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David Anthony Clear
In the spirit of the Clear wanderlust, I have lived in 10 states and visited 48. I have worked as a housepainter, store clerk, medical claims examiner, in a casino coin department, academic office administrator, auto claims adjudicator, in a bookstore and a pizza restaurant, a parking lot and a bowling alley, and one day as a movie set extra. I've done volunteer work in newsletter production, cable TV, and public speaking. I've studied art history and tai chi, done rock climbing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, snorkeling, parasailing and ran 10K races. I've driven in traffic in Paris, New York City, Washington DC and Los Angeles, hiked the Grand Canyon and the Blue Mountains of Australia, been to the top of the Empire State Building and land's end in Key West, Florida. I met and spoke to Don Knotts once and have been in speaking distance of both Adam West and Tony Orlando. I've camped outside in six degree weather and lost $75 on a single hand of blackjack. All of this has gone to my true goal of becoming a writer. And all the while I've tried to keep in mind the wisdom of the great British philosophers Lennon and McCartney when they said, "It's Getting Better All the Time."   -David Clear
My Memories of Michigan:
I don't remember the first time I traveled to Michigan, my father's home state with my family. I do recall it was a little stressful in the beginning. My father planned to begin the drive at night so my mother could sleep and then drive during the day. Except she didn't sleep and at one point the next day as we waited somewhere in Canada for a drawbridge to close they both fell asleep. We did get over the bridge however, and I do recall once I first saw the open fields and the wide expanse of the Midwest, so different from the wooded, sometimes congested area of Rhode Island I was growing up in, I knew I liked it. New Englanders often say, "Oh I have to be near the water, there's no water out there." But to me the way the fields stretched out to the horizon with nothing but the ocassional barn and silo in vertical relief to the sky was as scenic and inviting as any ocean view.

My cousin Bobby was at home out there of course, and I admit to being a little panicked when he calmly introduced me to the unfamiliar and chaotic scene of the rooster and the chicken coop. I probably would not have done well with larger farm animals had there been any on my aunt's farm. Squirrels, seagulls, and German shepherd dogs were about the extent of my exposure to animal life in Rhode Island and they could be plenty scary enough. Well, not so much the squirrels.

Everything about my grandfather's house in MI felt different. There was a water pump and an outhouse and a littlle car trailer in the backyard. I remember sleeping in the back of the station wagon we made the trip in once and the quiet that summer night on that country road was hypnotic. I don't remember a TV, which probably was my biggest shock. My aunt's house had one but it was more common for people to sit and play cards and talk after dinner. Dinner itself being a far more formal affair than I was used to, notably no TV involved, more vegetables, milk not soda, and a lot of pass this or that plate please and thank you. I'm pretty sure we also said grace.

All in all I liked trips every summer or so to Michigan. Things changed as time went on, but generally we always got to see Niagra Falls and other attractions on the way (Six Gun City somewhere). It was always an adventure. One time my grandfather woke my Dad and I up before dawn to go deer hunting. As we walked out into the misty fields, cornstalks crunching under our feet, my grandfather with a rifle crooked in his arm as he scanned the horizon I knew for sure I wasn't in RI anymore and not just watching Daniel Boone type adventures on TV but living one. We didn't get a deer but it didn't matter. I was connected for a time to my pioneer ancestors.

When my wife and I moved to Oregon in 1996 we made a point to stop and see my aunt in Chesaning MI. It was the last time I saw my Uncle Dick before he passed away and even though they both were a little astonished that we were actually just driving to Oregon with no jobs and a jam packed little Honda (and were not in our twenties at the time) they were gracious hosts and my wife and I both enjoyed the visit, from the dinner to the living room after dinner conversation.To the sound of the crickets and quiet from the country road in front of their house to the long stretch of fields behind it that night.

  -David Clear