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into their jealously guarded space, and were further insulted by another invitation to privileged society commercially rescinded.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. Caf├ęs. 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.