Grandma movie quotes & other observations

February 1, 2014 at 3:19 am 4 comments

My grandma used to say….

Nothing! She died when I was four. But even before that, she wasn’t so much a sayer, from what I could gather, as a looker – which explains the jealous rage my grandpa unleashed on all the kids that “didn’t look like him” when he came home drunk – resulting in some pretty fucked uncles and cousins with self-esteem problems. This knowledge that I missed out on an “Aya’at” becomes keen when I especially watch those movies in which the hero’s Nana is one of those universal grandmothers who [apparently] goes around cracking wisdom like a whip. Somebody like Jose’s grandmother from Bella (2006), for example, who used to say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Or Lt. Col. Mitchell from Stargate SG-1 who learned from his “gran” how “God is like a prairie windstorm. If you look too hard, you get dust in your eyes, but there’s still plenty of ways to know it’s there.” Or even a grandmother from a less than self-expressive country like Iran (in the movie Persepolis), who goes around saying stuff like:

Listen. I don’t like to preach, but here’s some advice. You’ll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it’s because they’re stupid. Don’t react to their cruelty. There’s nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself.

It, ofcourse, doesn’t mean I believe these grandmothers actually existed. Even when real life people go about saying “My grandma used to say..” on NPR, I take the grandma part with a grain of salt. That’s because I have learned these grandma-sayings, especially when the sayer is from a 3rd world country, make Americans view him and themselves in a certain light. Aren’t, after all, all [good] African grandfathers elders of or leaders to some tribe? And .. African women .. a walking breathing stand-ins for mother earth herself: dark, resilient, and fertile?!

In a country where how the mass sees you determines what sort of resources would be made available to you, giving them what they want would, ofcourse, be the rule of the day. And so we tell stories of difficult childhoods; brutal 3rd world governments who prosecute angelic social workers and/or journalists; and matriarchs who hand-down life lessons around crackling wood fire. And they take us into their bosom and hope to heal our wounds.

No harm, no foul.. you might say. You are sure there is somebody somewhere going through it. And I might have agreed with you if it wasn’t for the ultimate picture this “naive” [American] look at who we are, where we came from and who we surrounded ourselves with while growing up draws. How often have I.. have you, dear reader.. been asked, when confessing we were from Africa, how different it must be here for you. “I mean”, a Union Member activist once said to me, after giving me a pat on the shoulder like I was a brave little woman who need commendation for surviving, “after coming to this country and all you have been through.. these jerks here ..” [were refusing to give us our 3 year’s worth of Retro Pay?!].

I am no proud Ethiopian. No sir I ain’t! You won’t see me crossing my self before eating among bewildered strangers. Nor sneering at the odd-looking meat on the table before having a chance to taste it. But I didn’t let that one go. “No, actually” I replied “I am not one of those Africans who were persecuted or end up being refugees from political turmoil. I love my country and liked how it was being run back then. I was going to school. I had a much better job there than I do here. If I weren’t married to an American, I doubt I would have thought of coming. As far as I know, none of my Ethiopian friends and colleagues came over because they feared for their lives. Fact is.. I doubt a quarter of the people who come to America and say they suffered persecution are telling the truth. If your parents could pay your way to come to America when you were 11, whatever country your parents are from, they probably were better off than the rest of their countrymen; if not part of the ruling class causing all the hardship for the common poor. You Americans are addicted to playing the role of the Hero.. the Savior.. the Liberator.. so they tell you what you wanna hear”. Etecetra.


Going back to the subject of my doubt half the individuals quoting their grandmas ever met their grandmothers.. Look here.. my parents were a little older than teenagers when I was born. And that wasn’t common in Ethiopia. However, like I said, the last grandparent me and my 27 cousins had was the aforementioned “looker” when most of us were barely out of diapers [or “yenetela Qidaj”s made transparent from excessive washing]. Sure.. we are in one of the poorest countries in the world and the life expectancy may not be so high there. But so must it not be in India and/or other third world countries. Yet you hear these so-called “grandkids” spouting all kinds of wisdoms in their grand mother’s names on American tvs and radios! Maybe Wise-cracking-grandmothers have become what unicorns, tooth-faries and Easter bunnies are: Mythical creatures whose stories we learn from without having to dig deep into their existences.

While we are on the subject of coming to America..

Although there wasn’t a more likely candidate than me for it [loved movies, spoke English fabulously and spent half my life being active on the internet when most Ethiopians haven’t heard of land-lines], I never really thought I would cross over to this neck of the wood. The only family members we had were distant relatives of my father’s who told him his kids [who refused to go and “ejj mensat” the way the kids of their other “chista” kins did] were too “kuru” for their own good. So I went the opposite way: refused to fill DV-Lottery and even told my ex-husband to move to Ethiopia if he wanted a life with me – instead of the other way around. But when I did, I kind of became what I think most of us become after crossing over: “A career American”. Not career people! Or Americans! But men and women who have made living in America his/her career choice; and would do whatever it takes to stay there. Like a “career wife” who sticks to her husband, through good times and bad; through cheating, abuse or neglect because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. Doesn’t know another life. Has given it her best years!!

Speaking of the costs of living in America..

From my first and, hopefully last, visit to the doctor’s [where I was told my heart has been murmuring all these years without my knowing it – God knows what it’s trying to communicate], this is what I learned: The older u get, the longer you live, the less boxes there would be to check “N/A” (Not applicable). Do you or did you suffer from depression? Yes. Do you or did you have an anxiety problem? Yes. Do u smoke? Hell ya. Are u sexually active? Kinda. Why? What have you been hearing? And that thing about never visiting the doctors, even if your insurance covers it, until you have to has something going for it.

And finally…

I am a 12th Man today!

For those of you not aware of the expression, it means I’m not only a football fan, an American football fan, but consider myself a 12th number of the [actual] team. I am wearing the shirt! I have pinned the round 12thMan button on that shirt and I’m saying “Go Seahawks!” everytime a fellow employee passes by. Business or personal, you’d ask. I would have to say…. [dramatic pause] both! Business.. because my work place is an important landmark in Seattle and we have been waving the Seahawks flag for about two weeks now and even had a 12thMan hot wings eating contest – in which yours truly came second place [leaving a hoard of red-faced, panting, sweating, weeping white boys behind]. Plus the shirt is free. The buttons are free. And the feeling of camaraderie is a good boost to the morale [for somebody to whom making friends doesn’t come easy and only sees one other person on the days she isn’t working].

Personal.. because I have a “vested interest”, as they say, to see Seahawks beat Broncos by a small margin. In a word, “beanies”. In four words “beanies sold on ebay”. These are beanies I got for half off from my employer before Christmas; an employer who didn’t foresee The Seattle Seahawks would beat the 49ers and make it to the Super Bowl. The same NFL licensed beanies Seahawks’ players wear while on the bench. Beanies that are Out of Stock everywhere else in the State of Washington.

I’ve sold 19 of these knit-caps, earning a net profit of around 200 dollars in less than two days. So the fear is, those ebayers who haven’t left me a feedback yet – and there are 5- despite the second day delivery and the neat packaging – may be tempted to return the beanies and ask for a refund if the Seahawks lost this coming Sunday. And since I have no desire to give the refund, it would either be a negative feedback for moi or a long “eset ageba” with ebay’s Customer Service.

So.. yes.. Go Hawks!!!

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Year V: Progression? Regression? Or Naturalization? “ሳቤላ” ( Sabela ) በሚስዝ ሔንሪ ውድ

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rebeccafisseha  |  February 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for tellin’ it like it is! I for one have always been a little scared of my grands, gets worse the longer I’m away and the more holiday phone calls I let slide. I’ve always thought we kids subconsciously replicate the relationships our parents had with them. It’s just what we see/know growing up. I do miss all the true stories we’ll never get to hear though.

  • 2. DaNegus  |  February 3, 2014 at 4:14 am

    You must be very relieved right now 🙂

  • 3. Chuchu  |  February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    You need not have worried. They played really well.

    Laughed when I read the “career american” paragraph. That is me to a t.

  • 4. Coerced Forod  |  February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Wonderful post. I have taken away two things at the least. Don’t feel to bad about not knowing any of your grandparents – they are overrated; and get your heart checked immediately.

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

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