MIGHT AS WELL TAKE A moment, while my wash is sudsing itself to cleanliness, and I'm taking my weekly dose of political discourse via Face the Nation, to update the masses on how things progress in life.
I had the pleasure this week of returning to the weekly poker game. I'd been absent since late November, due to time pressure from planning the holiday party and staying late at work to get the magazine out — if not on time, then less late. At the turn of the year, I made the decision not to stay after regular working hours unless it directly served me. For example, I enjoy updating the website and writing, both of which are best accomplished without interruption; I've done both either before or after regular hours. But, I take that time back by snipping it from another day or tacking it onto a lunch hour.
My former supervisor was redlining herself for months by working 1 or 2 hours after hours, affecting her health in the process. That's not for me. As passionate as I may be about something in my life, be it labor or leisure, nothing is ever going to be worth my physical or mental health. I've seen both sacrificed for jobs. That won't be me.
Having made this resolution, I took advantage of not being directly supervised to say yes to the weekly card game for the first time in almost 2 months. I simply couldn't have fit it in before the end of the year, and had trouble justifying the time after making the committment not to stay late. And there was a question of balance. I didn't want to stagger in Friday mornings looking less than ready to contribute. It wasn't necessary for me to distort the all-important weekend by staying all night at the game Thursday. It's part of trying to achieve balance across all areas of my life so I don't have to do catch-up work to address someplace I've been less attentive. With exercise, nutrition, cleaning my apartment, writing, and leisure, everything should have its place.
To that end, I've been thinking about my trips to Atlantic City. Not my group gambling binges of late, but rather my solo poker trips. With other folks in the car, you can at least keep up a conversation and keep the driver from drowsing off. Pulling driving duty alone twice in 24 hours is rough; that last hour during the drive home can get dangerous. Now, Harrah's has been sending me room-rate offers since November, some of which are quite attractive, especially when contrasted to the cost of an accident while falling asleep at the wheel.
It's not necessary to stay until the bitter end at poker night and arrive home at 3:30 a.m. on a weekday. It's something different to jam all night at the felt on a Friday or Saturday, when I can sleep in the next day, and my gym trip isn't scheduled until the afternoon. If I'm up late on Thursday, however, it takes me through Sunday to make up that sleep deficit. When I was out of work, it was easier to plan that sort of thing out and get my job-hunting done during the first four days of the week, then grab a nice 8-hour chunk of poker for myself and cruise home under tweeting birds. With the current workout schedule, it's better to make an earlier night of things so I can still make it to the gym on Friday.
Still, new habits take a while to establish themselves, and this one is no different. I thought I might ease back into things last Thursday with a 2- or 3-hour spin 'round the tables. Betting was more aggressive than I remembered it during the early hours of the game, so I strapped in tight and waited for a good hand.
Well, the hands did come, but not until 1:00 a.m. Unlike most of the players, I hadn't had to rebuy through that point. I was feeling quite comfortable and having a load of fun. More surprising, I felt more awake later into the evening than I usually do at the game. Could be due to better sleeping habits and regular exercise. All the more noteworthy from my having avoided caffeine that night.
Between taking down two all-in bets with the nuts and catching a miracle river card on a third contest, I finished comfortably into the black, even if my sleep meter was finally verging into the red at the 3:00 hour. Perhaps not the wisest move, seeing as I was backing out of a mild cold I'd picked up on Wednesday. And I faced a full slate of work the next day, which began in less than 4 hours from my return home. But I tell ya, I was feeling strong through Friday, and I even tacked 30 minutes of work onto the end of the day to compensate for a late arrival Wednesday due to said cold.
So next time I will play through about 10:30 or 11:00 or so, and with any luck still make a full day of it, from gym to commute home, that following Friday. I did miss my few hours at the game each week, and I think a break actually made my play better.
Of course, balance is relative. One of the players, having had a monster week after big wins that night and on Monday, made good on his seeming jest that he would book a flight to Los Angeles to play in the Saturday no-limit hold'em tournament at the Commerce card room. Just up and zapped out to the Coast. As much as I am clawing at the walls to get back out to Las Vegas, even I'm not quite that crazy.
I mean, I'd at least water my plants first.