Monday, April 18, 2011

Knee Jerk Reactions

...and the people that get kicked when it happens.

Like most people who are concerned about running a successful, thriving business, I often agonize over my decisions as though they were life and death. No decision is ever that serious. What color should the boxes be? Am I using the right brand of butter? Should I have given that stranger so much info about me? Was it okay to accept that favor? What happens if I chose wrong? What happens if the choice I made ends up biting me in the ass?

What happens is that it's going to suck, I may lose some cash, I may lose a customer, I may get angry...But then I cut my losses and I move onto the next thing. I've been told by so many successful people that the right decisions are not always within arm's reach. Sometimes mistakes are made that will cost you in one form or another. However, your success is not marked by smooth sailing and all the thing that went right, keeping things moving. Success lies within stumbling over a mistake, picking yourself back up, correcting it, and getting things back on track. Being successful is all about making the best of ANY situation, and still managing to keep things going forward, despite the roadblocks.

And that's where I fail.

I'm quick to realize where I am wrong. I try not to waste time blaming people who dropped the ball or circumstances that just didn't work out. However, my recovery from the stumble is slow. I get stuck on the fact that I just fell flat on my face, and I have a hard time getting back up and getting things moving again.

It's all in my head. It's in my shame for having failed. It's in my anxiety of failing again. And, it's in my doubt of whether or not I can do this. Bottom line is- all that's gotta go.

I was just in Atlantic City Saturday night for my friend's annual birthday event with her husband and his friends. At one point, things got heated amongst the group, and I took a walk, finding myself in the observatory area of the Pier. If you haven't been there, it's a covered structure attached to Ceasar's that goes out into the water. (See the picture to the right. It doesn't do it justice, though.) The top floor is where all the high end restaurants are. Along the massive windows that surround the area are beach chairs set up on sand. So, it feels like you're sitting on the beach, staring out into the water. Here's a couple of pictures so you can sort of imagine what I'm talking about.

Okay, so that's the set up. Like I said, the pictures don't do this spot justice. As pretty as it is during the day, if you are looking out over the water during a rain storm, in the winter, or at sunset, the views are absolutely breathtaking.

I'm not a huge gambler. I enjoyed going to AC for the shopping, the eating, and most of all this spot. A couple of years ago, during a particularly rough patch, I had this awful nightmare. I was sitting on one of these chairs, looking over the ocean with my bf, (at the time). It started to rain. The waves were getting bigger. It was really so beautiful, we didn't move. As the storm grew more violent outside, the people around us started to run. They panicked that the rising tides would engulf the pier, break through the glass, and swallow everything up and drag it back out into the sea. The scene was still just so compelling, we both just sat there as the people around us scattered in the midst of the chaos. The waves did rise higher and did start to crash against the window in front of us. I started to get scared. I flinched back as wave after wave started to pound against the glass. I wanted to run, too. I wanted to get up and join the crowds scurrying away. My bf just held my hand, smiled, and told me to relax. It was fine, he said. The glass is strong. We would be safe. Just enjoy the show. Not wanting to leave him behind, I sat, holding his hand, still terrified that we were going to be showered in a rain of shattered glass and sea water any minute. But, he sat quietly smiling, stroking my hand, and silently assuring me everything was going to be okay. I watched as the ocean level arose, and half of our picture window was under water. We were alone now in this space. Everyone had run away. My stomach turned, sickened that any moment now, we were going to die. Before I knew it, the windows were completely submerged underwater. We watched the sealife that we didn't even know was out there swim by. Debris from the beaches and boardwalk floated through like toys in a bathtub. Everything was calm. I was calm. My anxiety abated. This was okay. Even if that glass broke and we drowned in those cheap beach chairs, it would have all been worth it to witness that scene and to give into the peace of the moment. It was a peace that I very rarely enjoy...ever.

About a month after that "dream" (or nightmare...I like to think of it as a dream), the bf and I actually took a nice long weekend vacation to AC. We used my timeshare, which was the first time I ever used that overpriced piece of property as an actual vacation for ME, and not my family or friends. As I walked him through this window area, and we sat on these same beach chairs, I tried to sheepishly tell him about my dream. I felt foolish trying to clumsily find the words to aptly describe the roller coaster set of emotions I went though- the happiness, the fear, the panic, the anxiety, and then the peace. I don't think I did a very good job. When I was done with my 5-minute botched summary of my dream, he kind of gave me a polite smile and a quizzical look. "I think you just need to learn to relax more, babe." A quick peck on the cheek, and that was his take of my super visceral dream. Communication was always one of my weakest points. =(

Anyway, that weekend was one of the best one's I have ever had in AC, and it's been difficult  for me to go back there ever since. This past Saturday was only the 2nd time I've set foot on that boardwalk since my vacation two years ago. In hopes of trying to let go of old demons, I tried to go grab a bite to eat at the Piers. They have a set of super high-end restaurants. The ex and I had eaten at 2 of the 4 places there. I was going to try and have a light dinner by myself at Phillip's seafood (our favorite restaurant of all the places we ate that weekend), but my stomach turned and I couldn't bring myself to do it. It's not the whole eating alone aspect. I'm over that. It was the food memory. It's hard to unburn a memory that you've associated with restaurants or food. Ok, well, it may not be hard for normal people, but it's hard for me.

I've said many times over that food is love. I share my favorite meals and foods with people I love. The more I love a person, the more I try to share my most honored foods with them. Since my track record has been so horrendous with life partners, I think I need to stop doing that. I've stopped going to some of my favorite restaurants because of this quirky habit. It didn't help matters this Saturday.

I opted for the high end sushi bar across from Phillip's. That was cool. Nice cocktails. A bunch of other lone diners, and a very friendly waitress and bartender. We struck up a conversation fast with one another when one of them spotted my ring, and before we knew it- we were talking about dragons, Lord of the Ring, Game of Thrones, and other geeky/medieval subjects. Then, I told them about my last vacation there, the dream, the food orgy, and the horrible fight we had the last morning of our trip. Maybe it was all the free drinks they were plowing me with or it was a slow Saturday for them or maybe we all just happened to click, but then everyone started to open up about past relationships and the way it affects them today. The waitress, Kelly, started crying when she talked about her ex. It was clear she was still in love with the guy, but settled on the guy she's about to marry in a few months. "He's good to me, he's stable, and I know he'll be a good husband...but he's not my ex. It's okay, though, I'll get over it." I tried not to judge her for her choice. We all make these decisions based on the hand we're dealt. All I kept wondering was, "What if you don't get over it?"She laughed and said, "Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough!"

I watched a couple fight this weekend. It didn't seem like the fight was sparked by anything too egregious. Someone said something. Words were exchanged. Before you knew it, one person walked out on the other one, muttering that it was over for good and that they were leaving. From my point of view, being a runner myself, I've always been the one to storm out in the heat of anger, muttering that I was done and gone for good....only to calm down, feel terrible, and then come back with a very sorrowful apology. This time, I sat there and saw what happened when the door closes after the person's stormed off, and I saw what it does to the person left behind. My heart broke for them. There were no words I could find to bring comfort because I have always been the asshole in the past. What does an asshole say to justify why another asshole just did what they did?

It's a knee-jerk reaction to a situation that can't be controlled at that moment. For my safety, I've always run. When I say safety, I don't mean emotional safety. In the past, I had to physically protect my well-being and put myself out of harm's way. I learned to run. Unfortunately, once I learned to do that, it was hard to stay put in the company of sane, rational people. Because the fear of getting brutalized is so engrained in me, my "Run" command is on a hairline trigger, and that has lead to the end of a couple meaningful relationships.

My kinks are still getting ironed out on that front, but I realized that I sometimes I take that route with my business. If things feel strange or unstable, rather than taking a risk, I run. I cancel orders. I refuse to take orders, pretending I don't have the time or the free dates. While protecting a larger venture with more money at stake would probably profit from this mentality, when you're a small business like me, this is the time to take the risks. This is the time it's okay to fall flat on my face, because there isn't much to lose right now. It's okay to mess up, because at this stage, it's still easy to clean and start fresh.

I realized that my knee-jerk emotional reactions will continue to hold me back as a person and as a business owner if I don't learn to get those things under control. It's not easy changing a pattern of behavior that you learned in order to protect yourself. As humans, we all instinctively take proper measures to defend or protect ourselves. 

My business is my baby. It's all I have to show for the last ten years of living. I've protected it as if it were my own child, but like a real child- I have to let it go and take some risks. I have to push it beyond what I can see within my own scope in order to realize what can actually be accomplished when no limits are set.

It's time to control the knee-jerk reactions, and stop kicking the opportunities set in front of me. What sucks being in the midst of the storm and reacting to the anxiety is that all that time spent fretting over the possible dangers takes away from the enjoyment you can have watching the beauty around you; things you didn't know were possible because you were too busy running away.

Change won't happen overnight, but it's a new conscious thought I have set in place. Don't be so scared. Don't be so quick to react. Take some risks. If I fail, it's still okay. Deep down inside, hell, I still know I'm awesome. Is there really anything else that matters? ;-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting Started

I love decorating. When I'm in the thick of it, time is frozen and I'm in the moment, doing my thing. That's why I end up running late all the time. I don't care how much time I have left to work on a cake. I'm going to take however long I need to in order to make it look the way I like. I've showed up one hour, two hours, or even worse- three hours late to event because the cakes "just weren't right" in my opinion. Most of the time, they are so happy with the results, my tardiness is forgiven. However, being late all the time is a sure sign of an UN-professional and it leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths when they think about worrying about where the hell I was and where the hell is their cake.

A big part of my problem is procrastination and laziness. When I had my apartment and my Dungeon was then called my Garage- things were easy. My living room / workspace had everything I needed. Music? Cable? DVD's? Food? Couch? Everything was easily there. I had a HUGE living room. If I ran out of workspace on my workbench, I moved on over to the dining room table. If I ran out of room on the table, I slapped on the metal tabletop my ex made me to cover the top of the chest freezer we had in the foyer. All our furniture was fair game to be converted into some type of cooking equipment. And it worked. I had tons of lights. I had a huge air conditioner. I had NOTHING to complain about. When my ass took longer than it needed to get in gear, I had Joel to crack the whip and bitch me out for procrastinating. Yes, we argued about it, but in the end he was right. And things got done in a timely manner.

Things are much different for me now. My Dungeon really does feel like a Dungeon. The conditions are minimal, at best. I have an iPod dock, and I'll drag down my Netbook for all-nighters so I'll run some movies to keep my mind active. However, it's not pleasant to work down there. I run up and down to wash bowls and pans and measuring cups. I run up for eggs and water. I bring all my clean equipment back down when the dishwasher is done sanitizing everything. I wish I could throw the whole Dungeon in the dishwasher to sanitize it. What was once ALL my space has been cramped with more shit my family brought down into the basement for storage. People come down and take my pans, measuring spoons, whisks, etc...and then dump things they feel should be kept with my stuff any where they damn well feel like. It's a mess. I used to be proud how anal I was with my things. Ingredients arranged by size, type, and frequency of use. My stocks rotated to bring the older things forward and store the newer items in the back. My decorating sugars and sprinkles all separated by colors. I always knew what I had, where it was, how much of it I had, and when I would need to go out and buy more.

Well, to say it's not like that now would be a complete understatement. It's a fucking mess. Tonight, I was going to head out to Brooklyn, but my time is better spent sanitizing my Dungeon again. I feel like I'm constantly cleaning down there, and I don't really understand why the people in my house feel it's okay to be complete slobs in an area they don't belong in anyway. If Joel saw the state of my Dungeon today, he would probably drop dead from a heart attack. That man was so anal about how our work areas were kept, he would stop whatever he was doing, go out to buy cleaning supplies, and then come back and spend however long it took to scrub until he could see his reflection shining back up at him. Needless to say, those were the worse days for me. I would get lectured while he helped me clean. He would ramble on and on about laziness and lack of time NOT being a good excuse to let things go. He always harped that our home should be a place that anyone can walk into at any time and there should never be an issue of having to clean up before anyone came inside.

Fucking hell. He was right.

My Dungeon, whatever little time it is still the Dungeon, should be in a state that can welcome anyone at anytime without me having to stop and clean before allowing anyone inside. As much as I bitched about the man being so anal and OCD...Dammit, he was right!

No Barcade for me tonight. After what happened on Tuesday night with my beer group- I won't be drinking with these people again anytime soon. Tonight will be spent cleaning and baking. I want to be able to get some sleep, wake up refreshed, and be excited to head down into the Dungeon to start decorating my awaiting cakes.

I have a hard time getting myself started. I'm tired. I'm achy. I don't feel well. I'm comfortable vegging out on my bed in front of the tv, and I don't want to go work in the damn, dank, dingy Dungeon. It's cold. It's messy. I have to clean off junk people have thrown on top of my work area in order for me to work. I'm not even going to get into have to run through the gambit of the assholes who take up the space between the 2nd floor and the Dungeon.

I end up starting late because I have to mentally convince myself to get started. However, once I'm measuring and baking and scraping and mixing...I'm loving it. I taste to experiment with flavors and new ideas. I try out new techniques I saw on television or read about online. Before I know it, hours have flown by and by some miracle I have this beautiful cake in front of me that I know tastes fucking fantastic- unlike many other super-fancy cakes I've had.

I can complain about anything and everything. I'm good at it. But, despite the uphill climb to get going, I am happiest when I'm baking and creating. I'm in my own zone with a decorating bag in one hand and an offset spatula in the other. I'm good at what I do because I still love what I do. The problem is just finding the motivation to start doing it.....

I LOVE this guy's comics. Even though I'm not exactly an artist in the traditional sense of the word, if you go through his series "SYAC", he's got enough stuff in there that most people can relate to and appreciate! His style and sense of humor remind me a lot of my last ex. I've been such a downer the last few months. I figured I would leave this post with a chuckle. (Replace "Restaurant City" with "Cafe World", and that's pretty much my days off!)

SYAC - Procrastination by *TomPreston on deviantART

Monday, April 11, 2011

Good Grub: Beauty & Essex

Good grub. Gorgeous grub. Glamorous grub. Good God how expensive grub!

Beauty & Essex is beauteous. It's glitzy. It's all the sparkly, pretty things that the upper crust goes gaga over. It is hidden behind a pawn shop front. It's not a very good front. There's an insanely pretty lady behind the counter. Beautiful women dressed to impress do NOT work in pawn shops in the LES. Secondly, a 400 lb bouncer is guarding the door to the backroom. Although it wants to come off like a speakeasy, all I had to do with sashay inside with my swagger and a confident air. I smiled at the pretty lady and the large man, and the door was opened for me without much fuss.

Inside is beautiful. In fact, beautiful is a homely word to describe the decor going on within the hidden walls of Beauty & Essex. It's posh. It's decadent. It's over-the-top glam. The people who frequent this establishment are equally over-the-top, ornately decorated, and unnervingly too-perfectly-pretty. We're talking fur-lined stoles, vests, and dresses. Louboutin shoes, Prada clutches, and more fru-fru how-the-fuck-do-you-pronounce-that designer everything. It's breathtaking when you first take it in, but the shine quickly wears off. I'll get more into that in a minute.

Even knowing I was walking into one of the city's newest hot spots, I opted to go with my Hipster wear. Fuck it. I was in the Lower East Side. If my Precious (my most favorite pair of purple Converse high-tops) were not welcome there, then it would not be a place I wanted to be at. Period. Skinny jeans, purple Cons, some vague Geeky tee shirt, gray hoodie, and new-haircut arrogance carried my outfit. And despite my lack of over-priced designer labels, the fact that I was NOT dressed like anyone else had me standing out in my own little spotlight. And that was fine.

A new friend of mine made nice with the chef of this spot and secured a very coveted 8:15 dinner reservation. Because her other friend decided to show up late, we lost that reservation, had two overpriced drinks at the bar, and eventually got a table in the corner on the second level. As we waited, I took a trip down to the ladies lounge to check out this very famous bathroom. It was gorgeous. It smelled like perfume. You didn't even know there were toilets down there, they were hidden so well. Get this shit- FREE rose champagne at the small bar located down there....INSIDE the bathroom. Yeah, the bathroom was so damn CLEAN and pleasant, they had a mother fucking bar in there complete with free champagne.

Let me also point out that the attendants were all super nice. I can't get over how polite and friendly the staff was , from the overly pretty "pawn" shop attendant, the conspicuous front bouncer, the hostess, and the bathroom attendants. The lady bartender was very nice, but the male bartender was a bitch.

I already knew the menu before I got there. I knew the prices were inflated. I knew the portions were small. I knew I would probably leave poor and hungry. We opted to order several dishes and share among the three of us. First, there was an amuse bouche the chef sent out. Nothing fancy. A small frisee salad en croute with an aioli. (That was free.) Next came the lobster tacos and the General Tso's Monkfish. Both dishes were good. Tasty. The General Tso's Monkfish was innovative. I love monkfish. I love General Tso's anything. Nice combo! The lobster tacos were wrapped in soft tortillas, but small. The lobster was battered and fried. Though the monkfish came in nugget form in a small side dish, the three of us were able to have several pieces each. There was only one small taco for each of us. I'll throw in the breakdown later. Next up was the chestnut & ricotta ravioli and the crispy spring rolls. The ravioli (a personal favorite of mine, and my one pick of the night) was fantastic. The spring rolls were tasty, but again- just one a piece. Not cool. The ravioli only came with 5 pieces. Next up was the brick pressed chicken and a side of asparagus; yes, that's a separate order for the asparagus. The chicken was moist and tasty, but it was a small boned out thigh and leg. Small. It was cut up in sliced portions. The asparagus were steamed and seasoned. We finished off with their famous box of donuts for desserts. I expected donuts; you know-with holes. What we got were six small munchkins. Three filled with raspberry and three filled with Nutella. Each were fresh out of the fryer, covered in granulated sugar, and were piping hot. Munchkins- not donuts. Here is the breakdown of the prices:

Crispy Spring Rolls- $12.00
General Tso’s Monkfish- $16.00
Lobster Tacos- $18.00
Chestnut & Ricotta Ravioli- $18.00
Brick Pressed Chicken- $19.00
Asparagus- $8.00

Add another $15 each for 3 cocktails

The grand total with tax and tip came to: $63 per person   

I did not leave hungry. I was just full. Not overly full, but done. However, within an hour I was starving. That may just be me and the way my appetite works, but after a hefty, satisfying meal, I'm usually done for the entire night.

This is where the dazzle wore off. The place was jam-packed with all the "beautiful" people. There was a lot of wasted food on these tables. There were super loud conversations which made it hard to hear what was going on at your own table. By 9:30, the bar on the first level and the second level were both jam packed with the fanciest douche bags NY can offer, right along with the most glamorous bitches you can find to flirt with them. Everything is crazy expensive and overpriced. Although the space is large, it gets quite crowded. It makes it annoying to be there. The patrons are rude, although the staff is friendly.

Was the space beautiful, the staff stellar, and the drinks and food tasty? The space is gorgeous, the staff is impeccable, and the drinks were delicious. However, I've been to many beautiful places, I've had wonderful service before in diners, and I've had MUCH better food and cocktails that were not jammed full of ice. Although Beauty and Essex was good, I would not go back. It's too expensive and the vibe is not exactly the kind of scene I enjoy. Sure, it may look great on TV when you watch the glam of NYC converge in these ultra sexy spots. It's just not fun for me.

Beauty and Essex is great eye-candy, but not the kind of candy I'd be snacking on more than once. My opinion: Meh.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Timing is Ridiculous!

I'm packing-up/chucking my belongings at my parents house, getting ready to head out. There seems to be a stay of eviction because my mom wants to have my dad "committed" in a way. In layman's terms, he isn't thinking in the right frame of mind, and therefore should not be trusted to make important decisions. Whatever. I've been in enough sinking ships to know when it's time to jump off.

Because our government has so recklessly squandered our funds overseas, we may be facing a government shut down this Friday. That means they ran out of cash to RUN the country. Until some straight fiscal plans are made, we will be ordered to stay out of work with no pay.

Anyone want to slit their wrists yet? I know I do!

Packing up my Dungeon would be easy if I didn't suddenly get hit with an influx of orders out no where! In a way, I need the cash to stay afloat while my day job is shut down. On the other hand, I'm supposed to be looking for a new place to live, coming up with another grand in cash to afford said-place to live, and sorting out my shit in piles of "keep" and "toss". I tell you, that last job is wearing me down more than I care to admit. It's not easy throwing out pieces of your life.

Well, these orders are big. No piddly dozen or so cupcakes here and there. They're HUGE fondant cakes, multi-tiered, picture-worthy constructions that will push my cake decorating ability and my time management skills further than I have ventured before. These are the orders I always aimed at getting on a weekly basis, and now they're happening one after another. NOW! Of all times, now?

On top of all that madness, my portable hard drive died last week taking with it two years worth of pictures, my movie collection, and my business files. All gone. I thought I had managed to save a few of my logo files but when I tried to copy them into my new drives, the files were corrupted.

I guess this cyberworld is a lot smaller than I thought it was and my whining and bitching carries a lot further than I would have imagined.

Within one night, my ex sent me all my lost graphics, designed a new business card for me, fixed my website so that it redirects to my wordpress site, and enhanced some of the clumsy graphics I had thrown up there. Needless to say, I was so damn grateful I nearly cried. It also worried me. I mean, I don't keep contact with people who are no longer a part of my life, and I can't just pick up a phone and call someone for help when my carelessness has landed me in hot water. Safety nets are not always laid out, you know?

Just like Joel won't be around forever to pull me out of a jam, neither will the last ex. Eventually his life will start over somewhere new with someone new and all connections & memories we have with each other will be corrupted and lost just like the files on my faulty had drive. What then?

I may have the talent and ambition to run my own business, but there's still so much for me to learn. I realize I do have to lean on people who know better than I do about things they specialize in, such as marketing and branding, but I also have to know how to manage these things on a basic level so that I won't sink when they suddenly leave me high and dry.

The question is; do I put my business on hold so I can create some sort of REAL foundation for myself somewhere- a home of my own with a kitchen that NO ONE can snatch away from me? (Damn, it's happened so many times already! And people wonder why I have such abandonment issues!) Or do I just burn the candle on every end possible and run full steam ahead- business, new home, new kitchen, and hopefully I won't drop dead in the process?

I'm really worried. This year, I've picked up so many new repeat customers, my website is getting more than a hundred hits a day from all different sources, I'm being asked for cakes that are well beyond the scope of anything I had ever done in the past- and this is all GREAT! It's just so fucking hard doing this by myself. I know I need help, but what part do I ask for first? The legal business end? The manual labor? The technical aspect? The marketing? Who do I ask to come in and help me when so many people have fallen short and proven themselves untrustworthy in the past?

I wish I had a mentor I could turn to. The problem is that most people I know who run their own business started out with a lot of seed money to get them through the first year. With that, they hired lawyers, accountants, and employees. I don't have that kind of money and I don't have the credit available to start. So, it's the long way, which is fine. I don't mind putting in the sweat to get it started. I just won't have the advantage of a trust-fund business owner- playing with monopoly money. I don't think ANYONE'S money is monopoly money and I could give myself an ulcer worrying over money someone else lends me.

I do a lot of complaining about a lot of things, but I don't do nearly enough thanking. I am thankful for Joel who stepped in when I thought I was bottoming out. Although things are on hold with him until further notice for personal issues, he's been a good friend, a strong source of support, and the cool-headed counterpart I need when I start to get all antsy, anxious, cranky, and panicked. (Hey, it happens!) He came back at just the right time.

And I thank my last ex, TJ, for getting my tech files back and for making my business look pretty, funky, and better than anything I could have ever thought of in my own head. Without being asked, he swooped in and saved my ass and made things a lot easier for me. And I'm grateful for this thoughtfulness and generosity with his time and skills.

I'm not an easy person to get along with or to work with. I'm opinionated. I have a hard time settling on one decision when I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I often seek the advice of people who know better than I do, but I still have a hard time letting go of the control. Although these are character traits that hold me back in my business, they are character traits that hold me back in my personal life, too. Being burned so many times from all different directions tends to make a person guarded. I'm built like Fort Knox.

And despite all that, there are people who still want to help me and see me succeed. That shocks me.

I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I don't know what the smart thing to do is. I need a home of my own, but I need cash in order to get it, and I need to work in order to get the cash. I guess it's full steam ahead, and I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope I hit a jackpot one way or another.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

All Good Things....

...must come to an end.

Well, folks. It looks like The Dungeon will be shut down at the end of this month. The fucking dilapidated castle that houses the Dungeon is going to be sold, and I will be without kitchen or home.

I wish I could say I was desperately upset and panicked. I really don't know what I'm feeling right now. I knew something was going down at home. I knew things were being discussed in hushed tones and with all the fighting going down amongst everyone, the tension was fucking unbearable. No wonder I've been finding every reason imaginable not to come home. Beer groups, movies, sushi for one...You name it; I was there. Anywhere but here.

Anyway, the "big news" was dropped last night. Maybe Heir Ricky expected a huge response or tears or begging. That wasn't happening. With stupid excuses about money issues, a thing my parents have struggled with as far back as I can remember, and his failing health (yet again), good old dad pretty much laid it down that he was done. Giving up. He doesn't want the responsibility of the mortgage, mounting bills, and maintenance on his shoulders anymore. If you ask me, he has not done a good job on any of that for many years, anyway.

So, forgive my indifference. With one fucking disappointed handed to me after another on a silver platter like a 5-star culinary extravaganza, there's very little that can happen to me now that can rattle me any more. If I must go down, it won't be with tears in my eyes.

I remind myself time and time again that you can't map out your life like the itinerary of a vacation. You can anticipate the worst, set lofty goals, and hope and pray that you're prepared to handle whatever comes your way. This is what's coming my way now.

I have to sort through the material junk I've accumulated the last 32 years of my life and decide what's worth keeping and tossing. I have to find a new place to live, even though it's 6 months earlier than I anticipated. My Dungeon will be disassembled and placed somewhere safe until I can reestablish it elsewhere or I find a buyer willing to pay me a fraction of what my equipment is worth.

Don't worry about me. I'm okay. I'm always okay. I used to look around me and envy those who always managed to land on their feet; whatever had befallen them. Whether or not they prepared. Whether or not they were "good" people. (According to me, anyway.) Then, I looked in the mirror and realized I've always landed on my feet, too.

Shit, I've been through the ringer. I've had more crap happen to me than I care to remember, but here I am. I'm still the kind-hearted, honest person I was always proud to be. And despite all the disappointments, I've learned that I can still love with my entire heart- as though it had never been broken. Ain't that some shit?

Queenie Cakes isn't the roof it exists under. It isn't the shiny new Kitchen Aides, or the pretty new boxes, or even the beautiful logos or labels. Queenie Cakes isn't about having a thousand customers or a hundred customers. If I have only one; my business is still relevant to someone. Queenie Cakes won't be defined by a piece of paper saying someone owns this much of it or that much of it. Queenie Cakes is me. It always has been. It always will be. No matter where I go, no matter what I end up doing, when I put the flour and sugar together and create my "awesome", Queenie Cakes is alive and well.

So, please don't worry about me. I'll figure it all out one way or another.

Thank you all for your kind words, your constant support, and your jokes to make me laugh during all those times I wanted to cry. My friends, you always remind how strong I am and how good I am at saving myself. Your sentiments have not been lost on me. There will be no pity party thrown on my behalf, okay?

Things will be just fine. They always are.

Much love,