It’s been about three months since I moved to Gozo, the tiny island next to Malta. It’s about 20 by 30 kilometres. I’m enjoying it.
I want to say last year has been hectic, but when I think about it I can’t remember a moment in time where life wasn’t hectic. The first year of covid maybe, when I recovered from a psychotic episode and spent most of my time doing yoga, walking my dog and going for swims. But that was recovery – I simply couldn’t do more.
Now I’m here, on this quiet rock, one that is a lot more peaceful than the main island. The air is fresh, you notice it as soon as you get off the ferry. There are no traffic jams. It’s green, almost everywhere. I can see the sea from my terrace. In fact, I can walk down the stairs and go for a swim, right there. I probably live about 30 metres away from the sea.
I have my own apartment! I’ve never had my own apartment. The first time I lived alone was in grandpa’s house, last summer, and we all know how that ended. I am grateful I got to grieve in his house. I still feel him wherever I go. He loved the sea, even more than I do. When he still lived in my village, he would drive to the beach every weekend, my mum told me. I love it when it storms. I hate the rain, but the waves are majestic. I can see the stars from my balcony. I can see the hills, too.
Here I am, on a tiny island, in my own apartment, next to the sea, with my dog. I’m enjoying life a lot. Not in the sense that I’m going out or doing big things. I have become very tired of travelling, the idea of it repulses me. I know I am very privileged to be able to say that. I think it’s because the last years of my life have been so scattered that I crave a place to be still. To not leave. I signed a lease contract for a year – a year ago that would have terrified me. Commitment felt like a death sentence. I think this might be growth.
I’m doing work I love. I’m not making a lot, barely enough to pay my big girl rent for my big girl apartment, but life in Gozo is cheap – another reason I moved here instead of to the main island. I couldn’t have afforded my own place there, let alone with a dog.
I’ve been working at The European Correspondent for almost a year and a half now. That’s a record, I’m quite sure. It isn’t a full-time job, of course, but I did hit the six-month mark where I lost all motivation and will to live and told the owners that I wanted to stop. Instead of accepting that I wasn’t putting in any effort and letting me go, they made me have a call where we talked about what else I could be doing, or how we could work this out. That might not sound very shocking, but I have not experienced that before. I tend to seek conflict with my employers, or any form of authority for that matter. It usually doesn’t pay off.
So that’s another thing: I have my apartment and I’m happy doing my job. Apart from my work at The European Correspondent, I am freelancing my way through journalism. That doesn’t necessarily mean writing articles, but also giving workshops, speaking and moderating events, making videos… When we were taught we would need to be multi-talents as journalists in this new media environment, they weren’t lying. I’m enjoying it a lot. Besides, writing is still at the core of those other forms of journalism. There is no video without a script, no Instagram post without text, nor a presentation without a structure.
My work that pays is mostly in Brussels. That’s what I had planned for myself when I moved there, with no idea whether it would work out: making connections in the capital and taking the work back to Malta. It’s working out, so far.
I’m back here because I couldn’t stand the cold; not the weather, nor the people. Northern Europe just isn’t for me. Brussels is particularly miserable. I’m happy here, on this shitty island, this lawless, corrupt, polluted rock. My friends are here, my memories are here – both my worst and my best ones. Malta has become a piece of me in a way that I want to work on it. This place has so much potential, yet so much of it is wasted.
Of course I’m still plotting my way out, I couldn’t stay here forever. I’m desperate to go to China for a year or so, and go back to studying Mandarin. I’ll need to spend a year in Australia on a work-holiday visa before I turn 30. Potentially New Zealand, too.
And I want to finally finish my book about psychosis. I’ve done some research on publishing, both locally and abroad, and it seems like a hassle. I did start a creative writing class, though, one that two friends recommended to me. It’s an eight-week course taught by a writer and professor based in NYC and so far it’s incredible.
I’m doing lots of other stuff too. I’ve submitted my master’s thesis research to SAGE journals, where it’s currently being peer-reviewed. I’ve given a workshop on climate journalism with Friends of the Earth Malta, which went well. I’ve been invited to go to Brussels to speak about abortion next week, and I’m giving a workshop on mental health in media next month in Paris. Yesterday someone asked me if I could moderate another mental health event in Brussels. I participated in an incredible programme for journalists by the European Parliament and Will Media, a huge social media news platform in Italy, and yesterday I joined a workshop where we made feminist posters to turn into a pamphlet for International Women’s Day, which was dope.
I’ve given up on running again, but I do yoga twice a week. It’s a ten-minute walk from where I live, and we do it right in front of the sea. It’s beautiful, and probably what’s keeping me sane. I’ve also started to read into investing (?) which is kind of like an investment in itself; just so I have the knowledge ready for whenever I’ll have the money. I’m currently reading a feminist guide to impact investing, it’s pretty interesting.
What else? I’m starting a new job in March! It’s going to be full-time, in Valletta, and I’m as excited as I am scared. It’s just for five months, until the European elections, but it’s still a commitment. Working 40 hours a week takes a toll on me. But the people who work there seem incredible, and I think the work will be cool, so I think I’ll be just fine. And that’ll sort the money thing too, especially if I can keep freelancing next to it.
Oh, and I’m switching medication! We’re adding a mood stabiliser so we can get rid of the antipsychotics because apparently they aren’t the best for your general health. The side effects suck, too, so I’m pretty excited to change. I went to see the psychiatrist who treated me in Mount Carmel, he’s honestly quite great. I obviously didn’t have the best connotations, given that I mostly knew him from being in a state of psychosis in fucking Mount Carmel, but he’s a very genuine guy. I like that.
My mum came to visit me, by the way, it was super nice. She knows Malta well and easily finds her way around. I think we both belong in a country like this. We were meant to move to Australia when I was little, and Malta is probably the next best thing within the EU (I know Maltese people will not agree with me on this).
There’s so much I could be writing still, I feel like life is flying somehow. It’s carnival today, and it’s a massive thing in Gozo, but I’m not a huge fan of hedonistic hysteria, so I stayed home. It’s better that way. I’m so much happier focussing my energy on what replenishes me, like writing and activism and genuine connections, than I am going out and getting drinks. I genuinely enjoy spending so much time with myself.
I went to this incredible production about Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was killed by Israel in Gaza, which was based on her writings. It was a one-woman show, about two hours long, and it took me through every possible emotion: I cried, I laughed, and I felt as furious as I do live-streaming what Israel is doing to Palestinians. It took me an hour or two to process it afterwards.
It’s these things that make me realise how I love the idea of using our time on earth to do something good and worthwhile. I love art, and community, and genuine intentions. I want to bathe in them and never worry about paying rent.
Anyway, I’ll end this here, it’s already way too long for internet people to read. These vague posts never “do well”, but maybe that’s the point of them. To create without instantly needing to commodify it, etc, etc. This is more of a letter I’d write to my grandpa, but that is actually the type of stuff I created this blog for in the first place. Just my life, abroad. I’ll try and keep you updated more regularly, though I’m posting 24/7 on Instagram and LinkedIn if that’s something you’re interested in.
Until next time!