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photo friday: jumping, leaping

5 May

 

DSC_0453About, ohhhh, I dunno, a long time ago, I wrote about how I will never, ever have a magazine-perfect home. And in looking through photos recently, I found this one from that same day, of Fat Cat, leaping with aplomb from one messy surface to another.

To be honest, I’m surprised—and proud—that I was able to catch him mid-leap. It’s not the greatest picture, and it’s not really in focus, but there’s a cat in mid-action, and you can tell it’s a cat, and not some random blob that might be in action or maybe it’s just a spot on the camera lens, and well done, me.

To further my honesty, I’m always still surprised when I see this cat jump so deftly from one place to another, especially when that one place is the floor, and the other place is our mantle five above the ground.

He’s a bit of a linebacker, this cat.

But a graceful linebacker.

Still a total asshole, though. And not even a graceful one.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: march 2017

14 Mar

One: Yesterday I turned 38. I don’t put much stock in numbers, and to be quite frank for the past few years I’ve had to stop and think when someone asks me my age because they all seem to blend together and I can never remember if I’m 36? 38? 34? 37? I’m somewhere in my 30s, right?

Anyway, so far 38 is treating me pretty well, and like when New Year’s rolls around, at my birthday I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year, and look forward to the year ahead. Set an intention, if you will. And this year’s intention?

To have more fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a crapton of fun on the daily. I can’t not, living with my Swede and Baby McSwedolish, and The Beasts. But why shouldn’t I have more fun? What’s stopping me?

Nothing. Nothing is stopping me, except maybe myself sometimes.

And that is just dumb.

I can’t predict what sort of shape this additional fun will take, because it could be anything. I think going grocery shopping is fun. I think writing in this little corner of the Interwebs is fun. Singing showtunes on a beach is fun. Whichever form of fun strikes me, I will throw myself into it wholeheartedly. Because life can really suck the life out of you sometimes, with worry, and bills, and not having a trust fund so you have actually be cognizant of income and work or make compromises. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, while dealing with all of those things, and not let them suck the life out of me, amirite? Because none of us are getting out of this thing alive, and this isn’t a dress rehearsal.

So ratcheting up the Fun Factor sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Two: I’ve developed a strange obsession with The Wheel. I’m not entirely sure when it started, but almost every night at 6:30 pm, Baby McSwedolish and I tune in to see if someone will actually solve the final puzzle, even after they are given RSTLNE. (Success level: sporadic.)

How is it that Pat and Vanna are unchanged after 30 years on the air? What does Vanna do to keep her arms toned now that the turning of letters has been eliminated, and they’re all touch screen? Has anyone ever actually won the $1 million? Or is that just a tactic they’re using to make it all the more exciting, since the whole “shopping the rooms with your winnings” is a thing of the truly distant past?

Three: Of all the things I make that are amazing*—pot roast, cupcakes, brownies, the list goes on—the one thing I haven’t yet mastered is soup.

I know, right? Soup, for God’s sake! How hard is soup?

Apparently quite tricky, if you really want something that is restaurant quality. For me, at least. I’ve gotten a better in my efforts recently—in part because I’ve actually tried following recipes and quantities and not just dumped in stuff that has a higher solids to liquid ration and then wonder why everything comes out more like a stew than a soup—but it’s never quite as good as you’d get at a restaurant or Mariano’s soup bar.

So the other day while I was at the grocery store, I bought a whole magazine about soup. I’m not kidding. There are at least 100 recipes in there, many several of which look incredibly tasty, and by God I will master the making of soup! Or at least one soup recipe! I’m not asking for much here, people. Just one go-to soup recipe!

Mark my words.

PS—I am having a wild love affair with cream of mushroom soup lately. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Four: For my Chicago readers: Do the female weekend anchors and weather women on NBC 5 have a uniform? I’ve been watching a lot of news lately (a lot) (thank you, nursing time), and I swear these women are all wearing similar dresses. Or perhaps they have three or four styles of dresses in certain colors that they’re supposed to wear. Or maybe I’m just imagining it. But am I on to something here?

And before you get up in arms about, “McPolish why are you focusing on their looks?”, I’m not trying to make their looks a Thing. I’m asking because they are stylish dresses and I want to know where they got them. Also, because if there is some sort of uniform style going on, if they Obama-d their wardrobes to decrease the number of silly decisions they have to make in their lives, then my hat is off to them, because that’s just plain smart, and Well Done, You, NBC Female Weekend Anchors.

 

*Yes. I said that. Yes I did.

 

 

photo friday: because

3 Mar

side-mirror

I took this picture because it was warm in February and the colors were pretty.

I took this picture because I love a good sunset in the city.

I took this picture because I thought it looked neat, framed in my side mirror.

I took this picture because I was stopped in traffic.

I took this picture because I liked it.

a new normal, part 1

1 Mar

When Baby McSwedolish was first born, people would often comment on how much our lives must have changed now that there was a baby. A baby! So many new and different things with a baby!

And it’s true! SO many new and different things with a baby!

And surprisingly, or maybe not, so many things have stayed the same.

Change, big change, like having a baby, or adopting a dog, or buying a new couch, can be hard. Getting used to new routines is difficult for people (me) sometimes. But I’ve found that when I step out of my own way for a moment and really look at my new normal, the comfort of my old ways is still there, mingling with the new ways, all of it mixing together to create a hodgepodge of life.

Because that’s what life is, a hodgepodge.

Here, a few examples:

Things That Have Stayed the Same

One: I still hate getting out of bed in the morning. Yes, it is absolutely brilliant to wake up to the sound of sweet baby coos and goos. And I never really understood the feeling of wanting to burst and cry with happiness at the same time until the first time I peeked my head over the bassinet and Baby McSwedolish locked eyes with me and then smiled and laughed as if to say, “Oh it’s YOU! I KNOW you! I’m so glad to see YOU again!” It is a daily shot through the heart and gut of pure, unadulterated bliss.

But in the five minutes before I peek my head over the bassinet, when I have poked at the off button on my alarm, and I have stumbled out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, I still resent the ever living fuck out of every single person on the planet. I resent Swede for still being in bed, I resent Juniper for still being in bed, the cats are awake with me but I always resent them, just even more. The bus driver cruising the bus down Michigan Avenue? He’s a jerk as well. At that point in the day, I resent Bob Mariano, the CEO of Mariano’s grocery store, which is not only my happy place, but sells some of the best bacon I’ve ever had. I’ve never met him, but he still is a target of my ire. Because that’s how it is those first five minutes. That has not changed.

By the time I put my contacts in I’ve forgiven each and every one of you (you’re welcome). And by the time I poke my head over the bassinet and Baby McSwedolish bestows upon me his gummy smile, my ire is long gone, and the world begins to make sense(ish) again.

Two: I am still inordinately fixated on poop. I thought Swede and I talked about poop a lot when we got the dog. Now? Now sometimes it feels like the only thing we ever talk about. Because now there are two beings—the dog and Baby McSwedolish—whose poop we have to be conscious of. Are each of them pooping daily? Is it normal poop? What color was it? Was it a lot or a little? Did it explode in an inappropriate location?

Since we were so fixated on the bowel movements of our dog, it wasn’t a terribly big change to incorporate a fixation on the baby’s bowel movements as well. And you know, just like at the vet, when we take Baby McSwedolish to the doctor, they ask a lot of questions about his pooping regularity and consistency as well. So the poop aspect of our lives, while it has increased, has also remained relatively unchanged.

Three: I still think about time management way more often than I’d like, and I still utterly fail at it on the regular because I want to Do! And See! And Be! Everything. Before Baby McSwedolish graced us with his presence, I like to think that I’d gotten pretty good at managing my time, and making room for all the things I needed and/or wanted to do: work, freelance work, badly frosting cakes, hanging out with Swede & Friends, writing this blog, writing a book, cooking amazing three course meals, showering. Some days I worked my time management skillz better than others (some days: See: utter failure, as mentioned above), but every day required a thorough briefing in my mind about what needed to happen that day, and how I could make it all happen, even if, when looking at the To Do list, there was no way Jesus Christ Himself, who can literally perform miracles, could ever accomplish everything that was on the list.

And I still do it. I still make preposterous lists of things to accomplish in one day. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do, and it feels good, and just like before Baby McSwedolish came along, some days I’m better at saying to myself, “Well, you got one thing crossed off your list of 50: YOU PUT ON PANTS!! Congratulations! You are AMAZING!,” than others.

I’m not saying that this is the best way to handle time, I’m saying it’s how I handle it. And I’m not saying I handle it very well, or even very badly, I’m saying that my high expectations of myself are still there, post-baby, though perhaps a little mellowed.

 

 

Despite being someone who does not always embrace change easily, I’ve found lately that I like the new, and I like the old, and I like it all mixed together. I quite enjoy my little hodgepodge and it regular irregularities. I like these things that have stayed the same yet are tinged with a new hue because there’s another person in our household. I didn’t know these new colors could exist, and yet, here they are.

 

photo friday: no YOU are

10 Feb

The other morning I was at the gym, and tossed my stuff into a locker without a second thought. I finished my workout and came back into the locker room to retrieve my stuff, only to see something I’d missed earlier.

20170119_070638

Thanks, Gym Locker. You are, too.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: february 2017

8 Feb

One: Why is damn near impossible to find a face lotion that is A) cruelty free, 2) has SPF, and III) doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? I don’t think this is terribly too much to ask. I’m just trying to keep my skin, the animals, and my wallet as safe as possible. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Seriously. And for the record, I’ve tried the Yes For fill-in-fruit-or-vegetable here ones, and I don’t care for them because they’re so damn thick I look like a lifeguard from a bad 80s movie.

Two: The other day I had an epiphany when hearing the song Hook by Blues Traveler. The chorus, the hook, if you will, is “the hook brings you back,” NOT “the heart brings you back,” the latter of which I thought were the lyrics for the past twenty-odd years. Why? Hard to say. But the song makes so much more sense now!

In other news, I still have no clue what the shit Eddie Vedder is actually saying in the song Yellow Ledbetter.

Also, this reminds me that I still really love the band Better Than Ezra.

God, I love 90s music.

Three: Baby McSwedolish’s godfather Wild Turkey Dave gave us an Alexa, and one of my favorite features is you can ask her to play lullabies, and she magically emits a station that is full of sweet songs to soothe Baby McSwedolish. There are some classical hits, some songs that are calming, some songs that have become favorites (such as Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Freaking Loggins).

And then there are plinky-plinky lullaby versions of…Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child ‘O Mine. As well as Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. And Bette Davis Eyes.

WTF?

It’s not a little disconcerting, to be tidying up the kitchen, listening to the coos and whines of your baby as he tries valiantly to not put himself to sleep, and you’re ignoring him and humming along and then you stop and think, “Wait, what am I humming? What are we listening to? Is that Lullaby Shakira?”

And it sure it.

And it’s not a little fantastic. It’s amazong.*

Four: One of the things I managed to accomplish on my maternity leave, besides becoming inordinately annoyed by certain TV theme songs, was making a cheesecake.

It wasn’t just any cheesecake, mind you, it was a cheesecake that I’ve been wanting to make for nine years.

NINE. YEARS.

It’s this cheesecake.

It has always looked very involved and mildly intimidating to me, but I decided that it was time to just buck up and do it A) Because for God’s sake, did you not read the part about NINE YEARS? And 2) I could make it for the 2nd Annual Friendsgiving, which means that if it sucked or I screwed it up royally it really wouldn’t matter because everyone would be drunk by the time we got to dessert anyway.

Ta da!

Thankfully I didn’t screw it up, and everyone else thought it was a resounding success.**

I thought it was only okay.

The cheesecake itself, and the chocolate ganache topping were extraordinary, I will give the recipe that. But the part that I was most excited about—the pistachio crust—was a huge disappointment to me. It wasn’t really connected, so to speak, to the rest of the cake. You just sort of set the cake on top of it. It would be better, IMHO, if it were baked in, and thus intertwined with the cake, and further thus wouldn’t break off in chunks and go skittering across your plate like candy. (Delicious pistachio candy, but candy nonetheless.)

Now that I’ve made this cake once (NINE YEARS!) and know just how involved it is (and it is on the medium side of involvement, and also requires quite a bit of fridge space to chill the cake and ganache), I’m ready to make it again, this time with a few tweaks to see if I can’t take it from great to Magical by my McPolish standards.

(And sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the cake, but I’ll do my damndest to get some next time.***)

*Amazong—adjective. A step above amazing. Tell your friends.

**Entirely possible they were lying. See aforementioned Drunk by Dessert.

***Look for said photos sometime in 2025. 

 

 

photo friday: melting

3 Feb
img_20170202_111024_723

Was keeping watch. Got tired. 

I was worried that when we brought Baby McSwedolish home the dog wouldn’t like him.

I needn’t have worried.

She loves him very much, and shows said love by thoroughly cleaning his face and hands and nose holes, and, when he’s kicked off his socks, his toes, though there is no denying that she also is terribly sad that she is no longer the baby.

But still.

She knows that she must protect Baby McSwedolish no matter what.

Or at least for as long as she can keep her eyes open.