Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I Thread The Needle Through, You Beat The Devil's Tattoo: 2010 Recap

At this time last year I was sitting around the house, coughing up pleghm, listening to Love is Hell, basically just waiting and praying for something good to happen. I formulated a plan of attack for 2010 and got straight to work by heading down to the Bahamas for the PCA. In January hopes were modest: I just wanted to feel like myself again,

to know that life was worth fighting for.

In the Bahamas several close friends helped me remember that it was, and I started to see the light.

I traveled the tournament circuit throughout the winter, making stops in Biloxi, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, Tempe, and Albuquerque. The highlight was a final table at the North American Poker Tour’s inaugural event at the Venetian. Though that final table did not go well, it was enough to make 2010 my seventh profitable year out of seven playing poker for a living. As I travelled, my heart soared. It was an amazing geographical, social and psychological journey through America.

In April I went to St. Louis for a WSOP Circuit event and stayed with PiMaster and his young family. St. Louis was delirious with sunshine. Winter was officially over.

A while back my friend Shane sent me a song called “To Beat the Devil” which really resonated.

In April one of my favorite groups, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, echoed Kristofferson with “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”, a dismal album with a rousing title track.

Beat the Devil’s Tattoo became the mantra for the next several months. In 2010 I waged war on the Devil’s icy grip, and I emerged victorious.

I have always known how blessed I am, but had never managed to translate this good fortune into happiness. The grass has always been greener on the other side. I’ve always been haunted by my perceived shortcomings. Fixating on what is lacking has trumped satisfaction with what isn’t. In 2010 I stopped obsessing over failure and imperfection and found contentment in simple pleasures: NFL Sunday. Ripping one over the incompetent right fielder's head. Opening placement in a Settlers of Catan game. The feel of a perfectly struck golf ball. The last piece of yellowtail.

I don’t think it could have happened without the miserable stretch that ended 2009. The world is a prettier place after staring into Apollyon’s eyes.

The World Series of Poker was my third straight losing one, but I had about as much fun as one can have while losing money in the desert in the summer. I am getting better at disassociating poker tournaments with self-worth. You have to if you want to keep your sanity.

In August I met a captivating young woman, and this one turned out to be more than an exciting pursuit, but a vivacious foil who accepts me for who I am. I have never made an attempt to act like someone else in her company. I am grateful that she enjoys the basic version of me.

I’d like to think I could have gotten to this place without her, that my self-worth is no longer tied up in who I am or am not dating. Disassociating the two, along with poker success, was the key to converting pessimism to optimism.

I went to the British Isles in the fall. I went for poker, I went for leisure, I went for beer, I went cause a couple friends were heading through Ireland at the same time, and I went cause I had to go see about a girl.

I'm glad I went.

Fall was dominated by football. My partner and I were able to make some money on the game we love so much. I no longer have any notions of sportsbetting as a primary or reliable source of income, but it was nice to win a little (along with a fantasy football championship).

December included a terrifying journey to a yurt as nightfall and a blizzard simultaneously descended upon our group at 12,000 feet. I was concerned that lives could be in danger, but everybody pulled through. It was another chance for me to thank my lucky stars, though they were obscured by clouds and sideways snowfall.

I learned a lot through it all, so much that in 2011 my only goal is to write a book about everything I learned. My inability to write this book in 2010 was the year's one obvious failure, but I now have a story to tell and I think I know how to tell it. Some of the one-line lessons I learned in 2010:

  • Social mobility is more satisfying than high social standing.
  • Never evaluate a relationship while having sex.
  • Never evaluate a relationship five minutes after having sex.
  • Sex might not be the most important thing in the world. This is quite a revelation, cause for the past thirteen years, I was pretty sure it was.
  • Hanging out with people you know to be smarter than you can be challenging and deflating, but it's usually worth it.
  • Never bet on a football team missing two starting offensive linemen.
  • If I have any talent handicapping NFL games, it seems to be in evaluating matchups of the league’s worst teams.
  • Making decisions on a purely financial basis is foolish.

On a related note, I will be playing day 1a of the PCA Saturday on Paradise Island.


Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

Some quality posts of late.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Can we get a full post about the yurt trip, or do we need to wait for the book?

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A+ post


10:17 AM  

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