24 June 2008

to the girls in the office (and Ian)

I emailed my former boss and asked her to say hi to everyone for me. She did and then wrote back saying that every time my name is mentioned, the unit erupts in a fit of envy at the thought of me scheduling sailing trips and writing commitments, conducting food and wine tours about the region, and generally swanning around with gads of freedom and enjoying copious amounts of sunshine.

OK, it’s fair to say I’ve done a bit of free-wheeling over the past year.

But it’s time to set the record straight.

I have been in a big ‘in-between’ patch for a while now and feel obliged to illuminate some of the finer points of Life After Desk:

1. It does not pay (very often or very much). I have taken a most spectacular free-fall through the tax brackets. Which I was able to do because I scrimped long and hard, have no debt or dependents and have significantly pared back my cost of living. For the first time since student days, there is a concession card in my wallet. Completing my tax return is going to be, well, a (very quick) laugh.

2. Enforced cutbacks. As mentioned previously,
I have ceased to be a full economic participant. I'm not talking cutting back to one night out a week. Think self-administered haircuts and cask wine. My last cultural outing was in April: a half-price movie at The Nova. My last splurge meal was two sushi rolls and a Brother Baba Budan coffee. Recent purchases which passed the frivolity filter: op shop socks, calendula seeds, some Green and Blacks and a second-hand book about a family who survived 37 days at sea after their boat sank (endeavouring to remind myself of people worse off and the like).

3. I live with my parents. And spend 96 percent of my time in their space. Enough said. See previous posts if further enlightenment on the subject is required.

4. A nomad’s existence. I hardly see any of my friends or get invited to stuff anymore. I was so thrilled to be invited to streeteditors drinks in Brisbane last week that I considered checking out cheap flights, before my consumption conscience kicked in. Also, all my stuff is in storage, which kind of sucks after a while. I haven’t slept in my own bed in 15 months. I have a few bibs and bobs with me. The rest of my stuff is two states away. I can’t just pick up one of my books, or a card from an old friend, or use my sandwich press, or… etc. Also I had to give away loads of stuff I couldn’t store (including my indoor rock plant - thanks T for greenkeeping finesse/channelling Don Burke - and all my pot-plants). Maybe I should just buy a camel and a hessian sack and be done with it.

5. Quest angst and the wide sea of guilt: “Is this a viable existence?… Am I using my time productively or just skiving off?… Should I shelve the quest and go and earn some money?” etc, etc. Of all the fine points, this one has the sharpest end. Some days the questioning never stops.

So there! Swings and roundabouts. Life is life, no matter which side of the desk you're on!

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