Blog · Random Thoughts

Religion

I learned today that most of us think of ourselves as good people and it made me wonder what the hell gave us such an idea. After much spacing out during conversations and looking out windows, I thought that it might be because each of us have different ideas of what it means to be a good person.

I asked. A pious answer was given to me. I did not like it.

I’ve been watching Master of None. I think it’s one of my most favorite series right now. It has a lot of very good ideas, it’s funny and filled with some really cool cinematography though also some weird, questionable acting. But I’m no expert. I find that the main character Dev, a New yorker of Indian descent, is a very relatable character to us Ethiopians raised in a conservative culture because we are under heavy influence wanting to make our surrounding evolve into something highly resembling the western world while still rooted to own traditional values.

You’ll understand what I mean if you watch the series. I highly recommend it.

I saw season two sometime ago and the third episode’s idea stayed with me because it touched on an important point that I’d been thinking about myself. The episode was titled “Religion.”

Religion is a very sensitive topic that I have lately been trying to avoid. Unsuccessfully of course I mean watch me write a whole blog entry.

In the aforementioned episode of Master of None, Dev concludes his own religious philosophy by saying that it should be enough that one is a good person and that religion must be open to one’s own interpretation. So, he eats pork and doesn’t pray salat or fast during Ramadan because he calls himself “not that religious”. His mother becomes really disappointed by him and ends up not speaking to him. Then his father says to him,

“It’s not about eating pork, it’s not about the religion, it’s about you ignoring us not realizing who you are. You see, our parents raised us to be a good Muslim. When you went to school, we gave you a Quran. I don’t think you ever read it. When you act like this we feel like we failed you. Look man, you can drink, you can eat pork, you can smoke Mary Jane, that’s your business. But when you do it in front of mom, it hurts her feelings.”

Hurting other people’s feelings in the name of staying true to one’s own beliefs is something of a self-righteous excuse many present to being total pricks. The idea of being stubborn about one’s religious views also makes many feel somewhat superior to others which is ironic because many religions claim to preach unconditional love and being humble. I was raised in a very orthodox household. I know how important tradition is. It is very beautiful but I wonder if the smugness that follows from being good at following a certain rule is all that necessary.

In this age of massive diversity, a probable three out of four will have all different religious views and even in the same religion, different interpretations which tend to create divisions. And division is the last thing we want, isn’t it? It amazes me how some children have been so brainwashed to hate people of other religions.

I read a Wiccan bible once and I found this insanely interesting idea. The only real sin in the Wicca religion is hurting another being. While Wiccans generally respect nature and the circle of life, they are mostly vegetarians and live their lives worshiping nature and being grateful to it. Wicca is an ancient religion of nature commonly known as witchcraft. This is a very hated practice and deemed fraudulent. At this point, I am not interested in whether it is real or fake or if Jesus is lord or not or if there is a God or not. Belief, in my opinion whatever it maybe, should come by one’s own choice and be personal.

Being a good person is not about not drinking or smoking. It’s not about believing in God or not. It’s not being intelligent.

It’s entirely about compassion and empathy irregardless of whatever religion one follows.

Not being a good person is always an option too if one is willing to face the consequences.

P.S. The Shack by William P. Young is also a book I’d recommend. It changed my life to say the least.

Blog · Random Thoughts

The “I don’t care” problem

Caring hurts.

Things are more often than not, going to go sideways for us. Dulling out the feeling of concern and interest tends to provide a certain insulation to being hurt but we are not vampires in the sense that Damon and Stephen Salvatore are. We can’t just turn it off.

I might have mentioned how being careless has grown into a very tasteless trend I generally do not approve of a few hundred times. It’s actually because I don’t think it’s usually genuine. I think people actually do care about things and people but don’t want to be called out on it. There’s that issue of pride.

What I have come to learn is that every time someone does something messed up, instead of admitting to it and acknowledging that to a certain level it has fucked them up too, they resort to the customary response of ‘I don’t care.’

I also know that sometimes we take too many hits and develop that shell that twists up our caring parts(?) which is to say that yes, sometimes we genuinely don’t care. That seems like an enviable quality because these numb people are rarely phased and offended by things that other people say and do. Neither are they likely to hold back on saying things that might hurt other people so having a little less to stress about.

Caring wasn’t a quality I wanted to lack because I was under the impression that it is the right stuff to have to change things and people. I don’t know if I am technically wrong. I have seen it work for other people and while it often just made me an angry person, it also made me a bit more approachable I think. I am afraid of the type of person people become when they don’t care.

You might notice how open I have made the interpretation of the term “care” in this article. Make it mean whatever you want.

It should be okay that we let the caring go once in a while and take a selfish breath. Other people’s approval is a bottomless pit. But when we say to people that we don’t care what they think about us, we’re very often telling them that we don’t value them enough to care. “I don’t care” can get really personal, yo.

Blog · Random Thoughts

About Journaling

I was sitting at a café balcony doodling in a notebook the other day. This kid I know passing by sees me and comes over to say hello. He glimpses my notebook and says, “What are you doing out here? Writing in your diary?” Then he doubles over laughing like he’d said the most hilarious thing in the world. I don’t laugh. I say, “Yes I am.”

I wasn’t actually writing in my diary but I have never understood why writing in a diary is considered something to laugh at. After the guy left probably vowing to himself to never attempt a joke in front of me again, I sat down and thought about the whole thing. I even googled it. I learned a few things. I now know the actual difference between Journal and Diary.  A diary is a daily record of events while a journal is not necessarily daily entry. It might also incorporate more than a record of events. Things like poems, ideas, lists and anything really. There’s never a rule for these things.

The Amharic word for Diary is ማስታወሻ which if you ask me sounds too ambiguous.

I think journal-ing or writing in a diary, like literally everything else in the world, is deeply misunderstood. Many think of diaries/journals as a juvenile thing about crushes and hating mothers. When we think diary, we usually tend to picture princess themed notebooks and sparkly pens. I blame pop culture for that. It doesn’t bother me that people laugh, really. It bothers me that they don’t get it.

When I was younger, I thought I was going to go to university to become an historian. That didn’t happen and it seemed to me for a while like I’d failed. But it turns out maybe I haven’t failed because I have kept a very emotive account of my last eleven years which I believe qualifies as recording history and would make for an interesting piece of shit for maybe a hundred years from now. I know I would kill to get a firsthand record of one of my ancestors.

Stationary has always been my go-to gift. Friend talks about depression? I go and buy him a notepad. Friend is dealing with breakup? I buy her a cute diary. Cousin is graduating? I buy notepad and wrapping paper. Secret Santa? Notepad and more wrapping paper. If I were a psychiatrist, I’d probably just prescribe writing all the time…. I read somewhere that journals are sometimes used to treat sleep disorders.

Toni Morrison said in one interview that writing is a thinking process and I so deeply wanted to high five her through the screen but it is generally not a good idea to high five a screen. When people tell me some of the difficulties that they go through, I always tell them to go write it down in the most uncensored language they can manage if they want to feel better because I find that many of the problems we deal with usually just need a deeper contemplation. A regular writing habit helps in that area. Writing stuff down helps put the insane jumble of thoughts into order. Sometimes I recognize how things I can’t figure out come into a clearer focus once I have written them down. I know for a fact that I would be dealing with a very serious mental problem if I didn’t write often.

The most common excuse I get from people to not keep a journal is that they generally don’t think they have anything to write and that their lives aren’t interesting enough or whatever. I think of Anne Frank who lived in a hiding place with a bookshelf for a door for about two years in the time of war and still managed to find interesting things around her and in her thought process to write about. Like how she felt about the war and her relationship with her family members and a weird sort of crush thing she had with a guy. I’d like to think that many of us today have at least the luxury of going outside to see the sky. We all have a few experiences that will probably never happen to us again. Reading past entries after some time helps to see how far we’ve come.

You see, journal-ing is not juvenile at all. A lot of important people keep journals and although it’s usually not written intended for publication, when discovered it’s often found to have a lot of interesting ideas and personal philosophies that the diarists were probably too modest to share. It’s not just writing. I personally believe that records are really important. Perhaps that’s because I really enjoy finding records and think that we should maybe keep around cool, authentic records for the next generations to find.

Google says the earliest actual diary found goes back to 1605. We now live in the digital age where journaling has left the paper and developed into computers. We can make videos now, we can use blogs, we can use photographs. There is no limit as to what one can do with this.
If it’s not meant to be shared, we can always burn it after.

If you are interested in keeping a journal I promise you, you will not be disappointed by how helpful it is. The effect is not something I can quite explain. It’s something you have to experience firsthand.

p.s TIPS IF ONE DOES NOT WANNA SHARE: If you use a notebook, make the notebook as uninteresting as possible. You can’t have a glittery notebook lying around and not expect people to wonder what’s in there.
A friend gave me this next tip. To hide your private stuff on your computer, you can always put it in your recycle bin because not a lot of people will check there. Although, you have to make sure that you don’t empty it by accident. But then again there’s passwords.

Story

Peripheral

 

There was once a time when people fell in love because they thought they were good judges of character. A man would catch a fleeting glance of woman’s lustrous hair and her shiny red lips across a room and be convinced that she was beautiful and she would make a good wife because somehow he would just assume she’d be everything he’d ever wanted. He’d approach her and make small conversation over his glass of something strong. She‘d see his impressive negotiation with his liquor and the straightness of his shoulders and know he’d make a good husband. But mostly, the idea of being the object of his attention would overwhelm her and she’d instantly fall in love with him.

They’d look into each others eyes a lot. They would see something there. They always looked and saw something they liked.

He wouldn’t kiss her on the first day and she’d want him to but she’d tell herself that she’d say no anyways. He’d ask to see her again and she’d pretend to hesitate but she’d say yes. He’d worry too much about their date but whatever he does, she’ll find it romantic. This was a love story started.

I know I made it sound dull, mechanical. I’m a little resentful. It’s supposed to be beautiful, fireworks and all. It’ll never happen to me. There won’t be much for him to look into and like.

I met Danny online. I’m not very active but after he said hey, I lived almost exclusively in the cyber world.

My profile picture was a quote of a song. It was a Gerard Way Song.

We want television bodies that we can’t keep
we have battles in the dark when she falls asleep…”

He thought it made me sound deep.

We talked a lot, day and night. I could always count on an unread message from him. He was a busy student, aiming to become something big someday and make the world a better place but somehow, he always found the time to text back to me.

He opened up to me so well, even talked about the time his zipper caught his penis when he was 14. The old school janitor helped him with it. It was the most embarrassing moment in his life, he said. It had felt good when it shouldn’t have. She’d noticed and then laughed at him.

I didn’t tell him a lot about myself.  Just the basics, name, schools, siblings, parents.I could tell he was falling in love with me even though we’d never actually met. He’d ask me things and he cared so much about the most minor things like the time I told him I had a swollen lip, he spent a good fifteen minute surfing treatment tips for a swollen lip.

We both had separate lives with people and things to do but our private chat room was cozy and better. I read his texts like they were whispers in the dark and when he sent me four minute recording of songs he’d liked, it was like we had on split earphones, and we were lying head to head under my blanket. He’d send me pictures of his views sometimes. The view from his classroom window, from his favorite bar, from his bedroom window, from his bed. He wanted me there with him and I was. He was with me too.

The dreaded question came three months in. “I want to see you. Send me a picture of you.”

I said no.

“I don’t really care what you look like. I’d just like to think of a real face when I think of you.”

I said no.

“I swear I don’t care if you’re fat, skinny, black, white, blue. If you have a snout even. I just want to see.”

I still said no.

Three more months later, I agreed to meet up. I could only hug my pillow for so long. I knew it would be the end of it all but I hoped he would react so badly that maybe I would hate him.

We decided to meet up at a café in the city. It had an upstairs and it was usually empty before noon.

I wore a dress to show my pretty ankles and a leather jacket because I am deep. I didn’t try on much makeup because no make up could hide my little anomaly. But I ran red lipstick over my full lips, a tribute to all women of amour. I packed enough tissue paper and I tried to arrive before he did.

A thin boy who looked like he spends way too much time indoors sat looking out the large windows in the upstairs of the café when I arrived. He had on a regular flannel shirt above his regular jeans and regular converse on his feet. He was so regular, he was perfect.

His regular smile broke too fast and so suddenly that he didn’t have time to hide his surprise before it became offensive. For the silence that followed, I thought maybe I’d gone deaf too.

One eye might be enough to look into someone’s soul but if the other one is gruesome and blind, no one would come close enough to look.

Not even Danny.

 

Blog

Second Draft Woman: A blog entry

I always ask people about feminism and what they think it means. Some of the answers I’ve gotten sound like this.

“Feminism is an idea that empowers women.”

“Feminism means that a woman can do whatever she wants because men do whatever they want.”

“Feminism is an idea men created so they can get laid.”

“Feminism is about the social, political and economic equality of the men and women.”

“I don’t know. What’s that?”

….

Some people don’t think we need movements to help make women feel safe because they don’t believe it’s as bad as it used to be. Some do not feel like they’ve burdened women with too much sexism because they haven’t raped any one yet. The playful smacks and the name calling aren’t supposed to be a big deal. They don’t recognize that these movements have done bigger things like providing education and a voting voice because people around today, don’t see this as a major problem. The actual problems that have dragged on like giving a woman power over her own body and the chance to prove that she can earn equal to a man have been compromised and subject to bargain.

When feeling like they’ve been emotionally and sometimes physically abused in the smaller corners of everyday life, some women let it go because they don’t know what to do, because they want to be cool in front of their friends, because they don’t want to make a scene, because they don’t want to be called feminazis. Some don’t think it’s a big deal because they don’t let it go to their heads. It takes so much energy to be angry about it.

…..

The most saddening thing that I have come across perhaps, is that some women do recognize that something needs to be done but they sit around waiting for the organized heroes from some far away land to come fix it. They have given up and accepted the bad as a norm.

It comes a shock to many when I try to understand where some anti-feminist comments we deal with every day come from. It even straight up offends some when I reason with it and sometimes justify it. Some of these antis are friends and colleagues. They might sound all tough and unyielding when it comes to talk about this but most would never intentionally try to bring women harm. They don’t actually hate women or think that women are less. It’s just that their way of thinking comes from a conservative upbringing and they fear that tradition is being neglected and broken.

There’s a certain prejudice surrounding the idea of feminism and what it might entail. If one said loudly that one is a feminist, it reaches these people’s minds as a declaration of authority. Kind of like the way we regard the authoritative ideals of patriarchy forced on us. They assume the extremes. They expect censorship in what they get to say, the jokes they make and an unwelcome change to the way they currently live their lives. A woman leading, a woman taking charge. It might just be a twisted way of self-preservation.

If you want my honest opinion here, I think some are scared of what women are capable of and find that fiery rocket of an idea to be quite overwhelming. They are unsure if they are okay with how it affects them personally. When they call themselves old fashioned and they look for their mothers in the women they date or when they appreciate a more conservative type of woman, it gets translated into sexism by women liberals and anyone who believes that it’s wrong for a man to want a certain type of woman at all.

….

I have come to understand that Alex Abraham story (ሚስቴን አከሸፏት) that I’d hated so much in a context that it is something that can happen to one man and not an idea that should apply as text book to a whole generation. His character was within his rights to not want to stay married to that woman. There was a bunch more said that made me think that perhaps this story was written by someone who beats his wife and keeps her locked in the house because he doesn’t want her to go out to work. I hate how he projected the idea of the wife as the ultimate submissive. But maybe that was because I was trying to relate to it and found that I couldn’t.

We always make the mistake of bundling problems regarding gender equality to be one thing or another when there’s always more behind every tragic victim story. We always build our ideas stemming from these partially broadcast stories and what we think we know and understand from our personal, separate and totally different experiences. But really, every individual story is different to every man and woman.

….

The most recent hateful post I read said that we should stop playing victim and a lot more bull that offended a lot of people in that it made women sound like a soppy bunch and that was probably what the author meant too but I think I took something different from it. That we should be the heroes instead. It’s a huge mistake to assume that they would just hand us that freedom because we deserve it and because we ask for it.

Movements and activities with the label ‘feminism’ plastered in front of them are being swept under the rug because of the bad reputation that the label has. Everyone is so obsessed with the label that the good work is being forgotten. Able men and women are not doing as much as they can and should because they don’t want to be associated with a brand that’s been tainted with an anti-male propaganda. I think the organizational wars have made us miss the point. I’ll let you call me a feminist all day if it will solve a problem. It won’t. It shouldn’t be a ‘you dub yourself a feminist or you imply you want women to be societal slaves forever’ sort of thing.

….
I have only recently come to appreciate that being a woman can be quite a powerful state of existence. I no longer wish I was born a dude. I’m learning to hold my head up and my shoulders back when people notice that I am a woman. I no longer pull up my sleeves to wrestle a man who tells me that I can’t physically be strong because I am a woman. I no longer obsessively talk about all the shit that women have to go through every day to prove what a broken society we are because I am tired of being looked at as a victim. I don’t want my story to be that of disaster but rather that of valor.

Let’s just say my big mouth will be the death of me.

Self-reputed feminists have shaken their heads at me for not wanting the label of feminist and loud conservative anti-feminists have also shaken their heads at me because they thought I sounded too much like the feminists.

It’s nice that we are trying to relate to each other and understand each other to make standing together a bit easier. But not everyone is woke right now. Sexism is going to be around for a while longer.  I don’t think we should let it surprise us at this point. We should be squaring it off. I’m not a kill ’em with kindness type of person. Some of these people do not respond to a sense of morale unless it affects them directly. And yelling and protesting has only made things worse I guess because now they just see an enemy to fight against.

As individuals we should first decide if we want to be defined as “people that bad things happen to” or “people who fight the bad things that happen to them.”

Random Thoughts

Twitter Vs Newspaper

I have many nostalgic memories with newspapers. When I was small, my mom would bring some home so I could read the children’s column. I still buy newspapers when I’m in Addis in the summer because there’s just something about them. They smell good too. I’d steal a glass of wine and go to town on the Sudoku or I’d try to see if there is a job application that my very unqualified experience can qualify for.
I have never actually read the news on the newspaper.

While I could never make use of my twitter account, I do very frequently (understatement!) use the internet to find out what is going on in the world and compulsively so. I don’t use Twitter but I hear how it makes for an amazing journalistic platform turning the job for actual journalists into more of a redundant thing. I also hear it plays quite the role in reducing the fraudulent and un-transparent reports by journalists who’ll spin anything for a good pay. Social media offers a stronger freedom of speech.

I’d considered Journalism as a career path. Last year, I tried to gather information to see if I could maybe pursue it. I was discouraged. The statistics of employment I got from certain students and teachers were cringe worthy. It made me wonder where all those graduates end up every year. There is TV journalism and all that but it’s a very competitive market and let’s be honest, not everyone has a face for TV; or the confidence, or the strength of spirit for mild fame that doesn’t pay well.

Many blame social media for the fall of journalism. Everyone with a smart phone and a social media account is a journalist today. In fact, due to the internet being so vastly competent, the publishing market has taken a huge hit…in the head.

Our generation takes this fall of a certain beautiful medium a step further. Many of us would be caught dead before we, with sound mind and body, put on the news to watch it. If I, a young girl of this age, were caught sitting at a café reading the newspaper, I’d look like a super ostentatious ass hat. No one would believe that I picked up a newspaper to read it as an interesting piece of literature. It’s not just that no one likes to read stuff anymore. It’s also that no one wants to look like a grandpa.

I think newspapers hold a certain sentimental, cultural vibe thing. Walking around Stadium or Piassa, it’s common to catch middle aged men with their cigarettes and their newspapers on small café balconies. It makes me want to take pictures every time. A tablet and headphones just doesn’t bring the same feel although it’s definitely a norm we might start appreciating real soon. For the youth, all that old stuff is uncomfortable in the ‘feel like people are staring because I look like I’m more than I actually am’ type of way.

I think I usually end articles by yelling my opinions and pulling the thoughts into a single file of what I think the world should be like. I don’t have that today. I love social media and I love newspapers even though they feel like rival cousins in a long war for attention. Social media seems to be winning but dammit I hope neither one goes away.

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Suicide, Finding Meaning, and Being Unapologetically Alive

My friends and I came across an article the other day that said some girl committed suicide “13 reasons why” style. Forgive my insensitivity but I’ll admit I even did a little bit of my I-told-you-so dance as I recounted how some of them were refusing to see how that movie could give many with bigger and more painful problems an excuse to give up on life, how it could make many think of suicide as an option. I’d liked the book first because it had made me cry in public. I mean it was some powerful stuff. The movie series was more graphic with the details. I didn’t like it very much. In fact, so much of it was ruined for me. I probably won’t be watching season two.

The article started a whole conversation with my friends. Confessions were made. And we talked about how everyone must have thought about suicide sometime. Childhood and naivete were such gifts. I’m sure many of us were so hopeful about our future. We imagined success, love and magic in it. But now I hear that many of us really just want out.

One guy in particular told me that he thinks about killing himself when he doesn’t feel like there’s much of a purpose in life. But he ends up forgetting the idea when he thinks of his mother. She’s still naïve for him and she still believes that he has a purpose. Many will think of so many painful reasons to want an out and the reasons probably feel justified.

There are many of my peers going through difficult things every day. I know that so many of us are barely getting by and I am not being melodramatic here. It’s a fact we all know to be true. But being sad and hurt and actually admitting it isn’t very sexy unless it’s used in this very tactful way to trap lovers who’d be attracted to damage because they think they can fix it. You can’t really talk about some of the shit that makes you feel hopeless without someone comparing their problems to yours and if they feel like theirs is bigger, making you feel like a drama queen. I’ll tell you the theme of one the best books out here, Perks of Being a Wallflower. The fact that you have problems less urgent than world peace or sex trafficking, doesn’t make your problems of say, a bad grade or irrational fear of balloons any less of a problem to you.

Growing up has exposed us to such horrors in life that we’d really rather not face.  No one will hold our eyes during a gruesome car accident, no one will fight our personal battles for us because we should be able to, no one will be protecting us from brutal facts like corruption, rape or murder.

We’ve all at some point in our lives felt cheated by life, like it’s all meaningless, a one way road to the ultimate demise, like something is wrong with us because we don’t feel good enough, like we aren’t wanted and like we are lonely because we didn’t get the attention we felt we deserved, like we are terrible people because we have done some terrible things, and so very hurt by the mistakes other people make. We’ve felt like our problems shouldn’t feel like such a big deal when there are worse things out there. I will not pretend to understand everything that everyone goes through but I do know that for many of my peers, feeling purposeless is a major problem contributing to thoughts of suicide.

My friend wasn’t having a very good week attributing to a break up and a bad grade. He was feeling hopeless and inadequate because he wasn’t fitting into the lifestyle he’d imagined for himself when he was a kid. Listening to him talk, I couldn’t help but think about how what he was saying really sounded like our parents, the government, society have decided what should make us happy. Like at this point in our lives, as campus students, we should be getting laid and getting good grades, living a certain Tony Stark type of life if you will. That is what is viewed as success and if what we want is success, marking the above requirements should make us feel happy and in tune. The fast life of partying, alcohol and too many people is somehow made synonymous with “living”. I am not making this up. This is based on actual conversations I’ve had with people.

One guy is highly against drugs. Like this person is basically afraid of them. His friend says to him, “You don’t know how to live.”

So I asked him, “What do you love to do?” Because I don’t think other people get to tell us how we live.

Thinking that we’ve lost purpose and letting other people decide what qualifications we have to fill to be told that we are ‘living the life’ makes me so angry. I don’t think that we are supposed to be drinking till we drop and howling at the moon. I don’t think that we’re supposed to be fucking everything in sight and getting all that cash money.

We might just be missing the point of what it means to be alive. We shouldn’t really be aspiring to do what makes other people feel alive. The music and the movies, and the books, they’re all super subjective. Those artists could be writing and singing about sex and alcohol and drugs and money all because it is important to them and it just might be the most interesting thing about their lives. We should be doing what makes us feel alive, doing what actually works for us.

I think staying true to reality is really important. I mean if the thing that makes you feel purposeless is that fact that you are unable to grow wings to fly, I honestly hope you get the right medications. Life is made with its limitations, but it isn’t without beauty or joy. And we find this in doing things we love. Little things.

And life isn’t something that happens sometime in the future. I, personally, have grown up tired of people telling me that there will be time to do the things I love later. I say life is now. These moments passing by. I should be alive now.

P.S I am considering guest entries for my blog. If you’ve been writing or if you have some cool stuff you want to share I’d be happy to share them for you here.

 

Amharic · Blog

‹‹በተጣመመ መሃል ቀና ሁኖ መገኘት እንደው መጣመም ነው::››

ባላፈው እዚህ መቐለ ታክሲ መያዣ 20 የሚሆን ሠው የጫነ ታክሲ ‹‹ሁለት ሠው! ሁለት ሠው!›› እያለ ይጣራል፡፡ መሽቷል፤ ንፋሱ ለጉድ ነው፤ ሶስት ሰዐት ካለፈ ለ3 ብር መንገድ 5ብር ሊያስከፍለኝ ነው፡፡ ‹‹አሪድ ድሂ?›› አለኝ ረዳቱ፡፡
‹‹አዎ››

‹‹አብዚአ ሀፍተይ››

ትከሻዬን እንቅ አድርጎ ይዞ ወደ ታክሲው መራኝ፡፡ የልቀቀኝ ትግሉ እንዳለ ሆኖ አሁንም እንደያዘኝ ወደኃላ ዞሮ  ‹‹ሁለት ሠው! ሁለት ሠው! አሪድ! አሪድ!››

‹‹የት ልታስቀምጠኝ ነው?›› አልኩት፡፡

የጋቢናውን በር ከፈተና ተቃቅፈው የተቀመጡትን ጥንዶች ‹‹ይቕርታ ትጠጉላት?››

***

 

መቐለን ላላያት ይገርም ይሆናል፡፡ ከዚህም የባሰ ይኖራል፡፡

ዛሬ ደግሞ ፀሐይዋ ከእሳት አትተናነስም፡፡ እንዲሁ እስከ አፉ የሞላ ታክሲ ውስጥ አልገባም በማለቴ ‹‹የአዲስ አበባ ቀበጥ›› ተብያለሁ፡፡ ሹፌሩ ትልቅ ሰውዬ ነበር፤

‹‹ከተማ ድሂ?››

‹‹አዎ››

‹‹አብዚአ ሀፍተይ››

‹‹ችግር የለም ተረኛውን እጠብቃለሁ››

‹‹የአባትሽ መኪና ሞጥቶ ይወስድሻል….›› ከዛ ሌላም ሌላም፡፡ ለረጅም ሰዐት ነው ያወራው፡፡

ኢትዮጵያዊነት መተሳሰብ፤ መተጋገዝ እንደአሁኖቹ ባለታክሲዎች ደግሞ በጠራራ ፀሀይ ላብ እየተጋሩ ተዛዝሎ መሄድ ነው፡፡ ‹‹መብቴ ነው›› የምትለዋን የትምክህት መልስ እንደ መሳለቅያና መተረቻ መጠቀም የተለመደ ነው፡፡

‹‹ተጠጋ››

‹‹አልጠጋም፡፡ መብቴ ነው፡፡››

‹‹ምን አይነቱ ፉንጋ ነው ባካችሁ፡፡ fresh ነህ እንዴ?››

ህዝቡ ይስቃል፡፡

የታክሲው ባሰ እንጂ እኔና ኢትዮጵያ በዚህ የመሳሰሉት ከተዛዘብን ቆይተናል፡፡

አልጠጋም ባዩ ህግ አክባሪ ሁኖ ሳይሆን ከማንም ጋር እየታሸ የረዳቱን ብብት እያሸተተ ላለመሄድ ቢፈልግ አዎ መብቱ ነው፡፡ እንዲያፍር መደረግ አለበት? በተፈጥሮ ህግ አክባሪም ቢሆን እንደ ሞኝ ነው የሚታየው፡፡ Rebellion እና ተቃውሞ የአራድነት ምልክት ስለሆነ፡፡

ህግን የሚጥሱ ሰዎች አለምን እንደሚቀይሩ ደጋግማ የምትነግረኝ ልጅ ነበረች፡፡ ታድያ በሄደችበት የሞላ የቖሻሻ ማጠራቀምያ በካልቾ የመምታት compulsion ነበራት፡፡ ጠዋት ጠዋት መጥታ የምታፀዳው ሴትዮ ትበሳጭ ነበር፡፡ ማንም ሰው የተሻለ ነገር ኑሮት የአሪድን ዶርም ለማፅዳት አይቀጠርም፡፡ ህይወቷን የባሰ አስቸጋሪ ማድረግ ለኛ ከባድ መሆን ነበረበት፡፡

ህግ ስንል ህገ መንግስቱን ምናምን ብቻ ሳይሆን Exit በሚል በር ከመግባት ጀምሮ ማለቴ ነው፡፡ በዚህ ዙሬያ የሚሰሩ vines በጣም ያስቁኛል ግን አንድአንድ ህጎች ለምን እንደተቀመጡና ማንን እንደሚጎዱ ማሰብ የሚያስፈልግ ይመስለኛል፡፡ ህግ መሆኑ ይቅርና ጉዳት እንዳለው ስናስብ ባናረገውስ? በBadassery እና በassholery መሀከል ምን ልዪነት እንዳለ የዘነጋን መሰለኝ፡፡ Badasses are fearless. They are heroes. Assholes just break rules to break them because they can.

ልላው የማይጥመኝ አባባል ደግሞ “Rules are meant to be broken” የሚለው ነው፡፡ No! Some rules are there to protect people.

ራስ ወደዱ ትውልድ ብለውናል፡፡ ከክንዳችን ያለፈ ማሰብና መውደድ ስለማንችል፡፡ ርህራሄ (compassion) የሰውን ችግር መረዳት (empathy) በፍፁም ያቃተን ስለሆንንና የስንፍና፣ የበታችነት፣ የቂልነት ምልክቶት አድርገን ማየት ስለለመድድን::  ከዛም አልፎ ግድየለሽ ሠዎች እግር ሥር በፍቅር አስከመልከስከስ ስለደረስን፡፡

አንድ አንድ ሠዎች ላይ መፍረድ አስቸጋሪ ነው፡፡ ነገር ግን አብረን እንጣመም የሚለው ነገር አይገባኝም ‹‹በተጣመመ መሃል ቀና ሁኖ መገኘት እንደው መጣመም ነው::›› ያለኝ ጓደኛዬ ስለ መንገድ ላይ መሽናት እያወራን ነበር፡፡ ሌላው ሠው ሲጣመም አለመጣመማችን እኛን ጠማማ ማስባል አለበት ወይ? ሁሉም ሠው ስላደረገው አጉል Democracy ሊሆን ነው ወይ? ገደል መግባት ሙዳቸው ቢሆን ‹‹Normal ነው›› ብለን ልንከተል ነው ወይ?

የሚገርመኝ irony ህግ አጥባቂነት ነበር የconforming society ተከታይ ያስብል የነበረው፡፡ አሁን ደግሞ ተገልብጦ ሁሉም የለየለት rebel ለመባል ይሯሯጣል፡፡ ግን ለመባል ብቻ ሆነ፡፡ ለመመሳሰል፡፡ “የተቃና” ለመሆን፡፡ Assholery.

Rhyme and Prose

Bohemian Heart 

The other day,
I dreamed of  a little cabin
with mud and hardwood walls
and old fashioned neon orange light bulbs
hanging from the ceiling
on thin, long wires.

You smelled of pine and raindrops
and you danced with me
to the beat of our bare stepping feet,
A charged tango
We were comets with shimmering tails of light
that ever happen once
before they disappear.
Our finger tips always just barely touching
like we didn’t want to see
if we were real or not.

It made me think of a time when
I used to tell myself stories before bed.
That was before my dreams learned to spin into nightmares
Back when I wasn’t avoiding my pillow for fear
of conjuring people I’d forgotten
memories I’d suppressed.
Back when I was sure that I’d see you in the morning.

Secrets were sweet
Smiles brighter
hands were real and sparks would cackle.
No touching for fear of starting a dangerous fire.

But when no one was looking
the hugs were long.
Our neon shirts lit like flames
and pine trees burned to ash.
We waited on the summer rain
to wash away the debris.
And ringlets of scars around my wrists
from where your hands would linger
during hikes up muddy hills
we carried each other over.

Arson is a crime.
Comets tail away from the sun
And time is a thin long wire…

My grandmother taught me
to riddle through my dreams
and to be weary of them too.
I wish she could have also taught me
not to play with candles
and how to write
better poems about you.

From what we’ve discarded,
I made a tame roaring fire.
Because in our cabin up the hill
I found a small flickering ember.

Blog

The Murky Fraud of An Education System We Cling To

It’s almost the end of another school year and our instructors are feeling ultimately more superior and entitled than ever.

It’s been said by many that school makes us stupid. I don’t know if it actually makes us stupid but I do feel stupid sitting in class and not knowing what the hell the teacher is talking about. And there are times when it even feels like a straight up orchestrated attack on our ego when we do study and understand several things and then the one question that comes up in a test carrying the bulk of your grades is the thing you did not anticipate.

I love to learn and as odd as it may seem, I sometimes even enjoy studying. The hard part always seems to be getting started. Once I’m in, I may get obsessive. Learning is truly a euphoric experience and school always seems to dump it down to dull instructions hissed through the teeth of men whose minds have been sharpened into a box.  It might seem like I’m justifying my personal failures to the mess the current education system is. I absolutely am.

Many people cry themselves to sleep over this. It’s not uncommon for kids to sometimes have a sudden manic fit on campus sidewalks or to see girls being carried to church because they’ve “been possessed.” Churchyards crawl with students when exams are coming up and people attribute the loss of common sense in campus in a word so redundantly used, it has somehow lost its meaning to me. Tension.

If you went around any Ethiopian campus and asked people if they want to be there, a very solid majority will say no with absolutely no hesitation. And out of this very solid majority, maybe half has other things they could and want to be doing; passion, ambitions. The rest just don’t know what to do with themselves.

In a speech my former boss gave one time, he compared passion and security saying that the thing that must always come first in Ethiopia, is security. Passion must always come second. The number of people who can blend the two and live a somehow fulfilled life is very small. That is, say people who are passionate about electrical engineering and studying the field happily hoping to be employed and fix real life problems with it. What he said has stayed with me and is probably one of the reasons I have convinced myself that I can do chemical engineering. Another reason is an advice given to me by John (a lecturer friend of mine.) When I was a freshman, I was baffled by how boring many of the classes were and I think when I came to university, I was hoping for a more inspired crowd. Like this was supposed to be the real world and people in university were supposed to be working hard to change it for the better. The university scene has been oversold by clever marketing and people who have never been. It’s really a dull group of confused people who don’t actually want to be here. I went to John’s house at my aunt’s suggestion and I told him about how this engineering is not my cup of tea. He sat me down and presented me with a number of options that involved me changing my field to what I actually wanted to study or even changing cities. The options sounded really good. But he also told me his own story. He wasn’t happy by his placement in university either. He’d always been passionate about philosophy but he was placed in the language department. Somehow, he recognized that all the fields are interconnected and in spite of everything,  he managed to work up the ladder to a point where he is now a PhD in Philosophy.

Now three years later, I’m pushing at engineering and having joined chemical engineering, I’ve come to find something I’ve always been passionate about too. I’ve always been the ultimate tree-huger and if I graduate in the environmental engineering stream, I could be a licensed tree-huger. It’s not just me. I’ve seen many of my peers go through the same thing and come to be inspired. One time my mechanical engineering friends learned about how the touch screen works and they were explaining it to me with such passion. These were kids who did not want to be mechanical engineers in the beginning. Another kid who openly hates school came to realize through mechanical engineering that he could develop on his love of cars and make a career out of it. There are many more.

I have said before that I have big respect for people who just up and walk out of the institutionalized university life. There’s much consequence to face related to society being a real shit and the government being a real ass about taking you seriously without a degree. It’s even worse if you’ve been kicked out of uni because you know that even your friends will be making an example of you and you’ll be the subject of many tasteless jokes and coffee ceremony gossip in your neighborhood. To avoid this is the main reason uninspired students stay on campus. That disease called ‘Tension’ that has kids screaming into pillows, and passing out during exams and in worse case scenarios committing suicide, isn’t really caused by the work over load and the lack of good time management but by breaking of one’s spirit at finding oneself in a place one does not want to be. I think sometimes what we really want to say is a ‘hazardous lack of interest’.

Last week during my reaction engineering class, the teacher asked a conversion question where the only thing one has to do is basically subtract 99 from 100. I’m not going to underline how ridiculously obvious the question was. And everyone knew how ridiculous it was but somehow, we were all in doubt. Everyone who was listening knew the answer. But there was fear to put thoughts forward as we avoided his eyes. It was a very insane thing for me to observe and I could see my teacher just enjoy himself with the terror he had caused with such a simple question. It frustrates me how intimidated we’ve become by learning.

Fixing the anxiety and the “tension” is as easy as walking away from it. There are many self-made entrepreneurs who didn’t go through this abusive time in their lives. It’s not one trying to relate to Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates but there are inspired learners and entrepreneurs rising in Addis playing out passion instead of security every day and they’re doing very well.

A girl once said to me, “One has to be in the system to beat the system.” And I think that is another reason we stay in the system. We think we can beat it. We all know that the system is broken. I want to know how to design reactions, but I do not enjoy my instructor laughing at me and playing mind games with me to make me feel stupid and sometimes these same instructors playing their unqualified teaching to my disadvantage and knowing that I cannot make comments without making an enemy of them. The language barrier is not even put into consideration at all. I have a teacher who says “Reese” a lot and I spent the better part of my class wondering what the hell a chocolate brand has to do with making glue and inexpensive starch. Turns out he meant rice.

It’s not that the problems are not recognized. It’s not even that there aren’t bodies willing to fight to right it. One example that I know of is the Qine Association for Promoting Education Quality (QAPEQ), formed by young Ethiopians studying abroad to promote quality education in Ethiopia. They go around schools and teach critical learning techniques. They hold forums to discuss how to better education in Ethiopia.

Maybe it’s a little too late to try a do over of critical learning and research in university. But I can’t help think that we should be considering what we are getting out of the position we currently hold. Out dated books and linear teaching methods, unqualified and bored instructors and the much, much lacking equipment is only a part of the problem for the broken system. The other part resides with us being unable to decide what is good for us and what we want. Think of why we don’t have good roads, why some buildings look put on the street back side to the front (sometimes they actually are), why we don’t like local products, why we don’t trust our doctors, why our commercials suck so very badly….

In a nutshell, it’s because we have many uninterested professionals. We like to blame government placements and we do so rightfully. But I haven’t met anyone convicted for not going with the placement.