August 31, 2009
First, a little background.
I’ve been playing pool in a league for just over two years, which is roughly the entirety of my pool-playing experience. A game or two here or there over the years, but it was something I did maybe every other year or so, and never in earnest. Also, I have hand-eye coordination issues.
In short, I’m not very good.
But over the past two years, I’ve paid attention to people much more experienced than I, and learned a thing or two about strategy. I can’t execute half of my ideas with any degree of consistency, but I know what should happen. Pool, you see, can be like chess – with pesky physics running amok all over the board.
And in my league, the best players are ranked at “7”, and the least skilled are ranked at “2”. I am currently a “3”.
So when I, a lowly little 3, was selected to play a 7, I was relaxed. Nobody expected me to win this match. The captain of my team apologized for using me as cannon fodder. I was maybe a tiny bit nervous, as it was my first match in Vegas, but I was content with my role as a human speed bump.
Until my opponent hit the 8 in early in the first game, meaning that I only needed to win 1 more to secure a big fat W for my team. Meaning that success was possible. Meaning that I could accomplish something for my team beyond my mere existence. THEN, I started shaking like a leaf, and lost the next three games pretty quickly, as my opponent ran 6-7 balls without too much difficulty.
But then we played our fifth game. And the eight ball, my six, and a couple of his stripes were tied up in a cluster. And he kept giving me ball in hand to avoid accidentally hitting an early eight, and I kept on making a ball and then a defensive shot. Ball. Defensive shot. Ball. Defensive shot. And then I was on the eight. And then I made it.
And it made pretty much every frustrated moment of practice, every late Monday and Thursday night, every wrinkled nose at the stench of cigarette smoke emanating from the laundry pile completely and utterly worth it.
August 21, 2009
Yeah, I really don’t know what to say about last night’s post. Just consider it cabin fever run amok.
Next week, for the entire week, I will be in Las Vegas. For pool. Hopefully, for some stretches of time, BY the pool, which I am assured is very nice at 5-star hotels.
Our tourney schedule is going to be a little crazy, so there’s a chance I’ll be investigating 5-hour energy vials, if my body’s up to it. With any luck, I’ll get to investigate some seriously tasty food – thus far, I’ve been told about a couple of buffets I *have* to try and a crêpe place that will supply me with my favorite treat.
Here’s the thing. I’m not at all sure I’ll have time to post anything. Which doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it just means that I wasn’t really planning on bringing my laptop and I haven’t the foggiest notion whether (1) the hotel will charge me a kidney for internet usage or (2) if I’ll even have time to find out.
So, in case I’m quiet next week, spend some time exploring those folks over there, on the sidebar. I mean, you should be reading these people anyway. But go ahead, check ’em out. And have a wonderful week!
August 20, 2009
I’ve known for quite some time that German Chocolate Cake did not, in fact, originate in Germany. Nope, it was named after the guy who made the chocolate that the woman who came up with the recipe used. German brand chocolate. Ya dig?
But just now, it occurred to me that this means that the Cold Stone Creamery confection, which bears such a beautiful excess of umlauts, my absolute favorite punctuation still in use today (the interrobang is CLEARLY the most awesome punctuation evar, and I want a birthday cake in the shape of one, frosted with Nutella)…
Wow. Um, I’m sorry. It’s the broth/pretzel/gatorade/teawithhoney diet talking.
The point is, that the Cold Stone Creamery thing is completely WRONG and should be stripped of its umlauts and this makes me sad.
I so need to get out of the apartment. Let’s hope I’m well enough to return to the office tomorrow, mmmmkay?
Congratulations to the happy family!
Second, I went to bed feeling a little more human last night. I woke up feeling meh. Which is to say, better than I was on Monday, but not as good as I was hoping to feel… and some of the scarier symptoms are still leaving their shoes in the doorway and raiding my fridge.
I have a feeling that this is going to take longer than I thought. There may be a GI doc in my very near future.
And if any of this even THINKS about interfering with Vegas? Well.
They have emergency rooms in Vegas, is all I’m saying.
August 19, 2009
Whilst in the Bahamas, I was introduced to a book. And yes, I know I’m drinking the Kool-Aid here (how delightfully ironic!), but after having also seen Food, Inc., I became more convinced than ever that 90% of what’s on most supermarket shelves is making us ill.
Now, I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s anyway – I get these little preservative-free apple-cranberry bran muffins, cage-free organic eggs, protein-fortified skim milk with no growth hormone, and 1.5-liter bottles of water. I also pick up produce from time to time – this is one area where most Trader Joe stores don’t excel – but oddly enough, the 24-hour Shoppers Warehouse at Seven Corners tends to have pretty nice produce – must be the high turnover or something. So my diet mostly needed just a little tweaking.
And then, I got sick. I’m still sick, and I’m 90% sure it’s E. Coli poisoning. From what, you ask? Well, the bitch about E. Coli is that it can take a week to show up, and a week before I got sick I was eating off buffets in the Bahamas. And then I think I picked up some cottage cheese from a salad bar here at work. And so on, and so forth. I’m pretty sure that the Indian food is completely innocent, here – but it could have been pretty much anything I had from August 9-August 13.
So anyway, while writhing in pain every 30 minutes or so as my internal organs decided to practice wrestling holds on each other, I started researching what I should and shouldn’t be eating. And lo and behold, pretty much anything processed was off the list. No fake sugars, nothing too fatty or spicy, but definitely nothing overly processed. Just simple crackers, a juice/water mixture, bananas, blueberries, and when I’m ready for it, yogurt.
And decaffeinated tea with honey. Because apparently, honey has antiseptic properties that are nearly doubled when the honey is diluted.
So later on, when I’m done packing up the reports I need at the office and am back at home, working on the couch, I can feel virtuous in between bouts of debilitating pain, as I consume half a jar of honey in a single day.
But no Nutella, just yet. Sigh.
August 18, 2009
*insert several paragraphs of whining, wailing, and gnashing of teeth*
I’ll take Things That Are Not Fun for $4,000, Alex.
August 17, 2009
After spending roughly seven hours at the pool hall yesterday, I was a mite hungry. Having recently discovered that there is some Indian food that I like, and being in a part of Northern Virginia where one might reasonably expect to find pretty good Indian food, according to this guy, we opted to check out a place.
Here’s the rub: I grew up in a non-spicy household. The Dutch and the Polish do a lot of things well – tastiness out of humble ingredients, creative application of animal fats, farmers cheese good enough to make you cry, and serious skillz in the manufacture and consumption of adult beverages. But we don’t do spicy, unless you count horseradish. Which I don’t, because it is a clean burn with limited aftertaste.
But when we looked at the menu, the spicy garlic shrimp seemed like a safe place to start. Spicy garlic shrimp are in every cuisine *except* northern and eastern European varieties, so it seemed like a safe bet. And it was tasty, though it took my palate a good 12-15 minutes to recover enough to taste my Seekh Kebab Masala. Which was pretty tasty, once the flavors registered on my tongue.
And after a long day, I fell asleep pretty easily. But then I woke up. At 3. At 3:30. At 4:05. At 5:00. Ten-minute naps interspersed with periods of gastrointestinal contrition and debate about whether a run would help.
I did not run. Or sleep. I did, however, resolve to keep large quantities of peppermint tea and Pepto on hand for future dietary adventures.
Is abdominal insomnia a valid excuse for not coming into work?
August 15, 2009
…that I stood DIRECTLY in front of TWO ELEVEN-POUND JARS of Nutella for 45 minutes last night, and walked away without having purchased a single molecule of chocolate hazelnut-y goodness.
And no, I didn’t eat it all sitting there in the store, either.
Yes, I AM inordinately proud of myself.
August 14, 2009
…that I could have used about ninety minutes EARLIER this morning.
by Stella Wilder
“You may be fooled by appearances early in the day, but later on you can use your experience to avoid any serious deceptions.”
Let’s just say that if the “Jump to Conclusions” mat was real, I’d be Galactical Grandmaster.
“Don’t I feel like the fucking asshole.”
August 13, 2009
Um. It’s been a little while since I last played pool. Probably a little too long, really. And I do feel guilty about that, I really do.
I imagine that it will be another few months, at least, before I get to the point where I’m really ready to put the time in. And here’s the basis for that theory.
Yep, I was that freak in the center of the second row of the orchestra, behind either a flautist or clarinet player, trying to balance a shot glass of water on my music stand or keep it from getting kicked by placing it under my chair, carefully inspecting my double reed for knicks and sticking EZ-Wider cigarette paper* under the keypads from time to time. It took me roughly four years to stop sounding like a duck.
Let me elaborate. It took me roughly four years to stop sounding like a duck that was being horribly wronged by some kind of avian proctologist. I hated practicing, because it sounded AWFUL. And barely practicing probably wasn’t doing me any favors.
One day, it just clicked. The rubber glove was removed, the mallard smoothed its feathers, and I came in third statewide, which qualified me to sit first chair in the Youth Symphonic Band (first and second were in the Orchestra).
So, it’s been about two years since I first picked up a pool cue and lost my first match. I’ve made some significant improvements since then, but I still loathe practicing. I hate watching myself miss over and over again, not being able to perceive any improvement.
Thankfully, much like orchestra, I’ve got some good people who keep it fun, during league nights. And I have some hope that so long as I don’t give up completely, so long as I actually TRY when I do play, that it will “click”, and I’ll get to the point where practice is fun because I know I’m making progress. And then I’ll actually make some progress.
Until then, I’ll probably continue to play in a stance that looks like I’ve completely misunderstood where it is I’m supposed to put the cue.