My intent was to take up blue-collar work by day and write the Great American Novel by night.

That actually sort of worked, years ago, when I worked in a Dickensian pea-and-corn-packing facility in southeast Minnesota.

It was seven days a week of heck (unless it rained) for a skinny little kid. Tried to buff a floor and the friendly buffing machine promptly threw me across the warehouse, onto my backside.

Bosses raved and giant machines huffed and puffed and rumbled like steel dragons, and often you couldn’t tell the difference in the steamy, sweaty, nightmarish din.

Very nice. The ol’ fill-up-the-personal-journal-by-experiencing-work-in-a hideous-factory trick.

After leaving the Globe Gazette, I wangled a job which dealt mostly in lifting heavy stuff.

This was not good. One’s physical abilities change as one grows older (even if one barely had physical ability in the first place). One’s body changes. One tends to spread out. The feet and the back — Oy, the feet and the back.

One begins to understand that one is even more laughably unfit for blue-collar work than one thought.

The only solution: Ink-stained-wretch-collar work.

Thus I have returned to Sweet Home North Iowa, this time as a reporter for the Forest City Summit and Britt News-Tribune, following a year-long stint with the International Falls Journal in the oft-frozen wilds of far northern Minnesota.

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, making new friends, and once again telling the stories of our lives, in the profession and the area I’ve always loved. I am blessed beyond recognition.

Here’s to the area farmers, teachers, doctors, nurses, businessfolks, truckers, retired folks, and fellow ink-stained wretches.

And to the blue-collar workers, who have taken up the slack in my absence. I know it’s been difficult. Who’s gonna run the killer floor buffer, for gosh sakes?

Have faith, guys. You can do it.

See you around, North Iowa.

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