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Yep. I’m From WV

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In light of the new reality TV show BuckWild on MTV… I’ve been musing about what it means to claim my identity as a West Virginian. The answer is Yep. I’m from West Virginia. Who wouldn’t want to be… look at the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains (you probably said that wrong, but I forgive you)?!  But, my home town doesn’t look like that (but that’s not far). It’s simple and it is unassuming. I grew up in a small town by most standards, but it is the city where I’m from. My town will never forget the plane crash of 1970 that changed the rules for NCAA football: allowing the “Young Thundering Herd” to play as freshmen for the first time in the history of college football. My town knows everybody’s business. My town floods every time it rains because the sewage system is old. My town is 5-7 minutes from 2 other states. My town balances history and the present with a budding eye to the future. My town is home.

Many people say to me “Oh, I would have never guessed you were from (pause) West Virginia!” or “You don’t sound West Virginian!” or “Where is West Virginia/ you mean Virginia?” or ” But you’re so smart?!” Come on, ya’ll. It is just like being from anywhere else. Also… if you don’t know a) West Virginia is a state or b) where it is… I’m pretty sure it’s not my intelligence or that of “Appalachia” that should be questioned. There are 50 states…there was a time where we all learned this.

It’s true…I don’t sound “West Virginian” or “Appalachian” (even other West Virginians have called me out on this). But… I do. Especially when I really care or get really excited. It’s also true that I don’t work in a coal mine (didn’t even grow up in a coal town), have a toothless smile, live in a holler’, and I don’t ride ATVs or partake in huntin’ season. But… those things are not really a definition of place or a people, now are they? I’m not a stereotype.

But, I grew up on the same street until I moved 12 hours away from home… even when I moved out I lived on 10th Ave. Family can define a place. Familiarity can define a place. Mountains can define a place. Speech can define a place. West Virginia is a place, and its people are beautiful, kind, smart, welcoming and frequently rooted in tradition.

So why did Buckwild make me think about this, again. Well, to be honest, I was worried about how and what it would portray. I think it was a poorly shot show (much like a home video vs. other MTV reality shows) and does one really need subtitles for the characters? But ya know what… a lot of the “ridiculousness” that happened between the characters: eviction, love triangles, going to the club, fighting etc. are kind of staples on all MTV shows. I mean… those are pretty common story lines among 18-25 year olds. Do all West Virginian’s act like this? No… but some in that particular demographic do. Muddin’ is a real thing. A dump truck swimming pool is kind of genius, I don’t care who ya are. The landscape really is that pretty. The power plant really does empty its waste into the rivers/creeks (Maybe something will be done about that now that it was on MTV). People that live in WV really do love being there (like some of them established). But Oh, lordy, they sure upheld the stereotypes. But…isn’t that what The Jersey Shore did? Isn’t that what every “Real Housewives of ____” does for a location and a group of people? Yep.

But my claim to my heritage is unwavering. My West Virginia is different than the stereotype. My Appalachia (it’s okay.. you’ll be able to say it right sometime) is warm, welcoming, and filled with family not spectacles. It’s an identity that I don’t want to erase. It informs my position, what I do and how I do it. Being an Appalachian woman is something to be proud of that cannot be tarnished by a TV show or a set of stereotypes. Just because I left doesn’t mean I wanted to escape West Virginia. I left because that is part of my path.

So, what. I did leave…but it didn’t leave me; it is a part of me.

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Being Patient…and HAVING Patience.

So, I’ve been pondering the potential difference between being patient and having patience. The first, obvious and nerdy-wordiness, difference is that being patient is couched as a verb (yes, I know it’s actually a subject compliment in the form of a simple sentence: Molly is patient), an action while patience itself is a noun. Okay, so patient is an adjective, for those of you that need GUMP (grammar usage mechanics and punctuation) to be accurate.

Aside from semantics, I think that patience is frequently equated with passivity. I disagree…at least as a direct correlation. I think the following quote situates patience in a more palatable position.

 

I find that my patience has grown out of interactions with small children in dance classes. Teaching 3-5 year olds is a humbling experience in many ways, especially if you are asking them to be quiet while wearing tap shoes. I’ve also noticed that my patience extends from this position into my dealings with adults.

Sometimes. Sometimes adults behave like small children. They too must work through their problems. I find that we, the category of adults, behave like children most when we encounter criticisms we do not want to hear or acknowledge. It is when our very being is challenged in ways we cannot precipitate. It’s the stuff we take super personally, even when its not the real intention. We all have this child-like fits about things. Sometimes we can do it privately… figure it out…and recover. Other times it happens publicly, for all the world to see.

So my question is, how do we deal with such outbreaks (our own, or others)? I say through patience. Sometimes this level of patience ishard. When we see “adults” acting out, we want to say OMG be a grown-up. Patience teaches us to wait before we jump/attack. Sometimes we just have to wait for them to have their tantrum…the logic returns and the hope of a grown-up conversation can occur. This is not being passive. This is waiting until the reality allows for a conversation that can do something. Patience is not a sign of weakness…it is unspoken strength.

Sometimes everyone is walking through life in tap shoes or hanging on a barre when they are supposed to be quiet and listening.

My question to you is do you practice patience? Are you patient?

 

Choose Happy

So, I feel a bit like sharing words of wisdom today… in list form. But in all seriousness, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently… so how do i think we can be happy? I know you are dying to know…

1) Remove the negativity. Ya’ll know that there’s always that person or two that we jokingly call our “frenemy,” but its no joke. We don’t need that in our lives. There is that magic delete button on Facebook for a reason. Click it…do it! You will feel oh-so-much better. If you must be around them… just be cordial, but you don’t have to be friends. There’s not a rule that says you must be friends with people who bring negativity to your life simply because you are forced to be near them (at work, at school, etc). It’s not middle school anymore.. there ain’t no prize for having the most “friends.” Sometimes this negativity is found in a person who used to be a positive. This is sad and harder to walk away from. Baby steps, ya’ll. It will make you feel better.

2) Let go of the grudge. People make mistakes. They sometimes apologize. Yet, do we actually forgive them? If you ask my mamma… no. She can go back and pinpoint terrible moments that happen in 1970 as reasons for X and Y. OMG. get over it. The grudge makes you unhappy (though it does give you ammunition, I suppose, in arguments… you can’t argue with crazy). I personally refuse to let grudges lead my life. I see my mom. I see how unhappy (and angry) it makes her. Plus, you cut out some really important people if you’re not careful. Remembering and using are two different things. Don’t let the grudge rule your life. It ain’t worth it. Plus, you look crazy.

3) Laugh and Smile.  Laughter is contagious. Smiles light up the world… and all that jazz. But it’s true. There has got to be something worth laughing about every day: dropping your foot on your friend’s face in yoga, for instance OR a recording of your ridiculous karaoke attempts. You can’t help but laugh. Smile. True story it makes life better, who cares if you get the smile wrinkles (or whatever people might worry about) Isn’t that better than the frown furrows? Plus a smile… makes your day better and people are way nice to you. Don’t just smile with your mouth… smile with your eyes.

4) Be Ridiculous.  Yup. Find that moment where you can be absolutely ridiculous each day. Laugh at yourself.  Dance around your living room in your underwear. Sing in that curling iron. Rock out in the car to Taylor Swift (or your other secret favorite musician) like it’s the grammys.  Dance like that “white girl” that you are out on that dance floor. It’s cute… promise.

5) Own your crazy. We all have those things. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about… you still listen to NSYNC or you must eat skittles in color specific pairs or you watch Friends at every re-run opportunity or you’re a stress baker, use that princess towel at yoga or well, you get the idea. And no, I’m not the only one who has such things that are necessary to life. Love the music you love. Love the food you love. Dress how you want. Just do it. Ain’t nobody that really cares..and someone else will love your crazy once you do.

6) Quit People Pleasing. Clearly. ya’ll need to please you first. We cannot base our value on the judgement of others. People won’t always like what you do. People won’t always think you did a good job. People won’t always support your decisions. But who are these “people” anyway? Did you like what you did? That matters. Affirm yourself.

7) Choose happy. Happiness is not bestowed upon those who wait. It is a decision you make. You won’t be gushing with happiness all the time, sometimes sadness is important, but you choose the happy path and it’s amazing what happens. You let go os the little things that don’t matter. You see happiness in the little things that do. You surround yourself with other happy people. Happiness loves company more than misery does. Happiness is magnetic ya’ll.

Oh… DMB, how I love thee.

Sometimes all a girl needs after a fantastically long 13 hour day fraught with “special event parking” that put her car across campus, class all day, no yoga or dance… etc. and so on, is to download the new DMB album. It immediately brightened my day. Who doesn’t love to listen to new music from their favorite artist?!

But… the fun part about a DMB album is that you get sneak peeks into upcoming music when you see him live. In fact, one of the new songs on the album I got to hear with my fellow Daver at caravan last year. Yep. At his show this summer we were the only people in the crowd that knew the song. We were THOSE girls. In fact here’s the moment we heard it for the first time. WINNING!!!

 

So, obviously I have listened to the new album “Away From the World” several times now…and I cannot wait for my next Dave show. So much awesome.

Conquering the Eggplant

So. My mom always told me she never cooked with eggplants because they are “bitter” and don’t cook well. Well, that’s all fine and good but I love eggplant, and it’s usually pretty awesome when you get it at a restaurant. What’s the secret? It seems that I have had the secret tucked away in my “Vegetable Love” cookbook for almost four years, without even knowing it.

When I grocery shop hungry, I come home with entirely too many fruits and vegetables AND frequently something I’ve always just wanted to try out. So… I came home with a beautiful, glossy and giant eggplant. What do I do with it? I decided to cook with it today; I combed my veggie cookbook and found a yummy lookin’ recipe: eggplant lasagna

As I looked at the recipe and the surrounding ones, I noticed they all started with “soak your sliced eggplant in saltwater for 30 minutes and pat dry. Interesting. So, I following the directions to the basic cooking directions (the veggies are divided by categories and types. Eggs plants were around page 580. Here it told me the answer to “fixing” the bitterness. The saltwater soak apparently sucks out the bitterness. WIN!

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This lasagna took a long time because the eggplant went through a few steps: saltwater soak..then oven grilling. THEN I was able to build the lasagna. IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. Plus, the grilled egg plant was kind of like eggplant chips… yum. A snack on the way to an entree. It also called for a beschamel sauce. This sauce is definitely a secret ingredient. Yum. I used a spaghetti sauce I made yesterday with ground turkey. It was so fantastic…and there’s leftovers.

So here’s the thing mom. Eggplant is only bitter (apparently) if you don’t soak it first. *Also, the saltwater soak does not make the eggplant salty at all. Must be some magical chemical reaction… that I may understand if I was up on my sciences instead of my rhetoric and dance?

Attention Facebook Users

Alright. Let’s be honest. Election season is intense. Sensory overload with the billboards, the commercials and the facebook posts. When you think you should post an outrageous post about politics… liberal or conservative… please, please, please. Type in your status bar and then promptly delete it. I don’t want to delete you. But I don’t want my news feed cluttered with seriously biased information about how liberals are the downfall of America as we know it or conservatives hate all minorities. These are all logical fallacies.

The reality is, no matter who you wanna vote for, every politician in Washington (and in the race for presidency) have dirty hands and are all part of what has become of our country. I know, crazy?  Obviously, the president is the only person who makes decisions that affect the US. I mean we do not have a house of representatives OR a senate that play a part in all decisions. Checks and Balances? I did not have one of the best educations in history or civics but I do know that our government works by having checks and balances. Now you can argue that our system does not always see to work as well as we might want, but you cannot argue that President Obama is single handedly responsible for everything terrible in today’s American society. And, President G.W. Bush was also not solely responsible for the bad things that happened while he was in office.

Stop playing into the blame game. Start looking beyond the biased media and the propaganda. Go read some government documents to inform your decision. Yep, they are HARD to read and completely boring. But they are filled with documented facts… not exuding biases and slants that get us all up in arms about how the ____ have ruined life as we know it and we are all going to die.

Your post is not. I repeat, is not going to convince those with opposing views to have some epiphany and suddenly think your politics, based on these statuses and images/videos, are actually what they believe.  We just all get flooded with propaganda and… heated arguments will inevitably ensue on your timeline. That ain’t ever going away.

This is America. We are all free to speak our minds, but maybe have some sort of filter?  I’d like to believe that my “friends” on facebook are generally good people. Don’t air your dirty political laundry…it does not look good on you. Any of you.

Gossip Girl likes to keep…

Gossip Girl likes to keep things classy and somewhat true.
– Serena

So means of communication are vast. We can immerse ourselves in information, conversation and gossip constantly. It is not “word of mouth” it is “word of fingertips”  Think about it. We update statuses. We tweet. We retweet. We post blogs. We see pictures. We read news. But we less frequently make a phone call or have a “face-to-face” conversation. right?!  Well that means Gossip’s path is changing. It’s not a game of telephone (in the old sense) anymore.

Don’t think that I am saying our vocal gossip is disappearing… that is most definitely untrue. BUT! We are gossiping with greater ease.

It also seems gossip and rumor are frequently conflated. Is gossip sometimes rooted in rumor? Sure. But not all gossip is necessarily rumor.. Ya know, kind of like all squares or rectangles but not all rectangles are squares. So perhaps, all rumor is gossip but not all gossip is rumor.  The connotation of rumor is just so negative–it stems from a dangerous space. Gossip can be good.

What does gossip mean? Well to me it is not simply situated in the realm of rumor or today’s best tabloid. We all do it. Gossip is conversation (where ever you hold that conversation, medium is up for grabs). It is not just stories overheard or Kim Kardashian’s latest possible marriage. Its both bigger and smaller than that. It is circulation of information. It helps our culture survive. It is not always vicious. It does not only dwell on the upper east side; it is alive and well in small towns and the country side. It just might be…the thread that holds us all together.