Tag Archives: lists

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.  

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things i’ve been meaning to tell you: october 2018

4 Oct

One: I’ve been watching the newest episodes of The Great British Bake Off on Netflix—you know, the ones sans Mary Berry, Mel, and Sue. But the ones that still had Paul Hollywood as one of the judges. I was as hesitant as most people were at these changes—how could it possibly be even an iota as good at the originals without Mel and Sue and Mary?!?—but I’ve found that I like the two new comedians who have replaced Mel and Sue, and I read an interview with Prue, the host who replaced Mary Berry, about how she once went to a sex party and just walked around naked, but purposefully, from room to room, as if she had an assignation to get to, though she never participated in the sex part of it, which made me laugh and think hey, this lady might not be so bad.

Anyway, the other thing I’ve noticed with the new episodes is that Paul Hollywood shaking hands with a baker when he feels they’ve done an exceptional job has become A Thing. Like, a Big Thing. The contestants, when they receive a handshake, are all sorts of agog and beside themselves and all atwitter. You’d think they were shaking the hand of Jesus Christ Himself. Then again, I’m sure there are people out there who consider Paul Hollywood their Baking Savior, so I guess it makes sense. I don’t really see it, but then, I’ve always thought Paul Hollywood is a bit of an arrogant blue-eyed baker, and I don’t think much of his opinion, so there’s that.

 

Two: I may have mentioned this before, but the UB40 version of Can’t Help Falling in Love is better than Elvis’s version. There. I said it. And if I haven’t mentioned it before, well, now I have.

 

Three: We’ve been eating in restaurants a lot lately—too much, but thankfully that’s changing—and I think we all need to be honest and admit something: 99% of breakfast restaurants’ hashbrowns are terrible. They’re just stupid to the point of why put them on the plate? More often than not they’re undercooked and flavorless, and if there is one thing you are going to do to insult me, it’s serve me a poorly made potato. Potatoes are like tofu, in a way—they are vehicles to carry other flavors. And often those flavors are salt, oil, and/or butter. Sometimes garlic. Maybe a little rosemary. Or thyme. But if we’re talking hashbrowns, just go with the straight salt and your choice of fat (oil, butter, bacon grease; I’m not picky), and for the love of all that his holy, make sure they’re cooked well. Hashbrowns should be golden and crispy on the outside (maybe more than golden if you like them well done), and creamy on the inside. But do most breakfast places heed these cookery instructions? No. And that’s why most restaurant places end up serving terrible hashbrowns. (The exception being my all-time favorite breakfast place, The Scrambled, which has, hands down, the best hashbrowns in the world, and I would slap your mom on the head if she tried to get between me and their hashbrowns.) (Not my mom, mind you. But your mom I’ll totally slap.)

jeff bezos doesn’t want me to watch movies; or, the 2017 mcpolish movie list

29 Jan

I think the best word to describe my movie watching in 2017 would be “anemic.”

I had some substantial meals in there—The Last Jedi, the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, for example. But when a list of only 11 contains almost a third of Netflix and Lifetime holiday movies* (yes, they count), there are clearly some essential movie vitamins and minerals missing here.

I can make you all sorts of promises that I’m going to up my movie game in 2018, but almost a month into the year and it’s not looking likely. There’s hope, of course, as there are a quite a few movies out currently that I want to see.

But let’s be real—getting out to a movie, while I love going, requires carful coordination these days, thanks to Baby McSwedolishan not being old enough to A) attend R-rated movies, 2) not being old enough to watch himself, and III) his general lack of sleeping through movies like he did as an infant. Also, he hogs the popcorn, so going to the movies with him these days is just not enjoyable.

You know what, though? I don’t want to be one of those moms who blames her lack of social life and movie cultural knowledge on her kids. And if I’m really being real, Baby McSwedolishan is not to blame. Jeff Bezos is.

I love Amazon as much as the next person who has fallen under their dreamy 2-day delivery spell—despite that they are often lying liars who lie about when a package was delivered, and yes, I will call customer service every damn time this happens—but they have played an enormous role in my lack of movie watching. Where they could be a huge boon to my movie consumption they are more often a hindrance—either Prime doesn’t have the movies I want to watch, or they do, but I can’t rent it, I have to buy it for $15.

For God’s sake, Bezos, get it together. Why would I want to buy a movie I’ve never seen?

Sure, I’d pay the same to see a movie I’ve never seen in a movie theatre. But for the cost of a movie ticket, I also get surround sound, recliner chairs, and a screen the size of my house. You know what watching a movie at my own home doesn’t include? Surround sound or a screen the size of my house. It does sometimes include a recliner chair, I’ll give you that.

So no, I don’t want to pay the same amount to watch a movie online as I do to watch a movie in a theatre, simple as that.

I guess we’ll see what 2018 will bring by way of movie watching, though neither my bar nor my hopes of busting this year’s number are set terribly high. Jeff Bezos, you can change that. Be a helper, not a hater, Bezos.

In the meantime, and in at least an effort to queue up some worthwhile films, do you have any suggestions for movies I should see, dear Interwebers?

*And it’s safe to say that that number is actually higher, because I know there are other holiday films I watched throughout the season that I forgot to write down though does it really matter because let’s be honest after awhile they all blend together anyway.

Movies I Watched + 3 takeaways from each

January 1, 2016-December 31, 2017

  • Joy*–1. Robert DeNiro and Isabella Rosselini are in this movie? I had no idea!; 2. Jesus Christmas, Robert DeNiro and Isabella Rosselini’s characters are awful people in this movie; 3. I should watch more QVC.
  • Hidden Figures*–1. God, I love Octavia Spencer; 2. I want to watch this movie 100 times; 3. Why don’t people dress up more for work today? They really should, it adds an air of elegance.
  • Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth 1995 version)*–1. Holy Mother of God, I don’t know who is more annoying, Mrs. Bennet or Lydia Bennet; 2. I’ve always liked Colin Firth, but I understand now how he came to be the hunk that he is; 3. Lydia is played by the woman who plays Saffy in Ab Fab, and I like her MUCH better as Saffy.
  • Becoming Warren Buffett*–1. Warren Buffett essentially had two wives at the same time; 2. I find his friendship with Bill Gates kind of brodorable; 3. Warren Buffett seems like a relatively happy, normal guy for being a billionaire, but I also get the sense that he can be a real asshole and crabby sometimes.
  • Legal Eagles*–1. There’s something very jarring about 80s movies, like half the plotlines never get fleshed out, or maybe some of the key elements get left on the cutting room floor; 2. Robert Redford is goofy in this movie, but it works; 3. Seriously, what is up with Daryl Hannah? She is the most emotionless actress I’ve ever seen.
  • Wonder Woman*–1. So good. SO GOOD! 2. Is the guy who played Steve supposed to be like a new, young Matt Damon? Because he kind of looks like a new, young Matt Damon. 3. I think there should be a Wonder Woman 2.)
  • A Christmas Prince–1.Yes, Netflix holiday movies totally count. 2. So many plot holes. So many. 3. But who doesn’t love a good cheesy holiday film?
  • Naughty & Nice–1. I quite like Haylie Duff. 2. Why are all these cheesy holiday films suddenly casting wooden, expressionless male leads? 3. Again with the plot holes.
  • A Christmas Note–1. Meadow! From the Sopranos! Now in Holiday movies! 2. Wait, the husband isn’t dead? 3. Sisters forever!
  • The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick)*–1. This was incredibly hard to watch at times. 2. All 20 hours were worth it. 3. The lies from the government were/are absolutely astounding. Like, mind-blowingly inconceivable and terrible.
  • The Last Jedi*–1. I love BB8. By far my favorite character. 2. I keep calling this movie Return of the Jedi in my head, which is obviously not correct. 3. How did I not catch on to the whole “Luke using the Force” thing when Kylo Ren was trying to blow him up? Well played, movie people. Well played.)

*Denotes recommended movie

 

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

11 Oct

ONE: I have some terrible news.

Remember how I was gloating over my awesomeness of keeping a whole one New Years Goal? That I was making ice cream like a champ, and hadn’t missed a month because I’m totally awesome and an ice cream rock star?

I didn’t make a new ice cream flavor in September.

I KNOW. I FEEL THE HORROR, TOO.

Sure, September was a shitshow of a month, and packed to the gills with our anniversary, Baby McSwedolish’s first birthday, buying a house, selling a house, moving, and driving to Baltimore for a friend’s wedding, all of these things taking place within two weeks of each other.

But that’s no excuse! Because what about those first two weeks of September? Where the hell was I then? I couldn’t have whipped up a quick batch of something to stay on track? I’ve failed you, Interwebs. And even worse, I’ve failed myself.

I may never recover.

Meanwhile, I’m taking suggestions for a flavor to make for October. And don’t you dare say anything involving pumpkin.

TWO: I went to my 20-year high school reunion last weekend. That merits a post of its own, one that I may actually get to at some point. But for now, I’ll just say that it was in all honesty a very good evening, and I truly enjoyed talking to my former classmates. Way more than I generally enjoyed talking to them in high school. Not that I didn’t enjoy talking to them in high school (I generally did, I think? Hard to say, high school was 20 years ago, my friends, and I can’t even remember if I brushed my hair this morning*), but you add 20 years to a person’s life, and they’re bound to be more interesting now than they were then out of the sheer increase in number of days on this planet.

THREE: Have you seen the show Finding Your Roots on PBS? I caught it the other night, and it’s fascinating. I’ve learned all sorts of things about random celebrities, for example, Fred Armisen is not a quarter Japanese, he’s actually a quarter Korean, and there’s an entire museum in Tokyo dedicated to his grandfather. (Why in Tokyo and not in Seoul, I’m not really sure. I may or may not have tuned out for part of the show.)

It’s this exact sort of randomness that I love about PBS, you guys. Seriously. I can’t get enough. PBS is amazing.

FOUR: Since we moved** into a home that has more than one bedroom, Baby McSwedolish now sleeps in his own room.

And it’s terrible.

Not for him, of course, but for me, because every time he whines or cries in his sleep (which he does with surprising frequency. What, exactly, is he crying about in his dreams? He’s a baby. The worst thing in his life is a full diaper or not being allowed to poke the dog in the eye.) it’s amplified by the video monitor that sits on Swede’s nightstand. It used to sit on my nightstand, but that wasn’t working out very well, as I’d lie in bed and stare at it at 2 o’clock in the morning, which, in case you didn’t know, is not conducive to sleeping well. So now it’s out of my reach but it’s still loud when he cries, and my heart breaks even though he seems entirely unbothered by it because he doesn’t even wake up and sweet Mother of God, I should probably just turn the volume on the monitor down for the love of all that his holy and decent and accept the fact that my baby is growing up and clearly doesn’t need me anymore. 

I may need a nap.

 

*Chances are slim.

**More on that later.

 

 

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

10 Aug

One: Have you ever noticed that the women on the storytelling shows on NPR all sound the same? I’m sure that they’re all different people, and not just one woman who has lived a thousand lives and has the stories to show it. At least I’m pretty sure.

They all have a mildly self-deprecating tone when they share their stories, as if they’re not sure they should be telling a story, even though they think they should be telling a story, and their voices always have just a bit of scratch to them, as if they’re getting over a cold. And when they laugh it’s never an outright laugh, but more of a held-in, half-laugh-is-the-audience-laughing? kind of laugh. Their creaking-door voices and half-chuckles all blend together to my ears, I cannot tell them apart.

I don’t know if the same holds true about the male storytellers. I don’t know that I’ve heard enough of them on storytelling shows, to be honest. But I’ll keep my ears open.

Two: As I’ve expressed to one and all, I love the Great British Bake Off. Love it. I was talking with a colleague recently, who said she thought it was kind of cheesy, and that the drama over the baking was a bit silly. Which kind of befuddled me, because you guys, that drama is baking itself! Baking is Dramatic! Especially in a tent!

But I realized something: what makes the GBBO so alluring and enthralling is it speaks to my perfectionist side. (And yes, I have a perfectionist side.) (It’s not my best side, to be honest.) (Which drives its perfectionist self absolutely nuts.) To enjoy baking, or even just watching the baking process, you have to have at least a sliver of perfectionism in you. It’s too precise a process not to. And that’s why the natural drama of baking plays out so well on this show for its bakers and fans alike. (You don’t need manufactured drama. All you need is the nail-biting moments of contestants crouched in front of their ovens, counting seconds that could make or break their bake.) If you don’t have a bit of perfectionism in you, or if you don’t allow it to show its face and shake your hand every once in awhile, then I can understand why it all might seem silly. I don’t agree, but I can understand.

Three: During Amazon Prime days in July, I scored a Kindle Fire for $30, because my old, regular kindle crapped out on me after four years. I didn’t particularly want a Fire, because let’s be honest, the last thing I or the world needs is another device that links me to the distraction that is the Interwebs, but I did particularly want to not pay a lot of dough. And a regular, just-for-reading Kindle was like, $100.

ANYWAY, along with my Fire came a renewed subscription to the Washington Post—because this is a Jeff Bezos world and we’re just living in it. I had, for reasons unbeknownst to me, let my WaPo digital subscription lapse, and now, with this renewed access, I’m remembering how absolutely wonderful this newspaper is, and how much I absolutely adore reading their food section, particularly their Free Range On Food weekly live chats.

Their food section and staff are inspiring! And it makes me nostalgic for cooking dinner for myself, my friends, and eventually my Swede in my little apartment on Connecticut Avenue, with its two inches of counter space. And simultaneously makes me appreciate my current kitchen, with is six inches of counter space and a dishwasher.

Four: There’s a sign at my library underneath the directory that reads simply, Welcome Home.

Nailed it.

Thank you, sign designer.

 

checking in

12 Jul

It’s July, which by my math and calendar* means we are more than halfway through the year. Which means that seven months ago we all lolled about on our couches in a fog of cheese and leftover cookies and made a bunch of promises to ourselves, the universe, and our dog that we vaguely intended to keep, though in the far corner of our brains knew would be packed away like so many boughs of holly by February 5.

So! How are those New Year’s Goals** working out for you? Has anybody actually tackled any? Have any actually lasted beyond Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday?

Ahem.

waves raised hand wildly

Yes, actually, I have. And yes, actually, they have.

And yes, I’m totally tooting my own horn.

(toot! toot!)

How can I not? It’s not every year—or any year, for that matter—that I can actually say I have successfully completed or am successfully in the process of completing my New Year’s Goals. Or completing anything, really. (What? Mine is a world of inspired intentions.) So I’m going to celebrate the shit out of these.

Goal 1: Make one new ice cream flavor a month

What’s the point of having an ice cream maker if you don’t actually use it? Ever since I received this kitchen appliance two Christmases ago, I’ve had a steady stream of homemade ice cream go through my kitchen, much to Swede’s happiness. But this year I felt like I needed to expand my ice cream horizons, and put some of my Pinterest pins to the test.

And now this poor ice cream maker doesn’t know what’s hit it. Entirely possible I may blow out the motor by August.

I’ve made seven new flavors so far this year (I made two in March, because it was my birthday month and…well, it was my birthday month is the best reasoning I can come up with) (then again, do I really need a reason to make two new ice cream flavors in one month?). Some were better than others, but even the ones that were only meh were still good.

January: Red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl

February: Brown sugar bourbon ice cream

March: Creamsicle ice cream; lemon mascarpone ice cream

April: Baklava ice cream

May: Mint chocolate chip (such a classic flavor, yet one I’d never actually made)

June: White chocolate blackberry

Our favorite has been the brown sugar bourbon flavor, with the lemon mascarpone a very close second. Tell your friends.

 

Goal 2:

<crickets>

<twiddles thumbs>

Huh.

Totally thought I had accomplished one of the other goals on my list.

No?

Okay! Just the one goal then. But! That’s one more thing I’ve done/am doing. Let me just extend my Go Go Gadget arms and pat myself on the back again.

Well done, me.

 

So as to be completely transparent, you should know that for this one goal I can claim as successful (so far), there are at least 63 that have been failed somewhat and terribly.

Write how many words a month on the novel I’ve been thinking about for 10 years? Okay, I’ve written some. I’ll give myself partial credit.

Exercise how often? Huh. Not so much.

Make fresh pasta using the pasta maker we were given at our wedding shower two years ago? Actually, I attempted that one, only to have the motor on our KitchenAid mixer burn out. We have the parts to fix it, we just…have yet to fix it.

But that one! That one goal! I’m totally making it on my ice cream goal!

I encourage you all to look back at your own statements of intent, your New Year’s Goals, or whatever you want to call them. Did they fall by the wayside? Are they even valuable or interesting goals to you anymore? If they are, restart them. Give them a go. See how far you get. If they’re not, screw ‘em. Don’t waste your time busting your ass toward a goal you couldn’t give a hoot about. What’s the point in that? If there’s something more intriguing you want to work toward, why aren’t you doing it? Do it! Do it now! Because that’s the thing—no one says your yearly or monthly or daily goals have to start the first of the year. There are 365 days in a year, you guys,*** and any day, any day at all, is a good day to start.

*You may want to double-check me on that one. Math and calendars have never been my strong suit.

**I call them goals because resolutions are just asking to be broken.

***Seriously, check me on that 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.