We aren’t hillbillies!

Go figure! Now that the Iowa Caucus is over I finally find a video that addresses my frustration with the whole thing! Before I share it with you, a little explanation:

The first caucus each election year is in Iowa, which was where I was born and raised. Moving to the northeast I’ve heard all sorts of warm (and some not so warm) jabs at my background as a Midwestern country gal. Most of the time I can take it. After all, before moving to New York I thought this place was riddled with crime and had very few trees (cement jungle, anyone?). When I said I was moving to Albany, people would remark, “Oh! The Big Apple!” No… more like 3 hours north. Lucky for me it turns out upstate NY is full of trees, country living, and mountains. Real small town up here. Gee wiz. Who’da thunk it?

The same stereotypes exist about Iowa. Rural folk, simple people; unwise to the ways of the world. Quilts. Homemade jam. Evangelical. Conservative politics. All trucks, no cars. Straw used as floss. Boots-wearing country boys. But even though I know these are innocent stereotypes or impressions, I have to admit I get tired of hearing, “Is Iowa really representative of America?  when it comes to caucus talk. I can think of quite a few states that, besides their metropolitan areas, are very much like Iowa. So I hope you will indulge me with this video (below). It made my day. Mainly because it is hard not to be frustrated when people imply your state is in some way “out of touch” with the rest of the world. That your family, your friends, your professors are all somehow not good enough to be first to choose. I mean… I grew up on an Iowa farm, educated at an Iowa state university, and I didn’t magically gain common sense or become liberal-minded when I stepped foot on urban soil!

So if you feel you are guilty of prejudging based on stereotypes (I’m guilty!), I suggest the next time you meet someone different you greet them with curiosity and an open mind. You can even acknowledge you may have existing stereotypes or preconceived notions. It’s only natural. It’s a big world. Hey, I even bet the person would be happy to politely fill you in on what you missed or misunderstood. At least, I know I would!

Now, on with the video. 🙂

PS – the video below has some explicit words. For a clean version, click here.

Oooh vacation

I’ve been gone for awhile. My apologies. I didn’t mean to slack, I swear!

I knew June would fly by, but had no idea how quickly! What was I doing, you may ask? I’ll cover a bit of that in an upcoming post, but the major distraction was a much needed two-week trip to Iowa to see my family and friends – most of whom I hadn’t seen in twenty months. For me, that is just too long!  Needless to say, I sadly have seen my vacation come to an end, but have returned much happier and rejuvenated!

A little Midwestern scenery for you, from my road trip out west!

Before I get to one of my planned posts, I’m going to spend a little time sharing a few things that happened in June that I thought were just lovely.

But first! My favorite song about Iowa (funny funny and soooo true!) that I had the pleasure of experiencing on our 18 hour drive west and east again!

And now… on with it!

5 Ways to Be Civil – Iowa style

My mom-in-law is always looking out for articles I might like; ones on art, my alma mater, and civility are regularly arriving in my mailbox. It’s pretty great having people out there finding good material for me on days where I have so much to do, writing a blog post is one of the last things on my list! So, thanks Denise!


Here is an article from an Iowa newspaper on civility. Don’t strain your eyes–after the first image I have a close up of the text below it!

Sent via snail mail from my awesome "mil" Denise

And now for its close-up….


Five useful ideas for civility


All really great points. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Have a terrific week!

Dogs mothering kittens

A friend of mine sent me the link to a most awesome video. I’m such a sucker for cool news stories, and this is definitely one of them! Not to mention, it’s in a town near my own home town (so proud)! Check it out!

Amicable Allegory #9: Wave goodbye



The not-100% accurate distance from my old home to my current home. Image source: http://koreanish.com/2009/11/25/when-to-get-your-mfa-or-not/

One of my best friends in life came to visit me this week, and this morning she left. Dawn and her boyfriend drove 1000 miles to hang out for a few days with me in my slightly interesting, but mainly typical city, and then they went on their way. I gave her a hug, hugged her boyfriend, and when I looked back at her I realized she was crying. I was shocked! I don’t know why I was shocked–people miss people all the time, but I never expected Dawn to tear up. She’s a sensitive woman, but a tough one too that typically leans to the more chipper side of emotional states. To put it another way, she and I share a classic Southeast Iowa cultural characteristic: no matter how hard your heart aches, no matter the pain you go through, put on a smile and share the happiness you have instead. Stuff down the sadness so it can be dealt with quietly in private. We are a mushy bunch of love down there, don’t get me wrong, but more often than not tears are an uncommon show of softness that even women try to suppress. Touched and concerned, I walked around their ridiculously red rental car to her side. “Ohhhh! You’re crying!??” I asked,Oh, Dawnie, don’t cry!” I gave her another hug then, bobbing back and forth, tears now welling up in my eyes. And she sniffled, gulping in air, “Goodbye’s… are… hard.”  I didn’t know what to say. What could I say? I had become so practiced at the act of divorcing the emotion from goodbyes on my old home turf, and at that moment the pain and sadness I feel when I do it came gushing back full force in my new locale.

See, I’ve lived now in New York state for four years, and prior to this I lived in Iowa my entire life. Dawn and I have been friends for thirteen years–we went to high school and college together–and when I moved to New York for graduate school, she was left with the rest of my family and friends in my home state. At first, it was difficult to say goodbye. I cried every time as soon as the car was out of sight. But after some practice, I became more accustomed to parting with my family. In my mind, when I left Iowa, it was like “real” time stopped and then continued conceptually via telephone, Facebook, and email. Every thing paused , and my life in New York would start again. Then I would return to Iowa and “reality” would pause in New York and start again in Iowa. It is like I am two people really, still tied to the life I lived for 25 years in Iowa and creating a new life somewhere else.

But when Iowa comes to New York, I never know quite what to do, or how to say goodbye. Because this time, I’m not doing the “leaving.” They are. And that for me is especially difficult–I know how hard it is, and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. So, as Dawn and Tim climbed into their car and backed out of our garage, I waited by the door. I would do what everyone in Iowa has done the last four years for me. I waved goodbye to them as they drove off onto their next adventure. It is amazing how much a wave goodbye can mean–how waiting outside to watch someone drive off can be so incredibly touching. It made me recall in 2008 when I left Iowa. I had just seen my Grandpa for what I knew deep down would likely be the last time I would see him alive. I had said goodbye to both sets of my folks and grandparents, Jake’s folks the day before, and our siblings and friends before that–all with minimal tears. We climbed on the Amtrak, and began slowly rolling out of the train depot. My mother had told me to watch for her at work (she works at a historic site on the river in town, right by the tracks). We had already said goodbye that morning, but as we rolled past the Old Fort Madison, there she was, dressed in her historic garb, waving and smiling as the entire train passed by her. The riders in my car, astonished, said, “Look at that lady! She’s waving at the train!” And I said as tears rolled down my cheeks, “That’s my mom, waving goodbye to me.” She didn’t know what car I was on, but she knew I was there, and so she waved at all of us, making sure I would get the best send off she could give. And it was.

Off to Watch Hill

A much much less hilly and tree-free version of my childhood country roads...(Click to link to image source: Cornbread blog)

My husband and I just returned from a mini-vacation to Connecticut, during which we ventured into the southwestern-most corner of Rhode Island to a spot called Watch Hill. I just have to say how very nice and considerate the drivers in that general area of RI were. More than once in the 1 or 2 hours we were there, RI drivers would pause in traffic to let us turn or pass through–even though they had the right of way!! It was wonderful! I don’t know if this is regular driving culture there, but it definitely didn’t happen in the other areas of New England that we explored this week. Though I will say, everyone was very friendly everywhere we went.

It reminded me of the country roads on which I grew up, and how passing another car on the gravel roads was so seldom that we always waved at each other when it happened. I wonder, what are the cool things that people in your community do that add a little “happy” into your day? Please share!