>In the movie version of the musical Annie, there is a scene where Daddy Warbucks’s secretary, whose name I of course cannot remember, shows Annie around the mansion she’ll be staying at for a week (in a PR attempt to spruce up Daddy Warbucks’s image). As Annie is whisked from room to room, she sings in response to everything she sees, “I think I’m gonna like it here.” I have had this song in my head since mid-morning, when I started walking around the town.

After spending time in downtown Iowa City today, I really understand why my sister loves living here and does not want to move, even though she has not been able to find the type of job that she sought for the past 4 or 5 years. It is completely charming and is jammed with cool stuff. I am sitting in the public library, which is huge and beautiful and is open at least 10 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers free wifi. (It is also not over-air conditioned, which is great because I am all sweaty from walking around with my laptop in my backpack in 98% humidity.) On my way to the library, I stopped in a funky basement store called Ragstock (which also has a location in Chiago that I haven’t been to in ages) and picked up a rocking red vinyl button down dress with zippered breast pockets for a mere $15. (I’m not sure what on earth I will do with it, but for 15 bucks, I couldn’t turn it down. I’m sure I can wear it to a theme party of some sort with my kick-ass knee high black boots, whenever one comes up.) It has lots of restaurants, including a Japanese place, a vegetarian Indian place, a non-vegetarian Indian place, and a Thai place. Not bad. I always forget that it is one of the best college towns I’ve ever visited.

The other great thing is that it is full of Democrats and liberals. On my walk from my sister’s house to downtown, I came across tons of lawn signs supporting the Democrat running against in November, and only one bumper sticker supporting him. Last election, a pediatrician named Julie something or other did very well. Not that Leach is the worst of the Repugnantcans, but still.) I also saw this bumper sticker on a rotting van: A few minutes later, I reached the pedestrian mall and noticed these two gentlemen were standing in the thick humidity quietly protesting the war in : Cool. Back to the charming aspects (not that people who hate Bush are not cool), here are a few houses I passed on my walk: This is just one of the cute stone houses in a row of five. My sister and brother-in-law call them the “hobbit houses.” BiL says he always expects to see a come out. Incidentally, I noticed that one of the houses is for sale and called the real estate agency. The broker told me that the house is approximately 1200 square feet and the sellers are asking $118,000. Adorable!

Further down the same street is this house: I have never seen such cool statues on a lawn before. On the side street by this house is this friendly sign: Also, the town has a cute brick synagogue that reminds me of an old fashioned schoolhouse (probably intentionally),a storefront Eastern Orthodox Chapel, and a Maharishi Meditation center that is a full block amongst the numerous churches one might expect in Iowa.

The sidewalk where the edge of downtown meets the University of Iowa campus my sister’s alma mater) had a set of inlays describing the history of the state, which cracked me up. My favorite: I am having a great time, and I have not even seen the butter cow at Iowa State Fair yet!