Category Archives: Madison, Wisconsin

Adventures on the City Bus

I climbed onto my bus today and found myself confronted by a dozen 4 year olds. Apparently, their daycare decided to take them on a field trip and use public transportation to do it. They were pretty cute and I figured I was one of the few commuters who wouldn’t mind too much sharing the bus with them. I sat down across from a young gentleman and smiled at him.

He scowled at me.

I scowled back and then turned it into a smile, just to show I was playing. 

He bared his teeth. 

I stuck my tongue out.

He went back to scowling ferociously.

I noticed he was strategically placed between two daycare workers, so I assumed he was a troublemaker and went back to smiling. 

People climbing on the bus usually went through a series of similar emotions when they saw the other passengers. Surprise, confusion, panic. One guy swore. 

With all the youngsters, the bus filled up rapidly. As much as I enjoyed making faces at my neighbor, I spotted another bus that would get me to campus and decided to switch over so give the others more space.

This was an unwise move. The bus smelled like bleach. And not just like, ‘huh, you smell something weird?’ kind of bleach. An all-consuming-I’m-losing-brain-cells kind of smell. I was happy to get off.

Then, after classes, I got on my third bus of the day. This one also smelled like bleach. However, whereas the first one looked clean inside but smelled, this one smelled like bleach and also looked like someone confused it with a garbage truck. The floor was littered with rotting bananas, candy wrappers, and old newspapers. I’ve never seen a city bus so filthy. 

Just another day using public transportation. 


Vitamin D

I’ve been playing phone tag with my doctor about some blood work for the past few weeks and finally got ahold of her. Or rather, a nurse who works with her. The nurse, however, lacked my doctor’s bedside manner. Or maybe I was a little too much in my old world. 

*over the phone*

Nurse: “So, you’re totally fine but you are Vitamin D deficient.”

Me: “Vitamin D?” I think, but I’m a redhead. We’re not supposed to need much of that stuff.* Does this mean I need to go outside more? Maybe I really am a vampire. Do vampires get Vitamin D deficient? I wonder if they absorb it from blood.  

Nurse: *apparently misinterpreting my confusion* “Don’t worry, you just need a little more sun. Or a vitamin. The doctor is sending a basic vitamin prescription to a pharmacy near you. Where should we send it?”

Me: Will this problem go away when I am in Thailand? Thailand has sun. I’ll get lots of it there. I’ll also get sunburned. I wonder if I should bring sunscreen with me? “Oh, Madison. I’m not sure where in Madison. I haven’t had to visit a pharmacy yet. Do you have a way of looking up some locations? If not I can try from my phone.”

Nurse: “I can do it.” *long silence* “It looks like there are two.”

Me: “Two pharmacies? Where?” Why do I need a prescription for a vitamin anyway?

Nurse: *names two streets*

Me: “Where are those located in…Madison? I haven’t heard of them. They don’t sound near my apartment.”

Nurse: *exasperated* “Well, honey, Madison is a small town! You can’t expect that many pharmacies!” 

Me:  “We’re talking about Madison…right?”

Nurse: “Madison, Wisconsin.”

Me: “And there are only two pharmacies?” 

Nurse: *exasperated sigh* “Well, give me a zip code!”

I give her mine. She pauses. Names a street. I am not sure it is near my apartment, but I say it will work anyway. I think she might give up on the whole thing if I try again. 

Me: “Thanks for your help!”

Nurse: “Uh-huh, good day.”

I really hope this prescription doesn’t end up in Madison, Georgia. 




The Water Law Professor

“Great weather we’re having!” says the professor, as a few remaining students trickle in. “Great that Spring finally arrived.”

“But it is Fall,” says a literal minded girl in the back. 

His smile falters somewhat.

I think, “This professor is funny. I am going to like this class.”

Then he starts teaching. He explains he is half Chippewa and was raised on the reservation listening to the stories of the elders. 

We nod politely. There are only 8 of us in the class so it is noticeable if you aren’t paying attention. 

He continues. However, instead of heading to water as one would expect with a class titled Water Law, he mentions Locke, then Marx. He talks about property rights and ownership. If his thread is a little unclear, we are at least in familiar territory. 

Then he starts talking about the Chippewa’s worldview, about the giant turtle who crawled out from the sea and formed North America. Warming to the subject, he talks about moon cycles (“our men have them too!”) and the Chippewa calendar based off a turtle’s back (not “the rule of some pope!”) 

We are all now totally lost but the professor is just getting started. He shows us pictures of his Grandfather – happily sidetracking to talk about the crazy stories the man told – and his brothers. He talks about the infinity symbol and how all of nature must work together. He discourses on Native American farming and spends a good five minutes ranting about Europeans who claimed the tribes were nomadic. He talks about the importance of the numbers 3 and 4; he shows us a picture of corn, squash, and beans and tells how the 3 of them fit together. He then explains the 4th element is mankind. 

Puzzled about what this has to do with water law? Oh, me too! Our professor lost his syllabus and openly told us he was teaching from a slideshow used for a different class. (Presumably one about the Chippewa worldview.) His main points however, were that conflict is an anathema and that all things must be brought into balance, otherwise “the Creator will bring it into balance for us, and we may not like the result.” 

I have a feeling I may not like the result of this class. 

Obscure Books

Bronze Age America
Humor: A Critical Analysis for Young People
Poems of Abraham Lincoln 

What do these three books have in common? They’ve been on my to-read list forever and I never thought they’d leave. Until today. 

Folks, I’ve made the most glorious discovery. Admittedly, it is one that should have occurred to me last year: I have access to multiple libraries through my university. Actually, not just my university, but all the libraries in all the state schools across my state. All mine! 

I started searching some of the more obscure tomes on my to-read list and I have been delighted by the results. This is dangerous, folks. This is power. 

Oriental Grocery Store

I went exploring yesterday and discovered an amazing oriental grocery store only a short walk away! They stock everything from dried shrimp to kimchi to goose eggs. They have aisles for Japanese sauces, Korean candies, and jars of Chinese mixtures. It is a meandering, not very well organized place and I’m quite excited by the discovery. I purchased some delicious pot stickers. Once I run out of my current jar of kimchi, I’m looking forward to trying theirs. It isn’t a Wal Mart, but it is an excellent store to have nearby. 

The WiFi Lady

I just got off the strangest call trying to set up wifi at my new apartment.

First, the woman who answered the phone had a thick, Southern accent. However, as the call went on, it slowly disappeared. By the end of the call, she sounded like she was calling from Milwaukee.

Second, this statement from her: “According to the system there are deals in your area, CONGRATULATIONS!!!”

Third, this dialogue:

Her: Question

Me: Yes

Her: Yes, ma’am.

(In retrospect she was responding to me but I sure felt like I was in trouble for sassing her.)

Fourth, she kept trying to sell me on a landline. I kept saying I didn’t need one. I only need the Internet service for a few months, and also I am not 105. She promptly got super huffy with me! She then told me a bunch of horror facts about people calling 911 from their cellphones and subsequently being unable to give their address. (A problem you apparently don’t have with a landline.)

It was a ride. But hopefully I will have internet soon!


Things I have learned while unpacking:

  • I have a lot of fleece-lined leggings.
  • Like, so many.
  • I suspect I would buy another pair instead of doing laundry.
  • I am developing a nice wool sock collection.
  • I have a lot of tea.
  • I do not have enough tea.
  • I do have enough mugs.
  • So many mugs.
  • Lighting a favorite candle is always a good idea.
  • Coffee is a better idea.
  • Real food is the best idea.
  • I really, really dislike organizing things.