Speak Up

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Take It All Back

I miss this nonsense. 

Everything I said about being without Erik this long  and things going "swimmingly" must have been written on some sort of park and sunshine euphoric high. I take it all back, every keystroke I typed. I hate this. And this could be some sort of emotional melt down at a weak moment for me, but I just feel like this industry is such a monster. It's the meanest bad guy bogeyman that ever came out from under my bed. I'm so aggravated with the complete uuber saturation of food media-especially on the Internet. I've got half a mind to delete all my links to food websites, but I suppose they go along with the theme of this blog. 

What type of job forces someone to work 100 hours a week for two weeks in a row? Which today is the first day  of restaurant week in NYC. Oh happy day. This is insane. Hello, food industry I'm talking to you. You're a jerk! All the "fame", press and otherwise BS is not worth all of this. Not for what Erik's making. And you know, not even for millions. Because no matter what the check says, my husband is still coming home after 1 AM every night looking like a shell of a man. Chefs are feeding the world, while unknowingly being eaten alive themselves. 

It's not the being alone part that's killing me, which is what I feared before this double thing happened. I've been busy with park days, picnics, online shopping, bike rides and cooking. (Yes, I cooked: pasta with shrimp and a butter garlic lemon sauce-which tastes great but looks like old yogurt.) But I need some companionship in my life and the cats ain't doing it! I never knew how connected I was with Erik until I started feeling disconnected. Keep in mind, this is a man I've known since before he even was a man. I've been holding hands, telling secrets, and leaning on Erik for nearly 12 years. I suppose I'll never grow out of the hopelessly romantic puppy love stage. 

Now, at this point I'm worried I'm losing readers. You might be thinking, "Oh boy, she's off her rocker. I wonder what's going on at eater.com? " Don't abandon me just yet. I'm sure it's just a phase. Eventually, I'll change my facebook status from "I hate Jean Georges" to "I love my chef". I can't believe I wrote that I hate JG. It's amazing how fast our moods can make us do such silly things. Speaking of silly things I've suddenly got the urge to spend money. This is so unlike me. I'm working (quite hard in therapy actually) to convince myself that I do deserve new things. Like last week, I saw this AMAZING Tory Burch "thalie" tote with a gold chain in the 33% off rack at Saks AND it had already been marked down 33%. I convinced myself not to get it, went home, then came back a couple days later with all he will in the world to spend a couple hundred on a purse, and sure enough it wasn't there. If that wasn't God rolling his eyes saying, "shoulda coulda" to me, then I don't know anything. It's like I know I'm getting the crap of a bad deal and buying something might redeem some of this nightmare. 

Back to the lecture at hand: I'm miserable. But tomorrow will be better. I already feel better talking about this hell week. 

It's 9:33 and I at least have a plan. I'm going to put on my pajamas, start my new book since I finished The Julie/Julia project and LOVED it. (inspired to make previously mentioned lumpy garlic butter sauce.)

Food is Love, 


Ashley said...

I wish I could say it gets better, but the fact of the matter is that I don't think it does.

We, as wives knew what we were getting into when we married our chefs. I even went to culinary school with mine and was a chef myself until kids became part of the picture. Sadly, knowing that there are going to be grueling hours for them and for only peanuts as pay before hand does not make anything any easier.

Be happy that you only have to count the days that your chef is working back-to-back doubles. I spent almost 2 years alone because of hours like these. It nearly cost us our marriage. (To this day I still think Wolfgang Puck is the devil.)

At the end of the day, yes it sucks; but it isn't forever (although it feels like it at times). Be happy and thankful that your chef has a job. If yours is anything like mine, I think his world might crumble if he couldn't cook. Food is his not his job; it's his passion.

Wouldn't it be nice if people only ate 9-5? ;) Then we could have our chefs at home with us and actually have a sense of normalcy.

Erin said...

OH Hilary! I didn't realize this was in the midst of Restaurant Week! That just adds insult to injury.

My cook isn't pulling two weeks' worth of doubles, but I only have a few weeks left of this pregnancy, and I now HATE being home alone in the evenings. I'm getting paranoid that something will happen while he's at work. Plus I can't help but feel lonely, and have a little pity party for myself every few days. So I know a little of what you are going through.

All I can say is hang in there, and treat yourself to some splurge!

Anonymous said...

I've been dating a chef for a year now and as we talk about our future and getting married the one thing that has held me back is his hours. So I googled "dating a chef" and found this website. I actually started crying hysterically when I read your posts bc my every fear is what you blog about. And I'll tell you what this has been eye opening for me. I see that you women live without your husbands and raise kids on your own but I couldnt do it! So I told my chef that, though I love him very much there's no way I could deal with the sh*t u ladies do. Your all much stronger than me! I'm so glad for everyone's honesty bc now I know exactly what I dont want to get myself involved with!

Anonymous said...

Hope you're feeling better today. I know how frustrating this is. My chef used to work all weekend, my worst time was Monday morning at work, listening to everyone's fun filled stories of weekends spent out and about with their partners, I alway felt like calling in sick (with envy).

BUT..things might change! It's a young man's game, and my chef has mellowed a lot (he's 35 now). He is working fairly reasonable hours by now and we get to spend a lot more time together. I guess it was worth hanging in there.

Hilary Battes said...

Anonymous at 10:54: I am so glad you were honest with yourself and your chef. You've given him a gift of knowing that dating him isn't easy. Hopefully he'll remember that when he starts to date again. And for you, you've saved yourself a lot of trouble and heartache.

Thanks Ashley and Erin! Erin-I don't know how you're doing it. You must be just itching to have that baby! Will your chef be able to come home at a moments notice?

Erin said...

Hilary - it's funny, I found your website over two years googling, "married to a chef" when my husband was thinking of leaving the corporate world for the culinary world. Your website helped me see that couples can be happily married with one of them in the kitchen. So thanks for sharing your experience; and know that you've helped women make decisions on their relationships that go both ways.

Yes, Alan can leave in the middle of Saturday night service if he has to. I just need to get the phone number for the kitchen (and/or his chef) in case Alan doesn't hear his cell ring during a crazy service.

Alyssa said...

My husband's sous chef got married last week, too, so he'll be working non-stop until the end of the month. I'm feeling your pain.
I'm taking our son to visit family this weekend, but let me know if you want to commiserate togetherr over a pizza before then.

Anonymous said...

Hillary I wish you well with dealing with your husband's "hectic" (putting it lightly) work schedule, although "schedule" is a lump of your time not all of it. I believe that only someone like you who has been with your Chef for 12 years can deal with this lifestyle, because of the gradual convergence to the hospitality industry. I have been with my chef for about 9 years and I was slowly introduced to this industry so I had plenty of warning what it would be like. My husband like yours has been working 15 to 18 hour days with one day off getting Mario Batali's new restaurant open in LA and the day he has off he goes to check orders and inventory and when he gets home he is just not there. The more amazing thing is the better the chefs get the less of a life they have. We need to be strong for our chefs because they need some normalcy on their chaotic lives. It will get better.

Katie Mueller said...

Not a very reliable source but we’ve lost another “Chef-Wife” over on my neck of the woods (Canada).

Who do we guess had the busier schedule? Kim Cattrall or her Chef Alan Wyse? Bets on the Chef.

Source: http://www.okmagazine.com/2009/07/kim-cattall-splits-with-boyfriend/

Hilary Battes said...

I'm not sure, but I would imagine that the chef's schedule is crazier than Kim Cattrall's. Either way, it's really sad when a couple divorces. I wish them the best. Not that they'd notice.

Unknown said...

I just want to give some support to Hilary and all you ladies! There are good days and there are bad days. I think we just have to support each other when we are having a good day and look for support when it's a bad one. It's hard. I don't go a day without missing my chef, but I try to pull myself out of it so I don't wallow.
Good luck!
Laura, Reno

Unknown said...

p.s. It really sucks trying to explain about chef schedules to friends who don't really get it. They just think you're whining. It can be really frustrating. I'm glad you have this blog!

Anonymous said...

I know where to come when I'm feeling alone now! Thanks girls!!

Hilary Battes said...

Glad we can help, Real Chef's Wife. And Laura, it totally sucks trying to explain what it's not eating dinner alone every night. I think it's so hard for other people because most people take dinner with their spouse for granted. I never will again! That is, if I ever get to have dinner with my husband again!

Go Erin Go said...

Ha ha! Laura's p.s. comment makes me giggle; every weekend, at least one person asks me if Alan is working. You'd think people would catch on, but it just doesn't click.

At this point, it's kind of cute (but a wee bit frustrating). :)

eljay said...

What's that phrase? long time lurker, first time commenter. When my chef boyfriend & I started dating, I managed a bar & restaurant, so he was the one waiting for me to get out of work every night. Our restaurants were across the street, so even when we were both working like maniacs, we'd catch sight of each other or take 5 together all the time. I've since left the industry and work relatively "normal" hours now back in NYC. This summer has been so tough! I miss him every day and somehow Friday nights have just been the worst.

k said...

Wow. Reading all of your comments really makes me feel somewhat better about my situation. I've been dating a chef since the end of May, and we still only see one another about once a week. I googled "dating a chef" because I wanted to see if other women felt like the chefs in their lives were as absent or if I should be worried that my chef is stepping out on me...Bittersweetly, it's nice to see that chances are, he really is going home and getting in bed after working his crazy 12 hour shifts 5 and 6 days each week.

Right now, I am studying for the bar exam, so I haven't really had much time for him myself, but I keep wondering if I will be able to handle it once I'm finished with the bar and have a lot more free time to miss him.

There's something really special about this one, so I'm going to let things play out, but I have already begun to notice many of the characteristics that have been discussed on this site.

One question though...Does anyone have any advice on how to really gage feelings early on in the relationship? I feel like I am dating this guy exclusively, considering he usually has one or two days off each week and at least one of them are reserved for me, and I feel like we're into each other, but sometimes he comes across like a pro-tennis-player...a little bit of a loner, somewhat hot tempered about work, and pretty hard on himself. With other guys I've felt like that kind of testiness is how they act around girls they don't like, but I genuinely get the feeling that he really is that stressed about work, competitive, and sometimes just in the mood to be alone after being in the kitchen all day. What are some of your experiences?

Jillybean said...

What you've described is the typical chef personality. So no worries there!

When I first started dating my chef (which was a year ago) things progressed really quickly bc of him. After only dating a week he asked me to be his girlfriend. Ive thought about this for awhile and I think its hard for chefs to meet "decent" girls bc of their hours. And once they do they seem to want to hold onto them and make that commitment. I might be wrong here but thats my opinion.

Only seeing your chef once a week will be the norm for you guys. And once you pass the bar its going to be hard (just being honest)bc u have free time.

And yes, most chefs when they come home will sit in front of the TV, grab a beer and just zone out. Its my biggest pet peeve. But I told my chef about that, if I only spend one day a week with him I need some interaction. SO be open and honest with your chef as your relationship progresses!

Jill Philly, PA

Anonymous said...

My bf has been a chef for 3 years. I was away for a year and we finally moved in toghether 2 years ago. Since he began cooking, he has lost many party pals, and I don't think I really fit in with his circle. I lost many friends when we began dating and I have found it really hard to meet like minded people outside of work since. On our days off he likes to go out really late for one night and the other, he complains he has cleaned. The lonliness is palpable. I went to a wedding last week and realised, I have been with this man for 6 years. How many years have been truly happy and connected? Its over. I don't want to be a single woman in a relationship, yet a mother yet I love this man so much. I don't want to end things, but I don't want to be isolated. Thet terrifying thing is I don't know if it is better to be isolated in a relationship if you end it and end up isolated anyway. It is better for him as well. I think he could be so much happier with someone else.

Hilary Battes said...

K, I agree with JillyBean, the more free time you have the more alone you feel. But it's important to let your chef know that. On slower days Erik can call me for a minute a couple times a day just to check in. It only happens on Saturdays when he knows I'm not busy with work. (he just called...weird) And yes, your chef is totally normal!

And Anon., It sounds awful that you lost your friends, but is it too late to get them back? I've found that there is almost no time for friends once I've squeezed myself into the chef's schedule. But what about meeting friends while your chef is working? That's what I do on Saturdays.

Anonymous said...

Chefwife, its been a few years. I don't have much cash to leave the house and enjoy classes that I love to meet like minded people, despite constantly saving. I tried to squeeze myself into his schedule, like you I am a teacher, and found myself manic, due to sleep deprivation and it affected not just myself but my students. Work became horrible. Now, I make sure I eat right, sleep fairly evenly and basically see him once a week. These days we only talk about work. When we are toghether we don't do anything, despite my suggestions. I have been trying though. :)

K said...

Thanks Chefwife and Jilly! He called last night after work to set a date to hang out so finally I get to see his adorable smile this Sunday after waiting over a week to see him since I had to take the bar this week and he has been prepping for some big events at work...Dating this one is definitely a test in trust, but I've found that it's forcing me to be a lot more independent than I've been in my other relationships, so that's kind of nice.

Anonymous said...

Los Angeles

Hi! I am so glad I found this site for desperate chef's wives/girlfriends. I am living with my boyfriend for over 2 years now. I have been complaining everyday because of his busy schedule. But I am really trying to spend quality time with him and as a matter of fact, I wait for him every night so we could have dinner together. He arrives home around 11:30pm so we start dinner at 12 midnight! I've been begging him if he could ask for a weekend off but he said it would definitely be impossible! I am wondering how long will I sacrifice living in this kind of situation?!