It’s a metaphor. Well, the Hades part is. Maybe.
I didn’t fall asleep till after 4:30 in the morning just the other day. I was listening to music on my mp3 player, trying to fall asleep, when a song by Lauv came on. There wasn’t anything special about the song, but Lauv was introduced to me by my coworker Alex. Suddenly I’m thinking about him, which one thing after another led me to a memory of Lucifer and Wildflower that left me reeling. There, in the wee hours of the morning my heart is racing and I’m remembering slamming out of the kitchen so mad and frustrated that I finally burst into tears outside. I had other coworkers come to find out if I was ok, a manager, a general manager, and finally my big boss and owner of the restaurant. To the point where I was asked if I needed someone to talk to Lucifer. This memory still pisses me off, and I was laying there seconds away from texting Coffeeman, because I was freaking out….. two plus years after it happened. It happened in 2018…. Time has passed, so why does this still get to me?
“What is it about this job that lends itself to freak out moments?” I write later on the whiteboard at work. “From dreams that leave you tossing and turning, to middle of the night panic attacks.” This comes after finding out Astro D has spent the night with wild dreams as well. (mine were panic inducing, to some point) This writing on the whiteboard leaves both Jersey Boy and New York Babe (our bar manager) stumped. “I’m having an existential crisis,” is all I tell Jersey Boy who shakes his head and wanders off. Trust me, he could not handle a K having an existential crisis.
A month ago I was talking to Scarlett St. Clair about a line she wrote for her upcoming novel, A Game of Malice, and her character of Hades, god of the Underworld.
Scarlett: He’s pretty intense right now. LOL
Me: he’s got a lot going on right now. Sometimes this is all that eases the stress…
Long ago TomCat ended a particularly brutal night with the statement, “I need a shower and sex.” I laughed at the time, but later on as I became more and more responsible for bigger things, I started understanding this line. And I used it on Scarlett to explain Hades intensity.
“In my world, it’s like the perfect stress reducer,” I tell her. “…And it actually works… not that I dabble in much more than showers these days…… The adrenaline runs high even after hours of work, so trying to wind down is killer. Hence why I am a serious night owl. Chefs turn to drugs, alcohol, and sex to wind down. It’s funny in the gloss over version, but it’s actually a much deeper issue under the surface. Hades actually personifies a lot of the inner stress and depression that exists in this world. Part of the reason I love him. It’s also why we have sick, twisted, and sex related jokes.”
“Hades is definitely a good metaphor for that,” she replies. “How insane, I had no idea honestly.”
The cooking/chef world is unlike any I thought I would ever join. ( See Note at the bottom of this post) And there is the strangest amount of adrenaline that comes from being in it. New Year’s Eve had me making pizza till 1am, then having to clean up and close down. While I went into work later than usual, I still had all this prep to do, a service time where I was busy with making more pizzas, then winding down for two hours, to start it all up again. I didn’t get to sleep till 5am on New Year’s Day. The adrenaline kept me wired for hours. It is so hard to just let it all drop out of your system. And a crutch of alcohol, or drugs, or sex, is like the only thing that kind of kills all the mental crap going on. I do not dabble in much more than alcohol, but usually at a controlled rate. I don’t like hangovers, and I have to be careful. But to feel pleasantly buzzed after a chaotic night is relaxing.
Sex takes a massive edge off. Probably because it is its own form of a high. Ironically, all the things I mention are also all highly addictive. So is the adrenaline of a service rush. You want to talk let down, have a quiet night when you were expecting busy. New years….. I was running on such a high. From getting glammed up, to having a bunch of fun orders and the speed of getting them done before midnight, then fireworks. I was on cloud 9 till suddenly I mentally crashed and groaned at the smeared eyeliner and mascara.
Most people I talk to do not have a clue about the world I am in. I don’t expect them too, but it can be an insane world. One of the reasons I love Scarlett’s character of Hades is he is a metaphor. His scenes are incredibly appealing to me, especially the vulnerable ones, because he has his highs and lows and frustrations. He doesn’t sleep well. He is up at all times of the night. He’s addicted to whiskey. He’s addicted to Persephone and sex… Not that that’s a bad thing with her, but he is addicted.
I know chefs that go to bed at 3am and are up by 8am. Burnt out is an understatement of what is going on with them. We all get burnt out at some point. Right now I am exhausted. An instagrammer I follow was asking how my new year was going and I said I was trying to be more mindful and healthy, but I am 3/4 of the time exhausted. Cut back hours and I am more tired than when I was working a 40 hour week. There is a lot of mental instability right now with shut downs, and take out, and attempting to maintain products with no pattern to sales.
And this is why even though I am not the executive chef, I have middle of the night panic attacks. I was panicking before work today because I forgot to let Astro D know that we had blown through a specific weight in dough. The two of us are pizza first and foremost, so that is where we back and forth problems. The oven was being a bitch today. The dough was needing to be rerolled. The dough was over proofing. It was too big. And so on.
Existential crisis might be hyperbole, but at the same time, here it is 3:30 am and I’m drinking wine in bed while I write this. Mulled, but wine nonetheless.
Maybe I am Hades….
(Scarlett said I was when I showed her my glass of whiskey at 3am a few weeks ago)
Note: I recently started following Culinary Love, a platform for discussion about the culinary world. From taking care of our cooks to discussing the hard things like depression and addiction. I haven’t delved into the whole blog, but I follow one of the chefs who was part creator. I highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in finding out more about methods to dealing with depression, and if you are a non service industry person, a good resource for finding out some of what our world is like.
Click the image below to take you directly to Culinary Love . Or click the link right there.