|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
I know, I promised…
We’ll get to the home game report from Monday night in a bit. I just want to ramble on for a couple minutes if you’ll indulge me. I know that rambling is an unusual thing for me and all, so bear with me .
I bought “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” on DVD on its release date a couple weeks ago, and haven’t been able to get it into the DVD player yet. If you were around in January, you might remember how fucked up that movie got me at the time. It really struck a chord with me in the sense that my marriage crumbled for some fundamentally similar reasons to the one in the movie, and that I had been waging an internal war in my head for the time since leaving her, attempting to strike the whole goddamn thing from the record, as if the relationship never happened.
So while the high-concept part of the movie certainly did appeal to me on one level, it was the way that concept played into what was the reality what was going on in Jim Carrey’s character’s head that really got to me. Would you really leave the past behind – even the good parts – if given the opportunity? Are the shortcomings in your life and in her life too large to overcome why you two are together in the first place? Is there any reality in a phrase like “meant to be?”
That last question is the one that I came back to in those few days after seeing the film. “Meant to be” was one of the ex’s favorite phrases to describe our relationship. Early on, we met each other when the timing couldn’t have been better and worse at the same time. Maybe we were meant to be together? If so, we’ll find each other again someday. When we did meet up again a couple years down the line, it was hard to ignore how ready we both were to jump feet first into each other’s lives. It certainly felt like we were meant to be together. We fell into a relationship together that skipped most of the courtship rituals and dancing around the situation. We were living together instantly and talking marriage immediately. We knew we were meant to be going in that direction.
But when things were falling apart, she changed the phrase. It became, “maybe we were just meant to be best friends.”
At bare minimum, that’s what we were. And maybe that bare minimum was all that was meant to be.
That’s what I’ve fought hard in my head and in my heart. The idea of all-or-nothing was formulated as a concrete barrier between my reality and my future, giving me a viable barrier that I built so insurmountably high that it blurred my ability to see around it to the other side. Yes, what I went through was bullshit that I didn’t deserve. No, there still is absolutely no part of me that wishes to share so much as a cup of coffee with her in the present or future. Acrimony will do that to two people, regardless of how deep the friendship may have grown.
But that fucking movie… It was like two years of therapy rolled into ninety minutes with the breakthrough percolating in my head the entire time. I never would have gotten to this point, had they not ended the movie “meeting again for the very first time.”
Somewhere between the yearning, the resentment, and the begrudging understanding, they found there was something they weren’t able to let go of.
I’m still trying to figure out for myself what that something is, and whether or not it’s worth holding on to.
The funny thing is, I still get the “maybe we were just meant to be friends” thing from the ex. Again, I wouldn’t trust her to watch my dog, let alone try to rebuild a friendship that was completely ruined, but I still wonder if she was right. I’m mad as fuck at her about what happened to our marriage, but I know I’m also more than a little mad at myself for tossing the friendship away too.
Again, not that it was salvageable. I don’t have many close friends though. Very few that I trust and fewer I trust absolutely. And maybe the pressure to continue hurtling a relationship further and further along turned a “meant to be” into a “might as well” that just didn’t work out that well. I’m really just about as pissed off about losing a best friend as I am about the cheating and other bullshit.
So why does this come up today? Well, I had a dream last night that actually had me angry upon awakening. I met her again, but for the very first time. We fell into each other instantly, laying together, twisted together, simply just talking to each other.
I leaned over to kiss her and was rebuffed with a smile. Softly, “I can’t… I’m leaving – but you knew that.” I nodded and took the opportunity to soak in what was there in those last moments together.
And she was gone.
And I woke up.
And I’m shaking my head at six in the morning that even in dreams I am left alone again. That what was unique and special and intense didn’t seem to matter.
But it does matter. And that’s why I wanted to write about this today. Moments like those aren’t “meant to be,” they simply are. They happen. Moments like these don’t exist as credits and debits, accounting for a sum total of value for the people in your life. What is unique and special and intense lives only in these moments. It’s up to you to decide if and how you want to remember these real and honest times you spent with someone.
I’ve put them away for too long. I’ve been bitter, and still am. What I dealt with was unfair and prolonged, and I didn’t deserve it. No one does. But while I can use that time of my life to justify ending a marriage and destroying a friendship, I realize that I can also remember what was good. One thing doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other.
And so while I am rather obviously just a bit wistful today, I’m also just a bit angry today too. I really have spent too much energy trying to push whatever warmth and happiness I may have been able to dredge from my relationship with her back to the corners of my mind to ensure that I stayed bitter and vigilant.
For the first time in a long time today, I am taking those moments off the shelf, dusting them off, and reconsidering my recent past on slightly different terms. And it really does feel rather good.
Monday Night NL
So I begged my way into a poker game last week. I’m not proud of it. I had heard third hand that a group of guys at work had a regular Monday night thing going, and as I knew one of the guys just a little, I decided to push and see if I could get an invite.
“The more the merrier,” he says. Looks like I’ve got me some cards to play.
I get directions to a house in the sticks, which I’m told is “the third house on my right in a small cul-de-sac.” The game’s at 9PM, which means that’s when the cards hit the felt. Show up just a touch early.
I oblige, and roll into the cul-de-sac at about 850PM. It’s utterly dark, save the sole street light on the corner. There’s not a single car in any driveway, and only the second house on the right has any lights on at all. I’m not even sure anyone lives in the third house on the right.
I take a slow lap in the circle, pull out onto the main road and go another half block to make sure I’ve got the right street. I’m positive I do, and circle back. Again, the street is quiet. It’s almost 9PM straight up, and I’m thinking I’m subject to either a lie or new guy hazing.
Thankfully, four cars in a caravan all swoop in at the same moment, parking in front of the second house – not the third – on the right. I am in the right spot. Let’s play some cards!
These guys, mostly co-workers, have been playing together for about three months every Monday. It’s NL Tournament style, with a $30 buy-in. This gets you T1540 in chips, although that’s apparently not a consistent number from week to week – but it’s close. They start the blinds at 5/10, and double them (roughly, the jump goes from 10/20 to 25/50) every 15 minutes. That’s one way to get people home by 1AM.
Our host says he draws ten to fifteen on Mondays usually, and including myself we’ve got thirteen – including a wanna-be Hellmuth that hasn’t yet shown up. Apparently due to getting shit from his girlfriend, not a psych-out ploy. I draw table two, and we go six on one, seven on two to get started. The one guy in the room I happen to know is seated two to my right.
915PM – shuffle up and deal
1s – the erstwhile Hellmuth, we blind him down until he finally shows up. He immediately gets bounced to the other table upon arriving to even things out.
2s – Kyle, who’s got the heart of a gambler
3s – The one guy I knew, intent on pressing the pace
4s – P, who looks like Kelly Leak all grown up, and was wearing the same bowling league shirt as the guy I knew
5s – BG, your humble narrator
6s – D, who alternated between sweeping pots with big action, and making some puzzling calls
7s – Ryan, who looked like some actor I couldn’t place – maybe like the bastard child of Robert Downey Jr. and the Dr. Pepper guy who was the American Werewolf in London.
Like any newbie should, I laid low for an orbit and watched the action. It was a mix of players, but most of these guys were fairly new to the game. There was a lot of clumsy betting with blind and pot size irrelevant to the size of bets being tossed around, especially early.
I finished level one up about 150. I pressed a ragged flop with pocket sixes and managed to catch an unchallenged set with nines early. I’m not sure if I was getting respect early because I was new, because the other guys had major junk, or because my smaller bets (I’m loving the half-pot bet lately) look more suspicious than the ham handed swing a 3x pot bet brings. Regardless, I’m often happy to see folding to my action, and I was happy at the end of level one.
Level two ended at about +515 for me. I semi-bluffed a flush draw with K8s from the BB into a guy who raised pre-flop slightly and got him to fold. Then saw KK down a few hands later. I was in the BB again with 10/20 blinds, and Kyle made it 80 to go. The guy I knew called between us and P folded. I figured one of the two of them – both healthy with chips – would chase, so I re-raised pre-flop to 200. Kyle came in.
Flop came out K56 rainbow, and I checked. Kyle bet another 200. Now, I knew I had the nuts at the moment, and I wasn’t worried about a straight draw with that pre-flop raise. I did overplay the hand at this moment though, check-raising Kyle another 400 on top. He folded. Dumb, dumb play. I don’t think he had rockets, so I think at best it would have taken a perfect runner-runner to beat me, and I didn’t let him tie his own noose. Lesson learned.
I moved up another +300 in level three, which featured an inexplicable all-in A8s versus Q9s. The Q9 was the caller. Of course, sometimes a bad call is rewarded, and two pair hit the flop for the Q9, which busted P out.
Level four was uneventful, but I managed to bump the guy I knew out in level five. He and I both limped in (from the blinds) and I saw a 468 rainbow flop while holding 78o. With blinds of 50/100, the guy bet into the pot 200, and I re-raised him all-in. He quickly called with A6o. Second pair, top kicker.
Funny thing, he didn’t notice I had him beat at that point. He was mortally disgusted when a 5 hit the turn, giving me my straight, especially when an Ace did come on the river to add insult to injury. I knocked him out.
Shortly thereafter we merged to a table of eight for level six.
1s: BG, soon to be bounced – 2000
2s: J – 2300ish
3s: Host - 1800
4s: the erstwhile Hellmuth - 2500
5s: Hat guy (forgot name, I have him listed as “hat”) –1200
6s: Ryan Downey Jr. – 1100
7s: Bob (not my brother) – 2000
8s: Kyle – 4800
Here’s where the crapshoot began. It was bonkers. With blinds at 100/200 and doubling in fifteen minutes, it was time to make a move. Any move, apparently. I saw K4s bust out versus AK (not even a desperation play, mind you), and K3s bust against QJo. This is when my cards went ice cold. Every time I looked down, I had at least one card no higher than a six. It was awful. I lasted three orbits, which was longer than three others lasted.
On the last hand I played, I was in the BB for 400 and had 900 in my stack. I announced on the deal I was all in blind. Sure enough, some dude caught a set of sixes to knock out my mighty bottom pair with 25o.
I bubbled in fifth, with top four paying.
Still, had a good time and got an invite back for this Monday. Also, the host suggested we find a way to merge my home game and his into one giant NL tournament.
I kinda like that idea…
Monday, November 08, 2004
And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor
Last week’s blogging hiatus was sponsored by the letter “P.””P,” as in “Paranoia,” “Pessimism,” and “Pre-occupation,” that is.
I don’t have a good excuse either.
I’m like some sort of bizarre career hypochondriac. Over the last two weeks I’ve been pushing myself towards the edge of some cliff that just didn’t exist, preparing myself for a tumble that just wasn’t coming.
This is who I am. I had a line in that ”Hurricane” story I wrote for Truckin’ that sums it up nicely:
The serene and quiet moments of my life are now shrouded by an irrational fear of impending doom and failure.That’s not me being flippant. And it’s a problem.
A little perspective on one’s career is always a good thing. Perspective can help one see the forest for the trees, and know when they have something that’s working versus being in the middle of something that’s winding to a close. My perspective is stained. I really don’t have the ability often enough to step back and understand that I am contributing, I am valuable, and I am necessary.
I just assume the worst. All the time. And it kills me.
I woke up on Thursday with a visit from my boss looming. I had a knot in my back and was half-convinced I’d be packing my desk up by 9AM. Thankfully, I was wrong. But it was all I could think about all week long. These thoughts seeped into every corner of my mind, and I just couldn’t shake them.
At least not until my boss walked in on Thursday, put our quarterly projections in front of me, and started talking future.
I didn’t know whether to be relieved or upset with myself for being so goddamn irrational.
The hot girl who lives downstairs broke up with the short guy. As of tomorrow, she’ll be “the hot girl who used to live downstairs with the short guy who used to live there too.”
That’s right, now I have the house to myself.
No more hot neighbor. No more hot neighbor’s son’s hot babysitter either. Damn. I just found out about it last night, and am looking forward to bumping into her in the future so I can offer her the following condolence.
”It’s probably for the best anyway. A beautiful woman such as yourself should probably date for height as much as she should for personality.”
Two plusses, two minuses to this situation. On the plus side, no more feeling weird about pulling her laundry out of the dryer, and I get to use the garage until the landlord rents the bottom. On the minus, the ex-boyfriend assured me he was going to be all over the snow shoveling this winter. Also clocking into the minus side, the thermostat for the whole house is downstairs, and I won’t be able to get it changed unless I get a key.
Now, for all of you who want to offer your advice on pursuing this freshly available hottie, you may want to save your breath. There are girls in my league, and there are girls out of my league. Some girls are marginally out of my league, and therefore are pursuable. And then there are some girls that are so freaking far out of my league, I’d need to lose forty pounds, put on fifteen of muscle, get a better haircut, and start shopping exclusively at JCrew in order to land them.
This would be one of those girls…
Sigh. I’ll miss the eye candy.
Federally Subsidized Poker Content
My god, has it been that long since I’ve written about poker? (Checks watch, counts backwards on the calendar, shakes head in shame…)
Poker is driving me nuts lately, but I do have something on the horizon here that will hopefully shake me out of my doldrums. I’ll talk about that in a minute. Until then, here are a few things that are sticking in my craw about the game.
Jack / Five: To me, this is not “the Motown.” I always thought that was dumb. I actually call this hand “the Short Circuit,” for more reasons than one lately. First, I call Jacks “Johnnies,” and “Johnny Five” was the name of the robot in that terrible Guttenberg vehicle I’ve named this hand in memory of. Secondly, if I see this goddamn hand one more time I am going to personally short circuit.
Ice, Ice Baby…: My dad tried to convince me the other day that I was the son he was thinking of that really, really liked Vanilla Ice back in the day. Wrong kid, wrong white rapper(s) (3rd Bass, maybe – Beastie Boys definitely). Anyway, leaving Robbie Van Winkle out of this, I have had a real ugly run at the tables in the last two weeks. Ever since I won big (+70ish) at my house about three weeks ago, I can’t catch a starting hand worth a shit. Really frustrating. The cards have been unbelievably cold. So bad, in fact, that I don’t even remember a time when a flop came after I folded and I felt regret. I’m probably due for a good run here shortly. I just don’t want to waste it.*
Fancy Play Syndrome: I’ll admit that when I get bored, I get “creative.” Of course, “creative” can also mean “stupid.” Two weekends ago we played a cash game for Lil’ Bro’s birthday. I sat with them, folding like a maniac for three hours before I got bored. I broke out the big stick, started swinging, and managed to knock all my chips into someone else’s pile over the course of about five badly played hands. This, of course, only serves to frustrate me further.
SNG Hell: When I have played online lately, I’ve been joining SNG tournaments on PokerStars (whose interface I’ve really grown to like, but whose game selection could be better) on the cheap, and have been stuck in SNG hell each time. Hell can take many forms, but usually results in one lucky card catcher quintupling up in the first four orbits, building a ridiculous chip lead and going into full-out stall mode in order to make the rest of us play each other. It’s been a long time since I had the early cards to knock out those all-in bastards one by one. It’s frustrating that it’s been so long since I was given that sort of luck. Also falling into the “hell” category, cold cards combined with getting no action when you do finally come in for a raise couldn’t feel a whole lot worse than it does.
*(I’m a believer in card karma, strange as that sounds. In other words, if I’m going to be playing a tournament or SNG or whatever, I don’t like to even so much as deal myself practice hands, as I feel like I’m going to “use up” all my good cards. I wanted to play a SNG last night, but due to technical difficulties I had to delay. I dealt practice hands, saw quad Jacks, saw Aces full beat a flopped straight, and knew right there I’d be doomed to T4o all night long if I logged in anywhere.)
So, how does one combat these feelings of malaise and disgust? How’s getting into a new home game sound?
That’s right, tonight I venture out to a regular Monday NL tournament home game, and hope to have good things to report. I know a couple of the guys in the group just a little bit, but have no idea how good the competition is.
Then again, it doesn’t have to be that good to beat me, that’s for sure.
Hopefully they don’t look cross-eyed at the guy taking notes between hands. And no Pauly, I am not bringing the voice recorder this time.
Mister, who is that? Ay yo, BG is back…
The physically imposing functional retard who cleans up at the local grocery store reminds me of my ex-brother-in-law.
No reason, I’m just saying.
My ex-brothers-in-law, besides being the most heavily hyphenated people to whom I could possibly refer, were hot tempered in that Alabama drunk wife beating sort of way. To this day, I’ve only once seen the clichéd “turn the board over and spill the pieces because you’re losing” method of ending a board game*, and it was one of those two guys.
The only part of me that misses my ex-in-laws misses having these two around for manual labor purposes. Sure, they’d bitch and moan about everything while they were doing it, but if their sister needed their help, they were there with bells on.**
*(I think I’ve mentioned the ill-fated Monopoly game before. In a nutshell, I was doing my usual wheeling-and-dealing [I’m loving the hyphens today], and the XBIL was adamant that my dealings were against not only the rules, but also the spirit of the game. Didn’t help that I had the mentality that if I was going to lose, he sure as hell wasn’t going to win.)
**(No actual bells were worn.)
This weekend was full of things that I almost did. I almost…
…took care of the leaves. During the last week or so, all the leaves had blown out of my backyard and into my back door area (that sounds inappropriate) where there’s a small porch now ankle deep with leaves. I’d take care of them and all, but I’m afraid to set fire to my porch, even if my house is mostly stucco.
…ranked my T-shirts. Yes, you heard me. I need a system. I must have 40 tees, and it’s obvious that some of my tees are “first string,” and some are not going to often crack the rotation. I figure I need to have a drawer for the first string, another drawer for my bench rotation, and then I can just dump the rest in the fucking closet.
…won a ridiculous amount of money, had I gone with my “lottery ticket” gut instinct with football betting. I had a few bones left at my bookie’s site (I love the way that sounds, even if my “bookie” is an Antiguan corporate monolith, which for all the “faceless big business” overtones, I still see in some thatched hut with about four employees sipping Mai Tais.), and I always bet on just the 1PM games. Don’t ask me why, I have no good reason for this. Anyway, I thought, “Well, what if I just take all the dogs to cover?” Well, I would have cleaned the fuck up, that’s what I would have done (I think). Dammit.
…made the “You should date for height” comment to the neighbor. I’ve seen her more in four days than I have in nine months living there. I’ve got no problem seeing her often, trust me. Sadly, when we were outside chatting while my dog chased his football (high comedy, trust me), I lamented the nice weather saying, “I really should be inside working on my novel.” Which, of course, leads me to…
…decided to write more for NaNoWriMo. I really should have sat down and chugged away for a few hours. Really. Instead, I vegetated on the couch. To be fair, I’m mentally unsure as to how I want to approach this next part and all, but that’s a chickenshit excuse, as I haven’t even opened the file in days. Yes, I suck.
…cleaned my house and washed my sheets. I’m going on three solid weeks now. Not that this is a point of pride or anything.
…got a haircut. I’m shaggy as hell, but the problem is while the sides of my head are freaking out of control, the top is right where I want it almost. I’m not sure if it’s coming up on perfect (well, as perfect as my crappy hairdo gets), or has left the station and is moving rapidly in the other direction. Whatever, I get eight good hair days a year, and I’ve probably already seen the one from this last cut.
What I did do this weekend was boring and uneventful. But anyway, I did…
…catch “The Incredibles,” which was a pretty cool little movie. Not up to usual Pixar standards (better than “Bug’s Life,” not as good as the “Toy Story” movies or “Finding Nemo,” and probably not as special as “The Iron Giant.”), but still two hours well spent.
…go book and T-shirt shopping. I bought “Friday Night Lights,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and a book called, “Committed,” which is the saga of a guy who quit his job for a year to focus on nothing but winning his fantasy football league. Pretty terrible book so far, I’m hoping it gets better. I also bought three “first string” tees. Pretty cool.
…get a package from Pauly, containing “Jack Tripper Ate My Dog,” as well as some photos from the Philly trip to Al’s Bash at the Boathouse. It included the infamous Carter passed out on a bench photo, as well as what has to be the worst picture of me of all time. It’s one of those where Pauly holds the camera out arm’s length and gets our two heads in the shot. I’m leaning into the camera with a ridiculous grin on my face. And no, Dr. Pauly didn’t have me medicated for that smile. Ugh. Thanks though!
…lament over my Lions, who can’t seem to make running lanes for their first round tailback. Freaking Lions, they never should have lost that game on Sunday to an offense that couldn’t do a damn thing.
…finish Christmas shopping for one of the eight people for whom family relations require that I purchase presents. Seven more to go.
…almost have an aneurysm on Sunday night. I moved my laptop from one room to another, opened the lid and tried to get the thing to power on. It wouldn’t take. After ten minutes of finagling the thing, I got it to shut down without ever getting back to Windows. Then the fun began. I booted it up, and got the dreaded “NO BOOTABLE MEDIA” message. I flipped out. I got on the horn with Dell, who advised me that I probably have a bunk hard drive, and that I need to back it up to disk and get a new one (aside to Lil’ Bro – “I worked hard for that porn!”), which is OK because I’m under warranty. He did have me try pulling the drive out and putting it back in. I pulled it out, and the copper contacts looked like the chip on an old school NES cartridge. So I blew on it, put it back in, and it worked. Diagnostics showed no problem. Still, not how you want to spend a Sunday evening.
2500 words today. Enjoy. Hopefully tomorrow a home game report. Until then, thanks for sticking around while I take a mental holiday from reality every now and again.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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