22 April 2008


With travels over and no work lined up til September, I’ve unwittingly winged into a new demographic: underemployed (I prefer ‘under’ to denote a temporary deficiency, as in ‘undernourished’, rather than ‘un’ to denote a complete absence, as in ‘unloved’, or a negative opposite, as in ‘unnatural’).

And so it is, I have no income and a negative cashflow. A rather tenuous situation, as previously noted, but one which became abundantly clear this week when I was completing an application for a ‘low income’ health care card. The questions covered every possible, legal source of income, from paid work to investments to welfare. After ticking ‘no’ to all these, there was a question along the lines of, ‘well, how have you been supporting yourself for the past eight weeks then, hmm?’ (eight weeks being the qualifying period for said card). To which I replied, ‘savings’, ignoring the fact that it’s been quite a bit longer than eight weeks and omitting my ingenuity in slivering my cost of living to a shadow of its former self. (For example, by not paying rent for eight months.)

The sway of the question (which I may have embellished above) was that it is impossible to forgo an income for eight weeks whilst continuing to exist as a valid human being. (When the Centrelink man asked me for a weekly average of my previous two months’ income, I was so unreasonably guilted that I dared not retort, despite my intense wishes, with a look of ‘how much white-bread-eating, TV-watching, four-wheel-driving and wage-slaving have you committed in the past eight weeks?’)

So despite this being a potentially depressing scenario – and despite my initial panics and Centrelink-induced guilts – I’m quite joyous at the realisation that I already have one foot outside The System. No income. Minimal consumption. Self-supporting. I’m over the wall, undetected. Now, if I can just find that unholy grail: to cover my living costs, and to enjoy doing so whilst contributing something good to the world. Argggghh, I’m a blaspheming, sorcerous wench!

I will exhaust my little acorn stash if I must. Otherwise, it’ll be hello suits-n-heels (and I think I’d rather stick a tarred knitting needle in my eye).

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