Well folks, it’s the last day of the year.  What a year it has been.  I’ve been pondering what kind of resolutions I might choose for 2017.  One of them is definitely finishing my Master’s degree.  I have to take a speaking/oral assessment exam and pass in order to get my official degree.  I’ve defended my thesis, now I have to be fluent-ish in Spanish.  No short order!!

This year has been full of new experiences, some heartache, some triumph, some serious disappointment, and learning all around.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I would like to exist in this world.  2016 started out in Taxco, Mexico with Peter Perkins and new friends, celebrating New Year’s Eve.  More photos of the trip:  (If we’re friends on FB you can see them here.)

nye-taxco lemon-merenge

Throughout the year I did things that, all listed out, sounds like the life of a super-she-ro.  I got better at skiing, started making homemade almond milk and eating better in general, and made the best lemon merengue pie I’ve ever tasted. I marched at HKonJ in Raleigh, NC with my students from Democracy Matters for the 3rd year in a row, hosted the 15th annual Democracy Matters student Summit in Albany, NY.

hkonj summit-photo

I participated in the Democracy Spring march from Philadelphia to DC (Marching 13-17 miles per day, 150 miles) and half-way through was tasked with feeding all those people 3 meals per day for 6 days straight, while also helping to find them places to sleep.  I was arrested for the first time in DC in a week long of protests with over 1000 other people, highlighting voter suppression and the pay-to-play, profits over people election system in this country.  James Madison and I also went with a large group of protestors to lobby Congress to pass the reforms we marched for.

marching-for-fair-elections me-n-pete-guam-after-march

me-n-james-madison democracy-spring-marchers

screenshot-2016-12-31-11-23-58 screenshot-2016-12-31-11-23-30

We all witnessed our country stripped of whatever dignity was left when the DNC, wrought with corruption, squandered our chance for having Bernie Sanders as the President.  (But hell, with what happened and the president-elect now, I wonder if it would have made a difference…) I protested the DNC in Philadelphia alongside 1000s of other concerned, affected, and marginalized humans.

black-lives-march bernie-quote-dem-spring

Despite the corrupt and disheartening nature of the state of our country, I tried to make the best of it.  Peter encouraged me to sing more and gave me a weekly Sunday brunch spot up on the top of Beech Mountain during the Summer.  I serenaded brunch-goers and often had the one, the only Brad King playing with me.  I’ll miss the sunsets on Beech Mountain.

me-n-brad beech-mtn-sunset

I played a whole lot more music and even EMCEE’d the Sirens on the Mountain women’s music festival and the Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival.  I’d never done anything like that before and it was a honor and delight to be asked.  I also got to hear some amazing music, Ruthie Foster, Melissa Reaves, the Carter Brothers, Acoustic Syndicate, Mark Schimick, and the Larry Keel Experience.  Some of my absolute favorite musicians.  I played with the Radar’s Clowns of Sedation (Pete Pawsey’s amalgamation of nomadic musicians) at the Carrboro Music Fest and sang at the Eddy Pub a couple of times, even once with John Saylor!!

me-n-peter-sirens beech-mtn-singingcarrboro-music-fest me-n-john-eddy

A bittersweet and melancholy goodbye was said to my tenure on Beech Mountain.  Peter and I have parted ways and over time, I moved back to Alamance County nearer to my dear Maw Maw and Paw Paw and my friend family of Saxapahaw, NC.  Can’t say love is easy, but it is always worth it.  Learning how to be true to one’s self is a priceless lesson.  I still love Peter Perkins dearly and always will.  Glad we had the opportunity to learn those lessons.


Now that I’m back on my own-ish (we never really are alone or do the work alone, that’s for sure) I’m finding my way back to the path.  Studying and setting up a system of living, a badass kitchen, plans for law school (#iknowright!?), plans for a garden, and giving thanks for all of the ways in which I feel like I’ve been blessed in this life.  On Halloween, Doug Williams dressed up as ME, while I just went with the mermaid costume.  What a surprise and honor!  My great aunt Dorothy passed away, that was a very sad day.  My grandmother is the last of the original Darnells in her family still living.  Democracy died in our country on (or before) November 8th but I voted (and drove a friend to vote) nonetheless.  I had a lovely holiday season with my dear family.  Stress free and delicious, all you could ask for.  Today I feel grateful.

doug-as-me mermaidaunt-dot-and-fam voting-with-pea

christmas-with-fam badass-kitchen

mmpp Strength and Weakness

…and now that we are on the last day of the year together, please let me offer up some things that I hold dear and some things that I hold high.  There is so much poverty and injustice in our world. Please do your part, whatever that is. Vote, encourage others to vote, fight for voting rights!  Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.  Teach someone something that you know. Learn something new! Make art, unabashedly.  Protest.  Go in the streets and speak truth to injustice.  Get off Facebook and BE with people.  Seek out and support live music.  Smile and frown, whatever you feel like doing right now and in the moment.  Don’t talk down to yourself.  Lift yourself up as high as you can, you’re the only one who can heal yourself, and it’s your choice, your perspective.  Please pray for the hungry and feed them.  Please pray for the poor and advocate for/with them.  Please pray for justice and participate in your democracy.  Please help to end racism and sexism (and all the other -isms) by speaking up and out.  Please pray for our water and environment and act to protect them.  STAY AS INFORMED AS YOU CAN. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. Martin Luther King said; and Maya Angelou said this, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Nelson Mandela  beech-mtn-sunsets

So all of that said, I was on the radio last night.  Invited by John Saylor and Bob Johnson to be on the show “Pass The Hat” on WHUP 104.7 for open-mic night! A snippet of the show is linked below – the portion where I am on the show. The whole show can be listened to on the following link.  Love on all yer heads and heres to 2017, cause damn 2016 was crazy. (headlines below also)

Excerpt of the show with me (and Lance White accompanying)

12/30/16 Open-Mic on Pass the Hat with John Saylor as guest host! (full two hours)

News headlines for December 30th from Skimm and Democracy Now:


“People we will miss…as in Muhammed AliDavid BowiePrinceAlan RickmanLeonard CohenNancy ReaganGwen IfillJohn GlennAlan ThickeMiss CleoGeorge MichaelCarrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds” my aunt Dot and so many more. (http://www.theskimm.com/recent)