Monday, January 07, 2008

Art and Masturbation

By Pauly
Melbourne, Australia

Much like 2007, I begin cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 new year hung over down under while on assignment covering cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Aussie Millions for Poker News. If you were to ask me about my game plan for 2007... exactly one year ago... what I wanted to achieve and accomplish didn't exactly match up to what really happened. Life is funny like that. You can make plans and goals and commence on a journey with an intended destination, yet you always seem to get blown off course. Like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are busy making plans."

Sweden is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 perfect example. A year ago, if you said that I'd go to Sweden in August and end up working for a Swedish client (and getting paid in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 almighty Euro after cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 US Dollar sunk to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 equivalent of a third world currency and got smoked like a bag of cheap ditch weed), I would have told you that you were fuckin' nuts. That was not in my plans for 2007. It wasn't even on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 radar, yet that's exactly happened.

So if you told me right now, that by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 summer Tony G and I will open up three fast food chicken franchises in Moscow, I might believe you since that's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last thing I have on my list of things to do in 2008.

The last decade or so of my life has been filled with a lot of reactionary living. I have been reacting to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 atmosphere around me and making decisions on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fly and adjusting accordingly. Five years ago in a galaxy far far away, I wore a dark Brooks Brocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rs suit with freshly shined shoes as I reluctantly rode cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 downtown subway to Wall Street six days a week. I was a miserable 30-year old barely holding onto cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last threads of humanity. When I prayed, I used to pray to God to send a deranged homeless man to shove me onto cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 train tracks, so I would die because I was so fuckin' depressed and caught up in a rueful rut, yet too chicken-shit to kill myself because suicide is a very un-Catholic thing to do. Like cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 majority of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 herd, I was too confused and scared to make cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 necessary changes in my life which would put me onto a path of self-fulfillment and happiness. However, when I left Wall Street behind in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Spring of 2003 (for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 second time in less than a decade), I had no idea what would happen to me but deep inside I felt alive for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 first time since before 9.11. I embraced cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 unknown, because I was content on choosing an artistic life of constant struggle than a safer and more comfortable path.

Some days, I reflect upon a decade ago when I was in my mid-20s and living on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fringe of society in Seattle. I was flat broke and worked four jobs just to pay rent and have enough herb for my pipe and enough beer for my belly. I achieved a semblance of happiness cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n even though I wasn't living what my family considered a productive and fruitful life. Alas, my thoughts often drift to those foggy days. I'm confident that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y were 100% necessary because I never would have gotten to where I am today, if I didn't migrate to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 West Coast and live among cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hippies and embark upon cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 necessary steps to find my voice as a writer. In Seattle, I was exposed to alternative artistic pursuits and immersed myself in books, films, music, and philosophy that I never would have pursued if I continued to live with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hipsters in Brooklyn.

It's weird how I'm constantly looking back at my life around a decade ago. I can't explain it, but for some reason I have been writing a lot about my time living in Seattle or being on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 road at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 1990s following Phish all over North America. I guess that something clicked in my head and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re's a flashlight scouring cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 darkest corners of my mind where those memories have been tucked away. I can finally understand what was going on with me cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n... which at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time which I couldn't comprehend. It's a perfect example of what Kierkegaard said that... "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

In short, it's easier for me to write about stuff that happened ten years ago than it is for me to write about stuff ten days ago. I guess that's why I think I won't write a great book about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 poker scene or Las Vegas until 2015... if I make it that far. By cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n I'll have a decade of life in between me and my first leap into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 poker world. I'll be a little older and wiser cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n, and a more concise writer. Someday, I'll write that book although I dunno if I or anyone else can wait seven years for that to happen. Who knows if poker will fade away or be more popular than ever? I can't even tell you what poker will be like in America six months from now, let alone six years.

Like I stated earlier, I have ideas and goals for 2008, but I also know at this point that my hopes and expectations often dissolve into thin air. Fate often throws you a curveball when you least expect it. You actually have no control over how things transpire, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 illusion of control is one of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 most dangerous things I have encountered in my short life.

It's important to have an intended destination in life and it's even more important to have cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 flexibility and patience in getting cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re. But cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 most vital aspect to living, is to allow yourself to leap into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 unknown, because that's where cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 biggest mysteries of life are hidden.

There were days, weeks, and months in 2007 when I had almost every minute of my life mapped out, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re were weeks where I refused to commit to anything and I lived life without any direction and boundaries. I seemed to have cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 most fun during my blocks of unstructured and unfettered time because my writing flourishes while cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 creative juices intoxicate and inspire me. What I'm really trying to say is that I thrive on chaos, while structure makes me despondent.

2007 was a banner year despite cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ups and downs. My closest friends knew about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 private struggles with accepting cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mood swings that accompany a grumpy artist, or battling with addiction (pick any four), or overcoming multiple health issues which may or may have not been triggered by my addictions or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 intense travel and unhealthy work schedule (like getting 15 hours of sleep per week during cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 WSOP). I would often say things to my friends like, "I'm burnt out and I'm so sick of poker."

Like cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Kurgan mentioned in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Highlander movie, "It's better burn out, than to fade away!"

After a long and intense three years covering cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 poker scene, I am more than burnt out. The novelty of spanning cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 globe has worn out and I waste weeks of my life standing in airport security lines or waiting for anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r delayed flight or finding myself getting issued anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r bad beat by JetBlue when I get seated next to anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r crying baby on my flight from JFK to Burbank. I have been living cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 majority of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last 1,000 days of my life in hotels and hate having to worry if a horde of illegal immigrant maids with sticky fingers will steal my iPod or a wad of $100 bills that I have hidden somewhere in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 room. Or worse, a maid will burst into my hotel room at 8am (even though I have cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 "Do Not Disturb" sign in full view) just so she can refold my toilet paper into that nifty little triangle.

My worst fears have become a reality. My immersion into poker is no longer cool and exciting. It has become a job instead of a lifestyle choice, and by definition, all jobs suck.

I knew it was a problem when I found myself being evasive when strangers ask, "What do you write about?"

I hate saying "poker" because it gets such an unusual reaction and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n people (not in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 industry) start asking me a million and one questions, or want to discuss poker strategy, or worse... cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y tell me a bad beat story. Poker is my job. It's not something I actively seek to discuss while bumping into old friends on cold street corners in New York City. That's why I respond, "I write freelance for a bunch of magazines and websites. Boring stuff. So how are your kids?"

It's time for a break. That's why I'm taking off several months in between cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Aussie Millions and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 2008 WSOP. I had taken off cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 final two months of 2007 to write and relax, so in essence, I'm on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 cusp of a hiatus where I would have only worked a 15 day assignment over a stretch of seven months. I figured that by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time I arrive at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 2008 WSOP, I will be refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to cover my fourth WSOP in a row. That time off will allow me to be in much better head space and I'll finally have that time to improve as a writer and hone my craft and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n if I decide to choose to return to covering poker tournaments, I can easily do anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r year or so. I want to be prepared to be able to handle a couple of more years on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 road... and I can't do that without taking some time off right now.

Of course, I have no idea what will happen in 2008. Opening up that chicken shack in Moscow with Tony G sounds pretty enticing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 more that I think about it. But if I had any advice to give you... it's this... enjoy cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Tao of Poker while you can. It might not be here in 2009.

Maybe I should walk away from poker right now? Cash out. Sell cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Tao. I have a big stack in life thanks to my tremendous good luck in poker. I should quit while I'm ahead and use cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 money I earned to fund my personal projects. I have seen poker's ugly side and many of my friends have gotten cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir collective asses kicked by poker. They have left empty-handed.

Maybe I should just quit after cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 2008 WSOP?

At cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 2008 WSOP, I'll make that tough decision. If I choose to walk away from poker entirely, well cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n that's what's going to happen.

I'm at a crossroads. I have grown bored with poker when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re's so much ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r interesting and compelling stuff going on in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 world right now. I could take an assignment to cover cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Olympics in Beijing, or hit cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 campaign trail and follow cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 leading candidates on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir run for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 White House, or I could venture into one of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 world's hot zones and become a combat correspondent, or most likely, I'll head for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 plastic hills of Hollyweird and churn out mindless static for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 motion picture industry (once cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 writer's strike is over).

As much as poker has given me more financial freedom (i.e. I'm out of debt), I have also found it suffocating me artistically. I have all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365se gestating ideas and my inability to follow through on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m due to time or work constraints has been extremely frustrating to endure.

I have a personal writing project that I started in November. I'd like to finish that in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 months leading up to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 WSOP. That would require me to spend a lot more time in Hollyweird working out logistics and research. It also means more time in NYC because I seem to write my best stuff cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re. If I gave myself four months to write and create and have huge chunk of unstructured time, I know that I'll achieve a semblance of happiness that had been missing from my life in 2007. Sure, I made more money than I could have ever dreamed of in 2007, but money is not important to me. If it was, I'd still be cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 monkey with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 grinder getting irrelevant chip counts on anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r young internet multi-accounting hot shot that will be broke in six months time.

As much as it's important for me to write, I also want to devote more time to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 amazing people in my life. I have neglected a lot of older friendships and it is important to me to reconnect with a lot of people in my life that I respect and admire.

I also have a slew of ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r side projects like LasVegasVegas and Fantasy Sports Live. I'd like to get more involved in those sites and continue on with my ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r blogs like Tao of Pauly, Truckin', and my music blog. And you should keep your eye out on those sites over cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 next twelve months.

By eliminating cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 grueling travel schedule and scaling back on my freelance work (aside from my columns in Bluff and Poker Player Newspaper, but I can handle a mere three deadlines a month) and focusing more on living than working, I will have more time for my personal projects. I can finally rest up and get healthy and find more time to write on my blogs and sites, which means more stuff for you to read to distract and entertain you.

I guess to sum up...

I'm taking time off (around four months) after cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Aussie Millions to regain control of my life. I'm back to my old self where I'm living life on my terms and ignoring what cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 brainwashed masses think. I have no idea if I can pull it off, but I'm gonna do my best to write a screenplay, travel for myself (like a trip to New Zealand with Change100 at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 month), listen to more live music, spend time with new friends and reconnect with old friends. I also have a pile a books that I want to read and I'll be constantly thinking about Johnny Hughes' advice about having just one girl, one drug, and one gambling vice.

In Stardust Memories, a 1980 film by Woody Allen, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re's a quote from a character named Sandy Bates played by Allen. It goes something like, "You can't control life. It doesn't wind up perfectly. Only art you can control. Art and masturbation. Two areas in which I am an absolute expert."


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