Quick note in addition to my Wednesday blog: this week has been… a bit not good. Tough, even. I expected myself to Do Stuff to do with my permanent residency – something that I am beginning to accept might not happen, because as I do the research, it turns out that the way I worked, earned and survived might not be good enough for the British taxman. I am still looking into it, but also trying to let it go slowly. I wanted this. Settled status will still be a option, later. We will see.
It is a very strange thing to think of the years I’ve spent in this country – growing up, learning about myself, trying, failing, designing my artistic career – as a retroactive audition for citizenship. I certainly didn’t “perform” my life to earn a passport, I haven’t come over with that in mind. I’m not the most business-minded person, although I am working to change that: that means that when I registered as self-employed, it was to find out whether I could hack it as a performer and get legally paid. It doesn’t mean I had what is considered a “viable business idea” or knew how to realise such an idea. Or earned enough to prove that in retrospect I was The Correct Kind Of Potential Resident.
So many of us. Doing cash-in-hand jobs, floating, trying to be free, trying to survive, trying to be artists, performers, to add beauty to life. In this new world order, we are so vunerable, so unpractical, considered unnecessary and extraneous, of low value. Kafka-esque paperology. Good thing I know that my value doesn’t rest on it.
And today is Friday. So I went swimming. I love swimming. For now it’s enough.
Okay, it is time to admit it: I started to miss social media. My phone, aside from the “call” and “text” functions (okay, and WhatsApp) seems like a glorified clock. Well, I do still use the camera. But anytime I take my phone, I might look into the browser (there are things that I might read Someday, there), I can clear some data, take a selfie and check emails… and then I run out of things to do. It is not a little eerie that a thing that used to occupy many of my precious HOURS is now seemingly useless.
But here is the one thing I don’t miss: Brexit. Even with my limited media intake at present, trying to actively avoid knowledge of it while preparing for its eventual presence, it is ubiquitous. Friends send links; my radio/alarm clock device talks about Theresa May with relish while I blearily try to get my bearings in the morning; randomly picked up newspapers share that David Cameron bought himself a cottage to write his memoirs. Nice job if you can have it, I suppose.
The word on everybody’s lips appears to be… Brexit (sung to Chicago’s “Roxie”, of course) and while I understand why, I’ll admit to being weary. I would like to be more of an activist, and when I rebuild my mental health and good online habits, I will likely look into pragmatic and not-burnout-threatening ways to engage; however right now self-care and showing up at a heavily understaffed workplace (my current line of non-artistic work attracts a lot of immigrants…) take up all available energy and time. I am doing small things, like cooking and essential oil baths, and bigger things – like applying for festivals and figuring out my artistic plans; I might, at some point, resurrect F*cking European as it is undoubtedly timely. What I refuse to do is be buried in a news avalanche. I have good sleeping habits; I intend to keep those.
For now, three weeks in this self-imposed fast, I find myself reflecting on the power of boundaries – a topic that has been more and more relevant of late. In trying to consciously engage, I have refused to be drawn into the information miasma, refused to be swallowed by the clickbait monster. In the attention economy, I am hoarding my precious currency, mostly because – tired as I feel – I want to spend every penny on things that matter. In this last stretch to Brexit, many things matter less… and things that used to be less important matter more. Example: I take joy in throwing things out and arranging them to my satisfaction: it’s a physical representation of the streamlining process that my life is currently undergoing.
I discovered of late that while I could go to Berlin or Warsaw and start everything anew, I value the life I made; I have found friends, career and love here; I want to stay. Working towards a sustainable life that would allow me to do that occupies a large portion of my attention. It feels terrifying and vulnerable to admit that much; to be attached; to be at the mercy of Home Office in this way. But that’s the way my path seems to lie. I’ll tidy socks, make a freezer dinner and start learning for the Life In The UK Test. At least my pub quiz career has given me some preparation…. and while I live the uncertainty, I don’t know how to finish this post. It’s hard to say that I am purely hopeful; but I’m being pragmatic and taking care of myself. As per site policies, right now that is good enough.