June 30, 2010

Two Important Swedish words


Just right. Like Goldilocks and the bowl of porridge that's not too much or too little, but just right. Jojo says the word came about when some Vikings were sitting in a post-battle party circle, sharing a big bowl of mead, and the bowl got all the way around, ending on the last man. "Mmm...lagom."



June 29, 2010

Tuesday poetry

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

'Tis pity if the case require
(Or so they say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.

--"Revelation", by Robert Frost

I'm back in Morocco, after a whirlwind trip through Spain, Denmark, and Sweden. 

June 20, 2010

June 14, 2010


"The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."

--Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

June 11, 2010

Soon I won't be a teacher

No more teaching outfits

No more students

No more arriving early

No more markers

No more lesson plans

No more attendance sheets

No more teacher’s books

No more whiteboards

No more “sh…”

No more student conflict

No more behavior problems

No more spelling things like an American

No more having to say, “I’m a Canadan, actually."

No more first day introductions

No more, “Here are the rules.”

June 8, 2010


åndi falsafa f lHayat: ida åishti Tawilan, kulshi li tåalimti ghadi ykun mustaåmal.

I have a philosophy for life: If you live long enough, everything you learn will come in handy.

Hta darija.

Even Darija.

*Did you notice that "philosophy" is "falsafa"? How sweet is that? I've been studying Arabic for eight months, and that is my first holy-crap-look-at-that English-Arabic cognate.

Why I can't imagine a serious relationship in another language

“I kissed him on the cheek and suddenly understood the distance that separates words from communion. You need very many words and even more pauses, and thousands of tiny motions, so slight that they are barely noticeable even to the trained eye; you need an even larger palette of tones, merely to signal misunderstanding; you have to pass through all of this before you reach a state where you know that your meaning and your words are one, no more and no less, and that they are instantaneously grasped by the person for whom they are meant. Before you achieve this, you need recourse to many lies.”

From Leaves of Narcissus, by Somaya Ramadan (Egyptian), from The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction.

June 5, 2010

Everything is fine

The process of cultural adjustment, which is also known as the U-shaped curve of cultural adjustment, encompasses five distinct stages:

  • Stage 1: The feeling of excitement and eagerness. This stage occurs before leaving to go to the new culture.
  • Stage 2: The feeling that everything in the new culture is great. This stage occurs upon arrival to the new culture.
  • Stage 3: The feeling of everything in the new culture is terrible.
  • Stage 4: The feeling of adjustment. The stage where the visitor begins to feel comfortable and takes steps to become more familiar with the culture.
  • Stage 5: The feeling that everything is fine. The stage where the visitor has adapted to the culture and in some ways is embracing it as their own.


June 1, 2010


“The woman noticed that her daughter had slowed down and her movements were sluggish as if she had to drag her body along.”

[Upon finding her daughter pregnant, the woman leads her out into the desert to a small village, where…]

“A man passed by them and saw the woman crying. He stopped and asked what the matter was. He was big, his bones were well defined, and his neck thick. She told him her story.

The man looked toward the girl who lowered her face. He contemplated the situation while the woman continued complaining that her husband had died without leaving her a boy.

The man said to himself, ‘Be kind for once. Here is a weak woman with no man to help her.’

He was a professional killer, robber and thief, but times change. He said to himself, ‘Old age has begun to creep up on me and I have nothing left. Any action I take, I pay the price even more now.’

He patted the woman’s shoulder and comforted her. He carried her belongings and led the procession to his home. At home he served them food, which they ate, and then prepared a bed for them, telling the woman to sleep peacefully and let him take charge of her worries.

As night descended on the village, the man approached the girl and broke her neck. He put the body into a sack, carried it to the river and dumped it in. He then lighthertedly returned home.

In the morning he prepared breakfast for the woman and placed her and her belongings on a donkey. As he walked beside the donkey back to the village the woman raised her face to heaven and muttered prayers thanking God for the man.”

--“Benevolence,” by Sabri Moussa, from The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction.