Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Amusing Myself in Verona

There were five of us on the shuttle from the Madison Airport to the hotel.  At first we rode in silence but the man and woman in front of me began a long, inane conversation, at least inane on the woman's side, who took everything literally.  She was chattering about all the trips she's made lately and how behind she is in other aspects of her life.  "So the laundry's piling up," said the man.
 "Oh no!"  said the woman.  "I don't really have that much laundry."

It developed that everyone on the shuttle was here for classes at the Epic HQ.  They were all report writers.  I don't know if that's better than a builder or not, but I was the only medical person.  It was a long drive to Verona and our driver took us straight through Madison and I caught a glimpse of State St., which looks like the fun part.  I will get there, somehow .  If you think I'm going to spend an entire week languishing in the suburbs without once making a trip into town, you don't know me very well. 

Once in the hotel, it was 4:00PM on a Sunday and I had nothing to do.  After consulting google maps, I decided to take a walk.  I felt very conspicuous, as I was the only pedestrian, and since google has slightly misplaced my hotel,  I walked confusedly up and down W Verona Ave getting my bearings.  It was hot and flat and there wasn't much to see, but I headed toward Main St.--usually the place to find any action in a small town--and after walking half a mile I found it.  This was more like it, or if not more like it, at least something like it.  Small, semi-cute, with  old houses and locally-owned businesses--a yarn shop/espresso cafe (nice concept) an art gallery/cafe, a couple of pizzerias, a commons with a covered pavillion for the weekly farmer's market .  I stopped into a grocery store--it looked locally owned--and bought a few supplies.  The food situation is going to be grim since I am following a strict diet.   The market had non-fat Greek yogurt and cans of tuna, and on these pathetic foods I dined alone in my room.

It was only 6:30 pm.  The time difference was turning this into an endless day.  I decided to go for a run, choosing as my route the way to the Epic headquarters, a nice 3.6 miles, round trip.  The run did not go well.  For one thing, my diet is causing me to experience significant muscle weakness, and for another, I felt horribly visible running through the neat suburban neighborhood near Epic.  The sun was still bright--I prefer to run at dusk or before sunrise, but didn't want to get stupidly lost in the dark--and the good citizens of Verona were mowing their lawns and taking out their trash, but none of them were running.  I was alone, a stranger in a small town, and as conspicuous as a carrot in a bowl of cabbages.  My poor sugar-deprived muscles were protesting and then I encountered the Hill.  I thought Wisconsin was flat.  But no, here's this mofo hill that goes on and on and on, eventually ending within site of the Epic facility, but where google maps  describes a road to headquarters, there was actually no such thing and I realized that if I had tried to walk to Epic in the morning (as had been my plan) I would have had to struggle across a field and look  like an idiot. Lesson:  it's always good to do some scouting.

Back at the hotel, I settled in for a cozy night of catching up on Mad Men via netflix.  People always say, "Don't bring your laptop, you don't want to lug it around."  They're wrong.  ALWAYS BRING YOUR LAPTOP.   My hotel, by the way, is very nice.  It's a Holiday Inn Express, and while "express," in the service industry, is usually a euphamism for crappy, that doesn't apply here.  I'm especially impressed with the pillows.  There are six of them on my bed, and the pillow cases are embroidered "soft," "medium," and "firm."  Very considerate.  There's also a phone on the wall right next to the toilet, you know, in case you're sitting on the toilet and get a sudden craving for a cheeseburger or to call your mother-in-law.  (OK, I KNOW it's for emergencies of the "I've fallen off the toilet and can't get up" variety, but still.  It's not like toilet phones are standard equipment.

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