photo friday: table 5 rocks the house

12 Sep

Table 5 rocks the house

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend Lindsay decided it was a good day to get married. So the DC Family and I traversed over to East Lansing, Michigan to partake in the festivities, and let me tell you something about me at weddings that you don’t know: It turns out I can dance for four hours straight in 3 1/2-inch high heels.

I just can’t help myself, you guys–especially when Locked Out of Heaven comes on. The sweet, sweet dance moves just want to spring forth out of me and make themselves known to the world. Though to be honest they’re not terribly particular about my footwear.

 

photo friday: not helping, part 2

5 Sep

The very first morning after the very first night we spent in our condo, I tried to have a very Maria von Trapp moment as I walked out onto the balcony, and promptly put my foot through the screen door, forgetting it was closed.

I love our balcony, and I love that we have a screen door so the fresh city air can waft in along with horns blaring and thug life music blasting from the street below. I do not love that there was a big, gaping hole that let flies and other riff-raff in, and I loved even less the fact that Fat Cat decided to try and make this small hole into an even bigger one, as if to create a cat door when we weren’t letting him outside fast enough for his liking to loll about under the tomato plant.

So earlier this summer, I tried to patch the hole (it only took me a year to get around to it. Pretty speedy of me, no?) with a kit from the hardware store. As that did not so much work, I turned to the no-fail solution of duct tape.

Long strips now cover the hole on both sides of the screen, and neither fly nor cat has been able to get through. The day I performed this feat of astute intelligence, Swede was out and about doing other things, but I couldn’t let him miss out on my sheer brilliance, and knelt down to snap a picture.

And was promptly photobombed by this sucker who has never quite grasped the meaning of “helpfulness.”

 

Not helping 2 copy

the book meme, or, “oh, hey, look–she’s talking about reading. again.”

3 Sep

You may have seen the meme going around on the Book of Faces—no, not the one where you dump ice cold water over your head and donate to a good cause, but the other one. The one that asks you to list the ten books you’ve read that have stayed with you, for better or worse. You’re not supposed to think about it too hard, just the first ten books that come to mind.

I apologize for the self-interruption right here, Interwebers, but it has to be said: I weep for those persons who cannot come up with ten books. I weep hard. And then I hand you a list to get you started. And if you tell me you don’t like reading books, then all I have to say to you is this: You’re doing it wrong.  

Anyshoes, when I was tagged for this meme by my friend Nina, I excitedly jotted down my list and posted it to my feed last week. But after some reflection, I realized that ten is a stupid number, and not one I can even remotely stick to, ergo I’ve expanded my initial list, but after careful consideration and taking into account the fact that it is not, in fact, possible, to list 1,572 books and expect people to still pay attention, have capped my New! and Improved! list at 15.

So here you are, the 15 books that, off the top of my head, have stayed with me through thick and thin:

  1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Bah. Gahd, I really hate this book. I really do. Granted, much of my hatred stems from the fact that I tried to read this entire book in a weekend for junior year AP English (because why would I read on a schedule? Pffft…silly organizational skills) and as a result hated the book and still hate it to this day. It was just so DRY (no pun intended). I remember turning page after page and thinking, “For the love of all that is holy and decent get on with it already.
  2. The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God by John R. Powers. I’ve read this book at least eight times, and get something new out of it every time. I love it. I used to check it out from the library at least once a summer, and it’s entirely possible I was the only one who ever did. I love Powers’ books—they are another version of the stories my mom and dad tell about when they were growing up Catholic on the South Side (see Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?). It was probably not until the fourth or fifth reading of Ice Cream God, however, that I connected the prologue and the ending. And when I did I cried like a baby.
  3. The Monster at the End of This Book. Oh, Grover, how I love thee! It’s Grover! Grover is the monster at the end of the book! And Grover is not a monster! I loved this book as a little kid. He’s adorable and silly! And I may or may not insist on reading it to my nephews even though they’re getting a little too old for it.
  4. The Giving Tree/A Light in the Attic/Where the Sidewalk Ends. Give me Shel Silverstein, or give me death.
  5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. This is one of the most beautiful fucking books I’ve ever read, and yes, I do feel the need to swear about it. That’s how fucking gorgeous it is. And it is just so easy to sink into the stories as they weave together.
  6. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. GAH. Another book that I absolutely cannot stand. I know it’s supposed to be this great feminist work and everything but Christ on a cracker, I wanted to tear the damn book to shreds just to get it out of my face. There was something about the main character that made me want to slap some sense into her, and I felt she was just so whiny and wistful. I get it, I do—different times for women and all that, but Jeezy Creezy.
  7. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Speaking of Jeezy Creezy, The first time I read this book I almost fell out of my seat laughing while riding the Montrose bus home from work, and realized I probably looked a bit like a lunatic. (But then remembered I was on the Montrose bus and really, I fit right in.) As Catholics we’re taught that Jesus is the human Son of God, but this was the first time I ever really viewed him that way. This was the first time I didn’t think Jesus was a goody-two-shoes with a stick up his dupa, and someone I’d actually like to hang out with.
  8. Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett. If you’ve never read Jincy Willett, DO. She pulls you into her odd little world, twisting and heading off on excellent tangents on every other page, but it’s such a divine ride. There is a scene in this book that involves a bar and shoelaces being tied together that left me gasping for breath, I laughed so hard, and solidified my love of Willett’s prose.
  9. This is Where I Leave you by Jonathan Tropper. The first book of Tropper’s that I read, and I finished it in about two days during the 2010 Snowpacolypse in DC. I don’t even know what to say. I just freaking loved this book so hard.
  10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I know—I’m as surprised as you are that such a classic landed on my list, because typically I’m a righteous fan of more modern fiction. But we read this in high school, and I found it captivating. I’d like to go back to my high school English class (sophomore year, I think it was?) and read it again, along with the discussions. There is so much I remember, and so much I’ve forgotten, I’d need someone to walk me through it again.
  11. Dawn by V.C. Andrews. Most people might cite Flowers in the Attic as their V.C. Andrews memory, and yes, I read that one too (along with just about everything else by Andrews), but Dawn stays with me, and I have no idea why. But there you go.
  12. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Dear God, please save me from this book. I know it’s been lauded left, right, up and down, but no. I just couldn’t do it. This was the first book that I actually did not force myself to finish—up until that point I would read a book come hell or high water (unless it was assigned for a class. In which case…eh. Maybe I’d read the whole thing and not bullshit my way completely though the exam.) But this one? Not so much. I got about 50 pages in—a feat in and of itself—and thought to myself, “This is dumb. I don’t like this book. I’m going to stop reading it.” It was a big moment for me, to walk away from a book. I’ve grown so much because of that experience.
  13. The Babysitters Club series and Sleepover Friends series by Ann M. Martin and Susan Saunders, respectively. Alright, let’s just get this out of the way: I was on a first-name basis with my local librarians by age 8. And it had a lot to do with the fact that I was constantly filling out the Interlibrary Loan forms so I could get the latest book from both of these series. I know BSC was a big one, but does anyone else even remember Sleepover Friends? I swear I’m not making it up, I just looked it up on Amazon—they really do exist. And let me tell you something: 11-year-old McPolish thought having a sleepover with your best pals every weekend while eating Chinese food and having your own private playhouse in your backyard and dressing ONLY in red, black, and white clothing was like, the coolest thing ever. Like, right up there with Clarissa Explains It All.
  14. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. The first time I read this it was called “Coming Attractions” but somewhere along the way they changed the name, and I don’t know why. Either way, this is another book that I’ve read more than a few times, back in the day when I read books more than once. (What happened to that time?) And you know what? Every time I absolutely loved it. Ms. Flagg is a consummate storyteller.
  15. The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. The scene: A young McPolish, at the airport at the end of a work trip, waiting to board a flight back to Chicago. Reading this book, which she’d picked up a few hours earlier. Doubled over, wheezing with laughter at Notaro’s essays. And then finishing the entire book on the three-hour flight home.

Tell me, Interwebers—what ten (or 15) books are on your list?

photo friday: seasonality

29 Aug

With summer often comes an excess of fruit. I’ve been working on reducing my food waste (Lo! How we have let so much delicious fresh bounty go bad because that time we ordered pizza three nights in a row! Cauliflower, I hardly knew ye!) and decided when I saw a recent batch of strawberries and plums starting to look a little worse for the wear, to do something drastic.

I went to Pinterest.

Okay, that’s not the drastic part. Okay, really none of this was drastic, or dramatic, or anything of the sort. My point is that I got a little creative.

And I made me some popsicles.

(Sadly, not boozy ones.)

But delicious ones nonetheless.

Popsicles

(In case you’re wondering, it’s a mix of plum and strawberry pureed, and layered with coconut milk mixed with honey.)

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you–late summer edition

27 Aug

1) A coworker is offering Mandarin Chinese lessons to our organization once a week over the lunch hour. We had our first class this week. I took four years of French in high school, and two and a half years of Italian in college. I’ve even got a year of eighth-grade German under my belt (wo ist Claudia?) But let me tell you something about learning French, Italian, and why you care so damn much about Claudia’s whereabouts: It is nothing like learning Mandarin Chinese.

Considering I barely have a grasp on English-as-my-first-language, I don’t have very high hopes of becoming fluent in Mandarin any time soon. But in our first lesson, I did manage to pick up a few language basics, and even learned a few key words and phrases like, “hello,” “my name is,” “thank you,” and “horse.” We were also taught the very important lesson about making sure you have the right tone whey saying the word “dad”—one wrong inflection and all of a sudden you’re talking about poop.

Also, I shit you not, they passed out fortune cookies during the lesson, and this was in mine:

What are you trying to tell me, Mandarin Chinese lessons?

What are you trying to tell me, Mandarin Chinese lessons?

 

2) Earlier this month I finished a thirty-day cleanse. For a month I cut out grains, dairy, sugar, and basically anything that was not a lean meat, vegetable, an occasional fruit, a nut, or a seed, and was told I’d feel like absolute bliss and wouldn’t miss the “dirty” foods (the aforementioned grains, dairy, sugar) at all. And I made it. I fucking made it through.

I know! I’m as surprised as you are. I learned a lot of terrific things about my body and how it handles food, and it really challenged me to break out of my normal kitchen cooking routines. Those were the good parts. The bad part is the woman running the cleanse needs an editor. And possibly a lawyer. Because when you are neither a licensed nutritionist nor a licensed dietitian, a trained counselor or anything of the like, I don’t think it’s a good idea, in your daily motivational email, to send out messages that encourage people to lie and tell restaurant staff they have food allergies when instead they just would rather not have cheese on their sandwich because they’re staying away from dairy. Or that if something is broken or toxic in your life, “Just drop it!” Because that works well if you have a job, are supporting a family, or trying to fix a relationship that is in a rough patch. “Fuck it all! I’ll just drop it!” But then again, what do I know? I am neither a licensed nutritionist or dietician, nor am I a trained counselor, and also I missed pasta for the entire thirty days. It was not bliss.

 

3) Speaking of pasta, I went out for a big bowl of it last night with my girlfriends, and over dinner we were discussing how growing up we’d always wanted to go, but had never been, to Wisconsin Dells—a common dream of many a Chicagoan child in the 1980s. This then lead to a conversation about Indiana Beach, and whether or not it was still in existence (it is), and what, exactly, it was. (All you could really glean from the television ads back then was Indiana? Not just about corn.) This then lead to my question, “Did you know there’s a town called Santa Claus, Indiana?” At which point I learned that one of my best girlfriends is in possession of the knowledge that Santa Claus, Indiana, is where Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, grew up. I don’t know why we all found this so surprising; Beh Beh often is a font of knowledge you didn’t know you should know. But there you have it, Jay Cutler, the golden child of Santa Claus, Indiana. (Feel free to insert naughty/nice, lump of coal, or any other Christmas-related jokes in here. All the ones I’ve come up with are rather uninspired.) If you didn’t know, now you know.

photo friday: discovery is a beautiful thing

8 Aug

We’ve lived in our condo for a little over a year now, and finally we are starting to move out of the tear-your-hair-out-why-the-hell-are-these-boxes-still-here mode.

(Why are those boxes still there? Why have we not unpacked them? No clue. That’s a question above my pay grade.)

And what’s lovely about moving out of that mode is that there is finally breathing room between the working and the (lack of) unpacking and the life and the everything.

And a little bit of breathing room is lovely, as it leaves me time to explore portions of nearby parks that seem secreted away from the rest of the city, but are actually right in front of your face.

Fountain copy

 

photo friday: incoming

1 Aug

 

Planes

The top deck of Columbia Yacht Club has a most spectacular view of the city.

Looking south (because Southside forever and always) and to your right the skyline stretches out and up. In front of you Monroe Harbor waves back and forth, anchored by the museums at the far end.

And above, planes float lower and lower into Midway, every 120 seconds (we counted), like clockwork.

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