Turning 41: My Top-10 Highlights of the Past Year

Sometimes, shit comes out of my mouth, and I don’t know where it comes from. I’ll be thinking one thing, but something completely different will escape my gob. Usually it’s something embarrassing.

Does that ever happen to you?

A random Intro!

Maybe that’s why I like writing as a form of communication. It gives me time to think about and to craft exactly what I want to say. I’m not a fast enough thinker to be able to come off as elegantly in verbal communication!

Therefore, I really admire those who are gifted orators. For example: the genius that is Russell Brand. I appreciate his quick wit and the vast trove of vocabulary he has at the tips of his clever-little neurons.

See exhibit A: an interview improvisation where Brand brilliantly impersonates Willam Shakespeare. True genius. (He really starts to get warmed up a few minutes into it — worth watching the whole thing if you’re fascinated by verbal gymnastics and equally captivated by the bizarre.)

Perhaps I have a somewhat decent-sized vocabulary (nothing compared to Brand’s), but at times it takes me ten-plus minutes to think of the word I want to use! Which isn’t very conducive to verbal dexterity! The darn words often get stuck at the tip of my tongue, and — “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Yesterday was a prime example of my thinking one thing and saying another. I turned to my coworker and good friend, Rosie, and excitedly said, Continue reading “Turning 41: My Top-10 Highlights of the Past Year”

Morocco Beckons: Finding My Roots

“Coffee or tea?” Abdul asked when I entered the breakfast room. It was November 30th. I had woken up, gotten ready, and gone to breakfast as usual that morning — although it was anything but a usual day.

“Coffee, thank you.” I sat at one of the breakfast tables and unwrapped a few slices of my gluten-free bread on which I generously spread the butter, honey, and jam Mohammed had laid out.

Abdul came later, with the coffee. And I thought, as I sipped, about what the day might bring. Abdul had been helping at breakfast that morning and was also there to ensure everything went smoothly for my excursion.

Not your typical excursion: after breakfast I was scheduled to meet the English-speaking driver Abdul had organized to assist me on my mission. We would depart the Fez Medina and head east to try to find the forty-plus-year-old address of my birth father, who passed away thirty-seven years ago in Germany at the young age of thirty-two.  

Half way through breakfast I realized I was feeling fairly tense. I really did not know what to think that morning. It’s only natural that I was full of the feels. After all, I had only been wondering what I might find at that address since I was eight. What would the day bring? I had no idea. Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Finding My Roots”

Morocco Beckons: Lost in Fez

My alarm barely made a peep before I switched it off and got up. I brushed my teeth and got dressed, putting on my jacket and scarf. It was sure to be cold out.

I unlocked the double doors separating my room from the breakfast room, trying not to let them creak. Stepping out, I was surprised to see Mohammed asleep before me on a breakfast-room bench.

He stirred, looking up at me as I entered the common area. I had no idea he’d be there and felt terrible for disrupting his sleep. But he put his head back down as swiftly as he had raised it. I shut the door behind me, heading out the adjacent entrance to the stairwell leading up. Up. Up.

It was pitch dark. I didn’t dare switch on one of the lights, so I used the display of my phone to see my way up the narrow stairs.

After a careful ascent, I stepped into the cold, fresh air. It was still dark, just beginning to show signs of light. And it was quiet. Shapes began forming as the dimness dissipated. Deeply breathing the crisp air, I enjoyed my solitude up there immensely.

Eventually I was rewarded with the early bird’s worm. Or something rather more appealing: Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Lost in Fez”

Morocco Beckons: The Ancient Medina

“I’m almost half way to Fez, Morocco. My flight departed at 12:40pm — a delayed departure, so we should arrive in Fez around 4:00pm Central European Time. I’m not sure what time that will be locally, but I’ll find that out when I get there. This is a moment I’ve been anticipating most of my life…”

That’s how my November 28th mid-flight journal entry began.

I had departed Germany’s Frankfurt Hahn airport and was anxiously anticipating my arrival in North Africa, in the medieval Arab city of Fez. My journal entry continued with a brief synopsis of the background story that had led me to take this flight, and then proceeded along the following lines:

Because of these events, I’ve had an acute awareness, ever since, of how my life would have been different had I not been adopted. Would my father still be alive? Would I be living in Morocco? Would I be Muslim? Would I speak Arabic and French? Or would German be my mother tongue? Would I cover my hair with a head scarf?

The myriad might-haves are endless.

Would I have grown up in Germany and passed easily between two cultures: the Moroccan and the German? Or would I have left Germany as a baby and grown up in Morocco? What would my place in society be as a Moroccan woman? Would I have wanted to travel? What would my outlook on life have been?

Would I be the same person? Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: The Ancient Medina”

Morocco Beckons: From Frankfurt to Fez

Recently I found myself back in Germany, only two-hundred kilometers northwest of my birthplace (Mainz) in the city of Düsseldorf, strolling along the Rhine River with my friend, TracyI’d first met Tracy at a German-language meet-up in Seattle over seven years ago, before she moved back East, to Boston.

Düsseldorf

These days Tracy’s been living abroad in Deutschland, working on her PhD, and exercising her general awesomeness in day-to-day life. So, I was super-excited to be able to catch up with her in Düsseldorf — a Germanic metropolis I hadn’t yet visited. Being able to explore a new town and meet up with an admired friend makes a great travel twofer in my book!

I arrived in Düsseldorf on November 20th, and my plan was to spend a little over a week in Germany, visiting family as well as some parts I hadn’t wandered through in over 18 years — back when I was learning German in Limburg an der Lahn and in Wiesbaden.

I was thrilled to be able to spend time with my family in Germany! But I was also looking forward to partaking in something else: Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: From Frankfurt to Fez”

Morocco Beckons: Where the Journey Began

I recently returned from an eight-day solo trip to Morocco, or al-Maghrib as it’s called in Arabic, meaning the place-where-the-sun-sets. Morocco is a country I have wanted to visit for most of my life. Or since I was eight years old, to be precise.

There are many wonderful reasons a person would want to explore Morocco, such as to do any of the following:

  • Trek across Morocco’s diverse countryside, climb its craggy mountains, or meander through one of its sun-kissed beach towns
  • Join a camel caravan making its way through sandy Saharan dunes
  • Experience the famed imperial cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, or Rabat
  • Partake of delicious cuisine while sipping on Moroccan mint tea
  • Marvel at the existence of tree goats and snap their pictures
  • Or, perhaps, simply to rock the Kasbah, rock the Kasbah

Another compelling reason for visiting would be to experience Morocco’s rich culture, which has been influenced by so many peoples: the Arabs, Sub-Saharans, Romans, Andalusians, and originally, the Amazighs (also known as Berbers), who are the indigenous people of North Africa.

These are all pretty dang good reasons to go.

And they all sound very appealing to me too, now that I’ve written them down! But they’re not why I went. They’re not why I’ve spent thirty-two years thinking about going to Morocco.  

Before I talk about my recent experiences in Morocco, I figured I should first explain my reason for going. That’s what this blog post is about.

So let’s get the flux capacitor in gear and head back to 1984 — Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Where the Journey Began”

It’s About Damn Time

Sometimes my own inertia drives me nuts.

I’ve been trying to get this blog up and running for what seems like eons. The idea started forming around 2009, I think. Four years later I actually bought the domain name. Woop!

While ideas ruminated at the back of my mind, the site sat in limbo for several more years, feeling all neglected. Wah waah.

Another thing that drives me nuts is the opportunities I’ve let slip by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with many things I’ve done. I don’t mean to be all negative or down on myself, but I’ll just explain.

I feel very fortunate to have done a bit of traveling in my lifetime.

Queen Elizabeth 2 docked in Lae, Papua New Guinea, 2004

I just wish I had kept a journal or blog during my summer on Crete, my six weeks in Amsterdam, the seven years on cruise ships, or that time I drove across the US when I was twenty. Not to mention those three cold winter months learning German in Germany, in an intensive-language program where I was the only American in a class full of Russians.

Jawohl! Fun times. 

And then there are the more recent travels I wish I had documented.

This June I returned to Seattle after six incredible weeks spent in Europe, starting in Istanbul, followed by travels in England and Wales, then Switzerland and Italy. Not long before that I was lucky to be able to spend ten days in Paris celebrating my 40th birthday and running the Paris marathon.

2016 Paris Marathon

Yippie! My bucket list felt very fulfilled that week.

And last November I got to spend a week in Cuba (una semana en Havana!) exploring the most unique, historically- and culturally-rich, as well as the largest city in the Caribbean — while also trying to improve my rudimentary Spanish skills.

The question now is, did I take full advantage of those amazing opportunities? Did I share pictures on my blog? Or any of the day-to-day stories? Did I even get my blog up and running in time? Did I?   Continue reading “It’s About Damn Time”