Monday, January 26, 2009

No Scallops

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

My week of raging solo came to a close on Saturday morning when Nicky returned from a week in South America. Although I missed her, I definitely welcomed the solitude. I also loved being away from the grind and no longer a bitch to the poker industry. The best part of my week involved not flying and having to get up early and head out to an airport and stand in ridiculously lengthy lines and stuck behind total morons in security. And, the lack of crying babies sitting in the row behind me also helped.

So for a week, I carved out my own little utopia as I holed up in our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills. I firmly believe that environment has a huge impact on artistic people. I once had a lengthy debate with Johnny Hughes about that topic. I must have been bitching and moaning about the vagabond lifestyle and that all I really wanted was a place to be in for more than two weeks at a time so I can catch up on writing and really make an impact. He felt that a true artist/writer can rise above that liability and churn our remarkable copy regardless of the environment.

I understood his point, but the bottom line is this - I prefer the quality of my words when they were created in solitude without any distractions. Writing in my office late at night or writing at the dining room table early in the mornings have become more than comfortable. Sort of like your favorite pair of jeans.

During the WSOP every summer, I was forced to write in a conventional media row with thousand of distractions mostly from total tools in the poker media with have emotional problems who need constant attention. The best pieces on Tao of Poker from the 2008 WSOP were written outside while sitting at the pool at Scheckytown between the hours of 5 and 6 am, with some kick ass tunes cranking and a bong within reach.

I unplugged for extended periods of time over the last week. I'm trying to find a healthy balance where I only connect for quick bursts. I still would like to have a couple of days even weeks where I completely unplug and avoid everything and jump off the grid for an undisclosed amount of time. Alas, that's nearly impossible since my livelihood is on the intertubes.

I'm in a weird spot where I'm trying to foster a positive climate while I'm in the middle of Project Z. Writing is the easy part. Even though I loathe editing, that's relatively easy as well. The difficult part is controlling the non-writing aspects of my life while I work on one of the most crucial projects of my absurd existence. It seems a lot of those things are not cooperating. Otherwise, I could have a seamless transition from plugged > unplugged.

I also have a luxury. Time is actually on my side right now. I'm trying to be vigilant with my freedom and avoid taking advantage of this large chunk of unstructured time. For example, in the past when I only had a short amount of free time to write, I forced the action. The words did not flow as organically as I would have hoped. Right now, I don't have the pressure of writing under a time constraint everyday. In fact, I took two days off in the last week (one because Nicky came home and the other because I was under the weather and enjoyed loafing on the couch).

I avoided the boob tube last week and did not watch any of the inauguration hype. I even avoided watching some potentially enthralling college hoops match ups. My main focus was writing and I purposely stopped reading internet news sites and the alphabet news networks on the TV. The only bits and fragments of newsworthy items that I read where shared items from Human Head's Google Reader. Oh and then there was the one night when I watched a series of mind-blowing 2012 videos, which spooked out both the Joker and my brother.

As the Joker said, "I hate watching those videos late at night because then I freak out and think there's an alien in my house."

I felt blah one afternoon and did not write. I slumped on the couch and ingested OTC meds and watched a few things that Nicky had Tivo'd like the latest episode of Top Chef. One of the European chefs slammed a fellow contestant about her choice of always whipping up dishes with scallops.

"This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop," he said.

I'm not a fan of scallops. Most seafood annoys me with the exception of a few items. I don't get excited when they're whipping up scallop dishes.

There was an earthquake on Friday night. I was writing at the time in the dining room. I felt something but it sounded like the guys upstairs slammed their front door really hard. I didn't think anything of it until I got a call from Nicky's mother. She left a message that there was a minor earthquake and she hoped that I didn't freak out. I barely noticed it and had she not called, I never would have known there was one so close by.

A couple of months ago, there was an earthquake during our breakfast at O'Groats. Everything paused for like 15 seconds and then everyone went back to work or eating. Business as usual. California can't sink into the ocean. The Governator won't allow it.

Anyway, in preparation of the big one, I have been slowly stocking up on supplies. It serves a dual purpose as I set up my Armageddon/Earthquake bag with necessary tools and supplies just in case the shit hits the fan. I'd rather have it and not need it then be ill-equipped. The only thing missing is a shotgun to ward off any potential looters and then I'm set. Bring on the chaos. I'm ready.

Nicky returned from Chile on Saturday morning. Her flight landed 40 minutes early. What the fuck? My flights are always delayed. She actually woke me up. I crashed at 4am. I set me alarm for 6:10am. She called at 6am saying that her flight landed. I jumped in the shower and was bummed out to see it raining outside. The roads were wet, but empty. Except, the surface street route that I wanted to take was blocked off by LAPD for an unexplained reason. I had to take an alternate route which meant the freeways... in the rain.

Southern California drivers don't drive well in the rain. Luckily it was early on a weekend so there was light traffic to LAX. I was a little late but Nicky didn't mind because she was happy to be home.

She had been craving comfort food. That's the hardest part about covering poker tournaments in exotic locales. You never get a say in when or what you get to eat. Alas, we headed to Nick's for breakfast. Nicky is not a morning person and she rarely eats at Nick's that early. Me? I like going there when they first open up and I prefer to sit at the counter and read.

On Saturday night, we headed out to Canter's Deli because I had eaten up all the food supplies in the fridge. I saw the flaming waiter who always hits on me when we go there. He likes to touch my arm and back and shoulder. I'm flattered, of course. But Nicky lost it when he sprinted by our table with a slinky in his hand and a small child running right behind him. They headed for a stairwell where they played slinky. I wish I was making this stuff up. Anyway, he wasn't in my section. Our waiter was very attentive and brought over a wide selection of mustard for my Pastrami sandwich. My favorite mustard was mixed with horseradish to give it a nice kick.

On Sunday, my mother went down to Atlantic City. She had a free room and went down to celebrate Chinese New Year. She sat down at her first slot machine at Bally's and hit a jackpot worth $1,150. She got that on one pull that cost $0.25. Unreal. Winning early on in a gambling excursion is never good because you inevitably lose a hefty percentage if not all of your winnings. I just hope she stashed away a couple of hundred.

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