relentlessly down on the asphalt, and the pool is full of the pee of fat kids and dead crickets.
Everything is just amazingly ... ugly.
The people, the city, the buildings, even the weather.
Maybe even uglier than my last posting in Saudi Arabia.
But in a fascinating sort of way, actually.
I mean, a good half of the people walking around the streets of small town America would have been considered freak-show circus material back 60 or 70 years ago.
Enormously fat people? Lots of them. Skeleton men? Plenty of meth heads. Bearded ladies? Sure, post and pre-op. Totally tattooed men? Yup. Strong men? Plenty of roided-up doofuses, sure. Lizard people? Yeah, the tanning bed abuse of the 80s is showing on a lot of old faces, that's for sure. Human pincushions? Well plenty of weird facial piercings, anyway.
People seem utterly indifferent not only to fashion, but to any sense of restraint or self-respect. 60 year old women wear short skirts and mesh tops. Old dudes rock their tattoos, mullets, and biker mustaches. Fat men proudly wear shirts proclaiming themselves "The world's largest source of natural gas!" and fat women wear skin-tight belly-shirts and yoga pants. Hipsters see nothing at all stupid in wearing Grizzly Adams / Taliban beards.
But everybody is so cheerful. "Have a nice day!" they say. People in fast food restaurants greet you like a long-lost friend.
But they just say the craziest shit, too, and the cheerfulness easily flips to rage or tears.
(Examples forthcoming in a future post.)
So as mentioned in the last post, I mainly took this post because my father's conditioned has worsened -- he's almost lost the ability to walk. He moved into an assisted care place on Monday, and he actually loves it. (He was tired of his younger wife bitching at him all the time.) This job will allow me to pay for that care and see him once a month or so. (I'm not in the same state where he lives.)
There are some other possibilities here - while my salary after taxes won't be anything special, the company does have some interesting benefits like tuition assistance, so I could pursue a master's degree at the small college here. I invited the Girlfriend to try again to get a visa -- this time a J1 fiance visa. (Although given the amount of anti-American propaganda she's absorbed recently through Russian TV, she has some serious anxiety about it.)
And I do have a few friends living in this state, including the girl from this post.
I'm moving into my apartment tomorrow, and before I came I bought a car, the first time I've owned a car since the one given to me in high school about 30 years ago. (I sold it in 1994, before I went to work in Thailand.)
So, who'd have fucking thought it? After six months of visiting beautiful exotic places like Budapest, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Prague, I'm perversely enjoying a spell in one of the least exotic places you could imagine, doing another shitty TEFL job.