When you read the title of this essay, how did you react? Were you curious about why someone would be writing an essay about a forlorn and often overlooked state? Were you filled with an emotional cocktale of disgust, pity and thankfulness (that you don't live there, or know anyone who does)?

Maybe you thought of all the typical stereotypes that surround the state; rednecks, trailer trash, hillbillies, barefeet, pregnant, no teeth, no soap, no cable, left behind (in a technology sense, not in a Rayford Steele sense), no major sports teams or perhaps you even thought of Robert C. Byrd. Ok, the last one isn't a stereotype. It is, for those of us who live here, a terrible reality.

As my first guest essay performance, so graciously granted me by the owner of this site, who, having never met me, is willing to let me write anything my heart desires, I've decided to break down the stereotypical barriers that keep us away from all progress and firmly stuck in the 1950's by describing to you the major advantages of living here. (If that was a run-on sentence, you can blame it on our 49th ranking educational system)

The first major advantage to living here is the lack of crime. This isn't to suggest that we are without criminals, rather, we lack the proper context in which to comit large amounts of crime. To be more specific, we are berift of teaming masses of people in an urban setting necessary to foster a healthy, criminal climate. Our captial, Charelston, is the largest city in the state, boasting a population of 55,000 people; hardly "teaming masses" material.

Most of the crime in our state is committed on a political level. Amazingly, we rank in the lowest catagories for almost every negative currently available through Gallop Polling: Education, Obesity, Underage Pregnancy, Underage smoking, taxes, workers comp, teachers pay. And yet, we continually vote the same type of people in year after year, blindly assuming that this time, things will be different. Well, they aren't, despite the wisdom afforded us through Gallop.

But, lets get back to the advantages!

The second major advantage is the beauty. Nothing satirical here. It is absolutely gorgeous...especially in the fall, when the hills are blazing in a chorus of orange, red and yellow while the clear blue skies and soft, sloping mountains tumble gently into wide valleys and swift moving rivers. Simply breathtaking stuff. Our stubborn refusal to enter the 21st century marketplace has preseved these visions, and maybe that isn't all bad.

Another major advantage is the ever present sense of hope. Living in a big city like New York or Philadelphia may be great fun, with plenty of cultural activities and pro sports teams abounding. But, there really isn't anything to hope for. You already have it all. When you're cooped up in a town with 15 car lots and 25 pharmacies, and "Friends" re-runs are a magical time of yearning and mystery, you have nothing left but hope.

As sad as this may seem, hightened by the fact that it is listed as an "advantage", it is nontheless completely true. One of our favorite high-school pastimes was to utter the simple mantra, "I can't wait to get out of here." This was often repeated in a slow, trance like state, our senses reeling from a lack of education and too much clean air. Looking back, at the age of 27, all of my "smart" friends have indeed left the state and are making large sums of money in interesting areas of the Nation, pursuing their lifelong ambitions and dreams. This, of course, lends to the idea that only the stupid people stay behind, uncovering one final advantage....

Living in West Virginia is good for your self-esteem!

I think I'll stop now and ask the good folks who read this to post questions and comments about the glories of the Mountain State that are burning within your heart.