I'm currently in the library of my second favorite alma mater (I only have two), the University of Iowa. I'm here for a conference called NonfictioNow, which I attended two years ago. I can't believe how hip Iowa City has become! The university and the city are clearly awash in money, in ways they just weren't in the 90s. There is lots of new construction and the whole place reeks of affluence (which of course smells much better than poverty). In addition to the Java House, there are other coffee houses everywhere.
I'm not as excited about the conference this year--it hasn't been quite as magical as it was last year, perhaps because the amazing Pico Iyer isn't here there year. Not that it has been bad, by any means.... The first conference just had so much energy, was such a pleasure to attend. I'm enjoying myself and have heard some great panels, but it's not, well, magical like I said. And I am a little freaked out by how much Iowa City has changed. I lived in the most wonderful house when I was here, a marvelous arts and crafts home on the edge of downtown, and while it's still there, three houses on the block have been torn down to make way for a parking lot, and the garden I so lovingly planted is a hideous mess of weeds.
I'm writing this after ditching out on a panel that turned out to be a disappointing and boring account of stuff I already knew. But lunch is coming up, so I will head off for that.