Today was a pretty dark day. It started off pretty well: I woke up before my husband left for work, we had breakfast together, I made coffee. I did most of my chores before lunch. I thought things were going really well.
It was right around mid-morning that I had my downward spiral. I remembered that work hadn’t e-mailed me yet about two contracts that I’m waiting on. I was offered both contracts in early December, and both would start in mid- and late January. I accepted both, and kept my schedule clear for them, and waited to get more information. I was told that they’d send more info before winter break started, but never got back to me. They asked me to wait until after winter break finished, and when I still didn’t hear back, they asked me to wait until after the three-day weekend (Coming of Age Day). It is now the evening of the 9th and I still haven’t heard anything back from them.
One contract is a renewal for a client that I taught last year. That was a trial run over the summer, only three months, and they sat on the idea of renewing for a full six-month course for ages. I am waiting on them to confirm that they really are going to go through with it, and the first lesson is tentatively scheduled for Jan 22nd, less than two weeks away. The other contract is a total unknown: I still don’t even know the name of the client or what level they’re at, only that they’d like to start at the end of January. That second client at least did confirm that they are going through with the course, though they have yet to send me the calendar, materials, or paperwork.
I’ve been on “vacation” since Dec 22 and will start my daytime work again from next Tuesday, Jan 16. That’s almost an entire month without classes, which means almost an entire month without pay. I do contract work, which means I don’t get paid for the time when I’m not explicitly teaching. My paycheck for next month was already going to be very thin because of all this time off, which I should note I did not request but which simply did not have any scheduled classes. On top of all that stress, now I have to worry about whether those two contracts I was promised for January will really come through.
I guess I don’t really need them. I still have my daytime work in Shinjuku three days a week until early May, and my Friday evening class until the end of February. And besides, it’s not as if they’ve fallen through, at least not yet. I was very good about saving money last year so I’ve got a nice cache just in case. But it’s frustrating to think that in that entire month when I wasn’t working, I could have looked for other work, I could have fought and winning for PL students, I could have (SHOULD have, some would say) been putting my eggs in as many baskets as possible to avoid this very scenario from playing out.
But I didn’t, because I wanted to enjoy my month off. I didn’t want to think about work, or go through the soul-grinding process of hunting for students. I just wanted a month to learn how to cook, to blog more, to read more, to do some walking, to listen to more enka on YouTube. I was doing pretty well, I thought.
Then I remembered, oh yeah. I’m a fucking mess.
People will be telling me for the rest of my life that I'm not and have never been a REAL teacher, I'll never get a job that will let me avoid packed trains or killing hours at a time waiting for next class to start, I'll never have job security or benefits or a stable schedule
— redlandcannibal (@redlandcannibal) January 9, 2018
I made plans to make dinner tonight, which meant I had to go out grocery shopping. I decided to stop by the community center too, though I don’t really know what I was looking for. I tweeted that I was going to look for book clubs, even though I knew there’s no way in hell there’d be an English book club at my local Japanese community center. I tell people that I’d like to start one, but who the hell would even join?
This afternoon was a combination of fruitless thrashing and cold drifting. I wafted to a book store and spent too long looking at book covers, even though I don’t own that many physical books to cover up anyway. I walked past the local temple and thought about taking pictures of it with my phone, then gave up and kept walking without even stopping. Something about spending the last month relatively happy, when I should have been looking for more ways to sell my labor, flipped a switch in me. All the anxiety that I’d been trying to put off has come flooding back, with interest. I can’t sit still, but I also can’t think of what else I should be doing, but also if I don’t move I may drown.
Today was a windy Tuesday with no rain. I have two and a half days before my first class of the year.