Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 27: Untethered

The other night I stopped into my local Whole Foods Store at about 8 pm to hit up their excellent salad/hot food bar before the evening's cash game. I was standing in the check-out lane when I noticed that the woman behind me looked awfully familiar. Because of context-shock, I couldn't place her at first.

Then I realized that it was my primary physician, whom ~ I'm embarrassed to say ~ I haven't seen for quite some time now.

We struck up a brief conversation. At one point she gestured to my take-out and asked, "Long day?"

"No," I responded, "actually my day is just starting. I'm headed to the office right now."

She gave me a look of commiseration, and I smiled back and said quite truthfully, "I don't mind. Really."

As Week Four draws to a close, I am starting to appreciate just how utterly unconventional the way I'm spending my time actually is. The essential difference, for me, is that I'm now doing intentionally what I was doing anyway, by default and with feelings of guilt, previously. That turns out to be quite a big deal in terms of my mental outlook, and has delivered a major improvement in my overall quality of life.

It does come with a price tag, however, and I don't mean a monetary one (although there is that, as well). I've always been a bit of an outlier on whatever normal curve you'd care to distribute the population along. I'm something of an oddball; I admit it, I'm used to it, and mostly I'm okay with it. But with this change of profession, such as it is, I'm really living into my differences these days. I am out-there.

Sometimes, driving the blissfully empty streets of my city in the wee hours of the night, I feel so detached from the everyday lives slumbering in the darkness around me that it's a little scary. I have stepped out of mainstream of the economy, for example, in a fairly definitive way. My day-to-day activities don't bear much resemblance to most other people's. And I spend a lot of my time thinking about stuff that many people find either ridiculously arcane, of dubious morality, fundamentally frivolous, or otherwise objectionable.

As it happens, probably the most socially-acceptable way I can answer the ubiquitous question, "So, what do you do?" is by saying "I'm a writer." And, inevitably, that just generates a whole barrage of follow-up questions, which I'm more eager to answer some days than others.

I will say, though, that once I start explaining my project, people generally express interest and even guarded enthusiasm. The unconventionality of it appeals to them, vicariously anyway. There's an inverse sort of glamour to it, and it's so different from the way that they organize their own lives that there's a great deal of curiosity and occasionally some well-sublimated envy too.

The latter sentiment is probably misplaced. Very few people would truly enjoy this life for any length of time. In fact, it remains to be seen if I am even one of them!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi grrl!

My family went away for the Labor Day weekend and I played 28 hours of poker in 3 days - and I REALLY enjoyed it. So devoting a year to that amount of play sounds great to me. Good luck, many are rooting for you and I, for one, "would truly enjoy this life...."



9/15/08 9:06 PM  

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