Monday, January 03, 2005

love song for wisconsin

My adventures in vacation are over, and I've returned for an indefinite period to the relative dreariness of life in Dallas.

I don't even know where to begin. The drive up was fine, good weather, easy enough to Kansas City, and then pretty awesome up to Madison with Jason. Revelations crossing the border into Wisconsin have made me happy and relieved. Drove in over John Nolen Dr, because it's my favorite way into town-the picture will be up on the photoblog shortly although it's not very clear- with the Monona Terrace and the Capitol winking seductively at you over the water. Home.

I saw old friends: Griffin, Katie, Grant, and Davis met Jerry and I at the Great Dane. I made Davis come to town. Chris McGann helped. Because I care. Jason, Ben and I helped her shop for a vibrator (or two!) at A Woman's Touch. I lament my lack of funds for a similar purchase. We come to the conclusion that shopping in a sex store is no fun unless you do it with the most random crowd you can assemble.

I did spend money though. I can't stay out of A Room of One's Own. I got two new buttons and two sassy books. One of them might make up for my lack of vibrator purchase, wink wink.

And then there's the Exclusive Company, the greatest CD store ever. As usual, I forgot everything I wanted to buy the minute I walked in and ended up with just the Rilo Kiley CD and Starker Plays Kodaly.

And Charles died. Charles, the cranky, eccentric, moose-loving, opera nut proprietor of the downstairs section of Exclusive. Charles, that never looked you in the eye and always had a harsh word to say about any music you bought that afterdated the 17th century, yet still defended me to his friend when it was insinuated that I didn't know what I was buying. Charles that could find you anything you wanted in a few seconds, but take forever to actually give it to you. Charles, who stocked the greatest classical and jazz store in the free world. Rest in peace, Charles. Thanks for all the music.

Qdoba. Med Cafe. Noodles is being remodelled- boo on that. Pizza Hut is gone- wherever now will brass quintets go after rehearsals to eat greasy pizza and wreak havoc on the buffet? Expresso Royale no longer has apple crumb cakes. My heart hurts a little, but the chai latte is still fantastic. Madison didn't need another burrito joint, but it got one- some place called Moe's. It smells funny in there. All the pubs are the same. Paisans. Himal Chuli, delicious as ever.

There are new stores, of course, because State Street's turnover for business is faster than a Las Vegas hooker's, and the Civic Center is gutted for Stage II of the Overture Center. Stage I is fantastic. Absolutely gorgeous. Jealousy levels reach epic proportions.

New Year's Eve: There's no snow. I got a parking ticket, which I will not pay. Davis and I went to Hawks for dinner and to stake out a table for the New Year's crowd that will hopefully join us. Chris and Jenny. Dan, Katie O'Grady and Andy Johnson came. Davis and I each had an extremely powerful Long Island and waaaay too many curly fries. We walked back to Jerry's place. Davis and I got drunker. I missed midnight completely ("Hey! It's 12:10!" "Yeah, I said Happy New Year ten minutes ago." "Dammit!"). Chris and Jenny left. Jason came. Davis left with Ben. Jerry went to bed. Jason and I put on our coats and wandered the streets, hoping maybe the Essen Haus would be open. We ran into the most random people- Nick Cowles and Neeraj Mehta. We went into the Shamrock and some place called the Argus. It was 5 am by the time we got home, me playing at being Jason's orbiting body by running in circles around him while he walked. It's a wonder I didn't fall down- but I saved that for the next night, anyhow.

I spent all of New Year's day with Dan. It was awesome. Breakfast (at 1 pm) at the Come Back Inn. Slippery walking- only the beginning of a day of freezing rain that will not quit. Dinner at Qdoba, again. Rented a movie- But I'm a Cheerleader- I fell about 10 times. It took us about an hour to walk from past the Capitol to Four Star- that's bloody ridiculous. My shoes suck, officially, for icy sidewalk-walking.

Next day, goodbye to Jerry, who I won't see before I leave because he works all day. It's been a little weird, but nonetheless good. Coffee with Mikey, Chris and Jenny. Memorable Mikey lines:
"I wonder what Miah's heartrate is like, with all that coffee?" (me:)"He must be up there with a hummingbird." (M:)"Nectar, nectar! Must eat my weight in nectar!" and, in response to the news that Abby is working as personal assistant for a blind, wheelchair-bound man: "So she's like a seeing eye dog?"

Lunch at Noodles and Company on University Ave before we leave- Chris, Mike and Jenny are there with Professor Aley. Surprise! Brian Balfany is there too. Noodles disappoints me slightly. My Pesto Cavatappi no longer comes in a bowl, it gets cold fast, and I suspect that there is less of it than usual.

And we're heading out of town, already. Out past the Beltline, past Fitchburg, Verona, Mount Horeb, Platteville. Goodbye, Madison. I miss you already. The Wisconsin countryside always awes me. Maybe it's really nothing special, but it makes me all kinds of nostaligic and happy.

I took a wrong turn in Dubuque, and we ended up on a road headed for Davenport instead of Cedar Rapids. No sweat- Bettendorf, "the bastard child of the Quad Cities" is the gem of that little detour. Twosies in Iowa because that's what I think of it. Jason and I have reached the stage of our relationship where I can make the silly fish noise and he doesn't bat an eyelash.

Kansas City. Driving home today in the mists of Kansas and Oklahoma, alone, thoughtful. Tip for travellers in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma: it is not wise to pick a fight in Subway over their gross environmental indecencies. W stickers abound again, and I miss Madison all the more. I didn't see ONE Bush sticker the entire time I was there, but I did see at least 7 "Free Tibet" stickers and countless Kerry-Edwards ones. A liberal's paradise, that bloody wonderful city is.

And I saw a Jesus-mobile, too. Mustard-yellow station wagon with a printing of Jesus on the back window, with his name written in caligraphy on the sides. Classy.

My favorite anti-choice billboard of the trip? "I love you, Mommy, please don't kill me." With a picture of a fetus. In Missouri. My favorite Christian propaganda sign? "Accept Jesus into your heart...OR REGRET IT FOREVER" in Kansas.

So now I'm back in Dallas, and I have lessons tomorrow already. Grad applications are on their way to completion and I must start the practicing regime for auditions immediately. I'm broke. I'm tired, and I'm a little sad. Two weeks I've been looking forward to this trip, and it put off all my questions and insecurities and anxiety about the future. It's over now, and everything has to come crashing back down on me.

I think I can manage to hold off on that until tomorrow, though. Enjoy the pictures.