Further impressions of Iowa

This post could just as well been titled “Oh my heck, Toto, we’re not in Utah anymore.”

What is up with all of the tattoos everywhere? Call me old-fashioned, but unless it’s a part of your cultural heritage (Arab, Indian, Polynesian, etc), I don’t really find it interesting or attractive. It’s like someone vandalized your body.

Utah is pretty insulated in this regard. Sure, you can find people with tattoos, but only if you look for them. Here, every other person has a tattoo somewhere.

Is this part of a wider trend across the United States? If so, is it connected to the crappy economy? People with stability and security in their lives don’t typically get tattoos. Or maybe it’s all of my fellow Millennials who don’t know what they’re doing with their lives and are sort of just drifting.

I’ve probably got readers who are thinking right now: “dude, WTF? You’ve got a character in Sons of the Starfarers who has a full body tattoo, and doesn’t mind showing it off.” To which I would say: 1. it’s temporary (henna), 2. it’s part of her cultural heritage, and 3. it’s fiction.

The other big thing I’ve noticed (which again, is probably just going to show how insular Utah can be) is that no one has any concept of food storage. There’s a store out here called Mills Fleet Farm, which is kind of like a Home Depot swallowed a feed store and ate a Walmart for dessert. Asked three employees for foodsafe five-gallon buckets, and none of them had any idea what I was looking for.

In Utah, you can get foodsafe five-gallon and two-gallon buckets from any grocery store. At Macey’s and Winco, they sell the gamma lids. You can also buy 50 lb bags of oats or wheat, 25 lb bags of beans or rice, and twice a year they have case-lot sales where you can buy canned goods by the case upwards of 50% off. Freeze dried foods and can rotation systems are also a perennial.

Am I the weird one for thinking it’s a good idea to keep 90 days worth of non-perishable food in your pantry? Aside from all the prepper reasons for why that’s a good idea, it’s also a lot cheaper to buy in bulk. And it’s not like people don’t keep gardens around here. Though I do have to admit, there aren’t nearly as many home gardens as Utah.

But the people seem friendly enough, and aside from those two points, this place is actually a lot more culturally similar to Utah than other places in the country where I’ve lived. It’s more conservative than California, more churchgoing than New England, and a hell of a lot more honest than Washington DC. About the only other place I’ve been that comes close is Texas, but Texas is Texas. Nothing else compares.

I could see myself ending up in Texas someday, if I don’t move back to Utah first. Utah isn’t for everyone, but I love it there and wouldn’t mind putting down some permanent roots. California, on the other hand… you couldn’t pay me to live there. Same with Washington DC.

Iowa’s not a bad place, though. Time will tell how it rubs off on me.

 

Author: Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek is the author of more than twenty science fiction books, including the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah.

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