I started I Ate Oklahoma a couple of years ago. I had just been fired from The Oklahoma Gazette, which is something of a badge of honor in this town, and I figured my days of reviewing restaurants and talking to chefs would be done. And maybe it should have been.
Then some friends encouraged me to start my own thing. This is it. A great guy named Ben Parker made me this site. A wonderful designer named Erin DeMoss designed my logo. Restaurants I knew and loved were kind enough to food-roll my earliest reviews, since I was still getting started and living on unemployment at the time.
Over the following year, I got a full-time job at Oklahoma Today magazine, where I often write about food. Last year, I got promoted to Web Editor and the job, woof, it eats my lunch every day. So much more writing. So much more stress.
The toll it took landed squarely on I Ate Oklahoma. I had a little more money, but a lot less time, and—hard to believe, given the “quality” of my writing—almost all of my finite number of daily words had to go to the job that actually supports me and my kids. Over the last few months especially, it’s grown more and more difficult to take out my laptop at night to start writing.
Cards on the table here: this is an expensive hobby. I have a few sponsors and advertisers, which helps tremendously, but I’ve never gotten to a point where the site could pay for itself and help me with things like rent, daycare, etc. Despite what I’m sure a few people think, I don’t eat for free wherever I go, nor do I want to. In order to give you the best and most honest reviews I can, I try not to even let restaurants know I’m coming. I don’t want to owe anything to anyone but you, because your trust is often the only thing that keeps me going. (Maybe I’m taking this too seriously?)
More cards: I’m in terrible health, both mental and physical, and the strain and stress of this on top of my actual job with bosses and paychecks and taxes and performance reviews isn’t doing me any favors. Going on social media in particular, the place where I let you know about new reviews, has become the worst part of my day, every single day.
So I’m taking a break. A hiatus. I’m going to spend a while not thinking about food and not thinking about selling ads or begging for sponsors. I’m going to come home after work and just melt into a chair without feeling guilty about not banging out 1,000 words which, I’ve come to realize, most people don’t actually want to read.
(Maybe I’m too bitter, as well?)
The site will stay up for now. I wouldn’t be shocked if, in a few weeks or a month or two, I decide I have a lot more to say about food. I just know that right now, in this very moment, I can’t do this the way it deserves to be done.