Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Moose

L and cuarentayuno and I are hiking Mt. Moosilauke on Saturday and I couldn't be more excited. I can't believe I will have made it to July without a trip north.

For awhile I was trying to climb all the 4,000-footers in NH (and I still may) but there are some mountains I just enjoy too much and I end up spending my time on them instead of trying new mountains. Moosilauke is one of those favorites. I'm also a pretty big fan of the Lafayette-Lincoln-Little Haystack route, and when I lived in the Monadnock region, I did regular trips up Monadnock, on a super-secret locals trail that I'm not going to reveal here.

The hiking bug bit me probably 8 years ago now when I was living with an artist friend of mine who used to do days-long solo trips into the woods, even in winter. I haven't soloed in a long time, mainly because I've read and I believe that if you hike by yourself, you should do so with the understanding that you could die.

I'm also a big believer in the notion that you can never be overprepared. I usually bring a water filter (although I don't know where mine is, rats), a headlamp, a shiny silver emergency blanket rain gear, a compass (which, BTW, I don't know how to use) and lots of food.

I'm also excited for the ginormous meal I plan on eating on Saturday night.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

There's a new kid in town...

Cousin Molls had her baby, a boy, at 2:30 this morning. TMW weighed in at 8 lbs some-odd ounces (I went and erased the message from McMumsy).

I remember hanging out around the dining room table at Grammy's house with Molls and our cousin J, playing I Doubt It, which you college drinkers will recall as Bullshit, and hanging out with her in Grammy's clawfoot bathtub soaking in a Calgon-take-me-away bubblebath after watching Good Times while eating our Swansons fried chicken tv dinners on fab flowered metal tv trays while Grammy smoked her unfiltered Camels and read the paper. Then we'd eat ice cream sundaes and sleep in the big bed in the front bedroom.

Sniff. I can't believe she's a mom. I know she'll be a good one.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Not much to report today but I feel like if I don't post on M/T/W/Th I am somehow missing something. Had a different teacher at yoga tonight and she made me sweat a LOT and also showed us the correct way to do handstand and forearm stand prep, which was swell. Mostly I felt tired and headachy and swampy, due to the humidity.

Am copyediting another book chapter, which I am sure is making the Boston terrier at the transcription office sad, as yesterday I spent part of my lunch 1/2 hour feeding him chicken off of a plastic fork. Also I think the doorman there, who reminds me a lot of Chef from South Park in that he is very smooth, likes me. At least he noticed my absence last week.

Oh, and L has a new British man and says that on Thursday she is taking me to the bookstore to make me talk to Mr. Sexy Coffeemaker.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh my good lord

OK, doggie update. The corgi-formerly-maybe-known-as-Hugh has arrived at the McPolack homestead and when I asked Polackpappy what he looked like Pp said "Imagine a 40 pound stick of butter with a head on one end and a tail on the other."

Now Pp is prone to exaggeration. This breed of corgi doesn't have a tail. He is, however, 10 pounds overweight and looks earlier similar to the last corgi they owned, Miss Wonderful Wendell Jones.

Unfortunately McMumsy has named this one Chauncey.


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Attended the first of two showers for the bride to be of my little brother this weekend. It was held at a house on an absolutely stunning piece of property on Hingham harbor with lots of big, beautiful trees. I love trees.

Highlights of the evening included the cupcakes, which were made with a really fabulous smooth and delicious icing, giant tasty cocktail shrimp, and listening to Dr. Moo tell two pregnant ladies who were there to call her if they needed to be induced; she'd drive up from VT and give them the shot for free.

Moo and McMumsy slept over at Chateau McPolack; the next morning Moo threw a wadded-up napkin at my cat and then rushed home to Tess the Wonder Hound, who had gone on a hunger strike over being left home alone with PolackPappy.

Tonight the parents are picking up a brand-new corgi, a fat two-year old who was returned by his previous owners for being naughty. McMumsy was thinking about naming him Russell Crowe, because he's a bad boy, but is now leaning more toward Hugh, a Welsh name and also the name of one of the great grandparents.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Thas the way I like it. Thas the way I love it!"

Oh, Mr. Latino Landscaping Man, thank you SO much for slowing your big truck, hanging your head out the window, and shouting out to the world at 7:30 this morning your appreciation of my bum as I was jogging through North Cambridge. I stood up on my toilet to check my rear out in the mirror to see what I've been missing and that's when I discovered that my butt crack had hoovered up the silky wicking material of my running shorts, perfectly framing each cheek for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Working It

So I spent much of today working (and trying to work) on the copyediting job I was bitching about yesterday. It's definitely a challenge -- lots of tech terms and also both type and document styles I'm unfamiliar with. I'm also fighting feeling like I'm not qualified to do the work, when I know that really I am. I'm just this anxious, stressed out little monkey sometimes. Time to take some deep breaths and trust that everything will be OK.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cheap Bastards

I'm not having such a good feeling about the "cobble work together through part time jobs" idea lately. Take the transcription agency, for example: Last week I discover that I am supposed to write in a 15 minute break on my time sheet so that they can pay me for it. They never told me this. I said I would figure out how much I was owed. They said, Oh, let's just make it easy and pay you for four extra hours. Which would be a total of 16 working days of 15 minute breaks. And I've been there for a month and a half.

Then today I get an email from a place that wants me to do copyediting. I eagerly accept the job and then discover the rates are a bit lower than what I've found people are charging in Tennessee and that's for double-spaced pages. These pages are single-spaced. And it is technical copyediting. I'll be lucky to get a third of what I've made at another job doing this. I almost wanted to tell the person to forget it. But I need the money.


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Monday, June 19, 2006

Lesson Learned

Well the 90th birthday party for Babcia went off without a hitch, although Babcia herself was a little out of it. She knew what was going on but lost threads of conversation easily and at one point I watched her stare, open-mouthed, at my uncle while he told a story about his pet crow that he rescued as a baby. He was angry because he spent a hundred and fifty dollars at a bird vet to find out what was wrong with one of the crow's toes and then the crow went and gnawed it off, solving the problem Aron Ralston-style through self-amputation.

Anyhoo, by the next day Babcia was sprightly again and she definitely enjoyed the party and really liked my cake. I enjoyed hanging with my Polish cousins, one of whom brought the Babcia both a giant bag of trashy novels and a blanket to cover herself with "while she reads her porn."

I also learned an important lesson this weekend: Much like you should never get involved in a land war in Asia, or go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, it is pretty much a bad idea to get into a belching battle with two ten year old and one seven year old boy, because you will not win. And because the seven year old will stand in front of you ripping off belch after belch while mimicking firing a pair of six shooters into the air, one after another after another after another after another after another...well, you get the picture. This little charmer also grabbed my butt and tried to take off my bathing suit in the swimming pool! Aye yi yi. I told him this was very inappropriate and he stopped, but geez.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Wee Hairy Wolf Spider

I put my air conditioners in last night and when I got back from the gym this morning I discovered a little nature scene of sorts unfolding. There's a yellowjacket trapped in the window. It's a fairly good-sized yellowjacket, maybe two and a half times the size of the wolf spider that keeps coming out from the grooves that the windows and screens slide up and down on to eyeball (or maybe it's more like eyeballs) the yellowjacket, and size him up.

I wonder if he'll eat him!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Half Baked

The reason I called the Babcia this week to ask for her cake preference is because I have been named official cake-baker for the party. I used a yellow cake recipe from this book. Now, the writers of this particular piece of cookbookery are known for their very scientific approach and everything I have made from it since receiving it from Santy Claus last year has been a smash hit.

I expect the same reaction to my cake. But I was so stressed out from making it that I was doing downward-facing dogs in my kitchen to loosen up my back and shoulders.

Let's just take a brief stroll through some of the incredibly anal-retentive directions, shall we?

Ingredients include:
4 large eggs at room temperature (grrr. me want make cake now!)

2 sticks unsalted butter softened but still cool (WTF is that? softened but still cool? sounds to me like "sort of pregnant") cut into 16 pieces

Instructions include:
Beat dry ingredients at low speed (you need a KitchenAid; I don't have one so I used a hand blender)

then add butter pieces one at a time while on low speed until 30 or 40 seconds after you've added last piece of butter.

Mixture is supposed to resemble peas. Mine resembled paste.

Add reserved egg/milk/vanilla mixture in a slow, steady stream for approximately 30 seconds while beating on medium-high

then scrape sides and bottom of bowl

then beat for 15 more seconds

then weigh the batter to make sure you have an even amount of it in each pan. (jesus christ! who weighs batter? damn my back hurts.)

then put them in the oven in this fancy configuration and halfway through use some tongs (I don't own tongs) to reverse this fancy configuration.

oh, and they recommend poking the top of the hot cake with a bare finger to make sure it's done.

I've got my own steps to add to the above:
1. Before opening cookbook, shake buttcheeks back and forth rapidly to loosen
2. Insert lump of coal into your ass
3. Remove it from your butt once cake is baked -- oh, look, all that squeezing has made you a diamond!

I'm making another one tomorrow night.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006


So. Have fallen off the wagon in terms of the 2 hour a day writing thing and am reconfiguring. I am definitely noticing that as soon as I make some big decision that will ultimately benefit my life and put me on a good path, there is immediate pushback (to use a consulting term) from my alter ego, EvilMcP. The past couple of weeks, EvilMcP has been freaking out, worrying about finances and what-all I'd actually committed to the page, as opposed to just frigging sitting down and doing the work. EMcP was dancing dancing dancing around, fanning the flames of my fear, and I was getting nowhere.

What I am discovering more and more is that I am a perfectionist, and not in a good way. I am a perfectionist to the point where if I am not going to do something in a way that is utterly perfect -- and in the case of my book, sit in front of my computer and write something that will win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer and a MacArthur Genius Grant, along with legions of hot bookish males showing up at readings for my autograph -- then I just will not do it at all.

Here, then, is my fear: I fear that I am a no-talent hack. I do not put this out there looking for compliments. I have heard from many people (including people, whose writing I admire, who read this very blog), for years, that I am good at this writing thing. I fear that I'm just some weirdo who sits in coffee shops, writing crap. The other day I was in one, writing, and ran into a friend of a friend who said, oh, I'm here to do real work, as if mine wasn't.

If anything, I am certainly tortured, and aren't all the great artists tortured?

Anyhoo. As a writer friend said to me, if you are going to write, it is going to hurt. And hurt it does. It sucks sometimes. I am really, really, really afraid of it. I'm going to make mistakes. I'm not going to do it perfectly. And I am going to do it anyway.

I am going to do it with as much joy and love for myself and the world as I can muster.

So there.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006


So the Polack section of the McPolack family is gathering to celebrate the Babcia turning 90. I called her tonight to see what kind of cake she wants and she is more of a vanilla than a chocolate fan. Which is odd, given her moo juice preference. Oh, if only I could make a trifle of jelly donuts soaked in chocolate milk.

Anyhoo. The Babcia is still getting visits from the dead and now her mother is talking to her. When I asked her what her mother was saying she told me that essentially she was riding her ass for stuff she did wrong. Hmmmmm. Much like what happens in my own dreams with my mother. But at least Babcia seemed a bit more chipper about all the mouldering folks that have been marching through her living room.

She also shared with me that she's been packing stuff up; she's moving in with my parents soon. My uncle C is supposedly flying out from CA this weekend to attend the party and he will also be picking up a large piece of furniture and possibly some other stuff from her apartment as well. I was asked awhile ago what-all I wanted of hers. I don't know if I've blogged about this yet, but yes, I do want stuff, and the nice and interesting stuff, and I feel weird/guilty about this because doesn't the good granddaughter just want peace and comfort for her grandma?

Well of course I want that for her. And if there were nothing to get from moving her but a hug and a kiss that would be plenty. Buuuuuuuuuut, now that you mention it, I sure do like that law bookcase and was hoping for some other stuff too.

So Babcia and I chatted a bit about the upcoming festivities. "I've never had a party before!" she told me. I told her to expect to be paraded around the lawn in a chair in her underpants while we sang to her. As I was getting ready to hang up the phone, after telling her I loved her, I heard her say to me in a small voice I wish you still lived with me.


Monday, June 12, 2006


Last night hottie Mchottlepants from the bookstore showed up in my dreams, along with Keanu Reeves. I was on a bus with h. Mchpants and in various other places and while I sensed he might have been into me I could tell something was up. As it turned out, he wasn't sure if he wanted a relationship but wanted me to just sort of hang around and wait him out.

In the meantime, Keanue had just contacted me looking for romantic advice. Now here was my conundrum: do I wait around for bookstore guy or hit on Keanu? In the dream I was torn, mainly because I just saw Keanu on TV the other day (in real life but I remembered this in the dream) and he is looking all wrinkly and saggy-baggy. I moved on to yet another dream starring my mother before there was any resolution.

Upon waking I realized what my choice needed to be: Neither. Because I want the next person I'm in a relationship with to be really excited to be with me, right off the bat. And because Keanu is getting old and wrinkly and also he can't really act.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flavor Flav

For lunch today I finally tried the ramen noodles given to me by L. They are her favorite and she cannot keep them in the house because as soon as they come in the house they disappear. I am here to tell you they will soon be disappearing from my house as well. Because these are the best ramen noodles that I have ever eaten. They come with three flavor packets! I know, I know--amazing, isn't it?

One is the usual mixture of salt, msg, salt, sodium, and dried up pieces of onion, and salt. The second is chili powder. The third contains a paste which is made of lemon grass, chili, shallot, bergamot leaf, and galingale, among other things. You boil up some water, dump the noodles and the flavor packet contents and water into a bowl, wait three minutes, and you're in heaven.

You're also 53% on your way to getting your daily sodium intake. I think actually my heart rate may be quickening from it at the moment.

After lunch I turned the basil I braved Market Basket at 11 am on a Sunday morning to buy (gave one beeyotch who stole my parking space the finger, bought the NYTimes, but read ABC Soaps in Depth in line--Patch and Kayla are returning to Days! I embarrasingly named one of my Cabbage Patch dolls Kayla, which tells you the last time they were on the air and also that I am an idiot) into some fresh pesto for dinner later. The only issue I consistenly have with the pesto is that I forget just how pungent freshly ground garlic is. I am invariably bitch-slapped by its lily-white manicured hand in each bite of pesto I eat. I do not mind this at all, but the general public might not like the way it makes me smell.

Anyhoo. L is running 5 miles in the gym and then we're meeting on Charles Street to go sit in the park and people-watch. Girlfriend needs her sunshine. Then it's back home to meditate, clean the apartment, write (hopefully) and prepare for the week ahead.


Friday, June 09, 2006

My Grandma and your Grandma were Sitting by the Fire

One of the stars of the evening, at least for me, during last week's get-to-know-you dinner hosted by the family of my brother's fiancee would have to be their 92 year old matriarch, A. When I arrived at the fiancee's Beacon Hill condominium she was sitting on the sofa enjoying (I believe) her cocktail of choice, an old-fashioned, and she just looked smashing. She clasped my hand and said "So you're the writer. Tell me all about it."

And tell her all about it I did. I spent most of my time before dinner chatting with her. Later, at dinner, this ancient woman held court on all sorts of obscure presidential golf trivia. She was seated in the corner of the room next to my brother just spouting off these random bits of information as if she were some sort of historian. She seemed to me at that moment to be the sort of person for whom the phrase "sharp as a tack" was invented.

In the car ride back to my apartment, there was a comment made on how our own matriarch, Babcia, might pale in comparison to A. And while it's true that the eldest member of our family would wear the same polyester pants every day if she could and prefers a gallon of chocolate milk with a jelly donut chaser to whiskey and tarte tatin, she cleans up quite nicely and brings her own brand of Polack glory with her wherever she goes.



So I'm home today awaiting a copyediting job with fingers crossed it will arrive in enough time for me to head to Rotter-DAMN! to hang with JoyceFrances and OSB. I could have turned the job down but as the work pays nearly 4x what the transcription work does and as I am doing my best to embrace reality now and the reality is that I need cash, I readily agreed.

I've been feeling exhausted every morning this week, including this one, when I dragged myself out the door at 6:30 to go to the gym so I could be home in time to check in with the firm that's providing the copyediting work. When I hadn't heard from them by 10:30ish I thought I could either meditate or nap and chose the latter because honestly the meditating would make me nap anyway.

Now I'm revived and at the computer. I have a whole list of places that may or may not accept freelance essays and I intend to spend some time looking at those. I've also set some initial book deadlines for myself, which is scary. It remains a struggle for me to apply the same rabid do or die energy that I do to my exercising to the writing but I shall not stop trying.

Yesterday I went back and visited sexy coffee shop man. He has now shaved his head. I personally preferred him with hair, but, no matter, I would still gladly make out with him bald. He asks folks who come to get coffee from him if they are members of the coffee club. I am a member of the coffee club and I don't recall him asking me this save a couple of times. Which begs the questions: Does he know me by sight now even though I'm only in there once a week? In which case, oh, suh-nap! I wonder if he likes me. Or, and this is just as much a possibility, does he ask me every week if I am a member and I just don't hear him because I am too busy thinking yum yum me likee and then I go ahead and order a coffee without responding, in which case I wonder if he thinks I'm crazy.


Thursday, June 08, 2006


When my alarm went off a little after 6 this morning I did not want to get out of bed. I hit the snooze button as many times as I could until it was very nearly 6:30, the time I really need to have feet on pavement in order to get my run in before heading over to the transcription office.

I pulled on my red shorts and gray top, picked some cd's and a baseball hat, and headed out into the gray and misty morning. I took my usual route, crossing the street to the Catholic church and then wending my way through North Cambridge ending on Brattle Street. As I approached Harvard Square, I heard a bagpipe in the distance and decided to turn off my walkman to see if I could figure out where it was coming from.

Turns out it was graduation day at Harvard and true to form the kids are underachievers, already milling about in their robes at barely 7 in the morning. I watched them appear from the mist one at a time and heard the bagpipe music grow stronger, until I was at one of the gates of the school, where the bagpiper was standing and degree candidates were streaming in. I had this odd feeling that the world had shimmered somehow, and transported me someplace different. Not necessarily back in time, but to someplace timeless instead, as if that bagpiper and that sea of students had always been there, was always there, but I had only now just seen it.

And just in case you're wondering, if you go to Harvard to get a really fab robe. None of that cheap-ass thin scratchy polyester.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Free to Be You and Me

I like free stuff. Always have. Now that I have no money to shop, I like it even more. Sometimes when I’m blue, more often when I am avoiding doing actual work, I troll the internet, looking for free things to send away for. I’ll send for things I really don’t need, like a deluxe Metamucil sample of wafers, pills, and powder, all for a person whose lower GI tract purrs like a kitten.

I like to up the enjoyment factor by having those samples sent to my address under assumed names. I’ll use Turd Ferguson, an old chestnut that makes me laugh every time I think of it. I also like to tailor my aliases, using, say, Harry Balzac for a Nair sample or, for the Swiffer sample I received today, Dusty Springfield.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Ever have one of those days when you've just got too many things to write about and none of them seem that fantabulous and so you don't know what the hay to do? That'd be the day I'm having.

Do I write about the fact that in yoga class while doing this stretch where you spread your legs wide (minds out of the gutter, straight non-relative gentleman readers) sit your dumps like a truck on the floor, grab your big toes with your thumb and forefingers, and then try with a flat back to see how low you can go I came quite close to touching the entire front of me to the floor? Because that's impressive.

Or do I share that when I was laying in savasana, trying to relax, the image that episode of the Drew Carey show where Drew has a bad dream that his stomach, played by Wallace Shawn (I think) dressed up in a stomach suit, is visiting him in his kitchen?

Or perhaps you'd like to know that tomorrow evening I am going to see that hot gay alien Anderson Cooper give a reading at the Boston Public Library.

Decisions, decisions.


Monday, June 05, 2006


So I've got a kitty issue, of sorts, at the moment. Several weeks ago I was walking in a residential area of Manchvegas with a good friend. We were approached by a thin white kitty with dirty fur and scabby ears. Said kitty was very sweet and friendly. I gave her some scratches and almost picked her up to bring her back to the McPolack homestead for my parents, who had mentioned wanting another kitty. But my friend said I should wait because maybe kitty already had a home.

Today I got an email from that friend telling me that the kitty has been showing up at her apartment nearly every day. I thought, perfect! I will call McMumsy and let her know of the kitty.

Except McMumsy had changed her mind and said she didn't want another kitty and that she was in fact thinking of having my father shoot a black cat that has been showing up on their property. I am not a fan of shooting cats. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think of the little white kitty living all alone with her dirty fur and scabby ears.

I'm also angry with McMumsy for having a heart of ice. Angry, but not surprised. I did still tell her I loved her at the end of our phone conversation because of course I do but my own warm and smushy, cry-y heart clearly did not come from her.

I emailed a no-kill shelter and also a friend of a friend who had mentioned she was interested in a cat. I am unable to take the kitty. I'm trying not to get anxious and stressed and depressed about the fate of this little kitty but it's hard. I have nightmares sometimes that are filled with kitties who need me to look after them. Man oh man.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Truth vs. Fiction II

While at the family dinner described in the post below, Polackpappy did his usual embellishing. After sharing a Dr. Moo tale with one of the relations, he proudly said he had "taught all his children to drive standard."

Well, I wouldn't say taught, Pp.

My lesson went something like this: I was living on Martha's Vineyard one summer. He and Mcmumsy delivered a Nissan that they vomitously named "Old Whitey," for the love of god. Every frigging time I went to get in that car in front of them it was "Takin' Old Whitey out for a spin, are ya?" or "How's Old Whitey running?" Bleargh.

Anyhoo. While Mcmumsy stayed behind he drove me up a residential road in the middle of the island, put me in the driver's seat and said "It's all in the relationship between the clutch, the gas and the brake. You'll figure it out eventually." I drove for 10 minutes then he drove the Nissan back to the ferry, pulled over on the side of the road, got out, and handed me the keys.

I did figure out that relationship eventually but not before angering a lot of confused vacationing rich people in stop and go traffic.

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So last night Polack Pappy...

...was sharing some of his dessert with me and the wife of the just-retired president and COO of General Mills. Yowza! She is my brother's fiancee's aunt, as it turns out. Her husband was just across the table. A contingent of Mc's and Polacks headed down from NH, swung by to pick up my sassy little self and we drove to Beacon Hill. It was snacks and bevy's (wine, cheese, and pate; seltzer for me) at the fiancee's antique-filled condo and then dinner at a long table in a really lovely room with tall candles, fine china, and a gorgeous chandelier at a French restaurant on Charles Street. Polackpappy and I managed to behave ourselves (mostly) although I did let it slip about my blog to the fiancee's mom. I'm sure she will at the very least find my writing, um, interesting.

By far the best part of the evening was at the end. My brother, with whom I have had a contentious relationship since I tried to flush him down the toilet when he was two, said I love you back to me for the first time ever.


Thursday, June 01, 2006


Well I’m back at the hipster café for the afternoon, having put it the maximum shift that one can at the transcription office: Six fabulous hours. Today I was listening to interviews from a New England prep school; there were some very articulate 15 and 16 year olds. I don’t recall being that well spoken at that age. Heck, I don’t know if I’m that well-spoken now.

Yesterday I tried out, for the second time, a café in a new independent bookstore that’s opened up in the Porter Square shopping center. This café is staffed solely by a man who I find so incredibly attractive that I can barely even look at him. Because when I look at him, I blush. Oh, and did I mention that he meditates every day for 50 minutes, likes to sit in the woods, has eyes you could swim laps in and sweet, sweet facial hair, and wants to go to graduate school in philosophy?

Unfortunately it is hard for me to get work done there because I half-write and half-listen to what Mr. Wonderful is saying. Plus I moon over his reflection in my laptop. I feel like I did in college when I used to make cow eyes at the backs of boys I liked across the cafeteria salad bar. Moooooooooooooooooooooooooo.