One of the many things I love about Brooklyn is all the neighborhood stores: the tiny supermarkets, the hardware shops that are so long, dusty and narrow you feel like youâ€™re in a topiary maze, the â€œspecialty serviceâ€ stores that hearken back to Alaskan-businesses in that they offer so many different services in their efforts to remain competitive with the larger national chain stores. These are the stores which are owned by locals, many of them have been there forever, as evidenced by the dust, and the cluster of regulars which invariably seem to gather round the register discussing scratch tickets and last nightâ€™s game.
New York City has this reputation as a shopperâ€™s paradise, a place where the consumerâ€™s version of Rule 34 of the Internet has been realized: if it exists, there is a place to buy it in New York City.
That is, unless the â€œitâ€ in question happens to be food coloring.
Several months ago, Sean and I were in desperate need of some food coloring, you know, to make fake blood for a zombie movie â€¦ what else do you use food coloring for in NYC? â€¦ cake bakerâ€¦.
Sometimes, the universe conspires to send a message, and we, poor humans, can only hope we are aware enough to hear it.
My message came in a can, or, more specifically, a can of eggnog.
I was doing laundry at my favorite local laundromatâ€”you know, the one thatâ€™s well-lit and doesnâ€™t have too many aggressive creepers loitering, trying to strike up conversations. After starting the washer, however, I realized I was out of dryer sheets. Rather than purchase them from the vending machine (convenient but expensive) I decided to duck into the bodega next door.
The long, dark winters of Alaska can be tough, even for the most seasoned sourdough. To keep from going completely bonkers, Alaskans have learned to seek out things to help them escape the maddening embrace of cabin fever: either literally, through various winter sports; or figuratively, through flights of imagination. Being the bad-Alaskan that I am — one who does not enjoy snow-machining, and who canâ€™t really understand the allure of camping when there are perfectly good hotels with flushing toilets around — I am naturally inclined toward the more cerebral escapes. However, there is one type of outside winter event that I look forward to each year: watching the flocks of migratory birds when they come through town — in particular, the Bohemian Waxwings. I remember, several winters ago, when I was able to spend a lazy morning watching them from my living room window. As with many such activities, this particular one was made even more special because I got to share it with someone special: my then-boyfriendâ€™s cat, Marv.