Which describes u best?

January 22, 2009 at 10:15 am 18 comments

How often do you use the “Help” button on your computer? Or atleast, which do you use more: “Help” or “Search”?

I hit the “Search” button atleast once a morning. Being one of those people who know whatever has been done by man can be done or undone by man; whatever suffering borne, can be borne; that nothing is new under the sun, nothing personal, that even those things “at hearing which both our ears tingle” nowadays (homosexuality, incest, beastilia – in short all those deviant behaviors the internet helped flourish) has been taking place since biblical times; I have little doubt as to what I am capable of accomplishing. So.. I’d break it down, if I must, to pieces. But I usually end up fixing it. I ain’t a risk taker, no way no how. I’ll never mess around with the bulb without asking if somebody has “keQotari matfaat” it atleast three times. Neither do I climb to the roof without having half the villager support the ladder. But I have a good eye for problems (without being told, when it comes to human problems), and usually find myself lucky with the solution.

Ofcourse, there are self-imposed boundaries I don’t generally cross. I, for example, let the professionals handle when it comes to those things I can’t afford to replace. They gotta be replaceable. Or stuff I can get by without. Or atleast have something to use in their stead: A “Gaz midija” in place of the electric stove you are too lazy to take to the repair shop. A laptop instead of the VCD player whose “head” needs a changing. A book or a hobby that makes the courageous act of saying “no thanks, I’ll pass” to the kind of people or addiction you no longer want to be around worth it.

Two weeks ago, my husband sent my brother and sister an iPod each for Christmas. “Read the manual and tell me what to do”, I ordered them afterwards. They read the manual and told me each iPod needs to be charged for 4 hours before doing anything or is messed up for good. I had the computer, they didn’t. So they begged, threatened and warned me not to disconnect the iPods until each showed a green signal. “Trust me..”, was my confident response, “I could do it on my head!”.

Upon arriving home, I turned the laptop on and connected the iPods’ cable to it. After about 10 minutes, I heard a noise I recognized only too well: the noise a laptop makes on intervals to show it was running out of batteries. While checking if the adapter has come lose (which i keep connected to the power source, whether the batteries are fully charged or not), I noticed the building has suddenly gone quite. “Mebrat hedowal”, I realized in panic. There was nothing I could do so I disconnected the cables and turned the laptop off. 3 hours, that’s how long I waited for the power to return, under a flickering candle-light and with an aganoizing heart. I couldn’t figure out if i’ve ruined the iPods or not. If the electricity would resume in time or not. If I should inform the respective proprietors about what happened or if I should wait and see.

When the power resumed, it was past 9:00 p.m. I connected the iPod cables to the laptop, crossing my finger the power doesn’t get cut-off again. I didn’t fall asleep for the next 4 hours, inspite of having set the alarm on my mobile phone to wake me up at 1:00 a.m. When it did, I was already walking around the room doing nothing. I gave it 15 more minutes and checked the iPods. The orange light was still blinking. I stayed up for one more hour. Nada! It was already 3:00 in the morning and i was sick to the stomach about the whole affair. What a holiday pooper, i thought, while tossing and turning in my bed! After all my husband did to make my kins happy! The half-day fatigue of claiming it at the post office!. Paying almost three hundred birr for tax! Their excitement! Their friend’s excitement. All the sleep I lost.. for nothing!

“I think I ruined it”, I said, when I gave back the iPods to my bro and sis the next a.m. “Don’t wanna hear it! Not a word! How am I supposed to know there would be an electric-cut just then?!”

Blen came back into the room a few minutes later. “I don’t think you ruined it,” she said hesitantly, “it says here it blinks orange when it’s charging, it’s when you disconnect it and turn it on that it turns green. It’s showing green now”. Oh happy days!

I don’t know how Nietzsche would see this resistance of mine to hitting the “Help” button. But even the thought of consulting a manual annoys me, just as much as coming across people who demand for Manuals before taking a look at the machinery and trying to put it together using their common sense does.

My husband Chris is one of those people. Weirdly enough, it’s one of the things I noticed and loved about him the first time we met. We used to leave his laptop by the reception every time we left the hotel. When we came back on the 4th or 5th day, it was working no more. The receptionist swore, almost tearfully, she hasn’t touched it. So he told me not to worry, it happens, he’d see what he can do about it. When I came back into the room, he was sitting crossed legged on the floor, with the laptop infront of him, pouring over the manuals. Afterwards, he took it apart, carefully and methodically, assigning a number or a position for each and every bit that came out. Took him not less than 2 hours to figure out what the problem was and where everything went. But he did it. He reassembled the laptop and it worked.

There are, ofcourse, times when you’d like him to step on it a bit. Like when you are hungry and want him to fix you a “quick snack”. He’d do it for you, ofcourse, it’s a piece of his heart he’s ready to give you any time. But not before asking if you were going to hurry him. And you’ve dug your nail in something. If you impatiently tried to interfere with, say, the garlic that hasn’t browned enough, the onion that hasn’t cooked enough, the rice that hasn’t dried enough; he takes both your hands and drag you to the living room. “Why won’t you”, he says, sitting you down and giving you a book or a remote control, “watch a movie while I finish?”. It comes out perfect, ofcourse. Exactly the way your senses anticipated it to. But with what cost to you! 🙂 .

On the other hand, nothing I ever cooked comes out tasting the way it did last time. I find new, quicker, ways to do it. So.. it’s always a shade different. Sometimes a good shade, other times not so good. Put me somewhere I have to stay put for hours without talking, helping or interfearing; a movie, a magazine or a book to keep me company and I’d scream the roof down. Or hit my head against the wall until something, that could keep me busy, comes out. The fear of being left alone with my thoughts/myself, an e-friend once speculated, is what causes this feverish action to fill the gaps in my days and/or life. “You worry there is something wrong even when i keep quite for a minute. And what’s with all these ‘So….?’, ‘Are you ok?’, ‘Is everything alright?’ anyway?! Why does ‘silence’ have to mean ‘problem’?!”. I’ve explained, then, that’s how we, Ethiopians, were. That “Selam newu?”, “Tadia.. Tefah..”, “Techawet” were as much a part of our conversation as breathing. He did not think so.

Now… I’ve never driven a car, or even owned a driving license. So I don’t know if I’m one of those people who would consult a map or ask for directions. If I do, though, it would be after I’m certain I were irreedemably lost. And that enough strength remains in me to assemble the features and say “YiQirta yene wondim laschegrih..?!” to the person coming my way.

How about you?


Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

Z problem wiz problems Let’s see..

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ras X  |  January 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think I am a help person, even when I don’t want to be. It can be too much to ask someone for help every now and then. What’s the worst that can happen, someone can give the wrong advise on PURPOSE. When that happens, its high time to learn the ways of self sufficiency. So I might be a Search person as well.

    Maybe I’m a little bit of both.

    Arif post once again abesheet. Melkam ken.

  • 2. Mazzi  |  January 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    That was a fun read Abesheet, and I can imagine the frustration you felt when you thought you might have ruined your siblings’ iPods. It looks like you are not a manual reading kind of person, and would rather try to figure things out with common sense first. In the end you must have been relieved to find out you did the right thing after all in charging the iPods.

    I on the other hand am a totally manual reading kind. I get a strange sense of satisfaction from being able to figure out things all on my own, especially machines and electronics. A friend gave me a small Samsung MP3 player (kind of like an iPod) this past Christmas, and I was so amused how that little thing came with a CD that contained a PDF file format manual that is 107 pages long (!!) including safety information, description of the player, how it works, how to charge, upload music etc. I knew the MP3 player is really not that different from flash drives (external data storage things) I use often, but out of sheer stubbornness, I read all the relevant portions of the manual before charging the player! In the end except for how to charge it instructions, I really did not learn anything new I did not already know. But knowing me, the next time I get a new electronic gadget, I know I am going to read the manual again keeping in mind how fast ‘the latest’ electronic things quickly become obsolete few weeks after you buy them :-).

    Even at a time when tampering with the Abawera’s electronic gadgets in our house could get one killed, I used to take apart phones, radios, VCR’s, cassette tapes, video tapes, and the like either to try to attempt to fix them if broken/malfunctioning, or just look at their insides out of curiosity! My mother used to find that amusing while secretly being proud that I could always fix things and put them back exactly how I found them without raising the much feared Abawera’s suspicions :-). If only ‘La Bohem’ video rental place in Wello Sefer on Bolle menged knew how many of their rental tapes I took apart to fix broken film tapes inside.

    Even as a little girl, when my Mom tried to buy me dolls to bring out my feminine and nurturing side and curb my too tomboyish qualities she noticed after spending endless time playing with only my brothers and other little boys my age in the neighborhood, I used to rip the dolls apart to see if they had brains in their plastic heads, see what holds their hair on their heads, or check for organs and bones in their torsos and limbs by cutting them open (we lived in a major hospital compound at the time, so I was very familiar with operations, injuries, illness, amputations etc…). My brothers and I then used make plastic parachutes and tie the dolls or their body parts to the parachutes and use them as paratroopers. We relished throwing them to the air and watching the parachute descend back to the ground unless they got trapped on electric chords or telephone poles and remain dangling for my mother to see and shake her head in disbelief!

    In college my guy friends with cars who taught me how to drive were not that keen to also teach me how to read maps, figure out complicated highway networks, or learn basic car maintenance unless I did *some personal favors* for them! So, the stubborn me said ‘screw that!’ and borrowed road atlases and basic car maintenance books from our school library and just read the pages cover to cover till things started to make sense to me. Then come the next Christmas break, I (the only one with a driver’s license then but no extensive driving skills) and two other equally inexperienced girlfriends checked out a road atlas book from the library, rented a car for a week, and got on the road for an eight hour road trip to Philly to visit a friend!! What an adventure that was, and needless to say we got seriously lost :-(. Being new to highway driving myself, I missed the exits for Philly, drove past the city without knowing, and ended up in another neighboring state!!! We had to turn around and trouble shoot on the road, probably pissing off other experienced drivers behind us. We found Philly finally, but got lost again in the city for hours! It was scary and exciting all at the same time. Ah it is good to be young and fearless. My old self now looks back on that experience and say, “Gees! What was I thinking?!” Such risks, however, were what taught me how to navigate these far-reaching American highways, and over the years travel extensively by car to many parts of this country.

    But I sure am not embarrassed to stop and ask for directions, or ask for help from others after having tried things all on my own, however. So maybe I am a little more “Help” and a little less “Search” kind of gal ;-).

  • 3. abesheet  |  January 23, 2009 at 10:11 am

    True, Ras & Mazzi. None of us can afford to strictly be one or the other. But it’s funny how somethings (like the way you walk in the street, for example) can say more about you than the things you say or do. I walk cautiously for example, avoiding “gichits” and eyes. I walk fast when i’m alone and at a leisurely pace when i’m with someone I can trust. If i could help it, I’d take a cab everywhere when i’m company-less. If i enjoyed talking to the person next to me, however, i will go out of my way (miles after miles) with them. I look confident, i’ve been told, almost over-doing the “deret menfatting” and “rass maQinating”. Which, actually, is my act of definace, my “i don’t care what you think of me” which the self-esteem problem from childhood-tauntings brought about. Fortunately, it works. It scares people away. Which is good for i wouldn’t know what to do with them if they came any closer. Physical contact when i’m walking in the street (or sitting in a cab) literally revolts me. I sometimes hug my shoulder against, or say out right, not to bump against me with (especially) my guy friends. Just the way emotional mumbo-jumbos make me wanna hide my face in real life. Etcetera.

    Anywho… 🙂 until i started writing the post, i haven’t realized the only aspect of my life i ever asked assistance on was Money problem. The rest, i handled myself (resenting anybody trying to help, maybe because most of those around me aren’t any wiser than me, so it’s like hearing a child bla-bbering; or live by the status-quo). And how do i do that? I write it down! In the form of letters to God or myself or rationalizing/psychoanalyzing the hell out of it until it becomes more amusing than troublesome. There are, ofcourse, aspects of myself i have yet to understand. Aspects that I couldn’t figure out the reason of however loud i cried “what the hell is the matter with you?” or “why do you keep doing/feeling that?” @ myself? 🙂 There are aspects about other people, too, that surprise and scare the crap out of me however much i feel i know them. Which, Mazziye, you’ve been a great help making clearer. And which, i’m sure, i’d figure out the reason behind the older I got or the more exposed i become. But that’s pretty much how i’ve lived my life and i think it’s a good way to see onesself in.

  • 4. Mazzi  |  January 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Once someone gave me a newspaper comic strip (I think it was from some Kenyan news paper, but not 100% sure) that cracked me up, but also almost made me cry because there was a lot of painful truth in the humor I could relate to. So the humor goes like this…..

    The first illustrated comic picture shows a partially de-feathered, disheveled, startled, and bleeding rooster in some house’s outdoor compound asking the ultimate existential question of “what exactly did I do to deserve this?!” The following subsequent pictures try to explain what sequence of events lead to the poor rooster’s demise.

    A mighty man had an unreasonable boss at his work place who keeps asking him to do impossible things in the office. This often frustrated the man to a boiling point, but he could not say anything to the boss. So one time after such a frustrating day, this mighty man goes home with much pent-up anger caused by his boss whom he can’t freely confront. Once he gets home, he sits down at the dining table demanding his dinner from his homemaker wife. The meek wife shuffles to the kitchen and brings out ‘bett-yaferawin’ dinner to the angry husband.

    The mighty husband takes one bite of the food, and in an angry fit, decides to slap his wife on the face while yelling how this was not food fit for the man of the house. The startled wife runs back to the kitchen while holding her aching cheek, and finds her daughter standing next to the stove after just finishing preparing the food presented to the man. The mother then slaps the poor daughter on the face as hard as her husband slapped her and yells at the poor girl how her mediocre cooking skills got her slapped by her father.

    The daughter then in turn holds her aching cheek in disbelief and runs to her bedroom looking for a quiet place to cry. Upon entering her room, she finds her little brother in her room rummaging through her personal stuff after she told him so many times not to. So she runs to the younger brother in anger and slaps him hard on the face while ordering him to get the hell out of her room and falls on her bed to have a good cry. The poor brother who was no stranger to his sister’s slaps runs out of the room in anger and goes out looking for his pet cat to take his anger on.

    The little brother locates his cat, and starts torturing him with a small knife he often carries in his pocket and even goes as far as trying to cut the tip of the cat’s tail! The injured cat struggles and escapes from the boy’s fury and runs out the back door bleeding only to see the family rooster peacefully pecking the ground for occasional seeds and grains thrown to it as feed. Out of pain and fury, the cat pounces on the unsuspecting rooster scratching, growling, and biting. Caught off guard, it takes few seconds for the rooster to fully escape from the cat’s fury after losing a couple of his feathers and a bit of blood in the struggle. After escaping the cat’s fury, the rooster is left to ask “what exactly did I do to deserve this?!” Classic story of transferred aggression isn’t it? :-).

    For years, this comic strip was etched in my memory because there is nothing I find more intriguing in life than trying to figure out what motivates people to exist in the way they have chosen to exist in their world, in my world, and in the world you, I, and everyone else shares. By extension, of course, I also try to find out what at any given moment motivates me to do (or not do) anything myself in an effort to understand my own self.

    Though every human being is unique in his/her own way (and thank goodness for that!), we all respond somewhat in a similar fashion when subjected to certain patterns of experiences, behavior, stimulus, abuse, etc… This little fact has helped me a lot over the years in my efforts to understand the people around me, especially those close to me like family and friends whose influence (positive or negative) has affected my life in profound ways. In the process of growing up, it was a surprise to find out how much of the often detested male bravado, false sense of superiority, entitlement, etc… that was the source of much pain in my early life was/is actually covering up a lot of insecurity and sense of inadequacy underneath.

    It is amazing how the way we carry ourselves, how we choose to communicate, how we deal and interact with those around us, and the things that make us “tick” for better or for worse say a lot bout us. God after observing all kinds of people life has brought into my path in my short journey, sometimes I can sum up people just by looking deep into their eyes. The eyes just don’t lie! Which is why we avoid direct eye contact when we do not want someone to figure us out ;-). Yalemikniyat “the eyes are the windows to the soul” altebale. As you said, the more exposed we become, the more we learn about others around us, and by extension about ourselves. Wisdom that we accumulate just from living is great, but it sometimes comes at the expense of demystifying long held life beliefs that we are not necessarily ready to let go either! So go figure….

    But viva la differance in human personality!

  • 5. abesheet  |  January 26, 2009 at 11:14 am

    How true, Mazzi. How very true. Loved the story. Only wish if “Those to whom evil is done” could find the right person to “do evil in return” to. I sometimes find myself hurting or trying to hurt somebody, as totally-unrelated as a man sitting next to me on a mini-van, because of my obsessive need to protect myself from rejection. He’d start a friendly chat about the weather or the time or that newspaper i had in my hands, for example. My reaction is always cold and mean. Going out of my way to show the person that I not only were not interested to chat with him but didn’t care what he’d think about it afterwards. Worst part, I won’t rest until i see blood (making him feel inferior or downright stupid if he tried to ask me what my problem was, etecetra, etcetera). DeGnetu, most Ethiopians just look hurt and turn their face (as if to say, “woche guud”). A reaction that breaks my heart and make me feel I was the kind of person the teret “Sew eko..” had in mind.

    Blessed art those to whom no evil has been done. [How easy their struggle, how sweet their sleep]. Those who can be on top of it, however, are Saints.

  • 6. Mazzi  |  January 26, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    “Blessed art those to whom no evil has been done. [How easy their struggle, how sweet their sleep].”

    How lucky are those included in this group!

    “ Those who can be on top of it, however, are Saints.”

    Tell me about it. But I sure ain’t one of them :-).

  • 7. abesheet  |  January 26, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Oh i’m sure you’d atleast make a worthy runner-up Mazziye 🙂 . Why else do i bring my troubles to you?

  • 8. Mazzi  |  January 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I am honored Abesheet for even being considered a worthy runner-up though I feel I am far even from that.

    Have you ever met some people who have thir $hit so together to a point where they actually annoy the heck out of you? I have!

    And they sure give me a complex about myself. I don’t know whether to congratulate them for “rising above it all” as you said or just slap them for knowing trade secrets that I have yet to learn. Qinat eko new….. aygermim? Woy gud…

    Aayyii, I am a major work in progress! But trying to make the best out of the madness. If nothing else, I can find solace in the fact that the madness at least adds a bit of color to life and spares it from being dull. I take my pickings from where I can find them … meTsnagNa kind of thing…. 😉

  • 9. abesheet  |  January 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Have you ever met some people who have thir $hit so together to a point where they actually annoy the heck out of you? I have!

    Unfortunately, I haven’t Mazzi. I’ve come across good people. Patient people. Accepting/loving people. But I have yet to come across One Ethiopian who knows where his/her problem comes from and is ready to deal with it in honesty (to both you and him/herself). It’s mostly living-in-denial or waiting until they know you well to show you their true colors. Which, I guess, can’t be held against them [us] since we are all trying to survive in the only ways we know.

  • 10. Mazzi  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:15 am


    It is true as you said that there aren’t many of us Abeshoch who have our acts together and have managed to “rising above it all” when it comes to personal struggles and what haunts and ails us in our daily adult lives. I have met few other non-Ethiopians who make living and being at peace with themselves and the world so easy and practice good living like their favorite sport while I am squirming in my corner! I heavily envy them of course while I secretly resent them for being much better than I am in that aspect. Ok I admit; I am vain for resenting them :-). Like I said before, major Qinatt neww.

    The only Ethiopian I have met in my life (granted I don’t meet many Ethiopians here, and lived a very sheltered life back home) who knows where his problems come from and knows how to deal with them in honesty for himself and others around him is my one time unforgettable mentor (an Ethiopian writer of my parents’ generation). He is the one who told me about how every play about a savior ends in crucifixion when he was trying to advise me against playing a savior role.

    This man has a brilliant mind with no nonsense and simplistic approach to life. He is like no other person I know from his generation (Ethiopian or otherwise actually) and how refreshing that he is Ethiopian!

    Below I want to share with you some of his views that he shared with me over time many years ago. When it counted most, he was a lone Abesha voice of reason in my younger days, while I was very new to this place and life in exile.

    He was kind enough to guide and share his wisdom at a time when I was filled with youthful angst and insecurity fueled by major identity crisis of what it means to be an Ethiopian daughter trying to live in this country while still feeling tied to people and circumstances I left behind. His words of wisdom rang true to my ears then (and still do) regarding certain topics and helped me eventually gain a healthy perspective about things, though I still am a major work in progress :-).

    I just love many of his life’s philosophies. Here are some of my favorite ones….

    While discussing with him the sensitive issue of privacy verses secrecy (rampant in our community) in our cultural context, he once said to me: “there must be a middle ground between Ethiopians calling and refusing to give their names when my daughter answered the phone, and Americans not being able to contain the most irrelevant piece of another’s story. The one verges on paranoia. The other is more like bladder pressure.”

    His views on seeking solutions verses resolutions to personal problems: … “In the end, there may be no solution to the life issues with which we have to grapple. I am not even sure that solutions are necessary. Resolutions are both absolutely necessary and possible.”

    He used to tell me that we all wreck our minds and souls looking for solutions when we should be looking for resolutions. Solutions involve circumstances outside of ourselves (people, events, money etc..), things we have very little control over, but resolutions can be all about rearranging our inside configurations in light of the many happenings in our lives past, present, and future. He used to assure me that resolutions are possible and a must, and I agree!

    *** On trying to make peace with people who are not necessarily returning the gesture:

    … “It is impossible to make peace with those who blame ‘the World’ for all their woes. Peace between two beings has two ends and needs to be picked up from both. Otherwise, the one who tries to hold up the process from one end alone will simply buckle under the weight. The reason for this may be that blamers and the blamed are not in the same universe. Blamers project stuff from a distant past, stuff which has nothing to do with the present, onto the blamed, usually a person who feels obligated to stand guilty as accused.”

    *** On trying to understand ourselves:

    … “We are all two people at once. I am me as I experience myself, and I am he who is a figment of another’s fantasy, hope, anger, delusion, etc. The day I invest energy in approximating him who is a figment in another’s mind, I am dead in the water. Perhaps not literally, but that is not the point. And that the fantasy may be an extension of that other person’s love, if anything, makes matters worse, not better. Because now I begin to confuse love (the fantasizer’s and mine) with guilt.”

    *** On trying to be saviors (to people who don’t want to be saved, are not ready for it, or not worthy of saving):

    … “The lead role in the play about Saviors is a tough act. This is so because, we all know how plays about Saviors end. With Crucifixion. And unless one be the Man Himself, to accept to be crucified can be tantamount to cosmic hubris. He knew He was going to save the world–and I am not sure as to how well He succeeded. You and I know that we are likely to fail in our desire to save the world.”

    *** On my doubts on whether I have survived my past ordeals:

    … “You have survived. Proof: here we are yackking away because deep down, we both believe resolution is possible. Simplification is possible. The question is no longer whether you have survived or not. The question, simply put, is: What does [yours truly] need to do to thrive?

    *** On living life well:

    … “Eat well, walk well, and sleep well.”

    *** On my fears that my stubbornness was be hurting my parents a lot:

    … “Spoken like a true human child. But the truth is, children don’t hurt their parents. To hurt you have to have power. Human children are the most powerless beings on the planet. They can not hurt anyone simply because they are always at the receiving end. To simplify it is essential to align memory and experience with the reality of the situation (no matter how difficult that proves) as opposed to settling for the acceptable.”

    *** On my feeble attempt to try to put disjointed family members back together again even if we lived all over the place:

    … “The way you have framed the whole thing leaves you suspended between despair and hope. Is it possible that the despair is result of whatever happened to you in the family setting, and the hope is for something that you have already lost? A painful way to frame it, but if it is closer to the reality of your situation, neither your wish to have a family you don’t have nor my wishes for you will change that reality.”

    *** On my lament that my family was not as supportive as they can be of my life and choices:

    … “At best, Family can be supportive, tho that, to my mind, is a rare occurrence because to support another we have to first see them in their own right–not as appendages to our fantasies. Family is usually a Monster that one survives. At worst, it can also be a Monster that one does not survive. Yours sounds (if I may jump in where angels ought to fear to tread) about half way between the second and the third variety.”

    *** His response to me admitting that I lived (at that time) to make others happy especially my parents:

    … “I notice. You are already taking care of me too.” He said this to me after noticing how even with my correspondences with him, I still had the usual need to please. So he continued, “Problem is, it is not necessary. You are assuming that I will feel guilty if I didn’t write to you even when I don’t have time. This is pure projection of your current internal dynamic onto me. I am touched. But no dice.”

    *** On my failures to effectively communicate with my family members and ‘resolve’ issues among us:

    … “It seems to me that you and I are using the word resolve differently. I did not mean resolving anything with your family. That possibility is not within you power…. For better or worse, you are on your own when it comes to resolving whatever it is that is at the root of your [problems].”

    *** On my admission and realization that before I could start picking the pieces it meant often I had to fall to pieces first:

    … “That rings very true to me. You might have to fall to pieces more than once. Sad but probably true.”

    *** On my admission that I used to numb myself from daily life when the going gets tough and I could not deal with things anymore:

    … “My guess is, you are numbing yourself against resounding memories of that which your system could not, and cannot now, integrate because whatever you experienced was/is impossible to contemplate. The numbing (though it may appear to be and may even feel like it is) is not against your daily life today. The branches of a grown tree do not take their shape from the wind that is blowing now but from the winds that bent it when the tree was a sapling. So with us.”

    *** On my despair that some things that bother me the most have already happened and I did not know how to deal with them:

    … “They have indeed. But the phrase ‘so there is no return from that,’ despite its fatalistic beauty, is really not accurate. Luckily for human children what happens to us may be beyond our power but re-configuring our internal reality and determining the response that will help us thrive never is.”

    *** His views on whether any of us can ever hope to ‘go back home’ what ever home might be:

    … “My sense is that it is near impossible to go back home without first having left it. Your years in the US notwithstanding, it sounds like your family is still trying to make sure that you don’t stray too far afield. Thinking it through might help as long as one keeps in mind that the problem does not fall neatly in the rational realm. Just as an example, it is very likely that guilt plays a role in one’s attachment. I think it is laudable that you want to help your family. Do they also want to help you by giving what each one of us has plenty of to give– space?”

    You see why I love this man’s mind?? I wish I have enough positive older and wiser male role models in my life considering how suspicious I am of males who have the need to dominate and control those they deem to be beneath them.

    Thankfully, I have also met men (young and old) who live humble lives and respect others, male or female, and do not have the need to dominate and control. But the few bad apples sure ruin the whole basket, and the bad ones become more visible and sure get remembered more often than the good ones.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your blog with your readers. Your humble cyber Tej Bett is a cool hang out, the Tej often refreshing, and the usual ‘denbegnoch’s enka-selantiya & ambwa-gwaro’ sorely missed when absent (hint hint Sistu, Inem, and the like). I can’t say enough how I still appreciate your writing, your unique sense of humor, your views on local and world issues, and your sense of rebellion in a culture that only rewards conformity.

    Most of all, I can relate with many of the personal issues you write about on your blog and how you try to deal with them. And these are the main reasons why I heavily ‘mawdeldel’ around your Tej Bett just about every day and take more than my share of space :-). But thank you for freely allowing me to ‘menCHaCHat’ to my heart’s contents on issues close to my heart :-).

  • 11. Inem  |  January 28, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Mazzi, Yenuro Tidfia is closing my yeminChCha angol hence my absence from making noise in Abesheet’s humble cyber Tejbet.
    After reading all your and Abesheets take on the matter and more, I doubt if there is any worthy sentence in me that I could scribble. Indew lemeqelaqel kalhone, you ladies said it all. I concur that it is difficult to put oneself in either of the categories. I tend to look for help at first and use the search option later. I guess its because I am just a lazy sod who wants to find the shortcut the easy way. Only despair and a hurt pride would embark me in a do it yourself journey, regretfully the euphoria of success is always short lived because I revert to my original self in no time. I am not a handy man at all and also do not ooze confidence in most matters, though deep inside I know I am capable of doing/achieving more. Slezih I refrain from megorgor what I don’t know about. In the lab I usually follow the manuals and procedures. My adventures or experimentations are usually calculated and adhere only to the things I mix in different proportions, never on the equipment unless it is variations of parameters blon alalalam, alaTebqim let alone taking the equipment apart. I guess, to guys like me, serendipity happens only in dreams.
    I envy those who possess a lot of wisdom, though I have also observed the failings of their majestic presence in their weakest moments. Still I would galdly pick up the crumbs of their wit and prudence, kehualachew kus kus eyalkum bihon. I think what make them admirable is that they have less moments of irrationality or foolishness in them. My envy does not go to mendef or iTan eyaChesu masaTat their omnipotence. Instead, I console myself by reminding my “work in progress” persona by saying “you may have your day”. yachi qen satders wei inew alfalehu wei SiminteNaw shih yigelagleNal.
    Abesheet your fellow passengers libEn belut, I wonder if ye inToTo mariamin tsebel and sebat or sofa trans moment accompanied by Mazzi’s truly admirable wise friend could exorcise the “obsessive need to protect myself from rejection” demons out. YeseyTan sera mehon alebet, who would in his right mind think a wise beyond her years person like you would feel that way? Your posts, specially your self searching musings, partly if not entirely explore the irrationality of the rational human mind or existence. Moreover, they evoke insightful reflections from your Tejbet awdeldayoch Mazzi et al. Abesheet please tell Mazzi indiawem tengomaleyibet. Thank you Mazzi for sharing your friend’s valuable wisdom.

  • 12. abesheet  |  January 29, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Lol Inem. “Wise beyond her years” alk 🙂 . I don’t know which age limit you were aiming for, wudu wondime. But when I tell you I remember seeing a Chachi-Tadesse look-alike running off the stage in tears 24 years from yesterday while Micheal Jackson, Lionel Richie and a couple of “chebrara” White singers watched (yeah, “We are the World” 24 ammet mollaw) you’d realize “wise beyond years” isn’t the word you are looking for. “Relatively wiser” is perhaps a better expression. Still, I thank you for not letting the diffence in most of our opinions stand in the way of how you view the sister. Many of my [male] readers do (which is why you don’t see them frequenting the “Tejj Bett”). Your “Gender’n KeOpinion leyito yemayet” ability shows a strength of character, I think. Group hug everyone? 🙂

    I was so overwhelmed by your last comment, and I doubt I’d have said anything about it if Inem’s comment hasn’t nudged me to. “MuGesa sibeza FuGera yimeslal” biye! I have no words to express my admiration to the man and gratitude to you for remembering, and revealing, so much! I’m not sure how correct or incorrect his advises are (got a huge “tiritare” on his reply to your question about parent’s vulnerability to our reactions; for my mother is like the youngest person in the house and I can see her wounded look every time I begged to differ on anything she held onto – typical Ethiopian housewise bric-a-bracs. “Be nice”, is actually what my sister Blen warns me with every time my mother had me summoned to the phone. I ignore her calls when i’m pissed @ her, coz i know i might regret what comes out of my mouth, and she can’t sleeping dogs lie). However, that [correct or incorrect] is hardly relevant is it? It’s the fact that resolution lies within your grasp, and that you have all the resources you need to be on top of “yemiyaschenQush negeroch” that matters. Thank you, Yene Emebet. I was asking myself earlier if I’d have anymore guts to blog if you stopped coming. My e-Shoe box would be so hallow, like abesheet is making noises in a room where she is the only audience.

    Speaking of absence,
    Sistu has been communicating with me through e-mail almost everyday. I haven’t asked, and she hasn’t told me, what stood in the way of her gracing the humble “Tej Bet” with her presence this past week. Hopefully it’s one of those “yeZimita seasons” she once talked about out of which our “limena”s and “mitsinta”s bring her — soon ;). *saying “mariam mariam” quitely*

  • 13. Inem  |  January 29, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Abesheet, beinatEko set neN.

  • 14. abesheet  |  January 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

    That’s true, Inem. I’m not saying this is particularly an “abesha” problem. But the fact that our society is majorly patriarchial didn’t help the matter. The belief/expectation “Wend” in every area of life “beLTo meGegnet alebet” seems to be the source of the problem. So it’s not “she’s seeing it differently”. But “she’s trying to show she knows it better than me [is therefore, by default, better than me]”. Which, for some reason, makes a man lose respect for himself and/or interest in life. The sad part of it is this fear, and the defensive reaction that usually follows, actually defeats the purpose. Making the man sound less man-ly than he would if he saw the opinion and weighed it separately from who is giving it, etecetra. Which is why i thought I should give you credit too. (Mazzina ene Sinimogages lemin yiQribih bemil 😉 ).

    P.S. So? Does Alazar ring a bell?

  • 15. Mazzi  |  January 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm


    Personalities reign over even how things are done in the lab, don’t they? I loved short-cuts in lab experiment protocols as much as the next lab-rat, but I often got myself in more trouble by wanting to know WHY things are done the way they are done, WHY one solution/chemical etc.. was better than another to use in some protocol, and WHY one equipment is better than another to achieve certain results and such. So much so that I often got lost in details … which was/is not that different to what I also did/do outside the lab (in the real world) I guess. Of course noticing ‘the big picture’ is always important, but I often feel so much beauty gets lost when we fail to notice details in everything.

    “I envy those who possess a lot of wisdom, though I have also observed the failings of their majestic presence in their weakest moments.”

    So true!! But that is exactly what I love about such people…. they are so ‘perfectly imperfect’ even in their wisdom, and they certainly are not beyond their own wisdom or “majestic presence” failing them when they need it the most. They will be the last ones to hide it if/when it happens, however. In my eyes, that is what separates them from the ‘artificially, superficially, or forcefully wise’ who will simply die before they reveal their own imperfections to those they want to influence, manipulate and tower over.

    I wish every ‘man’ remembers that ‘benatu sEt’ endehone :-). Then the heavily patriarchal playing field would have been more compassionate to all human kind! And let me tell you, it takes a man to admit and own that and be comfortable in his skin in a heavily ‘estrogen’ dominated odd hang out place that is Abesheet’s Tej-Bett.

    So thanks for being ‘man-ly’ without even trying :-).


    “Mazzina ene Sinimogages …” indeed. Let me add some more for good measure :-). ‘KewedeQu ayQerr yingallelu’ tebilo yele?

    What can I say that I have not said already? Hmmm….. Even if your ‘Tej-Bett’ makes some male readers shy away because the ‘not so ordinary Tej’ is always dished out by a strongly opinionated ‘sEt’, your cyber joint still remains to be like no other Abesha blog out there. That makes you a pioneer in my opinion ;-).

    Your fearless and often strong takes on issues coupled with your capacity for introspection (or as Inem nicely put it “your self searching musings, partly if not entirely explore the irrationality of the rational human mind or existence”) humorously and artistically examine the often unexamined Abesha psyche be-cyber space. That I find very entertaining and often inspires me to add my two-cents to what is being discussed. I am humbled that you appreciate my contribution, and tolerate how ‘long-winded’ and ‘excessive’ I can be (both adjectives some close friends have used to describe some of my opinionated writings). OK…that is my ‘mamoges’ quota for the day :-).

    It is indeed true that I did not always agree with some of my mentor’s advises or points of view in our correspondences … especially at my most vulnerable when I felt utterly lost to myself trying to fulfill other’s expectations of me while carrying the weight of my family’s woes on my shoulders (well it felt like that at the time anyways ). But I have to say, over the years, I grew to really appreciate many of his views as they at least partially explained his exuding confidence in himself and comfort in living in his own skin (without apologizing for it!). And after a life time of delusion, I really needed to see in another fellow Ethiopian of his generation (a man at that! Ha!) that it was possible to rise above it all and be a balanced person without the need to control and blindly demand respect without deserving it and inspiring it.

    “However, that [whether his advices are] [correct or incorrect] is hardly relevant is it? It’s the fact that resolution lies within your grasp, and that you have all the resources you need to be on top of ‘yemiyaschenQush negeroch’ that matters” is indeed the BIGGEST lesson I learned from him. And I still try to live by this lesson to this day. Easier said than done, no doubt, but it sure is worth the effort :-).

    “I was asking myself earlier if I’d have anymore guts to blog if you stopped coming.” Of course you would. No question there. Stumbling onto your blog almost by accident was one of the coolest things that came out of my not so cool excessive ‘net-surfing’ one fine day. Some friends I correspond with at length often ask me why I don’t keep my own blog. “Start blogging abo…!!!” was how one good friend put it some time ago after hearing me entertain the idea for quite some time now. Though I don’t really have the discipline and stamina to start blogging at this particular juncture in my life, your blog has been an inspiration indeed, and I thank you for that. Thanks to the rat race ‘hiwet bahunu gizze lenne beAnd egru sayhon beAnd Tattu silehone yeqomew’ running my own blog at this time would simply have to wait :-(.

    By the way, “The belief/expectation ‘Wend’ in every area of life ‘beLTo meGegnet alebet’” is partly why my father and I have never been able to agree on just about anything. He could only appreciate my ‘smartness’ AS LONG AS it was not in excess of my brothers’ smartness and as long as it was not used against him, or in defense of womankind. Otherwise, it is simply wasted on a female.

    I guess he forgot ‘benattu sEt endehone’ ;-). Miskin Grandma being denied her heritage in her son :-).


  • 16. Mazzi  |  January 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    P.S. Sadly, even I remember distinctly where I was when I watched the making of the “We Are The World” music video followed by the finished piece all those many years ago! (I was standing too close to the TV in our living room by myself so I don’t miss any detail of Michael Jackson and all his glorious weirdness. I was his biggest fan yezaren ayadirgewina!).

    I too distinctly remember that random Abesha woman (I wonder how she got chosen or who exactly she was) in the video Lionel Richie was trying to support when she was ‘mentebatebign’ with her broken Amharic about the ‘dirQ Irdata’ and shedding some tears right on cue (crocodile tears anyone?). All I could think watching her and closely examining her face was, “Hmmm…. how many years of living in the US does it take for an Abesha to forget his/her Amarigna to a point of shamelessly ‘mentebatebing’ on a video about to be released world wide?” Dare I ask the same thing now for myself?!

    Thanks for the amusing reminder of how [we] “children of the 80’s” ain’t that young no more :-(.

  • 17. abesheet  |  January 30, 2009 at 6:55 am

    By the way, “The belief/expectation ‘Wend’ in every area of life ‘beLTo meGegnet alebet’” is partly why my father and I have never been able to agree on just about anything. He could only appreciate my ‘smartness’ AS LONG AS it was not in excess of my brothers’ smartness and as long as it was not used against him, or in defense of womankind. Otherwise, it is simply wasted on a female.

    Wow! I wonder if your last name is “Tilahun” Mazzi. Mine is 😉 . Coz we sound as if we have drawn the same man for a dad. My father taught in the same high school i went. So he got many a compliment from his colleagues about the undersigned. Many “yachi setwa nat Gobez” [because my brother beat the crap out of most of them]. So he was proud of me and the fact that I was smarter than his other offsprings (there were four of us then, two from different mothers, my big brother grew up in the country and took him time to adjust to city life; repeating 9th grade 3 times; and my elder sister used to always lose her school I.D., with our phone number on it, at a beRgo somewhere). It’s partly what made him feel not so much of a failure as a father, i guess. But every time i said something [smart] at home that has to do with men, or fathers, or mothers, or couple [anything bitter]; what I say isn’t seen as smart/perceptive/cute for my age but an attempt to “Amets manesasat” in the family. “Lij derese, bett ferese”, that the azmach i’ve been hearing all my life. How unhappy and unappreciated that made me feel!

    Regarding the “tej bet”, if it was left for me, I’d have had everybody blog. You can’t believe what an experience it is. And how it keeps you on your feet. But as long as you ain’t, i’m happy to keep you around 🙂 .

  • 18. Mazzi  |  January 30, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Lol Abesheet :-).

    It sounds like our dads were carved from the same stock, though I have a feeling many other conservative dads think along the same lines as well. Despite the fact that he appreciated my smartness because he too loved the praise he received from teachers and his friends about his ‘gobez sEt lij,’ my dad probably would have preferred to hear the same about my brothers instead.

    Mind you my brothers were smart kids as well (in fact my older bro was a more balanced and well rounded child than I ever was!), but it did not suit our dad’s taste that the sons did not bring home as many ‘first place’ report cards as I did.

    Report card related beatings my older brother received were often preceded by my dad’s angry lament “why can’t you be more like your sister?!” (translation: why can’t you be better than your sister?). For all the beatings my brother received for not being ‘like or better than’ his sister, I am grateful that he does not hate me now. Because let me tell ya, if one of my brothers’ ‘abilities’ were used to constantly put me down and even get beaten over, I would have hated their guts! But my older brother’s kind heart and asteway CHinkilat’s ability to luckily separate our dad’s fury from the fact that I had nothing to do with it is what made us continue to be friends and not enemies over time.

    My favorite question growing up was “why?” (especially to gender related inequalities at the expense of the females in the house), and I think I drove both my parents crazy over it, but especially my dad. My mom would have preferred me to be more accommodating to my dad’s demands so I don’t get myself in as much trouble as I often did, even if she believed in what I was saying.

    I have heard too many times from my dad “yiblaN lemiyagebash!!” assuming that I would give some unsuspecting fellow ‘ye’ras mitat’ with my unconventional ways and thoughts. I just did not fit his idea of what an obedient Ethiopian woman is supposed to be (I still don’t actually), and he was quick to remind me of that when ever we clashed.

    My dad used to often lament out loud “God only gave me two children, a boy and a girl, but he played a trick on me when he switched their character!” (he was really heart broken about that). One of my brothers is adopted, and for some reason our dad was less uptight about my adopted brother’s character than he was of my older brother’s — his first child.

    By the way, it really must have been tough to attend the same high school your dad taught at!!! Life was extra difficult for teachers’ kids in the Ethiopian schools I attended, as much was expected out of them, not particularly liked by other students who might assume they got preferential treatment, not to mention the constant round the clock supervision from their parent who is a teacher in the same school. So my respects to the likes of you who had to endure that :-). Besides, school was a welcome break from my parents, and I don’t know what I would have done if I also had to deal with any of them during school hours ;-).

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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