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Feeling Over the Rainbow with APO!

What a crazy, incredible weekend. My internal schedule is all messed up and I ate way too much, but it was the annual APO Region IX conference, and for the first time in several years, it was right here in Madison. Over 100 students and around 18 staff members from chapters all around Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota came here because there’s no place like APO (our conference theme!)

Some of the highlights from the conference for me were getting to present a panel and a workshop, going to banquet, the usual post-banquet staff hangout in the hotel, and post-con morning brunch.

My first panel of the day was one on diversity and inclusion, which I co-presented with past national president and one of my personal favorite people, Maggie Katz. We had 90 minutes and even though both of us are big talkers, we managed to only go 40 minutes before taking questions. After that, there was a lot of audience interaction, both with us presenters as each other and a lot of great ideas were exchanged. Current national president, JKO, was in attendance and told me later how much I impressed him, as did one of the students from Coe College petitioning group.

After a giant staff lunch at the Nitty, I presented my brand-new theater workshop. The first time I tried to present one at a regional, many years ago, I had 3 people. In March at Sectionals, I had about 13 people. This time, a whopping 21 people were interested in my course, and packed into the atrium: 13 from Wisconsin chapters, 7 from Iowa, and 1 from Minnesota. The room I was given was not conducive to moving around, so we did it in a small hallway atrium. I had my fingers crossed the whole time that no one would come yell at us, and I guess it worked. Most of the activities went over pretty well and I got great evals, despite running out of worksheets, a too-small space, and the fact that the ceiling acted like an echo chamber so I pretty much spent the whole time talking as loud as I could. I found out the day of that I only had 45 minutes, when I had planned an hour (yikes!) but ended up running about 50-55 minutes, speeding up some parts and probably skipping something here or there. No one seemed to mind. It was a little disappointing that not everyone got to perform, but about 3/4 of the participants did.

Banquet was delicious, and Maggie gave a great keynote speech. I got to catch up with Andrea, an advisor I met in Pittsburgh and came up all the way from Chicago, and then we headed back to the hotel for the usual staff hangout/eval session, which is always a highlight. We packed into this tiny hotel room, pretty much shoulder-to-shoulder, and I couldn’t help but feel so appreciative that I was in the same room as all these amazing, lovely people: Andrea, Maggie, JKO, Ginny, Stockdale, Zach, Brandon, Michelle, Ding, Kate, Kelly, Derek, Kristin, Ken, and Glen (I think that was everyone), with appearances from Eden in Texas and Natalia in Minnesota via FaceTime. The best part was when a woman knocked on the door at midnight, not because we were loud, but because she was a bridesmaid at a wedding on the other side of the hotel and needed to pee so badly that she couldn’t make it back to her room. Of course we let her in, unfortunately we didn’t catch her name so we could make her a Section Chair or award her with a DSK. We did, however, applaud as she exited the bathroom, so that counts.

It’s cliche, I know…bu there’s no place like APO.

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My First Post as a 29-Year-Old

Kind of felt apt to follow up the previous post with this title. So how are you?

Today was a busy day, if anything. I woke up at about 8, stayed in bed until 9. Took a shower, then treated myself to a birthday breakfast of pancakes, eggs, greens, biscuit, and ice coffee at Short Stack, then went to see a panel at the South Asia Conference at the Concourse. Then headed across campus to my office to meet up with Jenna to talk about APO stuff, and after that, to the Semi-Annual Library Book Sale where $16.50 got me a brand new pile for my apartment. Once home, I checked my blog stats, read some blog posts, replied to a bunch of emails, and watched some YouTube videos. Following that, I had planned to run a few errands but ended up only getting to Metcalfe’s for groceries. Had no time for gym, so I went over to Hanna’s for a dinner she was preparing for me.

And let me just say, I was not expecting this.

I get to Hanna’s place, there’s a ton of people there, and even more show up, until we’re roughly 20. 20 people! We ate out back in her sukkah, and then sang and danced around the campfire. Hanna played keyboard, with Edi on sax, Ken on guitar, and Jennifer on the drums. I sang along with Baobei, Esty, Gidon, Bonnie, Bobbie, Jessica, and Andrea, while Haruki watched from the side, and Mohamed, Roger, Judy, David, and Larry watched from the sukkah (I think that’s everyone!). Andrea cooked most of the dinner, which was fabulous: chicken and rice, edamame, lentils, and veggies. And for dessert, Hanna brought out not one but TWO birthday cakes, an orange-and-lemon cake made by Judy, and a tangy, zesty tangerine cake by la Andrea. Judy’s cake was moist and warm, while Andrea’s was juicier, with a little kick to it. After hanging around the remnants of the fire with Baobei, Haruki, Bobbie, Roger, Jennifer, and Raimund (who showed up out of the blue), it was time to go home.

So now I’m sitting on my couch at 11:30 PM on my 29th birthday, Friday, October 21st, 2016.

Jameson invited me out to Plan B, but I might just call it a night, since I have to be up tomorrow around 7 and my bed is covered in books.

Thank you to everyone who made this normally anxiety-inducing day into an amazing one for me.

And for the last time until 2017…

Happy birthday to me. 🙂

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On Breaking Glass

Last night, the fire alarm went off, and since it was two in the morning and there was no way I was going out in the SNOW (yes, it’s snowing here), I took that as time to wash the giant pile of dishes that has been piling up in the sink. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had two wine glasses sitting behind the sink, and as I took a clean bowl out of the dishwasher, I knocked one into the sink.

It shattered.

Now I only have nine wine glasses. Wine glasses that came from my grandmother, that survived the moves from Baltimore to Houston to Madison to Madison again, plus countless people (okay, maybe like fifty) who have used them since they have been in my possession.

And just like that, one tipped over and broke, right into the sink, where it was easy to fish out the pieces with a cloth and throw them into the garbage like last week’s beer bottle.

It’s just a glass, and it’s not even that special; my grandmother probably got them at a department store or something. I could probably even find the same pattern online if I tried hard enough. It was just the shattering of the glass that made my heart judder, just a little bit. I’ve been a bit edgy lately, nervous, anxious, ready to go home but not ready for all the work I have to do before then, worried about friends and family, feeling somewhat lonely, and lazy because I’ve only danced twice this week and haven’t been to the gym at all. I’m just living my life.

Oh well, at least I got to do my Florida Evans impression to myself in my apartment.

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On The Importance of Social Time

I’ll admit it, this hasn’t been one of my best weekends. Or my most productive. Well, that’s kind of every weekend, but this weekend I focused a little bit more on the snoozing and socializing aspect of it. I caught up on sleep, and I enjoyed a good amount of social time as well, including last night.

Last night was one of those “I wish I were an undergrad again” nights, with the game and everything. I went to the Union with Kelly and some other folks to cheer on the Badgers and was, of course, disappointed at the outcome – we all know what happened – but I’m glad I can say that I was there, rather than squirreled away doing work or perusing BuzzFeed. When I walked home, I was suddenly glad to be a grad student again, passing some firemen hosing down a small fire on the sidewalk on Langdon. It was only 10:30, but I was more than happy to spend the remainder of the night sitting at home and maybe trying to get some work done, or at least get in bed early.

And then Carly texted me that she was with Alex, Jonathan, and Gideon over at the piano bar, and that was the end of that plan.

So, after Weekend Update (which was not that impressive this week, Kate McKinnon’s Angela Merkel impression notwithstanding), I headed out to meet up with the gang. Carly is one of those truly wonderful, welcoming people who is always inviting me to join her on social activities. It feels good to be part of “the group,” and I’m rarely one to pass up an invite, which is why I’m sad that she isn’t in Madison full-time anymore. But she returned this weekend for the game, and when Carly’s in town, that can only mean good things and fun times. After a quick Cabin Cooler at the bar next door to get my ticket, I joined the group, which had expanded to include Meir, inside the bar. Initially, I was only going to stay for a little bit, but if you know me at all, that usually means I end up closing the bar. I hadn’t been to the piano bar before, and it was a little cheesy but just the right amount of fun, and with a good group of people, gave me a little squeeze of love that I’d needed; it felt so natural, like I could just be myself, let my guard down a little, and not have to impress anyone. I was, by no means, drunk, but as the crowd thinned and we got a table up at the front near the pianos, I really got into the music and was singing and shimmying along, because it’s a Saturday night in Madison. I actually exchanged looks with a blonde girl whose group was at the table next to ours, and when they started “Lean on Me,” we maintained eye contact and sang to each other. A Celine Dion song came up soon after, and we two were out of our seats, gesticulating to each other, and laughing hysterically, even getting some cheers from the crowd. At 1:45 AM I decided to call it a night, and said goodbye to Carly and the group and my new impromptu overly-dramatic singing partner, telling her I’d see her next weekend. Which maybe I will.

When the social activity becomes so impromptu and apropos, that’s when the fluttery, butterfly feeling sets in.

And sometimes accompanying “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” with a stranger on a Saturday night, complete with animated gestures and exaggerating quasi-flirting is all I need to get me through things.

Thank you for being silly with me. I hope we can be silly together again sometime.

Oh, and welcome to my first visitor from Solomon Islands; not a country I expected to see show up so soon, but all the same, glad you came.

Also…wow, I just now realized what “social butterfly” refers to. SO META.