Category Archives: Madison, Wisconsin

To Catch A Cane

The University of Wisconsin Law School doesn’t do much by way of tradition, but it does have one memorable event for 3Ls: we can buy a super expensive homecoming game football ticket, run on the field at some point wearing a bowler hat, and throw a cane  up in the air. If you catch it, rumor has it you will win your first court case. 

I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I’ve been to all of one football game so far and it was my first week of school when I won tickets. And I mean it feels kind of silly and it is not like I super identify with my graduating class…

But then I never got the e-mail to register. Turns out, my Thailand credits haven’t kicked in so on paper I am a 2L (and thus not eligible to participate.) 

That annoyed me enough that I decided I wanted to do it. I’ve done all the work to be a 3L. By golly, I am going to prove it! Except of course, I did not know how or where to register. I got a friend to forward me the e-mail about registering, and it still wouldn’t let me. 

Tickets closed tonight at midnight. I gave a mental shrug and e-mailed the coordinator at 9 pm, asking if this whole thing could somehow get resolved. Did I want to participate? Did I not? Let fate decide!

Well, fate, or more precisely, the coordinator apparently decided to work overtime because I got a link to register within 5 minutes. And so I did. 

And now I feel like I just spent a great deal of  money on a very silly thing. But maybe someday I will look back on this impulse decision with nostalgia? 


A Compliment

“You are the best, as per usual.” 

So said the random lady at the store. I don’t know her; she doesn’t know me. I helped her find a particular brand of wine after the employees proved ineffective. (Should it worry me that I know the store’s alcohol section better than the employees? I promise I have only bought something there once or twice.) 

But by golly, she made my day.


Zoo Life

I live in a basement apartment. My windows sit at ground level. I hear and see everything outside my building, especially the neighbor kids. I have quite a few neighbor kids and they usually play on the front steps a foot or so from my door. I don’t mind them; I am using them to brush up on my Spanish. (“¡Mamá, ven a la puerta! ¡Quiero agua!“)

Today, however, the children discovered this was a two-way street. Or to put it differently, the very little ones decided to camp out and stare at me through my window. 

I cannot imagine I was that interesting. I was curled up on the couch with The Iliad trying not to wake my napping sister. But maybe that was enough. At any rate, they seemed to think so.

An older sibling eventually came out with chocolate and that immediately became more interesting. I later heard one of them shush the others because, “The windows were open and someone could be sleeping!”

I wonder how long my new status as zoo animal shall continue before they grow bored of me! 


Artistically Minded

I am not artistically minded. Anyone who saw my old apartment could tell you this. I hung no pictures; my furniture theme is “free to me”; and I usually cover it all with layer of books and papers anyway.

I have lived in my present apartment over a month now with generally the same results.

My sister, who is moving in with me, is quite another story. She came to drop a few items off. Within a few hours, she transformed the built in shelves into an adorable display of fake flowers and pretty decorations. Our living room now has a Color Scheme. (Pale pink.) My couch is threatened. (“It is so ugly!”) And my stuffed Captain America has been banished. (He does not match the theme.)

I must say, the place looks vastly better. I knew there was a good reason for having her move in!


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.” 


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!