Tag Archives: Iowa

Scary movie

Oh. my. goodness.

Tonight I returned home after dinner with friends to find the power was out at our house. It is so dark out here already, but without the porch light or anything else on it was terrifying.

I couldn’t get in the front door because we fenced around it (long story, but a logical choice I assure you).

I couldn’t get in the garage because it is electric.

The only other option was to drive around to the back of the house, where it is literally pitch black, and go in through the basement. The BASEMENT!

I didn’t have a flashlight in the Jeep so I had to first walk through the laundry room, then the rec room, and then through another door leading to the stairs to get upstairs.

All the while the dogs were going crazy because it was pitch black and they heard someone entering the house. Thank goodness they recognized the sound of my voice as I entered.

I traipsed upstairs and somehow located a flashlight with the illumination of my cell phone. And then I had to go back downstairs and park the Jeep out front. If I didn’t re-park the Jeep then (a) our neighbor would have a hard time unloading his truck full of sound equipment later that night (he runs the sound for the bands that perform every Friday night in the Pedestrian Mall), and (b) I know Sim’s heart would skip a beat if he pulled up after work (at 12:45 am) to see that I “wasn’t home” (not because he’d be upset, but because he knows I am ALWAYS home and in bed by then).

Once I parked the Jeep out in front of the garage I then had to use the flashlight to navigate my way back behind the house and through the basement. CREEPY! With the cloud cover and rain there was not a single star to be seen in the sky. I was walking through an area with a cornfield on one side and a forest on the other side. And an abandoned farmhouse across the street. See!? *This* is where it really starts to sound like a scary movie.

I made it back inside and found our candles, but then couldn’t find a lighter. I exhausted every room in the house, and, as the flashlight started to fade, I finally had to resort to searching the garage (I should have known to look here first, as most things of value are kept in Sim’s man cave). That was also scary. I found a lighter and scurried back inside to light our candles and assure the dogs that everything was okay (they were fairly distressed by that point).

Pretty soon I saw flashing lights out the window and was relieved to see it was Linn Co. Rural Electric out to save the day as always. They pulled up to the gate at the edge of our property that leads into the forest and had the problem fixed within 20 minutes. (They have been working with our landlord to remove some of the problematic trees but it’s an ongoing struggle.) The light surged back on and we were in business.

Lessons of the day:

1) Keep a flashlight in both cars.

2) Keep the lighters in NORMAL and agreed-upon places.

3) Buy some propane lanterns already!

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Iowa Girls

On my way home from campus the other night I was listening to 102.9 when I heard Katy Perry’s “California Girls” song with references to Iowa dubbed in. I thought it was pretty funny and discovered that there is actually a YouTube music video.

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Country livin’

This week we’ve done a lot of country living. Unfortunately the air is so humid here that it fogs up my camera most of the time, so a lot of photo opps are missed or taken from inside.

We finally saw our first turkey. If you click on the image it will enlarge and you can see that’s it’s head is a bluish-grey color. And it has what is called a “beard” on it’s chest, which is a swath of thick fur or something of the sort [I know technically birds aren’t supposed to have fur and listened to my dad and Sim discuss this for hours *before* having even seen the turkey (knowing of course that Sim was indeed correct for obvious reasons) – thank you turkey for ending the debate! So it may not be fur per se, but it’s close enough for me]

This is what the sunset looks like from our back porch.

And this is the farmer across the street collecting his hay. They back their tractors into the large round bails and load them on the back to transport back to a trailer. I’m sure readers from the Midwest are thinking “DUH!”, but this is new and pertinent information for us coasties!

This is the farmhouse and barn across the street, pre-storm.

And this is what the lightning looks like during a storm. Sim took this picture and has a handful more (but they take forever to upload on here). Summer storms are fairly frequent and intense here. Sometimes a storm will last all night, and sometimes it will blow over within a couple of hours and clear up to be hot and sunny again. The rain pours hard, the thunder is loud, and the lightning is constant.

We thought it was really cool until going to a friend’s house the other night to see that the tree right beside his house had been struck and split open by lightning. Yikes!

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Queer eye for the hawkeye

What is better, you ask, than learning you’re about to join a Big Ten school?

Discovering that gay marriage is legal in Iowa!!!

How in the hell did I not know this? Again, a very embarrassing moment for someone who considers themselves on the up and up. Just what in the hell was I doing in April 2009 that prevented me from reading the news? And the one year anniversary in April 2010? I have no excuse.

Here I’ve been, reminiscing about the annual Long Beach gay pride parade (‘tis the season, after all) from a conservative little farm town in the top sliver of Washington state. As farmers belly up to the local bars to drink Rainer beer, I think back to all the mimosas that were shared in the 2nd story condo we had on Ocean Blvd. while overlooking the annual parade.

And to add to the excitement, we will be in Iowa during the 2010 gay pride parade, on Saturday, June 19th. In fact, we will have just arrived to Iowa. I can only imagine the look on my husband’s face as we pull into the heartland only to see hundreds of half-naked gay men dancing to Cher.

So Iowa, you have just scored another point. I haven’t even traveled to your state yet, but I feel that we are meant for each other.

Corn fed and ready to wed!

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Why Iowa? Part II.

With the logistics out of the way, let me really tell you why I’ve fallen in love with Iowa.

My ethnocentric parents first thought that Iowa was like a death sentence. A place where the bad students are sent as punishment.

I had to convince them that, in reality, the University of Iowa is ranked as a top PhD program in Interpersonal Communication. There are a LOT of doctoral programs that specialize in this research niche. But there are only a small handful of programs which hold this much weight. In short, the best programs have the most prolific researchers who produce the most successful graduates. But the catch is to find a program that also boasts a warm (and safe) faculty-student climate.

Upon my admission to Iowa, the Graduate Director sent a very warm welcome email. This was soon followed by welcome/congratulations emails from current students in the same research track. The department also welcomed and encouraged me to visit and meet with professor/students and sit in on classes; for which they would provide a stipend to offset the costs. This was early February – so while I had already received one offer of admission from another program, I was still waiting to hear from a few others. Nonetheless, within 3 days of receiving those emails, my decision to join Iowa was made. Just like that.

Sim and I immediately began watching Canned Air sing “Going up to the country” and John Denver sing “Thank God I’m a country boy” on YouTube. We were ecstatic.

I learned only after making this decision that Iowa is a Big Ten school. How could I not know this before? I’ve done so much research on this school in the past 9 months that I could become a campus tour guide without missing a beat. Their football stadium is the same size as the Seattle Seahawks’ Qwest Stadium in Seattle! It holds 70,000 people.

And upon launching the healthcare bill, where did President Obama first stop? Yes, the University of Iowa.

But amidst the excitement, I have nothing but humility. You learn a lot in grad school. But you also learn how little you know. And how much your writing sucks. In a sense, it should be an exhausting, painful, and humbling experience – no matter who’s good hands you’re in. So come August I promise to be forthright with such experiences.

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Why Iowa? Part I.

So perhaps you’re starting to wonder why the hell we’re moving 2,000 miles away when there are perfectly good colleges here in the Northwest. Get comfortable.

1) Only two universities in the Northwest U.S. offer a PhD in Communication Studies. Neither of them are considered that prestigious (*nowadays*, that is). And neither of them have an Interpersonal Communication research track.

2) For upper-graduate education, the rule of thumb is to go where the best programs and researchers (i.e., professors) are. Distance does not matter. Experience matters.

3) Another rule of thumb, not so formally recognized, however, is to go out of region. This is especially true for folks who completed their BA and MA at the same institution or within the same state/region. I completed my BA in Washington state and my MA in California. So I’ve only ever taught and studied on the west coast; this is a limitation of my current credentials. Therefore, multiple mentors encouraged me to join a doctoral program in an entirely different region of the U.S.

A) This allows me to teach an entirely different student body. You can imagine how divergent SoCal is from the Midwest in terms of background, race, privilege, language, sexual orientation, etc. The U of Iowa student body is certainly diverse, but the point is that it’s different.

B) This often (although not always) allows a doctoral graduate to be hired outside of that region. The saying “go to school somewhere you don’t want to live” is continually reinforced in academia. More often than not, someone with a PhD stemming from the midwest (for example), would have more interest from prospective employers located on the east coast, the south, and the west coast.

Washington state is a perfect example of this. Where do we hire the majority of job candidates from? Out of state. Seriously. And this is not because WA lacks quality high education.

We are desperately hoping, in 4 years, to return to a mountainous region. It could be Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, or even the southwest – like Flagstaff, AZ or Albuquerque, NM (both of which have beautiful mountains).

But for now, we are ecstatic about living in the heartland! So Iowa, here we come!

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House hunting

So with 6 dogs who like to eat wall, you can imagine how exasperated we became trying to find a home for rent in Iowa. This has, hands down, been our biggest concern this year. We know there are other options, but they are not to be discussed in our household. We won’t hear of them. I will move the earth, sell my soul to the devil, and/or live in our Chevy van with all 6 of our dogs before I remove any one of them from our family.

House #1 seemed like it was a sure thing. It was located in Iowa City, had lots of space for the dogs, and had a fenced front and back yard. It was also 110 years old and totally falling apart, so really our dogs couldn’t do much more damage. But then landlord began dragging his feet. The current tenant, who owns a bar in Iowa City, is going through a divorce. And what sounds like a mid-life crisis. So apparently it’s difficult for him to plan ahead and decide when the hell he’s going to get his shit together.

In the meantime, we found House #2: A cute little farm house outside of town on the edge of a small organic farm. Heaven. But the landlord rented it to someone while our application was in the mail. No, I’m not surprised. I know we have 6 dogs. But I was sad, nonetheless.

Landlord of House #1 was still dragging his feet and becoming more distant, as the tenant was likely falling deeper and deeper into an alcoholic stupor. And eventually he stopped returning our calls.

Then came the ridiculous emotional breakdown. I know you were waiting for it. A white girl ALWAYS has to blog about this. There were 7 people recently killed in a local refinery explosion. There is a woman at my local supermarket who is fighting breast cancer. And here I am, being dramatic.

I called my sister and whined. She listened like the dear sister she is, and reassured me that everything would work out. I threw my body around the house like a moping 13 year old girl and cried so hard I got the hiccups. In hindsight, I was only PMSing as usual. I know my husband was glad he was in class that night.

I sat down in front of my computer and poured my heart out in a MS Word document. However, I composed probably the most organized, eloquent, and persuasive piece of work I’ve ever written. And I have a multitude of past professors to thank for this. I wanted to have this draft letter ready in case we found the perfect place. Stuff goes quick on Craigslist, especially in a college town containing just 60K residents, half of which are students.

I then logged onto Craigslist to again torture myself by looking at homes that did not allow pets.

And there it was: Dog friendly home in the country. Could this be true? It passed the first scam inspection – no generic names, no weird fonts or photos that were too good to be true. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, hardwood floors, a deck, air conditioning, and a large lot of land on the countryside, 5 miles from town. I pasted my letter into an email to the landlord and crossed my finders. I crossed my toes too (a freakish feat, I know), just to be on the safe side.

The next morning I checked my email to discover that the landlord said she was also an animal lover, that the current tenants have 4 dogs, and that she would be willing to rent to us!

We worked with an Iowa City property management company to coordinate the paperwork and deposits, and we’re now ready to move! We hit the road after Sim graduates on Saturday, June 12th!

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