Tag Archives: Chicago

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!)

dear buyer, i’m just wondering

19 Oct

Two weeks ago the sale on our bootbox of a condo was finalized, and I’d be lying if I said that since then I didn’t have a few anxiety-ridden, hand-flapping moments of oh holy fuck, maybe we made the wrong decision how on earth could we have sold a place where so much life happened for us and eeeeeeeeeeeennnggggggonlydogscanhearmypanicnow.

But in my heart I know selling the condo was the right decision on so many levels, the top of which is that we Needed. More. Space. The mental sanity of my child depended on it. The mental sanity of my main squeeze depended on it. My own mental sanity depended on it. As wonderful as the bootbox of a condo was to us for the past four years, it was time to go. It was time to go, and it was time to let go, and it was time to let the condo be a place for someone else to make memories of happy times and sad times and angry times and sexy times and drunk times and bored times and frustrated times and dreaming times and humble times and worried times and righteous times and crying times and laughing times.

Yet I can’t help but think about the new owner, and I wonder how she’s settling in.

I wonder if she pours a Very Large (no judging) glass of wine at the end of the day, and sits on the balcony watching the sky fade from twilight to dark, which is never actually too dark because the streetlights pop on, illuminating Michigan Avenue, casting people in shadows as they walk down the street.

I wonder if the smell of grilled meats that twirls through the neighborhood makes her reconsider her dinner plans, and say Fuck This Noise, I Am Not Cooking Tonight, Yay, Margaritas, and turn off the stove and dash through traffic to the Mexican restaurant across the street.

I wonder if she keeps her windows open at night, so the sound of the garbage trucks banging through the alley at the barest break of dawn wakes her up on the regular, to the point she wonders why she even sets an alarm.

I wonder if she is happy.

I wonder if, on the first morning she woke up in her new condo, she tried to have a Maria von Trapp moment as she stepped out onto the balcony, arms spread wide and ready to greet the city, but forgot that the screen door was closed, put her foot through it, and then had to duct tape over the hole so the cat wouldn’t try and use it as a cat door, except he was too fat to fit through it and got stuck.

I wonder if she is full to bursting with ideas for her life in this new neighborhood, this new part of the city she’s living in, a complete unknown except maybe it’s close to her work, so, bonus for that.

I wonder if she’s adopted a big baby of a pitbull.

I wonder how many times she’s thought to herself, Oh, fuck me, there are only two closets in this place.

I wonder, while unpacking, how fast it took her to say, “In my next home, the first thing on my wish list is more space.”

I wonder if she’s finished unpacking.

I wonder if she drops the F bomb a lot.

I wonder if buying this condo is just the first of several decisions she will make that will alter the course of her life in ways she can’t even begin to imagine.
I wonder if she’s noticed I only gave the tub a cursory scrubbing before we left.

I wonder if she will have a good life there.

Because that’s my greatest wish for her, and any owner who may come after her, that that little bootbox of a condo be a home, for however long that may be.

photo friday: state and monroe

11 Aug

20170803_163605_Burst01Monroe and State.

State and Monroe.

An underground picture to complement the above-ground picture I snapped oh so many years ago.

photo friday: on the southside

4 Aug

Well south of Chicago’s Loop, past Soldier Field, past McCormick Place, the lakefront trail stretches out for miles. The crowds of bikers and hikers and rollerbladers (there seems to be a resurgence lately!) thin considerably, and if you know where to look, you find an unpaved nature trail that leads to some amazing, almost-untouched views of Lake Michigan, making you realize for certain that it’s not just good, it really is a Great Lake. Lakefront Trail

photo friday: in the future

9 Jun

 

City 2Someday, possibly someday soon, we will have to move from our bootbox of a condo, when sharing the space becomes completely untenable* for two large humans, a smaller human, a dog, and two cats.

And someday, possibly someday soon, we will also have to leave our little neighborhood, because more space in this now-fancy set of streets costs more than we want to spend, and is out of our price range altogether if we want more space to also include a few blades of grass to call our own.

But that someday is not today, so today I will, as I do on the daily, enjoy this little neighborhood for all it’s worth and say thank you to God that I get to live where I do.

 

*Right now we’re at semi-untenable status.

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.

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

8 Jun

1. One of the Le Creuset dishes we have broke. It was a big, beautiful oval dish with a bubble-like lid that was ideal for making casseroles. And let me tell you something, I love a good casserole. Anyway, it broke, and Lo! How the McPolish was bummed. But these things happen, such is life, and now I have a bigger quandary on my hands: while the oval baker part is in many several pieces, the bubble-like lid is still completely in tact.

What does one do with a completely in tact lid? I feel bad throwing it out. Is there a website that will place orphan lids where I can list it? Do any of you need an oval lid for your Le Creuset oval baker? Comments and suggestions are welcomed. Free to a good home.

2. It’s June. And that means fresh fruit. Which means making ice cream with said fresh fruit. You’ve been warned. Who is you? I don’t really know, to tell you the truth. Let’s just say it’s a blanket statement for the Chicagoland area. Why am I warning you? Again, not really sure. It’s entirely possible I’m drunk on homemade ice cream and letting my mouth get ahead of my brain. I may also be making wild gesticulations, but it’s not like you can see me because this is the internet and I’m totally a figment of your imagination. Me and my homemade ice cream made with fresh fruit. Oooooo….sppoooooookkyyyyy….

3. Speaking of summer…kind of…well, it’s June, anyway, which means that I can finally stop wearing a coat on the regular and hey! That might as well be considered summer in these here parts. ANYWAY. It’s nice enough out that Swede and I and The Beasts Who Live In Our Home spend a lot of time hanging out on the balcony thinking and talking about very philosophical themes and ideas, like What Is That Strange Man on the Sidewalk Shouting About Now? Or, Should We Get More Plants? And, What’s For Dinner?

What’s perplexing to me, however, is how little time our neighbors spend on their own balconies, enjoying the warmer temps. Every unit in this building has a balcony (one unit even has two, the lucky ducks) (though not so lucky when they have to be fixed and repainted), and we’ve all just been though the same seemingly unending months of gray, blah weather, and yet…nothing. Sure, there’s the occasional neighbor who will grill on their balcony, but most are apparently not fans of al fresco dining. Or al fresco drinking. Or al fresco anything. Which is a shame, if you ask me, but no one, as of yet has asked me, but if they do, mark my words I’ve got a statement prepared.

4. Unlike last summer when I didn’t actually make it to a White Sox game until August, I’ve managed to get to two, count ‘em TWO, games so far this year. And while attending said games, I’ve spent much of my time eating my way through Comiskey.* And let me tell you something: Tater Totchos are not what I thought they would be. They’re delicious, don’t get me wrong, but basically all you’re getting is a Styrofoam bowl of tater tots that are then covered in nacho cheese.

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Playing the Cleveland Indians, inspiring a constant stream of quoting Major League. 

I say “all you’re getting” like that’s a bad thing. It’s not. I think I was just expecting a little more pizazz. And it’s really just as straightforward as the name implies—what are nachos? Corn chips with melted cheese. What are tater totchos? Tater tots with melted cheese. Duh—and my own brain created a more dramatic rendition of the dish.

But let me tell you something else: Helmet nachos? Now those are something else, a beautiful sight to behold, and much guacamole to eat.

*The Cell. Whatever.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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

11 Nov

1) I don’t care for the term “start a family” when referring to having kids. Whether or not you have kids does not determine the start date of your family. When you and your partner committed to each other, you started a family right at that moment, no? That moment of commitment is for you to decide, of course. Maybe it was the day were married. Or on your eight month dating anniversary. Or more likely, it was a Tuesday morning and you were eating toast and you looked at your person and thought, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, I do not want to be without this person.” I can’t decide that moment for you, no one can except you. The point is, THAT is when you created your family–and continue to create, because family can be very fluid–with your person, and your extended family, and their extended family, and all the dogs and goddamn cats that might come along with that.

So kids? Kids are expanding your family, not starting it. They are starting a new chapter for your family, if that’s a chapter you want to write.

2) I got myself a Divvy membership and every once in awhile—yes, even now that it’s getting colder—I’ll Divvy to or from work. Chicago has put in an ever-growing system of bike lanes, which makes for a protected ride, or as protected as you can be, riding city streets next to crazy asshole drivers, and I can say that because I am a crazy asshole driver when I’m not riding a bike. (It’s considered part of your driving test when you get your license in Illinois—how much of a pleasant asshat can you be? Highest score gets the finger.)

Let's roll, bitches.

Let’s roll, bitches.

Anyway, it’s pretty awesome to be able to commute via bicycle. Not only do I get to sing, “I want to ride my bicycle! I want to ride my biiiike!”* much to the confusion and/or chagrin of other bikers and some drivers, it’s freeing to pedal along, the breeze rushing over your helmet, your cheeks pinked with exercise. It’s like being a kid again, except with much more traffic, and an increased level of perspiration. (Hence why I typically ride home from work, and not to work.)

3) Swede and I are hooked, hooked, I tell you, on The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Have you seen it? It’s extraordinary. It surpasses American reality television in just about every way, namely that they don’t create a lot of artificial drama—the natural drama of baking is what drives the show and keeps viewers engrossed. On top of that, they’re just so nice to each other, so civil, even when, say, a judge is telling a contestant that their bake isn’t terribly good. And the contestants are nice to themselves—they’ll say, “That was disappointing” after getting a bad review, but then typically follow it up with some sort of live-and-learn, I’ll try harder next time type of comment. No one is bitching about anyone else, or catty-talking what this bitch said to that bitch over there and who does he think he is and blah blah shriilllllll scrreeeeeeching polluting the airwaves omg please be quiet only dogs can hear you now. You know? It’s just civil. The icing on the cake (pun completely and utterly intended) is that some of these bakers are just terrifically talented, and their creativity is simply stunning to watch.

So if you haven’t watched, do so immediately. Even if you’d rather eat a cake than bake one.

*Please note that I am fully clothed when divvying to or from work.