0

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.

16

Soothing Summer: That Favorite Coffee Place

I didn’t do too much today, but I did go to Michelangelo’s on State Street to get some writing done.

There’s something about that one special coffee place that just makes it worth going to even when you’re not thirsty. It’s the place you meet up with friends, bring out-of-towners, and go to when you just have to get stuff done in the perfect environment. I’m going to save a lot of other comments about coffee places in Madison for another post I have planned, but suffice it to say that Michelangelo’s is…the one. There are plenty of other places, but the Starbucks on State usually has too many vagrants hanging around and the wi-fi never works; Espresso Royale has delicious drinks but also its fair share of strange customers; the Starbucks on University and Blackhawk is where I’m friends with all the baristas, so I just spend the whole time talking and never get any work done; and CoffeeBytes is just…the worst place, ever. Michelangelo’s has all the good stuff – good food and drinks, friendly baristas, a corner with comfy Friends-style couches and chairs, several different seating options – without any of the crazy people or bad wi-fi. Plus, I get a nice walk down State Street on the way there and back, so I burn some calories, get some fresh air, not to mention getting to walk past the popcorn shop and the chocolate shop, both of which leave their doors open in the summer so that the smells waft out onto the sidewalk.

Now, I’m going to look at some gifs of coffee.

0

That’s The Way The Matzah Crumbles

Well that was fun.

As you know, Wisconsin made it to the Final Four last year and lost against Kentucky, but this year, they managed to surpass that, defying all the odds (well, the odds of making it to the championship in general being rather slim, when you consider how many teams are in Division I basketball; they were a #1 seed this year) and it was really exciting.

Not so exciting was flying back to Madison from Baltimore and landing roughly at the time the championship was ending.

I changed planes in Minneapolis, and as soon as I arrive and make it to my terminal, the TVs are all tuned to the game. Since Duke is the opponent, and they’re based far, far away in North Carolina, the bulk of the terminal are Badger fans. They’re leading at the half, and then we have to board the plane, for what will be the weirdest flight ever.

First of all, it’s a flight from Minneapolis to Madison, which is pretty ludicrous in and of itself, since they’re only 3-4 hours apart by road, and it’s a tiny plane. Second, everyone on the plane is either wearing Badger red and glued to their smartphone/laptop/iPad or munching on matzah, or both, like the mother/daughter pair across the aisle from me. When the cabin crew announces the “turn off all electronic devices,” a few people manage to keep watching the game for a few minutes, until the captain says over the intercom:

“Listen, you all need to turn off your electronic devices. I know it’s the game, but it’s regulation. We’ll try to have you on the ground as soon as possible, but until then, just enjoy your flight. We will not be offering a complimentary beverage service, but

Mind. Blown.

An in-flight score service, who knew.

The excitement builds as we take off and sail over the two states. True to their word, the flight attendants keep us updated on the score, and it’s close to an even score as we land in Madison, and the cabin goes dark in preparation.

We land.

The lights come up, the phones go on, and the first thing I see it a text from my dad:

“Wisconsin loses.”

Oh gosh.

I don’t know what this means.

A big part of me is disappointed, but just as much of me is curious as to what will happen, if it’ll be a danger zone, and part of me is relieved, because all the crazies will be leaving Madison just as I’m attempting to get a ride in. Fortunately, a lady a few rows behind me asks me where I live, and turns out we’re a block from each other, so she called a cab for us before we even left Madison, which was super nice of her. We end up sharing with another guy, a stats professor, and get home rather quickly.

The rest of the night is quiet at least.

And again, that was fun.

On Wisconsin, I guess…?

3

Mishapping My Way Back to Madison

As November came to a close, so did my trip home. But it was time.

My trip home was basically a sequence of mishaps/luck to balance it out.

LUCK: Actually leaving the house fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, plus a rather short security line.

MISHAP: Sitting blithely, wondering when we’re going to board, when I hear my name over the intercom. I’d been sitting at Gate B12, going to New Orleans, instead of B13 to Milwaukee. Whoops.

LUCK: I run onto the plane as the last passenger.

MISHAP: I dropped stuff on the ground.

LUCK: Someone chased me down and returned said stuff.

MISHAP: Got a middle seat (again, just my luck), with a particularly noisy seatmate, watching football loudly.

LUCK: Managed to get my stuff in the overhead.

MISHAP: Early for the bus, I try to figure out another way to get home, and end up getting approached by some policemen for looking lost. Go upstairs, relegated to wait for another two hours.

LUCK: Policeman from earlier finds me, tells me that the bus is here early. I get in line. Also, turns out the bus leaves at 5:35, not 6 as planned. Bus fills up by 5:25 and we’re off.

MISHAP: We’re told it’ll still be two hours, even though it’s a nonstop bus. Sigh.

LUCK: I check my phone, and at the one hour mark we’re on the outskirts of Cottage Grove. There is no way this trip will take another hour. We pull up to the Chazen at 6:55. I am ecstatic.

MISHAP: It’s really cold, and I realize that my gloves are either in the terminal in Baltimore or on the plane, headed to Fort Myers.

LUCK: Make it to dance practice, albeit late.

2

Pie: The Universal Language

Today, I woke up and met Lumeng across the street at Bassett Street Brunch Club, only to find out that it was over an hour for a table. We were hungry, so we got in my car and drove out to the Hubbard Avenue Diner in Middleton. The wait there was also 40 minutes, but we got two seats at the counter within seconds because we are hungry graduate students and we do not care.

After brunch, we shared two pieces of pie, a French silk and a sweet potato pecan. I asked Lumeng how to say pie in Chinese, since she’s in my Chinese Drama class and is from Beijing.

Her answer?

“Pie.”

Some things everyone understands.

0

Hypnotized by the Bullseye

Every single day since I’ve been back, I’ve gone to Target.

And sometimes, more than once a day.

And to more than one Target; there are five in the Madison area and I’ve been to three of them at least once (Hilldale, Fitchburg, and Madison West).

In the past few days, I have bought limes, ketchup, mustard, active dry yeast, soda, eggs, Werther’s Originals butterscotch candies, carrots, frozen veggie burgers, bagel thins, fruit snacks, streusel, cookies, jam, almond butter, a wrench, a UW t-shirt, refrigerator magnets, chocolate chips, all-purpose flour, duct tape, a broiler pan, iced coffee packets, a toilet brush, toilet cleaner, and stain remover.

Today I bought a lampshade, light bulbs, poppy seeds, onion soup mix, and carpet cleaner.

This has been my life for the past week.

I am turning into a real life Target Lady.

Sweet Mary Hartman.

0

Last Night as a Nomad

After one month of travel involving seven states/territories, six flights, four time zones, and only one lost pair of headphones, I am back in Madison. I am still a homeless person, though, until tomorrow morning when I get my keys and meet the movers. Then, the new school year will be that much closer to beginning. For tonight, though, I’m in the luxury of the Hampton Inn. Free wifi, fluffy beds, and a bathtub = heaven.

My dad was well enough today for a trip to DC, so since I was flying out of Reagan (a first for me!) we packed up mid-afternoon so all four of us (mom, dad, sister, and me) could have dinner together. It also happens to be my parents’ wedding anniversary, so that was something fun to celebrate. We had Greek food at Zorba’s in Dupont Circle, after which Dad and I found two geocaches, one real and one virtual, and both within spitting distance of my sister’s apartment. I then said goodbye to my sister, and headed to the airport with my parents. Even though I will be seeing them in about three weeks, it was still weird to say goodbye; this past month has seemed like a bunch of giant goodbyes. I almost missed my flight because I was charging my daughter (iPhone) at the next gate over, but according to my seatmate, they only made one or two boarding announcements. They really didn’t give us a whole lot of warning; the girl in front of me in line had gone to the bathroom and returned only to find that her entire family had boarded without her and now they were doing the final call, which is the one I heard.

The flight was about an hour and forty-five minutes, although it seemed like no time at all. I walked down to baggage claim with my seatmate, a woman called Kristen who was in town for business. Even though we were far from the last ones off the plane, for the first time, our bags beat us out to the baggage claim. One taxi ride later, I was at the hotel, and of course one of the two desk attendants is a friend of mine, and the other is one who actually just moved out of the building I’m moving into, and lived only one floor below me. She seemed positive about the building, and from what I gathered she was leaving because she was in a one-bedroom with a roommate.

Overall, it’s been a fun month, with some ups and downs but mostly ups. I got to experience life as a true nomad for a month, sleeping on planes, couches, floors, and in my own bed. I experienced the hospitality of three friends and got to see their homes for the first time.

Positives of living the nomad life:

  • Always experiencing new things. Everywhere I went, I managed to see or do something new, even in Baltimore. I spent very little of the past month bored, and subsequently, very little time thinking about myself. It was fast-paced and exciting. I can find something fun almost everywhere, from the airport in Charlotte to a sleepy beach town in Puerto Rico.
  • Freedom of movement. There’s just something about being able to pack yourself up into a backpack, a suitcase or two, and just jet.
  • Freedom from possessions. Even this morning, it didn’t take that long to gather my things together, including those items I had accumulated on the trip (a fan from Puerto Rico, a journal from Arizona, school books from home) and overall, it was nice not to be burdened with so much stuff. If it couldn’t fit into my bag, it didn’t come with me; I threw out a lot of junk I would have normally kept. Cue tomorrow, when I open my suitcase and ask myself, “what is all this crap?” Still, it kept me from accumulating too many unnecessary things and buying souvenirs for myself or for friends.

Negatives of living the nomad life:

  • Always on the go. My first few weeks were so action-packed that I barely had time to breathe, or reflect. Even though my Arizona roomie Kathleen admired my ability to reflect on the moment, I couldn’t really settle too long in any one place until I got back to my parents’ house. It was good to be forced to be forward-thinking, but it was tiring.
  • That feeling of homelessness. Along with the excitement come the questions. Where is home? I’ll be somewhere else a week from now, where will I be a year from now? What should I be doing now to prepare for then?
  • I missed my stuff. I’ll be the first to admit my materialistic instincts. I missed my own familiar bed, my car (although my wheels in Puerto Rico and essentially having my dad’s car for the week because he couldn’t drive were huge perks), my clothes, my book collection, having a place where I could receive mail, and even eating the foods I’ve become accustomed to. I also gained a greater appreciation for privacy as well as how to be a better roommate/house guest, and got some good decorating ideas. Most of all, I got the urge to be a good host so I can return the favor or pay it forward.

With only one more night of unharnessed luxury, I might as well live it up: a hot bath and then to bed. Oh, and bienvenidos to my newest visitor from Guatemala.

4

Adios, Mendota

Just a quick update.

The apartment is fully packed (well, 90%) in boxes and bags. Some will go into my car; most of it, though, into storage.

I have about half of my paper down, which I will finish tonight come hell or high water so I can print a copy, then pack up the printer.

I still need to eat the dinner I just cooked, put laundry in the dryer, and take books to the library.

Tonight will be my final night in 620 N. Carroll St., Apartment 409, ever.

Tomorrow morning I will return my Internet box (too stressed to think of what it’s called), get some money from the ATM, retrieve my water bottle from the gym and possibly take a shower if I feel so inclined, pick up some contact solution at Walgreens, shove some stuff in the mail, and get the 1:00 PM bus to Chicago (already paid for!), or, if I play my cards right, the 11:30 AM bus.

I will have no fixed address for the next month.

Adios, Mendota…hola, being a hobo.

0

Because It’s Impossible To Find a Sandwich on State Street

Today, I walked past the space on State Street where Dobra Tea once was (RIP), and there was a sign up announcing…

COMING SOON: FIREHOUSE SUBS

Another. Freaking. Sandwich. Shop.

I know that Madison is a college town, but enough is enough. If you take a walk down State Street, you will find, in no particular order: Subway, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Which Wich?, Jimmy John’s, Five Guys, Cosi, Milio’s, Erbert and Gerbert’s, Potbelly Sandwich Works, not to mention all the coffee shops which also sell sandwiches. I mean, would it kill us to have some more diversity? Currently, there’s a Nepali place, but no Indian place (which will be changing soon). Until Short Stack, there was no breakfast place. I’d love a decent Mediterranean place, or a place like La Madeleine in Houston that’s a slightly more upscale coffee and food shop. A kosher restaurant would be amazing, but let’s face it, that’ll never happen.

But still, if you need a sandwich, just come to Madison and we’ll blindfold ourselves and run around State Street and eat at the first place we break a window.