Nine hundred sixty-eight days, about 75 pounds, three broken ribs and one amputated toe ago, I left daily journalism.
It was October 31, 2015, and I felt weightless for a while, the feeling you get on a roller coaster just as the clacking ends at the top of tower and a split second before the car plummets down the track.
I had no reason to think this wasn’t a permanent exit.
I started writing for the Post, as you know, and moved the live broadcasts from my previous employer (The Corporation That Shall Not Be Named) to the Post.
About six months later, I started working for WHMI doing sports on a part-time basis, and later doubled my hours by adding delivery of the business lunch of the day.
I mostly decompressed that first year. I did some traveling, first to a football game in Chicago, where I tripped over a sidewalk and broke the ribs while trying to protect my face. I was telling a friend about it when the friend’s son caught part of the conversation.
“You doggin’ my hometown?” he said, with a wry grin.
“Just the sidewalks,” I said.
His face changed. “Oh,” he said. “Can’t help you there.”
There was a lot of soul-searching, trying to figure out what to do next, but I had enough of a cushion that I could coast for a while.
Which I did.
Then I decided to get a job to start supporting myself again, and I started working at a local nursery.
I went from the sedentary sportswriter’s life to walking about a mile per hour at the new job.
My shoes were not up to the task, and I lost a toenail on the second toe of my left foot. My back was in open rebellion, too, but it adjusted after a few weeks.
Long story short (if it’s not too late), the infection got out of hand and I had to quit the nursery and a third job I had after the toe had to be amputated.
My friends, thankfully, can be merciless.
One asked if that meant I got 10% off on pedicures.
Another sent me a bag of Brazil nuts with a fake prescription for “replacement toes.”
A third suggested I use a Vienna sausage as a prosthetic toe, but also as emergency protein should I get hungry. I gave this suggestion high marks for creativity and weirdness.
There were lots of “toe truck” jokes.
The process from infected toe to amputation was fast, but in the midst of this I got an email from the Owosso Argus-Press asking if I would be interested in an opening they had there.
I was, and I got hired.
And I’m back in daily journalism.
This means, among other things, the suspension of doing broadcasts with my good friend Bill Simmons, something we had done for 10 years. This was another thing I had thought I would never do again after I left radio in 1987 and with all the hiccups and technical glitches we had to figure out on our own, doing the broadcasts was very rewarding.
Bill, if you’ve listened, is as sharp an analyst as you’ll find anywhere, with an offbeat sense of humor that frequently flummoxed the Ol’ Announcer, not that that was all that much a challenge.
But we saw a lot of good games and we had a great time doing the games, up until the Hartland softball team’s trip to the Division 1 finals this month.
I won’t say we won’t be doing games again, but as of right now, that’s all on hold.
It’s about a 45-minute drive to Owosso, via suburban Webberville and Perry, time to contemplate a lot of things.
I’ve called a few people I’ve worked with closely over the years, who were very gracious in their wishing me well.
And so, a new chapter begins, like the old one in a lot of ways, but enough different to provide anticipation and a few nerves, too.
I’ve enjoyed my association with sports here in this great county, and I will still be involved here. I’ll still be doing sports for WHMI and writing at the same time for the Argus-Press.
The associations I’ve had and the friends I’ve made here are ones I will cherish.
And so, today, a new chapter begins. I’ll miss the old days, but they’ve been gone for nearly 1,000 days now.
And I’m not moving. I’ll still be living here for the foreseeable future.
Now I see myself as the writer-to-be-named later in the Brian Beaupied trade, when he came to my old paper from the Argus-Press in 2011.
I hope the trade will be as good for them as it was for us.