photo friday: hitting the high notes

17 Oct

Chicago Opera copy

Sometimes you take a walk at lunch and stumble across an absolutely lovely piece of architecture, like the cavernous front of the Lyric Opera House. This is Chicago, though, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve been to the opera all of one time, while studying abroad in Rome. I can’t say that I really enjoyed it, and in fact remember thinking at the end, as the main lady singer was trilling out music as her character died, “Oh, would you just get ON with it already and die?”

Probably not the most auspicious first opera experience.

But! I will also add that I recently went to the ballet with my friend Cassie, and I didn’t hate it. In fact, I actually quite enjoyed it, and wouldn’t mind going again. This after I hadn’t been to the ballet since age eight, when my mom took me to see Cinderella and I was bored out of my gourd and swore never to return.

So maybe it’s time to give opera a second chance, too.

Chicago–we call it the second city, but perhaps what we mean to say is the city of second chances.

cheerleading basics

15 Oct

Fifty million people ran the Chicago Marathon last Sunday morning, a glorious, perfect fall day in the city. Our home is smack at the end of the racecourse—the last mile starts literally at the front door of our building—and our balcony provides a pretty good view of those people who willingly chose to spend upwards of four or five hours running around the city chasing after friends and family who run the race, hoping to catch a glimpse of their sweaty kin at mile 17 or mile 23 or whatever spot was designated pre-race when racers and fans were still sane. And most likely not sweating.

See, this is the glorious thing about living on the marathon racecourse, and why I recommend buying property on the nearest marathon course near you: If you are a friend or family member of someone who enjoys spending an entire Sunday morning, and perhaps part of the afternoon if they’ve stopped here and there along the racecourse to take a breather (nothing wrong with that in my book), running, you can save yourself the L fare and/or the distress of creating your own marathon course while runner-stalking by telling your runner you’ll see him or her at the 25 mile mark, and then you just have mimosas and bagels and maybe watch some Wild Kratts with your nephews until the magical interweb marathon app tells you your runner is scheduled to run by your front door in approximately 20 minutes.

Feel free, of course, to swap mimosas for a bloody Mary if you’re allergic to citrus.

And when the magical interweb marathon app pings, you just gather up the signs you lovingly and painstakingly made for your runner that read, “THE END IS NEAR!” on one side and, “NO, REALLY! ONLY A MILE LEFT!” on the other, and head outside to clap wildly at every passing runner who even remotely looks like your runner because you think it’s your runner despite the fact that it’s really, really not, including that woman in the green-and-white-striped socks and bumblebee shirt, even though you know your runner was not wearing that when you left him or her at the starting corral. And then clap and yell and shout even more wildly when you finally see your actual runner.

When your hands are blistered from clapping, and you’ve gone hoarse from cheering, that’s the time you go back inside your house and have another bagel, or maybe a goo and a banana, because marathon day is not over yet. The hard part is over, yes, but you still need to be prepared to recover that afternoon with your runner. The couch is not going to sit on itself, you know. Thankfully, since you live so close to the end of the race, your runner doesn’t have far to double back to meet you at the Reunite Area, also known now as Your Home, after her or she crosses the finish line.

So it’s probably best if you go call your realtor right now, and look into finding a marathon course home for yourself. I imagine after I post this, marathon course real estate is going to be snapped up like wildfire. So if you get a good deal, be sure to thank me.

You’re welcome.

Mile Marker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo friday: hello down there

3 Oct

Sears Tower_edited-1

There was this one time the Sears Tower and I met eye-to-eye. But more often than not it’s more like eye-to-toe.

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.)

 

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