All notes with the topic Brianne Latti | Notes on Looking

It’s So Nice to Meet You

Sitting in my beat-up car outside the banquet hall, I can see the men standing around. Some talking, some smoking, some peering into the newly-arrived vehicle to try to catch a glimpse of who might be inside.  I turn up my music a little louder, savoring my last ten seconds of solitude before I step out into the fluorescent light.  The car door opens and I am outside, wearing the black leather dress my boyfriend had zipped me into an hour earlier before I kissed him gently on the mouth and said goodbye for the night.  Have fun, he said.  I will, I said. The tiny, sort of squirrely Turkish man who is my boss greets me with a hug as I walk through the French doors into the small lobby.   He is thrilled by my outfit, and suggests the only thing that is missing is a whip.  Of course, I giggle and laugh, perhaps gently squeeze his shoulders, and continue toward the table to say my hellos to the guests who are already seated, all of whom I have seen here before.  They are regulars.  They know me.  Well – they know Alexa Grace.  That’s who I am on these nights. I wish I could tell you I chose to have a fake name purely for practical measures, as a way to safeguard my own identity from being linked to the game, or the players, or the cash.  Certainly, this was part of it.  But the reality is I felt my heart swell when the idea of having an alias entered my mind.  Mainly, I chose the pseudonym...

So I’m dating this artist…

So I’m dating this artist.  He’s homeless.  He’s been homeless practically since I’ve known him, and for the most part, I don’t have a problem with it, and neither does he.  Sure, there are certain obstacles we have faced in our relationship as a result of his continual state of placelessness: for instance, that discomfort we both feel when driving in my car together and that song by TLC, “No Scrubs” comes on.  Or, the blush that washes over me when my roommate finally asks where my boyfriend lives, and I have to sheepishly confess what I’m sure he already has been suspecting: that, as a matter of fact, this artist doesn’t exactly have a “home” per se, but rather spends the majority of his nights making art at a college campus he can no longer afford to attend, until he falls asleep sandwiched in a 1 ½ foot wide canvas storage unit that has been cushioned with pieces of scrap art foam.  Once, we attempted to share the foam for a night.  It did not end well, for either of us. There is also something sort of disconcerting about realizing that your artist’s doppelganger might actually be the much older homeless man who strolls about the city with several books in hand, who your artist affectionately refers to as “Reading Man.”  Interestingly, this “Reading Man” possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all things literature, including the various authors and translations of Proust’ Swann’s Way, one of my boyfriend’s favorite books.  For this very fact I have developed a deep-seated and irrational fear that reading Proust may directly result in me becoming homeless.  I shared this fear with my artist, one...

She didn’t even want to play, really she didn’t. (That’s why she made the boy cry.)

  I was totally set up for failure.  Not only had every man who had already gone up against this chess player earlier in the evening faced miserable defeat, but I was told this young man, a Computer Science Engineering Masters student at UCLA, was literally unbeatable.  I didn’t even want to play, really I didn’t.  Yet somehow, last Thursday night, Daniel Lara’s chess set seemed more appealing than a game of corn hole (woodwork and hand-knit beanbags courtesy of David Bell…or was it Anthony Bodlovic?). I was still feeling a bit on edge from the performances that happened earlier in the evening at JB Jurve (some of which never seemed to end but rather continue ambiguously in an uncomfortable in-between of performance and reality).   Trying to recover from the image of Noah Spindler in pink flared pants and a baby-blue rhinestone hoodie, blasting top-40 songs over a shitty PA system bought specifically for the occasion, a rigged chili-cook-off, and the stress of watching “Chad” deliver a “press conference” after running 30 miles in an overly-ambitious initiative to charm all the gallery owners on the East Side in a mere afternoon, I somehow found myself agreeing to give chess with this young man a try. The game did not begin well.  He had already taken one of my bishops and my knights, and all I had was one of his pawns.  As we played, Chess Master X’s friends circled me drunkenly, offering prophecies of failure disguised as words of encouragement (“don’t worry, he beats everyone,” or, “dude, he kicked my ass much faster than he’s kicking yours!”)  One or...