Exhaustion takes many forms. Feet sanded raw by thin socks and cooking crocs. Fingerprints lifted by searing pans improperly handled. Heartstrings cut loose by an ex-lover's words, honed as they were by the whetstone of unhappiness. At this point in my life, the Spring on 2013, I had tasted of many of exhaustion's offerings. Physical pain was both an appetizer and dessert, courses I knew well, but the entree of mental weariness filled me, bite after bite, until the blood and burns on my hands and arms served only as an epitaph to its heft. To work in a kitchen brings the best and worst in any individual, and it is night unfathomable to know which will take place at any given time. That Spring, I was leaning into the burnout - a phase any cocktailer, bartender, or line cook knows as a clear, dear friend. I needed respite, not from the mundanity of my bodies aches and sores, but from the slow roasting of my brain. I had always fancied myself an artist, but creativity is stifled by the smoke of a fryer. The walls of my perception were at once strengthening and weakening, like a tree whose heaving branches outweigh its modest trunk. The forest was too lush. A cleansing fire was required. I needed a recharge, a reawakening. A renaissance. And so it came to pass that on a chill March afternoon, beneath the grease-caked fluorescent lights of that Seattle kitchen, I traded one hundred-sixty dollars of crumpled tip notes for a togo container packed to the brim with the most powerful Alice, Boomers, and Buttons I would ever taste. Or at least, that was the sales pitch. Kitchens are like the Wild West, in a way, in the sense that everyone is drunk half the time and trying to kill each other the rest. Drugs flow in the industry like shit through a goose - weed, coke, adderal (for hangovers), Tina (for hangovers), brass monkeys (for making hangovers), and various forms of fungal structures. At this phase in my life, nine months after my twenty-first birthday, cannabis and liquor had been catch of the day, with small, contained forays into psychedelics, most of which had been picked wild by childhood friends. At the time, I figured I knew what I was getting in to. I took the togo box in my hand and peeked inside as the blonde-maned morning cook flipped through the bills with trembling hands (he had chosen the most effective hangover cure of all - a tuft of hair from the dog that mauled him.) The stash was dry, but not too dry. The smell of wet cardboard and crushed earth slid from the box like a dripping ferret, clawing up my sinuses in a not all-together unpleasant fashion. I should have known by the way the morning cook smiled at me from beneath that yellow moustache. I should have known this was no shaving from a dead log or cow pie. This was manufactured in a controlled, orderly, unnatural manner. Right up my alley. I arrived at my house that afternoon following shift, to the home I shared with my mother and brother. My mother was gone for two weeks, more than enough time to sample the stock that had stowed away in my trunk. After all, I had purchased an ounce of the super shock, and if it took me where I needed it to, I'd be sharing it with my similarly creatively impotent brethren. I hadn't even dropped my car keys on the windowsill before I was fumbling with the togo box, snaking out an eighth of the hongos, admiring them in the warmth of my own home kitchen. They were tremendous in size, the caps like tan lily pads suspended by stems the size of chicken legs. There were deep dark blue scars embedded in the flesh of the caps, and winding down the stems like veins. Upon applying pressure, I found that these scars drooled small amounts of the pretty juice - psilocybin. By this point, I was drooling a bit myself. I closed my eyes and tossed the eighth into my maw. In an instant, I nearly regurgitated twenty dollars worth of nuclear material as that friendly old ghost of a taste resurrected on the back of my tongue. Good mushrooms taste like what they are - alien goo rooted in shit. And this goo was rooted in some good shit. For the next forty-five minutes, I rushed about to get the setting in place - comfortable chair, relaxing movie (The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane), and a change of clothes. All the while, my stomach was twisting into knots so small and precise it could have scored a Scout's badge. I heard it described once before that the come up of mushrooms is like an immune response. Your body knows that something out of the ordinary has invaded it, and mounts a daring crusade to evict it. Muscling down that response, in the form of horrible stomach cramps and nausea, is a forebear to the experience. I knew it well, or at least I thought I did. I took a drink of watermelon juice from a pink plastic cup and glanced up at my television. The cramps ceased. The nausea was now a fading memory. No sooner did Robin Williams inspect the kitchen of his nightclub in the opening credits did I descend into a full on psychedelic washing machine. Sweat poured from my face and bare arms in rapid squirts. I could actually feel my pores expressing and excreting. The orange lights of the desk lamps that bordered my living room flickered like candlelight. My arm reached out of its own volition to set down the pink cup of pink juice, and but the color seemed to be imprinting along my flesh. I had spilled the juice on myself, and within seconds its began to thicken and grow sticky. I got to my feet to wash it off, and at that precise moment, Robin Williams bashes himself through the door of his lover's bedroom, and the crashing sound, mixed with Nathan Lane's shriek, sent me flying back into the chair like 00 buckshot. The sweat mixed with tears flowing down my face, mixed with pink juice, mixed with the felt of the chair. I was laughing. Horrible laughter, the kind of backbreaking, sidesplitting howls that seem easy to conjure in youth, but impossible to summon with age. I sat gasping for breath, a stone dropped in a rushing river of joy, for the next two hours. I laughed through the closing credits, just white letters on a black screen. I laughed as the television reverted from video to broadcast. I continued to laugh as VEEP began a marathon on HBO. By the time I regained any sense of physical mobility, six episodes had come and gone. My vision was blurred, but in the sense that my peripherals were clearer, sharper than before, but my focus points were slathered with half-dry tears. I lifted myself from the chair for the first time in five hours, which had snuck by like seconds, and stretched my arms out wide. I thought they'd stretch from one wall to the other, and for a split second, they did. I could feel the popcorn texture of the beige walls, easily twenty five feet apart. And then it was over. I collapsed back into the chair, blinking furiously, trying to assemble coherent thoughts from the madness I had just waterboarded myself with. That night, I was truly exhausted, but in a new, transitive manner I had not experienced before. My brain felt like it had been powerlifting all evening, and only now was giving itself a rest. I got up and shakily walked toward the sliding glass door. The night was dark, but not foreboding. I have been terrified of the dark my entire life, mortified of allowing myself to be swallowed by the tendril pools of night, but tonight was different. My hand glided to the lock and unlatched it. I stepped out onto that porch, which at the time overlooked at a menacing green run of forest. At least it would be menacing, any other night of my life besides this one. I walked off the porch and right up to the edge of that green, and it was like I could see through the shadow, pierce the inky sky, and witness it for the first time. The death of fear. Before I laid my head down that night, I wrote forty-five pages in a screenplay I hadn't touched in six months. The rush of ideas, formative thought, the elusive keystrokes that had evaded me for so long had finally been captured. I forgot my previously altruistic intentions of sharing this bounty. I gorged myself on cap and stem for the next thirteen nights, each time being seared and fried like a side of beef, and each time reawakening a creature that slumbered in me for many seasons. By the time my mother returned home, I had only imbibed a little more than a half of my stash, and decided to put it away for a while, to save for when I would need it most again. I spent another seven years cutting and frying and broiling. There have been peaks and valleys, some would call trenches, but I have always known that, in a kitchen, a hard reset is only a few weekend shifts of tipouts away.