Is weird. I think I think this about almost every place I go. That wherever I am is a weird place, but for a different reason.

For one thing, the municipal seal says: “City of Iowa City” and I think that’s ridiculous. But moreso I found it interesting to ponder the ecology of the city; it’s demographics and economics. It’s a college town. It probably only really exists now because it’s a college town. So it swells pregnant with the weight of tens of thousands of students for 9 months out of the year and contracts into a sort of reverse hibernation in the summer. When I was there for the month of October, I saw signs in almost every shop/cafe/bar/restaurant looking for new workers (I assume students) to handle the presumably increasing amount of business (also, I assume, due to the influx of students).

I sat in an industrially decorated sandwich place adjacent to a hardware store, eating sweet potato fries and writing postcards when I overheard the staff chatting about picking up additional part time jobs now that other shops were hiring again. They complained about the students who were hired but then quit within weeks because they couldn’t handle their jobs in addition to their schoolwork. And I remarked on how interesting the mix of people in Iowa City are – students, academic faculty, support staff, townies – all shopping at the HyVee, objectively America’s greatest grocery store.

To me, Iowa City also felt weird because it was an oasis of “culture” amongst the cornfields. Every day I worked for several hours in a “hip” coffeeshop called High Ground. I’ve yet to find another shop (IN ALL OF THE WORLD!) so conducive to my mental work processes. Ten percent of the baristas had alternative hair styles (dyed, shaved) and one-hundred percent had tattoos. Down the street sits an arts collective (Public Space One) that hosts printmaking (among other creative endeavors) workshops and afrofuturists in residence.

I felt like I could live in Iowa City for a long time because of the HyVee and the variety of arts and music without the chaos that accompanies large cities. Literally what more could you need?