I just celebrated my one-year anniversary of living in Madison, Wisconsin, after leaving Brooklyn, New York. At the moment I'm watching the squirrels tear across the roof in front of my office ? my office! I couldn't say that about our old one-bedroom.
There are things I miss ? my favorite sushi restaurant, the pottery studio at Long Island University, friends, style, the pace and hunger ? but Madison has been terrific. If you ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant, you are handed the container to do it yourself. The lead story on local news is dependably about the Badgers, either football or hockey. People arrive at movie theaters right at the exact time the movie is supposed to start. There are places like Grampa's Gun Shop. Cheese curds are actually good. And this town has been so nice, encouraging and generous to a transplanted, first-time novelist.
Last week I read at the Wisconsin Book Festival. I felt like a hometown gal. I shared the stage with the Heidi Julavits, novelist and editor of The Believer, and Michelle Wildgen, novelist and editor of Tin House. I am the editor of nothing, but I was flattered to be in their company. Both were lovely and very impressive. I enjoyed the reading probably foremost because it was on a stage that made the audience dim (I mean hard to see, not obtuse) and I could hide behind the massive podium.
It was a nasty night in Madison, a rain and snow combo, cold and windy, so I was doubly grateful to the crowd that showed up. My husband’s uncle and cousin drove in from Chicago, which was very sweet and supportive of them. They arrived bearing the marvelous gift of a fondue set. I have such fond seventies memories of my sisters and I frying chunks of meat in hot bubbling oil, which usually meant my parents were going out and we could watch as much TV as we wanted (including the ever creepy Fantasy Island. Remember the one where the devil was on?). Needless to say, I'm excited envisioning a three course fondue meal: cheese, oil, chocolate, though I may be eating is alone since my husband, who has no such childhood associations, says it sounds kind of gross.
Now that the end of daylight savings has sounded its gong, I'm going into hibernation.