Dole, by Kerrie O Brien

dole

It gets to the point where you can’t work their way anymore. Because you’re not used to it anymore. And you’ve become too fragile in all sorts of ways. Your days revolve around the small achievements. Getting up, leaving the house and talking to someone. Getting up before its dark. Going for a small walk, maybe by the canal. Going for a big walk if you have the energy, if you’ve eaten enough. Not spending money becomes a game and an achievement. You learn the tricks. The longer you sleep, the less time you have to be hungry. You can’t sleep too long because it makes you unhappy. And your legs start to ache. Getting out of the house will mean spending money but if you stay at home you will, quite simply, go mad. You can’t apply for jobs every day because it gets too upsetting. You start applying for things you know you’d hate and not even getting rejection emails because they get too many applications. Rejection emails become an achievement. Someone noticed. You stop writing to the temping agencies because when they ring you at half eight you know you won’t be ready in a suit, you’ll be hung over or too tired so you never answer the calls. Reading becomes completely necessary. Not newspapers because they’re too upsetting. Reading becomes your cheapest form of escapism. It’s easier than talking to people because that will lead you to question what you’re actually doing with yourself. That’s too upsetting and terrifying. You very quickly learn to spend all of your time with people in the same situation – out of work poets, musicians and actors. Best to not deal with the reality of your current situation. At all. Until you have to. After a few solid weeks of this you are unfit for full time work. Things become very slow. Time becomes slow. You begin to consider your worth in the world because you can’t get a job in Londis. You begin to question everything and you wonder how much money you even want to earn. You hate money now because it dictates absolutely everything. You begin to truly understand how people become homeless. You wonder if you might become homeless. You don’t talk about making plans because right now you can’t make plans. Everything has become a distraction. You go out to forget yourself. Sometimes you feel enlightened. Sometimes you feel grateful for the lessons. You’ve learned the value of things. Sometimes you sit near the beach or in the park and it all seems ok. A lot of the time you feel less than yourself and angry. Drink becomes a huge issue. You can lose whole weeks to drink. You begin to realise how devastating addiction is. You try coke at a party even though you never thought you would. You start to sleep with people in a similar state because you understand and appreciate each other. You start to sleep around a lot. You learn the meaning of detachment. It all becomes about the small kindnesses. The very basic level of things. Clean clothes, sharing cigarettes, hot water, having a meal cooked for you. You learn not to judge people. Eventually you stop caring what you should be striving for begin to realise you’ve never had more fun in your life. You can go out all night, every night. You can do what you like. You have time for long conversations and good coffee. You can spend hours in every gallery and museum in the city. You get free wine at all the exhibition openings and book launches. You learn the true beauty of drugs. You become more attractive because you’re carefree. No one can tell you what to do. You have time to write. You’ve never been more creative in your life. You have time to fall properly in love. You begin to feel close to god. You feel you can see the essential truth of things. You’re in the moment. You’re living like a beatnik and getting paid for it. They’re the best days of your life.

Kerrie O Brien

From New Planet Cabaret, edited by Dave Lordan

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