Tuesday, September 2, 2008

my boys first catch, my distress continued, chasing waterfalls, saying goodbye and beginning the holy month with a weak stomach

I know it’s been awhile… I haven’t updated in so long, its been tumultuous times… I’ve actually been trying to remember the last time I felt strong and sound in my place in life and, well, I can’t. I really haven’t wanted to update because I just haven’t had much good to say. Really, all is well. I have everything I need; I have my health, I have my friends, I have unbelievable support from family back home, I have this grand experience, and I am getting used to the funny facts of life here.

The summer has brought interesting new challenges; bugs for instance. A cool mud house is not only a haven for me, but for little creatures as well - ants, cockroaches, dung beetles, termites, flies and my personal favorite, but as of yet only in the singular, mouse. Essentially, there’s a reason we’re taught not to play with our food. While my cat caught him in about 3 and a half seconds, after his little victory dance about my house he decided it would be more fun to play with the fuzzy creature than eat him. Needless to say, he looked the wrong way at one point, and my cat is no match for a mouse hidden in my woodpile. And this whole time mind you, I was perched on a plastic chair in my underwear and Uggs holding a broom. Why this is human instinct or what the heck I thought I was going to do with the broom I don’t know. I’m such a goon. Anyhow, fast-forward through three weeks of hearing him scurry around back there to 4am one morning. I woke up to the sound of my cat running frantically around the house, so I pushed on my push light and there in full glory stood my little knight in shining fur with a mouse in his mouth. I woke up pretty dang fast and managed to catch it in a glass between his paws before he could let him go again. That didn’t make him too happy. And then I did something I’ve never done before-I killed a mammal. I drowned him and it felt terrible but necessary. In the couple hours of sleep I managed that night I dreamt of the gendarmes coming to my house and finding tons of rats and mice. Ugh. Inshallah there won’t be many more to come.

My favorite creature of the house, besides my Bu of course, is still the gecko that lives in my bathroom. Him and the spiders have no death warrants out. My next great love of summer? My camp shower. I totally overlooked getting one before I came, but one got randomly passed down to me, and oh my! It’s the greatest thing ever. Currently I’m not even heating it up; after cleaning my house or just coming home from suq I’m plenty hot and sweaty enough for a cold shower. And yes I do refer to it as a shower; it is after all water falling from above. Though I still love “real” showers it does feel good to know I use under two gallons every few days to bathe, preserving natural resources!

On a similar note, I continue to be extra thankful for water because I don’t have it all the time. I’m glad to have running water, as many volunteers don’t, but in the summer, its sporadic. So are cell reception and electricity, but waters the main one. Around early June the water started going out for much of the day, but would come back on at night, and all through July it became a sort of system; water came on anywhere between 8pm and 2am and went out again between 5am and 9am. It was odd but I got used to it. A couple times the water went out completely for a few days, which really sucks. The only alternative we have in my site is the water we store ourselves and really dirty well water that makes everyone sick. Luckily, I had enough stored for drinking and cooking, just not enough for luxuries like washing clothes, bathing, or flushing well. The past couple weeks however, the system has changed! Water comes around whenever it dang pleases! An hour here, an hour there, not at all. The past few weeks it’s been a kind of 8am to 1pm sort of deal, but keeps changing. Ugh. But despite its inconvenience I admit I get a real kick out of the kind of satisfaction that comes from being able to deal with something we so take for granted in the states.

So again, really, it’s all good. I can survive here physically just fine. But there’s this other thing here, this thing I have to live with daily, that’s really making me question, dur, my own self. I turned 23 last month. No I don’t feel all different or more grown-up, but I did notice how it happened to coincide with a seeming mid-mid-life crisis or ns-ns-dunnit mushkil, though I doubt it really translates. Clusterfuck is the only way I can think to put it, between my current work and life, and my future. I actually managed to start reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (one of those self help books my mom’s been wanting me to read for years) a couple months ago. It was great and forced me to take a real look at the way I’m living, and not a page into the second habit I was bawling yet again with the pain of healing. The important work is always the difficult work. What I can manage to boil it down to is that I do need to take responsibility for my life, and work. It’s high time. On the 11th I will have been in this country a year and yet I feel I haven’t really begun to be here. It’s hard to explain my work situation, but mostly, I don’t work. I could blame it on the language barrier, or the stubborn women, or my boss, or anything really. Of course. I don’t know where the line is between this just not being the right fit for my personality and this being the chance I have to be a proactive person, but I know I’m certainly not trying to come closer to that line. I’m wonderful at avoiding, did you know? Avoiding conflict, avoiding failure, avoiding opportunity.

The scary thoughts I avoid but creep back in when I begin working are of what I am going to do with my life. Every day I feel further and further away from having any idea of what I want to do, and lately I feel I don’t even know what I don’t want to do. I know I am young and am told that this time could be spent just living and experiencing, etc. but it’s very difficult to work with no end in mind. Everything before could be dealt with because I had an idea of what would come after it. I worked hard because I knew what I was working for. I am not working towards anything right now. The resume boost means nothing if I don’t have any picture of what I want to be when I “grow up.” I picture myself back in the states, and all I can picture is waitressing, hiking and swimming, and that feeling so great in its smallness. Is it that I don’t think I’m capable of big things, or do I truly not want them? I have no idea. I fought this in college; I searched for ages for all this meaning in my work and a reason for the work, and a purpose for the work, and it wasn’t until the split second I managed to let that go and realize how much I loved simplicity - plain weave, a scarf, a gift, that all the meaning came about and became more than I could have ever forced into it. Well I can’t do that now. I can’t wait for some muse to strike, that was my senior thesis, this is my life.

I loved this place so much more before I got here. Maybe it was just the romantic idea of the Peace Corps. Lately I just don’t seem to care. And I’ve never not cared! I suppose it’s finally being somewhere I’m not needed so desperately by anyone. The obvious example being the women I work with; it’s been all but nailed to my forehead recently that they don’t want to learn anything I can teach them; they want someone to help them with marketing and logos and all this stuff that’s over my head. I’ve got little project ideas going and an export option, but I have so little faith in any of it; of its sustainability, of the real need for it here, of how I can actually help, etc. not to mention the fact that I have absolutely no interest in the business world, heck that’s part of the reason I left art, when money gets involved it just gets all messed up. I’m so tired of blaming outside circumstance on my despair because I know it’s not true. And yet I haven’t managed to pull any kind of pro-active nature out of my own being. This is not a passing feeling, it’s a real issue to be dealt with, and I am.

Aside from my mental roller coaster, recent weeks have been ok. For a long holiday weekend some friends and I went down to the Azilal area, where I finally got to move my stir crazy body! At one site we hiked up to a sweet Berber fort, then the next day did an all day hike to some fresh and not often visited waterfalls, ending in a crazy thunderstorm. The next night we all got ridiculously trashed together and had a glorious time, but paid for it in the morning as we had a long hike at the famous Cascades d’Ouzoud. We found an awesome spot for ourselves, but it was so far downriver the thought of the combined filth of all the people above wasn’t too pleasant. But no mater, I actually got to swim! And we slept in the dirt under the stars, which was awesome until about 2am when the four dummies of the group (me being one of them) who underestimated the cold and didn’t bring sleeping bags had to huddle up and sleep horridly til sunrise. All in all a great trip.

After that I was home not even a day and a half and with company before setting out to Rabat to bid Linsey goodbye. Linsey of course is the lovely lady who got stuck rooming with crazy Bri back in Philly, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since. But Morocco has not turned out to be the place for her and she decided to terminate her service early. This is a touchy subject for all us volunteers and I think we understand it best. ETing is a hard decision and I only mbruk (congratulate) anyone who has the courage to do it when they know it’s just not right for them here. In many ways, making the decision to leave is harder than just staying. I could go into it more and more but I’d rather not, too many thoughts of me ETing creep in… ha but no worries for the moment. So after a quick visit and a sad goodbye, I returned to my site.

A couple days later I had more guests passing through and some awesome packages from home, which we gorged ourselves on, got quite sick, and now, for the first time in weeks it seems I’m actually alone. Today is the first of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting. I had decided I would fast, at least the first week, but oddly enough im sick as a dog so I have no desire to eat now anyway, I’m sure that won’t last long though! Aside from the upside down flip this country takes for Ramadan, this will be a busy month. Soon I’m taking my Bu to a free clinic to make him a better and non-reproductive man, then head off for some work related leave near Algeria. I’m actually really excited about it; I’ve been invited to this site by two volunteers who’s cooperative just got a Schacht Baby Wolf, which is so awesome, and even more awesome that it happens to be my specialty, and even more awesome than awesome that they’re actually motivated and want to learn how to use it!

Soon enough the new staj of volunteers will be arriving and near the end of Ramadan a little group of them will be doing CBT in my site. (check my posts from last year around this time when I was a little baby Peace Corps trainee down south doing the same thing) At first I was very upset about the disruption a group of happy new Americans can bring to my service, but now I’m quite alright with it. Since I’m on pretty rocky ground with my women right now I figure it can’t get any worse and maybe it’ll be a little breakthrough and subliminal intervention. There I go, waiting for outside circumstance to change rather than changing myself, oh well. I hope that’s enough of an update for now. I’ll try and be more positive, ha, and write again without a month lapse!

2 comments:

David said...

Briana: You might have heard of me through Gary. I served with Peace Corps Ghana from 2000-2002 as a Physics teacher. Your blog, in many,many respects, reminds me of the journals I kept while I was there. I, too, found direction hard at times, especially around the 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year marks. Hang in there! That you can still find positives is a fantastic thing.(I made a promise to myself at one point to start and finish each journal entry with something positive because I found I was constantly writing mostly negatives) I also found myself worrying about what I might do when I got back, and mused mostly that I would resort to the kind of work that had made me happiest before Peace Corps. And that's exactly what I did for a while. That comforting return helped me find the stability and direction I needed to move on, and the Peace Corps experience is something I now look back on and miss.

linsey said...

i miss you :(