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kind of like glee, without the drama

25 Oct

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A couple weeks ago I went with two of my pals to Choir! Choir! Choir! 

If you’ve ever been to this event, you just clapped your hands and got very excited and started humming the song you learned, trying to remember the harmonizing notes.

If you haven’t ever been, here’s a brief overview: It’s a high school choir reunion with alcohol.

This is the second time I’ve participated in Choir! Choir! Choir! and both times have been memorable experiences. Not because I was suddenly discovered to have a voice like Norah Jones and signed a record contract (my first album will be titled “What the Shit is Going On Here and Where Are My Car Keys?” Look for it this Christmas); but rather because now I know all the words to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. And not only that, but I can harmonize the shit out of both songs.

And I’m a better person for it.

The two guys who founded this event, Daveed and Nobu, basically teach a crowd of people who have typically consumed between one and four glasses of wine or beer the music to popular songs. You self-select into highs, middles, or lows, depending on your vocal range, and learn your part of the music. And sometimes you can stick with your part. And other times your ear fails you and you end up singing a totally different part of the music. (Maybe you’re better at melodies. Perhaps you can’t resist the harmony. Whatevs.) There’s a little bit of comedy, ALL of the audience participation, and more than one person who thinks they have a voice like Norah Jones but in fact is the opposite of Norah Jones and really their voice is more akin to a Muppet but who gives a crap because it’s fun and no one is really getting a record contract so let’s all just calm the hell down and sing a bit.

Singing makes me happy. I’m not terribly good at it, but I so love it. I loved being in choir in high school, and I’ve never made time to pursue community choirs or the like as an adult. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. One day. But in the meantime, I love these types of one-off events that make my heart happy and make me feel like the world IS in fact a beautiful place and people are not completely terrible. Singing feels good, and I like being a part of something that is bigger than just me, even for just a little bit. Together we make a nice song.

(Check out the video of the Chicago event!)

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things i’ve been meaning to tell you: february 2016

10 Feb

1) I loathe paying late charges. I really, really do. I see it as an absolute failure at something so simple, and the sign of a completely disorganized life. I’m guessing that no one really enjoys paying late charges, so I take comfort that I’m not the only one out there (though it’s possible that people don’t find them quite as abhorrent as I do, which is fine, to each her own).

There is one exception to this: library overdue charges. It’s rare I can remember to return my books on time or renew them within the proper window. Why? I don’t know. Possible it’s due to (no pun intended) the fact that I go to the library multiple times in one month and check out oodles of books so they all have different due dates, and it’s not like I’m reading said checked-out books in any logical order. Anyway, the point is I have no qualms about paying library fines for overdue books. In fact, I actually feel quite good about it. I consider it my duty as an active reader living in the City of Chicago. I know part of my tax dollars goes toward funding the library, but whatever the amount actually is I’m going to argue it’s not enough. And while I could just donate directly to the Chicago Library Foundation—and I probably should, no really, I must add that to my To Do list, now that I think about it—CPL will have much better luck garnering monies from me through my lack of attention forgetfulness flagrant disregard for missing due dates.

2) HGTV always seems to be showing marathons of Flip or Flop whenever I’m at the gym, which on a scale of 1 to 10 of my HGTV preferred shows rates a Meh. I like the idea on the whole, and if I didn’t like seeing the transformation from crappy to happy, well, that would pretty much go against everything I love about HGTV. I like Tarek and Christina El Moussa, and I root for them each episode, that they’ll make a profit and won’t get totally screwed over with their latest purchase. And I truly appreciate Christina’s commitment to false eyelashes—to wear them on the daily is no joke, you guys.

But for all that is holy and decent, can someone please give these two some acting or some such type of lessons? Because their monologues to the camera are killin’ me, Smalls.

An example for you–about 8:14 seconds in when Christina starts telling–not describing, telling–the camera everything their plan.)

It’s fine when they’re being filmed going into the house. Their reactions are as genuine as possible for something that’s probably filmed three different times from four different angles. But it’s those moments when one or the other is talking directly to the camera and telling us what’s happening that irk the hell out of me. They are scripted within an inch of their lives, and the lack of emotion just, gah. It really distracts from the excitement they’ve just created in showing us the major transformation of the property.

3) I’m making a concerted effort to watch more movies, both at home and in the theatre. Swede and I love going to see movies, we just…don’t…very often. But! That’s changing–since Christmas we’ve seen The Big Short (holy God, a wonderful movie that makes you lose your faith in humanity) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (FOMO) (kidding) (about the FOMO, not seeing the movie. We did actually see it, and it was quite good) in the theaters. And much like I keep track of books I read, I’m keeping track of movies (and documentaries) that I watch. (PS—Thank you, PBS station on Netflix, for your American Experience series helping in my efforts.) What have you seen lately that I should add to my list? (Don’t worry about me having already seen the flick—I’m notorious for having never seen many a hit movie, including, but not limited to: Die Hard [though I’ve seen Die Hard 2, for some reason], The Godfather, Anything Nominated in 2015 for Best Picture, and It’s A Wonderful Life [though I have absolutely no desire to see that one.]) (Surprisingly, I have seen a hefty portion of movies nominated for 2103 Oscars. How that happened I have no idea, but well done, me.) And if they are available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, all the better.

 

 

 

 

on spin-outs and lies

27 Jan

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to a party when I spun out on the Interstate.

Yes, it had been snowing. But no, the salt trucks hadn’t gotten out yet. And yes, it took me thirty minutes to go two miles.* And no, thankfully, I wasn’t going faster than 25 miles per hour. And yes, it is quite startling to find yourself perpendicularly straddling three lanes of a four-lane highway.

Thankfully neither I nor anyone else was injured when my car shimmied its way across multiple lanes. And double-thankfully I didn’t even think to panic about spinning out, though I did exhibit some confusion about taking my foot off the pedal and steering into the skid when I felt the car start to slide.

I’m not perfect.

It wasn’t until I came to a complete stop on the Tri-State—again, perpendicular to traffic—and saw headlights approaching (slowly, but approaching nonetheless) that a pearl of panic lodged in my stomach and in that moment of stress I uttered the ever-eloquent, “Oh, shit.”

I very slooooowly righted myself and continued on my way to the party without further incidence, the danger of the situation sank in the more I distanced myself, literally, from the expressway. And as often happens in moments of potential danger, it makes you think about your life, about the things that are important. You think about the things you’ve said, or haven’t said; if you’ve really been living the life you want; you know…the things that really matter.

And Interwebers, I realized I had to come clean to you. I try and be as honest as possible in my little corner of the Internets, and as I navigated the slick, snowy roads and thought about the peril I’d just endured, I realized that I must tell you the truth:

I don’t actually hate that Justin Bieber song “Sorry.”

I do, in fact, kind of enjoy it, and find it catchy.

I don’t understand the video, and I don’t think I will ever understand Justin Bieber’s hair or how a kid who looks like he should still be on the Disney Channel gets his own roast on Comedy Central, but these need not be my worry. My concern is always being myself with you, Interwebers, and not rolling my eyes and lambasting the Beebs every time my friend HO mentions how much she likes some song by him, and then blatantly sing along with “Sorry” when it comes on the car radio and no one else is around.

I’m not sorry I like “Sorry” but I am sorry I lied.

And I hope you’ll forgive me.

 

 

 

 

yes/no/maybe

25 Nov

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we have quite a bit we can be thankful for as we wrap ourselves in a mashed potato and pork sausage stuffing haze. There’s a lot the McPolish-Swede household has going for it, and we are grateful, don’t get me wrong.

But still.

There’s a lot of shit out there that I’m just not thankful for. I’m just not. It’s kind of fitting, really, when you think about the disastrous and tumultuous state the world is in these days. So much happy! With an intense amount of grief and strife hot on its heels. So much joy! And then a lot of Fuck You, Humans!

So to best capture the circuitous feelings of this season, may I present to you my Thankful/Not Thankful list of 2015? Yes. Yes, I may.

  1. I am thankful for Juniper, because of the unadulterated love she brings to our lives. (Except for the cats. They feel she brings no love to their lives.) There is nothing so awesome as coming home from wherever you’ve been and if a dog’s face could light up, that would be the expression on hers. She is purely and wholly excited to see me, even if I’ve been gone five minutes.I am not thankful for the times I use Juniper as a pillow and she farts in my face. It’s amazing I’m still alive, and that my sense of smell is still in tact after some of the bombs she’s dropped.

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    Super cute, but deceptively atrocious toots.

  1. I am thankful for living in the city of Chicago, because A) It’s gorgeous, 2) I like winter, III) it’s home.I am not thankful for living in the city of Chicago because A) rats in the alley, 2) Rats in the garbage, and III) Rats anywhere near me. Gross, you guys. Rats are gross. Even the ones from NIMH.
  1. I am thankful for Fat Ass and Lady Gaga Halloween Cat. No, I’m serious, I really am. They unwittingly provide hours of entertainment (mingled with exasperation, of course), and recently Fat Ass and I have declared a truce. It lasted all of five minutes, but it’s a step in the right direction, no?Proof that I am not heartless all the time.I am not thankful for the murderous look in their eyes that never seems to diminish. Ever.

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    The show How to Get Away With Murder is based on their life’s quest.

 

  1. I am thankful for grocery shopping. It is my most favorite activity in the world, and I could spend hours, days, months!, grocery shopping and daydreaming about the food I would make. I’m grateful that we can put food on our table and we don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from.I am not thankful for kale chips. Who the fuck thought making chips out of kale was a good idea? Kale is fine the way it is unchipped. Jesus Christmas, people, come on.In all seriousness, I’m also not thankful for food waste. It’s become a pet peeve of mine over the past year, as I see so much in our refrigerator that goes bad and inedible before we can get to it or before we want to get to it. It’s horrendous, when you think about it, and just so patently smacks of privilege that it’s borderline embarrassing. I’m not proud of it, but I can change it, and believe you me, Interwebs, I’m working on it.
  1. I am thankful to be able to contribute to a retirement plan. In the past few years we’ve all dealt with, in one way or another, so much financial insecurity, and how many stories have you heard of people losing it all and starting over from scratch? Or people who never had it all to begin with, and are about done with the whole work thing, and have no idea how to live? So having a few pennies put aside for my golden years? Luxurious. My 80-year-old-self thanks me muchly.I am not thankful for the fact that I’ve had to learn the basics of investing the hard way (re: trial and error), and the lingo that swathes the industry makes my head spin like a tilt-a-whirl. Why was I never taught these things in school? And other life skills for that matter, like how to change a tire, balance a checkbook, run a household, create life-sized ice sculptures of forest animals? I know how to do some of these things, but for the love of all that is holy and decent, look around you, People Who Make Curriculum Decisions—what the shit are we going to do when we can’t Google our way out of trouble?
  1. I am thankful for you. Plain and simple.I am not thankful for…well, there is nothing about you for which I am not thankful—the good, the bad, the meh, the ugly, the beautiful. Even those times you don’t like me very much, I am still here, and I am forever grateful that I can share this little corner of the Interwebs with you.

Happy Thanksgiving, people.

What are you thankful/not thankful for this year? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

photo (video) friday: keep the beat

18 Sep

These guys were on State Street the other day, and it totally made my Friday.

Drum on, drummers.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: august 2015

12 Aug

One:

About a month ago, I and 5,692 other drivers in the express lanes were racing down the Dan Ryan like bats out of hell—as you do—when traffic started to slow down considerably for no apparent reason—as it does—until we got to a point where I realized there was, in fact, a reason we were all inching along the expressway. I looked to my right to see a car absolutely engulfed in flames on the shoulder of the local lanes.

Yes, Chicagoans. Great idea. Let’s all drive sloooooowly—nay, come to almost a complete stop—while passing a hulking, metal inferno that could very possibly explode at any moment. Well done. (golf clap)

A+ for you guys.

Two:

I can’t wear black pants and any kind of white top together. I just can’t. And it’s such a drag! There are oodles of cute white tops out there, and black and white is a classic color combination for a reason (it’s attractive), but I can’t bring myself to make it happen. I spent too many years as waitress, where black pants and a white shirt were requirements. There were entire summers when that’s pretty much all I lived in. So I’m sorry, you guys. I just can’t do it. And don’t even get me started on tuxedo vests.

Three:

In my Tuesday morning boot camp class at the gym, our trainer often likes to end the class with the “Superman” exercise, where you lay on your tum and raise your arms and legs in the air—like you’re flying, Superman-style, but sadly without the tights or cape. It’s a great exercise, apparently, for your back and core, but let me tell you something else: It has made me seriously reconsider what I would want my superpower to be, were I to choose.

I had generally always said flying as my superpower of choice, because just think of how much money you’d save on plane tickets! And how much time you’d save not sitting in, ahem, traffic jams going past cars engulfed in flames!

Sadly, I have very little core and upper body strength, and while doing the Superman exercise in class last week, I realized, “Mother shit, there’s no way I’d be able to fly five feet without falling from the sky from exhaustion.” I could maybe make it to the coffee shop around the corner from us. But I wouldn’t be able to hold my body like in the proper position for terribly long. I mean, I guess I could go with the Wonder Woman style of flying, because she’s more slanted rather than completely horizontal when she flies from what I’ve seen, but I don’t get the sense that she went very far with her flying—if you’re flying on an axis, you’re really going more up than you are over, right? And there’s nothing up that I want to get to. Over, yes. I want to get over there. So slanted flying doesn’t seem like the best course of action to take.

So.

Teleportation it is.

Four:

A few weeks ago, Swede was in a rush to get out the door and forgot to put Juniper in her crate. When we came home later that afternoon, we found this:

Dead Pillow

Poor couch cushion. You never stood a chance.

 While it was a disappointment that the couch cushion was now scattered all over our living room in fluffy bits, it wasn’t a terribly big surprise—the dog has had a vendetta against this particular cushion for quite some time. That cushion? Had it coming. Sadly what it had done to incense the pibble we’ll never know, as the cushion took the reason behind the feud to its grave.

Now that the couch cushion is good and gone, Juniper has set her sights on ridding the household of ALL insolent and offensive soft surfaces, including, but not limited to: the pillow in her crate, the other couch cushion, and her biggest whale to date, our bed:

 

It’s only when the bed is stripped of all the sheets and mattress pad, when it is completely bare, that Juniper will attack what she thinks is the awful-terrible-no-good bed, and try and give it the what-for. Again, the reason for this new enmity between dog and bed is unknown.

But frankly I wish they would just reconcile because the bed is the only nice piece of furniture we own.

the best plan i’ve ever had

27 May

So I was down in Florida visiting my parents last month, and halfway through my visit my mom’s best friend came to visit as well. She’s been thinking about buying some property down there, so within approximately 22 minutes and 47 seconds of her arrival, she and mom were on my parent’s community website to see if there were any properties available nearby. There were, in fact. Quite a few. Some in the same building as my parents, some in a building a half-block away. I found this kind of quaint and amusing at first, as you do with your parents, but slowly I began to realize that this? This was actually brilliance in action.

Think about it. Let’s envision the future for a minute. You’ve saved up every penny and you’ve kissed your job goodbye and are on the yellow brick road to retirement. Your plan from now until the end is to basically hang out. Maybe you spend your days going to the library. Or catching up on Netflix. Or taking up a new sport, like Frisbee golf. You go out to dinner a lot, because for the love of all that is holy, you’ve probably spent the past 40 years making dinner at least four nights a week, and all you want is someone else to clean up after you, and you’re willing to pay them to do that.

This sounds like a pretty awesome way to live life, right? Retirement can be fantastic.

But wouldn’t it be more fantastic if you lived within five minutes of your best friends? It would be like college all over again. Except you’re older and you have more money. And better bedding.

It turns out I’m not the only one to think of such a plan. Soon after I returned from Florida and was pondering where my friends and I should retire, one of my DC family girls sent me a link to this: Bestie Row.

These peeps have the right idea. Though while I appreciate their nod toward being eco-friendly, I’m not sure Swede and I can live in a 400-square-foot abode. As it is we have trouble living in our current bootbox of a condo that is 800-square-feet. Granted, by the time we retire we probably wouldn’t have the cats, but….

Wait. Let’s be honest. Those fuckers are going to outlive us all just to spite me.

The point is, I think there is something to this, but I think steps need to be put in place now to foster a seamless transition when we retire.

  • Decide now where you and your friends want to retire, and buy the properties as soon as humanly possible. If you can, predict the future and buy someplace that is super cheap now, but by the time you retire your property will be worth millions, with people chomping at the bit to buy your place from you. Not that you’ll want to sell (that would defeat the purpose), but I’m all for building one’s equity and/or monetary worth. If you’re not psychic, visit your nearest reputable medium ASAP.
  • If the group you want to live near when you’re retired is split on destinations, that’s okay. Half of you go one place, and half of you go the other. That way, when you visit each other you can still see so many people at once. And don’t try and tell me you can’t go for a visit. You’ll be retired. You’ll have all the time in the world. Netflix and Frisbee golf can be put on hold for a week. The restaurants don’t have to stop, because a person’s got to eat, you know?
  • Put to rest now any grudges/arguments/unhappy feelings you may have within your group. The last thing you want is a Mary/Rhoda feud to dampen the fun of your best friend retirement community. Besides, you’re ALL the Marys. And don’t you forget it.

It’s the perfect recipe for retirement, I know, right?

You’re welcome.