Category Archives: Madison, Wisconsin

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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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!


My Amazing Mom (and the new apartment)

The best part of my new apartment is the size. The worst part is…everything else. 😉

In more seriousness, I’m pretty sure the previous owner never cleaned. And maybe not the owner before her either. The place overall is just old and beat up and the landlord did nothing to freshen up the place. (I’m skeptical if it was even vacuumed, much less carpet cleaned like I was told it would be.) 

My amazing Mom used her half day yesterday and her day off today to help me deep clean it. Over 7 hours of work today and we still didn’t finish everything. But…it looks better than it did! 

Many thanks to my Mom! The place wouldn’t look a tenth as good as it does now without her!


No Spring Chicken

My Mom says everything goes downhill once you hit 40. I dunno. I turned 26 five days ago and now I can’t stay up past 11 without feeling the consequences. 

Then again, I never really could. 

Yesterday I went out for trivia with friends. It ended at 9:30 (in Madison) so I didn’t make it home till 11.

I felt brain dead all day. 

But in the big scheme of things, 11 is not that late. I almost guarantee every one of my fellow law students stays out that late or later on a regular basis. Not me! I need a good 9 hours of sleep. 

Amusingly, my boss also stayed up till 11ish last night and also was fairly dead today. But I think I can give him a good 40 years on me so he has more of an excuse. 


Elevator Dependent

Today the electricity went out in the building where I work while all of us were showing up to work.

Guess what runs on electricity? 

Elevators. 

Guess what none of knew how to do? 

Get to our floors without an elevator. 

There are no staircases in the main lobby. Only elevators. 

There are no staircases in the parking garage. Only elevators. 

I wandered outside and started circling the building before one of my co-workers pointed me in the right direction. He was headed for a coffee shop (no electricity also means no WiFi) but suggested I take the flight of stairs accessible from another portion of the building.

I entered yet another lobby and saw three doors.

Opened the first. Pitch black. Must be a broom closet. 

I tried the second. Locked.

I tried the third. Locked.

Back to the broom closet. Turns out, it is actually the stairs. They are just pitch black. 

I turn on my phone flashlight and start meandering up them. Someone was actually leaving my floor so he held the door open for me. This turned out to be an unexpectedly helpful move because guess what I learned after the fact?

The stairwell doors all lock behind them

AKA: once you are in the pitch-black stairwell, you are trapped in there until someone opens a door. 

Does this seem like a fire hazard to anyone else?

Anyway, electricity came on not long thereafter, but what an adventure getting into work this morning! (At least it gave me an excuse for running behind!)


Wisconsin’s Rainy Season

Theoretically, my last few months in Thailand overlapped with the rainy season in southeast Asia. In reality, it rained maybe twice that I was aware of. (Though I think I slept through some rain-showers at night.) 

Wisconsin weather apparently has taken it as a personal mission to give me allllll the rain I missed.

Sorry, fellow Wisconsinites.

Today while driving home I got caught in a rainstorm. It was one of those downpours where drivers (including myself) flip on the hazards and pull to the shoulder of the road to await better visibility. 

But it was worth it because at the same time, the most amazing double rainbow filled the sky. I am pretty sure it ended in the field next to the road we were all on. I wish I could have taken pictures, but, you know, I figured staying alive and keeping my eyes on the road sounded like a better plan. But truly, it was amazing. 


Commute

In theory, living with my parents comes with several perks. I get to see my family every day, not worry about paying rent, eat cooked meals. What’s not to love? 

My daily commute, that is what.

Since my drive falls during rush hour, I am on the road anywhere from 3 to 4 hours on any given day getting to and from work. 

It was much worse before I got glasses. I’d squint into the darkening sky and feel tired and cranky. Then I got glasses and everything got better. (No, seriously, lack of eye strain is the BEST. #Iloveglasses)

The other perk of my job is that my boss doesn’t have me come when he is on vacation. And as he is mostly retired, he goes on vacation a lot. I have yet to go more than 3 days driving in at a time. 

Anyway, I’m apartment hunting and plotting my return to Madison. Until then, I’m grateful for:

  • glasses
  • vehicles that run
  • family 
  • an awesome job 
  • retired bosses