Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Upcoming Events!

So, I’ve been bad about keeping this updated recently. That last blog about the accident, I wrote 2 weeks ago… yeah. So, sorry about that. Anyway, life is good. It’s Monday night, and we didn’t have school today, and we don’t have school tomorrow, because tomorrow’s Meskel, this big holiday. I love long weekends. And I have so much more to look forward to! This Friday there’s a Sandford party. Basically, the schools host parties and it’s open to kids from other schools; the money goes to pay for their prom usually I think. Basically it’s like school dances, except the way they used to be in middle school when we were joined with Redwood Day and St. Paul’s, etc. So, even though Sandford parties are supposed to be outrageously weak, we’re going. Betty and I are going to make the party happen haha. Or make it rock as Betty would say. She goes through phases of phrases that she really, really overuses. Her thing right now is making that rocker symbol with her hands and screaming in this annoying voice, “DUDE YOU ROCK!” Soooo, yeah. Also, a lot of people that we’ve seen recently have been like, “No, you guys have to come,” menamen, menamen, so hopefully it’ll be fun.

Then, not Saturday as in the day after the Sandford party, but the following Saturday, Sally and Veerle are having a joint 18th birthday party. They’re renting out Trend, this club in Dembel, this shopping mall, and it has a beach theme. I think that it’ll be OUTRAGEOUSLY nice, because Trend itself is pretty nice and hip, they’re getting a good deal for it, the club will be closed to the public until midnight, and it’s just going to ROCK! Haha. We’re going to cut the cake at 12. Yay, I’m excited! And I get to help and have this important position kind of, because I’ve offered my help, I’m friends with them and they trust me, and it’s their 18th birthdays and deserve to not worry and basically just have a blast. Ahh, it’s going to be incredible. And I’m borrowing this super cute shirt from Betty, but it’s black and doesn’t really go with their beach theme, but I don’t really care, so oh well.

Hmm, so their party is on October 8th. Then I have two weeks of school, and then I have a week off! YESSSSS! I don’t know why, it’s just a fall break. That’ll be really nice, except for the fact that Betty and Danny and Menna have school. Oh well, I’m pretty good at taking the public taxis now, and I basically know about how much it costs from place to place, so maybe I’ll just ride around by myself and meet up with people. Or maybe not. We’ll see. Anyway, I have a week off, and then the next week we have our tournament in South Africa! I’m so excited for that, but I can’t believe how soon it is! And then when we get back from South Africa I’ll be coming home in… about a month and a week… and a half. It’s kind of crazy, time is going to fly by. Betty and I were talking about having a party. I leave on December 16 to come home, so we thought maybe we’d have a party on the 9th or 10th for Betty’s birthday/goodbye-to-me-for-3-weeks. Haha, I kind of doubt that it’ll happen, but it would be fun if it did. And over spring break I’m either meeting my parents in Cairo and staying with friends of ours that live there (which would be incredible), or going to Seychelles (which would also be incredible). And then at the end of the school year I’m meeting my parents in Europe. OH MY GOD I LOVE MY LIFE. And I officially have a boyfriend. As of Friday, and I’m doing well in school, and I’m deputy captain (which is like vice captain) of soccer! Yay for me! So yeah, things are falling into place. Love always… g!

The Accident

A couple of Tuesday mornings ago we left kind of late for school. CMC is on the other side of the city in comparison to ICS, so we have a long drive. Abiy was rushing, shaking back his jacket sleeve to check his watch every five minutes, and muttering incomprehensibly under his breath. He normally drives very safely considering the way people drive here, but on Tuesday he was driving fast, honking more aggressively at the people trying to walk across the street, and swerving from lane to lane to weave through the cars ahead of us. He really wanted to get us there before school started at 8 a.m.

About half way there the traffic behind one stoplight was a bit heavier than usual. After waiting through two lights we were finally at the front and able to see what was slowing us down. I was kind of waiting for this to happen, not hopefully or expectantly, but considering the way people drive here, it’s inevitable. I’m surprised that it took me an entire month to witness the scene of my first serious accident. At least I didn’t have to watch it happen.

There had been a taxi van going in the direction we were heading in, and a huge olive green military truck coming in the lane perpendicular to it. The truck had smashed into the driver side of the van so hard that it was twisted and mangled like cars you see in the driver’s ed videos. Red Asphalt I believe the series is called. Anyhow, shards of broken glass lay on the concrete surrounding the van, marinating in pools of blood. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t help but think of the person driving the van. And were there any passengers? Speeding down the road the way taxis do, Ethiopian music blasting in your ears, and then out of the corner of your eye something large looming towards you. You turned your head and looked death head on, a monster of a truck hurtling straight towards you. Did you scream, or were you so scared that you couldn’t do anything? Did you say a fast prayer, or were you too focused on slamming on the acceleration to try to avoid the truck? Did you think of your wife or child or mother? They’re thinking about you. It’s not fair, it was so random, so pointless. It was just another day trying to get by, but for some reason…

After that Abiy drove much more carefully. At first I wanted to tell him to go faster because we actually would be late, but I realized that I couldn’t. It shocked him as well, and when we were sitting in the idling car observing the scene and waiting for the light to turn green, he quickly closed his eyes and crossed himself. For about two hours every day we are giving him our lives, and there is no greater responsibility in the world than controlling the fate of others’ lives. We arrived at school around 7:55 a.m.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What is Family?

What is family?

Family is sandwich hugs and snuggles when you need them. It is belting out oldies during traffic, and salsa dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner. It's arguing over how fast to drive t hrough parking lots and which movie to watch tonight. Family is spider solitaire, hearts, and cribbage. It is justifying the amount of money we spent shopping and teaching the boys how to dress. It is choosing between the usuals: Italian colors, Jambajuice, La Salsa, and Grinders. Family picks you up from school when a broken heart hurts too much to bear alone. It is buying you a whole chocolate cake because the bakery doesn't sell slices. It's Brett Dennen, Amos Lee, and Michael Franti, and Berkeley Tuolumne Camp every summer. Family sits on the steps waiting for you return, sleeps on your bed unless dad is in the room, and cocks its head in the most adorable way. It is yelling at you when you don't do the dishes, spend too much time with friends, and make.... bad decisions. Family is blasting rap and hip hop, and trying to bob your head in a "cool" way while driving a gold minivan. It is having a cold. It is crying good tears. Family is being able to love you enough to let you go. Love Invincible.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Gone Going...

And now they’ve gone. I don’t know really know what to feel. It was almost a twisted deja vous (however you spell it…) because my uncles had picked us up from the airport, and now they were dropping off. Except not dropping me off.

As we first went into the airport parking lot there was very little traffic, surprising since when we arrived it was absolutely chaotic. As my uncles were walking me back to the cars afterwards there was a lot more traffic. I thought about commenting on it, but it seemed pointless.

Every time my eyes started to well up I suppressed the tears. I wonder if I’ll cry. I wonder when I’ll cry.

Riding My Bike

So… my family leaves today. In only a few hours. How has a month gone by already? Will an entire school year go by just as fast? In a blaze will it all be gone, over, swallowed by flames in an instant? Each day might seem long, yet you look back and it dawns on you that you slept through it all. How many times didn’t I take advantage of possible moments with my family? I still feel, through and through, that you can’t truly savor the final moments; if you haven’t lived the way you wanted to up until that point, then you can’t really change it. However, those moments are still important. They are still potential memories that you’ve lost. If I could go back in time, I don’t know if I would do anything different though. I suppose I would have been nicer. But if you change the past you mess up the future; I wouldn’t be right here where I am now, as the person I am now.

I’ll miss my parents. Yes, it’s true, I really do love you guys. I’ve learned so much from them, as I know they have from me. More than my parents, they’re my best friends, my pillars of strength, constants that will always be there. They let go of my bicycle, let me pedal on my own and teeter along; when I fall down, they’re there to help pick me up, dust off my knees, and kiss my scratches if I really need them, but first they linger back and wait to see if I can get up on my own. But now that I’m riding on my own, what will happen if I fall down really hard? Now they’re not even sitting on the other side of the playground, chatting with the other parents but always sneaking little galnces out of the corners of their eyes. I guess at least they’ve taught me to always wear my helmet. And so it goes.

On a slightly different note, we ended up going to the Sheraton for New Year’s Eve! Oh my god, I was SO excited! It’s just absolutely inexplicable, there’s no way to verbalize how much I wanted to go. My family went, and Betty’s family went, excluding Menna because she’s too young, and we’d be out to late, menamen. The sad thing about Menna is that we had to lie to her since she’d be really upset that we didn’t tell her; nonetheless she found out, and was really mad and angry. 100 birr fixed that though, haha. It took SUCH long time for us to leave; it started at 7 p.m but we didn’t even leave until about 9. We were all just chilling in my room dressed and ready to go, listening to music, singing along, and Danny and Betty who are really good dancers were busting out some moves. We were just having a good time, and it was actually really nice.

Anyhow, the Sheraton looked incredible, it was beautiful, all lit up and flashing as if it we were in the midst of a war and gunshots and canons were flaring all around us. The cool thing is that I could have talked to Wyclef if I wanted to, he was standing in the lobby just mingling with everyone and taking pictures, whatever, but I didn’t. A lot of my friends did, but I guess I was scared or nervous to or something, but oh well, I don’t really care. But Danny, my “little brother,” did, and they were talking and he mentioned that he really liked dancing, so Wyclef said that he’d challenge him to a battle later on. Wyclef didn’t start playing until a little after midnight, and until then it was just various famous Ethiopian artists, so everyone was just mingling around eating and talking. Everyone was all dressed up and looked really nice, and there were SO many people there! Good God, it was outrageous, I don’t think that I’d ever actually seen a prostitute before, but the way some of these women were dressed…

Anyway, Wyclef started playing and it was really fun, everyone was singing along, some really, really drunkenly. That was definitely one scary thing. We were up in this front section, and obviously everyone wants to be up there because it’s right next to the stage menamen, but that meant that it was really jammed and cramped, and people didn’t really care. Eventually I just had to say, “screw it” and be aggressive myself, or else I would have been trampled; people will just plow past you, spilling their drinks all over you, stepping on your toes, and it gets really frustrating. On top of that, if you’re near men who have been drinking and you seem at all like you’re having a good time by dancing and stuff, they’ll get on you, holding onto your wrists and pulling you along with them. It was really scary, sometimes we would have to pull each other out or very physically push them off and yell at them and stuff. It was very scary, I’ve never been in that position before. But I digress, something absolutely incredible happened. At one point Wyclef was talking into the microphone and said something like, “I met a little boy, about 12 years old, named Danny, who said that he could challenge me dancing. Where is he, come up on stage Danny!” WHAT THE HELL, RIGHT?! You’d never think that something like this would happen! You wouldn’t think that a world-famous celebrity would remember or care about some random boy that he met before a performance. But he calls Danny up onto the stage, and in front of HUNDREDS of people has a dance-off. And Danny, an amazing dancer, holds himself SO well. On stage. He dances. In front of a huge audience. Not to mention this is televised. He’s 11-years-old. It’s basically amazing. I can’t get over it. I’m so proud of him, and happy for him. It’s amazing.

Nothing Really Interesting

Hmmm, well, where to start? I don’t really have much to say. It’s Thursday evening, 7:47 p.m., and I had volleyball until five, ate dinner, have already finished what little homework I had, cleaned up my room (a little bit), and have nothing else to do. I’m also outrageously tired. No joke. I think that I could actually fall asleep right now, and it’s not even 8 o’clock. This getting up around 6:20 every morning, going through a full day of school, plus an hour and a half of sports, plus homework is really tiring. Parents think that we have it made, no real responsibilities, life is easy. Yeah, right. Granted, we don’t have families to provide for and bills to pay, but it’s no breeze. We get worked hard.

Anyhow, this Saturday is the Ethiopian New Year. I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to go to the Sheraton (it’s SUPER nice), because Wyclef Jean is coming. For those of you who don’t know who Wyclef is, download Perfect Gentleman, Gone Till November, 911, and Something About Mary. It’s expensive though, so I doubt Betty and I will be going, which is fairly disappointing. But oh well, I suppose at least it’s not the end of the world.

Tonight my parents are having dinner with Sally’s parents and Betty’s parents, and Mattios is sleeping over here. Tomorrow after school I’m getting dropped off with my parents and we’re going out to dinner and I’ll be sleeping over. They leave on Sunday. I can’t believe it. How has a month already passed by? Time flies when you’re having fun I guess, but it also flies when you’re living. Oh, and time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. Yeah, you gotta think about that one, right? But anyway, I digress. I can’t believe that I’ve already been here a month. In three months and six days I leave for home. Oh, my hair is in braids! I got extensions. I really hated them at first, just because it’s very different, and it was hard to adjust, but now I’m really enjoying them. It makes life so much easier, because I don’t really have to do anything to my hair. I can shower when I get home in the evenings after sports, and wake up a little bit later the next. There are definitely advantages.

Ok, well I just wrote three paragraphs of nothing, so I may as well just end here. Nothing really interesting, just an update of the blah blah blah of my life right now. Love always…

Monday, September 05, 2005


It’s Friday night, and despite the welcome back dance at school I’m at home. However, it sounds much more depressing than it really is. I just didn’t feel like going. I had dinner with my parents, came back to CMC and walked around the compound with Betty, hung out with some girlfriends that live here, and now here I am typing. Besides, tomorrow Betty and I are going to go out and be gone all day. And despite my absence at the dance, I’m so surprised with how well and quickly I’m adjusting. Sure, I have these moments where I space out and find myself wandering down Telegraph and having a smoothie in Montclair as if I never left. But as I was telling a girl earlier today, it’s not that painful, I-need-to-stick-my-head-under-a-pillow-because-I’m-so-sad-and-homesick feeling; it’s a poignant ache somewhere deep inside, a happy memory, an everlasting love. It’s actually so much fun to meet new people, and I’m getting along really well so far.

I’d say that the biggest problem I’m having as of right now is the classism. Last night after I ate dinner with Menna and Danny, I started clearing my plate and Menna told me that I really didn’t have to do that. I have someone that cooks for me and cleans up after me. When I come home in the evenings my bed has been made. I have a driver that drives me to school. At school kids have drivers bring them their lunch at 11:45 so that it’s still warm when they eat it. After school kids will just hang out, leaving their drivers waiting for them for who knows how long (because hey, it’s not like the driver has a life or anything), until they’re finally ready to go. And obviously the driver should be ready. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to this. Not that I AT ALL enjoy doing dishes at home, cleaning up behind myself, menamen (etc., and stuff), but there are times when I just want to scream, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF, THANK YOU!”

Hmm, what else is going on? I have to be at school at 9 a.m. tomorrow, a Saturday, for training for volleyball and soccer, and afterwards I’m getting my hair braided. Next Saturday is the Ethiopian New Year, and Wyclef Jean is coming to the Sheraton to perform. HECK YEAH I’m going to see him! There may (yes, there is) be a certain boy interest. So, yeah, I suppose that’s all for now.

Moving in and moving on

I don’t know what to say. No, I guess that I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start. First of all, I haven’t written in awhile, but please excuse me, school has kept me very busy. Besides homework, sports have started. In the fall we play Varsity volleyball, and there’s a tournament in South Africa in November; however, if you want to go to the tournament you also have to play six-a-side soccer, so we train for both sports during the fall. And MY GOD, not even having had been here for two weeks, I was training at a 7500-foot altitude after coming from more or less sea level; by the time we were doing our cool-down stretches I was so winded, it felt like something was inside of my body twisting my lungs, and the world seemed spotty through my eyes, and kept tilting from side to side. In the end it’s worth it, though: I’ll be in incredible shape, going to JoBerg will be incredible, and when we’re there we’ll be running in circles around the other team.

Secondly, I moved into CMC yesterday (Saturday)! CMC is the name of the development where I’m staying (named after the contractor that built it), and even though it’s on the outskirts of town it’s really very nice. It’s a gated compound, and so is very safe, and oftentimes kids walk around at night, or go to the courts to play basketball and just hang out. It’s really nice because it allows you that beaucolic neighborhood experience. For example, last night when Betty and I got home we were in her room and suddenly there’s a knock at the door and deep voice said, “Special delivery.” Lo and behold it was Elmo, a boy who goes to ICS with me, and a really close friend of Betty and her family. It was really nice because we all just talked in her room for who knows how many hours, Betty even fell asleep, and Elmo finally left a little after one o’clock when Dr. Salam made him go. But it’s weird. I’m past the “I-can’t-believe-it’s-really-happening” stage, but today I unpacked my clothes into a new closet, and tonight I’m sleeping in a different bed. I’ll still see my family, hopefully every other day, but it’s weird. It’s hard to verbalize, and that makes me feel even more immature, but this is a huge step for me. Moving in is moving on, not that I’ll ever fully disconnect from my parents, but it’s scary. Tonight I had dinner with my family, and afterwards when my dad called Abiy, the taxi driver, I had asked to be picked up and dropped back off at CMC as soon as possible, just because I had some things to take care of. But I didn’t know that as soon as possible would be only be fifteen minutes. And so it goes.

As for the rest of yesterday evening, last night was my first night out in Addis. During the day Betty and I had gone with my parents to Mercato, a busy, chaotic market area, to do a little bit of shopping. After that Betty and I met up with a friend of hers from Sandford, the British school, got pizza, and went to a concert of their friends’. I guess that these four boys are aspiring rappers, and they put together an exhibition. While it wasn’t the most enjoyable time ever, it was definitely an experience. It was pretty hilarious to watch some people dance, because even though they could move their bodies, some people had ridiculous dance moves. Also, I find it really funny to see how hip-hop culture has influenced other parts of the world. I’m on the other side of the globe, in a hall filled with Ethiopian teenagers, and I still haven’t escaped America. Everyone is matching like you’d never believe, and boys are wearing Ecko shirts that fall half-way down their legs, or basketball jerseys, baggy jeans, and the Air Forces to complete the outfit. But it doesn’t seem natural for all of them, on many it looks slightly ludicrous, yet they feel that because they’re black, it’s what they’re supposed to do. The best analogy I can come up with – and please excuse me if I offend – is that they remind me of those stereotypical gangster wannabe white boys that you see in the movies. It just doesn’t fit. But I guess I’m not the only one “moving on.”