What specific Madison businesses are doing? And how can you continue supporting them.
This will be an ever evolving list of how different local businesses are altering their offerings during the Coronavirus. A Room Of One's Own -- $1 delivery fee & shortened hours : 12-4pm (free curbside pickup in Madison) Johnson Public House -- Online ordering & specific delivery areas Communication -- Continue supporting them through Patreon EatStreet -- Officially offering the option to "leave food by the door" Cafe Domestique -- Carry Out Only Pasture & Plenty -- Meals to go Bradbury's -- Virtual Tip Jar to help their workers during this time (venmo @bradburyscoffee) To reiterate on our previous piece... MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES ON SOCIAL MEDIA. It's the easiest way to stay informed when information changes so rapidly. Maybe finally social media will be a tool truly used for good.
It's clear to all that the Coronavirus pandemic is going to continue causing widespread disruptions. Schools have already been closed, most events have been canceled or postponed and countries are beginning to close all in-person businesses that are not grocery stores and pharmacies. It's also easy to see that local businesses, especially restaurants, shops, bars and cafes are going to be hit particularly hard. It's unclear how long the pandemic will go and the Surgeon General told congress it's going to get worse before it gets better which leaves a lot of people concerned. So we've compiled a simple list of ways you can help your favorite local businesses during this uncertain time. Buy gift cards to use for later. This will give your local businesses a bit of cash infusion while customers are staying home. Plus it's like a fun gift to yourself once we can all safely go out and gather! Order Online. Many shops have online shops have online stores that you can still buy things from. Instead of loading up your Amazon cart maybe check out the websites of your favorite businesses instead. TIP: If your favorite shop doesn't have an online store see if they are selling things through their Instagram -- DM them if you're not sure. Order Delivery. This many seem counter intuitive but many local restaurants are staying open for a variety of reasons (trying to continue supporting their employees for one) but this means they need business to keep running. Now is the time to not feel guilty for ordering your food for delivery (even if it's just around the corner). TIPS: Make sure to pay online if you can and include the tip with your order. Note in "special instructions" to have the delivery person drop off the food outside the door, this helps limit the amount of contact they have with individuals to keep you and them safe. Submit Testimonials. When all of this is done, no matter how well we try to support our local businesses, they will have struggled during this time. Take this time to submit testimonials and reviews to all your favorite spots so once things are back to normal (whatever that means), more customers can find them. Share, Follow, Link & Engage. Similar to the one above, this is all about helping prepare local businesses to be in the best possible scenario post Coronavirus. As much as we dislike how powerful social media is, it is. Following, linking and engaging with their content is the best way for your network to learn about them. Or better yet, directly TELL your network about them. This is the perfect time to help your local business get some free organic marketing. TIP: Many small businesses use social media to update their customers regarding any changes including direct ways to help them. If you don't follow your favorite bookstore or coffee shop currently now is the time to do so! And as always WASH YOUR HANDS and STAY INSIDE. We know it's a broken record but really, just do it. Wash your hands more than you think is necessary for longer than you think is necessary with warmer water than you usually use. The best way to help the local economy is to make sure as few people get sick as possible and that we get this pandemic under control which means: Wash your hands and stay inside.
By Emma Wenninger **This is the continuation of Part I Martha knocked on Abby’s back door before sliding the glass open and stepping inside. It was six in the morning. She and Abby developed this routine shortly after becoming neighbors; they’d been relocated together. She would come and help Abby get Keenan ready. With Lamont home she thought it wasn’t necessary for her to be there, but after a few weeks Abby called her and told her she wanted Martha’s help. So Martha came, began making coffee in Abby’s Keurig. She padded up the stairs and knocked on the door to Keenan’s room, pushed softly inside. She started, gasped. Lamont was there, his back to her. But it wasn’t Lamont. It was Lamont. It was a shadow thing, with Lamont’s shape and body, but when she looked at it her eyes slipped off if it, it almost hurt to look at. She felt a sick, nightmare dread blossom in the pit of her stomach. She could see his hand was reaching down, hovering millimeters away from Keenan’s skin. he felt Abby’s arms around her waist, felt Abby pull her back, stumble, the two of them collapsed on the floor, her flank crashing into Abby’s hip. Abby put her hand over her mouth, stifling Martha’s scream. The two of them breathed, held each other, waited. The door slid softly open. Lamont walked out. The real Lamont He looked down at them. “Morning, ladies,” he said. “Morning,” Abby said. Her hand still covered Martha’s mouth, her palm ground into Martha’s teeth. Lamont turned, walked down the stairs. Martha pushed Abby off her, ran into Keenan’s room. He was still asleep, peacefully even, unaware of the thing that had just been in his room. Abby slid in, her back against the wall. “What the fuck?” Martha hissed. Abby shook her head. “Come with me,” she said, taking Martha’s hand and pulling her back down the stairs to the kitchen. When she saw Martha glance around for a sign of Lamont, she said, “He’s not here.” “What the fuck, Abby?” Abby sat down at the table. “Have you seen anything odd, recently? With Matt?” “Abby.” Martha sat down as well. The Keurig spluttered and choked behind her. She was silent. Abby seemed small, bewildered. She leaned in to whisper, and she nearly mouthed the words, “Anything you can’t explain?” Martha felt her heart beat loudly in her chest and ears. She thought about the weight of Matt in the bed next door. She thought of him speaking in his sleep, a gibberish language, having a conversation with no one with words that meant nothing. She thought about looking at him, like she was watching at a three-dimensional image on a two dimensional surface, like the edges of him filled out the space he was supposed to occupy, but at a cost to some reality she had not known she was taking for granted. And then she felt angry, both at Abby’s strange line of questioning and at the questions it made her ask. “You need to tell me what’s going on right now. What was that thing? What was it doing to Keenan?” Abby shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “I … this is going to sound crazy.” Martha waited. Abby continued: “The first week he came back, I know he wasn’t at the house. I know he was gone for two days. I know I know. But I don’t remember. I remember he was there. I remember we took Keenan to the park. But then another part of me also remembers doing those things alone. Or … when I try to remember what we did, I only remember Keenan, and I feel …. It feels like Lamont is there, but I don’t remember him.” Martha knitted her brow, trying to understand. Abby got up, went to a drawer in the counter and pulled out a brown notebook. She sat down again and pressed ahead. “A few weeks ago, I started writing down when Lamont wasn’t home. I wrote down when he would leave, and when he would come back. Here.” She flipped to the most recent entries. “Friday, Lamont leaves. Then Monday morning, he’s back brushing his teeth in the bathroom. He was gone for the whole weekend, last weekend.” “Ok.” Abby closed the book. “Martha, I remember we took Keenan to the movies on Saturday. I remember this. But when I think about it, he wasn’t there. I don’t remember him being there.” “Did you maybe forget to write down when he came home on Saturday?” “I don’t know.” “That doesn’t explain that thing upstairs.” She saw that Abby was about to cry. “I can’t explain it.” She said. “I can’t. But, when he does it, when he goes in and does that, he helps Keenan sleep. He sleeps for hours. And when he wakes up, he’s the best boy. And he asks for his dad. But Lamont isn’t here.” They sat together for a few minutes, until they heard Keenan begin to wake up upstairs. Abby glanced at her. “Will you help me take him to school?” Martha nodded. Abby looked visibly relieved. She got up, went back upstairs. Martha could hear her talking to Keenan, telling him to get dressed. She crossed her arms, stood, slid open the back door and stepped onto the porch. The sun was rising high and hot into the sky. Martha tried to watch for Matt the way Abby did, but found no blips in her memories of him. She and Abby did not talk about Lamont again. She thought about emailing Chuck, asking for Matt’s medical records, the write up of his decompression at the holding facility, but realized she wouldn’t have access to that without Matt’s authorization, and she didn’t want to alarm him. The other returnees were slowly arriving home, and soon she was sent a link to the online support group and chat room setup for the first families. She did not click on it. Instead, she found the latest report on Amy Follino, who was now seven months pregnant. She was apparently having a girl. In the shower Martha stared down at her feet and tried to imagine what it would feel like to be pregnant. Matt seemed listless since returning, occupied. He slept like a stone. What Martha did notice was not forgetfulness or lapses in memory, but that whenever she entered a room Matt smiled at her, took her hand, and then got up and left. It was so natural that at first she didn’t register it. And then she realized she’d gone long stretches of time without seeing Matt at all, and she would get up and find him wherever he was, and he would look at her, hug her, and then shuffle out of the room. She was told she and Matt had access to couples counseling, trauma counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and sex therapists. It was recommended she write down any changes in Matt’s behavior in a private journal, that she seek out her concierge if her partner was unresponsive or in any way different after their return (different being defined by a list of variables and possibilities Martha had been wholly unprepared to anticipate). The problem, though, the meat of the issue was, in fact, that she didn’t mind when Matt was gone. It still felt like she was living alone, waiting for him to return, that nothing in her life had changed. And the thing she’d seen in Keenan’s room, Abby’s worries over Lamont, the eeriness she felt being around Matt now, if she were honest with herself she was happy when he wasn’t there. Her chest grew tight when she saw him enter a room. She took to sleeping in the house’s second bedroom, which was a guest room now but could be a kid’s room if they wanted that. Matt didn’t seem to notice her absence at all. Finally, one night when Matt went to bed early and she got bored of a show she was watching, she decided to pull out her phone and text Chuck. He responded within minutes. Martha couldn’t help her smile. She got her purse and threw a jacket on, stepped out into the night. Chuck was a pleasant looking, if slightly overweight man with a quick laugh and eyes hidden behind thick black frames. He reminded her of her first high school boyfriend. During the first year Matt was gone, she was required to check in with Chuck on a weekly basis. She also had to schedule conference calls with Matt through him, report to him if she was planning to take trips, or remodel her home. The members of the mission to build the station were all given a salary that was useless on Mars, but funded their families back on Earth. Their homes were government owned, their bills paid for, their insurance excellent. The idea, as they had explained it to her, was to phase out the concierges as more people moved to Mars. Chuck was contracted to be with Martha and Abby and a handful of the other first families for another three years, helping them and their returnees acclimate. It was strictly forbidden for concierges to have personal relationships with their families beyond what was required of them in a professional capacity; concierges were “facilitators and friends,” and so could absolutely listen to someone cry or complain about their missing spouse or daughter, could donate to GoFundMe campaigns or participate in office fun runs, and concierges could even host something called “The Green Men Annual Charity Bar-B-Q,” where they dressed up in bright, neon green body suits, pasted cut-outs of green alien faces on the walls and hang up round, red paper lamps meant to look like Mars, but concierges certainly could not, and should never, take the wife of one of the first fifty out to a movie and then sleep with her in his one bedroom apartment downtown. Still. After it rained the light through his windows in the early morning would be soft and quiet. She hadn’t texted or called him since Matt’s return. Martha had been hoping, even beyond hope, that when Matt came back she wouldn’t need Chuck anymore. That he’d been filling a space in her time and life that Matt would have occupied. They met at a dive bar on the outskirts of the city, and when she saw him sitting at the corner of the counter, scrolling idly through his phone, she felt warm and full of space, like going home to the house she grew up in. He saw her right away, waved her over. They ordered a round, and while they waited Martha reached out and wrapped her hand around his wrist. “Things going well with your Martian?” he said. “So far.” She watched his face as she said it. “What about yours?” “Huh?” “Amy Follino’s baby.” Chuck laughed. “Martha. If I knew anything about that I’d have probably tweeted about it already and gotten arrested. I wish.” She leaned forward. “Please, I’m begging you. I just keep watching YouTube videos about her. Can you even imagine what that baby’s going to think when it’s born?” “Probably, ‘It’s cold, put me back.’” “Shut up.” Chuck laughed. “I’m serious, though. How’s Matt?” Martha rolled her eyes. She picked at the label of her beer. “I was hoping when he got back I’d be happy to see him, but. It’s different, it’s just different.” “Yeah.” Chuck pushed his glasses up his nose. “He’s acting weird. He doesn’t really talk to me anymore. Abby thinks something’s going on with Lamont, too.” “Really?” “Off the record, though. You’re not my concierge right now.” “I’m a friend.” She breathed in through her nose, then told him what she’d felt around Matt and Abby told her about Lamont, eliminating the creature in Keenan’s room because that would most likely bring on a federal investigation, and she knew Abby, who seemed so close to tears these days, would never forgive her. “Do you,” she unintentionally leaned in close to him, “know … have you heard anything from the program? Do you think it could be something that happened on the station?” Chuck’s expression became thin. He didn’t answer her, but looked away, down at his glass. Martha felt a muscle in her chest pang just a little. She leaned back, chewing on her upper lip with her bottom teeth. Finally, he said, “As your friend.” “As my friend.” “There was a worry, a concern, about what being in space could do to you.” “Mentally?” Chuck looked at her. “Genetically.” Martha let the word sit before her, settle down next to her bottle. Chuck started again. “As a friend, I can tell you what you can Google. Going into space can change your gene expression. There was a worry that if you come back from space your cell turnover could decrease, your production of bone marrow and red and white blood cells, basically that you were more susceptible to cancer, really. That’s what people were the most concerned about. And astronauts would come back with thin hair, they’d have lost weight. It’s that kind of stuff.” “So, Matt and Lamont could have cancer?” It was an unsatisfying answer. “Well.” She watched a series of thoughts run through Chuck’s mind. He landed on one. “Ok. That’s what genetic expression is. Your body’s ability to process the proteins that keep you alive. Your genes determine what proteins you have, what you work with, basically, during your lifetime. So they were worried if you go in space you put yourself under so much stress and pressure that you could get sick, decrease your body’s ability to maintain itself. Normal stuff. But.” He was tracing a fingernail along the grain of the wood. “There are some chat rooms and boards you can go on, really conspiracy theories, I promise, that would tell you that the stress and pressure changes your genes. Not your genetic expression. Your genes.” “So…” “So there’s like, a three percent genetic difference between us and a banana, right? I mean, I have that wrong, but that’s the idea.” Martha nodded. “Apparently, if you go into space long enough, there could be up to a seven percent difference in your genes when you come back. You’d be a different species.” Martha barked out a laugh. Chuck leaned back; he was smiling and shaking his head in agreement with her surprise. “Again, all very Google-able,” he said. She took a long sip from her beer. “That’s not possible. It literally can’t be possible.” “I don’t know,” Chuck said. “I thought it was nuts when they told me about it. But what if, I don’t know, what if it’s like diamonds, you know? All it is is enough stress and pressure, and then coal becomes a diamond.” “But not instantaneously. Coal doesn’t just go pop and you have a diamond.” Martha laughed again at the idea. “It’s hundreds of thousands of years of intense pressure. Like,” she mashed her fists together, trying to demonstrate what she meant. “I know. I mean, it’s not true anyway.” “Right.” They talked about other things. When Chuck leaned in toward her in the parking lot, she deflected, hugged him good-bye. She wanted to go home with him, badly. But as they walked toward their cars, she found herself studying the line of his shoulders, and knew she wouldn’t be able to do it while Matt was back on Earth. When he was literally worlds away, it didn’t even feel illicit. What could he have done? What would anyone have said? If it were she, if she knew that Matt was sleeping with another member of the space station crew or if their places were reversed, she knew she would understand, would even be a little glad that he wasn’t alone. Chuck pulled away. “I thought…” “I know.” They were silent for a few moments. She looked up at him. And surprised herself when she said, “I don’t love him, Chuck. I don’t. I know that. That is exactly one thing I am very sure of.” She thought about how she had gotten used to Matt’s absence. Had forgotten how he felt, how he smelled, how finally she had stopped missing him at all. Chuck nodded, but did not look at her. “But it’s all more…” she cast about for the appropriate word, but couldn’t think of one, and hated the one she landed on. “...complicated than I thought. And I thought it was going to be really fucking complicated.” She reached up to him, rested the backs of her fingers against his cheek. He leaned into her. “Give me some time, just a little time. Just to figure it all out.” “Sure,” he said. He hugged her again, held her tight enough that she could feel his heart beating, next to hers but for a few layers of bone. Matt was not in the bedroom when she got home. She wandered through the house, lightly calling for him, but he did not respond. She flicked on the kitchen light, but there was no sign of him having eaten. All the doors were locked. She went out her backdoor and crossed the lawn. She could see Abby through the back window, watching TV, resting her chin on her fist. She knocked on the back door and slid it open. Abby looked around, saw her and got up. “Matt’s not at home,” she said. Abby leaned her hip against the the couch. She crossed her arms. “Lamont?” Abby shook her head. “I didn’t hear him go out, but he’s gone.” Martha nodded, sat down at the table. “Do you want to order some food?” she said. Abby shrugged. Martha pulled out her phone, thumbed through a few food service apps. “If I got Chinese would you also eat Chinese?” Abby nodded. She came over to sit across from Martha. Martha reached out and tugged her hand from the envelope of her elbow, held it between her own two hands like a captured moth. She remembered Matt used to do this when he saw she was upset, as a way to draw her out when she’d folded into herself. Martha tugged on Abby, and Abby looked at her; a fugue lifted from her eyes. “What do you want to eat?” Martha said softly. On the baby monitor, they heard Keenan wake, mumble, turn, and fall back asleep. The next day, transmissions stopped coming from the station. They switched frequencies, but there was nothing. The video monitors went down. The connection was deeply, heavily, dark. The group chats lit up. The app crashed. Family members began posting on Facebook, Instagram, uploading live streams and YouTube videos. There was a rushed, harried press conference. Family members began arriving at NASA, waiting in tents outside the building for any hope, any promise that signal would be regained. When some came forward to say their returnee had departed in the middle of the night, Darla called, asked if everything was alright. As soon as she heard Darla’s voice Martha began crying, surprising herself. She told Darla Matt hadn’t come home. Darla said she’d be there as quickly as she could. When she arrived, Martha was glued to the television set, her computer open. Abby had come over. She was fielding calls from other first families, asking if she and Keenan were alright, if Lamont had gone. The website had crashed again and someone on the phone was telling Abby a group was planning on getting together and holding a vigil, another to storm Washington. On television, a far-right group had gathered on the steps of the capitol building, declaring this to be the final punishment before the end of the world. “Turn all of this off,” Darla said. She picked up the remote, clicked the TV off, snapped Martha’s laptop shut. “Hey!” Abby said, but Darla waved her away. Martha got up and ran to her, hugged her. They held each other for a few minutes. Darla ran her hand up and down Martha’s back and Martha felt embarrassed, ashamed, at how much she loved it, leaned into Darla’s body with hers. Darla seemed so much more sure-footed, and Martha was terrified, her fear sharpened into a spiky, crystalized point, because what she felt wasn’t fear for Matt but intense relief, a well of confusion and sadness. “We’re all going to relax. We’re all going to sit down and wait for Matt and Lamont to come home. Have you been in contact with Chuck?” Martha nodded. He’d been singularly unhelpful, unable to tell her anything. They were worried extremist conspiracy groups were trying to tap the phone lines. Darla began making food, which, though it was delicious, Martha could barely eat. She tried Matt’s phone once, twice, but it went straight to voicemail. They would occasionally turn the TV on to find no developments. They’d managed to train a satellite onto the space station and take pictures of it, but it looked eerily calm, a white tent casting no shadows. For a long time Martha sat folded into Darla’s arms on the couch, feeling Darla’s chest rise and fall as she breathed Darla fell asleep in the living room and Abby and Keenan took the master bedroom upstairs. Martha went into the study and turned the computer there on. She went back through her social media until she found Amy Follino’s Facebook. She imagined what it must be like on that planet so far away. If Amy was scared, if she was nervous. If she knew signal had been cut, if she was staring out at the night sky trying to find Earth. If her baby would ever see an ocean, or if it would just be endless whirlpools of dust and dirt, the same faces over and over again. Martha tried to imagine what it would be like to have a body tucked there under her rib cage, if she would ever let it go once it was time, or if she would keep it there where she knew it would be safe forever. She wandered back to the living room, where Darla was sleeping under a thin blanket. She pulled a heavier quilt over her. And as she slid the blanket across Darla’s still body, she felt him. Not a voice or a call, but his presence. He was outside. He was waiting for her. She went to the backdoor, slid it open. The lawn was dark, but the moon was bright and full and it bathed everything in its milky light. Matt was standing in the lawn, and it wasn’t Matt who had come back, or the Matt who had left. It was Matt as she’d first known him. Younger and braver. His form faded and folded around the edges, as if she were looking at him through water. He was standing with his back to her looking up at the moon, but when he heard the door open he turned and faced her, and she felt something sharp and lonely slip quickly between her ribs, a knife meant to hit the sac of her lung. And though she wanted to scream, to cry, to hit him, she ran to him like she had when he’d returned from Mars. He opened his arms to her and did not stumble back this time when she crashed into him. He held her steady, his hand in her hair. “Hey, bird,” he said after a few moments. She pulled away. She’d left dark tear stains on his shirt. “I missed you,” she said. She pulled away from him, folded her arms across her chest. He let her go. “I know you did,” he said. She let her gaze roam over his face. He looked so different, so much younger. “I’m going to go, soon. We all are.” Martha nodded. She felt a thousand questions crash the shore of her tongue, but she couldn’t pick one that felt succinct enough, right enough. Finally, she said, “What happened, Matt? What’s going to happen?” Matt straightened. “I don’t know, bird. But we heard them calling to us. Back there. They need us.” Martha’s breath caught and escaped, quickly. She pressed her fingertips to her mouth. “If I need you, will you stay?” she asked. She wanted him to turn to her, to take her hand in his. She wanted him to tell her he had come home. His body now slid and slipped across her vision, she could not grasp the features of his face. Instead she saw other things, felt other things-- watched him walking toward her the first night they met. A dark party, a cup in his hand. She felt him lean his shoulder against hers in a crowded subway car. And here he was again, finally, and he was leaving. He shook his head, but his face was soft, his eyes, which she could not rightly see, she knew were full of gentle understanding. “It’s going to be ok, bird,” he said. “It will be a while, but then it will be ok.” “And then?” “I’ll find you. Somewhere. I will.” And in it, right at the center of it, she heard him saying goodbye. She felt something open up inside of her, some long breath she’d been holding be released. She could already see that some essence of him was drawing up toward the bright and glittering moon. She shook her head. She knew he would not. This was the last time she would see him, ever. There would be no other time after this, no other meeting or parting between them. She grabbed hold of his hand, brought it to her mouth. “Just remember me, when you leave, wherever you’re going,” she said. “That’s all you owe me.” Matt nodded. She felt his hand slipping out of hers, and she thought of the many times his hand had touched her, in friendship, in love. She imagined she would know its touch even if she were suddenly plunged into darkness, even if she lived to be a thousand years old. If he reached out, and ran his fingertips across her cheek, she would know who it was, and she would know he had come home. Abby was sitting up in the living room when she came inside. Keenan was asleep in her arms. Abby looked at her, and smiled, and when both saw that the other was crying, they started laughing, silently, desperately trying not to wake Keenan or Darla. Martha came and sat down cross legged in front of her friend, took Keenan’s little hand between her thumb and crooked forefinger. They stayed that way for a long time, as the sun rose, and when the gridded light illuminated the kitchen and living room, Martha sighed, laid down and stretched out onto the carpet, and tried to feel the earth spinning, and the distance between herself and the far, red planet, which burned somewhere close to the sun.
By Emma Wenninger Martha was not actually allowed to greet Matt when he returned. He was shuffled off with the other returnees to a detainment center for six months where he would be quarantined and allowed to decompress. Instead, she watched it on the news with Abby, a woman she’d come to think of as more of a comrade in arms than a friend. Abby found out after her husband left that she’d been pregnant. Now their son was five, and he was going to meet his father for the first time. They were sitting on Martha’s couch, watching as a suite of white vans left a squat gray building. Underneath the news anchor’s voice they could hear the static of hundreds of cameras clicking and flashing, trying to get a glimpse at the faces of the returned. The last space shuttle had left a year ago. The architects of the first colony on Mars were coming home. “What do you think?” Abby said. She spoke to Martha but looked at Keenan, her son, who watched sing along YouTube videos on her iPad and was not paying attention to the television, to the cars carrying his father across the pavement of an Earth road for the first time in five years. Matt had done this on the ride from their wedding service to their reception. He’d asked her what she was thinking. He’d pulled her hand up to his chest. And she couldn’t remember. All she’d heard from the time she’d woken up to then was the blood thudding in her ears. All she’d felt was the swelling air in her chest, the tightness of her face as she smiled. She couldn’t think of any other time when she’d been so happy. But her happiness was always slow and self-conscious. She’d barely spoken to anyone that day, not her mother who’d helped her get ready, who pinned plastic baby’s breath into her hair, not to her maid of honor, a thin and pale friend from college. She’d whispered her vows, her hands trembled when they’d held his. She’d been so happy she’d felt herself condensing into a finer and finer point. This is the love of my life. She would be excited when he called, worried when he got on flights. Sometimes they would take trains or buses together into the city and he would hold her waist the whole time. When he’d been accepted to the space program she’d been the one who cried. She’d come out of herself then, faced him, watched him looking at her. This is the love. “Honestly, nothing,” she’d said. “I’m not thinking about anything at all.” Martha tried to imagine Matt, in a different car now some fifty miles away. She wondered if he’d caught a glimpse through a window of Earth, of the trees and wide plains. If it smelled any different to him. If he was excited to see her. “I don’t know what I think,” she said. There was a lapse. Keenan’s iPad tittered. “It will be so weird,” Abby finally said, “seeing them again. We should get dinner or something, the four of us.” Abby wore her hair in dreadlocks, and had twisted the mass of them on top of her head. One near the nape of her neck had fallen out, and she snaked it absentmindedly around her finger. Martha nodded. She sat in the absurdity of the notion; she had never met Lamont, Abby’s husband, and Abby had never met Matt. All the late-night phone calls and conversations, movie marathons, the times Abby had collapsed into Martha’s arms from missing Lamont and the times Abby had listened to Martha rail and vent and bang her fists against the walls of the universe, which had taken her husband so far from her, and they would sit down like they were normal people and have normal dinner. She nearly couldn’t see it. Her phone vibrated. It was Matt’s mother, Darla. For some reason, she felt that Martha was the only person who really understood her pain and longing for Matt, which Martha found oedipal. She would Facetime while she cooked dinner, implore Martha to visit Destin. Martha’s own mother was dead now and her father all the way in California working on at a tech startup, so Darla, in an odd, patronizing way, felt that Martha was lonely and in need of companionship, which Martha loathed both because she did not like to be pitied and because Darla was right. Martha swiped the call away and opened her messages to text that she would call later, she was with Abby. “We should,” she agreed. “Make them feel as normal as possible.” She tapped her phone’s corner absentmindedly on the arm of the couch. It continued to buzz and beep. Abby’s phone, left on the coffee table would ping at what felt like thirty second intervals. The vibrations buzzed into Martha’s calf muscle, stretched out across the dark wood surface. Matt would fill out paperwork and reports, be interviewed and videotaped and decontaminated, checked for cancerous cells and any new viruses, meet with therapists for PTSD, anxiety, depression, culture shock, any new possible trauma he could have endured spending five years away in what amounted to a prison on an empty desert surrounded by only fifty other people. And she and Abby would for the next six months get alerts on their phones from the app NASA had developed for the “First Families,” as the news had dubbed them. Her assigned concierge, a pleasant man named Chuck who had a degree in counseling, aeronautics, and social services, would check in with her and Abby both that afternoon and then three times a week every week. Martha opened her phone with her thumb, scrolled through the settings, and turned her notifications off. That weekend, it was announced that Amy Follino, one of the women now living at the colony, a former math professor at the University of Texas A&M and current statistician, was pregnant. Martha was piling groceries into the trunk of her car when the sister of one of Matt’s crew texted. The night was cool, the parking lot empty, lit up by the cones of light emanating from up above industrial lightbulbs. Martha turned her face toward the white moon. She thought she could see Mars. She thought if she looked hard enough, she could see Amy Follino sleeping, the rise and fall of her chest, her invisible breath. Her husband wasn’t the one who told Martha he would be going to Mars, but he did know about it before she did. Instead, she got a printed letter in a manila envelope inviting her and Matt to Washington. They booked flights and stayed in a Motel 6 near the airport. They were only two years married then. That Monday they met with a team of officials in a series of blue rooms. One woman was wearing a dark plum suit and she had dark plum lipstick on, and as she spoke Martha watched the corners of her mouth to see if the lipstick would smear or slide. They told her they were tapping a few highly skilled individuals. They said they were consulting with both the astronauts and their families. They said it this was possibly one of the most important advances of science in the history of mankind. They asked them to keep this all confidential. Martha and Matt ate a late lunch on an outdoor patio later in the week. They did not speak to each other. Martha watched Matt chew lettuce and drink water and she tried to think very hard about the future, but found that even after three days of meetings and presentations, meet and greets with other potential mission members and their families, email and phone number exchanges, slides and graphs and charts showing her the next five years and the changes and the outcomes and the controls and the variables and the weather conditions and the video monitors and the live streams and the CGI renderings and the artist mock ups and the meal plan and the compensation and the contact information and the health insurance and the support groups for families back on earth and the decorations and the simulations and the model walk-through of the station, the future remained just as vague and slippery as it always had been. “Did you know before we came?” she finally said. Matt swallowed a bit of his salad before answering, a finger hovering over his lips. “I had an idea,” he said. “Robeson said something a few weeks ago.” “Oh.” They lapsed into silence again. “You’re not happy.” It was his habit to name the emotion she was experiencing. And she didn’t mind this habit, except for moments especially like this, when she had been studying his face and profile for the last three days and trying to picture five years without it, five years of him walking and talking and living on a distant and unknowable planet, and trying to determine what it was she did feel, exactly. And she wanted to be alone, and she didn’t want to hear Matt try to guess what it was she was thinking, his plaintive voice noise over which she could not hear her own thoughts. She shrugged, leaning her jaw on her fist. “I don’t know what I am.” Matt put down his fork, leaned forward. “It’s still another three years before they’re finished pulling it all together here on Earth.” On Earth. Martha played with that phrase in her head. In ten, twenty, fifty years would she also say that to her friends, to her family? We’re thinking of spending the afternoon On Earth. You don’t get real organic beef On Earth anymore. We wanted to go, but Matt had to be On Earth. “I guess that’s true.” “And I know five years seems like a long time, and it is! But it’s not as long as you think. It will pass by. I’ll be back before you know it,” Matt said. He snapped his fingers to indicate, she supposed, how quickly five years would pass. “Martha, this isn’t just anything they’ve asked me to do. This is … this is the next step. This is it. What else are we doing to do in this life except go to Mars? We’ve done everything we can on Earth.” On Earth. She pushed a sigh through her nose. They’d sent missions to Mars over the last thirty odd years; explorers, geographers, soil testers, potato farmers, doctors, engineers, physicists, astronauts. There were video game simulations now, and YouTube videos and conspiracy theories. A new horror movie series, a t-shirt line from a street style designer featuring acid washed photographs of famous Mars landscapes, documentary after documentary, new planned foods using crops grown exclusively on Mars for zero-wasters who didn’t want encourage Big Agro’s pollution of Earth’s waters. There were presidential debates and treaties between countries. The allocation and re-allocation of resources. But there hadn’t been a colony, not yet. This was the first one. Matt would be part of the team building the space station, first, then receiving the inhabitants second; a small group of some three hundred people from all six continents, teachers and scientists and accountants and mothers and children and a governor who would stay, theoretically forever. Rumors were that NASA was optioning bids for an airline company to build commercial flight rocket ships for people who wanted to visit, or for those who wanted to come back to Earth for the holidays. Matt, though, would come back to stay, work in Florida, be part of the home base command center for the colony in case of a mutiny, attack, potential contact with other organic life forms. He would process reports of the progress made up there; the habitability, the potential introduction of oxygen, the building of a super city, the possibility of lakes and rivers and oceans that would stay liquid, that wouldn’t evaporate in the extreme heat of a planet so close to the sun. There were planned press junkets for the “loved ones left behind” on this, the building mission. A family therapist she could call. Detailed reports of her husband’s progress, pictures, video calls, conference calls. A theoretical cellular data plan she would be given so she could even text him across the billion trillion light years of space, if as they got a cell tower and a satellite working (a big if, but Verizon and Sprint were purportedly salivating; the first cell company in space!). She would never be alone, she would never have to worry about homesickness for her husband because she would be so flooded with updates and information and background and calls and news that it would be like he never actually left at all. And she looked at Matt. His eager, excited eyes, the way his hand gripped his fork. She couldn’t deny him this chance, the real chance to actually go to the far away red planet and try to see what could be done there. One of the presentations had actually made her laugh. “The last step of human evolution on Earth,” a bespectacled man had said, laser pointer wobbling on the first bullet point, “is to leave it.” There was a beat, and then the news exploded. There were plans for a parade, there was a presidential address, and an official statement from the office of Her Royal Majesty, the birthday would be a national holiday in at least ten developed countries. It would be the first actual Martian, possibly, since the impetus and evolution of the solar system. CNN posted countdown on their website, National Geographic a computer simulation of a baby’s gestational development that you could click on and rotate to see what exactly the baby potentially looked like on that day. Martha had never been someone particularly interested in babies or the first colony, having spent so much time over the past five years absolutely inundated with information about that far away compound, but even she found herself occasionally popping open the link in a tab on her computer to see the swirling, lumpy, pixelated simulation of the distant Martian. She wondered about Amy Follino. She was a pretty, smiling redhead. In her interviews she seemed kind, knowledgeable, articulate. Big hearted. A conservative pundit began circulating photos and videos of her in college at bars, drink in hand, makeup too dark and shiny, leg hooked around a friend. Twitter bit down almost instantaneously. The baby itself inspired a slew of hashtags and think-pieces. Martha, who because of Matt’s status, had higher level clearance and access to video interviews of each member of the first colony, spent one evening, rocky road ice cream in hand, clicking through the interviews of Amy and the baby’s father, a former mechanical engineer with GE named Lawrence. She tried rolling their names around on her tongue. Amy Follino. Lawrence. She clicked onto Amy’s private Facebook page, found through a closed group some of the first colony had with the first families. She flipped through photo albums of Amy with her parents. Her mother, who did not seem active at all on social media, posted to her own page about the news, a happy message. Martha tabbed through photo after photo of Amy smiling, and thought, felt, that she would probably be a good mom. “Let’s take a trip,” Darla said. She leaned down so her face could be seen in the video monitor; she was cooking pasta sauce in a pot too big to fit in the screen. “Oh?” “Yeah. It’s been three months. I feel like I’m dying. I need to be distracted.” Darla’s hair was clipped in a twist at the back of her head to keep it out of the way, but a few loose strands frizzed out from the sides of her head. “Where are you thinking?” Darla, who had moved to stir her sauce, popped back into the screen. “Why don’t you talk to Abby and her little boy, huh?” she said. Martha lifted her eyebrows in surprise. “I have some money saved up, and I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona. I’ve never seen any of Gaudi’s work,” Darla straightened and began measuring out a cup of pasta to cook. “We can get an Airbnb near the beach and go on tours and eat paella. And Abby needs a break.” Abby was of particular interest to the general public because of Keenan. She’d been fielding calls from daytime talk shows in New York and Los Angeles to come and bring him on the show, answer questions about how she felt introducing him to his father. “I don’t know what they want me to say,” she said when Martha asked her about it. “It feels like they just want me to come on and cry about how hard it’s been. It hasn’t really even been that hard. We’re compensated. I don’t work. You don’t work. I’m home all day with him. We’ve video chatted like every day.” She rolled her eyes. “Technically he’s been introduced to his father. So what the fuck?” She said yes immediately to the trip. They spent the last week of the summer in Spain, watching Abby force Keenan to keep his floaties on his arms in warm, ankle-deep water. Martha and Darla split bottles of wine over dinner, and at night Keenan would climb onto Darla’s lap and she would read him stories from the pile of books Abby brought with her while Abby slept. Chuck, ever diligent, updated them every morning on Matt and Lamont’s progress, when they could expect them to come home and be on Earth again. Martha mouthed the phrase to herself in the shower, watched soap suds slide down her arms and legs. On Earth. On Earth. On Earth. A few weeks after they returned from Spain, she went on a run early in the morning. She went down a path near her neighborhood, not often used and breaking away into gravel. She was looking at nothing, feeling the air she sucked in through the gate of her teeth fill up her lungs, collapse, fill, and collapse. She felt a sudden, uneven pull in her hips, telling her to look up. An enormous barn owl perched in a tree, and when it heard her sneakers thudding against the pavement, it swung its flat head around and stared unblinking at her. She went still, shoulders drawn up to her ears, waiting for it to lunge at her or fly away. For mere breaths, time seemed to briefly pause, to wait for the rendering of some animal violence. The owl did nothing. It turned its head away from her, and she bolted, running until she could no longer see the owl or the tree it sat in. Matt and Lamont’s return turned out to be the fall of that year, in a black SUV. Abby and Martha planned a welcome home party, with banners and balloons. They invited a few of the other first families, men and women who had come home, or those who were still waiting on their mothers, husbands, wives, sons, to receive their clearance. Martha couldn’t help it. After the years and the months of waiting, watching on TV, calling Matt, monitoring NASA’s web page and social media groups, and streaming videos of the construction of the station, when she saw Matt open his door and come around the side of the SUV, and she broke away from the welcome party and ran pell-mell down the lawn to him. He barely had time to catch her before she crashed into him, bringing him down to the earth, the soft and grassy earth, and she kissed him. She felt his arms around her waist. People were clapping and laughing up at the house, the driver of the car said, “Look out, Gorski!” Martha pulled away from him and looked at him, took his face between her hands, and he did the same to her. He had a thin beard and more wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. His lips seemed thinner, his hair was a little gray, his skin dry. She didn’t know why, but she was surprised when she looked at his hands to see they were clean, and not covered in soft red clay. And that he was crying. He sat up and kissed her again, pulled her against his chest, buried his face in the nape of her neck. “I missed you, bird,” he said. He’d taken to calling her bird on their video calls. “There are no fucking birds on Mars,” he’d said. “It’s weird.” and so for a few months after she’d tried to send him photos of as many birds as she could see in a day. Martha felt his face in her neck. She felt his bony shoulder blades and the knots of his spine. He smelled like nothing at all. She pulled away and studied his face. He was talking to her, he was telling her how happy he was to be home. She felt a small, uneven pull in her hip bones. She wanted to get up. Lamont was squatting down up at the house, holding out a hand to Keenan, who glanced nervously at Abby. An older man had his phone out. Martha tried to remember his name. Kevin. Gavin. His son, a biologist, had just touched down, had not yet been cleared, was not yet home. Lamont called to Keenan and Keenan smiled, confused. The crowd laughed, and KevinGavin laughed too, and took photo after photo after photo.
A Short Story by Emma Wenninger (Jump to divider to pick up where this week's zine left off) I set my daughter out in the sun because she loved it when she was alive. I was afraid someone would steal her, but her brushed gold surface has tarnished and aged, and she looks like an old statue now. When she was a baby her skin was soft and dry. When she was a little girl and I went into town, she would walk beside my horse as far as she could go, and I would reach down for her and she would wrap her whole, wet hand around my two fingers, and I would know she was still there. We lived in a high, clear plain of bending wheat. We raised four daughters, and then one day, some years after they had all grown, my wife’s body had no energy left to walk from room to room. I took the scythe and pony out by myself, tended to by my daughter, who was still at home with me and would not marry, even after her sisters had begged her to come to the city and stay with them and be governess to their children. “What would I do with children?” she would say, rolling her hair into a bun and the nape of her neck and beating bread dough into smooth white balls. We kept horses to work the fields and every year we slaughtered one beef cow and hung its carcass in our smokehouse for the winter. My daughter was good at skinning and carving up the cows, laying out their steaks and ribs, slicing the red sweetness of their bodies away from their spines. Her knife was slim and sharp and she worked quickly, and then she would ride a horse down to the river and wash her hands up to the elbows and run water over the skin of her face. It was there at the river that she found the young man lying face down in the silt and mud. She heaved him ashore and pumped his chest, blew breath into his mouth and nose. The young man coughed up mucus and vomited buckets of river water, and out with his vomit came small black fish still alive, wriggling and flopping in the dirt. His eyes looked wildly about until they focused on my daughter’s face. He was tall and his hair curled across his forehead. He would give us no name, and my daughter did not trust him. “We should be wary of this,” she said. The young man thanked her and me profusely. I told him he could rest, but he insisted he work the fields with me and earn his keep. The bread he baked was warm and golden and brown. The horses ate sugar cubes and apples from between his teeth. He would sit in the evenings with a strange flute and play, and the cows would low in the evening heat. He asked me for paper and a pen and he wrote a letter, which he took into town to mail. After ten days, he said the letter had been received, and asked me to ride back with him to see him off. I packed a bag with cheese curds and figs and olives and told my daughter I would return, and she folded her arms and nodded. “You are the kindest woman I have known,” the young man said. She only frowned at him. He said he would go to the train station and I took him there. I grew nervous and full of foreboding as we approached. His feet made a noise like hooves on the wooden train platform. He stopped and leaned against the wall, and I shuffled beside him. “My love! My love!” The young man turned. Another man burst from the train car. He was fat and pink. Stains of sweat darkened his armpits and kneecaps. He had wide blue eyes and long gold eyelashes, and he smiled and threw his arms around the young man and I could see that he was crying. “I have looked all over for you! How happy I was to receive your message. Is this your friend?” Still with his arms around the young man’s waist, the man turned to me and looked me up and down. “Oh, thank you, you kind and generous man.” He drew himself up, and even though he was small I thought for a moment he towered over me. “For your help with my beloved, I will grant you whatever you want.” I shuffled and hummed and felt odd and uncomfortable under this man’s gaze, old and out of breath. Finally I laughed. “I need nothing,” I said. “Nonsense, nonsense!” this one flapped his hand at me. I squirmed more. I felt every hole in the seams of my shirt, my patched elbows. I must have smelled like sweat in the sun. I looked down and saw flour on my pants. The wheat, the terrible wheat, I wanted to burn it all right then and there. The fat young man’s eyes were bright and they were laughing, and I was angry at his taunting, at his riches and the awful roundness of his face. I said, “Have everything I touch turn to gold.” I did not mean it. I even laughed at my joke, but the fat man did not relent. His smile faltered a little, and he looked at the boards of the train platform. Then he looked back up at me. “Consider it done.” He turned swiftly then, pulled the handsome young man onto the train, circled his body with his arms and kissed his shoulders and face as he tried to pull away. The young man threw a look back at me, and his eyes and face were unreadable, and his mouth was open. The train soon steamed out of the station, and the fat man stuck a round hand out the window and waved a white handkerchief at me, and then the train was gone. Odd, I thought. I had left my bag leaning against the wall of the platform and went to reach for it, but as soon as my fingers brushed its leather strap it leapt way from me, and then froze solid as stone. I stepped back, and then reached for it again and found it impossible to move. I brushed at the strap, and the solidness transformed into smooth, brushed gold. I took me a few moments to comprehend what I saw, and then I laughed, and laughed and laughed. I ran down the platform, bag abandoned. It was nearly a half a day’s walk home, but I ran, I ran like I was flying, I felt the world slip beneath my feet. I came to the farm as the sun was setting, and brushed a hand along the tops of a few stalks of wheat, this wheat, this beautiful, troublesome, wonderful wheat, and watched as the stalks became gold. They clinked and clanged against each other. I ran up the path to the house. My daughter sat on the porch, and she startled to see me, eyes wide, her sleeves rolled to her elbows. “Look, look at this!” I took her hand in mine and reached for the apple she held. It became as solid and heavy as stone. I laughed again and spun in a circle and grabbed her hand again, but found that she would not move. “Pa,” she said, and her breath was labored. She clutched at her throat and I could see that her left hand, the one I had snatched at, was curled and frozen, was turning slowly to gold. I grabbed at her dress, her hair. I put my hand on her left one again, thinking madly that maybe my touch would stop what it had started. I held onto her hand that way as she stopped moving, her voice gurgling in her throat, her eyes wide and blue. I starved in that house for five days. I could eat no food and drink no water. I could pick up no pen to write to my daughter’s sisters. I could plow no field and feed no pony. I lay shocked and alone, mouth open, curled at my daughter’s golden feet. Delirious with hunger, I had a mad idea. I wandered away from the farm. I followed the train tracks, intent on finding that young man. I watched the birds circling in the hot sun. I felt my skin blister and boil. I thought of my daughter’s hand around my fingers. I would never look back for her, just reach down, and if I did not feel her then I knew she was not there. My wife used to comb her hair back into a braid when she was small, before sending her out into the fields. I collapsed, finally, overtaken by the heat, by the endless train, by the open sky. I do not know how long I lay there. I felt ants crawling across my wrist. Flies landed on my cheeks and hair. I lay there until a shadow blocked out the sun, and I heard a voice say, “What did you think of my master’s gift?” The young man my daughter fished from the river stood over me. He squatted down, and brushed my cheek with the back of his two fingers. “Don’t,” I said. “It won’t harm me,” he said, and he said it absentmindedly, as if I were not the first body he’d seen that day. We stayed that way, him and I, for a while. He brought a cool cloth to my forehead, and told me to suck the water away from it, to drink. “I touched my daughter,” I said after a while. “Oh,” the young man said. His fingers traced my jawline. “She was beautiful.” He sat next to me, and I wept, finally, curled in the dirt. He looked away, and I was grateful to him for it. “I can’t undo it,” he said. “My master has a funny sense of humor. But here is what I will do.” I looked up at him. He took my hand in his, and fished from his bag a white knife. It looked like a piece of bone. The edge of it was paper thin, and he brought it to my palm. “If you agree, then this is what I can give you,” he said, “I will tell you that no object you touch will be gold. Only flesh. You must never touch a man or woman again.” He studied my face. “But all of your wheat will be gold. You will be a very rich man.” “My daughter,” I said. I whispered her name, a prayer. He shook his head. My throat tightened, and I leaned my head into my other hand and wept again. He did not let go of me. I heaved once, twice, and then I met his eyes, and nodded. He cut the fatty connection between my thumb and palm, and lifted it to his mouth to drink. He stood and left me there, and I stayed there for a day and a night. I did not move. When the moon was high in the sky, I finally, slowly, crawled up onto my shaking legs and made my way home. I sell the wheat in the market now, wearing gloves to prevent an accidental touch. I am called an artist, a magician. Women wear my wheat in their hair and hats. Men hang bundles of it in their homes, above their doorways. I turn my daughter’s face to the sun and polish her skirt. I have told her sisters she slipped and fell into the river, that her body floated out into the ocean, that I was not there to see it. Once, I tried to make a flute like the one the young man played. When I brought it to my lips, I could not make the high, clear notes he did, and I tossed it in frustration to the ground. In the yellow evening, a cow, sniffing the ground for grass, found it with its hoof and crushed it. The little pieces of it scattered. And the cow, indifferent, turned away to find a soft place to lay its bony body down to sleep.
We understand we are in the vast minority with this opinion. But online reviews for businesses should go the way of the dodo. No, we’re not crazy. At some point in the expansion of Yelp and Amazon, people began relying on these faceless opinions for everything . So we’re going out of our way to talk about why we won’t be including stars or ratings for our recommendations. Please take this journey with us. You’ve probably noticed that in recent years everything has a rating. Music, videos, sheets, bars, pencils, salt; if you can find it online you can find a rating for it. And at first it made sense. How else are you supposed to know if what you’re buy is safe/legitimate/quality? By hoping that some stranger has also used that product and also has the decency to review it. At some point this review system has ballooned to what we have today. Today a half star difference on Yelp means the difference of 8-10% profit. I will repeat that. Today a half star difference on Yelp means the difference of 8-10% profit… Most often affecting small, local businesses. If you weren’t aware already we have some bad news for you. Online reviews don’t actually tell you which is the better product. Amazon critics have been vocal about the swath of fake product reviews. Yelp allows businesses to pay for advertisements putting them at the top of your search page. Businesses are even figuring out how to game the system. They are able to hide their bad reviews and only show the positive, thus changing their rating. And this is only part of the problem. This doesn’t even begin to talk about the fact that who reviews businesses are often one-side. When was the last time you left a Yelp or Google Review for a good experience? Or even a normal experience? When was the last time you heard someone threaten a business with leaving a bad review? If you work in the industry my guess would be sometime in the last month. Do you see the issue? And worse yet, even understanding these things it’s hard to ignore ratings. Knowing what we do about Yelp and the restaurant world we still get swept away with the number. 3.7 vs 4.5 stars? No brainer. So we are looking to change things. We still think that customer input is important. But we also know atmosphere and experience descriptors give you a better idea of a space. So heres to supporting local, eclectic businesses and giving the middle finger to the stars.
Ok so we believe "Best of" lists are mostly... well nonsense. But people seem to love them so like it's famously been said Let the people eat breakfast! (In no particular order) 1. Marigold Kitchen Local ingredients: Check. Delicious specials: Absolutely. Bottomless coffee: Always. They don't only serve great pancakes (which they do), they have amazing lunch. Wisconsin winters demand hot soup on a chilly Wednesday and their soups are always on point. #capitol #GFfriendly 2. Willaby's Cafe Have you been looking for the hipster diner of your dreams? Look no further. Willaby's serves pancakes bigger than a platter and scramblers with all the fixin's. This is the kind of place you bring your Aussie Couchsurfing guests to impress them with American portions. Also the food is just delicious. Especially after a rough Saturday... or Tuesday. #willystreet 3. La Brioche Is any Madison Breakfast list complete without La Brioche? Well, none that we care about. A mix of French and Mexican inspiration with a whole bunch of feng shui (truly). Outdoor seating galore and fresh baked everything. Need we say more. Maybe but we suggest you just go eat there yourself. #nearwest #GFfriendly 4. Manna Cafe Have you been looking for your grandma's house only in restaurant style? We didn't know how much we needed it but we are glad we did. Everything is house made and fresh, including the bread on your breakfast sandwich. Hell even their website is heartwarming! Manna is the definition of community and inclusivity. #neareast #GFfriendly Madison has a MILLION brunch places but all of these places serve breakfast every day of the week
(According to some coffee lovers on our team) Disclaimer: UnderBelly does not receive any compensation from our recommendations but we dooooo take drink coupons and public high fives :D In no particular order: 1. Bradbury's : This tiny coffee shop packs as much of a punch as it's coffee. Serving up a local Wisconsin Coffee Roaster and a delicious rotation of guests roasters means that you can explore coffee from all over the world. Did we forget to mention they also have some of the best fresh muffins and crepes in Madison? This place is perfect to grab brunch, an afternoon meeting, work on your computer or just soak up the sunshine in the massive windows. We'd say their vibe is bright and airy (even for a tiny corner cafe). #capitol 2. Johnson Public House : Locally known as JPH, this is THE coffeeshop in Madison. Hipster vibes galore and coffee second to none make JPH uniquely situated in Madison. They roast their own beans and sell them in house and around Madison (which our team is huge fans of and also really just dig their packaging). Serving up delicious, fresh basics and pretty damn good avocado toast means you can hang out here for hours getting work done. As we mentioned, this space is pretty dang hipster but in the "This is where the cool kiddos hang" sort of hipster vibe. #ejohnson 2. Porter : We are a sucker for anything in a renovated old building, especially when that's a coffeeshop in an old train depot station. Sandwiches made in front of you, local goods sold on the shelves and enough exposed bricks to make us sing all the way home. Oh, and they have delicious coffee to top it off. We'd call this space cozy and warm with a hint of European bus station... but in the good way. #wwash 3. Cafe Domestique: If you blind folded us, took us to Cafe Domestique and told us we were in a Amsterdam coffee shop we wouldn't question it. That is only partially because it is a bike themed cafe (ok mostly because of this). This adorable coffee shop takes great pride in being the go to place for bikers and coffee lovers alike. Grab an amazing, single origin pour-over while getting your bike tuned and you'll be making the way of the Madisonian. Warning: Seating is limited so be cautious when searching for a place to camp out for a few hours They rock the open minimalist vibe with cool artisanal mugs to match! #willy