Saturday, August 25, 2012

Quick Update: 6 Days on the Coast, Fitness Goals, Waiting for Lightning to Strike.

I have 7 saved drafts, but no new blog post to speak of.  I start this one, not knowing if it'll actually turn into a post or not. I always have the best intentions though. :)

I'm leaving tomorrow, to drive down to Port Canaveral to catch the Ante Up Poker Cruise.  I'm taking my Mom as my date. Ordinarily, I would be looking forward to it.. but we're in the middle of tropical storm Isaac, and I think I'm up against 5 days of rain.

Part of walking so much, is you SEE so much more. Here a rainbow, literally pouring into my home up on the hill.

I walked four miles today. At the beginning of the year I blogged about wanting to get in better shape. Aside from Vegas (Or as I like to call it .. "The worst two months of my life").. I've been pretty faithful. My goal was to lose a significant amount of weight slowly so it would stick, add a moderate amount of muscle and increase my overall health. I'm 1/3rd of the way into the weight goal, down three sizes, and I've just upped the ante from casual increase in activity to hardcore exercise. With CatCat staying in Biloxi during the cruise, working out has replaced him as my natural anti-depressant. Right now my body hurts so good. I still have about 35 pounds to go before I'm content, and I want to be able to run a mile without being winded. Run. Not jog, not walk fast. Run.  So far, so good.

This stupid cat makes me happy. Lame, I know. But he's part of my heart.

I've been watching a ridiculous chick-flick mini series on Netflix. I won't name it, because it's embarrassing. My mom is a fan. It's a rom-com type of feel-good crap show I wouldn't normally watch. One thing it has made me realize, sadly, is that my life is utterly void of romance. I go out. I know plenty of men. When I choose to, I have a great sex life. But I have no romance. I look at the men in my life, the ones that interest me.. and the ones actively pursuing me, and not really any of them are categorical knight-in-shining-armor-types. Not that I necessarily need this.. but I think, maybe twice this year have I gotten butterflies. Maybe I'm getting sentimental in my old(er) age, but I kind of want to hear some of that sentimental crap from time to time. I'm going to make more of an effort to go out on dates that don't involve a bar. My expectations are high though. Which is probably why I'm on a 2 year streak of flings-turned-friends. Not that I'm complaining. I heart those 3 or 4 guys who have managed to make it past my self-imposed walls. :)

French Quarter Road Trip with the Boys!

I just spent six day down on the Coast, killin' time between Biloxi and New Orleans. It was fun. There were a few moments that were down right enchanting. I had dinner with three of my favorite friends, Pique, Kreigl and Zackary at the Old Cuevas Bistro. It was one of the best meals I've ever had. I'd anticipated a nice night out, so I spent ages doing the hair and makeup.. picking out the perfect rust-colored sundress.. and after two martinis and one fantastic dinner, I was back in jeans and and a hoodie driving down the coast. I can only do super-girly in short spells. I'm pretty sure the dress is still balled up in my car somewhere.

Yes, it was every bit as good as it looks.

We did a day at the Aquarium in New Orleans, feeding Parakeets in the rain and watching rockstomper (Rockhopper?) penguins kick ass and take names. The night on Bourbon street I realized the difference between my buddies and I.. by 11:30, I was drunk and ready to retire to the condo. They stayed out till nearly dawn. I surprised myself by braving the streets of NOLA on a Friday night alone, during the walk home, as I fended off potentially-homeless conversationalist. I wonder sometimes if my lack of an internal fear gauge is strength or stupidity.

Pique is quite the Parakeet whisperer. Apparently.

We went to Destin to visit my sister.  She's dealing with some health issues and I haven't had the chance to spend time with her since being diagnosed. She looked great, and we had fun.  Kreigl and I flopped around in the ocean a bit, in what will be one of those pictures that stays burned in my brain. Zack, PK and Bex on the shore, with the storm rolling in behind them. It was a perfect, imperfect day. The drive home we listened to music, waxxed philosophy about rat hair and lentil bisque and country music vs hip hop.

I saw The Campaign, and laughed so hard it hurt. Sat on the beach and poured my heart out over a can of beer. Lost a prop bet in a Best Buy. Watched Pirates of the Caribbean and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. (You all know how I love me some Meatwad).

Oh hell yes.

And then it was over, and I came home. Without CatCat, without the three boys. Back to my regularly scheduled life.

But not so much. I've got to make some changes. I want to be closer to my sister, and yet still in the South. Poker is part of my blood.  There is no escaping it. I can't imagine working wholly in another field. So I'm somewhat limited to where I can settle if I'm going to look into "House" jobs. I'm shopping a bit though, and I have irons in the fire. I want a bit more normalcy than I have now. And yet, I still want to travel. I want it all. But that isn't much of a surprise. Of all the people I know, though, I am most likely to have it all. I generally find a way to get what I want.

I'm not sure what the next step for me is. I'm drifting at the moment, and I'm waiting for lightning to strike. When it does, you all will be the first to know. :)

I'll update the details of the cruise, hopefully from the ship. The next couple of weeks are going to be hectic, but I've got some half-written blog posts that I'm looking forward to finishing. A final tribute to Casey Jones, who has been laid to rest.. as well as another installment of "This Dealer Life". 

As always, Thank you for reading.

Bella Donkey

Post Script - I dyed my hair red a couple weeks ago, to get it a few shades closer to it's natural color. I posted a few pics online, and a blog reader, who is pretty handy with photoshop dolled up one of my photos with some sparkly stuff. I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do with it, but it looks kinda neat.. so I'll repost.  Thanks, Charlie!

My hair.. it's on FIRE. Ahahahahaha.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A call to all poker family - A pledge for Casey Jones.

I mentioned Casey briefly in my last post, but in light of recent decisions regarding his prognosis I feel like this warrants it's own post. I've never solicited donations for anything through my blog or column, but every once in awhile an actual worthy cause comes along. If donations aren't something within your ability, you will be doing me a personal favor by re-posting this in your own blogs/social media. Thanks in advance.

Casey and Dad. <3

Casey Jones is a traveling poker dealer, WSOP supervisor and friend.  He is the son of Dennis Jones, an institution in our poker world.  On August 2nd, he fell into a coma from some undiagnosed ailment (presumed heart attack or stroke) during his sleep.  Initially, though things looked grim as he was transported to ICU in New Mexico, a lot of prayers and hope were requested.

The doctors say the extent of brain damage is too much, and Casey isn't going to pull out of this one. His family has made the decision to put him in hospice care, rather than on life support, while they await the inevitable.

Casey is 29 years old, and the father of beautiful twin daughters. I could go on and on, in typical eulogy fashion.. albeit a bit premature.. about what a tremendous man he was, a devoted father and hard working pillar in the poker community.  I think most of my readers know me better than that though, and those sentiments are best left for the family during a time of significant tragedy.

Casey was funny.  He was tall, and gorgeous and completely unassuming. He was a big kid with a sarcastic sense of humor that echoed my own. I'd run into him in the halls of our Council Bluff hotel rooms after working a 14 hour day, and we'd exchange witty one liners about the joy that is dealing cards in cornfield Iowa. The "smoking gazebo" downstairs, in the middle of the night, became a place for dealers to gather and discuss all things from sports, hands we dealt, the particular shape of an especially endearing cocktail waitress, or just talk shop. Having worked with Casey dozens of times, it was in this gazebo that we became friends.

I saw him this summer at the Series, as did everyone else. We shared insight about our ability to eat chicken and rice every day for 70 some odd days (the standard WSOP staff meal at the Rio EDR). We'd grab a quick cigarette and talk about what was in store for us during the fall. These conversations were never earth shattering, but always enjoyable. I liked Casey. I liked seeing him at work, and I looked forward to catching up with him.

I could recount some of the things that endeared him to me, or made him stand out from other coworkers. But really, all that matters is that he was one of us.. and that he's missed.  There is a big gaping hole that can't make sense of how unfair it all seems.

I've buried a few people that were tremendously close to me.  I can say, with no uncertainty, that this is the hardest thing the Jones family will ever go through and that it will NEVER heal. It will get easier, as time progresses, but it never goes away. Whatever faith they have, and whatever source they draw comfort from will only numb them to the reality that they'll never sit around and shoot the proverbial shit again, with someone they never imagined losing. My heart breaks for them.

Like most people in our industry, Casey didn't have medical insurance. At 29, he didn't have the means or ability to properly plan for his girl's futures.. or even purchase life insurance. The darkest days in the situation are still yet to come as hope ebbs and reality sets in. Long after the rest of us go back to our regularly schedule lives, the Jones family will be living with a deeply personal loss compounded by financial strife.

Its amazing how the lines blur and the poker world, become real family.

Long time poker family, Joanne Douglass has set up a trust to be administrated by the family to take care of Casey's needs and help him be comfortable in his final days.  Any remaining sum will go towards raising and caring for his twin 3 year olds, Sadie and Kennedy. In case the half dozen links I have peppered this post with all fail, the website is Give Forward, specifically,  Or just do a search for Casey Jones Give Forward.  You can also inbox me on facebook or email if you have any questions.

If you have the ability to make a contribution, regardless of size, please do. If you can't, you can do me a personal favor by re posting this to your facebook or twitter. At the very least, if you could offer a prayer to the Jones family, I will be in your debt.  I will donate .10 cents for every page view this post gets, up to $250. It isn't nearly enough, but I'm hoping it will generate some awareness and help out a family that needs it.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and prayers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1 Lie, 5 Truths. Depression, Escape & Reflection. Carpe Diem, Kids!

Where to begin, where to begin.

My friend and DC (Dealer Coordinator) -slash- Oregon Mom says.. "Write from the heart!". So I suppose that's what I'll do.  Remember that ridiculous game where you're given a few phrases and you have to guess which ONE is a lie, amongst 5 truths?  We'll start there.

In the last four months I have:
  • Hit a royal flush in video poker.
  • Watched a theatrically staged group orgy on stage with Scott Williams in LasVegas, where a 70 year old randomly chosen-from-audience grandmother from Crete simulated raunchy sex with what I'm pretty sure was a transvestite.
This is just a PG-13 snapshot. Zumanity is WELL worth the money.

  • Left a mostly naked male exotic dancer/playgirl model in a hotel room, because I would rather drink beer with a socially awkward slightly gangster dealer, who by all accounts is NOT my type, and who didn't appear to be the slightest bit interested in me. The dancer, on the other hand, was/is. I did this twice. I am a failure of a woman. But I'd make the same choice again.
  • Got in the first, and only, physical fight I've ever been in. With a man. I was not the aggressor. We were not drunk, nor involved. It was purely random. I guess some people can't handle my sarcasm.
  • Had a roommate threaten to kill me. With a frozen diet coke bottle. While chasing my cat around the apartment. In front of 10 witnesses. She wasn't kidding.
  • I inherited two wayward dealers, who have become like little brothers to me, and suddenly I can't imagine not having them with me.. despite me preferring to travel/room solo.

West Coast Road Trip 2012. Zack and Kreigl.

I'm not going to elaborate on any of the above subjects, but let's just say.. I've been running really bad at video poker. No royals, anywhere, to speak of.

I left Vegas abruptly, and in the middle of the night. Which was fitting.  It was the worst experience of my life, being there. I had such high hopes.  I worked too hard, I did it all on foot (My car was in the shop for a staggering two months), I was homesick and so socially shut in that all I did was work and sleep.  I lived with 8 roommates in a 3 bedroom apartment, and every single day was like the reenactment of the battle of Normandy. Only, with more bloodshed. And less national commendation. I feel like I've fought a war. Right now I'm saying I'll never do it again, but I'm sure the pain will fade and next year I'll be rearing to go.  Someone please bookmark this post and email it to me when I start making travel plans.

The "kids", Zack and Kreigl and I, plus another dealer.. who I won't out (to protect his not-so-innocence), fled the city with no hesitation.. headed back to the dirty south for an event in Tunica. 24 short hours later, we were home. I was in the midst of my first bout of real depression in a long time. For long time readers, you know I've chronicled my battle with depression.. and nearly giving up.. but for the most part, I'm on the other side of it.  I was dangerously close to the proverbial ledge in Vegas, a few times.

Do you know how hard it was for me to get to my penguin cave when it was 120 degrees outside?!

Being home is a wonder.  I appreciate every thing I'd often taken for granted, so much more. I came home with only a fraction of the money I'd hoped to, and even less sanity, but by God I was happy to be here.

For those who have been at my various events, Pendleton.. Reno.. etc, you know that I've pretty much focused on work and scorned others for their lack of ambition.  It's always been all about the paycheck for me.  I took a different approach for my Tunica event and I actually got to know a lot of the crew.  I had an incredibly awesome fling with a man I still can't get out of my head, despite it having already come to a close. (Now accepting applications for a rebound bitch. You know how to reach me). He revitalized my senses and gave me something to look forward to.  Revitalized in the "I would drive 10 hours to have a cup of coffee with him" kinda way.  It was much needed, and now I crave more. I am trying not to second guess myself, and wonder if the fling was a product of necessity or genuine connection. This is a huge stride for me, because I second guess most things. I patched up relationships this summer had nearly destroyed. I made new friends, and experienced alcoholic beverages I'm pretty sure aren't even legal.  I lost 12 pounds I'd been trying to shake for eons.

In short, I needed to screw off a bit.  I did.

Now that I'm on the other side of it, I'm sort of sweating the fall.  I'm not sure, 100%, where I'm going or what I'm doing.  I've applied to the events I'd like to do this fall.. but the jury still hasn't come in and I'm not confirmed for anything aside from an Ante Up cruise at the end of the month.

A friend, coworker and traveling dealer (Casey Jones), had a presumed heart attack in his sleep last week.  He didn't wake up.  He's on full life support and considered brain dead.  A lot of the crew are still optimistic, and I'm not one to dash any one's want for prayer.. but the whole ordeal slammed me like a ton of bricks.  It made me realize how quickly it could be any one of us, and how these people that we interact with on a daily basis, might not be here tomorrow. I don't use my blog to impart wisdom.  It's more like a peep hole so that you all may enjoy a voyeuristic feed upon the vortex of calamity that is my life.  With a small side of humor. But right now, I want to stress more than ever, that you need to grab on to every experience with both hands. Feel something. Or as a friend of mine would say, be bold. Think less, act more. Run the risk of being perceived as a little crazy, because on the off chance your "crazies" are well received.. you're going to be so glad you took a risk.

Oddly, this photo also works to sum up my roommate situation in Vegas.

I am plagued with terrible nightmares.  Have been for ages. But they've abated somewhat as time has progressed.  I was in a hotel room the other night, next to the aforementioned fling, and I couldn't escape this horrible paralyzing fear-dream.  I was running from something, and whatever it was.. was not good.  It was dark, I was alone and I was absolutely petrified. I would wake up, realize I wasn't alone.. or in danger.. go back to sleep only to feel it again. It was something cataclysmic and much more significant than any human entity.  I woke up in tears, despondent.

I have no idea what this means, or what it's signifying. I'm not good at analyzing these sorts of things. This was not a typical nightmare for me. I know myself, having lived with myself for 32 years, and I know that I always dread the end of something positive. Whether its an amazing weekend, a happy period in my life, or even an isolated incident. I think it's the sharp edge of depression that still thwarts my attempts at normalcy.  Part of my brain says "Run while you can, I'll eventually catch you".

After the tears cleared up, it was a beautiful sunshiny day.. with a lot of laughs before, during and after work. I wonder if I'll ever be a girl, entirely free of shackles, who feels pretty enough and smart enough or special enough to walk in the sunshine all the time. I wonder, if when I get there, I'll still like me.. because I've grown so accustomed to being a well guarded pain in the ass, the cynicism has become like a comfortable hoodie. I used to pray for a rescue package. A perfectly timed "emergency low" when I'm dead to two outs. I don't so much anymore.  I'm enjoying the mid-range, slightly playable hands I've been getting.. with the occasional really good one thrown in for variety.

You know you're making strides when you view this less as a metaphor for your existence, and more for a possible recreational activity. Jackpot recovery, here I come!

Sorry I got so deep.  At Penny's request, I wrote from the heart.  I appreciate you all so very much, even in my long bouts of silence.  <3  Thanks, as always for reading and reposting, and hopefully I'll see some of you soon.  Drop me an email if anything interesting has come up you think I should write about. And if you're going to be cruisin' with Ante Up or playing IP Biloxi.. we must have a cocktail!

I'm off to shop for new jeans with the Zack, and then find a life-size Margarita to jump into.



For his fans, CatCat would like you all to know he's doing well and enjoying some much needed R&R.