I’m wearing my dead brother’s shirt. I can’t remember ever seeing him wear it, but it was his, and now it’s mine. If you asked me what I get out of wearing this shirt, I’m not sure I could answer you. It’s just a shirt. It doesn’t hold anything that’s left of him: all that’s left of him are my memories, my family’s memories. Maybe that’s what ghosts are made of: memories and empty clothes and an over-active imagination. The funny thing about death is–and I mean funny-strange, not funny-ha-ha–the funny thing is that everyone always thinks about loss when they think about death. I used to think the same way too. Death means the loss of someone you love, and it’s something horrible, irrevocable and final, but there’s more. You never hear people talk about the things left behind, and I’m not talking about ghosts, unless that’s what you call t-shirts and memories and regret. Some things just stick around, long after the loss, and they haunt you.
Dear Young Dude,
I’m sorry I let you cut in front of me at the store. You see, I noticed you only had a can of soda in your hand, and I knew that my overladen basket of groceries would take a while to scan and bag. Also, I had my eye on that giant can of Diet Red Bull in the case near the register, and I thought that letting you go in front of me would give me time to get some of that delicious highly-caffeinated goodness. So I waved you ahead of me, only half noticing how you nervously avoided my eyes as you muttered your thanks.
It’s hard not to like firemen. Really: the job of firemen has been romanticized for probably as long as they’ve been driving around in those big, giant, shiny red trucks. They have all the gadgets and muscles of a policeman, without the billy-clubs and pepper-spray: what’s not to love? But if you look past the rubber-suited, fire-hose-totin’ glamour, firemen really have kind of crappy jobs. Think about it, they’re either hanging around the firehouse for endless hours, playing cards, listening to music, maybe lifting weights … shirtless … perhaps taking long, hot saunas with other muscular firemen, roughly rubbing scented oil into each other’s rippling pectorals … *ahem* … sorry, got off track. Where was I?
Oh yes, talking about how lame the job of being a fireman must really be. Either they’re waiting around for a really terrible fire to happen, or they’re putting out a really terrible fire, which boils down to: really boring, or really depressing. I imagine the greatest perk for a fireman must be saving things. Sometimes they get to save a home, sometimes they save people, and sometimes they even save people’s pets.
Gather ’round, my children, and I shall tell you a tale to make your hair turn white, your bowels tremble, and set your toenails ablaze.
I used to have quite a second career centered around house-sitting, and I have a lot of very boring stories about it. Lots and lots of boring stories. On the flip side of that coin, I have a few interesting stories — or at least less stultifyingly boring — and now that I have you totally confused, I shall begin.
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 you’re in a topiary maze, the “specialty service” 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 night’s game.
New York City has this reputation as a shopper’s paradise, a place where the consumer’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 “it” 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 … what else do you use food coloring for in NYC? … cake baker….
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 laundromat—you know, the one that’s well-lit and doesn’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 can’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-boyfriend’s cat, Marv.