Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tears on my pillow

To the lovely Alexsandra Ghez and the mediocre-at-best Denis Jones,

Perhaps you have already heard from Megos, but much to my sorrow, she has bid adieu to Marrakech and returned stateside. She left yesterday after a very busy week of goodbye dinners, lunches and drinks. Also, as tends to happen, she met the most wonderful guy just 6 days before D-day. After just one day, Meds and Megs appeared to have been dating for months, so you can imagine how heartbreaking it was for all when she left.

After dropping la petite off at l’aeroport, I spent the afternoon wandering dejectedly around the medina and ended up completely lost. I have no sense of direction and have depended entirely on my sissy to get me around the medina (cue the violins). Without her, I was hopeless and ended up in the Bab Doukkala bus station, where I sat for sometime among other seemingly cheerless faces. As the sun began to set, I decided to terminate my day of dramatic and depressed wandering about, and I also began to crave a Kit-Kat, so I headed home.

I wish I could say my night ended well. Well, the Kit-Kat totally hit the spot, but the movie selection did not. I’m that person who everyone hates watching movies with because I have seen like every single movie ever made. I don’t really understand how that happened because I feel like I spend a very average amount of time watching films, but inevitably, when choosing a movie with someone else, I have seen every possible choice. Anyway, sometimes I pretend not to have seen a movie so the other person won’t be annoyed with me and can think that we are sharing in the excitement of a first-time viewing or whatever. So, Pascal picks out Dancer in the Dark. I remembered seeing it in the theater and crying at the end, but I figured (like the complete idiot I am) that it probably wouldn’t be as sad the second time around and I had already negged his previous 5 selections and could tell he was getting ticked off. I will tell you something guys, it is just as sad if not 10 times more sad the second time around. I was not just crying, but like bawling, chocking, snot-all-over-myself, sobbing for the last 45 minutes of that film. Every time Bjork calls herself "Silly Salma" I wailed. During the last 107 steps to her execution, I had to excuse myself because Pascal could not even hear Bjork’s lines. I think he was pretty grossed-out with me by the end of the movie and I don’t blame him.

Meggie, come back to your sister.

Pain in my heart,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Out with the old

Hello William Denis Jones,

Your negligence has become egregious and therefore, I shall re-direct my future letters to our more attentive and appreciative friends. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Now, to start afresh…

Dearest Megan Leafblad and Zareen,

We’re on day 4 of the taxi strike in Morocco and (as strikes tend to do) it has made me realize how totally dependent Meggie and I are on taxis. I’d like to make it clear that my reliance on cabs in this country is not entirely due to laziness. We travel by foot often enough but it does get slightly exhausting. As an ostensible weekend tourist, vendors relentlessly beckon us into their shops (“Just come in for one look… The best price only for you!”), and as women, we’re pretty consistently pestered (not in a lecherous way but in an annoying, like your older brother won’t stop poking you (or farting in your face, which our bro had a propensity for) kind of way). Megan has learned how to say, “please let me be!” in Arabic and I often throw out “laissez-moi tranquil,” but believe it or not, sometimes they don’t listen to us! When it gets to be 80 + degrees, my patience wears thin and it is just easier to cab it.

I’m not entirely clear as to why the taxis are striking, and I’ve heard several different explanations, but I think it mostly has to do with a new point system that people want to enforce, in which after a certain number of points incurred for bad driving, you lose your license. On one hand, the driving is pretty atrocious here and as traffic rules seem to be optional, I wouldn’t mind some enforced laws. On the other hand, I’ve heard (and I’m not saying this is true! What do I know? Nothing! Nothing at all!) that there are some minor issues with police corruption and whether or not they’d enforce the laws properly. I am sure Megos will be in touch with her #1 best friend/taxi driver Omar today to get to the bottom of it.

Well, ZZ and Meggie-L, thanks for being lovely friends. As a reward for your commitment to our letters, Megan and I’ve decided to write and perform for you (and you only!) a two-woman musical medley that features hits from Les Miserables, Rent and Greece. We shall start practicing immediately! We must see if Lew is available to design outfits for us (Sandy and Rizzo meets the Lower East Side in 19th century French attire? I just don't know!).

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Julia Andrus Kelly

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

UBS: A medical condition

Hi, Dennis.

Perhaps you’ve been fortunate/unfortunate enough to have witnessed one of my siblings or me experience UBS (Unprovoked Blushing Syndrome) in the past. It really is something else, Den. This malady is seemingly genetic and entirely unfortunate for its victims. What happens is this: Something not at all embarrassing occurs that provokes the UBS victim to blush. This could be a passing hello, an innocuous inquiry, or even a probing question but the point is the victim is NOT embarrassed or phased by it. As soon as the UBS victim becomes aware of the impending blush attack, he becomes increasingly self-conscious of it and in an attempt to assuage the deepening color, gets even redder and as a result, becomes definitively embarrassed. This of course leads the other person involved to believe that it was in fact his or her question or greeting that prompted the UBS victim’s response. UBS is a violent chain reaction.

One such UBS incident occurred last week. I was having lunch with Pascal and his parents and casually discussing Minnesota and what it was like growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes. I was feeling easy-breezy, and rather on top of my game, in fact, as they were finally understanding my mediocre French, laughing a lot and maybe even having “the time of their lives.” I was cool as a cucumber until Madame F asked me what kind of agriculture is produced in MN. BOOM…I felt the color creeping up my neck to my face and dug my fingernails into my skin because sometimes that helps relieve it. No dice. I became rapidly redder by the second and I saw Pascal’s eyes narrowing in confusion. I was so red at one point that my brain froze and I could not think of one thing produced in MN let alone ONE agricultural product in the entire world. The parents were clearly wondering whether in English, the question “qu'est-ce que l'agriculture” actually meant something like, “how heavy is your period flow today?”

Everyone was totally squirming in their chairs, praying that I would say SOMETHING…anything! But I simply could not. I didn’t even know how to speak English anymore. After seriously about 90 seconds of ridiculously awkward silence, some angelic member of the family changed the subject. The incident passed but I am certain it was not forgotten and very sure his parents will not go around asking that question to Americans anymore.

For crying out loud,

Livin' la vida locarb

Dear Mr. Jones,

I’m on day five of my semi-Atkins diet (my version doesn’t prohibit fruit, veggies, un peu de wine) and so far, the results have not been particularly outstanding. In fact, I’ve steadily put on weight since I started this thing. However, Mimi and Pascal are really having “the time of their lives” (this is Pascal’s fav new expression… the other night we prepared our usual mostly-inedible dinner for him and mid-way through, he told us sweetly, “Your food is delicious. I’m having the time of my life!”). Anyway, those two rascals like to place whatever carb-ey items are on the table in front of me, feigning dramatic ignorance of my dieting attempts, and erupting in laughter each time. Sometimes Megs breaks out in a song about Kit Kats or Pain au Chocolate, which is starting to majorly tick me off. I kind of feel like that blond chick in Mean Girls who believes she’s on a strict diet regime and unbeknownst to her, the destructive but attractive Lindsey Lohan (ahem, Megan Marion Haynes Kelly) is slipping her heavy-duty carb-powder and laughing all the while. I’m onto you Mimi and unless this stops, and I mean pronto, you can count on your beloved “blankie” taking a suicidal jump into Pascal’s bug infested pool.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Tu Tu eats Toulouse

Cou Cou, Denny!

I’ve just returned from my week in Toulouse, known as la Ville Rose for its unique red brick architecture, and am back in Marrakech, also known as the Pink City for its distinctive mud wall architecture. So, how bout that?

Toulouse is one of those almost impossibly charming French towns. It feels like a village but is the size of a city and there is a huge university – I think the second largest in France- and consequently a very youthful energy abound. Wonderful little bridges that reminded me of Paris soar over the arresting River Garonne. They don’t skimp on religious buildings over there and we visited all the biggies: Saint-Sernin Basilica, the Church of the Jacobins, and the Saint-Etienne Cathedral.

Oh, the family Foltran and co. def does not skimp on eating well. Foie gras is an integral part of every meal. My summer wedding diet is jump starting today after a week of ma regime francaise… My typical day, and I exaggerate not:

Breakfast: Pain au chocolate, eggs and bread with various jams.

Lunch: Foie gras and baguette to start, followed by a Cassoulet (a stew-like dish famous in the region that consists of beans, pork sausage and/or duck) and french fries, then a plate of Roquefort cheese and bread, perhaps a green salad, and ending with a tart de pommes. Various wines throughout.

Dinner: Foie gras and baguette to start, followed by a magret de canard Рduck breast- with mashed potatoes, a plate of various cheeses (always accompanied by the French peeps teasing me about Americans being fearful of cheese) and ending with a cr̬me brule or mousse au chocolate. Various wines throughout.

As you might imagine, Deni, I’ve packed on quite a few and in order to fit into Mollie’s bridesmaid dress in a few months, I’ve got to adjust my diet pronto. Other then eating, I also went to my first rugby game, which was supposedly one of the biggest matches in France – Paris versus Toulouse. I purchased a bright red Toulouse t-shirt and scarf to wear to the game, which perhaps caused Pascal a moment or two of hesitation about dating an American-American who kept asking where the popcorn and beer was at the game.

Vaca is over and I've returned to piles of work, an insufficient funds notice and not a few scathing e-mails from my boss. Gotta run.

Later D.