Things are hard. They’ve been hard for a long time.
I work, hard. I was sick this week for days on end, the culmination of several weeks of clinging colds and illnesses that were only vaguely there. Then Monday night. The worst cramps I’ve suffered since I had to go home from school in Mr. Lemke’s 8th Grade Maths class, coupled with a fever and aches. I laid awake all night next to my husband (I sound so grown up!), and worried until dawn that maybe it wasn’t just a cold. Maybe it was PID, or meningitis. Or pneumonia. Or some other thing I could die of.
Needless to say, it was a cold. I’m recovering. My fever broke on Tuesday night.
And so here it is. I’m 28 now, and I’ve been having some hard times. I think it’s fairly safe to say that I am not alone in this. I’ve sure been listening to enough old Mumford and Sons (not that new, Coldplay-ripoff junk) to convince myself. You are not alone in this. You are not alone in this.
Yes, it’s been a long time and a hard one for my ‘Millennial’ generation. I commented this morning that I never felt the true weight of songs like ‘Don’t Stop Believin” and ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ until I started working so damn hard. This is the first week since I moved to China that I didn’t work more than 40 hours. Considering that I was slated to go to yet another unpaid training for five hours this morning, I count having a cold as a minor victory.
But this is the way it is. And I’m kind of freaking out about it, if I’m honest.
My laptop is broken. My earphones are broken (third time since arriving in April). I can’t seem to feed myself and my husband enough with the precious little time outside work left to me each day. I can’t keep our house sparkling clean. I have to commute about an hour to work and an hour home. I live in a city of 25-35 million (depending on who you ask). All my clothes have holes in them. We don’t really have many friends in Shanghai, nearly seven months in. The people that I tried genuinely to escape from the US have followed me here and force me to reign myself in daily, and to play my cards close to my chest. Play ’em close, Coleen….that’s what’s gotten you this far.
I have a paltry raise for the large increase in work from being in a ‘senior’ position. Nevermind that I am much more junior to most folks in my office, having been here less than a year. But this is the way for my generation, and for my brother, too.
Be generally competent, and they’ll make you a manager in four months or less.
It’s fine. We’re plotting our escape. Something amazing and radical. Something that the other teachers at our schools will never be able to understand, but which just might make them a little jealous.
And for now, I can cold brew my morning coffee and filter it myself. I sound like such a hipster, but I’m genuinely trying not to spend more than £6 on a bag of instant Nescafe shite. It might be milder, and hopefully it’ll be stronger. One of many tiny sacrifices for this life on the road.