Monday, September 27, 2010

Burn Out

Business or Pleasure? : Business, Dammit! Okay?! It's Business?!

In 2007, Queenie Cakes was booming! I had a steady stream of regular customers that sold my cupcakes and cakes in their diners and restaurants on a weekly basis. I had special cake orders that totaled at least 15 a week, not to mention big events like baptism, huge house parties, some weddings and engagement parties. Joel did his part. I never lacked anything I needed to run my business. Business cards, labels, boxes, equipment, ingredients, and customers. He brought in more business than I could handle sometimes.

Food orders we worked together. Events that required me being there usually were negotiated in way that Joel was paid to be there, too. The cakes were all my doing, but he got me to the delivery point time and time again. He motivated me when I was losing focus. He kept me awake when  was on my 3rd night with no sleep and still more than half of my Thanksgiving Pie orders to finish. He rubbed my aching back, ran a hot bath for me, and kept my fridge well stocked with my fuel of choice- Coke. (The soft drink!)

It got to the point where I was taking days off from my regular job in order to complete orders for my night jobs. I was sleeping a lot less. I was irritable all the time. I was constantly tired and in danger of just collapsing. Despite all the work we were being given, Joel and I were fighting constantly. I begged for a break; a real vacation.

Our lease was coming up for renewal, and Joel made it clear he did not want to spend another year at that apartment. His mother had passed away a year before that and we no longer needed to live in that building to take care of her. (She used to live in an apartment right above us.) He promised a bigger apartment in a better neighborhood. I told him it was time to start looking to buy.

Besides working, we spent that year looking at co-ops and small houses. The houses were out of our price range, and the co-ops that I liked were in buildings that were very strict. Joel worried that someone would rat on us for running out business out of the apartment and we could lose our security deposit if we got kicked out. We bickered over things like that constantly. I finally conceded to rent for another year to save more money. He found a three bedroom apartment with a 3-room kitchen-dining room area and a huge living room. It was a little more than we wanted to pay, but it was in Maspeth, which I suppose would be slightly better than where we were situated in Woodhaven. We were set to move in three months.

That summer was busier than anything I can remember before that. Every single weekend was booked full of cooking and cake gigs. My regular customers were increasing their weekly orders. This meant more work and less sleep for me. Our joint account / house-fund was growing bigger with each paid gig. I should have been happy. I should have been excited. I was so damn tired, though. I was always so tired.

I managed to get off a night once a month to meet up with my old high school girl friends. That was an issue for Joel. Was I going back to my alcoholic ways, he would ask me. If I slept in an hour later on a Saturday morning, that was an issue for Joel, too. He insisted I stick to a schedule. If I put off baking my cakes until the day before an event, that was an issue. Every deviation from our lives the last five years was disastrous to Joel. He wanted structure, routine, and predictability. Anything less was going to "ruin everything".

That was it. One HUGE fight and it was all over. Our life together. The joint business. Our home. Everything was over. In the space of a few minutes, our entire foundation was demolished and our business and lives crashed down. It only took a few minutes to destroy what we spent 5 years building.

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