Hooked the First, Laid to Rest

6 01 2013

This is it, friends.

I’ve delayed this move for over a year, but it seems time for Hooked to migrate. Please join me at Hooked the Second. (www.teleaadsen.com) I’m grateful to the Chicago Boy – he’s done a beautiful job of setting our space up. I’d never have had the courage or tech-savvy to make it happen without his help. (Thanks, sweetie.)

Some of you have asked about Hooked’s past posts. It appears that everything is in our new home, minus a handful of the most recent comments that didn’t want to move. I’m not ready to delete our beginnings, so Hooked the First will remain dormant here. I won’t be responding to comments on this site anymore, so please bring our conversation over to Hooked the Second. I’m hoping it’s a more comfortable, reader/participant-friendly space. If you don’t find it so, or have trouble with anything, please do let me know.

I’ll do my best to figure out how to seamlessly transfer those of you who’ve subscribed, but am a little anxious about that. You can also re-subscribe on the right side of the new homepage, and if you’d help spread the word of our relocation, I’d be grateful. I’m grateful, period. You’ve all been a wonderful community. This is just a blog move, I know, not like we’re actually saying goodbye, but I feel oddly choked up all the same. (As you know, I’m a little sensitive.)

So let’s lay Hooked’s WordPress home to rest with a short video that’s not meant to be morbid. This Sitka cemetery is a special place – “Sacred Grounds,” warns the sign at the entrance. Hidden in the center of town in a Tongass thicket of cedar, hemlock, and devil’s club, trails wind through the overgrowth. The gravestones are Russian Orthodox, largely consumed by the rainforest’s inevitable moss. Stone angels are mostly headless.  Only croaking ravens break the tranquility. It’s been one of my favorite places since I was a teenager; I’m glad to close this site by sharing it with you.  (And you, SethSnap.)





Bellingham Writers’ Resolutions, plus a Call for Women Writers

2 01 2013

I’m blessed that both of my home communities have amazing bookstores: Old Harbor Books in Sitka, Alaska, and Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. Independent bookstores do heroic work to foster lively literary communities – readings, events, opportunities you won’t get from Amazon. Village is hosting one of those opportunities this weekend, with their annual “Resolutions for Writers” extravaganza.

Saturday’s five mini-workshops are designed to help jump-start your writing year, by tackling clutter, getting un-stuck, loving finances, intention-setting through collage, and maintaining vision and balance. Check here for more information on teachers and workshop times.

As good as Saturday looks, I’m especially invested in Sunday’s line-up:

If you’re in the Whatcom/Skagit County area, I hope you can join us. Check here for full details.

*****

In an opportunity open to female readers wherever you are, Cami Ostman is seeking submissions for another anthology. (Her first, Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion, co-edited with Susan Tive, will be released this spring.)

She Writes Her Life: Women Explore How Writing Has Informed Their Identity Development explores women’s relationships with writing. Why we write, how our writing influences how we think about ourselves and who we are in the world. Essays should be no longer than 3500 words, have a $25 submission fee, and are due by March 4, 2013. Visit Cami’s site for more details.

I’ve had a few friends ask about the submission fee. She Writes Press is an independent publisher that prioritizes empowerment and community. Your $25 covers evaluation and printing, but most importantly, contributes to a pool for publishing at least one pro bono project a year. (Visit She Writes Press to learn more.)

I suspect Cami’s project – and SWP’s values – will resonate with many of Hooked’s regulars. (Happy New Year, Patricia, Tina, EBW, Heather, Claire, Lisa!) Please do pass this opportunity with your own readers. A new year is a great time to start a new essay!





Hooked Ends 2012 on a Note of Change

31 12 2012

I’m a migratory creature. Twenty-five years as a fisherman will do that, successfully rewiring one’s homing instincts to change with the seasons. Too long in one place, I get twitchy. So it suddenly strikes me as funny that Hooked has held the same home – down to the same floorplan! – since its inception.

Brace yourself, sweeties. We’re ringing the New Year in on a note of change.

Hooked launched on March 18, 2011 – entirely thanks to prodding by my friend and mentor, author Cami Ostman. Upon hearing my self-conscious mumbles about wanting to write, she asked, “Are you blogging? You should be blogging!”

I hadn’t considered that. All I knew at the time was that I had a desperate hunger to find a writing community, similarly driven people who would inspire and hold me accountable, and no idea of how to find them. Despite self-doubt and an embarrassingly high level of technological incompetence, Cami’s suggestion seemed a good place to start. Maybe an online community would help get me out of my own way.

That, certainly – and so much more. I couldn’t have imagined the diverse collection of people who’d converge here, or what powerful, generous allies you’d be. Just as you deserved honoring (and cake!) on Hooked’s first birthday, I want to close 2012 with appreciation. As often as I try to express this, words fail to capture  how grateful I am for your reading, your writing, your presence here.

WordPress has been a good home for us – particularly for tech-challenged me. But our community has grown. I’d like to bring out a few more chairs, offer a comfortable space with new rooms to explore. Thanks to my longtime friend the Chicago Boy, that space is almost ready. Generously trading his web-savvy for fish, he’s been putting together an author’s site that includes this blog’s new home.

Every migration reminds us that, no matter how many times we’ve pointed the bow north or south, there are always surprises. Unforeseen bumps, essentials we’ve forgotten. In the case of Hooked’s migration, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all of you subscribers will be successfully transferred to the new site. Feeling anxious about that – I’d hate to lose any of you – but hoping for a smooth transition.

Stand by, sweeties. As soon as the site is live, I’ll post one final message here, inviting you to join me at our new home. (I hope you will.) Whether you’ve been following Hooked from the beginning or are a recent friend, thank you for being here. My best wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy New Year.

 

Joel's Starrigaven Sunset

Also, thanks to everyone who submitted quotes. If you’d like your name to go into the boot for tomorrow’s drawing (gifts! for 2 of you!), you’ve still got time. I’d love to hear your favorite words.





Hooked Trolls for Help (& Offers a Gift)

28 12 2012

A funny thing happened on the Facebooks today.

When I opened my email this morning, a whole string of notifications greeted me. A long list of folks responding to one of my photos. That’s weird, I thought. I haven’t posted anything new.

Even odder: the image inspiring so much response was from last December – ancient by social media standards.

Tele's Proposal, Submission #1 2011

December 5, 2011: My first attempt at shopping my book proposal.

Turned out a new friend had given that old photo a second life. With her enthusiastic comment, it began appearing on other friends’ walls. One after another, folks chimed in with their support. “Can’t wait for you to sign my first edition at Old Harbor Books,” one wrote. Said another, “I’m not at all concerned over the fate of this book. I’m more worried about the effects of wealth and fame on your life.”

With every new congratulatory response, I felt a bit more embarrassed. More like a fraud.

Then Marlin called. “Hey, Sis! Congratulations on getting your proposal out. That’s really exciting!”

I interrupted his praise. “That’s an old picture of the proposal I submitted last winter. It totally got rejected – that’s okay, it deserved to be rejected because I submitted it before it – or I – was ready – but nobody commenting now knows that and I feel silly.”

Marlin’s laughter swept me up in his good humor. I chuckled with him, then considered, “The timing’s funny, though. I got good feedback from an agent and have been revising so it’s in better shape. I think it’s almost there. My goal is to submit it to her the first week of January.”

“Sounds like all of those sudden comments are the universe’s way of giving you that final push, telling you not to give up,” Marlin observed. “Maybe this was the best time for you to hear all of that encouragement.”

Ah. How can I be so lucky, that one of my oldest friends is also one of the wisest people I know? And how good Sitka’s docks have been to me: both my “brother” and my sweetheart, two of my life’s greatest gifts, are fellow boat kids I met on the breakwater over 25 years ago.

*****

If you’ve wondered why Hooked’s been such a quiet little place lately, that’s why. You’ve been on my mind, but everything (and everyone) has taken a back seat to having this second attempt ready to submit next week. After way too many slow, discouraging days, today feels better. The 25 pages of book overview, bio, chapter summaries, marketing strategies, and comparative titles seem like they’re in good shape. The sample chapters still need work – not so much that they’re overwritten, like dough that’s been kneaded too long, but just enough that they sing in the right places and murmur pleasantly in the rest. Though I may feel differently tomorrow, today this feels do-able.

It’d feel even better with your participation, sweeties.

I’m a fan of epigraphs – relevant quotes providing a touchstone for each chapter’s takeaway message – and need your suggestions. What’s relevant? Hooked: a memoir of love, sex and salmon is a story of fidelity, as I struggle to define what it means to be true to a partner… a place… a life… and myself, over the course of a season aboard the Nerka. The voices I’ve gathered so far include Barbara Kingsolver on forgiveness, Cheryl Strayed on fear, Dan Savage on the myths of monogamy and “The One,” James Baldwin and Lynn Schooler on home, and Rumi on human imperfection.

I’d love to hear your favorite reflections on home, the sea, love, trust, forgiveness, belonging. Actually, I’d love to hear your favorite reflections on anything. A beloved quotation, poem, or song lyric – who knows what might strike just the right chord? Whose words have spoken so deeply to you?

Because you’re all wonderful and I’m grateful for your support, everyone who comments with a suggestion over the next three days gets their name in the hat. (Boot, actually – an old Xtra Tuf.) I’ll draw two names at the end of New Year’s Day, two lucky participants who’ll receive care packages of local-made Sitka goodies and Cap’n J’s newly printed photo cards. Random gift-giving aside, my big appreciation and love to all for your contributions.

 

Update: Congratulations, Scott and EBW! Thanks to all for playing.

Hooked's Quote Giveaway Winners





Merry Solstice, Friends!

21 12 2012

As you know, I’m not so much into the holidays, but Solstice always resonates with our seasonally driven, migratory life. So it was a special treat to start today with one of Lynn Schooler’s stunning Alaskan photographs, captioned with his own appreciative acknowledgement of Winter Solstice. My thanks to Lynn for his permission to share his photo and sentiments with you.

Lynn Schooler, Solstice Whale Dance

Lynn wrote, “There was the fading winter light, with alpenglow on the mountains, and suddenly a fully grown humpback whale burst from the sea toward the sky

Happy solstice, everyone. Let’s celebrate. We made it around the corner and we’re heading back toward spring.

(Of course, you’re always welcome to click ‘share’ on my photos if you like, or if we are not already friends, shoot me a friend request and I will be happy to accept.)”

If you’re not familiar with author/photographer Lynn Schooler’s work, you can start with this review of one of my favorite books. Happy Solstice, friends – my best wishes to you and yours. 





Life in the Gray: After Sandy Hook

17 12 2012

I’m writing to you from a ferry. Seated alone on a midday crossing, staring into a muted seascape. Ocean the green of beach glass, clouds shushing the sky; land’s faintest skeleton peeks through sheets of rain. Whitecaps the only bright spots in this world. “Lots of sheep out here today,” one of our fleet elders would say about the turbulent sea.

This relentless gray depresses some, but I embrace it, a reassuring companion for my eternal ambivalence. It’s here in the gray that I struggle to balance a precarious tower of contradiction.

Contradictions like my relationship with guns. On auto-answer, I would’ve told you I don’t have one. You know who I am, sweeties – tree hugging, tofu eating, feminist fisherman and all that. I don’t like guns. I don’t want to shoot shit. I don’t need one to feel safe; they invoke the opposite in me. I don’t want any part of guns or gun culture.

But that’s too black and white for someone living in the gray. Of course I have a relationship with guns. Born and largely raised in a state where over 60% of households have them, how could I not?

Early childhood in Wasilla. My parents – like most Alaskans – hunted. One of our family stories recalled leg cramps hobbling my dad on a caribou trip. My mom packed him, all their gear, and the meat back out.

Being a deckhand. Until recently, most of the boats I crewed on had guns aboard. My mom. Single men. Family boats. Folks who regularly served venison and wouldn’t go to the beach without a gun as bear protection. The single time I’ve fired a gun was on one of those boats, urged to join my shipmates in target shooting a can tossed in the water. Wish I could tell you we retrieved the can afterward.

The August night that my teenaged self paddled to a Sitka Sound island with a handful of other deckhands. We started drinking on the way out, passing the fifth of Jager between kayaks, wasted by dusk. We told fireside stories of the kushtaka, Tlingit lore’s shape-shifting otter-man. Spooked by a shadowy tree, one of the boys pulled a handgun from his backpack. Began waving it around. The rest of us suddenly sober, another grabbed the gun and put it away.

Still a teenager. Midnight cruising the back roads of Washington farmlands. When headlights appeared in the rearview, the jittery driver reached for the glove box. A handgun inside. His paranoia, certain that the car behind was “after us.” Making it home, shaken by what could have been. A year later, learning that boy killed a man.

The land job I had, where shotguns leaned against the truck shop walls, casually propped alongside broomsticks. When the boss’s temper snapped, he’d grab the closest one, stalk outside, and blast starlings off the power lines.

The contrast of people in my heart. I’m on this ferry traveling to a winter reunion with fishing friends. Almost everyone there will be a hunter – including the petite young woman who recently shot her first deer, a four-point – except for Joel and me. I don’t eat meat other than fish because I choose not to eat what I can’t take responsibility for putting on my plate. I don’t like killing fish, but I do it as humanely as possible, with gratitude and respect. Most of these hunters share those values. They talk of “bad kills” – shots where the deer suffered unduly – with disapproval and condemn waste. I respect their connection to the food on their tables. I’ll be happy to see each of them, while avoiding the fixed marble-eyed gaze of bucks long since passed through our hosts’ freezer, Santa hats perched jauntily on ears forever cocked.

But this isn’t just about guns.

Contradictions like the sudden urgency with which we talk about mental healthcare after a tragedy like Sandy Hook, and the reality of how we respond to those struggling among us. The conversations that inevitably follow, where we talk about mental illness the way some folks talk about Africa – like it’s one uniform place, rather than a continent of many countries, ethnicities, languages, religions, cultures. Mental illness is that continent, inclusive of millions of us and a broad spectrum of diagnoses, behaviors, challenges, and triumphs. Contradictions like my hope that this will be the tragedy to reframe our nation’s priorities, that we’ll veer towards valuing and investing in others’ wellness, squared off against antipathy for a discussion that stigmatizes all people in need as the next potential assailant.

Contradictions like friends’ posts on Facebook, where we communally grieve, rage, and process.

“It is one’s choice to act in a manner that will bring pain and suffering upon another,” wrote one. “Sadly, there isn’t anything we, as individuals and as a nation, will ever be able to do about the actions another chooses.”

Another said, “We live in a culture that is more oriented to competition than cooperation, to power than vulnerability; to materialism rather than sustainability; to defense rather than inquiry; to self-interest and individual rights rather than concern for the whole.”

I didn’t have the strength to weigh in. What could I say that hasn’t already been said about Sandy Hook… and Oregon… Tulare County… Minneapolis… New York… Wisconsin… Colorado… Seattle… Florida… Arizona… Ohio… Georgia… and Texas, in 2012 alone? Words are such worthless fragments, too small and brittle for this size of grief. What would they even matter?

Blogger Jim Wright’s readers were anxious to hear what the fiercely spoken Alaskan – a gun owning, military consulting, Navy veteran – would say about Newtown, but he wasn’t having it. “I may have something to say later, but at the moment, I’m not going to waste my time – and it’s exactly that, a complete and utter waste of my time because absolutely NOTHING has changed since the last bloody slaughter, since the last time a bunch of kids were mowed down by the insanity that is America and its bizarre obsession with guns and violence and blood. Nothing has changed. Not one goddamned thing. Exactly as I said five months ago. We can’t even have the conversation. Both sides were already rehashing the same old arguments before the blood was dry.”

I have two friends who didn’t rehash old arguments. They embraced action. “The only response is to organize,” the one in Seattle wrote. “I’ll be hosting a conversation today at 3 pm about possible next steps for those of us who want to ‘do something’ about gun violence. You don’t have to be any kind of expert – I’m not.”

The resulting group has scheduled bi-weekly meetings, open to anyone who wants to be involved. If you’d like to be, visit the Densmore Working Group.

The friend in Sitka didn’t waste any time, either: “I am sure that many of you are as furious, outraged, devastated, and so, so sad about the Connecticut shooting as I am,” she wrote. “I feel so strongly that SOMETHING needs to change in our nation, our states, and our communities. My personal step towards a solution is to invite people to a letter-writing campaign this Wednesday, December 19, at 6:30 pm at the Larkspur to send letters to our state senators, representatives, and president. The goal here is to do SOMETHING proactive to reduce these violent incidents.”

If you’re in Sitka, drop by the Larkspur Café, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, to participate. Those outside of Sitka can join in, too. I’ll be writing my letters in solidarity from Bellingham.

There aren’t a lot of easy answers here in the gray, but one sunbeam voice breaks through. My friend Laura posted this resource from Mr. Rogers, advising parents how to talk to children about traumatic events. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Good advice for all. May we look for the helpers… May we be the helpers. I’m thankful to have friends setting the example.





Teenagers and the Sea: Fisher Poet Tales (with Video!)

7 12 2012

National Fisherman did a nice write-up on last week’s Fisher Poets “On the Road” performance at Fish Expo, where Dano Quinn, Patrick Dixon, Abigail Culkin and I each had 20 minutes to perform. For the second post in a row: thanks, NF!

I swear Pat and I didn’t plan this, but with back-to-back readings, you couldn’t miss our shared theme: adolescence. Rough for any parent/spawn relationship, this is a particularly rocky period for those trapped together aboard a small fishing boat. Forced not only to co-exist, but to cooperate – the family’s livelihood depends on it. So does physical safety. As their parents’ crew, boat kids develop a ferocious work ethic, endurance, and responsibility. Transferable skills, whether they continue fishing or not. And it seems to be about a fifty-fifty split: of the boat kids I grew up with, maybe half are like Joel and me – salt-stained lifers who aren’t fully themselves away from the sea. The other half couldn’t jump ship fast enough.

Photo thanks to F/V Kathleen Jo

Photo thanks to F/V Kathleen Jo

The story Pat read, “The Connection,” is one of my favorites. It’s how I met Pat, and first learned about Fisher Poets, at Fish Expo four or five years ago. The audience packed the room – it was right next the beer garden – and I wedged into the back. When this tall gillnetter took the stage, I didn’t know what to expect – but it surely wasn’t this tear-jerking story of a reluctant killer, reflecting on what it meant to build one’s life by taking life. I’d never heard another fisherman so perfectly express my own inner conflict. Watch “The Connection” here.

And the story I read? Years ago, one of our fleet elders said something that stuck with me. He said, “Everybody has a rock up here with their name on it. If you fish long enough, you’ll find it.” As it happened, six years was all it took for this sleepy mariner. A story of drama, danger, romance, and triumph, watch “The Rock With My Name ” here.

This is a great warm-up, friends… Mark your calendars: the 16th annual Fisher Poets Gathering is less than three months away! This year’s dates are February 22-24, hosted in Astoria, Oregon. Check out their brand-new website – which includes a sneak peek at the performers signing up! (Between the veteran and first-time names, it’s already a great line-up, with many more yet to come.) I’d love to see you there.

Thanks again to National Fisherman for supporting this Fisher Poets “On the Road” performance, and to Pat Dixon for making it happen. Also, thanks to the delightful Betsy Delph, whose video may not have turned out as well, but her efforts were much appreciated. 








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