For a week now, I've been sick: I've had a sore throat. Not that this is an extraordinary event, on the contrary; I get them so regularly I can describe the onset and course, virtually like a professional:

A week ago yesterday, I knew I was coming down with something all day. It's easy; all day I was felling out of it, and as if there were some kind of pressure, or even warmth at the back of my throat. That night, about 4 or 5 in the morning, I woke up with a burning sore throat. The burning in the same place the warm pressure was the day before; the real pain when swallowing; unable to sleep. I got up, and took 2 ibuprofen--that seemed to control the pain, and I went to sleep.

That's actually the easiest part of it. The nasal congestion--like being set in concrete--and the running nose is the harder, especially when trying to sleep. It seems likeI have been unable to breathe all week, though it has abated a bit in the last 24 hours.

Because I have had pain and difficulty in speaking, sometimes so much so that I don't say what I would ordinarily say, I’ve been telling my students for the week I have someone else's voice, when I even have a voice. They all look at me strange--then I explain, and the light goes on.

I work in the new economy; I am an independent service provider. I am not employed. I get no benefits, like sick leave, or vacation pay, or unemployment insurance, though I put in a 36 hour week; this is without lunches, or coffee breaks, so I can I work full time.

Any labor board would, I am sure, rule me as employed, based on the old adage: if you do it in the boss’s premises, on machines provided by the boss, with material provided by the boss, you are employed.

But this is the new economy, same as the old economy: you only get paid if you work. Yet work for me, as for everyone, is the biggest part of my life; I organize my life around work.

My students, and their parents, think nothing of coming to lessons when sick, because, hey, it's only piano lessons, and who can't afford to waste money! Even when they are too sick to go to school, or work. And why not, it's only piano lessons--nothing important.

This is why I follow my high infection protocol, get an annual flu shot, and sometimes feel my enemy is the piano keyboard itself, and the hands of my students--and speak this complaint in the voice of someone else.

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