Archive for January, 2012

“Why Ethiopia stayed behind”

While discussing the temperament of Seattleites (kind of cold, kind of distant, kind of keeping to themselves in a way that borders Xenophobia) with a friend last night, I said something that I never knew I’ve formally thought of before. I said “I think the exposure to different cultures has made Seattleites unable to recognize and appreciate cultural diversity in a heart-felt way. If they knew somebody like you, they assume [I guess] they know all they need to know about you, which makes them less curious to [intimidated, chatty, inquisitive] folks in, say, little old Escondido which [true to its name] is hidden to the outside world except for the Mexican immigrants that cross into its borders by hundreds a day and the little black prostitute girls that come from the other end of the country to cater to their “needs”. When I say I’m from Ethiopia, the first response I get is ‘Oh yeah, I love Ethiopian food!’. And I’m like I’m more than my food, asshole”.

Or something to that effect.

That last phrase lingered on my mind long after the subject changed to the pleasant atmosphere in the coffee shop we were sitting. [Where books lined the walls, coffee machines work tirelessly to produce the unique aroma of that bean life in Seattle would have been harder without, where men and women from different walks of life talk and work on their laptops, holding their hip-ness with an easy grace you can’t master if you were reincarnated as a manican.] The fact that I’m more than my food and how to get that message across to people I meet and deal with on a regular basis [people who can’t recognize the source of my pain or pleasure if it sits on their laps and says “selam” to them] bugged me for a second or two. I wondered how I can make this friend of mine see my country/my culture as an outsider should/would see it. I asked how we, abeshas and abesheets [Ethiopians] appear to the occasional bystander. And in trying to think of an outsider who has seen us, lived among us, and written about us in a way other outsiders can understand, the name Timothy Kalyegria popped into my head.

He is the columnist who wrote the article “Why Ethiopia Stayed Behind”, in a series of dossiers he labeled “The Abyssinian Chronicles”. When the amharic version of his essay on why we stayed behind the rest of Africa first showed up on Addis Admas, back when that newspaper mattered, it showed up under the title “Menaded kalelegachu yihinin tsihuf atanibu”. It’s been a while since this article held the mirror to our faces and made us lash out at the guy holding the mirror. Gone are the days in which the writer was called names starting from “lemma”.. to boundless others on every media an Ethiopian was allowed to write his ill-spelled English on. Which may also be the reason why finding it gave me quite the run around. When I finally located it, I decided I gotta re-post it on my e-shoe box. Because it’s still relevant and useful. And there are those of you who still don’t know it exists.

The Warning Before The Warning (more…)

January 25, 2012 at 2:07 am 46 comments

Weraj ale: Snow in Seattle

I am a “snow virgin”. And “like a virgin”, I got “touched for the first time” yesterday morning. Was on my way to work when I realized I had teeny tiny pieces of white particules on my heavy jacket. I looked up, wondering what it was they were dropping now, this building that serves as a 24 hrs. parking lot and has surprised me in it’s uncanny ability to sweat at the precise moment when I’m walking under it.

That’s when I realized the oil-on-a-frying-pan sound I haven’t paid attention to till now was accompanying the white particules that keeps falling on me out of nowhere. I have assumed snow comes with rain, despite having seen it fall freely in movies, and had dreamed to be in it [how, were I to go to America, I’d like to go there on Christmas time; with the roads covered in snow, trees decorated with lights, shopping-mall doors opening and closing to let in and out shoppers in warm clothes carrying shiny bags full of gifts]. But I have atleast expected some sort of wetness to go with it. I did not know it could come down out of the blue, or “the white” to be exact, and cover you lovingly in it’s shimmering wonderfulness.

And so I did what a virgin, who has been touched for the first time, and loved it, would do. I run out. I run in. I laughed. Almost cried. I took photos. I took videos. Deleted videos, they eat your phone’s memory, and went forth to the world and shared the Herald of it’s coming. Here goes:

Sunday at 7:56 a.m.
[Facebook post]
Got only three hrs of sleep. Am looking at a 13 hrs shift. Am covered in snow. And loving it. How much do i love thee [Seattle], lemme count the ways! 1 one thousand.. 2 one thousand.. 3 one thousand..

Saturday 15 January 2012
[Twitter tweet]
Covered in snow. And loving it. Life does indeed go on.

Sunday at 12:37 p.m.
[Facebook post]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Caption reads]: Momma, I had it made.

Sunday at 7:59 p.m
[Facebook question and answer]
Friend:
How do u find ur first snow experience?
Me:
Run out. Started snapping photos taking videos. Trying to catch flakes. Then I just stood there, bathing in it and sucking-in the surrounding when this colleague of mine gathered some snow and made me a snow ball. Was so much fun. Its even …more exciting when you walk on it after it has hardened, although perhaps not as fun to drive in. Ppl have been giving me all sorts advices. (Kowing I was a “snow virgin” brought about the parent in all.) I was told how and where to walk, not to help if asked to help push a car and to pee before I left the office.

This morning
[Part of a poem]
The clouds..
are coming down
coming down in tiny pieces..
The cars are clothed
in snow
and the buses
got ankle braces..

There is more to the poem, but it is about this guy who was farting infront of me while we were rallying in support of Hilton Seattle’s “workers’ right to job security” [holding banners and chanting with hoarse voice lines like “The workers. United. Can never be defeated”. “No Justice! No Peace!” and, ofcourse, about us being the ninety nine percent. (Were helping out at a millionaire’s party a few weeks ago, and I heard one of them “joke” how the other was “the one percent”. And i thought “Aw. How adorable!! This is how the rich make jokes!”)].

And, finally, the friend’s response to the above mentioned facebook question and answer:

Sunday at 7:59pm
I feel like ‘God’ sends snow for all those he love.

Sunday at 9:23am
‎’loves’ teblo yestekakel. lol

Couldn’t agree more, bud.

January 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm 6 comments

Face-deep in me humble-pie

Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Girl let’s boy do whatever he wants. Boy does whatever he wanted and one day boy decides to take girl out. Boy sounds happy and excited. Girl can’t believe her luck. Goes out and buys things. Wonders what to do about hair. Then boy disappears. Girl gets angry. Girl writes angry emails. Girl makes angry phone calls and sends angry texts. Boy refuses to respond. And then he calls girl crazy and manipulative. That girl should stop bothering him, or else.

Boys can be mean sometimes!!

But did he stop there? No sir, he didn’t. He continued by saying he decided not to come because he realized I was fucked in the head. Called me “a head case”, “a trip”, something else. No wonder, he added before signing off, my husband wanted out!

Girl knew I was fucked up. I knew there was something wrong with me. [Even warn them as much in the beginning. Suggest they read my blog to know the inner workings of my mind. “Wait and see”, I say – when they start “majgodgoding” compliments, wishing the warning flags away. They never listen!]. I was also no stranger to being called names before being deserted. What I didn’t know was that I was the Crafty-Craftswoman he described me to be. That I was any more crazy than the next scorned [passionate] woman whose fury hell would be hard-pressed to match. That my corky-nesses were anything other than adorable qualities that sets me apart from girlkind.

So I went to me best friend, google!, and asked the question: “Am I manipulative?”. And to my shame, to my eternal disgrace [I do use big words and poetic language to get my point across too!], learned that although none of them were conscious decisions, or things I did to gain a specific/material end, I did and do all those things it says manipulative people do:

– I do pretend to be incompetent, play the victim, act helpless, or admit too often that I am stupid
– I did say “anything you want” when I don’t mean it or I lied about how I feel (but isn’t that what “the dating game” is all about?! The make ups, the eye shadows, the waxings, the clpings?! Aren’t we catering to “his” needs instead of ours? Saying “thy wish, sir, is my command”?!).
– I did say “promise me” (“we will remain friends even if we stopped seeing each other”. And meant it too.)
-I do not think I “act overly concerned” or “promise to change my behavior knowing perfectly well that I don’t want to change.”
– I do blame others (but myself too) for my problems.
– I do act ignored, forgotten, hurt, wounded, unloved, or uncared for (which is how I am or feel 99 percent of the time)
– I get angry or throw temper tantrums.
– I am always depressed or suicidal.

So what I thus far thought was “humility” or “being self conscious” was, infact, typical manipulative behavior.

Now for the “crazy” part. (more…)

January 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm 15 comments


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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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