Tag Archives: iowa

my near death facebook experience

i did not want to go to iowa.  there were clouds.  there was a bad feeling in my chest.  there was an as yet unfinished book of montaigne essays on my bed. there are monsters, ufo’s, snakes, planes and automobiles out there in the world.  staying home seemed just the prudent thing to do.

but f2fb friend #206 had done the most amazing thing–she moved from wyoming to bellevue, iowa.  maybe not specifically to make my new year’s resolution of meeting all my facebook friends easier but who’s to know what motivates people?  in any event, i had to work it to get out of the house.

some of my friends have given me talismans to help me with my travels. f2fb friend #59 is the biographer of william clark, who is my f2fb friend#60. i take this clark doll with me on my travels along with a hedgehog given to me by f2fb friend #110 jeff barnes

i had never met julianne.  but she is an admirer of my facebook friend lanny jones, who is the biographer for william clark.  julianne is a writer of some note and a professor at the university of wyoming.

i packed the car.  i thought about backing out.  of the trip.  of the garage.  i was using a garmin gps system that is a talisman given to me by a nonfacebook friend who has been following my journeys.  the garmin “jack” guided me not along the expected highways but rather on a journey that took through short streets, alleyways, alongside cemeteries, through medical complexes–i made note of many emergency rooms i could have visited–and finally onto a bridge or a part of the road where the rains were swelling a river so profoundly that i was unsure whether i would be washed away.  that’s when i really freaked.  i tried to call my sons.  or text them to say goodbye.  but i couldn’t find my phone.   i did find my flip camera.  warning:  this video shouldn’t be watched unless you watch the next video as well!!!!

so i took one ativan, four zantacs, and eight pepcids.  i waited until someone on the other side of the road/bride crossed through the water.  i proceeded.  i probably freaked out julianne and her husband ron when i arrived because they promptly had me sit on the sofa with archie.

i tried to persuade archie to take a few training classes, get a blue “service dog” vest and come with me around the world!

julianne and her husband ron have hit the restart button their lives.  while julianne will continue to teach online at the university, they have their feet firmly planted in bellevue.  they only got to town in june but already they’ve made a lot of new friends.  julianne has some ideas about how to make friends, not just facebook friends–

julianne gave me a book she wrote — jukeboxes & jackalopes:  a wyoming bar journey.  she had to travel throughout wyoming on business as ron–a renowned artist–photographed the state.  she used the time to hang out in bars (a quite reasonable endeavor) and learn about the individual towns.  oddly, there is much to be learned from a town’s bars.  and other environs.  the couple told me that their new town is very communal in its eating habits.  one could dine out every night of the week at a church social, a kiwani’s fundraiser, an arts council after hours.

the pig roast of the day was preceded by a "polka" mass. i find religious services very cool, even if they're not of my faith


on my way home, i didn’t rely on the garmin gps.  instead, i thought i would use the atlas.  i ended up veering south towards kentucky and was hopelessly lost.  i plugged the garmin “jack” back in and he reassured me that he could get me home.  i am happy to be here now.  even if i’m packing for montreal.  whoops, these two friends have not been so considerate as to move closer. . . .

i told julianne that i embroidered this and that i had it framed and because i didn't want to embarrass her with my many talents, i put a tag on the back of the frame that said that an embroidery company had made this. plus a price tag. do you think she believes me?

this is not my private idaho (id) but it IS iowa (ia)

i like that french existentialists came from france.  because all the space, the nothingness, of america would freak jean-paul sartre and his posse of intellectuals.  there’s just way more of that nothingness here than in france.  driving along i-80 across iowa and into nebraska, i was aware of the nothingness but also of the being. . .check out the windmills–

windmills were planted earlier this year

for hundreds of miles there are windmill farms.

this tractor is ready to harvest windmills. . .

coming out of cedar rapids, i headed for council bluffs because according to my trusty spreadsheet rodger gerberding (f2fb #131) lives in idaho.  the two letter postal code for idaho is id) i was really excited because in messaging each other i understood he would be in council bluffs iowa for one day.  in iowa (postal code ia).  i didn’t know that i had screwed up on the spreadsheet.  it’s ia not id.  still, i got to see rodger.  i was  a little nervous because rodger and i have only one mutual friend, my father justin (f2fb #30).  rodger was a friend of my grandfather fritz leiber (as well as a fan of fritz’s work).

rodger is an actor, writer, artist. . . and he had a wonderful story to share:

i left rodger and blew into omaha, nebraska.  across the street from the hotel was a riverboat casino.  i thought women in evening gowns, gentlemen in tuxedos, an atmosphere of glamor, intrigue. . . . i did what any gal would do–i spritzed the angel perfume, put on a little black dress, pulled the bright red lucite heels from the back of the car and headed over there.

only to discover row upon row of slot machines.  with galpals in sweatpants and “world’s greatest grandma” t-shirts.  dudes sporting polo shirts tucked in and hearing aids firmly in place.  i looked like an underage hooker and i did get my share of attention from the security staff.  i sure hope las vegas is more uplifting. . . .

and tomorrow, onward to blue springs to have a facebook visit with a label executive.  do you think i’m too old for to put out an album?

a tornado and i’m not even in kansas!

mobiles homes cause tornadoes.  this is my contribution to meteorological science.  after all, anytime there’s a report of a tornado there’s usually an accompanying report of mobile homes being plucked from their moorings or collapsing under the weight of falling trees.

as i entered the state of iowa, all radio stations reverted to the emergency broadcasting system.  the radio announcers were plaintive and earnest.  “you must go to your safe place,”  they repeated.  ominously, several added that if you were traveling along i-80 “we implore you to pull over and get to safety.”

well, to an agoraphobic, that means one thing:  return home forthwith because home is the ONLY safe place.  i wanted to turn around.  because there is no other safe place other than home.  the outside world is, by my definitions, a scary place. but i had made a commitment to be in cedar rapids to meet f2fb friend #139 bruce nesmith and his family.

bruce and i went to college together.  he wanted to be a radio newscaster.  he ended up becoming a political science professor at coe college in cedar rapids and, because of his acumen, he is frequently called upon to be a “talking head” on radio and television.  so he has some of the makings of a perfect life.

the sky blackened and the announcers were tracking three different tornadoes and telling people in solon, north liberty, johnson county, “you need to be in your safe place NOW.”  their natural iowa reticence was being tried.  since i didn’t know where i was in relation to any of the tornadoes i did what they told me.  after, hail was being tossed on my windshield like eggs in the hands of an angry god.  the tornado sirens wailed.  the little farmhouses, red barns, the moo cows gave off the vibe that they could at any moment rise up in the air, spinning and twirling and bringing up with them flying monkeys and wicked witches.  i pulled over to a convenience store and waited out the storm.  hands shaking.  hives rolling up my neck.  my inhaler in one pants pocket, my backup inhaler in the other.

but trying to play it cool, leaning against the vending machine as the store filled with people who watched the television coverage of the storm warnings.  just, you know, another tornado. . . i went outside.  that’s when i got to see the beautiful moment when a cloud starts to spiral. . . . and then it dissipated.

i traveled on to cedar rapids.  the house was a gorgeous center hall colonial.  bruce’s wife jane and their two sons welcomed me with bright smiles and a bit of curiosity about my new year’s eve resolution to meet every facebook friend.   jane freelances both as an adjunct professor of  writing and as a journalist for a local newspaper.  their two sons robbie and eli did their best to make me feel like an honored guest. . . and as someone sort of cool.  or at least not embarrassingly uncool.  robbie is in marching band.  eli is graduating eighth grade in a week,

bruce and jane met when they both sang in a methodist church choir.  they are comfortably suited to each other as they approach their twenty second anniversary.  religion is an important part of their lives–we sat down to dinner and opened with a simple, but familiar prayer of thanksgiving. God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, amen.

i told the nesmiths about my experience with the nascent tornado.  they weren’t quite as impressed as i was.  i think you have to be pretty tough to be from iowa.  but i think bruce nesmith has created for himself the perfect, perfect life!

i left the nesmiths after a tour of coe college and continued west. . .