Year of Gratitude - Day 275 - Detroit Red Wings

As an undergraduate, I worked for the student paper for two years and after I left the staff, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with myself. Writing for the paper kept me busy and I had enough energy to write like a machine. One day in October 2002, my creative non-fiction writing professor mentioned there was an internship with the Red Wings available. "Parking, dinner..." and some other things were nonchalantly mentioned. My eyes grew big and my hand shot up. The rest is history.

After submitting writing samples and interviewing, I got the internship that would round out my college experience at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and change my life. After a year, I would be making money as a freelance writer. Real money! I met hockey legends - coaches, players, writers, broadcasters. My first professional interview was a phone interview with Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey himself. One of my last assignments was a feature on Steve Yzerman's Retirement Night. I would write about Red Wings that I had been a fan of since I was a kindergartner. A few days each summer were spent in Traverse City covering Training Camp. Not only did I get an outlet for my writing, but I gathered friends, stories and a working experience that I will treasure forever. It's a little surreal thinking back on it.

Even though my time with the Wings was extraordinary, the internship and then freelance work afterward taught me two things:
  1. If I put my mind to it, I can hustle and pay the bills with my writing.
  2. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life writing.
That second item sort of shocked me. When I worked for the Wings, I met writers that are literally hockey historians, full of encyclopedic knowledge on the sport. I was not that and would never be, but I still wanted to be an expert in something one day. Being part of the grind showed me that while I could manage a living doing this, writing would be one of my skills, but not my entire career.


Year of Gratitude - Day 274 - Beerfest

There's really only one beerfest to me and that's the one that happens every fall in Eastern Market in Detroit. Over the years, beerfest has grown into one of my favorite gatherings of friends. The last few years I've exercised my Michigan Brewers Guild membership to enter an hour before the masses and it is worth every penny. 

So much fun is to be had. The folks I see there are from all parts of my life and we are connected in one, great big celebration of delicious Michigan brews. It is one of my favorite rites of autumn.


Year of Gratitude - Day 273 - Elie Wiesel

Today is the birthday of Elie Wiesel. I read Night in the early 2000s and it changed me. I started to learn about the Holocaust, the role Poland, my home country, played in it and the very complex human issues generated by that genocidal event. Night was the first time I started to think about how memory, bureaucracy and evil can all be intertwined to destroy people, entire societies.  

I am grateful to have read this book and to have embarked on a scholarly journey that, though dark, shows that humanity can overcome itself.
"Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere." 


Year of Gratitude - Day 271 - Supermoon & lunar eclipse

Yeah, I know it was YESTERDAY, but I'm so grateful that the skies cleared up for a few moments so my husband and I could gaze up at the celestial spectacle that was the supermoon and lunar eclipse combo. The photos really don't do it justice. If you saw it, you couldn't stop staring at it. In fact, even though the clouds were thick, we'd look out our door every 5-10 minutes to track where the moon was in the sky. Just for a glimpse. It was worth it! So grateful to not have to wait until 2033 to see that live! Absolutely incredible. I'm grateful to have shared such a moment with my guy, too.


Year of Gratitude - Day 270 - Pope Francis

I am not a religious person, but I would be a fool not to recognize the good that religion does for people. I DO believe in the golden rule, the commandments and other worthy teachings. Hence, why I really love Pope Francis. He practices what he (and his religion) preaches. His United States visit has been truly wonderful and I've really enjoyed hearing his message; he's a great orator. Also, he's a chemist. That's solid. I hope people are inspired by the Holy Father. 

With so many crappy leaders and poor role models, it's good to see that the Pope is once again a shining beacon of moral and spiritual strength. The world needs more of his kind.


Year of Gratitude - Day 245 - Best Brown Ale from Bell's

One of my rites of autumn occurs at the ballpark, where I throw off my beer slinging buds at when I switch from my summer favorite, Bell's Oberon to Best Brown Ale. While I'm sad to see summer go, Best Brown helps the season change. Besides, you know it's just a matter of time before I'm drinking exclusively pumpkin ale and don't stop until it runs out sometime in mid-December.


Year of Gratitude - Day 239 - Running a 5K

Today I ran the distance of a 5K. It was slow. It was not graceful. But it was over 3.1 miles and I never stopped running. I am grateful that I have gotten back into the habit of running again. I am really enjoying it and I feel great afterward. Plus, it's a great time to get back into my podcasts. If there's one thing that distracts me from the trials of running, it's trying to focus in on listening to the news, poetry, etc.


Year of Gratitude - Day 213 - Teachers: Mr. Bill Dummer

Mr. Dummer was one of the first, if not THE first, teacher I respected. Listen, back then I was a jerk, but I was always pretty smart. That combination wasn't great for a teen, but Mr. Dummer put me in my place while being an impactful teacher. He died on this day in  2006.

I had him in high school for American Literature. I should remember more than I do from that class, but I remember him introducing me to how I learn best - being challenged with intellectually deep dialogue and situations that required data collection and analysis. Mr. Dummer essentially taught me the first steps in reading and comprehending literature. I wish I had remembered more. I am tempted to go to my parents and try to find my high school notes (I know I have them). I could have used another half dozen teachers like him in high school.

Mr. Dummer died suddenly from what I understand was trauma to the brain. At the wake, I saw his brother, who looked EXACTLY like Mr. Dummer except for his white hair. He had Mr. Dummer's mannerisms, however, and that made me burst into tears. I was lucky to have had close interactions with Mr. Dummer. He changed my life and influenced many, many more.

Here is Mr. Dummer's death notice. I miss him very much and am extremely grateful to have had a teacher like him in my life.


Year of Gratitude - Day 211 - My Partner

My husband is my best friend. We have been together since 1999 and I feel like I love him more each day. I know that sounds very cliche, but there's really no other way to explain how I feel about him. Growing old with him will be wonderful. My best piece of advice to anyone who wants a long-term relationship is this: you have to be friends first. If you can't be friends, you can't be partners for life. Also, if you don't love yourself, loving others will be most challenging.

Also, when the server tells you that he is impressed that you ate that much surf and turf, you will regret what you've done in like 15 minutes after your anniversary meal.


Year of Gratitude & Book Review - Day 206 - Life as we knew it

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was suggested to me a few years back and I recently saw it on a "Books you can't put down" list. It was indeed a very quick read, but I generally attribute that to young adult literature. Sometimes people are confused as to why I read so much literature dealing with dystopian worlds, miserable existences and the end of humanity. The reason is, and has been, that it makes me appreciate what I have and it makes me think about what it would be like if I DIDN'T have that.  That is definitely what this book did for me. This book is perfect for my year of gratitude.

This book is a work of fiction told through Miranda Evans's diary. She is a 16 year old girl in Pennsylvania and her entire world begins to change dramatically when the moon is struck by an asteroid. At first people celebrate, but then it's discovered that the asteroid pushed the moon closer to earth, causing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and then knocking everyone off the grid. The family stays together and survives in the best way they know how. It is a part of a series and I'm not going to lie, I think I might want to continue with the series.

This book made me think deeply about my parent's love. It made me also think deeply about how fragile human life is. Back in 2003 when there was a major power outage, there was a day of celebration, then of quiet, then of slight panic that the lights weren't on. They came back on, but that was taste of how people would react. Of course, a power failure is not quite the same as a monumental natural disaster, but it was still a very sobering story.

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