Happy Birthday, Hooked!

18 03 2012

One year ago today, Hooked went live with this post. Astute readers may notice that that first post’s date doesn’t match today’s celebration. Though I wrote and posted “The Launch” on March 10, 2011, I didn’t have the courage to make it public until 8 days later. Full of trepidation, I wasn’t sure what I had to say – or if anyone would care. Arriving late to the blogosphere (about 3 years after my dad prodded, “Do you have a blog yet?”), I agonized over what kind of first impression Hooked would make.

That first post laid out a pretty modest mission: “Hooked is intended to share the story of what it is to be a Southeast Alaskan fisherman, a troller/longliner who combs the sea to harvest the highest-quality wild salmon, black cod and halibut.”

“Fisherman” is both an occupation and identity for me, so this wasn’t a bad goal to begin with, but I like to have room to stretch. The next line left the narrative door ajar: “Fishermen are a diverse bunch, and no one’s perspective is quite the same. My voice as a tree hugging, tofu eating, public radio listening, pierced/tattooed bleeding heart pescatarian feminist, a lapsed social worker turned professional deckhand, is – perhaps – a tad unique.”

Just as my perspective is unique, so is yours. As you introduced yourselves in the comments, strangers became new friends, and I delighted in your diverse voices. Encouraging family members. Current and retired fishermen. Women from an astounding variety of life experiences. Whether actively working on the water, land-locked and dreaming of a life adrift, or seasick-prone and happily rooted ashore, you tugged the threads of these posts and found them connected to the fabric of your own lives.

So this post isn’t about celebrating 12 months of a one-dimensional online construct. This is about recognizing and honoring community, and that’s all of you who take the time to stop by and say hello. You’ve become participants in these stories. Your hearts seized as whales rose up beneath the Nerka. (Maybe some expletives fell from your lips, too, in chorus with those falling from mine.) You celebrated Cap’n J’s birthday, and you imagined the taste of traditional Tlingit foods. When I shared my writer’s panic last fall, you offered support and encouragement. You learned the interdependent relationship between salmon, trees, and Southeast Alaskans, and you rallied as spokespeople for the Tongass National Forest. You cheered for the 2012 Fisher Poets, and you grieved those lost at sea.

Hooked’s readers have been the greatest joy of this experience.  I wish I could offer you a slice of that aquatic-themed cake (or provide a gluten-free/sugar-free/vegan alternative) in thanks. You’ll just have to trust that we enjoyed it with you in mind. Bear, too.

In lieu of cake, I do have a gift for one of you. Two months ago, I printed a few copies of Hooked: The Best of 2011 through blurb.com. An 80 page collection of my favorite posts, they came out pretty nicely (only 2 typos discovered thus far, and purely my fault.) If you’d like to be entered into a drawing to win your own copy, leave a comment here before midnight on Wednesday, and I’ll put your name in a hat. (No, not a hat, but an Xtra Tuf boot. Thanks for the suggestion, Cedar – cultural authenticy matters!)  Cap’n J will do the honors on the morning of the 22nd, and I’ll stick the winner’s copy in the mail as one of my final tasks before we head north.

Are you a long-time Hooked reader, or a new visitor? As we approach the upcoming fishing season, are there particular stories or issues you’d like to hear about? What have you liked in your time with Hooked, and what could we do differently over our second year?

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