The Mail...

There are letters-to-the-editor, and there are letters-to-the-editor.

But then there is The SELEDA Mail: a virtual bouquet of the strangely exotic, the thorny, the enchanting, the delicate, the annoyingly fragile, and the 'What the heck is that?' cornucopia of musings, observations and t'reba with the occasional marriage proposal/eternal servitude thrown in to keep us on our toes.

And TWO months worth of mail…boy, were we unbearable! Take a deep breath… here is a sampling (edited for foul language).

Our l'il jaunt outside of the SELEDA mender was, well, not taken too well by readers who complained about everything from vertigo because of whacked out "SELEDA equilibriums", to dizzy spells caused by 'TTD' (Top Ten Deficiency'). That's sweet.

"Forfaywu demo mindinew?" chastised Ermias G.H., whose heartstrings must be made out of double re-enforced steel chains not be tugged at by our 'we need a vacation/quality family time' zibzeba. "I feel like a junkie, totally taken in by the SELEDA drug cartel. Sure, get me addicted and then leave me hanging. Bicha ..."

OK, Ermias. Unfortunately, the SELEDA suite at the Betty Ford Center is presently, er, occupied, so we can't even sneak you in for a quick de-tox. However, we would like to offer you an astaraqi something if it'll get us back into your graces: so, about the September issue… how would you like it? In crack or powder form?

Meanwhile, it didn't take a rocket scientist-- not that we have any on board--to discern that we had yet another unhappy camper in the dour Ato Y. "I'd like to formally log in my complaint about the so-called mega double-issue," he declared, probably not realizing there's no formal vs. informal complaint department at SELEDA. Miskin. "I'm certain that I'm not the only one who thinks that this month's edition fell just slightly short of the hyped billing. Next time, instead of insulting your readership's intelligence with cute-isms like "super-duper, collector's edition, epic edition, etc." just tell us, "Hey you're getting this stuff for free, you're not paying our salary, and we want to take a few days off to get together in DC ... got a problem with that?!?", and we'll be much more receptive."

Hmm. Okey dokey. Except, here's the quandary this puts us in. We get a feeling we should quickly re-write our "Getting one with our karma in 2000" soliloquy to excuse our upcoming December/January issue? (Er, did we mention that the December and January issues are, well, going to be combined--which, although no one bothered to tell us, apparently now means promises of epics AND collectors' editions, and who knows what else.) But, Ato Y, not that we are that CHekangn to wanna make a sport out of insulting anybody's intelligence, but feel free to write us again, and the minute we detect a modicum of intelligence, we'd be happy to insult it for you.

But then again, we are not here to menetarek.

The mail regarding SELEDA's new look, we are happy to report, resembled a cyber-playground where the chewas and the ye-teQoneTetus frolicked and spread happiness. In fact, ehem, they leveled so much entuf entufs at us that we had to call on a medhanit qemami to concoct a chirt balm for us. Aw shucks…

Solidly in the "we like" camp is Eshetu Molla, who concluded a paragraph of qilit yale mashkormem with "Bravo on the face lift! But I hope that you leave SELEDA Volumes I-III untouched. That way, we latecomers can trace its progress and cyber-evolution." Now, now, Eshetu. Granted our sketchy approach to matters ethical might appear to be a little... flexible. But, not even the most devious of SELEDA minds would stoop so low as try to cosmetically alter our humble beginnings. That would be immoral! And depraved! (And our computer people said it would be a hell lota work, and we are more lazy than unethical.)

Buoyant that we had actually managed to have struck a cord with refined types, and primed to frequent the high-and-mighty A-list cocktail society, we pranced around our bucolic playground, until the resident bully grabbed us by the throat and shook us sensless.

"I can truly say that I was one of those who eagerly awaited the much touted new look of SELEDA," wrote Sultan Raya with very refined roguery. "I am sad to report, however, that I was disappointed. Indeed, the new frame adds to the navigability of the site. However, your sense of aesthetics lags way behind your wordsmith… Judging by the texture and shades of color adorning the walls of SELEDA, I can hazard that besides being "humble", the editors also belong to the fair sex (or henpecked by one?) Pink! Pink! What next? Lavender whiffs off of the computer screen? … P.S. Needless to say, you are doing a fantastic job with the concept of SELEDA. May Allah bless us with more issues."

Wei metenakol, and as one of our favorite readers put it, "Minew sewu Tor Tor alew'sa?"

Not that you are in any danger of ever be outed as a Martha Stewart groupie, Sultan (the color you berate as being 'Pink! Pink!' is actually an urbane combination of Carolina Clay with a touch of Old Barn Red, a dollop of Burnt Amber topped off with a soupcon of Sand Dune Patina), but we are also guessing you have never had the honor of being henpecked by a SELEDA-weet. (It's a privilege, not a right.) However, we were delighted by your observations, and are sending you a special SELEDA Aromatheraphy candle/potpourri set to soothe your nerves. (If that don't work, ask us about the Essence-de-SELEDA herbal laxative, which has been known to work wonders… It's … a good thing.)

{Brief pause to recalibrate the Sarcasm Detector.}

Moving on to slightly higher qum neger-ish grounds, the massive and overwhelming response to Makeda and Gelawdios' Life Diaries made us giddy to the point of delusion of the "U! U! Wegebayn" variety. Any trepidation we might have felt about unleashing such an unorthodox Life Diaries at God-fearing SELEDAwiyan was quickly assuaged by reactions such as these:

Kidanu B., from DC: "DC area ET restaurants have not been the same since SELEDA's famous Battle of the Sexes. Now, just as we settled into the famous DC malaise, you again manage to agitate us with Life Diaries. Without any welem zelem, it is the best writing most of us have read in a long time. The concept of feisty enkiya selantia with utmost chewinet between two Ethiopians has never been so beautifully illustrated. The depth of the sem ena work, the bountiful metaphors (from the Dr. and Ato ashaTir to tame the youth/hope/future of Ethiopia, to the Seven Holograms), it's the kind of stuff Hemmingway could not have captured--no matter how many of Makeda's aTefaris brownies he imbibed. Such a perfect blend of the English with the skillful stirring in of Amharic kimems... abet, abet! Ye SELEDA amlak yigdelegne." Ere tew Kidanu. Edesuma ay'del. Telatih firfir belo yemoot. Give the man a zembil full of them aTefaris brownies… and charge it to Atse Gelawdios.

...Negerun qebel bemadreg…

Yordanos Kifle Ke Queens: "Never have I been so glued to my screen as when I was when reading your Diaries Section. As a small time Ethiopian history buff, I relished the trip Gelawdios (we used to call him Atse Gelaw) and Her Majesty took us on. (At the risk of incurring the SELEDA seif myself, may I say I am eternally smitten by the Makeda of SELEDA.. Her writing style makes me want to eat as many saltine crackers as she has to offer...) Seriously, thank you for the wonderful hour I spent reminiscing about home, my country and Ethiopian history. I might just be your #1 fan." Ditto on you being our #1 fan, Yordanos. Although we suspect that those braniacs who frequent the intellectual silos that are DC area restaurants might challenge you to a duel for that title. As we say around here, "Fight well. If that don't work, fight dirty."

...Keziam aTaTimo bemeqetel…

Merab D.: "…A suggestion: maybe you should have a "What I miss most about Home" SELEDA Survey. When Makeda described the way she misses home, the three peaks she looked out for from her school, I thought I would die of loneliness and the same nafqot. THAT alliteration was so powerful. I did not know how much I missed home until the memory of the woman who owned the tej bet near our house in Mekanisa came flooding back. Every day, when I'd come home from school, she would be sitting outside of her dilapidated house, pouring the tej in small bilrilays and singing the same song. She'd offer me kolo, and even though we had nothing in common, we would spend hours talking... I can't even remember what we talked about, but I remember her face, her clothes and that dank smell of tej outside her house. Boy, do I miss home, too!"

...Speaking of CHewatan be niTir Quibay lewiso, fetfito maguress...

Meseret in New York: "Kemir, you guys might have started this for fun, but it is turning out to be one BRILLIANT forum. I only wish I knew more about the "artist Gelawdios", although I guess he successfully made that fact irrelevant. What a story weaver! Like a skillful shepherd, he maneuvered me through emotional hills and valleys, memories and longings: from the history of arms trading in Ethiopia, to the Seven Holograms he imagined after the aTefaris brownies... (usually, most of us only see Jimmy Hendrix and Santana fighting over us!) Makeda and the way she took on the nuances of Gelawdios' twists was phenomenal! So much so, and so pointed was her positive spin, that she forced him into making the Apostle John the bearer of good news and absari of peace in Ethiopia! (Give the woman a dynasty!) Congratulations on yet another FASCINATING issue." ...Yeah, yeah. But who did you say wins the fight between Hendrix and Santana?

...Be g'ram be Qeignim eyalameTu, hasabin ke aff menTeq be-madreg…

Abey Tedla: I arranged the ersatz obstacles at entrance of my cube made from moving boxes filled with sand, strategically to intercept that brave soul ballsy enough to contemplate venturing in. I liked Life Diaries especially. [It] made me smile in spite of my boss peering over my shoulders, foaming at the mouth, muttering "You better have the results of that script". I yell back, "Yeah whatever, fire me. We have SELEDA now, I can survive on cappuccino and web humor." Er, don't forget cappuccino, web humor AND henpecking SELEDA-weets.

As our anjet is drenched in the CHoma of erudition, a welcome visit from past Diarists…

Sofanit from Hanover: "OH MY GOD! Yemin sew masat-AT meta???... I just finished reading LDs, and I must admit to feeling incredibly ... *small* for what now seems like a dreadfully drab give-and-take with Awraris. I was totally sold by the historical intrigue and drama. When Awraris said "channeling back to the spirit our foremothers/fathers", I didn't think you would take it literally! Then came more ... the contrast of the Makeda now and then; the way she describes how she misses home; his Holograms; and then the final twist of incorporating those into our daily lives. I have never looked forward the year 2045 with more earnestness. But I am hanging in there, and hopefully, I will have SELEDA handy to compare notes." Sofanit, an unhealthy lifestyle and a meteoric cholesterol level will probably not allow us to live long enough to see 2045. However, could you make sure to check on Gelawdios' tab from the Debre Tabor Tavern? Bejirowend or no Bejirowend, eda eda new! We would hate to think about what kind of interest it might have accrued.

...And then the mawerareja Tela

Awraris from Atlanta: "Yes, I am certainly feeling like Emebaytaye Sofanit and I were just the tinish-est stepping stones to the real deal. I am hurt, I really am that you would follow our "feet dipping into the C-OOLD SELEDA waters" with such intellection. Life Diaries, was, I admit very begrudgingly, the epitome of the PERFECT blend of the "hybrid" we have all become. I was left speechless by the spectacular vision of the Holograms... Ere yetabatachiu! Good luck topping THIS one. I will relish seeing you squirm." Awraris, really! Given how infrequently we squirm, we are doubtful you will be exacting revenge any time soon. However, maybe you'll find solace in the revelation that we did feel the heebie-jeebies for a moment there at the august task of keeping up with the standard set by Makeda and Gelawdios. But that passed. Next possible projected squirming conference: 2045. Your place?

...Enday-day-day! Anbessa aGessa!...and our all time favorite Life Diaries mugesa…)

This is our friend Selemon's brain…:
" OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!! L... Life... D... !!!! ... OH HEAVENS!!!!!!!!! OH... GOOOOD LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORD!!!!! eh.... eh....speechless!!!!!!!!!!!"

This is our friend Selemon's brain on drugs...:
"I'm all shush 'bout Life Diaries... You know, you may think intoxication is induced by conduction or consumption... naaaaah... no, sireeee... it's apparently induced by radiation too... Entries 4 and 5 of Life Diaries are two bags of brownies laced with fuming and diffusing aTefaris. But lemme say no more... endalreksachew... besides, lemme sit back and ruminate in the levitating sensation of wisdom behind the veil of this thick aTefaris smoke... bolelelelel eyale... qelbes qena eyale... shiqqib eyetmzegezege taria lay netro bittinn seel... enkwan sebatt... seba shih apocalyptic ye ra'ey feres yasayal...."

Any Questions?

[We… we're getting a queasy feelin' here that our readers were a little too ebullient about the efficacy of Makeda's brownies… This can't be good for literature.]

And thus went our lazy summer days, basking in the UV ray-free sun that was adulation to Makeda and Gelawdios.

But of course, like most things we hold dear, SELEDA saboteurs and selam nesiwoch soon annihilated this little heaven we had carved out for ourselves.

Take, for example, Bezah K.'s say bil banker-rebab't message, which reads in part, "Yes, yes, everyone is probably going nuts about the Welgadios... I mean Debarios... enday!... GELAWDIOS and Makeda "Around the World in Five Entries" nitreka. (Do those of us who went through the whole shebang earn SELEDA frequent flier miles? Or at least the recipe for the brownies --- although his description of the time machine being made for the ever elusive nuclear family was hilarious!) Lingerachiu, the best piece was My Story. THAT feature, more than anything so far on SELEDA, clearly illustrated the absurdity and the curiously bizarre assimilation culture we Ethiopians are mired in. It was simply the best." Fine. Be that way. However, did we mention about an Eighth Hologram being found in our offices… it has to do with snippety commentators and ye-SELEDAn tranquility menCHakiwoch spending eternity as unpaid SELEDA interns? Don't make us go through the whole "slipping-in-the-disk-and-watching-more-horses-fly" deal.

And speaking of the inchoate boulevard of debacle that is the inner sanctum of SELEDA, Yitbarek Arefe-Ainee's spoof, Inside SELEDA: The Untold Story, was idealistically extolled by a polite Mehari K. Ab, who, the supreme SELEDA court has decided, has the makings of the SELEDA intern. "Dear Editors... humble and esteemed, Congratulations! The Backpage satire of the behind-the-silk-screen of SELEDA was priceless. Could it be that we Ethiopians have learnt to make fun of ourselves without getting bent out of shape? I think what you did with the Backpage is the dawn of a new era in Ethio sensitivity check. Thanks for the laugh. But more importantly, for not taking yourselves so deadly seriously." (What's a nice guy like that doing in a place like this?)

Thank you, Mehari, for noticing that we are indeed very grounded folk with very meager glibness factors. We hope the ill advised decision by peeved SELEDA upper management to ship Yitbarek off to an 'assignment' in Kosovo ("The Ethiopian Diaspora in Pristina"), does not reflect badly on all of us who were not slighted by "his damnable intimation that we are purveyors of such third-rate footwear as Via Spigas". (At midnight on December 31st, Yitbarek will be reporting live from Siberia: "Are there Ethiopians in Siberia?" Riveting stuff, we are sure.)

It must have become fashionable to delve into the psychological profile of SELEDA, because there's been a lot of it flying around. Says Abraham S., "…[Makeda's axiom] 'Able to Sulk in Four Languages' should be bronzed on a big plate, and mounted at the entrance of the SELEDA building!!!", which we think is a smashing suggestion, albeit unmindful of copyright laws and their governance. But as soon as we pry loose the bolts on our current plaque ("Abandon all Forced Decorum Ye Who Enter Here (especially towards those creepy ye Bole sefer molQaQoch) "), we'll be happy to replace it with the Makedaism.

Our June Top Ten, (Top Ten Abesha Pick-Up Lines) was a surprise hit, and we are delighted. From N.S.: "Koye esti, yemeTbesha mistirachinin yagaletew must have been the Back Page a compromise. I actually have used all of them except for the "Heywan, I believe your rib belongs to me...." I'll try that one and let y'all know the results.";… From 'adnakewu yehager lij John Seyoum': "I would like to ask if your SELEDA TOP 10 really works? I tried one of the lines but I wasn't able to score…";… And from Mamo A.: "Excellent Top Ten, SELEDANS. Especially number one. And yes, it works."

Wait. We take it back. We are not delighted. We are alarmed.

We thought letters about us employing TeTer yale Englizegna would eventually subside as people slowly came to grips with the realization that it ain't changing anytime soon. The June mail had its usual share of complaints about our user unfriendly English, but we think our favorite was Wuzi's. "I like your website. It's fun and interesting, however I cannot understand some of the satires. So please make it simple and easy to read. Sometimes it's hard to understand the humor. Can you make in [sic] a simple Amharic and English so that we the Y2K generation new [sic] can understand it."

Right-o! And we at SELEDA are, of course, proud of our long tradition and proven track record of making things "simple and easy", especially to accommodate "the Y2K generation". So, in order for ALL of us to "understand the humor", let us in unison join hands and: a) pretend there IS humor in need of understanding, and b) collectively celebrate the inauguration of www.Seleda2_simplified_not_to tax_the_inelaborate_minds_of_recalcitrant_and

And finally…

It is only appropriate to end on the sage advice and mirriqat our new friend Misikir T. bestowed upon us… the advice, we will let you know, that managed to restore the calmness around here, and satiate the fiendish weffefays who would rather stay all caustic and mean. "Please don't make this a biliCH-dirgim affair…," she affirmed. "SELEDA seems like a futuristic magazine. Your down-to-earthness appeals both to the goremsas and koredas as well as to the golmasas. Keep up the good work. SELEDAn Ke-buda ayin yisewirat zend miraken entif biyalehu!" Enyam 'entuf'! Especially to ward of any m'hitat which might be hurled our way and commissioned by chagrined 'Y2K generation' goremsa/koreda/golmasa types.

So, is it us, or is everybody else also having fun? Our June mailbox was probably the most alluring yet, which makes us wonder how September readers will top it? Not to sound like ye tesebere shekla-like, but we love hearing from you, and SELEDA would never have gotten out of the dirito lebash literary scene were it not for your feedback.

Our address is

LeT belen ij eyenesan, melkam enQuTaTash!
The Humble Editors.