It’s All in the Name

A while back, I got tired of the plethora of invitations from LinkedIn and decided to look into it.  Yes, they wore me down.  Actually, the tipping point was when I got an invite from my 75+ year old Aunt.  That was a WTF moment.  I went to the website and signed up.  No questions asked.  Just filled in the profile page and hit send. And then there was another page.  And another.  And another.  Droning on ad nauseam about my skill-sets.

I don’t know what my skill sets are, um I can type pretty fast after I’ve had a manicure.  But no box to check-off for that.  Smart-ass is listed nowhere, and I’ve written to them about that glaring omission.  I decided that honesty was best for this venture, so in the background summary I wrote:

I joined LinkedIn with the primary purpose of getting the solicitation emails to stop, and to see what my friends actually do for a living. Or what they claim to be doing. And I’m annoyed that under the Expertise section, there is no option for skilled at one-liners.

I figured this was the quickest way to kill the whole thing; with the least amount of pain for me.  I put in the minimum amount of information so I could finally get to the good stuff.  Finding out whatever the hell this was all about.  I finished the profile and waited.


No games, no chat, no photos other than member profile thumbnails; just a scrolling news reel with business stuff.  People’s promotions, random financial articles, the occasional cartoon…  That was it, that’s what all the fuss was about?  I thought maybe I wasn’t using it correctly, so I pressed on.

Did I want to add connections?  Sure, why not?  It started bringing forth names.  The LinkedIn Gods were working overtime, the list was endless.  Who should I pick? Who would be pissed off the least by getting emails from me?  The irony of which, was that I joined in the first place to make the emails stop.  But why shouldn’t they all suffer with me.  So, on a Friday night, I started clicking “add” while watching Futbol, eating sausages and drinking beer in a local pub.

I stopped checking the “add” box, only because my finger got tired and I got bored.  Satisfied that I had added what seemed like a healthy amount, I watched the game, and then walked with my friends to enjoy the revelry of a rare Armenia team win. Blissfully unaware of what was to come.

The next morning, my inbox was exploding with announcements.  Having no desire to read any of them, I logged into my account.  In less than 24 hours, I had over 300 connections. I was terrified.  What had I done?!?  I was now part of the collective?!?!  What was I missing?  No shopping, no free samples, no links to cute kittens or puppies doing tricks on YouTube; what the hell?!?  I had unleashed the beast.

I decided to change my approach.  Maybe I just needed to add more people. I saw profiles with 500+.  Maybe I had to earn the “+” for the real secrets to be revealed. I went to the suggestions page, and the first name that popped up was Arsen.  Now, the phenom of an overabundance of Armenians with “A” first names has always been a pet peeve.  Could prospective parents NOT get past the “A” section in baby names.  Arman, Arsen, Artur, Artak…. It’s “a”nnoying.  A new evil plan formulated in my head as I clicked on the first hapless Arsen.  I would hunt down and add every Arsen I could.  It was Saturday, I had already consumed too much coffee, and there was nobody to stop me.  I kept adding Arsens until I got tired and went on Facebook to play CandyCrush.  Of course after I noticed there were over 2,000 Arsens. The next day the results were the same; more connections, no answers, and no closer to solving the mystery.  I relegated the LinkedIn emails to the spam folder.

Today, I’ve abandoned all hope of finding out the secrets of LinkedIn, have come to terms with not being able to stop the emails, and my profile has an unhealthy imbalance of Arsens.  I had always hoped that one of them would get suspicious, discover the disparity, and alert the cartel. But to date, there have been no  upheavals in my connection list; and to my knowledge, no bounty on my head.  My only wish is that I had thought of this when I first set up the account, and I have toyed with the idea of deleting it and starting over again.  All Arsens,  All the Time.  Dare to dream.


When I was thinking about a name for the blog, third rail popped into my head.  I don’t really know why, it just appeared, floating in my brain like one of those cartoon light bulbs that goes off when someone gets an idea.  I put together the symbolism later.

I thought of the name and the cover photo at the same time.   The Yerevan Metro is one of my favorite city secrets.  Although why, is a mystery.  It’s not really that great, goes to severely limited stops mainly in Kentron, and doesn’t make much of a dent in the city traffic problems.

But I ride it whenever I get the chance.  Years ago, it used to freak people out.  Since I don’t exactly blend in with the local population, I would see looks of amusement, terror, curiosity, anytime I stepped on the train.  “Oh My God, why did this foreign woman wander down here?!?  What is happening?!?!?!?!”

I also like torturing the token sellers.  Soviet ladies, stuck in little booths hours on end, stacking and re-stacking coins and metro tokens.  My lines are always the same, usually shouted with much enthusiasm:  Mi hat! (one).  This is followed by a perky Shnorhakalutyun! (thanks).   They eye me suspiciously as I flounce off,  token in hand.  I got one to smile back one time, but it might have been gas.  These ladies are hard core, it’s hard to tell.

So the perfect picture formulated in my mind.  Some of the metro stops are above ground, and I pictured a long shot down the track, rails in the foreground, trees and a few warehouses  in the background, it would be perfect.

“Mi hat”  “Shnorhakalutyun”  On with the show.

Taking photos in the metro stations is strictly forbidden.  I’ve never gotten caught, but have heard stories from other people on being approached and admonished by security.  Something to do with national security.  Because every soviet built metro station  throughout Eastern Europe isn’t exactly the same.  Anyway, I devised a clever plan.  I would get off at the Nzhdeh station, cross to the other side and sit on a bench to wait for a returning train. Then, when I saw it was time for the train to approach, I would get up, quickly take the photo, then glide onto the train as the doors opened.  I always wanted to be Jamie Bondyan.

As I sat waiting on the bench, I slid my camera out, checked the settings and waiting.  At the perfectly timed moment, I stood up, walked out to the track, raised the camera, and froze.

Armenia doesn’t have a third rail.

My first reaction was not exactly stealth.  Bahahahahahaha.

I pointed the camera down the track (sans rails) snapped a picture, and walked onto the train. HOW is this possible?  I thought all subways had a third rail.  Hence the urban slang term, the references in movies, use in political commentary, depictions in CARTOONS!?!?

Immediately discounting that this was a legitimate design choice, I started formulating the conspiracies.  “Aber, we charge for 3, put in 2, nobody knows difference.  Then we go to vacation Krasnoyarsk,  girls are hot.”

I sighed.  There was no conspiracy, this was just a giant metaphor for our independent little country.  We have no third rail, no dangerous source of raw power, and we get by without it.  I rode to the end of the line, winked at the grumpy woman in the booth eyeing the camera in my hand, and took the long escalator ride to the top.

Which is probably powered by hamsters running on tread-wheels.

2nd Should Have Been 1st

People have always told me that I should write.  When I first moved to Armenia, I used to write short stories – brief snippets of what life was like and how I was adjusting.  It all went along fine until one day; someone came up and introduced themselves to me.  We had never met, but he had read all my stories.  He had gotten them by email, from a friend, of a friend, of a friend.  My humor isn’t always reverent, and I started worrying that people who didn’t know me wouldn’t understand that I wasn’t bashing my homeland, but actually enjoying the experience of the newness, no matter how scary/annoying/hilarious.  I stopped writing.

Fast forward 13 years, and there are more repats living here, more people writing about their experiences, more ways to share daily life i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., and more transparency about life here in general.  The veil has been lifted, it’s not just my voice talking about crazy taxi rides.  I had been toying with the idea of writing a blog for months, ok at least a year, but every time I sat down to write, it didn’t seem all that interesting as before.  Fine, full disclosure, that’s a lie, I just got lazy.  I didn’t want to take the time to figure out how the hell a blog works.  And I didn’t.  I signed up, and put up my first post, before handling any of the basics.  So now I need to back-track a bit, and at least disclose all the * information.

* My grammar sucks.  After 12 years of living in Armenia, and adapting my English into some sort of morphed lingo that can easily be understood by non-native English speakers, (including a weird accent), I’ve lost the simple rules of grammar.  I took a stab at learning basic Armenian a while back, and it was then that I realized I had no idea how I was able to speak English.  Ever since I have been harboring a plot to kill whoever invented the term “past present perfect participle.”  I will find him someday.

* I’ve developed ADD later in life and have problems staying on topic. I like to write like I think, so if you get lost while reading, it’s not my fault, I probably should be medicated.

* I lie.  ADD wasn’t later in life, I’ve probably always had it, but it seems trendier now, so I’ll fess up.  Plus exaggerating/taking liberties with the truth is an Armenian thing.  It’s in my blood.

* Sometimes I curse.  My Dad is a retired mechanic, and although he kept the language clean while home, I like to think that I inherited my creative cursing skills from him by osmosis.  Or my Aunt Barbara, my Dad says she used to swear like a sailor.

* I have a curiosity about how life should work, that doesn’t always match up with reality.  But then, if I didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Those are all the disclaimers I can think of for now, but this is no guarantee, more will probably pop up later.  So, here I am, this is the post I should have started with, but didn’t.  You’re welcome.

Who Said This Was a Good Idea?

Dating is not something I wanted to get into.  After 15 years, all the methods have changed, and it seemed like the rules of civility were the first to go.  Meeting for coffee is a date.  Seriously?  I have to get myself over to a date, nobody is picking me up?  Barbaric.

Since I don’t live in my own country anymore, the dating culture is even more unfamiliar.

Start with the language barrier, add the antique patriarchal system, the outlook on a women’s role in the word, the views of what a divorcee is “really” looking for, plus my general hostility towards the male species at this point of my life, and you have a recipe for tons of fun.

Since social media is now my life, I decided to jump in with my friend the Internet. The world of online dating.

My first attempt steered me in the wrong direction.  An online dating site, with pages of questions upon sign-up, and a crappy website.  I signed myself up, posted my photo, and waited.

It seemed harmless, men started looking at my profile, I looked back.  Then one sent me a message.  Eewww, I didn’t want to talk to him, but I’m American, and a polite idiot, so I tried to respond.

This is when I discovered how the site actually worked.  Signing up and creating a profile is free.  Looking at other profiles is free.  Sending someone a “wink” is free.  Communicating with each other?  Starts at $20 a month.  Shocking reality #1.

So, no autopsy, no foul, I figured most of the people on the site would never pay, as neither would I, which meant nobody could ever really contact me.  When you look at someone’s profile, it notifies them.

Big deal, they would never find me, I was in the safe zone! Why not see what this was all about? I started cruising through the site.

At first, I didn’t pay attention to the profiles.  There was more than enough entertainment in the photos.  One guy not looking at the camera, wife-beater t-shirt, belly hanging out over his pants – on full display, a cigarette half hanging out of his mouth, and he was looking down at his phone.

This is it?  That was the best he could do?  He actually got up, got dressed looked in the mirror and told himself, yes, I look hot today; I’ll have someone take my photo.

I was distracted for a while.  Endless horrible photos, with the occasional professional photo scanned out of a picture frame.  Most in need of good fashion advice.  But then one of the introductions caught my eye.

“I am looking for girl for sexual relationships
I am a boy, and wanna having good sexual relationships with girls. I like girls and I am ready to make love minimum twice per everyday.
Looking For: What can i say?”

Wow, what a sacrificing guy, he’s pledging a minimum.  Then another:

“I need woumen who can help me get viza in USA and tell cost .ralation after.  I would prefer bussineslaik relationchip for 1 or 2 years. I,m sorri for my englich. Butifull from all angls”

Well, might as well lay all the cards out on the table.  I’m sure he’ll be inundated with responses.  P.S.  its called Google Translate, my friend.

“I’d like to meat a woman of 36-42 years old, sexual and handsome for friendly and sexual relationship. She must be emancipated,clever and without any psycological complexes.”

Jackpot, I realized that I had reached nirvana; the kings of the idiot world were trying to communicate.


Ok, I’ll admit, I really wanted to talk to this guy.  He was either socially stifled or a comic genius.

The photos coupled with the profiles and the introductions were an insane mix of lunacy and stalker. I went from entertained, to toying with the idea of opening a business to help the male population clean themselves up.

“beautiful smart tall nise sexi no jeil time”

I’m not entirely sure if this was a description of himself, or what he was looking for in a woman.  As my friend said, “are you kidding?” How can I be all this, but have served no “jeil time”?! I guess ex-convicts would not be all that popular, on either side of the fence.

As entertaining as this was, I got tired of cyber-flicking their profiles; they were just making it too easy.  I abandoned the site all together, as the temptation to hunt them down and give fashion advice and re-write their profiles was overwhelming, and I had no way of contacting them.

However, if any of them happens to read this blog, here is some advice for your profile photo:

  • Posing with a woman is out. Yes, this does include your Mom. (Insert eye-roll here)
  • Texting is not new nor an impressive skill to highlight.
  • Holding weapons towards the camera makes us uncomfortable.

I leave you with these words of wisdom from tgr2014: “man looking for honest relation chip.”

Yes my friend, an honest relation chip is what we all strive for.

The adventure continues……