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The Things You Taught Me in 2010

Turns out, I’ve learned a lot this year. My forty-first year hasn’t been my easiest or my happiest, but it has been enriched by forcing myself to change. To stop gossipping. To quit running bad experiences through my head like a warped iTunes mix. To cease with seeing the negative first in every situation. To try to ask more questions instead of talking, talking, talking.

I’m far from perfect, but I am grateful for the role you played in improving me and my life this year. Whether you visit this blog sporadically or crack me up multiple times per day with your commentary, you have helped me more than you may ever know. Sure, you made me laugh almost constantly.

Even more meaningful?

You sometimes made me cry when I needed to let something go, and you gave me the courage to release it. You kept me from taking myself too seriously. You shared pieces of yourselves that spoke to me and deepened my life. You made me a slightly less imperfect person. You helped me reconnect with a passion that I’ve been told I should pursue for most of my life. You taught me what’s important, and who matters. You illumined the exponential return that making investments in good people – people to be emulated and admired – can bring to living.

Thank you. For all of it. I hope 2011 gives you everything you’ve given me and more.

Procrastination Bit Me

And, I’m sitting here at my desk in the inky black hole of darkness trying desperately to complete my continuing education before the stroke of midnight on Friday.

Of course, I could’ve done this months ago. Because I didn’t, the video stream is not working properly. My printer is out of ink and can’t print the questions for me to review to understand the coursework. The program has now crashed three times in succession. I decided to wing it, and have failed the test two out of my allowed three tries. If I fail it again, I have to spend money to buy another module and try something else. All before the stroke of midnight on Friday.

In the interim, I have to go out of town tomorrow and Friday, and my access to computers and streaming videos and buying other continuing education if I can’t get this one to work will be severely limited. Again, it’s my fault. I know.

This blog post is being chronicled now, in the midst of my being ready to scream at everything and everyone, so that I will hopefully return to it when I purchase these blasted continuing education credits in 2011 and tell myself to go complete them RIGHT THEN AND THERE. I hope I will remember how much I deplore the nasally drone of the presenter who says four million words to get to the four I need to answer a question on his stupid test. I hope I will recall how tired I am right now. I hope how scheduled my time gets during this week of every year will be bored into my puny, procrastinating brain.

I won’t say I will never do this again. But I hope my putting it out here will give me a darn good reason why I shouldn’t.

Who Wants to Live on Butt Hole Road?

Am I the only person who does this?

For much of my life, I have spent swaths of time in the mountains. My mom grew up in Eastern Kentucky, and she would take us up there for up to a month each summer. I ran around the hills and hollows and sat on the porch at night with my Mamaw watching the fireflies light up the hill across the road. Shoes were an accessory I never cared much about. (Imagine that!) I loved pounding the dirt roads barefoot and embracing the lazy pace of life.

I guess I’ve translated that to my adult self. While I don’t think I could live in the mountains all the time, I do love to visit them. Same rules apply. I enjoy being outside, getting dirty, doing nothing. It makes me feel close to my Mamaw somehow.

What’s weird is this: mountain places have funny names. Or, at least, funny to me.

I can’t ride by a road sign loudly proclaiming that a dirt road leading off into the back beyond is called “Big Joe Gap” without wondering who Big Joe was. What was his story? Why did he only get a pockmarked dirt road in the middle of nowhere? How come he got a road at all?

Or, how about this one: Upper Pig Pen Road. And, it has a twin. You guessed it: Lower Pig Pen Road. Were there pig pens in both places, or just one? Were the upper pigs more high falutin’ than the lower pigs? Was the road really a statement about the cleanliness of the homes scattered along them? Was this where piggy people had to go to live, shamefully cast off from mountain society?

Still Road. Really? I thought the point was to hide them in the middle of nowhere. Why give people a marker to come find an outlaw still that’s supposed to be secret? I mean, people in my Mom’s neck of the woods used to shoot one another over these things. (Never fear. I’m not implying that any of them were related to her.)

And then there are the people names. I had an uncle named Rooster. Why? Did he strut like one? Ruthlessly impregnate helpless females all over the barn yard? Have a chicken neck affliction?

I can’t even bring myself to question why I have an ancestor named Crit Hinkle.

Of course, these issues don’t apply to Appalachian America. They’re worldwide, big and small. It’s just fun to imagine sometimes what the real stories behind places and people might be.

And, to be thankful that I don’t live on Butt Hole Road or Penistone in South Yorkshire, England. I’m sure I’m not alone in being grateful on that one.

Charleston Is Hosting Hug Train USA

My friend Arie Moyal is riding around the United States on a train for the next couple of weeks. He’s getting off at each stop and hugging people to raise money for Mental Health America. It’s all part of Hug Train USA.

Because of the recent winter weather, he’s now inaugurating his journey from good old Charleston, South Carolina. Please come out to Madra Rua Irish Pub on Wednesday, December 29 at 7pm to give hugs, get hugs and send Arie off with some Southern charm. His train leaves from North Charleston at 9:48pm, so we will have a couple of hours to hug it up with him.

We hope to see you there! Everyone is welcome, so forward to anyone you know who might be interested.

Cilantro Kills

A look that even your mom wouldn't cilantro.

It’s official. Cilantro kills.

Don’t take it from me. CNN says so. Thousands of cilantro plants have been judged to make people sick.

As if ALL of them don’t make people sick.

Duh.

I am sitting here typing this blog post with no small measure of glee. Because no contraption exists that can mute the blaring television in a public area, I happened to note that cilantro is on a killing rampage, wreaking havoc in digestive tracts around the country.

So, everyone should stop eating cilantro. Immediately. It’s the best way to avoid a sickening, soapy segueway into the new year.

At least, I can happily report that this blogger is almost done with cilantro. Countdown to updated blog premiere is four more days.

I hope to see you here. Thank you for an amazing 2010!!

And, remember, in 2011, cilantro kills. Especially when it is disguised as negative, ugly, mean, gossip-mongering, intolerant, petty, h-word filled filth on your spirit.

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