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.

 

photo friday: sleeping beauty

27 Jan
20161011_120257

Jerk. 

We have been blessed: Baby McSwedolish is an excellent nighttime sleeper. He is not so fantastic at taking naps during the day times, unless he is in his crate car seat,* toodling around with us on errands and outings.

But if I had to choose, I will take his proficiency at nighttime sleeping over napping any day, because 1) I’m not terribly good at napping myself, so I get his inability to do so, and more important, 2) I’m not sure he can nap, because the amount of time the beasts in this house spend sleeping at any given time of the day or night is so great that it probably absorbs all of the nap power from the other living beings residing here, thus rendering us all un-napable.

In other words, it is the cats’ and dog’s faults that Baby McSwedolish does not sleep well during the day. Mostly, of course, the cats’. Because everything is always their fault. Forever and ever, Amen.

*Stop calling it a crate. He’s not a puppy, girl. He’s a baby. A baby.

a year of movies: year one

25 Jan

I’m not a big movie watcher, not nearly as I am a big book reader. But I like movies, so I’m not entirely sure why it is I don’t watch many. Last year I decided to watch more movies (and documentaries), so I did.

At least I think I did.

Honestly, I have no idea, really, because it was the first year I was keeping track.
But I definitely made a concerted effort to watch more movies, both at home and in the theatre, and I don’t regret it. Some are years, decades old that I never got around to seeing, some are new, all come with three thoughts/takeaways I had while watching.

What movies should I add to my To Watch list, Interwebers?

Movies I Watched + 3 takeaways from each

January 1, 2016-December 31, 2016

  1. Dallas Buyers Club*–1. Holy shit, is everyone scrawny in this movie. 2. I had no idea Jennifer Garner was in this film. 3. This movie was a lot longer than I thought–I’m not complaining, it was a good movie, just seemed very long.
  2. Seven Years in Tibet–1. Brad Pitt’s Austrian accent is just awful. 2. The fact that the Dalai Lama depicted in this movie is the same one who is still alive today blew my mind (it’s not hard to do). 3. I wonder if the Dalai Lama has seen this movie (since he’s such a big fan of movies) and what he thinks of it.
  3. Jurassic World–1. BD Wong! That’s two movies in a row with BD wong! 2. There is no way in hell that Clare could run around the whole g-d park and be chased by dinosaurs in those goddamn heels. WTF? She’d have been eaten within five minutes. 3. I know they’re fake, but the field of dying brontosauruses really broke my heart. I can’t even stand to think about it. Sad. Really sad. They are my favorite dinosaur.
  4. The Professional*–1. Gary Oldman plays creepy and crazy really, really well. 2. I like Natalie Portman better as a child actress, even though she has some Lolita-like moments in this flick. 3. I have never been as sad to see a hitman die as I was when Leon was taken out.
  5. American Experience: Murder of a President*–1. James Garfield was quite a dashing man in his youth. 2. It is fascinating to be reminded that there was a time when cleaning surgical devices and general medical equipment was not the norm, and it makes me want to shout at the television, “Just clean the wound, you daft doctor!” even though I know that will help no one. 3. Charles Guiteau was part of the Oneida community, but could never grasp the rules. So there’s that.
  6. Kung Fu Panda 3*–1. The more you gain, the less you have. 2. There really IS no reason to eat only one dumpling at a time. 3. Cartoon pandas remind me of my dog, and I have no idea why. Might be the “sad eyes,” like Puss in Boots, but in black and white.
  7. The Godfather*–1. A surprising lack of cursing in this movie. I must be jaded from today’s foul-mouthed movies that I find this so intriguing. 2. Oh, Talia Shire. Sheesh, dial it back a notch, your hysterics are not terribly believable. 3. This storyline was not what I was expecting at all.
  8. Trumbo*–1. Is it just me, or does Bryan Cranston’s voice in this movie sound like he could be auditioning for a Wurther’s Original commercial? 2. Diane Lane gets more beautiful with every year. 3. John Goodman. John Goodman! And of course his scene with the baseball bat will be what I will remember about this movie always.
  9. The Jungle Book* (The Jon Favreau live action film, not the Disney cartoon)–1. Why aren’t there any lions in the jungle? 2. After watching Idris Elba as Stringer Bell for so many seasons on The Wire, it’s a bit disconcerting to hear him speaking in his natural British accent. 3. Christopher Walken was a perfect choice to voice King Louie, and while I liked Bill Murray as Baloo, his rendition of “Bear Necessities” had nothing on Phil Harris’.
  10. Spotlight*–1. Stanley Tucci. Stanley Tucci! I feel about him the same way I feel about John Goodman: He makes every movie better. 2. I always find it fascinating when movie people can make such an intriguing, engaging movie out of something (working for a newspaper, even if you are an investigative reporter) that is not terribly interesting in real life. 3. The level of scandal in the Church is astounding, and disgusting, and who the hell is so drunk on power that it gets as deep and as far up as this one did? It’s revolting.
  11. Sisters–1. Tina Fey who talks like an irresponsible party girl is not terribly believable and feels like an over-drawn out SNL skit. 2. Dianne Wiest and James Brolin make this movie. 3. Maya Rudolph’s dancing outside while the dance routine to Informer is happening is phenomenal.
  12. Dope*–1. The soundtrack in this movie is everything. 2. I love Forrest Whitaker, even though you never see him. 3. There is a reason people no longer wear flat-tops and jean jacket vests. And that is because they are unflattering on everyone.
  13. Get Shorty*–1. Gene Hackman! I love Gene Hackman. I’d forgotten he was in this movie. 2. You know, I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of John Travolta movies, besides Grease, so to see him acting in something else is quite intriguing. He has a quiet way about him, of sorts, doesn’t he? 3. Holy crap–you can really tell how dated this movie is by the style of “Cadillac of Minivans.”
  14. Mad Max–Fury Road–1. About 95% of this movie seems to be one big atomic car chase. 2. There’s not so much dialogue as there is a lot of grunting. 3. I don’t think I need to see any more Max Max movies.
  15. The Infiltrator*–1. I was worried that this movie would be super violent or some such; thankfully, it’s not. 2. Bryan Cranston! Again! It’s like the Year of Bryan Cranston movies for me. Not that I’m complaining. 3. Oh, Benjamin Bratt. I do feel bad for you and your wife in this movie. I’m so sorry you’re a drug overlord.
  16. A Beautiful Mind*–1. Every time there was a shot of Russell Crowe’s character that was pulled back from him a little, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, he looks short and dumpy.” 2. So many ‘00 actors in this! Anthony Rapp! That guy from Dazed and Confused! Paul Bettany! It’s like a blast from the turn-of-the-century past! 3. The whole thing about Paul Bettany being an imaginary friend kind of blew my mind. Ed Harris? Yes, I could see that. But Paul Bettany I was not suspecting, and I was all, “WHOA.”
  17. Straight Outta Compton*–1. They got some really good lookalike actors for the roles of the NWA members. 2. I’m always fascinated by this time in music, because the rise of gangsta rap was around the same time as the rise of alternative/grunge/Seattle music scene. 3. How was this only nominated for best original screenplay?
  18. Wall Street–1. I can understand why Michael Douglas won the Academy Award for this movie, unless you are talking about the last 10 minutes, which fit with the rest of the movie not at all. (Seriously? Beating Charlie Sheen up in the middle of an open field in Central Park? Whatever.) 2. It’s always strange for me to see Martin Sheen in roles other than President Bartlet. 3. Daryl Hannah has the most expressionless face I’ve ever seen.
  19. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief*– 1. That Scientology shit is fucked up. 2. I can see how people might get sucked into the beginnings of it–self-help stuff is always catchy and provocative to people who are searching for something in their lives (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). 3. I share a birthdate with L. Ron Hubbard, which I find mildly disturbing.
  20. My Friend Rockefeller–1. The word for “hoity-toity” in German is “itsy-pitsy.” 2. The directors make it seem like this con artist was intimately involved with the Rockefeller family, but he’s really not. Just tells people his last name is Rockefeller, and people believed him, and there’s not much into it beyond that. Disappointing. 3. Meh. So this guy was a con artist and probably killed a couple of people. Overall not as compelling of a documentary as I wanted it to be.
  21. Great Performances: Hamilton’s America*–1. I learned more about American history watching this making of the musical than I think I learned in all of my history classes combined. 2. Before watching this, I was lukewarm on seeing the show, but now I would jump at the chance and sell one of the cats for a ticket. 3. I love the guy who plays Thomas Jefferson, and (what I saw of) his portrayal of him in the show.
  22. Trolls*–1. WTF were the screenwriters on when they wrote this movie, seriously? 2. I will never hear the song “The Sound of Silence” the same again. 3. One of my favorite things about animated movies is identifying the voices, but for why was Gwen Stefani given such high billing when she has all of like one line?
  23. The Great Outdoors*–1. I miss you, John Candy. 2. I wish they still made Jeep Wagoneers. 3. Remember when you could say the word “shit” in a movie, and it could still be rated PG?
  24. August: Osage County–1. Jesus Christmas this movie is depressing. I seem to remember the trailers making it out to be humorous. It’s not. 2. Meryl Streep is the greatest actress of all time, isn’t she? She really is. 3. Who knew Benedict Cumberbatch was in this movie?!

 

*recommended