Monday, February 26, 2007

Things is Differnt Out Here

Hello from the vast and frozen prairies. It’s been awhile since I posted, I know. Besides a two-week jaunt to Vermont, I’ve basically been napping and reading non-fiction books (oh fine, and becoming inordinately engrossed by “What the Fuck Happened to Tom ‘Crank-Face’ Sizemore” or whatever his reality show train-wreck is called) for the last two-and-a-half months. Two-and-a-half months! That’s like three hours in New York minutes.

Brad and Kevin and I are pretty damn happy out here. Although the lack of Corner Bistro burgers can be demoralizing at times, we have found (much to our surprise and delight) a fantastic Israeli falafel joint and a heart-attack’s worth of cheap, amazing Mexican food. Kevin, specifically, is adjusting very well, for a native Jerseyite. She spends most of her days running joyful circles around our front hall and living room, and chewing the dried snow-salt from our front-hall welcome mat. We have a new favorite organic/local foods store that, for all it’s BoBo/neo-hippietude, is still cheaper than your average Key Foods. Kevin’s palate is becoming very refined.

I’ve made a conscious decision not to make this a culture-shock blog, but there are two major cultural shifts that have taken place in my life since moving from the New York area--namely snow-shoveling and hip-hop clothing.

Hip-Hop Clothing

On average, I’d say I used to walk a mile and a half every day when I lived in Jersey City and worked in New York. A half-mile to get to and from the PATH stations on either side of the Hudson, twice a day, and an extra half-mile at lunch. A lot of days I probably walked more like two or three miles. My last month in New York, on a temperate and windy evening when I was feeling a particularly strong wave of pre-nostalgia, I walked from work at 32nd and Madison all the way to the Lower East Side.

Now, in Iowa, I drive. I drive to the grocery store. I drive to the bank. I drive to Mom’s and to Wal-Mart (natch). I drive to yoga. I told myself I wouldn’t do this. I told myself one of the great things about where we live is that it’s so close to the bar- and coffee-shop-ridden downtown Iowa City area. I could walk everywhere I needed to go. But there’s one thing I forgot about winter in Iowa: It’s fucking cold.

You think you know. “Sure, cold! Brr!” you say. New York is cold. Once a year, three feet of snow falls on the city and you don’t have to go to work and you get to make snowmen in Central Park. But you aren’t really cold. Apparently, the last three or four winters in Iowa are the warmest that anyone can remember. It was negative twenty degrees here for the better part of February. Unseasonably warm, the weathermen say. And it’s true. When I was little, the mercury used to fall below negative sixty with wind-chill. We didn’t just have snow days, we had cold days; days so cold it was dangerous for people to go outside. Then we walked barefoot, uphill, both ways. In comparison, negative twenty should be cake.

This is all a very circuitous way of saying that, as a result of the cold, as a result of the driving, as a result of not walking two miles every day, my badonk has officially become a badonkadonk. Among other things, this means I have had to buy new pants.

There aren’t a whole lot of clothing choices in Iowa City. There’s no H&M, no Forever 21, no cute LES boutiques, not even a respectable Macy’s. Basically, there are department stores and places where MILFs go to spend $300 on last season’s designer castoffs from Chicago. So, my new shelf-ass and I bounced down to Dillard’s for some jeans. The choices were depressing, to say the least. Mom jeans everywhere my ass and I looked. Mom jeans! I may be fashion-flexible or even fashion-negligent at times, but, hey, when you’re on the verge of 30, and you make a major life change, and that life change involves being assaulted by racks and racks of mom jeans, well, it’s enough to make a ma’am-aged, unfortunately expanding, yet girlishly charming person cry.

Until I found the Baby Phat. Yes, I know—Kimora Lee Simmons, the Devil knows thee by name. And there’s the ghoulish embroidered gold cat on the ass-pocket, followed by the garish, faux-golde label on the waistband. But you know what? They fit, and not in that stuffed-sausage, bleached-thigh-trompe-l’eoil sort of way. They fall straight and even give me a nice, low, flattering pocket on my Puerto Rican curse. And the thing is, I would feel weird wearing Baby Phat in New York, because, let’s face it, I am a lot of things, but urban streetwear diva is not one of them.

The great thing is, in Iowa, no one knows the difference! (FYI, fashion-foward in Iowa means not wearing a sweatshirt and stone-washed jeans to the office.)

Whew. Okay. And then there’s snow-shoveling:


We have to shovel the snow off of our sidewalk after more than an inch accumulates, or else our evil neighbors call the City, which then tickets us $50 plus snow-removal fees. Shoveling snow sucks. I understand now why middle-aged men are always having heart-attacks while shoveling snow. Middle-aged men can run marathons and scale Mt. Everest and govern the country, but they drop like flies when they have to shovel the driveway. It’s that hard.

Also, fuck you, evil neighbors.

Besides that, the people who live upstairs from us are a jug band, which is obviously awesome. And: I was driving home from a day of speaking about New York publishing at a local college last Thursday (very fun) and here is what was on the radio in one commercial-free stretch:

“Fallen Angel”—Poison
“Don’t Stop Believin”—Journey
“Photograph”—Def Leppard
“Things Can Only Get Better”--Howard Jones (now that I’m almost 30, and I don’t care about being cool anymore, can I just say that I love and have always loved Howard Jones? And does this make me ineligible for re-entry to Brooklyn at any point in my life? Or more eligible?)
“Take Me Home Tonight”--Eddie Money
“Funky Cold Medina”—Tone Loc

Take that, New Jersey.