Thanksgiving, or a long overdue thank you

27 Nov

For some time now, I’ve been meaning to put together a proper blog post about my visit to Fez in March of this year, and my amazingly gracious and kind host, Sandy McCutcheon of The View From Fez.

Unfortunately, as some of you know, my father was ill at the time, and subsequently passed away in early June. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything other than just trying to get by every day. Sandy is in the unique position of understanding my grief better than most, but for an opposite reason – his 37 year old daughter, whom he had never met, finally tracked him down in late 2004. As he puts it so eloquently,

“AT FEZ AIRPORT, ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 14, 2005, I held my daughter in my arms for the first time in my life. It was eight days after her 37th birthday. All day I had been so on edge and apprehensive I was nauseous. At times I thought I would be too ill to meet her. Yet the moment I set eyes on her the fear of rejection slipped away, replaced with an overwhelming sense of completion. The meeting raised huge questions about the nature/nurture debate. Up until that point, I had always accorded the two factors equal status as determinants of personality. On meeting Yvonne, this was totally overturned. The young woman I met was so emotionally and psychologically like me that the dominant role of genetics seemed indisputable. More importantly, we hit it off from the first moment and spent the next few days exploring every detail of each other’s life. Having the fascinating medina of Fez as a backdrop provided us with a safety valve and whenever we needed a break from the intensity of our newfound relationship, we explored the city arm in arm. Not only were we absolutely compatible, we were more than father and daughter – we were friends. It was pure bliss.”

As a 37 year old who had just lost her father and her best friend, I felt like I’d been cut adrift. That’s why, though it’s a poor excuse, I hadn’t written about my visit or Sandy. Or any other post on this blog except for a brief one about a Moroccan embroidery book I discovered in the OSU library.

But now, I think it’s time to get back on the horse. This post will probably be in several parts (I had quite a visit!), but in the meantime, here are three photos.

Morocco Trip March 2010
Sandy, after making us some delicious coffee
Sandy, after making us some delicious coffee
Sandy, after making us some delicious coffee
Sandy's djellaba - check out that door!
Sandy's djellaba – check out that door!
Sandy's djellaba – check out that door!
The main bedroom, which he lent to me to sleep in(!) - when the morning sun strikes them, the windows glow like jewels
The main bedroom, which he lent to me to sleep in(!) – when the morning sun strikes them, the windows glow like jewels
The main bedroom, which he lent to me to sleep in(!) – when the morning sun strikes them, the windows glow like jewels


Posted in Blogroll, Expats, Friends, Personal, Tourism


Soieries marocaines, les ceintures de Fès

24 Jun


The title of an amazing book that I discovered in the stacks of the Ohio State Fine Arts Library today:

Soieries marocaines, les ceintures de Fès; cinquante planches en couleurs, introduction par Lucien Vogel

Published by : Paris, A. Lévy [1921]

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Art, Design


Fresh Start

24 Jun

So my blog got hacked, again – though it seems to be a common problem for WordPress users.

The past few months have been quite a rollercoaster, so I didn’t have a lot of time for writing. A few significant events, just recently :

- I went to Morocco on a whirlwind trip over Spring Break, and took classes in MSA at Qalam Wa Lawh while there

- I finished 4 classes during Spring quarter – Modern Middle East (grad level course), Linguistics, Microeconomics, and a short independent study portion of Arabic 103.

- Then, on the day of my last final, my father passed away. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilahi Raji’un.

So I managed to find a rather old backup of my blog, wiped everything, reloaded from the backup, upgraded the WordPress install, and voila.

Unfortunately, all those posts you now see in the archive are from 2007 and earlier. Ah well. I suppose I’ll want them, someday. Must get started on some new decent stuff to drive the old crap off the front page.


Posted in Blogroll


Getting Ready (Ana Mashi Muzhjuda!)

24 Aug

Lately, I’ve been (sort of) studying to get a head start on my first MSA class at Ohio State. I’m ok with the alphabet (thanks to my excellent teacher at the CCCL, Samir Azzibou), but this book is showing me all kinds of new things – like what happens to “?” when it’s in front of ?. Crazy things, let me tell you, it’s like T jumped on J and decided to do a little samba.

I also applied for a student membership to the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). It makes me feel terribly official, but I’m afraid the resident Berber is not too impressed. “Why do you want to study about Morocco?” You know what I say? “Libitibitou!”

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Posted in Amazigh, Blogroll, Education, Personal


Another Stereotype Shattered – Not All Moroccans Are Polite!

19 Aug

If there was one thing I could always say about Moroccans, is that they’re extremely polite – exchanging the proper greetings, acknowledging newcomers, making sure to shake everyone’s hand, etc… they know how to put on a good “public face.” In fact, they may hate your guts, but won’t ever show it. Shock of all shocks, I met a group of Moroccans tonight that were the exact opposite. Actually, they were so standoffish and rude, that I almost thought I was dealing with a group of American frat boys.

So….Hamou and I were riding our bikes, and happened to pass the Ohio State soccer fields. Wafting across the air came the lovely tones of darija – ok, they weren’t saying nice things, it was typical soccer game trash-talking and swearing – but it was nice to hear familiar words, anyway. We decided to head down to see if we could meet some of the players, especially since we noticed they were all wearing Maroc soccer shirts.

There were three people on the sideline – two players, and a girl sitting on a small set of bleachers. Hamou rode up to the two guys and greeted them with a typical “Salam Aleikum.” What did he get in response? The briefest of “Wa-aleikum-as-salam”s, then one went back out to play, and the other turned his back on Hamou and walked back over to where the girl was sitting. Strike One.

I saw all this happen, and rode down next to Hamou. There was a little boy sitting on the other set of bleachers, so I pumped him for information. Hey, you have to use all techniques in war, right? Hamou was trying to convince me to leave, but I wasn’t going down without a fight. I found out from the boy that the American girl on the other bleachers was named Kimberly, but he was unclear about her connection to any of the players – “Maybe she likes one?” LOL. The boy was only seven, poor thing. He was no match for my questions.

I went over to the guy who had turned his back and the Kimberly chick, and greeted her with a friendly smile and, “Hi, I know your name is Kimberly, because my little friend over there told me. Are you married to one of the guys playing?” What did I get in response? A very icy “Well, nooo, I’m not married to any of them.” I then greeted the guy standing there with “Labas alik? Kedayer?” Silence, as he just stared back at me blankly. Strike Two.

By this time, I was pretty pissed. There was absolutely no reason to be so rude, and I decided that I was going to stick to these two like glue until I forced them to communicate a little – and that’s just what I did. They finally started to warm up, and I had a nice chat with them about Morocco, food, dating Moroccan guys, playing soccer, family, Moroccan attitude to children, you name it. Kimberly had been dating one of the players for about six months, so we talked about that a little, too. I called Hamou over, as he had been talking to another Moroccan (the only other guy that wasn’t playing, and as it turns out, the only polite one there) – and he came over for a proper introduction to Kimberly and Houssein. (I had finally gotten Mr. Snotty to give me his name after a few compliments about Casa and Morocco in general!)

We talked for a while longer, as I was trying to wait for the guys to finish playing, particularly Kimberly’s boyfriend. So they quit, and all came over to the sidelines to change shirts/shoes…and do any of them acknowledge us? Noooo. There’s no one else on the sidelines, so it’s not like they didn’t notice us there. The worst part was that Kimberly’s BF, Mohcine (I think that was his name), came over to where K and I were sitting, asked her for a drink, and didn’t even say a word to me. Not a single word! I think he nodded at me, but it may have been in K’s direction, who knows. He them stomped off toward the parking lot, apparently expecting Kimberly to follow like a sheep. That was a big Strike Three.

Seriously, if I had gotten this kind of shitty treatment from Americans, it wouldn’t have been surprising. Disappointing, yes, but not unusual. But from a group of Moroccans? Turning your back on someone (huge insult), not responding to greetings, not even saying hello to a new face in the group – what the hell is wrong with them? Frankly, I have only two thoughts. First, they’ve been in America for long enough to pick up bad habits. OR…. They’re all from Dar Beida, some of them from rather shady areas…so they’re just city trash that didn’t even have a pot to piss in back home.


Posted in Blogroll