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Skills I have learned at my new job which will help during the Zombie Apocalypse

What I will look like after I am bitten

What I will look like after I am bitten


1.  Maneuvering two loaded luggage carts at once.

You may think this is easy. There is an art to getting the momentum balanced with the control of two artfully placed piles of duffels and a combination of hard/soft wheeled luggage through doors and onto a motor coach. Imagine how much more difficult this will be when you are maneuvering two full carts of provisions through a wasteland while being chased by zombies.


2.  Clear meaningful communication on a walkie-talkie

I have not mastered this yet. It helps to have a distinctive voice so that people develop a human connection with you as opposed to responding just to your code number. They will be more likely to save you from brain consumption if you sound like an Australian, a slacker or a very elderly woman.  I know this because these are the people I recognize on the walkie talkie. The rest could be zombies for all I know. I’m sure they think I am a zombie as I frequently forget the rules, don’t sign off and talk on and on as if I don’t have a clue about radio etiquette.



3.  Making your uniform  lasts as many days as possible without laundering

There’s not going to be a lot of time for laundry in the Zombie Apocalypse.  That doesn’t mean you have to smell bad. One hint, don’t work so hard and fast that you sweat profusely. Slow and steady produces less sweat for zombies to smell.  I just brought some Febreeze –  unscented.  This will be an essential in any zombie survival kit.


4. Signing in/Out on the timeclock including breaks

I used to do a time sheet once every two weeks. Now I have a time card and access to a telephone time clock for lunch breaks.  In the future, it will be extra important to let workmates and loved ones know when we are in and out of Zombie Safety Zones.  We will be logging in and out of the shower and when retrieving mail. A missed punch could indicate a sudden change in un-dead status.


5.  Negotiating an ever changing schedule

Once the Zombie Apocalypse arrives there will be no 9-5 jobs, no 4 10’s with three days off. Everyone will be on call like they are in retail, hospitals and in the hospitality industry.  You might as well train for it now because your co-workers could have their arms bitten off in an instant and someone is going to have to take their place. Also a bit of unpredictability might  make the difference between life and death. You don’t want to meet a wall of zombies waiting for the rubes as they pull in and out of downtown during rush hour do you?  I don’t believe the Unions are prepared with regulations to deal with benefits for undead members and their significant others let alone the overtime which is going to be necessary from live workers to cover their hours.


I have only been at this job for one month and I have one month to go. Hopefully the Zombies will not arrive until I have managed to squeeze out all the knowledge I need from my current position.  I’m sure your job is teaching you some survival skills. Sometimes I blow things out of proportion. It may be that most of the Zombies will be totally preoccupied by texting and binging on seasons of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Keep the faith and toil on.



Don't forget to wear your safety gear!

Don’t forget to wear your safety gear!

Captain Cook, I presume

I’m working a super chill summer job. I help tourists figure out where they’re going in Anchorage, Alaska. I took it because I really needed to calm down and have some fun. I have rediscovered parts of myself that are rather cool. That leads me to Captain Cook.

The Captain, a good looking man

The Captain, a good looking man

James Cook dominates my work place which I sometimes call  Musee d’Cook, le Capitaine.  It’s a fancy hotel which sports bellmen in black livery with gold braid as if they were officers on his crew.  The hotel has its own coat of arms.

It's a polar bear meeting a penguin for the first time. Maybe not so good for the penguin.

It’s a polar bear meeting a penguin for the first time. Maybe not so good for the penguin.


It appears that Cook was a man who was grew up on a farm, was not suitable to work in a shop, then worked his way up in merchant shipping and the Navy to become a cartographer and explorer.  He also had a bit of a temper.  He went on many journeys, three of which are quite famous, in which he visited Hawaii,  Alaska, near Antarctica and circumnavigating New Zealand, all near the time of The Revolutionary War.  He was known for not losing a man to scurvy due to frequent stops to replenish food.  Although honoring The Earl of Sandwich, naming Hawaii after him  suggests a desire for fresh fillings.

Cook was drawn to the extreme North and South so the hotel features large paintings of ships and icebergs which predate The Titantic.

Before global warming

Before global warming



Whale oil was a precurser to our addiction to petroleum. Good luck Mr. Whale!

These paintings are enormous,  maybe not as large as a blue whale but easily as big as a Beluga.

Many of you may know that le Capitaine met his death  after trying to imprison a king whose subjects had stolen a boat.   There is a nook with a little fake jungle  which overlooks this artwork.

I usually eat my lunch gazing at the death of Captain Cook

I  eat my salad gazing at the death of Captain Cook



Sometimes I eat here instead

Sometimes I eat here instead


This is a gigantic painting of  Captain Cook’s better times with the people of Hawaii. They held a feast for him. But when you look closer at this painting it is a bit disturbing.

It appears that The Captain is being served his head on a Turkey.


None of the Cook’s chef’s prepare this traditional dish

The hotel has least five restauranty places to eat and many more nooks to sit at with one’s yogurt container and a good book on Arctic and Antarctic Exploration. Might I suggest “The Frozen Ship” by Sarah Moss?

Amazon link to The Frozen Ship

The wooden walls of The Cook resemble the polished surfaces of a yacht. The ambiance is refined  and I am on my best behavior. Sometimes that is what makes work wonderful. I become the person I want to be in an interesting place amongst interesting people. It’s virtually impossible to complain about working in the tourism industry of Alaska in the summer.  If you are unhappy with your current position, take an adventure, like Captain Cook, and give us a try. We promise not to eat you alive but I can’t vouch for the mosquitoes.


Stop losing weight, looking younger and making more money with the new human being plan!

Let it go!

Let it go!

1.  Wear shorts this summer!

Stop worrying about how you look and what the dress code is.  There are amputees out there in shorts. Don’t go telling me they’re lucky because they don’t have your ugly legs.   I won’t go as far as saying you have to wear a bikini, speedo, micro-mini or short shorts.   Just take the challenge to let those legs breathe, varicose veins, sun starved, rashy, hirsute whatever.  I have a rosy red birthmark in the shape of a human hand on the rear of my thigh. You can imagine the comments I get. Since I have grey hair I no longer get asked if I knew I was bleeding.  Remember when shorts weren’t allowed in school so we couldn’t wait for summer to start? Shorts mean fun. My mother always said, no one can really get a look at you on a moving horse.  Don’t just lie outside, get a move on.  For those of you with doubts, just try running out to get the mail in your shorts. I do it in Alaska, even in the winter.

2. Eat something bad for you everyday.

Not arsenic, but give your healthy diet and the rest of us a break.  Do you really want to be the last one standing? When I obsess about  food, my figure, my health or try to change the eating habits of others, I’m just advertising my anxiety.  Eating healthy also means enjoyment and flexibility. You may be allergic to gluten or a carbo-holic but you might enjoy a treat of some sort now and again. Please make enough for everyone else while you’re at it.

Sooner or later someone will feed you something with gluten, meat or sugar inadvertently and you can thank them for reminding you that you are human but not made of glass. Yes, you could die from peanut butter or clams or leftover souffle but  hypervigilence is also toxic. I should know.  I went to Walmart and bought some kale today. The checker had no idea what it was. Meanwhile, at the other check stand a 7 year old was enjoying a fried chicken leg and Mountain Dew because he couldn’t hold out until they paid. Is that my business? No. Neither is the emaciated man who I saw walking into the health store parking lot earlier. Was he alive because of his health food or dying from it?  No clue.

I would rather be the chicken boy. He looked happy.   My mother followed every health trend she could find – no butter, then no margarine, water to drink, no coffee, alcohol or cigarettes, restricted meat, raw veggies, jogging, swimming. She died  in middle age. It must have been the chocolate and ice cream.  Just saying, at least she had some fun.

3. Throw some money away.

Down the toliet, into the hands of someone you don’t know or trust, or just drop it in the street.  I was in a bank today and another customer told me that we don’t get interest on savings accounts anymore because money isn’t really worth much.  Let’s celebrate.  Maybe it’s time to investigate the power of barter?   I just visited a friend who told me that her son had conducted a brilliant experiment in college. He dropped money and had an observer tally the reactions.  More people returned it than he thought would.  Think how good this would make you feel.  Yesterday a man called to me, ” You dropped your pocket”. I was carrying a purse so I thought perhaps he meant my “pocketbook” was open. He was just trying to make me laugh.


4.  Be real bad at some form of art

Enjoy your bad ass attempts.   Sign your paintings Madonna or  Justin Timberlake.  See if you can get a group of friends to have an bad art show and donate the money to the charity of your choice or just buy or trade each other’s work and have a big party!



5. Rejoice in your errors!

I let a cart run into a motor coach the other day. I also misrouted Mr. John Smith’s luggage to another Mr. John Smith.  I said something stupid on Facebook to someone I didn’t even know.  This is progress for me. I’m used to alienating people with my anxiety to get everything right and please the world.  People like me better when I’m human.

Anxiety woman goes to summer camp in Fairbanks, Alaska

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It was an adult summer camp. Not in that way.  I grew up near a beach so there was never any reason to go to summer camp.  I’m glad I finally did because of the wacky adventures I had. The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival attracts people who want to have fun,  try something new, and do it way far away from everyone they know.  Fairbanks people are cool.  They aren’t out to impress anyone with their fancy -danciness so they wind up impressing you with their homey smoked salmon, moose sausage, and fancy spoon playin’.

The road to Fairbanks is absolutely lovely even in the pouring rain, with Pilot cars to help you navigate the many miles of construction. Once you get there you might have to get over the several expressways, multiple Safeways and  mini-mallness of this small city because it’s cuter than you think. I stayed at The University of Alaska Fairbanks dorms. Here’s the greeter.

Welcome to The Cheapest Place to stay in town. I'm made of paper!

Welcome to The Cheapest Place to stay in town. I’m made of paper!

It’s only $30. a night and there are all sorts of interesting researchers and adult travellers  sharing your bathroom and kitchen.  My adventures included someone putting up an “out of order” sign on the ladies room, I believe just because they didn’t like the door slamming.  I wasn’t sure, so I showered on the next floor down then wound up quite wet and underclothed on the elevator back up with gentleman wearing a suit with nice rolling luggage. I had my tooth brush and shampoo in a recycled Safeway bag.

On the other hand I met a man at the ice cream machine who asked me to have salmon with him the next night.  I was impressed that there was an ice cream machine in the dorm. I bought a raspberry sundae ice cream pop, then watched one of the travellers show his photos from Mor0cco on the TV. Some of the researchers also helped me  get unlost when I attempted to hike the UAF trail system. My first mistake was  assuming that this was the correct trail.

NEVER attempt a trail which looks like this!

NEVER attempt a trail which looks like this!

This is Cotton Grass. It only grows where it is very wet!  I wound up throwing away my socks because they were crawling with unidentifiable  water bugs.  Then when I got to  next part I thought I was lost in space.



Had  I had stumbled on part of the High Frequency Auroral Research Project?  HAARP is more of an array of antennas. This is probably just to allow the Physical Education  Staff to enjoy Monday Night Football.  Luckily a researcher and her dog  jogged by just as I was beginning to be devoured by the mosquitoes in the the air and the bugs in my socks. Also it began to rain.  I got home and did not practice my dancing.

I took Irish dance, spoons and lilting with this fellow here.


Worth the money just to hear him talk, and talk he does

Worth the money just to hear him talk, and talk he does

Below  is a link to his profile as a performer/ teacher.

Funniest Dance teacher ever

The best thing about Niall is that he gets that some of the folks in his class are dancers and some are just out of their minds like me.  He kept encouraging me to “Just keep going in the same direction as the other girls.”   I had blisters on my toes but I did learn a routine even if I forget it now. He also had us doing  “The Walls of Limerick” which is  kind of what our gym teacher, Mrs Cero, taught us as square dancing. I was good at this  because of my elementary school training and  because I love doing things with partners.  Call me lonely and desperate but I was workin’ those Walls of Limerick.  We wound up dancing this with the Irish session musician class at The Hot Licks Ice Cream stand on College Ave.  We  grabbed a few tourists to make it work. It was so much fun that we did it  without the music afterwards so they could get a video.  I had  Arctic Slope Berry Snap ice cream which had bits of ginger snap in it. Awesome!

Here is what the dance is supposed to look like.


We looked a bit less Irish than them.


Have you ever wondered how people play the spoons? Probably not.   Did you know that keeping a “bicycle” (jig) or “motorcycle” (reel) beat is quite fast? Even better, we learned some fancy handwork and looked and sounded awfully funny.  I think the guy in the following video is a good example. He seems to be wearing some sort of official very tight spoon pants.

Then there’s the lilting or “diddle-dee-dee ‘ing”

You can learn some lilting tricks but when it comes down to it you have to kind of make up the words each time, although it’s good to know where a diddley, doodley. or such might fit in best.   It helps if you know the tune. I loved how Niall told us you wind up saying “Die” a lot so you might want to change it a bit so it doesn’t get too morbid.


I learned some stuff, had lots of laughs, sweated my arse off in a hot dance studio then slept in a single bed on the eighth floor  locking my room when I went to the bathroom just like I used to do when I was seventeen.  You can do it too. They have the festival every year.

Don't worry if it rains, you'll be dancing!

Don’t worry if it rains, you’ll be dancing!





Anxiety woman goes camping in Denali

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I go camping at least once every summer just like I go on a date at least once a summer. Both of these are challenging tasks when you’ve got a backpack full of anxiety. I decided to go to the easiest camp in Denali National Park, Riley Creek. There would be hundreds of other people, some with tasty little dogs who could be eaten before I was.  I was on my way to study Irish dance, singing, whistle and spoons in Fairbanks so not only did I have camping gear but my bike, lots of shoes, and a fan because I would be staying in a dorm room. I looked like I brought a yard sale with me. I forgot to bring my spoons but more on that in my Fairbanks post.

In terms of anxiety protection, I had water, snacks, bear spray and 98 percent DEET bug spray.  There have been three bear maulings right in Anchorage this summer.  These unfortunate people were all traveling alone at the time and surprised mother bears with babies. Oh, I brought bear bells too. Actually they were sleigh bells. People say bears don’t even notice them but I get real tired talking loudly to myself, singing Gilbert & Sullivan or yelling “Hey bear” while I’m climbing up hill. Bear spray costs about $45 dollars and looks like a mini fire extinguisher. It’s basically pepper spray but I’ve never seen anyone put it on popcorn.

The drive up was lovely. I used to work as a tour guide on the railroad so I  figure out where I am in terms of landmarks from the train crossings. The train takes 8 hours to get from Anchorage to Denali. It takes half as long by car unless you like to stop to take pictures, smell the trees and look for chocolate like I do. Also you have to time where you are going to buy gas as it may be under $4 a gallon in Anchorage but it’s $4.75 in Denali.

If you’re lucky, about 100-120 miles out of Anchorage you can see Denali, the big mountain. Everyone’s driving about 75 miles and hour and then they come to a complete stop and try to turn left into the scenic viewpoint.

Whoa Nelly!

Whoa Nelly!


I decided the day before that I was a tourist. I went to the visitors center in downtown Anchorage and got information for my trip and when they asked me where I was from I said Boston. We had a nice conversation with everyone who had ever been to Boston joining in so I didn’t have to say much.  Today I followed my fellow tourists and got my picture taken with Denali.

This photo illustrates why I need a vacation. I think my jaw is stuck in place and my shoulders feel like iron.

This photo illustrates why I need a vacation. I think my jaw is welded in place and my shoulders feel like iron.

The best thing about traveling North is that the elevation goes up and between that and the general direction, the seasons regress a bit.  I drove back to early summer. The cottonwood puffs were still on the trees.  The trees get less diverse and shorter the higher up you go and I began to feel like I was in a National Geographic special. It’s hard to whiz by tiny trees with Bald Eagles sitting atop them overlooking streams with fishermen. There are lots of mosquitoes but I didn’t notice until I examined the front of my car.


The Death Mobile.


Upon arrival at the park, I checked in at the mini mart and paid my entrance fee. Some people were driving further in to camp, others were buying giant ice cream cones. I bought some beef jerky then found a lovely campsite surrounded by people  who could save me from death and began to put up the tent. This process did not take me quite as long time as driving up but almost. I didn’t bring a hammer so I found some big rocks to hammer in the stakes but by the time I got one in, another popped out. I didn’t have directions and the thing looked a like an underinflated fun house by the time I was done. Luckily the rainfly covered  any major errors. I set out on my bike to try riding up Denali road but the elevation gain was way too much for me so I rode over the awesome Nenana river bridge  to the hotel district.

The Nenana, where people raft if they aren't afraid of such things

The Nenana, where people raft if they aren’t afraid of such things

I read a little on my kindle when I got back then tried to sleep. I wound up in my car a few times because I got so damn cold. I found a hat, long pants, a jacket and socks. I forgot that when the sun went down so did the thermometer.  Being covered in sweat and DEET only made me colder.

Before the rain

Before the rain


It only rained about a half hour but it made the pulling up of the tent a muddy affair in the morning. I just stuffed everything into the back of the car, which is where it still is today. I did some exploring on foot and found the very nice latrine and a little trail to Riley Creek which made me wish I had my bear spray.

Riley Creek, much gurglier and beary than Nenana canyon

Riley Creek, much gurglier and beary than Nenana canyon



I wound up putting it in one of my water bottle holders and taking a walk up to the dog kennels.  There were other tourists but none had bear spray or bells. Some even mocked my bells calling, “Here comes a reindeer!” Perhaps they did not realize that they were walking sausages.  The dog kennels are mildly interesting. Here is my favorite dog because it had eyes like mine and it was, like me, very tall.


Some people pet the dogs but not Anxiety Woman!


I got a little spooked at all the bear warning signs on the trail. That is when my back started to hurt. When I get scared, I tense up and my back spasms. I couldn’t wait to get back to my car.  It started to rain again just as I started up the engine and that made me very happy.

The train

The train


Before I took off I watched the train come in. I spent 6 summers on that train. The old Denali Park hotel used to be down a short path from the depot. Now that’s where my car was parked.  I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had been to Denali. I don’t know why I hadn’t gone up before on my own.  Probably anxiety, but I’m trying to get over that one tent at a time. Next time I’ll camp out further where I have to use a bear proof container for my food!  Yikes! What if I am the food?

Trash Day! Trash Day! Hooray!

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Poubelles on parade!

Poubelles on parade!


I sure get excited about trash day. Especially when I’m in bed and I can hear the truck making its way down my block. Agitated, might be a better word. I’m up, tangled in covers, tripping over a copy of Babi-Yar which I threw on the floor after it spooked me the night before. Sprinting for the barrels, out the door I go, in my tiny green boxer shorts which used to be duct taped to keep the front hole closed.

Luckily, the truck was on the other side of the street and I was delighted to find I would be in time for both trash and recycling. After I pulled my containers to the curb I became worried. My neighbors were not in sync with the duties demanded for the day. To the West, the school employees, out for summer, house full of grandkids, had obviously slept in. I peeked at their trash. It was full of diapers and bright,  Walmart bulk pasteboard boxes which once held sticky sweets. I grabbed both barrels and wheeled them down. Not because I’m nice but because TRASH DAY MUST BE OBSERVED! Not like flag day which people constantly forget but like a patriotic reminder of civic responsibility which occurs weekly to rouse us from our kindles and kin.

In Paris, they have poubelles, a name which has an sweet but smelly charm of its own. The trash gets picked up daily from each building. My sister is one of the many women and men you will see outside at 7:30 am each day hauling out the poubelles. She gets a break on rent for doing this, and for bringing them back in, and cleaning up the mess which might be made in poubelle transfer. I am proud of her dedication to the poubelles.

My neighbor to The East, is a temporary resident. Aren’t we all?, you might say. I don’t own my house but the house on the East is a short term rental and the man who is in it now has a window right across from mine. He sits looking at the computer while I watch my television. I tried to see if he was watching porn but could not discern without putting on my glasses which is just a little desperate. He plays very loud Bob Seger type American music and keeps a candle burning in his open window to suck up the smell of his cigarettes. His trash was breaking the rules. It bubbled over the top and that will earn you a nasty sticker and all your stinkin’ trash back for the rest of the week. I decided to sit on the lid to squash it down. Unfortunately, the beer cans were resistant to my weight in their own crinkly way so I had to ride the barrel somewhat like a horse. My roommate came out and saw me. This was better than the neighbor. He has an iphone but he didn’t use it.

I hope you have a merry trash day, no matter where you are or what day it is.

Happy tips for a mindful summer

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1. Remember to shake your tent for scorpions and gluten before turning in for the night

2. Only approach near extinct species and other abused animals through internet memes where they speak in funny voices about bacon and the songs of their people.

3. Recycle used toilet paper and soiled diapers from vacations as postcards/souvenirs for friends and family who refuse to join Facebook.

4. Create a Kickstarter campaign for an organic salmon farm which employs only fragrance free WWOOF’ers.

5. Ask your local butcher if they use real or artificial kale in their meat display.

6. Boycott Walmart, Walgreens, Safeway and MacDonalds until they carry reusable organic menstrual supplies and free range internet devices.

7. Travel to enlightened countries where women are free to go topless.

8. When you become anxious because you have not created time in your life to do the simplest of chores, meditate instead.

9. Hang out with people who are unconditionally positive about you and turn all their rage elsewhere.

10. Feel the grass between your toes before you run out and start your own medical dispensary.


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