Monday, March 15, 2010

Road Trippin' in the Midwest: Madison, Part 1

Hello from Madison! I'm in a coffee shop right now and should be looking at Craigslist for apartments or jobs or something... but I figured that I'd take some time to fill you all in on how things are going here so far.

Yesterday was apparently the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, a fact that our blessed phones remembered and we forgot. It wasn't until we had headed upstairs and taken a look at the clock on the oven that we realized that the time had switched. Fortunately our alarms were on our sainted cell phones, which update automatically, so we were able to get out of the house on time.

The drive was nice and pleasant- plenty of bright sun showing us fields of dead grass with barely any snow in sight. We got a little lost on our final approach to Madison but were able to arrive with a little bit of time to spare. We're staying with one of the graduate students from the English program by the name of Renee, and she and her boyfriend filled us in on the good places to live in town... once again, something that I should be doing but am not.

But I digress.

We then headed to the English dept. mixer, where Rachel got to talk with lots of profs, current students and prospectives. We migrated through the various disciplines with strange names like Mid-Mod, Contemporary American, Early-Mod and (of course) Victorian, plus a few others. I managed to confuse quite a few people with my name tag which read:


Which of course was a great ice breaker and introduced me to the whole equation. Everyone was really nice, and I managed to find at least 7 people who knew where Elmira was! Apparently there are quite a few upstate New Yorkers at Madison, so we got to talking about the Finger Lakes and all the other parts of the Southern Tier. Small world, eh? I also ended up talking with a few people about my possibly becoming a high school teacher. One of the Upstate NYers' wife had just gotten a job as a teacher, so he filled me in a lot about the local situation, which was both sobering and reassuring. There are LOTS of teachers in the area thanks to two colleges with education programs, but on the flip-side I'm math and science which puts me ahead of the pack and might only have to do a 30 minute commute to work, which I can handle.

We then migrated to the Victorians and wandered out to find some dinner, which we found at a place called the Old Fashioned. It's a classic Wisconsin restaurant with old fashioned (hur hur!) advertisements for classic Wisconsin things like butter and beer on the walls. The feel was very German with a bit of Irish thrown in there, and the beer list (like apparently everywhere in Wisconsin) was immense and impressive. We ended up going for the eponymous Old Fashioneds for our drink, though Rachel and I went for the applejack version. Who knew that a drink that included a combination of whiskey, cherries, soda, oranges and worcestershire sauce could be so tasty?

And of course, since it was Pi Day yesterday, I had to have some pie:

It's a classic Wisconsin-style apple pie, which means there is a slice of cheese melted on top. Surprisingly tasty.

We then continued the theme of the night by heading to the impressively titled "Drinks and conversation, informally organized along the lines of academic interest areas." Which basically means "Let's go to a bar and drink and talk about English!" I had a nice chat with some prospectives about Americorps, Carleton and (of course) Upstate New York, when a funny thing happened. A guy walked up to me and I knew that I recognized him from somewhere.

Amazingly Zack works for the same company that I do (CommonBond Communities) and is also an Americorps member (not the same program, but I work with MCAs all the time). We had met only a few times before, but we managed to recognize each other and a good laugh about the whole Small World thing.

We then headed back to our hosts' place to sleep, though Rachel stayed up for a while chatting with our host about classes and other English-y things. She seems to really enjoy the place so far and everyone that we have met has been really nice and helpful. Plus, the weather is gorgeous right now, which is always a plus.

Anyway, I should get back to stuff that I should be doing while I'm here, so until next time...

"To any foreigner, English is exceedingly difficult. Even the angels speak it with an accent."
- written in Clara Clemens copy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

1 comment:

Rachel Teagle said...

Sconnies put cheese on everything. I think Matt and I may have eaten at the Old Fashioned when we passed through Madison, we had a culturally traditional meal of cheese curds and beer, followed by the traditional dessert of MORE BEER! Yeah, I think you and Madison would get along just fine.
And people knew where Elmira was? The crazy girl from Tiny Toons? So I guess she lives on in the hearts and minds of traumatized children everywhere.