Last year, I was at a pub surrounded by people who worked in The City. One of the questions floating around was “So, what do you do?” A normal question. Except that when you’re unemployed (and too broke for a teapot of cocktail), the answer feels a little awkward. I’d broken up with someone, moved back in with my parents, not found a job and not felt quite well enough to work anyway. Yep, being unemployed felt really, really uncomfortable in that place.
I said, defiantly “I do nothing.”
Later, on the bus home, I realised that wasn’t true. I didn’t do nothing. I looked after my sister, picked her up from school, helped my Gran (she was ill at the time), cooked, helped my mum out, ran, visited, had a scholarship for the autumn, wrote. I did so much that getting a job would actually have made me feel guilty for what it cost others. There was a good reason my days quite often felt full: they were. Thinking about it like that was empowering. In my head I could front the (probably perfectly well-meaning) bankers and say yeah? What the hell do you do?
(Also, isn’t it your fault there are no jobs… this was around the time Tesco made the lovely offer of unpaid work experience, and I was told that “availability for the next six months” meant “you are not available if you are going away for one weekend with your grandmother in the fourth of those months. This was the time when “graduate job” meant “actual theft of a job from a person whose qualifications are made for it” or “job, the interview for which, one must lie and pretend not to have a degree, or risk not getting employed.” I digress.)
Now, intermitting from study and living with housemates, I need to find different ways to keep my time full. I could go home, be the cooker, looker-after, generally helpful character and I would really enjoy that. But I think things have moved on a lot since then and if I were to move back, then move back here again, the upheaval would mess with my head more than would be strictly safe. Part of me wonders if I’m not just stubborn- but I’m not. I’ve thought it through and I need to be here, just…
not doing nothing.
It’s hard. X (https://balfourthrb.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/x/) is on holiday, so no walking around/ baking/ cooking with her. And I’ve almost literally run out of money- I can’t sit and write in a coffee shop, I can’t go for a quick drink with a friend, I can’t even pay my library fines. People underestimate how much small amounts of money are needed throughout any given day, if you want to “do” anything with that day.
So… I go to the gym. I spend over an hour each time. I haven’t cooked as much recently, because I haven’t the money for exciting ingredients. I’ve been drawing- with an Amazon voucher, I got hold of some oil pastels (though I can’t afford a pencil.) I listen to music. I make collages… I write. I am trying to make doing nothing feel less like doing nothing but it’s difficult. Yesterday I went to watch a film in a seminar room with friends. I didn’t want to show up empty-handed so I brought popcorn and stuff. I’m happy I did, but that’s the only thing I can do this week.
What it’s about, though, is building up a routine. I’ve talked about it before, then let it slip. (Is staying awake until 3 then waking up at midday a slip? It feels a bit like one.) I’m trying to reconstruct my life so that there’s something to it, so I don’t get lost. But I can’t concentrate at all on reading books, my writing is pretty shit, sometimes at the gym I get so sad that I can’t go fast…
So what’s left?
Goals for Summer:
1) Read at least 1/3 of the course books for next year
2) Read at least one thing just for fun?
3) Re-train myself to my old 1/2 marathon time.
4) Work out what else to do… do it.