Category Archives: Employment

Things I Learned at the Ethiopian Festival

On Saturday, I helped out T & S by volunteering at the First Annual Ethiopian Festival in Downtown Silver Spring. Things were kind of nutso on the organization front–there were some difficulties in getting all the performers on in a timely fashion thanks to the Caribbean Festival in DC, some traffic accidents and the fact that we filled up all the parking garages pretty quickly. But overall I’d say the day was successful considering that a few people showed up. I’m sorry, did I say a few people? I meant a few thousand. Like 10,000 is the latest number I heard. In one city block. It was INSANITY. And once we did get the performers on stage, things were awesome. We had several musical groups and fashion shows, as well as the ever popular traditional dancers. But the most popular of the night was definitely this guy:

I guess he is super famous, because when he appeared in the middle of the biggest fashion show, the crowd collectively lost their shit. I thought maybe he was the Ethiopian Christian Siriano (seemed improbable that there would be one–one Christian Siriano is probably one too many Christian Sirianos), but it turns out he’s the most famous Ethiopian comedian. Apparently he was HIGH-larious, but I had no idea what was going on since I don’t speak Amharic. Which brings me to my next point: I’ve been looking for a new job lately, but I’ve been unsure about what kinds of jobs I’d actually want to do. Well, after my experience this weekend, I can definitely cross some off the list.

Some Jobs I Am Definitely Not Cut Out For:

Amharic Interpreter: No matter how much I might will myself to understand Amharic, I just cannot magically start speaking the language. I didn’t understand 90% of what was happening around me on Saturday. The only word I can consistently pick out is “ishi,” which means “yes” or “exactly,” kind of like the Ethiopian equivalent of the German “genau.” It’s a very useful phrase, unless you have no idea what you’re agreeing with.

Model Wrangler: You would think that getting a handful of models to show up and walk up and down would be no big deal. I mean, how hard could it be? Very friggin hard, as it turns out. Models suck. All the musicians and dancers just did their own thing, running up on stage, doing costume changes in a timely fashion, etc. But every time a fashion show was slated to start, it had to be a freaking production. Remind me never to work in the fashion industry, because it’s nightmarish. Similarly…

Fashion Photographer: Despite the models being gorgeous, most of my pictures came out looking liking this:

I possess the special ability to only capture runway models in their most awkward moments. This is partly due to the fact that it was getting dark and I needed a flash but mostly due to my lack of talent.

Bouncer/Security Guard: People cannot follow instructions to stay behind ropes, out of the model runway, off the stairs, etc. By process of diffusion, every time you clear a space, an equivalent number of bodies instantly fills it again. Since the actual security guards were pretty busy all day, this meant that myself and other volunteers had to spend a lot of time shooing people away from the stage. Except the whole thing was pretty futile. Children apparently don’t have to subscribe to any kind of spacial norms, and every time I was lecturing one person on why they couldn’t walk somewhere, three people went that way while my back was turned. I make a terrible security guard.

I’m sure I could think of more jobs from Saturday that I’m incapable of doing, but my unemployability is starting to depress me. So I’ll leave you with just one more: Traditional Ethiopian Dancer:

(Note–this video was from an event I worked on last year, but it’s the same group. MoCo residents will be entertained to see Councilmember Nancy Floreen dancing off the stage in the beginning of this video. Never gets old.)
Everyone loves some Eskista. Although, I have serious concerns for the safety of some of the dancers. Human heads are not designed to to move like that. Surely that is not sustainable.

Office Space

At the beginning of April, my place of employment left our office for reasons that are not worth explaining and I have been working at home ever since. This may sound awesome to many of you, and indeed I thought so too at first. For starters, I have an extra hour and half of my day previously dedicated to travel! That’s like 7.5 hours a week that I can spend watching that extremely terrible vaguely homoerotic Korean drama! But now that I’ve been living the telecommuting dream for five weeks, all I want is a cubicle. It has been a roller coaster of emotions working at home:

Week 1: Confusion
Where am I? What do I do? I no longer have any supervision! Do I just figure out what to do myself?!

Week 2: Joy
My office is in my bed! I don’t have to fix my lunch in a microwave! I never have to wear pants again! Yayyyy!

Week 3: Loneliness
The only human interaction I’ve had today is explaining how to make a pdf over gchat.

Week 4: Frustration
GAAHHHH IT TAKES FOUR TIMES AS LONG TO DO ANYTHING NOW!!!!!! PEOPLE HAVE OFFICES FOR A REASON EVERYTHING IS SO INEFFICIENT I HATE MY LIFE!!!!

Week 5: Apathy
It will take me approximately 2 hours to get my time sheet filled out and signed appropriately. I guess that’s ok. This cup I’ve been drinking out of wasn’t remotely clean. Oops. I think I’ll eat a box of thin mints for lunch. Now my bed is filled with cookie crumbs. I haven’t washed my hair in three days. Whatever.

In the meantime, I’ve slowly been turning into a housewife. It was bad when I’d greet my roommates at 7pm in my pajamas, and then probably even worse when I would greet them with baked goods. But because I’m around the most, I have also assumed responsibility for when things start falling apart. Earlier this week, for instance, I noticed that the water had stopped. I called K and asked if we’d paid our water bill. We had. I heard the water start again. It was brown and turbid?! I contacted the water company.

You’d be amazed at how much can go wrong in one house during the course of a week. Today after lunch, I noticed some soggy dish cloths sitting in a puddle in the kitchen sink. This is a pet peeve of mine, so I threw them in the laundry with some other assorted towels. I started the washing machine, and then took a few minutes to sweep up some leaves that had blown in the front door. I was about to go upstairs when OH MY GOD WHY IS THERE A RIVER RUNNING DOWN MY FRONT HALLWAY?!

I ran back to the washing machine and to find it overflowing. In movies, you know that technology has turned evil because when you try to turn it off, you find that it’s operating independently of a power source. Well guess what? My washing machine is evil!! I pulled the handle out to end the cycle, but water kept pouring in unstoppably. I tried to stem the tide of water spilling forth with the first thing I found, which unfortunately was one of KS’s off-white bed sheets. This was also the point where I realized that the water flooding the house was the same mysterious brown color as earlier in the week. I had to turn off the pipes, but unfortunately, my laundry lives Harry Potter style in a cupboard under the stairs:

It apparently shares this space with some matches and a lone birthday candle.

I managed to wrestle the dryer out of the cupboard and tragically found that the water taps are not behind the dryer, but are instead WAY in the depths behind the washing machine (side note: behind your dryer is a terrifying place you should never visit). I am not a tall person and could only reach one of them, but of course that one turned out to be purely decorative. There was nothing for it but to climb on top of the overflowing washing machine and balance precariously over it while I reached back through some cobwebs to turn of the other tap. Memo to people of the world: when you are climbing over your open, flooding washing machine, take your expensive electronics out of your pockets! That was almost really bad! Anyway, at last the water turned off and now we just have a broken washing machine full of murky brown water.

After cleaning up all the mess and forcing the dryer back into place, I called our landlady. I’ve never met this woman, but apparently she thinks we’re all morons. Did I turn off the water? No I left it running because I fancied a swimming pool in my living room. Did I mop up the water? Nah, I’m a complete idiot so I didn’t bother. She will stop by tomorrow. Is anyone going to be home?

Yes. Of course I will.

Update as of 9:45 on 5/6/11: God is definitely laughing at me. I woke up this morning to find that our fridge had stopped working. Freezer disaster. Ice cream completely melted. K and I frantically piled our most expensive dairy, meat and vegetables into an ice chest for her to take to work. As we finished, we heard the faint hum of the fridge click back on.