Tag Archives: Madison

39 signs you grew up in Madison, Wisconsin

5307_4679843646254_965550817_nWhen I saw the Thought Catalog article, “26 Signs You’ve Lived in Madison, Wisconsin” making it’s social media rounds, I was thrilled! I love Thought Catalog. I love love love Madison!

While some of the list items were purely Madison, the majority of the article was UW-Madison student-centered and there is so so much more to my fair city.

So, I bring you a list:

39 signs you grew up in Madison, Wisconsin (according to Kelsey Bewick)

1. You “snuck into” the student section at Badger football, basketball and hockey games.

2. When it comes to singing UW’s Alma Mater you instinctively wrap your arms around your neighbor and sway. And aside from “U RAH RAH WI-SCOOO-OOOON-SIN,” you have no idea what the people around you are singing.

3. You politely ask your gracious parents to drive you and your friends downtown to avoid dealing with parking (read: paying for parking) when spending a night out.

4. You and your friends visit places like The Old Fashioned, Capital Tap Haus and State Street Brats with the sole intent of ordering a basket of cheese curds and a few beers.

5. You’ve discussed, in depth, the logistics of holding a Cheese Curd Crawl– like a bar crawl, only with cheese curds.

6. You recognize Culver’s cheese curds are sub par—with their thick breading and mixed cheeses—but you’ll still order some when you’re feigning a fix.

7. You visit “townie bars,” on your respective side of town, and you know every single person in the place– it’s like a high school reunion. Silver Eagle, anyone?

8. You want to love our lakes, but you realize they are disgusting mid-June through early September. 

9. Regardless of how gross our lakes are you still spend every available summer minute on or near them.

10. You don’t look twice when you see hoards of people waking around downtown with with a steamed-up bag of bread on a summertime Saturday morning. It’s also commonplace to see these same people ripping strips of this bread from the bag and eating it as they walk.

11. Stella’s Spicy Cheese Bread and coffee make for a feasible Farmer’s Market breakfast. Feasible and delicious.

12. Aside from the cheese bread and coffee commodities, the true reason you attend the Farmer’s Market is to people watch from the Capitol lawn.

13. You’ve seen a pack of naked bikers make laps around the Capitol Square on a few chosen Saturday morning Farmer’s Markets. And you’ve felt a true sense of community when you turn away from that pack and see that every single person around you is also smiling ear-to-ear.

14. You still rely on a GPS to navigate hidden streets on the other side of town.

15. When you’re feeling especially directionally challenged, you call your parents– who’ve lived in Madison their entire lives– and begin feeding them landmarks until they lead you to a recognizable place.

16. You know what it feels like to bike through the middle of rush hour traffic– in your own bike lane.

17. You’ve gotten lost on our maze of bike paths at least once… or you’ve hopped on a portion of the bike path and popped out in some part of the city you did not intend to.

18. You’ve taken a kayak or canoe down a random river channel and popped out in some part of the city you did not intend to.

19. You’ve probably met the governor during a school field trip to the Capitol. If not, you’ve surely taken a class photo in the courtroom during a school field trip to the Capitol.

20. If you’ve moved away, you’re far more excited to dine at your favorite local restaurants than you are to eat your mother’s home cooking when you return home.

21. You get sucked into the hype that is Freak Fest.

21. You don’t fully understand the hype that is Freak Fest.

22. When you were young enough to attend the Mifflin Street Block Party, you thought it was the coolest thing.

23. You remember when the Westside felt like a faraway, foreign land.

24. You’re still wondering what happened to the Holiday Parade around the Square. Remember that?

25. “Sea of Red” conjures up images of State Street and Camp Randall crawling with people clad in Badger gear on game day.

26. And speaking of game day… the smell of grilled brats at 9 a.m. on Regent Street is completely familiar.

27. You remember when South Towne Mall was a real mall, not the strip mall it is today.

28. You had the luxury of using city buses as everyday transportation to and from middle school.

29. You also had the luxury of chasing down said city buses, if you didn’t make it to the bus stop on time.

30. The first warm spring day was a big deal– it meant you, your cousins and your aunt would wander in and out of  State Street shops.

31. While you could never wear it yourself, you enjoy the wafts of patchouli oil you smell while walking around State Street.

32. You’ve never been able to escape conversations about politics and the environment.

33. You vaguely remember what Lake Monona’s skyline looked like before the Monona Terrace.

34. The word “Beltline” makes you cringe.

35. You had no idea you suffered from road rage until you drove on the Beltline at rush hour for the first time.

36. Your parents grew up with the mothers and fathers of some of your best childhood friends, because most of them never left the Eastside of town. And you think that is the greatest thing.

37. There is something so cool about the Capitol, you cannot get enough of it.

38. You’re constantly learning new things about Madison that cause you to fall further in love with the city.

39. You get that Madison is big, but small at the same time, and unique, and special and you have your own list of things that remind you of home and life in Madison.

This weather

There’s something about the initial crack in winter that elates Midwesterners.  That first sunny day when you wake to the somewhat foreign sound of birds chirping.  That first 50-degree day when patches of snow still dot the ground, yet you and your friends use the new weather as an excuse to play outside.  That slow transition from bitterly cold to somewhat mild that we as Midwesterners force.

Lucky for us, there is no forcing a transition from winter to spring this year.  Because while nearly 10 inches of snow was dumped on Madison, Wis., one Friday, the very next Friday was comprised of bright sun and 70-degree temperatures, which only rose to record-breaking 80-degree temps in the following days.

And oh boy do Madisonians love their 80-degree winter days!  It’s this population’s readiness to embrace these ridiculous, way beyond expectations, oh my gosh the apocolypse might actually not be so far-fetched,  unseasonably warm temperatures that makes me proud of my fellow Madisonians, Wisconsinites and Midwesterners.

Growing up in the Midwest, I noticed there was always that one person– usually a man, who usually didn’t dress appropriately to begin with– who donned shorts and skipped jackets throughout the winter months.  But this year those men were not alone.  Because though it’s unlikely the majority of us were wearing shorts in February, it is true that a lot of us weren’t wearing jackets.  Not only were we not wearing jackets, but we were outside doing non-winter activities December through March.  (This winter I spent more time biking the 13-mile Lake Loop trail than I did skiing at the local hills).  Outdoor activities were only amplified in the past couple weeks as Madisonians basked in the summer warmth during the last few days of winter.

March 11: I was overjoyed to discover that my cousins and I weren’t the only ones to think that an afternoon spent hiking through the University Arboretum was a good idea… and even more excited to find that in an attempt to bronze my glow-in-the-dark pale legs, I wasn’t the only one hiking in shorts.

March 15: My Aunt left me a voicemail in which she shockingly explained that there was a speedboat pulling a skier on Lake Monona (!!!!).  I’m sure I too would be out there (of course zipped tight in my drysuit), had Father Tom not committed the ultimate sin and sold our ski boat the first summer I decided to not move home.

March 17 & 16: I was thrilled to discover so many fellow kayakers paddling through area lakes and rivers.  One watchful citizen was even kind enough to forge a path through the brush and run riverside to inform us that indeed it is March and the water is still very cold.  And if we tipped we’d have a matter of minutes– 3 to 4, to be exact– until we’d succomb to hypothermia and drown… that is if we were able to catch our breath after the shock of the cold water altered our breathing pattern.  Perhaps a huge overkill warning coming from the mouth of a stranger, but waterever, my fellow Madisonians are just looking out for my well-being on these hot winter days and I can dig that.

March 17:  My small posse and I trekked through a good majority of downtown Madison in an attempt to find an outdoor patio where we could soak in sun rays while soaking up alcohol.  Granted it was Saturday, and St. Patrick’s Day, and Badger Basketball game-day, and a WIAA State High School Basketball Tournament weekend, but I still chalk the difficulty in this task up to the fact that it was an absolutely gorgeous winter day.  Not only do my fellow Madisonians love to drink, but they love to drink outside!  We did end up finding a place to sit; only after we spotted a group in the distance standing at their table, sprinted to them, asked if they were leaving, and began taking a seat before they had left.  It was worth it.

Whether it’s global warming, the impending apocolypse, or just a kind hand from the weather gods that completely detracted from winter this year, I am not complaining.  Keep it coming and us heat-deprived Midwesterners will continue soaking it up!

Banana on the bus

Ask anyone who has spent time with me for more than a day and they will likely inform you that I love to tell stories.  They’ll then likely follow that up with a comment about how I’m the worst storyteller ever.

So a disclaimer before you embark on this story:  The following event took place in 2003 when I was in 8th grade and  nearly a decade later my best friends and I still laugh hysterically when we reminisce… this could be due to that fact that it truly is a great story or because we just laugh hysterically at a lot of things.  So to you, reader, this will either be quite funny or ‘you just had to be there’… which after the crickets have faded, is the line I use to end most of my stories.

An intense pang of fear overtook me as I gripped the plastic seat-top and ducked for cover.  I had feared this moment would come the second I stepped onto that after school city bus and saw the browned banana smashed into the grooved floor.

I cringed as I guided my K Swiss Classics around the annihilated fruit and took a seat in the back of the bus.

That 3 p.m. trip on the 115 began as every trip had.  Being that it was Friday, we had a slightly larger group of friends with us, as Friday was the day we took the bus to it’s final stop and walked a few extra blocks to Culver’s for a celebratory weekend kick-off dinner.  Middle school was stressful and we needed to unwind.  Frozen custard always did the trick.

I’m not sure which of my fellow bus-riders noticed the banana second.  (Being that I was born with an intense phobia of bananas I was, of course, the first to notice the overripe fruit; though in an attempt to avoid drawing attention to the brownish yellow monstrosity, I did my best to divert my stare).  But somebody obviously noticed it, because soon after the 115 pulled away from the curb the entire back half of the bus was conversing about that banana.

The next thing I remember, small chunks of smushed banana were soaring in every direction.  Being that a good majority of Sennett Middle School knew of my intense disgust toward bananas at the time, I felt like an obvious target.  My fight-or-flight senses kicked in and I abandoned my backpack and shielded myself  between the two-person seats in front of me.  While frantically ducking for cover, I envisioned banana chunks becoming tangled and mashed into my perfectly combed tendrils of hair.  It was then that I desperately called out for the madness to stop.

Just as was I retreating from my soapbox, an especially mashed wad of pungent banana began it’s beeline straight toward my head.  Assuming I couldn’t move quick enough to dodge this bullet, I franticly swatted my hand to protect my face. Within milliseconds, my powder blue glitter mitten had defiantly deflected the banana chunk.  A rush of relief came over me as the piece of banana fell to the seat before me.

My comfort was further bolstered as I looked up to see my savior of a best friend pulling the yellow cord to signal the bus driver that we were ready to get the heck off!  My friends and I filed out of the back bus door and gossiped about what an atrocious Friday afternoon bus ride that was.  Mid-conversation the overwhelming smell of banana suddenly overtook my nostrils.  I desperately looked down to find banana shrapnel clinging to the glittered fingers of my mittens.  Fearing the worst, I quickly whipped them off and held the cuffs with my fingertips, dangling the glitter mittens like they were roadkill.

With no feasible plan of action and friends that were nearly peeing their pants from laughter, I frustratingly shoved the mittens under a nearby bush and covered them with snow in an attempt to wipe away the foul debris.

We continued our short trek to Culver’s while I kept my banana-free hands tucked  in my pockets.  And when one of our moms’ drove us home that night I requested that she pull over so I could retrieve the tainted mittens.  I then dropped them in the laundry room the moment I stepped into my house and recounted the evenings events to my parents, who weren’t the least bit amused by  it.


Lake Monona in Madison at sunset, only slightly embellished with Instagram

Living and learning

I’ve always looked at summertime as the season to really live. It’s freedom from studies, stress and sub-zero temperatures. And subsequently, it presents endless opportunities.

In addition to ‘living it up’ this summer, I was presented with the opportunity t0 intern at BRAVA Magazine in Madison.

With only 2 weeks left as an intern (which is a synonym for “unpaid”), here’s what I’ve learned… while I’ve lived…

  • As much as we strive for perfection, it is not something that can always be obtained. Especially when a close deadline, multiple brains and numerous edits are involved.
  • “The Pit” is so much better with good company.
  • Yes, the AP Stylebook is my friend, but it isn’t nearly as useful as my News Writing professors made it out to be.
  • Don’t eat breakfast before a fashion shoot. There will be juice, fruit and muffins-galore!
  • Even though your tape-recorder claims to have half it’s battery juice left, it’s lying. Devastating is an understatement when only two minutes of a 40-minute interview are recorded.
  • It is not hard to spend an entire day shaving 50 words off a story… and then reworking the lead… and then adding 20 more words.
  • A candy dish is a must. Chocolate candies are superior.
  • If you’re interviewing a Go-Go dancing bike troupe, Go-Go dance with them!
  • Go all out in your 20s, ’cause it’s all downhill from here. Thank you, Editor, for the wise words.
  • Taping the bottoms of shoes and steaming dresses is harder than it looks.
  • Monthly magazines are quick. It’s always on to the next thing!

And on to the next thing I go! I’m so thankful for the experience I’ve gained and the people I’ve worked with while at BRAVA. I have truly lived and learned so much these past three months.


Capitol square embellished with Instagram