127: Pictures of Morocco

My mom, back in the United States, is a member of several groups: a knitting group, a weaving group, a retired schoolteacher’s group, etc., etc., etc. For one of these groups, she has been asked to make a presentation about…MOROCCO! She’s never been to Morocco.

She was asked because her daughter (that would be me) lives and works in Morocco. That means my mom has been mining my photos about Morocco, mostly from Facebook, where I have nearly two thousand of them. However, of course, these two thousand pictures are not enough. Lately, I have been searching for several specific ones to add.

Some of the ones I am looking for? One of the meat market. For many Americans newly arrived in Morocco, visiting the meat market for the first time converts them to total vegetarians for the duration of their stay. You must understand American meat purchasing. We go to a hygienic, temperature controlled grocery store where very little is out-of-place, much less dirty. We go to a clean and refrigerated meat counter, and select the cuts of beef, pork, chicken, whatever, from the hygienically plastic-wrapped, neat and clean packages displayed there. No blood – no guts, and absolutely no resemblance to the creature that used to walk around and moo, or bleat, or cluck. There was an airhead in California (of course) who wrote to her newspaper (and the editor actually published it, clearly being a person with a sense of humor) chastising people (hunters) who kill animals for food. She self-righteously admonished the bloody killers that they should go to the supermarket and get their meat, where “no animals were harmed.” I SNIT you not.

I was raised in the country, so I know that meat is not made for those little packages from Soylent Green. Every year at the state fair in Georgia, my home state in the US (and a mostly rural state), there is a huge display with live cows being milked: because the city people REALLY don’t know that the milk they buy does not originate in those little cartons.

So you can imagine the shock of Americans who come face-to-face with a strung up, whole, rank of

The photo looks cleaner than it was…..really.

multiple carcasses: sheep, goal, cow, some with the heads still on (hard to tell a sheep from a goat without it) displaying their male gonads prominently. Male animals are preferred for the table in Morocco for cultural reasons, because I know for a fact that they don’t taste as good as the females: testosterone ruins more than just behavior. Could make you sit down and have to put your head between your knees. Especially if the weather in August is warm (it IS). Something about the smell…….is really good at making vegetarians.

Then, I needed to get a photo of the souk, especially the livestock sales. It actually also shocks Americans to see a full-grown horse loaded into a compact pickup truck. His head overhangs the cab, and his rump sticks out the back – and off we go!! Plus, you can purchase your chicken for Sunday dinner live – or, as we put it: “on the hoof.” Once you have chosen your victim, the processor there will ritually slaughter it for you, let it bleed out, then pluck it with a neat, homemade machine they cobble together from pieces of rubber tires and an old air conditioner fan, and gut it for you while you shop elsewhere, or while you watch (as if). Then, you collect your chicken; still warm, but guaranteed fresh, at least. This causes some Americans problems. We are not used to looking our dinner in the eyes, while it is still walking around.

Usually, the produce section is fairly safe. There are mounds and mounds of all sorts of fresh produce piled up for you to choose from, from an unending number of individual vendors. When I know in advance that the newly arrived American is squeamish – and I have learned to ASK – we generally just stay there, where it is safer.

I already go the extra pictures of the wedding attire, and the wedding throne. I also got pictures of the hand-made rug shop, too!

126: Being Married

Being married is a lot like being single. You still do a lot of the very same things. You get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, get a bath, eat dinner – all that stuff does not change too much.

What does change, however, is fairly significant. You no longer “go it alone.” You must consult someone else. In a lot of ways, this is a very good thing. It can help prevent you from doing stupid things – you know, the ones you used to do when you were single. Now, it matters if you die. Then, it didn’t count quite so much.

Plus, when you are married, you have a new best friend. This is significant. Anyone who has had a best friend knows that getting to the process of being best friends is a rather complicated business. There are bumps in the road – potholes, too. You and your new best friend must learn to live together in relative harmony. This is not an easy process!

First, there are all the “normal” adjustments you make because the other person is human. Then, there are all the adjustments you make because this person if of the opposite sex – a whole ‘nother story. Then, there are the adjustments you make because you are actually married to this person.  As you can probably see, this means you are making multiple adjustments, for multiple reasons.  It’s hard enough being friends, add in the differences attributable to gender, and then the differences caused by marriage, and you can see why this is a complicated process!

Considering all the possible things that could go wrong, it is amazing that a lot of people do actually manage to stay married to each other. It’s tough, and it certainly takes work, understanding and humility.  And, of course, it is worth it when it turns out well, and the two of you manage to get along (mostly) and respect each other. Besides, it’s cool having a new best friend.

125: Cat Logic

I have learned a lot watching and living with cats. They have a unique perspective on the world that makes sense to them, and often, to us two-legged animals, too.

*Sharpen your claws daily – you never know when you’ll need ’em.

*When mama yells, either 1. fold your paws and look innocent, OR 2. Run hide and be real quiet.

*If somebody scares you, the best thing is to fluff up and growl – that should do it.

*A patch of sunshine is a perfect reason for naptime.

*ANYthing can be a new toy.

*Cover up your own messes, so nobody else has to deal with the stink (I really like this one).

*When you are bored, chase your OWN tail.

*If you cannot see them, they cannot see YOU.

*There is a time and place for lovemaking – and it is when and where SHE says.

*If all else fails, take a nap.

*More than one bath a day is perfectly normal.

*It is your God-given right to get at least one loving session from your people every day – more is better.

*If somebody is in the kitchen, your chances of getting a treat increase exponentially.

*Ask politely when you want something. If you don’t get it, ask again. And again. And again. And again. And……..you get the picture.

*If a housemate annoys you, swat them.

* A flat rug on the floor is a personal challenge.

*Fly hunting is a perfectly legitimate occupation. And they taste good, too.

*If you lick a housemate, they will usually lick you back.

*Don’t use your claws unless you have to. The “stiff arm” is usually enough for them to get the message.

*Kittens need to learn respect for their elders. Teach ’em if they don’t know.

*Just because she’s a girl, does not mean she won’t kick your tail.

*When Mama feels bad, curl up in her lap and purr to help her feel better (Thanks, Caruso!).

*If somebody wants to give you pets and cuddles, you let ’em.

*Food is not important enough to fight about – mama’s loving IS.

*Before you go outside, be sure your collar is on, in case you get lost.

*Always investigate strange smells and noises.

*If you are lonely and can’t find your friends, meow loudly until someone finds YOU.

124: Relocating

I have a problem. I need to sort out my priorities, and I need to do this fairly quickly. I have a job here at my present school for the next two years. I know this because I just signed a two-year contract. My husband really likes this country, and we have made plans to retire here, start a retirement business, and live out what remains of our lives here. Hokey Dokey.

Just one problem I have discovered. I keep looking at job announcements for other places in the world – and I apply for them. This indicates a rather significant division between what I think I want to do , and what I apparently want to do. I want to go somewhere else. NOT sure why, but if I was completely content here, surely I would not be combing the lists for another job is a place far, far away from here. Would I? Of course not – I would be making better use of my time than searching for another job in another place. Period.

So WTF is going on? Apparently I am not as content here as I thought I was. Now, assuredly, the administration of the school where I am (the University administration, not the local school administration) is pretty crappy, but hey – I have never yet had a perfect job, ANYWHERE. So, they are tolerable (barely) and the job is not bad at all. Small class sizes, decent kids, for the most part (kids are kids, and are the same nearly everywhere). There are several smaller issues, but that is just life, darn it , and not a reason to do or not to do something as important as leaving, and relocating to another part of the world.

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. I just have to figure this out. What do I really want to do?? And WHY do I really want to do it? Is there some significant issue that I am not seeing, or not admitting to myself? What’s up??

123: I donwannago

I am having a serious disagreement with my husband and I donwannago home. To make this problem even WORSE, this is Friday, before a weekend. And what is even WORSER that THAT is the fact that this Friday is the last workday before a one-week-long holiday. Sheer joy. I donwannago home.

I do not want to go through the routine of making up, because I donwannamakeup. I wannabemad. I am still mad, even if he is no longer mad and wants to make up. I am not yet done with mad. This is unfortunate, since I booked, some months ago (when I was NOT mad) a week’s accommodations at a resort in Marakkech, Morocco, a city I have not had much opportunity to explore, and which I, ordinarily, would be excited to be going to see. I donwannago.

122: Children

Children are animals. So are adults, for that matter, but children are special animals who have not yet been appropriately and socially TRAINED. It is like when you get a new puppy in the house. This new puppy does not yet know how to go to the bathroom appropriately – you must train him to do that properly, so that you do not have to step in doggie doo. It’s the same with children, especially when they are very small, but also when they get a little bigger, too. When my children were small, I knew the location of every bathroom in our entire city, because it never failed that one or the other of them (or BOTH) would have to “go potty” every single time we were out running some errand. Every single time. It did not matter if we “went” before we left, either – we still have to go while we are out. EVERY single time. Jeepers Creepers.

And the other thing you have to train children about (OK, there are LOTS of other things) is not embarrassing you when they speak. WELL do I remember when my toddler daughter (she’s a well-trained 24 now) tugged on my pants leg in WalMart, and she said to me, in her loud, clearly audible, little girl shriek: “Look at that really fat lady, mama!”  Oh, God. This seldom happens with grownups, since we are better trained – hopefully.

My husband’s youngest daughter loudly announced that he had farted while the whole family was on a bike ride at a South Carolina resort – and she repeated her observation over and over again when he tried to ignore her. Lack of proper training, that memorable moment. He is scarred for life now.

You have no IDEA how thrilled I am that all of our joint children (his and mine) have now reached the age of sociability – where they seldom cause us problems anymore – except for the requests for money. I don’t think they ever outgrow that one.

121: Silliness

OK. This is ridiculous. WHY, WHY, WHY cannot a man and a woman be “just friends?” WHY does sex always have to be thought to be the reason? It does not matter whether the man and woman actually are “just friends,” or actually are doing the nasty: everybody THINKS they HAVE to be sexually involved. It’s like there is this huge, universal understanding that a man and a woman could not possibly have anything to say to each other that does not center around sex, or eventually lead to sex. This is ridiculous.  Since when did sex become the only possible topic of conversation?

I just don’t get it. This is BEYOND ridiculous. Everytime I meet a person of the opposite sex, having sex with them is NOT, NOT, NOT the first thing that comes to mind – FAR from it. Are there actually people so stupid that all they can think with is their gonads? Come on. Not all humans are THAT stupid.

OK, not all humans are that intelligent, either, but seriously? WHO has sex on the brain all the time past the age of eighteen? You HAVE to be kidding me. There is more to life than bodily urges, and there is certainly more to friendship than that. Give people some credit – a little, at least!

120: Make a List

Sometimes I wonder how I have any hairs at all left on the top of my head. I spend a goodly portion of my day yanking on them in frustration. I teach school. I teach English, and art. I have Kindergartners through seniors. I am schizophrenic.

I do not remember myself being like this when I was younger. Maybe I was – but I doubt it.

First of all – why can NObody write anything down? I am absolutely LOST without a list to keep me on track. If I lose my list, I might as well go to bed regardless of the time of day, because the productive part of the day is suddenly over. I will piddle from one thing to the next, and accomplish exactly nothing of import. I’ll stay busy, but I won’t get anything done. Anybody else like that?

I keep a running list on the refrigerator of whatever we run out of while cooking, so I will know exactly what to purchase on the weekly souk day – the day we go to the flea and farmer’s market to get our weekly groceries. If I do not have that list, I am afraid to buy anything, because I will come home with another kilo of potatoes to go with the three kilos that we already have at home. I am like that – I must have a list. With a list, I can conquer the world.

Without a list – I go to bed.

119: News

What is the human fascination with bad news? Why does everyone love to gossip? Did you ever notice that gossip is never the good news about somebody? Why is the news always the bad stuff? The good stuff is a mere blurb, a footnote, a mention – hardly important or worth any real time or space in the paper.

I vote for the good news. I vote for the things that are uplifting and inspiring. Frankly, there are enough people inspired to do bad things. I think we should offer people another focus, besides always looking at and considering and devouring all of the bad things people do to each other. Let’s talk about the good things that people are doing, in the hope that more people will be inspired to follow a GOOD, rather than a BAD, example.

Wouldn’t that make a better world for all of us? What’s stopping us??

118: Family Stories

Some years ago, I sat in a living room and howled with laughter as one of my cousins related story after story about her parents, my great-uncle and great-aunt. Some months afterwards, she was killed in an automobile accident. All those wonderful stories, told in her special, humorous, actually hilarious style, are lost forever – except in my memories. I so very much wish I had been able to video-record those stories she told, both to remember her and my uncle and aunt.

On another occasion, my grandfather told some stories when we were gathered for Christmas. It was the last Christmas he spent with us, and again, those stories are lost forever, except in my memories. Same for my grandmother, and my great-grandfather and great grandmother on my father’s side, plus the grandparents on my mothers side, too. I never committed those stories to paper – or videoptape, and I should have done so.

My goal is to visit my mother and my father and record their recollections of these people, before I have lost them and all of their memories, too. I hope my children will value them as much as I will!