Posts tagged ‘ethiopian immigrant’

“When the shadow starts moving, run.”

(Walking በጠፍ ጨረቃ, in America)

OH NO, legs!

No, trees.

No, poles.


February 10, 2022 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment


As of 2 pm this afternoon, I am officially a black American citizen [who has “absolutely and entirely renounced and abjured all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen”]

To show for it, I have in my possession:

  •  a Naturalization Certificate.
  • Copy [of a copy of a copy] of President Obama’s congratulation letter – on a White House note-pad if I may add 🙂
  • A note book on The Constitution and what it means to be an American citizen
  • A small flag – seen herewith in the company of my YeFederalist Ethiopia bandira, a miniature Egyptian pyramid – from Egypt; a pen my brother Tagel wove for me while he was in prison (and still not talking to me) a decade or so ago – way before I was married to an American and had any intension of crossing over here – and my favorite sini of all times
  • And a golden-emblemed, real classy, folder to hold it all

And all I had to do was read and write “Colombus Day is in October”.

No kidding! That was the reading and writing part – put together!

Infact, the hardest part of the interview wasn’t the reading, the writing or answering 10 out of the 100 questions on American Government and American history I had to memorize. The hardest part was remembering the stuff I put on my application: dates and places of residence; where I worked, when I got divorced and got my green card. [Ofcourse — not lying on your original documents always helps!!]. My interviewer was cute, friendly and non-judgmental. He didn’t scowl even when I mistook my October 30th birthday for 10th of October, “because I am used to writing it like that”, I apologized promptly. Thirty minutes later, I was out the door with a huge smile and an oath-ceremony qetero for the same afternoon.

After the oath ceremony, where I was one of three Oathees ..[Oathers …Oath-takers…] who weren’t surrounded by family and friends [Troy has to go back to work after dropping me there and my cousin was somewhere I don’t want to reach her at] I decided to lift my spirit by treating myself to some organic sandwich and expensive coffee. While eating and waiting for my shoes to dry, I felt melancholic. Not because I won’t be voting tomorrow and save democrats from themselves; or even because I don’t seem to have any “metasebia” of the two important days in my life in America – February 19, 2009 and November 3rd, 2014. But because, despite feeling more at home here than I ever did in Ethiopia; and having worked hard, and waited on pins and needles for the interview appointment for months, to become a citizen; all I can think of, sited in that cozy chair at Panera’s, looking out at the world and the pouring rain, was “Anchi addis abeba mayetun tewsh woyi? Asadgegesh sitefu yetalu atyim woy?”

Maybe it’s too early to tell if I would ever belong.

Or I just may be missing “dulet”.

November 4, 2014 at 5:47 am 12 comments

This… American life

Almost 5 years ago to date, I asked Sistu and Mazzi how they manage to go to sleep in America, with all the psychos running around. “You’ll get used to it”, they said, “that’s the trick. You will so get used to it you would stop thinking about it before long”. And I did! I got used to hearing people being stabbed at Pioneer square; yet walked home by [the infamous] Belltown on seasons where the days are short and the nights are long. Made my peace with the idea that I might be shot at, blown to pieces or end up being another tragic number from a freak-accident in this here land of the free and home of the brave. Most of all, I stopped worrying I might see a face that wasn’t there when I look up into the mirror after washing my face. Shit happens, as they say. The best you could do is avoid stepping in it and continue on your way.

This doesn’t mean I still don’t stick to the street lamps when walking home after midnight or don’t get rattled when coming across people who remind me of some creepy character from a book/movie. I do. But I also know there is precious little I can do about it. So I try not to dwell on it unless something triggers the fight-or-flight response in moi. Like the other day, for example.

I was walking up a hill by the Swedish Medical center [an area frequented by doctors, nurses, and many in need – of money, of drugs, of sanity] and this guy who has been waiting for the light to turn green with me strode before me. He was carrying two duffel bags, each crossed from the opposite shoulder he was supporting with both hands. And from those bags, a horrible smell hit my nose. Something dead and rotting. It might easily have been an asparagus induced fart. But when I looked up and noticed how the guy (a) Maybe homeless, but was dressed reasonably well [bringing to mind a skin thick with layers of grime]. (b) Was wearing a hat that seems to help him avoid eye-contact (c) dived into the bushes upon feeling my intense interest on him; I decided the smell must have come from parts of human flesh he is carrying around. “What if”, I wondered, “he is like Secret Skelly, a quiet guy whose closet won’t sprout madness until the day he died. Or that patient from “House”, the serial killer who got sick because of all the human fat he gorged?. I mean it’s not exactly unheard of!! Most serial killers, who are from Seattle, Uh-huh!!, ate and stored left-overs of their [human] victims. What with the economy being what it is and the easy access to synthetic drugs nowadays, feeding on run-away girls would sure save the loser some bucks on food stamps!

I thought about it when I walked up the hill. And I thought about it when I walked down hill. Should I have followed him, I wondered. Show him my suspicion? Alert the cops? Would I see his face on tv someday, say “Look, honey, it’s that guy who loves Asparagus” and find out it was John Wayne Gacy, the “killer clown”, like Paul Teodo later found out?!

Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that there really was nothing I can do. This is America, after all! You can’t accuse people on a whim, or even a justifiable suspicion, of being cannibals untill you saw them tooth-picking human flesh out of their molars. A crime has to be committed. And you better be an eye-witness or a seasoned investigator with a solid evidence, before going blubbering to the police. Until such time, your suspect has a license to offend, and you to sit around with your hands in your lap; sighing helplessly.

I am no foreigner to this kind of helplessness, ofcourse. I had it back when I was dating a man who claimed to have lived in the “vampire lifestyle” for 12 years; sucking blood from consenting women’s veins. I have felt it when seeing, one cold evening, a little boy of about 8, sited on an old man’s knees at a deserted bus-stop in Lower Queen Anne. The man may have been one of those grandparents who tried to get on their kid’s nerves by spoiling their grand-children. And the boy may have had a rough day from some other earlier source. But the minute I saw him sitting on the old man’s lap; with a broken look on his face, the kind of quite anger that comes from deep self-hatred.. shame.. and embarrassment; the “pedophile” alert chimed in my head. Needless to say, I did what I can. I gave the old man a dirty look. I smiled at the kid to show him it wasn’t his fault. I lingered around looking visibly suspicious. Then walked all the way home feeling like my heart has hit rock bottom. And one more time after that, when hearing my gun-owner ex-boyfriend spew angry .. hateful words against the government and the people who worked with him. He blogs.. now and then.. saying he sometimes thinks about ending it all. I sincerely hope it is proving therapeutic.

Alas.. America isn’t all fear and loathing. There are things that knock the breath out of you when you stop to think about them. Like the view of Lake washington and the I90 bridge from a nearby hill. Like walking in downtown Seattle in December; where all the trees are shrouded in lights, where the smell of food and music comes at you from every side and where all the pretty girls, wearing boots and expensive jackets, walk by you laughing like they are a band of fairies going out to do merry mischief. There are the general.. tax-payer bestowed.. blessings: The Public Radio. The Public Library. The parks! The Low-Income Public housing, the unemployment-benefits and the various aids [which, I am ashamed to say, 90% of my countrymen and women use and abuse like nobody’s business – so much that you appear a fool when refusing to take advantage of it]. And there are those little personal boons that, like all good things, come to you when you least expect them. Like the perfect apartment you are still in love with after a year of living in it. A wonderful boyfriend who makes the perfect pies and takes you home to his family’s to gobble them for thanksgiving. That pre-paid phone you use as an alarm clock, that you kept only because nobody would bid on it on ebay, that seems to never run out of battery.

It’s not the ideal world. But it sure is a wonderful one.

Happy Holidays, my friends!

December 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm 4 comments

All things scary come to..

It must have been three weeks ago, I was walking by the seafood-isle at Safeway; which is a store I rarely go to, despite its situation across the street from my building. The creaking floor-boards, the unfriendly sales people and the fact that most of the customer were either Somalis or Ethiopians from my first visit of this store almost three years ago has left a bad taste in my mouth. In the process of passing by the said isle, smiling indulgently to the man behind the counter [the way I do with Child-reach and Plan International canvassers on 4th and Pike], who was asking how he can help me; I felt a sneering coming from the woman who was passing by. I am black, alright? I am pre-wired to sense sneers even where there are not. So I turned to look at her, expecting a white woman wearing a face that says black women’s rightful place is by the poultry isle or at MacDonald’s – pushing a baby in a stroller while laboring under the weight of one.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, upon finding a rather homely looking Hispanic woman. Not your average voodoo-doll sized Hispanic woman, mind you, but just as strange. Jet black hair. Faint mustache. And thick eyebrows that almost made a line, Count Olaf style. The type you won’t ask for directions because her response would be a dumb look and mute smiles.

The big question mark on my face must have made her pause. For she parked her cart next to me and started talking. I was about to wave her away, explaining how I don’t speak Spanish [“Sorry, Doña. Ich kann nicht sprechen sie Spanish”]; when I caught phrases I recognized [“you… doesn’t look good honey.. come see me”]. She took a card out of her purse and handed to me. I took it, still straining to understand what she was saying. When I saw the word “Tarot” in boldface letter on the card, I needed no more explanation. “No thank you,” I said cheerfully, handed the card back and walked away.

I may have walked away. But haven’t gone far before I regretted not making sure what it was about my person that didn’t look good to her. For I am like Dean Keaton. I don’t believe in the devil but I’m scared of him. After all, I grew up in a protestant church. And the devil is pretty much the thermometer with which you measured your spirituality back there. Is your path beset on all sides [“by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men”]? Then, Praise the Lord!, your spiritual life is on the right track! If you, on the other hand, are too content, happy at having things going your way.. then you might wanna take a close look at your inward life and see where you went wrong. Comfort is a sign that you have either gotten too chummy with the Prince of Darkness, or your soul has been ensnared by the comforts of this world. For hasn’t the Lord said “as long as you are in this world, you shall have tribulations”?!. You’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Am I in this world?” Well, are ya, punk?

So I wondered by the break-fast isle. And I wondered by the check-out line. Then I wondered sitted by my bed, watching a movie while attacking a bag of pop-corn. Could she have seen something in my future, I wondered? In my body? In my surrounding? Do I have some hidden disease I need to have checked-out? Were I being stalked by some one or some thing? Am I gonne lose my job? When texting my worries to Troy, he comforted me by suggesting “Probably your finances; which she would cure by taking your money and telling you what you want to hear”. Babi’s Whatsapp response was “I didn’t take you for someone who believes in Voodoo”; resulting in the whole subject of God – and the post For Babi.

Alas.. how else can they explain the violent dreams I kept having every night ever since?

I don’t know if I have mentioned this about me and dreams. But I don’t dream! If I do, twice a year or so, it would either be my father/brother chasing me with a dagger; or some bizarre jumble a keen to an action movie; fast cars.. acrobats.. men I have no hope of landing.

These dreams, however, are clear as day. They speak of blood. And they speak of gore. They speak of desertion. Of betrayal. Of loss. They have snakes in them. They have ghosts in them. They have all kinds of assault weapons in them. They got rape scenes. Murder scenes. And everything hellish in between. Even when I’m not dreaming, I seem to wonder in my sleep why I am not sleeping so well nowadays; worrying about worrying, so to say, knowing sleep is only a veil I can lift at will to step back into my bedroom — unto my anxieties. So by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve been “BiQil Mefcheting” throughout the night. I’m exhausted and out of sorts. A mute kicking and screaming, in the manner of Pinocchio refusing to take medicine, accompanies me throughout my preparation to go to work; through the bathing, and the doing of the hair and the making of breakfast. “Get up!”. “I don’t want to!”. “Take a shower!”. “But I don’t want to!”. “You gotta go to work!”. “Do I have to?!”. But more importantly, I worry about what the dreams meant. [If I should call home and get it out of Blen]. If I am ever gonne have the kind of sleep I used to have back when my inner-clock nudged me up after 8 hrs of sleep, on the dot. Should I start drinking myself to sleep? Should I ask for prescription pills? Is it going to age me horribly?

Or is this all part of my punishment for walking away? Is that what she wanted? Am I letting her win?

“You worry too much”, I am sure you’d groan, “Your sub-conscious, fertile ground as it has always been for fear and doubt, is playing tricks on you”. “It’s all the pressure of life in America. The purgatory feeling it gives you, the sensation of hanging in space. The reason why you can barely concentrate on chapters of books nowadays. Why your bones want to jump out of your skin every time they failed to answer when you call back home. Your deep-seated fear of having let your family/your country/that ideal – promising – young you down – by not going to school; or not working 16/hrs a day; or not marching out and setting yourself apart.”


But we can never know for sure now, can we?!

October 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm 5 comments


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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