Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Drawing Dead

It is not the lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I guess I don't need to be embarrassed by the fact I've been a quivering blob of despair the last 12 hours or so. Hell, why hold back now? Whatever triggered this change of mood (my money's on the anniversary), the end result is that having to look into X's dead eyes the last few days has been pure torture. So, in the interest of my own goddamn sanity, I convinced her to leave.

It's gonna cost me a bit of money in the long run, but I just can't see her. When she's not treating me with utter disdain, she's falsely cheerful. I don't know which I hate more. And that attitude, her very presence, is pushing me past my limit of anger management. Which is bad for everyone, especially AJ.

So, she'll be out within two weeks and I'll be stuck paying the mortgage by myself, spending four lonesome days a week in a 3000-square foot house with diminishing furnishings. I guess I could host Murderer's Row four nights a week. Just have Full Tilt charter a bus for everyone to make it out to my neck of the woods.


I can accept that X lost her love for me. Nothing is guaranteed in marriage and I am hardly blameless in allowing conditions to deteriorate to the point they did. What hurts so deeply--and I've felt it more keenly the past couple days than previously--is the manner in which she went about this. After first unilaterally deciding our marriage was over, she set out to prove it to me--secretly--in the most destructive manner possible: by having an affair. My mind can not process how a person can do that to someone close. She must have no feelings for me at all. Not as a friend, not as a father, not as a human being. I may have failed to keep her insides burning for me, but I was never unavailable to her. I was always there for support, camaraderie and assurance. I was her equal partner in parenting, housework and finances. I never once gave her reason to doubt my commitment. Yet, in spite of all that, she callously undertook this path, thereby maximizing my misery. All without the slightest hint of guilt on her part. And I'm left to wonder how I could have so completely relied on, given my heart over to, a person who could do such a thing? How my every belief, trust and dream has been shattered.

I know I did nothing to deserve this. I know it's not my fault. Of all the events that could befall a person, this one is, relatively-speaking, pretty low on the list, falling well short of actual tragedy. There are plenty of people in this world who DO value my friendship and care and respect me enough to help me, or ask for help, when things are down. One person, even one I adored and admired for so long, can not change me, will not harden my heart with her profligacy, cynicism and indifference.

Quick aside: It's difficult to truly convey one's feelings when a tour group comes through the office and is populated by apparent apprentice models from the Victoria's Secret Trade School. Jebus. Cold shower, party of one?

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah, I'll be fine. My penis apparently still works, based on thirty seconds ago. I really do need to work on my reads, though. I've been drawing dead for seven years and only just realized it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

In Case You Hadn't Noticed...

...my mood is currently manic, swinging haphazardly to both ends of the spectrum and all points in between. It's no wonder, considering the shit I have to put up with. To wit:

X is off on Mondays. For 5 of the last 6 Mondays, she has put AJ in day care--once for 9 hours--so she can meet the Douchebag Poet (and the other Monday was when she took the both of them to the movies). When I pointed out that perhaps this flies in the face of her oft-repeated mantra that "AJ is her first priority," she responded first that Monday is "the only time I can meet him" and then that I had, many months ago, said it was "okay if she put him in day care on Mondays if she had stuff to do."

Yes, illicit afternoon fuck parties with fat, amoral douchebags is almost exactly like doctor's appointments in the "stuff to do" department.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Another Live Blogging Exercise

I'm going to Live Blog my Sunday. It's a special Sunday, marking six years of wedded bliss to the dear and patient wife. What? Oh fuck. I forgot. That person doesn't exist any more, replaced by an unconscionable pod person who acts like a 5-year-old denied a sucker.

For reasons which will soon become clear, portions of this telecast were pre-recorded and therefore not "live," though technically they COULD be live if this were coming to you on NBC.

8:00 a.m.: I wake up. On tilt.

8:05: X wakes up. Sets about intentionally avoiding me.

8:30: I take a shower.

9:00: I ask X if she got the e-mail I sent yesterday, the one wondering if she thinks it's okay to take AJ on one of her illicit dates with the Douchebag Poet less than 24 hours after agreeing it would be confusing for AJ right now if another man was introduced into his life. The date was facilitated by a) warning AJ not to tell Daddy they went to see "Curious George," because "Daddy wanted to see 'Curious George' and he'd be sad if he knew we went without him" and b) giving the Douchebag Poet a fake nickname so AJ doesn't unwittingly utter his real name in my presence. Kid helped me get the real story anyway.

9:00: She says she did see the e-mail. And doesn't want to talk about it, which is obvious to me already, considering she didn't get home until midnight last night even though she gets off work at 6.

9:02: I ask if she thinks this is the way to go about "amicable," agreeing to my face and doing the opposite the moment my back is turned.

9:03: X says she and the Douchebag already had their date plans before I brought up the "new man" suggestion. Which, of course, makes it okay to lie to my face and lie to AJ.

9:15: I leave after several other pertinent comments regarding her sub-standard behavior, inability to think of anyone but herself and repeated, but fruitless, suggestions as to how she can Hurry. Up. and. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. House.

10:00: I arrive at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa for my anniversary present to myself. Yes, I'm turning gay...um...I mean...I was due for some pamperin'.

10:10: I choose locker 226 for anniversary day symmetry and am not the least bit surprised to see that it's broken.

10:30: I settle in for my "Stress Relief/Swedish" massage. I am told by the masseuse (that's the chick word, right?) to "strip down," marking the first time in 7 years someone other than X or my proctologist has made that request of me.

10:31: I lay face up on the massage table, covered by a thin sheet and will myself not to pitch a tent.

10:35: The masseuse returns to find the table tent-free and asks if I want some aromatherapy. I go with lavender for no particular reason.

10:36: The "Stress Relief" portion focuses on the head, neck and shoulders and we are both immediately disappointed when she starts with my head. My well-molded coif crunches under her fingers and I can imagine the inner monologue going on about getting all that hair gunk on her fingers. I, of course, am mortified by the image of what my hair will look like when she's finished.

10:40: The massage is awesome, the first professional effort I've ever received, but "stress relief" ain't happenin' since I know when the day is over I still have to go home and see that fucking sociopath who bears a striking physical resemblance to the woman I married 6 years ago.

10:55: The "Stress Relief" portion ends and I am told to roll over as she lifts the sheet into sort of a curtain which shields her eyes. Though she can't see It, I'm still thankful I trimmed my pubes into an attractive hexagonal shape the day before.

11:00: Oh...that's it. For the first time, she hits the right spot, just under my left shoulder blade. A ribbon of pain and pleasure shoots down my left side every time she comes back to it.

11:05: I try to put my impending divorce out of my head by listening to the piped-in music, but fail because, for one, it sounds a little too much like the Muzak version of Air Supply's "All Out of Love" and for two, there are birds chirping in the mix.

11:15: The Swedish portion is on the back side only and she's now moved to my legs, doing one at a time and inching the sheet up into my groin. I wonder if she can see my perineum (look it up). At least until she gets to my feet and I realize I'm getting a little hot as she firmly strokes my Achilles tendon. Make a note ladies.

11:20: The left Achilles tendon doesn't inspire the same arousal, but I have had recurring calf injuries from soccer in that leg and she works it over like a champ. I may be in love.

11:25: Massage comes to a close and I put my clothes back on. No happy ending.

11:30: With a few minutes to kill before my facial (yep, still hetero), I grab a quick smoke. And by quick, I mean I have to take two shuttle buses to an area so far removed from the holistic, healing powers of the spring that I needed my passport.

11:45: I go for a quick steam. Mmmmmmm, eucalyptus. After a few deep breaths, I hock up some brown shit. Then the steam starts blasting from beneath the benches and I have a flashback to the old Batman and Robin TV show and imagine the Penguin is behind this billowing smoke.

12:00 p.m.: Facial time. I've never had one of these before either and it turns out to be almost nothing like I imagined. There's more massaging of the neck and shoulders, along with the face. She puts more goo on my face than Jenna Jameson sees in a year's worth of money shots. She "extracts" several blemishes from my nose area. My hands are covered in lotion and plastic bags and then plunged into warm mittens. While the masque marinates on my face, she massages my forearms and hands. I think I love her, too.

12:50: It's over?!?!?! NO! No way that was 50 minutes! I demand a recount!

12:55: I purchase a couple products that she pushes at me. I'm in a vulnerable state right now, taken to the very limit of nirvana by her expert hands and furthermore, I do have something of an uneven pigmentation on my face (some spots darker) and when she says she has a product that will help, I buy it, and another, without question. She coulda talked me into endowing a new wing for the place if she wanted to.

1:00: I go look at myself in the mirror for 20 minutes (only slightly more than usual), examining every unblocked pore.

1:20: I hop in a mineral bath, feeling somewhat self-conscious as I am surrounded by caressing couples and old ladies in one-pieces. Without my wedding ring and with my carefully re-organized 'do, I am quite clearly, in their eyes, homosexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I start talking to myself about the Ultimate Fighting Championships just to try and throw them off the track.

1:45: I decide against the red clay mud bath, despite the presence of several nubile ladies in various stages of muddery, because I'm hungry and there's no way I'm paying $12 for a brussels sprouts sandwich.

1:50: I pay my tab and reluctantly leave this mountain paradise, assuring myself I will come here AT LEAST quarterly. I also would just like to throw this out there: The first woman who willingly and enthusiastically has sex with me will be my guest on the next visit. Please submit your applications.


3:00: I do WAY too much thinking on the ride home and enter the house on mega-tilt. The two unfortunate framed family photos in the hallway are immediate victims of this mood.

3:15: I fire several salvos at X (stress relief my ass) and begin to calm down as she actually shows some contrition for what happened. This is new.

3:30: We resume "normal" relations, which means conversations not sprinkled with insults and recriminations.

3:45: X says, "You're better off without me."

3:50: Sidling up to her in the kitchen, hand on her hip, I say, closely in her ear, "I was never better than when I was with you. The three of us--you, me, AJ--are individually lesser than the three of us together."

3:50:22: She agrees.

4:00 p.m.: Mom shows up to screams of delight from AJ. My mom finally hit the pissed off stage this week and promised she would, and I quote, "extract her pound of flesh" from X over this betrayal. It didn't exactly go down like that, but Mom was earnest and insistent over her displeasure.

4:01: I start drinking.

4:15: The interrogation ends with Mom saying, "Let's get down to business. I've said my peace." She didn't get to be the Inland Empire's top real estate agent by letting personal interfere with business.

4:16: House is listed at over half a million bucks. I caress myself under the kitchen table.

5:30: A lot of papers were signed. Some tears were shed. It's very fucking tangible right now. X says no matter what happens she could never come back to me, not after what she's done.

5:30:22: I agree.

5:31: I start drinking faster.

5:51: Let's take this brief downtime to recap my weekend. Friday night, I had dinner after work with a (hot, female) friend and then ended up at a bar with two well-known bloggers who wish to remain anonymous (due to various warrants and a recent appearance on "American's Most Degenerate") and my cousin Matt, who's been dying to see his name in this here blog. In the interest of propriety, I will not go into the gory details, but we did, at one point, receive a dial-a-shot from two other well-known bloggers who also wish to remain anonymous and the conversation might have been between a yak and a praying mantis for our combined inability to hear or form complete words.

Yesterday, AJ and I pretty much went through his entire collection of games. Later, I played three tourneys on Full Tilt, sniffing the money in none of them (and I just cut and pasted that last phrase from every poker post this month). In the $9K, I was actually feeling pretty good and playing pretty well. I was kinda short with T3200 just as the antes were kicking in when the client froze on me. It froze on everybody, but some got reconnected considerably faster than I. by the time I made it back, I had missed two levels and had T1700 for an M of less than 3.

Hooray. Pushed shortly thereafter with KQo and lost the race to TT. Tonight, and you read it here first, I break the streak. Book it.

6:59: I don't know what is inside these Jack in the Box tacos, but whatever that mystery meat/bean past is, I crave it fortnightly. Tonight, I'm having four.

7:00: Cards in the air on Full Tilt. Big money on the line. Over a thousand entrants. First time I've seen that.

7:05: My fold hand is strong.

7:06: Just noticed it's a $19K Guaranteed tonight. I appreciate the increased pools, but I'd prefer they guarantee I not miss two levels of an MTT thanks to server problems.

7:12: Joa1nne is feeling pretty confident:

Joanada: nice live-blogging :)
JoeSpeake: thanks Jo
JoeSpeake: gonna be harder now that I'm in here :)
Joanada: yeah no doubt
Joanada: I'll make it easy for you ....
JoeSpeake: but it's not like I play many hands anyway
Joanada: 11pm - Joanada wins the 19k Guarantee

7:14: My table froze. I missed a hand. I had the Hiltons. This is how it's goin for me.

7:40: Long time no updates, huh? There's a reason for that. I had to leave. My mom's car broke down and I had to fetch her. Gone 22 minutes. X played my hands. she did okay. Didn't chip up, but didn't lose any, either. T1629.

7:55: My table is slower than molassas. We've seen 48 hands with the break on tap. I'm bored. Mainly 'cause I've folded 44 of them.

8:00: Last hand before the break I moved with A7s and an M of 5+. ATo is good.

Sigh. Thus completes our broadcast day.


Dig the fresh...er...digs.

All credit and thanks to Otis for the time, effort and patience. Like he needs another thing at which to be really good.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Dust begins to fall, to the ground
The air is cold and thin
Thoughts are haunting me as I look around
This will never end and I'll bleed forever
--"Clairvoyant Disease" Avenged Sevenfold

Alan commented yesterday that my current positive mood and outlook was quite possibly limited, contained in something called "recursive fractal levels." Despite the mild aneurysm that phrase gave me, I think I know what it means and I'm almost certain he's right. I had a good week. I know things that will help me through. But I need to constantly remind myself of those things, because anxiety lurks around every corner.

Such was the case last night. A recent event caused some friction in our uneasy detente. I termed it lying. X laughingly euphemized (it might be a word) it as "withholding the truth." Honestly people, I can't make this shit up.

Now, I'm well past the point of thinking this marriage is savable and I'm very rapidly coming to the conclusion that I wouldn't want it salvaged anyway. Not with the pod person who has come to inhabit X's body. Which doesn't mean there are not issues that need to be discussed, especially in regard to AJ. On Monday, she acted directly in contrast to a request I had made and not only didn't tell me about it, but enlisted AJ in her deception. Of course, being the precocious boy he is, it slipped out, leading to a showdown. Bottom line is she kept this secret from me and told AJ to as well. Yet, when I questioned her, all she did was try to justify her actions.

This is the most frustrating part I'm dealing with. I've handled this affair with relative decency, even as my heart breaks and my public and private humiliation peaks. And all I've asked for in return is some respect in regards to not flaunting this Douchebag Poet in my face, in regards to treating me more like the honorable person I am, instead of the villainous role in which she's cast me. She's violated both those requests in the last week. Her first move is deceit. It's like after three months of sneaking around, she knows no other way to conduct herself.

Furthermore, she's projecting. Big time. I made a conciliatory statement last night on another matter and her immediate reaction--before I even managed to complete my sentence--was to accuse me of some vast conspiracy against her. She's so used to her own treachery, that she sees nefarious plots everywhere (except, I'm sure, where Prince Douchebag is concerned). This is what I'm dealing with. And while I recognize she's not in her right mind, it still hurts to be thrust into this erroneous portrayal. And it makes it hard to stay on the high road.


I think I've told the story several times in this space about the first time I had my heart broken. She was my first love, an unbelievable beauty, who threw me over after four months of 11th grade bliss for a...well...he was a douchebag. It took me some time to get over that first painful split, but the sharpest memory I have of the event is of Phil Collins.

I sobbed my way home, flipped on MTV and there was Phil and Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown and Jeff Bridges trying to find their way clear "Against All Odds." Even now, a full 22 years later, I can't stand that fucking song.

How can I just let you walk away,
just let you leave without a trace
When I stand here taking every breath
with you, ooh-ooh
You're the only one
who really knew me at all
How can you just walk away from me,
when all I can do is watch you leave
Cos we've shared the laughter and the pain
and even shared the tears
You're the only one
who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now,
oh there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me,
just the memory of your face
Ooh take a look at me now,
well there's just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against all odds
and that's what I've got to face


Like many people, I turn to music for entertainment, for relief, for inspiration. But when you're where I am right now, all of a sudden, you start hearing the lyrics. Often for the first time, especially those that seem to twist the knife.

I found you here, now please just stay for a while
I can move on with you around
I hand you my mortal life, but will it be forever?
I'd do anything for a smile, holding you 'til our time is done
We both know the day will come, but I don't want to leave you

So, what if I never hold you, yeah, or kiss your lips again?
Woooaaah, so I never want to leave you and the memories for us to see
I beg don't leave me
--"Seize the Day" Avenged Sevenfold

Yeah, that one hit the iPod this morning and while it has been one of my most frequently played songs over the past four months, only today did I delve into its meaning (the guitar break/solo had always been my focal point). Then, the very next song was...

Take my photo off the wall
If it just won't sing for you
'Cause all that's left has gone away
And there's nothing there for you to prove

Oh, look what you've done
You've made a fool of everyone
Oh well, it seems likes such fun
Until you lose what you had won

Give me back my point of view
'Cause I just can't think for you
I can hardly hear you say
What should I do, well you choose
--"Look What You've Done" JET

"Give me back my point of view." That's kick ass. I might have to use that.

If Phil Bleeping Collins is the guy who takes me back to 1984, then it's gotta be Eddie Vedder who will forever be held responsible for The Great Breakup of 2006. "Black" was OUR song. Even before we got married. But its seat at the top of the heap was cemented on our wedding day. After the ceremony, which took place on a yacht in Marina del Rey, we rented a limo to ferry friends and family to a few bars in Hollywood. The first--and turns out only--place we went was 3 of Clubs. We weren't there 15 minutes when the dude on stage with the acoustic guitar, without prompting, launched into "Black." I grabbed X and we went to the dance floor, which we had all to ourselves for the entire song. I was so moved, so surprised, that I gave the guy $20.

(Quick aside: Our anniversary is on Sunday. I went ahead and bought myself a present. I'll tell ya all about it--if its interesting--next week.)

Now? I think the programmers at my local radio stations are trying to tilt me, since "Black" has come on roughly 148 times in the last month when I've been in my car. I can't switch the station quickly enough.

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star
In somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine
--"Black" Pearl Jam

It's funny, because those lines used to signify the longing I had for her before we got together. I feared I'd never be able to bring her to me, that her life would never exist with me in it. Now, the words take on a whole different meaning.


With each passing moment, these conversations, deceptions, justifications make it more clear that the woman I fell in love with no longer exists. It has me wondering, however, if she ever did. To be sure, there is ample evidence that this blackness inside her has always been there, this innate ability to casually and repeatedly dissemble. Perhaps I just refused to see it. Perhaps it was hidden, comforted by the love she had for me. As that love waned, it became more prominent, and now she soothes its ascension with love for another. Another Pearl Jam song comes to mind, as I wager on the outcome of her future relationships: Spin the Black Circle.

'Round and 'round she'll go, repeating the dance. The details may differ, but she'll always end up back where she started. And woe be to those who get taken along for the finite ride.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Live Blogging a Bunch of Crap

Since this is a Poker Blog, after all...

With X and AJ tucked in by 9:15, I fired up the poker machine for some gamb00000lery, which is a sad commentary on my skillz at this point. I eschewed my favored MTTs in the interest of time-management (and sleep), but jumped into a couple SnGs, a $30 two-table affair on Stars and a single table of the same buy-in on Full Tilt. These were my bread and butter before I made a couple final tables and got hooked on the big payday potential of the MTTs. Back to the grind, baby. I resolved to play ABC poker and stop trying to make laser reads on people, a recent affliction that has caused the bankroll to cringe in horror.

The two-table started out pretty well. My group was rather awful and one luckbox twice put his money in when way behind only to hit his 4- and 5-outers to take the tourney lead. He then gave back a bunch on the following hand, which is just plain gold.

On a board of Q8833, he goes to war with Q7. His opponent has KQ. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, "When Donkeys Chat:"

LEEPYACK said, "how did I lose kicker doesn't play there"
LEEPYACK said, "**** poker star rules"


I nearly doubled up with JJ. Got two callers to my pre-flop raise and the dealer graciously put out KJ8 rainbow. I under bet (120 into 260) and got one caller. I bet 420 into 500 on the blank turn and he pushed. I happily called his K8 and dodged his two outs. And that's all the action you get. I folded for the next 4 levels. Yeesh. At the 75/150 level, I dropped a chunk to a flopped set of 6s. He checked the flop from the SB and it was checked around. He then led out on the King turn and with KQ, I figured I was good, as he'd have raised with AQ. I raised and he flat called, setting off ringing bells. He led out again on the blank river and I dropped. But I was still down to an M of 5. It was down below 4 when the blinds went up and I pushed with KQ from the CO. Are you surprised the SB woke up with KK? Me neither. the JTx flop gave me some hope, but it died. Out in 8th.

Meanwhile, over at Full Tilt, I was reduced to chasing a baby flush which I thankfully hit. It took me back to my starting stack after being out-flopped in every hand I had played to that point. Then I folded for an orbit or two. T1270 with blinds at 30/60 and 7 remaining.

I made a nice river call on a board of QQ542. Had 74o in the BB and the Q-high flop was checked around. I led at the Q turn and got one caller. Deuce on the river helped only one possible draw, but I checked my garbage hand anyway. Villian bet 215 into a 700 pot and...well...I gotta call bet. It stinks to high heaven (me not giving him credit for a big hand/value bet). He showed 32s for all the missed draws.

Then I got AA and busted AJ on a J-high flop. T3400 at 50/100. 6 remaining. Then I dropped a grand when a short-stack caught his OESD on the river (with all the money in on the flop). Poker may not hate me, but it isn't one of my bigger fans.

Got some of it back with QQ. Qxx flop with two clubs and I checked behind the BB (not my standard play, but I want more chips here). Turn did not bring the flush and he led out. I raised 3x and took it down.

People with Ms of 12+ pushing all-in pre-flop is funny. He had 98 last time he did it. Naturally, it was good.

We're down to 5 with two players under 7 M factor. Both appear to be patient. One big stack who is reasonably solid. Big stack just busted a shortie. Down to the bubble. I'm second at T2900.

Eeek. Big Stack just called an all-in from a shortie (M of 4+) with K5s. Shortie's Big Slick is good. Thanks, dude. We're now down to one big stack and three equal stacks. One of the equal stacks is a lunatic. All I need is one. Lunatic just rivered the Big Stack. That's 3 river miracles for him tonight. Must be his day. 'Cause when you play T4s to a raise and have no pair and no draw on the turn, you gotta put your money in.

This is turning into a live blogging situation. Mmmmmmmmmm, live blogging SnGs. What could be more entertaining?

Motherfuck. KK cracked by KTo. I need a poker buddy. Someone I can call next time I think about playing and can remind me of both my inability to play and the junk kicking I regularly receive when I don't actually make another dumb play.

Sigh. I should stick to Douchebag Poetry.

Here's to Me!

Thanks to all for your submissions (and story/writing topics yesterday; sadly, I'm still caught in One Track Mind-ville). I enjoyed them a great deal. While X and I have managed a companionable truce, I still carry a healthy loathing for this Douchebag Poet whose immorality allows him to willingly--and forever--alter the innocent life of my boy. I'd never be able to live with myself if I commited a similar act, and can therefore not understand the ethical breakdown that occurs in someone who participates in such an affair. So, regardless of the peace of mind I have in my current situation, he has earned my scorn until the end of time. Fortunately, I can let this loathing disappear as quickly as it materializes and have no need to plot revenge, since he and X are the only two people in the Universe who are ignorant of the fact this is going to end badly--horribly, heinously--for both of them. Karma is indeed a bitch.

So, anyway, this is the post where the Blog Reading Public tries to figure out if I am simply a Prince Among Humans or if I have fallen off the Sanity Wagon. To be honest, I haven't the answer. I only know what happened. So, here it is.

Early Friday morning, 3:12 to be exact, I snapped up in my bed. What woke me was perfect knowledge. I jumped from the bed, grabbed a pen and pad, and wrote down everything I knew. And I knew it all.

For lack of a better explanation, I was touched. Divinely. I make no assumptions as to who or what was behind this, but it is spiritual in nature. Now, I've never been one to give credit beyond the plane of my existence, but, in this case, there's quite obviously been some intervention. Not only did everything become clear--I'm talking past, present, future--but the hurt, the roiling mind and the desperation were washed away. Gone. Completely gone. Suddenly, I was above it all. It's a curious feeling, and I'm not apt to question it right now. I'm riding it for all it's worth, feeding it with affirmation.

It has manifested itself in my dealings with X. What I wrote on Friday remains true. I've joined her in the "moving on" stage. I'm just as eager as she to facilitate the end of this thing. Why? Because my perfect knowledge has eradicated that notion that her leaving is a bad thing for me. It's quite the opposite. Will there be a substantial period of adjustment? Absolutely. Will I have to work extra hard to ease AJ's burden? Damn straight, and the implications on him are already beginning to show. But here's the thing: This event is spurring me to raise my personal standards. I'm disappointed in my behavior the last few years. Not because X is leaving me. No. That is profoundly not my fault. In fact, has little, if anything, to do with me. I'm disappointed because I've allowed a few years to pass me by without improving me. Without setting goals I know I can reach--that I NEED to reach--with a concerted effort. Just coasting along. The road is long and straight.


Among other issues, this has given me something to look forward to. My reality is bright. It's healthy, happy and lousy with possibility. Contrast this with X, whose future is based on fantasy and a foundation of selfish lies (which haven't stopped, by the way). Her path is not one of improvement, but of avoidance, of covering her frailties with temporary euphoria. You know, like a heroin-user. Her behavior deteriorates hourly. Her first instinct is to lie. Her latest move is to enlist AJ's complicity in her secrets. I shit you not. If this keeps up, the arrival of that One Day--the one where she comes to her senses and marvels at the empty person she's allowed herself to become--will be hastened exponentially.

I know this. Because I have perfect knowledge. Everything is clear. I know the meaning in her every word, even when those words dissemble. She holds no power over me and I see through to her very core. I guess you could say she has a tell.

Despite all that, I need to continue to promote a healthy dialogue with her, because we need to be on the same page with AJ. There's no anger from my side. I am at peace. Even when she crawls over to the dark side, I approach the issue with calm, with a stated desire to understand. Usually, I don't agree with her increasingly bizarre justifications, but, even so, I rationally try to effect compromise.

I am untiltable. I'm excited. I've already begun the Speaker Rejuvenation Project. For once, it's all about me (and a healthy me has a direct and positive impact on AJ). Me is gonna fuckin' rock.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Douchebag Poetry

You know the guy (or the girl). They're the kind of people who respond to a friendly, "How's it goin'?" with a rambling monologue of woe that seems as if it will only end moments after you begin collecting social security. Generally, this only happens once. After that, you avoid all eye contact. You reverse field if you see them at the far end of the hall. One time, I pretended I was temporarily deaf. "Eym sowwee," I said, gesturing with my hands. "Uh em-ate-ee went off in my eyuhs."

Last place I worked the guy's name was Tyrone. He was 40-ish, still toiling on the bottom rung of the newsroom ladder and his idea of high comedy was putting ice down the shirts of co-workers. I never could quite figure out if he was "special" (he managed his job okay, I guess) or "socially special."

There's one at my current job, too. And I found myself out on the smoking balcony with her today. Just the two of us. I pondered the odds of me escaping a two story jump unscathed, but decided against it. Then she started talking and I began to take off my belt and look for a place to hang myself. I eventually settled for lighting myself on fire. Bitch can't get to me in the ICU.


Okay, so I have total writer's block. I gots nuthin'. Bobby had a fun idea the other day, so we're gonna go with it. However, since I can't write, I'm gonna slough off on this week's installment and go with a Haiku. 'Cause that I can manage.

Regardless, welcome to a recurring Wednesday feature here at the Obituarium:

Douchebag Poetry

Dear chunky scumbag
You're two plates of lasagna
from having man boobs

The object, of course, is to insult the Douchebag Poet who thinks its cool to break up my marriage and family (and to be at the top of google searches for "Douchebag Poet" and "Douchebag Poetry"). I am welcoming all submissions, which will be posted (and credited) every Wednesday. All forms of poetry are welcome, free verse, sonnets, epic.

And if you can't manage a poem, at least send me a subject to write about, 'cause my mind is a fucking black hole.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

X Marks the Spot

There are some things about which I am very perceptive. There are others where I have a severe blind spot. But, even in the case of the latter, it's clear to me NOW that I should not be playing any poker.

Jesus H. Christ I suck.

My decision-making is horrid. My attitude is way too careless. I'm not trying to play my best. I'm just playing. Gambling. Not good.

Which is how I end up at 8:30 p.m. out of both tourneys I entered tonight within 90 minutes, despite building a 5K stack after the first hour in the $16K on Full Tilt. I never even made it out of the Re-Buy period on Stars. It's sickening. And I should probably not play right now.

So, what else is going on?

I came up with a great idea for a screenplay. It would take WAY too much research for a book, but, like Hollywood itself, I can totally fudge on the details as long as the story moves. And it will. First and third acts write themselves. The second act is gonna be a problem. Need a sub-plot methinks. Gonna have to learn how to write a screenplay, too.

Went with AJ and X (in a nod to--and when I say "in a nod to," I mean "a blatant rip-off of"--Richard Ford and to retire the now hopelessly out-of-date term "dear and patient wife," I will be using 'X' to denote the woman who formerly treated me with some modicum of respect and admiration before she went completely insane) to see "Dragon Tales Live" at the local auditorium. It was not up to the lofty production values of the "Dora the Explorer" show we saw some time back and the sound was teh shit. Additionally, we made the tactical error of getting him some cotton candy prior to curtain, which resulted in excessive activity and a late-show sugar crash. He's currently resting thanks to a cycle of methadone.

The situation I find myself in at home is so surreal I don't even know where my ass is sometimes (work with me here). I have to interact with X every single day (though we are now sleeping in separate rooms, which is oddly comforting) even as she's telling some other guy she loves him. And I just amended our cell phone plan today to allow her more room for text messaging with him, a purely financial decision, but still, I AM enabling them to advance their adulterous, immoral liaison. Today we pretty much hammered out the details of the divorce and she's being utterly reasonable. That's guilt, I guess. "I already screwed you over; I'm not going to do it again," she says. (And for those of you out there who have been financially and custodially swindled by your lying, cheating spouses and are now shaking your heads at my naivate, thank you for your concern, but I've caught her in enough lies the past few months to know what it looks, and feels, like.)

Some of you might be wondering, "What the fuck was that on Friday then?" Well, you missed the point. Largely because I didn't provide it. It's true I thought there might be a chance, however infinitesimal, that my tapping the core issue may have caused her to think, "You know what? You're right. This flaw of mine has adversely affected every relationship I've ever had and I will never truly be able to give myself over to someone unless I fix it and I intend to do just that." Instead, I got a terse (figurative), "Fuck you."

Which is what I expected, to be honest. But it's still a good thing. Mostly, I don't have to lay awake every night trying to figure out the whats and whys and wherefores. Now I know. Second, it's done. I've reached acceptance (with the occasional dose of Stage 4 Depression thrown in). Not only do I firmly believe she'll never come back to me no matter what trials befall her (and really, they must). I also know I would never accept her back in any event, not without some serious counseling and desire to change on her part, and even then it's not bloody likely. So, I'm fully moving on. I've created a small pocket map of every high school in the immediate area. I've begun to scout escort services in adjacent counties. And bookmarked several Eastern European Mail Order Bride sites.

(Dear authorities and divorce lawyers, the last 3 sentences were written totally in jest. So declared by me, on this date 19 February in the Year of Our Lord 2006.)

I know there are more bad days in store. But slowly, I'm having more good ones. That unreachable pain is larely gone, replaced by a dull ache I only occasionally feel. I still do go on mega-tilt at seemingly benign things. But I try to do it in private. Or at the poker tables.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Big Pimpin'

I really can't get away with writing "Big Pimpin'. No matter!

Pauly is in the resort city of Commerce for a couple weeks, covering the LA Poker Classic on his own dime. If you have just one humanistic bone in your body, you will go to his site and express your admiration and support. If you don't, I know people.

Spaceman is also in town, doing his thing for Bluff Magazine. Again, visit. Again, I know people.

And now, for something completely different...

My cousin 'ferd worked on this show, Knight School, about 16 walk-ons competing for one slot on the Texas Tech hoops team. It is debuting on ESPN on Sunday night. He had some great Bobby Knight stories for us when we were in St. Louis and if those translate to the screen, you will enjoy yourself. Check it out if you would.

Healing Hands

I'm on fire today, kids. Strap in.


When I was a senior in college, I qualified as a finalist for one of the most prestigious student journalism award programs in the country, the Hearst Awards. It's a year-long competition, encompassing the entire country, which results in some pretty large cash awards (to a student) and a nice line or two on the start-up resume. From a pool of thousands, I was selected as one of 10 finalists in my category chosen to compete in a weekend-long live competition in San Francisco.

It was intense. Stressful, but in an adrenaline-fueled way. Each day, we were up early, given a topic, and sent into The City to find a story, which had to be written and turned in by 6 p.m. We were then treated to some of San Francisco's finest restaurants as a group--we numbered 80, ten in each of 8 categories from photojournalism to television journalism. Believe me when I tell you we all got pleasantly ripped each and every night, the wine serving as the perfect salve for the intensity.

The last night was the awards ceremony on a boat that trolled the Bay. In addition, each of us had an audience with the judging panel, who critiqued our work, not just what we did over the weekend, but the dozens of pieces which got us there in the first place. It was very helpful, but also a little intimidating.

Later, at the hotel bar, I began to talk with one of my competitors (the event had brought us all pretty close together) and she was very upset at some of the criticisms aimed at her during her one-on-one with the judges. We talked quite a while, examining this and that. I tried to soothe her hurt, pointing out the positive, comparing notes and experience. Finally, she looked at me and said, "Why are you doing this?"

Because, see, she won the competition. And I finished third.


I likely missed my calling in life. I'm a problem-solver, a shoulder to cry on, a healer. I've had many wonderful friends in life and most of them have come to me with problems of varying degrees. Because they know I'll listen. They know I'll have some sort of perspective. I may not always have a solution, but I'm willing to work (talk, feel) towards one as long as it takes, regardless of the issue's impact (or lack thereof) on me. I'd be a fantastic counselor. My brain works that way, attacking a problem from as many angles as I can find and usually, somewhere in all that nonsense, is a nugget of truth. I'm tenacious about it. I won't let it go until we've come to a satisfactory conclusion.


A few years ago, I fell into an online community of like-minded folks. Like this poker group, a common theme brought us together and a few of us became friends. Due to my nature, it was the perfect place for me, not only because I could pontificate on our shared interest (when nobody in "real" life gave a crap about the subject), but because I was a good deal older (10 years give or take) than most of the rest. And, on many occasions, we found ourselves talking on a more personal level, when I imparted the lessons learned in my youth to those struggling with similar issues.

Last week, after my cathartic purge in this space, I got an e-mail from one of those guys. He and I have met a handful of times and we've remained in touch over the years, even if that community no longer exists in the form it once did. He told me that my post resonated with him as a young married and that he saw some similar short-comings in his own husband role. He said he printed out my words and thanked me for the reminder.

He also said that wasn't the first time he's done such a thing. For a while, he carried around a print-out of something I wrote to him several years ago. I remember the night he's referencing. I had a keen sense he was in a bad way that night and I stayed up late and took special care with what I said to him. I went to bed that night wondering if I got through, if I talked him down. But I didn't know how serious it was. The e-mail he sent me this week said that around that time, he'd been incredibly depressed, neglecting his schoolwork and drinking heavily. And he'd bought a gun.

My words played a part in him getting himself out of that hole. I can't tell you how that makes me feel.


Considering all that, it's been especially frustrating for me the past month as I continually try to reach my wife. She's unavailable to me right now, either unwilling or unable to feel what I have to offer. My words and emotions fall off her like arrows into a castle fortress.

But that hasn't deterred me from continuing my assault (and I think she'd probably find that term perfect). Somewhere in my head, I've known that I was missing something, some essential truth that's at the bottom of this. I've focused on the guy. I've focused on my own short-comings. But the very heart of the matter is that this situation is about nobody but my wife. So what exactly is it that has caused her to take this step? To be sure, she has found something to fill her emotional needs, but it's not the guy that's doing this. Other people don't give us our feelings. It's our assessment of situations that inspire feelings.

I've quite literally talked reams of nonsense trying to get at her, to get her to open up, to help me find that nugget of understanding.

My goal, of course, is to heal our marriage, rehabilitate our relationship. And that's been my focus. Our relationship. But it's not about that. If she was unhappy in our relationship, then leaving it would not be a solution. It is avoidance, it is running away from your problems. So that couldn't be it. It had to be about her, something inside her that is eating her raw, something she can't fix, so she covers it up, tries to file it away and what she's currently feeling fits the bill perfectly. It's why she says to me, "I've already moved on." She's got a quick fix and the emotions she's feeling right now hide the source of her unhappiness.

There's no way I can heal our marriage on my own. My commitment is strong and unwavering. My desire to improve myself will continue regardless of the outcome of this. But if she's unwilling or unable to recognize the reasons for her role in our distance (we didn't drift apart just because of me; it takes two to tango) then we have no shot. It's about her. The only chance to save our marriage is to heal what ails the dear and patient wife. And I still had no clue what that was.


Last night, she told me something. The missing piece. A flaw in her conduct toward our marriage (and throughout her adult life) that, combined with my flaws compounded the distance between us. It's the source (along with a related and no less serious issue) of her unhappiness. Not with me. Not with our marriage. But with her and her alone. And no matter what she does in life, leave me, stay with me, join the circus, she will never be truly happy anywhere until she confronts her shame at allowing this trait to fester.

Shame is different from guilt. Guilt is feeling bad about what we do or do not do. Shame is feeling bad about who we are, about our very being. It's a deep wound, shame. It's why people turn to drugs or violence. Or infidelity.

I want to make it perfectly clear I am not faulting my wife for this. Nobody is perfect. And it's exceptionally difficult to talk about your greatest fears, especially when they concern your own conduct. But I do know this, she will never be happy, truly happy, unless she challenges her behavior. And despite all the shit she has put me through, the hurt, the betrayal, the lies, I'm willing to be the one to hold her hand through this necessary process. I can only pray she'll let me in.

Because I'm a healer.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Negative EV

The first three installments of this peculiar little serial of mine can be found here, here and here.

"Nice night, big boy."
"I guess."
"You guess? You've got nearly three racks there, Tom."
"It wasn't hard."
"You want it to be hard?" she said, an eyebrow raised.
"I prefer a challenge."
"At your service."
He smiled, stacking his chips. "I don't think so, Gwen."
"Suit yourself. One for the road?"
He plugged a twenty into the bar-top video poker machine as they waited for their drinks.
"Got a Negative EV streak, huh?" she said.
"Don't all poker players have a little extra gamble?"
"Not me."
"Seriously. At least as far as cards go."
"What's your blind spot then?"
"Unavailable men."
He chuckled, feigning hurt. On the video poker machine, he missed his two-card flush draw.
"You still love your wife, don't ya?"
"Yes," he said, quickly, without looking up.
"You'll take her back?"
"That's a different question."
"That's a yes."
Probably," he said, standing straight. "I don't know. Sometimes, I feel like I could and be okay with her. Other times...I just get these images, you know. I have no idea what this guy looks like, but I picture them together..."
"You have no idea. And I wonder if those would ever really go away."
"You should cut and run, Tom. And I'm not just saying that so you'll come back to my place tonight."
"I know, Gwen. You're not the first person to offer that advice."
"But...the kids."
"How are they handling it?"
"Hard to say. They're more emotional, moody, needy. My son clings to me like he thinks he'll never see me again."
"You're good with them, aren't you?"
"Better now." He knocked the video screen, his twenty now house property. "Goodnight, Gwen," he said turning away.
"'Night, Tom. See you next time?"
He walked a few feet, stopped and came back to her, reaching in his pocket en route. "Here," handing her his card. "Call me next time you're coming out."
"Will do," she said, smile at the corners of her mouth. He did leave this time. She looked down at the card.
"Twenty bucks says you're gonna break my heart...Thomas J. Hudson."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Altered States

I'm not sure what's going on with me. Something. My initial reaction is that it's good, because that ache is gone, the one that's impossible to reach, the one that drove me to sobs, desperation, anger. Along with that ache, my rampant jealously has departed, as well. What had been a barage of self-inflicted images of my wife with this fucking poet...gone. Yes, my mind floats that direction at times, but I can easily push the thoughts away. What is this? Is it healing? Or is it denial? Again.

I've had two very good days. Even-keeled and, at times, delightful. On Monday night, my wife and I had a brief, contentious exchange before I went over to my Mom's for a while. She had to talk to me. It was nothing new or relevatory, but it was fine and we watched '24' and I went home to a sleeping house.

Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling better and went to my therapist. She wasn't surprised to see the wife not with me and eased me through an hour of pertinent discussion. I left there understanding a little more, I think, not only about what happened--and is happening--between the wife and I, but some areas I need to shore up regarding me, as far as being a parent and not involving AJ in the dispute. But you could not say I walked out of there thinking I had a chance to save my marriage.

My Mom thinks it's salvagable and Tuesday night, she invited the wife over for a talk. Mom is a religious person, a firm believer in God, and has turned to Him since finding out about the wife's decision. Mom is every bit as devastated as I am, feeling not just for me and herself, but for her adorable--and perfect--grandchild. And she has counseled me throughout the past few weeks to maintain a positive attitude, to find strength in my own belief in God (which wavers). I've not been able to do that. I've not been able to faithfully and honestly ask for God's help in this matter. Because I don't feel it.

My wife and Mom spoke for a couple hours and she came home in a good mood. Mom seemed to think she made some inroads, though I have my doubts. The wife and I, dare I say, enjoyed each other's company last night, laughing and talking without that oppressive tension that has hung over our recent relations. I went to bed, leaving her awake at the computer and when the idea came to me that she was just waiting for me to retire so she could e-mail him, well, I just let it fly off into space where it had no effect on me.

With the help of the therapist, Mom and some literature I've been reading, I've managed to affect a calmer demeanor, as well as a more patient self. It's clear what I have to do. Whether my actions have any effect on the wife...well...I think that's out of my hands. At this point, she is unwilling--or even unable--to receive me, to feel anything I have to offer. That's okay. I'll continue to offer. Not for her, but for me, for AJ.

Tonight, we had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and if it was a little strained, it was still mostly okay. AJ was acting up, so we did get to join as parents to discipline him. My good mood remained unchanged.

Maybe it's because I'm not looking for positive signs or redemption in her every word or deed, which keeps my mood more stable. Maybe I'm getting used to her ritualistic ignoring of my more personal thoughts (which I share with her in e-mail; safer that way). Instead of basing my attitude on the potential outcome, I'm staying in the present, trying to live up to the standards I've set for myself.

Of course, I'm not so naive to think some worse days are in store. Hell, I've probably just jinxed myself and will wake up tomorrow frothing and looking for the nearest Louisville Slugger.

Fortress of Dorkitude

Inspired by Head's post yesterday, AJ and I hunkered down to ward off the Valentine's Day blues last night.

We built a fort.

Nothing in my childhood tilted my parents more than the destructification of my bedroom when I got the urge to build a fort. I was a master artisan at the craft (though, obviously, my skillz seem to have eroded with age). Well, guess who's the Daddy now?!?! Forts for everybody!

Since one "tent post" was the TV, we could sit in our little hideaway and watch the tube, which alternated between "Wallace and Grommet, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and the Olympics, my first gander at the quadrennial celebration this year (and which I will have more about later). We also played several rounds of Caribou, with AJ winning all of them. I almost always let him win when we play these games. In the case of Caribou, it's an easy game at which to cheat. After a half-dozen of the hatches have been opened, you can pretty much see where all the hidden balls lie if you just tilt your head at a certain angle.

AJ figured this out before I did.

So, I will ALWAYS let him win, as long as I don't catch him cheating (and, truth be told, I cheat in order to not win). Last night, he was on his most ethical behavior. At least until the decided to see if "the fort was like a trampoline" and made the entire thing come tumbling down, causing me to almost get brained by an encyclopedia.

All in all, a fabulous evening.


My oatmeal this morning was very runny. Somebody explain to me why the directions to a product would read, "Add boiling water to just below the dotted line?" Just below? Why exactly is there a dotted line if its significance is only an estimator? Might as well print recipies in hectacres.

And yes, I filled it to just above the dotted line, primarily because YOU CAN'T BLEEPING SEE the line, unless you're in a bright enough light, like...say...standing on the surface of the sun.

My orange was tasty, though.

On a related note, the past two days have seen me returning to a semblance of eating and sleeping. Both have been in short supply the last couple weeks. I lost 8 pounds and I really don't have that much to spare. My ribs are more prominent than Bode Miller's press agent.


I watched the Olympics for a good three hours last night and found them faily exciting. Ted Ligety's slalom runs had me whooping and clapping my hands, not because of some unbridled jingoism, but because he's an underdog. Furthermore, I don't know jack shit about skiing--my single attempt at getting on skis was hampered by a massive hangover thanks to puking in the cool mountain air the night before after rapidly downing a bottle of Green Hungarian wine, a peculiar vintage that my 16-year-old stomach undoubtedly disagreed with--but could plainly see Ligety had something the others did not during the slalom portion. He was obviously smoother, but the thing that stood out immediately was, and this is how my skiing-ignorant little brain explained it to the wife, "the tips of his skis seem to be bending around the gates." An optical illusion, to be sure. I'm almost certain skis aren't made out of rubber. Even so, it was fantastic. And when the Austrian DQ'd, I gave myself a high five that burned by palms for long minutes after.

Good on ya, Teddy.

I also saw some women's speed skating. There was a US skater by the name of Elle, the offspring of a former medal-winner, and when the camera first showed her, it was mostly just a face shot and I thought she was beautiful. Amazing bone structure, that was possibly enhanced by the lack of hair (you can focus totally on the face) which was hidden beneath her full racing suit. Shortly, the camera pulled away for the start and OHMYGOD! The woman is a freak of nature. She had thighs on her that would make Earl Campbell's testicles shrink in envy. Each of them was bigger around than my waist (still a svelte 34" ladies). If you sliced off her ass and grilled it, you could wipe out hunger in several African nations.

Then came the men's figure skating. I'm a guy. A guy's guy. A carborator-fixin', venison-chewin', beer-swillin' guy. Okay, I'm not. But I still don't watch much men's figure skating (I will resist the cries from the audience suggesting my fashion sense is not far from the frilly body suits one sees in such competitions). But last night, I was playin' a little Tiger Woods Golf on my PSP (I'm 38, ladies) when a young American came out for his short program. His choice of music was the theme from "Deer Hunter," the wife's favorite film, and when she pointed that out, I looked up to observe the performance. The first thing I saw his him nailing a combination jump and, suitably intrigued, I continued to watch. A short time later, he stumbled and I emitted an involuntary, but not unconcerned, "oof" of disappointment.

What followed was several minutes of good-natured mockery from the wife, expressing her surprise at my long-hidden men's figure skating fetish. Followed later by a laughing hissy fit that caused her to snort, which is when you KNOW she's really enjoying herself. It was funny. And it was nice we could laugh together.


Of all the things I love on the internet, a BG/Al, e-mail exchange is easily in the top 6.38. Enjoy.

Update (12:23 p.m.): BG kindly asked me to participate in the exchange, so I threw some crap in there. Hope I didn't ruin it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oh Yeah


It's Valentine's Day. Yesterday, I knew today was Valentine's Day. Today, I went to therapy (mmmmm, 7 a.m. brain dump), hopped the train, posted, did some work, jumped into Bloglines...uh...hey, it's Valentine's Day (for the record, Bobby caused the light to go on).

The fact that it's Valentine's Day, that marketing-driven psuedo-holiday, doesn't tilt me, doesn't force introspection or a heightened sense of loss. I suppose that's because the wife and I never paid the day much heed. It's a bullshit holiday. I didn't need greeting card companies to remind me to let the wife know how much I loved her. And she felt the same.

And also, because our wedding anniversary is on the 26th of February, rendering Valentine's even less important, in relative terms of meaning.

Now, the 26th...that's gonna be a day. Do I get to say we were married for 6 years, because technically we will still be married on that day? It's the Iron Anniversary, which sounds like a High School Football championship in Pennsylvania. And what kind of gift could one find made of Iron? Well, I asked Google. One site said, "Give your mate a ride on the Iron Horse," which is not just overtly suggestive, but creepy since Lou Gehrig's been dead for 64 years. Oh, they meant a train.

I actually bought the wife an anniversary present, back in those naive days when I thought our marriage was salvageable, before it dawned on me that she had zero interest in joining me in the reclamation effort. Cost me $1600, too. That's Sixteen-Hundred Non-Refundable Poker Bankroll Dollars.

I wonder what she's getting me?

One Trick Pony

I'm pretty much between a Rock and a Hard Place here with the blog. I don't want it to turn into Joe Speaker's Adventures in Divorce and Infidelity. On the other hand, I don't have much room in my head to think about anything else, let alone write about anything else. Not playing very much poker doesn't help.

I've mentioned previously that I've been playing poker lately as an "escape." Lets me concentrate on something else for a while. Even so, I still have that feeling of "Aw, fuck it," when I'm playing, because it's always in the back of my mind that I've got much bigger problems than having Kings cracked by 98-suited. Suffice to say, shrugging off beats and bad play hasn't been a problem.

While I think I DO need I to train my mind elsewhere to keep my mental state in some semblance of togetherness, I don't think "escape" is a good idea. I can't go off half-cocked, give in to whim or anger to make myself unavailable. As much as it might benefit ME in the short-term, I need to be there for AJ right now.

All in all, I'm doing okay. On the Five Stages of Grief scale, I've gotten past denial (huge) and am straddling anger and bargaining. A few have commented on how I seem to be handling this with dignity, but I can't claim that to be wholly the case. I've flown off the handle a couple times in the last week, said some regrettable things. I didn't mean them, just wanted to wound her with harsh words, try to make her feel some of the pain she's inflicted on me. Of course, that's an idiotic thing to do, moreso when the person at whom you aim your barbs couldn't give a shit.

What IS clear to me, through it all, is that she and I need to rehabilitate our relationship. Forgiveness is a difficult concept right now, but it doesn't need to be that. What we need is to make sure we see each other as we really are, not the current versions that are polluted by this contentious situation. To treat each other with respect, not necessarily as mates, but as parents. For good or ill, she and I have a life-long relationship ahead of us because of AJ and we need to be vigilant in our effort and willingness to parent him together, even if we are physically apart.

Getting over the hope of saving the marriage has allowed some positive thoughts to enter. I'm moving on and I'm excited about some things I'd like to do. Like it or not, I AM going to have more time to myself and I'm going to be productive. I still take the occassional gut punch, someone will say something or a certain song will come on the iPod (damn you Primus!) that will remind me of happier times. But that wholesale feeling of dread, of helplessness, seems to have retreated and I'm continuing to beat it back by looking forward.


I've had a lot of vistors here lately. Dang. Nickerson has got some readership. Thanks again, Shane for your kind words. And thanks to all you strangers who dropped a comment. That was hard to write, harder to post, but I hope it helped somebody out there.

I also got a reader from this Google search. SMTL, baby.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Random Thoughts...

...and Thorough Bread Selections

I'm never gonna get laid again. Unless I buy a Porsche.

Don't laugh. I own Southern California Real Estate. I'm gonna get Absinthe rich off the sale, even though I'm only getting half. So I could buy a Porsche. Maybe with a little left over for pectoral implants.


We've lived in the house a couple months short of two years, so we can't list it until April to avoid cap gains taxes on the profit. At least ten more weeks of having to look at her every day. Good fuckin times.

I've never lived alone before. Always had mates or roommates. I'm both looking forward to it and worrying over those first few sleepless nights.

I got an e-mail yesterday that knocked me on my ass. Thanks, Larry. And you're welcome.


The whole poet thing makes perfect sense. The wife eats that shit up. Hell, when I was a' courtin' her, I ripped off some dashing verse (or dashed off some ripping verse). Sonnets, even. I continued to gut some out after we were married, too. But I'm not a very good poet. I'm too overt. My imagery is about as subtle as a punt to the nuts. And my vocabulary is too multi-syllabic. Meter is hard with words like "diaphanous." That said, I wrote two poems in a college writing course that are fucking masterpieces. A sawbuck gets you a signed copy.

If anyone out there is looking for a sure-fire diet plan, allow me to suggest hopeless sorrow. The only side effect is that you can't sleep, either.

On Valentine's Day, what do you get the wife who has everything, including a boyfriend?

I have decided to keep seeing the psychologist, minus the wife. I've never in my life felt the need for therapy and I don't know if I'll get any relief, but right now my mind is open to anything. Buddhism, Bokononism, The Moonies (hey, I could work for the Washington Times or UPI!)...whatever. I'll try anything to get over this as expeditiously as possible.


I used to have very long (and opinionated) hair. For about three week's after I cut it, I continued to play with it, tucking phantom strands behind my ear, etc. I've been doing the exact same thing with my departed wedding ring.

The wife recently won a big award at work, an "...Of The Year" type thing. Aside from the award itself, she also got a set of thick-stemmed martini/margarita glasses, which have been sitting on the kitchen counter. Every time I've spied them in the last 36 hours, I've had a primal urge to smash them to bits.

I'd like to thank everyone once more (and since I can't thank you guys enough, I reserve the right to do so again) for all the calls, comments and e-mails of support. I've felt incredibly alone lately, wrapped up in the tumult inside me, and your reaching out gave me something to grab onto yesterday. Such an amazing, compassionate and selfless group you are. I can only hope to one day re-pay your kindness.

Marble Rye.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Light of Day

I love you all. I can't respond to you all. Not right now. But your thoughts and prayers and advice reduced me to a quivering mass of humanity this morning. In a good way. I've felt so starved for affection lately. My wife flinches when I move to touch her. And, well, let's say I feel wrapped up in a big fucking hug right now.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I'd hate that. Just because I'm throwing everything into this online pot, doesn't mean I'm mining for pity. I NEED this. And it's gonna be unexpurgated, because that's just how I roll.


I just got done reading Vonnegut's "Man Without a Country," the prevailing theme of which is that we have fucked up our planet so royally that our grandchildren will be lucky to see it survive. And faced with dire circumstances, all we have is humor. Kurt says he's not funny any more, has been beaten down by pessimism as he reaches the end of his life. I can relate. But I'm still funny. I NEED that, too.


Some of you know what I do for a living. At it's most basic, I find information. I told Pauly yesterday that I could track down Robbie Rist in 20 minutes if he gave the word. I wasn't joking. If Robbie's taken a dump in an LA public bathroom in the last decade, I'll know about it.

Yet, for all my powers, I never tried to find this Michael. It wouldn't have been hard. Quick check of the wife's cell phone records, reverse directory search and boom. But I had--have--no interest in confronting him, no desire to know anything about him.

Which is why it's funny that I just accidentally happened upon ALL his info. Apparently, the wife doesn't clear her internet trollings. I got halfway through typing in my Yahoo! profile address when two others popped up in the dropdown menu. My wife's and Michael's. He's a poet. For some reason, that makes me want to smash things. People who dress in all black and wear berets have always tilted me. But the best he can manage on his profile page is, "Life is a gift, so wrap yourself well." Which is hackneyed shit.

And it doesn't even rhyme.

This is the End

Around Christmas, my wife began to exhibit some troubling signs. She was uncommunicative and distant. She was drinking--sometimes just a glass of wine or two, sometimes more--every night. After a few nights of relative silence, I asked her what was wrong. "I'm homesick," she said.

Holidays are tough. She hasn't seen her parents in over a year and she worries about her father, who is in his 80s. She hasn't seen her sister--her best friend--or her sister's family in nearly three years. I gave her a hug, told her I understood and let her know that I was there to help.

The holidays passed relatively uneventfully. Lots of toys for AJ, an attempt at a festive New Year's Eve aborted by my sickness. And yet, her mood lingered.

"I'm depressed," she'd say, when I probed her.
"About what?"
"I don't know. I'm confused."

As the blues continued, I began to press her harder and more frequently. Her condition was infecting the whole house, starting to wear on me and, on some level, affecting AJ. She still refused to offer me any answers, occasionally dropping hints about her dissatisfaction with me, but they seemed so similar, so minor, that they couldn't be causing this much anguish. I was concerned, but could only assume it would pass, as she continued to re-assure me there was nothing I could do to aid her.

One night, she talked of feeling like she was going crazy. Like she'd become manic-depressive and needed some counseling. For the first time, I began to get scared, though I said I thought that would be a good idea. I didn't have any answers. She wasn't providing any questions. And I worried ceaselessly for a few days about what was happening to my wife.

On January 21, Saturday night, a few days after that last discussion, my wife told me--among other things--that she was leaving me.


I later learned that there's a process people go through when they formulate an idea to leave, or, as the title of a book I read says, "Uncouple." It's a sociological study, less concerned with WHY people do things than simply WHAT they do. The author studied hundreds of couples to find patterns in the run-up to the end of a relationship. And it was spooky. Like the author had been living in our house for two months.

What must happen for the person (called the "Initiator") to uncouple is a redefinition of self, a process that begins with a secret. For many, it's simple unhappiness. The relationship is not progressing satisfactorily, for whatever reasons. There's a malaise, a distance, a sense of living parallel lives. What then develops is the Initiator begins to focus on this unhappiness, this idea, and starts to turn it into action. One of the keys is that they do this privately, avoiding outside influence so they can shape the information to their own advantage. Even so, clues are present, as they were in our case. Also typical was my reaction: These are small things, easily fixable.

Not getting the attention or happiness at home, the Initiator then begins to express self in other directions, creating something like a new identity to seek validation elsewhere. This outside recognition becomes most important as the Initiator finds new and exciting opportunities for fun outside the home. This move away from family (and toward self) lengthens the distance between the couple, severing ties along the way. The Initiator's social life may now exclude the partner. The Initiator might take a lover or fantasize about taking one, devoting energy to that fantasy, which is expressed more in thoughts than in day-to-day encounters.

Now that the Initiator has transformed this discontent into something more than just an idea, they begin to reconstruct what came before. They become increasingly occupied with the partner's failures, going so far as to re-invent their history together, seeing nothing but a "negative chronology of events." The significance of the relationship is diminished and re-interpreted to be consistent with the way the Initiator is now feeling. Furthermore, still at home, the Initiator only notices the daily activities (flaws) that fit with and feed their immediate mindset.

Often, the Initiator will begin to keep a journal, writing down the bombardment of thoughts, giving them tangible from, turning that unhappiness into an object instead of a vague feeling. They seek counsel, but only from safe sources, people they know who will not disagree with their path, avoiding all those with a vested interest in the relationship. They will make new friends, transitional people, who will help bridge what they are increasingly coming to see as their "old" and "new" lives.

As the Initiator begins to pull these pieces into place, they will become more emboldened, their perceived problems intensified, and begin to transform possibilities into plan. They will withdraw intimacy from the partner, criticize the partner more frequently and in public, transforming the relationship into something bad, to make uncoupling more socially acceptable. The partner's flaws are now an alternate reality, totally removed from the thought process, a litany of negatives developing unfettered. This negative reinforcement helps ease the Initiator into Change. The partner, with all his/her faults, becomes an acceptable loss, is, in fact, dehumanized, more of an obstacle than a person. Such conclusions are used to justify the failure of leaving, of the relationship breaking down. Because the partner is unsuitable.

Throughout this time, the Initiator is building a sense of the self being first priority. The individual must take precedence over the family. The result is further removal from the partner and others associated with the relationship (children, in-laws), turning almost to isolation, where the Initiator can continue to carry out this plan, unabated, for building a new, separate life.

At this point, the partner is aware of what is happening, but likely doesn't know the seriousness of what is being undertaken, as the Initiator continues to operate in relative secrecy. But the clues are there. It may be something symbolic, like removal of a wedding ring or a change in attitude towards the house where you live. It may be physical changes, like weight loss or more attention to beauty (make-up, hairstyle, pedicures).

The cumulative impact is that the Initiator is re-defined as a new entity, validating self and altering the relationship to make leaving acceptable, the upshot of which is, that the expressions of discontent are now focused on convincing the partner that the relationship is unsavable. The Initiator has moved to a new phase of life, largely unbeknownst to the partner. He/she is self-defined as "new," where the relationship is past and wholly negative. This belief stymies any attempts at reconciliation, for the Initiator does not want to turn back into the unhappy person they were, put themselves back into that "negative chronology of events" that was their relationship.


One of the other things my wife told me that night was that there was a guy. His name is Michael and they met at her job the second week in December. He came in to look at an apartment. He passed, but one of my wife's duties is to make follow-up inquiries to people who pass through. She did that in this case as well, but at the end, she added a personal note.

Thus began their daily e-mail communication. She allowed how seeing one of his e-mails in the inbox was the "highlight of her day." And how she "thinks about him all the time." Nothing physical happened, she assured me, just the e-mails. Oh (she says two hours later) and we had lunch once. Oh (she says weeks later) we were together when you and AJ were in St. Louis. And yes, something physical did happen (I will refrain from the symbolism regarding the wife refusing to attend my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversay celebration with the rest of my entire extended family so she could stay home and...uh...you know...date).

If you've ever experienced this, you know how badly it hurts. If you're lucky enough to have had this particular albatross pass you by, I can't begin to do the feeling justice. I sobbed uncontrollably. I felt like I couldn't breathe, like I was being ripped into pieces. I'd scream unintelligibly, hoping the effort would touch that place inside of me that felt like profound desperation. But I couldn't--can't--get near it. You can't rub it out, can only wait for it to go away of its own accord.

We talked long into the night, me pleading, cajoling; her, impassive and unemotional. See, that's where the Partner is at a disadvantage to the Initiator. They are on different planes. The Initiator has all the power. The former's first reaction--after sadness (and believe me when I tell you the following day was the saddest of my life)--is to fix things. Whereas the Initiator already sees everything as beyond fixable.

Despite that, I convinced her to cease the e-mails with this Michael. She agreed grudgingly and when his communications kept coming, I asked that she block his address. She refused. And since she began to hide her cell phone, I'm gonna guess the communication never actually stopped.

Over the course of three weeks, I was a volatile and ever-churning mix of emotions: abject sorrow, extreme self-loathing, righteous anger. I never knew which would be at the fore when I woke up in the morning. I always rooted for anger. It felt healthier. And I didn't end up a quivering mass of tears a dozen times a day when I was pissed.

Some nights, we didn't speak at all. Others we went 'round and 'round the same arguments. She continued to be totally unmoved by my pain, had detached herself emotionally in this uncoupling process. I promised we could improve, strengthen our bond. She didn't want to fix it, she said. She lied to me casually, saying this wasn't about Michael over and over, that he was just a "friend." I hammered at her over the fallout of this decision, especially in regards to AJ. How she's putting herself before her child, how she is her first priority instead of her child, how she's letting this feeling--which, I said often, is only temporary, whether she stays or goes--overwhelm her concern for what a divorce would do to our son.

I continually begged her to come with me to counseling, which she dismissed. Still, she is concerned only with seeking opinions of the matter which validate her stance. Outside of me and her sister, she's spoken about it with nobody, including her parents, who are sure to be critical. But I finally broke her down, or, more likely, she just got sick and tired of my suggestion and agreed in order that I would shut up about it. I never got the sense she was going to try to mend our relationship and I expected her to be as unemotional and stonewalling with the therapist as she had been with me.

Between her agreeing to see the therapist and us actually going, I had an epiphany of sorts. I guess what happened was that I realized I most likely was not going to have a wife in a few short weeks. It felt like she was already way beyond me. I couldn't reach her. I was the enemy, an irritating obstacle she must pass to get to her new life. I wondered why I was clinging to her, to our marriage. The hurt she has caused me is immeasurable. She betrayed my most sacred trust. I can not, in all seriousness, ever see her in the same way again. So why did I want her back?

Two reasons. The first is AJ. I'm a child of divorce and my father leaving when I was 12 (to have an affair) was crushing. He came back 8 months later, but the damage was done and he and I spent 20 years at an emotional distance. AJ doesn't deserve this. He should not have his whole life, his security, ripped from him at this age.

The second is related to the first. He also shouldn't have to live in a house where his parents aren't happy, or worse, don't love each other. I couldn't ask my wife to come back if I wasn't wholly prepared to change my lifestyle.

I am at least an equal partner in allowing our marriage to deteriorate to the point where an episode like this could occur. I'm forever distracted by less important matters than family. I'd become inattentive to the needs of both my wife and AJ. I'd been uninvolved in their daily lives, thinking a quick hug hello or hurried kiss goodnight was enough to fulfill my role. And I'm ashamed.

So, regardless of the outcome of this, I resolved to improve myself. Either way, I have to. Not just in family matters, either, but in every facet of my life. I need more effort. I need more focus. I need fucking plans, goals. And I need to be available every single time my wife or child needs me.

This gave me a little bit of a boost. A silver lining, if you will. And I was totally focused on changing these habits. Of course, the wife didn't want any attention from me, so I basically just gave her space at home, responded or queried cheerfully and saved the tough discussions for the sessions. However, even if she continued on her course of action, I would get something out of the experience. I would be a new man.


We walked out of the therapist's office that first day and she said it felt like she was on trial. "She's not on my side," I said, but that statement was met with disagreement.

For my part, I walked out of there with a little spring in my step. The therapist made a couple salient points, taking us down paths of discourse I had not previously seen. The dear and patient wife cried, one of the few times she's shown any emotion toward me during these difficult weeks. I won't violate our privacy by telling you the details, but I will say that some of the therapist's questions aimed at the dear and patient wife went unanswered, much as many of mine have. Yet, for the first time, I felt not like she was purposefully deflecting the questions, but that she really didn't know and answer. That the outward certainty of her decision masked some inner confusion, some wavering of her stated commitment. And it gave me hope.

Despite what Andy Dufresne says, hope isn't always a "good thing" and, in this case, it's most definitely not "(one of) the best of things." Hope has kept me alive the last few weeks, Hope that my wife would wake up, that she would return to the person I've known and loved all these years. What she is doing is wrong.

Nevertheless, she's leaving. Dead set on it. Neither emotional or intellectual arguments can reach her. She looks at me as if I am a nuisance, treats me as if I were a stranger on the street. She has shut me off from her heart, regarded me with increasing disdain and somehow, someway, come to see me as the enemy. She has casually lied to me over the past 10 weeks, repeatedly and seemingly without remorse. And I've taken it.

Tonight, I stopped. The writing is very fucking on the wall. No, she will not cease communication with Michael. No, she doesn't want to try to fix our marriage. No, she doesn't see AJ's impending devastation as an impediment to her running from our nearly 6-year marriage into the arms of Prince Charming. She's well beyond my reach. The woman with whom I expected to grow old has become somebody else entirely. A person unconcerned with anyone besides herself (and her boyfriend). I've asked her to leave. I can't look at her any more, can't handle the dull, unfeeling expression in her eyes when she looks at me.

I know I'll be okay. Eventually. It's heartbreaking, this feeling, but my life has purpose:


I've cried myself to sleep many nights in recent days, but I never cry more sorrowfully than when I think about facing my boy and telling him that Mommy and Daddy can't get along any more and that he's going to spend every week of the next 14 years with a ready-to-go backpack, shuttling between two-bedroom apartments, instead of jumping nightly into his parents' bed, safe in his home and their closeness. I've failed my son and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make his life as wonderful as it can be, to make sure he knows he is the one person in the world for whom I would lay down my own life, to make him into a man of strength and character. I hope he can forgive us, climb the summit of this obstacle his imperfect parents have laid in his path. He's a good boy, impossibly loving and giving. I hope he never loses that, not because of me and his mother and our tragic blemishes.

I never thought I would be where I am at this moment. I guess if I had, I may have been able to prevent it. Take this as a warning, friends. Like a vulnerable poker hand, you're never as far ahead as you think you are.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Play's the Thing

One of the things I realized after playing Real Live Poker on Saturday night (and I'm a special idiot so don't mock me for being a little slow on the uptake) is that the cards matter only as much as you let them matter. Over the course of the six hours, I won a dozen pots with absolute garbage. I raised out of position with crap. I dropped four bleeping hammers. The only reason--well, maybe the Newcastles and four soCo shots gave me some inner peace--was because I had a lock on every player at the table. Between chatter with my fellow opponents, I watched and recalled and pegged. It was a symphony and I had the baton.

To be sure, it's not always like that. I've sat at the felt and had little clue who was coming from where. But I can unequivocally state I have never been in that zone playing online. I may have been in zones where I was playing well, where each turn of the card was met with my sure knowledge of where I stood. But I can't bluff online with any confidence. Online, the cards matter much more.

This epiphany (of sorts) doesn't take myriad factors into account. Often, even online, it's obvious your opponents are weak. But it's quite a chore to be able to find a guy who will be scared off by a smooth call on the flop. Or one who will lay down two big overcards to a ragged flop. Of course, that works to your advantage when you DO have cards.

I played the 10K Guaranteed on Full Tilt tonight, my first online foray in a week. I got one of the aforementioned mouth-breathers to double me up early when I punished his J9o with KK. I busted a short-stack with my set of 8s to take my stack north of 4K less than 40 minutes in. Thanks to the cards.

I then dropped 600 chips with AKo (Editor's Note: I just took down a pot on an AT99 board with 77, which I raised or bet on every street, so I guess I had a pretty good read on my opponents there) when the SB called my raise and check-called my continuation bet on a Q-high flop. Then I dropped another 600 re-raising with TT. The BB pushed behind and initial raiser called, so I had to let it go. AA and 88. Good fold, ten on the river notwithstanding.

The point is, I was only playing good cards, and I ran into better hands. It's frustrating, because I lose the sense that I can "play." That's my favorite part. Pushing monsters is part and parcel of online play. Big starting hand, big flop, just shove the shit in. I'm getting bored with it. This style of play is not improving my game. I can play at that level with my left hand and left eye while my right hand is locked in mortal combat with my penis and my right eye is trained on some girl-on-girl porn on the big screen. You know, as an example.

So, I was short and I waited for big hands some more and raised UTG with AQs. The SB called and checked on a queen high flop. I pushed my monster and got called by KK, knocking me down to the felt. I was out soon after, though I did double up once with 43s against Big Slick. The point is not being busted. The point is that I felt like what I was doing took no more skill than pulling a slot machine lever and I fucking hate slot machines.

Right when I began this poker thingee, it was clear that I was going to be a "feel" player. I worked on the math and I've got a handle on it. But it's the situations that drive me, finding that perfect response to a bet, knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt where you stand and sure you can extract maximum punishment. I can't get that feel too often online, be it due to atmosphere, medium, attitude or a combination of those and other factors. I'm just not finding any rush in it, any feedback, any lessons.

I guess the quick and easy answer to this is to move up limits. I have the bankroll for it. And I guess that's what I'll do. Now is not quite the time, however. And if I had my druthers, I'd play live a lot more. Sadly, I just don't have the room to fit it in right now and don't see much space for it in the future, either. I don't exactly want to take a break. I'm playing very little as it is. I guess I just want to feel challenged, which is not to be read as "I want tougher competition." I'd also like to have a little more fun. I get both at Murderer's Row and the WPBT gatherings. Not a places to get rich, but places to get better and have (more than) a few laughs. That's why I like poker. Right there. And I'm missing it.

Night Moves

After what was a pretty regular routine of AJ sleeping in his own room, the dear and patient wife and I are now faced with a beast between us every night. Most times, we just agree to let hm start out there, both of our tired souls wanting to avoid the tantrum that comes with refusal. Or we give in to our own parental need to have our son need us, his want to be with us, even in slumber. Others, we convince him that Big Boys really aren't scared by themselves at the other end of the hall, and lull him to sleep, illuminated by his Cardinals night light. At least until he wakes up during the night and again makes his way between us, dooming us both to a night of cover fights.

See, AJ doesn't like to be under the covers. It's instinctual. He's dead asleep when he kicks his legs, like riding an imaginary bike, sending the blankets toward the foot of the bed. He then lays there, splayed out, legs akimbo like a frog's, or an exhibitionist's. Meanwhile, one, or both, of his parents are scurrying for the comforter, trying to shove his legs back in, admonishing this sleeping "innocent" and just plain trying to get back to sleep.

Lately, I've taken to turning him sideways, creating a family "H' with him as the crossbar, if one that is slightly high. That way, he's out from the blankets, and the dear and patient wife and I can pull them to our upper arms, at least. The problem with this, of course, is that when he gets on his dream Schwinn, the kicking is aimed at one of us. I took a pretty nasty one in the jaw the other day.

It doesn't seem to bother him that he's cold. Many times, I've awakened to find him curled fetally on top of the bedspread, shivering. I dutifully put him back where it's warm, which he typically rejects within 15 minutes. It's a nightly battle.

He snores, too.

When my alarm went off this morning, extra early since I have a little more on my plate today, I groaned and whacked the snooze button. I rolled over determined to get the most out of my extra 9 minutes, but ran smack into AJ, legs spread like a cheerleader in mid-jump. I eased the blanket over him and tucked his offending appendages inside. He stirred, mumbled something pertinent to his faraway dream, and shifted toward me. He ended up perfectly formed to my chest, his warmth and breath washing over me. I closed my eyes and for 8 minutes, life was perfect.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Charity Begins in the Cafeteria

I was jonesing for some Nacho Cheese Doritos and pulled a carefully counted 75 cents out of my desk and made the trek downstairs. Except I only brought 70 cents. And only had a twenty in my wallet. I turned helplessly to the guy standing behind me and said, "I'm a nickel short. I gotta go back to my desk." He chuckled a little and dug in his pocket, handing me a quarter which I sheepishly took. Face reddened, I grabbed my chips and reached for the coin return, pulling out...30 cents! There was a dime already in there. I gave it all to the guy behind me with the reminder, "See what charity gets ya?"

Pretty good ROI there.

In that vein, Save BG!

If a guy can get a nickel profit on Doritos, imagine what sort of grand reward you'll receive if you send $20 the way of the Boy Genius to defray the costs of his surgery. And after he makes his full and complete recover and is back to eating pizza, we can all make jokes and perhaps get some t-shirts printed up.

Transfer now:

GamblingBlues = Full Tilt
HeyKidsItsBG = Poker Stars

In all seriousness, it's twenty bucks and BG has been a huge part of our little scene right from the start. I personally am lucky to know the man and he has helped me out on a number of occassions and one in particular that was above and beyond.


But, approaching 40, filling the roles of Dad and Husband, satisfied with my career path, I had the faint idea this was it. This is how it is and how it will be; the road is long and straight. I wasn't particularly chagrined at that idea. I find enough humor and verification in my daily life. The problem is when you set your mind to process only the mundane.

I'm prone to fugues. Anyone who's ever tried to get my attention when I'm "deep" in thought knows this. I'm distracted, unavailable. I'm running down so many scenarios in my head that I can't see a foot in front of me. More often than not, these mental ping pong matches are tinged with worry, about finances, performance at home and at work, tasks not yet begun or completed. And I get so wrapped up in them that I'm not open to new experience.

I wrote the above in my "Year End" post, the point of which was ostensibly that poker has injected a little excitement into my daily routine, has become a muse that has re-invigorated my writing. While that point has validity, I'm wrong. Dead Wrong.


Most people I know, self included, are optimistic sorts. We don't sit around waiting for bad things to happen. We're open to the moment. That, or we always expect everything will remain fine.

The problem with that is one fails to notice those small changes. The big picture remains unchanged, but it slowly gets distorted in the corners of the screen, almost invisible and seemingly insignificant. Untended, however, those small changes tend to multiply and before you know it, everything is blurry and unrecognizable.

It's like smoking. When I take one of my many daily puffs, I don't think about how each of them is shortening my life. We don't often think about death and mortaility until it's staring us in the face. So, with each inhale--instant and personal gratification--the scene changes, subtly, but assuredly.


The part I hate the most up there is, "The road is long and straight." Why would that be something I accept? And furthermore, why would I need something as relatively insignificant as poker to push me off that path into a positive direction?

It's unfathomable to me that I felt comfortable with stasis. I'm talking about my home life here. Like I said, there is joy to be found there. But that's all I was doing, hoping to FIND, instead of proactively SEEKING. No, the only seeking I did was in poker. At home, my effort was lackadaisical, my attention fleeting. The road is long and straight, just put it on cruise control and turn your thoughts elsewhere.


When I light up, I'm not thinking about the end of my life. Death is certain, but I'm unconcerned. It's in the future and the future doesn't need attention now. But it does. And you best pay attention to the present if you don't want your image of life to get blurred.

Furthermore, things die every day. Dreams, hopes, innocence, love. They die because they are not nourished, not preserved, not embraced. And before you know it, there's a void. The place where all these cornerstones of your future have dwelt is empty. And trust me, you never know what's gonna rush in to fill that barren space.


The road is not long and straight. The journey is filled with possibility. You've only need to look into the brush to find it, to point it out, to clutch that new discovery to your breast to send yourself and your loved ones off into unexpected and rewarding directions. And if you find yourself wandering solo? With your individual pursuit trumping all others, leaving your family behind to find their own way?

You might wake up lost. And alone.