Twist or Dunk? How to Eat an Oreo

Black and white Oreo cookies one being dunked into a glass of milk on a blue background

The question of the day? Dunk or twist. Nope, not a dance move or a basketball maneuver. Today, in celebration of National Oreo Cookie Day, I pondered both the meaning of life and the answer to the question burning in my mind…just how do you eat an Oreo?

As a little girl, I can remember always having a package of Oreo cookies in the pantry. My father took four in his lunch every night. Not two. Not five. Exactly four. Every single night.

So, lucky girl that I was, I often had Oreo cookies and milk for an after school snack. Once in a while, my mom would make them extra special by putting chocolate frosting on them when she had leftovers from making a cake. Yum!

But I digress. Back to the question of the day. How do you eat an Oreo? It seems there are two distinct camps–the twisters and the dunkers. As a kid, I was absolutely in the twister camp. Take the Oreo in both hands, twist open. Eat the filling first, usually scraping it off with your teeth. Then, take each side of the sandwich cookie one at a time and eat.

My father? Squarely in the dunker camp. Take your Oreo, dip carefully into a glass of milk, or, like my Dad, a cup of coffee. Bite off the dunked piece, enjoy and repeat, bite after delicious bite, until the cookie is gone.

Twisters usually don’t like dunking for a couple reasons. One, because it leaves crumbs in your glass or cup. My Dad the dunker? Not bothered. He’d dunk his Oreos and then drain the cup of coffee, crumbs and all. Two, because they like the cookie to stay crunchy, which it won’t particularly if it is dunked in hot coffee.

Dunkers, on the other hand, tend to like the fact that dunking makes the cookie soft, edible in one or two bites. They like the extra flavor from the milk or coffee, too.

There is also an age difference between the two camps. Twisters tend to be younger, kids and teens. Dunkers tend to be older, more mature adults. I’m sure that doesn’t hold true 100% of the time, but at least in my family it did. Plus, since I’ve gotten older, I’ve joined the dunker camp, though I prefer coffee to milk (and I have to admit I do enjoy a twist every now and then.)

I am not going to address the new flavor varieties in this post. Why? Because they aren’t Oreos. The only Oreo that I acknowledge is the chocolate sandwich cookie with the vanilla flavored filling. Not chocolate frosted (though I did love the ones my mom frosted). Vanilla? No. Mint? Definitely not. Birthday cake? Ugh. Don’t get me started on that one.

I know that some of you will disagree with me, and that’s ok. That’s what makes the world go ’round, isn’t it? But me? Give me a plain old original chocolate Oreo cookie, and a cup of coffee to dunk it in. Mmmm!

So, how do YOU eat an Oreo?



A Happier Tale…of Two Cities

Woman with long blond hair in blue period gown from French Revolution holding an infant swaddled in a blanket being embraced by tall brown haired man also dressed in green period costume
Connor Pils and Elizabeth Routzahn in Prairie Ridge High School production of A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Most of us have read or heard those lines before–in a high school or college literature class, perhaps?

I can honestly say I didn’t remember anything about the story other than those lines. But last night I had the pleasure of experiencing the Dickens classic tale as a musical at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, IL. I was simply blown away by the quality production they put on.

By way of full disclosure, my nephew Connor Pils had one of the lead roles as Charles Darnay. Disclosure aside, this production was simply gorgeous. From spot on period costume to simple set design that allowed the music and characters to tell the story, if I wasn’t in a high school auditorium in the far reaches of suburbia I would’ve sworn I was in a theatre right in the middle of downtown Chicago.

For those of you who don’t remember the story, Darnay was the French aristocrat who denounces his evil uncle, the Marquis St. Evermonde, and all the family riches, takes his mother’s maiden name Darnay, and heads to London to be a tutor.

The Marquis vows revenge on his nephew, and plots to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, the love story. Charles meets the lovely Lucie Manette, they fall in love, marry and have a daughter.

The plot twists and turns between France and London. Lucie’s father, falsely imprisoned in the Bastille for nearly two decades, was thought to be dead. Lucie gets her father back only to be on the verge of losing her husband to the same fate, only this time for real.

Enter Sydney Carton, the drunken, self-serving lawyer who represented Darnay the first time he was arrested. Carton ultimately finds redemption through Lucie’s kindness, and repays that kindness with the ultimate sacrifice in the end.

For a story filled with such darkness and despair, there are also moments of hope, and love, and the possibility that dreams can come true.

Yes, I adored seeing my nephew up on that stage, hearing those clear, beautiful notes coming from somewhere deep inside him and filling the theatre with glorious music. I appreciated the enormous talent of this young cast and crew, and the hard work and dedication they put in to making this a first-rate production. But what also struck me about it was how perfect a message it was for the times we are living in right now.

In A Tale of Two Cities, there’s darkness and hatred and fear, and division between the aristocracy and the peasant class, the oppressors and the oppressed. Yet there’s hope for a brighter future that takes shape in the form of Charles Darnay, who in spite of his birth into the aristocracy feels a strong sense of justice, morality, and right and wrong. He’s determined to do what he believes is right and good no matter what is going on in the world around him, and hopeful that good wins out in the end.

Similarly, in the world we’re inhabiting today, there’s a darkness that has overtaken many of us. A fear that life as we’ve known it is over. A growing divide between the haves and the have nots, the 1% and the 99. And yet, there remains a glimmer of hope, that if we are good, and kind and true, that we will prevail and all will be right in the world again.

That is the message that I took from last night’s production, from the soul searing chords sung by my nephew and the rest of the cast. Good will prevail. It has to. Doesn’t it?


Going Home

Going home. After thirty days away. Living in a hotel that’s comfortable and clean, with nice people working at the desk. But it isn’t my bed. My desk. My couch. In a city with rolling hills, warm temperatures, and people speaking in a soft drawl that reminds me. I’m not home. Every morning, getting behind the wheel of a 2017 model car with a nice stereo and great gas mileage. But that isn’t mine either. Getting dressed and going to work every morning in an office building that’s a 45 minute drive away from my hotel. I haven’t had a commute in ten years. But it is good work. Important work. Helping people put their lives back together. And I like it. And I like the people I work with. A lot. People who are willing to be away from home for a month, two, three, six, nine. To do the work that needs to be done. And come back time and again.

And tomorrow, I’m going home. Back to my bed. My couch. My kitchen. My family. My dog Lucy. My cat Luna. I get to go home to the routine of my life. Where my commute is to get up from the bedroom and head down the hall to the kitchen, otherwise known as my “office.” Where I spend most days on the computer, on the phone, writing, reading, researching. Yes, I leave the house some days. To go to court, to a board meeting, to meet a friend for lunch or dinner, to visit my family, to dance rehearsal. But when I stay in the house to work? My work clothes are usually yoga pants and a sweatshirt.

When I leave the house, I drive a ten year old car that gets me where I need to go, but I can’t say how much longer that will be true.

And there’s my dog Lucy and cat Luna. When I’ve been away for a long time and I get home, both of them compete to see who can get closer to me. I get in bed, Luna presses up against the left side, Lucy on the right or across my feet. Can’t even describe how good it feels to have their two warm furry bodies pressed against me.

It takes a while for my friends to realize I’m home again. They get so used to me being away. It takes time to get included in the social circle again, to be included in plans, to be invited out. But after a week, maybe two, I slide back into the old routines and it is as if I was never gone.

But I’m not the same me that I was. I’ve seen things. People’s lives changed, drastically, dramatically. Never to be the same. Everything they’ve worked for, saved for, hoped for, dreamed of, gone. Just like that. And we are there to maybe get them back a little of what they lost. To help them start over. And then I go home.

Shiny Pretty Things

Ever lock your keys in your car? I have. Many times. And just today, too. That feeling when you push the car door shut and just before it slams, you see the keys sitting there all nice and shiny on the seat of the car where you put them when you pulled them out of the ignition so you wouldn’t forget them when you got out? I had that feeling. Wanted to swear. Two people getting out of their cars right by me so I didn’t. They asked if I needed help, I said “thanks I think I got it.”

But I didn’t have a spare key. It was a rental car. I was in my hotel parking lot. The good news? I didn’t have to sit outside in the rain and wait. It was a rental car. I called the company. Fifteen minutes later? Help arrived in the form of two guys in a pick up with a slim Jim from a local company that provides tow and lockout service. Door opened. Keys safely in my hand.

What’s the point of my story? It isn’t really about keys at all. It’s about being distracted. By phone conversations. Thoughts. People stopping by our office for a chat. The ping of a text coming through our smartphone. Shiny pretty things that take our attention away from what we’re doing. Taking us out of the present moment and somewhere else entirely.

Even as I was writing this post, I stopped in the middle realizing I’d forgotten to book my dog’s bath appointment for Friday. Phone call made. Bath booked. Shiny pretty things.

How can we learn to focus again and improve our attention span to better than that of a six-week old puppy?

I don’t know that I have the answer. But I have an answer. Be present. Exactly where you are. Doing what you’re doing. One thing at a time. If you are having a conversation, give it your full attention. Have you ever spent thirty minutes on the phone, hung up and can’t recall a single thing that was said? That’s because we’ve all been operating under the delusion that we can multitask.

Sure, we are physically capable of doing two things at once. Talk on the phone, look at your computer. Drive, eat lunch,  Yet, I’ve learned that when I try to do more than one thing at once, both things usually suffer.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “But I like it when coworkers stop by, it gives me a chance to catch up.” And that’s true. But it also takes you fifteen minutes of mental energy just to get back to where you left off, no matter what shiny pretty thing Interrupted you..

I know it isn’t popular, but people who know more about this stuff than I do tell us we should turn off the alerts on our phones and emails. Turn down the ringer on the phone. Pay attention to the person in front of us, the document on the computer screen, the steering wheel in our hands. And if a shiny pretty thing grabs your eye? That’s ok. You’re human. Me too. But we keep trying.