Musings on Poker and Other Stuff
If it really is the end of the world tomorrow, I'm probably going to regret wasting the last two days running errands, going to the grocery store and deep cleaning my apartment. This is some sort of cathartic return from travel that I ALWAYS do. When I get home...pretty much no matter what time...I always start my laundry and unpack my bag. It is kind of sick. I recognize that.
The following day after hopefully sleeping as many hours as possible, I can't seem to return to normal life until I've cleaned the apartment thoroughly. I have the distinct feeling that until the dust is shed from the shelves I haven't fully returned home. And probably more out of necessity I must grocery shop. It is a sort of ritual. Part of my coming and going.
It got me thinking about all the things in our lives that become rituals. Some of them good, and some of them bad. Heath mentioned to me the other day that I usually do my phone calls when making dinner. I hadn't really thought about it. But, he is right. I can barely chew gum and walk. So, trying to have a conversation that is meaningful and doing anything that isn't 2nd nature is impossible for me. Honestly I can't even grocery shop and talk on the phone because I always forget things and, simultaneously I am not totally present in the conversation. I guess, without my realizing it has become a sort of ritual for me.
I remember when I first was trying to quit smoking, it was impossible for me to get into my car without wanting a cigarette. Now, I would never consider it. But I had developed some kind of synapse fire which went immediately from car to cigarette. How many of these do I still have unknowingly in my life? How many times do I let my little mini-traditions dictate my moment to moment reality?
I guess just living is an act in both being awake at times and sometimes being in a semi-sleeping state. Although being ever-present is the goal of course, it is a very arduous and trying task. WIth a season ripe with tradition right here and also the season of setting goals and making changes I was to stake claim to my goal. I want to actively chose each moment and not let my habits or rituals dictate my life.
I want to be mindful of the things I value most in this life. Top Ten off the Top of My Head
Here's a pic a fellow journalist sent from EPT Prague. And Happy Holidays!! I leave this blog with gratitude and Love!
I went to school in Prague for a semester during my time at NYU. I enjoyed myself. But, honestly, it wasn't my first choice. I wanted to live in London. I was into punk rock. I was into movies. My guts told me to go to London. I let a lot of people convince Prague was like London but way cheaper. Prague is nothing like London. It is cheaper. It's not cheap. And it is not London.
When I came before, I was alone. I had been traveling alone for months in Europe before I found myself in a dorm in one of Prague's lesser known districts. Although I didn't particularly enjoy traveling alone, I preferred it to what I considered the mental midgets that were my peers. I was so condescending to my fellow students since I perceived them as being typical co-ed types that only "act" like they want a cultural experience...meanwhile they throw fake keggers in foreign dorms and make out with each other.
I found the locals in Prague to be just as aloof to me as I was to the other kids. I wasn't very interested in architecture. I've never liked beer. And the Czech language was impossible for me. Needless to say, even though I had a good time, Prague was never my favorite travel destination.
I guess it goes without saying I didn't care one way or the other about coming to this EPT. If I've realized anything though, it isn't about where you go as much as it is about who you go with. Wandering the city with our tight knit little video crew and my new fiance was a blast. We were freezing by the end, but laughing and enjoying the journey. Instead of looking at how this place could enrich me, I found myself seeing how we enrich each other. Maybe my time here before was colored less by the place itself and more by my attitude. Maybe in some karmic way it wasn't a paradise for me because I didn't deserve a paradise.
Somehow I think as you get older everything is prettier. I think as you age you look more inward to shape experiences instead of letting the outside shape you. We even got stuck in a snowstorm and spent 12 hours in Amsterdam Airport trying to figure out what was going on. Even that felt completely comfy and even a little fun.
I had never been here during the holiday season and I have to say I think that is the perfect time to come. I welcomed the snow! We never get it in Vegas and it just feels more like Christmas when it is cold and snowy. It makes the eventual move from the sights of the city and into a warm & kitchy restaurant all that much more precious. When I think about next year I know I will be excited to go...because it doesn't matter where we go...as long as we are all going together!
I'm not sure what I expected. Considering that almost everything in my life has gone a bit backwards, I suppose this makes sense. My life is nothing, if not a bit unusual. I digress. The point is. I'm engaged.
I make Heath a book every year to showcase all the things we have done that year. I call them chapters in the story of a boy and a girl. The first year I did it, I wasn't sure if there would be any more chapters to come. But I knew I had enjoyed the last year immensely and I wanted to show Heath that he was forever a part of MY story now. The books have gotten bigger and bigger as our lives revolve around each other more and more. It is always an interesting reflection and reminder of all the things you share over the course of a year.
I had just finished the one for this year. I snuck it in while he was in LA working on a movie.
We were on Skype talking about a fight we had the previous weekend. Finally I just told him. I made a decision. "Heath, if you don't want to spend the rest of your life with me. If, after 5 years, you aren't sure I'm the one. Then, let me go so I can find someone that knows they want to." I was just overcome with the feeling that now was my time and that we were on a precipice. Either this was my soul mate, and I was convinced that it was. Or, it was time to fold our hand and move on. This was a situation I had likely wanted to bluff many times before, but I didn't know if I was ready for his action. Sometimes you just know. I put my chips in the middle.
And then...so did he. Apparently he had been holding out for Aces.
He calmly told me to open his night table drawer. I did. And after some digging I found the most perfect black box. It was the box every girl waits for. I opened it. WIthout any awareness of his view on Skype.
It was absolutely the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. Everything I wanted and then some. He wasn't on the fence. He knew already. But I guess he needed someone to push the action. He asked me to please come to LA and see him. Which brought me back to beginning of our relationship when I lived in LA and he lived in Vegas. The first chapter. Now, I was coming from OUR home in Vegas to see him working in film in LA. That used to be my life!
As I boarded the plane the next day I was overcome by the irony. I knew in my heart that we would have many, many more chapters in our "book." And at the same time, we would have very little control over the direction our story takes. 5 years ago if you told me I would be carrying his ring with me from Vegas to LA, I might have hoped, but never believed. We have made an interesting circle. Regardless of what crazy path gets you there...I think, the circle is perfect.
Been hanging around youngsters the last week from infants to teenagers. Makes me want to say one thing, THANK YOU MOM!! Raising kids is no easy task. But neither is growing up. We all have the privilege of looking on at teenage 'angst' with at least some sense of peace and comfort and self knowledge. However, when I really broke it down...when I really thought about the pieces of toddlers that I connect with, the bits of kiddos, and the moments with 15 year olds and college student I was struck by something. I have a feeling all the 'searching' for ourselves is really a series of trying on different masks. Okay, I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Babies are nothing if not themselves. They can barely contain their emotions for even a second.
Slowly but surely they begin to imitate the people around them. They begin to gage responses and try to fit in---in whatever small ways they can.
And yet I think for the most part, and most certainly for me, I had a very strong sense of self and identity until around middle school. Suddenly I was exposed to being "cool." I realized there were groups that you could chose to fit into. Thus began a long string of what I would now call masks but at the time I thought was just me discovering myself. From skater to preppie to hippie to punk I changed my hair and clothes and friends and musical interest. All in the name of being me. But when I look back, those were the times I was exploring pieces of me...but I was no where near the true self I'd been hiding since discovering I was a person.
I always say that I would never want to go back even a year because with each year I am more and more comfortable in my own skin. Although even now I realize that there WILL be setbacks. This life is a journey and not a line. The more I sat and thought about it, it dawned on me that perhaps, in searching for our life partner we are looking for someone to love us and teach us with the unconditional love that our mothers did. So we can finally go back to being the mask-less versions of ourselves. And for most of us, create more perfect little people to start the cycle over again.
After a semi-dramatic and angsty teenage weekend with my current life partner and his 14 year old daughter, we headed out to see Wreck it Ralph.
Yes, it is a kids movie. It was probably the best time we had all week. It was a moment when we all let our collective masks down and let it feel good to have a pure heart again. For two hours we laughed at silly jokes, rooted for the good guy, booed the villain and stopped trying to be cool! We reverted back to the original selves we are all trying to run from.
Another year has come and gone. I am only one year away from what many would call "the Dirty Thirty." I think I thought I would feel older by now. With each passing year I realize just how much this world has to offer. I hope in the next 5 years I can fit in more and more experience I never thought I would have, and some that I knew I would. I welcome age like I welcome every single day as an opportunity to enjoy more, love more, listen more and laugh more.
It is fair to say that I spend most birthdays at some level of intoxication. This birthday I went a different and it was amazing! I signed up for a tactical combat course so I could be more proficient with my hand gun. I woke up at 5am and drove to Pahrump for the two day course. I thought for sure I would be super exhausted by the middle of the day. But let me tell you, handling a deadly weapon does something for the adrenaline. I was going all day no problem! I was so excited and practiced every drill on day one to the absolute best of my ability. I was slow and cautious and meticulous.
At the end of Day one we did a drill and although I was accurate, I was the slowest in the class. That didn't stop me. I was determined to work slowly and steadily until I had the whole procedure 100% down pat. Heath and I decided to grab a hotel and have a nice dinner for my birthday. It was perfect. We found a winery. And you know I would normally go crazy! We kept it simple and shared a bottle of wine. I ate my heart out and fell asleep early.
Day two we woke up early again. And I felt so excited for another day of training. We did drill with people coming at us, hostage drill where you have to avoid a large target and two smaller target with perfect precision. As the day wore on I could tell my shooting was getting better and better. My confidence increased. During the drills at the end I was hitting with total accuracy every time. During the last hour of class we set up to take our test. Most people do not pass, but some do. As each bit wore on I realized that I hadn't missed a single shot. The teacher came over and told me that in the entire history of this test only one person had ever scored perfect and it was the second time he took the class. No one had ever scored perfect on the first time.
Ultimately there was one shot at 25 yards where I shot in the forehead instead of between the eyes. This cost me 3 points. So, unfortunately I was unable to make the perfect score. I did however finish first in the class and was invited to move up to a more difficult class next time. It felt incredible. 6 months ago I was petrified of guns. Now I can handle it easily and effectively with near perfect accuracy. I am so grateful for the chance to exercise my rights as an American and more importantly for the knowledge.
Who knows where I'll be next year on my birthday. But, one thing I know for sure, I'm gonna keep eating up this life with fervor. Every year is such a blessing. I look forward to the person I will be when I've had 60 of them and the tools I will have in my arsenal by then.
It is 1:35 in the morning and I am sitting in the dark in the Penn and Teller Theatre uploading videos. And I still have energy! The energy in the Rio during the WSOP Main Event Final Table is so palpable.
I remember the first time I was here for this event in 2010 I had never experienced anything like it. I was just getting to know poker and there were so many interesting characters. The Grinder, Duhamel, Senti, Cheong, Dolan, Jarvis, Racener...I mean I was just overwhelmed. And then there was the action. There were so many cards that fell to create these epic moments. Someone hitting a 3 outer on the river. The turn giving tons of new outs. Even Shaun the Dealer told me he had never dealt so many coolers and bad beats in his life.
Now things are even closer to home. Before we watched from a window high above the action. Now we are on the main stage. I can literally feel the stands shake when the rail goes crazy. I can hear everything. I can smell the hang overs from the rowdy fans.
(my view this year)
It is such an incredible experience. I've never seen a professional football game but I have to liken it to something of a spectacle like that. Yet there is something that makes this entirely unique.
The fans have some personal investment. It isn't just like a football game where maybe you chose your team based on where you were born or where you live now or even just randomly. Almost every spectator in here is rooting for someone because they know them and love them. It is not a convenient affair at a stadium 20 minutes away. People travel from all over to see this thing. And many of them put their hearts in it. The feel like they are a part of it. And they might not even be poker fans. Although I imagine if they weren't before this, they will be after.
I have always been notorious to those who know me for having crazy hair. Kind of makes me laugh when I think that is what Heath was known for too. Just in the years leading up to working at PokerNews my hair in LA went through some phases.
Even my "normal" hairstyles have always had a bit of flare.
I always mix up the color.
The last few years I have kept things relatively simple. Yes, I went from Platinum to dark brown. I threw in an extension and a couple new things.
But all in all, it has been very basic. I think somewhere in my mind I thought, I had to be generic to appeal to everyone. And then I realized the less authentic you are, the less appealing you are anyways! If using my hair as art and change is part of who I am...and it makes me feel comfortable and brings me joy...that will show. My inner self will shine through and ultimately that over rules everything!
So I finally mixed it up and threw a little more style in the mix. I think I appreciate it even more after being so vanilla for so long.
It is obviously less dramatic if I don't push all the hair over. When I'm out, I'm loving that right now. I'll probably play it down a bit for camera.
I mean, the WSOP final Table is coming up. I can't wait! It is always my favorite thing to cover. Getting to see the hold cards with the 15 minute delay is so much fun. I drives me crazy sometimes after we watch a hand play out to wait that 15 minutes. It is just such an interesting dynamic in the game.
I have to say I just love the French Riviera. Everything is very mellow and relaxing. Even the water seems always calm.
No one arrives anywhere on time. Nothing opens until 14:00.
I know I'm American, and we like things BIG. But really my room was hilarious! It was so small. Probably the only downside of Sanremo. But on a good note...it kept me out of my room!
And probably the best thing about Southern Italy?? Lynn Gilmartin obv!
The internet is definitely not up to standards...why would it be? Relax! So not too much this time...but I'll be home in a few days! Whoo...Sin City here I come.
I am notoriously bad at social media. I basically only Tweet and such at live tournaments. In the spirit of social media I had been noticing this whole Instagram Photo-A-Day deal. Any other time in my life I would undoubtedly miss days and to be honest probably have nothing to post even if I did remember. But, being that I knew I would be working for 3 weeks. I just went for it. I did a photo a day every day of September. okay, I missed one day because the theme was 'Before You go to Bed.' Before I go to bed the last thing I am thinking about is Instagram. I thought it fitting to skip that day. Some days were harder than others. I kind of want to come up with one of my own and have the PokerNews or Poker people do it. We will see.
In the mean time, it is over. I thought I would share some of them and their respective Themes.
Some I took Literally.
(Far Away) Me and Josh Cahlik, PokerNews blogger at WinStar Oklahoma Event
(Night) Shooting the Lederer Files
Some I just had to put in:
(Natural) At Gay Pride Downtown
Some I had to be more liberal with:
(Frame) I tried to frame myself with cat ears and the flowers.
These two looked like they had been on filtered before I uploaded them: So I didn't.
(Father) with my little brother
Many times I've had the experience of departing from and returning to the same place. At first it started with home. I would go travel somewhere, explore, and when I would return I would have an interesting feeling of comfort from seeing things I knew and recognized. And yet, I continued to change. I would recognize something, but because of my internal changes my experience of it would be somehow different. There were certain feelings that I would always get as I flew over the Manhatten skyline on my way back to school. Like somehow the experience of the physical place brought out the parts of me that place nurtured. I used those visual cues to help me adjust bouncing around from place to place.
I came to Cannes in 2004 to help market a movie. My mom helped produce the movie. It was such a special experience that I will always treasure. My mom and I still have jokes we share from the weeks we spent here in my early twenties. (I will scan some pix when I get home...they were actually taken when people took film into the store to be developed.)
When I heard I was going to be coming here to cover the WSOP I was a little bit apprehensive. There are a couple of places from my life experiences that I suppose I want to protect. Places that I saw with, for lack of a better word, innocent eyes. Places that I still hold as some sort of momentary utopia.
Cannes was so special and precious in my heart that I feared returning 8 years later might taint it. But, as with lots of things, I was completely wrong. It has been beautiful to return to the same place, but with a new perspective, with a new kind of age and strength. I arrived and shared a ride with people who are both colleagues and friends. When I checked in and walked into my room, just across from the Palais, I was immediately struck with gratitude. I thought the apartment I shared with my mom in 2004 was amazing. I couldn't believe how I had lucked out. Now,I'm in an amazing hotel right across from the ocean. I literally took pictures when I walked in which I will probably never both to share with anyone...but I had to actually physically commemorate the moment. I feel at once both at home and totally out of place. It turns out that has always been a part of my process. Being a little out of place is where I feel the most at home. In some ways I don't feel grown up enough for this yet. I imagine if you asked my 21 year old self where I would be at 28 I would never guess at the Majestic in Cannes. But I also would not even have a concept of what a do now. LOL. I still feel like the little girl staring at myself in the mirror for an hour before I wear my thrift store 80s prom dress on the red carpet. And I simultaneously feel more comfortable in myself and in my life than ever before. I'm both a grown up and a girl.
Like every giddy kid who is genuinely excited I had to immediately put on the robe and slippers. I sat on the Croisette and watched the sun go down.
As I sat I realized that all those experiences of leaving and returning to places were not about the places at all. They were about me dealing with my own growing and changing and pushing myself. It was an external symbol for the internal rope I was walking between where I came from and where I was going. And looking over the water I felt peaceful that in so doing I found myself exactly where I belonged. Yes, I am in an amazing and fancy hotel in France, and I even rode first class for part of my flight. But I still feel a bit out of place sometimes in those situations because the culmination of my years and experiences has always brought me back home. I derive the most joy and feel the most radiant in the most simple things. I never feel more beautiful than when I'm with my family. (which I was the days before I came here
) I still get crazy for the little things (like turn down service). And I am always eager to jump into new like a web series I'm starting with Heath and some friends.
I guess the craziest thing is that I am still finding myself in these incredibly fortunate situations. Maybe the worst thing to taint my lovely Cannes from 2004, would have been to never return. The fact that I am here 8 years later is a testament to the path I chose and the blessing that this path keeps choosing me. Like a lot of things, I'm not sure I deserve all of this. But with the fullest heart I keep being Thankful.
And trying to share all the LOVE I CANNES!!!