Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mad World

First it's a pot house right up the street from McMumsy and PolackPappy.

Then I wake up at 5:30 this morning at my friend OSB's house in Dublin, NH to pee and look out the window where I discover, instead of the usual snow and pine trees, state troopers as far as the eye can see and a mobile SWAT command center with these freaky lit-up traffic cones in front of it.

It turns out that, just after I'd gone to bed the night before, one of OSB's neighbors lost it and shot his ex-wife and her lover in Peterborough, where I lived for several years. The lover is a friend of OSB's husband that he's known since high school. Both the shooting victims were airlifted to major hospitals and, I think, are both going to live.

Meanwhile, the shooter had holed himself up in his house with one of his teenage children. I apparently slept right through the cavalry's arrival at around 3 in the morning. OSB's husband watched the SWAT team suit up, in camo, with big guns, and fan out into the woods.

They brought the shooter in without incident at around 6 this morning. I couldn't find much about it on the Internet so you can consider this your breaking news blog of the day.

But oh, New Hampshire, what is happening to you?

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Sayonara Saddam

Just read they're going to hang Saddam Hussein within the next four hours. It's going to be videotaped and I thought, no way would I watch that, someone dying. This after watching an NY Times video of James Brown lying in state so I could see him lying in state.

I guess I'm not so bothered by dead embalmed people. But watching someone die, even someone as evil as Saddam Hussein? No thank you.

In other news, it's going to be another banner New Years Eve for me. I'll be spending it with my cat. I may order Chinese food and watch The Big Lebowski. Or not.

The only really fun New Years I've had were in high school when I would go with my friend Hazel to visit the Dutch hippies she grew up with in Jamaica Plain. We'd do First Night stuff, like contra dancing with a bunch of strangers, then stop by their place to eat cheese fondue and these tasty fritters.

The Dutch family once had Pete Seeger play at a birthday party and occasionally harbored people who were running from the law. Once when we got to the house there was nobody home save a verrrry sketchy man on their sofa. I tried to pretend he was like someone from that nice family from Running on Empty but he was clearly a freak.

The family also had a trapeze in their attic, which is where Hazel and I would sleep (in the attic, not on the trapeze), after going to the highest point in the Arnold Arboretum to watch the old year fade away and the new one come in.

I don't know why, but nothing has matched that since.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


So yoga is totally not about bragging about what pretzel form you can twist yourself into but I just wanted to note for posterity that I finally achieved this pose.

OK, obviously mine doesn't look exactly like the picture. I don't have nearly that much chest hair, for one. Also I am grasping my fingers together more towards to top of my knee. But I finally got my hands to meet today, after practicing yoga once a week (twice this week, though) for a year.

I was hopeful I would also finally get forearm stand but my body SO said no to that. It's funny how clear the answer was to me. I started to put weight into my shoulders and tried lifting my feet and my body was all, I don't think so, sistah.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top Three

...items Dr. Moo forgot to bring when she came home for Christmas:

1. Sneakers.
2. Underpants.
3. Frozen goat spine.

She needed the sneakers for running and the underpants so she wouldn't have to go commando. She needed the frozen goat spine because no one in Vermont would let her use their band saw to chop in half so she could look at the spinal fluid inside and see if what she suspected killed the goat actually killed it. And PolackPappy's got a band saw and he once took pictures of her sawing the hoof off a dead cow because he thought it was neat.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

We're needy

Note the position of Tess the Wonder Hound and Sir Chauncey, Corgi Extraordinaire. They're both rescue doggies and they like nothing more than laying across you and being scratched and patted so that they can forget their twin terrible pasts.


Monday, December 25, 2006


"Nobody cares what you had for lunch."

That would be the title of a book about blogging that Dr. Moo just shared with me after I told her what I had for lunch: One glass of half grapefruit juice/water, 2 fruit slices (as in the jelly kind, coated in sugar and made with sugar), 1/2 a piece of penuche fudge, a chunk of peanut brittle and three of these disk-shaped Concord-made creamy mints.

Moo made this comment after I took her g-d dog on a five and a half mile run, a run on which I had to, on the busy road at least, keep Tess the Wonder Hound on a short leash and continually shove her out of oncoming traffic with my knee, as she likes to run into it. Also she likes to eat shit but that's nothing new.

Anyhoo. New Christmas tradition this year, as we are short Little Brother: We're going to my aunt's for dinner. I'm glad because I was just going to go there on my own and was dreading the lonely drive home.

No Christmas meltdown for me either, although it was strange not having Little Brother there on Christmas morning. He called, and talked to each of us in turn, and I could tell he missed us, and we missed him. But change is the way of things and one day he'll have children of his own and they'll leave the nest. Ah, sunrise, sunset.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Feliz Navidad

Has anyone else ever noticed that around this time of year Feliz Navidad suffers from the Law and Order Syndrome, wherein it is always playing, like Law and Order is always on TV, on your car radio somewhere? You cannot get away from it! Even when you turn the radio off...I was waiting for the T yesterday afternoon at Park Street, and wouldn't you know it, there was a group of subway musicians playing that g-d song. I'm definitely more of a The Holly and the Ivy girl myself.

In other McPolack Christmas news, Daphne-Moon and I arrived safely at the McPolack homestead yesterday evening. I promptly ate two large plates of Chinese food followed by cookies and chocolates, and stayed up late with Dr. Moo, Tess the Wonder Hound, and Chauncey the Super Corgi, who floated up soft SBDFs as he slept on my lap, burning my nose hairs. We watched The Sound of Music and then a little Dr. 90210 for a real tour of what entertainment once was and what it is today.

Now McMumsy is in the kitchen crankily making the corn chowder for tonight's dinner which will soon be followed by PolackPappy crankily cooking a 133 dollar rib roast. God love 'em, they just really don't like to entertain. It's a Christmas miracle we have as many people over on Christmas Eve as we do.

Christmas Day I will be doing much of the cooking. It's just four of us so there's a pre-made vegetarian lasagna to which I will be adding yeast squash rolls, peas and turnips with dill, pierogis (frozen from Thanksgiving) and for dessert a hot milk sponge cake with a dark chocolate topping. I also scramble eggs and fry bacon for everyone on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Peace, love, and all that.


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Friday, December 22, 2006


I had dinner last night with my friend Alison, tasty Chinese food at our favorite place, a little hole in the wall on Mass Ave in North Cambridge. She and I crossed paths originally when I worked at the large 'n fancy consulting firm. She's still there and she told me that I'm in a LOT of the firm's holiday party pictures, while she is in none of them, despite the fact that I for all intents and purposes no longer work there (although I do occasional editorial work for them) while she is there full time.

I've decided I am the Paris Hilton of the consulting industry. Only I am smart and not a trashy, trashy whore.

Anyhoo. Alison has wanted to work in television production for a while now. She just turned 29 and since I've known her, she first tried to learn the process from someone within the consulting firm. When that didn't work out, she decided to work for free on the side helping produce a program for the local public access cable company. She's also been reaching out to people in the industry.

Her plan is to make a career move by 30 and she's willing to start at the bottom. I really admire her gumption and I told her so. She said thank you and said that I was her hippie friend. She said this with love, of course, as did my cousin Katie, who called me bohemian.

You can probably guess where I'm going with this -- where am I going with my life? I'm 33, I don't necessarily have a life plan. I'm still working out the Ritalin thing and I feel like I could put something together for myself in terms of, well, why not try to work towards buying a house in Center Sandwich on my own? I could work from home, and garden, and have wiener dogs.

At the same time, I want to stop regretting the choices I've made so far. Because when I look back on it, I've experienced a lot of real living, doing interesting, quirky things. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences working at the Indian firm with Alison and how much I especially loved working with the women there because they are so much newer to the opportunities of an independent life where they're on equal footing with men than the women in this country are. And they have been, to a one, delightful, warm, intelligent, and funny people.

I don't really have a conclusion for this save for that a new year is coming and I want to embrace it and live in it with as much joy and belief in possibility as I can muster.


My kind of gig...

Sometimes I wish I could be host of the Ellen show. That woman takes silliness to a whole new level and has so much fun doing it. I caught the last 15 minutes today, wherein she broke a bottle over Sandra Bullock's head and had her hold a python. Then she went to a used car lot and cut her own ad where she danced with a guy in a lobster suit, which she said she'd taken as a trade in for a Mercury Grand Prix.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ee-yew, ee-yew, eyeball goo

Oh, MAN. I think I have conjunctivitis. My eye started hurting a couple of days ago and I thought maybe it was a stye, which is gross in its own special way, but now I am pretty sure it is conjunctivitis. I had a wee bit of crusty goo this morning and the eye is pink and watery and scratchy.

Still hoping the cause was something other than a nasty viral or bacterial infection caught from some filthy city dweller I saw what thought was a blonde hair on my eyelid and tried to yank it out with some tweezers but ended up poking myself and discovering it's just an eyelash. Then I poked a Q-tip in there. Then a water-soaked tissue.

I am repulsed but obsessed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Good Irish Catholics

It's a mere handful of the many relations that exist on the Mc side of the McPolack family. Here I sit with some of my fabulous cousins. Clockwise from me are: Molly, Steve, Katie, Tim, Judy, Bill, Andrea, and Alex. Aren't we pretty?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Long Walk Home

This afternoon upon leaving the transcription office I realized I just didn't feel like the gym, or a run, or yoga, but that I still needed to do something so I decided I would walk home from Downtown Crossing. Now Mapquest says the shortest route is 5 and three-quarter miles but that involves taking Route 28.

I ended up walking through the park, up Charles Street, and crossing the Longfellow bridge, where I saw these nifty carvings, which you don't really notice unless you are walking across on foot.

From there I skirted the river to the Mass Ave bridge, known for being measured in Smoots. Then I walked up Mass Ave, past the storage building where I was given once given a ride on a pallet mover by the wealthy Russian boyfriend of a friend of mine who I impressed by shoving a Swedish fish up my nose and then pulling it out and eating it.

I strolled through Central Square and stopped for coffee, half decaf as I am trying to cut back, and a pee. Then I got a Christmas present at Bowl and Board and, in Harvard Square, debated about whether or not to check out the remainders at the Harvard Book Store, and ended up picking up The Partly Cloudy Patriot for five dollars.

I wish I could say I walked on from there but I've done the trek from Harvard to Davis mannnnny times and I run it three days a week. So I hopped on the train and rolled into Chateau McPolack at 5 pm. And now I'm eating mangoes and getting ready to wrap gifts.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Everything's Coming Up

There's nothing like transcribing hours of interviews with GERD sufferers to put a girl in a festive mood. After my shift at the transcription office and a trip to the library I came home to light a piney-smelling candle, plug in the lights on my happy hippie tree (which now has more ornaments courtesy of some I plucked from McMumsy's collection) and realized my present pile is slowly decreasing.

OSB was here on Friday with her wee girlie, who just turned one; they both got gifts. Then on Saturday I visited ctale and Bionic and their new beautiful baby with more gifts, then it was McQ family Christmas on Saturday night where I brought a cookbook to the Yankee swap.

Sunday night it was fresh homemade f*kng delicious dampfnudeln and soup at my German friend's, with gifts for her, her boyfriend, and L. I also learned to knit! Which would be thanks entirely to L's patience and gift of fat needles and yarn. And my German friend made a bunch of different flavored chocolate truffles.

Tomorrow it's present time for the girl I watch and her mom and dad, too, plus another gift for another pal. Then, zip! It's Christmas Eve.

I do enjoy the gift giving, I must say, and I just wish I had more money to spend, because it's really fun to shop for other people. This Christmas morning will be the first without Little Brother, who will be at the home of his bride. We have replaced him with 2 dogs and 2 cats, one of whom was playing with his squeaky hedgehog on my ass yesterday as I was plugging in the lights of the McPolack family Christmas tree.


Friday, December 15, 2006


I've been tagged by Nonsequitur, and have been charged with listing six weird things about myself. In no specific order, here they are:

1. I went through a long period recently of seeing dead birds everwhere. Baby birds, adult birds -- I even saw a finch in front of the CVS in Porter Square. I don't know what this means and have decided not to freak out about it, nor to freak out about the sawed-off dog leg that still had fur on it that was tied to a no parking sign in Central Square.

2. I still kiss my stuffed animals and I am careful to kiss all of them so they don't get jealous. They don't sleep in the bed with me anymore but I don't want them to feel like I've abandoned them all together. I only have a few with me here; the rest are in a Rubbermaid container in my parents' barn -- seated in a circle, so they can talk to each other.

3. When I'm hiking or walking in the woods, I talk to animals, mushrooms, and trees. I also pat trees and hug them and I swear to you that I feel their energy and it's a nice feeling.

4. Occasionally when I belch really loud I lift my arms high in the air like I am conducting a chorus where the songs are burps.

5. I really like clipping my toenails. I don't know why. All I know is that when they start getting long, I start getting excited.

6. I consume waaaaaaaay more butter spray than anyone I know. Way, way, way more.

So there you go. I tag teri and Carmen and Raising 4 Kids in NH. Let me in on your weirdness!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Possible Reason Why Dr. Moo and I are Still Single...

...I was telling Dr. Moo the other night about how I was on the T and there was this bald guy with a carefully shaped, pointy-esque wiry beard who was checking me out and edging ever closer to me. And all I kept thinking was "Get the fuck away from me, baldie."

Dr. Moo said "It would be nice if you had a shirt on under your jacket that said 'Get the fuck away from me' because then when men bothered you on the train you could just open your coat and show them."


Not so Uncommon

A quick update on the General Malaise...

I just got off the phone with McMumsy who, upon hearing of my depression, sigggggggggggggggghed and said, "For God's sake, you feel that way every Christmas. Remember last year?"


Ah, yes. Last year. When little brother announced he was getting married as I spent my second Christmas alone. When I got bad job news about the consulting firm. And when one of the family cats died. And I sobbed and refused to go to midnight mass.

Aye yi yi! So it's a Seasonal Malaise, then.

Maybe I'll go out and kneecap a department store Santa. That'll make me feel better...

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General Malaise of the Mind

Would be what I have been feeling for several days now. The Ritalin, when I don't have anything to focus my energy on, isn't so great, and to be quite honest, it makes sitting and doing transcription work just suck.

Actually I think it might be that the transcription work just sucks. I mean, WTF am I doing typing up shit for 10 dollars an hour at my age and with my background and skill set? I have felt since being back there that I am wasting my time.

Anyhoo I did have a final evaluatory wrap-up meeting at the Hallowell Center last night but my general malaise makes me not want to talk about it. And in terms of feeling Christmasey, well, it's been 50 g-d degrees here all month and I feel like I'm living in Florida, home of the crazy people governed by a Bush.

At least I am being semi productive. I am baking AGAIN although I do believe this is for the last time, and I am writing my Christmas cards. Christmas is only ten days away but I am not feeling the holiday spirit even one iota and I can't remember feeling this way before.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

McPolack Movie Minute

I'm not the sort of woman who goes to see a lot of movies or even rents them much, necessarily. In the last year I only remember seeing that movie about magicians that both the person I went with and I thought was supposed to be about what The Prestige was about but it turned out to be that other movie about magicians, with Ed Norton and Jessica Biel.

It wasn't that great.

Then last week I watched The Matador with friends, while doing laundry and eating bacon and mushroom pizza with extra cheese. I can heartily recommend The Matador, with my sole complaint being the excessive amount of fucking -- and it is not making love, it is fucking -- that seems to serve as a backdrop to the film. Curiously, there is also a lot of fucking going on in the Alice Hoffman novel I am reading. That writer is really into plot lines involving women all wrapped up in what are TOTALLY the wrong men for them.

And now I am watching Syriana. Again. I saw this movie by myself in the theater last year and I really loved it. And it has only improved over time. It has everything I like in a flick: No extraneous fucking, an intricate plot line, and George Clooney.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just One More...

I really do love Tess...

Tess the Wonder Hound

Damn it...Six hours in the woods alone and all I want to do is sleep but Dr. Moo thinks I stink so it's bathtime.

Mmmm..may I have some of your dinner?


Monday, December 11, 2006

Tacky Sales Pitch No. 2

OK, I can't resist sharing this one. Mr. Diamond Salesman also insists that this pitch works so well that "You'd better be able to follow through on it." He tells the ring-buyer that if he buys this specific branded diamond, he will personally explain to the r-b's beloved just why and in how many ways said ring is fabulous.

Of course Mr. DS also swears that when the couples come back in and he explains the fabulosity of the jewels, that the woman is in AWE, yes, AWE, of what her man has purchased for her. We're talking dumbstruck, mouth-agape wowedness.

Just who are these idiots anyway?

I'll tell you what would put me in awe. Rather than a ring, I'll take a farmhouse on a hundred and fifty acres of land in Center Sandwich, a pair of wiener dogs, a cord of split wood with the promise to split more, a lifetime of oil changes, and the promise to impregnate me a minimum of four times and not leave me when my butt and tatas begin to droop.

That'll wow me.



Not too much to report today. I'm in between projects at the moment but have some feelers out for more work to do. I went for a run after putting in a shift at the transcription office, where I listened to a very old-school salesman run through some training for a specific brand of diamond. Man is he cheesy. Here's an example of one of his many sales pitches:

Sales Guy: Now why don't you take a look at this watch?
Hapless Proposer: Watch?
S G: Trust me. Buy the watch. Now here's what you're going to do with it: You give her the box with the watch at dinner. She takes it out -- oh, it's beautiful, she loves it. She smiles. You tell her to put it on. Tell her to pull out the plunger on the side. Yes, that's right, pull out the plunger. When she does that, you tell her you just wanted her to remember the exact time you gave her this and then you pull out the ring.
H P: He actually doesn't have any other lines. Basically what he does in nearly every story is buy an expensive, verrrry well-branded diamond ring.

Unless he's an engineer. Apparently they are such assholes that it's not even worth going into how to deal with them. They are capable of completely taking away a jewelry salesperson's mojo.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Agony and The Ecstasy...

...of the Market Basket.

So stupid me went to the Basket at one of the busiest times possible -- early on a Sunday afternoon. What can I say? I needed groceries, and I was out late last night at a holiday party, and so my day got started late.

Anyhoo. I mentally prepared myself while driving there...don't get mad...don't get mad...I repeated to myself over and over. And then I was patiently waiting FOR A WHILE for a parking spot and someone stole it from me, right in front of me.


I got out of my car and yelled at her. Not a crazy yell, just a "Hey, that wasn't nice" holler. She ignored me. So I called her a bitch. What can I say? Then I got in my car and waited for yet another spot.

I of course felt like an ass for turning nasty, even if it was just for a minute but then when I came out of the Market Basket, I helped an older Greek lady back her car into a parking spot and she was just so happy. "What a beautiful day!" she proclaimed, after smiling and thanking me.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Happy Hippie Tree

Phee-yoo! I just got back from a serious shopping trip, the majority of which was done at the Unitarian Church Christmas fair in Cambridge. A word to the wise: When it comes to holiday shopping, you just cannot beat those Unitarians. Not only do the often have great white elephant sales and tables of interesting used books, they have wonderful handmade, reasonably-priced gifts. And since this is Cambridge, where the even the blood of the bleeding heart liberals bleeds, there were tables of gifts you could buy that were made by various and sundry disadvantaged folks.

Hence my HHT. The first hippie thing about it would be that I got it for free from a friend who has a real tree. It's a tabletop, maybe two feet high, and it's fake, but again, is essentially recycled. It came with lights. And now it has:

1. One palm garland woven by a craft society of women in India, who gain financial freedom and emotional support from making them.

2. One origami Santa folded by a fourth grader from a Cambridge public school that is right up the street from a housing project.

3. One stamped muslin bag of balsam fir made by members of a local day program for adults with developmental disabilities.

4. One painted tin ornament purchased from a Haiti-based convent, made by a Haitian, in support of disadvantaged Haitians.

I also donated 25 dollars to a handicapped dog rescue society, for my little brother, who's also getting some shaving products whose proceeds went to AIDS research. The woman who took my check was so overjoyed that I went back and looked at my carbon because I was worried I'd accidentally donated 2500 dollars instead. I mean, she shrieked.

I also got a wreath for 10 dollars and was accosted by several other wacky well-meaning Unitarians with gifts in support of this or that cause. My, they are a persistent lot!

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

C is for Cookie

So I've been on this cookie baking kick this week. Tonight I'm baking some cakelike squash cookies with pecans and dried cranberries; on Sunday I made peanut-butter cup-peanut-semisweet chocolate chip cookies, and gingerbread cookies.

Gingerbread cookies which I cut into interesting shapes.

See, I found these cookie cutters, well, I don't know where. There's a wee star, a wee gingerbread man, and a small Brady-bunchesque station wagon. So I figured I'd go for a Brady Bunch theme and make a whole bunch of them. The gingerbread people are the Bradys. The stars represent the fact that they are stars. (well, that's debatable) And the station wagon is their bitchin' ride.

Unfortunately, the more I look at the station wagon cookie cutter, the more it looks like a hearse to me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Post 515

I passed the 500 mark a while back and didn't even realize it. So here it is, my 515th post. Cue the dancing elephants.

Sadly, I heard today that George Clooney's pet potbellied pig passed away.

In other news, the wee one I watch was overtired and had a bit of meltdown. So her parents are staying home tonight. Along with, um, me, so I can do my laundry and eat bacon pizza. Then on Thursday I'm off to a Wonton Fest, inspired by the Pierogi fest. I shall bring a fruit salad, in the rockin' 50's punch bowl I got for five nine nine at the Goodwill in Central Square.

xxxooo, bitches!

(sorry. i've always wanted to write that.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

For British Eyes Only

So originally this post was going to be about the British investment banker L and I flirted with at a singles event at the MFA on Friday followed by a wrap-up on the book launch party (to which I contributed an article) held this evening at the British consulate office.

But instead it's a quick post to say yay! Because when I walked into the foyer, out came a dear, dear friend who is one of my three West Coast readers and who is married to the editor of the book I wrote for. So it was lots of hugging and smiling and then some serious catching up. She and I have gone through some similar stuff in life and are very alike and understand each other immediately. I actually had a dream about her last night where we were having dinner together, and tonight we did.

I bypassed the brother of a movie star to visit with her and I'd bypass an actual movie star to do so. We talked, and ate fish, and parted ways much too soon. I miss her already.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pierogi Fest 2006

Hello, I am your half Polish hostess, here to show you what it takes to make a pierogi or two. The night before this photo was taken I peeled and boiled and mashed and mixed. Thanks to L and my German friend for all their help!

Here is L, making the dough

Isn't she swell? I can't figure out how to not make this sideways. So sorry.

Roll the Dough

Excellent for tightening the "wings" Polish ladies develop through the years...being rolled in these photos by an German woman who does not suffer from arm flabatitis.

Fill the Pierogi

With potato and cheese...then fold and seal.

Boil the Pierogies

In salted water. Then dip in butter.

Fry the Pierogis

This is in the kitchen of the parents...note the delightful sign on the side of the fridge for psychological perspective. For visual perspective, note shoe in the foreground. This is probably half the total pierogies we made.


Eat them with sour cream.