Plenty to be thankful for

Thanksgiving: Pour Your Own Beers edition
Thanksgiving: Pour Your Own Beers edition

I’ve sat staring at a blinking cursor for a good 10 minutes, eyes glazed over, wondering where to start writing. I think I’m still in a turkey coma.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, of course, and I ate and drank my body weight – not a small sum, let me tell you – in great food and great booze.

I was originally intending to drive to New York to spend the holiday with the McNulty family for the second year running, but since I had to be back at work Friday afternoon at the KJ, a six-plus-hour road trip each way wasn’t too appealing with that turnaround.

I had had a couple of other offers, but when my boss Deanna asked me early in November, “So what do Aussie implants do on Thanksgiving day?” and subsequently invited me to “Friendsgiving,” there was no way I could say no. I mean, when have I ever turned down the chance to spend a day in a bar?

It was a great day at that. I showed up around 1:30 p.m. with a hangover, a spare shirt (in case of spillage/overstuffing) and the ingredients to put together Australian-style sausage rolls, as my appetizer contribution.

The sausage rolls were a bust – tasted great, looked awful – and it’s apparent that I will never be a pastry chef, but thankfully I also brought a bunch of beer to smooth things over just in case.

Some of Deanna’s friends, who are practically part of the furniture at the bar, brought meats and cheeses, which we absolutely didn’t need to eat before the feast we had waiting for us.

Deanna and her mom Coby put on an incredible spread. I’m still thinking about the green bean casserole and the stuffing, which was so good it’d make baby Jesus cry for more. Greedy baby.

And then, after we were all about to slump into post-dinner nap mode … we opened the bar to the public and spent three hours pouring drinks for people who were rightfully tired of their pesky families’ company. Sucks to be them: They got stuck with my company instead.

Coby told us that their family Thanksgiving tradition is for everyone around the table to say what they’re thankful for this year. Since we had a big table, we didn’t all take part, but that’s just as well because it may have taken me hours to get through all of mine.

But since I pay the bills for this alleged website, I’m not limited by words (OBVIOUSLY), so I can write all about it right here. So in 2014, I’m thankful for:

All of the people who’ve supported me this year. From dropping me off at the airport, to Christmas care packages, to teaching me how to survive Maine winters or just counseling me with a problem via email, so many of you out there have been such great foundations on which I’ve been able to build a life out here, 10,000 miles away from home.

All of the great new friends I’ve made in Maine: I wrote at length a couple weeks ago about how it was more challenging than I expected to make friends from scratch. Slowly but surely, though, it’s happened. While I’m perfectly happy in my own company, and I’m extremely independent even socially, it feels good to have people to go on adventures, grab a beer or just shoot the shit with. Love you guyz.

Not one, but two employers who’ve taken a chance on me: Obviously I was an unknown quantity when I first arrived here last year. I had a ton of Australian media experience, but that doesn’t necessarily directly translate to working in another country. I applied for dozens of jobs. Hundreds, even. The KJ was one of just two places who gave me a phone interview, and for some reason my bosses decided to roll the dice on me and bring me on board. They even let me write a column, the first regular feature of my career, and I managed to win a little second-place honor in the Maine Press Association awards with it. Putting my face in print is probably an even bigger gamble.

But even more extreme than that is the fact that Deanna decided she needed a bartender with literally no bartending experience to work at her place. I certainly won’t be winning any awards at The Maine House, except for “guy who takes the longest to make a cocktail,” but I have a lot of fun trying, and I’m obviously flattered beyond measure that her and her mom decided I was worth throwing a bone to. Even if I put my foot in my mouth sometimes.

All of the cool things I’ve done and experienced here: I never in a million years would’ve assumed that I’d go blueberry picking, or drive across an international border, or watch maple syrup being made, or accommodate for four inches of snow covering my car in the mornings. This year has been a huge learning curve but it’s also proved something I’ve often thought: that if you stay open-minded to things, you’ll be richly rewarded.

All of the cool things that are in my future: I can’t really be thankful for something that hasn’t happened yet, I guess, but hey: if this is how great a year I’ve had in central Maine, the sky really is the limit. This is one enormous country with so many possibilities; the things I can innocently fawn over are practically endless.

All of the people who read this stuff, post after post: I certainly never thought I’d get such a good response from people in all corners of the internet who stop by to read some of the bullshit I peddle a couple of days a week. I set the bar pretty high early on with regards to frequency of posting, and while sometimes I’ve inwardly groaned “oh shit, I really have to write something for the blog this week,” I feel like I’ve developed as a writer since I’ve been here. I guess if you’re going to put down 150,000-plus words in 12 months, you probably learn a thing or two, right?

So thanks to all. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, or at least a happy Thursday if you’re down under. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another turkey coma nap to take.

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4 thoughts on “Plenty to be thankful for

  1. I am thankful for the opportunity to read your thoughts regularly and to be able to show my middle-schoolers that writing is interesting, and that people really do just write about stuff that they know (although, to be honest, I don’t show them all of your columns.) Glad you’re here, glad you’re planning to stay!

  2. Being a fan of yours from the very beginning, its been fun sharing your journey, though being a mum, i bite my tongue about your drinking, ouch, anyway its nice you’ve made such nice friends, and enjoyed .thanksgiving, which I know is a big deal in America.

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