Tuesday, July 31, 2007

McPolack Recommends...

This is a hippopota-must if I ever saw one.


Did I ever get eaten by the bear yesterday. Along with (and this after going to two drug stores and two Staples and one refill place) forgetting my money when I went to refill an ink cartridge for my printer, I was feeling really sick, having episodes of lower-body pain that were so intense at times I couldn't breathe. In the end of course I think it was gas. But thank you, magnficent and colorful imagination, for taking me on a trip down the road of What Deadly Disease Might This Be? I sure enjoyed it!

Anyhoo I'm feeling less like sharing the innermost stuff on here lately. I need more light and humor and so does this puppy. So I'm instituting a new exciting limited-time only feature: The Recycled Rear Raiser experiment. A guest on the Ellen show last week said you could rub used coffee grounds on your jiggly bits and they would get less jiggly. So tonight after spinning but before crepes with Melissa, I'm going to choose one asscheek and corresponding thigh to rub my extra dark french roast grounds on from this morning's americano. Then as the days go by I'll do a side by side comparison -- no, I will not show you pictures -- and report on the results!

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nature moment

There's a red-tailed hawk sitting in a tall pine tree right outside my apartment. She's (well I can't verify the sex but that's my feeling) at the tippy-top of it and it looks like she's trying to take a nap. Unfortunately she's pissed off the other birds in the neighborhood, who are circling her and screaming at her. She keeps screaming back. I think this is the same bird I saw closer to Porter Square on Monday morning. What a treat!

New Media

It's been a long time since I was in college, running the student newspaper and feeling the excitement that comes from being clueless about the world and yet in charge of the information flow for a campus full of fellow students. I remember smoking cigs in the men's room with a friend in the wee hours of the morning as we rushed to get the paper out, and smoking yet more cigs and saying fuck a lot at the swell alt weekly I worked at right after graduation.

Well today I talked with someone my age who's involved with a tres-popular and trendy journo-esque company and, swear to God, it was like talking to a 22 year old -- you know the drill, fresh out of college, cocksure, and glamorous.

Only he was older than me.

I will say he was a great interview -- he gave me a lot of good material with little prompting, information that's hard to get from most of the folks I talk to -- there's big concern with image control and all that -- but at the same time he both mentioned his girlfriend (hello darling, not hitting on you, just interviewing you) and was very snarky. Oh and he wanted me to dish on people to him. I have no dish save one piece of information I learned about someone very high up some years ago that was never confirmed, and I told that to him off the record, because even though he wasn't a journo himself, he was manipulating, or trying to manipulate, me for information. And good for him because he's a sales guy and it's a commodity.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones so I'm not going to judge him. It was yet another interesting slice of a lifestyle I don't currently lead and I am glad to have had the glimpse.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Even as I feel ever grateful to have survived my alcoholism in the face of tragedies like the ones that have befallen my cousin Russell and numerous other relatives before him, I read articles like this one and think, there but for the grace of God go I. I was talking at a dinner party recently about my own experience with health insurance, or lack thereof - well, pretty much lack thereof, although I am past due now on getting a plan as a Massachusetts resident -- and I realized I don't know if I could see the movie Sicko, because it just might give me a panic attack.

I found a lump on my arm several years ago; on the off chance that it might be something terrible I racked up several thousand dollars worth of fees having it both X-rayed MRIed. Dr. Moo offered to do a needle biopsy of it and I think next time I'd seriously consider it. She'd offered to find a vet's office to X-ray my leg at a while back when I was worried about stress fractures in my shins. I skipped my last cleaning because I didn't have the money to pay the dentist and I have bad dreams about my teeth falling out. And now thanks to the NY Times, I'm a smidge freaked out about the occasional blood I see in my own stool. No pun intended, but it's a crapshoot in health care these days. If I had a lot of money or great health insurance -- OK, or any health insurance -- I would maybe get a colonoscopy. I know I'm overdue or very nearly for my yearly checkup, which I get and pay for out of pocket because I want to live a long and healthy life.

I don't know. I'm not really looking for sympathy here -- where I am and where we all are is I suppose ultimately due to some combination of our own choices, circumstance, and fate -- and I say suppose because I'm still working all that out -- and when I meditate I consistently get very strong messages to trust that I'm on the right path. But actually explaining this to people who don't look at the world from the same place that I do is hard, especially considering I, a writer, don't have words for some of the things I've experienced. I guess I just want to find the right balance. And I want people to all have access to the same quality of healthcare, regardless of their life situation.

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Real Foodies

Yesterday I visited with KBH and her family in NH. KBH is one of my oldest friends; we met when we were 15 at a crazy Catholic retreat. When I'm feeling cash poor, and I'm so cash poor at the moment I'm sick to my stomach, it's my friends I'm grateful for, and she's one of oldest.

Our visit, of course, was all about the food -- secondary of course to enjoying one another's company, but still. KBH had made a beautiful salad with blueberries she and her two-year-old son Zachary had picked, and strong Danish blue cheese she'd picked up the day before and was excited to share. I brought wonderful bread leftover from a loaf a friend brought to dinner last week, along with ripe red cherries and smooth dark chocolate. Zachary, in a nod to how he's going to be on Valentine's day, bit a chunk out of each cherry before carefully placing it back on the plate. In another nod to how he's going to be on Valentine's day, he picked the lone red tomato off the plant on the deck and gave it to me, with no prompting whatsoever from his parents.

Anyhoo, I've realized lately that it's all about the food with my friends and I. It's pretty much the cheapest way to enjoy life, especially in the city, and it's such a pleasure. Friday night, L and I went to watch Shakespeare in the park and we picked up Vietnamese sandwiches for $2.50 beforehand -- she also brought fresh fruit and I brought chips, chocolate, and crunchy flat Spanish cookies. As noted previously, she and I had gone on a food tour of the South End recently, and I also spent a morning at farmer's markets with Amy.

JoyceFrances, who's coming to visit from Albany in August, takes trips to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods when she's here, and cooks both lavish and simple meals. Even OSB whips together vegetarian delights from Martha Stewart. Oh, and at dinner at my brother and his wife's last week we were served salmon with a pea pesto that took 2 and a half pounds of peas to make -- peas he and his wife sat in front of the TV the night before shelling.

And now I, even as I am sick to stomach in my brokeness, am thinking of taking my emergency $20 bill to Russo's, because the produce is fresh and cheap, and I'm low on fruit and veggies.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Do you know what's frustrating?

Contacting 23 different people in two days to try to get interviews for a story due soon and NOT GETTING A SINGLE F(&*ING INTERVIEW.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

What to do whilst waiting for a call...

Perhaps when I get more experience I'll know how to best use my time when I call to interview someone and their assistant says they'll call me back in 10 minutes but lately I've been all about accepting myself as I am and right now I want to use that 10 minutes to blog about this chippy.

Meet Daphne Guinness. I saw her last night on this program on haute couture. It was fascinating. I don't buy Vogue anymore because it's irritatingly clubby and right now I'm wearing giant shorts I got at Goodwill but there is a part of me that dreams about wearing truly gorgeous clothes. Daphne does, all the time. But what really fascinated me about her was her voice, dahling. It was just what you imagine money would sound like if it spoke. Not new money, or crisp 100 dollar bills or multiple denominations of Euros, no -- money that's been around for generations and is in giant country estates that are impossible to heat, and stocks and bonds and racehorses and God knows what else. She's descended from the Mitfords, although unfortunately her Granny was a Nazi.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Babcia's obit

This ran in the Union Leader yesterday. Thanks to my Uncle Joe for helping McMumsy write it, and McMumsy for asking me for my two cents. I did try to get her penchant for half-nude dancing in there but, well, it's a family publication.

Czeslawa XXX
HAMPTON FALLS - Czeslawa “Tessie’’ (Bartosiak) XXX died June 30,
2007, in Winnetka, California. She was 91.
Born June 19, 1916, in South Boston to Katherine (Wiechura) and Matthias Bartosiak, she attended Roxbury High School and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music. She was Miss Boston Polish-American in 1935 and was also first-prize winner in the 1939 Miss Pulaski competition at American Legion Post 269.

She was married to John XXX for 49 years – he died in 1989. The
couple owned and operated XXX Pewter, first in Boston before
relocating to Drinkwater Road in Hampton Falls where it became a landmark. Mrs. XXXbresided in Hampton Falls for nearly 50 years before moving to Concord and then to California.

She was a longtime member of the Hampton Falls Grange, and Miraculous Medal Parish in Hampton. While in Concord she attended Immaculate Heart of Mary. She will be remembered by her friends and family for her hospitality, her beautiful gardens, and her extraordinary apple pies, made from apples she picked from trees on her farm.

Besides her husband, she was pre-deceased by three brothers and two
sisters, the latter two dying during the 1918 influenza epidemic. The
family includes two sons, Chester of Winnetka, Cal., and John Jr. of
Concord; six grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

SERVICES: A funeral will be held in September at Immaculate Heart of
Mary Church, Concord.
Memorial donations may be made to the NH Food Bank, 62 West Brook St.,
Manchester, NH, 03101.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I've been thinking lately, as I do the online dating thing and find that pretty much everyone's traveled and I haven't, that travel would be a good thing, a chance to stretch and see the world.

The question is where to go first. Right now, at this moment, it's the United Arab Emirates for me. If I'm leaving the country I want to go somewhere really far away and really different and really vibrant and really alive -- and I think the UAE is the place. All that sand and sea and percolating enegry. Oh, and camels!

Of course I don't have a passport at this point or two pennies to rub together but I'll get there. Watch this and you'll want to go, too.

Spin, spin, spin

Tonight it was spinning with Melissa T, co eighth grade valedictorian with Dr. Moo, and one of two of my little sister's childhood friends who live right nearby. She wanted the goods on Moo's boyfriend, who she fixed Moo up with, and was jealous I'd talked to her. "But I'm her sister!" I said. "You've only got six years on me," was her reply, and it's true -- they've been friends since the first grade.

Anyhoo tonight's spinning class was run by a petite Latino lady who mops floors with peoples' asses, mine included. I had sweat running like blood down my calves when it was all said and done. I wouldn't think something like that would be my cup of tea, but I'm going back next week for more.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Did you know...

...that back in 2004, six short hours before he was due to step on stage in front of thousands to accept an award for coming back from retirement to save the company, the CEO of McDonald's dropped dead of a heart attack?

But wait, there's more! The board meets early in the morning and decides to appoint the CEO's protege, a man in his 40's, as CEO. Soon after, he gets colon cancer and is dead in less than a year.

That's what I done learnt today in transcription-land. Well that and the long list of accomplishments of the folks I was transcribing. Honestly it's as if the top 1% of the brains in the nation contain 98% of the smarts. I was joking with my officemates about what our intros would sound like: Here is Lydia M. She just went to a memorial service for a homeless man who used to wear a sandwich board that said "I need weed" and died in a tragic scooter crash! Or how about Ginger G., whose boyfriend took said homeless man in for three weeks! Then there's McPolack. She lives alone with her kitty and her main accomplishment is that she just keeps getting older!

OK I'm kidding about that last one.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tammy Faye Messner, RIP

I was just talking about TFM yesterday with New England Eating, nee California Eating, as we took a tour of some farmers markets in the area -- a working Saturday for her and a real treat for me, especially when we got to the combination pita bakery/grocery store up the street from the one in Roslindale, with its barrels of cheap, fantastic, delicious olives and its pretty apricot paste.

I saw Tammy Faye on Larry King on Thursday; I'd seen her when she first announced she had cancer 16 months earlier. I don't know whether it was the fact that she was so nice to gay people or the fact that she was all chin up all the time that made me feel for her, but I did. She was one kooky little coconut but a sweet one and I'm sorry she had to suffer so. I wish her and her family peace.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

From the Files of Dr. Moo

This is a bit of an older tale but I haven't shared it yet and I've not got much else to say so here you go...

Recently, Moo was called to a farm to do an amputation. The calf in question had four perfectly good legs -- it was the fifth one that was causing a problem. The baby bovine had an extra leg attached to one of its back legs. It wasn't really needed - it kind of just flopped around and it was littler than the other legs -- so Moo came in to lop it off.

She told me it was a pretty easy surgery as the fifth leg wasn't completely fused to the fourth. What surprised me was the reaction of the farmers holding the calf still so Moo could do her work. They were grossed out by it. When Moo mentioned she might have to remove the eyeball of another cow they were all get someone else to hold her because there's no way we're watching that. (In case you were wondering, to remove a cow eye you actually cut all around the eye and then plop it out and sew the hole shut. But this cow's sight was saved!)

Anyhoo I for one would totally have held Bossie down for the former operation. It's like the perfect surgery -- the cow isn't getting hurt, at all, and then afterwards, well you have got yourself a real conversation piece. Moo saved the leg in formaldehyde, natch.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Outer Space

So today in transcription land I listened to interviews with astronauts. Not surprisingly, they're all white men with mild Texas accents and have names like Chuck, Buck, and Cripp. I've discovered through transcription that life is like it is in the movies when it comes to astronauts and, oddly enough, interrogation tactics.

In the course of my online research for the astronaut tape, I found that NASA has all kinds of detailed historical documents, including this.

Then I cheered myself up here. Make sure to keep zooming in as far as you can. The resolution is amazing!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Tonight I had more people in my house than I had chairs at my dining room table. As I only have four chairs for the table, only two of which match, one of which I found in the basement, and one of which I got for free from two of this evening's guests (California Eating and Cinema Tech) before they moved to California, from whence they recently returned, I sat at a rocking chair at the head of the table.

It was a good meal. I felt a smidge nervous as I was introducing friends I've made since CE and CT were away in California to them and vice-versa and I wanted everyone to really like each other as I really like all of them. I felt a little shy. Plus my grand designs for having ice cream cones with Magic Shell on them for dessert didn't quite go over as planned. But everyone stayed late and seemed to have a really swell time, and got along swimmingly. I did feel a little bad about having them sweat it out in the kitchen for a while before moving to the living room and turning on the AC but hey, global warming.

: )

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ting Ting Jahe!

I journeyed to the South End with L yesterday afternoon to check out the open market. We held middle-school aged chickens, all stumbly legs and stroobly down and mine was falling asleep in the nest I made of my hands. We sniffed soaps and fondled handbags and then walked on, asking for directions to a human bakery at a dog bakery. We also went to a giant Asian supermarket where I was able to introduce L to something Asian and delicious she, who can tell me what to do with all manner of shrunken damp brown stinky things in bags found in Asian grocery stores, had never heard of: Ting Ting Jahe!

TTJ is a swell ginger candy wrapped in edible paper (the inside paper, not the outside) that's spicy and delcious. PolackPappy used to bring bags of it back from his trips to visit the Polack relations in Southie, along with 20 loaves of Polish bread, which was also known as Polish toast when, well, toasted. It was actually a Jewish rye bread according to the label but it was Polish bread to us and it was amazing. Unfortunately, the store where PP went to get that bread, along with kielbasa and other goodies, closed recently after 70-odd years of being in business.

But Ting Ting Jahe remains!


Friday, July 13, 2007

Stretch Armstrong

I did my first primary series astanga class today -- 90 minutes of flowing yoga, one posture after another. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I can get into lotus position pretty easily. However it does NOT look like the pictures when I do it and there's still a lot I can't do at all.

For example, lift my butt up off the floor and hover it in the air while in lotus position.

It really felt exhilarating to take the class. I sweated a LOT, like so much that I was slipping on the mat towards the end, but I was really impressed with what I was able to do with my body.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dating Update

So I'm still doing the online dating thing, only at this point there's no actual dating happening. I've written a few men with no response and the doctor never e-mailed me.

This doesn't really bother me as I'm pretty sure I saw my husband in a meditation. He was behind a tree on a mountain. He had dark hair and a beard.

At least I'm hoping it was my husband and not some dirty underwear-sniffer.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Birthday PolackPappy

Pp is 66 years old today and exactly twice my age -- something that only happens once in a lifetime for both of us.

I'm glad he's my dad.


File this one under "not at all surprising"

One of the things McMumsy and PolackPappy discovered on their trip the the McMotherland (along with the fact that we're related a guy who was a bishop in Dublin in the 1940's) was this: There are a lot of Polacks in Ireland. A whole great big lot. It's a hot spot for immigrants of the pierogi persuasion.

Let's hear it for Irish-Polish fusion. I don't know what it's produced cuisine-wise, but genetics wise, not to toot my horn but --

-- OK, toot toot -- it's produced me! And swell Dr. Moo and Little Brother.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slow news day in the land of McP...

Transcribed an interview with a woman who started an orphanage for street children in a foreign land at the age of 18.

The most curious thing I heard her say was that what she learned from that experience, and from her experience working with low-income families in this country, is patience -- that you aren't going to see immediate change, that people aren't always going to say thank you -- that you need to let things play out according to the schedule of the individual, and be a safe place for him or her, always.

Eventually, most of them come around.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back in Beantown

D-Moon and I arrived at our Somerville abode early this afternoon. I must say it's nice to be back in my own space, despite the fact that I was partly dreading my return -- I don't really know why, except for that maybe I'm itching to be in the woods again. Change is a-brewing.

It was very, very peaceful at the McP homestead, and maybe even a little lonely, and I feel like I've gone down some road linking one part of my life to another, the then part being a life in which there's two generations ahead of me and the now part being a life in which there's only one.

It's oddly freeing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


There's no backache like the backache you get when it's a combination of cramps plus muscle soreness, payback for humping your friend's 25 pound child most of the way up a mountain, a child who, upon hearing the words "Faster mule, faster!" shrieks with glee and kicks you, urging you ever upwards.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Yet another reason to love Vermont...

Another piece of fabulous from my first job out of college.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Would be what I am in work right now. Deadline's a-looming. Part of my process is the avoidy dance. Step one: sit in front of computer with coffee and fatty scone. Fart around on internet. Step two: write a half page. Step three: go for run, take shower. Step four: sit at computer and dither and write another half page. Step five: go get iced coffee, then watch the fledged chimney sweeps that have been chittering in the chimney behind me practice flying -- neat! Step six: watch 30 minutes General Hospital. Step seven: write some more.

And so on. I wish I were a little writing machine and I could press on my nose and the story would just pour forth from my fingers. Alas that is not how it is, at least not all the time. But I know I've got all the info and it's going to be fab.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My 4th of July celebration started early...

...when I went out in the barn and discovered Ethel had left me an entire rattus norvegicus, in honor of the birth of our great Nation. Perhaps next she will do something about rattus gbushicus.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin

Dr. Moo called last night at just the right time -- I was freaking out because MM and PP messed up their computer and I can't fix it, and my laptop wouldn't connect to the internet, and I needed it for the story I'm working on. So, thank God, Moo logged into my email and gave me the info I needed.

Then we commiserated about the fact that neither Babcia nor R is being laid to rest anytime soon. We both realized what we needed -- to be in our extended family and talk about the person. But nobody's around. And we're a three hour drive away from each other. So it sucks. She cried for about two minutes last night after reading my blog and then went looking for pictures of R and couldn't find any. Then she told me she's nervous about the man hairs growing under her chin. She can't pluck 'em all and her BF touches her face. "Well if he goes against the grain..." is how she described the horror of what might happen if he was hoping for soft lady skin and instead got whisker.

I myself have a man-hair problem. Which brings me to another memory of the Babcia...it is about six years ago. I am sitting across from her at the kitchen table. She says, with a twinkle in her eye, that she has something to show me. She tells me to get the Norelco electric razor that's sitting in a pink styrofoam container next to the sink.

I bring it to her and she tells me to sit down, so I do. Then she turns it on and starts shaving. Her face. And cackling. "This, McPolack, is what you have to look forward to," she tells me, as she finishes up and lays the Norelco down next to the calendar on which she marks in blue pen every day she has a bowel movement.

Good times, good times.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Eating a jelly doughnut in heaven

This picture of Babcia was taken just under a year ago, a month and a half after her 90th birthday. (whoops, apparently if I just looked at the time stamp and realized it was 2007 I'd know it was three years ago and therefore she was 88...)

Last night I was driving to dinner with Dr. Moo and I complained to her I was upset we weren't burying her until September. "Babcia died?" she said. Oops.

She's OK too though. We're all OK. Including my wacky Uncle J who, when McMumsy called to tell him about Babcia's passing, said "Well I'm sure she and R are sharing a drink in heaven."

Yes that would be the R who drank himself to death on Wednesday.

God I love my family. The only correction I had was that Babcia wouldn't be having a drink. She'd be having a jelly doughnut.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

A tale of two kitties

Ethel is the barn kitty in residence at the McPolack homestead. She used to be named "Number 5" because she was the fifth kitten in a litter of five that Fred (good job sexing that cat, Polackpappy!) gave birth to before I had her fixed when I was living with Babcia on the farm. I was trying not to get attached, see. Because there were all these kittens there and I worried for them and in fact I used to have bad dreams about them -- dreams in which there were kittens everywhere, getting run over by cars, or torn apart by coyotes, or just making more kittens so that I could never rest.

It was bad.

Number 5/Ethel was the runt of the litter and she was very shy. Despite trying to stay unattached, I did spend the better part of a summer taming her. I'd bring her food bowl out and sit five feet away from it and inch ever closer until I could sit next to it while she was eating. Now of course when I go out in the barn she runs over to me and climbs in my lap where she lays, drooling in ecstasy, while I pat her.

Daphne-Moon is a Babcia barn kitty as well and she started out a wee bit shy but quickly fell in love with laying on or next to you while bathing herself. Since she's been indoors most of her life, and with me alone for the past few years, she's gotten spoiled. She doesn't really like change; it makes her pissy. She's mad I brought her to NH. When I came upstairs this afternoon (ostensibly to do some work), she ran under the bed in the guest room. When I ducked my head down to talk to her she ran across the hall and under the bed in my parents room. None of her bratty behavior stops me from loving her so much that I'm embarrassed for myself sometimes.

Ethel has not lived such a pampered life. When I went out into the barn this morning to feed her, I discovered she'd left two kills for me -- a red squirrel and a rat. All that was left of the red squirrel was its face and a couple of internal organs. There wasn't much left of the rat either -- its eyes were open and it had little yellow rat teeth and wee ratty whiskers. Ethel had left the rat-face between two little rat forelegs, complete with paws. It was very Godfather-esque. She's got a real flair for the dramatic. She's also a tiny adorable ball of fluff. A tiny adorable eviscerating killer.

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