Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No More Tears

I think it's time I clear some things up. I made a rule when I started this blog that I wouldn't talk about people. What I mean by this, is that I don't want to exploit anyone, and believe it or not, I don't want to divulge too much about my privacy. What I am saying is that these activities that I partake in are NOT done solo. A lot of you have told me that you think it's great how I am doing all of these things alone. Sometimes I attend things alone, but for the most part, I have friends with me. I just don't want to talk about them, and make them feel uncomfortable. So assume from now on that when I say "I," I mean "we."

Now that I have addressed that, as I mentioned in one of my first blogs, I have had the pleasure of seeing quite a few movies. I still prefer the Sundance Theater because their movies are mostly independent, and slightly more thoughtful than the average movie. After seeing a few "heavy" movies there, I saw that "House Bunny" movie, or whatever the hell it's called. It was odd, because after seeing some insightful movies, I left the theater (or I should say "we" because I saw it with someone!), forgetting that I even saw a movie. I am sort of not used to that feeling after viewing more philosophical films.

For example, I saw "Man on Wire," on September 10th, ironically. This is a documentary about a Frenchman (I am a francophile, if you didn't know), who is an idealist with some sort of an addictive personality, who was determined to walk on a metal cable between the twin towers in 1974. It is a fascinating story. So much of it is about the grand plan to execute this mission, with help from some American confederates, in addition to some of his french allies. It is a moving and beautiful picture, especially on the eve of the seventh anniversary (when I saw it). There is a ton of footage of the Trade Center, but the trauma that happened there in 2001 is not addressed. Leaving this movie, I found myself really reflecting on it. I was asking all sorts of questions - How did these people have the time and money to accompany him? Did he have sponsors? How many hours a day was he practicing for this? What would a psychologist diagnose him with? (That last one was a joke....)

Not only was I wondering about the event that occurred in 1974, but seeing so many clips of the World Trade Center, I contemplated everything that happened in 2001. Just weeks before, my dad, a New Yorker, and one of my sisters, also a New Yorker (I was the only child born in Ohio), drove us by the buildings, remembering when they were being constructed. It was only weeks later, on September 10, 2001, (And yes, girls, I remember what I was wearing, and I still wear the shirt), I can recall that entire day like it was yesterday. When I remind my close friends from college what we did that day, they ask me how I can retain that day so well. It's simple for me, because of the drastic change in our moods. We went from care free to freaked out. I can still feel the drastic difference from September 10, 2001, to the following morning, I kid you not. One of my closest friends and roommates was directly connected to that event, and when I think about it now, I get more emotional than I did when it happened.

I suppose what I was trying to say is that these heavier movies are more thought provoking, but I went off on a little tangent. Now, I also saw "Burn After Reading," and that was an enjoyable film. From what I have seen of the Coen brothers, they have yet to disappoint me. I also saw this at the Sundance Theater. It's cleverly written, with their usual twist and turns, and interwoven stories, violence, and humor. I thought about it after I saw it, even though it's not anything too deep (and I also snuck in a water bottle of wine - they sell it there, but why not BYOB?)

The entire reason I wanted to write this post, which has become more of a stress reliever for me, and a journal, although I can't write "Dear Diary," or talk about anything personal, is because I wanted to discuss that since I have moved here in July, I have yet to cry! I don't think I have shed a tear. At times, I am a sobber, (I didn't say sober...) and it just occurred to me that I haven't had any teardrops from my eyes before I went to see the most horrible movie, "Nights in Rodanthe."

So, my friend read the book, and she was excited to see the film. I thought it was just going to be some chick flick, where I could admire Diane Lane's beauty and Richard Gere's sexiness. I have always, always, always though Diane Lane was a horrible actress, although very sexy. Ditto for Gere. My friend informed me as we were getting frozen custard that the movie is a tear jerker, and so we stuffed all these napkins in my huge purse. We watched the movie, and from the beginning, I couldn't stop laughing out loud because the acting was so horrendous, and the lines so cheesy. I mean CHEESY! It was so terrible. I think the people around me must have thought I was drunk or something, because I couldn't stop laughing, even during the sappy parts, when the gray haired ladies around me were wiping their tears away. (I did not bring any wine in a thermos to this particular film).

I have still yet to cry. I am sure I will at some point. Like, if there is a night where I have to stay home, and there is nothing to read, and my internet is down. Or, if a certain male/female duo is elected for president/VP. Or, if I had a boss who told me what to do. But for now, I am happy being dry eyed. And I think I have Madison to thank for that.

And if you're feeling lonesome, and if you're feeling low, go make nightmoves. (That was just some lyrics from the song I am listening to........)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Know You're in Madison When....

I will preface the list of "You Know When ..." with a little story:

A few years ago, while living in Cleveland, I was talking to a friend in the parking lot of an apartment complex. This happens to be a place where a lot of elderly (and cranky) people reside. My friend was in her car, and I was talking to her through her window. Out of nowhere, a senior citizen with a horrible sounding, whiny voice starts yelling at my friend, "Wait a Minute! Before you drive off! My husband nearly knocked out his eye with that contraption you have on the back of your car! That thing could kill someone!" The thing she was referring to was a bike rack. My friend replied, "You mean my bike rack? I suggest your husband have his eyes examined. I could recommend an optometrist, if you would like." 

In Madison, Wisconsin, this woman's husband would be knocking his eyes out every day. Bike racks on the back of cars are a dime a dozen here. 

Here is another story. I was running to the Green Road Rapid (Cleveland's "lovely" public transportation that nobody I know uses...), and I was honked at because this lady in her Saab didn't want to go around me. There was no sidewalk. Where was I supposed to go? I believe pedestrians have the right of way, lady. So, I gave her the finger. I even had a lady roll down her window once, yelling, "Use the sidewalk!" If she wants to get her fat a%% out of her luxury vehicle and create one for me, I would have used it. I am saving gas, the environment, and burning calories! 

Again, in Madison, I feel that runners, and ESPECIALLY bikers rule the road here. There are even flags for pedestrians to hold to go from one end of the crosswalk to the other. I am so impressed. 

One more story - 
A former client of mine, not knowing that I moved to Madison recently called me about a real estate related issue. When I told him I moved here, he responded, "Madison? They don't have a Saks or a Nordstrom, there, do they?" I replied, "I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. I am literally on my way out the door to run to the farmer's market without being honked at by drivers who want me to get out of their way, that's one of the reasons I moved here." Case closed. You get my point. 

Here is what I have noticed about Madison:
I think there is a rule that says men over fifty must have gray beards
I am pretty sure you are required to drive a Subaru or a Hybrid of some sort (I better get rid of my car - stat) 
If you don't own a bike, get out of town
There are as many gays as straights
Make-up and Coach bags are a "no no" (again, I better get rid of those things...)
You cannot use your cell phone in public (unless texting)
Everyone reads the "New York Times" (and they use the bags to pick up after their dogs)
Recycling & composting are everywhere (as my dog has discovered.... she loves to go through the neighbor's composts...) 

And on a more serious note, I made an observation about a month ago. There is no litter here. I always noticed trash while running, but here, there is virtually none. 

Talk about politically correct. Have a great day, and go recycle, or something. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

You Are Never Really Alone

Sometimes people tell me that they are lonely. As a person who doesn't enjoy too much solitude, I would like to tell you the importance of surrounding yourself with people - especially if you are anything like me. 

When I thought about starting all over again in Wisconsin, I was very scared that I would feel lonely. This feeling leads me into a state of depression. Not Clinical depression, but a depression no less. I have to make sure that I keep busy to stay sane. 

My first week here, besides getting my routine down (like my running/job hunting, movie going, farmer's market, etc.), I decided to really "get out there." I tried out a yoga studio, joined a book club, went bar hopping, and attended a young professionals networking group, all within 10 days of my arrival. I still had too much down time! But, I met some people, and established some relationships, which have lead me to become somewhat busy, and the fear of feeling isolated has vanished. 

So flash forward to today. It is a Sunday, and since I can remember, I have hated Sundays. Sundays are the only day I do not run. Perhaps this has something to do with it. (But this does give me permission to take in as much alcohol as I want on Saturday night, without worrying about running with a horrible hangover....) I think the lack of structure on this day has always made me dread it. I was excited for today, because I had brunch and dinner plans. Ironically enough, they were both cancelled! (One I was responsible for, the other, I wasn't). But lucky for me, I made sure to have a great day, and here is what happened...

When brunch was cancelled, I was already dressed, so I decided to go to that wine/coffee place I frequent. I had a coffee, and pulled apart the newspaper, looking for a place to live (that's another story, for another time). I sat at my favorite table - it's a barn table, and it's long enough to share with other coffee drinkers. A couple came in, and wanted to sit with me. He was wearing a "Boston" sweatshirt, and we immediately start talking about Boston, as I lived there from '02-'04. I ordered lunch, and we got to know each other. We spent my entire lunch chatting away, and before I knew it, I had to go to a 1:00 appointment down town. We exchanged names, and said our "good-byes." 

Next, I meet a man to look at a place to live. It's a dump, and I tell him nicely that I don't want it. I decide that he's a freak, and he tells me to meet him at another one of his rentals. I go. He pulls up in a Smart car! How cool is that? He shows me this next place, which is going to be moved from one street down town to another! I still think he is a freak. Then, we start talking, and I quickly figure out that he is a prominent character in Madison, and he owns real estate all over the place. After figuring me out rather quickly, he makes some calls to some people he knows. He says to them, "I am with this woman who wants something much fancier than what I have. Are you still wanting to rent your place?" I didn't even have to say anything! He drives me around in his Smart car (again, how cool?), and everyone stares at us (I thought it was because I tried out some new make-up...), and we had a blast. 

As we go our separate ways, my phone rings, and it's a new friend, I made a few weeks ago, wanting to get together for a dog hike. My day sure did fill up fast. And, I was worried about having nothing to do on a Sunday! 

Madison is a very friendly town. Some cities are that way, and others (like Boston), are not. I encourage everyone to get out there, and create your entertainment. It can be hard to go to a networking event alone, or try a yoga studio, when you aren't a guru, but it's simply something to do, and it's the best way to make a life for yourself. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting "Unstuck"

Recently, I was having a drink with a friend who I was just getting to know. They told me that they are in a relationship that they are starting to question, and have explored intimacy with other women, and they are really enjoying it. In other words, my friend (I'll call him Patrick), is cheating.

He started to ask me my story, and how I ended up in Madison. I told him I had been flirting with the idea of moving to Madison for some time. All sorts of things can hold you down from such a life change: family, money, job, marriage, relationship, need I say more? Without divulging too much information here, let me just say that I knew I had to leave Cleveland.

I am writing this post because people continue to ask me how I was "brave enough" to just "up and leave." It's funny because I don't see myself as being brave at all. It has always been in my nature to do what I want. Isn't that what our generation is about?

Even yesterday, a young girl told me that she and her boyfriend of five years are "taking a break," because they are currently in different countries, but that she is scared to break up with him. She asked for my advice.

Now, I am not an expert on this. All I can tell you is that when you start to question your relationship, you MUST move on. Who wants to spend the rest of their life second guessing their partnership? It is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot believe how many people have divulged information about their "questionable" relationships to me, since I have moved here. They tell me all sorts of things such as:

Their comment:
"I cheated on her, and it was fun. I would like to do it again."

My response:
"If you liked it, it sounds like you are ready to be single again. You can feel free to do it as much as you want, when you are single."

Their comment:
"I love him, but I like the attention I get when I go out with my friends."

My response:
(see above).

Their comment:
"I am not sure I want to spend the rest of my life with him."

My response:
"Do you really think that that feeling is going to go away? If you are wondering that in your 20s, then maybe he is not the one to spend the rest of your life with..."

Unfortunately, I do feel that these people feel the need to meet the old fashioned expectations of settling down. But life is too darn short for that.

Let me get back to my friend, Patrick for a moment. I told him that I thought he was stuck in this boring relationship, and that he simply needed to end it. He told me that he knew that, but he just couldn't do it. He said it would be too painful, and too hard. This is all true. It will be. I don't disagree with him. However, don't you think that the rest of his life will be pretty hard if he doesn't break up with his girlfriend?

As people say, time heals all wounds. Making the decision to break-up with someone after a long relationship is not an overnight thing. But if you are uncertain, and feeling what my friends have expressed to me, then imagine how you feel once you end it. You may feel stuck, and yes, breaking up is awful. It is the death of a relationship. In my 28 years, my break-ups were up there with my parent's separation, and the loss of my grandparents, but you do get over these things, and you grow, and you learn, and, you HAVE FUN!! Do all those things you are dreaming of. If you are eyeing men at a bar, go for it! But, please, get out of your relationship first!

I know it's not that easy. I do know that. It's going to hurt. But, I want you to know that you can do it. This is for all of my friends who are "stuck." When in doubt, get out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My "new" favorite hiking destination

I cannot believe I started posting last week, and I am already getting inquiries on why I haven't blogged since Friday. Sometimes life just gets in your way, doesn't it? 

Upon my arrival to Wisconsin, I was introduced to Devil's Lake: Devilslakewisconsin.com. 
This is a state park roughly 45 minutes outside of Madison. It is a large area, (I am not sure how many acres there are), but it features camp sites, bike and hiking trails, cross country skiing, swimming, and more. I really enjoyed my visit there, and so did my dog . Even though it is a little bit of a drive (did I mention I have filled my gas tank 3 times since I moved here in July?), it is worth it. You hike along an Ice Age Trail, and the views are lovely. I have hiked there twice since my first visit. 

Last weekend, I went there (sans dog), and enjoyed a gorgeous day. The loop I did sans dog (and sans baby) took exactly an hour and a half less... By the way, the baby is not mine, it's my sister and her husband's. 

This brings me to a new topic. When being seen in public with the baby, I yell, "You are my favorite nephew!" Then, I follow up with, "Don't you love your auntie?" If an adult is around with me, I quickly hand him over to them, so nobody thinks I have a child. 

Back to my new town. So, on the way home from Devil's Lake this past Saturday, I visited a local winery called Wollersheim: Wollersheim.com. (It's 8:00 PM, and I am currently sipping on my wine purchase, a Sangiovese, 2006 - very tasty!) The setting was also spectacular. It is situated on a hill, ovelooking the Wisconsin River. In Wisconsin, you do not have to pay for alcohol samples, and there was a generous tasting in their facilities. After sampling about six options, I selected the Sangiovese because it tasted smooth, with a little "bite" to it. It has a screw top and I learned in a wine tasting class that wines with screwtops are truly superior to corked wines. 

I hope that I can utilize Devil's Lake for a little camping before the snow hits the ground. I also hope I can use Wollersheim en route to camping, to enjoy a little wine over a bonfire. 


Friday, September 5, 2008

Volunteering for Obama

With the upcoming election, Madison is pretty politically active (compared to what I am used to, anyways). I should start out by letting you know that in 2004, I was living 2 blocks away from John Kerry in Boston. When the 24 hour security started sitting outside his townhouse, it got pretty exciting. (I get starstruck easily). Once, I looked through the window, and saw Teresa Heinz, sitting in an armchair, reading. But for some reason, the electricity just wasn't the same as it is here.

Being in such a liberal town, it reminds me very much of being surrounded by my college friends and classmates at Wooster. People want to discuss politics with you, and there are "Watch Parties," to watch the conventions.

So, yesterday, I decided to stop by the Obama "Campaign for Change" headquarters, and give them a little of my time. They looked at me and said, "Well, all we have open right now is phone calls." They looked at me sympathetically, knowing that this was the only opportunity they have because it is the least desirable. In fact, I could tell they half expected me to say I would come back another day. As you probably know, I am a salesperson, and have spent plenty of time on the phone, so what if some people get nasty with me? Big deal.

I was given a list of geriatrics to call who are "undecided." Some of them were rude, and I thought to myself, "Up yours, you old bag. You're the one who is probably sitting on the couch watching 'Wheel of Fortune,' while I am volunteering!" Anyways, that aside, the most interesting thing I learned is that several of these "older" people informed me that they wanted Hillary, but now that she is out, they like Palin, so they are voting for McCain. Interesting to know. I was given a script, and chose to keep my opinions to myself.

This is a very exciting time. I encourage everyone to register to vote.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


September 4, 2008

I am proud to say that upon arriving to Madison, I have not gone into a chain of any sort. (Is Planned Parenthood a chain?) This city fully supports the local businesses. While always trying to avoid chains and franchises, it was always difficult in other cities. 

Take the coffee selections, for example. In my new town, there are so many options, and so few Starbucks stores, that it is a no brainer to skip the whole "fancy, tall, skinny latte" experience, and give your money to a local owner. There are currently three coffee shops that I frequent regularly. The one I am currently sitting in sells wine, which I also love.  The great thing about selling wine, is that when I have a really stressful day, (and I do...), if the time is past noon, I can skip the whole coffee and start drinking wine, while sitting at my laptop. 

The Starbucks on State Street went out of business. (I know, I know, they closed 600 of their stores). I may have seen one Starbucks since I got to town. So, I guess what I am telling you is that Madison is moving in the right direction. 

The restaurants I have experienced are also tasty and "non-chainish." A lot of them get their food from the local farmers, so not only are they supporting the local economy, but the food is extra fresh. 

Another example of anti-globalization would be the little drug store I went to treat a massive hangover. Yes, the prices are a little steeper, but isn't everything pricier these days? So what's the difference, really? This cute "mom & pop" shop was packed with people, and the employees were so professional. They actually seemed happy to be working there. The card section was jammed, and everyone seemed to know each other. You just don't have these experiences in a Walgreens

It may be a little harder for you to find a ton of independently owned establishments, but I hope that I have convinced you that it is important. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Media and Madison

September 3, 2008

Well, it didn't take long for me to self promote, as I did in Cleveland. Upon my arrival, I attended a networking event at a bar/restaurant, where I "worked the room," hustling for connections. About a week after this affair, I was informed by several people in town that I made it into the online slide show from that evening. 

Last week, I watched Obama's speech at a local theater. Of course, the news was there, and I was asked to talk to Channel 7. They asked my opinion of his speech, and what I thought about him in general. I gave politically correct answers, so don't you worry. A few days later, I was again informed by several people in town that they had seen me on the news. 

One of the other news stations was there, and their news anchor was working hard to get his segment on. As he walked out of the theater, he was informed by his producers that they were not going to air his piece. He was livid. I was dared to approach him and talk him down from his temper tantrum, which, of course, I did. My witnesses told me that it appeared as if I had freaked him out a bit. 

Now, I just need some national publicity, which reminds me - I may be in tonight's episode of "Dinner Impossible" on the Food Network, airing at 10 PM, EST. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My life in Madison

September, 2 2008

Since I have moved to Madison, every day is an experience.

I run in the mornings to get it out of the way. Today, I decided to try a group run at 5:30. We will see how I like it. My route is usually a little over four miles, and half of it is on the bike path. It amazes me how many people are on the path, regardless of the weather conditions/time of day. One hot, hazy, humid, mid-morning run, I counted 29 people on a quarter of a mile stretch. That was my first week here. It's funny that the week before, I ran on the Cleveland bike path in cooler conditions for five miles, and never passed a soul. I guess that is one of the reasons I love Madison.

Saturday mornings, I run to the farmer's market. This is also about a 4 mile run. This past Saturday was the opening football game at UW. I ran through the streets, as I passed by thousands of people tailgating. I felt like I was in a race, but I was the only runner. (Either that, I or I was winning)!

Typically on Tuesdays, I see an independent film at the Sundance Theater , and have drinks on the rooftop bar. The problem is that Wednesday mornings have become too much of a struggle for me, post the rooftop bar part of Tuesday evenings.... so, I am trying something new for Tuesdays.

Here are the movies I have seen at the Sundance:
"Tell No One," An excellent french suspense. It was remarkable.
"Vicky, Christina, Barcelona," The new Woody Allen film. It was entertaining. There certainly is eye candy there.
"Elegy," Based on Philip Roth's new novel. I didn't think it was anything spectacular. It is difficult at times to watch Ben Kingsley kissing Penelope Cruz. Ed Harris should have been cast as the celebrated professor.

More to Come...