Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day Off

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I finally had a day off from the grind. I tried not to write or think about all of the poker hoopla.

So much has happened the last couple of weeks. Bad stuff. My buddy's uncle died in a plane crash. And Nicky's father had to be hospitalized for five days after being stung by a sting ray. Those are the types of things that you are numb to when you hear about it in Las Vegas. If I was anywhere else, those things would definitely have more of an emotional impact. As is, Vegas is a warped universe where things like current events don't always translate. For almost seven weeks, I had no idea what day of the week it was. All I knew was what was in front of me. Tunnel vision.

The hardest part about immersing yourself into an insane project for seven weeks is re-entering the atmosphere of regular life. But I discovered four years ago, that there is nothing that can prepare you for that difficult task about readjusting to living in a bubble for seven weeks, especially a Las Vegas bubble. It's never an easy task to put your entire life on hold and blow off emails, voicemails,and texts from friends, yet that's what I do every summer. I duped myself into thinking it's for the greater good. I have always struggled with that aspect... is it worth losing your friends over a paycheck? Well unless your friends are rich and going to pay your rent or feed your kids, the answer is an easy one... show me the money.

However, this year I feel as though my sacrifices were worth it. I actually declined a couple of job offers that would pay me your yearly salary for seven weeks of work. I turned everything down to take substantially less money and write for myself and a handful of clients. In 2006 I billed over a dozen clients. Last summer, I took in a sickly amount of money for two months of work. But I paid the price. The cost was an insane physically and emotionally drained self. I also felt artistically bankrupt.

But this year? I wrote what I wanted and in the process I gained an even deeper respect from my peers and from the people in my life that I admire the most. That's worth more than a paycheck... no matter how many zeros are on it.

I felt like shit at the end of last summer and during the autumn months of 2007, I frantically came to the decision to take some time away from poker. I'm glad I did because I gained perspective and remembered all the fun things I gave up in order to make a buck in the poker industry.

My life has lacked normalcy since I first moved to Las Vegas to cover poker. Since them I have crossed the globe a bunch of times and visited over a dozen countries either directly or indirectly related to poker. I'm extremely grateful for those opportunities but I also worked my ass off the last four years making many sacrifices. It's always easy to second guess the decisions that you make. But I genuinely feel as though I made the correct decisions over the last couple of weeks and months. I'm blazing a path that is my own.

Physically, my back is still sore from the car wreck weeks ago. I'm mentally drained after a lengthy assignment. My brain hurts from all the poker drama. I seriously can't wait to get to Colorado. In two of the last three years, I always took a trip to Boulder to hang out with the Joker and see amazing music. This year? It's Denver for the Mile High Music Festival. Nicky and I fly out tomorrow for a long weekend. I wish I could fly out today. I also wish that I didn't have to return to Las Vegas to gather up our shit and drive back to Hollyweird next week.

Wil was teasing me a couple of weeks ago when I told him I couldn't wait to go back to LA. He knew that I was in a bad place when Los Angeles freaks are a welcomed alternative to my bizzaro world in Las Vegas. The difference between Hollywierd and the poker scene in Las Vegas is that people are actual stars in LA, when poker players think they are stars in Las Vegas. Even when the lowest of the low celebrities go slumming in Las Vegas, the poker media goes apeshit over it.

Although I enjoyed the press box function at the WSOP, I equally hated it at the same time because it was difficult to do work. Even after I bitched and moaned and instituted my head phones rule, "If I'm wearing headphones... I'm busy. So fuck off!" I still had passive-aggressive nits come over and pester me.

"I know you are busy but..."

I want to punch people when they say that to me, especially when I'm in mid-sentence and working on an assignment and they just want attention or validation or to tell me something that could wait ten fuckin' minutes.

And to my dear friends who respected my privacy and let me write away... I seriously thank you.

I'm sitting at a desk right now in Scheckytown. No headphones. I don't need them right now. No more distractions. No more pros coming up to me to bitch and moan about their bad beats. No more douchebag fourth-rate plagiarists and other unoriginal bottom feeders to tilt me.

I'm super excited right now. No more poker for several weeks. I have at least five weeks of fun. Writing. Music. Book reading. Beach time. Alone time.

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