March 17, 2005

Thursday am - gotta get dressed

That time of the morning has almost arrived when I make my way into the master bedroom to put on working clothes. Sloth. I am committing one of the seven deadly sins as my brother-in-law works away in the other room on the sewing machine while I bark/offer the occasional comment. Not a bad life.

Well, the Fun Zone just finished his taxes. It's a bit of a stretch to do from over here, but I make not so much money and have few confounding tax circumstances in my life, so it's pretty straight forward. I used to be so afraid of taxes, a fear instilled in me by my IRS terror-stricken parents, until my friend and former roomate TC (from Alaska) showed me how easy it was. It took 45 minutes of casually observing TC finish his taxes as he watched reruns of "I Love Lucy" to convince me that I, too, could be a self-tax completer. So, that's what I am now, albeit from a long distance.

Life here is going well. I've got a ton of informational interviews on the horizon (2) and what I believe is now a clear 9-5 career direction. I really like the statistics and databases involved in Health Management Information Systems (HMIS). What's more, this is a new field but of considerably growing importance, so it will be a good place for me to enter a career.

Things didn't work out exactly as I had planned, but I think, for me at least, that means they weren't the right plans. When I first came to Ethiopia, I thought I would be a public health consultant and develop a big consulting firm. I guess it could still happen, as could anything, but I think I'd like to be tied in more to an office where I do a job while saving some of my creative juice for other activities like writing or business. What's more, the consulting venue didn't address a need I felt after being here a bit, which was to create ties in the U.S. with my work life here. Now, I think I have a better grasp on the the whole picture and it's just a matter of implementation, dedication, edification, rockification. Yeah.

Had drinks last night with a friend of Mr. Alfredo V, the glorious former exchange brother not disposed to fame but also not shy of it, who had a monumental impact on all the lives of my immediate family, and myself. This friend is living in Addis Ababa. While home during the holidays in Italy, he mentioned to Alfredo V's sister that he was living and working in Addis. She immediately remembered me and facilitated a contact. Being Italian, and also extremely, busy (both of them), that took a few months, but it all worked out well.

It was like meeting a long lost brother, with a very warm exchange. Not planned, just happened. We had nice conversation and were joined by two colleagues, Dr. W of Population Leadership Program fame, and his friend, a female Ethiopian, living and working in the NGO community in Addis.

After a bit of conversation between me and my Italian friend, people started drifting into their own conversations. Slowly, the conversation of the Italian and the female Ethiopian friend of Dr. W raised a notch, with the lady contending that the work of foreigners in Ethiopia was only self-interested and plugging serious holes in the work of the Italian guy. I didn't totally disagree with her, but after a while I could take no more of the "fresh from college viewpoints on foreign involvement in Africa." I had to lay down the smack.

There have been two times in my life I can remember where I nailed an argument so perfectly that the conversation couldn't really go further. One was in Seattle, when I was working for a corporate governance firm and had a lot of ideas about the values of corporations. I was having lunch with my boss and her husband, who along with his brother and a friend, were trying to develop a successful Along for the lunch was also one of their board members/ potential investors (not sure which). This guy started talking about the benevolence/alwasy correct decision making of corporations. He used the example of Boeing, saying something like, "If Boeing wants a highway extension and is able to convince the legislature and decision-making community that this is acceptable, then good". It was here that, in a moment of eloquence, I pointed out that a shareholder of Boeing stock in Alabama might not have the same interest as a citizen living in Renton. It's these contradicting interests that sometimes mean corporate interests fall in opposition to resident interest.

Anyway, it was like a perfect hit on the chin. Down for the count. (I want to emphasize that this is not a regular occurence for me, and that's why I remember them so well). Last night was similar, although I don't think I had the argument as strongly arranged. I just asked her, how did she differentiate between the foreigners working in Ethiopia with the Ethiopians working abroad in Europe and the U.S. All are acting out of self-interest, yet her criticism was strictly directed at Europeans and Americans living in Ethiopia.

Anyway, I'm out of here. I really have to get dressed and oversee business operations. Take care.


Blogger tennisdude390 said...

Wow, you have a realy busy life! Best of luck to ya from USA!

6:38 AM  
Blogger Couch Potato said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

6:01 PM  

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