Archive for May, 2009

Kristin

I just want to shine some light on the awesomeness of Kristin.  She has had a hell of a week.  She emailed Althouse about Sotomayor and got a nice response.  And then she went to a party last night and saw — I hope you’re sitting down — Alex & Simon.  That’s right: Simex, as she calls them.  Live and in person.  Amazing. 

Strangers

I was going to start out this post with a story from my morning. But now I’m distracted by a negative story, so I think I’ll start with that to get it out of the way. To cleanse myself of it, if you will. Or even if you won’t. Though I don’t blame you if you won’t. Anyway, I was just walking back from the gym to work in the lovely Wisconsin springtime sunshine (you may ask why I don’t just exercise outside, and I get your point, but please just shut it) and smiling away. I passed by a man that is quite frequently on the Square. In fact, I saw him not that long ago, on the Square, and as he was walking towards me, he threw a saran-wrapped sandwich into the street. When I looked at him curiously, he said, “I didn’t want it anymore.” Hmm. Well, anyway, since it was such a nice day I didn’t let this bother me when I saw him today sitting on a bench on the Capitol lawn. Because the weather was so nice, I didn’t even take offense at the Cubs hat he was blatantly sporting. When he asked me for some change, I politely apologized, saying that I had none, which was true. I smiled throughout, which I realize is not exactly a gift to anyone, but something I consider civilized and, unfortunately, rare. He then said, “I notice you’ve got a baby there.” I just kept walking, thinking, “Oh no.” And then he shouted, “How far along are you? Three months?” I turned around, smiled, and said, “I’m not pregnant.”

Um, fuck you.

On a brighter note, and what I really wanted to write about, is this morning’s surprising encounters. I was out at my bus stop early this morning — 8:15 a.m. This is crazy-early for me but my friend Gwen was introducing a speaker at a DOJ-sponsored training and I wanted to be there. As I stood on the corner that I have been standing on most week day mornings for four years, I held a book in my hand. Something that I do almost every time I am waiting on that corner. I have read some very interesting, lovely, breathtaking books over the years. Of course, I’ve also read some snoozers and annoying ones. Anyway, no one has ever said a word to me about my book. From time to time, the bus driver might make a crack about the book I’m holding. One time a bus driver said, “You must be a student teacher.” What? Anyway, today, though, was different. I am reading City of Thieves, sent to me by my beloved Kristin.  As I stood on the corner, a middle-aged woman in a long blue trenchcoat approached and stood waiting for the light to change to cross the street.  She turned to me and said, “Great book.”  I smiled and said, “Yeah, I just started it, but I’m really enjoying it.”  She smiled and went on her way.  It couldn’t have been more than one minute later when another middle-aged woman came from the other direction and as she passed me, turned and said, “Great book.”  I was shocked.  I told her another woman had just passed by and said the exact same thing.  She said her book club had just read the book.  I told her my friend works for Penguin and had just sent it to me with a post-it attached declaring the books awesomeness.  She liked that, smiled and went on her way.  The bus came and I went on mine.  Smiling all morning.   Until jerkface ruined it.

A word or two on vacations

In the last twelve months, I have gone on the following vacations: (1) My family’s annual week-long vacation in Presque Isle, WI where we rent out cabins at a *resort* we’ve been going to since 1986; (2) a Thursday through Sunday night red-eye to LA to visit my beloved, Sarayu, in March; and (3) a weekend in Door County, from which I returned on Sunday.  So, while I guess I haven’t gone vacation bonkers in the last year, I remain a very big fan of, and advocate for, vacations.  I was reminded of this on Friday night when we arrived in Sister Bay after a long drive, made longer by my aging Subaru’s oil and coolant problems.  That car just refuses to remain hydrated!  Anyway, as I was drifting off for a nap before partaking in the best restaurant fish fry in America (the perch at the Sister Bay Bowl — I adore my friend Ingrid for tons of reasons, but near the top of the list is for her unequivocal adoration for the Bowl. No recommendation, in my experience, has ever been more right.), I thought to myself, “This is so nice.”  I know that we were just staying in a nice lodge room 300 miles from home and would be there for only two nights, but it just hit me what a lovely feeling it is to be away from home.  I love my home, but it’s nice not to have to worry about dusting or vacuuming or checking email or doing errands.  It’s just such a peaceful feeling to be able to actually take a deep breath and then, instead of going back to the grind, to be able to do whatever it is I want to do.  Of course, the options are limited, but they don’t feel limiting or, more importantly, obligatory.  So, I decided that instead of feeling guilty about spending money or worrying about whether I really deserved a vacation, I would try to enjoy the quiet and the peace and the time away from the Things I Must Get Done.  So, while Door County was pretty chilly this weekend, which limited some of the choices we had, and while I had a terrible asthma attack and somehow lost my inhaler between Pebbles, WI and Sister Bay, which resulted in an annoying trip back to Sturgeon Bay on Saturday morning to hit up the pharmacy, I enjoyed the time just being away.

And then, when I came home Sunday night, I enjoyed being home again.  I cherished my bed and my dog and my kitchen and my couch and my space. 

In these stressful economic times, I worry that many of us will forego vacationing in an effort to tighten the belt on spending.  I hope this doesn’t happen.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but I hope that we all make time to get away from the everyday. 

So angry

I was angry when Mayor Dave recently proposed raising bus fares from $1.50 to $2 a ride.  This made me so angry, I could barely articulate the reasons for my rage.  This is Madison, WI not Chicago or NYC or any other major metropolitan area where such a fee may be reasonable.  As salaries are being cut, jobs lost and a general recession/depression sets in, this is the worst time to raise bus fares.  Particularly in my fair town, public transportation is used in disproportionate numbers by the less well-to-do.  [As I’ve said before, I am one of the only people I know who regularly takes the bus.  I do so because it is fairly convenient for me, parking is too expensive and I’m trying to do something environmentally sound from time to time.  Additionally, given that I refuse to bike in winter, it just makes sense most of the year.]  A fifty cent increase hurts everyone, but it is a particular smack in the face to those who make a paltry hourly wage.  Four dollars to ride round-trip in Madison!  Well, said the mayor, we must have this money otherwise we will be forced to cut services.  The Transportation Committee on the Common Council voted down the increase, but the Council overrode that vote.  Bugger!  So, now, here we sit at $2 a ride, one of the highest rates in the country.  Well, phew, we’re not cutting services.  Right?  Right!  Not only are we not cutting services, we’re increasing services!  And where?  Between the UW campus and the UW hospital.  Who rides this route the most often?  Well, I’d have to guess that it’s mostly students.  Students who get a free bus pass with their student fees.  And, I was told by my alder, that the contract for those passes was not in negotiations at this time.  So, basically, if all of this is true, the rest of us lowly busriders are just subsidizing a primarily UW student bus route.  WTF?

And another thing that really, REALLY pisses me off are these &^%$@#* “mobile billboards” or whatever the f— they’re called.  You know, the ones for, say, TQ Diamonds…A dumb truck drives around town with a big billboard-y type thing on its  bed with a sign for a dumb store in town.  Most often it is TQ Diamonds.  I don’t know where this shop is, but I hate it.  I called them once to tell them so, but it didn’t seem to have much of an impact.  In this economy and in this environment, what kind of insensitive moron do you have to be to think that advertising on a gas-guzzling truck for your blood diamonds is anything but a morally condemnable idea?  Dis-gusting.

Ok, sorry for the rant.  I’ll be nothing but sunshine tomorrow.

Tofu secuwa & other delectables

I just want to use this opportunity to celebrate my favorite Madison meal, Chautara’s tofu secuwa. On a recent lovely spring workday, we walked down State, sat outside and took part in total yumsville. Unfortunately, I took some of the pics after partaking in the culinary delights so they don’t really do justice to the beauty on the plate.

A Diet Coke, a treasure from the Himalayas.

A Diet Coke, a treasure from the Himalayas.

Paukada (veggies in a fried chick pea batter with a most delicious salsa)

Paukada (veggies in a fried chick pea batter with a most delicious salsa)

Salad (the dal is awesome, though)

Salad (the dal is awesome, though)

The piece de resistance, the tofu secuwa, which is grilled tofu and green peppers and onions on skewers, served with an amazingly tasty tamarind sauce, spinach ride and a green bean mixture (it looks way prettier when I haven't eaten half of it before photographing it)

The piece de resistance, the tofu secuwa, which is grilled tofu and green peppers and onions on skewers, served with an amazingly tasty tamarind sauce, spinach rice and a green bean mixture (it looks way prettier when I haven't eaten half of it before photographing it)


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