Tag Archives: birthdays

and now we are 40

15 Mar

I turned 40 a couple days ago. I feel pretty good about that. I didn’t complete any more of the five goals I had set for myself beyond the one about going to Canada. Which I still haven’t told you about, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it. At some point. I’m not giving up on this list, though. I still want to do the other four things, and so I think I shall. I may even add some other things, though I can’t think of what those things might be right at this moment.

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve learned some things in my 40 years on this planet. Not many things, but some. And I’m still learning, which is the most important part, I’m told.

Here are a few (but not all) things that I’ve learned so far.

I’ve learned…

…money is not something to trifle with. Money is a tool, and it can be a powerful tool. On the flip side, tools can be dangerous if not handled properly. Money is no exception.

…and furthermore, there is not nearly enough education around money in this country. Because if you read the news, people are f-ing dumb when it comes to money (I say this knowing that I myself have had my dum-dum moments about money). Given the lack of financial education we as a society have, for God’s sake, people, educate yourselves. Don’t be dumb!

…I am not made of straw. I will not topple over in the wind, and I mean that both literally and figuratively/emotionally/mentally.

…God, I really love dill pickle relish.

…people will still love me even when I’m a jerk. And better yet, they will still like me. Which is good, because I can often be a jerk (and often without realizing I’m being a jerk). And in turn, there are people I still love and like even when they are jerks, and I have no intention of stopping.

…sometimes people don’t like me, even when I’m not a jerk. Oh well.

…I can’t get what I want if I don’t ask.

…I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m not always comfortable leaving the house without putting on my eyebrows.

…take care of your body. It’s the only one you have.

…take care of your mind. It’s the only one you have.

…people who do not support mental health, or feel that taking care of your mental health makes you somehow “less than” are not worthwhile people.

…I was totally wrong when I’d think that there was always someone out there whose life is more together than mine. I realized that that is impossible, because that someone else is not actually living my life, they are living THEIR OWN life, so how can it be more together than my own, when the two lives are inherently different? And furthermore, let’s be real—my life is as together as I make it and/or feel it is. Trying to compare it to someone else’s is just stupid. It’s like believing what people post on social media is the really real-deal of their day to day life.

…“Do it for the story” are (still) great words to live by.

… so are “Never trust a big butt and a smile.”

…relationships (romantic, friend, any kind, really) are hard. Anyone who says they aren’t is lying through their goddamn teeth.

… Who are you? Why are you here? What’s important? What’s not important? are the four guiding questions that resonate with me, and sometimes I have answers and sometimes I don’t.

…writing makes me whole.

This is 40.

now we are 39

11 Oct

In less than six months I will be entering into a new decade. In March I’ll turn 40, which could be cause for concern, but quite frankly I have other, more pressing things to be concerned about, like how the fuck do I always manage to lose pacifiers for my infant right at the time when I would very much like to stick it in her facehole so I can continue enjoying my Diet Pepsi in peace?

But I digress.

Birthdays are a time ripe for creating lists. If ever there were a time to create the list to end all lists, it would be now. The timing is prime for a 40 Before 40 list, and me being an ardent list lover, of course I started composing one. Except that I quickly acknowledged two things last March when I turned 39 and the idea of creating the list first sprang forth:

  1. I was pregnant and creating anything other than the life in my uterus was not really going to happen because Good Chickens* the mere thought of putting on shoes that I had to tie was exhausting.
  2. I couldn’t actually think of 40 things I was desperate to do before turning 40.

So I came up with five.

  1. Visit Canada. Because for fuck’s sake, it’s right there.
  2. Visit at least one new state. In my lifetime I want to visit all 50 states, and thus far I have 34 under my belt. I could say I want to visit the last 16 on the list before I turn 40, but Interwebs, please. I work, I have a family, and I have potato chips to eat.
  3. Finish the goddamn book. If you are a writer harboring any inkling of hope of ever having one, just one, novel published, you feel me on this one.
  4. Refinish a piece of furniture. This is mainly a goal to benefit my parents, because there is a dresser that I got for free from a neighbor 15 years ago that has been languishing in their basement for as many years, as I’ve had the intent for that long to refinish it into something spectacular.
  5. Make croissants and/or a rolled cake. First of all, to be able to claim I’ve made homemade croissants would give me a bag full of bragging rights. To whom, I don’t know, most likely anyone who would listen, or at least look in my direction. Second, both of these items are on my self-induced Baking Challenge List, and strike me as incredibly daunting. (Particularly the rolled cake. It always seems to go sideways for so many bakers on those baking challenge shows.)

These five things are to-dos that I really, really want to make happen. I wanted to make them happen when I devised the list, and I still want to make them happen now that the list is six months old. The issue, however, is that, as I mentioned, I was pregnant for the solid first half of my 39th year, which means I was tired for the solid first half of my 39th year. And now, as I’m into the second half, I’m still tired. It turns out having a baby and a two-year-old? Is tiring.

But! I’m holding out hope that I can get these five things crossed off my list. And in fact—you’ll never believe it—I’ve already done one of them. Done. Finished. Crossed off the list. (CANADA, BITCHES!)

I know. I am very impressive, aren’t I? (Actually, the Canada trip was all thanks to Swede, who arranged it as a belated birthday present, knowing it was on my list.)

Wish me luck, Interwebs. I’ve got less than six months to go to get these last four things crossed off my list. I know my track record of actually completing goals and things is not stellar, but… Well, no, that’s it. It’s not stellar. So it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not I can get my act together enough to make them happen.


*When I was a tween, I babysat for a couple kids across the street who had a Peter Pan book that had buttons you pressed and the various characters sprouted various phrases. The kid with the tophat character—John, maybe? I don’t know, have I ever actually watched Peter Pan?—when you pressed his button he exclaimed, “Good Heavens!” which the four year old I was sitting interpreted as “Good Chickens!” and it was hilarious then and it’s hilarious now and you’re welcome.  

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: hey there, good job

3 Jul

Hey America,

We’ve had a pretty intense/good/wild/strange/sad/happy/WTF past couple of weeks. Months. 239 years. And I just wanted to say keep up the good work. I know it’s hard sometimes, and that it can really be quite sucky, and that there will never not be room for improvement.

But I think you have what it takes to go the distance, to really make it.

Happy birthday, country of mine.

I hope you like this card I made you with my mad Photoshop skillz, America. Can I call you Mer for short?

I hope you like this card I made you with my mad Photoshop skillz, America. Can I call you Mer for short?

photo friday: cake, please

8 Mar

I have a confession.

Before this week, I’ve made Rice Krispie treats exactly once in my life.

It feels really good to get that off my chest.

But now, NOW! Now I’ve got two more makings under my belt. See, Mare Beh Beh of the Funeral Directors texted me last week and she was all, “Woman. Can you make a rice krispie cake?”

And I was all, “By you, do you mean a general you or me specifically?”

And she was all, “Both.”

And I was like, “Okay.”


A quick turn to the googler turned up a couple of recipes, which were easier to make than you ever could imagine. And to be precise, I should clarify that these are cake batter flavored  rice krispie treats, not so much a cake that tastes like rice krispie treats. Though I bet that would be tasty, too. Anyway, I whipped up a batch for Beh Beh’s brother’s surprise party (as he’s not a fan of cake, but IS a fan of the treats), and then on Sunday, since I had half of a huge box of leftover Rice Krispies that would have gone stale if I didn’t do something with them….well.

You do the math.

No, wait, don’t do the math. Unless you want to. Math was never my strong suit in school, and if you felt the same I don’t want to be responsible for sending you into a hyperventilating panic attack thinking I’m going to start demanding equations of you.

So  I’ll just leave it at Yay! Rice Krispie Treats! Cake!


a day late, but here’s a dollar

12 Nov

Sister #3 bought me booze when I was underage, and is the whole reason there is a story about me that ends with the nickname, “Little Miss Vodka Pants.”

But that’s another story for another time.

She recently invited herself along on a trip to Rome with some family friends, where, I learned through Facebook, she may or may not have given some nuns a What For about bathroom line cutting.

And let’s face it. Sometimes nuns need to be given a What For. They’re not saints, you know. Nuns are people too. Holy people, but people nonetheless. And my sister? Apparently she has no problem reminding them of the fact that other people have to pee, too, and just because you’re in a habit doesn’t mean you get to go to the front of the line. (It’s not like they had one of those Super Awesome Passes like at Disney World that lets you go to the front of the ride lines. Last time I checked, the Vatican did not work like that.) This is one of many reasons why I love her so much.

Happy birthday (yesterday), Sister #3. If you were here, I would hold your drink while you went to the bathroom (because I know how much it wigs you out when people bring their drinks into the bathroom), and then when you came out I’d hand it back to you, and I’d buy you a gyro after and say, “Happy birthday. This is beautiful, is it velvet? I love you very much.”

happy to you

25 Oct

It’s a day late, because, well, I recently decided that posting only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays was a really good idea, but unfortunately for me not everyone’s birthdays fall within those confines.

So sometimes things are just going to be belated.

Like this birthday wish to Sister #1.

Happy birthday to you!

I can’t believe you’re 80!

(She’s not 80.)

(When my grandma turned 80 years and years ago, my mom and her brothers threw Grandma a surprise party. One of my mom’s cousins—one we’d never met before, and one that my mom hadn’t seen in years—went up to the podium to give a toast, and tearily choked out, “Florentine, I can’t believe you’re 80!” My sisters and cousins and I looked at each other in bewilderment, and my mom just sort of rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, he’s always been a bit swishy.”)

(So now, of course, my sisters and I like to call each other and yell into the phone, “I can’t believe you’re 80!”)

(As you do.)

(What? Is this going to be a whole post in parentheses?)



Happy birthday, Sister #1. If you were here, I’d give you pumpkin baked goods and some Jameson and say, “Happy Birthday, I love you very much. I can’t believe you’re 80!”


(Which, actually, I did yesterday, on your actual birthday.)

(The yelling “I can’t believe you’re 80!” part. Not the baked goods or Jameson. Those don’t translate well through the phone.)




almost belated

7 Jul

My mother informed me the other day, quite gleefully, I might add, that she has gone on Medicare. I don’t remember Dad sounding so chipper or making an announcement about this same fact when he turned 65, but therein you have one of the many differences between the two of them. Mom is happy to make proclamations great and small (“I’m ready for grandkids now!” was one she stated heartily a few years ago) while Dad is more prone to keeping his opinions to himself.

Though oddly enough, not when it comes to slicing melons. One time we were in the kitchen, and Dad was cutting up a ripe cantaloupe for whatever reason when he looked up from the fruit and declared quite proudly and with great authority, “I am the best melon slicer in the world. I do a great job of cutting cantaloupe.” He does do a fine job, and being that he had a knife in his hand, you know, I wasn’t about to argue.

Neither of them is big on having parties thrown for them, but I often wonder how birthdays were celebrated in their households when they were growing up. Isn’t it weird, to think about your parents when they were kids? I mean, you hear the stories and you see the pictures, but what was it really like? What were THEY like?

You’ll never really get a good answer for questions like these, but at least I have answers for other questions I’ve come across in life, like what part of the cow different cuts of steak come from (thanks, Dad), what the hell Watergate was all about (thanks, Mom), why algebra and geometry are important (erm..thanks, Dad. I think.), the importance of world travel (thanks, Mom), and how to raise four girls to be loving, caring, productive members of society without losing your shit (thanks, Mom and Dad).

When I called to wish them a happy birthday earlier tonight they weren’t home. Off celebrating, I presume. But if I was there, I would open a bottle of wine for Mom and pour her a glass, and had Dad a big plate of cheap cookies (I swear that’s not an insult, he really does love them) and say, “Happy birthday, Mom and Dad, I love you very much.”

the perfect combination

9 Jun

Last night, via text, around 11 pm EST:

Me: May I put some photos of you up on McPolish?

Sister #2: Only if they are good ones! JCSS is on Ovation!

Me: Ovation?

Sister #2: It’s a channel. It’s awesomeosity! Yes I made up that word! Booyah!

Me: I don’t understand why awesomeosity isn’t already a word. Is perfect. Add it to Oxford’s

Sister #2: I shall submit it. Awesomosity: see Strzelecki Family. OMG, Joseph is going to be on tomorrow! I can’t even stand it! Best birfday evarrrr!

Me: It’s like they KNEW.

Sister #2: I knows! It’s too good.

Pop some popcorn, open the wine, it’s on track to be a great day.

I love you muchly, Sister #2. Happy birthday.

and then there were three

11 Nov

When sister #3 is ready to go, she is Ready to Go. And you’d better be on board or you should probably just get out of her way. This is nothing new; she likes punctuality and really, she’s been this way since the beginning. When she was ready to get born, it only took her 20 minutes to get out there and greet the world.

She is passionate about the White Sox and will rattle off names and throw in a stat or four if you ask, and as a bonus she will give you her personal thoughts on specific players. Pay attention, she knows of what she speaks and will smack you down if you dare challenge her.

Sister #3 also throws great parties, the kind where people are always shouting and laughing and general tomfoolery occurs. She is outgoing and makes friends easily and if you don’t like her it’s probably because you are either A) boring, or 2) stupid. Sister #3 can be demanding, and why shouldn’t she be? But she will take your suggestions into consideration, and she is not opposed to trying new things. In fact, she loves new things, especially if they are new travel-things. Foods…eh, maybe not so much. But it doesn’t take much to get Sister #3 on a plane. She’ll go just about anywhere.

She is smart and she is funny. She is loyal and loves muchly, even when she is annoyed or irritated with you. She will always be there to give you advice (even if you don’t want it) and a cup of booze or a cigarette if you really need one. She is the friend and the sibling you want to call if you ever need to make bail. (Not that I know this from experience, I’m just saying.)

Sister #3 is lovely and bossy and has a beautiful smile and if I was with her right now I would put on the movie Overboard and hand her the cocktail of her choice on a silver platter and say, “Happy birthday, I love you very much.”