Monday, December 20, 2010

Back to Reality

For one night...I was a rock star! Well, sorta.

After a week of bickering at home with my parents about this trip they already committed to taking with me, my mom finally got my dad to make good on his promise to drive down to VA. My uncle, who lives 10 minutes away from the party site agreed to let me use his kitchen.

We were supposed to leave at 3am. We left at 4:45. My mom's truck is doing the death rattle, so we borrowed my aunt's Lexus. And my father proceeded to drive 5 hours to VA with the AC on the entire way. I was pissed. I was trying to sleep in the back. Guess what? The back seat of a Lexus is NOT the most comfortable place in the world. Combine that with a bad back, the fucking AC running in the middle of winter, and both my parents arguing over the music...No sleep for me.

If I had worked straight through once I got to VA, I may have had a chance to finish on time. However, my cousin Ryan insisted on taking us out to lunch at this awesome restaurant, and I lost an hour and a half to that and a quick grocery run. If I was left alone to just do my thing, I may have finished on time, as well. But, once my other cousins found out I was in town, they all came over and wanted to "help".

Here's the deal. I'm a control freak. I toss together recipes that I carry around in my head. I improvise when I don't have ingredients or the right tools. I taste as I go, I wash my hands a million times, and I DO NOT like other people peering over my shoulder while I'm doing this crazy dance in the kitchen. I'm all over the place. I go from here to there with no rhyme or reason except for the fact that I just remembered something and I'm rushing to get it done before it slips my mind. In that chaos, I lose time and I make myself nuts.

If someone doesn't know this about me, and they try to help, all that happens is that I get even more flustered and it makes me lose my focus even more. Maybe only two people have been able to work with me in the kitchen. Joel & sometimes my mom. Joel would assign himself a task and stick to it until he was done. He wouldn't poke into what I was doing or disrupt my flow when I was moving. If he saw I was in the weeds (running behind), he would jump in and take care of something. He never asked, he would just assess the situation and take something off my hands; probably the one thing I'm forgetting at the moment. Once he learned not to yell at me for running late, working unorganized, or getting anxious- we managed to gel pretty well together.

In the beginning it was hell. He was very robotic and structured when he worked. I sort of just made it up as I went along. He would finish early, and I was always running late. His station was spotless, and I had food all over the place. We were the epitome of Ying & Yang. In his frustration with my inability to manage my time right, he would start berating me in the middle of the task. Big mistake! The last thing you do in a forest fire is douse it with gasoline. He just made things worse. We raged at one another at 5 or 6 gigs before he realized how to handle the situation better.

I learned to be a little more organized and to write things down so I don't forget them. He learned how NOT to approach me when I start getting flustered. He knew how to recognize when I was starting to fall behind or get agitated, and he would react accordingly. I learned to let go a little of the control and let him take over certain tasks. Once I convinced myself that he was just as capable as doing as good a job as I would do, it was easier to relax and just let him do his thing.

I think this is why I haven't taken on a new partner since Joel. My control issues and anxiety about letting go of the reins prevents me from letting someone prove to me that they can do the job right. So, it's  hard working with other people in my kitchen. Sometimes, my mom will just come in to do the dishes for me while I'm working. It free's up space and put equipment back at my fingertips all cleaned up. However, she always manages to take the stuff I'm still working with, and then I'm walking around in circles looking for bowls, tools, or equipment that I "just had in my hand a minute ago."

So, that very long tangent was just to explain that more help in the kitchen is not always "help" to me. Two hours from my deadline, I realized that I was going to be late. I start going into Freak-Out mode. My hands are shaking, I'm rushing from one task to another without really finishing anything. I'm starting to unravel, and my mom see's that the fine thread holding my patience together is about to snap. Out of no where, my cousin Ryan comes into the kitchen and pulls me down into his basement apartment to talk "business". I'm trying to explain to him that this is the worst possible time to do this, but he wasn't hearing it.

After making me relax with some deep breaths (filled with mood-altering relaxation enhancers), he tells me his business plan. I really do relax this time. His idea is fantastic! It's easy! It's new! And I am very excited that he wants me to head it up. So, come this new year, I may be moving. Not as far as I would have hoped, but it's a start. Finally, I can break away from my miserable past. A couple more deep breathes, a freshly popped can of Coke, and a fully replenished stash of relaxation herbs; and he send me back up to finish up.

I've never moved so fast. I managed to get all my dishes done. The last thing to do was the cake. It was not the best cake I have ever decorated, but it was the fastest! Fifteen minutes to frost and flower a half sheet cake! That's record breaking for me! I just managed to shower and change before we were whisked out the door and to the party. I was only an hour late this time, instead of the two hours I was late the last time. My time management is SOO in need to improvement.

This was the first time I was bartending by myself. Let me make it perfectly clear; I am by no means a professional bartender. I can barely pour my own drinks right, let alone someone elses. However, I know I have a great smile, a friendly personality, and a fantastic way of handling certain situations. So, I wing it. And I do well. My tip jar was overflowing, and it was a successful night. I'm hoping for a couple more gigs with these people in the coming months.

Another thing that happened this weekend- I left my phone at home. I almost never go anywhere without my phone. I have two lines. One line is my Droid Incredible; my new smartphone. That's my business line. It's the number on my business cards, it's the number I give out to new customers. My old line is my personal line. I've had it forever and it's still running on an older phone; the Alias 2 (not as awesome as the original Alias). That's my old reliable. Three day battery life, never misses a text or a call, service in the subway even! It's great! And I left it on my bed. I didn't panic because I had my client's info on my Droid. However, I felt a little naked without my Alias.

When I got back home, I realized it was a good thing I left it home. My inbox that I had just emptied before I left was chock FULL of texts from friends, acquaintances, and old customers asking to party, for advice, and for last minute cake orders. If I had the added stress of people calling and texting me while I was working this gig, I would have gone postal. I suppose it was a blessing in disguise to let things be. I love that my friends always try to get me to come out and have a good time. I like that new people I meet find me interesting enough to talk to me (instead of just cyber-knowing me). I'm also greatly appreciative of the people who want my cakes on their tables for those special events. However, it all comes at once at the wrong moments. And that's where I have to put business before pleasure. I'm sure it will all pay off sooner or later.
With personal issues plaguing my every day, I will fully admit that I let my business take a few hits because I was too depressed to chase after a costumer, too tired to work on a cake, or just too miserable to try out new recipes. This catering gig alone took every ounce of strength I had within me to go out and shop, prep, and head out to DC to get it done. I knew I needed the money, I knew the menu was simple, and I knew I could do it by myself. The problem was that I didn't want to do it alone, and the more I realized that I'm going to be alone for a long time to come, I only tossed myself further down that Funky Town Gorge.

I hope my cousin can make his business plan come into fruition. I hope I can quit my day job. I hope I can start over somewhere fresh where I don't have a past and I won't run into anyone I know. I know it means that "Queenie Cakes" may have to be placed on hold while I work with him.

This is a big risk to me. One thought occurred to me earlier today, and I hope I'm wrong. Someone who was showing some interest in my company last year kept saying how great my name was. It was perfect. I'm thinking my name may not be available to copyright, and I don't have to think twice about the jerk who would do that to me right under my nose. I'm bracing myself for the worse. I know what this world and the horrible people in it are capable of for the sake of money, and it shouldn't surprise me anymore.

If that happens, the only thing I can do is move on. But, it's like saving up a lifetime for your dream home only to have some asshole millionaire come along and buy it right from under you for double anything you could ever afford just because they can. When it comes to my business, and even my un-love life, I must say the Karma gods have been good to me. I've seen people who have done me dirty get their comeuppance. And a lot of the time, I feel terrible for what has befallen them, but you reap what you sow. I know I have.

Man, that was a long, boring post today. I think I'm losing my touch. Taking the advice of a couple of people, I think I'm going back to my old blog for my personal nonsense. It's easier for me to keep thing separated that way.

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