While distracting myself from the task of cleaning and organizing the desk in my room, I counted all of the books I’ve bought and read during my time in the city and tried to remember when I read them. As it turns out, I seem to only read when I’m unemployed. Aside from not having much time during the week while I’m working, I hate going too long between bouts of reading (I’m the worst at remembering characters and details as it is, which is the same reason I prefer to binge-watch TV shows).
I averaged 7 books per year for 2011, 2012, and 2013, which I don’t think is too bad considering the amount of time I’ve had off and the host of other distractions the city presents on a daily basis. However, I’ve already gone through 7 books this calendar year, and I started my 8th this afternoon. Now, I’m not trying to brag at all, I promise. The entire point of this post is this: the only major difference between this current time off from work and the others is that my 2007 MacBook Pro finally crapped out between Christmas and New Year’s and I haven’t replaced it yet because I’ve enjoyed being untethered. I’m buying a new one before my next job starts because I’ll need it for work purposes, but for now I’ll continue using my phone for my internet needs and use the rest of my time to plow through books at an alarming (and expensive) rate.
And for those of you interested in such things, here’s the list of books:
Look At Me - Jennifer Egan (Very good, but if you haven’t read A Visit From The Goon Squad, definitely go read that first)
Money - Martin Amis (Loved it, and I’m hooked on him)
Glamorama - Bret Easton Ellis (Ditto)
Less Than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis (Enjoyed it, but read it mostly because I had been writing a lot of stuff I was proud of and thought maybe he’d inspired me)
Dead Babies - Martin Amis (Because it had actually been his writing that inspired me)
The Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis (Because I also enjoy his writing and like the universe he created)
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis (Because it came next chronologically, and because I’d been told it was way better than the movie. It was)
And now I’m currently reading London Fields by Martin Amis because I needed a break from the Easton Ellis and wanted to feel inspired again. I recognize there’s a serious pattern at play, and I promise I’ll start reading other authors again soon, but I’m enjoying the two of them too much at the moment to stop just yet.
Jason Harrington’s article about his time as a TSA agent is a great read, and it’s nice to know that at least some of the agents realize how much of a joke (sans punchline) the whole thing really is.
Given the way I look these days (long hair, big beard, covered in tattoos), I’m not in the habit of trying to sneak contraband through airport security, nor am I someone who would ever have cause to do so. I mean, I look like walking probable cause. These days, the most I get away with is throwing up two middle fingers as I assume the position inside the body scanner, which usually elicits at least a grin from the agent watching the screen.
That being said, I’ve still seen some shockingly negligent displays by TSA agents in my time.
Back in the summer of 2003, not too far removed from the tragic events which resulted in increased security, I was on my way to visit my grandparents in their small Illinois town just thirty minutes from St. Louis. In those days, I was a skateboarder, and even though there wasn’t much to skate where I was heading, nor would my grandmother’s many plans allow for much time, I brought my skateboard and entire kit with me. In that kit was a skate tool, extra screws/nuts/washers/bushings/bearings, stickers, and of course: several incredibly sharp razor blades for cutting the grip tape on a new deck.
It was all absent-minded on my part, to be honest. It’s not like I consciously said, “Hey, let’s see if I can get something super dangerous onto an airplane!” Rather, I packed last minute as always and threw my kit into my backpack without a second thought. It wasn’t until the TSA agent at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport took the kit out of my bag after it passed through the x-ray machine that I remembered what was in there. The kit was opaque, and so the agent looked at the top, then the bottom, then spun it around to look at the sides. “What’s all this for?” I told him I was a skateboarder while pointing to the board he had not-so-carefully discarded to the ground before rifling through my bag. He glanced at the kit one more time, looked at me, shrugged, and put the kit back in my bag, which he zipped up and handed to me.
I was dumbfounded, but having a flight to catch meant I wasn’t about to correct him on his mistake. I just took my stuff and kept going.
I decided to toss the blades before flying back through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, but as it turns out, it wouldn’t have mattered. The agent manning the x-Ray machine I put my bag through never once looked at the screen as I and several other passengers walked through the metal detector and collected our bags. The reason? He was too busy flirting through a window with the girl who also wasn’t doing her job at the Cinnabon (or maybe it was Auntie Annie’s) right next door.
Hopefully this story doesn’t result in yours truly getting a free cavity search at JFK or LaGuardia next time out, but I’ll remember to wear my favorite underwear just in case.