Monday, November 7, 2011

Coffee with Mother Teresa's helper

Yes, that would be Kathleen, who I was privileged to make acquaintance with on Sunday at Sip (thanks to LD's eavesdropping and general nosiness). Who has spent most of her adult working life third-worlding, presumably for free or just above. Now she has a paid gig at the University and seems to feel guilty about living the good life (does the "Good"work she does at the U = "Good" she could be doing amongst the poor in say, Nepal?).

[Gosh, she was a vibrant woman (who, naturally, goes mountaining in her spare time). And looking for a writerly community.]

While it was terrific to have this encounter, it did get me thinking again down old corridors. Raising questions for debate, demanding attention. I have/had given myself permission to focus on recovery, to attempt to get well, or reasonably close, and then worry about the rest (always: write v Empire, and When?). But if such a life as Kathleen is questioning its level of commitment, can I really afford to dally?

[Didn't take long for Time to get back in the game.]

[Is this a question of Path? Are all questions of Path?]

Health is starting to come: Cardio Rehab today (session #3 of 36). Worked up a sweat. It felt good.

It feels like The Man is being unkind to the frail me. Took some liberties with my business while I was out that benefitted The Man and not the patient. I understand The Man's right to protect what is His; but there is a way to handle business where everyone gets a fair shake and communication is transparent -- this is not what happened, leaving me feeling shafted. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't, but the communication has been poor and intentions going forward have not been declared. I am going to trust my instincts and assume others took advantage, until I am shown otherwise. And I have enquired about a sit-down.

And I just got off the telephone with a Competitor. They are looking for guys like me. We are having coffee on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excerpt Alert!

But Time is a funny bird -- it gives and gives and gives and then stops giving, often for no good reason, or, at least, no good explanation.

Yes, I, who mocked Robert Bly for quoting himself (generously) in Iron John thus quote myself (from an unpublished text -- does this make it better or worse offence? (as long as we're being pretentious let's use the British) (and I Love Iron John -- I just find it funny, worth mocking, that's all). (By the by: all of this mocking takes place in the unpublished text, that I am quoting -- so, if  no one reads my mocking, do I mock?)

I've been thinking on Time quite a bit lately, and spending of same. This is not new, an old habit, as some would know. But Time has finally spoken to me, in a loud way. Not as loudly as to G. Stewart Gerald, the theater/movie critic who was murdered at the last performance he would witness (well, technically it was the penultimate, but let's not split hairs), thus the quote above.

The critic, like many (most?), got no warning - Time's up. You are over. You have spent it all. A writer, he was displeased by his final words, and, had he the time to reflect, perhaps he might have felt shame about his overall body of work.

[I have lost interest in this train of thought. What writer is pleased with his output/quality/depth?]

[I have discovered that I do enjoy being quoted, even by myself. I feel much closer to the poet Bly now. P.S., If you have not seen it, Bly has a great interview in the Paris Review archives -- he was part of the Harvard post WWII faction etc., etc., And, he went to great extremes for his craft.]

I will come back to Time again. There is much to discuss. And I have been talked to. But now I have to get ready for a breakfast date with a friend I haven't seen in 89 days.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A one-outer

Texas Hold'em players know what a one-outer is: it's the number of remaining cards in the deck that can turn a winning hand into a (hard-luck) loser. It means there is only one card remaining in the deck (typically 45 cards remain at this point) that can hurt. A long shot. But all who've played any amount of cards know that one and two-outers hit and they remember the accompanying pain.

My most prodigious finish in the Pokerstart Sunday 1.5 Million involved such a hand, except worse -- Both of us all-in, a win moves me to 2nd in chip count among the remaining players (did I mention 1st place was 200k?) and I have 3 A's against a pair of Kings post-flop: Me (hole cards): AA  Him: KQ  Flop (community cards): A K 2 rainbow (no matching suits) -- any guesses what followed? (I so trapped this sucker into committing all his chips after that flop that Norman Chad might have sung songs). J 10 is what followed, resulting in a bye bye for me. The odds? Well, let's cipher -- what hands can we construct to make him a winner? The straight and 4 kings. So he needed on 1st card 1 of 2 remaining K's (2 chances of 46) to stay alive, or 1 of 4 J's and 1 of 4 10's (8 of 46) added = 10/46; on 2nd card, assuming he hit on the 1st, he now needs the remaining K (1 of 45) or either the J or 10 (4 of 45), added = 5 of 45, or 1 of 9.

Almost done with the math stuff (sorry LD, if you are still reading): 10/46 X 1/9 = 10/414 = 1 in 41.4 or about 2.5% chance of losing that hand (which of course means 97.5% chance of winning that hand). I was so sure that as the Turn card came, and the the River, I was checking to see where my newly enlarged stack would place me on the Leaderboard, Yes, 2nd and my God am I fricken playing well. Tonight's the night, bro. Tonight's the night.

I finished 22nd out of about 8000 entrants and cashed for maybe $3000. Heart breaking but not terrible for a $215 entry and maybe 7 hours of my life. I did not sleep well that night. I felt cursed. Tricked. I was playing great and that I had gotten that dope to commit all of his chips on 2nd pair was proof. But, wtf?

I mention this story because if you google CABG, the procedure I had done (3X), Mortality is between 2 and 3% (I supposed we could split the middle and say 2/5%?). Don't think I didn't think of the poker hand/tournament god screwed me out of pre-surgery. I did. We might even have had a much smaller version of Captain (LT. for those who didn't know he got promoted) Dan in the storm (Forest Gump reference) waiving his fist in the air. A much smaller version. His might I had seen and it was mighty.

(Shady Strickel used to always say, "Don't go pokin' a stick ..."]

So I wasn't automatic to wake up. I didn't dwell on it. A good friend I have not talked to in quite some time once told me: I will never know I do not exist. That gave me comfort (so friend, you were with me in that way; we suffered many less impressive musings to get the one, but so it is, like the shepherd and the lost sheep, and I will stop now).

A lot of words spilled and I afear not much substance. I survived the one-outer (so far, okay Shady?) -- big deal.

Speaking of poker, I intend to defy the mandates resulting from Black Friday (just Google it w/"poker"), but I need 2 things: a VPN (who is SHOCKED that I dropped that?); and a foreign bank account. I am hopeful Brazilian brother can help on both fronts. Perhaps I will have to rely on Emperor brother to take me into Mexico to handle myself. My relations with God are too important and I very much miss our Sunday conversations. When I resume noveling, well, there will be those also (although I should mention that he does not talk much then, but I catch Him up to things, and I can not prove it, but I am sure I once made Him Blush (I guess his blush should be capitalized).

51% of CABG suffer diminished mental capacity. The heart is turned off, and the subsequent rush moves debris into bad places. I think were I sitting at Club Cohibe with the poet and CAC (the annoyingly argumentative version) I would crumble, an imitation Wall. Perhaps the poet would defend my honor, slay the annoying one. He likely would, but it would make him sad and I would not wish anymore sadness upon him. This is a troubling thought. At present, one without solution, as the math'ers say.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I have always liked to speak. Except for the times when I felt the need to be quiet, in which case, I liked the company of my thoughts. Even when angry or sad or lonely -- they were good thoughts, able thoughts. They were consistent thoughts even when I was reshaping or redefining me. They fit and I did not argue or question me.

Of course, that is not quite true: I have always argued with me (and others, even while realizing the pointlessness of argument). But at issue has not been self-definition; rather, self-actualization. Do this, do that ("should" used to creep in here, before the banishment).  Not be this,  not be that. I have generally been proud/content/defiant to be me and not you.

I should mention that I have always generally felt "capable." This sounds bad, I think. Arrogant. Not intended that way. Like most, what I have learned is a response to fear. Learning to be good at something is answer to feeling inadequate. No shocking revelation there (I doubt any "joy followers" will be reading my blog -- however, should one mosey in here, I will argue their position for them because they would know better than to argue -- but, they might be exception to this statement).

[I know a poet who sits down to write sad poetry and upon invariably feeling dissatisfied with a lack of production goes into the kitchen and chops a couple of onions (they must be reasonably fresh) until the tears come. This poet really dislikes onions: the taste, smell, texture, metaphor of "peeling layers", especially that. Sometimes a handful gets stuffed in the mouth before sitting back down to resume (I have read some of this work - Delicious, I say. Poets pain = my gain).]

[Thought you might appreciate a break from me. Poets are typically weirder than most. Blessed they.]

[Maybe I am stalling. I would accuse you of such. It would be so obvious.]

Well, I have been dashed. I = not me. The me I had such plans for, and certainty about, does not exist. Or, if he exists, he hides. I do not recognize this new fellow.

I recently undertook thoracic surgery (8/05: my wedding day many years ago, which I didn't realize until post-op, and then could never seem to commit to memory; my elusive memory, part of my elusive faculties), the aftermath of which has removed from me all of the certainty I previously possessed (about myself, my capabilities, my affections and their reciprocations, my future prospects; not about things like the folly of argument, etc., etc.).

In future posts I will describe some of what I feel (for instance, what it feels like to be unable to operate a nail clipper to trim one's own nails) about where I find myself; and, hopefully, what I need to do to create some normalcy for myself (I ask: should that be a goal?).

I am uncertain. I am untethered. Maybe we can have some fun before I latch onto an identity again. Maybe I will unhinge entirely. You can watch. Cheer if you like. Throw something. Fuck you then.