Pandemic-style Paczki Day adventures and me

Everything is an adventure around here, it seems. Including Paczki Day (Also known as Fat Tuesday).

The first thing you should know about me is that I’m not really a planner. In the writing world, they call me a pantser (because I fly by the seat of my pants — though I prefer to say skirt because I’m too precious for pants unless, of course, they’re yoga pants).

The second thing you should know about me is that I love being Polish (My mom would also like me to point out that I’m also Irish, English, and German, with a general American mutt quality that some might find endearing, and I love being all of those things too — most of the time).

So I prefer to get my paczki (pronounced poonch-ki) on the day of instead of pre-ordering. When I was fresh out of college, I would just hit up the local grocery store and get the imposter version of this sweet Polish donut, but as I got older, my tastes became more discerning. I would get paczki from a magnificent bakery near the bar I worked at or find another bakery close to home that was selling them on the day (pre-orders be damned) and pick up a few or ten. When I worked in the city, I would pick up boozy-filled paczki from a bakery that was on my way to the office and share them with the work fam.

In more recent years, I found a bakery that allowed walk-ups, where it was usually a breeze to snag whatever I wanted with minimal lines. I imagine Heaven is a place where there are no lines.

But we’re still living in a global pandemic, damn near 11 months after our first lockdown. And so things have changed with these here bakeries. Pre-orders, it seemed, were the way to go for some, while others navigated uncharted waters with weird systems and poorly updated websites. I had all but given up on eating paczki today.

Enter Michelle, one of my friends who spends every year perfecting her definitive guide to Chicagoland paczki. I haven’t seen Michelle since the Before Time, and standing outside in the open air while collecting paczki near my stomping grounds seemed like a winning idea all around. So I put on real pants, grabbed a meat stick snack, and left the warm comfort of my house around 11 am.

Michelle told me where she was and I made my way there through the sludge and snow of winter. I parked in one of those angled parking spots on the street directly across from the bakery and got out to look for her. She was nowhere to be found. Apparently, our wires had crossed and she was at a different bakery. No mind! I would meet her where she was because this bakery wasn’t ready to sell their paczki to the non-pre-orderers like me anyway.

I walked back to my car and was about to get in when a woman who was parked across the street called out to me, “Hey! Did you see the car that hit your car?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Oh I thought you saw it. The car next to you got your car. It shook the entire car. I tried to flag them down but they drove away. I got their license plate for you.”

Oh random stranger, you delightful gem. I looked at my car, and sure enough the bumper was solidly dented and the back panel had some scuffage as well. I took down the license plate (which had the word “rock” in it — I’m not usually one to judge a person based on their vanity plates, but this guy fucking hit my car and drove away so…)

So I called 911, gave them all the details, and lived that fun life of dealing with the after effects of an accident without the presence of the at-fault driver. (I also looked up the license plate in one of those websites that lets you look up people’s information, because I may not be a planner, but I’m thorough when it comes to vengeance (and by vengeance, I mean making their car insurance company manage the damage to my car, just in case you were worried I was going to go all vigilante in the suburbs — which sounds like a great band name btw).

It was almost noon, and I still hadn’t procured a single paczki, or really eaten anything but a meat stick. Michelle showed up, and we kind walked around the block a bit, waiting for this bakery to open up their online ordering form (which they would only put up after they finished giving out their pre-orders; no in-store ordering allowed).

I got to have a lovely conversation with Michelle (in person, though without hugging) even though we both kept checking the bakery website religiously. Unsure whether she would make it in time to her final stop (the first real bakery I ever got paczki from), she called to make sure they were still stocked. They let her place an advanced order and when she said, “key lime” I was all…well I wasn’t GOING to go all the way there…but there are few things I won’t do for key lime anything. So I placed my own order, and we decided to abandon ship in Glen Ellyn, IL.

I popped over to Starbucks on my way (I needed something more substantial than a meat stick and also something warm and liquidy). While I waited in the drive-thru, I noticed the website was finally taking orders. I placed mine (albeit without two of the three varieties I really wanted) and made my way to the Downers Grove bakery about 20 minutes away. I snagged my box and Michelle and I drove back to the first bakery for our orders.

By the time I got home, it was coming up on 2 PM. I had spent a total of $11.53 and nearly 3 hours driving through suburbia plus one minor car accident for 4 paczki. Was it worth it?

Key lime paczki from Busy Bee Bakery in Downers Grove

Absofuckinglutely.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

If I Had a Million Dollars

All this talk about winning a million dollars from McDonald’s Monopoly has got me thinking… What would I do with a million dollars?

Well, the smart thing would be to put it into some type of trust in which I live off the interest…But let’s be honest… this post wouldn’t be any fun that way.

If I had a million dollars–I’d be responsible and pay off my car/super minimal credit debit (which mostly revolves around an obsession with Victoria’s Secret sweat pants and free gifts).

I’d sell the car I just paid off…because it’s bad luck as evident… oh wait I haven’t posted any of the Jelliebean Car stories yet…

I’d buy a new car to replace the one I just sold.

My Future Pink Car

To be specific, I’d buy this car.

I’d buy a cute little house with cash…and save some money for my first few years of taxes…

I’d give my parents and brother money (he doesn’t have babies–so he gets $$ outright). I’d set up some type of CD or trust for my sister’s children and my cousin’s children for college.

I’d donate chunks of money to the following organizations: The American Cancer Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The National MS Society, and Autism Speaks.

I’d donate money to my Alma Mater, Bradley University, on the condition that they use it to start a football team. I’d pay off my student loans.

I’d go on the following vacations with my man: Wine Country, European Tour, Relaxing Irish Vacation, Australia, & Rio 2016 Olympics.

I’d buy the following small, but pricey items: a fancy TV, a fancy phone, a fancy Keurig, a fancy laptop, and a really amazing squishy couch to put in my new house.

I’d let Brian quit his job and live off my resources for a little while (it’s only fair right?) but then he’d have to go get a new job eventually…one that he loves a whole lot.

Or he could work at the Cheese Shop I’m going to buy. and open. and run. Mmmm cheese…. and the Cheesy restaurant that goes with it. “Cheese with Whine” I’m thinking sassy servers in an elegant dining atmosphere. Top notch service with an extra side of sass. And lots of cheese. Fucking everything will have cheese in or on it.

OOh! Speaking of restaurants, I’d spend like a thousand dollars on one ridiculously fancy dinner.

What? You think I spent more than a million dollars? *sigh* Winning is tough work.

I guess I’d have to keep my job.

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

It’s Not Easy Being a Flake

Sorry about last week kids, our internet was down (so basically it felt like losing an arm or something) so I couldn’t get online to ensure that my blog post went up. I know; I know it’s an excuse, but whatever–I got a job on Friday! So I’ll be joining the world of the truly employed with a full-time salaried gig. Go me!

Anyways, getting a job got me thinking about my first job…

Of course, I was 16 and had no idea what I was doing, yet on Sunday afternoons I would drive an hour up to Long Grove, IL. I would open a cute little boutique clothing shop (all by myself). I would sit there for 8 hours, while visited by maybe 1 or 2 customers all day, have a sack lunch, sit on the phone, and read a book. I don’t even remember the name of the store, but I remember working for several weeks during my junior year of high school.

One particularly rainy Sunday, I turned off all of the lights in the store, set the alarm, and locked the door. I was ready to get home and have some dinner. I ran quickly out to my car and unlocked the doors before jumping into Melba Toast, the Explorer. I put the key into the ignition and…nothing. My battery had died. Oh. Crap.

I think that I had my Nokia brick with a hot pink sparkly faceplate, which I used to call my mom. After she flipped out on me for my not-so-brilliance (assuming that I had left a light on or something–which I still claim to this day that I hadn’t), she made me call her pal Kay, who owned the shop.

Kay told me that she would send a Long Grove shop owner friend of hers to help me out. A half hour later, a strange man (strange is relative in this scenario, as he was merely a man I didn’t know) pulled up into the parking lot with connector cables. He jumped my battery and followed me half way home to make sure my car was running alright. I finally made it home, and got a decent amount of slack from my family.

For Christmas that year, I got a nice shiny new set of jumper cables for Melba Toast. I only wished they were pink.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Car Trouble

Car Trouble

My Pontiac Sunfire

My first car was a 1994 Ford Explorer called Melba Toast.  My second car was a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire.

Sometimes, I would forget that I drove a tiny two door Pontiac that was closer to the ground than my ankle. Sometimes I still thought that I drove a beast like Melba Toast, the explorer, or Lurch, the affectionately named GM catering van, that I frequently carted food around while on the clock during my stint as a catering manager… But then I would remember I drove Dawn, the incredible lean mean teal driving machine.

One Thirsty Thursday night in February of 2008, I forgot that my tiny little car probably couldn’t just plow through a little bitty pile of snow in the middle of Main Street. I barely took the time to think about what I was doing. I automatically assumed that I could handle the mini mountain of soft white puff. A minute after my decision was made, I had to call Jeff. Here’s how that went:

Ring Ring. Answer:

“Yes, we’re here! Get here already!”

“Oh I know…I’m almost there. You should come outside.”

“Just come in.”

“No really…Come outside and laugh at me.”

**Jeff walked outside**

Still on the phone with me, he asks incredulously, “Are you serious? I guess you need help.”

I confirm with a pleading, “Help!”

“Be right back, I’m going to need backup.”

I sat waiting patiently…It’s not like I could have gone anywhere. Jeff returned momentarily with my best pal Mark, and one of the bar’s regulars, Mikey. Who knew that I really could stop traffic? The passing cars all stopped and stared as Jeff, Mark, and Mikey tried pushing my car out of the snow. When this still did not work, a very nice plow guy came and helped until I was safely in the bar parking lot.

Of course, that was just one of many Winter: 1; Chrissy: 0 scenarios.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!