Booze, Nooky, Hades, and an Existential Crisis

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.

This made my mind go in so many directions

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)

Kate

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.

 

A Quick End of Year Recap

It has been ages since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote a blog post. Can I blame Rona?  Lol, everyone is blaming Covid for something. I really can’t blame that on anything other than getting a little bit of time off from work right around Thanksgiving. Long story that is not worth repeating.

I’ve actually stayed incredibly healthy this year, much to my surprise and delight. I was fighting a mini something the last couple weeks, but healthy vitamin dosing, fresh fruits and vegetables, clove and orange tea…. and plenty of water, I think have kept whatever it is at complete bay. Whew.

I’ve spent the fall writing emotional poems, things all my friends say I need to publish. I agree, and over the start of December I started looking at some places. Which now that I think about it, have January deadlines! Yikes! I will say one thing, I hate the submitting process. Not the actual sharing my work, but all the little intricate issues of submitting. A different format for each submission, a different guideline, or in my case, different poems go to different places. Not every poem is perfect for every publisher. Some of my “New Yorker” poems I wouldn’t dream of submitting to the little no name place. Or vice versa. I have some little poems that I just don’t think would catch “New Yorker” status. They are fun, they are even good, in my opinion, but they are not great.

I’m in a writing slump as of the last two weeks. Even my journal has been slightly empty. Ironically I received 6 new notebooks/journals for Christmas. Ha! Of course I would be in a writing slump.

Work has consumed me. In my sleep, in my life, and this is with reduced hours. Then to top it off, Mixologist Man has left our fine establishment for love. Damn love! He had to go get engaged and move back east to be with his guy. I don’t harbor any ill feelings to his fiance, but I do. You took my best guy away from all of us. How dare you….

I kid. I really do. While Mixologist Man will be sorely missed from my nightly work life, I wish him all the love. I joke at the ‘damn love’ because what have I spent my December watching? Every Hallmark Christmas movie I can get my hands on. To the point where I am now almost disgustingly sick of Hallmark Christmas movies. Not quite, but there are still two days left of December. I mean, I can watch a few more, right? I mean tonight I watched one of the best Christmas pen pals movies. Oh my gosh. I want a Christmas pen pals thing in my town. I NEED it to happen. (it was a lifetime movie, but close enough to Hallmark) It was brilliant.

Can you tell I am still in a love, Christmas, and all things ooey gooey? What can I say, the Mantovani Orchestra is playing Hark The Herald Angels right now and the Christmas tree is still glowing in all its glory, and will be for the next month. I am still floating holiday poems in my head and reading holiday books.

Life is weird, and glorious, and sad, and happy, and all so strange. But I am glad I have my family, and the holiday season, and everything else.

I hope all you lovely readers had a decent, joyous, or even excellent Christmas. I hope you get to enjoy your New Years…. I was suckered into working the late shift. My first time in the three years I have been with my job. Jersey Boy was way too good at slipping me up in a conversation on whether I like mornings or nights.  There might have been some serious, albeit good humored, swearing involved.

Belated Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and lets home 2021 is a little more hopeful…

Kate

Smoke Scent Mornings

It’s the hint of sulfur and magnesium that tickle my nose in the mornings. The sharp pine scent, the waves rippling on the shore of the lake. But it’s the smell of a fire being started in a stove, that ‘sweet’ fire smell I associate with the mountains, that always brings me home. I feel most at home in the mountains. There is something that calls me more than I can explain to anyone. While I love the Bay and living in San Francisco, I crave the mountains more than the ocean. I can’t explain it, especially to anyone I work with, though Phaedra understands it best. Even she doesn’t understand it as well though. She likes the city. I like the quiet. I feel I live in the wrong place. Like people always say they living in the wrong century, or time period? For me it’s mostly the location. Location is everything. If it wasn’t so, why do they always talk about it with businesses?

I have always wanted to own a cabin on Pinecrest. Call it a crazy dream. Call it a fantasy. Call it a thing to add to a dream board. But clearly it can happen. If my sister, my baby sister, can marry a man who owns a cabin on this very specific lake, then why can’t I dream of it as well? I mean, yeah, she’s pretty darn lucky to have met Roger, but it’s not impossible. Roger could have a charming brother. He doesn’t. But he could.

I started this book about Pinecrest Lake a couple years ago, taking a book I love and massively tweaking the storyline to be how I would have rather it had gone. This is just a little blip of thought I started typing the other night when I smelled wood smoke, and the smell of a lit match…

Kate

Notebook Keepsakes Amid Disaster

California and Oregon are currently in fire zones. Just about every place is being severely affected by the burning or smoke. Towns completely destroyed by fire, people displaced. Having a fire go bag ready is almost essential if you live anywhere in the west.

But how to take it all with you? Obviously you can’t. And this is where I’m actively contemplating how to deal all my notebooks and journals if I had to leave. I can’t take them all with me. Currently I think I would have 10+ that would ‘need’ to go, but that is too much. So, do I start transcribing them to my laptop? Which is a #1 essential for all the documents on it and pictures. Or do I just take the most important and let it all stay here and hope for the best. The thought of transcribing is horrifying. Do you know how much I have written in ten years? Gad, it’s nauseating to think about. It’s like right now I’m trying to get a collection of the original poetry off the shelf podcasts and the amount of time to download all of that is nauseating.

I remember I read about this one writer/artist who had all of her journals and notebooks in a closet that happened to have a leak in it. Over time, the water dripped and dropped, splattering and moulding the journals till they were practically illegible but for brief bits. Can you imagine? That is heartbreaking. I can’t even fathom the heart wrenching feeling of lost words. But she took it as another form of expression and created art with it, or showcased pages with the running ink and few words still there.

But my notebooks contain novels yet to be finished. Do I know the bulk of them? Sure-ish. I just realized there is some I can’t remember. So much has been written down. Poems I’ve never transcribed, stories, flash fiction, writing group stories.

But I don’t have time to transcribe. So what do you pick? Who do you choose as most important? I have whole journals devoted to Boris (the lying cheating bastard…. 5 years of him lying to me and now he’s dead and I can never confront him with it) okay, maybe those could go. >insert rolling eyes< But then there is other things. I can say honestly my last two journals are where I have had a lot of growth and change. Poetry and work and life changes that were massive. So two is easy. Notebooks though. That is not simple at all.

What would you do? If you had to have a go bag of essential things, and I’m not talking clothes, necessities, etc. I’m talking the mementos. The writerly things. What would you take?

Kate

Midnight Reader – Flash Fiction

The door slowly opened, a crack of light, a two inch strip of yellow, illuminating the carpet up to the bed. Carefully, so as not to wake the lump under the covers on the bed, he snuck in on tip toe. He nearly let out a shriek as his bare foot connected with a small Lego.  The sharp cornered piece of hard plastic biting into the soft flesh of his arch.  He hopped and hobbled, trying not to bang into the desk, then the chair.  He caught the back of the chair as he started to lose his balance and the swiveling piece of furniture nearly upset his balance.  Quick moves on his part had him catching himself and stopping as a soft snore and breath from the body.  He didn’t move a muscle as the lump shifted and sprawled out, an arm sliding out of the covers and dropping the book off the side of the bed with a soft thud.  He waited for a moment, or five as the blanket covered lump shifted and grumbled about homework then went back to sleep.  With a quick dash, he scooped up the book, and circumvented the Legos and bits of erector set metal pieces to make it safely to the door again.  He glanced back once to see if there was movement.  Nothing. he was safe!

He propped himself under the covers, a large maglite flashlight in his palm.  He clicked on the light and flipped the pages.  He was looking for a mark…. There! Just a tiny dot and dash where he’d left off.  Knees hunched, pillow at his back, he shone the light down at the pages, and with a fingernail caught soundly between his teeth, he began to find out if the heroine was going to make it out of the forest on her own.

He nearly let out a shriek as the bed shifted and the covers were jerked back from his buried form.

The woman groaned.

“Jack, why don’t you just ask the kid if you can borrow his book while he’s at school,” the woman asked, shaking her head.

“Because, this is way more fun,” Jack replied. “Now quiet, woman, she just had to make a pact with someone,” he shushed his wife.

She just rolled her eyes and clicked off the light before diving under the covers with a flashlight and a copy of her 8 year old’s slightly sticky copy of a very popular diary of a wimpy sort of kid. She just had to find out what happened after a week wait while the book traveled with her son during summer camp.

I just thought, how fun when a clandestine moment happens when a parent reads a book their kids are reading. My dad would read to us growing up… Robert Peck’s Soup books. And my Mom read us the Happy Hollister books. Oh we had so many books they read us. But what if they read some of ours late at night…….. I just remember how much fun I had reading Laura Ingalls Wilder under the covers with a flashlight. Reading till 9pm.  Scandalous at age 8 or 9.  I still love to read under the covers. I now use a Kindle……

Kate

Where Does The Time Go

Summer is more than half over and my writing life took a sharp turn south to non existent. At least here. It’s not like I’m not writing, but I haven’t pulled out my laptop to type but for some poetry a couple weeks ago. My journal is almost full after another year and a half. (my journals always take a year and a half to fill) and I have been writing this and that. Noting about life other than random observations. I feel like life is so heavy that I can’t write about life. Notes to become poems, or thoughts, but rarely anything deep.

Can we do over 2020? Not like actually all the crap that has gone on, but can’t we just chalk this up to a no go year? That being said, I feel like I have gotten places in my writing I might not have gone before. Nathan and I were texting the other day and he commented that one of my poems wasn’t my usual norm. Ha ha, he hasn’t seen my notebooks. But he is right. I sometimes spew off this super long poem with no stopping and no breaks and no punctuation and it’s like I just let a balloon spew out its air, whizzing around the room. Like I couldn’t contain it and I had to just throw it all out in a rush.

I bottle up my thoughts, opinions and emotions a lot, but when I let them out, usually it’s in a rush, a dumptruck of thoughts poured out on the ground. No organization to them. Sometimes cluttered and rarely making sense. Sometimes poems get like that. I can’t contain the box they are in. Personally, I’m rather fond of those kinds. At least of my own. I usually make the point I want without censoring myself. I’m rather proud of some of those poems.

Now what do I do with them. Again, Nathan asked if I was going to get any in print. I want to, but where? It’s all I can do to write the poems. I don’t have the oomph to hunt for journals to submit. Does anyone want to be an assistant and do the research for me? Pretty please? Darlings, I’d pay you in endless gratitude and the option to have me bake you a goody if you happened to be in northern CA and stopped in at the restaurant.

And that ^  is why I can’t get writing done. Work. I am swamped at all points. My day is so busy from the minute I walk in till I leave. I have a boss on my station in the morning who doesn’t believe he needs to do the prep and leaves most if not all of it for me to do, along with, yes, I am still full force making all the desserts. And I have had an entree added to my station that is adding in time. I fire ribeye steaks in my oven and I have gotten pretty decent at it. But for an already taxed station to adding that in. Well, let’s just say my life is one constant busy.

Even on my days off I’m thinking work. Or pestered by work. I want a weekend where I don’t have to think about work. It would be different if I was the chef in charge. But since I’m not, nor am I being paid to be, I want to not think about work.

And now dishes and lunch are calling me. Forget writing again.

Kate

 

Metros and Oceans

Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

Dona always says she likes to listen to poetry, not read it so much. Most of the time I disagree because I read way more poetry than listen to it. I get my doses from Poetry Off The Shelf and a few other places where I hear poems, but for the most part, I consume it, eating it up mouthfuls at a time from the page. I eat it up like I do cold cereal, a little sloppy at times, sometimes way too big of a spoonful, and there will be a drip of milk somewhere.

But every once in a while I come across a poem that I hear read and it hits you and stays with you for days, or years. Currently I have one poem that has been with me for at least two years. On the Metro, by C.K. Williams. I heard it on Poetry Off The Shelf, of course, and it was read in such a way that I listened to it. Over, and over, and over. I never take it off my mp3 player, and I can honestly say that next to Billy Collins’ Tuesday, June 4, 1991 and Ada Limon’s How To Triumph Like A Girl, it is at the top of my list of favorite poems that I just cannot live without. Though honestly, I can hear the readers voice dripping out of the speakers and it just might far be the best poem I’ve ever heard read.

I love how the words just pull you in and you picture exactly what is happening and it’s all so real. Not a lot of poems do that for me, though many of Ada Limon’s do. I want to feel like I am a fly on the wall.

Well, today was another day where I heard a poem that was just so astoundingly perfect. Another episode of Poetry Off The Shelf and just an amazing poem by Jack Spicer. “Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”. Just the title alone drags you right in. But you must hear it read right. Both links, if you click on them, should take you right to the reading of the poem. You can search the Jack Spicer poem on The Poetry Foundation website, but I prefer the reading on the Poetry off the Shelf version.

Any poem that involves a goddess kind of drags me in. Blame it on all the Greek myths. Anyways, I’m totally understanding why Dona says she wants poetry read out loud. I’ve fallen in love with a few more poems lately since I started listening to a Poetry Unbound podcast and even going over already listened to episodes of Poetry off the Shelf.

I urge you to take a gander at these two poems. And let me know what you think. I’d also love to know of any poems that you need to hear outloud. Share them with me. Youtube has some great poems to listen to as well.

Kate

A Touch of Ruin – Book Review

So, I reviewed the first of a trilogy (?) of a Hades and Persephone retelling, A Touch of Darkness. Just this last week, the sequel dropped and I had it read in a few days. I thought I would take the time to review both of the books to support the author, Scarlett St. Clair. I think newer writers can use all the help we loyal supporters can give them.

A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair takes place a few months after A Touch of Darkness. Persephone and Hades are officially public, though all still think Persephone is a mortal. Except for her best friend, Lexa who knows the truth ( who gets a whole story within this book as well).  Persephone is still dealing with the pressure of her mother’s displeasure of being with Hades, her boss is requiring an exclusive story on her and Hades relationship, and now she just found out, her friend Sybil, an oracle of Apollo’s, has lost all her power since she won’t sleep with Apollo. Justice warrior Persephone to the rescue!

Everything is going wrong. Hades past is catching up to him, and Persephone is still dealing with her feelings on trust and love. Her powers are manifesting in ways she can’t control, and all the general stress of life and being in the public has gotten to Persephone in ways that are not helping matters.

Basically, everything is going wrong. By the way, this is classic sequel territory. You have the set up in the first book, the fall down in the second, and redemption comes in the third book. You start to see some redemption by the last quarter of A Touch of Ruin. But this is long after you’ve wanted to shake the dickens out of Persephone. How could she be so stupid? Answer? Because we all do stupid things when we are insecure, unsure, and afraid. (Perse, I’ve been there). But redemption is sweet. While Hades isn’t the best communicator of all times, : insert dark and brooding types never are : he desperately loves Persephone and he really is trying. There are even current social issues of death. I won’t say more as it will spoil.

This book still left me with certain questions, like how in the first one, Hades uses his powers of invisibility to ‘spy’ on Persephone, but you are left wondering if he really was. And if other gods can bestow favors, why can’t Persephone?  And while I love how Scarlett inserted one of the myths of Pirithous, I found it slightly rushed towards the end and I was hoping Persephone was a tad bit stronger. Just a tad. But hey, I’m a writer, I will always want to put my spin on a perfectly lovely story.

This book tends to focus a lot on sex, and as a good sex scenes type book, this hits the nail. We’ve all read our erotic fiction, this one is pretty darn good for that.

I love how we get tastes of other gods in this one. Apollo (I actually love his character), Hermes, Hecate, Aphrodite, and even Helen of Troy are brought in. Hermes and Hecate are truly great supporting characters. Well written and fun and full of depth, they are just the perfect ensemble cast for Persephone.

This book, while not the level of flair as A Touch of Darkness, is still really enjoyable and makes me anxious for book number three. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars, but then, most sequels hit this way.

If, like I said in A Touch of Darkness review, you are looking for a fun retelling of the classic myth, then check out books one and two. I can’t wait for number three!

I’m kind of hoping Ms. St. Clair tackles other myths over time. I can see her going to town on so many.

Kate

A Touch of Darkness – Book Review

I love classic story retellings. Emma by Jane Austen to Clueless, Twelfth Night by Shakespeare to She’s the Man, and Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare to 10 Things I Hate About You, just to name three films of that ilk. So when I was on Pinterest browsing one day and came across quotes and lines from a Hades and Persephone retelling, I knew I just had to check it out.

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair is one of this guilty pleasure books that tickle the fancy of any mythology junkie, which I happen to be. I have already read other versions of Hades and Persephone, Cupid and Psyche, Jack Frost and his “winter princess”. Basically it’s like glorified fan fiction, but who cares.

A Touch of Darkness is a modern twist on the ancient myth. Here you have Persephone, an almost college graduate living in New Athens, striving to become an investigative journalist, all while trying to get away from the crushing pressure of her goddess mother, Demeter. Persephone is an unknown goddess herself, but her powers are killing plants. That’s it. She can’t use glamour magic to hide her divine self, so she has to borrow her mother’s, something that irks her and keeps her under mommy’s control. 

Persephone has an internship at The Daily which is what leads her to end up celebrating at Nevernight, one of Hades casinos. And also one of the places Demeter has forbid her daughter from visiting. Interacting with any of the divine in general is a big no no for Persephone as well as she has not had her coming out, so to speak, so she is 100% unknown. But well, sheltered girls are apt to want to spread their wings. Not only does Persephone end up at the nightclub, but she also ventures into single players club and sits down to a card game with a handsome stranger. Oops. Can we guess who this is? Not only is it a god, but it’s Hades himself, where she also inadvertently ended up making a deal with Hades. Boy, how to take mommy’s rules and in with them.

Now she’s stuck having to fulfill a bargain with Lord of the underworld, fighting her attraction to him, dealing with Adonis, who steals her exclusive story on Hades, among a host of other problems. How in the world is a “useless” goddess going to handle all the pressure?

This book has so much more in it than I have even scratched the surface of. Several of the divine make appearances, not to mention the pesky nymphs and backstabbing mortals with favors. Do Persephone and Hades work out? And just what is going on in the Underworld? 

I read this book in a day and a half last summer, loved it so much, I reread it again right off the bat, then had to wait till April of this year for the sequel! The romance and attraction between Hades and Persephone is palpable and sucks you in, in just the best ways. I loved this book. I purchased the kindle version which doesn’t have some of the extras the paperback has.  I am tempted to get the paper copies.

5 out of five stars for fun off the top. Side warning, this book is definitely for adults. Nut read it if you like myth retellings. And then the sequel is next for me to review. The next in the series is A Touch of Ruin.

Kate