Sam in Iowa City

I’m sitting outside on a patio outside of a coffee shop. In Iowa City. A couple blocks from my new house. Working on the things professors work on for the first time in weeks. Conference proposals and manuscripts. Syllabi. The tasks have been piling up over the last few weeks. And now I’m looking at these tasks. On a patio outside of a coffee shop. To get away from the distractions at home. Two loud boys. Mewing cats. Those sorts of thing disrupts a good scholarly work session.

It’s a warm summer’s morning. Well, more like mid-afternoon. The sky is blue. The coffee is hot. My laptop is humming. Not really my laptop. This thing is a loaner from THEEEE University of Iowa. They’ve ordered me a new laptop. But it’s 2022. So the new laptop is delayed. Thus the loaner.

But here I am. Ready to get to work. Sam in Iowa City.


I want to tell you something before this blog gets too idyllic. I called my friend Ben before I started writing this blog. Ben’s a grad student in theatre at Boulder. A former high school student of mine. A good friend. I wanted to ask Ben about submitting a workshop for a conference next spring. Because that’s what professors and grad students do.

I often talk loudly when I’m talking to Ben. So I tried to talk quietly. You know, because I’m on a patio outside of a coffee shop.

Now, let’s be clear. The two college students that were sitting behind me were louder than the trucks driving by in the street for the past hour. So I figured a phone call with Ben wouldn’t be a problem on this patio.

I figured wrong, kind reader.

A kind woman is sitting next to me. And by kind, I mean unkind. She’s with one of her students, I presume. I’m listening to them talk right now. About assessments. And evaluating students. It’s annoying. They’re distracting me from writing this humble blog.

A few moments earlier, this kind (unkind) woman sitting next to me started waving at me while I was talking to Ben.

“Shhh! Can you please keep it down?” she snarled.

I smiled. Sure.

And now here I am writing a blog, and she’s not keeping it down. A littler man than me might ask her to keep it down. But I believe it is important not to knock down card houses. See? So I’m not asking her to keep it down. Instead, I’m telling you about it.

So let’s not pretend it’s all roses here in Iowa City. Still, it’s pretty cool. I can’t remember the last time I was on a patio outside of a coffee shop writing about a woman who snarled at me to keep it down.

Friends, I’ve been shushed.


I won’t keep it down. I’ll keep doing what I do. Writing. Teaching. Improvising. Finding ways to connect with others. Loudly. And now I’ll do it from my new home in Iowa City.

This place reminds me of home. Reminds of me of the neighborhoods in St. Paul. Coffee shops and breweries and quiet streets. I like it here. Feels like a good place to be, snarling people shushing me aside.

So this is Sam in Iowa City.

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