“They had to close down the museum.”

So when I was in second grade, we went on this field trip to this weird museum and I wish I knew what it was called, but I have a feeling that if I describe it enough, somebody who's lived in Michigan their whole life will know what I'm talking about. But it's this museum where the basement is a whole town and it's a very mid-western town, you walk through and it's all these little storefronts and it's very quaint and cute and it's fairly big for being a town-based basement in a museum, like it's a very strange experience. So we were there in second grade and the upstairs had this rock-climbing wall. And there was also a bunch of -- there was a Warheads, like, dispenser, little candy dispensers up there too. And so, you know, my classmates were all surrounded by the -- we were all surrounding this Warheads candy machine and we're getting just an outrageous amount of them. And all of a sudden, I hear this bang and I turn around a kid in my class was climbing up the rock-climbing wall and had absolutely ate it, like slipped and hit his head on the rock-climbing wall and fell all the way down to the ground and he wasn't that far up, but it was still a fairly big fall. And I just remembered looking over and seeing he had hit his head and so he was bleeding, like he had a huge nosebleed. And I remember looking over the rock-climbing wall and it's covered in blood from where he landed. I shouldn't be laughing but it's like it's so traumatic for me. Like I literally thought, I think everybody in my class screamed. And my mom was supervising the field trip, so I ran back to her, and I was like, "Oh my God," and then everyone got to leave class early and they had to close down the museum. Or at least that part of them museum for the rest of the time that we were there at least, to clean it. But yeah, it was definitely a museum experience that left an impression on me.

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“I made sure, of course, to be a full tourist.”

We did make it to the capital of Vermont, which I'm blanking – it’s not Burlington. Is it Burlington? Um, and that was pretty great. We got like a touch of what I imagined New England felt like. I remember, the architecture on the houses – once we, once we got closer to a degree of civilization, there is that, like, New England feel to the houses, which I'm totally blanking on what they’re called, what you’d described it as. But definitely ended up getting, like, “Man, yeah, this does kind of feel like I'm out here in New England.” It was – I loved it. I loved the aesthetic. I made sure, of course, to be a full tourist and I bought some Vermont maple syrup. I know we have maple syrup in Michigan, but I don't know. It was kind of cool to buy the Vermont style and the tin that it came in was so – I loved it. I loved it. I loved the design of it all and even after I finished all that maple syrup, I remember I washed that tin out and I used it as a water bottle on my next road trip out west.

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“And so he’s like the crossing guard.”

Anyway, we come around this bend in the road, and there's this magnificent stag elk. Um, it’s coming up the side of the road, up onto the road. He's got the whole, uh, the whole family with him. He's got the little ones and then the mom, and all of ‘em, all the, all the elk, the whole – his whole elk family. And so he's like the crossing guard, he comes out into the middle of the road and just stands magnificently, mind you, until the whole family gets across and then he kind of takes his magnificent head and kinda shakes it a little bit and continues his walk like, “Yeah, you mere humans,” you know. Anyway, a couple of times we saw elk on this route. Some real similar experience – magnificent animal, my gosh. They just, they’re just amazing. But the one guy – was driving, we used to carpool, and he, uh, starts beeping his horn at this elk and the elk kinda snort and looks at him, like, you know, “Really?” And I said, “What the h***’s the matter with you, stop beeping your horn, you want him to charge the car? You know, you got this Ford Astrovan,” or whatever it was. And, uh, so he stopped beeping the horn, anyway, and we gave the elk and his family time to cross, but that was probably the most magnificent animal I've ever seen in person. Or I guess that would be the coolest.

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“There’s nothing like the Mackinac Bridge.”

Oh, I know. You gotta go across the Mackinac Bridge. I mean, there's nothing like the Mackinac Bridge and the fact that our state is separated by that distance, and spend time in the UP. UP is the better half of Michigan. So, definitely need to go and do the bridge and see Mackinac Island. I mean, there's, you know, iconic, historic treasure that we have with Mackinac Island. Has to be on a list of things to do that are unique to Michigan. And I'd add to that and say, you know, up by Petoskey, just hunting for Petoskey stones. Whether you find one yourself on the beach or not, you gotta go look for them and then all the rock shops up there, you have to buy a Petoskey stone if you don't actually find your own. And you know, with them polished and varnished, whatever they do to them, to make them so shiny and beautiful and bring out the pattern is really cool and unique. So, that's another item unique to Michigan.

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“…And my grandma got so mad at us.”

"Me and my sister and several of our cousins were making cookies one day from scratch, and my grandma got so mad at us because several of us apparently were like tasting the batter and licking our fingers and she was just like could not handle that we were doing that, and she was so mad and gave us all like a stern little, this is my other Grandma so two separate Grandma's. She gave us quite the little talk about how we should not be putting our fingers in our mouths when we're cooking and how we shouldn't be eating the raw cookie dough and that's a very clear memory of that Grandma."

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“It’s this sense of like determined preparation.”

Yeah, so I guess, like, purposeful road trips. And then the last few years we've been kind of making a point to do canoe tours down a river. And I think that's probably my optimal way just because you really get to feel, like, the pace of fall. Whereas, when you're driving like it is pretty, it is cool, but when you're on the river, you can kind of appreciate the quietness of it. It's weird, you know, like most of the bugs have died down. Yeah, and it's just -- it's like, you know things are still active in the woods when you look into it, but it's this sense of like determined preparation. You know, even -- even on nice days. And really the only thing that you can hear are squirrels and chipmunks kind of scurrying around and the occasional nut falling onto the ground or into the water. Which, I feel like I've talked about this before so I apologize. But yeah, I just -- I just love it out there. I love hearing the water and it's speed at which it's going across and through the woods. And yeah, even the birds are like quieter for the most part. You tend to really only hear, like, the occasional blue jay, the occasional crow.

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“I don’t hear it. I’ve never heard it.”

You know, I lived in California for a long time. And when I first moved out there and then when I first came back and then I went back out there, that people always say, I have an accent. I don't hear it. I've never heard it. But like when I first moved there, and I went to the vet. I remember, I took the dog to the vet, and I was only, I hadn't been there very long. And I remember the lady looked at me and kind of chuckling and she says, "you're not from around here. Are ya?" And I said, "no". "It's just that you have an accent" and I'm like, "no, I don't." It's - but my friends say that all the time. They all say that I have any accent and I don't ever see. I don't hear at all and I know my daughter, they always used to laugh at her. The kids are always be like, "say dollar, say dollar" and she say it and they just think it was so funny.

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“I have always thought that we are not a part of the Midwest.”

I have always thought that we are not a part of the Midwest. We're in the Eastern Time Zone and I feel like we're more of a Great Lakes Region than the Midwest. Midwest to me seems more like the Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and I feel like in Michigan we're so far removed from that. I mean, we do have farms in agriculture and stuff, but I think the Great Lakes are very defining characteristic for Michigan. And the whole idea about going up north, that doesn't really happen anywhere else in the Midwest. And we share so much with our Canadian friends, I think, you know, Windsor is even a little bit south of Detroit. So I've always thought that that was kind of a fun fact when telling people about where we live, and it's right of passage to go to Windsor when you turn nineteen because you could enter clubs and go drinking once you turn nineteen, you didn't have to wait until you were twenty-one. So then when I went to college in Indiana, it was not a thing to go to the bars cuz you definitely needed to be twenty-one and there was absolutely no place you could go, that would let you in as a nineteen-year-old. So I feel like my friends from Indiana and Ohio in Illinois were just - found it to be a very novel idea that we just went across, the border every weekend, and hung out in Windsor.

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“Suddenly all these workers that were low paid were considered essential.”

Walking through downtown Ann Arbor, I was seeing lots of openings for cooks and servers and they were, you know, I think the highest I saw was twenty-two an hour. Also saw sixteen and eighteen, I think, which is, you know, before the pandemic, that would be considered high right? But now, you know, I took two semesters of Econ. I'm not an expert, but that's supply and demand, right? The, the supply of labor has decreased, so the price needs to go up for these companies to be competing for the same employees. Frankly, I mean, it's painful in the short-term. I mean, I worry that — I mean, a lot of companies did go under. We already know that from the pandemic. But I guess I worry that we're gonna see a lack of access to goods and services which, of course we already did see in the earlier pandemic. But just like further disruption to the supply chain, which would be bad. Yeah, I just really don't have too much Insight on that. Like I said, I'm just seeing the couple job postings with the newly inflated wages. Seems good to me, frankly. Cause that was the thing back in the early pandemic. When suddenly all these workers that were low paid were considered essential, of which I was not one. So why am I earning so much more money than this person who's an essential worker in a grocery store or in a hospital or, or whatever the case is? If they're essential and I'm not, presumably, their wage should reflect that. And you know, maybe it's, I think, you know again, I'm not an expert in Econ by any stretch, but I think it's just because the skills are relatively in a broader supply so that means the wage for that person is lower. I mean in a like, sort of cold sense it's because they can be replaced. But now, you know, eighteen-ish months after the pandemic started, suddenly these people can't be replaced easily. So now the wages are going up. And that seems like good news to me. Those are hard jobs.

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“Him singing that song to me was like the epitome of making me feel loved from my father.”

I also think of the song Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. And that song makes me think of my dad, and he would -- we'd have the a.m. radio on back in the day, be down in the barn in the evenings milking cows. And he would -- that song would come on the radio, which we'd have turned up loud so you could hear it through the barn. And he knew we didn't enjoy -- we being me and my sisters, enjoy having to be down there at night, working to help him with milking the cows. But he did like to try to make it be fun and when that song came on, I remember him stepping out from between the cows, we had a stanchion barn, and into the aisleway and we would both sing at the top of our lungs "Shalala lalala lalalala deeda la deeda boom boom ba doom." Anyway, if you know the song it's a really fun song to sing. And him singing to me "You My Brown Eyed Girl" and I felt so loved. My dad was not a very affectionate man. But when he sang that song and called me his Brown Eyed Girl, I felt so special and loved and appreciated. And it actually wasn't probably until I was an adult and married myself and -- before he started telling me that he loved me. Which was so nice to finally hear him say that. He was always so busy, worked so hard on the farm. To take a moment of time for some tenderness just meant the world. And when I was younger, you know, like ten or twelve years old, him singing that song to me was like the epitome of making me feel loved from my father.

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