The Literary Giant

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Alaina

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Location: West Hollywood, California, United States

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Got the Whole World on my Neck

At the Pitchfork Music Festival I bought a necklace for $6. Rounded, it features the blue-water-and-multi-colored-nations scheme found on childhood light-up globes. In hating on PitchforkMedia.com and the concert there of, Rocawear noted that the charm probably came from a key chain. Two things later made it clear that he was unfortunately right.

The globe, strung on a red ribbon without a latch, is impossible to remove without a scissor. In the shower, it fills with water, so once I'm dressed, it begins to spill out and make a small puddle in the middle of my shirt. After long days of hugging old friends, I have a horrible chest pain. The imitation earth is too big to be regularly pressed against me. When I had not yet realized that the heart ache was external, I resolved to quit fried food; but now I'm back on taquitos.

Last semester a woman approached me during my lunch in the Terra Ve.
"Can I use your cell phone? I'm supposed to meet my son but I'm lost."
I'm probably a snob, but I inherently feel adults without cell phones are freakish. Her uneven voice and crispy hair reverted back to my descrimination. I handed her the phone, which is one of the more easily navigated electronics I've owned, but she was unable to make the call. I dialed her son's number and they chose a new meeting spot.

On move-in day, Hed, Taub and I went to lunch at a decrepit, village-of-Purchase restaurant. After the heavy, cheese-oriented meal, they had to hurry back to Long Island. Leaving their car, I was hailed by a woman in the driver's seat of another car.
"I'm sorry, do you have a cell phone I could borrow? My son forgot a piece of his equipment."
"Haven't we done this before?" I smiled at the freak.
"That was you? What a coincidence!" She held my phone for a few seconds and then remembered that she still didn't know how to use it. Dialing her son's number, I heard her say, "Nice necklace."
I looked over and she was holding up her set of keys. Dangling from it was a smaller but otherwise identical globe.

I didn't feel embarassed in front of her, but I thought back to when I'd purchased the necklace. The jewlery designer I was buying it from was away from the table, but her table-mate sold it to me.
"I'm very excited," I told the vendor, paying $6 plus tax for a reinvigorated key companion. "Tell your friend I really like her style."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Recognition Scene

Anne Niesenbaum voiced her concern. "I can't figure out what it is exactly," she giggled. "You're wearing it as a dress but what was it meant for?" I had on a long-sleeve, beach towel-material experiment from Adidas, printed with the New York skyline and a disproportionately-large but captivating-and-blond flying woman, and there was one vertical zipper that kept it on and closed.
After I explained it as a sarong for fat people, I admitted my fear. "I was worried this morning at the airport that when I went through security, someone would say, Excuse Me Ma'am, You'll Have To Remove Your Jacket."

I had put my two carry-on items in separate bins. My shoes were with my pocketbook, and my laptop occupied a third bin. As my group of property entered the X-Ray machine, the conveyer belt was stopped. A woman who easily filled the rounded design of her chair was in control. She began yelling for someone to walk over for a screen check. The attractive guy in front of me, whose bins of belongings were also being held up, could hear me sighing, "Fuck."

Upsetting my prediction of watching my large carry-on item being emptied and swabbed and then left for me to re-pack, a woman from Airport Security handed me my shoes [for dignity purposes] and then rifled through my pocketbook. She smiled in victory as her two fingers emerged with my moderately-expensive mascara.
"We ruled out mascara at the briefing last night, right?" she asked her nodding coworker.
"God, you're right. Mascara's a liquid."
The Airport Security guard dangled my makeup as a hypnotic pocket watch. "Would you like to put this in a bag and check it?"
I shook my disappointed head so she tossed it into the confiscated-goodies pail. I had banked on touching myself up with it after the flight.

Terry and I pulled up to the crowded curbside at 5 a.m. He declared that I should go inside the airport to check-in. Althought vechicles must be attended at all times, one of my duffle bags weighed 49 lbs and the other was a little less. With one for each of his hands, Terry speed-walked me into the terminal. Dropping them onto the line, he needed to leave immediately.
"O.K.," he rasped, pulling the large bills from his wallet.
Recognizing that I wouldn't see him for the next three months, easily the longest Terry-less period in my life, I started chirping little tears. Some of them were projected onto the hand that was holding my change purse.Terry's nose was running and there were cracks in his voice as he held out a wad of cash. I packed the money in and squeezed his stomach goodbye.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I remember you well in the Shalom Retirement Hotel

Goodbye merchants of Melrose Avenue: the birl at SLOW with gapped teeth who definitely wanted it; Yana K., who gave me the job that I quit before I could collect cash or start calling it "yanak"; the Middle Eastern owner of Leather Land who tried to set me up with his also-foreign son, accompanied by a 50% discount; owners Francisco and Nico of Baracuda, who taught me that when I say, "it's not you, it's me," I actually mean, "I only like South American men"; and the transgender hairdresser, "Angel/Angelina," of Vous Hair, who took my life in her still-manly hands and made it ferocious for only $55. Any specific memories of you will quickly fade, but I'll always have a generally positive feeling toward your strip.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"LA's for Pussies" vs. "New York Shitty"

My new California I.D. came in the mail yesterday, which was lucky for three reasons. For starters, the Government-issued photograph of me is vibrant and uncharacteristically attractive. Secondly, and bringing more luck, it arrived three days before my flight back to New York, and three days after a High Alert was issued and KTLA announced that bottled liquids are not permitted in carry-on bags and that moisturizers are considered liquids. The more suspicious airlines are of its customers, the more I, unable to prove that I didn't just steal the birth certificate, social security card, and platinum credit card of some Alaina Stamatis, would have been rubbed and delayed by Airport Security. With a picture I.D., I can leave for the mistrusting terminal four hours early like everybody else. Of the most good graces, however, is that the birthdate printed on the new I.D. is accidentally January 17, turning me 21 and simultaneously heightening my on-campus popularity three months earlier than in reality. Morever, along with mine came Mia's California I.D., letting her New York one off the hook and enter my wallet.

I realized my only misstep when I saw that my application-written weight was printed on the I.D. Of course I should have filled in that I weigh 300 lbs.

Although he landed in Virginia Beach today, Beaves and I will both be in Roslyn sometime next week. On the same day, I'll find a way up to Purchase and he'll fly to Pasadena. He knows no one in California, but neither did I. Because of the cheerful weather, people are more inviting to the idea of new friends. I think, all alone, Beaves will do just fine. Last night I described him physically to a guy I was talking to at a gay bar, and he was very excited for Beaves to move out here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Answering All Questions

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Laurie Bird as the unnamed girlfriend of Tony Lacy [Paul Simon] in Annie Hall is my current point of fashion. In reality she was Art Garfunkel's girlfriend and killed herself in their New York apartment sometime after the film was shot [which I specify because Aaliyah's untimely death preceeded the wrapping-up of Queen of the Damned]. Here she is again in a top that I found repulsive as a child and dream about now in my post-pubescence.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Postcards from Davenport

When my bag was stolen, I thought the fake I.D. was my biggest loss, as it held the most sentimental value. However, I soon began traveling by plane without a government-issued photo I.D., handing my original birth certificate and social security card to the United Airlines employees. They proceeded to print out boarding passes for me that featured, "SSSSSSSSS" across the bottom, alerting Airport Security that I was a threat to every life that they are responsible for. I was made to walk through extra sensors and, while everybody else was warned that they'd undergo a secondary screening if they did not remove their shoes, was told that I could leave mine on.
"But won't I be excessively screened?"
"You're going to be, anyway."

Many times since the robbery have I been lead to glass holding pens, made to stand on cushioned mats printed with white feet, frisked from my wrists to my crotch by the butchest security guardess on duty, and forced to watch from three feet away as my bags are turned upside-down so that gravity herself can empty them into bins and allow for the airline employees to leisurely swab them, suddenly deciding that I'm probably not that dangerous.

Sometime during my last two invasions of privacy, the postcard that I bought to mail to Camp Towanda, which read, "Greetings from Davenport, Iowa!" was misplaced. At this point I'm too lazy to replace it, so instead I'm going to type up what I would have written down.

Dear Chazzy and also Jessica, Emily, and everyone else who's seen Wet Hot American Summer,
I am writing you because my second Celebrity Sighting was the midget from The Station Agent [my first being Bobby Brown and my third was the time I saw the Rough Riders without DMX in Johnny Rocket's, which brought to mind your old joke: if Johnny Rocket's was an authentic '50s diner they wouldn't serve black people.] The Station Agent and I locked eyes but then he quickly looked away and I hope he knows that I wasn't staring at him because he's a midget but definitely because I'm attracted to him even though he's a midget. Little Person. Well it seems I've run out of space [I assumed at this point, because of my chronically-drunk handwriting, I would be out of space] but I'll probably see you in like three days anyway.
Love,
Assy

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Middle West

If the subject was different, or maybe if she had been less attractive or overweight, the placement of pictures of my mother throughout Nana and Papa’s house would be pretty funny. Most of the house has an average distribution; a handful in the halls, a few in the room she slept in, several stuck into the mirror in the master bedroom. In the dining room, there are three framed pictures of my mother along with a framed picture of a framed picture of her on a church table beside some candles. The den is the winner, weighing in at seven pictures, one of which, a classic wedding photo, was converted into lamp with an orange bulb. In Nana's car there is a picture of her on the dashboard, along with a fake flower, a fresh flower [that is refurbished every morning only to wilt within a Summer hour], and a Virgin Mary trading card with the caption, "lady of perpetual help." I noticed on the way back to the airport that there's also a square picture of my mother taped to the car door, next to the window controls.

This would all be looney and wild if it was their cat or the pope, but their cat is still alive and we're not Catholics.

My aunt Ria in D.C. called me at noon Central time. "Hey koukla! Is Nana taking you to see all the cousins?"
"Yeah, I’m on tour."
I had spent the preceding weekend with Ria and her divorced childhood friend Georgette in Chicago; their sons are early-elementary-school peers, still developing social skills and working out the grumpiness in their personalities. Had I been interested in getting pregnant, I would have been scared striaght with every fiery demand to re-teach them to play computer Solitare.

I spent $558 to be in town for the thirty-dollar Pitchfork Music Festival: two days, three stages, 40 bands, 0 black people [tally does not include scalpers]. I spent the first day dorking around, trying to find an official PMF t-shirt. "You know, with all the bands on it." No such apparel existed. I met up with Tyler, the Russian Nesting Doll, and her sweet-as-victory friend Dan, and had excellent Chicago beer. There were two tented villages of vendors. On the second day, I met a guy at a comic book-and-'zine table. When he admitted he was from Wisconsin, I told him that my friends and I consider roadtripping there.
"Where would I go for cheese?"
Ignoring my question, he, excitedly, drew up a list of bizarre WI attractions.

Circus World Museum - A circus equipment graveyard, located at the original winter storage site of the Ringling Brothers. Haunted by clowns, parades, and the ghosts of those taken down by carcinogenic foods.

The House On The Rock - A man who was rich and crazy, but not rich enough to travel or crazy enough to alienate people, paid friends to bring back the largest, weirdest items they could find on their vacations. Moreover, unlike every other museum on earth, none of the displays have labels with dates or origins of the artifacts. What results is a huge home cluttered with unidentifiable shit, including several carosels and a statue of a sea monster as long as the Statue of Liberty is tall.

Spinning Top Museum - A museum sporting two-thousand tops, yo-yos, and gyrophones, the latter of which I've never heard of but can begin to imagine based on my knowledge of pop Greek cuisine.

The gift shop is huge and you can only test out 4 tops before they start charging you.

The Dells - You know, like, "the farmer in the dell," except all of the farmers and all of the dells. There is a high probability of petting zoos in the area. Here, no cheese stands alone.

By Monday I was in Silvis, Illinois, site of a water tower that reads, "City of Progress". Most of the farm land is being converted into white vinyl and red brick houses, and the restaurant my grandparents owned for 30 years is now an Irish sports bar. I noticed a trailer park near my grandparents' house for the first time this trip after all these years, partly because the front trailer is now 80's pink; I counted it as a testament to my progress.