Blog · Random Thoughts

This might be about love and it might be about jazz. But there’s definitely a hate message in there

There is a certain type of people I meet every day that are dead set on making my life a bit more difficult -the type that blindly tries to direct my writing with complete disregard towards the idea that maybe this person and I might want different things out of life. I don’t know if they think they are actually being helpful because I feel like there is a certain way to be critical with reason but there is also a way to be a total douchebag who just says stuff to feel smarter and this person might be legitimately smart but there has to be a way to be smart without having to be a douchebag. If you know who you are, you my dear, are an ass.

Let me just say this blog is not here to make you happy, dear reader. It’s here to help me think without fear and maybe if you’re ስራፈት, you get to think too.

***

Sorry that’s the end of my hate rant but I think it was necessary. If I had ten readers I might have just lost two of you. Goodbye.

Now on to the love part.

Earlier this evening, I joined my family out for drinks and some live Jazz and because I have to work on something tonight, I settled for coffee instead of beer which means I started thinking about stuff like how people claim to “understand” jazz music. I mean is it like mathematics because there’s a lot I don’t get there either. And I’m ቀላዋጭ when it comes to music. I can listen to a wide variety and be carried away. Instrumental jazz sets a certain mood for me. It takes me to places and eras I’m nostalgic for even though I’ve never been. Jazz with lyrics makes me want to fall in love.

The place we went to was packed with older people. As I rushed into the place shaking off the evening cold, I was preceded by a well-dressed couple maybe in their late fifties. I followed them with my eyes for a while. While the band was playing, the two didn’t talk with each other too much but they sat with their bodies tilted towards one another. They watched the band silently still but the man kept time with fingers on his arm rest. There was a ring there. She had one too. When the band was taking a break, they ate their dinner and drank their beer and wine smiling and talking in low voices. I couldn’t hear what they were saying; they could be brother and sister, they could be two people having some scandalous affair, they could be two broken people planning a murder for all I know but my society has conditioned me to see this and think cute old married couple out on date night. And while I have never liked the idea of marriage for myself, this made me a little envious. Like it’s the stuff of professionally happy people (as opposed to the other crowd I belong to, the professionally pissed off)

When my peers talk about love, they always make it seem like there’s some far-off time where we’re all married to someone because they’re dead sure there will be someone but for now they say we’re just looking. I never want the idea of being in a “real relationship” to be something you find after casting a net hoping people fall in so you catch several fish at once and throw each one by one back into the river before you find that One. This is the case for a lot of people I know and it’s also what most people try to convince me it should be like and no shit, I’m afraid to be near these people for some reason.

I don’t like to talk about love (or even write about it much) because if I talk about what I think about it, there could be some nodding heads. I’d be right in theory and I think everyone just wants to be like that old couple I saw tonight; sharing something beautiful and not actually having to be doing much to convince other people of just how much they love each other. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve misunderstood these two people and ended up drawing some image in my head because I’m angry about people making a big deal about valentine’s day which is a solid week away and I’ve let what someone said get to me. Or maybe I’m serious.

There’s so much that goes into this and it hurts to think of how so many of us are way off just because we think have to be cool. Or perhaps because we are busy protecting ourselves. And rightly so.

***

P.S. I lied about the ten readers thing. WordPress is a big fat liar most of the time but I’m pushing at close to 4k views. So yay?

P.P.S. There will be that one well-wisher who will try to tell me I can do better. Please don’t.

Blog · Random Thoughts

Random Sandwich of Ordinary Heroes and Language.

I’m the queen of random. I know.

***

I’m not a big fan of self declared motivational speeches. Because I find that the speakers make everything look so simple and things are usually very far from simple. Like Prairie from The OA said to her therapist, “where do you find the confidence to tell people how to live their lives?” But also I’m the type of person that might find life motivation in a most generic soap commercial so perhaps something is off there.

Nonetheless I paid too much to attend one of these things the other day and one speaker noted something that isn’t really new information and should be obvious but I guess sometimes me going to these things isn’t a total waste because we-me-I need to be told the obvious again and again for immediate response. I think it’s totally unfair to be charged that much money for it but yeah. So what this guy said was how some of the people making extraordinary things happen every day, are people very much ordinary such as those sitting in the room with us and I looked around the room where this speech was being held and I saw people I’ve come to know (either through my mad stalking skills or through other circumstances) and I felt very much better about myself and I felt….I think the word is able.

****

The idea of language and culture was a trendy controversial issue a while back….or maybe I was just one of the few on the alleged “wrong side” and down below is a link of the article I wrote for my old blog. Right now I’m here to add to that because I have learned of a few new things.

I’m the type of person who gets annoyed when people say “egg-zender” to say Xender or “peace-phone” to say psiphon. These apps do not want to be pronounced correctly here in Ethiopia. In the same manner, Amharic speaking people who say እስራስ to say እርሳስ are some times the people to go around being annoyed by people mispronouncing English words.

I won’t lie. I get a certain high over pronouncing words correctly, be it Amharic or English. My love for words and order is no lie. But I heard somewhere, I think it might be a vlogbrothers video but I can’t be sure and I don’t wanna check, that language has no obligation to be beautiful. It just is what it is. It’s a way to communicate and even though the mispronunciation or misuse might be very, VERY, annoying to the likes of me, unless it has created certain fracture in the communication, it shouldn’t be.

When my toddler cousin uses body language and certain gurgles to ask for what he wants, I understand him and I don’t go around complaining about how he should be wording in sonnets when asking for his water bottle. I had a friend back in Mekelle who spoke English, Amharic and Tigrigna very fluently and yet when she talked to me she did this thing where she mixed and modified all three. I understood her perfectly all the time and I didn’t find it annoying. But when she mispronounces እክርቢቶ as እስክሪቢቶ,even though I knew what she meant I tended to get violent.

I’m still struggling to understand why this is because I have reached a personal understanding that when communicating, you could straight up be doing a rain dance type thing and if I understand what you mean, we good. Maybe it’s the illusion of an interrelation of proper grammar with elitism and good manners. I don’t know.

Certain rules for language are there to help the communication. When writers break them just to be special and not to make a point, this writer immediately becomes someone I dislike. Certain rules for language are not ribbons to make it pretty. They’re a part of the communication to avoid misinterpretation. Like that story about how the difference between “Kill him not. Let him live.” and “Kill him. Not let him live.” got a man killed. If you break these rules, you risk ambiguity and being misunderstood.

***

I remember learning in my Amharic class back in high school that language by it’s nature is born, it grows and evolves and it dies; also it transfers. Many get frustrated by the replacement of certain phrases for words that don’t sound or appear Amharic because there is a certain feel of entitlement. These people think they own the language.

Hmm.

I think this is wrong on more levels than one. Because some words that we use with entitlement thinking they are ours, aren’t ours at all. And because here in Ethiopia, Amharic might be the state language but we have more 82 local languages that have been enter-woven and transferred throughout the years. When you speak Amharic, how much confidence do you have to say, “I am speaking pure Amharic.”?

I learned from a Hank Green video the other day about loan words that are words one culture takes from another and modifies because the speakers of the borrowing culture can’t pronounce it right and there is a lot of that in our languages and perhaps in languages everywhere because like I said above, language by its nature is transferable and fluid.

Words like ዶሴ (French word Dossier meaning record), ካልሲ (Italian source word calzini meaning socks) or አስኳላ (also Italian word Scuola for school) and many more that I can’t think of right now have their sources somewhere outside of what is considered the mother of Amharic, Ge’ez. I also remember learning of words that we use as Amharic but actually came from other Ethiopian languages like Sega which came from somewhere south and I’m embarrassed to say I can’t recall exactly where and sadly that’s the only one I can remember but I know for a fact that if I think harder I could come up with more.

So I guess the sense of entitlement that most of us feel over our language is heavily misplace and a little unnecessary.

I work with language right now and I have found myself improving greatly with using English and Amharic separately yet interchangeably and I have learned to appreciate the fluidity and all of the above. It’s also made me a little crazy because I sometimes find myself contemplating it’s nature.

***

They say don’t meet your heroes. They were onto something.

I used to have this tendency to stick myself onto people who do things, people who create and people I like and admire. That was not only because I get to show off about how I “know” them but because I always think that I can learn from them. Sadly, there hasn’t been a person I admired that hasn’t disappointed me.

This is because people who do something only appear to the public with whatever they have done in a clean and marketable manner. When they appear to the public, their hair is done, their collars are straight, their pictures cleaned and filtered and their pleasantries practiced. During the creating process of their great works however, these heroes are a mess. They’re insecure and they can be mean. For the most part they’re very ordinary.

I had to think about whether I should decide to know the ordinary mess of a person in his/her everyday chaos close up so I could learn or if I should keep my distance to keep worshiping the filtered image of my hero. *shrug* I don’t know.

P.S Thanks for reading. Here’s the promised link for my old blog.
Let’s Play the Blame Game

P.P.S  I like legitimate feedback.

Blog

I learned of the term Trans-Black this week…WTF internet!

This entry is gonna bite me.

My latest obsession has been a “trans-black” internet character that goes by the name of woahhvicky. I say character but she’s actually a very real 17 years old girl from Georgia, USA that claims to be black in spite of not actually being black. The internet is furious about this and therefore by definition, she’s getting a lot of attention. That girl is famous for this!!

The first time I saw her video, I didn’t see anything wrong with her wanting to be black. I mean we’re out here straightening our hair and wearing makeup colors made for lighter skin. But then I got to see more and more and I started to think maybe she’s just a little sick in the head…..and then I saw more and saw that she was playing racist stereotypes like making a video about how black people can’t swim and she pats her head the way girls with weaves do to scratch their heads even though she doesn’t wear a weave, and there’s the way she talks ratchet and I don’t know why it was necessary to talk like that. There were multiple videos where she was caught lying about funny stuff like being pregnant but still calls the babydaddy a “virgin” and I thought maybe she’s just a little juvenile and probably thinks it’s funny so I went ahead and watched more and more videos (I need a life I know) and I figured this has to be an organized conspiracy made to teach people some kind of lesson. This can’t just be someone trolling the internet for fame. She’s very pretty. It wouldn’t have been that hard to make people like her….

I’m writing this here after having snapped myself out of my woahvicky marathon like damn the internet is not a healthy place….and now even I have started to talk like her but I guess no one would be offended if I talked like that. Because I am in fact, dark of skin.

Let me jump off topic for a second and tell you about a poem I heard on the December Edition of the Poetic Saturdays event thing (I guess I learn a lot going to that thing. Ima have to go more often. ) It was a poem performed by iTimothy telling the Addis Ababan youth, “sorry but you are not my nigga”. He wrote this in annoyance from people here in Addis learning that he was from the US and calling him “My Nigga” He tells in his poem about how the term “My nigga” holds a whole different concept to him and his and how there are different meanings to the term “nigga” and how you don’t just up and dub yourself “a nigga”. You earn it somehow.

I was right there with him nodding and applauding and trying to think of times I have used that term or heard it used in the mainstream. It’s not even that it’s a bad word or a cool word but because it’s just not here. There’s a whole controversy over what the word carries. People, even here in Addis, sometimes get offended by it because someone with lighter skin used it to identify someone with a darker complexion and there are others who feel entitled to it just because they are black. And then there are those who believe that the term doesn’t apply to us Ethiopians at all because the term “Nigger” was used to refer to black slaves and they believe that Ethiopians were never slaves which is technically not true because Ethiopia wasn’t officially put under colonial rule but there have always been Ethiopians sold into slavery basically throughout history…..even now apparently. So I’d conclude that if Nigger means black slaves then there have been Ethiopian Niggers.

So there you have it.

Now the wave of controversy over the idea of “cultural appropriation” was a thing a while back and I don’t remember how exactly but it had something to do with Beyonce wearing something for a photo shoot and the internet reacted to it in outrage.

The term Cultural Appropriation or is it misappropriation? Are they using this first term sarcastically?  What the hell? …Anyways the idea of it according to Wikipedia….I’ll just put down the whole first paragraph down in quote:

 is a concept in sociology dealing with the adoption of the elements of a minorityculture by members of the dominant culture.[1][2] It is distinguished from equal cultural exchange due to the presence of a colonial element and imbalance of power.[3][4] Cultural (mis)appropriation is often portrayed as harmful in contemporary cultures, and is claimed to be a violation of the collectiveintellectual property rights of the originating, minority cultures, notably Indigenous cultures and those living under colonial rule.[2][5][6] Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural exchange, as well as misappropriation, can include using other cultures’ cultural and religious traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and songs.

That is why everyone is annoyed that woahvicky wants to be black so much and she’s not even saying she “wants” to be black. She’s saying she absolutely is. She’s saying she found through an ancestry checking site that she’s 25% black but she’s always known that she was black deep down; that she’s “black in her head and in her heart.”

I struggled very hard to understand why everyone was pissed off that she wanted to be black so bad. I mean if she wants to think that she’s black, let her. But the girl is annoying. She seems to be the type of person you want to hit with a chair when she opens her mouth to talk and she’s a very weird kind of racist. I guess it annoys people when some with better privilege try to bring themselves down and create their own type of struggle to try and sympathize? And I say this because I found another “trans black” woman, Rachel Dolezal, who’s been receiving quite a bit of heat after being outed as a white woman posing as a black woman. This woman was a civil rights activist, mind you, and she was a prominent figure wanting to appear black.  Some people were frustrated. I don’t get it.

Clearly the woahvicky girl, as some people on the internet put it, is a rich person who in no way receives the racism that black people receive. In fact there’s a video of her being outraged that a doctor wanted to know why she ticked ‘black’ on her form when she was clearly white and she and her friends were really angry that he tried to call her white when she clearly identifies as black. They called what he did racism. She’d gone to this doctor to “make her butt thicker than it already is.”

What I really wanna know is if it’s all about the fact that certain people, and not just black people, but all people who are a minority and face a certain type of struggle, feel insulted when someone pretends to know what they’re about? Does cultural appropriation (misappropriation) really belittle these struggles? Or is there some other sophisticated side to this that I am not seeing?

I read an article the other day by someone I know through conversation and he’d written about how Ethiopians have tried to exempt themselves from that “black person” idea because the racism is mostly a color thing and a culture thing. And while I disagreed with some points he raised or maybe just the way he presented his ideas, I think I understood what he meant about Ethiopian people needing to just accept that they are black. You can’t remove yourself from it, colonized or no. People see you and they still see a black person. He also talks about some racism he’s faced because of his skin color even right here in his own country by his own country men.

So I see all this on the internet and no lie, I have given myself a migraine. Now I’m wondering what to think of The Legend of Tarzan. And I’m thinking if how the way you were raised, if you were raised culturally black and have faced discrimination for having been raised that way, do you qualify as black then even if you’re white? Or do you absolutely have to have black skin?

Where do Ethiopians stand in all of this? Where does cultural appropriation begin and end? Does that work for Africans using another Africans’ culture or have they left Africans out of this concept?  Should cultural appropriation even be a thing?

Can we complain about African Americans using the real African culture as being cultural appropriation? How about when it is used wrong? Does anyone remember the character of an Abyssinian Solomon Ogbai in Davinci’s demons and how they dressed him like a west African? (even though my cousin argued with me that they could make the case that he just might have changed garbs on his way north from Abyssinia to Europe.)

Ethiopians are African people who, like mentioned in that article I talked about above, sometimes struggle against internalized racism in our own country and sometimes live with the confusion of whether we want to act like the white westerners or the black westerners. And so I have no idea what the African American struggle is about because that’s not exactly something that has happened to me and I some times talk like woahvicky. Do I get to be mad at her?

Some would deny the effect that globalization has on them but what the fuck internet?! I blame you.

P.S. My questions in this article are neither rhetorical nor are they sarcastic (for the most part). Because I am an irrelevant blogger who doesn’t even try to be better, I know I don’t have a lot of readers but please help me understand this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Blog · Random Thoughts

Hypocrisy: Generally

I’ve been scolding myself to not talk about social issues that touch various people because I want people to read my blog, but I also don’t want anyone to read it. It’s because I am a coward. Why lie?

***

I really like learning through conversation and I do that by holding serious conversation with opinionated, knowledgeable, interesting people. I ask questions and I listen. Sometimes these conversations turn into a competition to appear smarter than one another and other times ideas clash so much, and disagreements occur. It might become difficult to separate a person’s idea from the person and I personally start to dislike that person heavily. I read somewhere in Dan Brown’s new book Origin (which I recommend by the way) that conversation is better than consensus. We learn so much just by talking to each other and it is not necessary that we agree to learn. The quote rings tremendously true to me. Still I can’t help but feel very badly about people and the way they carry their ideas.

Hypocrisy is a thing I feel strongly about. I have been on the internet a long time. Facebook does a very good job of reminding us just how many things we have been wrong about or how many things we once argued for with such shoulder shaking confidence and feel differently about now.

Hypocrisy technically means being that thing you are telling people not to be or it might also mean thinking you are superior to others when you really, really aren’t. Technically it means being a total contradiction of something you claim to stand for.

I wonder if that sometimes happens because one doesn’t really know what one believes or because one does not understand what that one claims to believe.

I’m writing about this now because when asked at some point I wasn’t able to pin point properly what I disliked about people. Upon deeper contemplation however, I have learned that this is one reason. And I have a crippling fear of becoming that which I dislike.

It is said that understanding people and the reason behind what they do will make you less likely to hate them because you know they usually don’t mean harm. Understanding the motives to the most minute details justifies it somehow. Because you are human, you empathize. I found in the book I am reading now titled, Existentialism: A very short Introduction a quote by some French novelist Madame de Stael that goes, “To understand all is to forgive all.”

Trying to understand the motives of other people worked for a little while for me. I try to be practical as much as I can so I tried it. It made me realize that people aren’t really evil. They can be selfish sometimes. They can super sadistic sometimes. But weirdly enough, I don’t hate that about them as much as I thought I did. I mean I really really hate selfishness, but I can tolerate it. What I really do not like, I realized, is when people cover it up with something else and when people lie about their intentions. What I’m trying to say I guess is that if you’re a jerk who can admit that you are a jerk, I can live with that.

I was talking about Charles Bukowski yesterday and the old man is reputed as being “a real author” because he “writes his truth”. I personally think Charles Bukowski writes brilliant poems with the mere intention of offending people, but I’ve never known the man so that’s wrong of me to say. When approached by people to be less of an asshole in his writing, he openly talks about how he will not change his ways to be accepted but it’s obvious that he knows his ways are a bit vulgar and doesn’t hide it. There’s also this poet whose name I didn’t bother to grasp. He writes in Amharic and he performs at the Poetic Saturday thing sometimes and his poetry almost all the time cleverly starts off with words that instantaneously appear dirty and end up meaning something mundane. Like for example one poem was titled ‘ንፋ”. The poem continues pretending to describe sexual acts instructed by the woman but then turns out to have been about a woman telling him to sieve flour (ዱቄት መንፋት in the most literal sense). The first day I heard this guy I was like, “why the hell is he being a dick on purpose?” but then I heard more of his poetry and later dubbed him the king of puns. He does it on purpose and it offends people; it made me feel stupid and super dirty minded that first time. But then I learned that it’s actually his intention and he is unapologetic about it. I don’t like him, but I’ve learned to respect him just like I don’t like Bukowski, but I have deep respect for him too.

I wanted to think that people should always try to be good and I had convinced myself that I can only like people if they know that they are bad and if they try to be better. When I was younger I was an advocate of embracing who you are and being unapologetic about it. It was probably the result of being impressionable to the famous teenage dramas of that time with their teaching to ‘be yourself’.  I practiced what I preached too but I was also crying myself to sleep thinking about how I deserved better from people. Now, I’ve learned that your life and everything you do almost always touches someone else, so you have to be cautious of how you want to affect people while you are “being yourself.” or just pretending to be.  If you don’t care how what you do affects other people, then you must also be ready to accept the back lash you receive from it. If you aren’t trying to be better for them you shouldn’t expect to “deserve” what you want from them.

It’s something I see everywhere from the way people dress to the way social media is utilized and I’ll even admit that I was once part of this hypocrisy. We’re always talking about how our body is ours to dress and that we do it for ourselves and not because we want to affect other people, but it stands true that we might still draw attention to ourselves with it whether we intended to or not. And we were always claiming that our social media is our private personal space to do as we please with when we share information that enrages and triggers other people. Other people do get to unfollow you and remove your bullshit from their feed which is mostly advisable but they won’t do that. People are drawn towards bullshit and other shit they disagree with to feel better about themselves by putting it down. (See the most recent internet fiasco featuring non other than genuinely stupid youtuber Logan Paul. I will not post a link. Google it if you want.)

If we’re talking about living together in tolerance, I think we should be putting other people into account when we do anything . If we really do not care and out intention is to trigger and offend,  I can learn to live with that. At least don’t lie about your intentions and be prepared to take the back lash.

 

P.S I am not immune to hypocrisy. In fact as a growing confrontational writer, I am a number one candidate. I will not hate you for pointing mine out to me. In fact, I’ll be indebted to you….and then maybe I’ll go out of my way to find something on you too.

P.P.S I am reading “Existentialism: A very short Introduction” very, VERY slowly even though it is a really slim book. However, there will be an entry about it.

Blog · Writing

A Brush With Greatness

I am out of things to complain about because after praying and hoping so hard to care so little, you sometimes get what you ask for and you find that you still hate everything and you still have opinions that will probably offend literally everyone around you. But for now, maybe I should keep my opinions about people to myself or you know, until they really ask for it.

Instead today I’m going to do an entry of a memory I found in an old notebook. I used to self-teach from creative writing text books from my school library throughout middle school and high school and I don’t remember which textbook this was but there was one that gave assignments so on most weekends that was what I’d be doing. A writing assignment that I’d give myself like a total nerd. This note is from the ninth or tenth grade I think and the title of the assignment was titled A Brush With Greatness. You were supposed to write about a moment in your life where you felt that brush of greatness.

Here goes…

Mr.Million, my English teacher was marking our English exercise books. So that naturally meant that the class was chaos. And I was a part of the chaos. I’d crammed myself into a desk with my two best friends Maria and Abigayel, a desk meant for two but now that the teacher wasn’t looking had to host three kids. I was forcing them to read the latest novel I’d been working on. I’d developed the beginning of a story line the previous night and the excitement was still fresh in my mind so it was the most brilliant thing ever and my best friends were going to read it if it killed me.

I’d written it in my phone and cellphones weren’t allowed in school so we had to hide it in one of our bags and huddle all three of our heads together to read. I don’t remember at what point Maria jumped over me to run to the teacher with my phone but she does reach the teacher’s desk before I could stop her and hands my cellphone over to Mr. Million.

In addition to the panic of having my illegally present cellphone given to a teacher by someone I’d called my best friend for a good five years by then, there was the sheer terror of the thought that he just might find the phone unlocked and open to an unfinished novel I’d written. It might have looked like I was confident about it sharing it to my friends but at that time they were people I’d trust with my life. They were cool. My English teacher wasn’t.

Maria presented my phone to Mr. Million and he starts reading at which point I wanted to find a rock to crawl under and die. But it was a classroom where we don’t have rocks so I used Maria’s oversized bag instead. She doesn’t return to her seat right away probably to avoid my dagger eyes. I was so angry I would just zap her if I could.

Finally, Mr. Million looks up and calls out my name and I refuse to come out of my hiding place. He calls out my name a second time and this time all gruff and serious like I was in big trouble. The class does love watching someone get in trouble so the chaos settles and in the silence Mr. Million asks me over to his desk. I swear at this point I’m thinking about how I’m going to lose my phone and about how I’m going to have to deal with our mean principal who has a no excuse policy for bringing cellphones to school. My phone was the newest Samsung Galaxy which was my pride and joy so loosing that to the school basically seemed like losing my arm.

When I get to the teacher’s desk, Maria, like a fucking four-year-old, gives me a raspberry and goes back to her seat. Smiling up at me, Mr. Million hands me back my phone and says, “Read it to the class, please.”

My eyes bug out and my throat clogs but I can still be stubborn enough to say, “No.”

Once again, he does the face that reminds me just how much trouble I am in; and I remember this very distinctly because it was a nervous thing I did back then, I took three steps away from him and muttered, “No.” There was a long staring contest going on here where he tried to keep looking angry and me determined to just say no. “I mean it,” he says sternly once more. “Stand over there and read it to the class or_”

Well the rest was implied so I face the class. My two best friends do the honors of making sure everyone was quiet and paying attention to me. My teacher gets out of his desk and stands behind me to make sure the class was listening and says to me, “Go on.”

I hiss some more death threats to Maria and I begin to read a story of a girl who finds difficulty going back to school after her sister was killed. She tries to stay brave and avoid pity from her friends and her teachers even though it’s difficult for her.

When I finish reading, I look up and there is a small resonating silence where I see the shine in my classmates’ eyes all looking up at me before they all break into applause. Some stand up to clap and there were appreciative murmurs that follow me as I race back to my seat behind my best friends. I grab Maria’s bag to hide under once again and here Mr. Million gives some speech to the class about creativity that I didn’t hear a word of because I was so overwhelmed by the big hero he was making me out to be. There were hugs that I did not understand and knowing smiles that my best friends gave me. I was still a little mad at Maria but she told me that she was proud of me. I didn’t know that that moment of silence that followed me reading a very crappy, unedited and amateurly sadist piece of work that I never went back to, would be something I’d call my brush with greatness.

So thinking back to that time now, the standing ovation and all the admiration might have just been something humorous to the kids who did it. Those who did stand up to clap where the clowns of the class and the fact that some of it might have been straight up BS wasn’t lost on me even then. But it wasn’t really about them liking what I did. It was about the fact that I actually did that.

If I could find that unfinished story that I read then, I’d finish it and share it here but I have no idea if I still even have it.

I am not close anymore with the girls that made that moment possible for me and I don’t think they’d actually read this because people who know me very well don’t really read my blogs. But if either one of you happen to come across this, I really appreciate what you did. Thank you.

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so yea…

You know, I’m like one of those hypocritical writers that spend time thinking about writing and talking about writing rather than doing actual writing. After having put down “writer” as an occupation a few times, I don’t feel so good about myself now. I don’t write. I guess I had imagined my writer’s life to be a frenzy of caffeine induced all-nighters, flying paper, tapping away at the shining keys of my laptop getting friction burn on my finger tips because of how fast i’m going and my computer glasses sliding down my nose so I have to push them up every few seconds; boxes and boxes of cereals just scattered away all over the place because that’s usually as much sugar as I can handle like a fucking elderly.

Well look at that! My imagination hasn’t died. My will to write is drawing it’s last coughing breaths though.

One of my cousins, not a writer himself, keeps telling me that writing is easy. A lot of people say it is easy and I ask myself if it comes so easy to them, why they do not do it. Why let it go to waste?

***

I open a blank page to write my blog entry every day then I just feel my heart break very loudly and I close the window again. I can’t even will to open my already started entries.
I don’t even know what this entry is.
Well I do. It’s me procrastinating on plenty of other things I should be doing. Or maybe it’s free writing. I guess I don’t know.

***

Well since I’m here let me tell you about a mistake I have been making. I was thinking to make it into a whole blog entry but at the rate I’m going with the not writing, it’s unlikely I’ll sit down again to generate legible thoughts on it.

So you know about that slogan thing that I posted about lord knows how long ago, well that made me feel a bit like I might look like I was trying to become a voice of self-love or empowerment or whatever. That’s not true. “Give Yourself Permission to be Weird” I thought up because I’ve been noticing at a lot of places that there are sort of unwritten rules that people follow and react weird to if you don’t follow. Like for example drinking coffee with a straw (I don’t do this but I read somewhere that it decreases the likelihood of staining your teeth from the coffee), taking the long way around when there is a perfectly good shortcut, wearing different colored socks, wearing a hijab even though you aren’t really Muslim, not wanting to be labeled a feminist…

The truth is, you can’t really stop people reacting to the strange little things you do, some of which you’ve justified for yourself either because you’re pathetic or because you’re awesome, but you can allow yourself not to be made to feel bad or awkward because of it. As long as you aren’t harming other people you aren’t doing anything wrong. Putting on loud crappy music and disturbing everyone or passive aggressively provoking people and claiming that you’re just embracing your weirdness do not qualify. There you’re just being an asshole. There is a fine line.

***

The other one is something that my cousin said to me after I got into a major fight sometime ago. What resulted this fight was basically me hoping that someone else knew better than I did, and you can call that my practice in being humble gone terrible wrong. I’m never trying humble again. Sometimes I think we want other people to recognize that something is wrong, but we don’t act on it because even if we are right we don’t want to be right alone.

To my messy pissed of annoyance at how humanity could be so self-serving, blind, yet still live together, my cousin quoted, “Common sense isn’t that common.”

I think I might have understood being humble to be something completely wrong from what it is. My trial to be humble did not work because while I was waiting for someone else to know better, they just didn’t.

I think some people might actually be better than others not due to genetics or whatever but because they have better judgment. Because they try to be.

This makes me look pretty egotistical but I’m not trying to make myself look like the epitome of ‘good’ which is not the message I am trying to send really. It’s not true either. I once wrote my friend into a small novella that I never finished and I killed her character before the story even began. I’d say that’s pretty evil.

But jokes aside, I think we can sometimes be led to inaction because we take others to know better than we do which is sometimes wrong and in spite of all that ’embrace the weirdness’ talk I think we should always, always try not to be assholes on purpose.

P.S  I’m sorry. I can’t explain the feature image.

Rhyme and Prose

HUMBLE: YOU

People are really annoying, aren’t they?
They make everything about them
While in your little bubble,
It’s all about you.

You’re your life’s protagonist
And the author too. You decide what’s real
Inspite of God and the Universe
You’re the hands on the steering wheel.
.
.
.
Right?


People are really annoying, aren’t they?
They’ve all got their eyes on you
They barely ask how you’re doing and even when they do
They never stick around for long enough to listen to your answer
But they’ll still have the balls to have an opinion about your behavior.
.
.
.

People are really, really annoying, aren’t they?


You are really annoying, aren’t you?
You’re telling them you stand for them but really that ain’t true
You’re walking at the head of the fight
Claiming how you do it for the smaller man
But that makes you the hero don’t it?
Even when it isn’t
It’s still.
About.
You.

“I don’t do it for them I do it for me”
Lies!
Because hell yeah sometimes it’s about them too.
You wore that shirt clean and crisp so they don’t turn their backs
You don’t really mind the crinkles
All that foundation you hid under
Hoping to hide your insecurities forever,
You don’t just do that for you
You do it for them too!
Because even when that pimple’s out of view
YOU’d still know.

You say you don’t care what they think of you
And you say you love them too
How does it work when their opinion of you has absolutely no value?
.
.
.

Sometimes you’re different.
And you know it.
But do you know about the fall of Lucifer?
He learned he was special.
He looked up and saw no one there
He figured that made him superior
He didn’t realize
a fall from that high could break even him because there’s always, always one mightier. God made you special, yeah, but he made about 7.5 billion more.

So, take a moment sometimes to stand in front of your mirror
And ask yourself, “who do you think you are?”
I’m not really condemning you
I don’t get to.
Still,
these people are annoying.

So love thyself somebody’s got to.
Once in a while it has to be all about you.

But other times,
it’s about them too.

 

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Blues of Desperation

Getting to work every morning takes me past a loud and smelly Kasanchis to get a taxi to bole. There’s this growing guilt, a bit of misanthropy (It means hate for humanity) and an immense amount of annoyance that I feel as I get in line for a bole taxi and slowly progress in this confusing early bega weather that can’t decide if it wants to be hot or cold, the sun an entity alive bid on driving my thin patience to hell. In all this, there are insistent zombie like creatures, victims of circumstance and capitalism, clinking their coins as they waddle to fast people in their fast lives, necks tilted to trigger compassion and wrists shaking to ask the vague, “ስለ ሚካዬል…?” so you figure out what they mean from having heard it your whole life and throw a broken cent and wait for their gratitude. You don’t know what they do with the broken cent but you wish you could do more, you wish you could ask them what they really needed so you could save them all. But you’re hit with the knowledge that you actually can’t and probably won’t see it to the end.

Perhaps it’s that people have gotten used to seeing this everyday, the sympathy is almost completely gone. You see a woman breast feeding her child in the street and maybe you take a moment to think about your own life,  your own mother, you become obligated to throw something her way. It might even be a weak smile that she doesn’t understand. A blind man trips you and you’re late for work; you feel annoyed and you feel guilt and then you feel annoyed again.

I realize this is taboo but I don’t think anyone realizes how many of them there are and I think everyone lies about the sympathy they feel towards beggars. “Yes it’s very unfortunate but that’s just life” happens to be the  general mentality observed. If you’ve been walking around with a foreigner, fear would be the appropriate feeling. I have never witnessed such desperation in my life. You’re supposed to feel sorry but in the pestering that follows you, the constant repetition of noises, a reminder of the poverty and misfortune that exists in the world that somehow you’ve never had to endure. It’s like a never ending beep that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, wondering about the shame you feel asking for taxi fare when you’ve spent your allowance on cellphone cards and then wondering about other types of shame in asking a complete stranger for some spare change that you’re sure he has because look at the shirt he’s wearing, look at his phone, that fellow definitely has money to spare, but you with your misshapen limps exposed to trigger compassion ….

In the moment, I don’t feel a lot of sympathy. I feel restless and violated.

 

It’s not a nice idea to have in one’s head. It breaks your heart yet it makes you feel good and dirty and so evil.  We don’t remember to feel gratitude for the most common things we have in our homes like indoor plumbing and water taps yet we get annoyed by the armless gangrene legged old man with no  one to help him go to the toilet especially when he doesn’t even have a toilet….

Billy Holiday doesn’t help my case as she wails in my headphones.

“Them that’s got shall have
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child
that’s got his own, that’s got his own
Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own,
that’s got his own…

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I have a slogan now

This is not one of the long entries that I have been struggling to finish for the past few weeks. That one has a whole serious theme to it and once I get back things I’ve lost such as common sense, prioritizing skills and a sense of time, perhaps I’ll finally finish and upload it. I might even edit it. Coffee is not having the desired effect on me these days. It just goes right through me so I’ve kinda stopped drinking it. It’s been feeling like a waste of my time. I need something stronger. Recommendations are welcome.

What I am writing now comes from a quasi-frustrated and wholly exhausted plane of existence. I mean I forgot my phone at home today which never happens. Ever. I might have even lost it. I generally don’t know where my phone is at this particular moment. This is a very odd plane of existence indeed.

All my favorite vlogs have little catchphrases or closing lines such as ‘wear your seat belts’, ‘please, don’t break the law’, ‘either way, have a lovely day’ or even  ‘don’t forget to be awesome.’  All my favorite blogs however, don’t upload at all.

 Closing lines or slogans are not that important for blogs. Especially if not a lot of people read them. I tried brainstorming around the time this blog launched and I came up with some lame stuff. So I let it go…until now.

I don’t have a lot of readers and I don’t know how to stress why the fact not a lot of people read my blog is a good thing. I liked my other blog better than this one. I mean I didn’t hate life any more or less but I did it in a completely different way over there. One that wasn’t censored by the knowledge that people I love and respect read it and judge me silently in the privacy of their Facebook pages. Sometimes they go into full panic mode when they meet me in person and realize I am actually not a very pleasant human being or when it’s my friends and family members realizing that I’m not the type of person they thought I was or would like me to be.

I’m finding myself  in situations where I have to talk about my blog and explain the whats and whys which I can’t even do properly. Sometimes I just wish it were a secret. I cringe when I am introduced along with my blog and I’ve had to defend it from people who’ll put it down not because I think it’s good but because it’s mine. It isn’t really meant to go anywhere or be anything. For the past couple of years, it’s just been something I do in a little corner of the internet. I do take it seriously (sometimes) because I like writing for it but people hear the word “blog” or “writer” and automatically expect you to have done great things which is ironic since writers are often branded as a profession for the coocoo and the broke. And because I’m just marvelous with my decision making skills, I’m not even the smart/selfish kind of writer with like an unrelated degree I can show off. It is not easy explaining why I’m not trying for my blog to do better. The tricks to doing better are not a secret to me either. I just don’t believe in them. I don’t think it’s that difficult to create a momentary hoorah with writing. But it’s at the price of integrity. I’ve learned lately that “the real world” happens get easier if you allow yourself to go with the flow.

I can’t believe I am saying this to the internet but I might be broken. Not broken like sad. Broken like the way one breaks a barbie doll on a table but in the feels. I don’t understand so many things that should be easy to understand or maybe everyone else is just pretending to understand. Or maybe I do understand it and don’t process it right.  I don’t know.  It’s a little egoistic or self important if I said I was different because we are all different and we aren’t.

The world has done a very good job of convincing me that something is wrong with me. Notice I don’t say us because I have no business including anyone else into my internally digested drama although I’m pretty sure being misunderstood is within our essence. I don’t think people are better because they are different from their surroundings.

Well anyways I will not try to explain too much this slogan because I’m not caffeinated enough. And although it’s a term that’s been ricocheting in my head for the past few months, I’m not going to analyze and beat it.Here it goes:

Give Yourself Permission To Be Weird

P.S the ‘but don’t try to be an asshole’ is implied

P.P.S If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you have to confirm your subscription to get email notifications. Also don’t be shy to use the “Get In Touch” button. It helps my ego.

P.P.P.S I won’t even bother with a feature image. I’m tired.

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Growing up Part Four: “The Real World”

I have been a self-aware adult for a while now and walking into this scary morass called “The Real World” has not been pleasant. It’s nothing like anything my past has prepared me for. I know so many people have walked this life and yet I cannot begin to fathom how they survived it and how they survive it still every day.  

It’s very unhealthy to think of things like looming death and its arrival without one accomplishing one’s goals and dreams. It’s very unhealthy to think that there isn’t a point to having goals and dreams with so much going on out there in the world, and there’s also a huge blow in the stomach that comes with one feeling like they’re not only good potential going to waste but that one might have never been as good a potential to begin with because the way “The Real World” actually is, is something quite horrible. 

I was a by-standing witness of a brutal shoving scene to get a seat in a taxi to travel the distance from Ura’el to Kazanchis. Upon seeing that, I wanted to sit down and cry because of how people can be like that for something so, so simple.

When I talk about not getting along with people and about being a bit of a sore thumb around my community, people often assume that it is a ploy to appear weird and interesting. These sometimes line crossing comments have actually made me wonder if I have an undiagnosed mental issue that my family overlooked somehow because we’re all very much alike and it just looks to me like there’s some big secret to survival that everyone knows except for me. 

I started thinking back to times when I was learning to deal with life and I realized that there was very little that parents, guardians and teachers had to teach me about “the real world”. While most of my peers are privileged kids, somehow we’ve all had to figure it out on our own. I’ve always had the idea that ‘grownups’ had the obligation to prepare us for what was to come. When my old high school friend’s mom refused to let her daughter live away from home upon graduating from high school, I considered it a pretty weird and unfair thing for the mom to be doing but today it occurred to me that perhaps she’d known all along that her daughter just wasn’t ready to be out there yet and it might have scared her that she would never be. Last week I was having lunch with a group of friends and they started talking about how they’d teach their kids about the birds and the bees. For the life of us, none of us could remember anyone having such conversations with us in a formal capacity. What education we got, we received from our very shy teacher in the fourth grade where he kept blushing every time we laughed in juvenile humor.

It wouldn’t be very fair for me to criticize the generation that raised mine because that generation was also brought up by a conservative one that didn’t really utilize honest communication and openness to prepare the next one for “The Real World”. At this point in time, most of us know that there are certain measures to take in raising a kid such as proper and humane ways to punish the kid for doing something wrong, when to provide what materials for that kid to learn of the outside world, what evils to shield the kid from and how this kid should carry him/herself in front of others. People have a tendency to just turn out okay in spite of everything if you’re looking at the bigger picture but I can’t help but think of those who become rapists, slave owners, serial killers and writers and how much of the awkwardness and conflict in the world is caused by the lack of understanding how “The Real World” works or worse, by thinking one does know.  

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair in saying that grownups didn’t raise us well. I made it seem like they didn’t try at all. They did. We’ve all been told of the basic ways to be a good human being either at school, at church or at home. We’re all told that we shouldn’t lie and cheat, that we shouldn’t be rude to others, that we shouldn’t kill. There were certain basics that I imagine someone sometime must have shared with us; to be kind and hardworking, to help others and to be honest, to love our enemies and all that stuff…. Upon walking this “Real World” lately though, it feels like a place completely different from the one I’d lived in as a kid. The same adults who’d have told me to be honest and hardworking now let me in on a little secret.

It was all a lie. It’s everyone for oneself. (That was my attempt to be gender neutral haha. The actual term is “everyman for himself”)

Every time I’m angry about something the rest of the world considers petty, there would be an adult around to tell me to understand the way the world works and that I should get with the program. The way “the real world” works has nothing to do with the basic rules such as not lying and trying to be a good person. Every success is actually achieved by breaking all the basics and defeating everyone else.  

You may not have noticed it but you’re supposed to make friends but you’re not supposed to care what people think about you. They’ll be telling you not to listen to what people tell you.  You’re supposed to be honest but to also nice, to be yourself but also what you’re supposed to be, you have to learn but never make mistakes, there’s a heaven but death is evil… sharing what you have will probably make you poor because everyone will take what they can. If you let people know that you care about them, they will most likely go around feeling important and breaking your heart. It’s always a competition to appear better by not actually being better.

I know that this entry looks dominated by my cynicism but that just happens to be it and I am not lying. No one really says it out loud but in that taxi there can only be space for a limited number of people and everyone wants in. If you’re an idiot like me, you’ll get angry, maybe cry and walk that distance from Ura’el to Kazanchis but if you’re a winner, you’ll fight all those other people and take that seat.