Saturday, September 1, 2007

Productive Staggering, for a Change

Against all odds, I actually got a job!! No small feat in Ithaca, my placid town where being trilingual is not much of a distinction, and even less use. I am happily employed at Ithaca Coffee, where I spent 5 hours today learning how to do a few useful things. There will be more useful hours to come; inshalla'ah I will learn how to use the cash register in time. It's an agreeable place with an excellent beer selection. And it leaves room for the writing gig in a few months: I will be able (if all goes well) to handle both. Cross your fingers.

I am pleased as punch to be useful again. Even if I am the oldest member, even if I work with a girl who was born when I was in high school--it doesn't really bother me. This is all on the way back to where I should be. God bless our every move.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Let the Questions be Answered

Because it's her birthday. She's 21 today. Jalila Benlali, she's awesome. She didn't believe me when I said that her looks would turn heads in New York. But I don't lie about legs like that. Enough mournful drooling.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

So God has commanded you to write; and offers no comforting justification. Do not write of yourself. Write instead of a fierce land clinging to the edge of a sharp stone, nestled in the sand. Only by God's mercy and grace is the land made green, any shelter found therein. For you are blessed in the eyes of God, who commands you to follow the Path He has cleared. The Way has never been clearer, so embrace and cling to it. In time, you will learn and grow. Do not lose the Path.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In Brief Response...

It is raining again in Ithaca, while it is warm and clear in Meknes. I know Morocco poses many problems that America does not, but it still seems like a much more proper place to me. I regret my many lapses and sins, and I pray that I will be allowed to return again. I am still sad, but I will continue putting one foot in front of the other, to take me down this path. And insha'llah I will arrive in a happier place one day.

Cryptic, ha!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wide Awake on a Dark Plain

I will tell you what happened in Chaouen. The world became beautiful. This is not to say that the images presented by my eyes took on the attribute of beauty: but rather, that which beauty was, the world was made of that. It was in everything, as clear as a bell. The trees on the mountains, the curve of the hill, the angle of the sun. It was not only within me, but everything I saw. And things stayed like that.
I never forgot my vision, even though it dulled after months. I believe that I will find it again in the beloved land, and this remains my ardent hope. So when I say how things seemed so much clearer there, that is what I am talking about. I haven't talked about it more because I think many of you would think I was nuts. Or I lack the sufficiently eloquent skills to describe the feeling welling up in me from the vision.
I still feel it now, though it's faint. I need the strings of my heart to pull it back, and these are tied to things far from here. Without them, I am only half a man.
Bound to familiar sights in this country, you will not understand. That is clear. So I will wish you asalaam walaikum and hope that you see one day as I have. Insha'llah.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not much to say at the moment. I thought I'd put up another picture from Chefchaouen: me and my buddy Zohair. We had a good couple days hanging out together. You see the blue glow on the wall from the glaze in the street. You see the tiled pavement. This was a nice small house. I wish I'd stayed longer there. I'll be back.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Walking This Stony, Sunny Path

I don't get it, but I guess I don't really have to... For no reason other than the apparent natural progression of things, my starkly black mood here in the gravel heap lifted, and I am still here. I still haven't met any other MS people, but this will come in time. In the meantime, I have other tomatoes to slice: a writing gig! ?!?!?!
I have known for awhile that I have some considerable writing skill, a predilection for matters literate and expressive and linguistic, but had I ever thought of applying this to employment? Haha! Of course not! For various quirky psychologic reasons, I felt obliged to a path which did not necessarily suit me... But moving on from the stage of interminable fits and starts to! If I pull this off well, this could be a redemptive boon to a puzzled career.
So how did I come to meet the owner of a dynamic and successful startup? Because he and his husband (shades of pink prejudice, but I think married gay couples are adorable) bought the folks' house in King Ferry! A veritable chance encounter, one of the sort that lead to marked mutual benefit. So the gig would essentially be online catalog copy writing. Content production, as they call it these days. Sorting out fluff to add new fluff? Something like that. A superior hourly rate has been floated, conditions were broadly described, and the potential for distance employment was offered.
A heroic return to my beloved country wavers before my astonished eyes. Life in Morocco on an American wage?! Even modest by Yankee standards, this is too good not to stake everything on. As if I ever do things by another strategy. So we will take the next steps over the next few weeks, and also find another place to live. I am very pleased by this development.

Besmillah er Rahman u Rahim!! Dima insha'llah, la79ash min Allah kulshi ja'in, wa kulshi bekhir t7at sma zerqa. Z3ma insha'llah, wa dima amin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


It's hard to express. I feel completely alienated from the world here. Like none of this is mine, or has anything to do with me. It is all very strange and foreign feeling. Like Turkey, oddly enough. A place I didn't get used to. But theoretically, this is home.
The folks seem to think that when I am in a good mood, that everything is fine. And when I am in a bad mood, pathologic or otherwise, then I have done something wrong but they don't know what to do as a result. The foreign step-father gets even more distant than normal, and the mother gets hostile and cold. I suppose I don't really know what to do with them either.
So if I seem standoffish, maybe ask yourself why.

I don't know why I am still here. I don't want to continue my living. I don't see the point. I can't think of anyone whose grief I want to avoid. I am not that close to anyone here. No one will help me. So I'll do it on my own.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

That Was Quick

Didn't work. The mind does not focus properly, the concentration is muddled, the memory is intermittent, like a flickering light bulb. I cannot really do my job. Now the challenge is to convince the authorities of this. I am told that they will help me but naturally I am skeptical.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another Step...

...towards the cliff. I am leaving the US again, for how long I don't know. Lord knows I don't plan to return as I did before, stranded and helpless. Or at all, for that matter. 4 months after I got here in the chill grey of dying winter, I have clung to my culture shock with tenacity. I always wanted to leave, and now I will. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I think Turkey will be good for me. Arabic hasn't left, and I will learn something new.

So do not despair, dear heart. Only you can walk this path through the valley of darkness, but no one can stop you. So go with a bright heart, neglect your fear. In time you will arrive in the sunlit country where you belong. Just keep going.

But I will never forget the awkwardness felt by that fellow Calid at Trent's party (which one?) in Rabat. Declining the joint, sipping his juice, looking astonished by the foreign fellow Americans whose company he appeared to have shared in a long time. He seemed to have been comfortable in Syria. But he was a nishan meslem, not like me. I am not sure what I am, or where I belong, or what I should be doing. So I must keep looking. Khssni nmshi, wa kanwssel insha'llah. Dima nsrani ana. Z3ma, nmshina! Bla khattar. Nshufek, sahabi.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer Jobs Never Again to Be Endured

There were only a few types of doors. The desperate poor resented the intrusion by the bourgeoisie into their jealously guarded space, and were further insulted by another invitation to privileged society commercially rescinded. They would see a cultural foreigner, an unfamiliar creature from another world, divorced from adult responsibility, unconcerned with clipping coupons and the price of gasoline. Shame at their capitalist impotence was palpable. (This was Geneva, NY.) The conservative right happily welcomed the chance to grapple with their ideological adversary, all don’t-tread-on-me, drowned-in-a-bathtub outrage. Bored by their static companionship, their eyes lit up with righteous disagreement. (This was some nameless suburb of East Rochester.) And finally, there were the guilt-stricken bourgeosie, eager for absolution from their industrialist sins. (This was well-heeled Brighton, and would be Ithaca too.) All were amazed at the left’s effrontery. Imagine the nerve, they would mutter inwardly. To approach me on my own property! As if this has anything to do with me! Few saw a person. Most were culturally embedded enough that they saw only a symbol.

But gripped with unwavering optimism, blind to their own inconsistencies, the group would ramble on. Selling indulgences, leaving a path of literature in their wake, pressing each with empty words of solidarity. Stranded thirsty by secularism, they did not see their proselytizing ancestors, nor their distant cousins across the sea. The religious parallels were unheard of. Ignorant of their brethren, they remained numbingly American.

Poor scattered people! All aching for community, for social intimacy, for release from paranoia and anxiety. Many contributions were fed as much by loneliness as by contention. So the organization was sustained by the same qualities it represented against.

Man, I miss Morocco... But I will be in Turkey soon. Close enough for now. I almost made it to Tetouan, but I can count Bursa on the Matt-map.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stranded Traveler

I found a bat in my kitchen. This is strange enough to be the opener for a very silly joke. A small brown bat, clumsily hugging the floor, a little smaller than one of my old rats. Chauve-souris, indeed! He must have come in through a window, but why? It's far too light outside to be kiting around at this hour. So I scooped the fellow up with a magazine, which he promptly bit enthusiastically. I made it out to the porch, where I happily offered him his freedom. He glared at me, a shred of paper stuck to his teeth. Ungratefully, he bit my knuckle. I cursed at him and flung him into the air. He glided off across the street and landed in a shrub. I have never seen a bat flying during the day. He must have been half-blind.
This was the second wild creature to fly into this house this week. A few days ago, there was a terrified starling in the living room. She looked a little dazed, and then I found out why: no one explained walls to her. When I approached her, she immediately took off for a window, and smacked into a wall. After a little more of this folderol, she allowed me to cup her gently in my hands, though she plainly still thought her end was nigh. She was a lot more excited when I took her outside and pitched her off the porch. Still a bit wobbly, she flew a little too close to the telephone lines, clipping a wing, and nearly crashed again. But she didn't.
I hope the symbolism is clear to you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Itchy Feet

As teachers and foreigners, I know that we are largely expendable. We are often seen as tetchy and unreliable, likely as not to be repelled by the culture we find ourselves and unimpressed by local agreements. But this is not me. I didn't want to leave, sweetheart, and you know nothing short of a medical emergency could have separated me from you. You still ring true to my heart.

With you on my mind, the most encouraging development this week has been the affordable price of a ticket from Istanbul to Casablanca. I will come back to you. For now, I must leave. Leaving once more, and arriving in a familiarly perplexing landscape, are foremost on my mind.

Bursa! What does it mean? Wide stone plazas, quiet round pools of water beneath gently the sloping broad domes of the mosque, slender round minarets towering outside. Chaotic traffic in the roundabouts nearby. Flourishing gardens. Cafés. All in Turkish!

In other words, I have no idea what to expect. After 4 months of rotting in isolation, I will rejoin humanity in a properly welcoming civilization. Enough of this American smile-and-nod duplicity! Enough of unseen transgressions and quietly seething at misperceived arrogance! I must get over expectations of Moroccan similarity; I am sure that the Turks would bristle at this. But I will keep mumbling in Arabic anyway. And I will still miss my friends and my adorable Jiji. I hope she is all right.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Damn Mood Swings

Now what?!

But I can't help thinking that I shouldn't go. I know what I am risking. I don't want to be hospitalized again. I am afraid of this. This got me into an expensive situation which was the unraveling of my life in Morocco. But I have no real choice. I have already committed to it. I am going anyway, doubts and fears and all!

In a couple months, I will feel much more comfortable.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Some Encouraging Developments

By the end of the month, familiar 8-hour jet lag will have worn off, I will be struggling with unfamiliar phrases, and I will be getting used to a new environment. AGAIN. The life of a traveler: Never pack much but optimistic thoughts. A new place, new weather, new birdsongs, new coffee. Some things will be similar.

In brief:

1) I got the job in Bursa. It is amazing how easy this is with a little experience! I could have gone to Istanbul but my impression is not very different from Casablanca, with more complicated geography. Bursa seems a bit like Meknes. I am probably wrong.

2) The medication is happening. My supply ran out a few weeks ago. The necessity of my family's involvement in this irks me. I am not sure what else I could have done. But at least I should have some to take with me (insha'llah).

I wonder about the effect of heat on this accursed condition. I have heard much about this, and I wonder if that is behind my dizziness and losing my glasses. But moving on regardless.

Friday, May 25, 2007

What I was writing when she called with the good news:

A recent application for graduate-level Arabic studies included an appropriately perplexing essay question: “What is the most serious problem in Islam today?” One may consider to what degree the questioner is posing a sort of political litmus test. Is a prospective Western applicant aligned to the sense of cultural self-defense, adhering to the notion that a global growth of Islam represents a vital threat to Western values? Or does our applicant take the opposite position, that the most pressing threat to Islamic mores comes from those outside the religion? But this entire line of analysis is basically flawed.

So I was already in the mindset of forging ahead, brave new frontiers, that sort of thing. While I don't think Islam itself has any genuine problems, I do think it could benefit from some defense. Why does the West take the bloody-minded approach that it does? Why does it cling to ancient stereotypes to justify foolish hatreds? Having demonstrated such capacity for intrinsic sweeping change, even to the point of solipsistic relativism, why is this so difficult? But anyway.

I will arrive in Istanbul on June 17th! We fixed this date tonight, I received the confirmation email and all. She actually is helpful! Or at least did what she promised. She knows how much this means to me. I wonder how to proceed from here. Istanbul, Bursa, then what? Syria? Lebanon? Egypt? Morocco? Hmmm... None of you ever comment on this, I doubt few of you actually read this drivel anyway, so asking my friends for their input is surely beside the point. But I love you guys anyway.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Makes you wonder where her other hand is....

Tagline: Solving the Mystery of Duck Genitalia
Wow, without even a parental consent form. The article is even better. Go find it yourself.


Wow, she’s nice. Of course she is. But I knew this before. I wonder what she thinks.

So what’s next? One must always maintain a view of the future. Struggle with your problems of the present, but do not let them overwhelm you. Even a disagreeable nervous system can be dealt with. Beshwiya.

I am agreeable with marrying in Morocco, but I realize the giant difficulties with leaving the place that this would pose. Maybe not completely, but at least I’ve got that far. I think I already had my “get out of jail free” card: that was Zoe’s mother, unfortunately. I think one is enough. Jalila was not such a refusal; this was medical. You can’t play baseball if a meteor lands in the park.
This is Jalila, incidentally. Draw your own lascivious conclusions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Fluffer-Nutter

Unfortunately, you're not a real person. I wonder who those pictures are?
>From: "Amy Carter" <>>To: m*******>Subject: Hiya, I'm just now catching up on emails>Date: Tue, Apr 2007 18:08:18 -0400>>Hey, cutie thanks for answering my ad on craigslist.
Whatever.Who are you anyway? This is very mysterious.
>My computer broke down and I finally called the Geek Squad or>what ever and it was very embarressing because my house was a mess and
Blah, blah...
>the guy was really cute and most definitely not a Geek,>well goes to show why I'm still single.
No, you're single because you're hopeless.
>My computer is alive now and>I wasn't sure if you were still interested in meeting me.
No. I only meet people who exist in real life.
>I'll attach some recent pics. Other than that, What are you up to?
Answering your insane email, in an equally pedantic fashion.
>How about tonight for a chat? Well I hope to hear back from you>because I could really go for a little bit of spice in my life,>if you know what I mean.
How about nutmeg?
I can be a real flirt online>but need a few drinks in person, so we need to chat soon.
NEED? Ooh, a damsel in distress.
>Well, ok, I guess you're good enough to see my pics,Ah, the sweet embrace of privilege.>but don't show them to anyone! Promise?>
>I think you'll really like some of the pics I have up especially after the>protection.Yeah, that "protection" is hot!
Mercy? Wow, are you ever barking up the wrong tree.
>Just don't spank me too hard when you see what a bad girl I am...LOL!
Mercy? Wow, are you ever barking up the wrong tree.
>Well I have to get back to catching up on emails from my friends,>but get ahold of me on my photo page!>>see ya,>Amy :)
Or whatever your name is, if you even have one. Not bloody likely.
On the other hand, the photos are real.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Makaynsh matayshat?

What the hell is wrong with these people?
Welcome to the Sadriyah market, north-central Baghdad. Other than the blackened vehicles and smoke, this slightly resembles some areas of, say, Meknes. But it's not.
Two ideas regarding motivation, not necessarily exclusive:
1) However the partisans organize themselves, they agree that increasing violence will drive off the invaders, er, "protectors". So this is essentially atheistic terrorism.
2) Given 1), many angry sorts have available cover for genuinely religious terrorism. Not that any of this crap, whether in Baghdad, Algiers, or Louisville, is remotely allowed by the Qu'ran.
(Dear US: Get the fuck out. What do you think you're doing?)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dig how Simo VI is the only one wearing shades. And everyone else has a dark suit.

Incidentally, they're building this nifty windmill park near Essaouira.

Why I Am Not That Concerned

I know, several bombings in Casablanca. The BBC article is here: I am saddened by the desperation of poverty, painfully exacerbated by its proximity to unreachable affluence. Knowing such hopeless bloodletting only widens this gulf is a bitter truism. Suicidal bombers' desired outcome is not clear to me. Popular support--that is, of the people--has always been an irresistible force. Its lack will cost our fumbling president his career (though in his cynicism, I doubt he cares), overcoming the stained glass walls with which his entourage protect him. People don't stay unhappy for long. Once they find some scrap of sustaining prosperity, they naturally cling to it. Conservatism is like that.

The monarchy has been basically successful so far. Though wealth is poorly distributed, and education has a some distance in front of it, The People are in favor of The King. His status as al-Mumineen, the Leader of the Faithful, places him in charge of the religious community as well as the secular. This is in important contrast to, say, Iran.

Political repression still lingers, and its reporting is transient at best. However, most people (I think) are joyously conservative, but not reactionary. There is no popular push for Wahhabi asceticism. So martyrs (do you still call them martyrs if no one cares about the individuals? I favor "losers".) do not really inspire an Iraqi-style bloodbath of retribution and fatally sanguine heroism. No one admires these poor dupes.

Perhaps September 11th inspired some similarly ignorant cretins, but I think the common reaction is like the Good Kids Meeting Drugs in some After School-Special: Ew, we don't want to be like that. But more strongly dismissive and condemning. This will not spread beyond Casablanca, certainly not to Rabat. (Poor Casaouis blowing up rich ones: not to be disgusting, but I never liked the place much anyway.) The country will not be fractured by sectarian fences. There aren't any, to speak of. It is too much a NFA Kingdom for that.

Perhaps it is more likely that willing candidates will either all blow themselves up (I know there's a hamd'ullah for something bad, the equivalent of God forbid. But it's rarely used: one student told me, "God never wishes something bad to happen." I am still thinking about this.) or else disappear, scuttled into an unmarked makhzen van, then to wake up somewhere uncomfortably near Algeria. Or not.

I am not that concerned because this will not sustain. Of the few serious Islamic sorts that I met, they seemed more likely to stash themselves away somewhere like al-Qaraouine in Fes, calmly murmuring the Qu'ran, quietly sneered at by their peers for not fleecing the tourists. Let us not neglect the influence of Berber culture: the soul of Moroccan conservatism.

If these enraged Casaouis are admirers of al Qaeda, I wonder if they despair of finding an embracing audience. I see a radical Christian, ragged clothes and greasy hair, thumping his Bible on a corner in a jolly 1950s white picket fence town: Repent, you sinners, for the day of the Lord is at hand! Right... Who will stay to be scorned by the madman, and suffer their faith belittled for its tolerance? Or who would rather marry an Anglophone, even a slightly odd one like me? (I'm talking to you, sweetheart.)

It is far too late to try to bend the Kingdom into a separatist culture. Maybe a century or two ago, but not now. Everyone who wants a stable job and a bilingual education, raise your hands.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Parable for a Dark Night, continued

The boy died before long. The days of the bright spring had almost matured into the fullness of summer when his melancholy pain overcame him. It was too long, his sister explained. He had been away from his precious land for too long, and his body crumpled in sympathy with his tormented body, still as leafy green as his sister’s blossomed into that of a young girl’s flower.

I didn't say there was much, did I? I might be leaving something out but you get the idea.

Parable for a Dark Night

Once upon a time, there was a farmer. He lived with his pretty wife on a large tract of land near a dark forest. One day in the fresh springtime, the farmer was plowing his land near the woods. He was driving his plow, readying the rich soil for the planting to come, when he discovered something strange.

The horse neighed and stopped suddenly in the track, refusing to budge another step. The farmer dismounted from the plow, more curious than angry at the horse’s recalcitrance, as it was normally obedient and knew its tasks well. He approached his horse, and found the reason for its halting.

Two small children, their skin as as verdant green as the new buds sprouting, lay unconscious in the field near the edge of the woods. By their strange clothing and their unusual color, the farmer knew they were not human. He was native to these rustic parts and knew of these beings, though he had never seen such himself. Both the girl and boy appeared to have been struck by some foreign force.

Summoning his courage, he picked up the children and gathered them atop the horse. Their weight was distressingly light. Unsure but not doubting his motive, the farmer brought the two children back to his wife. The two children barely stirred on the horse’s back as it ambled toward the farmhouse.

His wife immediately reacted without delay, warming broth and preparing beds for the two children. They did not eat, but slept under the thick blankets. The girl slept fast, but the boy murmured and shuddered in his sleep, as if being tormented by an invisible marauder.

In the morning, their paths began to diverge. The girl awoke early and gratefully accepted the broth, while her brother only took a taste of it. They spoke an utterly foreign language to each other, though their intent was as clear as any child. She urged him to take the sustenance, but he refused.

In time, their divergence became clearer and clearer. The girl even began to speak with the housewife, in a lilting and musical accent. The boy grew weaker and more frail, even as the days grew longer and sunnier. His sister continued to eat the kind strangers’ food but gasped in shock, refusing meat served to her.

What do you think happened next? Who were the children? What was the role of the food?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The rain is gently pattering the stony driveway outside. It's well-suited for the midnight hour, quiet and anonymous as the wolves now flushed from the hills. They haven't lived here in quite some time.

I'm sure their presence would astound me as much as my continued existence. My internal muttered dialogue this evening: This seems about appropriate, my last meal shared with foreign strangers in an unfamiliar land, the paradoxes crawling over each other like worm-infested kittens... But I didn't go. Though I could do so, on any similarly worthless, empty night.

You should have some idea of the mischievous land that stole my heart.
Welcome to Chaouen. I was never quite the same after I was here. Still.
Not a very good cropping but you get the idea... At least notice that Coke comes in a glass bottle, and is prepared with actual sugar, not corn syrup. The Spanish hippies were (are?) puffing behind me, not sharing, dreads tangled.
Regardless, this is fairly typical for a small terrace restaurant. Note the Mediterranean architecture prevalent in this part of the world, er, kingdom.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Your Useless Information for the Day

"A permanent indentation under the skin at the injection site may occur, due to a local destruction of fat tissue. Be sure to follow proper injection technique and inform your doctor of any skin changes."

I have one of these suckers on my leg. It looks like a tiny crater, as if I'm under attack from microscopic satellites. WTF? I don't have that much fat tissue to spare, bastard.

Good news: hand mobility is improving a bit.
Pragmatic Paul sez: You can almost give someone the finger. Keep it up, buddy.
Bad news: not yet able to handle nail clippers.
Pragmatic Paul sez: You can clip the right but not the left. Hmmm.....

Grimly Present

I am still here, though I am not sure why.

...A trucker's horrified, pale face silhouetted in his headlights as he approaches a young man's shattered body. Among the gray sky, the black night, and the white flakes that settle gently on his worn jacket, the bright blood on his face gives the only trace of color.

The chief differences between my situation and that of the protagonist in the movie I saw last night (, an excellent production; also look at (although I foolishly admit this gave me the idea)-- her motivation was clear, though hysterical, and mine is not. Hers is possibly even justifiable, but I don't see how mine could be. Not now that I have found a path. Such a path must be followed, not strayed from.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Fluffer-Nutter

>From: "J**** L**" >To: m*****@******.fr
>Subject: wtf?>Date: Fri, ** *** 2007 16:10:56 -0400>

>Hey, thanks for answering my ad on craiglist.
Sure. Warmed your cockles, I'm sure.

>I think you were about the only sane person.
Ha! Interesting assumption.

>I finally got around to looking at them and ended up>deleting all but 2 or 3, so you've got a little bit of>competition for me *hint
Ooh! Stir my masculine possessiveness! Hot!

We should start off chatting on my webcam.
...But we won't.

>You don't need to have one.
Good, I don't want one.

I'm a total exhibitionist so>it'll be a good time.
For you. It must be rough in the real world.

I like to be watched,
No surprise there. You feel ignored and belittled, don't you?

and the occasional>complement helps.
I am sure you have an active imagination, and that your hair iswell-conditioned. However, your spelling is atrocious.
>I'm a little sensative about how tall I am! Here.

Which doesn't connect, so forget it. Awww....

>see if you can handle me! Look forward to chatting!
Give me a break. Another insecure, paranoid, egocentric Western woman, like so many, fearful of intimacy and germs, embracing technology's promise ofanonymity that echoes your own empty heart. Prove me wrong.

So why did I answer you in the first place? I am not from this city, and I've been in another country for the past two years. So I know no one here. (Hell, you're probably in New Mexico, for all I know.) I thought this route might lead to an actual person, but I was misled. I had forgotten how alienated many women are from your own culture.
even though I was born here. You won't understand this.) No wonder many American women marry M****ans so easily; women are easily seduced by their gallant charms compared to the material greed and distrust offered by Western men. It's really quite admirable, considering how they backstab each other. The M****ans, that is.

But you're not interested in any of this. You'd rather be remotely drooled over by fools, then masturbate in self-congratulatory, sterile bliss, the Dirty Boys trounced by their own weakness. So enjoy your victory.


Retards Among Us

Technical writers of pharmaceutical literature have a difficult task. The document must convey its intent clearly enough to be easily followed without ambivalence, avoid any possibility of liability, and should also have some kind of official-sounding gravitas. But the language strains under these demands, to the point where common sense is abandoned. Twaddle follows suit. There are many examples of this:

7. Removing and disposing of the syringe.
After use, unscrew the Syringe Housing from the Injector Body and separate the two, slowly.

Hold the Syringe Housing above the open top area of a hard-walled container and invert the Syringe Housing, allowing the Syringe to fall out into the hard-walled container.

"The open top area"?! This defies comment.

And a logical quandary:

1. Prepare one dose of the drug:
Follow the instructions that came with the drug product.

Yes... Don't follow the (pictorial) shaving cream instructions. Do not Pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Do not pretend that anything good will ever happen to you again.

I'm a Dinner Shack and TB-- no irony there

One says "We did not make any deals for the release of the prisoners", all stern and unrepentant, and the other says, "We recognize your heathen infidel holiday by... presenting you a 4-month late Christmas gift.." What the fuck is going on here?

There was no threat of war over this. Both of these muffinheads were caught with their pants down. Georgie Porgy, drools with righteousness: C'mon, Ted, lemme bomb them back to the Holy Land, or whatever. TB: They're my guys, you ninny, this isn't Rambo III.

What seems to have precipitated this whole mess is Ahmed's rightfully paranoid military. Maybe the Brits really did have their GPS trained to follow the curves of that hottie in Ordnance. Or maybe they really were one toke on the Jersey, er, Iraqi side, which is a damn sight from Liverpool anyway, and Rahim at the base said Fuck it, let's nab 'em and let the boss sort it out. Shoulda stayed at the university. Next thing you know, it's fresh faces everywhere: some being saved and some being sucked. Surely Ahmed was having a good time showing Private Benjamin, or whatever her name is, the mysterious Oriental thrills of My First Hijab? You bet. But the fun never lasts in the Strait of Hormuz (close enough). So Ahmed says, Sure, these guys could learn how to slaughter a sheep on their terrace first thing in the morning like all good kaffir should, but do I really want them soiling my nice couches?

But he can't just give them away. Better to wrap them up in old fashioned magnanimity, think noblesse obligé meets The Godfather. Here's an offer you can't refuse: what you were asking for in the first place. And no one has to argue semiotics and topology about who was where on the night of the 23rd. We can all go home and have some kefta like normal people.

I think this came up in an episode of Deep Space Nine. In Sisko's closing line, he admonishes the Cardassian for conducting "scientific research" within reach of three Bajoran islands, or some such. Maybe it's this? Whatever. I'm not quite that geeky, apparently.

juice for skeptics

There are some interesting quotes, in the normal pablum of "analysis":

Saturn in Cancer May feel fundamentally unloved and unsupported, but can miss opportunities to receive support because of the basic attitude that he isn't going to get love.

Venus in VI He is devoted to sick or poor people. Certainly works in a medical or social setting, where he meets their partner, who is a great help professionally.

17 Trine Mercury - Pluto He has a great sense of observation and quickly grasps the situation. He is crafty, subtle and critical.

Moon in IX Highly imaginative. Prolonged studies, is intuitive. Professionally successful abroad, or in import-export or as a diplomat. Contact with foreigners. Long journeys. Ability to learn foreign languages.

20 Square Moon - Saturn When Moon is in hard aspect to Saturn in the natal chart, natives need to learn to trust others more. Fear keeps them from fully enjoying personal relationships, and fear is behind the occasional rigidity that they express. Emotional reticence is the main theme of these aspects. Many people with this aspect had a lot of conditions placed on the love they received in early childhood. They tend to expect the same later in life.

-190 Opposition Moon - Pluto He has intense emotions and passionate feelings. He fears the loss of control of emotional and domestic matters, and fears change. At the same time, he attracts change and disruptions. The love life or marital life may be riddled with emotional scenes, jealousy, and possessiveness because he attracts intense partners.

13 Trine Venus - Pluto His emotional and sex life is powerful and rich. He lives out truly passionate love affairs.

Sure...Gotta love this stuff.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

unexpected solace

But then I've faith in the Times for awhile now.

regarding vulnerability and dissolution

After a few days of having steroids pumped into my body, reeling under its own attack, one more pernicious than any I could consciously ordain, a stream of hot water was soaking me when a nurse came to perform her duty. Meaning to stare at me like some kind of medical experiment she didn't understand. I didn't like this one; I never learned her name. Masculinely unattractive, frizzy underpaid hair, prone to guffawing at her colleagues in a proletarian spirit. "If you needed help, why didn't you come out to get someone?" I was wearing flimsy hospital gown bottoms and my shorts, and I was drenched. I glared at her. "It's a matter of modesty." She had not apparently heard this word before, because she kept staring as if snakes would erupt from my forehead. Never mind that I would have fallen in a second.
After some time, Andrea arrived. She had her act together. "You took a shower with your clothes on? All right, get up then, easy now." I grabbed the handrail and before I could so much as squeak, she had soaped and rinsed my lower portions. A dry set of substandard garments awaited me in the corner.
During the moments that had passed while the alert with the string tied to it summoned Andrea's competence (In ignorance, I credit some of this to her race.. I wonder if black nurses have to work harder to achieve and maintain their positions, and so take their jobs more seriously.. Probably not necessarily though; I wonder what scathing words my aunt (white) and my godmother (black) would have for me now, in defense of nurses in general), I sat happily on my plastic chair, blissfully solitary, as the warm water soaked me. Ahhh, I thought, that is better for a while.
The irrelevance of identity is astonishing at first. The biological aspects of your existence that bear no names, that enjoy no predilections, that do not recognize charm and arrogance: these will become dominant. Until now, you have never been conscious of your brain. It simply does what you tell it with predictability tedious enough to provoke a lifetime of intoxication. On this quotidian platform, any decent structure may be erected. Toward a love of philosophy and language, for example.
But give the substrate only a slight shake, and everything is brought into question. It's been about two weeks since I used my right hand. Grasp? I cannot point. Writing is way off in the distance, if anywhere. I use my left (I am not left-handed), my legs, and my teeth for most things. I open jars by securing them between my feet.
This is still very new to me.

a weary brain

How did this happen? The essence of absurdity. Almost like waking up as a bug. Which was weirder? To wake up in an unfamiliar neighborhood, punctuated with soggy cartons of cheap collegiate beer? Or to find one's right limbs disobedient and recalcitrant, as if managed by a disinterested puppeteer? The body has become as foreign as the locale, a place I've seen on maps but never slept.. And now it's an address.

The beloved companions have been abandoned for the cold favors of a jet and the mocking scrutiny of a customs agent. And some mysterious ampoules, occasionally accompanied by repetitive instructional literature, various puzzling sundries as a cold pack and a date book... Why? Is this thought to improve the circumstances of the condition? What, no minty alarm clock?

But I know they only mean the best. They're no better prepared than I am. All they can offer is a vague suggestion (a phrase echoing of clinical exaltation) of a refrain from exacerbation.

Eschew inspiration:

Free Multiple Sclerosis Seminar
"Winning Sure Beats Losing -
Living a Full Life With MS"
Bluck. Go fuck yourself, Dr. Jack Llewellyn. I'm sure Althusser will see you in hell.
3/25/2007 (backdated)
With a “bismillah”, I hit the button, and pricked myself in the thigh. Easy. Seemed appropriate to invoke the name of God for such a thing. Moroccans do this for everything: an old man entering an elevator, merchants taking money, anything involving tea, and so forth. There was a good Paul Bowles story about this. He was sharing a mountain taxi with an old man, who disembarked in the middle of nowhere. The old man closed the door in haste, and severed the tip of his finger. Uttering “hamd’ullah”, he retrieved it from the dust, tightened it with some more dust, and walked off into the mountains. Thanks be to God that it wasn’t the whole finger, for example. This is what we mean by Allah hu-rahim hu-rahman: God, the merciful, the compassionate. Examples of God’s mercy and compassion are replete. So every day should be Thanksgiving.

Tales of Matt’s continuing puzzlement at his own culture: episode 47, the Beard. The degree of luxury in service to which people are accustomed is rather surprising. Pamper me, people say, tend to my every need. Many expect compliance as supply it. After a couple weeks away from my adored adoptive home, unavailed of a reliable Moroccan barber, my beard was out of control. I am not very good at trimming it myself, even with a properly working right hand. I used to grow it fuller, but now I think shorter suits me better. So I had to go to the haircutter.

First of all, a woman in Morocco cutting a man’s hair is unheard of. I didn’t need a haircut, but I paid close attention to the fellow preceding me. She appeared to have done quite a stellar job on him: condition, product, etc. She provided a number of gushy justifications for her professional choices, as if the guy had questioned her judgment. But this kind of self-effacement counts for a lot in the service world. Women dig this for each other, but I find it rather insipid. She was an attractive woman, of Syrian and Lebanese extraction. She said to me, “I’ll use the clippers on your beard, but I’ll trim your mustache by hand.” Oh, for Pete’s sake. It grows back, right? I want it all short. Make it easy on both of us.

a weary brain

3/24/07 (backdated)
I am in Shithole, unfortunately. In the interest of politesse, I should say something kind about the place... BBQ is good. The little movie theater around the corner is probably agreeable. But overall, it’s boring as watching paint dry. It has all the culture of a moldy peach; maybe not that much.

So what am I doing here? I have to remind myself of the answer every day, even though it’s as clear as my withering arm. As dear V said, you’re just going there to score. Today, I gave myself a ($50) shot which was the reason I left my adored country. These will continue every day until further notice. Fortunately, they don’t really hurt, just sting a little.

The point of these, I believe, is to give my misguided immune system something to chew on other than my tattered nerves. Thus decoyed, my myelin should be able to rebuild itself. (Since it is not nervous tissue, which appears to remain intact.) Insha’allah, as we say.

I miss my country immensely. Why do I call it mine, and not the US? Because I have little more than cynicism for my culture. I am glad of the grant of their powerful passport, but I do not have much loyalty. Other than this serious but irritating medical issue, nothing could have taken me away from Morocco. I loved my life there; I could not compare my circumstances here.

I had a teaching job until mid-December. My diagnosis with MS (ugh) threw my concentration into the gutter, and all my classes complained. So I lost that job. Too bad. The boss was good, but the kids were snotty. Better to be in Meknes, in some ways. Then there was the French job. Puzzling why I left that job: it was incredibly easy, the students were all 1) professionals and 2) French. Plus the salary was good. I left it because I didn’t like living on one time and working on another. One of the bosses was a decent guy (I probably bit him too hard on the way out) but practically incompetent. The salary was good enough to mollify these issues, but I had my fierce back up by then. I would have done better to swallow my pride, but too late. The good salary is no longer offered. Fine, I preferred to work in person.

I will get back there. I think Meknes is a good idea: I know the place, I know the (dumb) curriculum. I don’t know if I will marry Jalila. I expressed my doubts about my suitability to my mother, who basically confirmed them. Thanks, Mom. Unlike some guy in Danny’s extended family, I have not bought my second house, and I am going on Medicaid. This is fine with me: I am not interested in the various sneaky slots of standard medical insurance anyway. I don’t need much, just for the state to pick up a couple things for me. I don’t see why they don’t do this for everyone anyway. Isn’t this called governance?

At any rate… I had been back here (ugh) only a few days when I woke up to find most of my right side not completely paralyzed, but surely not right. My muscles were feeble and weak, my gait was badly affected, and my speech was close to incomprehensible. This still affects me, but it has improved. So I went into the hospital for prednisone, as I did once before in Rabat. This has helped a bit, but it’s hard to tell. I’m told that reducing inflammation in your brain is a good thing though.

Mostly I was struck by the differences between the two hospitals. In Rabat, they had only metal equipment, not plastic, and they put the IV in my wrist, which required bandaging afterwards. Here, they post signs outside declaring the non-smoking zone, which would be ludicrous in Morocco.. There, I smoked two joints that my friends brought me. Sweet guys.

O, life was so much sweeter there! I know why they feel urged, to leave, to find a decently independent life, to extricate themselves of their various obligations.. and why they then return. Because, as Jiji put it half a lifetime ago, “c’est plus froid”. Yes, dear lady, it is colder. People seem much more hurried and put upon in the West. They are.

So I will return as soon as I feel it is safer. For my health, that is; any endemic danger there is negligible. I am in more peril from my own immune cells than from any Moroccan. Will I marry her? Hmm.. I honestly don’t love her as much as I should. Not like I loved Jane before her. After all, we don’t choose what we love. I didn’t have to love my life there, but it captured me. It has let me go only by a royal indulgence.

My worry is that I will not meet another like her. I do love her, just not as passionately as I might. I think it would last though. But I really have no idea.

So what will I do next? What do I want to do? To work, and to study. And to sleep. Perchance to dream.

I would stay in Meknes for awhile if I were offered a job there. Now that I know a little better, I think it suits me somewhat better than Rabat. Fewer foreigners, a greater chance to enjoy what I know is richer in life there. Like the orange juice shakes. The khliaa tagines. The sun setting over Bab el Mansour. (Actually, I dimly recall it doesn’t set in that direction.) The in-between undeveloped space between the train tracks and the old wall, where I puffed with Illyass. Café ness-ness and a fouri chocolat. And a Gauloises. I’m such a wannabe-Frenchy. But not really.

If I were there, I would surely concentrate on my (passable but not excellent) Arabic, I would work harder at being a decent teacher, I would leave the city to explore more often.. I would go to Fes, and more distant places.. I would continue my life lacking a plan to return. Knowing how people are with foreigners at first, suspicious and touchy, I would work to overcome this by NEVER LEAVING. Get used to me, Simo: I’m not going anywhere.

For now, I need to be assured of my supply of the medication. Once daily hardly seems adequate, but this seems to be a disease of prolonged development, with periodic flare-ups. Not having any plans for the next several months, I will stick on it, and I will slowly feel better.

In the meantime, I really should have something else to occupy my time. I consider this a time equally of convalescence and exile. I know how ungratefully cynical this is of me, but I’m not too concerned about resolution. Being a child of the self-aggrandizing and hedonistic 70s and 80s, I’m not sure what matters in life besides what makes it good. You should position yourself to gather as much as possible of what is important to you, since your time is limited.

Perhaps my mother is right: t’ai ch’i, or something like that. It’s probably good for me. I eat a good amount of vegetables, I drink more green tea than coffee (this would not respect qewha b’halib), I keep a good attitude.

I trace my own condition (I feel that the use of its name in my personal recordings is an intrusive and unwarranted legitimation of an impersonal description. I prefer “brain spots” or “brain freckles”. “Lesions” are for cancer, leprosy, and HIV.) to an over-reactive, trigger-happy immune system. I reckon that it reflexively had to attack something, informed by a fiercely protective instinct. I expect that it would have developed some other autoimmune disorder had it been left as it was. At the least, I am fatalistically certain that this development was beyond my control. God has some weird plans.

I can’t sleep, as is often the case. I imagine my medication sending me back to the land and the life I love. I obsess (some things never change) over places I know, people from awhile ago… Kein shi besteila lyum? Hada zwin f’darek, kan’a’rrf.
Ah yeh, besteila kein. Kih deyir? Bekhair nta? Bghiti sh’wiya?
At’tayni alf rial, afak. Kulshi bekhair, hamd’ullah, ‘lla khfik.
The warmth and sincerity of the people feels sewn into my skin, just as integral as my dubious tattoo (though I would never remove it). After two years, even spending as much time around the foreigners as I did, I was intensely comfortable. I squandered a number of opportunities, thinking in careerist lines that were no longer fully appropriate: this is not New York. Do not cower from the virtues of a conservative existence. If you find something good, then seize it with both hands. Maybe a foot too. You already know that there is more to life than cash. It’s only as good as what you can get out of it.

I feel like a foreigner here, as I did in New York most strongly a few years ago, as I expected to feel now. The most telling signs are in the behavior of the servants, by whom I signify the service industry. The portly waitress approaches me at the stand: “I’ll be with you in one minute, please excuse the delay.” Or the librarian, who feels no rush, but expects that I might: “I can order the book from downtown, but it could take two or three days.. Would that be all right?” Grief, ladies, are people really in this big a hurry? No wonder they’re all dying of coronary disease. I mean, it’s a book, for crying out loud. “And bring me Dostoyevsky, stat!” Spare me. Send me back to the land of the sane, where the only useful time is now, during which nothing is happening.

This is an interesting element of the Moroccan outlook. Really only now exists. The past is largely a memory, or fantastic invention, and virtually all the future falls under the slyly convenient insha’allah. Terry wanted to reserve a car for the trip. This would appear central to the agent’s business, don’t you think? “Yes, I will have a car for you, insha’allah.” Terry flipped out a bit; this sounded like he wouldn’t have one. He didn’t, as it turned out a few days later. So, fully prepared for our trip and a bit edgy, we set off for another agent. He produced a car handily. See, they do do business, just on their terms. Here is the lesson: if you honestly need something now (meaning for-real now, not in an hour, or when it’s convenient for you), someone will gladly help you. Just don’t be pushy, don’t abuse your privilege of the now. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t need whatever it is now. You can wait. Have some tea. Your abuse of the now will be noted by a slightly dismayed concern, and a price at least 200% beyond normal, which you will discover later. What, now you’re angry? Have some tea.