Inside a tumble dryer this month turned me inside out upside down flip flop round and round. Big long stretches of deliberate, generous quiet; mad long days and giddy shrill nights; endless working days and the few first how are you feeling about leavings building slowly slowly quivering piccolo notes and louder now, crescendo crush, heading into April. A huge amount of work and lists and loose ends and last-minutes to tie up. Knowing I’m leaving but not sure how long for; knowing I’m going but not sure what to. Standing tall in the middle of it all.
Here’s what happened this month.
What I read
Cloudless, The Convenience Store Woman, Daring to Drive.
What’s next for Stacey Abrams. Death of the calorie. Appreciating trendy celery. Say hello to black excellence. It’s not enough to be right you must also be kind. How to make friends and build community. Nourishing despair thanks to Get Krak!n. Reasons to type in lowercase. Solange’s sacred black album reviewed. All of JLo’s engagement rings. Bitch Better Have My Money, for freelancers. The Elizabeth Holmes profile. Taffy’s profiles cheer me up. Jacinda Adern is excellent. Is Shuri dead in Endgame?. I absolutely want a shag haircut. Non-binary stock photos. The girl’s guide to tucking your dick. Google Docs is the hottest chat app for teenagers. The embryo in the hallway.
What I wrote
A yet-unpublished article for New Naratif. A yet-unpublished article for Travel+Leisure. A lot of Facebook posts.
Do I feel safe in Timor-Leste. Three quick pieces of advice. 19 smiles. What I learned about myself from living overseas. One thing foreigners can do to help. Dear Sophie, 749 days ago. Homegoing. Landmarks in learning Tetun. Two different birthday cakes, two different years. A cheesy Timor soundtrack. Tips for living in Dili. Tips for driving in Dili. On two years living in Timor-Leste. The list to complete before I leave.
How many things I’ve done from that list
Six, of 29.
Where I went
Liquica, Liquica, Natarbora.
An International Women’s Day fair in the rain in sticky seaside Liquica; laughing madly with colleagues and sneaking food and clapping along with spontaneous singers. A trip back two weeks later with AI-Com, taking photos of sick sandalwood and golden corn in the baking hot sun. And a mad-fun two-day loop through the hills and mud and rice paddies and puddled madre’s verandahs and walls of bougainvillea and sesame growing and coffee on the way for a research visit; thank you professor.
One thing I ate
Pulse soft-boiled jackfruit pieces together with garlic, garlic, garlic, salsa, spring onion, bulb and leaves, salt, salt, salt, rice flour, mix mix, shallow-fry small patties then slice and thread onto skewers. Paint with a dripping mix of sweet soy and more garlic. Realise you have no coals for the barbecue. Drive the platter of jackfruit skewers to Bebonuk and ask a friend-of-a-friend to grill them for you. Drive the charred fruit home and feast to bursting on the verandah.
What I spent my money on
A birthday cake for Ze. A book club book. Cucumbers. The $18 wine from Centro. A bag of 20 fried bananas. Double espresso with ice. A head massage. A forgetful American filmmaker’s dinner.
Three things on my wish list
- Many Love, by Sophie Lucido Johnson
- A stamped silver necklace
- Commissioned drawings from Felix’s brother
One stupid google
What stage of period do you fart the most
What I paid attention to
Mood fluctuations and ovulation symptoms. Jenna Marble’s YouTube channel. Whether Jordyn or Tristan is to blame for his split with Khloe (clearly Tristan). How much work I had to get through in two weeks. Sleep schedule. Asking thoughtful questions. Avengers spoilers. English grammar rules in long legal documents. Which clothes I can get rid of. Who owns our knives. Time for other people. Email structure. Ants.
What I didn’t drink
March first was a Friday, and I had plans with Felix to each go to a pub and chat on the phone — after a suggestion from our housemate, a veteran of long-distance relationships, who told us it was just as important to continue to do activities together as it was to recap our days when we chatted. In between us making our plan and it happening, I started reading ABC journalist Flip Prior’s articles for ABC Life about why she’s decided to give up alcohol for a year; her reasons for doing so were spookily similar to my thoughts about why I probably should try. A month seemed daunting and too-hard; a fortnight just right. From the first til the 16th I didn’t drink alcohol; I noticed more stable moods, better sleep and no panic attacks, even with a packed-in work schedule; I felt bored and quiet and still and happy.
We didn’t go to the pub but we still talked, a lot a lot. Three weeks.
What I did drink
Red wine on the front porch with new friends and falafel. Beers in the fairy-lit garden at Quilina. Papa Figos upstairs at the Deck Bar that night nowhere else was open. Red wine at Pateo after judging the spelling bee. A glass alone at Castaway that Thursday I couldn’t stop crying.
Where I cried in public
Beachside, Castaway, Agora, on the footpath outside Burger King Lecidere at 2pm on a Wednesday.
Three small joys
- We have a family discount
- Eating sides for dinner in Portugal
- You did this, it wasn’t me, it was you all you
How I was here
Early-morning Liquica with a bursting bag of molen for the trip. Squeezed into the back middle seat every time. The Facebook training and a quick trip out for another job. Walking there and walking home. Knee-deep in the rice paddy, scared slipping feet. Interviews everywhere, saying yes to giving a lift, hours and hours in interviews in my phone. Coffee at the pub. Lunch in Portugal, lunch at black and yellow. Reading quickly. Kulu tunu. Sloshing through the mud determined for that sunset. Stone-face English spelling judging. Yes to every lunch invitation. Continuing on this blog. Visiting tiu D. Reading the books. Anxiety diminishes your ability to believe you can do it.
One thing I started
One thing I celebrated
Four things for next month
- Hot bread
- Time alone
- Open to it all being different
- Goodbyes and welcome homes.