Taking the plunge


musette wwii fielf bag

The classic Musette WWII Field Bag I’m taking with me

Well, I finally made the decision.

After thinking about it a lot, I decided I don’t want to be some American pretend French guy living like all the other pretend fly-by-nighters (the preferred nomenclature is of course “expat,” which is kind of negative, if you really think about it: ex patriot, is that how you wish to be known?) that pass thru Nice by the trainload looking for bodacious tatas and escape from proximity to the Orange boob.

Even if in my case I would living in Nice on a golden UK/EU passport, with the US one as backup, till the UK in 2 years turns into a small island that’s just called little England now, the offshore tax haven with the picturesque buildings where important things used to happen, before they turned into a tourist attraction for Gulfies and Chinese with selfie obsessions.

I just realized I want to be in my own country.

Where I don’t have to shell out a small fortune for costly private expat insurance (in addition to what I already pay in the States for socialized medicine, which actually works like a charm) plus have oodles of spare cash stashed in the bank like it grows on trees to prove I won’t be a burden to the state.  I have the right to live here, no questions asked; as did my father, and grandfather, and ancestors going back centuries, before America was a twinkle in the eye of a bunch of mostly English landholding slave owners with aristocratic pretensions and a penchant for the genocidal extermination of Native Americans.

The country, in other words, that I grew up in, and will love to the day I die.

My country.

I just realized more than anything else that I want to be away from having to listen to brain-dead American douche bags saying stupid things about a culture they know nothing about.

But it has to be, this new place, in an Epicurean walled garden version of Egypt, of course, one where I can live right by the sea, along the edge of the desert (yes, because it’s clean). in a simple one bedroom apartment, and not worry about things like what viperous nonsense is coming out of Washington.

I shall, at long last, be far away from all that soul-destroying toxicity,

So what is it that I want now out of life?

A big office on top of the Helmsley Building overlooking Park Avenue?

Been there; done that.

My name in all the industry rags as an expert in my field worth opining on all the latest Big Data tech trends?

The truth is, no one ever remembers the byline, even if they bother glancing at it. Do you?

A house in the back country of Greenwich CT on a nice piece of land with a kidney-shaped, heated in ground pool?

A bottomless money pit, as everyone puts up zero-lot McMansions next to what you thought was your bucolic, secluded piece of Americana heaven,

A fancy job title comprised of a three-letter abbreviation, starting with the third letter of the English alphabet?

In tech, they give these out like hot cakes. To entice you to wait 5 years to fully vest, instead of the usual three the marketing guys get. By which time of, of course, the startup you worked 24/7 for during the most productive years of your life, and when you should have been spending time with your baby boy or girl, time that can never be regained, will of course have folded, with all the principals making out like bandits, but of course not you.

And now that you’re warmed over dog meat, resist looking at your embossed business cards that you once loved to hand out with a flourish like the insider badge that you’d arrived. Word of advice,  burn these fuckers as soon as you get canned, and don’t look back, not even once, and tell them to screw their offer to hang out in some ratty cubicle at some funereal transition offices that you can share with a bunch of other losers just like you and you can be lectured to by some rented, cheerful cunt about staying positive and working thru the 7 stages of grief as your reinvent yourself as a hospital orderly.

Just negotiate as as much severance as you can with the heart of stone fuckface they’ll have you meet, before telling you have 5 minutes to clear out  Threaten to divulge trade secrets if it will get you more hush cash and a sweeter COBRA deal, and make sure you hit that Rolodex on Day 1.

For by Day 7 baby, if you haven’t gotten any nibbles yet, nobody’s gonna know you from a hole in the wall by the end of the month, unless you had the foresight to make sure you took those paid-for computer refersher courses on company time to  keep those tech skills current so you can smile with contempt oozing out of every pore as you sit thru that phony canned speech by some insincere bitch half your age about how the firm really loves your work  but now you ought to consider going in a different direction and you’ll be  back on your feet in no time at all, no worries there.

But God help you if you are over 50 and looking for work, in a field like tech where old is 25, unless you’re wiling to go to Siberia and maintain old COBOL mainframe systems that no one wants to go near unless they’re into career suicide.

Me, I’m not into the death wish thing.

I want something more.

I want to feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life.

I want the solitude necessary for doing what I like to do most in life, which is think deep thoughts. like: is it time to order a Drinkees delivery (assuming me credit’s still good) to help inspire me to write my genius short stories that sometimes get published every ten years or so in ghetto lit mags few if any read.

Where Cossery lived most of his life in exile. I took this pic in Paris in July ’16.

It’s getting very late in life in me for me to write that novel. Albert Cossery said it’s a stupid idea anyway, and I’m conveniently with him on that one.

Most likely, it’s too late for the opus now, assuming there was ever one in me to begin with.

But who is to stay I can’t still have adventures, be content, feel a sense of tranquility deep down inside, so long as the knees hold up, instead of hanging those wanderlust cleats up and calling it a day.

So I  booked a flight on Turkish Air, because they were the cheapest. and I didn’t feel like hanging out in damp and rainy Nice for a year living is crummy digs and surviving on stale croissants and Vache Qui Rit gelatinous cheese.  Plus they can’t stand Arabs, the whole bloody lot of them, even the ones they describe with stomach-turning, back-of-the-hand terms such as évolués.  I am truly sick of that shit already.

My plane leaves Nice at 6:30p, with a layover in Istanbul, then on to Gouna, where I shall be arriving at the ungodly hour of 3:15am.

I have arranged to have a driver wait for me in a private van, and he will have the keys to my new digs (the only pair, other than the ones being kept under lock and key with the office property manager).  I have also asked the accommodating property managers to spray the place for skeeteres, prior to my arrival, and I will also be taking a Mosinet double netter along with me to ensure a decent nigh’s sleep.

I have confirmed the dimensions with the property manager that it fits perfectly with the nice new king size bed that I shall sleeping on that they just put in the place. The net only weights about 1 Kg, or so, and can be stored in a convenient travel bag.

This item is also crucial.  You cannot obtain it in Gouna, apparently.


skeeeter repellent


So I should be all set in terms of being squared up with the SPF and anti-skeeter protection that is a must in a place like Gouna. Luckily my place is by the ocean, so it’s windy, which will help keep the critters away.  I might invest in a zap light, and maybe incense sticks also,.

I know all this sounds like mundane boring shit, but unless you plan ahead for such things, lack of planning can and will  ruin your vacation to the point where your main squeeze will  vanish by the end of the night.

You’ll find out through the desk clerk sniggering after you wake up alone in your hotel bed covered with sores the size of shingle blisters that your dearly beloved flitted out with Ahmed the swarthy, heavily accented wannabe Tom Cruise bartender in Cocktail that twirled bottles of mislabeled local rotgut until he had your date’s tits get hard when he told her all about his hermetically screened up bach pad with the luxuriously hanging bed netting,

You of course were busy during all this throwing up in the men’s room from the putrid Egyptian date liqueur and this is when you will learn once and for all that cruel lesson all men learn at some  point in their life.

Revenge sex takes many vicious forms, including the one where it happens because you forgot the mosquito net in the car at the airport back home because you’re nothing but a useless plank of pure stupid, always have been, and maybe always will be.

And you won’t even have the balls to demand on the tense drive back to the airport that she at least foot her share the trip’s cost for her time with Ahmed but that will get you get nothing but a look of withering contempt that promises the complete and permanent ruin of your already shaky rep back at the office as a Hooray Henry with not the slightest clue of what it means to be a Red Sea bon vivant.

I plan to stay  in Gouna till March, a good six months (thought I do have my back-up escape return flight set for December, in case things turn sour.)

But frankly, I won’t think about catching the news for more than an hour or so an evening, on CNN or BBC for a bit, and that’s it. No more endless Rachel and Lawrence and Chris Matthews and  Chris Hayes screaming Mimis every night. I’m here to get away from America, not recreate it by eating overpriced mystery meat cheese burgers in downtown Gouna, with people with dodgy English who will be here today, gone tomorrow.

Instead, I plan to learn to cook authentic Egyptian cuisine. I plan to travel around to ultra cool Marsa Alam further South, to see the incredible and still unspoilt reef and marine life and live in primitive camp conditions right on the beach (I prefer those to the big hotels).  I might even attempt a trek thru Elba National Park, though that will probably take some doing to get permits, and money is always an issue for a penniless writer such as I.

If ever there were a unique environment left in Egypt that is relatively unspoiled that would be it, and I would not mind that being the one thing on my bucket list that is the last must see.

Did I mention I will be hooking up with some of my old band mates? We started one of the first pure rock and roll groups in Egypt together back in the day. I have no intention of turning this into a nostalgia act redux.

It will be interesting to see if we still can crank out some original tunes, again, just for the fun of it, and without embarrassing ourselves in the process.

I will not play any of the old “hits” we started out with as a young band.

It’s new music that interests me now, original compositions actually, although I think it would be a gas to try to do some interpretations of old standards, but with attitude, such as a punk cover of “And then he kissed me,” with some sassy young German female singer, complete with peroxide hair and raw tats, fronting the band; or. on a different note, so to speak, do an austere modernized version of Inta Omri. That is what I am talking about, with shades of Orange Blossom, if I could ever dream of playing that well, with a violin player half as gifted as PJ Chabot miraculously chilling out in Gouna. I probably hear Hind Ahmed sing from the new album, Under the Shades of Violets, at least once every night these days.

Either way, this shit is starting to actually get real.  And closer with each passing the day.

Last time I visited Gouna, I was 50 lbs overweight and had just recovered from life-threatening surgery.

Allah seems to be smiling upon me again, after a long run of shit luck.

Things change.

Sometimes, though, if u hang around long enough, and survive the beer shits the Big Elvis loves to take on our heads from time to time, you get to have things go your way once in a while.


I can live with that.