Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Les Cours

Le Petit,

Given the number of years (15ish) that I've studied French and the amount of time (a handful of summers, a semester in college, a month here and there) that I've lived in France, my current proficiency in the language is pretty appalling. So once again, I've placed myself in French class, this time with little Megan Marion by my side. Our class is composed of 30 students: 27 Moroccans, 1 Japanese woman, and us. Our Moroccan professor rather delights in bringing up (making fun of) America (us) as much as he possibly can. Last week, we were in the middle of a fascinating lecture on the names of various vegetables when, seemingly out of nowhere, he gestured towards me and Megan and said, "In America, most people are very obese because they only eat McDonald's... Julia, have you lost weight since moving here?" Well, Teach, that was indeed another smooth-as-butter transition to putting down Les Etats and the answer is NO, thank you very much, I'm currently having a wild love affair with pain au chocolate and lamb tagines!! You can take the girl outta MN...

Anyway, I typically don't mind his frequent taunting as he does so in a good-natured and humorous way. Last night, however, things got a little heated dans Lycee Vic-Hugo. He was teaching us agreement and opposition phrases, like "I totally agree with" and "I am opposed to." La Prof decided to use the subject of abortion as an anchor for the lesson and prefaced it by saying that everyone should feel totally at ease discussing the topic as the excercise was not at all on how we actually feel about this issue, rather simply how to correctly use our agreement and opposition phrases.

Evidently that was only true for people who utilized the opposition phrases. With the exception of one other girl, the entire class was vehemently and categorically opposed to abortion. When the teach asked me and Megs to agree or disagree, and we both explained that we thought it was the right of the woman to choose, the class took a quick left turn. The teach and students alike bombarded us with non-sentence-structure related questions... "What if the woman just does it because she does not want to be fat?" "So, you don't think you are committing murder?" "How can you say this is not a crime?" While I sweat bullets and turned a marvelous shade of scarlet red, we tried our best to defend ourselves in broken French until the bell finally rang... "Next week, we will discuss divorce," announced the professor, as he turned towards us with a slightly inquisitive glance but somehow fully aware that we are indeed products of a 100%, good-ol' American divorced family. Next week sounds totally awesome!!!

What's one more Big Mac...

Julia Andrus Kelly

Friday, October 24, 2008


I have uploaded photos again. I am done being lazy. Here is the extended caption to the recent past.

We meet teenage Harry in a museum. Realized our common Minnesotan roots. He cooks us tomatoes and in return we let him stay at our house. We take turns posing with the Berber gun he has been given in the mountains and have four bottles of wine. Even I have over my two glass max. We go, with Harry and Barry, to Ben Youssef Madersa, the former Koranic school. It was built in 1570 but later completed by the Saadians, could house 900 students in little tiny dorm rooms that all overlook the insanely intricately tiled courtyard. College! Posed there for awhile, took lots of details pictures of tiles and went to eat crepes. Went to Essouira the next day, the start of the beautiful relationship between Julia and Pascal. And the end of my brief relationship after I realized a wife had not been mentioned to me.
We do laundry and go horseback riding with Mehdi, which means I can finally dress equestrian with reason. We meet Fred and go to his house in Ouilidia. The trip was not documented, but then the next week we go to the lake, which is. The lake is dirty, but lunch is good and after we go hunting for scorpions. This is before I find out that Fred is in a relationship that he forgot to mention, before I earn my well earned title as Mistress Megan of Marrakech.
Fred and Mehdi play tennis and I watch, the good mistress that I am. I make a new German friend, who loves activities, and we go to the tanneries. Imagine the worst smell you have ever smelled. It smells worse (sulphuric acid, pigeon shit, fish oil, the dead animals, obviously). Now I know how my leather is dyed though. Our guide described to my German friend in Arabic French the virtues of natural versus chemical dying, and though I understood little I was sold and will only buy the most naturally dyed products from now on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Death by ketchup

Darling Denis,

I am attempting to enjoy my free period a l'ecole after a rather brutal turn at lunch duty. A few times a week, I "watch" the "children" while they "eat lunch" in the olive garden. While the vacant olive garden itself is quite pleasant, the complete and utter pandemonium that ensues at the stroke of noon totally destroys any innate tranquility of this hellish garden. At one point, a 3rd grade french girl was grinding my left leg as she belted out the hilariously incorrect lyrics to Rihanna's Umbrella and my OLD-fav 2nd grade student, Youssef (who had quite unfortunately for me, found a bottle of ketchup to play with) made a game of sneaking away to pour the red condiment all over his arms, legs, or face and then attacking me full on as he shrieked at full volume, "Meeeeeeess Keeellllly, I've been shot and I'm bleeeeeeding to death." The only death that I'm aware of is the demise of the adorable white and tan Thread dress I borrowed from my sister to wear to work today.

A bloody mess,

La Prof.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Dearest Denny,

The blog has suffered but surely not as much as I have in the last week. I am recovered, but I have suffered from a stomach ailment that is too disgusting to describe and still expect our six followers to read on. Since our last entry, we have moved in to our new home and it is lovely. Last night we had a big rain storm and our home is a bit flooded, but besides that it is bug free, cat free, snake and scorpion free and has a beautiful terrace.

In my spare time between bathroom runs, I have named the cats that live on our new street. Be sure that if you have been at all loyal in reading, one of the less mangled, non- rabid (?) cats in Marrakech now unknowingly bears your name.

Mohammed IV
Mohammed V
Hassan II
Kelley Kelly
DJ Andy
Soon to be Madame Mollie
Mohammed III
Moulay Rashid
Monsieur Twombly
Frere Thomas

Did I forget you? There are plenty more cats and soon will be some kittens living in the dumpster outside our house.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jules, what is this shack?

Dear Denis,

There is simply no excuse for our lack of communication, and I fear that if I tell you we've been passing the last few days eating oysters beach side where one can hardly find a good Internet connection, you might not donner moi un pardon. So, let's agree to move on without dwelling on the minor details.

My dad is coming to Marrakesh to visit his petites filles in a few weeks, which means that Megs and I must enter into a highly intensive study of each and every building, street, museum, landmark, gallery, person, historical fact, bakery, etc, before he arrives. Let me explain the ways of TMK Jr. You know how many 5 year-olds have this insatiable curiosity about everything around them, and hardly a moment passes without "what's this," "who's that," "why is this like that," and so on and so forth? Mon pere is kinda like this wildly inquisitive child and feels the need - really almost compulsively - to know everything about everything and everyone in his sight. A typical example...If I don't know exactly the purpose of a random building we pass by in New York, how many occupants it holds, what the occupants do for a living, how much the rent might cost for an office space in said building, and what existed in the space before the building was constructed, dad will be angry, ashamed, confused, and massively upset for the waste of money he spent on my education.

I think if I dedicate my next few weeks to beefing up on my African history knowledge and map out very carefully planned walking routes to take with him, I can pull this off slightly unscathed... "Oh, that run down shack? Why dad, I believe that it used to be an olive stall in which approximately 7 merchants sold the Moroccan delicacy -- called "zitoun" in Arabic -- that comes in both a wrinkled black variety and a green, lemony one and is a fav in all Moroccan cooking and though it is obvious that this shack is currently vacant except for the 17 street cats crawling around, my very educated guess is that in 4 months, a Moroccan man named Admal will purchase the shack and turn it into a marvelous souk from which he will sell all sorts of wonderful herbs and spices for about 20 durhams per half lb and the up to the second exchange rate between durhams and dollars is 7.5 to 1."

Yeah, we're in troubs.