Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hell Week

Gawd, I'm exhausted.

In the space of barely more than a week, I have finished off my gruelling series of late-evening classes on film studies at a distant university, put in 3 stints in the recording studio, begun a new series of business English classes at a software company (evenings again - oh, damn!), conducted 3 "Why don't you all learn English for the Olympics?" pep rallies for a local educational publisher, led a half-day teacher training seminar, and proofread a new "teach yourself business Chinese" textbook.

I worked every day of the 3-day long weekend holiday just passed (this year, the Chinese were, for the first time ever, given a one-day holiday for their traditional grave-sweeping festival of Qing Ming). Only a few hours each day, but that's a heavy psychological burden, enough to put a big dent in the day, to tear down the sense of 'freedom'.

OK, yes, that little lot only accounts for about 20 hours of actual 'work' - but trust me, teaching and lecturing, particularly in front of large audiences, requires a huge amount of energy; it's extremely emotionally draining.

And this particular spurt of work just past was especially taxing because it involved working for several different employers (on some of these gigs, for two different employers simultaneously - which is a whole extra layer of stress), in several different venues, scattered far across the city, and some of which I'd never been to before and had no idea how to find.

Moreover, alongside the actual hours of paid 'work', there are peripheral associated meetings, advance preparation, subsequent paperwork, extensive liaising via phone and text message and e-mail, all kinds of irritating delays and hold-ups and superfluous mid-session breaks and general faffing around..... and, of course, the seemingly endless hours of commuting in taxis and on subway trains. The total time I devoted to my labours over this past 7 or 8 days was probably way more than double the nominal number of hours on which my fees were calculated.

Such reflections are apt to induce depression. For the amount of effort I put in, for the passion and the expertise I bring to what I do, my effective hourly rate of earnings is really pretty dismal. However, I did just make nearly 7,000 RMB in one week, and that's more than enough to keep me going for the rest of the month. And it's more than twice what I was making with that dratted British education company last year. On balance, I suppose I do pretty well for myself.

Trouble is, it's always feast or famine around here. I have next-to-nothing lined up for the rest of the month......

No comments: