The Cat Was Away

...So the mouse, she played!

Last weekend, Ryan and his sister took a trip to Boston. (If you ask him nicely, perhaps he will guest-blog about his experience and share some photos from the trip.) With all that unsupervised time on my hands, I did what any respectable woman would do: Call up her girlfriends and arrange a get-together involving the consumption of liquor, with an unspoken advance agreement that shoes, hair, and boys would be among the chief topics of conversation.

Okay, I'll come clean. We did talk about our respective jobs, too, which are rife with complex, mentally stimulating challenges. But there was quite a bit of giggling, too. I'm reminded of a time several years ago when Ryan and I visited our artist friend Sarah Martin's house for a party, and there was a room full of accomplished, bright women of a variety of ages and cultures, each with at least one post-graduate degree and plenty of opinions on wide-ranging topics. On our way home that night, Ryan said with amazement, "How is it that HAIR ended up being such a time-consuming and lively topic of discussion tonight?"

Dudes, apparently, would not spend 10 minutes comparing their experiences with various types of hair product. Dudes, apparently, would not refer to it as "product." (Incidentally, dudes don't wear outfits. They wear clothes. In case you were wondering.)

It had been a while since I'd had a conversation in which I could unapologetically extol the virtues of Aveda Retexturing Gel, so I hopped in the car and headed to Madison to spend some time with the ladies.

Janette and I started the day at Marigold Kitchen, which has been the subject of a recent post. This time I remembered to order the legendary Breakfast Sandwich! Then we took a walk around the Capitol Square and ogled the delicious-looking vegetables, cheeses, and fruit for sale at the Farmer's Market. We both bought some apples - some varieties I had never heard of and don't remember the names of (yay me!) but that were amazingly tasty. One of them was big and yellow and kind of spicy. Any ideas?

After that, we went to Century House Home & Office, which is the third Century House store in Madison (the one Ryan and I skipped last time). They were still putting the finishing touches on the store, but it was fun to wander the aisles and sit down on all the cool sofas and chairs. They had a ton of Ekornes furniture, which is damn comfortable. I just love the Scandinavian design aesthetic. Even their pets look good, as evidenced by this photo of two Danish dogs.

After that, Janette and I went to the Apple store because I needed to pick up a car charger for my iPhone. In fact, those were my exact words to the Apple store employee who offered to help me: "I need a car charger for my iPhone." When he replied, "Sure, I can help you with that," I took him at his word. But things in Apple-land were not terribly straightforward that afternoon, as I soon discovered.

My first clue that something strange was afoot at the Circle-K should have been that my Apple store employee looked approximately like this...

...except in a bright blue Apple t-shirt. He walked me back to the wall of accessories and asked, "What kind of car stereo do you have?" Not seeing the relevance, I offered a half-hearted, "Umm, factory-installed?" He looked at me with a special blend of pity and scorn that is usually the special province of serious audiophiles who are forced to mingle with us lesser mortals who haven't drunk the Blaupunkt Kool-Aid. Turns out, he just wanted to know if there was, and I quote, "a little hole in the dash, labeled 'A-U-X'."

Still not seeing the relevance, I nevertheless nodded. He said, "Great! You can use it to listen to your iPod through your stereo." I was hoping my WTF look might have an effect on him, but after several seconds of silence, I realized I'd have to use my words. "But I have an i*Phone*, and I just need to charge it, not...listen to it."

"Ohh!" he gamely replied. "Well, I have this other one over here, that you can use to charge your iPod and listen to it at the same time!"

While looking around for the hidden cameras, I said, as politely as I could manage, "Again, I don't need to listen to it, just charge it. And I don't have an iPod, I have an i*Phone*."

He looked at me, and in all seriousness, asked, "You have an iPhone?"

Realizing that my words were having a seriously delayed reaction, I decided to cut out the middleman that was this guy's verbal processing center and go for some visual aids. I reached into my purse and pulled out my iPhone and said, very slowly, "I have...one of these."

He replied, very slowly, as if teaching a small child to recognize numbers and shapes, "Yes, ma'am. That's...an iPhone."

(You just know that in this dude's blog, he's telling a story about a lady who didn't even know that what she owned was an iPhone.)

Aaaanyway, I eventually got a charger and I'm pleased to report that it charges quite well.

Later in the afternoon, I met up with Amy and Colleen at Opus Lounge. This was one of our favorite spots to visit when we all worked together in Madison. With excellent signature martinis such as Ryan's Baby (my personal favorite, both for its name and for its lemon meringue pie flavor) and Water for Chocolate (tastes just like an Orange Milano), a long list of delicious Champagne cocktails, and Lindeman's Framboise on tap, the drinks alone are a strong draw. But they've also got great food - sushi, fondue, a stuffed olive plate, to name just a few - definitely not typical bar food. Over the years we've celebrated birthdays, software releases, and Thursdays at Opus Lounge. It's like coming home!

While I can't recall if shoes and hair were discussed, Colleen and Amy and I did, indeed, talk about boys. And our jobs. And the deliciousness of our cocktails. None of us still works for the company that brought us together in the first place. I'm six months into my new job. Colleen (who left the company a year before I did) is just starting her second new job. And Amy is working part-time, looking for something a little different (job-wise) but relishing the time she gets to spend with her two totally adorable young kids.

Each time I visit friends from Madison, I feel a tug of nostalgia. We had such good times in Madison! I lived there from 1997 to 2006 - that's nine years of growing up, between grad school and starting my career and meeting my future husband. I do miss a lot of things about Madison - the concentration of good shops and restaurants around the Capitol Square and up the length of State Street, the funky neighborhoods, and of course, the good friends and interesting people I met. But most importantly, those years in Madison really equipped me with a sense of myself - my preferences and style, yes, but moreover my ability to formulate opinions and find things in the world that really speak to me and challenge me. I'm not trying to re-create my Madison experiences (despite my fervent desire to transplant Marigold Kitchen and Octopus Car Wash into my neighborhood in Milwaukee). Now, wherever I go, I try to make the deep connections with people and places that made my time in Madison so meaningful. Lucky for me, I have an excellent home base for my explorations: a wonderful husband, a cozy little house, a loving family and fabulous friends - many of whom live within a short drive, but all of whom are just a phone call or email message away. Thank God I got that charger for my iPod. I mean iPhone.


Jean said...

Awwwww. I wish I could have been part of your special Madison tour! Miss you!

Cindy said...

Dude, your story about trying to get a charger for your IPod (haha) was hil-AR-ious!! Thanks for sharing :)