On paper, my life is not great. At this moment, I have zero income, and for the first time in my 31 years(nearly) I do not really have a plan. I have gone from being the woman who could flick through her diary and tell you exactly what she, her husband, and her child, would be doing for the next three months day by day- to actually making most of it up as I go along, and doing it on my own. I am now officially everything the The Daily Mail despise. I am an unemployed, single parent social worker, with a distinct left wing bias, and will possibly become a benefit scrounger.
I quit the career which has defined me for most of my twenties, after a period of stress related sickness absence that was supposed to last a week, and ended up lasting 6 months. Without the definition of a career that I loved, and was good at, have found myself flapping along-trying to figure out exactly what is next.
I dont wake up knowing that if I dont phone such and such back, child x wont be getting into school, or if I dont arrange childcare for mrs so and so, she wont be able to attend the case conference for her son. Or worried that the black eye, which I was assured by a paediatrician was accidental, was not actually the result of child y running into his stepfathers fist. I certainly dont go to sleep knowing that the 76 things that still sit on my ‘to do’ list, cos a crisis took over, might lead to an oversight which could lead to child z being seriously hurt. Or hoping that my picture isnt the next to go atop a Sun Petition, with barely literate morons demanding my head on a stick.
Instead, as people who follow me on Twitter will know- I wake up and try to decide whether I should go to the park, or go swimming. Whether today will be a day for making collages with Rachel, or bilberry picking with the boyfriend(who is uber cool DJ sort with aviator shades and just happens to make a v nice bilberry tart). Should I have a sausage butty, or a bowl of cereal…another cup of tea…or ten..? This is very much preferable to knowing that I can afford to buy the very cute Jovonna dress, in my local boutique(although the pain of this is eased by the knowledge that the woman who owns the shop, will let me put things aside and pay them up over time..)
So ‘on paper’ isnt everything. In between wasting my time, ambling about, enjoying the fact that my diary is gathering dust on a bookcase(underneath a pile of books that I really should put away at some point), I make efforts to avoid my impending destitution(along with the guaranteed appearance on Jezza Kyle) and life is taking some very funny turns.
I applied for a job. A really great job. An uber job, with a great salary, that I would have been really good at. I didnt get it. I was v sad. For a day. Then I was relieved. Cos actually, an uber job with a great salary, would have got me back on track. But not the track that I wanted to be on.
So I applied to university to do a MA in Public and Social Policy-which I hope will lead to a Phd. Which will be very cool. Cos I will be called Dr. (how do you put a full stop after Dr.?-punctuation confusion????) Being called Dr. might improve my credit rating(it wont, and that would be a very shallow reason to do a Phd). And even though the university havent seen my references yet, on the basis of just my transcript- they took me.
I have missed most of the funding deadlines, and even though I have absolutely no clue as to how on earth I am going to pay for it- I have a feeling that something will turn up by September(when I say turn up, I mean that I will have filled out several million funding applications- playing up that I am a single parent, and possibly pretending to be a black lesbian ex offender with an interest in public services, and a particular affinity to whatever charity or grant awarding body might chuck money at me…)
I have just committed myself to being skint, and to flying by the seat of my pants financially, for possibly the next 4 years…and am ecstatic.
The ebay sale of my dignity, which signified a complete lack of fiscal responsibility, created a few turns of its own.
First of all, I only sold about 5 things. Those five things that I no longer needed- made up not only the shortfall in my rent for this month- but my direct debits for the next week, and enough to accompany my very mad friend Katy to one of my favourite festivals this weekend. As I have way more than 5 things that I no longer need- I know that should the financial shit, hit the very large fan again, I can sell more pretty but useless things.
And were it not for the fact that my favourite pair of shoes were won by someone who gave the office of the fashion supplement of the Daily Fail as her address(also known as the Daily Heil, Daily Mail, or bile spewing racist mysogynistic shitrag from hell…)- I would be very pleased with the realisation that things are just things, that have a resale value. As it is, I am happy in the knowledge that the shoes I have just wrapped in old copies of Private Eye, and the Grauniad, have been used for such a good purpose. Although am considering popping a cat poo in the box before I send it.(Which reminds me, my cat is refusing to poo in his litter tray- and has decided that the floor outside the bathroom is now his toilet).
As an afterthought, a bit of kismet has been at work in my life this week. When I was little, living on a rotten estate called Kirkholt in Rochdale, a woman used to babysit for me. She had two toddlers, one of whom I ran into in the town of organochavs and hippies where I live, as an adult. This was Juna. As a result of an accident when was he was slightly bigger than when I knew him- he has serious learning difficulties, and spends much of his time riding round on his bike trying unsuccessfully not to get into trouble.
He often comes and sits on the step with me, to have a cup of tea, and occasionally legs it to the shop for nappies, or cigarettes, or whatever else I have forgotten to buy. Today I went to sit on my favourite step, and noticed the the dense jungle of weeds which covered the cobbles since the beginning of summer, had been replaced by clean spade marks, and tidy pots and baskets. My neighbour said that Juna had been out there all afternoon with a spade, and had told her that he was making my house ‘look nice’, because I always made him a cup of tea, and gave him money when he needs it. (This is not strictly true- I have given him the odd quid for running to the shop, or bought him a pasty occasionally).
Anyway, I need to stop rambling to the computer, and go and find my lucky festival hat, wipe the crap off my wellies, and play with the wind up lantern, in preparation for festival madness…