“When I die won’t you bury me on the mountain;
Far away near my Blue Ridge mountain home.”
—Flatt and Scruggs
When we got to Asheville in May 2008 (yes, three years ago), it didn’t take long before I was pretty sure we’d found Home, with a capital ‘H’. It’s incredibly beautiful, funky, friendly, and it makes me happy to wake up here. As I’ve told everybody, there’s poker, trout fishing, and bluegrass music. 
The community has been incredibly welcoming and gracious. I’ve made a bunch of good friends quickly (particularly through the poker community) and Lisa has started to find her crowd too. Her font of friendship has been the choir at All Souls Episcopal Cathedral in Biltmore Village. They are truly a great bunch.
And funky. Man. A few weeks ago, Lisa was getting her hair cut at a downtown salon. Everybody was talking about how sad it was that a tree crew was out cutting down a pear tree out front of the building, even as it was just coming into full bloom. Then in mid-haircut, a commotion broke out downstairs in front of the building. Seems a 62-year-old grandmother had taken the matter into her own hands. Literally; she chained herself to the tree. The appropriate authorities showed up and ultimately it was decided that they wouldn’t cut the tree down until a proper study could be done and everybody was sure that cutting it down was the only option. Go grandma.
So I fully understand those of you who are wondering why in the world Lisa and I are packing up our worldly belongings and moving (back) to the Isle of Man. Well, it’s like this:
- It is the job opportunity of a lifetime. I am heading up the Home Games program at PokerStars,  which basically allows me to run a start-up inside a wildly successful global enterprise. This is a career-capping gig.
- The money is good enough such that if Lisa and I play our cards right, when we return to Asheville, we can be extremely selective about having j*bs.
- There is really no good work inside the U.S. for online poker business professionals right now (or players, truth be told). I could get a job but it would be nothing like as cool as what I’m going to IOM to do. And it certainly would pay nowhere near as well. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
So there you have it: it sucks to leave Asheville and it’s exciting to take the new job. As I have told many people, life rarely hands you a gift without asking for something in return.
We have solemn promises from our Asheville friends that they will keep the deliciously weird AVL vibe alive; we anticipate slipping back into it with a minimum of disruption. While they’re doing that, we intend to get full value from our time on the Isle. Lisa has already scheduled a singing teacher conference in France, Paris with a cousin, and the Lake District of England with a singing friend from church. I intend to perfect my skills catching the small native brown trout of the Manx “rivers” and learn to sing 20-30 good bluegrass songs. I’m also already hooking into the vibrant bluegrass scenes in the UK and Ireland. It’s not like I’m hanging up the picks while I’m gone.
Needless to say, Lisa and I would be delighted to see friends and/or family while we’re over there. I’m not sure that IOM really deserves a special visit, but we will certainly make every effort to meet people in the UK or on the continent. Just give us a few weeks notice to clear our “diaries” (as they’re so quaintly known over there).
But have no fear, we’ll be back in North Carolina before you know it and be telling you to come visit us in the tree house in Montford. My best guess is that we’ll be gone 2-3 years. I doubt it will be much less than that; it certainly won’t be much more.
Until then, be well and happy – we’ll do the same.
With much love,
 As I was typing this, a mandolin-playing ER doc called me and said “The bass player opening the jam tonight at Jack of the Wood is a no-show. Can you get over here?” Postscript: I started playing at Jack of the Wood last night around 6:30 PM; I took a ten-minute break somewhere in there, and ultimately packed up the bass at 12:30 AM. It was exactly how I would have wanted to spend my last evening in AVL for awhile.
 In case you’re wondering/worrying, yes, it’s PokerStars that’s in the thick of the recent DoJ action against online poker. But my job is secure – I will simply be working for a company that doesn’t offer online poker in the U.S. That’s actually better for me from a legal perspective.
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