Monday, March 12, 2007


It feels great to be my normal cheery self again! I really was in a slump. In a way I’d like to go back and figure out when and how it started, but I have done enough processing lately, and I want to move past it anyway. I don’t even want to look at the last few blog entries – too much venting! When I used to get in a funk, my friend Debbie and I would look up biorhythms on a web site and invariably my biorhythms were in a low – so what if it used to come from a vending machine; there’s something to it. Now I can just look at the chart of culture adjustment that the Peace Corps gave us – again, enough processing, but I do remember a low in the 3-6 month timeframe.

Anyway, on Friday morning I got DSL! We went and found the installer and he came right over. Turns out I had done most of it, and he finished up. The wi-fi doesn’t work, but he couldn’t wait to get out of my apartment once something, anything worked. My friend Helen in Chicago said that if it’s any consolation, her wi-fi hasn’t worked in months. Actually, it IS some consolation! I will look for or ask for a long Ethernet cable and maybe pursue wi-fi at some point, but I am happy to have DSL now. Somehow I resisted the urge to stay on the internet for the rest of the day and instead visited the sewing cooperative. I also got my carte de sejour! I can now stay and work here! Went to the post office and got the itinerary for the See the World trip – I knew where we were going and when, but seeing the details of the planned excursions, written in luxury-travel-agent language, makes me even more excited about the trip – it is coming up soon, and I can’t wait. And I got some great news – I was in a good mood already but this made my day, week, etc. My friend, classmate, fellow class and club officer Jeff won the Princeton Club of Chicago’s Award for Service to Princeton. I am so happy for him! I had nominated him, and the head of the nominating committee asked me to introduce him at the Annual Dinner – either write a speech that someone else gives, or figure out some audio or video way to do it. I am thrilled! That will be wonderful. I do hope I can figure out a video because then I can wear the orange-and-black jellaba! It was just nice to transport myself out of my immediate situation for a few minutes. But even the immediate situation is a nice place to be right now – went up to the roof for sunset.

Friday night (with some spillover to Sunday night) I finally got everything out of suitcases and boxes and emptied the zen room. The zen room, if I were a Moroccan, would be another living room with more ponges – maybe a guest room. If I had a room like this at home, it might be the office/guest room – or – I hate to say it – the box room. This is my chance to have an empty room, to have zen. Is this the beginning of the rest of my life, and I can come back and get rid of more stuff? I still need more furniture here, but I do not want clutter. Or am I going to get back and get cluttered again? No, inshallah! Anyway, my original vision for the zen room was to lay down a labyrinth like the one at the Garfield Park Conservatory, a twisty path for meditation. Now my vision for it is to get a big rug and put some candles along the edge. Just a place for tranquility. Maybe exercise and/or yoga, too. Big plans for the zen room! I still have some – let’s call it filing – to do, but I felt good about the leaps of progress made.

I had this vision of staying inside all weekend, catching up on things and reading, but I felt I had made enough progress to go away for the day on Saturday. Amanda and I went to the Fes medina. I had in mind getting some kohl (eyeliner used here) and something to moisturize my skin, maybe made of argan oil or olive oil. Well, I got the kohl but lost the little stick with which to apply it…so I guess I’ll get some more kohl. I didn’t find the moisturizing thing but I went on a bit of a spending spree! Got some water mugs and some ceramic mini-tagines to use for salt and either pepper or cumin (maybe I’ll just buy a third one next time). Bought a traditional blouse – I really haven’t bought that many clothes here; there’s a party next week and now I have something new to wear! And then I got a rug! Fes is the last place I expected to get one, because it’s too touristy, but the rug caught my eye and the seller gave me a “shocking” price, saying he hadn’t had much business that day. Of course, that means I still probably could have bargained him down more, but I am just not good at that and I was happy with what I paid. I’ve never seen a rug like it – black and white woven on one side for summer, thick wool loops on the other side for winter. I still need more – it takes up only a little section of floor – but I like it. And I saw a leather pouf that would go really well in the zen room (yes, it should have leather poufs too, I now think). It was so comfortable…and so expensive that I left it for another trip. I’m attaching a picture of me on it – so that’s a pouf! Ponge picture to come and then you’ll know what a ponge is! I need a few, don’t you think? You can stuff them with your off-season clothes, which I think is quite clever. The best thing about the day was just being with Amanda – it was like going to the mall with a pal. We didn’t leave at the crack of dawn or race to make it home by sunset. We had a snack when we got there, shopped at a comfortable pace, and had lunch before we left. She was amazed too at how normal it was. I told her the only thing we didn’t do is go to a movie and then it would have been just like being at home. Granted, the Fes medina is not Watertower Place, but I we’ll try to go back! At the end of VSN training last week, Nam played “Lean on Me.” I asked if it was a coincidence and of course it wasn’t. I suggested that there be a VSN party mix (or support mix, as it were) and on the taxi ride home, Amanda and I came up with some songs. Samples – You’ve Got a Friend, Help, You’ve Got a Friend in Me, Call Me, 867-5309. Friday I had bought a small table from one of my woodcarvers. I know the secret – that they are really made by the artisans in Khemisset who I met last weekend – but I didn’t mind paying a slight upcharge to buy at the Azrou artisana. I also bought a bunch of paper goods from my tutor, who was getting rid of some inventory - I have always liked having lots of toilet paper and paper towels, and, like the ketchup, it took a month, but now I have that too.

Sunday – okay, so I didn’t read or answer correspondence or study language, as I envisioned, but at least I did the organizing this weekend, plus laundry and washing the floors – Katie and Scott came over and they worked on the GLOW budget while I proofread the proposal and all related materials. It took most of the day, but that was fine – I didn’t have to travel for it! I need to ramp up my kitchen now so that when people come over I have snacks to serve them or even things that can be made into a meal. Amanda and I were going to get some snacks on Saturday when we got back but we saw a hedgehog for sale (apparently they’re very tasty and they make you smart) in the market and we decided to buy it to save its life, at least until it gets caught again. Getting it home and then (DSL!) looking up its diet, habitat etc. meant no snacks. It’s good that we went out to eat anyway – Amanda joined us, along with Michael, another environment volunteer who was staying at the Auberge to give a talk to the new trainees; he seems cool. There’s a GLOW meeting in Sefrou next Sunday but the aforementioned party is in Sefrou on Saturday and I’m not staying over, so I don’t know if I’ll go two days in a row. I still have all that reading and writing and language study…

This morning, all morning, I updated my spending worksheet – I’m trying to keep track, though it is amazingly hard to do so. I try to write down everything as I spend it and yet have money unaccounted for. I also filled out the settling-in survey, estimating the expenses yet to come. Let’s just say I left the 5000 dh in the rear-view mirror a while ago. And this afternoon I thought Tariq, the Program Assistant was coming for site visit, so I waited (and was productive while waiting, mind you). Finally I sent him a message around 5:00 asking if he was all right and still coming and telling him it was in my culture to worry. He called and said he just arrived and he would call to meet me tomorrow morning. Finally – my chance not to leave the house all day, something I have been fantasizing about. Couldn’t do it – I really wanted to take a walk. Did some errands (more for the spending spreadsheet already) and watched the sunset from my roof; went out again to look at the stars.

A couple of things I wanted to mention last week but the entry was too long as it was. About the possible best peanut butter I have ever had –I didn’t feel like having it with the Moroccan bread, so I asked if I could share American culture by getting a spoonful and eating it right from the spoon – mind you, something I have never done in America. And then I asked how they would feel if I dipped the same spoon that had been in my mouth back into the peanut butter – given communal plates and glasses here I had a feeling they wouldn’t mind and they didn’t – and I am glad they found it amusing. I haven’t been lacking for peanut butter, though I cannot find it in Azrou – I found some in Marjane and some in Al Hoceima, and Katie brought back some Reese’s peanut butter cups in return for borrowing my suitcase in January, and I just got a care package that included peanut butter treats. I did, however, correctly identify cheese as something I was likely to miss – pegged that back in Rabat. Again, I can get Red Ball here (Gouda) and other cheese in Marjane when I get my refrigerator, but I miss cheese. Also wanted to comment on the sage incense. I did bring a smudge stick with me from home, but I haven’t taken it with me on the overnight trips. I really travel light on those trips. When I went to Omaha, my Nebraska sojourn, I was pleased because I wore a reversible dress, and brought my toothbrush and toothpaste and clean underwear and that’s about it. Well, now that’s just about standard on the Saturday night overnights – I do bring something to wear to bed, and I bring a few more toiletries, but I wear the same clothes two days in a row – we all do (some people even sleep in their clothes). Anyway, now I think I have to add sage incense to my minimal overnight bag so that I can clear the karma from hotel rooms and sleep better. Anyway, I was explaining the karma-clearing to Amanda and as we approached the daily souk there was a man selling sage and she bought me a bunch. The next day she came over and we made smudge sticks, tying them together with dental floss and hanging them up to dry also with dental floss. I used one of the homemade smudge sticks last week and I think it works! I told her the medicinal herb cooperative should make some.

I guess I should mention the terrorist attack too – someone went into a cyber in a poor section of Casablanca yesterday and blew himself up, I think. We all got calls about it today. Basically we were told to stay away from crowded areas in big cities but not to panic. Still, now that I have my stuff unpacked, it’s a good time to pack up the emergency bag we were told to put together and have ready. Last week a bus ran off the road near Khenifra and some people were killed. I’d like to know if that bus was traveling at night…

I don’t have a lot of plans yet for this week, on purpose. I want to balance that self-time with integration. All that could change after my site visit meeting tomorrow, and I do have a long list of things that I would like to do, but rather than program myself I’m just going to let things happen as they may. Okay, time to go out and look at the stars again.

Amazing - I have heard nothing about that attack. How unsettling.

Very glad to see you looking so cheery!
Sharon - please please do not buy kohl or use it. It has very high levels of lead in it and causes lead poisoning. Warn the other PCV's about it if they are not already aware. Very dangerous stuff. Here's a link about it from the FDA:
I only mentioned the attack because we were told it was getting international press and I thought I'd best say something before someone asked.

After someone showed me that to use the kohl you put it on the part of your eyelid right next to your eye, I decided I didn't feel good about using it. I will tell others.
I'm glad you're feeling upbeat! It sounds like things are really coming together. It's great that you're writing the intro speak for Jeff S. for the award. If you can't work out the video and need someone to read your speech at the event, I'll volunteer to do it if you don't have anyone else in mind.
Comment from Debbie:
For some reason, I can't get the blog to let me post here they are: - try this biorhythm site --- and thanks so much for bringing that up - it appears all three will bottom out in the next two days!

love the pouf - as soon as I saw the photo - before I even read the post, I loved it and wanted one!!!

Have a great day - have fun!!!

Edie - thanks for the offer! Turned out it is supposed to be a secret so don't tell (I think anyone else likely to tell is not a regular reader, but if anyone else is out there, don't tell). My beloved computer has the ability to make a movie, so I am going to try to write the speech this week, record it on the computer, and save it to a DVD to give to my sister to send when she gets back. But if that all falls through I will take you up on your offer - classmate power! When I was wondering what options I had, you immediately came to mind as the ideal reader!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?