Thursday, August 06, 2009

vacation mode

I received a call the morning of my birthday from an assistant at Bride's Magazine. She wanted 6 bird cake stands for a shoot that coming Friday. After I got done laughing, (inside my own mind, or course) I said sure, I'd glaze up the cake stands they wanted and send them out Thursday via overnight UPS so they could have them for their shoot. Remember when I talked about birthday un-presents? This was like another one straight to the kisser. I found it all highly ironic, even amusing, considering all the issues and angst around my cake stands, especially the bird stands.

I had other things to work on, so I just threw the Bride's order on top of my other stuff. I was under the gun from a customer in Australia who also wanted a full stacking set of bird cake stands for her friend's birthday--like yesterday-- and part of another stacking bird set that needed to be finished for a client's wedding. And that's not even including another extra large stand (14 inch) that I've been fucking with since Spring-- another wedding order-- and the customer is so annoyed with me she doesn't even acknowledge my updates anymore. When I went into the studio on Tuesday to glaze all these things, I already decided I didn't care about anything anymore: it could all blow up in the kiln, I'd tell all my customers that no one gets anything because I suck, and life would go on. Of course the firing was pristine and perfect. Which made me think that I need to work more on not caring. But then I would be hardened and blase, like a Parisian whore maybe, and that's not the outlook I want to have. But it's still something to think about.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I thought I didn't care, my fate had already been sealed in a way I could have never seen coming. I called up Bride's to get their shipping account number so I can send out the goods on their dime, and end up on the phone/computer for a good two hours because their account with UPS can't be validated. This is an unfortunate way to spend time. As I became increasingly angry with this turn of events, it was becoming ever more clear that Bride's could not give me the information I needed, and this ship was not going to sail. In the end, the stylist for the shoot wished me well--a coded expression I truly despise, and not just because she said it-- but unless I could pay for the shipping and then bill them, they were moving on. I was already in the midst of a full-scale nuclear meltdown, and there was no fucking way I was giving them anything, so we basically gave each other the finger, and that was that.

So many lessons to be learned here, so little time to absorb them all at once. The whole situation so enraged me, I could feel it in my body for the rest of the day. It felt... bad. As a friend succinctly put it to me, "You'll give yourself cancer with that anger." More than once I thought, "Give it up. Go outside. Enjoy your day." But I had this order between my jaws and I was going to shake it until it was dead. Which I did. And then I felt completely toxic, and wrote mean things about them on my facebook fan page, which gave me temporary relief. The next day, when my brain wasn't flowing with hate horomones, I was able to see the situation more clearly, and learn a few things. But what was most clear to me, a serious vacation is no longer an option, it's a mandate. Sanity waits for me on the other side. See ya there!


  1. your work is beautiful, but i think it's time for you to get some sort of assistant to work on the customer service portion of your business. it will help you concentrate on what you're good at and cushion the interactions with your customers. bride magazine is a great opportunity. i don't know the whole story, but getting the products to them was more important than a shipping fee issue. yes, it sucks to get squashed when you're the little guy...BUT making things like this work means you'll be able to call the shots later, when you're racking in the dough from all the business you received.

  2. Absolutely Whitney, you definitely need a little vacation to rethink everything and come back with a new and exciting plan. I am glad that I made it to your blog today via some links from here and there.

    Please don't feel too bad, believe it or not there are lots of creative people right now going through similar situations. The key in my opinion is to learn how to say no sometimes. And say yes only when it makes 100% sense. When what we do is all on our own shoulders we really need to calculate how much we can carry.

    You will be fine because you already learned a couple of important things from this experience. I absolutely love your work and I am sure that you will always have a line of people asking for your pieces. Take it easy and smile :) Things will be fine.

    All my best energy!
    Elsita :)

  3. That sucks! Maybe you could contact their competitor and ask if they would like to feature your stacking cake stands. I've discovered that when I schedule a vacation, even if it's 2 months away, I start feeling better just knowing a break is on the way. Go book a trip to Maui!!

  4. I love interacting with my customers, I would never give that up. Though interacting with Bride's Magazine may be better suited for an underling. And Elsita makes the point for me, know when to say NO! Because in the end, my nightmare is being pursued by REAL brides, all demanding cake stands for their June weddings. I have bigger fish to fry, and they ain't wearing white!

    As Penelope Trunk writes in her brilliant blog, the sign of having a great career is being able to say no. I have no regrets about not supplying Bride's with the goods, I just regret not respecting my own limits.

    Read what Penelope has to say here about saying no:

  5. I have a problem with saying no as well, and not surprisingly, suffer the same level of stress and anger as you describe here. Not over clay though - I've had no requests yet! Just day to day mundane things, and I end up hating people who prevent my day from running smoothly. Just the other day I was in the supermarket and screamed down the phone to my patient and loving husband "If I had a gun I would shoot everyone here dead!"

    Umm.... so I have no suggestions - I am the one in need of them! My counsellor suggests a few days at home away from everyone, but I'm thinking more along the lines of secluded island for the rest of my life! But yeah, a holiday could work :)

  6. You definitely need a vacation! If it's any consolation you're hilarious when you're pissed. A favorite of mine, "But then I would be hardened and blase, like a Parisian whore maybe, and that's not the outlook I want to have."

  7. There's a lot of stress in the world right now that's for sure, have a good vacation.

  8. I can relate on so many levels. Thanks for the link to Penelope's article. I will check it out tomorrow. I am in a spot where I am not going to take any more custom orders, they are sucking the life out of me and killing my production. I'd rather focus on having items in stock and working from my passion instead of being a whore, but of course over the weekend, after I made the decision, I had two custom order requests, and am feeling week in my resolve to say no. This may take some practice!

  9. You have to draw the line and stick to it, or your limits are going to be taxed all the time. Personally, I love custom orders, it's the production for stores that makes me feel like a dirty whore. But it's up to you-- if you don't want to make it, you shouldn't. The creative energy you waste on that stuff is less for what you love.

  10. I am so honored that you played this time (even if by your own rules -- which is completely fine!). After I did that -- the Lovely Blog thing -- to the blogs I love; I got a sick feeling that I had just perpetuated a icky chain letterish type of thing and wished I had not -- but I like to think that some people who had not visited your blog before may have from my link to it and that makes me feel good about it. I need to check out the blogs you mentioned.

    And I know what you mean about 'need to relax' -- but when things get hectic for me -- I take a deep breath and try to do it.