Saturday, August 29, 2009

In love with Iowa

Well, I'm here. If you saw the new Star Trek movie, you may remember an early scene where young Jim is speeding down roads flanked by wide cornfields, being chased by a cop. Patchwork fields for miles to see, big red barns, grain and corn silos and water towers - that is rural Iowa and that's what I remember from flying in from Chicago.It was dusk and the light was gentle. Sawyer was waiting to pick me up at Cedar Rapids (yes, it does sound like the setting of a soap opera) and drive me through to my home for the next three months in Iowa City.

There is a fabulous mix of fun people on the International Writing Program - 35 in total, plus the teaching staff. Alice, from Melbourne is into young adult books too (Melbourne), Osman from Sierra Leone who has given me some fabulous advice about writing for teenagers, and Millicent from Jamaica who is in love with the Flight of the Conchords. I spoke a little with Maung from Myanmar because he is the editor of a children's magazine, and the first thing Dragica of Switzerland said to me was:
"You are Kathy, ja? My son vants me to take you home vith me."
"I'm sure I'm a bit old for your son," I said.
"He's 32," she said. "And he likes older voman."

I'm not in the Iowa House Hotel where most of the other people are being housed. I'm staying in the College Green House - a period house which was built in 1890, which is only a 20-minute walk to the International Writing Program at Shambaugh House.

I'm not disappointed with anything yet. I have the most amazing view of the College Green, and the walk into town (where the good cafes are) is going to be good for me. There's a cute little yoga joint right around the corner from where I live. Can you believe that? My landlady seems happy to show me around. She took me through the Summit District Heritage Walk and the Farmer's Market on my first weekend, where I bought caramel (pronouned carrrrr-mel) pecan rolls from an Amish man ... she even brought me a piece of homemade apple spice cake this evening. How good is that? And she took me to Kalona, which is an Amish community, complete with horses and carts, and bakeries with the most amazing fruit pies and yeasty buns. Have you spotted the recurring theme in this paragraph? I'm not going to starve here.

Check out this parody video called Amish Paradise by Weird Al.