Friday, January 07, 2005

December 6-December 27

December 6, 2004

I swear, I’m going to leap out of my window. I just need to figure out a way to get it open all the way. Right now I could only chop off body parts and toss them out the window and that’s just not very effective. And that is what this is all about—effectiveness. Right now I am in the Salle de Profs at the IUFM, redoing the bloody schedule with Ariane and Natalia. Not my idea of a good time. In fact, I’m so miserable and frustrated I am considering jumping out of my window and I really don’t like heights.

I just hate this. I would consider cutting short my visit to France to not have to deal with this bullshit (totally necessary) anymore. Well, I’d rather do that then leap out my window. Or cut off body parts and toss them onto unsuspecting students. Heh. That could actually be kind of amusing. Almost makes me smile thinking about it.

Agh! This place is turning my mind! That is not the type of thought that should bring a smile. At least I still recognize a bizarre thought when I have one.

I hate disorganization with a passion. I hate having to redo things that I’ve already done because the people who are supposed to be in charge of me have no clue what they are doing. I hate useless work. This reminds me of what I hated so much about the military—no information, no organization, nothing! Rien! Pas de Tout!

December 7, 2004

I swear, never live with people from third world countries—especially if you are an American. Gee, I’m really sorry your country sucks, but don’t take it out on me. Ugh, I know this all makes me sound like some big asshole, but I’m just sick and tired of the whole thing.

I think the Argentinean must not have refrigerators where she comes from. I’m assuming that everyone reading this understands that, once in a while, the fridge will defrost and drain some water. It does not mean that the fridge is broken—in fact, quite the opposite. So, I ask you gentle readers, how is it my fault that the fridge has drained some water? You think I exaggerate? Hah! Today, the Argentinean went up to Jo and said (in French) “I am very angry with Justine.” So it is now my fault that the fridge has defrosted. I ask you all, WHAT THE FUCK? This has gotten totally out of hand. I am ready to throttle her. I suppose I might as well mention that I am also, single handedly, responsible for famine and pestilence, war, teenage pregnancy, and rainy days. It is almost too incredible for me to get upset about. I’m incredulous about the whole thing. Here’s the kicker: I’m the one who cleaned up the water when the fridge defrosted before!

I shouldn’t type about it—it is just making me all upset again. Relax. Calm. Breathe. Kill. Murder. Homicide. Annihilate. Ahh, much better.

December 8, 2004

Today I am going to up to Lyon with Llian, Jo, Suzanne, and Jessica for the Festival of Lights. Every year, the folks up at Lyon give thanks to the mighty whatever for sparing them from major pestilence—goes back to black death. Then again, since I’m here, there may be another outbreak. But enough of that; I’m in a good mood today—and I intend to stay in one.

Here’s one of the major reasons I am in a good mood: looks like I am going to Morocco for Christmas. The Dark Continent. I’m so excited about it. I’ve become friends with one of the IUFM students and her husband lives in Marrakech. She invited me to come and spend Christmas with them. So I will be in a place where the sun shines for more than two hours a week.

Not only that, but I went to the hypermarket yesterday and found little packets of cream for my tea. So now I have English Breakfast tea with two lumps of sugar and cream. That is enough to start anyone’s day right. Add a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie—and how could I possibly be upset about anything?

I bought the new Jimmy Cliff cd yesterday. He has mellowed a lot. I’m not impressed. The music from The Harder They Come was raw and undeveloped, but it was jammin’. The stuff on this cd is so polished it has lost all personality. I was really excited about it because it has Annie Lennox and Sting, but…

Well, gotta continue getting ready for Lyon. I forgot when I’m supposed to meet Jo. It was either 10h40 or 11h40. Whoops.

December 15, 2004

How bummed am I? The Badz Maru socks that my sister gave me for Christmas several years ago are completely worn through. I loved those socks—every time I put them on I thought of my sis. (Not sure what that says about our relationship but hey, weird family, remember?) They’ve been falling apart for years now but I kept sewing them back together. Now they are so far gone there is nothing I can do. I’m going to cut off one of the Badz Marus to keep.

It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to spend any time with my sis. I remember, several years ago—I think it may even have been when she gave me the socks—when we sang “Merry Fucking Christmas”—you know, the totally tasteless song from South Park.

Ah well. I still have plenty of socks, though, so that is not a problem.

December 18, 2004

Well, I am off to Morocco today. I still have to do laundry, pack, and clean the kitchen. I hate having to do laundry here—I have to drag my dirty clothes about 2 km away to the laundry mat. Then I have to pay outrageous amounts of money to get my clothes only marginally clean. At least cleaning the kitchen should be a snap—everyone except the Russian has left.

I bought a guidebook for Morocco. It is in French; I figured that would make me look less like an American. I can’t wait to see the buildings—the pictures are amazing. I hope I get to see a lot. Sophie is about 5 months pregnant and her husband, Hamid, has to work (these are the folks I’m staying with) so I don’t think they will be able to drag me around to see the sights. Normally that would be fine with me—I’d just go alone—but in this case I feel a little uncomfortable heading out on my own. At least until I get a feel for the place and see what it is like for women.

December 22, 2004

Greetings from Morocco! I have been here now for four days. I haven’t seen too much because I’ve only gone out on my own once. I still feel a little uncomfortable venturing out on my own. I don’t speak Arabic, my French is still really bad, and, lets face it, I stick out like a sore thumb here. I haven’t had any problems—well, other than yesterday at place Jamaa al Fnaa, which I will get to later—but I do get a lot of attention, which I don’t like. I prefer to be invisible. I do feel a little bad, though, because Sophie is pregnant and Hamid works, and I feel like I am making them feel like they need to keep me entertained. It just takes me a few days to start to feel comfortable in a place. I’m the same in any new place.

Anyway, it is really, really different here. In some little ways it reminds me of places I have been before—Florida, Arizona, and Grenada. But most of it is so different from anything I know. Oh wow—I just looked over at the table and saw that Hamid has put some ketchup on it. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve had ketchup? Wow! How exciting! I feel kinda bad because I am being lazy and not offering to help. But (for my mom here) I think I’ve been over all a pretty good houseguest. I have insisted on doing the dishes most of the time and I occasionally nag Sophie to sit and take a rest and let me do whatever. I wish I could cook. I really ought to learn. Oh well.

The thing that I find most interesting about Morocco is the people. I love to see how they are dressed. It runs the gamut—I see women completely veiled with only their eyes visible and I also see women wearing business suits. I see women in the long robes and headscarves wearing high-healed shoes. Sometimes I see three generations of women walking together, each dressed differently. It is really something that I would have to get pictures of—I could never express it in words. The men are similar—what they wear is often dictated by their age. The young men dress casually, in a western manner.

Mmmm, just finished eating. I am now sitting back with my laptop and Sophie and Hamid are watching TV. I feel very comfortable and relaxed. I think that this is my favorite part of the trip—just being able to feel comfortable around the people I am currently staying with. In France I’m constantly harassed by the presence of you-know-who. Here I just feel like, yeah, whatever. I’m comfortable, I’m happy. I just hope that Sophie and Hamid are not annoyed or tired of me yet. It is funny because they are always remarking about how a week is so short, how it is not enough time to stay in one place. Me, I think the opposite. I think that a week is a really long time, especially when you are staying with someone at his or her house.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…

Anyway, back to the men. The older ones wear robes similar to the ones that the female wear. They have pointed hoods sewn into them. Sometimes you see an older man wearing the hood over his head. With apologies for being a gauche American, I have to say that, when they wear it like that, they look a lot like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. But that is not the extent of my cultural insensitivity. You see, the women are kinda short. Okay, really short. With their robes on, they resemble the Star Wars Jawas. That thought came to me while I was walking through the Souks and it made me smile. I, of course, instantly felt awful. But it was funny.

There was a travel writing class at UMBC when I was a student there. They didn’t practice any travel writing; instead, they read memoirs and journals and the like and discussed the style and political and social import and whatnot. I didn’t take the class—I didn’t find it interesting at the time—but now I find myself curious. I would like to know how better to record my experiences on the road. I know that class would not have taught me exactly how to write about my travels, but it would at least have given me a starting point—a base from which to work with. As it is, I find myself wondering what to record and how to record it. I am not one for noting details anyway. What I write is more about quick humor and overview than about in-depth description and profound insight.

It is interesting because it seems that, the way that people think of Morocco, it is a place that gets inside a person. One always hears about Americans and Europeans who visited Morocco and knew that it was where they belonged. It has a powerful siren call. I can hear it, but I don’t feel it the way that others do. I like the country, I find it interesting, but that is it. But I can also see, very clearly, how it exerts such a power over others. It is odd to be an observer in such a manner. Sometimes I go somewhere that others really love, and I’m like ewwww. But here, I can understand why one would wish to stay here. But, as I said, it is not for me.


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