Getting Back to Writing with a Memory Challenge

Now that this blog is back to being a writing blog rather than a Peace Corp Writer’s blog, it is time to embark on a new project.  After much contemplation, I decided to restart the 50-Day Memory challenge.  I tried to do this last year, but broke a lot of the rules and stopped far short of the goal.  If all goes well, I should be done with this project in early October.  I hope you enjoy.

The 50-Day Memory Challenge

A Day in Peace Corps Morocco


I’ve come to realize that most of my writings revolve around specific events.  However, in order for you to understand those events in a larger context, you need to understand what daily life looks like in Morocco.  In order for you to understand, here is my average Wednesday—the strangest and fullest day in my week.

I wake up every morning around nine in the morning.  I may live on the edge of town, but it is busy enough to wake me up.  I live in an apartment complex over a builders’ supply store.  I often wake up to the owner negotiating with customers.  If his voice doesn’t wake me up, it will be the fishman.  Every two or three days, a man will walk up and down my street at eight in the morning, yelling, “Aji!  Hut!”  This means “Come! Fish!”  His voice has never failed to wake me up.  I often go out and watch him.  A lot of the wives in the neighborhood buy from him (my town is known for having fantastic fish).  I enjoy watching the feral cats try to steal the small leftovers.

I make a simple breakfast every morning—usually just eggs and cheese and olive oil.  Since everything is so expensive here, my only form of cooking is by turning on the equivalent of a propane tank which is hooked to a portable stovetop.  After I finish, I turn off the propane so as not to die a couple hours later.  I eat breakfast while watching a TV show (currently, I am watching Community).

When I’m done, I go to Souk.  Souk is the weekly market.  In Bhalil, it is Wednesday.  I walk down the tall hill by my house.  Overnight, the dirt field by the taxi stand turns into a massive market.  I squeeze to get into one of the two small entrances.  I go mainly for vegetables (a kilo of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, or oranges only cost 3 dH….with is about 30 cents).  Once I stockpile a week worth of vegetables and fruit, I trek back up the hill back to my apartment.

Lunch usually consists of a vegetable stir-fry.  I tend not to eat meat on my own because I don’t like buying meat here….I don’t like watching them kill the animal I intend on eating.  Plus it saves me money.  Anyway, I tend to watch a movie over lunch hour because I don’t have anywhere to be until the late afternoon.    After the movie is over, I gather up my things and head off to the Youth Center.

I got an apartment far away from the Youth Center so that I have to walk each day.  After lunch, I make the long trek to the other side of town.  I usually show up early so I can set up for my English Class.  Class starts at 4:00.  Students usually don’t show up, to be honest.  I’ve had a couple show up a couple times, but I’ve had a hard time getting these classes going.  I usually stop class by 5:45pm.

I get to the Cyber nearby by 6:00.  I have a regular class there.  This is my group of BACH students.  BACH is the program that all youth have to go through in their final two years of high school.  I help them build their English.  Usually the lesson evolves into more of a cultural exchange (because I am not really here to teach English…I’m here to encourage student to become active in their community).  This class usually ends around sunset—which is 7:30 right now.

I stick around the Cyber and talk to Adil (the owner) and some of his friends.  Meanwhile, I use his Wi-Fi to download movies.  We talk about everything t from movies to religion.  He’s become one of my closest friends in town.  After a while, I head back home and piece together dinner.  I watch a movie or a couple TV shows.  If I need to plan for classes or do any Peace Corps work, I do it.  If not, I read or relax.  I’m usually in bed around midnight every night.

That’s a busy day.  There are plenty of days that don’t have that much.  Those days usually involve a couple hours at the Cyber Café.  Some days I want to get away and I head up to Fes.  The one constant is that every day has strange complications that make it extremely difficult to define a “normal day.”  I hope this explanation helps you understand life here.

A Fine Frenzy

I am officially addicted to the band “A Fine Frenzy.”  As you will see in today’s poem, I even borrowed a phrase from their hit, “Almost Lover.”  The song is fascinating.  It might just be me, though.  A woman’s voice entangled in a piano is one of the most beautiful sounds I can think of.  I recommend that everybody click through and listen to the song.

For any of my followers, I suspect you will see a change in my writing.  I feel like I am standing at another crossroads.  I’ve crossed plenty in my 8,500 days of life.  Many have been small…several have grown in significance.  Today, as I watch my closest friend prepare to move 1,000 miles away, I know this crossroads will be significant.  With less than 200 days until I enter the Peace Corp, I want to do all that I can to create the life I’ve been waiting for.  =)  Enjoy the poem.

These Days We Wait

Wrong Side of the Bed

Today was just one of those days.  From the moment I woke up, I was pissy.  Luckily, I know how to deal with it.  I’ve stayed away from most everyone all day and just read.  When I get like this, my writing tends to suffer with it…so I just relax instead.  Thus the reading.  I haven’t read nearly enough int he past few weeks so I’m glad I gave myself this opportunity.

I keep getting random emails from the Peace Corp.  My medical has been in for a month.  If the tentative date of January 2013 sticks, I will be leaving in 202-233 days.  A big part of me wants to be called in for early duty.  This waiting game is killing me.  I want to date but I feel guilty about entering a relationship knowing it has to end in six months.  I wouldn’t mind getting a job, but I know I would have to lie to get it.  I would love to move to Denver, but I can’t sign a lease.  Just let me go already!  I can leave tomorrow!  Anywho, here is Day Five of the Memory Challenge.

Day Five: The Break Up

Peace Corps & Poetry

Within the next 24 hours, I will send in my medical review for full entry into the Peace Corps.  It’s been a long journey already–simply filling out the paperwork.  After tomorrow, however, it is all in the hands of the government.  In the months ahead, I’ll learn where I am going and when I leave.  It is going to be a 27 month endeavor.  I can’t wait to get started.

I hope to finish as much as possible before I leave.  I will finish this novel before the end of May.  I hope to also edit all four of my novels until they are ready for publication.  If I get to that point, I will let everybody know and present a link to get a severely discounted copy.  I should be able to get all of them done so long as I don’t get called into early duty (which I wouldn’t mind).

While in the Peace Corps, I hope to still have electricity.  If I do, I will continue to update this website with writing.  If I don’t, I will only be able to update periodically when I get access to a computer.  Either way, I will be writing a lot while serving.  Who knows what will come of this adventure.

A poetry update today…

Young Darling
While substituting in an Art Class, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two third graders.  The conversation was so fascinating, that I needed to write about it somehow.  This is a lighthearted poem.  It is also my first attempt at rhyming poetry.

Substituting, Peace Corps, Writing, OH MY!

What a busy day.  I spend today substitute teaching at a third grade classroom way across town.  Luckily they were a great class.  The day flew by.  Having a conversation with a 9 year old can be more inspirational than anything else.  After the day of subbing, I when to a Peace Corp meeting and realized I likely may be sent out on my 27 months far earlier than I expected.  More on that later.

By the time I sat down to write, I was exhausted and pissed off (people can’t drive for shit in this town).  Then things started turning around.  I got two cups of coffee for free, put my music on, and started writing.  It started off rough.  By the end, it was flowing out of me.  I ended up doing 1,300 words today.  I hope to do at least double that tomorrow considering I have much more free time and know exactly what I want to write next.  But, for right now, I am exhausted and hungry.  It’s time to go home.

Before I go, a couple more influences.  This time, BOOKS!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Science Fiction at it’s best.  The entire series is breathtaking.  Card’s imagination is on a whole other realm.  His ability to give his characters incredible depth and intelligence is something I have never seen before.  I use this book to gauge someone’s intellectual level.  Give this book to a elementary or middle school student.  If they identify with Ender, you know that they suffer from increased intelligence.

Testimony by Anita Shreve
Probably my favorite literary book ever.  Shreve writes so beautifully.  Each character is so unique that you don’t really know who to root for.  Her ability to make you cringe, laugh, and cry is unmatched.  When I think about how I want to develop characters, I look here.