Thursday, February 2, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day!
Is it V-Day already? This means it's less than 80 days days to our wedding. Wow.
Macarons brought Simon and me together. I'd never think that making macarons would be part of any love story, let alone ours. We were officially together less than 6 weeks by the time I filed the paperwork to start our company. I had attempted to open my own baking business before and failed, and had no indication that this time, it would fare any better.
For Christmas 2009, I was too broke to buy gifts for anyone, so I made Christmas tins filled with cookies, chocolates, macarons, and all sorts of sweets. Around this time, Simon had introduced me to his kitchen and let me use his massive counter to set up my own assembly line. As he sat on the other side, I could hear his feet pitter patter with excitement every time I took something out of the oven. He ended up dipping all of the truffles in chocolate and packaging them. He helped me pack all the boxes and ship them to my friends. When I made a batch of macarons that all turned out bad, Simon made a small baggy to put them in so he could snack on them like popcorn. I told him my macaron theories - what constituted a good macaron and why mine were bad. This was 8 months after the Pierre Herme class and I was still having trouble getting them right. He tried to reassure me that what I thought was bad still tasted good to him. After I finished all my Christmas tins, I retired my macaron making and decided to quit for good. I was tired of trying to make macarons, and always failing and I simply couldn't afford to keep doing that (retail almond flour is like $13 a lb! I was using almost a pound a batch!).
I "unquit" macarons in March 2010. I asked Simon if he wanted to start a company together, and b/c he says yes to everything, he agreed. I decided that we were going to do macarons b/c I had this feeling that we could do something different than what was currently being offered. I was in school at the time and I asked all my pastry instructors, who helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. Simon funded our business with like $500 and that's all we had to start, and we made it work.
Simon & I baked every Wednesday night for the Hester Street Fair on Saturday/Sunday. I still had a desk job and the schedule was brutal. There were days when I would leave work at 5, we'd get to the kitchen at 6 pm, and leave at 6 am...and when I cried about how exhausted I was, knowing that I would be back at work in 3 hours, Simon would plow through it. He would clean up the kitchen, put everything away, and drive us back home.
We fought all the time over our business. When it came to our relationship, everything seemed to be rainbows and shooting stars, but when it came to Macaron Parlour, there were plenty of punches. I would get disappointed with his recipe testing. He would get irritated with how I cleaned the kitchen. I'd ask him about business moves and the bigger picture, and he somehow didn't envision it as I did. He'd hound me on not sending Paypal invoices and I would get annoyed that he didn't learn how to use Paypal himself. When people say that you shouldn't go into business with your close friends, they mean it. We were at each other and I think I probably got in a lot more punches than he did. But at the end, we realized that if we weren't so damn in love with each other, we couldn't have gotten through those first few months. It was more my dream than his, so I drove a lot of the decisions and at some point, he really stepped up and helped me make it happen. He adopted my dream and it became our dream, our business, and our "baby." We realized that we could do so much more together than we ever could have accomplished separately. We balance each other out.
My parents own a business together. Simon's parents owned a business together. I suppose it runs in our blood to be in business with the one you love. It's not easy and I don't really recommend it to anyone. Our relationship is entirely dependent on being able to spend massive amounts of time together and you know what? Simon is the first person I haven't gotten sick of after spending a lot of time with him. I get sick of everyone. When I was in high school, I wanted to live on an island with squirrels because I was so sick of dealing with people's drama and how mean everyone was to each other (I think people in high school are meaner than people in any other age group. And no idea why I liked squirrels so much, except that for some reason, my high school had cool black squirrels.). I couldn't go on trips with friends because I would get so annoyed after day 3 that I would try to do excursions on my own and come up with elaborate excuses on why I had to go alone. I get irritated pretty easily, and had always been used to the independent life, so I never thought I would ever need a business partner, but I needed someone to balance that out. I got lucky that the one person I have never gotten sick of happens to both be my future husband and my business partner. I hope our partnership is much like our parents' and we have a long, happy marriage together, even if we have to yell at each other about work stuff once in a while.
Today we're at the point where when we're in the kitchen, we can work without talking. We can anticipate the other's next move. We don't really argue about what's going on in the kitchen, we haven't been burned in a few months, and we watch movies as we work to pass the time. The other day, I picked a movie that Simon liked so much that when we had a little break, he pulled up a chair next to the laptop and I could hear his feet tap excitedly as he waited for what came next. We had work to do, but I pulled up next to him and we both took a half hour break to finish the movie. One of the reasons why I think we don't claw at each other is b/c we know how to step back and take breaks so we don't let ourselves get too consumed by the present task at hand. Last month, we didn't time our day in the kitchen right so we were stuck with nothing to do while we waited for our macarons to bake, so what did we do? We went on YouTube and practiced Michael Jackson dance moves for an hour. We finished early, in great spirits, and with new moves.
February 13, 2010 is the day Simon asked me to be his girlfriend. Well, actually, it was probably like the 4th time he asked. It was just the first time where I actually agreed to it. He asked over a heart-shaped Papa Johns pizza, the actual pizza is pictured above. That was the first time I ever had a real boyfriend for Valentine's Day. I'm not into the big hype over Valentine's Day, but I think the heart-shaped pizza was a winner in this relationship.
So, I wish everyone a Happy Tuesday. Regardless of your relationship status, it is important to remember to not get so caught up in the flow of everyday life to miss out on taking a break and doing something fun today and every day. Michael Jackson YouTube videos are free to watch & practice with. I hope that you enjoy a macaron today.