Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sleepless Solo and Patti LuPone Is Not Just Corky's Mom

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm raging solo for a week or so because Nicky flew to the east coast for week-long assignment. She squeezed in a two day side-trip to NYC to visit Showcase and some friends and see a Broadway show featuring Patti LuPone. I never knew she was a huge Broadway star and found out when I started dating Nicky over 5 years ago. I always knew Patti LuPone as Corky's mother from the ABC show Life Goes On, but she had this whole other career and like me struggled with both the bottle and pills. We have more in common than I thought, but I'm completely clueless when it comes to musical theatre. I'm glad that Nicky can get to enjoy one of her passions (Patti LuPone) with friends.

I would have gone with her, but I just got back from a trip to NYC and I'm actually going back on the road again for work. Jack Tripper Stole My Dog is in the final stage so I accepted a different assignment in South America (starting in a week). I'm going to blow my paycheck on a Peruvian side trip and the rest on Super Ball IX tickets.

Due to our work schedules, we won't see each other for almost three weeks. That's the downside. The upside is that I can be completely alone for a week.

I've always joked that I'm the most social hermit you'll meet...or I'm the most introverted social person you know. I'm split in half and enjoy both aspects, but I don't get as much hermit time to myself anymore, which is important in my development as writer. I need time to cultivate my thoughts. I'm bombarded with distractions at every turn and it's difficult to get anything done when I'm prone to distractions. If I had my wish, I'd unplug totally and go off the grid for months at a time, but my main means of income is being connected to the web so I have to be semi-connected regularly, and by semi-connected, I can't go a few hours without something happening. I knew that I'd have to give up a lot of alone time if I moved in with my girlfriend. It's a compromise and sacrifice, but that's the crux of a relationship. I can't exactly have a perfect living situation, but what I have is pretty good (all things non-Hollywood considered).

As much as I try to withdraw from the world, there's a layer of underlying tension at times because my girlfriend is still connected to the poker community, so I can never escape the one aspect of my life that feels suffocating. After being in the business for almost a decade, I've gotten very good at being a special forces type of contributor to the community -- I can stealthily jump in and out of hotspots without any problems. I'm also not attached at the hip to the "Dr. Pauly" persona. I can put it in my closet next to my other costumes (Dharma jump suit, white tuxedo, and a Hawaiian shirt) and only pull it off the hanger to wear when I absolutely need to. I found a wonderful balance, but that's only when I'm able to disconnect from the darkness and flourish in the warmth of other trivial pursuits.

Alas, the tension is created when I cannot escape the one thing I need a mental break from. The hardest situations arise when I'm going through a period of frustration with poker (due to the rat race, or the high school bullshit that has recently infested the scene) and purposely withdraw from the poker bubble to replenish my mental health and creative juices. Instead, I focus on doing my own stuff because most of that worst aspects of poker that I mentioned above are so distracting that it can give you migraines. I've seen what too much poker has done to friends and colleagues -- it has ruined relationships, exacerbated personal vices, transformed some in degenerate gamblers, and caused intense mental distress -- either driving some colleagues insane and the majority of them atrociously (clinically) depressed. One guy cracked so badly a few years back that he still hasn't fully recovered and is prone to "go off the reservation" at unexpected times. When one mutual friend sent me a distressing email inquiring, "How do you get in contact with ____ when he disappears?"

I responded with two words: "You don't."

Balance and moderation are a key to a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, my girlfriend is still involved in poker and we can never fully be on the same page when it comes to schedules. I withdraw often, but she's still a part of the scene (these days more as a player than a writer) but doesn't entrench herself as deeply as I do/have to. The most frustrating days are the ones when I can't go a half of day before I hear the Pavlovian dog dinner bell of the poker world -- an online poker alert sound. Sometimes those beeps and chirps tilt me because I busted my ass to create/maintain a healthy balance between my life and poker, but even then I'm never 100% away from it.

Hence, I'm in a Catch-22 situation -- it's not until we're apart before I can get a 100% break from poker, but that comes at the expense of us being distanced from each other.

The insomnia is a huge part of the compromise. Nicky gets the shit end of my aberrant sleeping patterns because I'm, a bad snorer and I sleep so rarely that she never wants to disturb me when I'm sleeping, so if she doesn't fall asleep before me, she's going to have to deal with a buzzsaw.

I'm wired differently. My days are 30 hours long and when I'm by myself, I can live at my own pace and sleep when I'm tired and eat when I feel like it instead of having to get into sync with my partner. It's rough because Nicky is a 7-8 hours night sleeper and I'm insanely jealous because it can take me four or five nights before I attain 8 hours of total sleep.

Last night, I logged seven hours of sleep but I needed a special brownie to put me down and keep me down, and at the same time, I was also operating on 90 minutes of sleep from a restless Monday night.

Human Head sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal titled The Sleepless Elite with a note, "I wonder what the over/under is on How many people will send you this article today?" Actually, he was the 4th person to have forwarded it to me at the time I read his email. I think the total number tat day was 6 or 7. Since then it's passed double digits.

The article described some of my habits... specifically, going to bed after Midnight but getting up early. It's not uncommon that Nicky crashes around 2am and wakes up around 10am. Me? I'm crashing around 3 or 4am and waking up by 6 or 7am.

Last week was weird because I was going to be around Midnight or so and waking up by 4am so I could watch a couple of cricket matches. That through my sleep out of whack just a bit, but now that Nicky is gone, I can get it back on track.

Oh, and I went jogging this morning for the first time in a very long time. I got back in the habit of walking a lot when I went back to NYC. This morning's workout was only 1.7 miles and I spent more time briskly walking than jogging. I always feel weird sometimes in the slums of Beverly Hills because no one walks in L.A. and I'malways worried that a nosey neighbor will drop a dime on me and call the cops because theirs a strange guy wandered up and down alleys. I'm not a thief, but I can tell you this -- I'm surprised more people don't get robbed because they are really lax when it comes to home security. As the economy continues to tank, crimes rates in the theft and larceny apartment are going to soar. I'm expecting more car thefts, carjackings, muggings, and break-ins.

Anyway, it felt good to sweat out all the impurities inside my body. I've dabbled a lot ever since I finished the final draft of JTSMD and I've been a total alkie since I got back from the Bahamas. I'm trying to curtail the drinking and spend more time working out. I gotta get in shape for the upcoming WSOP and Phish summer tour! Stamina is the key.


  1. You remind me of another reason I got out of poker - too many patients. Be well.

  2. Still an insomniac I see- miss you ;). - Molly