Musings on Poker and Other Stuff
For the second smallest country on Earth, this Monte Carlo place is probably the most expensive on Earth. Thus it is the perfect place to pretend like I'm a rock star. Only rock stars can still have half their head shaved, wear boots and show up in a place known for glamour and elitism and get away with it. So let us just pretend...that is what I've been doing.
Every morning at breakfast I act like I'm really hung over from my hard night of entertaining people with my musical antics. Meanwhile I actually look adoringly at the gorgeous view and eat a scrumptious breakfast while plotting ways to become an actual rock star.
Then I head out into the streets, always with a microphone in my hand and act like Kristy is my entourage. I even stop every once in a while to take a photo with my adoring fans.
But, lets be honest. I don't think I fooled anyone.
It might be the circus pants.
I have long been a conspiracy theorist and lover of history. So, while the schnitzel and beer weren't exactly calling my name...I couldn't wait to explore the vibrant city of Berlin.
As we approached the Brandenburg Gates there was huge protest going on. We watched and listened to try to figure what it was all about and soon realized it was to protect animals from cruelty and animal testing. I am a huge animal lover and advocate, so the city could not have welcomed me more perfectly.
We meandered through Tiergarden, the largest park in Berlin. Even though the weather was a little chilly, people were already out having picnics, eager for a taste of the summer to come. People were laughing and photo-bombing every time we tried to shoot. But, it was all in good fun and I can totally appreciate a good photo bomb. We actually had one guy dry humping his friend all the way through our shot and had to use an out take in our actual video!
The stop I had been waiting for since I learned I would be headed to this EPT was the Reichstag Building. A fire in 1933, which was blamed on a mentally handicapped youth, started in the Reichstag and would eventually lead to the NAZI assumption of power and the pushing out of communists in Germany. (And later anyone who was a threat in Germany and beyond). It is widely accepted at this point in our modern culture that likely the Nazi's started the fire themselves to begin usurping the rights and power in Germany. It is such an epic piece of history rooted deep inside this building. It was all but destroyed several times and has been rebuilt in modern times. During one re-build a glass dome was added in the center to represent transparency in government moving forward. The building was seeping with stories and the weight of a rich and wild past.
I remember reading stories about the falling of the Berlin Wall and people coming into contact for the first time with bananas and jeans! It is hard to imagine. I felt so blessed to be able to actually see parts of this crumbling facade. Later we stumbled upon several pieces of the wall that were kept almost like statues in Potzdammer Platz. As if Berlin hadn't already been incredible, we found graffiti on the wall that couldn't be more fitting if I had written it myself.
The people of this country seem aware and conscious of the world around us. Perhaps it is their frightening past that makes them alarmingly aware of how possible it is for power to corrupt. Their knowledge of history keeps their eyes open to prevent the inevitability of tyranny.
Berlin is a city which is both looking forward and backward. It is modern and historic. I am extremely grateful to spend the rest of the week here. I don't even like beer, but for Berlin, I'm happy to keep my mind open and take one down.
Beer down, head up, eyes open. Here's to you Berlin!!
I have been to Deauville several times before, but this time has been amazing so far.
For starters, for the 3rd time in the last 6 months my TV on the flight didn't work. Normally this is a huge bummer. But luckily I was sitting next to one of my favorite people in the world, Kristy Arnett and so I was able to catch up some really guilty pleasures courtesy of her computer. Nothing like a little Real Housewives to make you feel good about yourself.
Normally we have to take the international flight and then once we arrive we take a train or cab to a train station and then the train to Deauville and a cab from there to the hotel. Last year I fell asleep in the freezing cold open air Paris train station waiting for my train and woke up with a pigeon on me. This year, EPT concierge made an affordable service to transfer people from the airport. It was so simple. I caught up on some sleep as we cruised the 2.5 hours from Paris to Deauville.
Although it was pretty chilly, especially by the water, the weather during the welcome video was WAY better than the last few years.
After shooting the welcome video I arrived at a restaurant I had been to a few times last year. I was frozen and jet lagged. Well, the waiter remembered me and immediately brought me a lovely Pinot Noir. I didn't even have to ask. In my state of exhaustion I forgot to ask for my pizza with no cheese. But, don't worry, the waiter reminded me, "no cheese correct?" WOW, what a boss.
PokerStars had a beautiful party the day before the Main Event began. It was beautiful and full of one of my favorite drinks: champagne.
So of course after staying classy and shooting the party video...Kristy and I just relaxed and enjoyed.
What a great start to EPT Deauville Season 9.
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 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.
Just landed in Campione and did a little bit of exploring. Holy Cow this place is so beautiful.
Just strolling along and of course stumbled upon this gorgeous swan swimming upon Lake Lugano.
As I type this I can hear a bell ringing somewhere to let me know that it is 4pm. It seems so ancient and lovely to keep track of time that way. If I wasn't so enjoying the view from my hotel room,
I might actually get up and get ready for my big dinner tonight. We are heading out to a Grotto across the lake for some official home cooking.
I don't know how it is possible that after all these years of traveling around Europe and even living in Europe for a semester that I have NEVER been to Italy. Or Switzerland for that matter. Well, the truth is that I was saving my Italian adventure for a chance when I could really spend a long time and indulge. Like say...my honeymoon. But, as the fates would have it, my opportunity came before that and I couldn't be more grateful.
Flying over the Alps this morning at sunrise I was absolutely blown away. Here is the best version I could find.
I'm a Rocky Mountain girl originally and I LOVE mountains. However, these things are like nothing I've ever seen. They just go on and on with their white caps. Even from the misty lake here one can see some snow caps peaking out in the distance. Thus, Heath and I settled it. He used to drive from Holland to Italy all the time and is going to do it for me. I want to see the whole of Switzerland and Italy. Okay, so it might not happen on this trip. But I am inspired. I am in awe. I am blessed.
I couldn't have been more excited to get the news that I would be the video hostess for the newest EPT stop in Loutraki, Greece. I have ALWAYS wanted to come to Greece. Of course I imagined island hopping and swimming the Mediterranean, which my trip has not been at all. But what I got is something even better. I just did the all-inclusive Mexico thing. This trip has been about coming back to the beginning of Western civilization.
Heath decided to come to make sure I didn't get caught up in some riot. And of course to play his first EPT. We arrived very early in the morning, dropped off our bags and headed straight for the Acropolis. Heath immediately hired a private guide, which I thought was a bit pricey, but it was his money, so I indulged the splurge. Boy was it worth it. She had so many treasures to share. Not just history, but deeply ingrained principles of Greek philosophy.
She explained that we all have monsters which is what makes us human, but that we have the capacity to be like the Gods, that in fact it is our duty to reach toward our better selves and away from the things that make us broken and human. Heath and I would soon have a lesson in that. I could barely keep my eyes open, but Heath brought me to a little bar to share some Greek drinks before the dinner he had arranged. We went to dinner where I broke plates, ate and danced like an American girl trying to be a true Greek. Then things got ugly. We decided to let the wine take us where it would...which of course was a strip club. We drank too much. Fought. And wasted an entire day in Athens the next day.
That night we ate at a restaurant over looking the Acropolis and chatted about what a waste that was. How gross we felt after the elation of such a beautiful first day. We decided to make a conscious choice to let Greece teach us how to be our better selves. And since that I feel amazing. I woke up this morning and felt so grateful for my job, grateful for my life and beautiful in my own skin. I won't let my degenerate nature become ME.
I even had a blast shooting the welcome video in the midst of a pseudo hurricane!!
Welp, I'm here in foggy London Town. Which is more realistically, sunny London town. The journey here was filled with some Delta bumps and bruises. After my loyal service they pretty much hire complete incompetents and I'm left at the back of the plane with a TV that doesn't work and a delay. But, c'est la vie. I made it alive and nothing a little Xanex can't fix on the way.
The day of exploring the city was absolutely lovely!! Laura set up for us to have our own cabin at the London Eye. Adam and I meandered the city hitting up Piccadilly Circus, Trafalger Square, Big Ben, Thames River, all the good stuff. Check out the video complete with some ridiculous outfits.
This will probably be most all I see of London because it is bloody expensive. The free ride arranged on the Eye would have been £30!! The tube ride from the airport was almost £20. I tried to pull out £250 from the ATM and apparently that was too much. Especially with the dollar declining like peoples' interest in Casey Anthony, I just can't afford it here. And quite frankly, I don't belong here. See below.
A lot coming up the next few months...but that is it for now.