Friday, February 18, 2011

I built a room for you in my heart

It has a garden and everything.


LOOPING: connect the beginning to the end to allow for continuous repetition.

How to say "nausea" in Derija? I hate having to mime it out. It reminds me of those months when my sister was having morning sickness, and my two year old nephew would walk around hunched over imitating someone throwing up.

It's my first day in heels. So far I'm doing okay. I reroute when I know I'm approaching a "problem area" - the saggy arms of a muddy park where the heels sink in; full hips followed by confusing and surprising slopes; the cracks in the skin of the sidewalks that only I seem to trip on; of course, the endless hills of the city (the unmentionabls). I know exactly which spots to avoid and will take my chances after enduring three months of Buffalo snow-weather, when dreaming of a sunny Tangier got me through the sludge. Now I'm dreaming of the sweaters that could have kept me warm in the wind of the beaches of the Atlantic.

If I manage to not trip and fall, I am positive that I will either fall asleep or vomit in public because espresso puts me to sleep and because I have been drinking the local tap water. Can I really be expected to spend $2.00 a day on bottled water? $60 / month? With that much money I could buy a whole pair of jeans that won't fit me. Plus, the more contaminated things I consume, the more ready I will be for an eventual trip to Kashmir. Incidentally this approach already proves that I have already started to get comfortable with the infamous Kashmiri logic. Somehow all of its unexpected twists and turns always reminds me of those looping straws from Fantasy Island (an amusement park, not a strip club). I guess along those lines it also reminds me of a faulty roller coaster. In either case, I'm looking forward to making loops out of straight lines and disregarding the linearity of cause and effect until it makes no sense at all and I will say it like I believe it and then repeat it until I believe in it. It is what we were born to do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It's not that Tangier doesn't inspire me, because it always will. But even the idea of being "inspired" is somewhat alien. After two years in NYC I seem more concerned with people rather than places because I keep personifying the city.
There is a man who makes maps based on the haunts of William Burroughs in Tangier. He draws maps of the city based solely on where he used to go. It is what it is, but I'm excited for soundwalks. It is never entirely possible to document the spirit of a city, but a combination of sound and visuals and oral history can preserve different facets of the community and also support my self-indulgence in making and tracing maps as art projects.

A city is a character, not to be confused with having character, or what my mother means when she says in her Kashmiri accent, "he is just a character. Just a character."
So, a map of sound is sort of like following someone around and recording what they say. Or recording their breathing noises and other sounds a body makes. But that sounds gross so I'll say it the first way.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Is Tangier abusing me in the night?
The harassment has changed.
Today a local midget called me a cheetah. A West African man called me a "meanie."

Living at the Andalusia has treated me okay except for waking up with random bruises. One above my left eyebrow that will definitely leave a scar and looks like I've been branded. The other is a huge purple bruise above my left hip in the shape of Africa.

Tangier is upset with me but she'll get over it. This was never meant to be forever. Breakups are painful. And she is a psychopath.

Friday, February 4, 2011

compartment 1

I missed my train by a few seconds. Fatimah was upset and I told her that Allah just didn't want me on that train. I was already remembering that I forgot to buy a notebook or a pen for the five hour train ride, when a man with a bag came into the station cafe and put little notebooks with pens attached on everyone's table, then came back around to see who wanted to buy one. Ten dirhams. And a three color pen! Allah clearly wants me to use this time to reflect on things and to use my red pen to edit out the bad stuff.

In the Casa Voyageurs Cafe, everyone is only paying attention to the news on TV, even those of us that only understand the pictures.

TRAIN 1, Compartment 1: the mission begins. One crying baby, her parents and a young couple. I smiled at the baby which turned out to be a deadly mistake. She was more of a cookie monster than a baby. They all immediately started talking about the crisis in Egypt- I understood the vocabulary but not the content. They were arguing politely and finally agreed to disagree. Eventually we all caught on that the younger guy didn't really speak derija, and the conversation switched to English. I tried to audio record and also accidentally filmed my hand making a cheese sandwich and then holding it for a long time. I didn't talk much because I didn't know enough about the situation to comment because I only understood the pictures.
The cookie monster was inappropriately caressing us all and the only thing that kept her quiet was scribbling in this notebook. She eventually resorted to singing everyone to sleep and I gave the "I-did-my-part" look and wouldn't look up.

I'm realizing that even after a year and a half my writing style hasn't changed at all. Maybe Tanja hasn't either.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


It's a new year and inshallah each new year will continue to bring a visit to our beloved Tanja. Everything is wet and clean from the rain. The ocean stays the same. I've stopped caring about scrapes and bruises because they help me remember things, so I appropriately only brought slippery boots and summer clothes so I have an excuse to carry around a blanket in my oversized purse and spend hours in cafes inappropriately cuddling with it.

Themes for the coming months:
-bias: run against the grain
-basting: sew a temporary stitch to hold things in place
-butting: bring two edges together to touch but not overlap
-beeswax: keep the threads from breaking

-"back to basics": avoiding men who might want to marry you and simultaneously try to find someone to marry you;
while the romantic and cinematic side of you wants to return to the Muneria where everything is blue, in the spirit of new beginnings, go to the hotel across the street instead;
sit closer to the fire in the public oven to keep warm in the winter;
make a bun in your hair and hide a microphone in your hijab;
Do your job.

I don't need to give up all of my old haunts or habits, but I feel older and less preoccupied with constantly having new adventures because it is no longer my job to do so. I am here to listen and work.
And eat. And pray. And not-love Tangier all over again.
He's broken up with me too many times.
But can we at least still be friends?