Trip to Iowa, 8/6 – 8/8

For the purpose of singing a wedding with Collegium.

They waited for me. On the plane I was told we would be delayed; there was no opportunity to warn them. The delays seemed interminable. I was very worried they would leave the airport without me. The hotel name and address I didn’t know. A very nice man let me use his Blackberry to check my e-mail. No use. Impossible to get to any but the most current mail easily. The message I needed was from weeks ago: there was no search feature given the browser.

No matter. The rest of my day was two cheap but satisfying meals, a frustrating rehearsal where I did learn a new piece better, a lot of time alone at a mall in Des Moines. Perhaps America is great when it is affordable – no, that can’t be right. Read much of Heidegger’s short lecture “Poetically Man Dwells:” man, between known (earth) and unknown (heavens), is a perspective of sorts. In front of me sat an exceptionally beautiful woman – she wore no makeup – who spoke in a casual, endearing tone first on the phone, then to another woman who recognized her. She was reading a guide to divorce and the few comments I overheard indicated that this wasn’t a big deal for her. If she got custody, whatever. What seemed to confuse her was estate valuation. She paid me no heed.

On the flight before I saw portions of Iowa had flooded, and people had simply built around the floodplain. Throughout my stay, the greenness of Iowa never failed to impress.

The wedding Mass and reception were elegant, grand and ritualistic, not so much intimate. The times something broke through were packaged awkwardly, to great effect. Fr. Ralph March said (paraphrasing): “As I have been ordained to the priesthood, so you have been ordained to the married life.” He placed emphasis on the fact that the couple marry each other, that the priest simply bears witness. He only spoke at the Mass. Others dominated the reception. That was held at a winery; the wine was excellent and flowed smoothly with crisp, clean flavors. The bread, meant to go with a variety of relishes, was already broken for us. I didn’t dance.

Both the wedding and Sunday morning Mass were sung with accurate phrasing, and, in places, a solid understanding of dynamics. It was fun to make music with others. I can’t imagine anyone else was unimpressed. And there was real feeling. At the airport, some played cards. I bought a Sunday New York Times for $6 and invited a group of us to read. It reminded me of Sunday afternoons growing up – quiet time with the paper, sharing. On the two flights back: first, a dark-haired knockout in a summer dress sat next to me. We didn’t talk much. She said she didn’t pay for most of her meals. Second, a gentleman in IT consulting who had an open-mindedness I envy. It was clear he made the most of his reading science-fiction, the community at church, music blogs, and of course his travels. He was genuinely excited about what he learned with his wife and kids. I imagine he was missed very much at that moment.


  1. I feel like I saw a movie version of the story with your vivid descriptions and observations. Sounds like you had fun. By the way, I think you should have danced. ;)

  2. Ashok,
    I always enjoy your writings, for some reason it makes me want to curl up in a cozy spot and enjoy the brief moments you share excerpts of your world. Well, that’s kind of hard to do with a 17″ MacBook Pro, perhaps I’ll do it when I finally purchase the iPad.

    I have fond memories of sharing the paper with my brother. Last month my father, brother and me, did a bit of newspaper sharing when our families went on vacation together.

  3. I bought a Sun­day New York Times for $6 and invited a group of us to read. It reminded me of Sun­day after­noons grow­ing up — quiet time with the paper, shar­ing…. This Bit brought it home to me…. Thanks for the insight. Yup you should have danced.

  4. your writing style is like one does narration in movies… very descriptive and nice choice of words.

    I wonder what happened to that lady you saw… must’ve remained a mystery ;)

  5. It feels good to read your writing. I was just stressed about doing calculations at my day job and the feel of the story was… somewhat silky and cool, like a nice scarf.

    Okay, that totally sounds like a spam comment, doesn’t it?

    Really, though, there is a lot written on writing style and it is so nice to read a variety.

    And THAT’s why your on my blogroll.

    (I’ll StumbleUpon this at home – clearly at work now. Big Brother prohibits social networking.)

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