Hoo dear. It’s Christmas 2011 and I’m too broke to buy presents.
I really am. I’m quite good at conserving money. I picked up on my mother’s habits from a past generation, and different culture. Buy a bottle of water for £1 while out shopping? Never! Toss out the leftovers? No, just tip on some Tabasco and get eating.
However… my bank balance has reached a brand new low. A milestone has passed. The safety net is mostly gone. So there we are, I actually can’t even afford to buy Christmas presents this year. I’m not sure how much longer I can pay rent.
I have to sign onto Jobseekers’ and also to try and get Housing Benefit this week. HB has become much harder than it was before- the centre is packed, and when I applied last week I soon got a phone call asking suspicious questions about the details I’d given to the customer service bloke, which were apparently the wrong details, and which need more proof, and why hadn’t I provided these things? Not only did I feel like a pretty big failure at life, I also felt like a benefits scrounger. It is also too bad for me that my landlord has gone back to Turkey for the month. The last time I asked him to sign a form, when I think he was in the country, he duly returned it four months later. If I get HB, it will not be for several weeks. This is a problem.
Jobseekers… well… my heart just sinks on the thought of going to the Jobcentre. It probably won’t be a problem to sign on again, but it’ll be, well, brutal to my mental health. I can’t say how shit it feels to go for Jobseekers. I’ve got two university degrees, and an embarrassing amount of unemployed months to my name. I look like the textbook example of some stupid over-educated middle-class twit bimbo. What can I say in my defence? I don’t even know any more. I was so happy to sign off… holy hell.
I can’t move back to my parents’ home. I’m not kidding when I say my parents live in abject poverty too, in much worser surroundings. If I moved back in, there would literally not be room for the three of us in that house. Also, there is no heating, my mother verges on suicidal a lot of the time, my dad’s retired and poor, and occasionally the two of them still have rows which I hear through the plywood walls. Even as an adult, you never get a defence against that sort of family strife, except distance.
I’m doing my best with job applications. I have applied to shop jobs, NHS jobs, TV jobs, office jobs, graduate schemes, tutoring jobs. I have been turned down for a shop assistant position, most TV jobs, two graduate schemes, and one tutoring agency. I need to continue all these. I also need to apply for more volunteering jobs. It is a troubling daily lifestyle. I believe in the advice that job applications should be treated as a job in themselves- but in practice, I am not doing so well at this. I can’t start at 9am and finish at 5pm. I just go all day. Sometimes it takes all day to do a couple of covering letters, so I just spend all day. There’s never a good time to justify not applying. It feels a bit like being back at uni the first time round, when I didn’t have a clue in hell what I was doing and when I was meant to stop studying or not. I don’t know, I can’t stop anyway to stop and reason it out, so I just keep going. It’s wearying. And because it’s wearying, I get pretty upset, and occasionally will be typing away while listlessly weeping a little, like a dripping tap. Actually, the boyfriend has just wordlessly moved rooms because I started the weeping. I wish he was a counselor, instead of an aspiring academic.
I guess this is the worst time of year to be fretting over employment- few are likely to be suddenly hiring over Christmas- but I can’t stop. Unemployment is a full time 24/7 occupation. I’m blaming myself for the fact that my job applications frequency has been off this autumn, because I had interviewed for, and been accepted, for a job in September. Unfortunately the start was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. So now it’s the end of the year and I still haven’t started, and I don’t know when, or if, it will go ahead. It’s true that the security of having that job took the pressure off. I kept looking for positions, and applying, but not as many. I was just looking forward to the mental respite of having a 9-5 and putting my head down for a while. Really f’d up my autumn and now my Christmas, but… if they finally do get me started, well, what can I do? Shut up. Put up. A bird in the hand is worth more than the overdraft in my bank account.
Damn! I just checked my email and found that a course I signed up for has been moved from January to April. That was another thing I was planning my time around. No course in January… means again, I’ve been planning for something that in the end, did not happen.
I’m at the end of my rope, crisis point reached.