Reflections from the 1/3 mark

I sit here staring up at the stars.  The first shooting stars of the night should be come at any moment.  There is no moon—making tonight the perfect opportunity.  It took me a couple minutes to find the darkest place to sit.   A place where the dim yellow light of the city doesn’t interfere with the night sky.  I sit there and stare up at the sky.

That’s when it hits me.  I don’t know how to tell you what I am experiencing.  I can tell you about the stars.  I can tell you about the dim light of the city.  Hell.  I can tell you about the dogs wailing off in the distance—in their eternal fight for more territory.  I can show you the mountain behind my city and how tell you how angry I am that it is being mined into the groud.  I can point out the mosque I can see from my roof and explain to you that I can hear the call to prayer—every day—five times a day.

But that will only graze the surface.  There’s no way for me to paint a picture that properly tells you how amazing this experience is.  How difficult it is.  How I’ve cried for hours.  How I’ve been numb for days.  How I’ve been happier than I’ve been in a very long time.  There’s no way to put 90% of what I see into words.  Sure, I write to you every day in my diary.  I tell you what I encounter on a daily basis.  But I pick and choose.  If I wrote a full account of what I came across every day—I wouldn’t experience as much because I’d be writing for hours on end.

The only way I can get you to understand what I am going through is by bringing you here.  My parents are coming in a month.  As I figure out what to do with their short time here, I’m hit with a strange dilemma.  I want to fit in so much.  But I have to accept that they won’t be able to see what I see.  I can wander this country without being much stress anymore.  That’s not going to be the case with my parents.  It’ll be a whirlwind.  They will understand my life much better.  But it still won’t put them in my shoes.

As I sit here looking up at the stars, I can tell you that I am lonely.  And that’s okay.   Today marks 1/3 of service.  That is a strange comfort to me.  I can feel time passing—a necessity to remind myself that I will be back home someday—even if I do not understand where home is anymore.  It also reminds me of how much time I have left.  A deep reminder that I need to fit as much as I can in to the little time I have left here.

It impossible to tell you about the passage of time.  I look back home and see people living their lives.  A few things have changed, but life remains the same.  Meanwhile, I’ve been sucked into a vortex.  The person I was nine months ago wouldn’t recognize the person I am today.   I could Early Terminate right now.  I could go home.  I could see my friends and family.  You.  I could eat the food I so desperately want to eat.  It would be good for a week.  Maybe a month.  But I wouldn’t know what to do.  How do you explain what has happened to you when you can’t even understand it yourself?

540 days from now, I’ll sit out here again.  Downstairs my apartment will be bare—picked apart my new volunteers who are just starting out.  It’ll be my last night in the apartment.  In the morning I’ll hand over the keys.  I’ll get in a Grand Taxi and say goodbye to this strange town.  Sitting there, staring up at the stars, I’ll breath.  I’ll cry.  I’ll laugh.   I’ll be terrified and excited about the idea of returning to America—much like how I felt in the days prior to coming here.   I will have come full circle—ready for my next adventure.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the ride and continue writing.

Individual Struggles

In the time that I’ve been in Peace Corps, I’ve come to solidify I thought process that has been growing on me over the past couple years: “Do not judge someone by their actions (or inactions).  Wait until you have the full story.”  This idea grew out of my father who told me this story (which I think is from the book, “7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person):

A man working in NYC just finished an 80 hour work-week.  He gets on the subway, exhausted, and tries to rest his mind as he goes home.  At the next stop, a middle-aged woman enters the subway car with a 2 year old and a 4 year old.  She sits down close to the man.  When the subway starts moving, the two kids start chasing each other around and screaming when they catch each other.  This annoys the man who just wanted a nice trip back home.  He notices that the mother is just staring out the window–not paying attention.  Then one of the boys knocks over the man’s briefcase and keeps running.  This annoys the man so much that he calls out to the woman and tells her to control her kids.  She snaps out of her daze and says, “I’m sorry.  Their father passed away this evening and…”

Ever since I heard that story, I’ve come to realize that there is little value in first impressions.  We all are experiencing our individual struggles.  That is how I am getting through today.  I am one of four volunteers helping run a camp in Eastern Morocco right now.  Tomorrow we will say goodbye to one of the four because his own personal struggle has grown in recent days.  It’ll be hard without him, but I know I cannot judge him for it.  On the same cord, I woke up feeling rather ill today.  In order to be prepared for when there are only three of us, I decided to use this morning to rest and get better.  I hope I won’t be too harshly judge for missing a day (though I’ve come to care less and less about what others think about me).

Then I logged onto Facebook this morning.  I started talking to a very close friend of mine.  She is going through a struggle with her family (the fighting itself sounds like it has a lot to do with judging others when we have no right to judge them).  I did my best to listen because that’s really all we can do.  When someone is struggling, we can listen.  From time to time, you may need to tell someone to snap out of it, but most struggles need little more than a listening ear.  Although, I wish I could be there in person to offer better support.

Thank you Dad for teaching me this valuable life lesson.

Day 56 in Peace Corp Morocco: The End of Training

I am 7% done with my Peace Corps adventure.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand time here in Morocco.  It’s only been eight weeks since I left the States.  It feels like it’s been a year.  The thing is, my time here feels like it is flying by.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  To add more to the confusion, everyone back home is now an hour closer to me since Morocco doesn’t do Daylight Saving Time.  We found this out by trying to explain to our Language and Cultural Facilitator what DST is.  We confused her and came away with the understanding that there is no DST in Morocco.

Sorry for the sabbatical.  Studying is intense in the first few months of Peace Corps.  The thing is, it works.  I’m holding full conversations with my host family now.  I’m sure it’ll be easier to keep updating once I get to my final site.  Below is my first full piece of writing while in Morocco.  I am still doing a lot of writing–just not anything I can put on here.  I write in my journal on a daily basis.  I’m also doing well on the script I started a few weeks back.  It’ll be a long process, but it is definitely coming together.

Here’s my full Peace Corps Update:

Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad


Day 39 in Peace Corps Morocco

I went without decent internet for more than a month here in Morocco.  Now that I have a steady connection, I’m going to try to update on a daily process.  I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Fes (a pretty big tourist city) for training.  We got back yesterday evening.  Today, I went back to studying.  Our teacher decided to step things up in class because we now have only four weeks of training left before going to our final site.  After the first hour, all five of us were thinking the same thing: Oh shit.  It’s not like we don’t know the language…it’s that every question or phrase can be worded so many different ways…and it’s difficult to recognize what is being asked sometimes.

I decided to make it one of my personal goals to get to an advanced or better speaking level during my two years here.  I know that means a tutor later.  But right now, that means an hour or two of studying each night.  Since we do 4-6 hours of class, the amount of content we cover requires that of me.  I learn a bit differently than how I am taught…although the classes do give me a good overview of how the language works, I need to drill in order to memorize verbs and nouns and adjectives and everything else.  It is difficult, but I am getting there.  I want to prove myself in these four weeks before we get sworn in as Peace Corps volunteers.

In other news, having the internet is a strange change.  My relationships with everyone back home are changing now.  I can talk to my girl whenever we are both awake–which is difficult but great.  The distance is hard but I didn’t expect any less.  With regards to friends, it is much easier to keep in contact with several people.  I like being able to talk to everyone rather that figure out who I can talk to in my precious small amount of time on the internet.  One of the best parts about having the Internet has turned to out to be staying in contact with family.  With aging grandparents  parents who are nearing retirement, and a sister with three girls in school, I miss a lot if I’m out of touch for just a weeks.  It’s nice to be back in the loops.

Now that I’m in the Peace Corps, I’m going to alternate between uploading old writings and Peace Corps writing.  I’m starting with some old writing because I used most of today studying Moroccan Arabic.  Today’s update was an assignment from 11th grade.  We had to write a horror story that followed a few steps for the genre.  I really like what came out.  I don’t know if I’ll ever write more than short stories in this category, but it is fun.

Isabel’s Ballroom


Time for Family

I spent four hours with my family today.  My cousin’s little girl just turned one year–and we all gathered in Denver.  It’s nice when this time of year rolls around.  I get to see my family so often.  Thanksgiving.  Birthdays.  Christmas.  New Years.  It’s great.  It’s exhausting  but it’s nice to keep up with everybody.  There are suddenly so many young children in my family.  I can’t help but wonder when I will have the young child at the party.

This evening needs to be spent on two things.  I need to write my 1,000 words.  I also want to start reading “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.  So, before I go, I am going to leave you with one of the better poems from my early teenage years.

Those Beautiful Eyes


50 Days Out

I got back from Washington about 14 hours before Thanksgiving Dinner.  Now, as the Holiday Weekend comes to a close, I find myself with a score of decisions and realizations.  With 50 days left before I am scheduled to leave for Morocco with the Peace Corps, there is plenty to figure out in a short amount of time.  For the first time in my life, I am coming to a crossroads where straight is no longer an option.  I must make a hard decision.

Although I do have more pressing matters to think and write about, the one I spent today on seemed appropriate.  I have been mulling over the idea of home for more than a month now.  I finally found the words to articulate the feeling that has been grown inside of me.  I hope you enjoy it.

on Home



I had gaming last night.  This is the first time I’ve ever played really played table-top RPG.  That’s not the point though.  The group that I am playing with always used to be the friends of one of my friends.  Slowly, I feel that shifting.  I am getting to know all the guys in this group and loving to hang out with them.  I even held a conversation with one of them until four in the morning…about life, the universe, and human nature.  All I can say to that is…Fuck Yes!

Anyway.  Today will be quite busy.  I have a lot of work to do for Elance.  To be perfectly honest, I kind of want to just do it all today so that tomorrow can be more of a creative day.  I have a lot of free time left today, so I think I may be able to pull it off…so long as I start right now.  Anyway, here is Day Six of the memory challenge.

Day Six: Daddy Problems