It’s funny how life turns out sometimes.

Once upon a time, I had a dream. No, it wasn’t to be a writer, or a producer, or a director—having done all to varying degrees of success—it was to open a little bakery.

Nothing grand. Something manageable. Fun. With booze.

It was something I had kept in the back of my mind for Some Day. You know, in case the other thing, the Artist thing; the real thing I was doing with my life didn’t pan out.

And then it didn’t.

When failure came knocking at my door, it knocked hard. Failure banged with a sledgehammer. Failure went fucking Medieval on my ass with its Battering Ram of Suck.

Once a dazzling dressed-up thing to be adorned and admired, the dream soon fell victim to whoring, begging, and the ol’ shuck-n-jive; hat in hand, tap-dancing on corners for nickels. Shit, the dream even got knocked up, but Failure delivered a stillborn. The dream eventually succumbed to artistic syphilis, another ill-fated Fantine left to sputter and die.

And then that other dream, that tiny dream, the back-up dream, kept poking its head out from the covers under which I was hiding. As therapy, I started self-medicating by baking and drinking and drinking and baking. Eventually, ‘baketending’ became my everyday.

I was having fun for the first time in what felt like forever and it was quickly becoming profitable. Not in the monetary sense, not yet, but emotionally profitable.

People actually wanted what I was selling!

After years of prostituting myself on the seedy street corners of the entertainment industry, begging for work, demanding to be taken seriously as a writer, as an artist, as a woman, I finally found myself on the flip. As a ‘baketender’, I was desirable! My recipes were being requested for publication! I was lauded for my artistic execution! I felt supported as a female entrepreneur!

Could this be the dream I had been dreaming all along?

Sure. It didn’t come in a fancy dress, or on a red carpet or with a chorus of thundering applause. It came in scuffed-up clogs and a headscarf drenched in sweat, with burns up and down my forearms and an awful lot of swearing.

And it felt fuckin’ great.

As artists we don’t just seek applause, we require it. Admiration and acceptance is our raison d’être. Our egos must be fed. We know that rejection is part of the game and we prepare for it. We brace ourselves for it. We toughen our skin and resolve ourselves to believe deep in our hearts that what we are doing is a vital part of the community in which we live despite the odds. We tell ourselves, “Some day…” over and over and over again.

But at the end of that day, if the feedbag remains empty for too long, call it ‘cyclone technology’ all you want—it’s still just a goddamnmotherfucking vacuum.

I found my own way of escaping the rejection vortex and re-stocking the feedbag. Things haven’t turned out as I expected, but I’m learning [slowly] that life isn’t always the way you’ve scripted it.

As with any good producer or editor, Life has some notes, some thoughts, some suggestions, and if heeded, things might just turn out sweeter that you ever could have imagined.

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KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL Kimberly's many and varied lives have included actor, stage manager, opera and film director, producer, writer, and restaurateur. She only has three lives left and she's not going to waste a single one of them. The first Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has been published by Rizzoli in the book Brooklyn Bar Bites, CRAFT Magazine, The Mighty, and SMITH Magazine, among others. She co-founded the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City and she's working on multiple projects including her debut novel, several screenplays, and a documentary about female film editors. She thanks you for stopping by and sitting a spell.

14 responses to “I Dreamed a Dream in Time Gone By, or, Bartender, Make it a Double!”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    Been trying to think of something clever to say, but I’ll leave it at this: you are a talented, inspiring person, and I admired the hell out of how you worked at this.

    Also: If the dream that was dreamed was Fontine, you almost have to name your bakery Cosette.

  2. This is gorgeous and human and I adore you.

  3. Lance says:

    I love this, in the most bittersweet of ways.

    but, you know me, a total sucker for the best stories being of the dreamer being even more lovely than the actual dreams.

    a tale of Spirited awakening…that there is a screenplay worth buying.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    You are brilliant, no matter what you do.
    Baketender, director, writer, friend.

  5. Jim Simpson says:

    For what it’s worth: Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

  6. Matt says:

    Heartbreaking and uplifting all in a handful of words.

    Having previously sampled the wares of your oven, I can only express my jealousy towards your customer base. Can’t wait for a west coast franchise!

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