What a year it has been! (And I don’t mean that as a compliment.) Indeed, if I were to call 2020 a “crazy year,” that would be, by most accounts, an understatement. From COVID-19, cases of which continue to climb as news of rival vaccines suggest that hope is in the not-so-distant horizons; to seemingly-endless California wildfires; to dual hurricanes ravaging the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua; to meth gators, murder hornets, and giant Saharan dust clouds – and to one exhausting presidential election in which the candidate that officially lost still refuses to concede – it seems that planet Earth has been on its collective toes since the year began.Continue reading “Bidding Adieu to 2020”
The last two weeks have been interesting in my world. I found myself quitting a job that was simply never going to meet its full potential in favor of what I hope will be a better career opportunity. In the short term, as these things go, the move is lateral, and it actually has a longer commute, but I hear nothing but good things about the place, so I will do everything I can to quell the cynical side of myself that – all too often – comes to the forefront.
I pride myself on being punctual, hard working, and loyal to any company that I work for, so changing jobs isn’t as easy or commonplace for me as it is for others. I do have a weird vibe about the fact that I left my last job without giving sufficient notice, but I simply didn’t have the chance to give a proper two weeks’ notice.
You see, I had to take a week for myself. This included catching up on errands, going for a hike, and visiting my sister, who as Loyal Readers know lives in Memphis. The last time I saw her down there was in Thanksgiving, 2016, just two months after our mother passed away.
Many of my blog introductions begin with the following sentiment, but it really is true: Where does the time go?
I think I speak not just for myself but for many people I know when I say that 2016 has been a tough year. Locally, over 700 structures were recently destroyed in the arson-fueled fires of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. The 14 distinct blazes, which are still less than 20% contained, have taken seven human lives, as well as the lives of countless bears and other animals.
Community response to the Gatlinburg fires has been phenomenal. People have opened up their homes to the displaced, and more canned foods and sundries have been donated to the city than it even has room for! It seems that Thanksgiving, which formally starts the holiday season, has brought out the best in almost everyone.
On a personal note, I left the smoky air of East Tennessee for a few days and visited my sister in Memphis for Thanksgiving. It was good to spend time with her and enjoy a good meal; the last time we were together was for our mother’s memorial service.
My sister had to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I took the opportunity (after sleeping in, of course) to do a bit of self-guided exploration of urban Memphis.
And by “urban Memphis,” I mean “the hood.” Continue reading “Exploring Urban Memphis”
Memphis has traditionally held the title of “Tennessee’s Largest City,” ever since westward expansion post-Civil War brought settlers across the Mississippi River. But that honor changed hands not long ago. Nashville, the state capital, is now 25,000 people greater than Memphis in population. In fact, Memphis actually has fewer residents than it did in 2000!
What is going on here? How can a city decline in population? And which city is the better one, really? Over the next several paragraphs, I’ll give my $0.02 on which city reigns supreme in categories of location, food, museums, parks and gardens, sports, nightlife, and – most important of all – overall livability.
It has been almost three weeks since my last blog post. So much has happened that I’ve barely had a chance to come up for air. But for the next 13 days or so, I’ll have a respite from the usual craziness, and even a chance at my first solo vacation since My (Not Quite) Coast-to-Coast Trip Report of 2014.
Meanwhile, I thought you might appreciate a CliffsNotes-style update on my life, and on things that are of interest to me. I am still alive and well, Loyal Reader. I promise not to be offline for so long before my next post.
Last December, I flew to the U.S. for an extended Christmas break and spent three weeks with my parents at their eastern Tennessee home. The weeks flew by. Flash forward eight months and one permanent relocation later, and I’ve completed another two months of Tennessee living. Somewhat to my surprise, I like it here.
I live in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, 40 minutes east of Knoxville and roughly mid-way, as the crow flies, between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. I am in a regional town that is small enough to be safe and quiet but big enough to serve as a feeder town for the dozens of small farm villages in the area. We have a shopping mall, a cinema, a junior college, the requisite Cracker Barrel, and – yes – a Walmart.
Okay so I’m not wild about the fact that there’s a Wally World in my town. It doesn’t really matter. My point is that as long as I’m here I can enjoy everything that a slower pace of life has to offer, while still being able to get out to enjoy myself, whether it’s to the movies or to the hiking trails.