Elevator. Safari.

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So, I get in an elevator and go to my desk 5 days a week.  Every morning, stepping into the elevator, I brace myself for the mind numbing-ness of it.  And so, the blog is my safari. I never know what sort of wild beasts I’m going to encounter at work… you know rhinos, poachers, mosquitos, vultures, petty minded, small minded wrens.  But the elevator can take me anywhere.  A few days ago it took me deep into the mind of Brian Wilson of the Beach boys…a few days before I read all about JFK’s mistresses….and today I looked for my dad’s first car from the 20’s an R & V Knight.

I’ll probably never get to Africa…even if I my bank account wasn’t verging daily on overdrawn, I would probably opt out for Europe over Africa….I’m sort of caught up in history.  A safari would be an adventure.  Hemingway did it.  It sounds so beautiful….as in “Out of Africa” or “The Hills of Kilimanjaro.”  Romantic, wild, the last place where herds of animals & predators run free….you can be honestly afraid in Africa. What did Hemingway’s characters drinking on safari?  Rum or whisky?  Whisky I think.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.  Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.”



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So, at the WSOP 2015 Colossus event at the Rio in Vegas, only 6.3% of the 22,374 (14,000 unique entries – not counting the rebuys) were women.  I wonder how many women did the rebuy?   I am not headed to Vegas until July.  One of the regulars in our poker group made it to Day 2 of the Colossus.  She is a great player!

I’m not sure how this relates to the writing prompt “Off Season” at all, but maybe for women poker players it always seems like the off-season.  Or maybe it’s because I’m having a bad run of cards.   AJ beaten by AK,  QQ beaten a flush….    It’s made me sensitive to phrases like “throws like a girl” and “has the balls.”  Honestly, I can’t be too upset, I beat men all the time.  Every time I make final table I’m beating a lot of guys to get there.  And any stereotypes about women poker players that go with it.  Most poker players seem more open minded than to even notice gender, but I don’t know if that’s true of all of them.  Sometimes I get the feeling that some men just don’t like being beaten at cards by anyone, let alone a girl.   I know I’ve been called all kinds of horrible names on online poker, but I can ignore that, as it’s not the real world.

I guess they’re going to put a woman on the $10 bill. Maybe they should put a woman on the $100 to make up for lost time.

One of my co-workers gave me the the poster “the many emotions of Mister Spock.”  So, I’ve created “the many emotions of Phil Laak.”

Hope you like it.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Off-Season.”


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I’ve been writing from daily writing prompts, just because, and today’s has to do with community.  I am a little sad & lonely, for circumstances I don’t want to go into, but I’ll give this a whirl.

I guess a community is who you talk to most often, so my community consists of a rag-tag bunch of poker players who will occasionally ask about me if they don’t see me for awhile.  They’re the people who I would let borrow some yard tools, or my truck for moving.  They often make me laugh, but sometimes make me crazy, as there is a lot of drama in the small town poker world.  Most of it stems from poverty and too much testosterone without a lot of wisdom.  Everyone should seek wisdom.

My real community is the virtual group of friends that I love who live states away and I talk to every blue moon.  I’d like to gather them together in an ArcoSanti village.   We’d have gardens with heirloom tomatoes and kids playing in the dirt.  We’d listen to Bad Larry play guitar and write songs together.  We’d all be aspiring to do something meaningful with our lives while at the same time doing things to pay for ourselves.  I really just want my friends around me.  Maybe I should go back to grad school at fifty.  There would be intellectual conversation about modern poets and fiction writers and physicists.  We’d watch TED talks and have speakers come  to our town to continue our life long educations.  My children would take piano lessons and have close kind friends who they could test out their fantastic ideas on.  We wouldn’t have to worry about violence or guns or health insurance premiums.  There would be art everywhere and green grass and rose bushes.  Really, the beach wouldn’t be far, or at least the mountains, and people would put tire swings out in the public land.  Doctors would make house calls.  I wouldn’t dislike anyone at all, because everyone would be trying to make a better life and have a lot of empathy and compassion for each other. And when there was friction, we’d have a pow wow and no one would be selfish or stupid.   And we’d play poker at least once a week.

Even further,  everyone I’ve ever wanted to meet would drop in with banana bread:  great writers, explorers, and thinkers.  Einstein, Amelia Earhart,  Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Dostoevsky, Jack London, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Keats, Yeats, Dali, Frieda Kalo,  Emerson, Thoreau, Neruda, Lorca, Orwell, Huxley, Dickens, Mark Twain, Rimbaud, Pound, Eliot, Williams, Plath, Hendrix, John Lennon, George & Paul, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Shakespeare,  Lermontov, Ahkmatova, Chekov, Jane Goodall, Steinbeck, Terry Tempest Williams, Abbey, the Apostles, Kennedy,  Plato, Aristotle, Whitman, Bradbury, Leonard Nimoy, Harlan Ellison, Johnny Rotten, Shane MacGowan, DaVinci, Van Gogh, Edison, Tesla, Lincoln, Sun Tzu, Chopin, Renoir, Pasteur, Curie, Frost, Ansel Adams, John Belushi,  Oscar Wilde, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Montgomery Cliff, Fellini, Picasso, Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Elvis and a dozen others, and Ringo Starr to moderate it all.  😉   There would be a lot of dinner parties.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Idyllic.”


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I was reading Esperanto on the good ship Esperanza with Eric Estrada who exited drinking espresso, and excitedly I kicked off my espadrilles, opened my expedited letter containing tickets from expedia.com which would take me on an expedition to Estonia where I’d eventually live in exile.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fearful Symmetry.”



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“If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.”
 Sun Tzu

Forget the moon; forget the dead, tombstone, ashes.
Think of the high sun at noon. Think of asphalt on barefeet,
Bumble bees in linden trees, clean water from the tap.
We long to put words on the sky; to name: to understand.
Speak the language of the living. Hold candles in the night.
Sweet moon, so overdone you are a bane, a parking ticket,
A bill in the mail, a dog that barks all night, sweetest

Light, do you know, every lover loves you?
We watch you from the suburbs; sing your songs,
As you venture close to cities once a decade, you’re a cliché,
Bright cicada buzzing by the back porch light. We listen
Removed, as a two-hundred year old spruce forest burns
Quickly, as the wind gusts through a forest town.
Moon that pulls the tides over beaches,
Shining now on granite wing of angels, shoot no stars
From the heavens.

Look at you moon! So obvious & sacred.
You rise unknowable & scary, like a cathedral ceiling
To a peasant, painted with the hands of mortals.
The beggars & bums gawk at you from the alleys,
The lunatics, lonely & longing, delay their fate
As your brilliance rises in the few moments quiet,
Before the birds settle,
While sunlight disappears, a small torch
On the horizon as night begins to fall.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Full Moon.”

List: things i didn’t tell my mom

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Things I Should’ve Said To My Mom  — Apologies, this is my old blog site.  WordPress is defaulting to this one, so I keep messing up!    Pokergoddess is the real one. https://pokergoddess.wordpress.com/
1. I went to Russia & to Paris.   I’d been wanting to go for 20 years, and when I received a partial grant & scholarship I knew it was my one chance.  I didn’t tell her before I left because she would’ve been really worried.  I didn’t tell her when I came back because she would’ve disapproved that I spent the money.  I kept it a secret from her for six years, and then she died.
2.  You were my Rosie-the-Riveter.  She square danced, built a cabin with my dad, raised sons, played piano, read books.  Really, all my friends loved her.  I should’ve told her more often.  When I was in my  twenties I barely called her.  When I had kids of my own I realized all she’d gone through with me and my brothers, and my dad who had gone senile.  We got a lot closer, but how lonely she must’ve been.
3.  Your stories were excellent. One of my biggest regrets was saying to her “do you have to talk so much?”  My mom talked all the time.  Sometimes it was annoying.  It was selfish of me, as often she had no one to talk to.  Her stories were full of life, funny, interesting, detailed. When she grew up there wasn’t electricity. She could sort of morph one story into the next.  She was an expert at transitions.
4.  You were right.  She was right about the boy I lost my virginity to.  She guessed it.  She said she “didn’t trust him.”  I lied. She probably knew that.
5.  Thank you for teaching me to play poker.  I should’ve thanked her for letting me stay up late at the cabin with my brothers playing Michigan poker, teaching me to fish, letting me watch The Twilight Zone & Star Trek when I was little, rocking me to sleep when I was sick with asthma and there was no medicine.  Thanks for sticking it out with my dad who was the sweetest man I’ve known.  Thank you for not squashing my creativity and allowing me to be a kid.  Thanks for the worry, I know you loved me.
5.  Goodbye.  I never had the chance to really say goodbye.  Even at the funeral, I was in shock to such an extent, I don’t remember touching your hand, though I know I did. I didn’t want to cry, which was a kind of tribute I made to you.  I counted roses and got through it with your British stiff upper lip.  Goodbye mom.

My mom unexpectedly died in 2007.  For a lot of very complicated reasons, mostly to do with my ex, my divorce, a lack of money and vacation time, I didn’t see her for almost six years before she died, though we Skyped regularly.


My Bucket list (ever changing):

WSOP ($1000 buy in) in Vegas
Kentucky derby
Kids  to Yellowstone & Mt. Rushmore.
Different trip:  Colorado, the Alfred Packer site. Lake City, CO.  Rock formations there
Hieroglyphs of hands.
Red Rocks concerts – all
Back to St Petersburg to Dostoevsky’s grave
Jim Morrisons grave/Hunter S Thompsons grave
Oaxaca, day of the dead
Cherry blossoms on the D.C. Mall / the Lincoln monument
River rafting again.
Meet Bob Dylan  – he has a song called “buckets of rain”
Do something for charity
Get one of my manuscripts published
Purchasing power, or If-I-had-the-money list
buy cabin
buy cello
send poker player Jack to the bluebird café in Nashville because we’ve written a great song together.
create college fund for kidsLooks like the model for the poster died today. Our lives are intertwined. Coincidence? http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/23/living/rosie-the-riveter-dies/

“The Satisfaction of a List.”

Bad Larry, Classic & Jules

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Moving this over to my poker blog.  Didn’t mean to post it here!



The mentor’s I’ve had haven’t known they were my mentors.  They never said, “I’m mentoring you.” In fact, to their faces, I stubbornly refused to take any advise.

“Do not ever tell me how to play.”

When I was in grad school and writing full time, I always wanted a mentor.  I was really disappointed that no one ever took me under their wing.  I had potential.  The world is a busy, cruel place, and time is hard to come by.

But poker, however is a game, and in order for it to be a good game, you need good players to play against.   Poker as metaphor.

Ten years younger than me, my friend Classic taught me not to bother to come to the table if I’m not willing to lose what I bring.  And Bad Larry told me to play position.  He said “If you are the last to act you have some power.”  Jules last taught me how to play one-on-one. She showed me not to be afraid to shove all your chips in when you’re the last two at the table.

I’m not a mentor….instead about all I know to do is play a good game, and try to mentor by good play.  The  thing I try to pass on:  never lose your cool.   It’s embarrassing to see someone enraged by losing.  Isn’t it better when someone gets knocked out and they offer up a toast to the poker goddess?   Or, instead of tipping over a chair, they say “Buy me a drink, you donkey.”