Alternatively: I’m an American in Ukraine….
Okay, I just had to borrow a line from Sting. I know, I know, it would sound so much better if I were an Englishman, but I can’t satisfy everyone all of the time, and this time my friends from the UK will no doubt be glad I didn’t try. (Hello, Mike, Nick, Angela, Joel and Chris!)
I haven’t written an article here for a while, so this update may be a bit of a surprise to my readers. I’ve moved overseas!
That’s right, I’m no longer in North America. I made this change for a number of reasons, and expressing them is the purpose of this article.
You’ll notice a new category appearing here on my main blog: Expat. This is the first article in a new series I’ll be authoring about what it is like to be an American expatriate living in Eastern Europe. This first article, however, will focus on one thing….
My Reasons for Leaving the USA
I Despise Los Angeles
I became tired of Los Angeles about a year after moving there. Yes, LA has nice weather. Yes, there are plenty of things to do there. Yes, there are plenty of gorgeous women in Southern California. All that, and to me it has been and always will be one of the most plastic-fantastic places I’ve ever been.
What do I mean by that? I mean that your average person (not my friends, mind you) has a fairly plastic attitude towards life. They’re more interested in what you drive, how you dress, and who you know than who you really are in your heart and soul. The local population often seems obsessed with the Hollywood glamour and glitz. Half the people you meet are wanna-be actors who have only worked in one or two low budget films and a handful of commercials. They dress in the latest designer fashions, drive the fanciest designer cars, and think of themselves as designer people.
That’s how I feel about that LA attitude. On to my other complaints: traffic, cars, freeways, the necessity to have all of those because the public transportation sucks worse than a black hole, air pollution in the summer. I suppose that about covers it.
To sum it up: I really hated LA, and after a year there, couldn’t wait to leave. I ended up stranded there by financial issues for just over 15 years. The first issue was the good job that brought me to LA in the first place. Then I lost that, and hadn’t saved enough to move away after being laid off. Then I got a new job that didn’t pay well enough to save anything. Then I got a better job that paid so well that I started to pay down my debts, and wanted to stay because my earnings were higher than ever before. Then the bottom dropped out of the Internet business, an I lost that job, and found myself stuck without savings again.
I switched careers, and became poor for the first time in my life, earning less than my obligations from 2001 to 2009. In 2009, I hit rock bottom, and decided something had to be done. I went on what I called, “my hypocrisy smackdown.” I began to correct the places where my actions lacked integrity with my words, one at a time. By 2010, I was earning again, and this time saving it in order to escape Los Angeles.
English Teachers Galore
At this point, I should mention that a friend of mine, Steve, had traveled to Thailand and become an English teacher. My stepsister, Liza, had been an English teacher in the Czech Republic, and is now teaching in Korea. My good friend Mary Helen has also taught overseas, and is presently in Thailand. I managed to get back in touch with my long-lost best friend from high school, Rob, and found him running his own English school in Japan.
Back when I was poor, in 2007, I attempted to go to Japan to teach at Rob’s urging. The Japanese companies wouldn’t have me, for whatever reason (I suspect ageism, most people doing this gig are young). Regardless, this turned out to be a streak of good luck, as two of the companies to which I applied have since gone belly up. So, friends had been urging me since the first years of the 21st century to pack my bags for foreign shores and become an English teacher.
My best friend Rob is also a writer, and he pointed out that this career would allow me much more time for my writing. I’d been working entertainment and web industry jobs where I was working 40 hours in a short week, and as much as 65 hours in a long week. The average week in most years was 50 hours. That just does not leave time for writing.
A teacher of English as a foreign language spends about 20-24 hours with students each week, and about another 5-10 hours planning those lessons, which can easily be done on the weekend, if desired. This leaves a big chunk of time every day to dedicate to writing my blogs.
My Business Trip to Ukraine
In 2002, I had gone to Ukraine on behalf of that same friend, Steve. At the time, he was running an offshore web development house in Kyiv, Ukraine. He sent me and another employee of his, Angel, over there to help set up new computers and train their employees in our methods. I was scheduled to stay for two weeks.
While there, I fell in love with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and culture. There’s a saying in Ukraine that “the Ukrainian people are the most hospitable in the world.” In Kyiv, I found this to be true. I cannot count the number of times I was approached on the street by people interested in knowing a foreigner. They were friendly, gracious with my mangled Russian, and the most friendly people I’d ever met. Often I would be invited on a tour of the city, or out to dinner, or into their homes.
I loved it so much that I called my boss. Angel and I extended our stay an extra two weeks just to have fun and spend time with our new Ukrainian friends. I was given food and drink, and not asked to pay for it, despite my substantially higher earnings. I was invited into exclusive clubs and events. I met two rock bands. I saw some of the most amazing places. I drank the most amazing vodka I’d ever tasted. Actually, I didn’t even like vodka until I tasted the kind they have in Ukraine. It makes the American imports from Russia and other nations taste like lighter fluid in comparison.
Ukrainian Women vs. Los Angeles Women
The women. Oh my goddess, the women! The Beatles were not joking in the least when they wrote the lyric, “Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out; they leave the west behind.” Kyiv made the Venice Beach Boardwalk (hottest women in LA on any summer day) look like the cattle farms in the California San Joaquin Valley. No, I am not joking.
An interesting thing about Europe is that you rarely see an overweight person, and you almost never see an obese person. Something struck me as odd the first day in Kyiv, but it took me a week to realize what it was: no fat people.
And the women of Ukraine are not like Southern California women. They are kind, while LA women are not. They are educated, and much better than the crappy education provided by California schools. They are gracious and hospitable, as opposed to entitled and angry. Their general character reminded me of the intelligent, wholesome women of my Midwestern upbringing in Minnesota, but they were all slender, and far more cosmopolitan.
Add to this the fact that since I turned 38, I’d been increasingly wanting to settle down and have a family. Now, no woman would have me during the years of 38-41 because I was poor as a stump, and what kind of candidate does that make for husband/father? And then when I started to have money again, and to try dating, I discovered that no woman of child-bearing age wanted me. I was “too old.”
I knew this would not be true in Ukraine, and began to think a lot about those amazing Ukrainian women I’d met on my trip in 2002. Oddly, I have also heard from older women that I was “too young.” Now that one just does not compute for me…. What I can tell you for sure is that women in Ukraine were far less concerned with age, profession, automobile and other meaningless garbage, and far more concerned with what sort of man I am.
So, when I began to think of leaving Los Angeles, my choice was clear: become an English teacher in Ukraine. But those were not my only motives. I did not simply want to escape Los Angeles, or to go to that wonderful nation of Ukraine.
The Rise of Fascism in the USA
I had also become wary of my own government. I could see the bad news coming. There were to be two waves of financial disaster caused by the housing crisis, and we’d only passed through the first of them. The second wave was set to begin in December, 2011. The first wave had decimated many friends, and I could see the writing on the wall.
It looked as though the NDAA would pass. It looked as though SOPA would likely pass as well. The last few civil liberties still not shredded by America’s “war on drugs” and “war on terror” were about to be flushed down the toiled by Obama. To me, this all appeared to be a massive, fascist power grab the likes of which had not been seen on this planet since the rise of Nazi Germany.
I looked at my country and at history, and knew without any doubt that the best course of action for an anarchist atheist was to get the hell out of Dodge. I still recommend that my friends and family back home do the same. If you really think it can’t happen in the USA, I ask you to think again. I ask you to review world history, and show me one time that a nation with such unlimited powers as the Federal Government of the USA now holds failed to use those powers to slaughter millions of innocents. I can already tell you that you won’t find one example. Every nation that has commanded such power has used it. Get out now, while you still can.
I’m not the only one. The number of young Americans wanting to leave the USA has quintupled in the last two years. That’s an astounding figure. Quintupled. Just two years ago, about 1% wanted to leave the country, now it has reached 5%. Think about that for a moment. The land of plenty is not the land of plenty anymore. The American dream is just that: a dream. The reality and truth of America is that it has become, as my fellow anarchists have called it for many years: the land of the fee and home of the slave.
When starting a business in Ukraine, in comparison to the USA at present, it is: easier, cheaper, and more likely to succeed. That is simple reality. It has been brought about by taxation, usury, and the erosion of Constitutional law.
The government has become a fascist beast in collusion with big business. The bankers, the multinational American corporations, the military industrial complex and the government are now one and the same entity. It is fascist Europe all over again, but on the American continent this time.
The next wave of financial loss is just hitting, and it will be slightly larger than the last loss. President Obama and the Federal Reserve had a cure for that last loss – they tripled the money supply. Tripled. The Weimar Republic (pre-Nazi Germany) only doubled their money supply, and that led to some of the worst hyperinflation the world has ever seen. I shudder to think what will happen when Obama and the Fed triple the supply of money again after another wave of real estate and banking losses. Imagine the hyperinflation caused by a six-fold or nine-fold increase in the dollars in circulation! At any rate, to me it looked like the writing on the wall was obvious.
While nations like Ukraine are used to poverty and poor conditions, and their people tend to pull through such things with amazing solidarity, the same can not be said of Americans. We’ve become a selfish and entitled bunch. We take to the streets and smash things when we don’t get our way.
And that’s the real motive for the loss of civil liberties. The ones in power know what’s coming. They are expecting a violent revolution, and they mean to quash it by any means necessary, even locking up citizens in those camps they’ve been building since the Reagan era. Simply put: it was time to get out, for my own health and well being.
Summing It All Up
So, there you have it, my list of motives. Here they are in order of most influential (1) to least influential, so you can look them over in summary:
- I fell in love with Ukraine, the people, and the culture: friendly, hospitable, warm and brimming with solidarity.
- Becoming an English teacher had become a really attractive option.
- I really despise Los Angeles, land of the Hollyweird madness and epicenter of selfish plastic culture.
- The difference between Los Angeles women and Ukrainian women. Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out; they leave the west behind! They accepted me for who I am, and did not even ask or give a damn about my age, my receding hair, my profession, or the kind of car I drive.
- The downfall of the American dream. Starting and operating a business is a cost prohibitive thing in the USA, but not overseas.
- The rise of fascism in the USA. That nation has just become too damned dangerous to remain inside it any longer.
So, I am now out. I departed the USA on November 17, 2011. I do not plan to return until the wave of fascism dies out, or explodes, or is conquered by the massive wave of protests presently washing over the entire planet. I’m pulling for that final one.
Please, folks, don’t just let them roll over you with the tanks like the Germans allowed Hitler to do. That would be a damned shame. I really hope that Americans pull out all stops to halt the spread of this political disease, and take back that continent. In the meantime, however, I think it best to stay as far from that mess as I can get.
How do I feel, more than a month after my departure? I love it here. The last time I was this happy and contented with my life was almost 20 years ago. It feels great to be alive, on a new adventure, doing something really different, and pursuing my dreams.
Do I miss home? Not on your life. I miss my family, and being able to call my sister and father on just a simple cell phone without some massive international charges. I miss my friends, but most of them moved away from LA a few years before I did. I miss carnitas and barbacoa; you can’t find decent Mexican food in Eastern Europe. I do not, however, miss the USA, or Los Angeles.
To my country and my former home, I have only two things to say: goodbye and good riddance! Well, I might have a few more things to say, but they are too impolite to print in this article.
Buh-bye, USA! See ya; wouldn’t wanna be ya!