I grew up in the Midwest. Well, in the Kansas City area to be specific. Growing up I really did not like it. It wasn't cool, there wasn't anything to do, it was totally lame.....insert generic whining of a 15 year old here.
Then I attended college at a small liberal arts college in Northern Iowa (Wartburg, for those of you who care to stalk me later) which was in a pretty college town surrounded by farm communities and the fairly, industrial city of Waterloo 20 minutes away. When I attended school, the town had a 24 hour Hy-Vee and a WalMart that closed at (I think) 11pm, maybe 10pm. I became the girl that came from a city to many of the kids who grew up on a farm or perhaps one generation away from one. I occasionally went home with them on weekends and learned how to catch chickens and run in cornfields (which, if you have never wandered in a cornfield in the fall, I highly recommend it).
Then I got married and moved away. Since then, my husband and I have buzzed up and down both coasts like a 5 year old that has had too much soda. Some places we have fallen in love with and have landed on our "let's consider retiring here" list. Other places have made us angry, subversively, hostile individuals that will fantasize about shanking you bic pen should you rub us the wrong way.
But one thing I never expected was how terribly defensive I would get about home. And not home, as in tarnishing the good name of Kansas City, truth be told it is a GREAT city and all but we have the Royals and the Chiefs, that doesn't leave much room for bragging rights. I mean home in terms of the Midwest as a whole. Cause, well, I am just going to say it. To many people on the coast the Midwest is America's redheaded step child. Seriously.
I once had a janitor in Waterford, Connecticut condescendingly say to me upon finding out that I was (at the time) 23 and married, "Oh, God bless you, they do marry young out there." You know, cause apparently no one in Connecticut gets married until they are like 35 even though there is a GIANT MILITARY BASE in Groton which means several married 18 year-olds?
Or, my fave, a gentleman in Seattle that found out I was 25 and married (maybe I need to start lying about my age, seriously, what is it with guys asking how old I am because I wear a ring?) who said, "Oh well you are from a small town, right?"--"Well I grew up in Kansas City"--"Well that's a small town"--"No, not, really"--"Yeah, it is." On the off chance that you are laughing at me and agreeing with the numb nuts that argued with me in Seattle, I would like to refer you to this Wikipedia entry. No, we are not New York, LA, or Chicago, but you can hardly refer to us as a "small" "town".
So here's my point. Despite the fact that the first time I was ever on a working farm was in 6th grade on a field trip, despite the fact that any goat or sheep I ever touched before that field trip was at the zoo, despite the fact that I grew up within walking distance of a sizable mall, and despite the fact that my parents can barely grow the most low maintenance of house plants much less anything resembling actual agriculture, I am still lumped in with a whole small town, farming culture that was never my own. Why? Because I grew up in fly-over country. I grew up in a part of the country that is frequently dismissed as a bunch of undereducated, under cultured, hicks that should be hidden away in the prairie and forgotten about. And frankly, it pisses me off.
And FINALLY, here is a book that stands up for us. In addition, to being super interesting, probably one of the creepiest (not like Stephen King creepy but more like they blended the movie Traffic and The Green Zone creepy) books I have read in a long time. The author, Mr. Nick Reding, is and incredible writer who seamlessly weaves the argument that what happens to middle America happens to the rest of America and as such the Midwest and it's problems shouldn't be swept under the rug.
So do me a solid. Check out this book!