194: Portugal at Christmas

Portugal 057I was told that Portugal was inexpensive. NOT. Morocco is inexpensive. Portugal is trying to even up their national debt on the fees they are charging me for my personal Christmas holiday. Seriously. Thank God for credit cards, or I would have already been sunk far, far, far out of sight. Word to the wise: Pick some place OTHER than Albuefiera, Portugal for a holiday. Apparently a LOT of Britons vacation here, to the point that nearly every sign posted here is in both Purtugese and English. It does assist us Americans in getting around somewhat, but I’d rather they lose the English and drop the prices. By HALF. I can figure out the Portugese, really.

We are at a resort on Ouro Beach. This place is visited by a lot of Brits, who apparently are under the impression that it is elegant, and expensive, and worth it. Rot. They CHARGE for every freaking little thing here. You cannot swim in the pool without a “bathing cap” (is this the twenty-first century YET?) and flippies, which they sell, since they don’t tell you you have to have these supplies in advance, and NOBODY owns a swim cap who is under the age of ninety-eight. No, ninety-nine. The hot tub costs. The sauna costs. The workout room costs. The only thing that does not cost is staying in your own room and entertaining yourself – oh, wait…..they discourage that because the beds – all SEVEN of them in the room we have – are all singles. Yep. Every stinking one. Singles. Like married people don’t conjugate, and I am not discussing verbs. The Internet wi-fi, advertised as free, is free only in the lobby, and streams at the rate of .005 kilobotes per hour. It took wordpress almost 15 minutes to load for me to write this rant. If you want Internet in your room, it’s 20 Euros – oh, wait….the room we are in (out past east bumblefreak) doesn’t have it yet, so we have to go to the lobby even if we pay. Plus, the TV channels are set up so there are no sports: you must go to the bar and buy something (at least a drink) to watch the only TV with sports anywhere around. Their restaurant advertised specials on meals for us *half board for about 200 Euros each* for weeks, by e-mail, before we arrived here, which should have been a clue.

To be fair, the beach is nice. But, we are from Georgia, in the US, only a hundred miles from Florida. We have warm. This is Portugal, approximately on a lattitude equal to NEW FREAKING YORK. It is not warm here, even if Brits are getting in the freezing Atlantic, anyway. I remember watching Canadians and other aliens from up north come to the Florida Keys in December and January and get in the surf there, too, while I watched them wearing a sweater and long pants, shaking my head in disbelief. This behavior is not inspiring me to visit countries any further north. It can’t be any better up there, if they are here, thinking this is warm.

Ah, well. I wanted to see Portugal. Check that off the list as done and finished.

193: Living It

I remember enjoying life. It’s a fairly dim memory, but I can just recall life being fun and enjoyable. When did that stop?

I tried today. I dressed in a costume that makes me look like a third-grader on growth hormone. Everyone who saw me today smiled involuntarily, and most chuckled, too. I got several “thumbs-up” signs. I don’t view this as laughing AT me, especially since I dressed for that precise reaction. Seriously, if I was concerned with what everyone else thinks of me, I would dress totally in black all the time, so as to be thought “elegant.” Nevertheless, it’s the conundrum of the clown who is not happy.

I like Morocco. It’s a spectacularly beautiful country. Its bureaucracy, based on the former French-controlled system, is legendary, but that is just one more thing that makes it not the country I came from. Most of the time, it’s charming and downright silly, not frustrating and annoying as hell, which it admittedly is sometimes.

My problem with the country is my significant other. Morocco is a country where women view a married man as fair game, because here in this predominately Islamic country, it is legal for a well-to-do man to have as many as four wives. This possibility has intrigued my male partner quite a bit, and has started tiny little rat wheels turning in his head. The little rat is running furiously on these wheels, trying to figure out how to get HIS significant other to agree to being wife number one.

The thing is, in this culture, to have more than one wife, you first have to be Muslim. That is a deal-breaker right there. Second, in this culture where four wives are permitted a well-to-do man, there is absolutely no mention, not the first peep, about wife number two being financed and paid for by wife number ONE (that would be me).

To me, it would be like getting pregnant to see if we might want to continue to be parents. This is not a “try it on and see if it fits” sort of deal, here, any more than adopting a child or having a baby is on a trial basis. In addition, even if I was even partially, remotely amenable to this suggestion, there is the fact that Muslim women are culturally raised all their lives to consider being a multiple wife as something that is normal. They might even have some idea about how to actually go about doing it without killing each other. To me, killing each other would be a natural, and predictable, result. Where I come from, generations of people understand completely that when husband (or wife) finds married partner with another person, murder is going to occur. This is a no-brainer.

Anyway, I turned in my resignation at this job last week when I realized that I could not continue to live and work in Morocco and actually keep the man I am married to……alive. And, I also realized that, even though this is not at all a bad job, that I do not like the job here enough to even consider for a moment staying here in this country as a single woman, without my spouse (alive or dead). So, with, or without my spouse, Morocco is going to be history as soon as I complete this contract.

It’s like the old cliche: it’s a great place to visit, but you don’t want to live there!

192: Les Chats

I like cats. I don’t much care for dogs. Sorry. I know that is a deal-breaker for a lot of you out there in cyberspace, but there it is: I like cats.

First of all, cats are only recently approaching the genetic manipulation that dogs have been subject to for centuries. Consider what breeding differences must have occurred to produce such differences as exist between Chihuahuas and Bull Mastiffs? Dogs are GM pets, kinda like irradiated meat, as far as I am concerned.

And I like the scent of a cat. NO, not the litter box, stupid, the CAT. Dogs have a personal hygiene and body odor problem that I just don’t care for. And to make that even worse, they want to spread their scent all over YOU. They smell your crotch, slobbering, and then slobber everywhere else on you they can reach, too. Cats don’t (usually) indulge in that behavior towards their humans. They might lick you a little, but even then, it’s not dripping, slimy, drooling slobber. I think the grossest movie scene I ever saw (still gives me full-body shudders to recall it) was one in one of the Beethoven movies where the kid and that monstrously slobbering dog were sharing: SHARING: an ice-cream cone. YYEEeeecccchhhhhhh.

Plus, you have to walk a dog. He has to go potty outside, and that requires your active participation when he needs to go. In the city, you even have to take a little plastic bag and a scooper, so dog-lovers, don’t whine at me about my cat’s litterbox: you are scooping poo, too. Take the dog for a walk to go potty? No, thank you. I have a litter box in a private corner and I can attend to my pet’s bathroom needs at MY convenience, not at THEIRS.

Plus, bathing a cat is almost non-existent. Unless they encounter a REALLY unusually messy scenario (it does occasionally occur) you don’t have to bathe a cat. And cats are smaller, usually, so they cost less to feed than a dog does. And very few cats require haircuts. NONE of mine have required a haircut, or toe-nail polish.

Besides, getting a dog into your lap is problematic, except for toy breeds. All cats fit in a lap, unless you are going for the Guinness Book of World Records with your cat, which is not good for you OR the cat. And dog fur does not feel as nice as cat fur, either.

I’ll keep my cats, and you can keep your dogs. We’ll agree to disagree.

191: Killed by a cold…

One of these days, I am going to delay going to the clinic for just one more day so I can finish the piled-up work, just one more day too many, and the cold will turn into virulent raging pneumonia, and it will kill me deader than a doornail. Doornails are pretty dead. It seems that E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G else comes before me, and that just sucks, and I only have my own stupid self to blame for it. Why do I do this stupid stuff time after time after time? Will the whole world grind to a screeching halt if I take an hour to go see the doc for some meds to knock out this infection, before it knocks out me? Of course not. So, why in the he….ck is this the third day in a row, and I still have not gone?

It is not like I have a terminal fear of doctors, because even though I might not have the UTmost respect for the profession, and I am darn sure that they are correct when they claim to be PRACTICING medicine, I still am convinced that they are an excellent way to keep from dying from something stupid and silly….like a stuffed-up sinus infection and a bronchial, tubercular-sounding cough. So what gives?

Is anybody on Earth going to be even a little bit grateful that I have worked like a dog to complete my report cards for this grading trimester? Our assistant director commented that I had more cards to fill out than any other teacher on staff. I am not sure about that, but I am glad, glad, glad to be finally done with the very last one, even though many students won’t be happy about it. I do tend to tell the truth. Don’t let ANYbody tell you that you will be appreciated for telling the truth. EVERYbody would rather you tell a polite lie. ESPECIALLY on a report card. At least this grading period, no students offered me bribes for better grades. Darn it.

I could use the extra cash to pay for the doctor.

190: Talking to Strangers

Some people have real problems talking to strangers. But, hey! That’s the only way to make new friends, not to mention one excellent way to get whacked by a rabid psycho-killer.

Lots of people already know that public speaking is the number one fear of most people (statistically, which means it’s only partially true). Some of us, however, just have the gift of gab, as long as it is a casual social situation not requiring too much strenuous brain-cell activity. I mean, funerals and hospital vigils require tact and serious thought that most social situations just don’t measure up to. Chit-chat, though? Lots of us can handle that with one hand tied behind our backs, as long as the rabid psycho-killer is not present (or lurking nearby).

I think that is one reason I am a semi-successful teacher – it does not faze me being in front of a class of children or adolescents. I know grown, otherwise competent, adults who freak out at the thought. That might explain why getting substitute teachers is such a difficult proposition. And don’t even TRY getting somebody (who is not a teacher already) to substitute for you at leading your Sunday School class (age of participants notwithstanding), or at a civic club presentation you were supposed to give, or at any other function requiring them to get up in front of an audience and *gulp* speak.

A word of advice from a twenty-two-year veteran of the classroom: you will still get nervous if it is something you don’t do frequently. I volunteered (sort’ve) to preach a sermon at my church when the pastor had to be absent. My arm is still twinging in bad weather from the twisting it got, and that was YEARS ago. In spite of the fact that I am a preacher’s daughter (might have had something to do with it – I wonder if Rembrandt’s children were expected to know how to paint because their father could do it?), and have been in church literally thousands upon thousands of times, I was there all those times sitting in the congregation, not standing shaky-kneed behind the pulpit delivering the message. I was nervous. Just a tad. Since I have been singing in church since I was a tot just out of diapers (literally – they stood me in a chair so the congregation could see the cute little curly-haired tyke I was), I have practiced for years the techniques to help one relax and dispel nervous tension before performing. Still does not help much if it is an unfamiliar undertaking. Maybe I should have SUNG the sermon?

Anyway, I made a neat outline of my sermon, and wrote it out, and put it on notecards, and practiced it, timing myself to stay within the acceptable amount of time that most people (statistically) will actually listen to a sermon before the rumbling of empty stomachs drowns out the preacher. I still had to wear a floor-length skirt to hide my shaky knees. And I made sure to have no change in my pockets, so I did not stand there and jingle it while I spoke. People tell me it went well. I think they were being kind, since they need a substitute preacher occasionally, and might have just been buttering me up with confidence so I’d allow myself to be volunteered again, instead of having to fill in themselves the next time. I actually don’t remember very much of it, and I was lucky nobody thought to video-tape it, or you might be able to see it on YouTube.

My advice about getting used to speaking to strangers? Start with writing a blog. You are not going to know too many of them personally, either!

189: Falling out before a big vacation

I have a gift. It is not a present, it is an annoying tendency to do something that is problematic. I am gifted in doing it repeatedly, despite my best efforts in overcoming this habit, this tendency, this annoying gift. This gift is falling out with my significant other right before a major, hugemongous vacation (usually one in another freaking COUNTRY), after reservation accommodation bookings have been made and paid for, when rental car deposits have been made and paid, when ferry/airplane/train tickets are reserved and purchased. Sometimes I do it even when the dad-gum BAGS are packed and we are standing in the ding-dong driveway, loading up the car to go. For the LOVE of GOD. Seriously. I am an idjit.

This should be an eagerly anticipated treat, an event I have looked forward to for MONTHS since I booked it last summer. It is not like I don’t WANT to enjoy a week-long vacation in Portugal! On the beach! In a luxurious resort! And when I say falling out, I do not mean a little spat over who forgot to bring the charger for the camera batteries – oh, no. We don’t even bother to argue over that sort of inconsequential crap. No, I pick departure day for a big trip to have issues about even staying freaking MARRIED, for Cripe’s Sake. It’s embarrassing.

At least this time, I did it a week in advance. Maybe there is time to make up before we are due to depart. Sheesh. SUCH a drama queen.

188: Making up is not the same

There is one problem with making up with someone. Even though whatever you or they, or you BOTH did is discussed, compromised upon, and/or outright forgiven – it is never, ever, never, never ever, ever never, forgotten.

This is true with a friend, an acquaintance, a girl- or boy-friend, you name it: even a family member, immediate or removed. Things are never the same again. This issue, whatever it was, and even though it is now resolved, will always be there to think about whenever anything else comes up that requires trust from either you or from them.

This is doubly true with a spouse. Especially if the issue is one of fidelity. Even if the nasty never happened – it was just “thought about.” One partner who was “thinking about” another person in THAT way is just a problem now. Even though the other partner (that would be ME) is willing to forgive and forget, they are lying about the forget part. I know darn good and well that I am. Lying about the forget part, I mean. I might remind myself over and over that I forgave that lapse, but it won’t ever go away, and it will rear its ugly head every time there is an occassion in the future when I am supposed to trust my partner. Before I just did. Not now. I might make myself do it anyway, but the trust is gone. And *I* didn’t do it.