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New Kid on the Block
February 9, 2012 - David Alexander
If you read the T-R with any regularity, you have no doubt seen my name and found yourself asking “Who the heck is David Alexander?” Well the short answer is that I am the new guy.
I have lived in Marshalltown now for just over two weeks now and I am still adjusting, not just the rigor of working full-time at a daily newspaper, but to all the differences — good and bad —between here and my hometown.
You see, not only am I not a Marshalltown native, I’m not from Iowa. I know that a xenophobic, kneejerk reaction often leads people to feel that an outsider coming in and pretending to know about their community is detrimental to it. Such arrogance is probably the last thing people want to see in a journalist. I am hoping that any modicum of curiosity, tenacity and, for lack of a better term, moxie that I might have will suffice between now and the time that I know Marshalltown as well as I know my hometown.
I’m from Michigan, from a city roughly three times the size Marshalltown. Look at your right hand and point to your palm about an inch from your wrist — that’s where I’m from: Kalamazoo. And although both Iowa and Michigan bear that quaint “Midwest” label, I am learning that there are subtle, key differences. It’s sort of like Bizzaro World. Everything is essentially the same … But it’s not.
Taken together, this amalgamation of differences, at times, leaves me feeling a little like Dorothy. Or Alice. Or whoever the guy equivalent to those characters would be.
Overall, I like Marshalltown. The tradeoffs have kept even keel. Sure, getting a cup of coffee or using the Internet in public past 7 p.m. is virtually unheard of around here. If I need a new shirt and I don’t want to buy it at Walmart or JCPenny, I have to drive out of town. But then again, I haven’t had a single person cut me off while driving or give me some tired line about needing to feed their kids so I will give them money for drugs.
For better or worse, Kalamazoo is a college town. Consequently, a lot of college kids live there. So, naturally living here is a departure. I’m 29, and around here that seems young. It’s strange to overhear people talking about politics instead of which beer they like best. People in Kalamazoo love their beer. They love it like the French love wine.
I, on the other hand, love Marshalltown streets. Because of the way they are laid out, getting around is so much easier. I can’t tell you how much I like that. Kudos to Marshalltown civic engineers. Bang up job. An aerial view of Kalamazoo’s streets probably looks like a two-year old got angry at his spaghetti dinner. Everyone around here is also really friendly — because I am not used to it, almost suspiciously friendly. And tall. Everyone says worsh instead of wash. It’s weird. It’s going to take some getting used to.
Until I get my bearings, all I can do is count my lucky stars that I have landed in a community where the denizens are so patient and understanding of my ineptitude. I only hope that as this blog pushes onward, my remarks in it, which will often be biting, will do well to give insight to the newest member of a familiar staff. I will do my best to match their dedication and tell the stories of the people in this community in an earnest and forthright manner. _____
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