You poker, you brought her.
Monday is poker overload day here at work. There is so much to new webby information to sift through, and I don't know how I'm able to get any work done at all. I do know this, though; the transition into the work week--albeit short this week--would not be as smooth without the knowledge that I can waste 4 or 5 hours in the morning by diving head first into the poker poo in it's various forms. Swishing it all around in my mouth, and spitting it out in the little plastic garbage can by my desk.
Presently, I'm at the beginning of this weeks installment of Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio. I've already done a once over of my bloglines list. I make no claims to read every word by every person on my list. I'm a skimmer. I skim. That's what I do. I do like to read enough to get the general gist of most posts, though. My attention span is that of one of those poor little frogs from 10th grade biology class that had just had a good brain scramble with a thin nail. I just do not focus well with longer entries, which begs the question "How can you read a whole fucking book, then?". I think I'd do better if every blog was in paper form. That's my only explanation.
I know I said that The Poker Show was cheesy, but damn it, I now look forward to it every week. The "Knee Trembler"(has anybody missed?) is so, so bad, but I can't help it. The interviews are good enough that I'm able to look past the Gong Show Mentality moments. Perhaps I'm the cheeseball?
Does anyone else hear a siren? What exactly are you planning to do with that sheperd's crook? Oh nevermind.
Annnnyhow, so yeah. So much to read, so little time. That's why I propose that all bloggers make each entry available in podcast form. That way, I don't have to do any of the eye work involved in reading. Come on, do it for Unckee Chad.
Yup, I'm just as creeped out as you are by that last sentence.
Just as I admit that I'm unable to read most long posts, I'm about to go ahead and write a doozy. It's rolling around in my brain, I just need to find a drill bit big enough to allow it to all ooze out fluidly, but not so big that that it falls out in one big clump. Easier said than done.
A week ago, Drizz asked "What place does this poker have in your life?"
Good question. Not that it hasn't been asked before, or that I've never thought about it. In fact, I pose it to myself all the time. More than likely the questioning happens after some freak hits his not so miracle two outer on the river while holding pocket kings, without raising pre-flop and just calling my bets down, when the river comes a king. Then and only then pushing in an entire stack that I of course immediately call with me 9's full of 2's(I was holding 92o) and, of course I lose the entire pot to his bigger boat, KKK99. I lost to a Klan rally, damn it. HOW CAN I PUT YOU ON KINGS, YOU JERK?
There are reasons I can discount as to why poker has a place in my life. For profit and to become the most handsome world champion alive. Not that the handsome barrier would be all that tough to crack, but I have no grandiose ideas of wanting to be a famous player.Those things might come around some sunny day, probably not in the near future, but they're definitely not motivating factors as to why I keep playing this infernal game.
I do have one reason that I've known ever since I started playing; it keeps my brain in working order. Somewhat.
Since college(graduated magna cum louday, bitches), my required brain usage has dropped off dramatically. My thought processes previously sat on top of a great plateau, overlooking all things in academia. Now, it's at the bottom of a murky ravine, picking the dirt from under it's toenails and wondering what the plural form of "process" is. Where once my synapsis resembled an elephant gun, now they look more akin to a party favor with a string attached to it. When I'm required to think--which is rare due to my job being more suitable for the brain dead than a college graduate--the synapse will make a soft popping sound and confetti hits the back of my eyeballs. I like a party as much as the next guy, but it's just not the same.
Poker repacks my musket with super gunpowder. I must use my brain to succeed at the this game. The would be a better question; how would I measure success in my poker life?". Another time, though.
Poker gives my brain an outlet. Without it, I'd probably spend my day drooling on the keyboard while hitting on underage cop-boys in an AOL chatroom and typing one-handed.
Because I lost my hand in The Gulf War. Why else would I be typing one handed? Jesus, people.
So, that's always been my main reason. Not for money or fame, but so my brain doesn't atrophy.
Just recently, though, I realized that there was a much greater reason behind poker's place in my life. I hadn't thought about it, or these people much up until all the Charlie stuff started happening, and the ties between the three situations.
This is not going to be pretty.
When I was about 10 years old, maybe younger, my cousin, Billy, was killed in a one car crash in far northern Minnesota at the age of 16. He was attending a fair one town over and had been drinking. Late in the night, he crawled into the back of his friend's Bronco to pass out and wait for a ride home. His friend had also been drinking and stupidly decided to drive home. Unfortunately, he passed out 200 yards from town and rammed the truck with a fiberglass topper into a road abutment, sending Billy 200' in the air. He never even had a chance to realize what was happening to him.
My family made the 6 hour drive the next day for the wake and funeral. Dad driving, mom in the passenger seat, me, my brother and a German shorthair nervously pacing between us in the back seat of an economy sized Chevy Nova. It hadn't hit me yet that Billy was dead, or even what that meant. All I could think of at the time was that my dad was driving painfully slow. I learned later in life that I could make the same distance in 4 hours when it always took him at least 6. Pops was slow.
The reality of the situation didn't slam into me until I walked into Billy's high school the day of the funeral, and was faced with having to see him in the open casket. For some reason, I can't remember the original viewing the night before, but I do remember asking my mom why I couldn't see the stitches where they'd sewn his ear back on. As I walked into the gym where the service was to be held, I immediately started crying. And I couldn't stop. My family and I took our seats in the second row, behind my uncle, aunt and cousins, and I was the only immediate group that was crying.
I looked around the packed gym--the town only had 100 residents, but there wasn't an empty seat, not even in the bleachers--to attempt to gain some composure because I felt like such a wuss for crying when not even Billy's brothers were leaking a single drop. I couldn't look forward because of the casket and the pastor giving his sermon. I couldn't look at other people, because even though my family was being strong, other people weren't. Nothing makes me cry more than witnessing other people in pain. Not fun.
Behind me in the corner of the gym was a scoreboard. Even though it was missing some light bulbs and sadly in need of repair, the unusually large size for a such small gym made it imposing; sentinel-like, overlooking the entire gym behind it's wire cage. Every time I'd look in it's direction, I'd get the mental imagery of Billy playing basketball against Chief Bug-o-nay-ge-shig school (just like I'm going to name firstborn.Veird!), and oddly enough, it calmed me down enough that I'd stop with the waterworks. For the rest of the service, any time I felt like crying, I'd turn to my right and look up at the scoreboard, and there was Billy, sinking a three-pointer or an easy lay-up. He was too short to dunk.
That scoreboard was my out, my diversion from what was going around me and to this day, I'd like to give it a big hug.
In the fall of 2003 I had a friend that was kidnapped. It was a national news story that most people know had no happy ending. To say that she was a daily friend wouldn't be right. Had I made a decision one way or another, she could've been one of my best friends, but as always, life hinges on a delicate balance of decisions. Though I wasn't as close to her as I could've been, her death depressed the hell out of me. And not many people knew it. My parents didn't know it. Only a very few of my close friends that read my blog at the time had any clue as to what was going on.
Shortly after her disappearance, I was also forced with having to deal with a different failed relationship in which only I was to blame. That happens when you're holding out for an imaginary "something better". So, without the support of a girl that I wanted and needed support from--to help me deal with the continuous fucked up nightmares of a possibly murdered friend--I turned to alcohol. A lot of alcohol. Everybody does it from time to time. Drowing my inner demons, and all that psychological mumbo-jumbo. I'm not above admitting that I cried as much as during Billy's funeral, too.
The booze worked for awhile. When I was drunk, I'd forget about everything and that was just fine by me. Until, of course, the next morning and I had to get up for work. Reality is no fun when all you want to do is have a buzz.
It was also around that time that I started playing poker. And it couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. While I was sitting at my computer watching all the digital renditions of cards fling from one corner of the screen to another, I forgot all about my worries. Poker provided a brief respite from the real world death and heartbreak bullshit that booze had once clouded over.
As fucked up as it sounds, poker is a much better out than booze, but not quite as good as a small town gymnasium scoreboard.
I had more that I wanted to add to this, but I guess that portion is done. I've been out of whack this past month. Everything involving Charlie hit me harder than one would think it should, and I really haven't had the motivation to write recently. Questioning one's own mortality does that, ya know. So, back to the original point of this entry.(Hey, I know main points aren't supposed to start mid-entry. Get off my back already). If it weren't for poker, I'd drink a lot. A lot more, I mean.
Some people get sucked into the world of poker and lose everything. Right now, at this point in my life, poker is my grounding influence. It brings me out of depressive lulls and makes me feel like I'm not just wasting my life by repeatedly attempting to find new and inventive ways to get by while looking through a hops colored haze.
As much as I hate sounding like a hippy, and sappy just isn't my style, recent events show me that life is just too short. Though many are lured by the thrill of a big payday--not that I would mind. Hear that Lee Jones? I wouldn't mind one bit--I keep playing this silly game because it keeps me out of trouble. It's my diversion.
And someday I'd like to make Phil Hellmuth cry.