Thursday, October 25, 2012


It feels like I have made it across the looming moat of depressing career paths that involve reporting to a fluorescently-lit office where the microwave always smells like popcorn and soft rock is playing in the copy room and everyone hates their job and they all ask me if I'm a hipster.

I managed to wiggle my way out and escape to a far off land, to a little room with a little window teaching Kindergarden and reading books about ships.  

Teaching feels like acting. Everything I say, I say on purpose, for a reason. Not to be confused with "always saying the right thing," as I suffer from faulty reasoning, as a general condition. My job is essentially to teach English to the children and to not traumatize the children, which is surprisingly difficult. But Allah is merciful and gave me some wiggle room by putting me here, in this particular place, and at an international school. A handful of the students don't understand English, so I get a couple of chances to explain myself and take back any words that would have been better left unsaid. Now I just have to figure out how to take this wiggle room with me, wherever I go, and wearing an abaya twice my size, just in case. 
Of course, the working goal is to eventually not need it. Something about the word "wiggling" makes me feel like I'm better off without it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sartorial Shifts

My camera took up the niqab a few weeks before I did. I started using the new type of instant film, and as if the polaroid itself doesn't attract enough attention (I promise, not all of us who use polaroids are doing it to get attention), this one requires that as soon as the picture slides out of the camera with a "bjjjoom" sound, it needs to be shielded from the light until it fully develops. I discussed it with my camera, and to my surprise she had decided all on her own that she wanted to wear niqab, especially if she was ever going to fit in in the neighborhood where we live. I felt like one of those mothers whose daughter decides to wear hijab of her own volition. And unlike many of these mothers, I gave her my full support and pointed out that this way, we would "go together better" and I said things like "I feel like you get me" and she said things like "your eyelashes look like spider legs." She's a total weirdo.

I am still just getting used to the niqab and learning all the tricks (any given article of women's clothing comes with tricks), but I am proud to say that I have stopped forgetting that it is there and trying to drink from water bottles over it. This is a big step. Also, I have concluded for sure now that when it blows over my eyes while walking, I should STOP walking. 

These are little things. I think most things are little things, when I look at them closely. Or a lot of little things in a small space all stuck together. The point is that once a person has made the decision to lead a simple life, wearing niqab in a neighborhood where all of the other women also wear it, is not a big deal. I just blend in. And that is fine. 

It feels like the equivalent of being that girl that comes to the cafe everyday and sits in the corner with a notebook studying Arabic, and watching people and writing about them. Except better, because I am sick of being a regular at coffeeshops. And because I can know for sure that bothering to leave the house is not just an excuse to wear a pretty dress. And because I hate that girl and her boots and her vintage dresses.

That being said, I am still totally willing to move to that creepy part of the medina in Rabat and become a "public writer" with my very own umbrella and public desk on the dirt road near where they sell the only decent baisara in the city. I could repurpose my old florals. I could be my own umbrella. For now, I am my own island and my own camera.