Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Sometimes, tacos can make everything okay.  After a long day of coaxing and convincing 150+ students that literacy is important, I need a couple of  Del Tacos to remind me why I get up in the morning. The crunch of the shell as it shatters into flakes of salty goodness on my tongue, the grease drips out the corner, pools in my hand and then runs down my arm, the bite of cheese, the cool, crisp lettuce . . .

I understand why an entire day of the week is dedicated to tacos.
As a kid, when my mom would ask what I wanted for my birthday dinner, I would often request those golden parabolas filled with happiness.

Despite my need, respect, and admiration for the power of the taco, I do have one complaint: how they are assembled: first meat, then sour cream/salsa, lettuce, cheese and finally tomatoes.

There are many kinds of tacos, but my issue relates to the hard-shell tacos from fast-food and sit-down restaurants.

Eating a hard-shell taco goes something like this: bite into taco, scoop up what falls out of the taco and tuck it back into the shell. Bite, scoop, tuck.  Bite, scoop, tuck. As the shell whittles away, what beef, cheese, salsa, tomato escapes gets scooped directly into the mouth. At that point, one wonders why he or she didn't just order a taco salad.

Why not just let what tumbled from the taco remain on the plate (or in your lap or on the floor of the car)?  Because what is first to fall is what is on top, and what is usually on top is the cheese and tomatoes. And what eventually gets shoved out of one end of the taco after each bite is the meat and sour cream. Who is their right mind is going to leave behind that beautiful cheese? Those ripe, red tomatoes? That seasoned, spicy meat? That refreshing sour cream?  I'll eat cheese off a pile of shit if that's the only way I can get it.

If lettuce was to fall out of my taco, I wouldn't care. Who scrounges for lettuce? Dieters, that's who. But dieters don't eat tacos because dieters have given up their souls.

I understand the reasoning behind putting the cheese and tomatoes on top: marketing appeal.  I see that cheese smiling from over the top of a taco shell and it's like an old friend.  A taco bursting with lettuce is not going to draw anyone. Except dieters. And they'll only buy one.

So Mexican restaurants of America, display those cheese and tomato crowned tacos, but do me a favor: make sure that cheese and tomato is ensconced between the meat and lettuce.  I promise I won't complain that what you give me doesn't look like the picture.

Friday, April 14, 2017

In Awe and Reverence of Parents

I am amazed to see parents who can manage to hold down a job, keep a house, remain social, and not go absolutely nuts.  Several of my co-workers have young children and every day they show up with a smile on their faces to teach even more children. With smiles on their faces.  Fashionably dressed. Healthy, packed lunches at the ready.  I'm convinced they are medicated.

Or, Holden Caulfield so eloquently stated, "All mothers are slightly insane."

I keep my nephews for 24 hours and I feel, look and behave like a mental patient whose been on the streets for weeks.  If manage to brush my teeth, I feel like a champ.

Those who own me.
There is nothing, nothing I love more in this world than my two nephews: Jay, who is 5, and Blake, who is almost 1 1/2.  They spend the night with me often, usually one at a time, but there are occasions when I keep both. One is hard enough; two, OMG.

This parenting shit is hard.  And I am not even parenting; I'm quasi-parenting. Actually, I just keep them alive. Naively, I figured all it required was to throw food at them, change a diaper, and block them from running into traffic. Guess what? It takes a lot more than that.

I have to convince Jay flipping over couches and leaping off chairs can result in him getting hurt, try to get him to eat anything other than candy and chips (I have no problem spoiling him; I do have a problem with the demon within unleashed by sugar), and if I take him to the park? That adds at least 100 other ways he can hurt himself: slides, swings, strangers, oh my.

And the gear one needs to keep a baby alive: I don't know how anyone can afford to be parents.  You need diapers, 5 changes of clothes per day, a sleep sack, butt cream, wipes, whole milk, baby food, regular food (that he'll like, that he can "swallow" without choking because chewing is new), a high chair, and a pack-n-play. Oh, and toys.  Lots and lots of toys.

The first time I watched both boys for an extended period of time, we barely made it. And when I say "we" I mean me.  After that harrowing 24 hours, I swore the next time my sister asked if I could take both overnight, I'd immediately volunteer as tribute for the Hunger Games. I just don't have enough arms, patience, and brain cells to keep both of them alive for an extended period of time.

As with all other great pains in life-- heart-break, labor, crossfit--time blotted out the memory of it, so when my sister and mom went to DC for five days, I volunteered as tribute to watch both nephews overnight to provide her husband with a break.

I prepped like a motherfucker: I stocked up on child and baby preferred snacks: Cheerios, bananas, fruit, and cookies.  Bottles are pulled out and lined up on the counter.  Sheets were laid over the furniture to save them from ruin. All breakable items were stashed in a closet. Pack-n-play was set up (after a lot of cursing and sweating). Wine was chilled. And if shit really gets rough, children's Benedryl was loaded in the medicine syringe ready to fire.

The first 5 hours, I managed fairly well.  Kids were fed and entertained.  My apartment was littered with toys, but nothing has been broken. Each kid had only one or two brushes with death.

Inevitably, my strength waned. I'm not sure why Jay can't get it through his head that he shouldn't cover his brother's face, and since I don't speak baby babble, I'm not sure how to communicate to Blake that kamikaze diving off my ottoman is not a good idea. I had been watching Teen Titians, PAW Patrol, and Team Umizoomie forever, so I found the movie Dawn of Justice: Batman vs. Superman for them to watch--it's about superheroes, so it's child-appropriate, right?--but after Jay asked me 1000 questions about the plot, I'm ready to go back to helping Umizoomie save another one of their dumbass friends. My feet were pock-marked from stepping on legos. I considered putting tape over Blake's mouth to keep him from shoving anything and everything into it--he can still breath through his nose--but the last thing I need to be doing is giving Jay ideas.

I had poured a glass of wine, but couldn't find two seconds to actually drink it.  One of the kids might have drank it; I don't know.

When I got Blake to go to sleep for the night, I figured I might be at the end of the gauntlet. Jay was watching television, so I told him I was going to take a quick shower.  And I mean quick--long enough to get clean--no relaxing, not pampering.  In and out.  But as soon as I had lathered up my hair and then . . . surprise! My shower curtain flew open and there was Jay, "Auntie, are you done yet?"

Yes, young man, I am done. And I still have about 12 hours to go.

I'm sure parenting books have a chapter on how to synchronize the sleeping of multiple children, but I haven't read them.  Blake was asleep at 8:30 p.m. and then up at 3 a.m.  We hung out for two hours--me trying to convince myself that I'm a rockstar being up at 3 a.m.  I think "rockstar" status is negated by poopy diapers though. I finally got Blake back to sleep at 5 a.m. just to have Jay pounce on me at 6 a.m.

I had to make it until noon.  If I made it, I had planned on auditioning for Survivor.

Jay doesn't understand the concept of brain development. To tell him that Blake "doesn't understand"--well, anything--doesn't quite sink in.  So, when Blake threw his Cheerios all over the floor, Jay figured he had license to throw his much bigger bowl of Cheerios on the floor. Fuck it; I told them to pick their breakfast out of the carpet. Hell, I saw Blake eat a few Cheerios he peeled off the bottom of his foot. Breakfast turned into a scavenger hunt since they had to sift through the toys that blanketed the floor.

I've heard parents--moms especially--lament the time they used to have to themselves.  They claim they can't do anything alone.  My own mother swears that she hasn't "peed or had a can of Pepsi to herself in 35 years."

While my nephews scrounged for their breakfast, I decided to duck into the bathroom. Not ten seconds after my butt hit the toilet seat, Jay comes in asking me how kryptonite works.  As I explained this (for the 100th time), Blake toddled in with a small tennis ball and began bouncing it off the walls.

Taking a dump while explaining the power of a glowing green rock while a ball pings around my head: #glamlife.

At 11:30, I loaded those kids up and drove 80 miles an hour to meet up with their dad to hand them off.  In my pajamas.

When I got home, it took me hours to get my place and my psyche back in order.  A week later, I'm still stepping on Cheerios.

In my opinion, setting a pack-n-play up and breaking it down qualifies as a workout.  I may not have been able to brush my teeth, but I could scratch "exercise" off my list.  Shit, I can't even do that on a day without kids.