Saturday, December 31, 2011

This blog post is brought to you courtesy of procrastination. I SHOULD be packing my car and hitting the road, as I am definitely leaving this morning (early afternoon).  However, I pulled a late night last night and I'm not moving as fast as I used to be.

This is face of exhausted, hung-over & "just can't hang like I used to".

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #3
Procrastination & On the Road Again

This time at home has gone by in a blur. I haven't played poker, I haven't thought about poker, I haven't dreamed about suits and flops and suck outs. It's been a much-needed break. I have however, spent a lot of time with family and friends that I have missed tremendously. Josh Cooper once said something about how going home, you realize that life goes on without you. Which really, is pretty much common sense.. but it stuck with me. Since being home I've had a few really memorable moments, a lot of laughs, some good natured flirtation and some of the dynamic (or at least the way I view) a few of the people here has evolved. All anybody really wants is to hear the words "You don't really have to leave again, do you?" And when I did, and realized I didn't have a choice.. it hit me.. life is going to go on, and I'm going to miss out on a lot of awesome moments with people I really dig. Hopefully they won't completely forget about me. <3

Okay, pity party over. I get to spend 2012 in some of the coolest cities in America, surrounded by poker and doing something I love to do. Life could be a whole lot worse.

Symbolism for the win.

I intended to bring in the New Year with Scotty, here in Memphis. But I neglected to visit my sister over Christmas, and I'm running really short on time.  So tonight, hopefully, I will bring in the New Year on the beach. It's a great place to celebrate the passing of an epic year. It's rather sneaky how the New Year comes in under the cover of darkness.  One minute it's everything behind you, and the next it's a whole new year.. full of expectations and goals.

Mom has just announced that she may hop in the car with me, and just Amtrak it back to Memphis in a few days.  So this will be all the better.. having us all three together.

Tuesday I'll be checking into Biloxi, gearing up for the Million Dollar Heater and back in poker world. I'll admit, I'm looking forward to being productive again, and seeing the poker friends I've been away from since heading out west.  Scott is coming down Thursday to shack up for a few days and try his hand at a tournament or two.

I'm already thinking about when I'll get back to Memphis, though. Right now it's looking like February. March if I pick up another event. It's weird how it works.. you leave with a schedule and then everything changes, and even with the best of intentions, 6 months slips away before you can blink.

I'm going to pack. I'll do my best to update throughout the day, as I am still hoping to get my countdown done. <3

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Followup on Ben Breedlove: Family & Funeral; A Personal Note on Death

I wanted to do a quick update to the Ben Breedlove story I wrote a couple days ago.  The blog post, overnight, received more "hits" than anything I've ever written. Easily over 20,000 in just 24 hours. This is a well traveled blog, but that's a pretty extreme jump.  It seems people everywhere were just as fascinated by this young man's videos, his message and sadly.. his passing.

The guest book at Ben's funeral, December 29th 2011.

This Austin, TX teen managed to unite hundreds of thousands of people through videos he made about death, just 5 short days before the pacemaker on his heart failed and took his life on Christmas Day. His videos, which by morning were posted everywhere, went viral overnight.. literally.  So much so that the Breedlove family decided to stream his memorial live today online, so mourners across the world could grieve the loss of Ben.

One thing that struck me in watching the parts of the memorial service/funeral I was able to, was how at peace his mother seemed to be.  She looked, and rightfully so, like she'd been through hell and back.. but she was smiling, mostly had herself together and was able to accept other's condolences with grace.

Deanne Breedlove (In black, in the middle), with youngest son Jake at Ben's funeral.

I know I've mentioned once or twice that I had a son once, and that he passed away. Actually, tomorrow would have been his 11th birthday.  Though I only got to experience motherhood for a little over three months, I can tell you with no uncertainty.. that this is something you never get over. I mean, you move on.. you even feel mostly normal again, but your child is with you all the time in some manner or another.  I find myself scanning a crowd of children for a boy that would be around his age, fascinated with the developmental milestones they've reached and wondering what sort of person he would have been.

Robert, with his father. A good lookin' boy!

Having a child that's passed away is a unique sort of awfulness, on top of the obvious. When people ask if you have children, especially in my case having no others, you're faced with the decision of telling them simply "No" and entirely discounting that fact that you are in fact a Mom, or saying "Yes" and having to explain.  People never want to talk about children dying. It sends a guttural panic into the hearts of most women, and men become uncomfortable because it's a realm of emotion they don't want to tip toe through. To this day, when someone finds out about my child, I find myself in a weird sort of role reversal.. where the person hearing the news becomes very apologetic and upset, trying to find the words and I have to assure them that I'm okay, it's okay and that they don't need to comfort me. I like to avoid the subject altogether, but at the same time, sometimes I want to talk about him. He was a really beautiful blessing, and his death was the ONLY negative part of the entire experience of having him.

I was 19. So young. I didn't even know how to give a proper
bath to a baby, and they don't come with handbooks!
You can tell he was thrilled by this experience.

Anyway, my point is.. Ben Breedlove's Mom really looked okay today. I was an absolute mess at Robert's funeral. I insisted on speaking, which I shouldn't have, but I had so much I wanted to say.. and I ended up breaking down in front of a lot of people. The biggest differences between Ben's mother and myself is that she's a solid 20 years older than I was at the time, her son had been struggling with a life threatening illness for 18 years, and she has a relationship with God that I wasn't even close to at that age.

I envy her for those things, but at the same time, my heart aches for her today.  I know how she feels, in as close a way as anyone can I suppose.

The worst part of burying a loved one, particularly a child, is that in a few weeks.. the rest of the world will go back to normal. Life goes on, and everyone is back to work and doing their daily grind. But for the parents, and possibly the siblings.. the immediate family, that hole actually gets BIGGER as time progresses and life continues without the one we're missing.  Sure, it gets better..but it's really hard the first couple of years. People don't like to discuss death and loss, and the grieving person begins to feel guilty for being sad and begins to bottle it up.. hoping to not make anyone else uncomfortable.

I spent hours and hours online reading stories from other mothers who had lost their children to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), with an almost morbid dedication. I just longed to know I wasn't completely alone in my emotional roller coaster.  And then one day, I didn't anymore and I too moved on. For the most part.

I don't mourn Ben Breedlove.  He's in a much better place, where doctors and surgery no longer factor in. My heart aches for his Mother, and the rest of his immediate family. The worst is still to come for them and I pray they have the support network in place to help them get through it.

Two people stood out during the days that followed my son's death. One paramedic who said "Oh honey, don't worry. You'll have more children." I wish at times I could go back and just shake her for saying that. Her intentions were good, her wording was awful.  And a bank teller. She asked how Robert was doing, as we were regulars in the drive-through, and when I told her she paused for a moment and said.. "Darlin', this is going to hurt for a long time. It'll get better, but it's going to get better slowly. The only thing that will make it better is time."  She hit the nail on the head.

My mom and her grandson, the day he was born.

Without getting overly preachy, I do believe that God looks out for us and sends us strength when we need it. I saw Ben Breedlove's videos just three days ago, and along with the rest of the world, it bolstered my already strong faith.. in knowing that everything happens for a reason, and that death isn't something to fear. Then, in case the message wasn't loud and clear, a friend I never expected it from.. waited until we were alone, and pulled out his devotional Bible and confided to me that he'd been saved recently and was finding strength in sorting out his faith. Our relationship is based in poker, and I don't think the word God has ever been spoken between us unless it also included expletives, prior to this. We had a good, long talk about a great many things and it touched me. I know what the message was, whether my friend had any idea or not about the bigger picture. God is looking out for me, and he loves me and though losing Robert was a huge cornerstone in my life.. there is a grander plan. Most importantly, that I am loved and it's important for me to keep perspective, even when my heart aches.

I promise I'm not turning my little blog-corner-of-the-world into a faith-based soapbox. Not by any stretch. But if you haven't read the story about Ben Breedlove, or seen his videos you should.  They provided me with a great deal of peace during a potentially emotional time. Maybe they'll do the same for you, or at the very least, open the doors for some good conversation.

Good luck, Breedlove family. I will keep you in my prayers.

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #4
My Son's 11th Birthday, Ben Breedlove's Mother & Funeral

Blog-A-Day Countdown: Poker Players go Bowling, Prop Bets, Steven "Cupcake" Terry

I'm going to be hard pressed to actually get out a blog post a day, and finish the remainder of my countdown before 2012.  I'm going to do my best though.

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #5
Poker Players Go Bowling, Prop Bets, Steven "Cupcake" Terry

My time here at the farm is winding down.. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself, though I haven't done anything fancy and I've been on a pretty strict budget (Still waiting on paychecks to be mailed from work already completed - Upside: can't spend it if you don't have it!).

Cosmic Bowling.. Pretty, yes. Photogenic, No.
Scott, Jen and Steven
December 28th, 2011.

Last night I went bowling with two of my favorite guys.. Steven Terry and Scott Williams. I write all the time about Scott, and really.. there is only so much you can say about the man. Steven isn't someone I've talked about here before.. I generally don't mention friends in "the blog" until they give me the "Okay".  It can be a little unnerving to some to have their name and pictures out there, floating around the interwebz, having no control over it.

Steven was a regular at Southland (the poker room I worked at before I was a dealer and before I was a supervisor at The 'Shoe), and would quite often come in and BS with me before or after playing.  He's young, 24, but he looks about 16. On some days he's a good looking, rough - tough - blue collar kinda man. On other days, he's a very cute..kid. We perpetually give each other shit about our age difference. Sometimes, in public, when he's trying to be funny.. he'll refer to me as Mom.  It makes me want to choke him. I call Steven "Cupcake" because he's just so damn adorable, and also.. because it's mildly degrading. This caught on in the poker room, and he's pretty much been "Cupcake" ever since.


We've hung out a few times, once Geocaching at 3 am in Mid-Town Memphis, and we've seen a handful of movies. We've always talked easily, about all sorts of things, and I get a kick out of him because he only tolerates my bullshit to a certain extent.. before he'll call me on it.  He's pretty smart, even if his poker game could use some work. One day, my less than awesome vehicle (the piece of crap Jeep I drove before my current mechanical nightmare) broke down just as I was headed to Tunica to have dinner with Bex.  He drove all the way to Arkansas to pick me up, and THEN drove me the hour to Tunica and back.. just so I wouldn't miss out. What a sweetheart. <3 (On a side note, I found out AFTER I had my Jeep towed to a mechanic and fully checked out.. that there was actually nothing wrong with it. I just didn't have it all the way in park, and therefore, couldn't start it. I fail so hard. Seriously guys, this is why chicks shouldn't own cars. So embarassing. I swore I'd never admit it.. instead claming a bad starter, but enough time has passed that I can laugh about it).

He also knows Scotty, from my aforementioned poker room, and in my absence challenged him to a night of bowling.  Steven seemed to think he is quite the bowler, and assumed he would be able to brutalize Scott (who is nearly twice his age) with no problem.  Unbeknownst (or at least, fully understood) to him.. Scott is somewhat of a legendary bowler.  He has a handful of 300 rings, some of them 800 rings.  He used to be Mr. Professional, and I swear when he shows up at a bowling alley.. he has more luggage (gear, balls, shoes) than I pack for a week of vacation.

Aww look.. he still thinks he has a shot in this picture!
Boys and Girls, this is what "Hope" looks like.

I knew this wasn't going to end well for Steven, but I was supportive.. and they scheduled the night for when I'd be in town. The bet.. if Steven wins, Scott dresses in full drag for a full night of poker in our regular card room. If Scott wins, Steven has to dress like a cupcake (sprinkles, whipped cream.. the whole nine) for a night at Southland as well.

Like this, but with a shorter skirt.. and made with actual food product.
We want him to attract raccoons in this getup.

I showed up while they were in the middle of their practice game. I was impressed by Steven.. he was knocking out strikes right and left, and disappointed in Scott. During the first of the three games that count, Scott continued to bowl fairly pitifully.  Steven was holding his own, and at the end of the game, had Scott by 61 pins. It occurred to me on the 9th frame or so that Scott was bowling right handed. (He's left handed). He was also using a house ball while his three sat in the rack (Three? Really? Overcompensation much?).

Really, the whole night was about Scott's balls, if you wanna know the truth.
In the second game, with an almost 80 pin lead, Steven was talking a little good natured smack.  Even offering a few coaching tips with the troublesome 7 pin and 10 pin. Scott decided at this time to make a statement by laying one of his 300 rings on the table each frame.

Oh..wait.. YES! There it is..

He looks amused at this point.

Scott then decided to actually bowl (left handed and with his own equipment), and the game was pretty much over after that.  He mopped the floor with Cupcake, who took it all in stride and with a great attitude. I don't think I've laughed that much in a long time. Mid-way through the third game, Scott had already made up for the 80 pin deficit and had Steven by at least 50 pins. It wasn't even close, but it was totally worth coming out for. Scott was pretty modest about it though.. accepting victory with the grace you'd expect from a man of his caliber. I mean, it's not like he's the type to photograph himself wearing a handful of 300 rings and a championshp jacket and post it on someone's Facebook wall.

Oh.. wait..

Afterwards we went to breakfast at CK's, where an extensive conversation about the male anatomy took place. I fully expected them to prop bet on this, but fortunately was spared. We then attempted to look for a Geocache. Hopping the curb on the University of Memphis Campus, at 2 am and putting us nearly face to face with an inhabited police cruiser put an end to that really quick. We're all old enough to know when it's time to pack it in.

Everything on the menu is under $7?
Scotty's idea of a perfect night out!

Cupcake and I dropped Scott off at his truck, and sat to catch up for a minute. Our conversation was all over the place, as usual, covering the last 8 months in a half hour or so. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy his company, and I'm really glad they scheduled their bowling fiasco to include me.  Even if Cupcake got his ass kicked. <3

All of these in bowling.. and not a one that says WSOP.
Face it Scotty, you can't hang.
Maybe you should stick to playing with your balls?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Read/Repost Request: The heartbreaking & inspiring story of Ben Breedlove. A must see.

I was absolutely done for the night, shutting down the computer, cleaning up the kitchen.. and came to check my Facebook to make sure the last blog post posted.  A link to a video with the post "Do you believe in God?" caught my eye. The kid was kinda good-looking, in that shiny sort of way.. so I clicked the link.

(A followup to this post has been added, link at the bottom).

And here we are. I feel compelled to write about this, because it's such a heartbreaking - interesting - inspiring story.

The video is of Benjamin Breedlove. He's an 18 year old young man from Austin, TX who was born with some sort of awful heart condition (Hypertrophic Cardiomyapathy) .  He also has two YouTube channels, one called BreedloveTV and the other where he shares advice for teens on dating and similar topics.  Pretty popular stuff, with most of his videos having over 30,000 hits. Some much more. This video, the one I'm writing about, isn't part of his usual uploads.  He did this one privately under an unknown user name, and without fanfare. His own parents didn't even know he'd posted them until it was already too late.

In the video I saw, he talks about cheating death several times. It isn't an overtly religious message at all, just a teen talking about his experiences dodging death throughout the course of living with a heart defect.  He made the video just a few days ago, sharing in it an overwhelming peace with dying.  On Christmas day, 2011, he died of cardiac arrest when his pacemaker stopped functioning. Here is his video, posted just 6 days ago. In two parts.

Part 2..

In the little bit of searching for him online I did, I can see that he was an inspiration to thousands of people. Not with stories of being ill, but by just being a glowing, beautiful human being who LIVED. What really strikes me is the overwhelming difference between him in these videos and his normal YouTube posts.  There is a subtle peace about him in these two. He couldn't possibly have known, and yet, it's almost like he did in a way. His parents found these videos after he'd passed. What an amazing gift to leave behind.

Something about his smile is haunting me, and I felt compelled to sit down and share this with you all. If you share nothing else this year from my blog, or any other, repost this one. This video I think, should be shared.

Here is a great video of Ben answering questions about himself. Though they weren't shot too far apart, note the difference in his demeanor. 

Rest in Peace, Ben Breedlove.  There is something fantastic about you. It's a pity you're gone, but a blessing your video remains behind to touch others. <3

Edited to Add: A Followup on this Blog Post HERE.

Blog-Countdown to 2012: #6
Ben Breedlove

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: Depression be Creepin', Ready to be Productive Again

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #7
Depression is a Creeper, Ready for Work

I have 100,000 things I COULD write about.. but I'm just feeling rather run-down.  Back to work next week, and I'm ready for it.  Granted, I could stay here at the farm for ages more and not get tired of it.. but I'm just ready to be doing something with my time.

I didn't go to Florida.  Last minute issues.. Mom was sick, and didn't feel up to traveling. She's doing better today, but still not great. I've got to spend some time with my sister though. She's also going through some health issues, that are significant enough that it'll prohibit her from deploying to Afghanistan (Which sounds like a blessing, but when it's because you're sick.. it's really not). She's in Destin, FL.. so there are definitely worse places to visit.

So simple. So pretty. <3

I'm heading down to see her this weekend, and meet her new-but-serious boyfriend Marvin.  I've talked to him on the phone a few times and he seems cool. I'm glad she's happy. I'll go straight from there to Biloxi. It's not too far of a drive.. just a couple hours, and will save me about 800 miles round trip. Considering how reliable my car is, this is a +EV move.

Bex and Marvin. He's little Red Riding Hood, she's the Big Bad Wolf.
Based on this picture, they're clearly perfect for each other.
And if it doesn't work out, she'll have someone to shop with.
Look at the way he's rockin' those heels.
Reminds me of Scott Williams. Almost.

I need to brush up on my Triple Draw games.  This will be the first event I deal that has Triple Draw events, and though I'm familiar with them.. I haven't actually had to spread them yet. I'll be watching YouTube videos and making my mom play guinea-pig. CatCat isn't much use.. he just wants to slap the chips around.

Christmas was good. Kinda weird without Bex here.. first time she's ever not been home for Christmas. Mom liked her presents and seemed generally happy with the holiday, despite feeling bad and missing 33% of our family.

I really do heart this show.

Mom and I have caught up on all the Grimm episodes out.  I really like that show. I fear it won't get renewed because the concept is a bit complicated.. but I'd rank it up there with everything else I watch in terms of quality of writing.  Actually, the writers are pretty witty. I love cop-dramas, and forensic dramas.. but I also love Fantasy genre.  This is a mesh of all of them.  The premise is the ancient Grimm Brothers fairy tales are an actuality, but the cast of characters charade around as normal people (i.e. big bad wolves, three little pigs, bears..etc), and cause all kinda chaos for the Grimm (who is also a cop) to sort out. It sounds a lot more convoluted than it really is, but the show is quite enjoyable. I hope we get at least a full season before it gets canned.  This always seems to happen with the shows I really get into. I LOVED The Riches, but it only lasted 1.5 seasons before getting scrapped. I suppose I can't complain too much.. House, Grey's, Dexter.. these have all been around for many many years now.

My bankroll on Lock is up to $56, from $20 from grinding micro-stakes.  I'll admit, it's pretty mind-numbing. For me, it's more a test of will power than actual accomplishment.  I have a hard time taking poker seriously when the stakes are below .10 for a BB.  Makes me want to chase everything, and suddenly.. 57o looks like a stellar hand, because.. Hell, it's only .15 to call!  Terrible logic, I know.

I heard from a lot of you on Christmas, and didn't from some I expected to. I'm glad the holiday is over, because now we can get started on a New Year.. which brings all sorts of new possibilities and opportunities. I know that sounds hokey, but really.. I'm excited for 2012.  2011 was a year of so much change for me, and 2012 will continue on with that theme for sometime.  Hopefully I get to see and do as much.

How I'm feeling on the inside, right this second.
Less Green though.
I'm going to take some Nyquil and hit the sack with CatBeast and a movie. I don't know why my head is in a fog. It isn't really depression, but it feels like the cusp of depression. I've written about depression, as it pertains to me and others, many times.. and though it's far from being an overwhelming theme here, I can generally tell when it's trying to rear it's ugly head.  This is one of those times.  I feel overwhelmed by so many little things I can't control right now, and it's starting to weigh on me. All I want to do is sleep. I realize I need to get proactive to beat this and keep it from creeping into a legitimate spell. I suppose tomorrow I'll saddle up a horse or go do something outside, weather permitting. At the very least, I'll get out of bed at a decent hour and be productive.

I hope you're all well fed and warm, in the week-between-holidays. Keep in touch. <3

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: Merry Christmas to ALL

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring.. except me and CatBeast.  Mom is in bed.  Tonight we watched a few episodes of Grimm, cooked an epic dinner-for-two and opened presents.

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: A short and sweet Merry Christmas to All.
(And to All a Goodnight!)

I got a bunch of cool girly items (skin care stuff, more Garfield pajama pants, an iPhone cover) and she seemed to like her presents.  We were both falling asleep on the couchs before 8 pm.  I'm tellin' ya, I'm a straight hell raiser on vacation.

I'm praying we don't have family drama tomorrow. We're supposed to leave around 8 am to go to Florida and spend two days, maybe three with Bex and her boyfriend Domingo.  They're expecting us, and waiting for us to have their Christmas.  Tonight, Mom started getting sick.. and had a few sore spots in her mouth that are making her nervous.  She doesn't want to travel if she's worse in the morning.

I know it's going to crush Bex and 'Mingo if we don't come. Mom was pretty nonchalant over it.. saying "You can just go without me" but I absolutely cannot put my car on the road without an oil change, which means Monday would be the next time I could leave. (And I'm not driving her truck 1,000 round-trip miles either, without her).  Let's pray Mom feels good enough to make the trip, and that half my family isn't sad on Christmas. :(

I don't have a whole lot to write.  Instead, I think I'm going to curl up in bed with the CatBeast and watch the last three episodes of Grimm on Hulu.  I'll have more interesting things to say tomorrow.. for now, I just want to enjoy a quiet holiday, lazing it up.

To all of you who read, and even the ones who don't..

Merry Christmas

I appreciate your support throughout the year..
 and I hope your holidays are a great one!

Blog-A-Day Countdown: Grateful for my Mom this Christmas, CatCat watches Grimm

Today will be a short post. I spent the majority of the day Christmas shopping, followed by wrapping presents.  I'm beat, and I've still got a few more things to take care of tomorrow (or rather, later today).

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #9
Grateful for Mom, Almost Ready for Christmas

In the right lighting, it ALMOST looks like someone with skills wrapped these gifts.
It's a sham though, I'm TERRIBLE at wrapping presents.

I'm on a relatively limited budget (who isn't?), so Christmas won't be over the top this year.  A shame too.. I really like being able to get things for my Mom that will just delight her.  I've written about her before in my blog, but I probably don't give her enough credit publicly.

Mom building a dog house. She's a rockstar with tools. True story.

She was married to a man for a long time (my dad, actually), who was a real douche-bag about Christmas.  He never bought her a present.. not one. We, (Bex and I), had no idea of course as children.. there were always mountains of presents under the tree.  Funny, in retrospect.. we both thought we were rich kids.  We'd easily have a hundred presents under the tree every year. Sometimes more. I now know that Mom was just the master of making a dollar stretch.  Sure..a lot of the presents were socks and dollar store items, but I never ever remember asking for anything that I didn't get. Now I realize that Dad made less than $30,000 a year and Mom was supplementing our income by training, breeding and selling horses.. and her total Christmas budget couldn't have been more than $500 most years. She really was/is a fantastic Mom and we never felt like anything other than privileged when at best, we were upper-lower class in terms of income and school districts.

Mom back in the day. Total fox.

After Dad died (in 1991), money was probably even tighter for awhile.. but again, we never felt it. I can only imagine what stress she must have been under trying to provide for us two girls. Then we had about 15 great years with the farm.. the horse market was excellent, the riding school did great and Mom was rolling in the dough.  I don't think I really noticed that either.. because she was great at keeping us grounded regardless of whether we were busted or flush with cash.

I guess we thought every kid got to haul their horses to the Ozarks for week-long trail rides.
We grew up lucky, but didn't really appreciate it the way we should have.
Now because of the economy, the failing horse market, health issues and a major house fire (totally destroyed the house.. had to completely rebuild), things have been rough. We're in a weird class of people now. Our family owns a farm that has been annexed and grandfathered into the city of Memphis. A rather large house on a beautiful spread of land, and a healthy herd of horses and other various critters. A passerby would think we're doing a lot better than the actuality.  The reality is, Mom doesn't have health insurance.. can't afford it.. and despite health issues, can't get coverage. We're too land rich for government benefits, and too cash poor to buy it. The taxes on our property run $800 a month. Not to mention a utility bill that almost equals the taxes, and the feed bill for the animals.  The farm is a break-even venture right now as people have cut back on boarding horses, riding lessons and family entertainment. Some months it isn't even a break-even. And that is just the operating costs.. it doesn't factor in things like emergencies, broken heating and air units or anything extra like vehicle repairs. But we make it.  Mom is phenomenally resilient.

The farm during a rare snowfall. Bex, back in the day, and her loyal companion "Midget" the wonder-chihuahua.

As an adult, I have a much greater appreciation for the woman she is.  Everything she has, she earned. About two years ago she had a pretty awful turn of health and we wound up in the Emergency Room.  She was a pack a day + smoker, and the doctor had a grim diagnosis. Without going into a lot of details, the doc said she'd be dead in no time and the best thing I could do was "be positive, for her sake".  The doc didn't even share the gravity of the news with her, instead, encouraged her to hang in there.  She made up her mind, put down the cigarettes and never touched one again. Her health has improved 10,000 percent from that day (I fully expected, every day, for it to be the one when she didn't wake up. It was that bad.) She still needs medical care that isn't budgeted, and she has good days and bad days, but we're very lucky she's still with us.

Because of this, I am perpetually grateful to still have a Mom. You don't realize just how much you still need your Mom until someone is standing there telling you she won't be with you much longer. At Christmas, more so than the other days of the year, I feel a compulsive need to be near her and make sure she has enough presents that she never has to feel again what it's like to wake up to nothing.. to be forgotten about.. or overlooked. 

I wish I could do more for her.  She's given almost her entire life to caring for me and Bex

Mom doesn't have anything fancy under the Christmas tree this year, but she has a lot of little creature comforts she'll enjoy.  Between my sister and I, we probably have 20 plus gifts for her to open. She'll be especially grateful for what we got her, because that's just the sort of woman she is. 

And we'll be especially grateful to have her.

On a less sentimental note, CatCat is still doing fine and has come out of hibernation to catch up on his nightly shows.

He does love a good TV Drama.  Tonight it's "Grimm".

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blog-A-Day Countdown: My (sad) Abstinent Love Life and Scotty Shops for Sex Toys

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012, #10
My Sad, Lacking Love Life
Scott Goes Shopping

I went Christmas shopping tonight.  To no avail. I ended up buying CatCat some food, a lanyard for myself and.. well.. that about sums it up. I fail. I was in the company of my good friend Scott Williams, so at least I had fun. We met up at the mall, which was fairly lame, and then went and ate Mexican. After that, realizing I had him captive in my car, I made him follow me around in PetCo, BestBuy and Target.

We were in Spencers Gifts in the mall and came across a rather large selections of sex toys.  Not just your run of the mill gag gifts like Spencers used to carry, but full blown large silicon genitalia, whips, chains and a variety of lube that puts the flavors at Baskin Robbins to shame.  I should also mention that we were the only people over, say, 20 in the store. When did selling items like this, in a MALL, become acceptable?

Scott was in Heaven! A veritable treasure trove of sparkly, silicone-y things
he didn't fully understand.. but was definitely interested in trying out!

I'm no prude, by any stretch of the imagination.  I've owned my fair share of vibrating accessories. Actually, now that I think about it.. the last one I had I lost on a poker trip to Biloxi. I don't remember the details, only that I left home with it.. and returned without it.  And my only companion was the aforementioned Mr. Williams. Hmmm. If any of you ladies are at Scott's house and happen to see something that resembles a dolphin, and requires batteries.. You know what? Nevermind. Let him keep it.

Anyway, my point is.. I just don't think these things should be only display for every 12 year old who wanders the mall.  Not to mention, these things aren't doing any favors for shaping a little girl's mind about the physique of her future sexual partners.  Your average man doesn't have 10 inches of symmetrical perfection, coupled with controllable speeds and cute accessories. We're really just warping the kid's minds for future disappointment.

My next event is just 90 minutes from New Orleans! JACKPOT!

Speaking of disappointment, Scott has a lady friend. This, in and of itself, doesn't disappointment me. I'm happy he's getting some action. It isn't serious, and I wouldn't care even if it were. As most of you know, I love him to pieces.. he's my best friend, and quite possibly the most perfect man on earth. (I can write that in full confidence that he doesn't have the attention span to read this far). Everyone always says.. "When are you guys getting married?" But really, Scott needs a gal who drives a mini-van and has PTA meetings to attend. Not a blonde tattooed chick who doesn't stay in the same place more than ten minutes. Even if it does get serious, I'll still be here. I'll be around to push him around the old folk's home. (Which should be in about.. oh, 10 years). He's as important to me as CatCat. Plus, he's cute. And this one time, after 19 bottles of wine.. Oh wait, we don't talk about that in the blog. But still.. I'm a little sad..

I sort of owe him some free wheelchair pushes.
Even if he is at least partially responsible for my busted ankle here.
He knows I can't walk, think AND chew gum at the SAME time!
P.S. Nice pajamas, Scott. You always dress to impress the ladies.

Why am I sad? Because I'm getting NO action. And when Scott Williams is getting more than me, hell has practically frozen over. Unfortunately, it's a self imposed act of abstinence.  Christina Sharkady made a bet with me exactly 6 months before Feb. 14, 2012 that I couldn't go 6 months without hooking up with someone.  I made the bet only half way taking it seriously.. I'd just moved to Vegas, it was TIME to make some bad decisions! But as things progressed, I did some soul searching and I realized.. I kind of want a relationship.

Yes, I said it.  The dreaded "R" word.  Now don't get me wrong.. I'm in no hurry to get a diamond and a golden retriever.  But I'd kinda like to have someone around that I'd like to see naked repeatedly. Someone I'd like to spend time with, who I actually care about.

I know. So lame. But, kind of appealing too. Sometimes.

As some of you know, there was Justin. The be all - end all relationship of relationships. A serious heart breaker. The most gorgeous man I've ever seen, and ironically.. the biggest jerk. We had a very long, very rough relationship.. engagement.. shared living space..etc. He broke up with me, we hooked back up.. and after another year of back and forth, I ended it officially.  He's been out of my life a little over 2 years now. Since then there have been a few hookups, a few brief dating stints.. but really, I've spent most of my time with Scott and in poker rooms. I've been working on NOT having a boyfriend. Justin got my 20's, but I'll be damned if I give my 30's to a man I'll eventually come to loathe.

So many years I gave to you.
See how happy I look in this picture?
The proof is in the film, boys and girls.
 For the last six months, traveling, I've had a few tempting offers. (All of which are blog readers, so I'll use aliases to protect their not-so-innocence). K in Vegas, who I went out with a handful of times.. and actually liked, but it was dicey. A friend had already called "dibbs" on him, and though he pursued ME.. it was brought to my attention that I was breaking a girlfriend code of some nature.  I don't talk to him anymore (He isn't even in the continental United States at the moment, I don't believe).. and I barely speak to the girlfriend (A falling out that may or may not resolve itself in time), but whatever. It happens.

R in Reno who was pretty much only available for illicit sex, but he had a roommate and I had a roommate and I was trying to be a good girl.  We had cocktails, conversation and poker. Damn he's cute though. I do still talk to him.. and well, he lives in Vegas now. Hmmm.. there is always next summer I suppose..

I saw R again in Oregon and he had a friend with him, J.  J went out of his way to get my information and sent me a message on Facebook just hours after we'd met. I do like a man who takes initiative. So cute. Tattooed, pierced.. but oh so young. He's probably 21 and a half, but he looked 16. I just couldn't do it. He's a ridiculously sweet man though. Smart as a whip, too.

Okay, I'll post pics of one of them. But only because he's super cool and he'd be flattered.
See how freakin' cute he is?
But really, seriously, he's like 9. Maybe 12. Okay, 22.
Either way, I'd feel like a child molester.
Nevermind. I wouldn't. Can I change my mind, J? Is it too late?
In Oregon I met one that could have been a keeper (Please don't hate me when you read this, I'm not saying you're NOT a keeper, I'm just sayin'... it doesn't look good, you know.. with us living 3,000 miles apart and all). A tall Native American man named J, who was sexy and charming.. the sort of man who will grab you in public and kiss you without asking permission. (And he did!). I'd never hooked up with or dated anyone from an ethnic background that didn't include blonde hair and blue eyes, and there was something exotic and tempting about him.  He spent many, many nights in my hotel room. And.. nothing. I wasn't looking for a one night stand, and we were so exhausted after working 12 hour days.. we'd just collapse and..dare I say it? Cuddle. I liked him a lot though. We still talk every day, and we talk of visits and future poker events. He has a small herd of children, though, so he's firmly rooted in Oregon. If anyone had a shot, it was probably this guy. He's used the "girlfriend" word a couple of times in reference to me, and I've demured away from it. Labels seem a little silly to me when you can't even grab a movie or dinner with the person.

I don't know whats wrong with me.  Maybe I'm holding out for Mr. Right, maybe I'm too picky. I'm flawed myself.. so I can't really say that I expect perfection.  I've gotten away from my physical standards: 6' plus, black hair, blue eyes, perfect teeth, rockin' body, great education (Though I had my FAIR share of those!). As I've aged, and my tastes have matured.. and as I become more and more flawed, I've realized that those things hardly matter.  My personality is such that I can pull just about any "type" I want, but really.. I just want to find someone who is good hearted. Someone who makes me laugh, is generally a good person, and has very little baggage/emotional hangups.  No criminal record would be great too. Oh, and some form of income that doesn't involve crack. They don't have to spend money on me, I just don't want to have to pay for their child support-court fines-video game addiction.

I don't want to grow old alone.. but I  would rather be alone than be with someone who makes me nuts. Regardless of the bet, which I'll never claim anyway, once I'm successful.. I'm in no hurry to have a meaningless fling.  Granted, this philosophy might change the next time I have more than one tequila shot, but right now.. in my perfectly sound mind, I've decided to be a good girl. You should be proud. :)

In the meantime, I have my full-time man to cuddle up next to. He's short, furry and orange.
But he's self cleaning, and he loves me unconditionally. <3 <3
P.S. Just in case I change my mind, I am absolved of my bet as of Feb. 14th, 2012. Right now, I have no plans. Accepting applications. Bring tequila.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: Lock Poker Experience, Florida, Game Over and CatCat flips the Bird.

I can either sit here and type out a short - to the point - blog post, and then scurry off to bed with the CatBeast.  Or I can run up to Exxon, load on up something caffeine-y, and settle in for the long haul.

   .....feel free to talk amongst yourselves....

22 minutes later.. I'm back from the corner store. 1 can of cat food (A peace offering for not choosing bed over blogging), 1 can Coca-Cola and one sugary-something-ruther and I'm all set.

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #11
Online Poker, Holiday-ing in Florida?, Game-Over and CatCat is Rude

Back to Online Poker.. Which is Ironic, Really.

I started playing on Lock Poker last night, thanks to a reader who set me up with an account.  Played four tournaments, and I kid you not.. cashed in all four.  First in two of them, second in another (Small tournaments though, the total was around $348) I really like the site.. and not just because I won. (I chalk it up to the player base either being REALLY soft, or me actually improving a bit during my time being forced to play live).  The interface has a lot of the cool little features I enjoyed on various sites before Black Friday.. easy minimizing for multi-tabling, snarky emote-smilies for talking shit, and a sleek black design. They have a ton of games going all the time.. and surprisingly, everyone seems to speak English. When you cash in a tournament, a little graphic with a trophy and fireworks pops up. I like fireworks when I win. I'm a girl. Don't judge me.

A silver trophy for 2nd place! Awwww.
My gold-trophy screen shots are on my laptop.
And it's all the way across the room.
So this will have to do. You get the point.

I want to test the cashing out process, and it's effectiveness, so I'm removing everything but the original $20 my friend set me up with. I'll let you know when I receive the check, and whether or not it bounces. They say it takes 4 to 6 weeks, AFTER verification of my identity. We'll see how it goes. I guess I'm a little untrusting with the whole online-poker debacle we all went through earlier this year.

With the remaining $20, I'm going to start a mini-project that I'll keep updated through my blog.  I'm going to try to grind it into $1000 without rebuying, in 90 days.  I would say 30 days, but I have a month long event coming up and I doubt I'll have a lot of time or energy to crack skulls at the .02cent/.05cent tables at the end of the day. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons... one, it'll hopefully help me work on battling my seriously short attention span, AND practice managing a bankroll.  I've never really worried about bankroll management before, despite having written about it for years in my columns and print media work. I haven't worried about it.. because it didn't really apply to me.  I'm not a professional player, I'm a recreational player. When I have recreational dollars, I spend them on poker. When I win, I spend it on stupid shit. Like shoes and lip gloss. How much I win only really affects the brand names of the shoes, and whether the lip gloss comes from Clinique or Walgreens. Femme-Bankroll Management at it's best.

When you google Shoes + Lip Gloss, this is what you get.
Pretty f'in hideous.
But for the girl who likes to multi-task, this could be a golden ticket!

I think I represent the norm in my bankroll tendencies, and the "norm" aren't overwhelmingly successful at poker.  Though I don't intend to make it a staple in my income, I would like to hone my skills and practice what I've been preaching all these years.  The benefits of being a writer.. I know the lingo, and the theory.. I've just never really put serious application into it as it applies to me.

So $20 into $1,000. That's the goal. I'm grind micro stakes and tiny SNGs until I can move into larger brackets.  Once I hit a grand, I'll cash it all out, give 10% to charity and spend the other $900 and lip gloss. If I'm unsuccessful, I really haven't lost a dime.. the initial $20 was to lure me into the site, donated by a reader. Back in the day, I deposited MORE than my fair share into the big online sites.. and won my fair share as well. I don't want to get caught up putting money back into online gaming of any variety until it's legalized, or I'm confident the site I'm doing business with can actually afford to pay me.

In other news...

I've been doing a whole lot of nothing.  Sleeping, watching movies with Mom, and generally being a lazy girl. I'm not sure I'm brushed my hair in three days. Sort of in a routine of shower-brush my teeth-pull wet hair into pony tail and .. sleep more. Tomorrow I have to brave the throngs and get a few small gifts for people, so this will require me actually being awake during daylight hours.  And probably doing laundry. I suppose I shouldn't complain, I've enjoyed the hibernation while it lasted.

She's a "special" kid. Short-Bus special, sometimes, as exhibited in this photo.
She loves that shirt.

My sister is determined to lure me to Destin, Florida for the actual holiday. She's in the Air Force and stationed at Hurlburt, AFB.  Since my entire family consists of Mom, Bex and I.. we're considering making the trek down there the day after or so and staying two days. Not 100% sure on this one, yet.

Last May in Destin, with pink hair and an almost tan.
It was a really fun trip..except..

Scott, the world's oldest 7 year old, required round the clock babysitting.
You just can't take him anywhere.

This blog hasn't been exactly riveting.. or really even worthy of my drive for caffeinated goodness. I'll have something more tantalizing tomorrow.  Like the details of my seriously challenged love life, or an update on a previously written about accidental poker stalker.

A few side notes, pictures & tidbits.

Tony Big Charles, despite as reported in my last blog, did not in fact delete his blog and drop off the face of the earth.  He seems to be back to blogging as usual, and I'm back to reading.

This picture tugs at my inner 80's child.  The sculpture is carved out of Styrofoam, and to me.. is breath-taking.  It's called "Game Over". I'm such a geek. Mario and Peach were an integral part of my child-hood. I spent many a hour collecting starts and whomping 'shrooms on the head. This picture sort of sums all that, in depicting it's passing. I heart it. I would get it tattooed on me somewhere, but I don't think it would translate to flesh quite so tastefully. And well, when you have a 14 inch chicken tattooed on your arm, it's important to keep things classy.

Finally, because I get asked about him all the time, CatCat is doing well.  He's cold, and doesn't like winter much.  He's decided to spend it wrapped up in his Hello Kitty blanket (Never leaves home without it!). This morning, I saw the lump in the blanket, but called out to him none the less.  This is what I got.

Pretty sure this is the equivalent of him giving me the finger.
I expect he'll resurface sometime in March.  He doesn't really "do" winter. Off to bed for now. I'll be back around tomorrow, as promised! <3 As always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: The Meltdown of a Fellow Blogger

I am really enjoying being at home.  Hanging out with Mom and being on the farm is such a welcome break from casino-life. I expected just a few days into this to want to be back on the road ASAP, but the truth is.. two more weeks doesn't feel like or sound like enough time. I'm sure after the holidays I'll be rearin' to get back to work.

It doesn't matter how many amazing sights you see traveling..
Home is always so beautiful. <3
I'm waffling about the blog post I've just typed out below. I make it a point to never write anything overtly negative about coworkers, players, casinos or events. It just doesn't serve much of a purpose, and it generally leaves a bad taste in SOMEONE'S mouth. This blog post is about a fellow blogger, and a lot of my perceptions will come across as negative. I'm going to go ahead and publish this though, simply because his blog speaks for itself.. and absolutely nothing that I've written isn't demonstrated daily in his blog.

Blog Countdown to 2012: #12
Tony Big Charles' Big Meltdown

If you're here, you're a blog reader. So you'll understand when I say I have a list of blogs I stay perpetually glued to. My list includes a lot of the ones you all likely read as well.. Monk's of course, Kai's (though he never, ever updates it). A girl I worked with in my early twenties who is absolutely CONVINCED she is dying of some catastrophic grouping of diseases and blogs EVERY single detail of her impending demise. (Doctors continue to tell her she's batshit crazy, but she's convinced all of them are wrong, perpetually.. but I digress). I would link to hers, but she damn near banned me from exercising my voyeuristic tendencies once before for kindly suggesting she see a shrink. I learned my lesson. (And how to get multiple IP addresses so I could continue to lurk) Oh the pains I go to, to feed my need for information.  Anyway, I have a different reason for reading all of them.  Some are train wrecks in slow motion, while others are humorous.. informative.. insightful and even brilliant. I probably read 20 different blogs a day, plus a daily browsing of all the blogs on the Gulf Coast Poker Network.

The blogs on this site are solid gold. And not just because I'm on there!

This year I met a rather unusual blogger, while out in Vegas. His name is Tony Big Charles, and yes, I realize I am probably the last blog reader on Earth to not know who he is. His blog, aside from being one of the most well read in poker, is an anomaly.  It's painstaking to read. Mind numbing, and sort of like shooting yourself in the foot with a nail gun over and over again. And yet, I can't stop checking it... Two, sometimes three times a day. To understand why, I must first tell you a bit about Tony. I should also mention that it isn't always the blog itself that keeps me glued, but the comments from other readers. Pure f'ing comedic gold, his commenter's are.

Taken from All Vegas Poker. Mr. Big Charles himself. Looking rather tired.
Tony Big Charles is a poker player. Actually, that's probably a loose interpretation.  He's a gambler who also plays poker. He blogs about the trials and tribulations of life as a sort-of-homeless low-limit grinder. I don't mean your typical low limit grinder either.. I mean, literally.. he plays $1/$2 and below. $2/$5 if he's REALLY feeling froggy, and usually only in extremely short burst.

Tony defines himself as autistic, and as a natural card counter. He has a penchant for slot machines and an insatiable lust for that which eludes him most... Women. My description of Tony might make it sound like I don't like him.  Which really isn't the case at all.  I'm not sure how I feel about Tony.  He makes me sad, mostly, but you can't stay sad for long.. because 99% of the woes that plague him are self-inflicted.

I met Tony while dealing at the Riviera, during my brief stint passing through there. He was in the 7 seat, and I was struggling during my first or second shift dealing, ever.  The players were talking about his blog, and with me being the only female at the table, he honed in on me and asked where I was from. I told him, and he said "Oh, I read a blog by a girl from down there. From Tunica!" I knew instantly he was talking about me, but I was so focused on remembering to burn and turn without looking like a rookie that I didn't make much mention of it. He managed to put two and two together a few minutes later. "You're that girl! You're that girl blogger. I didn't know who you was, but now I do."

Really, our association had begun much earlier. I'd written a post about sex and the female poker player. Something about a genitalia buffet. I'll link it so you can read his comment.  Me being a relatively pleasant southern gal, when he shared with me his story of a lifetime of loneliness, I offered up that I was certain there was someone out there for him.. and that perhaps I would someday introduce him to the beautiful female poker players down here in the South.  Of course, this is before I knew him in person.. and I made the offer without ever expecting to be called on it.

Hey, I have Claudia Crawford down here in the South to count among the poker players..
And she's gorgeous! But already attached. Sadly.

Here we were, Tony Big Charles and I in Vegas, at the same poker table.  He immediately launched into tales of paying girls $100 to sit behind him and rub his shoulders.  Stories of hookers and degenerate females trying to take his money.  Anecdotes I wouldn't have believed, if I wasn't hearing it myself. Without stopping for a breath, he shared personal stories from my blog.. which granted aren't too personal if I'm typing them up for the world to read.. but not necessarily something I'm prepared to discuss while wearing my "Dealer" name tag.  I was literally just trying to not drop the deck, or push the pot to the wrong person.

It was socially awkward, and I escaped rather quickly. Happy to have it behind me, and certain it'd be the last I'd see of Mr. Big Charles.

Fate wouldn't have it that way though, and as I made my way towards Reno to deal my first even on tour, Tony also decided to relocate. For the entire duration of the event. This wasn't a weekend tournament either.. but a month long extravaganza where we'd spend many hours within three feet of each other, every single day. 

Suddenly it felt like the SMALLEST little city in the world.

I'd deal to him, listening to how he interacted with others (with about as much grace as a cat trying to swan dive), and then I'd go back to my hotel room and comb through his blog with the intensity of a college student cramming for finals.  It became a quirky obsession that I learn about the different blog readers leaving comments, and whether they were pro-Tony or anti-Tony. Either rooting for his imminent failure or for him to be a success story.. rags-to-nicer-rags if you will.

Each day I would awake with new-found commitment to sharing a kind word with him, or genuinely befriending him.. the altruistic nature I want to believe I possess superseding the superficial, and allowing me to make a connection with someone who clearly, so desperately needs a real friend. And then he'd blurt something out, while I'm shuffling, about my personal life and proceed to tell me that a decision I'd made was stupid or didn't make sense. I'd forget, of course, my humanitarian plight and instead fantasize about strangling him. Momentarily. It always passed.

Tony's story is overwhelmingly sad and inspiring. Both for the wrong reasons. I am unclear on all the details but the cliff notes include years of homelessness, mixed with a few rousing tales of sleeping on the roof of casinos and camping in sleeping bags outside Foxwoods.  One girlfriend, who he met in a mental ward of some nature, that he managed to procreate with.. before she left him for a "black guy". He seems to have a general distaste for "black guys", perhaps because of this.  He gave his son to his Mother, the child's grandmother, to raise.. and appears to have very little involvement in either of their lives. He now bounces around hotels rooms, primarily between the IP Vegas and the 4 Queens or CircusCircus, with his entire net worth stuffed into his sock. This, dubbed his "sock roll", is public knowledge as he updates daily exactly how many pennies he has to his name.

This picture actually comes up when you google Sock Bank Roll. Apparently, it ISN'T such a bizarre concept. Weird.

He says he's essentially scared of his own shadow.  He lives in perpetual belief that someone plans on shanking him in his sleep, and that monsters lurk under the bed. And yet, any girl can come along and con him out of limitless amounts of money in exchange for attention or a little physical affection.
Tony seems sometimes, to be so overwhelmingly helpless, while at the same time being perfectly capable.  He blames others for every bit of misfortune that comes his way, and expects his "friends" to take responsibility for every need he has.  If he can't figure out how to operate a can opener, he asks his readers if someone can please explain it to him. If he goes on tilt and loses a bunch of money in the video poker machines, it's a readers fault for telling him about a promotion.  He constantly asks for advice, and when honest advice is given.. he picks and chooses what he likes about it, argues with those trying to help him, and generally disregards all of it. For someone who has so little, he has an enormous sense of entitlement and very little about his nature that shows true kindness or generosity towards others.

And yet, through his blog, I have been absolutely awe struck.. time and time again. Among the following and loyal readers, I see the tireless efforts of others to help him. To do HIM kindness. To shepherd him when he's wayward. Granted, he has a healthy crowd rooting against him.. but what really strikes me is the hearts of those who repeat, like a broken record, kind words urging him to succeed. Readers who have given him rides, and second hand clothing. People who have shared their time when he's been in a bind. Virtual friends who overlook the negative and pray for him. Poker players who wouldn't hesitate to beat him out of a healthy pot, should the opportunity arise, check on him and respond to him on a daily basis; simply because they are called to care about another human being who perpetually teeters on the brink of self-destruction. A lot of them, much kinder and more patient than myself, serve as a reminder that I shouldn't be so quick to judge and instead, more apt to care.

I write this now, because for a long time, Tony has been beating the odds.  What started with just a couple hundred dollars, he managed and grew to over $15,000.  He'd been successfully living on the road for a few years without any major hitches, and seemed to be thriving in a world that's hard for someone without obstacles to overcome to make it in.  As much as some of the things he says and does grates on my very being, I was proud of Tony. I found myself slowly falling into the Pro-Tony camp.. the silent, and sometimes not so silent, readers who really wanted him to succeed. To find happiness, find peace and maybe someday find a woman who doesn't smoke crack or turn tricks, to settle down with.

The fireworks BEFORE the nuclear fallout. The worst may still be yet to come.

Then, like a time bomb tends to do, it all exploded. In a matter of just a couple of weeks.. without explanation (though not without foreshadowing), Tony went on life tilt. As one reader put it "Tony hit his panic button".  The sock-roll fell from $15,000+ to under $8,000.  Then to $5,500 or so. He left Reno, almost in an emergent state.. paying over $800 for a cab ride to Vegas. Rumors, just tonight on Twitter, suggest yet another melt-down. Tony is nearing broke, and he is out of options. After doing so well for so long, too. There is no doubt that slot machines and tilt-gambling are the culprits, and that Tony and Tony alone is to blame.

I find myself firmly in the Pro-Tony side of things right now.  I feel bad for letting his social awkwardness get to me and the times I've cracked up over a witty insult left on his blog.  He's an odd critter for sure.  One that can be rude and hurtful with the things he says, and has little to no regard for the majority of the people in his life. His contributions to the online poker community have been tremendous, though not always for the reasons I think he anticipated, but I want more than ever for him to come out of this tailspin and get his life on track. He has always been open and honest about his gambling problems, and I think it's somewhat disheartening to see the grip our industry can have over one's soul.

I don't have a clear cut solution to the problems that Tony's dealing with. The short and sweet answer would be.. "Quit gambling. Get an apartment. Get a job." But I feel like Vegas has it's talons in his heart, and he'll never be free of the destructive tendencies he exhibits. So, with that in mind, I don't have a way to close this blog on any sort of positive note. I suppose I'm just sharing my thoughts and inviting you all to read along with me, if you like. If you don't already. He is a living example at times, for everything in the casino industry. The opportunities it can provide the disciplined, and the far more common destruction that can befall those who lose control. If you're the praying, or charitable type.. I'd invite you to keep him in your thoughts, that someday he'll find a modicum of sanity and stability.

I am certain Tony will read this.  I'm not certain how he'll take my perspective, but I know he'll appreciate that I didn't mince words over it. He too chronicles his every thought on a public forum, so he understands what he's opening himself up to. Nothing I've said here, is a unique or foreign concept when talking about Tony Big Charles.  I'll give him credit for one thing though.. his blog has me hooked.

Hope you pull out of this one, TBC.

Edited to Add: In an odd twist of events, within an hour of finishing this blog post.. Tony has decided to delete his blog, twitter and facebook and "disapear" in order to break his gambling demons and start anew. This hasn't actually happened yet, but he posted about it on his blog (link above). Tony, your blog will be sorely missed by a good many of us.  Best of luck to you in trying to get back on your feet. Something tells me we'll hear from you again.. Blogging is as real an addiction as any other. Take Care.