Sunday, September 24, 2006

You, me & Hilda

Fairy doing her shopping at Bangalow market

Soon after Lovergirl and I moved in together, she said, 'Oh by the way, now that you're living with me, you're going to have to accept Hilda.' So now every year we have a visit from Hilda,
who pries into our most personal information. Hilda asks questions like, 'How satisfied are you with your earnings?' and 'How many children do you intend to have?' and 'On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you in your relationship?' Hilda's just been by again.

HILDA stands for something - Household Income Labour Dynamics Australia or some such. It's a huge Australia-wide longitudinal study and Lovergirl was in the original randomly selected cohort. Now, whoever she lives with gets scooped up into it as well. I periodically see newspaper articles derived from HILDA and think, 'I contributed to that.' They'll be headlines like, 'Australians more satisfied now than five years ago,' or 'Young people more likely to wed than older people' and so on.

We have the same interviewer every year. Mavis is a skinny, nervous old biddy with a clown wig of springy grey hair. She lives in Nimbin and spends a couple of months a year driving around the hills and dales of the North Coast asking people personal questions. She says we each stand for 1200 Australians, so I hope you feel your views are being accurately represented. It's reassuring to think there are 1200 other lesbians out there trying to get pregnant, in generally good health, who would like just a bit more money but on the whole feel connected to friends, family and community and are highly satisfied with life.

It's actually quite interesting - certainly a whole lot more interesting than the dry old census was earlier this year. HILDA seems to be concerned with issues of social capital and living standards. It asks about how much volunteer work I do, how many clubs I am in, how safe I feel in my community as well as the condition of my physical and mental health, and whether I am caring for any other people. I have to rank different aspects of my life out of ten - health, relationship, work, financial situation, quality of friendships, hope for the future. It's intriguing to see the same questions each year and think about how my life has changed - or not. Every time I do it - this is my third year, and Lovergirl's sixth - it's brought home to me that my life is pretty darn good. Enough money (the questions are things like 'In the last month, how often did you go without food because you didn't have enough money?'), beautiful house, great friends, a safe and close community.

Of course with any survey there are bits where we just don't fit. They ask how satisfied you are with your main job, which is defined as the job in which you earn the most money. A couple of years ago I remember I was making the most money from the hideous crisis team, sucking up people's misery for them, but keeping my sanity by identifying with my side business as the much less well remunerated freelance writer. I was most disgruntled that I couldn't report on how happy I was with that! One of the questions Hilda asked this year was how likely I am to get married in the next year. Of course Mavis only had five options on her Likert scale - 'not at all, not likely, maybe, likely, definitely.' I said, 'Well it depends on what you mean by married... We have talked about travelling overseas and getting legally married but of course we wouldn't be married in Australia...' which nonplussed her a bit. But she bravely wrote the answer in the margin, saying, 'I'll leave it for the coders to figure that one out!'

Mavis and I did nearly come to blows over the 'how many children do you intend to have?' question. I said two, and later it somehow emerged that Lovergirl would be the one bearing the
children. So my two got scribbled out, because they wouldn't be mine. Harrumph.

Adventures with Sperm

We're doin' the do again this weekend. Poor old Donor Dan had a migraine on Friday, but he still managed to come up with the goods. Amazing. I was worried his head might explode in a mass of bloody grey goo. Saturday morning we had to be back in Byron by 10.30am and Danny was going off to some gay adventure at Movieworld on the Gold Coast at 8 am. So we met outside Danny's apartments at 7.30 and went and inseminated in the back seat of the car in a dead end street opposite a park in the inner suburbs of Brisbane! Isn't it weird how life just comes full circle. Still, if it works for sixteen year olds, it might just be the trick that works for us. Then I drove home with Lovergirl lying across the back seat of the car, giving a running commentary on the top one-third of buildings and trees. She likes to drive - I'm usually the passenger - but she relinquished control very bravely.

So if you see a mid-thirties woman lying in the back seat of a car somewhere, smile and think fertile thoughts for her.


thirdcat said...

I'm not likely to see her from here, but will smile and think fertile thoughts nonetheless. Good luck.

Mikhela said...

Thanks :) ... fertile thoughts from those who've already managed to produce fruit-of-their-loins are particularly helpful