Monday, August 31, 2009

On Straddling Time Zones

“One foot in and one foot back. But it don’t pay to live like that. So I’ll cut the ties and jump the tracks, for never to return” – The Avett Brothers (I and Love and You)

6 days until take-off. What??

I’m not quite sure where the summer’s gone. Just a minute ago I was sulking at the prospect of having to waste 2 months in Annapolis before my departure. Then I found myself saying “Don’t worry, I still have 3 weeks” to friends when the dark clouds of goodbye began looming in the distance. Now I have less than a week with so much to do and so much to say.

The truth is, though, I’ve been straddling time zones for quite some time. I am a planner, and that tends to work out for me pretty well in America. I get things done. But somehow in Morocco my plans can’t help but be thwarted. Appointments are never kept (at least not on time), deadlines are rarely met, and to-do lists don’t seem to exist. All plans are tempered by INSHALLAH...”If God Wills It.”

Ironically, the laid-back culture stresses me out. Paperwork moves slowly – so slowly. (For example, I wasn’t an “official” Fulbrighter until 2 days ago). When I stress about things in Morocco, generally the answer I get is “’ll all work out, inshallah.” And it does, I guess.

But somehow trying to plan for Morocco from America through Morocco with Americans is enough to make me a crazy person. It certainly has. Last week I spent several days with my sister in-law at their new home on the beach in North Carolina. I think those days charged me with enough sanity to make it through the next week of packing and planning. I may be out of sanity by the time I get to Casablanca next Monday morning, but by then who cares? I'll slip back into the inshallah version of myself and everything will be fine...inshallah.

In the next few days I’ll post again. I understand some of you may not know why I’m going back to Maroc, or what my project is, so I’ll spell that out in detail. It’s something I’m quite excited about, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my research with you as the months go by. I promise the posts will pick up once I’m on site.

I’m also adding some new things to the column on the right. One will be a glossary of Arabic phrases and culture-specific terms. The first time I use them they’ll be written like THIS (note “Inshallah” above) with a brief explanation. Any time after that, they’ll probably be italicized, but the explanation will be in the glossary, in case you would like to refresh your memory.

Most likely I’ll also add a cast list, for some of the more significant characters that I meet. That way you can easily distinguish Hamouda from Hamada, for example.

And now up I go into the attic to find some large suitcases...