Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shut It Down

When my partner and I split from one another the business came to a grinding halt. I think I worked three huge catering gigs by myself in MD because there was no way for me to get out of them, but I canceled all the booked events we had and a handful of cakes that I had agreed to make.

I went into hiding after that. I didn't pick up my cell phone. I didn't return calls. I didn't answer emails. Nothing. People thought we shut things down for good in order to relocate to Chicago, where Joel ended up moving to. No. I just shut myself down.

I traveled a lot that year within the states. I visited friends. I spent weekends away. I partied. I drank. I danced. I did everything I ever wanted to do plus more. I just didn't cook. My friend Melissa was getting married that year. I had agreed to do her wedding cake before the big split. She wondered if I would still be able to do it. I assured her I would be fine.

I did a baby shower cake for my brother's friend. This was the time of MySpace. I blogged about how my hands shook as I cut and decorated. I wrote about my anxiety, and how much sadness I had doing this cake decorating thing without Joel at my side. I wrote about how I had to stop several times during the process because I broke down crying. I wrote about my pain.

That cake still came out fantastically, though. Despite all the pain I went through, forcing myself back into the kitchen after my horrific split, my product was still solid. I even did Melissa's bridal shower cake. It's one of my favorites: Ivy and Roses. I even went as far as making Melissa's fiance's birthday cake: the WWE Ring.

Melissa got a lot of free cakes and desserts from me that year. A couple of months before her wedding, she sent me an email, telling me that she understood that I was going through a lot so she wouldn't dream of burdening me with the huge task of making her wedding cake for her. She was going to pay a real professional to do it. Anyway, with the horrible year I was having; she didn't want to add the wedding cake to the top of the pile of things for me to stress over.

Being a bridesmaid in her wedding, I did feel relieved of the burden as far as getting there on time. I would just have to concentrate on getting ready for the wedding. However, she wasn't straight with me, and I later found out that she didn't think I could make her cake as good as a "professional", and she was worried I would flake out on her because of the funk I was in over my split with Joel.

I learned a hard lesson that year. A friend is an eager friend when they can get free stuff out of you. She didn't pay for one ounce of cake that entire year from me. She was quick to send pictures of cakes she wanted me to replicate; cakes that cost well over a thousand dollars. What was she going to pay for her wedding cake from me? Nothing. I was doing it for free. Well, at least I wasn't going to have to foot the bill out of pocket anymore.

I was very hurt by the way Melissa handled the situation. I wish she just told me that my demeanor scared the crap out of her that I wouldn't be able to make this cake she wanted. When I saw the amateur cake she paid nearly $700 for, I wanted to smack her! She paid a "professional" $700 to produce a cake that some housewife could make in their own kitchen? And she was worried about what I was going to do!

I learned that I had to be more careful with what I disclosed to people. Even though I expected one of my oldest friend in the world to understand that I would not let my depression ruin her wedding cake; she couldn't see past the personal issues I was having. And throughout the year, I kept gracing her with cake after cake- ALL FREE to prove that I still had skills, but it still wasn't good enough.

I had to learn that a customer is a customer, no matter how much friendship was behind the initial cake order. Personal demons had no place in the kitchen. Whatever crap I was going through, however bad my day was, no matter how much I was crying- It did not belong in my kitchen.

It was good that I shut it down.

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