Writing is hard; or, I took a break after my late grandmother’s birthday which ended up lasting through the Kavanaugh hearing.

Sometimes I want to write, so I sit down to do it and I can’t. This can happen for any number of reasons, but usually it’s because I feel bored or sad. Anger and disappointment are pretty easy to write about, but to do so regularly just turns into a bunch of rants or a bunch of whining. And no one likes an angry non-Presidential rant (not that the rest of us can figure out what anyone sees in those aside from comedic value), and no one likes someone who is just whining all the time. Or someone nagging all the time, since to be fair, I guess different people express disappointment in different ways.

Regardless, I almost didn’t write today. This morning was too busy and hectic, and I got a bunch of stuff done that needed to get done, faster and earlier than usual. I went to the post office, brought a form to be filed at a government office, and came home and got some work done. Nothing too bad there either, just tying up some loose ends, so I didn’t have to deal with any of those more… ahem, particular, types of people online today.

(Sidenote: setting up my life abroad in different places, I’ve gotten used to engaging with about 8 different government offices on the regular in each and every one of them, so I’ll have to elaborate on that in a later post, because let’s just say that the DMV is kid stuff at this point… even though it’s still somehow a much more awful, dehumanizing and inefficient experience than most of the ones outside the US.)

So I almost didn’t write anything. I’m tired, grumpy, and a bit crampy, and I don’t want to just whine about that (or anything) with this blog. But that does quite defeat the purpose of having a blog to write in every single damn day if I don’t do it regardless. I am very lucky in that I have a loving partner and a good life and a great dog and we live on this beautiful Mediterranean Island in a house with a view. And I don’t want to complain about any of that. But this is also the cause of some of my sadness, or at least greatly contributes to it, since living in a rural village (population 1000) on an island that is only 67 km² (25.87 mi²) can be stifling.

For comparison by size, smallest to largest:

  • Rochester, NY: 59.77 km² (23.08 mi²)
  • Buffalo, NY: 136 km² (52.51 mi²)
  • Helsinki, Finland: 184.5 km² (71.22 mi²)
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: 370 km(142.8 mi²)
  • Toronto: 630.2 km² (243.3 mi² )
  • Berlin, Germany: 891.8 km² (344.3 mi²)
  • New York City: 783.8 km² (302.6 mi²)
  • Los Angeles: 1,302 km² (502.7 mi²)
  • Istanbul: 1,539 km² (594.2 mi²)
  • London, UK: 1,572 km² (607 mi²)

It’s beautiful… but it’s also kind of lonely. I’m no Thoreau, much as I’d like to be. I’m hardly able to run errands a few days in a row without spraining an ankle on the hills, or at least straining one. Also, we both work from home full-time, but my partner works twice the hours I do, and it is his work that dictates a lot about our location and lifestyle. Since I work less, I do more of the household chores and take care of our pupper. It’s getting to be a lot more work than it was just a year ago. He is such a dashing, yet odd looking pup, and his short legs and long stocky frame have given the poor boy some hip problems and pain in his dotage. He is such an amazing dog though:

 

 

I am lucky and privileged and blessed to live the way I do. But I am also so so so incredibly lonely. Some evenings while he’s working late, I sit in front of my computer and just cry a bit… then I knuckle down and keep working. There’s not much else to do. We keep different hours than our neighbors and the locals (most of whom are so very welcoming and kind! I think Malta in general has a bad rep for xenophobia… it’s not nearly as bad as most of rural Western New York, though to be fair that is a super low bar).

And even the local grocery store opens at 5 am and closes at 1 pm. Then it opens from 4:30 pm to 7 pm… 6 days a week. Since I grew up in a large Catholic family I get that there are families here and they all know each other and have been living here for generations upon generations, and we are outsiders.

There are some other outsiders here too, in spades! But most of them are tourists, or English pensioners who are mostly very kind and sweet, but a little condescending. Ex. I do not need an explanation of the right kind of cream to use in every conceivable cooking and/or baking situation whilst I am doing my shopping at Lidl (a supermarket, with better hours than the local one, but three times as far and with an abundance of loud German tourist and English pensioner patrons, and apparently a serious dearth of cream varieties: they only offer the shelf stable vegan kind, the shelf stable cooking kind in a box, and cans of the shelf stable Reddi Whip type dessert topping that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until you open it).

I have made one friend, and she’s quite sweet, in her late 20s from France. But we are both always working, and I expect she’ll be leaving soon since she also finds it quite dull and really misses the land where she’s from. For me, it’s especially bad on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. When in Buffalo, on Monday and Wednesday I used to attend potlucks with my friends at their housing co-ops, and  Thursday I used to play DnD with a small campaign in one of their basements… it was a creaky old house, so it felt like we were playing DnD in an actual dungeon, too.

In Rochester I used to spend those same evenings going to meet ups, board game nights, or just doing my homework at the local Gay Café, Equal=Grounds, which was right around the corner from my tiny apartment. A nice little coincidence that.

And, I used to see those same groups of people those days and on Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons, taking part in different community volunteer initiatives or just shooting the shit over a cup of tea (or rather, an herbal infusion, as opposed to the English black tea). It was nice to always have a group where I felt I belonged, since I really hadn’t had one of those since I broke my ankle and couldn’t keep working at Girl Scout Camp… which of course was only in the summer.

There were messy parts in between of course, and in the moment it didn’t lend much to the consideration of my future (now current) nostalgia. But since now it’s now going on three years since I moved abroad and stopped having that social structure, I am starting to really miss that aspect of having community, in ways I’d never realized I would.

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Today was a day and I got some stuff done I guess.

Today (yesterday? it’s after midnight now…) was kind of a long day. We slept in till almost one, which hardly ever happens, and then I accidentally took 2 different kinds of allergy meds to try to feel better and some of my contraband Excedrin. It helped but 12 hours later I have the foggy head and dizziness again, and an Excedrin crash too. We will go to bed soon because we are living the pensioner lifestyle these days. Sometimes I really miss the simple things, like American drug stores. Walgreen’s, RiteAid, and Duane Reade are a thing of my past these days, and I miss being able to just grab a bottle of Excedrin or Vitamin D3 or a tube of hydrocortisone and go check out, with minimal human interaction or talking to strangers.

I am probably remiss for not knowing our pharmacist’s names, and we are so lucky in that we really do have wonderful pharmacists here in our village, very kind and helpful. They even stock Essanelle and are super cool about it! Four pharmacies on Gozo (but not in our village) tried to tell me that the morning after pill is illegal in Malta, and when I called out that bullshit, that I have to “just walk around till you find one that sells it.” Not. Cool. Sometimes just how Catholic some people can be, especially about reproductive health care and protecting abusive priests, really grinds my gears!

That hardly applies only to the Maltese archipelago, either. I’m not proud of my country very often, but being proud of my own home state is easier in general. And my gynecologist in Buffalo was really fucking rad. And it’s incredibly cool to come from a place where the the Attorney General is actually trying to hold the abusers in the Catholic Church accountable! I don’t believe in any god, and accepting that humanity is all we have an a lot of us humans are really shitty to each other was a really difficult and painful thing. But I do. I finally do. There’s a freedom with that, and a weight as well.

With that, I suppose I should sign off and get some sleep. Perhaps this post will count as two days’ worth, since I have a whole lot to get done tomorrow…. ideally I will be writing here before noon in the future, since starting to write two minutes past midnight and trying to make such a short post stretch for two days does feel a bit like cheating, and also it’s not going to help me focus my writing if I’m just going here and rambling in the middle of the night instead of on my Facebook wall or in some group!