After living underwater for three months, I’m back with a quick monthly update of daily life in Dili, Timor-Leste. Here’s what I got up to in November.
In November, I rested
The month started with a four-day-long long weekend, for All Saints’ and All Souls’ days–and I repeated last year’s tradition of being too exhausted and small to even consider taking advantage of the break with a trip out of Dili. I had a half-day at work on the Wednesday, patched up a fight with Felix over lunch, finished my book, and spent the rest of the day drinking pink wine and eating dip at a friend’s house.
The long weekend, I worked–knocking out freelance deadlines, preparing for a filming trip, rhythmically working alone from bed with home-cooked meals and red wine and Harry Styles’ album.
I made no secret of how exhausted and stressed and brittle I’ve been feeling for the last few months, and on the last weekend in October I waited for the rain to start and for the work to end. The November nine, I mis-typed in my caption as the date it all slowed down; that’s what I was holding out for. In November, I waited.
(Photos from that last weekend bridge between what I decided were the stressful October weeks and the calm November weeks; flowers outside dip-maker Laura’s house; a morning walk the next day with Solange and the sunrise and a sore, happy, head.)
In November, I travelled
A lot! All within Timor-Leste and almost all for work. I started the month with a week-long visit from two filmmakers from Plan International’s UK office, whom I accompanied to Aileu; I visited Bobonaro with AI-Com to learn sandalwood myths and to eat sago pancakes made over the fire in the seedling nursery; I went back to Aileu to take photos at an important person’s visit to a child club meeting; I went to Liquica to take photos of Australian senator Anne Ruston visiting AI-Com’s supported seed experiments; and I finished the month back at Aileu for a Plan staff meeting. And I covered two events for Unicef in Dili, and Felix and I went to Maubara for a weekend.
(Here’s where we stayed in Maubara). And here’s the view from our porch.
Most weekends at home either Felix and I will cook breakfast for both of us. So for our Sunday morning in Maubara, we packed up our camp stove, eggs and tomatoes, and continued a new tradition.
In November, I read
The Pisces! The Time Traveler’s Wife! Barracoon! Dance Dance Dance! The Course of Love! I loved them all and felt really pleased to stick to my one-book-per-week goal for this year. If you use Instagram, I review all my books on Instagram here.
I told a friend the other day that sometimes it’s a bad sign for my mental health when I read a lot–it’s my anxiety making me escape reality–but this month it was all a joy; fun and light and easy and relaxing and educative and good.
In November, I took stock
Bored and tired of my giddy proclamations that I wasn’t reeeally doing too much or that this time I mean it I’m slowing down, I genuinely did grind to a halt this month. Exhausted, weary, overworked, demotivated, tired, I let myself rest and feel slow and small; reading the newsletters of the writers I like, sleeping long past my alarms (and deleting them entirely), combing coconut oil through my hair and wandering up to Kaffe Uut for a cup of tea and a phone chat with a friend. I counted the weeks until I leave, until Felix leaves, cooked meals without Instagramming them, welcomed the rain with noodle soup, saw the blue morning sea, watched The Castle in the sand, met two-week-old puppies and went whale-watching (where, in between watching, I read my book).
Now, typing at the end of the first week of December, I am beginning to feel energised, light and excited again; working hard and sulking less and sleeping enough and feeling prepared. Looking forward.