The bluff charge and its implication: first month in AK

Rain and sleet this week have been fairly legitimate reasons for not going stomping around in the woods, and the week before that I did go out there and get my “bearings:” while there were moments I enjoyed (getting a feel for the downtown area, e.g.) I’d say I thought about bears roughly 80% of the time.

My husband can no longer hide his exasperation on the topic: we spent the first several nights in the cabin after the girl was asleep discussing, again (we’ve been on the topic since Germany) what to do if you see a bear (“Hey, Bear! Get outta here!”) and stand your ground, and what not to do (run).

That said, the phrase “bluff charge” will not leave my brain. “You will never feel more alive,” my husband said (as when you stand your ground to a bear that is bluff charging you); I feel quite dim panicking about it after electing to move to a cabin in the woods in Alaska with my baby daughter who I don’t let out of my sight when I use the bathroom.

Our cabin on the edge of Tongass National Forest in Juneau
Our cabin on the edge of Tongass National Forest in Juneau

Now, while bears are an actual fear because they can be quite unpredictable, and they should always be given their space (even if you couldn’t help not giving them their space because you didn’t know they were there), it occurs to me that “bear” could be a metaphor of all of the things in the world from which I cannot protect her.

When I walked past riot police in Istanbul I would get that throat-constricting fear based also on being caught in the middle of an unpredictable situation, but actually we never know what is going to happen, and yet I know that we’re safer here than so many other places. No one is attacking anyone in Juneau; its politics are within my realm of understanding.

Having turned in before 10 pm on NYE, we were among the first ones up for breakfast on New Year’s Day, our second day in town. At the cafe we found, the waitress got down right in her face and complimented Imogen’s eyes. Even more awesomely, a lady at the next table offered to hold her while Jacob and I scarfed down our eggs. We let her.

With Imogen on New Year's Eve
New Year’s Eve

I like watching our daughter look to the tops of the trees when we go for walks, and see along with her the way the mountains all around us turn pink at sunset. (Mostly-) imagined threats aren’t nearly big enough to cause these things to crash down anyway, new mom. Unless you wanna talk about avalanches.

New Year’s Day

Writer In-the-World

After taking the stools down at the tavern I work at I remove the dead flowers from the vases and as I am putting the nice ones in smaller vases a co-worker jokes that the company that owns the restaurant we work for is looking for a full-time flower arranger and it is a salaried position with benefits and I wish I could just do the flowers.

Before I can introduce myself to my first table and let them know the specials of the day, one of the men says “now this is not going to affect your tip” and I already don’t want to hear the rest, but he asks me if I know where a particular Lutheran Church is and I say that I do not. He looks at the others, and one of the women says “it is on the next block” and once again I had no response,

we are all so close and so distant.

I want a pizza so I will go get one: will it always be this way?  Is there a better way to be?  Who is to say?  Quiero tranquilar, I’m all twisted up today.


Upon my return from VN I thought things would work out without my necessarily needing to play an active role, kind of passivity I have gotten upset with other people over.  I cut myself some slack.  Then I began applying and applying for jobs.

Prospects: teaching Expository Writing to freshmen at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, WI, and teaching inmates at a minimum security correctional facility in Gordon, WI.

Gordon PO
Duluth (45 mi. away)

At work, I get into an argument with another server about the way in which I roll silverware.  She tells me the way I do it provides a greater chance for them to come undone.  I suppose she is right.  And yet.  When I look the pieces all lined up, I know they are not going to.


Secret: when I worked as a waitress at the Loring I got suspended, as far as I can tell, for apathy.

They’d seen me apply myself, carrying so much down the stairs at one time; I wasn’t doing that anymore.

I was setting up the mezzanine and writing poetry in the dark with the red Christmas lights, looking down on the snow-covered city streets.

Only half caring if someone caught me, taking no measures against it.  Having nothing to lose: in the end, too common an attitude for a waitress.

Dream (10/25/08)

He leaned in very close, scrutinizing numbers with me at a desk. I could feel how he smelled and how he breathed. Eighty-six, he said. I was on a Tolkien horse as I watched his finger trace a dotted line on my paycheck to another column.

Asking him out for coffee has been my plan since Friday over cocktails and edamame. The words were on the tip of my tongue when he stood up and told me that we were going to have to sort this out over coffee: that this type of thing could not be negotiated under these circumstances. Only I don’t think he said the word, thing.

We are going to have to get this sorted out over coffee and a walk, he said. I will follow you, and carry a dung stick. I doubled over with laughter at the top of the stairs he’d already descended; he stood at the bottom looking up at me the way you do when someone laughs at something you say. In real life I woke up smiling.