Big Things

“But I can’t possibly miss it, R.  This is like the biggest thing to happen to Rick since…well…probably General Hospital!  I have to be there and take photos for the site, to meet people about the new CD release.  I have to be there!”

Rick Springfield had just signed a contract to appear in the Vegas show, “EFX”. Entertainment shows were covering it, and combined with his release of “The Greatest Hits Alive” to mass market in January, the effect for Rick’s career could be huge. Opening night was in late January, and the MGM Grand had scheduled a concert for the week before, just prior to the release date for the new CD.  If I went, I probably couldn’t stay long enough to do both the concert and opening night, but I might be able to see Rick in rehersal and glimpse what the show was going to be like.

R looked up at me from his computer screen, eyebrows raised.  “Is Mr. Springfield planning on paying for your flight and hotel, then, if it is a working trip?”

I bit my lip.  Yes, it was a huge bone of contention that for the most part, I wasn’t being paid for the work I did for Rick Springfield.  He did offer to upgrade the software I was designing the site with; while he’d been pleased with the redesign I’d put together last summer, in advance of the new CD, things were happening quickly.  I needed more capabilities than my little Adobe PageMill could offer.   I had been so grateful to do anything that mattered to Rick that I never even dreamed of asking for a paycheck.

“I’ll use the CD sale money to go,” I offered.  Rick had sent a nice check, just before Christmas, to pay me for the hours of work on the sale.  I’d been grateful for it, but didn’t want to think about the fact that I’d probably earned $0.25 an hour or so by the time the smoke cleared away.  “R, I know it seems nuts, but you have no idea how much I say no to that I could be doing right now.”

It was true.  It was hard to watch fans that had no children or older children to be able to go to show after show after show. Rick had taken Vivian, Elizabeth and I to dinner at the last show we’d all attended, ostensibly to go over sales numbers. He’d also taken us up to his hotel room to show us the artwork for the new record.   He talked to all three of us about our families, shared with us some of the things going on with his, and generally made us feel appreciated for all of the hours of work we were putting in as “Team Rick”.  Experiences like that made all of the unpaid hours worth it, and I could be having a great many more of them if I were freer to go to more shows.  Vivian was a fixture at any show within a 300 mile radius of her Missouri home; the band all knew her and saved spaces for her in the entourage.  It was heady and exciting to think that I could muster that kind of treatment too.

“I don’t care what other people are doing.  Vivian doesn’t have a baby at home.  You do.”

I sighed.  “Don’t you think I know that?  I spend all day, every day at home with her.  There are days that you are the only adult I see.”

“Well, maybe now that you’re not going to the post office every day for CD orders,” R quipped.  “You don’t see other adults because you’re chained to that computer every second that the baby isn’t awake or Z isn’t here.”

I flushed; of course he was right.  “Well what the hell else do I have to do?” I said through clenched teeth.  “I gave up my teaching career to follow your job, got all set to do it again only to have your job move us again.  It’s not like I’m going to run right out and set up something else that I will just have to give up in a year or two.   I might as well do something that I can do from home while I’m taking care of everything else.”

It was a low blow.  True, but low.  I’d certainly left Michigan of my own free will, but I still smarted from feeling like I’d given up a very promising teaching career.  Every day it felt like R was moving forward and achieving great things at his new job, while I was washing dishes and folding laundry again and again and again.  Doing the work with Rick Springfield at least made me feel that I was more than just a housewife and mother; it gave me an identity outside of the four walls I stared at every single day. Maybe I wasn’t getting paid all that much, but there were a lot of people in the world that looked at me differently when they heard my name and realized the work that I did.

R turned back to the computer screen, quiet for a moment.  I stood next to him, my arms folded, my anger rising as the seconds passed and the silence continued.  Suddenly, I realized the clicking of the mouse and typing on the screen was R booking my plane ticket.  “When’s the absolute last minute you can go and not miss all this crap?” he asked sullenly.

I unfolded my arms, slowly, and the truce held.

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