Posts filed under ‘Latest Posts’

Are cops nocturnal? [Observations of a non-African American black girl]

DISCLAIMER:  Despite its title, this post is not about racist cops and other predators.

First, a background: I work in the medical field. With patients, and patient’s families. Care-takers. People of all ages. Mostly men. Mostly white. Most of them straight.

And this is how a typical visit of a typical day goes. I go to the lobby, call patients’ first name. Introduce myself: get asked to spell it or told I have a pretty name. I take the patient into a small room with a scale where I ask them to step on it while they answered [demography] questions such as last name/date of birth/height/what they would like to be referred to as [“You can call me anything, just not late for dinner”, HaHa]. Then I walk them to an exam room. There I would take the Doctor’s chair, while the patient sits across from me, and ask a few more questions. What, in the profession, are called “vital signs”: reason for visit/accompanying pain/any hospital stay in the last month, allergy/medication change, name of Primary Care Physician/pharmacy, any other concern they want their provider [my doctor] to address – what is called a “secondary” complaint, i.e. reason, for the visit.

That, at least, is how the “rooming” process ought to go. But it doesn’t. In my attempt to make them feel comfortable and at home, I usually start by asking how their drive here was, I comment on the horribleness of parking in Seattle, mention how I heard there was a big line at the check-in counter downstairs.

They, in their turn, ask where I am [originally] from, how long I have lived in America, if English is the working-language in my country [so how come I speak it so well after such a short stay here?]. There would be compliments galore: on my “beautiful” accent, on my warm smile, on my cute face [my freckles, my “botton nose”, my hair do].

If we have more time, and when we sometimes don’t, they ask how I found America. How I found the medical profession. How I feel about the current political environment.

They do not do this only for educational purposes. Most, if not all, do it because America has become tribal and people feel the need to choose sides wherever they go. Show where they were and where they ain’t. Where you belong in the political divide doesn’t affect the type of health care you get. At least it should not. But maybe, deep down, people think it does. So they reveal who they are. Which side they belong to. What they stand for. Or aren’t/don’t. Most come from a place of benign fear. Others come from a place of [toxic] anger. “Your care be damned,” they seem to say, “This is my country. I do not like the fact that you are in it. Can’t very well help that. So you are going to take what I have to give you”.

The liberals, mostly from Seattle or from snazzy places where they can afford to be tolerant despite the drastic changes happening around them [Redmond/Woodinville/Bellingham], would start with how much they hate Donald Trump/Republicans/the latest supreme court nominee. Or answer “every time the jackass in the White House opens his mouth”, when I ask if they were experiencing any pain. In an attempt to win my approval and goodwill, they try to show me they were what my boyfriend calls “one of the good ones”. How Obama was the best president America ever had, by far. That they do believe Christine Blasey Ford: “the woman has nothing to gain by telling the truth”. It is sunny because global warming is fucking the planet in the ass. Have I read this and that book by this or that author? If not, I should. It shows how segregated my beloved Seattle used to be until very recently. [So I should not be in a hurry to fawn over it].

But more often than not, and because most of our patients are on the older and whiter side [Urology is not a young man’s game – except when it comes to Erectile Dysfunction. Young East Indian men take the lion’s share when it comes to not being able to get it up], the patient would try to prove he does not care to be one of the “good ones”. By saying, for example, how he almost cancelled his appointment due to “the stupidity” at downtown [the protest]. How “Instead of investigating a millionaire who became a politician, they should investigate a politician who became a millionaire”. Or complain how the city has become barely recognizable, thanks to Amazon and these “techies”; how I should consider myself lucky that I wasn’t in Europe – there they have all these parts where black people aren’t even allowed into and/or ghettos where no one is safe at. Etc. etc.

There are, of course, the in-betweeners. (more…)

June 21, 2020 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

A few of my ግጥምs

Here, kids, is my first Amharic poem at least a decade after I stopped writing in the mother-tongue. It is dedicated to Facebook, and all those whose hearts are unsettled. Who, like Oliver, can’t help but ask for [and wonder if there was not] more. To those for whom “enuff” is never enough. [That is Qine, right there. Give it time ;)].

ልቤ ሸርሙጣ ነው
ኩታራ መናኛ
‘ፍቅር’ ካላቀፈ
አርፎ የማይተኛ::
ምሽት ጠብቆ አዳኝ
ተግዋዥ በጨረቃ
“Connection” ፍለጋ
[“Acceptance” ፍለጋ]
[መሳይ-ነብሥ ፍለጋ]::
ያመኑትን ከጂ
ያጎረሰን ነካሽ
[ልቤ ሸርሙጣ ነው]
መንገድ ዉሎ አዳሪ

June 14, 2020 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

ለዘመኔ ልጆች

[80’s/90’s – በኢትዮጵያ ዘመን አቆጣጠር – kids: How many of these books/short stories/sayings do you remember from Ethiopia’s yester-years? Back when we all watched the one TV channel, listened to “Qidamen kegna gar”, and “Ehudih landAfta”, as well as “Legedadi Radio”, with its signature starting bell? And waited for a whole week for “TalaQu film” on Saturday night to bring you either some Russian crap, “Umer Muktar” or a dated American romance? To entertain us with Lemenih Tadesse, and Tamagn Beyene’s comedy [Left out Alebachewu Teka on purpose. He was no comedian]. To bore us to death/entertain and inspire us through: Aregahign Worash, “Kotume wejin gela”, “Wedey terekaba” respectively.

[መንደርደሪያ፦ How do you know you are getting old? When you start looking back, instead of ahead, of course! When you start missing things from your youth and childhood fondly when they weren’t so great to live through. When all those things you hated once come to mean a lot to you.

The following, at least, are things that meant a lot to me even then. Things that I grew up on, were influenced heavily by, and played a part in forming who I am].

Enjoy and feel free to add to the list.

Shorts from “ከመጽህፍት ዓለም”, in no particular order:

“አብሽና ፋፋ”
“የመት ጣዬ እንጉርጉሮ”
“ሴሜጋ እንዴት እንደተያዘ”

Books, in THAT order:
“ፍቅር እስከ መቃብር”
“የታንጉት ሚስጥር”
“የወዲያ ነሽ”
“የውበት ወጥመድ”
“ጥቁር ደም”
“እምዩ” [for me, anyway. Love that book to pieces]

And everything written by Ethiopian Detective story writer Yilma Habteyes.

“ከኣድማስ ባሻገር” [Meh]
“የሚያቃጥል ፍቅር”
ድራማ፥ “የኣብቅየለሽ ኑዛዜ”, as well as all and everything Wegayehu Nigatu, Debebe Eshetu [his, supposed, killer] and Alemtsehai Wedajo had a part in.

“አየሽ አንቺ እማማ ኢትዮጵያ… አየሽ አንቺ እናት አለም… ቃል የእምነት እዳ ነው እንጂ የአባት የእናት እኮ አይደለም::”

ጋሽ መንግስቱ ለማ [who is a not-very-distant cousin of yours trutly, btw]: “ስልቻ ቀልቀሎ፥ ቀልቀሎ ስልቻ”

P.S. For more on “የመድረኩ ዋርካ”,

May 17, 2020 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

I like Lidetu, I can not lie [First posted on Facebook]

When I was at my last job in Ethiopia, Lidetu Ayalewu used to come around to visit one of his “yager lij”s who worked there as a Program Officer. I never liked Ato Lidetu. I don’t know what it is about him: his bubble cheeks, his weight-to-height ratio, or the fact that he was an Amhara politician [I grew up being called “YeWelamo lij” by the Amhara neighboring kids whose parents mistook my dad’s “YeBudda medhanit” Qindib tebasa for being from Wolayita; although my dad considered himself part of the proud Moja Amharas, and a 9th or 10th kinsman of one Emperor Zar’a Ya`qob]. Anyway, something about him got on my nerves. So I walked by without giving him the due my co-workers did every mini/celebrity who stopped by our humble NGO. I walked by with my chin up, nose in the air, and a “fuck you if you think you are better than the rest of us” attitude.
[You know, as “complexam” Habeshas are wont to do! 🙂 ]
But I knew, knew!, he was a righteous person. A righteous person is not a person who does the right thing all the time. He may not even be the kind of person who does good things all the time. A righteous person, for me anyway [and according to the bible – for those who care] is, like King David, a person who lives by what he believes, and does what he considers to be right and true to himself and those around him.
[Say somebody who is not your married ex-boyfriend who gives you frantic calls on Messenger, quoting:
“የምነግርሽ በዛ
ውሰጤን ማኘ አወቀ
ነገሩስ ቀሊል ነው
ኸሎ ለይ ያለቀ”,
right after un-friending you on Facebook – so his dumb-bass wife won’t suspect what was up :)]
Lidetu, on the other hand, proved righteous: before the 2005 election, during it, and in the immediate messy aftermath. I saw him as righteous as I saw the only politician whom I loved, and considered the sole voice of reason in the Parliament back then: His Majesty Professor Beyene Petros!!
I knew why Lidetu decided for his party to take its seat when ene Birhanu Nega ተመናጭረው ከፓርላማ ሲወጡ! Because “bilt lij yesetutin yizo yalseQsal”. Because, in politics, no one fucking owes you anything. No one cares if you have the truth on your side. If you don’t have the military might, you win wars by winning small battles everyday [through compromising, haggling, settling for less than perfect or ideal].
In the years following, I watched him mean what he says and say what he means [or try to, because in a country of perpetual tribalism, of “Him who doesn’t see things my way talatye newu”, it is difficult to be heard above the patriotic/the giDel teGadel/the ‘he who isn’t with us is against us’ fervor]. After I left home, I didn’t keep a tab on Ethiopian politics [Because it is disheartening! Because it is either feast or famine. It is “Abiy is my Hero” today, then “Abiy is a demon” tomorrow. No maturity. No room for errors. No one willing to wait and see]. But I kept a weather eye on Ato Lidetu, to still find him not lacking in righteousness. To always try to be a grown up and do the best he can with the little he is given.
So… maybe you don’t like his politics. Maybe you don’t like his person. Maybe you don’t approve of what he did yesterday, or the day before. But spreading hate against him on Facebook, calling him names, threatening violence against his person: that is not going to help Ethiopia, Ethiopiawinet, or yourself. It only tears a “sebez” out of the “saar bett” shack we have for Democracy and hope to build with a sturdy material on a foundation of rock someday.

May 3, 2020 at 2:06 am 1 comment

Year 11: A Friday the 13th kind of year

Here is my CoVid19 catch phrase: We are all gonna die, you just don’t have to lose your breast over it.

End is Near Sign With Stormy Background

March 13, 2020 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

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

Life quote:

"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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