Thursday, April 26, 2007


I missed a no-hitter. As a friend of mine said, 27 months without baseball also means 27 months with the possibility of missing a no-hitter. Mark Buehrle, White Sox, last Tuesday, 2:07. I went to as many of his starts as I could last year because he’s my kind of pitcher (get ball, throw ball). A lot of no-hitters happen in April, since it’s cold. And it was cold last week – 40 degrees. So would I even have gone? Only 5000 people were there. Not only was it a no-hitter, but he faced the minimum. If I can figure out how to get the windows media player download working, then maybe I can listen to it. I love my apple, but sometimes it doesn’t download applications on the first go.

I had two trips to Fes in the past week to go to the dentist. I went for a cleaning and also because of the sensitive tooth. And somehow in the past couple of weeks, my jaw seems a bit out of alignment and it’s hard to open my mouth. I was extremely proud of myself for managing to convey to this to the dentist, mostly in darija. He focused on the jaw – the least of my problems, to me – and told me to see radiologist to get a panoramic x-ray. This couldn’t be done until the afternoon; so much for in-and-out and back to Azrou. I had some spaghetti bolognaise and – well, since I had the time – a quick trip to the Fes Marjane. By the time I had the x-ray, had it developed, went back to the dentist and got some of my teeth cleaned, it was touch-and-go as to whether I’d make it home by dark. The medical office told me to stay in Fes and have fun – but I really wanted to go home. I had my toothbrush and toothpaste with me, but didn’t want to stay. There were no taxis going back…but then, as I was walking away from the taxi stand dejectedly, all of a sudden not only was there a taxi but there was one place left in it. I made it back!

For some reason, I had brought my night guard with me – I hadn’t when I went to Rabat. Well, maybe I knew the jaw was an issue. Again, I was proud of myself for understanding what the dentist was trying to tell me - that I needed a new one – though I didn’t get all the nuances of why (he told me my old one was tired). And one week later, I was there in the morning for the cleaning but had to go back in the afternoon for the new night guard and the sensitive tooth treatment. I had more spaghetti bolognaise – it’s just a thing now, but I think it’s good to get a little meat into my diet, and except for the dinner party I still haven’t made any at home. This time, instead of going to Marjane, I took a long walk. First I went to Fes El-Jdid – new Fes (only 700 years old – old Fes is I think 600 years older than that). I had gone to the UNESCO-restored synagogue with my family, but not to the Jewish cemetery; sounded interesting in the book. Lonely Planet describes its “blinding white tombstones” - they looked like peeling white tombstones to me, but it was interesting. I didn’t know Ashkenaz left stones and Sephardic burned candles. The tombs of the rabbis are embellished with tile, and there’s a tomb of a martyred teenage girl who refused to convert to Islam. There were once 24,000 Jews in Fes; 12,000 are buried in this cemetery, and people are still dying to get in (couldn’t resist – that is, people are still being buried there). Now there are 100 Jewish families in Fes, no longer in the mellah but across on the other side of the hill. The Jews were – believe it or not – the jewelers and goldsmiths. The word mellah comes from salt – I read in one of my books that the Jews used to salt the dead, but that isn’t in every book. Anyway, just at the end of the mellah was a potato-chip guy that we had found when my family was there, so I had potato chips (oh, I wish potato-chip guy in Azrou was still making potato chips!). I then walked to Fes El-Bali, the old medina – total walk was over 5K – it was great. Now I have a better sense of Fes – and I caught a petit taxi and got back to the dentist just in time! I have a sleek, new, smaller, bottom-teeth night guard. My sister thinks I should wean myself off of it with self-talk, yoga etc. – I will try. Both last week and this week I had wanted to visit the Fes artisana, which is not near anything, but I ran out of time – however, I have to go back to the dentist next month so I can try again!

I was in Fes on Sunday too! Back at the Palais Jamai, the luxury hotel where I stayed with my family (I am writing up the trip – really!). It was nice to be back there – I felt right at home! This was for the long-awaited Princeton Journeys trip talk – their “Princeton exclusive” chance to meet a Princeton alumna who is currently in the Peace Corps. I knew only one of the guests – he was the head of the Alumni Council Executive Committee when I was on it. I remember a memorable evening at the Nassau Inn when he told us “the real story of Chappaquiddick.” I mentioned this to Amanda, who hadn’t heard of it – I guess Chappaquiddick is yet another one of those generational things. Anyway, he didn’t remember me, but his table (three friends from ’59, who have been friends for 50 years now, and their spouses) was my favorite. I spoke about the three goals of the Peace Corps and the approach to development, some fast fact statistics from the web site, Morocco and the four sectors, and Small Business Development and what I do. When I had interviewed the rock carver last week, he said he was working mostly on collections now while he builds up some capital. He said he is known for his collections because he uses glass that doesn’t break easily and quality tape to seal it. I asked him why, if he’s known for them, he doesn’t put his name on the back so that people can order more. I then ordered 25 collections – half sealed with orange tape and half sealed with black tape (even though 25 isn’t divisible by two) – with his business card included. So I was able to give all of the guests a sample of an artisanal product along with a sample of the kind of small business suggestion I can offer. I got a laugh when I told them I was hoping they would come to Azrou so they could “shop – er, see the artisana,” and when they asked if they could contribute somehow (being the good Princetonians they are and therefore being used to being asked for money) I told them I would get back to them if and when I worked on a grant proposal! They loved my orange-and-black jellaba and the orange and black Moroccan blouses I had bought for the occasion (and for Reunions – and for the future). I then sat with each table, rotating with each course, and fielded questions. The group was extremely attentive when I was talking – perhaps the most attentive audience I have ever spoken to – and they asked very interesting questions, about language, culture, religion, the artisans and more. At breakfast the next day, I spoke with one of the spouses, who had grown up (Jewish) in Casablanca, and she had interesting things to say as well. I am really glad I was able to join them!

Big Princeton week – today is the day of the Princeton Club of Chicago Annual Dinner, at which my little computer-produced movie introducing Jeff for his award will be shown. Maybe because of all of the Princeton things this week, I dreamed of Donald Rumsfeld last night – eek! Actually, Monday was a tough day – hard to go back to reality after the delight of the Princeton dinner. A little culture shock? My sister thinks I will feel culture shock when I go back for Reunions. I told her that Reunions is so different from the rest of the year that it’s its own reality…but maybe she is right!

Monday was also tough because of a phone call from Peace Corps staff, which sounded to me as though they were checking up on me. I understand that for safety and security it’s good to check up on people every once in a while and see if they are really in their sites, but the tone of the call seemed untrusting, almost accusatory. I was tired from getting up early, drained from my big talk, and sad to leave the group – but the phone call caused one emotion too many and as the day wore on I got upset and – well, I cried, in front of my counterpart, who was actually quite nice about it, and maybe it made our relationship take a step forward. I know I shouldn’t take these things so personally – and I later realized that this two-year period is a good opportunity for me to learn not to cry at things bosses might say. I’m glad they let me go to the TimHdit meeting and the Princeton dinner, but I expect no for an answer most of the time, so I don’t even want to ask for things, and I guess that kind of disappoints me and isn’t what I expected. But I have probably said enough, if not too much, so I’ll not go on.

Other quick news – I finally had the chance to write some cards, though I still owe a lot of correspondence, and will write more soon, inshallah. The environment trainees got their site assignments and I am very excited about the people who will be in sites near me! I think there will be six who will have Azrou as their counterpart city – so I have a lot of potential coffee dates (or, I hope, hiking buddies – wonder if any of them play cards?), and there are a handful of others who I think are in day-trip distance. Of course, with so many of their sector-mates nearby, they may not need me as a friend, but we’ll see. I finally finished the living allowance survey – no surprise that the mandat does not cover what I spend in a month; I do keep going to the bank – the extra seems to stem from eating out and from the weekend trips. So be it! This week – in addition to what was mentioned above – seemed to rank high on the socializing scale, with PCVs in town for coffee and dinner and lunches and a trip to the hammam and a GLOW camp meeting; I seemed to drift from social to work to errands and have very little downtime. This weekend will be a reunion of three of the four TimHdit CBT mates – Jong is coming up and Rose is coming down! We may even go to TimHdit…more on that to come! Need to add some pix to recent entries, too....

A funny story about your video for the Princeton Club dinner... Apparently, Tim couldn't get the right equipment to play the audio, so he transcribed your speech, played the video and "lip-synched" you! Very entertaining! I had a very nice time at the event. The award recipients' speeches were wonderful and moving; the speaker's address was thoughtful and interesting; the auction looked successful (I bought a giclee print); the food was mediocre (what's new?). I missed you!
Need to correct some things about the no-hitter - it was Wednesday, not Tuesday, it was 2:03, not 2:07, and the attendance was over 25,000 - I was right about the game time temperature being 40 degrees though!

Glad the video went over well - and Tim's voice is more powerful than mine so maybe that was an improvement! I missed being there (especially since I usually sit with you - I miss you!) but was glad to participate and to be there in spirit. Thinking about it this week has made me glad that I decided that going back to Reunions was a must, culture shock or no. Even though many of the people I miss from the Princeton Club of Chicago won't be there, that dose of Princeton and of friends will be a big boost!
And you're missingthe philliesgoing6 for 7 after a miserable start! Can't believe it's just about a month to Reunions -- wait until you see our jackets. ... i think the purist in you will be shocked,but I kind ofl like them!
Hi Sharon,

I was at the Annual Dinner as well -- in fact, sat with Edie. Your video was quite entertaining, as Edie mentioned. Of course, I missed you, and although I like the Princeton Club, it's not the same without you. Anyway, I look forward to hearing about your experience at Reunions.

And you missed an unassisted triple play!
I did look at the jacket pattern - I like it! I am glad to have a more subdued one, but I can see yours looking good (as long as you don't have matching pants - that would be too much!

I'm not the same without the Princeton Club, either - but being the President without having other employment was not sustainable! I am glad you will be at Reunions - since we are in different courtyards we should set a time to meet.

As for the unassisted triple play - unlikely that I would have been at the ballpark, but I know someone who once saw one and I must admit that just that fact about him made me want to get to know him better! Thanks for telling me about it....
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