getting settled into iowa city

Bob, Ros, and Mac

On the porch on the way home from dinner.

the last 4 weeks have been a time of monumental transition and emotion for me and for my family. in the past month, we packed all that we own into storage containers, moved out of our agoura hills condo, moved in with my mom just south of yosemite, experienced the birth of our son, maclaren, loaded all that we own into two moving vans, drove 1800 miles through the california, nevada, and arizona deserts, the utah canyons, over the colorado rockies, across the plains of nebraska, and through the rolling hills of western iowa. we closed on a home in iowa city, moved in, and unpacked. meanwhile, i attended the university of iowa’s new faculty orientation, set up my office (including moving a thousand volumes into my office – motivation enough for a renewed call for e-publishing), met my new colleagues, prepped my courses, learned all (read: some) of the new uiowa policies and procedures, and discovered most of the best places to grab a bite and a cold one. my wife decided to heed some of the doctor’s advice, so she waited precisely one week after maclaren’s birth to get in a car and drive cross-country with my mom and mac to join her father and me in iowa city. since her arrival, it has been an endless barrage of fixing up the yard, painting rooms, changing poopy (sp?) g-diapers, and setting up utilities (including internet at home, so expect a regular return to blogging.)

new state, new city, new time zone, new weather, new baby, new house, new job, new routine. i am thankful for my wife, roslyn, and her amazing ability to be a tireless mother and patient wife at the same time, and for our parents who provided us with support and drove us cross-country. (hint: get walkie-talkies for car caravans; they are invaluable when deciding to exit the freeway at a moment’s notice or when you need the truck at the rear to throw a block on rear-approaching traffic so you can pass the rig in front of you). i am also thankful for my friends, who throughout the entire transition encouraged and joked with me to make the transition bearable.

thank you especially to everyone who commented encouraging words on facebook and twitter while i was tweeting roslyn’s labor. i read those comments to her between breathing and counting, and it really did make all the difference. some made us laugh, which was welcomed relief, but most gave ros the extra motivation to keep going. never underestimate the power of a kind word uttered sincerely to someone in distress, even privately. it makes all the difference in the world.

my new colleagues at iowa are amazing. both departments (religious studies and classics) work together cohesively, share a common goal, and actually know what it is that i do (although ‘digital humanities’ still causes a few more of those colbert-esque raised eyebrows than does ‘second temple judaism’ or ‘archaeology’). they have each taken turns coming by my office and approaching me to chat at department picnics and parties. i look forward to years of production, growth, and fun at iowa. (btw, did i mention that my colleagues are good, fun scholars? it feels good to want to go to work and see my colleagues. it makes the overwhelming parts of a new job that much more bearable.)

iowa city is the best little hidden treasure in the midwest – the perfect combination of an intellectual center, social progress, and traditional emphasis on families and their well-being. i’m proud to be a hawkeye, and to live in the ‘people’s republic’ (as they affectionately are wont to call it) of iowa city, and i hope to contribute my part to the community. for now, i shall indulge in my favorite difference between iowa city and los angeles: i shall walk 5 short minutes (less than the time it used to take me to walk from the $10 per day parking spot allotted to me at ucla to my office) to the bus stop, and take the 10-minute bus ride to my office. my entire new 15 minute ‘commute’ involves no driving, no gas, no tension, and is 45 minutes less than my old, hour-long, one-way drive in los angeles. and to add insult to los angeles’ woeful public transportation injury, my bus pass is $10 per month, meaning i can get to work for a month for the same amount it costs to park (forget the cost of gas and lost time and stress, simply to park) at ucla for a day!

‘it’s not heaven, it’s iowa.’

ok. back to work.

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12 Responses

  1. Bob – I am so pleased you are enjoying your new post and home! As you know, E and I lived in Iowa City for the first month of our married life, while waiting to go to Oxford. We still have some of our closest and dearest friends there (hint: invite me to give a talk! ;-) and you will love the town and environment. The faculty and community is great.

    I look forward to talking with you soon! hint hint nudge nudge

  2. Congrats on everything Bob. Glad to hear everything is going well for you and do hope it continues!

  3. thanx tom.

  4. Welcome to Iowa City! I still am very grateful to indulge in the 15 minute commute and the $10 bus pass. Much better than the $10/day at UCLA – something I sure don’t miss. :)

  5. Have any of your new colleagues offered to repair your shift key?

  6. Welcome to Iowa!

    My sister graduated from U. of I in theater and I went to grad school in Classics for a time there, years ago. I think all of the profs I had are gone, except for Dr. DePuma. Be sure to check out Prairie Lights Books, lunch at The Airliner and take time to visit Cedar Rapids for it’s wonderful museum with Greek, Etruscan and Roman stuff as well as the best damn collection of Grant Wood paintings.

  7. nope. as classicists, they know that mixing cases of letters in the same sentence is unnecessary. ;-)

  8. No professor at the University of Iowa has ever marked me down for my handwriting being all caps, or complained, so I’m not sure they’d notice a lack of capitals as long as the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are good.

    Check out Capanna and The Soap Opera! Capanna has great gelato. And we have a Classics reading in the Ped Mall every year.

  9. Very happy to hear you are now settled in there in Iowa, Professor. All of us look forward to more of your fantastic scholarship from this new venue. And congratulations on the birth of your son. God bless.

  10. thanx matthew.

  11. What a beautiful soul you are, Robert. Love your story and contribution to the world. So inspired that you found your true north star in the lovely Roslyn- CONGRATULATIONS! (love how you describe what it means to have found her in your life- in one of your posts)…and together you have brought, into our world, a new soul to grace our earth with- as I am sure your daughter is already doing! What a month you have had (Aug was Mercury Retrograde and you all sure experienced a lot- impressive!!) I am inspired by your work and your “voice” on so many important topics of present day – which I am sure will become ever more important in the years to come. Many Blessings to you and your entire family….you make Iowa a place I now want to visit! Sounds like a true gem!

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