Author Archives: holtfan

LuLu for Governor

Yesterday I got to visit the Wisconsin State Capital with my friend Ginnie and her kids. 4-year-old Louisa loved the place. We suspect she thought it was a palace. 

As I watched her, I imagined her years later, all grown up and governor of the state. Wanting to instill such a vision, I said: “You know, Louisa, someday you can work here!”

Louisa looked quite pleased and puffed up her chest. “Yes,” she said matter-of-factly. “I will work here when I am 5.” 

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Addendum: David Koch

Billionaire philanthropist David Koch died today and I just wanted to write a quick post in recognition. Though Charles Koch loomed larger in my AFP experience, it was always the “Koch Brothers” together that took the political flack and lead the way for the organization. Their generosity made it possible for people like me to run successful field offices and change the future of my state. The Koch Brothers’ political advocacy empowers people and I am a living testament to that. 

And despite all the headlines focusing on his political affiliation, it should not be forgotten that David Koch’s philanthropy centered on the medical field: he built hospitals and funded cancer research. He directly and indirectly touched countless lives. 

The world is a sadder place without him. He will be missed. 


Further Adventures With Kathy

Besides the adventure at Barnes and Noble, Kathy and I ran into an inordinate number of adventures on Wednesday. Perhaps I need to take the occasional half day from work more often. Or hang out with Kathy more. 

It started with the ice cream truck. I have not seen an ice cream truck since maybe grade school. But all of a sudden we heard the tinkling of music and the truck not only pulled into my apartment complex parking lot, it put on the breaks and turned off the engine as though it intended to stay for a while. Obviously, we needed to go buy some ice cream! ‘How handy,’ I thought. ‘A blog post for tomorrow! Only think, they still have ice cream trucks.’  

Then we went and painted pottery. A group of inner-city high schoolers, chaperoned by several weary looking adults, apparently rented the party room that day. They liked Very Loud Music. The owner of the pottery store kept walking around tut-tutting and asking if anyone very much minded the music. She would tell to turn it off immediately if we did. But it made them so happy…

So of course we said we did not mind. 

The students left and a very skinny man with a very large Adam’s apple came in. He was working on a coaster. A very, very detailed coaster. Apparently he came to the shop semi-regularly to work on it. A woman joined him a few minutes later. She walked around, decided nothing caught her fancy, and started cutting up square for a quilt. 

Minus the music, it quickly became painfully impossible not to listen to our neighbors’ conversation. And was there much to listen to! The woman carefully asked the man about his job (he nearly lost it recently and now one mistake could get him fired), his mental health (determined not to commit suicide, meeting with his counselor weekly, getting a new counselor, in fact, because old one retiring), and his social life outside of work (nil). We learned a great deal about him. It was almost embarrassing. Every now and then Kathy would say something to me so we could have our own murmured conversation and hopefully remind them of our existence. It did not work. 

We then had our Barnes and Noble excursion. But the adventures did not end. Going back, we got turned around and the GPS sent us on back roads. 

Now, I must blame the atmospheric thriller I am currently reading. It created a spooky atmosphere in my imagination. Madison did the rest. I thought I knew Madison fairly well. Turns out, I do not. We passed cemeteries and accidentally drove into a spooky arboretum and got turned into fancy subdivisions that looked like they belonged in rural, suburban neighborhoods. At one point, the hard, bright lights of a car shone behind us and instead of feeling glad we were not alone, I felt my nerves kick into gear. “This is the point,” I told Kathy, “where our car breaks down and that person murders us.”

But we did not. In fact, we made it to my apartment without much hassle. We then decided on a movie and went to the local Pick N Save for a Redbox movie. 

Even this did not go quite normally. Mind you, it is 9:30 pm at night and pitch black out. A lady with a sleeping child sat outside the store singing loudly as if to drown out the pop music. She smiled and by the time we left had gathered a small crowd. (Actually, they might have been with her and had no choice but to listen. Hard to say.)

The store smelled like dog food. We got Isn’t It Romantic because, duh, that’s my new favorite movie and if you haven’t seen it yet I will make you watch it. 

And so we did. 


The Barnes and Noble Employee in the Ugly Polo

Yesterday, my friend Kathy and I made a most exciting discovery: the Barnes and Noble here in Madison has a large used book section! And better yet, most of the used books only cost $1. Understandably, we threw out all our other plans for the evening and started exploring. 

Enter the Barnes and Noble employee. I think he might have been in management because he wore a very ugly polo and just sort of floated around the store. On second thought, he might just have been the intern. Hard to tell. 

When I first saw him, I was walking around with a basket overflowing with books. He politely said, “How are you doing?” which surprised me because I do not usually think of great customer service when I think of Barnes and Noble. So I beamed, told him I was doing very well, and moved on. 

Over the course of the next few hours (it is a very big Barnes and Noble, okay?) I saw him several times. Mostly he would walk over to the table where Kathy and I started stacking books and look as if he would like to re-shelve them. I would hurry over and make eye-contact as if to say, ‘Still here! Don’t take my books!’

He would then give me a friendly smile and move on. At one point, he even paused to say, “I highly recommend Anna Karenina.”

Well, dang! A guy who loves Tolstoy? You better believe I grinned a little wider whenever he came around. And was he coming around a little more often…? 

Then we went to check out. (For the record, our piles shrank considerably between what we originally chose and what we walked out of there with. Okay, maybe not considerably. But at least by a book. Probably.) 

Ugly polo employee stood there at the check-out with a normally dressed store employee. Call me crazy but I swear I even heard him say as we approached, “And here they are.” 

My friend Kathy walked up first and he shooed her down to the other employee at the register. I thought he would do the same for me because ringing up purchases did not appear to be his job. But after a pause, he motioned me towards a register. 

I made polite small talk. Then came the inevitable question: “Do you have a Barnes and Noble membership?” 

I said no.

He smiled and said I should enroll because I would get $5 off my purchase. I asked how much it would cost me to become a member and after hearing $25, said no a little more firmly. I mean, I never shop at Barnes and Noble. It costs too much. And I don’t need an excuse to spend more money on books! These are the thoughts I clung to and it is a good thing too because the employee in the ugly polo decided to make it his personal mission that I get a membership. 

He started by listing off the immediate discounts on my purchase. I said no. Then the discounts store-wide. Then the discounts at the coffee shop. To all this I laughed and said no. He made unswerving eye contact. 

I paid with my debit and went to put in my pin. He leaned forward and, I kid you not, batted his eyelashes at me. Before I put the pin in, he said, I should reconsider. The store was running a deal and I would get a $10 giftcard if I signed up. I laughed some more and declined. 

Then I put in the wrong pin. This was a mistake. He continued on the offensive. Sometimes, Barnes and Noble members got 20% off. And it worked on already discounted items. Also, members got a two-day window to check out book deals (or something?) before the masses.  

I finally told him that I had one more year of law school and could not consider a membership until I finished and had money to buy books. He then started talking about all the law books his store had. And I would get a deal on all of them…!

Feeling slightly exasperated, I turned to Kathy and laughingly asked her to tell me to say no. 

But what was she doing? 

Signing up for a Barnes and Noble membership!

This set ugly polo guy off again. My friend was getting a membership, I should too!

Finally, leaning across the counter and getting in my personal bubble, he confided that he liked British TV shows and one time they were 50% off and with his membership he got another 20% off of that. 70% British TV shows. Amazing, huh?

I made some answer about “next time” and bolted. I am pretty sure it took me 15 extra minutes to check out because of his pushy salesmanship. But I did it. I walked out of there without a membership. 

Bu, gosh darn it, now I am afraid to go back and run into him again!


Bookworm Memesss

A series of memes that describe what it is like when I live alone:

Me, making lists of what I need when my loans kick in:

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Me, on cleaning:

Image result for thank goodness my book finally arrived i almost started cleaning the house

Me, on organizing my room:

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Me, in general:


My School Checks Up On Me

My career adviser at the law school sent my boss an e-mail today. He shared it with me:

I hope we might be able to find a time to discuss Amy’s summer employment—what went well, areas where our students can improve, and how we can best help you recruit future attorneys and interns.

A fairly innocuous request. Probably. Certainly helpful information for the law school. After all, if their students are going around burning bridges, they’ll want to know. And anyway, I want to develop the relationship between the career office and the foundation. This is a great place to work. 

But I have a confession: I’m a teeny, teeny bit annoyed by it.

It feels like my law school is checking up on me. Like a Mom asking if her kid played well with the other kids in kindergarten. ‘Is she social? Did she share? Did she bite Little Timmy again?’

I worked an adult job that I got on my own without any assistance from the career office, the diversity clerkship, or the law school clinics this summer. In fact, I have been working this job for over a year and a half now. So it seems a little silly to have someone checking up on me. Even for useful, research purposes. 

My boss was also confused. 

Because I am not a kindergartner. I am not a high schooler. I am not even a college student. I am an adult who chose a course of study through the law school. The law school is not my parent. Or my boss. It has no responsibility for me. And while I will probably laugh at my annoyance tomorrow, tonight I very much wish I could say: 

“How Amy’s summer employment went is none of your business!” 

(But it went well, for the record.)


The Bunkhouse

This past week, my sister and I drove to Idaho to pick up our other sister and cousin from the camp where they worked this summer. We intentionally made the entire trip flexible. However, we still needed a place to stay at night so once we decided on Mount Rushmore as a good stopping area, I got on my phone and found us a place to crash. We’re a bunch of students. Cheap = good. So I found us a bunkhouse where they provide little cabins with bunk beds and a shared shower house. Bring your own bedding. 

For the record, I did ask the others for their input. The bunkhouse looked fine online. I booked it and received an e-mail reminding me to bring my own bedding. 

Check-in supposedly ended at 9 pm. We planned to arrive by 8:30. I got a call at 7:30 from the manager informing me she was going home and that she’d text me the code to get into our cabin. Also, did I get the message that they did not provide bedding? (I did.)

We arrived in the dark. And by arrived I mean exited the freeway, drove for fifteen minutes on abandoned back country roads, and turned too early on the dimly lit road to the cabins. If you can call it a road. No obvious parking lot existed so even after finding the correct turn we drove on the grass to reach our cabin. 

The place was abandoned. Not another car to be seen. 

Then we entered the cabin. To quote my sister, “I did not need to check for bed bugs because I could already see the dead bugs all over the mattress.” 

Instead of a four bed bunkhouse like we expected, we got a bunk with two queen size mattresses. We did not mind sharing, but the website definitely promised four. And it wasn’t just sharing with one another. We apparently were supposed to share with an entire graveyard of moths, beetles, and spiders. 

So many spiders. I’m not afraid to kill an arachnid but even I found the spider guarding our cabin intimidating. He was easily the size of a quarter. 

Some (I won’t name names) vowed to sleep in the van. I protested that we paid for the cabin so by golly we should use it! Anyway, we were leaving early the next morning. A few hours wouldn’t hurt us. 

We then went to the shower house. At first glance, it at least appeared clean. Second glance revealed even more bugs than the cabin. Live crickets and dead beetles hung out in the sink. Spiders clung to the rafters. But what finally broke me were the moths. 

The moths lived in the toilets. 

Imagine doing your business and all of a sudden a moth comes up from between your legs. Or reaching for toilet paper and a moth flutters out with the paper. I screamed. My sisters screamed. My cousin probably screamed. 

Lest you think us heartless to our fellow campers, remember, there were no other guests. And the staff all left way early. 

I am not going to lie. We ran back to our cabin, grabbed our stuff, dodged the giant watch-spider, and drove like a bat out of hell. No destination needed. Just out.

The next place we stayed at had a hot tub and continental breakfast.