Thursday, June 24, 2010

the next billy elliot

A couple of Sundays ago, Ignacio, my mom, and I took my 6 year-old nephew, Cooper, to see Billy Elliot. Even though the show is recommended for 8 and older, I thought Cooper would be okay because he really likes to dance and sing. He even asked to take dance class which I wrote about here.

The show was amazing, and made even better because Cooper sat on my lap the entire time (in order to see better) and I got the unique perspective of seeing this show through the eyes of a 6 year-old boy seeing his first Broadway in Chicago show.

Cooper asked A LOT of questions during the entire show. When the show opened, he said, “It’s real!” I think he was expecting to see a movie rather than real live human beings on the stage.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Billy Elliot, it is the story of a young boy growing up with his widower father and grandmother in a poor mining town in England. Billy happens into ballet class, loves it, and excels in it. His father disapproves of his son taking ballet lessons, and is also on strike from his mining job.

Cooper asked:

“Is Billy Elliot real?”

“What is a strike?”

“Why are they fighting?”

“Is he a bad guy?”

“Is the grandma evil, cuz she just gave the finger to God?”

“Why is Billy so mad?”

“Is his mom alive again?” (he didn’t understand that the woman playing Billy’s mom, while alive on stage, was really just an angel of sorts)

Great questions, right?
Cooper was bopping/dancing on my lap right along with Billy. The best part of the show came at the end when Cooper said:

“I wanna be Billy Elliot.”

When Anessa, my sister-in-law, came to pick him up from my house the next morning, Cooper was telling her about the show and how his favorite part was when Billy was dancing when he was angry.

Anessa asked, "Why was Billy angry?"
Cooper replied, "Because his dad wouldn't let him take ballet."
Anessa asked, "What would you do if your dad wouldn't let you take ballet?"
Cooper said, "My dad wouldn't do that, and if I did, I would take it anyway."

And, here is Cooper the next week showing off his moves (you’ll have to tilt your head, his dad took the movie).

Cooper dancing
click on the link

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I think my dad has been trying to send me a message to laugh.
You see, I’ve been doing some glass etching on wine glasses and Pyrex dishes. On the wine glasses, I etch descriptive adjectives on them so that when you are having a party, instead of using wine charms to mark your glass, you can just pick the wine glass that has “sassy” or “juicy” or “mysterious” (or any other word) etched on it, and people will know who they are dealing with as well as which glass is theirs.
Recently, my cousin Heather asked me to make her some glasses, and she wanted one of the glasses to say “laugh”.

The process to etch a glass goes like this: I make a stencil on sticky vinyl, I place the stencil on the glass, I apply an acid cream to the stencil, I wait, I wash off the cream, and voila, you have an etched wine glass.

Heather asked me to make four glasses; easy enough. Well, for three of them, it was easy enough, and for the glass that said “laugh”, I was ready to cry.

Take one: I made the stencil, and was ready to apply it to the glass when I realized it said: LAYGH. Shit, time to start again.

Take two: I made the stencil (again), applied it to the glass, applied the cream, washed the cream off, and then I saw that the ‘L’ had bled, and the glass more resembled “JAUGH” than “LAUGH”. Shit, time to start again.

(at this point I am saying to my dad, “really dad, I get it, you want me to laugh more, now can I please have some luck with this freaking wine glass”)

Take three: I made the stencil (again), applied it to the glass (again), applied the cream (again), washed the cream off (again), and then I saw that the glass had a flaw in it. The glass was completely useable, but when I am making a special order for someone, I want it to be perfect.


Take four: I went through the damn process AGAIN and this time, it was successful.

I hope Heather loves her wine glasses, and that every time she sees/uses the ‘laugh’ glass, she laughs her ass off.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Monthly Dinner Club: Rustico

Susan chose Rustico for June's monthly dinner club.  I brought an old friend along with me.  Linda was in town for the weekend, and so she joined us for dinner.  I probably met Linda in 1993 or '94 when we were in sign language interpreter training program together.  We had a blast while we were in the program.  We worked our asses off, but had a lot of fun doing it.  Linda has gone on to do great things within the profession.
There were five of us for dinner, and it was a great group.  I really enjoy our monthly dinners.  I was thinking about it recently, and how much I look forward to our third Thursday of the month get-togethers.  We meet every month, but it seems like the wait for the third Thursday is very long.  I especially love this picture because Jodi seems so happy with that glass of wine in her hand.

Aimee and I had the lentil cakes, Susan had vegetarian enchiladas (she has given up meat for one year), Linda had chicken tacos, and I think Jodee had steak.  The food was really good as was proven by the display of empty plates.  The service wasn't so hot.  Our server seemed nervous and/or new and after waiting 45 minutes to place our order, we finally flagged down the manager lady, and she was very helpful.

These tamales were one of our appetizers, and they were really good.  We ordered two plates of them, and we went around cutting our halves and being polite and sharing (not something I am good at).  After a while, only one piece of tamale was left, and it's kind of one of those things where no one wants to look like a pig and take the last one.  Well, hell if I was going to let that sucker go to waste, I ate it right up.  
Another third Thursday has come and gone, and now I can only look forward to July's dinner.  Some of us are a bit nervous because last year, July's dinner club didn't happen.  It was the first time in ten years we didn't meet.  You see, it was Beth's pick for July, and she completely forgot about it.  So, this year, the pressure is on for Beth and I'm sure she come through with flying colors. (she'd better come through cuz there is nothing worse than a hungry Natalie)

Friday, June 18, 2010

age is just a number

Getting older is a funny thing. At every age, I’ve felt like I’ve known it all. When I was a teenager, I was certain I knew more than my parents, and I am sure they just looked at me and thought, “just wait until you are older, you really have no idea.” When I was in my 20’s I was sure I knew it all as well as when I was in my 30’s. How is it even possible that I’ve always known more than those who have come before me or those who have come after me? It’s not. Now, at 41, I am sure I still know more than my mother and I’m sure she would beg to differ.

I look at young people in their 20’s with wonder. They think they have it all figured out, but I’ve maintained for a while now, that you really have no idea who you are until you’re 30.

As I get older, celebrities and sports figures keep getting younger. It is such an odd phenomenon. For a bit more than half of my life, the stars of TV and sports were always older than me. Then, the stars’ age became the same as mine. Then, in the blink of an eye, they all became younger than me. How the hell did that happen? It’s not like I am conscious of it, either. I just go along thinking I am young and hip just like the stars. Then, I see their birthdates with birth years, and say to myself, “holy hell!! That person was born after I graduated high school.” It’s just a strange thing that is hard for me to articulate.

Getting older is a wild freaking thing.

It’s not like I am old, but at 41, I could say it’s half over. Or, if the glass is half full: my life is half begun. Half. Half!

The first 25 years of my life took a looonnnnngggg time to happen; the second 15 years have flown by. My dad used to always tell me that as you get older, the time goes by so fast. He was so right.

And, I just laugh at myself thinking that at every decade, I am certain that I know more than people younger and older than me. Oh yeah, I have it allll figured out, can’t you tell?
Last night, I was driving home from our monthly girls’ dinner. It was a lovely evening, and I was loving my soul. Errr, I mean, my Soul, my Kia Soul. With the purchase of my Soul, I got Sirius satellite radio which means I have a station for every decade. Last night, I was listening to the 80’s station. The sunroof was open, the windows were down, and I was blaring my 80’s music. I approached a stoplight as “I’m Turning Japanese” was on the radio. I was bopping my head, and singing out loud, “I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so”, and then I stop at the light, and next to me, is a car with a rap song playing, and the bass making my Soul shake, and I just giggled. I was bopping my head to my 80’s music while the youngin’ was blaring the bass. Yeah, I’m old.

But seriously, were the 80’s really that long ago??

Sunday, June 6, 2010

JohnnyFest 2010

Yesterday, we had a very successful 2nd annual JohnnyFest.

My dad passed away 1 year and 5 months ago.  Last year, my mother, brother, and I decided to throw a big ass party on the weekend of his birthday.  62 people showed up.  It was fantastic.  This year, I think we had around 32.  Still, fantastic.

I always loved it when my dad was alive, and for some reason or another, some of his old buddies would get together.  I would sit mesmerized and thoroughly entertained by the stories of the old days and the old neighborhood.  I would laugh until I cried.  I just loved sitting there, and listening.

I just love hearing funny stories about the crazy stuff my dad and his buddies did.  I wish I could think of the perfect story.  There's the story about getting pulled over by the cops (well, probably more than one), the story about laying under the train platform and looking up lady's skirts, there's the story about being chased (well, probably more than one), there's the story about drinking too much and getting home too late (well, probably more than one), and there's the story of a wife/girlfriend of one of my dad's friends saying, 'that's enough, don't hang out with him (my dad) anymore' (well, probably more than one).

JohnnyFest is my chance to still hear my dad's friends tell crazy stories.  I love it.  I love them.  I love my dad.

This year, Ignacio's friend, Edgar, did 99% of the cooking.  We had Italian sausage, Italian beef, chicken, hamburgers, and some Mexican skirt steak thing that I can't say or spell, but as my cousin Sandra told me, if you say it fast, it sounds like "apple cheddars".   And from what I hear, the meat eaters LOVED all of it.  Edgar was a hero.

Tiger (my bro), my mom and I weren't sure if we should do JohnnyFest every year, every other year, or again for that matter.  But a few things yesterday convinced me that we should continue our tradition.  As some of my dad's friends were leaving last night, I heard more than one say, "see you next year."  That was music to my ears.  An old friend, Carolyn was telling me that she was explaining to people that she was going to a birthday party, and then would have to explain that the birthday party was for someone that is no longer with us, and that she thought it was really cool.  And finally, one of my dad's best friends, Carlos, was sitting with me in the basement and said, "this is really good for me".  Meaning, that this party, this gathering of people that all loved and miss my dad. is good for Carlos' spirit.

That was all I needed to hear.

Here is a little slideshow I put together from yesterdays festivities.

JohnnyFest 2010 from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you so much.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm a Gleek, but he's the one who cries

Ignacio and I don't agree on our television viewing.  I am a sucker for the reality shows, and I DVR (record) them, so I can indulge in my guilty pleasures when Ignacio isn't home.  Sometimes, well okay, at least once a week, the DVR is taping two of my reality shows at once, and that is the limit for our DVR, so then we are unable to watch anything else.  Ignacio just finds it a waste of time to watch those kinds of shows.  Yeah, he's probably right, but I love 'em anyway.  Of course, he thinks the Western channel is a gift from the John Wayne God.

It's really quite amazing.  Every time a western comes on, Ignacio exclaims, "I've never seen this one."  Umm...well, if I've seen it three times with you, I know you are fibbing, buddy.

Anyway, I love the TV show "GLEE". It's funny, entertaining, heartwarming, and day-amm, those kids can sing and dance. A few weeks ago, GLEE came on, and I begged Ignacio to sit and watch it with me. At the end of the show, I turned around to get his approval of the show, and there he was wiping away his tears. TEARS. Mr. “I only watch cowboy and army movies” was crying from GLEE.
Every week since then has been pretty much the same. I turn around to look at him, and he is wiping away tears. What a GLEEK.