98: Mistakes

I make mistakes. I am not a teacher who claims to always be right, and I make a point of thanking students who catch me in a mistake.

I also make mistakes in ‘real’ life. Yesterday, a friend posted on FB (yeah, it’s real life, in a way) that he had a list of things to do, with a shower being last on the list, and he commented that he might not make it to the shower. I agreed that this was fairly common, and said that a LOT of Moroccans in the grand taxis did the same. Now, that was a mistake. I was thinking of people, not Moroccans, but I typed Moroccans, because, usually, those are the people who fill up most of the seven spaces in an overcrowded grand taxi. Grand taxis put seven strangers in VERY close proximity, and you cannot help but notice smells. Does this give you the right to comment upon those smells? Of course not. Just because someone smells, you don’t know the rest of the story, and there may be perfectly good reasons for that situation, apart from they just chose not to bathe. Are Moroccans the only people who bathe a little less frequently than they should? Of course not. That’s a rather universal thing, and it happens to lots of people for various reasons, ME INCLUDED.

At any rate, the snit hit the fan. It appeared that the entire world thought that remark was incredibly, outrageously, boorish, calculated,  insensitive and rude. It was also true. A grand taxi full of seven Americans would also have noticeable smells. Plus, I am  not somebody who sets out to offend people, which, if you know me, you would already know. It was a poor choice of words, and I dare anybody out there to throw the first stone because of that, because it is a mistake that happens to everyone.   Nevertheless, a lot of people did choose to throw stones. I was sworn at (the F bomb), called uneducated, a poverty-striken, crass Southerner and a great many other things.

At first, I was confused, and honestly shocked, and I did not even realize what mistake I had made, because, as I said, I did not start out to offend anyone at all. But I apologized anyway. I could not apologize for making an incorrect statement, as I take the grand taxi at LEAST twice a day, and nasty smells are routinely part of the trip. But I did apologize for stating it in such a way that offended people – who obviously need to TAKE A SHOWER, and cool off. Not everybody who offends you meant to do so, people.

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97: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I heard a lot today about annoying children. I thought a lot today about annoying grownups. There seems to be a rash of boorish behavior going on lately, for at least the last decade or so, and it’s not getting better. I think it is a case of the pendulum swinging too far – of individuality and the rights of individuals counting for more than the rights of the group – and that is wrong thinking.

I believe everyone can agree that someone shouting FIRE in a crowded room is unethical – people are going to be hurt. You don’t have the freedom to hurt others. But what about a kid who chooses to misbehave in a classroom of other children? That kid has disrupted the learning environment not only for him/herself and the teacher, but also for every other child in the room. That is unethical behavior. Every person loses learning time. Nobody gets time back that is lost.

What about the kid who is making a ruckus in the restaurant? Every other patron of that restaurant is disturbed by that one kid, and that is unethical. Nobody is less important than the kid – in fact, most of the adults there are probably more important, and their peaceful meal certainly is. Mom or dad needs to get up and take Junior outside for a walk. Whether the walk involves some discipline is up to them – but out the varmint goes. It  may take a few times before Junior learns. Teach him. Teach her.

The same thing is true of adults. Your ringing cell phone in the theater is disrupting the experience that every single person in the theater paid to have – and YOU are not more important than everyone else: nobody is that important. Turn it off, sit down and shut up. Have respect for the other people. You would want them to respect you – respect them.

95: Countdown to the final day

Here at school, the teachers (and very probably the students, too) are counting down the last days until summer. We have 15 days to go, and today, we planned a potluck lunch for next Thursday, which will be day 10 to go. Thinking about countdowns for the final day made me stop for a moment to consider the ultimate final day, which is the end of everything – apocalypse, or the big bang that ends it all. This year, BTW, is the year that the Mayans determined would be the end – according to the archaeologists who study those things. I saw a cartoon that showed the Mayan carver working on the calendar, and he just happened to run out of room. The guy watching him commented that would give some future generation a heart attack – and he’s right. It did. I ran across another article that had worked out that with leap years added in since then, the actual ending day for the big bang would have happened several months ago already. Oh, well. Who knows? God alone.

The Christian scripture says that IT will be a day and time that no one will know – so if somebody says it will happen on this date: you can be pretty sure that ain’t it. Speaking of the ultimate end brings up the whole religion thing, too – stream of consciousness writing working here. There are a number of religions active on Earth now. A number of them claim to be the one, true, and only way to go. Somebody HAS to be wrong, if there really IS only one way. And, if there IS only one way, why are there so many options? What if you choose wrong?

I would like to say that there are multiple paths to God, and that it is like picking out a car or a spouse: that’s why there are so many choices. What is right for me is not right for you – but that is why there are so many choices. I think that God is big enough to understand that there are those of us who are sincerely seeking Him. I hope that He can respect that genuineness of heart, and can know that each of us (among those who ARE searching to be close to God) is genuinely doing all we can to do the right thing, and be right people.

I also sincerely hope that what is written in the scriptures is correct: that HE will make everything right in the end, because there are some people who really do deserve eternal punishment. And I am glad the one to make that determination is not going to be me. I have enough to do choosing what dish to bring next Thursday!

93: Cherries

The cherries are here!

I saw them first on the roadside coming home Tuesday after work. I knew they would be outrageously priced, though – so I waited. Friday on the way home, I stopped. The vendor wanted 30 dirham a kilo, but I managed to get two kilos for 25 dirham each. Big, fat, sweet, black ones. Then, when I got near my house, I saw another vendor who had little cherries (maybe from young trees?) that were about half the size of the big ones I already had. Just for fun, I asked how much they were – 12 dirham a kilo. So, I bought another kilo! Who cares if the cherries are small? They taste just as good, and they were half the price!

Later that weekend, my mom phoned on Skype, and I told her the cherries were in. In the U.S. right now, cherries are also in – for $5.00 a pound. I bought a kilo of them for 12 dirham. Twelve dirham is $1.36 – for two and a quarter pounds. I love this country! I feasted on cherries all weekend. This afternoon, I am going to buy more of them – I might even bake a pie!

92: Souk Walkabout

Souk went walkabout.  This is a quaint Australian expression for “gone wandering, be back whenever.” It is not the same thing as being lost, because when you are lost, you are worried about getting back home. It is not the same thing as leaving permanently, or running away, since then, you don’t EVER want to come home. Going walkabout means you might decide to come back home at some point in the future, when you are tired of wandering, or when you just decide to come home.

We, of course, were not informed that Souk, our first adopted kitty, was going walkabout – we thought, foolishly, that she was LOST. We looked for her. In vain. She was gone about a week. Then, Mojo spotted her from our third-floor apartment window in the green space across the street from our building, but by the time he got downstairs to rescue her, she was gone again.

Two days later, he spots her again – this time on the roof of a building beside the green space, that is accessable (to CATS) by climbing a rather tall almond tree that is growing beside the building. She saw us, and meowed, while looking wistfully down at the bowl of fish I help up to her. But she did not come down. Mojo got the ladder and climbed the tree. When he got to the roof, we discovered that there were TWO cats up there, because the other one (a handsome black and white long-haired male) bailed from the two story rooftop, landing with a sickening thud beside me, who then ran off. Souk allowed her dad to pet her, but when he went to put her in the cat carrier to bring her home, she slithered out while he was zipping it shut. THEN she came down the tree.

She would not let me touch her. When she got to the ground, she meowed at me. I offered the dish of fish. She smelled it, but was not interested – obviously NOT starving. Mojo climbed down from the roof. Souk looked at him and meowed. This time we got the message: I am just fine, don’t worry, I am happy here. If I need you, I‘ll come home then. WALKABOUT. Oh. OK. So, we went home.

Later that evening, about dusk, I saw her on top of the building again. I sang her Souk song to her (all our cats have a personal song that mommy sings to them) and she meowed at me in acknowledgement, but she did not get up from her comfortable position. Doing just fine here, mom. Good night!

89: The problems with job hunting

This is May 23, 2012. That means we have less than a month of school left in this academic year. I have been TOLD that I have a job next year. I do NOT have a signed contract….yet. I have been TOLD that one is coming. For months now, I have been told that.

Now – I have obligations. I regularly send over half of my income from here back to the U.S. to finish paying off the very last of my debts. Including 25,000 worth of educational student loan for the doctoral degree I am working on. I also have two children in college, one of whom is getting married (more $$$$$) in October. I MUST HAVE A JOB for next year.

Because of that imperative, I have been forced, since last December, to apply for jobs whose posting closing dates have come and gone. I cannot afford to sit and wait and hope a contract will appear here, I must apply, in case one does not appear from here, so that I can be assured of having a job. Do you know how long it takes to fill out an employment application? On average, an hour to an hour and a half for each one. I have applied to well over eighty positions, in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, both in elementary and secondary schools, and in colleges and universities. I do not have the extra time for this. I have papers to grade!!

You would THINK that schools who want their experienced staff to return would sign them for the coming year early – before anybody else gets them, but NO. That apparently is NOT the mindset. Apparently, the idea is that if I wait until the very last possible instant to offer contracts, all the good people will have already accepted positions somewhere else for next year, and now I can choose from whatever is left over. Does this make sense to you??

I told my husband that I would again put this situation into the hands of God. Whoever puts a contract into my hot little hands first gets me for the next year. I figure God is a better judge than I am, and He certainly has not let me down yet.

88: Facebook

I was a VERY late comer to social networks. It’s just not my thing. However, when my husband and I sold our possessions and moved to Morocco to live and work, we needed an easy way to share pictures with friends from home. Facebook provided that solution. The problem is, Facebook also engendered another whole host of other problems.

First, Facebook can eat up enormous amounts of time that is desperately needed for other things. I work a part-time job online, and it has suffered somewhat from Facebook time. Plus, I am a teacher, so I routinely have papers to take home and score. Facebook is MUCH preferable to grading papers. Except that I NEED to be grading papers, I do not NEED to be surfing Facebook.

Secondly, it is amazing what some people will post. I never knew there were so many Obama-lovers out there, and a lot of them were people I USED to think were reasonably intelligent. At least, the majority of them I can pass off as urban city-dwellers, who obviously have no common sense due to the fact that they have no clue what real life is like, or they are just idjits. Still, what they post would piss off a saint, and a saint I am NOT. Then, there are those who post totally inappropriate things I’d just rather not read, ya know?

All in all, it has been positive, but then, in this imperfect world, I guess it was too much to hope that there would be no drawbacks.