Monthly Archives: March 2015

No Meat from a Truck: A Peek into My Day…and My Psyche

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For those friends and acquaintances who have thought to themselves, “How wonderful it must be to be a work-at-home mom!” or, “Gosh, that must be so nice, to work at HOME. In your JAMMIES. And get to be with your KIDS ALL DAY!” I’ve decided to give you a little glimpse into my glamorous world, so that you can continue to be jealous of my Very Sweet Gig.

Or not.

FIrst, let me explain, for those who don’t know, what it is exactly that I do.

For one thing, I homeschool my youngest three children. Because I’m an idiot. And a masochist. (Actually, I do think it’s a great thing for kids, if you can swing it–it’s not for everyone, I know–and I may devote time some day to actually explaining why. But for now, I’m just going to bitch about it a little.)

This means that on any given day, I am solely responsible for the educational welfare of my kids. I can’t blame anyone but myself. That’s a lot of pressure.

I also generate income by writing. Writing articles for magazines, writing copy for various clients, and–get this!–I also want to write a book! Hahaha!! Because I don’t have enough to do! (Actually, it’s two books. Because one would be too easy.)

So, as if it weren’t easy enough to neglect three children (and their education, don’t forget) on a daily basis, I also have to make time to write creative, soul-arresting copy. For money.

(There’s also housecleaning, laundry, cooking…but we’re not even going to pretend that I give any serious attention to those things.)

A “normal” day has me getting up at around 8 a.m. to take my middle daughter to the horse ranch where she prefers to spend her time. By the time I get home, the kids’ dad has left for the day, and I begin to try and prod the other two school-aged kids into doing some work.

Or I let them just…continue sleeping. Or the ten-year-old boy (who is something akin to a feral child) goes out into the woods on our property.

Until the middle daughter is ready to be picked up, I try and workout. (By “try”, I mean that I go through my routine, stopping only for short rests and to referee the epic bickering matches between the two youngest children, the ten-year old and the thirteen-year-old. With a little practice, I think they could actually be looking at careers in professional bickering, although retaining amateur status could certainly lead to a spot in the Bickering Olympics. They’re that talented.)

After that, I encourage them to eat something healthy, and I set them to work on school and chores, and I begin my process.

My Process

1. Sit and look at wall, awash in agonizing, self-doubting writer’s block, wondering why on earth I do what I do.

2. Look at Facebook.

3. Try to ignore the sounds of rising sibling hostility from outside my bedroom door.

4. Scream, “STOP BICKERING” multiple times, through same door. (Note to self: Consider recording loop of voice yelling this, along with “LEAVE HIM/HER ALONE!”, to play at push of button, throughout house).

5. Cry a little.

6. Look at Facebook again.

7. Become struck with inspiration, and write furiously, ignoring sounds of Pokemon episodes coming through door. (Note to self: Remember to thank Pokemon for the co-parenting in front page dedication when book is published).

8. Call out (through gritted teeth), “THAT’S AN OUTSIDE ACTIVITY!”

9. Close out the day’s work with a sigh of relief, look over generated copy with satisfaction, feeling like King Kong. (Note to self: Find new descriptive metaphor. Remember what they did to King Kong.)

10. Summon the energy to interact meaningfully with children, hope that there’s something easily defrostable around for dinner. (Note to self: Think about dinner before dinnertime tomorrow).

(Alternative to #10: I jump in the car and speed off to jiu jitsu when the children’s father or an older sibling get home, cackling, “HAHA! SMELL YOU LATER!!!!” out the window and then experience about 3 seconds of guilt about it before rolling and choking my cares away with other adults who like to play fight.)

Now, this is a GOOD day, mind you.

And it’s just a basic template. I didn’t add in any toilet overflows, calls from my mother or grandmother, and I didn’t subtract time for any of the various seminars I have to give on a daily basis, about Why We Don’t Put Stuff Like That in the Blender, or What “Clean” Really Means.

But I’ll tell you what today’s detour was; explaining to a man why I wouldn’t buy any meat from his truck.

Have you experienced this? Someone coming to your door and giving you the spiel about how they’re in a bind, yada yada, they have all these wonderful steaks that are just going to waste, they’ll let you have them for a song…

Does anyone actually DO that?! Buy meat from a stranger?

Today, when my thoughtful scribblings were interrupted by the yowling of our large dog, and I made my way to the front door, pushing said dog and staring children aside, I was greeted by one such individual, and before he could get a quarter of the way through his rap, I simply said, “I’m not interested.”

“But MA’AM–” he intoned with wide eyes, gesturing at his dirty vehicle as if he had Adam Levine in the back, and was offering me a free game of Twister with him, “This is a GOOD DEAL…”

“Nope.” I said, flatly. “I don’t buy meat from strangers.”

He looked hurt, and so I gave a (hopefully) cheery little goodbye expression as I slammed the door, and went about getting back to my business.

It occurred to me that what I told him wasn’t actually true. In fact, you could say the opposite…I’ve only ever bought meat from strangers! (Let me make you aware that I do promote the idea of knowing ROUGHLY where your meat comes from, and I champion the cause of the Oklahoma Food Co-op to anyone who will listen).

But time was, as it often is, at a premium.

So I just said whatever came into my head.

Had I time and wherewithal to reason with him, I would have said, “Look. Don’t feel bad. Part of it is my personality–I’m more than a little OCD about food, and if that cute kid at Whole Foods couldn’t get me to eat an unwashed cherry tomato**, there’s no way in hell you’re ever going to get me to buy Mystery Meat from a stranger. I barely trust the USDA…why would I trust you?! How do I even know it’s beef?! It could be GIRAFFE MEAT! There’s no way to tell, I don’t have the technology!”

(**I’ll have to devote an entire section of this blog to my interactions with Whole Foods employees. Bless their idealism and cheeriness…they’re some of my favorite people on the planet. I suspect most of them are high, but…if chemically induced joviality is all I can get in the marketplace these days, I’ll take it. It’s too rare. Fight the Power!)

Of course, here I could go on a rant about how we can’t really trust The Man, and his Grocery Stores, any more than we can a dude in a suspicious truck, but I’ll spare you. You probably know all about that, anyway.

And besides…I’m a little tired, and it’s getting close to dinner time.

Off to see if there are any giraffe burgers to thaw…

A Wine Experience…Water’s Edge

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Oklahoma City area folks have a new choice when looking for unique things to do in the metro.

More than just a wine bar (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that”), Water’s Edge is a winery that offers handcrafted wines from grapes around the world, as well as the option to create, bottle and label your own private vintage, either on your own or as part of a “bottling party”–a great, unique idea for bachelor/bachelorette celebrations or other small group get-togethers.

The SENSATIONAL upper room is also available for private events, if you want to have an awesome time in an intimate-but-roomy setting with urban ambiance. (The pic above was taken through the enormous open air window that gazes out onto downtown’s Automobile Alley).

Owner Adam Edwards (who co-owns Water’s Edge with his wife Sarah and partner Roger Cude) believes that his winery holds an appeal beyond just providing a place to drink some good wine.

“There are certainly a group of people around–I call them “culture seekers”–who are looking for something different. Something to learn about and love.”

Water’s Edge certainly presents a chance for already-established Okie oenophiles to hone their palates and get in touch with great wines that have been sourced from different parts of the globe. It also has–in the persons of Adam, Sarah and Roger–excited enthusiasts who are eager to introduce the more wine-ignorant among us to the sort of refined understanding that leads to deeper appreciation of good wine.

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Or, if you’re like me and my friends, you could just go there and enjoy the atmosphere, trusting the opinion of Adam, Sarah, and Roger when they enthusiastically exult about the specialness of whatever it is that you’re drinking.

(I would like to state for the record that I do have friends who are knowledgeable about wine; it’s just that none of them were available to do this review with me. Hence the help from “Gustavo” and my Beautiful Sister Billie.)

My Beautiful Sister Billie sampled the tasting menu, small drams of various wines, which Adam described for us as a standard set up that rotates according to individual label’s availability.

“On a daily basis, it’s going to consist of between three to five wines. A dry white, a dry red, and then fruit wines. That’s the format. The individual wines may change.”

Beautiful Sister Billie especially loved the Bonita AppleBum green apple riesling, which she described as “Yummy, like a Jolly Rancher.” (Like I told you, the people who take this stuff seriously were not available. Actually, maybe they were, but, they’re not as much fun so I didn’t ask them. If I have to choose between folks who can actually be helpful, and the ones that will show me a good time…I’m sorry. Fun will always win.)

My friend “Gustavo” (he asked to be referred to as “Gustavo” for the purposes of this review; see above, where I mention that I chose the fun people over the helpful ones) and I sampled a bottle of the Skip Hill Limited Edition Toro red, an exclusive enterprise between the winery and Oklahoma artist Skip Hill. (The vintage was already sold out by the time we got our bottle, and is no longer available, but there are plans in the works for future collaborations like this between the winery and local personalities.)

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(Hill’s extraordinary art also graces the walls of the winery and its hipcat upper room.)

The wine was great, I thought, and when pressed, “Gustavo” offered that it was (and I quote), “Good, I guess. As good as any other good red wine I’ve ever tasted.”

Again, if you and your friends don’t have a sense for the subtlety of wine, don’t worry. You can just relax and drink, or you can ask questions and benefit from the Water’s Edge owners’ enthusiasm and knowledge, because they are happy to share their love and their understanding about what makes good wine. They may even be able to help you figure out if something has an “oaky”* taste or not.

(*Terms like this are a source of aggravation for “Gustavo”, who rolls his eyes when this descriptor is mentioned and exclaims, “What does that even MEAN? Isn’t it ALL aged in oak barrels?! Wouldn’t that make ALL of it “oaky”?!”)

Whatever your level of wine savvy, I can promise you that a tasting at The Water’s Edge is a great way to spend an evening/afternoon, and represents a fun new option for expanding your horizons when it comes to What to Do in OKC.

 

Intent to Deceive: The New OKCMOA Exhibition, and a Tale of Thinking Too Much

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I was privileged to be able to attend the opening event for the new Oklahoma Museum of Art exhibit, Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World a couple of weeks ago.

Art forgery fascinates me, and I’m sure it causes any art lover to at least pause and ponder; why would someone feel compelled to forge art? Does it lessen the beauty of a masterpiece if it can be so convincingly replicated that even professionals can’t tell it from a fake? Should that shake our understanding and definition of what constitutes a “masterpiece” in the first place?

Some of these questions are answered by the exhibit, which displays authentic pieces next to fakes (the tail end even has an area where you can test your guesses as to which work is real and which is forged) and gives a little insight into the minds and motives of the forgers. It also showcases a variety of types of fake art; straight-up forgeries of established works, as well as paintings created to be passed off as previously-undiscovered pieces produced by well-known artists. (The crafty Hans van Meegeren pulled off an especially impressive bit of fraud in this vein, by creating a “lost period” of works by Vermeer…all of which were paintings he himself produced, in a fit of frustration and anger over his own dismissal by the art world.)

I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition, for any art lover. It’s also a good choice as a hill to make a stand on, if you have members in your family or circle who are reluctant about looking at art, or skeptical of its importance; this is the thing you can drag them to, that they’ll probably end up enjoying. Anyone who has ever rolled their eyes and sighed, “My ten-year-old niece could paint that!” will probably feel a sense of solidarity with the forgers, and if you’re a true art aficianado, it’s a good exercise, I believe, to examine the role of forgery in the art world.

Of course, some will differ with me, and say, “Calm down, Jill. It’s not necessary to think about forgery to appreciate art.” And you might be right. In fact, I can share an anecdote from the opening I attended for this exhibit, to offer evidence that I may be prone to overthinking things.

(Not that I need to offer proof; those who know me well (or even at all) can testify to the fact that I tend to go above and beyond, when it comes to purposeful deliberation.)

I’m not really sure that it’s something I would want to change completely about myself, if I could; thinking more than the average bear about certain issues has helped me in many areas of life. Not in the area of quick decision-making, that’s true, but no one can accuse me of not considering all the options, once a choice is actually pinned down. It may not be a fast decision, but it will absolutely be a well-considered one.

The aptitude for creativity is also enhanced, I believe, when one is an Extreme Cogitator. (You didn’t realize there was an X-Games like denotation for overthinking, did you? I just thought that up! See…I’m proving my own point!) It’s not a big deal for me to dream up plots for novels, think up phrases to describe how incredible a plate of pasta is, or fire off a million synonyms for “Fit” or “Toned”. I love writing, and the rapid-fire, thousand-thoughts-per-second stream-of-consciousness style of thinking lends itself well to what I’ve chosen to do in life.

However, there can be drawbacks.

My Beautiful Sister Billie is also prone to this sort of thing. Both the wonderful side of overthinking (she’s a gifted writer and communicator, and enjoys immense success in her chosen field because of it), and the tendency to let it run off the rails a little in regular life. One of the funnier ways this seems to manifest is our habit of imagining back stories for individuals that we meet in passing. You know, in a restaurant, on a plane, in line at the grocery store. I mean, we’re curious (and chatty) enough to start conversations and find out how far off we are, usually, but there are those times when the inclination to imagine gets away from us, and the potential for embarrassment exists.

Case in point.

The opening that I was invited to, for the Intent to Deceive exhibit, offered a lecture by curator Collette Loll, an open bar, and free hors d’oeurves. So, of course I went!

This was a popular opening, so there was actually a little line to get in the door. While waiting the few minutes to get in, I busied myself with one of my favorite pastimes; looking at people.

A small group in front of us contained a woman who was wearing what appeared to me, to be a compression therapy skullcap. (Compression therapy garmets are those flesh colored sleeves, tights, caps, etc. that are used to help with burn scars, venous insufficiency, etc.) I was fascinated. Immediately I started to wonder (despite it NOT BEING MY BUSINESS, as I well know)…had she suffered an accident? Was it a congenital condition?

My thoughts jumped to how difficult it must be, to wear a flesh colored skullcap out in public. I began to think about how much she must go through, given how sensitive most of us women can be about our appearance, anyway, even without having to wear a flesh colored skullcap, and I got a little emotional, imagining the unwanted attention, and stares. I started to grow a deep admiration for her, and her (apparent) love of art, and interest in this subject. She’s not letting any of this stop her, I thought to myself with awe. She’s striking a blow for everyone who is missing out on activities because of worry about stares, and unkind comments from the general public!

I decided that I would figure out a way to interact with her. I love meeting new people, and I feel strongly about letting someone know when you appreciate something about them, but I also know that differences can be a sensitive subject, and so I began to think about ways that I could put myself in her path, comments that could act as conversation starters, etc.

(Let me point out here that all of these mental gymnastics occurred within the space of a few seconds.)

The lady turned towards me, and I noticed that she was wearing a suit and tie. She was also enjoying a lollipop–again, not my business, but interesting choices, both of them. This only solidified my adoration of her. What an individual! Who cares about the conventions of fashion? Not my future new best friend!

And then…I remembered something.

I got an image in my mind of the event invitation. There was a sleuth motif in the design, to go along with the “Be an Art Detective!” theme of the exhibit, and I recalled a phrase thrown in with the dates and details…

“…Come dressed as your favorite detective!”

She wasn’t a stalwart survivor wearing a compression therapy head covering.

She was dressed up as Kojak.

I’m just glad that I got to that realization point before I tiptoed up to her and tearfully whispered something like, “You are so brave…”

The moral of the story (if there is one), is that while I maintain fervently that I would rather think too much than too little, I will have to grudgingly admit that there are times when a pause and a breath will definitely work in the Extreme Cogitator’s favor.

(Another moral of the story; go visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Intent to Deceive exhibit. And go look at my list of recommending reading on the subject of art fraud and forgery. Edward Dolnick is always a go-to of mine–his Rescue Artist
is one of my all time favorite books, and The Forger’s Spell is about one of the most fascinating incidents of fraud, ever–but any of these would be good reading for a little fleshing out of the subject. Remember, when you click and purchase through my Amazon affiliate links, you help to finance my rock star lifestyle.)