I spent the weekend in Madison, WI for “scouting” purposes. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I went there to help find housing for the newest graduate student at University of Madison at Wisconsin. It wasn’t just housing, though. It was also finding cheap eats and things to do and accessibility to public transit and bike paths.
So I thought I’d make this list of things I learned from that weekend.
1. Madison’s airport has a DYSON hand dryer. It is really cool and will probably be the hand dryer of the future. (And yes, it dries your hands using the same patented Dyson vacuum/suction. No, I do not know if it will work if you place your wet hands under a Dyson vacuum cleaner.)
2. We can make it to a 5:50 am flight. but not without some pain. Mostly pain of knowledge that the only thing getting us out of our beds is the fear of missing a relatively expensive flight at 5:50 am. (Does this mean that every time I wake up late, I need to put some money in a jar?)
3. All of the houses we looked at were at least 88 years old. The oldest was 111 years old and was supported by a rotting joist. Uhm, no thanks to houses. (Also, how do these people do their laundry or go to their attic using extremely wobbly stairs and not break something?)
4. I dislike driving around to look at houses. I do not mind stopping to see inside of houses- I just don’t like the pass-and-go around neighborhoods – it makes me dizzy and I can’t keep up with the houses that are being pointed out. However, I am forced to agree that sometimes there is no better way to find housing other than to be willingly jerked around and looking at houses pointed out every 5th block, even if you have done your research online.
5. I really dislike driving around Madison. To be honest, if I’m traveling somewhere, I’d rather not drive at all. And since Madison is an extremely bikeable city, driving around was a bit of nightmare (lots of one way streets and closed streets).
6. The Old Fashioned is still my favorite bar/restaurant/hangout. I hope it doesn’t change much. And one day I will actually have an old fashioned there, once I get over my memory of throwing it up (at a different place- in my defense it was like 3rd of my 6 cocktails. Bad memory.)
7. Beer menus are more common than beer lists in most Madison restaurants. (The city loves its beer.)
8. Memorial Hall Terrace (aka campus terrace) is one of my favorite places for a sunset.
9. Spring in Madison is enchanting. The tulips are vibrant at the Capitol grounds, and the arboretum is heavy with the scent of blooming lilacs and apple blossoms. Tenney Park looks like a magical fairyplace.
10. It is worth a trip to a cheese shop in Madison (Frogmagination). Especially if you find cheap cheese “orphans” and get to pick small samples of different cheeses (all were good). I asked if there was such a thing as a bad cheese in Wisconsin, and the answer was: “Velveeta.”
11. Going to university bookstore for souvenirs is always amusing. Bucky the Badger is cute, though.
12. Madison craigslist is a much better place for looking for rentals than calling up list of rental properties. Just don’t craigslist and drive at the same time.
13. I will always get picked on at Madison airport because I’m not white. I’m not really upset by this, but it’s a pattern. Last time, I had to have webbing between my fingers checked. This time, I appear to be carrying explosives in my teabags (actual teabags, not those things under my eyes).
14. It is useless making the TSA security guy in Madison smile. I asked him jokingly if cheese counted as a liquid (because I was carrying quite a bit of it). No smile.
15. The weather in Madison varied a lot. It was near 80 degrees on Saturday, 60ish on Sunday, and high 50s on Monday. The last two days were also extremely windy. When we arrived in Durham, it was 83 degrees and humid and… not at all windy. The contrast could not have been starker. And I started calling Madison “Winterfell” (in a good way).
Back to books and gardening next…
P.S. In honor of National Poetry Month, check out Neil Gaiman’s lovely poem (that I think was tattooed on someone’s back) at this link (it’s at the bottom).
P.P.S. This very cute interview with George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Daniel Craig at Vanity Fair. Daniel Craig in particular is hilarious.