Here Today -- Gone Tomorrow

Now that I have a permanent address again, able to receive both mail and visitors; it is well time to consider where to travel next. With that in mind I did some bookings for Las Vegas last night. Buddies in the poker media will notice that I managed to schedule two trips in the next several months yet still managed to miss all of the World Series. I really am done with poker, besides they turned me down for a media credential, seems I don't have enough experience.  

I will be in Vegas in early May to do a little business and some research on a future book. In addition, my co-author Amy Calistri will be there spinning her wisdom for the investment minded at the Mirage. So Amy and I and another buddy will be spending some quality time at our olde haunts, which may include a casino or two but mostly the cultural and gustatorial highlights of the city. 

I also booked the discount deal at the Monte Carlo for mid-July, post-WSOP, for the annual Boyz poker trip. For the first time in several years I will not be the local host but merely one of the attendees. We expect a full turnout this summer with the obvious exception of he who shall not be harassed. Both of the Las Vegas trips will be around a week long. 

There is another more substantial vacation on the horizon. Vacation as a derivative of "vacate." At some point in the May-June-July period, there is a nascent plan to remodel the Berkeley apartment where I am currently resting my head. The remodel is so extensive as to require a complete vacating of both me and all the stuff in the place. Furniture, clothes, computers, kitchen all of it has to move out so the transformation can be done in some reasonable mediation of labor and time. At that point I am probably going to head up to Mt. Shasta to visit my good friends. We might even coordinate my vacating with one of their trips and wound two avians with one rock. 

All of this running about leads to a potential big trip in August. I guess I don't want to talk about this one too much quite yet. Just leave it for now that it does involve my passport, I don't speak the language and I have never been before. More on this one later.

For now, all my bags are unpacked but not stored away quite yet.
art credit: Golden Sunset by Lauren Luna

Hello Blogger! New template has some formatting errors . . .

March Madness

I'm just trying to make a smudge on the collective unconscious.
-- David Letterman.

I am currently struggling with a decision that quite frankly does not have a completely satisfying answer. The question is simple: what do I write next? The more precise question is: which of several proposals do I complete, edit, polish and re-edit before sending it off to be shopped about the world of publishing by my literary agent?

Let me first apologize to any and all aspiring writers out there who know just how difficult it is to be in the position to even have an agent. I am privileged as a result of the Matusow book to have a very good representative, who is interested in my current work and eager to receive my next project.

The problem, of course, is the age old dichotomy between money and art. Although in my case the distinction is not completely neat and crisp. The book I want to work on isn't quite ready to be finished; which is to say that the entire story has not yet unfolded and it will not be rushed. So I am left with deciding which of the several other projects will be most profitable and/or will do the most for my reputation as a writer.

Unlike the great suffering literary giants of yore, I am not saddled with the crushing burden of artistic purity. I have no problem selling my words for profit. I do, however, want my work to make a difference beyond merely entertaining my readers. I want what I write to be such that someone might use my words, my stories, my insight to change their life or the lives of those around them. I want to inspire, to illuminate and to encourage.

For that to happen, it is clear I must produce profitable products for the publisher, in order for them to have faith in what I am producing on a more esoteric level in the books I really want to write. So I think the answer to my question is that I must for the present be more commercial, so that in the not too distant future and publisher will say to me -- "and we would like to see your next work . . . " For that to happen I need a name and a resume, so my current decision has several competing commercial and artistic aspects that I am grappling with.

The immediate goal is to deliver a completed book proposal by the end of April and to immediately begin work on a second. Nothing would be better then having two deadlines. I truly enjoy the demands of writing. My current wish is that such pressures came with valuation attached. Give me liberty or give me a big advance.

photo credit: redbubble.com

Big Man

About five weeks ago I wrote a post titled Big Week. With that post I used a photo of an art work titled Big Man.

I added the following credit to that post: Ron Mueck (Australian, b. 1958). Big Man, 2000. Mixed media, 80 x 47 1/2 x 80 1/2 in. (203.2 x 120.7 x 204.5 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

But that was clearly not enough. I get a lot of comments about the images I use on this blog but the Big Man generated a small but powerful wave of communication from many places.

Yes he does look like me or I like he, whichever. So here are more views of the Big Man, including a short video, if you are interested.

And yes, I am using that first picture, the face and hand only, as my look-alike on Facebook.

This last one conveys the feeling I get sometimes when I go looking for companionship, partnership or perhaps love via an online dating service. I call it: Naked Scrutiny.

Out My Window

Images from week one in the new apartment. Again I promise from this point on, only utterly spectacular shots or anything a visiting telephoto lens might capture.

The daylight shots really don't do the reality justice. The view of San Francisco is overwhelmingly distracting.

You can click on any of these for a truly spectacular view.
photo credits: me

Conference Review

I'm not sure what to say about the 2010 Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference just ended. As the onsite coordinator I worked a lot more than I listened, which meant I missed many of the papers or heard them from "just outside the door." In addition, much of my interaction with presenters was from a practical point of view, dealing with last minute presentation requests, reasonable and otherwise. As with any group, there is always a prima donna or three and I tend to find them tedious. Within this group those demanding individuals also stand in stark contrast to the equanimity of the community as a whole, which makes them even more annoying to me.

My role as site coordinator also meant that I missed spending quality time with some olde friends and colleagues, which is generally seen my most as the high point of the conference. And a bit of a cold & fever also meant I was harboring my energy by sleeping rather than engaging in late night conversations.

I guess I haven't fully processed my own feelings to this year's conference. I do know that next year Jeff will be running the event in Portland and I am already planning to head up to Oregon, but as an conference participant only. No side duties, maybe not even a paper to present. I do know that I missed the play time this year. I won't do that again.

Oh, in response to several emails. Yes, those were the real titles of the conference presentations I posted over the past four days.. And yes, it is true that academics love to use colons in the titles for their projects, but really those were the papers. You can't judge quality nor content by the length of the labels and big words do not intelligence make.
photo credit: friendsofirony.org

Saturday Conference Schedule

Saturday, March 20

Faculty Club UC Berkeley Campus

9:00 – 11:45 Perspectives on Ayahuasca Healing, Part 1 Chair: Evgenia Fotiou

9:00 – 9:15 Ayahuasca and the Construction of a Healing Tradition. Erik Davis

9:15 – 9:30 Ethnomedical Tourism in the Amazon: More than Drugs and Desperation? Francis Jervis

9:30 – 9:45 Working with “La Medicina”: Elements of Healing in Contemporary Ayahuasca Rituals. Evgenia Fotiou

9:45 – 10:00 Intimacy in the Healing Function of Ayahuasca Icaros. Susana Bustos

9:45 – 10:00 Q & A, Discussion

10:00 – 11:15 Part 2: Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca in a Global Environment

10:00 – 10:15 Healing With Plant Intelligence: A Report from Ayahuasca. Richard Doyle

10:15 – 10:30 Out of the Jungle and Onto the Couch: Integrating Ayahuasca into Psychoanalytic Treatment. Stephen Trichter

10:30 – 10:45 The Translation of Ayahuasca into a Depression and Anxiety Therapy. Brian Anderson

10:45 – 11:15 The Dynamics of Healing and Creativity during Ayahuasca Shamanic Journeys: Toward A Neuroscience – Human Sciences Model. Frank Echenhofer

11:15 – 11:30 Q & A, Discussion Discussants: Stephen Beyer & Frank Echenhofer

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – 1:00 SAC Open Business Meeting

1:00 – 1:15 Break

1:15 – 3:00 Stories of Healing and Transformation Chair: Alison Easter

1:15 – 1:30 The Origins of Carlos Castaneda’s 'Anthropology': Evidence from Personal Letters and a Memoir. Robert Cripe

1:30 – 1:45 Modern-Day Sacred Initiation into the Ancient Western Mystery Tradition in the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Ron Bugaj

1:45 – 2:00 The Ancient Bard as Shaman. Robert Tindall

2:00 – 2:15 Break

2:15 – 2:30 Healing, Meaning, and Efficacy. Jong Hwan Park

2:30 – 2:45 The Experience of Healing in Sri Lanka: An Investigation Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Alison Easter

2:45 – 3:00 Q & A, Discussion

3:00 – 3:15 Break

3:15 – 6:00 Language, Healing, and Consciousness Chair: Matthew C. Bronson

3:15 – 3:30 From Shaman to Messiah – Take Two – Healing? Mira Z. Amiras

3:30 – 3:45 Time and the Evolution of Consciousness. Glenn Parry

3:45 – 4:00 “We Ain’t Got No Wildlife in Marin City”: The Use of Epistemological Story in Teaching Ecoliteracy. Tina R. Fields

4:00 – 4:15 Pulling the Plug on Grandma: Language and Framing in the Health Care Debates. Matthew C. Bronson

4:15 – 4:30 Q & A, Discussion

4:30 – 4:45 Break

4:45 – 5:00 Dangerous Labels: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse by Shifting the Lexicon of Sexual Violence. Chimine Arfuso

5:00 – 5:15 The Language of Mental Health in America. Leslie Gray

5:15 – 5:30 Re-Languaging a Life. Tim Lavalli

5:30 – 5:45 From James to Jaynes, or, The Mind Turned Itself On(line). Roberto Gonzalez-Plaza

5:45 – 6:00 Q & A, Discussion. Discussant: Jeff MacDonald

6:00 – 7:15 Dinner

7:30 – 9:30 Enchantment – Employing Song to Shift Consciousness. Tina Fields (Experiential Workshop)

Friday Conference Schedule

Friday, March 19

Location: Faculty Club - UC Berkeley Campus

8:30 – 11:45 Models and Traditions of Healing Chair: Steven Glazier

8:30-8:45 The Gift of Life: Death as a Teacher. Rochelle Suri

8:45 – 9:00 They’re Baaack: Return of Life-After-Death Accounts in the Age of Neurobiology. Meg Jordan

9:00 – 9:15 Cultural Diversity as a Resource in Schizophrenia: An Example from Cross-Cultural Communal Psychiatry for the Mapuche People in Chile. Markus Wiencke

9:15 – 9:25 Q & A, Discussion

9:25 – 9:35 Break

9:35 – 9:50 The Effects of Sufi Healing Ripple Outward. Cheryl Ritenbaugh

9:50 – 10:05 Path of the Heart: Integrating the Wisdom of Classical Sufism into Modern Psychology. Rahima Schmall

10:05 – 10:20 Retrocausality and Real Life Miraculous Reality Shift Healing Stories. Cynthia Sue Larson

10:20 – 10:30 Q & A, Discussion

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 11:00 A Health Event: A Journey through Illness, Treatment, and Recovery. M. Diane Hardgrave

11:00 – 11:15 CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) Going Mainstream. Claudia Weiner

11:15 – 11:30 ‘Cryptic Potency’: Divination and Healing in Trinidad. Stephen Glazier

11:30 – 11:45 Q & A, Discussion

11:45 – 1:00 Lunch (SAC Board Meeting)

1:00 – 3:45 Ecological Healing: How to Practice as if the Earth Mattered.

Leslie Gray (Experiential Workshop, $25/$15)

3:45 – 4:00 Break

4:00 – 5:00 Invited Keynote Address: Edith L.B. Turner Communitas and Merging with Another: What is Happening in Healing?

5:00 – 6:30 “So What? Now What? The Anthropology of Consciousness Responds to a World In Crisis” Book Launch, and SAC’s 30th Anniversary Party

6:30 – 7:30 Dinner

7:30 – 9:30 Experiential Workshop: Healing through the Heart: The Sufi Path of Love. Cheryl Ritenbaugh ($25/10)


photo: jacket cover of new SAC published book

Thursday Conference Schedule

Thursday, March 18

Location: International House, 2299 Piedmont Avenue

9:30 – 11:30 Culturally Responsive Healing

9:30 – 9:45 Indigenous Ethics, Consciousness-Based Healing, and U.S. Health Care Reform. Lurleen Brinkman

9:45 – 10:00 Afro-Brazilian Religions and the Re-Configuring of Public Health in Brazil. Anna Pagano

10:00 – 10:15 Q & A, Discussion

10:30 – 10:45 Globalization and the Transmission of Mystical Philosophies and Practices into Eastern Europe. George Hristovitch

10:45 – 11:00 A New Architecture. Marc Goodwin

11:00 – 11:15 Aboriginal Theory of Mind and Western Cognitive Science Ross R. Maxwell

11:15 – 11:30 Q & A, Discussion

11:30 – 12:45 Lunch

12:45 – 2:45 Healing States

12:45 – 1:00 Neurofeedback-Enhanced Gamma Brainwaves from the Prefrontal Cortex and Associated Subjective Experiences. Beverly Rubik

1:00 – 1:15 Open-Ended Guided Visualization as a Tool for Emotional Healing and Expansion of Consciousness. Eva Ruland

1:15 – 1:30 Health and Well-Being – Cultivating States of Health in the Physical, Psychological, Spiritual Dimensions. Darlene Viggiano

1:30 – 1:45 Q & A, Discussion

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – 2:45 Mental Imagery as an Adaptive Healing Mechanism. Gail Kelly

2:15 – 2:30 The Antithetical Role of Fear in Healing from the Ayurvedic Perspective. David “Atibala” Thorp

2:30 – 2:45 Q & A, Discussion

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 5:30 “Tuning-In”: Therapeutic Dimensions of Musical Improvisation. Andreas Georg Stascheit (CANCELED)

5:45 – 7:00 Dinner

7:00 – 9:30 Intent, Emotion and the Memory of Water. Beverly Rubik (Experiential Workshop, $25/ $15)

Wednesday Conference Schedule

Wednesday, March 17
Location: Faculty Club UC Berkeley campus
12:00 Registration opens. Welcome!

2:00-2:45 Opening Ceremony, Introductions, Orientation

2:45 – 3:45 Theories of Embodied Mind and Healing
2:45 – 3:00 Neoliberal Epistemologies of Energetic Healing: The Universe and the Inter-subjective/Co-subjective Body. Ted Biggs
3:00 – 3:15 On Kinaesthetic Consciousness: Embodiment and Subjectivity. Andreas Georg Stascheit
3:15 – 3:30 “Decontrol, or Anarcho-Mysticism in Psycho-Sexuality”: Methods and Theory of a Psycho-Sexual Individual Deprogramming for Elimination of the Effects of Power Structures on a Microcosmic Level. Isis Nijinsky Pfifferling
3:30 – 3:45 Q & A, Discussion
3:45 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 6:00 Invited Opening Session and Dialogue: Awakening the Healing Power of Language & Mind. Ashok Gangadean

6:00 – 7:30 Dinner

7:30 – 9:30 Meditation Workshop with Wooden Pyramids. Harry Jabs (Experiential Workshop, $10/5)

Conference Announcement

Beginning tomorrow and running through Sunday, I will be completely occupied with the annual Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference nearby on the UC Berkeley campus. I have been going to these events since the early 90s, but this year I will be a bit more involved. Besides presenting a paper, I am the nominal Site Coordinator, which means less hanging out with olde academic buddies and more managing the student volunteers to get people registered, coffee urns refilled and chairs moved.

Also it probably means, no new blogs until Sunday. I will do a review of the conference hi-lites and if you happen to be in the Bay Area here is a PDF link to the entire program, consider dropping by for a couple of sessions or workshops. Students with ID get a reduced rate every day and a special $5 all-day pass on Saturday.

Here is a particularly interesting panel for anyone locally tempted:

Saturday 3:15 – 6:00 Language, Healing, and Consciousness

- - - - - - -

3:15 – 3:30 From Shaman to Messiah – Take Two – Healing? Mira Z. Amiras

3:30 – 3:45 Time and the Evolution of Consciousness. Glenn Parry

3:45 – 4:00 “We Ain’t Got No Wildlife in Marin City”: The Use of Epistemological Story in Teaching Ecoliteracy. Tina R. Fields

4:00 – 4:15 Pulling the Plug on Grandma: Language and Framing in the Health Care Debates. Matthew C. Bronson

4:15 – 4:30 Q & A, Discussion

4:30 – 4:45 Break

4:45 – 5:00 Dangerous Labels: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse by Shifting the Lexicon of Sexual Violence. Chimine Arfuso

5:00 – 5:15 The Language of Mental Health in America. Leslie Gray

5:15 – 5:30 Re-Languaging a Life. Tim Lavalli*

5:30 – 5:45 From James to Jaynes, or, The Mind Turned Itself On(line). Roberto Gonzalez-Plaza

5:45 – 6:00 Q & A, Discussion. Discussant: Jeff MacDonald

*guaranteed to be the only poker related content on the program


art credit: Tina Fields

Cities of Contradictions

I like the San Francisco Bay Area a lot. Here is similar to many of the places I enjoy or have enjoyed or could enjoy living; they have a consistent theme. San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Austin, Madison -- the connection is, of course, a liberal political environment. The San Francisco Bay Area might well be the hub of all such places in the USA. Ann Arbor is certainly more liberal as an entity but SF and Cambridge etc. share their space with a larger metropolitan area and that necessarily means a lot more purple shading and not a pure blue political mapscape.

For some reason the contradictions of this place seem more acute. Mind you, I am not just living in the liberal environs of the Bay Area, I am now a resident of the People's Republic of Berkeley. Yet even here the political contradictions abound. In fact, the insular nature of left-wing, eco-fascist, world-beat, recycle your disposal diaper land begins to look frighteningly like a right wing communist pluralistic oligarchy, if you don't share the current politically correct flavor of the month. I mean if you don't intend to vote against war, you had better not try to run for Berkeley City Council. I mean the last big war here was devastating here, the potholes still pockmark most city streets.

But as I said, I like it here. More often than not toleration is the theme of the debate. I wonder how it feels to be a liberal in Montana or Idaho? What is the most liberal place in the north central US? And which university calls that city home?

Pictures: To answer the question posed by a reader the other day. "What comes first the picture or the text?" Well, most of the time I try to conform the pictures on my blog to the topic I have already written on. And I do have a stash of photos I really want to use some day. Today, however, the picture came first and inspired me with contradictions of politics and place. Oh and yes, for you east coasters, mid-westers, southies and others, that is the Golden Gate Bridge.
photo credit: friendsofirony.com

A Room With a View

There are some visuals that just can't be captured with a still camera. The Grand Canyon comes to mind, the Taj Mahal, any ocean at any time and the view from the windows in my new apartment. The shot above was the closest I could find but it is only a fractional glimpse of what I get to see every day.

Let me just swivel you through my daily view. If I lift my head up from this computer and look straight out of the six foot windows that cover the entire west facing side of the living room, I see centered in my view - the Golden Gate Bridge.

The photo above was taken from the Berkeley hills, that cluster of buildings in the foreground is the UCB campus. The hills are about six miles from the edge of the SF Bay, the apartment is nestled in a tree filled neighborhood less than two miles from the water. Nestled is really not the best descriptor since I am on the eighth floor facing due west with all the building between me and the water less than four stories. I have an unobstructed panoramic view.

The Golden Gate Bridge is another nine miles over the Bay, you can see the two towers in the picture above but, of course, it ain't the same. If I look just a fractional head turn to the south, I see the east section of the Bay Bridge running out to Treasure Island and then the west struts that jog back south to San Francisco. The downtown sky scrapers poke above the island in the foreground, I have a direct view of Russian Hill and the north side neighborhoods of SF out to the Presidio and south approach to the Golden Gate.

To the north, I can see Sausalito, Tiburon and much of the North Bay beyond the Richmond Bridge. The view south would be blocked by the end of the living room but no... that is where the sun room begins with another wall of windows. On the east side of the Bay I can see as far south as downtown Oakland and then with the sea level South Bay taking over, I have a clear view of the mountains that snake down the pennisula and wrap around San Jose and the Silicon Valley.

All of this in the lower third of my view with massive sky above. I have already seen storms crash in through the narrows of the Golden Gate; fog creep up and over the hills and envelope San Francisco; and well, the sunsets will be massive distractions. I promise not to turn the blog into a exercise in solar imagery.

The real question will be whether I have to turn my desk around and face away from all of this visual glory, there is work to be done. But occasionally I will offer you glimpses of my daily visual tableau.

By the way, if you come to visit and you have a good camera with a long range lens, please pack it. I will offer some long range shots from my mini-digital but it was acquired to get headshots of poker players in card rooms and not for vistas like what I am going to enjoy right now!

First night rainy sunset over the Golden Gate.

Berkeley, California

Rainy and chilly in the Bay Area today. I can't even see the Golden Gate through the pall of grey. As soon as the weather clears I will give you a shot of the view from my new apartment. Yes, it is official; tonight I sleep in Berkeley. I once again have a mailing address that actually bares some resemblance to where I rest my head.

First, item on the new nesting agenda is to get back into a regular routine for writing. While I have been productive during my Great Wandering, I have several projects that need immediate attention and having a solitary den to sleep and write in, tis always good for my productivity.

For those familiar with the East Bay and Berkeley in particular. I am now living on Dana Street, which is just a block west of Telegraph Ave. and five blocks south of the Berkeley campus. Strolling distance to a great library and many good ethnic restaurants. I already have hit one of the three farmer's markets in the area and plan to begin some neighborhood exploratory hikes as soon as the rain lets up.

For now, all my bags are unpacked and I'm ready to stay.

By the way, the picture at the top of the Golden Gate in the rain is really quite a shot, take a look at it bigger and clearer here.

The Day is at Hand

Well my year plus of un-domiciled existence will be ending this week. I booked the carpet cleaner for Thursday, which means I will have a new mailing address in Berkeley come Friday. The process of removing 25 years of books, art and papers from the apartment has been daunting but also very interesting. As Mira likes to say: we were always one envelope, one box, one more file folder away from finding another treasure. All 3500 books have been shipped to the dealer or donated to various worthy institutions. The dust of decades has been blown away and now the art has started on its next journey to find new homes with someone who will appreciate and treasure the many pictures, textiles, brass and well just too many forms of expression to measure.

It will probably take another couple of months for all of the art to find its way down the hall and out the door but enough space has been reclaimed for me to live in the apartment for now. Besides there are literally hundreds of pieces of art and no docent to tell me not to pick them up to take a closer look.

Sometime this spring or early summer we will begin remodeling the entire unit but that is phase three. We are nearly done with reclamation and removal (phase 1). Next comes occupancy (phase 2). Once I am in, I will give you a description of what this place is like and twill be clear why all the labor was worth it. Yes, besides helping out my good friend #3; I had an ulterior motive or two.

For now. Nearly to the next station, wonder who will be waiting on the platform. I will venture a guess they have no idea who is about to disembark. Please to meet you, won't you guess my name.

Names Have Been Changed

A loyal reader noted recently that I often tell stories about "my olde friend" or I begin a tale with "a friend of mine was going to the park the other day when.....".

My curious friend noted that I seemed to make most of my "friends" anonymous on my blog and she wondered if there was a reason for that. First, guilty as charged. I guess I should have used the O.J. mugshot here.

I do protect my sources and my friends by making most of my stories generic. I don't want to embarrass anyone in my little blog and quite frankly not everyone wants to be as 'out' as I make myself in my posts. In fact, this blog is a bit of an "outing experiment" for me. I have been protective of myself for most of my life. I don't tell stories about me and I haven't been personally in depth with most of my acquaintances. So for the past three years I have been slowly opening up on these pages.

When we wrote the Matusow book, we struggled with which names to keep and which to change. The obvious "I did some meth with _______" were easy changes, but the girlfriends and strippers were not always so obvious. At some point we got confused and didn't know if Kim was Kim or a pseudonym we had made up. It took us the better part of a three day weekend to get all the names straightened out and the guilty protected.

In my current semi-autobiographical, demi-fictional novel/tell-all, I am using the real names of friends, enemies and lovers in the drafts. When I get the completed work ready for a publisher I am going to give everyone the opportunity to vote. You will get to say "me" or "not me" and then I will change the names of all the cowards. Until then, if I disappear, someone had better delete the manuscript. You can find it on this laptop in the "RtM" folder.

As for the blog, I will continue to tell my "friend" stories, but I think I will start numbering them. Something like: "My olde friend #32 was having a dustup with his 24 year old girlfriend when....." Those of you who are regular readers will get the inside joke. Once I am a ridiculously famous author, the late comers will have to read back all the way to March of '10 to get the insider insight.

Until then: "An olde friend (#16) walked into a bar. He spots my other olde friend (#23) slouched in a chair by the juke box. Friend #23 looks at friend #16 and says: 'Did you have to bring the gerbil?'"

Stardust Memories

I was just having a gulp of water one day this past January while I was driving across west Texas. I happened to notice that my water bottle was the one I got the last night the Stardust casino was open in November of '06. I have the last player's card ever issues by the Stardust, the last water bottle ever given away and until recently a one dollar chip from the last hand of poker ever dealt in the Stardust poker room I gave the chip to Amy.

What I pondered while my car slowly devoured the vastness of west Texas was that as a journalist I wrote in my article the next day for PokerNews that I had played one of the last hands of poker ever played at the Stardust. You see the last night at the Stardust was a night of nostalgia. Lots of old players, dealers and staff had come by to say farewell. Right around 10 o'clock the poker room manager told the dealers to hold up and then he announced that the next hand would be the final hand ever dealt at the Stardust. Then all four of the remaining tables dealt a single hand, most players stayed to the river just to be there for the final showdown.

As a journalist I reported that fact: four final hands at the Stardust. But today I was working on my current fiction project and I reproduced those events but, of course, I made it THE final hand and, also of course, I lost the hand on a river bad beat. I love being a writer and I am not a guy who tosses around the word love all that often.

I apologize to my non-poker readers for the nostalgia and the poker jargon. But think how my loyal poker readers feel when I write about wallabies, wombats and wampeters.

Sleeping Through Insomnia

It has been a very, very long time since I have had a bout with insomnia. If fact, one of the true pleasures of my life is the adoring relationship I enjoy with sleep. Which is why last night was so strange. Around midnight I decided that the novel I am reading was not to lure me for a third straight night, its a bit too dark. So I just tucked myself under the blue flannel comforters and assumed the position. Instead of my ever faithful fall into the realm of Morpheus, I lingered in a hypnogogic limbo for over an hour. There were no entertaining fantasies or story boards dancing like sugar plums, just tedious processing of the old mundane business of life.

There really are no pressing issues emotionally or and other -ally for me right now. I just had a long night of struggle with what for me is generally pleasurable and easy. I woke perhaps half a dozen times during the night and finally fell into a deep sleep less than an hour before I needed to be up and at the world again.

I felt post-downer dull when I heard the early stirring of my friend and knew we had to be off to Berkeley to meet with the remodeling contractor. A solid half day of errands and consultations awaited us. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for her, she had had a similar night to mine, so we shared a scone and grumped our way to the other side of San Francisco Bay to put in our time in the real world.

This evening, I am going to bundle up in some heavy cotton, curl up with a good, if mindless book and grab the very first train to the land of Nod. Got no needs to do, no promises to keep.

p.s. late today I noticed an item I was reading on the web last night, a NYTimes book review on, of all things, insomnia.