Friday, February 24, 2012

The Winter of My Discontent

Since the fall, no major developments have occurred in my life. The winter has, in fact, been quite desolate. My work teaching English in the high school has continued, and the other projects I’ve been developing are also pushing forward. Language has continued to improve, thanks both to my tutor and to the English-Darija flashcards left by my predecessor (which I have been unabashedly utilizing).
By pirating the wifi of a nearby cyber café, I was allowed to watch most of the Patriots’ 2011 season. This was an unexpected surprise, in many facets. First, the NFL lockout had originally doomed any aspect of the season of even happening. I had initially been pleased to consider this possibility, as going without football was perfectly coincided with being without American culture in general. When the lockout ended and the season was imminent, I attempted streaming the Pats’ games using the aforementioned wifi. I was pleased to see that most games streamed with good quality, sweetened by the fact that I had drafted Wes Welker in a fantasy league spot generously extended by Brendan. I ended up finishing third in the league of ten teams, a noticeable accomplishment for a first-timer. The end of the season, however, was a frustration greater than the Patiots’ Superbowl loss to the Giants for the second time in four years. You see, my Superbowl viewing experience was awful. My friend Gussie came to keep me company, and we mixed pseudo Old Fashioneds (with Scotch) and made Buffalo wings. The plan was to use the Wifi signal to stream the game. When the reliability of the Wifi signal proved itself worthless, we implemented our backup plan of using a USB modem stick to stream the game. The modem also could not establish an internet connection fast enough to watch the game live, so resolved to use our last-ditch effort, by waiting until the game was over and finding a torrent of it online. We began downloading the torrent at about 9 AM local time, and avoided the internet and phone calls for the entire day. The torrent was drawing to a close almost 12 hours later, but for some unknown reason the torrent file was missing the last 0.01% and nobody was seeding it. Frustrated beyond belief, I spent a couple hours attempting to find and download any program that would allow me to watch the unfinished file. It couldn’t be resolved, so with a heavy heart I decided to check the score online, a full 24 hours after kickoff. I went to, but the page continually failed to load. Finally, a Google search answered my question. And so, after countless efforts to watch the game that was so important and significant to a New Englander, I read on the Google results page that the Patriots lost to the Giants, 20-24. Where Superbowl XLII Sunday ranked on my list of ‘worst days ever’, Superbowl XLVI Monday was equally abominable, but for vastly different reasons. The anticipation, frustration, and eventual disappointment and rage made that day a day of days. Truly, truly awful. The only upside was leftover Buffalo chicken and that we had watched Robocop to pass the time while awaiting the torrent’s (non)completion- and Robocop is a fucking sweet movie. I downloaded another torrent of the game, but still haven’t brought myself to view it.
That same cyber café finally got wise to their unencrypted signal and placed a password on their broadcast. I’ve been without internet in my house for a couple weeks, which I see as an unexpectedly mixed blessing. First of all, their disruption of my access was perfectly timed; it occurred within days of the end of the NFL season- one of the only time-sensitive uses I had grown to expect from the internet. Second, I had grown frustrated with my immediate (yet intermittent) access to the web. Email and facebook were automatic, as were regular access to news outlets and social media. Going into Peace Corps, I had braced myself for zero access to all extra-national communication. The fact that all of these aspects of my western lifestyle were so accessible plagued me with guilt and opportunities to waste time online. I’m happy in a way, and I’ll see how long I can go with only checking email and news a couple times a week.
Blah blah blah blah scotch.
I’ve been doing a shitload of crosswords. NYT Sundays are the only puzzles that still pose any real threat. But, give me a couple hours and a clear mind and I can blow through them. The Boston Globe Monday-Thursdays that were sent to me a while ago are so easy that I seldom waste my time on them anymore.
My reading has continued on par; I blew through the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time, followed by Dune. I thoroughly enjoyed LOTR, and I’m happy to say that I can expect reading them again down the road. My favorite part was Book 4, the second half of The Two Towers. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but the books were much more enjoyable than the movies.
Dune was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I thank to Brendan for suggesting it to me. Aside from an exhilarating story and amazing characters and prose, the book contains more Arabic that I, or anyone that has ever read it, would have expected. Arabic language and culture are thoroughly engrained throughout, and catching sly references to words that I myself have encountered during my language studies here fills me with great joy and satisfaction.
A few blog posts ago, I mentioned that I was anxious for the arrival of winter, as I would no longer have to suffer the oppressive heat of a Moroccan summer. I also said that I would probably regret saying that, which I am doing right now. Winter is much worse that the summer. In summer, the heat and humidity are awful and there is no escape. The winter, however, prevents you from enjoying the little successes and luxuries afforded by warmer weather. As I mentioned before, dishes and laundry are ominous. Even getting out of bed in the morning is a chore. Why exit your warm sleeping bag to embrace to frigid air of the interior of your own house when you could just turn yourself over and fall back asleep for a few more hours? I had even experimented with this last week; when my sleep schedule had been so off thrown by my reluctance to wake in a reasonable fashion I tried alternating all-nighters and lengthened sleeps. The days after the all-nighters were productive and lucid. The result was surprisingly successful, but alas I have not continued it. Variation in daily schedule makes it difficult to maintain such a regiment.
Anyway, I’ve returned to infrequent email checking so my correspondence with love ones may be severely lacking in the weeks or months to come. I’d like to develop a more concrete system as times passes, but for the time being I think I’m pleased to not have to onus of constant contact with the outside world looming over me as it had in the months passed. I’m happy to be disconnected.