Our first payday since we embarked on this “alternative lifestyle.” Tutoring will always be a fall-back income stream for us. Neal previously started his own SAT preparation company (as a 22-year-old college dropout — weird, right?) in order to make decent money with flexible work hours. Not too long after we got married in 2007, he began to talk about quitting the SAT business because after four years, teaching high school students the difference between nouns and verbs becomes tedious. But every year I persuasively talked him out of quitting with my elegant logical reasoning powers: “But we need FOOD! I’m NOT eating rice and beans every day!” Finally, last year, I gave in and he has spent the last several months not preparing students for the SAT, something he had previously done every spring for nearly ten years. I think he much prefers drawing stick-figure comics for a living (or not-living, as the case may be).
But I digress. (Fair warning: I do that a lot.) Back to tutoring as fall-back income stream. SAT prep expertise happens to be a very marketable skill and we’re confident that in a state like California where pretty much everyone takes the SAT, Neal could easily find tutoring work. But since we have the opportunity to be picky right now (until that day, about once a month, when I suddenly freak out because it’s painful to watch our account balance dwindle), SAT work is on the back burner. Although I’ve tutored people in everything from math and statistics to English and writing, I was also not actively pursuing tutoring work because (1) it is not necessarily my ideal work, (2) I hate marketing myself, and (3) I hate asking people for money. I like the flexibility of tutoring, which can ebb and flow with my health swings, but the other considerations made it less appealing. But when a new friend approached me about tutoring her in some college classes, and I was near one of those freak-out days, I said okay. And it’s actually turned out to be a lot more fun and interesting than I even expected. Can you believe I got paid to discuss the criminal justice system for 45 minutes the other day — something I do for free as often as I possibly can? It really is a pleasure to work with someone who, when given the opportunity to write about anything, wants to write essays about criminal justice reform, healthcare reform, and educational equality.
Still, I consider tutoring to be no more than an occasional income stream, at least for now. I am not actively recruiting new students and my current one will likely only need my help for writing-intensive classes. But if you hear of anyone specifically looking for tutoring on the criminal justice system, send ’em my way!