It’s remarkable what financial liberation can do to a soul. It frees you up, takes away that constant gnawing of I can’t because I… that curtails any kind of activity. It’s probably a mark of how deep capitalism runs into the contemporary subconscious that someone like me, who doesn’t see themselves as careerist in the slightest, gets so pulled about by it. And I wasn’t even poor, speaking globally. Even if I’d never found employment in Australia, I’d still have lived through it. I’d still have had bed and board courtesy of the Student Loans Company, a roof over my head and food, albeit cheap, upon the table.
But as it is — as it was — it got to me. I do my best in this blog not to talk about negative things until they’re over (dear reader, you have no idea how much whining this policy is saving you) and I can be all breezy like I’m being now (breeze, breeze), but even in here, hints of it got through. The wearied refrain of job hunting, the reference to my $25 weekly shop — a policy I’m still keeping up, but no longer just because I have to. Now, I’m being frugal where possible, because this means that I can go and buy cool things. This is a pretty commercialist-sounding source of happiness, but I regard it as excusable. I didn’t cross the world, after all, to sit in a room and read the free newspapers you get in train stations.
There is, nonetheless, an acquisitive urge to be resisted. This has especially been heightened by my foolhardy habit, while jobless, of seeing things I can‘t afford and deciding “I’ll buy that once I find a job.” If I actually acted on the piled-up total of all these thoughts now, I’d be working my way through twice my bodyweight in doughnuts — mostly due to the situation of Donut King in Indooroopilly shopping centre. It leers at me as I emerge from the supermarket with my bags of home-brand pasta.
Doughnuts, though, are easily resisted (mostly). Other wannabe purchases are a little bit more of a wrench to ignore. Terry Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight teases me from bookstore windows, and Stone Sour’s Audio Secrecy, Disturbed’s Asylum and Skunk Anansie’s Wonderlustre would have to appear right now, when I suddenly have no Spotify. (Note to non-European readers: Google Spotify, and lobby to get it extended to your countries. It’s divine.)
But resist I have, on the basis that when I get back to the yoo-kay next year, I can soak myself in a marvellous big popular-culture splurge. Whether this resolve will hold out, especially regarding Pratchett, I don’t know, but I am at least limited by the amount I can fit in my suitcase…
The reason why I’m trying to avoid purchasing fripperies is, obviously enough, because I’m here. And who know when I’ll ever be able to say that again*? So it seems only reasonable to stash up earnings into a nice pile marked “Australian type things: for the doing thereof,” and spend them accordingly.
Not, I hasten to add (he adds hastily, hastening to add), that they amount to a great deal. $80 per week is peanuts, really. Directly translated into pounds Sterling it’s around £48, but given that the Aussie minimum wage floats somewhere around the $14 mark, I think it’s probably significantly less in “real terms” (not those horrible nasty fake terms. Oh no. Those are dangerous.) Even so, dollars is dollars, and the fact that they exist where they previously didn’t means that things can be done which previously couldn’t. The first of which is a trip to the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. The first thing which I bought post-job-success was a 500ml bottle of iced coffee and a Chomp. The second thing was probably a 50c Hungry Jack’s ice cream. And there was that $1 convenience-store coffee on Saturday night. Oh, and I bought some cheap headphones today. And given that I won’t actually be paying Emil back for my Hinterland ticket until Saturday, I will also have paid for a haircut by then (booked in for Friday morning. Drastic and silly suggestions welcome, otherwise just my standard six-monthly hack at the long bits). Nonetheless, the Hinterland was the first real expression of financial liberation, and I’m really quite excited.
If you’re wondering what the Hinterland is, so am I. I haven’t the foggiest idea. There’s a society called QUEST (Queensland University Exchange Students makes up QUES, the T is a mystery) that organises trips and events, but in jobless mode I’d got into the habit of ignoring their messages. It was only when Morgan mentioned the Hinterland thing on Friday that a penny suddenly dropped into the slot marked AAAAGH COOL I CAN DO THIS STUFF NOW! All I really know is that there are waterfalls and glow-worms involved, and it costs forty dollars — that’s half a restaurant review, or eighty Hungry Jack’s ice creams**.
And so, I’m going to somewhere I don’t know to do I have no idea what on Saturday, and I’m thrilled. It will be the first time that I’ve been to a bit of Australia outside Brisbane — just outside, but exploration nonetheless. I’m psyched! I hope the glow-worms are friendly, like that worm in Labyrinth which said “’allo” and offered the girl a cup of tea.
This is where I’ll leave this one, I think, with me still hugging my knees in glee because the massive weight of worry is lifted, and I can do fun things like what an exchange student oughter. I realise that I’ve rather ignored the other recent events which I mentioned on Sunday — but there’s always next time, and frankly there’s so much going on just now that if I was to go into everything I’ve been up to, it wouldn’t be a blog so much as a shopping list of recent activities.
Now, speaking of shopping lists, I think that I might go and buy some doughnuts.
*Well, for as long as I retain my vocal faculties, given that “here” is a relative term. Obviously. But you know perfectly well what I mean. Get back to the blog.
** Forty if you go for the $1 ones dipped in chocolate. It’s generally worth it.