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comment by nowaypablo
nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 7, 2018

Had the greatest weekend in years. It was fun, but it was important for me too.

An organization working on various activism for/in Armenia invited me to a conference at Columbia University. I went alone to hear the presentations because there were some big names in Armenian academia speaking, and the person who invited me is a role model of mine. I intentionally stay unaffiliated with Armenian-American organizations because they're always politically affiliated somehow and I can't get involved in the mess of Armenian politics yet.

I opened the door to the conference, a lecture hall in the Columbia's math building, and my heart stopped when I saw 50-odd Armenian faces looking back at me. I realized that I haven't seen my people in years, apart from my mother, some family friends and my family back home on Skype. These were college-age Armenian kids, mostly grad/PhD age, all here from all over the country just to spend the day being American-Armenians in a room together. It's very difficult to describe why being a part of this conference was so significant to me, but I felt like I was in love with 50 people at once. Some of them were activists and good-thing-doers for Armenia, others were simply Armenians in America doing their thing, but they were all high-speed individuals doing big things, and it gave me hope for my people's survival and success in the future.

I went to the proceeding dinner/social event and introduced myself to everyone. A group of kids invited me back to their hotel, to "get over the politics and start this pre-game so we can fucking party." And party we did. We destroyed midtown Manhattan.

Then I met an Armenian girl who stole me out of the bar before I could even say goodbye to everyone, and took me dancing at a nightclub in Chelsea. Getting me to dance in a group is difficult enough, I was nervous about dancing with her alone, but I fucking danced yo. She took me back to her apartment near Columbia, where it turned out she was in a grad program on economic development. For the first time in months, I woke up calm and happy instead of wired and in a hurry. She said good morning in Armenian and made Armenian tea. I was in heaven. I left before breakfast to get back to school, but she told me to let her know when I was back in the city, which will be this weekend for spring break. There are two small red flags with her but it's difficult to acknowledge them in my current infatuation, I'll call them later-me problems.

Last weekend was the closest I've been to high without drugs, even better than some at that. I realized the gigantic hole in my heart for being around fellow Armenians. I got inspired by the fact that there are Armenians that are going to be leaders in their field, Armenians that will yield power for other Armenians, and that things won't be as bad as they appear back home right now. And as touchy as it is, this girl made me realize how low I was stooping with girls at my school just to get their attention, I don't respect them for their work or their general (lack of) ambition and dialogue. I'm linking up via e-mail with the kids and some of the professionals I met, and figuring out my own shit with this girl, and overall enjoying the view from cloud nine.

goobster  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude, I love this SO MUCH.

Because I have had only totally shitty interactions with Armenians. In Kosovo. During the war.

I'm still kinda invested in the world-view that the Armenians moved in on the Serbian homeland because they saw Serbia on the ropes after Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia successfully excised themselves from Yugoslavia.

In my experience, the Armenians I met were dirty, useless, and felt entitled to Serbian lands they had no historical right to. (And I am no supporter of Serbia... I think they are a special kind of messed up, too. But even the bully doesn't deserve to lose part of his house, just because he's a bully.)


You post this story about connection and the visceral, heart-felt passion you had simply seeing a roomful of "your" people....

... and my "dirty Armenian land-grabbers" internal dialog gets real quiet, and slinks into the back corner of my brain, and covers its head with a dirty blanket.

I dunno why I am saying this. Just kinda processing out loud, as I explore a weird wrinkle in my brain that doesn't make any sense to me. "Why do I think this of ALL Armenians? That's stupid. I need to work on that."

nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hah, I'm really glad you shared this. I've never heard this perspective or impression on Armenians before.

Note that Armenians were pushed out of Armenia in waves twice in recent history- once during the genocide in the early 20th century and again during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many times over, the population of the diaspora is greater than that of Armenia itself. The diaspora also tends to concentrate acutely, in that there are specific and very dense populations of Armenians wherever they are around the world. I imagine those Armenians are probably genocide-era settlers that, socially, crafted a perceived sense of entitlement as a means of survival. I'm sorry that this impression was the result.

Armenians are certainly smelly, but not dirty. They're certainly survivors, but not predator opportunists/land-grabbers. You seem to be exercising attribution bias.

edit: we both, in hindsight, not just you ;)

goobster  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

"Attribution bias."

Yep. That's it. I knew I'd recognize it when I saw it.

It's always fascinating to me when I find some internal messiness in my brain...

nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  
kleinbl00  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    realized that I haven't seen my people in years, apart from my mother, some family friends and my family back home on Skype.

Come to Glendale! We'll have borek and drive tinted Mercs!

nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oh God. Glendale is the mutated caricature dark side of Armenia. It's like a copy-paste of Yerevan but the file got corrupted.

kleinbl00  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's still fuckin' awesome tho. Given the choice between dark-timeline Armenia or Gold Master hipster Silverlake, I'll take Glendale every time.

nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes, well, I can put aside the pride-uninspiring nature of the city given it's probably bomb food and hilarious individuals.

kleinbl00  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And I can put aside your whipsaw pivot from ethnic inclusion to ethnic elitism. ;-)

lil  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I realized that I haven't seen my people in years

noway - your post touched me. There's something identity-confirming about being with your people -- if you have a "people" with similarities to you that mainstream society doesn't have.

I want to add that one doesn't even have to like one's "people" -- being with a whole bunch of them together is like being at home -- maybe even a home you never knew you had.

nowaypablo  ·  349 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think you're right. I'm sure I've been conditioned to be patriotic towards Armenia but I'm more inclined to be with Armenian people than run around waving an Armenian flag. I feel much better understood in many different ways. Then again I haven't been back in 5 summers and I miss being in the country itself too. Weird stuff I haven't figured out yet, but neat.

Chocobean  ·  346 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Wow, I hadn't realized that I even felt that way until I read your post. I had never really articulated this thought before.

I'm not Armenian, but my people (HK) group also stand at around 7m and dwindling, with our probably dying language, and a politically powerful persecutor who pretends to be our Lord and Savior. Our people haven't been around for near as long as you guys, but a number of what you said really hit hard: (1) the political situation breaks my heart, (2) I hadn't seen non-immediate circle folks of my people for a while ..., (3) that hole in my heart I don't usually realise is there.

It reminds me of watching the new Trek movie, when Spock realises he is now a member of an endangered species.

Do you think.... if certain things of your culture will persist long after the last one of you perish, what might they be?

lil  ·  346 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What's HK mean?

Chocobean  ·  345 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hong Kong. We speak a different dialect of Chinese than People's Republic of China, have our own currency, police force, laws, courts, economy, writing system, food, and culture. But China had a choke hold on the little city state and wants to see us assimilated, or at least dead before any rise of being independent.