That was August.
What the hell, September? Where did you come from? I think the biggest change in the year is between the months of August and September – August being, in my head at least, high summer (despite having spent many years of my life in countries where August means no such thing), while September is autumn and back to school and a vertiginous plunge towards mid-winter and the end of the year. One of the traumatic effects of aging is that every year seems to go by faster than the one before – it is limited comfort to remind myself that this is wholly subjective, and objective time remains the same. (…OR DOES IT?!?)
August was a busy month, in that I moved from the UK to Egypt, which greeted my arrival (because it is All About Me, obviously) with a deepening of the national crisis that has been going on since late June – or since January 2011, or forever, depending on how you count. One would think that a cumulative total of four and a half years in the Sudans would prepare me for political and social upheaval, but I didn’t realise until coming (back) to Cairo that I have always associated political instability and insecurity with very low levels of development, and there is something profoundly disconcerting with experiencing pitched battles in the streets of an otherwise totally modern city. I have mostly been keeping my mouth shut and reading as much as possible – primarily online, but right now I am two-thirds of the way through Ahdaf Soueif’s Cairo: My City, Our Revolution, which provides a heartbreaking and personal account of the events of 2011 – even more heartbreaking when you consider what has happened since. Highly recommended.
Otherwise, I have been snowed under with work, both Day-Job related and freelance – AND the final (really truly HONESTLY final this time) round of edits on Novel #3, as well as the first 30,000 words or so of #4. From this perspective the 7pm – 6am curfew has been almost a relief, though it’s severely curtailed my attempts to develop a Cairo-based social life, and there have been rather too many sad solitary dinners of tuna-in-a-can and flatbread and vache qui rit cheese. I am hoping that this will change in September.
Here is a small list of things that have delighted me in August:
- A pair of red and white striped canvas open-toed espadrilles, and bright red nail polish;
- A new tattoo;
- Welcome to Night Vale, an utterly wonderful (and free! FREE!) podcast by Commonplace Books, which has suffused me with JOY and FEELINGS;
- A weekend at Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea coast, where I got to immerse my body in the sea (though the shallowness of the water made Proper Swimming nearly impossible);
- A new phone, a new Paperwhite Kindle, and a WHOLE LOAD of wonderful books, the best of which have been Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon, The Uninvited, by Liz Jensen, The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, by Olivia Laing, and The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker.
- Twitter, with which I still have an uneasy and difficult relationship, but which is invaluable at times of political upheaval;
- Cairo, with which I have fairly conclusively fallen in love.
And here is a small list of things that promise to be delightful in September:
- Two weddings of friends from totally different parts of my life, one in Oxford and one in London;
- A holiday in Tunisia with my excellent friend C., which will begin with a 24-hour ferry journey from Marseille, as we are Excellent At Boats (having taken a cargo ship from Turkmenbashi to Baku last summer);
- A few days in Wales seeing my parents, and a few days in London seeing friends;
- The relaxation of the curfew (inshallah), allowing me to do things like meet people and make friends and take Arabic classes and exercise in Cairo;
- Finally (really truly HONESTLY) finishing Novel #3. It’s time.