Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Times Apart That Were Just In Time-Paris in Winter (1)

Marcie was hit with a double-whammy early on in our relationship. After having worked at CVS for years, she was informed that CVS would be shuttering its Mission Valley location and abandoning the West Coast. She was completely surprised by it, and it could not have come at a worse time. Also going on at that time was her building’s condemnation and mass relocation of residents. Payments were made, but the stress of moving was now compounded by the need to find a new job.

At the time, I was still running the ice cream store for my business partner, launching our coffee shop, promoting raves and parties at clubs, writing for several underground papers and fanzines, and occasionally raising extra money by reading Tarot cards or selling knockoff concert tickets with another business partner. Once in a while, I bounced or worked the counter at some of the all-ages venues.

We were okay between that and my financial aid and scholarships, but Marcie was getting a little sketchy about my less reputable friends and activities and was feeling less than secure. The hell-raising soon began. Whereas her job was something steady and secure, my little operations could be somewhat "feast or famine."

“Why can’t you just work a normal job somewhere instead of getting involved in all these little rackets?” she asked me. “Are you a thug? You don’t have to do all that, you’re not stupid. Is this really easier?”

Of course, if I did that, my financial aid would fall apart. Better to be under the table and fully funded, I felt. Nevertheless, I took a job at the school, tutoring and working as the Instructional Aide to the Chicano Studies department. It was good work, and by doing it under Federal Work-Study, I was able to stay aid-eligible.

Marcie looked and looked for jobs, trying her passion, books, at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. No dice. She tried several different publishers, also without luck. Finally, she had a break. Her friend from high school (her brother’s, more accurately) Greg, was a supervisor in Customer Service at the Union Tribune. They were hiring.

She had to wait a bit before she worked, and when she did, she pulled the worst shift of her life. She had to get up and make it to the bus by 5 am to get to Mission Valley on time to start work. On Saturdays, the bus ran later and she was always pressed. We had no car.

Her life was hell, and she did not come to enjoy the constant pounding of angry subscribers. When finally she was offered a new job as the job scheduler, a person who ran computer batch processes for the drivers and regional managers in circulation, she jumped at it. The time was still early.

She was always tired and always wondering when she would be able to take a vacation, as she had no substitute. She was getting mean. She needed to recharge.

She finally got a vacation from January 1st the 15th. She knew what she wanted. “I’m going to Paris,” she said. “Don’t even think about telling me it will cost too much.”

It almost didn’t happen.