Ramp up post #2 coming in hot this week with a bleak reminder that there's still a pandemic, the world's governments (sup, America?) have failed us, and everything is dreadful. But hey, at least we have $600 — maybe — that we can immediately donate to mutual aid organizations. Or $598 after you pay those Team Taco dues. This reminder is... probably not why you're subscribed to a project about eating a lot of tacos, is it? Shit. Well. Uh... Sorry.
Have you ever sneezed out of nowhere? You're just minding your own business and suddenly a sneeze is exiting your face? No time for a build up. No big intake of breath. One moment you're not sneezing, and the next you're mid-sneeze.
It happened to me last week — mid beer sip. The sneeze felt great, as all sneezes do. But the aftermath left quite a lot to be desired. A little bit of beer ended up in my sinuses. Not a lot. Just a lil' bit. But nothing I could do would make it budge. It wanted to be where it was, and I couldn't change its mind.
I woke up the next morning with the sniffles and an ache in my bones. Did I really give myself a sinus infection via a sneeze? All signs point to yes. But in the year of our lord 2020, a sinus infection that you know the source of means that you've certainly got COVID-19, and it's all downhill.
When I caught COVID at the end of March in The Netherlands, there was no testing available. I think I caught it at the grocery store? Because I certainly wasn't going anywhere else in March. Antibody tests still aren't reliable. Most people don't believe me when I tell them I had it. But hey, I'm the one who can barely walk up my stairs 10 months later, not you, fictitious friend who isn't believing me for this example.
In theory, that makes me safe. At least safer. But I know what a regular case of COVID can feel like — still feels like. And that's not a feeling I want renewed. The anxiety I have around the pandemic ebbs and flows in unpredictable ways. Sure, there are obvious triggers, such as fascists masquerading as Republican lawmakers, and officials downplaying the virus. Or a set of friends grabbing drinks outside at a bar in a state that's never not been one of the worst places to be in America. Or a sinus infection brought on by a surprise sneeze and a bit of beer.
It's a feeling that I explored a lot with my therapist this year. How much control other people had over my feeling of safety. The power they had just by refusing to wear a mask or step two feet to the right on the sidewalk. But that feeling extended, for me, to other people's behaviors that they felt comfortable posting on Instagram and Twitter.
Friends getting married with guests and saying it was masked, though their stories and pictures say otherwise. Only a few people flew in from different countries, don't worry about it. We're safe.
Friends hopping on flights for vacations because they got sick deals to fly to locales without the healthcare infrastructure to handle the influx of cases from people like them. Just don't worry. It's safe.
Friends continually going out with different sets of friends. Friends dating new people from different states or different countries. Friends being assholes — friends being unsafe. It's. Not. Safe.
Yes — they were not directly making the space around me unsafe. I lived an ocean and continent apart. But they were making it unsafe around them. And if they'd do it now for a couple of drinks with friends, or a climbing trip, or a wedding, then how could I expect them to have my back when I really needed them?
I don't like grey areas, I told my therapist. I like when things can be black and white and right and wrong. It makes things easier. Holding space for uncertainty requires a lot more mental capacity than a simple Yes/No answer to the question: "Do they make me feel safe?"
What my therapist suggested, and what I ended up hating but continuing to do anyway, was to try and get more information. Instead of making the snap judgement, ask questions. Be curious. Find out more. Well, in my case, I'd make the snap judgement and not listen to it right away. You get it.
Most of the time, I just confirmed what I already thought and that's fine. Great even. It's no longer a snap judgement. There's more information that backs up how I felt. Yes. It also really sucked. It hurt deeper — harder — when I'd confirm that I couldn't trust someone I thought I could. Removing the misunderstanding, making sure we're on the same page about what's going on, only feels good if that page doesn't suck.
But sometimes, I got lucky. I'd find out more information that makes sharing my life with them easier. Better. I discovered something that made me feel safer. And that only came from the more information I gathered, from the questions I asked, from the curiosity I intentionally created for someone.
(To be clear, I didn't always have to find out more. The friends who had weddings larger than an elopement during the pandemic? Yeah, fuck that and fuck them. I don't need to find out more. I know enough.)
What's This Got to Do With Tacos?
Great question, thanks for asking. This project doesn't exist in a vacuum, and I want to provide more information about how I'm treating this project in the context of this pandemic. Because it matters to me that you know I'm being safe and trying to be kind towards everyone who is actually making all 2021 tacos. There are also a few potential edge cases around time and lockdowns that I want address before they happen.
No Indoor Dining
Until there's a widely distributed vaccine in Mexico, America, and Canada, I'm not eating indoors. Ever. Nope. It's just not safe — for me or the other people in the restaurant, whether they're patrons or workers.
Outside Dining — Only When Spaced & Safe
This is more of a case-by-case basis, but erring on the side of extreme caution. For example, our two favorite taquerias here have two wildly different outdoor seating arrangements. One has three tables outside, spaced appropriately, nothing overhead. Have never felt unsafe eating at one of those three tables.
The other has at least three dozen tables outside. Open-air, but a high covering to stop the rain. If I happen to be there at 8am and there's one or two other tables filled? Yeah, no problem hiding in the corner. But god forbid I show up at 11am — there's a line down the block and there's no way it's safe.
Mostly Take Out Though
Of the ~90 tacos I've eaten since we've been here, we're riding about 50/50 for takeout versus at the restaurant. The holidays are here, which means so are the Americans pretending that there's no virus on vacation. My willingness to leave our apartment shrinks by the day. We've been here over two weeks. We still haven't been to the beach. Because y'all. Yikes.
If I had to guess, taco consumption will continue to trend towards take-out through at least February.
Yes. Always. Mask goes in my basket on my bike when I start riding to the taqueria. As soon as I get near the first person I see, it goes on my face. It doesn't come off until the first taco is about to be put in my face. In practice, it means I'm usually maskless for ~5 minutes while I eat the tacos.
What? Don't look at me like that. That's totally a normal amount of time to eat six tacos. Sometimes it's even faster.
A COVID Diagnosis
Somehow, someway, I contract COVID. Now what? The show doesn't actually have to go on. I'll quarantine for the necessary time until I'm certain I'm no longer contagious. That means a significant drop in taco consumption. To compensate, I'll likely extend the project two to four weeks and call it good. Like. I'm not risking someone's life to eat tacos. I'm not a Texan.
A COVID Lockdown
A lockdown is pretty unlikely where we are in Mexico, but if it happens, I'll extend the end of the project by the length of the lockdown. Simple.
A Family Emergency
One of the reasons we moved to Mexico was so we could be closer to our parents as they get older. If there's a family emergency that requires us to travel to America some time in 2021, I'll let you know, pause the project, and resume when I'm back.
Good Vibes Only Next Week
Well, that was a bit of a bummer. Merry Christmas, y'all.
I promise next week's report will be happier. Nothing but good vibes and sunshine. Let's do Top Ten Albums from 2020. That'll be great. Taco Tunes™ next Tuesday.
Tacos Eaten This Week — 30
December Taco Total — 91