The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What a long, strange trip it's been. . .

 Another view up Bascon Hill, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, toward Bascon Hall and the statue of Abe Lincoln with Van Hise Hall (my old stomping grounds) peeking out just to the right.

Today's post has nothing to do with attire, conduct, or, indeed, style in any sense.  Instead, it has to do with pure nostalgia.  It was exactly 20 years ago that yours truly left Pennsylvania and headed west to Madison, Wisconsin as a transfer student to the mighty UW-Madison to continue my education. Right about now in '94, I was starting a part-time work-study job in the Geography Library (in the beautiful and historic Science Hall below) and settling into the newest chapter in my life by exploring the isthmus downtown and mainlining plenty of caffeine in the various cafes that line State Street, the largely pedestrian thoroughfare that stretches from Library Mall at the edge of campus all the way to Capitol Square right downtown. 

 An autumn view from Van Hise Hall of part of campus and downtown Madison.

Notable courses that first semester included Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: Sagas to 1900 taught by the late Professor Niels Ingwersen, with whom I later worked closely as a graduate student and teaching assistant.  He was a mentor of sorts although he was not my official adviser.   There was also Russian History 417: The Middle Ages to 1814, and my absolute favorite, the first semester of Second Year Norwegian.  The less said about my computer science course the better.  Not especially interesting, exciting, or relevant. . .  even then.  But otherwise, what an incredibly thrilling time the next five years were.  

Van Hise Hall with Lake Mendota, University Bay, and Picnic Point beyond.

If I could change just one thing about those years in Madison, it would be to have met and spent time with my wife, the Grand Duchess, while I attended UW-Madison.  I had to go a short distance up Interstate 94 to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, to meet her at the University of Minnesota, where I continued my studies in a Ph. D. program in 2000.  Madison would have been amazing to experience with her beyond the occasional weekends we have enjoyed there since meeting and eventually marrying in '06.

 An old favorite on State Street close to Capitol Square.

As I think I mentioned here recently, my nostalgia for Madison always comes to the fore each August, but it is stronger this year.  If I could figure out an easy way to return and establish residence in the city, I would do so in an instant.  Barring that, somewhere in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Bergen (Norway), Berlin, Bremen, Lübeck, or maybe Hamburg in Germany would do equally nicely, thank you.  All places with water strangely.  And then there is always Bolzano in Northern Italy where I've not yet been, but it looks delightful.  And Italian men know how to dress!  But Madison comes as close to feeling like "home" for me at this point in my life more so than anywhere else.  Funny how the mind and memory combine with pleasant life experiences to create these wistful longings for a certain place and time.

Back at the edge of campus, Science Hall at the foot of Bascom Hill, where I worked for three years in the Geography Library on the second floor at left through the arched windows.

On another note, imagine my surprise and delight to discover yesterday that I do not, in fact, begin teaching until Tuesday this week (tomorrow).  So, one last relatively carefree morning at home before the long summer vacation comes to an end.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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