What the hell is wrong with us? As a race.
Ok just maybe as a privileged white female from the best country in the world who has all the choice before her and nothing, literally NO THINGS, to complain about.
What the hell is wrong with me? I mean, the list could be quite lengthy:
– I laugh at funerals
– I regularly talk to strangers
– I pet street cats in foreign countries
– I sing out loud and don’t care that I have a complete lack of talent
– Some might say I drive too fast
Ok. That’s enough. And beside the point. What I am getting at is my personal tendency to backslide into negativity.
I say “my personal tendency” because I am not going to call out people around me. Let me just say, I notice it a lot in a lot others as well. It’s an easy state to live in.
I blame my mother. She was famously negative. People who met her would say, “Oh, Kathi, what are you talking about, your mother was lovely.”
Yah. So am I when I’m around people but trust me, when you live with it, it’s not so pretty. I can blame a lot of other things as well. It’s hard to stay positive all the time. HARD! Why????
I am thinking on this today because I have been ANNOYINGLY jaded of late as regards my current level of tolerance. It’s January sure, but I was also feeling like Eyore back in November.
Let’s face it, this day to day contract we live on with the Universe doesn’t stop for glum months. We gotta grab this life by the balls. We need to be firmly in charge of our thoughts on all days, not just the sunny ones. (Which is a funny statement because it is sunny in my life about 300 days a year.)
I have been working with a professional coach for over a year. I love her and I love the process. I have noticed so many changes in this time. Not the least of which is that she has been with me on the journey to get off my anti-depressants.
A big goal of coaching is to train the client (that’s me) to become their own coach. To learn the tools I need to use and how to use them, when I recognize certain patterns coming up. So when I am paralyzed by in action due to fear, I can now walk myself through that and move on. This is good. I have become pretty good at recognizing my own thoughts and then working to correct that. To self balance my chakras. To ground myself.
So here I am and desperately needing a break on the “outside” which is coming soon as I head off to Poland next week to meet a friend for 10 days. But it doesn’t change the thoughts that are crowding my brain. Annoying me. That I am working to move past.
Let me demonstrate.
Then: When I first moved to Morocco I was so fascinated by the traffic movements that I wrote this post about crossing the street.
Now: Everytime I cross the street and someone comes at me without slowing down I have a whole script I mutter internally. “I’m a human being in my rightful crosswalk and you are going to get where, how much faster, if you run me over you crazy fuck?”
Option: Accept that crossing the street, horns honking the SECOND the light changes, and having the stop light manage only half a crosswalk are the norm.
I choose to live here. I am guest. An immigrant. Not an overly privileged white colonialist expat, but an immigrant.
Then: I was so enamoured with the beautiful people I was meeting and encountering on my first trip here that I wrote this article on them.
Now: Reality dictates that a lot of men here have ulterior motives when it comes to western women.
Option: I am a highly intelligent, fully aware, adult woman who will not lose my mind and give away all my money and start sponsoring people to come to my country just because they bat their eyes at me.
I am fully able to make the distinction between people with true hearts and people with bad ideas and I can navigate the world successfully which means I can say hello to people and have a discussion without falling married at the end of it.
I used to be fascinated by taxis and now I will literally not follow through with plans if I am not in the mood to deal with the shit that comes with taxi taking.
I used to find it fascinating that so many people are required to complete one task, and now the inefficiency can make me insane.
I used to be so charmed that you can do simple things without all the western fanfare, and now I see this speed bump and I start to rail against the poor educational system that doesn’t even nod to critical thinking or strategic planning and forethought.
So is it time to move?
It might be time to realign my time. To spend more time outside Marrakech, get into the countryside and the south where the heart of this country beats strong and true.
It’s time for me to go outside and spend 10 days travelling in a new country with a completely different focus.
It’s time for me to notice the good around me and stop being so quick to judge.
How did I get to this little rant?
I was at the gym this afternoon. I was putting on some pants post workout and a girl came along to the locker next to mine. Jostling and movement happened.
I put my water bottle into my pack and she asked me something in fast French. Didn’t understand. And honestly, I had my back up. My internal dialogue kicks in.
“What the fuck does she want? Am I going to have to punch her? Does she want me to give her my water bottle? Does she want a sip of water? From my bottle? What’s happening?”
She switches kindly to very proficient English. Because she speaks four languages and I, ignorantly, speak one.
She asked if it was just water or a mix. I said it was a mix. “What is it for? Is it to lose weight?”
Oh….she’s a really nice girl, clearly educated, sincerely making conversation. Whoa.
So we talked about pre-workout. Where to get it, what it’s called, how it works, how to mix it. What it’s good for. I googled some things, she made some notes in her phone.
It was lovely. We had a really nice conversation. She was very sweet.
At the end, as I was leaving and saying goodbye, she said something that is pretty common syntax for Moroccan native Arabic speakers who also know French and are now speaking in English.
She said “thanks you, thanks for you.”
No darlin’. No. Thanks for you.
Ever since I returned from Canada in September my Internet service has been a little degraded. By that I mean, it feels like it’s being choked at times. Which is fine if it was regular cable/DSL. Choking is a thing. It drains like a fast sink as soon as everyone comes home from work at 5pm and hops on the line. And when it rains. And when the Palace is occupied. And Tuesday’s. Which is precisely why I switched my service to fibre optics last year. Dedicated line and speedy goodness. Right?
So then it got worse and I finally decided that I was going to launch a complaint. This is an endeavour for a few reasons.
This is Morocco.
I refuse to go to the Maroc Telecom HALL in central Gueliz, which is a 10 minute walk from here. Because it’s all men that work there, you take a number and good f’ing luck to you.
At the HALL, if you don’t speak full on Darija you are penalized with a complete blank stare and a little tiny work strike. If these aged-out-of-the-system-but-at-least-I-have-a-job morons could speak any English, they would say “Back up from my desk you immigrant whore, I have no service to offer you and I will not lift one finger to assist you until you become Muslim and are Moroccan.”
I choose to go the mall retail outlet at Menara Mall. Its has pros and cons.
- Its shiny and bright;
- There are rarely more than 4 people there;
- The attendants employ customer service techiques;
- They usually speak English;
- There is a Carrefour Market for post encounter groceries;
- There are a number of swish restos (with HIDEOUS service) so I can get an expensive hamburger if I feel like it;
- Its generally a very pleasant experience.
- It’s either a 40 minute walk or a 10 minute taxi ride;
- Each way;
- Taxi rides in themselves are a pain in the ass;
- It takes a lot of time due to the walking which I do at least one way.
So. I went and I did it. I lodged my complaint. “Within 48 hrs someone will contact you. If they don’t, come back and see me.”
Ya. I’ll see you in 48 hours.
First time, nothing happened. I wasn’t feeling enough pain to go back until finally my wired to the box TV stopped mid streaming. Then I got pissed off.
I went back. Same routine. See you in 48 hours. After the 3rd trip, someone called me on the phone. Sadly, even if I did speak a bit of Arabic or French, doing so on the phone is RIDICULOUSLY hard, so I stuck with English. He said, “is it the box or is it wireless?” To which I replied that it was the wireless. He hung up and never called again.
After my 5th trip, I had a knock at the door, completely random, no notice, nothing. The person spoke some English. He told me it was fine. “Look Madame at the speed test.” “Yes, son, I can see your speed test. Stick around for an hour and watch it degrade. It’s inconsistent.” Then he told me, insisted really, that I had to take a network cable, bring my laptop to the box, and all would be right with the world.
So. Wait a minute. “Are you telling me, that when you go home tonight, you and all your brothers and all your sisters and your aunties and your dad are all going to gather your laptops and tablets and cell phones around your router and share a fucking cable?”
He also told me that the box was acting as a router and I need to add an access point. He went so far as to go online and show me the exact one to get. I did go that same day and I got it, but when I came back to install it, to potentially improve the performance of my blazing fast service, there was none. No Internet, no service. No connection, no TV, no streaming, no Netflix, no music, no Alexa, nothing. NO THINGS.
When I went back the 6th time the nice lady was there and she suggested that I could get a refund for some money since I’m paying and not receiving. Ya lady, and the King himself will deliver that no doubt in my mind. I’ll go put the tea on.
During that 6th visit there was a flyer on the counter telling me all about the service I was paying for and it appeared to me that I could get some international calling on my cell phone with the package I was on. Problem there is that the cell phone number I have had since October 7, 2015, was not registered in my name. Some other person was fully registered.
So in order to move my phone number over from INWI to Maroc Telecom, and therefore qualify for this new package , in my mind, I had to get the ownership in order.
I had the papers, I just hadn’t acted on them. Don’t have any Internet, so I thought, what the Hell? Let’s do this.
Home from Menara Mall, came upstairs and got the single page that INWI had given me. I translated the whole thing in Google translate. It was essentially just a sworn document I had to sign saying the number was mine. And, yes, you guessed it, being a sworn document, I had to go to the Boom Boom Room to get the document legalized. So off I went on foot to the moqata to get the thing stamped. It was a nice day. I was listening to Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepherd and it was the episode with David Sedaris and he was explaining to David about the time he pooped his pants in Home Depot. So I spent most of the trip laughing out loud while people stared at me. (Note: I am SO far beyond caring about people staring at me and thinking I’m crazy).
I arrived at the boom boom room and there was NO ONE there. I mean, it still took me 15 minutes of people talking fast French at me, and one random man who laughed and laughed at me because I’m Canadian and I don’t speak French and some other things were said I don’t know what. But I was the only one actually in line when I arrived. It was dreamy.
On my 7th trip back to Maroc Telecom I got a little angry. There was a really nice older man who speaks pretty good English and he is always helpful. He got on the phone and made some calls, said my name, and made some more calls. Which was nice. Still nothing has happened but at least he called some people.
I gave him my paperwork also for the phone. For the International package. To port my number over now that it’s mine and I have the documents to show it. He said that package is only for my landline.
I don’t have a landline. I don’t need a landline and I refuse to reinstall something I got rid of in January of 2009. Honestly, what fucking century is this?????
As I was leaving he said, “Now my dear, if you are going to all this trouble to stay in Morocco, you must learn some Darija and some French.” I told him I was making considerable efforts to learn both languages. Then I said, “You know what language I DO speak fluently? Networking. I speak networking. And I know that you don’t require a cable to make wifi work.”
We laughed together. I’ll see him again on Monday.
I have been in a very prickly state of mind lately. I might be homesick, or maybe it’s the full moon, or perhaps it’s just January but whatever the cause, I am more likely to burst into tears or fly into a rage than I am to smile or laugh. The latter being my default setting.
It’s uncomfortable to be so angry and frustrated all the time. I don’t like it. For whatever reason, things that would normally roll off my back have instead been penetrating my reasonably thick skin and piercing my heart.
Where normally I might choose to remain silent and mutter a couple of “fuck you’s” to myself to keep the peace, I have been raising my battle armour, stomping my foot down hard and saying “absolutely not acceptable” in the loudest possible terms.
It’s exhausting. But I’m helpless to stop myself.
I have been trying to do a lot of self soothing. Tea drinking. Long walks in the sun. Staying out of the way of common annoyances. Wearing headphones outside and listening to great podcasts as I walk around to get a little cheerful western wit and intelligence into my day. Reading a good book and using social media less.
But this weekend I pretty much hit rock bottom. I mean, sure I can listen to Armchair Expert and laugh out loud and the sun on my face is definitely soothing. But when a “technician” stands in my living room and tells me that in order to make my wireless work, I need to use a wire, and then my Internet goes completely out, my website has a technical issue and the cooking gas runs out mid soup prep on a Sunday night. Well, a cup of tea is not going to help.
And then I get a text that reads,
“I just Shazammed LifeHouse!!! 😂😂”
Completely out of the blue. No preamble, no follow up.
This made my heart fill right up to the very top with a warm feeling of love so deep and so true that it’s almost as if an angel appeared and wrapped me in cashmere. It was almost (almost but not quite) as if little Daisy herself had plopped her head on my lap and said “I love you mommy” with a little sigh.
You see, the text came from my bad friend Susie. And I say “bad friend” because she is a bad friend and she knows it. We discuss it all the time. Susie is terrible at keeping in touch. Like, AWFUL-AT-IT. This is a girl who has made big plans to celebrate my birthday, to the point where I cancelled other plans in favour of hers, and then she calls me ON my birthday, talks about random things and then hangs up. Completely forgetting my birthday, any plans or really all of it.
But that’s ok. Because she is Suze. All it takes is one …”Dude, I am SO sorry” and all is forgiven. (But apparently not forgotten because that happened about 10 years ago.) I literally can not hold a grudge when it comes to this person. I love her with my whole heart.
Like I said, Susie is not good at keeping in touch. BUT, she did text me a couple of years ago, my first summer back to Canada, and she said, “I want to pick you up at the airport. I want to be the first person to see you and I want to be 100% certain I get a visit in.” She knows her limits and she works within them.
The text she sent yesterday about Lifehouse refers to a pretty hilarious incident back in maybe 2005? She was hot on the trail of knowing who sang a particular song. But she couldn’t remember the lyrics well.
We went to the mall together, back in the day when they still had CD stores.
She went about singing / humming (I’m not even kidding you) this song, horribly, to 16 year old shop workers. Now imagine, Susie is a 5 foot 10 inch blonde KNOCKOUT! None of those boys were paying any attention to the lyrics. She walked away disappointed.
I, meanwhile, had disassociated myself and selected a few CDs. We bought some lipstick at MAC, had lunch, got in the car. I popped in a new CD, we both pulled down the visor mirrors to apply new lipstick.
The first song starts playing and sure enough……”DUDE!!!!! I love this song. Wait a minute. THATS the song!” It was Lifehouse. Falling even more in love with you…..
All the blonde jokes made so much sense.
So when I got the text it took me back to that moment. To my deep and unconditional love for Suze. I know it may be the only words I hear from her until I see her face this July. But it doesn’t change my love for her.
I have a few friends like that. A few friends that are unimpreachable. People for whom I would go to the end of the earth. People who I have no expectation of ever seeing again in this life, but for whom I would never dream of whispering goodbye to.
I mean obviously I have some lifelong friends for whom I would fly across the world to support if it is within my ability to do. People who thrill me to bits by making unexpected border crossings when all the stars align and we find ourselves together for an evening, even though we live on opposite global corners.
I have a few friends that I think of every single day. Without fail. Maybe we don’t speak very often because there is the business of raising small children to be had. Or maybe we play Words with Friends and I can hear the (Dr. Evil) laughter when JET gets played for 173 points.
Or maybe I just get the occasional text with a photo of the kids and my heart grows 100 times in size.
It’s funny though. What makes those people into “my people”. What makes someone unimpeachable? I am planning a trip with a friend who I remember meeting for the first time sitting with in our mutual boss’s office. It was his first day and my birthday and the Mounties were lining up on York St. in riot gear. Here we are 15 years later….
These are the people I plan my summer days around. These are the people I see when I’m home come Hell or high water. And if I don’t see them this year you can be sure it will be next.
What is it that gives these certain people entry and free passage into my heart? Respect for one thing. I don’t think any one of those people has ever been disrespectful to me, nor I to them.
There are certain expectations of behaviour that come with this role. We can disappoint each other, or disagree with each other. But there is always a level of respect. Something that doesn’t always hold in romantic relationships. Something that goes far, far beyond matters of the heart and gets into the realm of the soul. The very fibre of your being.
I’m so glad for having spent time writing this. And for taking the time today to think about some of these special people. It makes the silence due to lack of Internet a bit easier. It makes my low level tolerance of late seem manageable. It makes my serious need for a mental health break less urgent. It makes my heart feel less trodden on and more resilient.
It makes me feel warm inside. I’m so lucky to have all these people filling up my heart and making my armour a little thicker.
In a stunning update to this post from November 29, 2018 let me share how I ended up spending my morning.
I have a friend who comments that every time she sees me, I am on my way to the bank. It’s not even funny because she is a good friend and I see her frequently and it’s actually a true statement.
I spend more time in the damn bank than a normal person should. Also, I have stopped receiving all communication from this bank so part of the reason for me going there is that I have to fetch my own damn bank statements since they have decided not to mail me anything anymore.
Please note: This is a large multinational French bank I am talking about.
So in short, I had a registered letter from the bank back in November. “Bring us proof of residency today or we close your account.” So I did. You can read about in the other post.
So I was in bed this morning reading a book called “Educated” by Tara Westover, and I had literally just planned my entire day when the phone rang. It included a good deal of reading that book and a trip out to Maroc Telecom to tell them that my Internet still doesn’t work.
Now let’s be clear. I am not a phone talker. I speak to one person by phone, most days, and for at least an hour. The rest of you – no.
I am DEFINITELY not a fan of answering a call from a random number and especially not a random Moroccan number. What good can come of that? But something told me to straighten my crown and answer it.
It was my friend Hasna. The nice lady in the business accounts department at the bank. Upstairs. Where the brains live. And they speak English. And do things.
“Madame,” she said, “do you have your carte de sejour?”
Ffs. Is she calling to rub it in? Is this a reminder that I need to get on it and redo ALL my paperwork…..no. I can’t even speak of this right now.
“I must see some proof of residency today or they will close your account. It is very urgent.”
For the love of God how urgent can it be when this is the first I’ve heard of it?
I put down the darn book and get in the shower. Grab my utility bill and head to the bank.
Upstairs I go to the nice people. And by nice I mean, nice. They are polite and professional always. They remember my business name which is not memorable. I hand her my utility bill and she goes into the bosses office, where I can see her and two men talking about it. She and a man came out and I said, “is there a problem?”
“No,” she said. “This is the man that needs the proof.” He didn’t speak English.
“He needs to update your information for your personal account.”
We walked downstairs together and I pointed to the 4 offices. I said “I came in two months ago with document and gave it to the end office.” I pointed at each office in turn and said “doesn’t speak English, doesn’t speak English, doesn’t speak English, that one.”
She smirked at me and she said, “Madame, for anything you need, personal or business, just come and see me please.”
Noted, Hasna. Noted.
Then I took myself out for lunch as a reward for my extraordinary display of patience in the face of incompetence.
In the spirit of the New Year I thought I would remember to share more bits and bobs of my daily life in Morocco. I haven’t been good at sharing simple anecdotes lately, preferring instead to wait for something significant to happen and then barf it up in a long post.
But it occurs to me that some of you like to hear about my quirky life as an immigrant in this foreign land and so I will provide.
I think I stopped posting the oddities because after awhile, typically referred to as “the honeymoon period,” some of the oddities just become normal life. Like when I used to be delayed because I got caught behind a donkey cart in traffic.
In the first few years I would wax all whimsical and take photos and think, “Oh look at that. Life is so different for so many reasons and this sort of thing really spices up your day with a taste of the unusual.”
Now when that happens I simply shout out loud in my clearest English,
“MOVE. YOUR. ASS.”
No whimsy to be found.
Then yesterday I was out on my overly long trek to get groceries and I passed by a shop that I actively disdain. I was so pleased to see this stupid sign posted in the window, stating quite boldly – BLACK WEEK. (What the hell is that? It’s not a thing you morons. Not even if you Google translate Boxing Day from Mandarin).
The rest of the sign is just as ridiculous.
I should clarify my active disdain. This is a shop that I spotted on my first trip to Marrakech back in 2015. It was closed the whole time we were here and I was thusly denied access.
It’s a beautiful interiors shop. As life would have it, I pass by it every time I take one of three routes from my home.
Since I have been living here, and I lean heavily towards spending recklessly on pretty things for inside my home, and since I had an empty home in need of “objet” and the like, I would happen into this store. Like 6 or 7 times.
This was the place where I learned about customer service in French owned Moroccan stores as a person with English written all over them.
I could literally stand in the middle of this store, in front of 6 sales people, farting $100 bills and they would look right through me. Try as I might I have never bought a thing. Nor have I ever seen anyone in there so it has to be a front for something. Must be. Pretty though.
“Good,” I said yesterday. I’m glad you hung your stupid flag on the front of yourself.
In other news, I was also at the post office yesterday. Second time in a week. I am trying to ship a box to some friends in B.C. Turns out that’s not so easy.
Yesterday I went into the post office and it was a madhouse. Honest to God there had to have been 45 people in there.
Now, I have covered off how it works there. You cue on the left half to pick up and you cue on the right half to send.
There is a big long table on the right side so people can lay out their shipping things and wrap them or box them. There are chairs along the right side wall.
I have also covered off the Moroccan cultural propensity to clumping instead of lining up. No, no. They don’t take a number and stand one in front of the next in a clear way so that new comers know where they stand. Literally.
No they either clump in a big group, or they scatter, knowing exactly who is next “in line” while sitting or leaning wherever is convenient. When you join that scenario, you have to work out who was there already, and then monitor those that come behind you and hopefully it all works out.
So imagine my brain when I found 27 or more people (roughly) clumped AND scattered all over the right side of the room.
Add to this, half of them are sitting in the chairs along the wall, half of them are leaning on the big table facing the middle of the room (Are they clumping? Cueing? Practicing for a play? Is someone about to speak to them? Is this the army recruiting centre?)
Then they was the third half of this who were milling and scattered.
No one was working out my sign language to tell me their status. Also, many many of the clumpers, many, had no visible goods to be shipped.
What the actual hell was happening?!
I really wanted to ship that package but I also kinda had to go to the bathroom and I really needed to eat something.
I quickly worked out that it’s one thing to choose to stand in a long line up waiting, and it is quite another to choose to stand in a long Moroccan line up. I mean, literally 458 things could happen before you make it to the front.
But it is just pure insanity to stand in a room full of people and not even know if you are in a line or not. Or if there is a line even.
So I marched right to the front, asked for a few shipping forms and left.
Which was a good idea in the end because the shipping forms are in French and Arabic. So I was able to sit, relax, eat salad and Google translate the crap out of that form in relative comfort.
And so that’s what’s been filling my head so far this year.
And now I need to know the word for “Line up” in Arabic and whether it has anything at all to do with being a line. How will it translate back into English?
Ooooooh! A cliff hanger. You’re welcome.