Sunday, March 18, 2007

changing my glasses

my cousin recently wrote and said that if you change your perspective, it changes your perception.

i don't enjoy being cheated. not many people do. so in a feeble attempt to ensure i only paid 65 cents instead of one birr, i explained to a woyala (taxi helper guy) that i was only going tinnish weudefit. did i still have to pay one birr like he was saying? he smiled and waved me in. when i got out, he told me "don't disappear". sure he was hopped up on chat but hey, i'll take what i can get. it made my week actually.

the other thing that made my week was being part of a radio program called Revolutions per Beat. every other wednesday from 10 to midnight, i will be your host of some kick ass moosic. every week night at that time is revolutions per beat albeit in amharic (perhaps gimash english) but i'm sure you'll enjoy listening to good tunes. so if you don't have a radio, get one.

i'm gonna post a bit of a schedule here because i think it's so exciting to hear familiar, good music. music is essential for the heart and the brain. especially any opportunity for air guitar.

mondays - global fusion (world music)
tuesdays - the breeze (jazz and blues)
wednesdays - alternative wednesdays (rock, pop, some country)
thursdays - riddem and spice (reggae, roots)
fridays - beat connection (hip hop, funk, rap)

i hope with all the punctuation it didn't make it messy. it's been doing that lately.

there's a tentative website too.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

we're not going anywhere

Ethiopia is a strange place. Sometimes I wonder if it’s this country that’s changed me or it’s my own reaction to unfamiliar circumstances. I’ve always pushed myself to be self-reliant but here I find myself hesitating or all out refraining from just stepping out the door. I’ll be home for hours on end – reading, washing dishes, watching a movie – and I think to myself that I should go for a walk, get some milk from the store, visit friends. But I don’t. I can’t. The second I step out from my house I know it won’t be easy. And just the fact that I want it to be easy makes me feel weak. The language barrier is tough but not impossible. The looks and comments from other people are annoying but not harmful. Ethiopia Ethiopia no. The constant struggle is in my head.

One of my work friends is getting married today. She’s been here a short while and found her love quickly. It’s strange being a grown up. People around me are getting married, having babies. By association, that means it can happen to me too. I never thought I would get married and have babies. But now with the boyfriend, I have no hesitation. If only I’d though of the concept earlier, then maybe it wouldn’t seem so…so (ha) foreign.

Maybe we should just do one of those two things. Help me in my strangeness.

Monday, February 12, 2007

just call me el nifto

More than a week after I developed this snotty cold, I finally took something to help clear me up. And now I’m sitting here with a pounding heart full of anxiety. I have turned to the internet for a distraction (as opposed to choosing the more grown up options of washing my underwear or ironing clothes). But it’s not helping. Now I long for contact from the non-Africa world. I wonder what exactly is at the Erotic Arts and Crafts fair. I’d really like to see Magic Slim and the Teardrops…they sound fun but I hardly recognize any other band names. Walking down cold Bloor street in a puffy jacket and long scarf would be lovely right about now. Imagine – I could just leave the house, even if it’s dark out, on my own. Hear the crunch of snow under my feet. Pop in somewhere warm, have hot chocolate. Come home with pink cheeks, the cuffs of my jeans salty and stiff. And nobody in the street would notice me. Nobody would know of my secret bland adventure.

From one of my favourite books, Self by Yann Martel, after the main character has come back to Canada from traveling:

“I was amazed at how inconspicuous I was; by Turkish standards I was invisible. This played a good part in my high spirits. It was refreshing and liberating to walk down a street unnoticed, left alone with my day-dreams; to speak and be understood right away; to look around and feel a part of things.”

My comfort lately is the realization that if I had everything I wanted, including anonymity, this wouldn’t be Addis.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Of mouse and girl

We've got a mice problem. I'm hoping it's just a mouse (singular) problem but it seems unlikely.

I fear mice beyond snakes and spiders. I could see myself having a snake as a pet. We've had spiders as pets (well, at least kept the "cool" ones in a jar). But mice are different. They're unpredictable and they run so fast. Squirmy is the word. And they're dirty. By far the worst clue with respect to a mouse problem is the poop. It's a further insult - I'm here and I've defecated on your counter multiple times. Be afraid, be very afraid.

I guess the mouse problem isn't really a surprise. We're the ones in the mouse's territory. Just because we live in a house doesn't exclude us from nocturnal visits. And our house is hardly hermetically sealed. There are always insects of various kinds - big mindless beetles, etc. But a mouse seems a bit more purposeful - seeking out a crumb of food, gnawing on your toes. They mean to frighten you running out from under the couch at 3 in the morning while you're reading sordid tales (hi Britney!). Good thing your feet were up or it could have been Toeless Sara.

And so of course, I want it dead.

Happy New Year everybody.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

episode 76: the roommate

It’s Sunday. I’m washing dishes to the tune of Wolf Parade. Forgive me hipsters for I know it’s old.

Each dish reminds me of the new roommate. He’s a friend of the boyfriend but someone I’ve gotten to know through various chats at Parisienne on hot afternoons such like today. He’s occupying the extra bedroom “just for 6 weeks or so”. He’s a doctor so he often has duty which means he’s gone for over 36 hours and has great ridiculous gory stories to tell.

Last night he came home and wanted to cook. This is someone who has never been inside a kitchen, and he is not exaggerating. He is set on making some sort of milk soup he saw on tv. It’s an improvement over his semi-regular showing up at 8:30 asking what’s for dinner? The milk goes into a frying pan along with oats. Then he adds some canned pineapple chunks and dates. It’s a take on something I had just before Ramadan but with the fruit, it actually tastes pretty good. I have a few bites and I consider making my oatmeal with hot milk. And possibly dates.

He was going to stir the hot milk with one of the various chop sticks we have. He stirred hesitantly for a bit before I got him a wooden spoon. He put the chopstick with milk on it back in the drawer. I took it out. I washed it this morning.

Once he “washed” the glasses from our morning smoothie breakfast. He rinsed them and went to put them back in the cupboard. I suggested he let them dry first. “Where?” he asked with the bright blue dry rack directly in front of him.

He and his wife were laughing because the other day they came home and tried to boil eggs. It took them an hour and they used five eggs in the process. I smiled but really I was thinking, “there goes our Sunday morning breakfast.” And really how could I not know? There were egg shells everywhere. And cleaning that pot was tough - full of formerly foamy cooked egg.

And with each dish, I think how long it’s been since I’ve lived with a roommate. How the boyfriend isn’t a roommate because we’re the same person. How much I love him.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It’s been ups and downs for me. I was pretty excited to start school, meet the new teachers, meet my new kids. It all dissolved rather quickly when it became apparent the school is playing it tricksy. I’ve decided to renegotiate my contract in hopes I can stay. I always think things will get better. But in this case, it may be time to shift my loyalties elsewhere.

I’m pretty bummed to be a ferenj again. Today these kids bolted into a sprint towards me, only to ask for money. Not a “hello” or a “semesh manno”, just the cold hard truth. When I told them, “yellenym” and kept walking, they started making pig noises. At which point I called them, “baleuge”. And then I felt sorry for myself.

It was the first time I came home by myself after dark. I was definitely self conscious to the point that I took a contract taxi.

My mom is en route to China. I’m so happy she’s traveling to a place she never felt like visiting. Maybe next year, she’ll come here.

I had a kid go into a temper tantrum / meltdown today. Each day I vow never to have 28 children and that mine will be different.

And the boyfriend? Lovely.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

oh i hardly ever get sick here (me, two days ago)

"Salmonella poisoning is usually caused by eating eggs, milk, raw or undercooked meat, poultry and fish. The symptoms include; abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, chill, headache, vomiting, weakness. The symptoms usually appears from 4 to 14 hours."