1. Things I Did Not Know Existed: Without fail, each time I Ieave Alaska, something new has come to "civilization" that I've never heard of. Something that prompts the person who introduces it to me to view me with disbelief and like I've been sheltered in an underground bunker for two decades. This time it was a store called "Uniqlo," a clothing retailer that apparently kicks H&M's sweat shop ASS. A friend pointed it out to me from the window of an uber (something else we don't have in Alaska) on the way to watch "Arrival" at a movie theater with nicer chairs than my living room and that, also unlike my living room, served beer and food. By the time it was all over, I felt like the Heptapod aliens in the movie minus the ability to squirt ink out of my seven hands, and with less patience for two hours of Amy Adams' terrified hyperventilating.
2. Things I Knew Existed: Not for nothing, but 12 years of Alaska life has made me a better ice and snow driver than I once was, which granted isn't saying much. I was slightly traumatized, then, when I watched a driver on a 55mph narrow Westchester parkway skid out on a patch of black ice four cars ahead of the car being piloted with questionable skill by my septuagenarian mother and carrying me and my nine year-old daughter. I could tell this driver was a text book case in what not to do in a skid. He or she was obviously steering and breaking wildly when in fact you're supposed to take a much more hands-off approach to such things. The car lurched violently from side to side for a full ten seconds, almost hitting the concrete guard rail along the left hand lane several times at a high rate of speed. I cursed profusely as I watched this unfold and felt an incredible sense of shock and relief when this car managed to regain control of itself. "Mom, if I had a dollar for every time you cursed I'd have like, a thousand dollars." I answered Paige that just like bad ice drivers, cursing mothers are simply things that exist.