Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When I Knew




"Raise! $250 to go." said the Dealer as the young kid stacked 10 green chips in front of him, the next two players quickly called and I leaned forward to look at my hand. The first card I peeled back was the four pointed Ace of Diamonds, my heartbeat quickened like a child approaching a plate of fresh cookies, I held my breath and slowly peeled the corner of the second card. A slight red curve told me it was a Heart and the solo bottom serif could only mean one thing, the Ace of Hearts. I fanned back through both cards and admired the two red Aces, the best starting hand in the game of Texas Hold'em. My heart was now a steel-toed boot trying to kick its way through the door of my chest, my brain spinning like the wheels of an exercise bike one minute into a workout. I was trying to decide how much to re-raise when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Gino, the player who was next to act after me, slide his fingers down a stack of black chips and back up to the top, which in the language of poker tells meant he was about to re-raise the pot as soon as I acted. Seeing this changed my whole strategy, rather than me re-raising, I could now call and disguise the strength of my hand. I tossed in two $100 black chips and two $25 greens and held my breath. "Raise!! said Gino, as he cut out ten black chips, "$1000 to go" said the dealer. The other players quickly mucked their hands and all twelve eyes at the table turned to me, the last remaining player with a live hand. It was the moment I had been waiting for all night, all my life maybe, the moment I had hoped for when I first scouted out the table three hours earlier.


I had been playing $2-5 No Limit a game with a maximum $500 Buy-in, and winning about $1200 when the word hit the table that a big game, a really big game was about to start up on Table 6 of the High Limit section of the Borgata's basement Poker Room. After the big game had been going for about 45 minutes I decided to walk past it and check it out. They were playing $25-$50 No Limit Texas Hold'em, a game with a $5000 minimum Buy-in and no maximum Buy-in. Meaning a player could put as much money on the table as they choose. Games this big rarely went off at the Borgata unless there was a big tournament in town and there wasn't one going right now. As I passed the table I scanned the faces of the five players, four of them I knew, but there was a young guy, maybe 24-25 with a face like a male model and muscles that threatened the integrity of the seams of his tight white T-shirt, in Seat Four. I had never seen him before and judging by the way he was handling his chips he hadn't played a lot of poker. He had an easy 15k in chips messily stacked in front of him. I went over to the FloorPerson Pete and asked "Who's the kid in Seat Four?" "I don't know" said Pete, "He's killing the game right now though, supposedly he's the boyfriend of some young hot actress shooting a movie in NYC right now, maybe Charlize Theron or Scarlett Johansson." "He looks like he should be playing $1-2 NL, not $25-50 though."


I nodded and returned to watch the game, the other four players were Gino, a rich divorce lawyer from NYC, Frank the Tank, a regular Borgata player, Mr. Lee, another regular (who supposedly controlled the underground gambling in Chinatown) and Gil another rich Borgata regular. Of the four, only Frank was a winning player and Mr. Lee was infamous for his deep pockets and willingness to gamble it up on the green felt. It looked like the perfect situation for me to "take a shot" and try to win some big money. As I stood watching the game, it was clear there was plenty of action. It would cost me 5k of my 30k bankroll to get into the game, but I could easily win 5 or 10k in a game like this. it was a big gamble though, I could also easily lose 5k in a single hand, more money than I had ever lost in even a two week period. I took a deep breath and headed for my Safe Deposit box. I told myself "Let's do this." I had played some $10-25 NL before, but that game had a 5k max and I usually bought in short, for only a thousand dollars. This was going to be the biggest game I'd ever played in before, but it looked like a rare and really juicy opportunity. I got my box and removed 3 orange $1000 chips, knowing once I picked up my chips from the game I was in, I'd have the 5k necessary to buy in to the bigger game.


I took the Eight Seat so I could see everyone's faces and neatly stacked my chips. The game was just as I expected and after a short period of jittery nerves, I centered my breathing and calmed down. I picked up AK of Clubs and called a raise to $250, the Flop came King high with two clubs and I was in business. There were three of us in the hand, Mr Lee and the Kid, with $775 in the pot. Mr. Lee bet out $500, I called and the Kid folded, the Turn was a 3 of Diamonds and Mr. Lee bet $1250, I raised to 3k and he started to stare me down, then released his hand. My heart rattled like a Super Ball ricocheting around a rubber room. But stacking my new chips concealed the slight shake of my hands. Adrenaline surged into my brain like hot water into a clawfoot porcelain bathtub and I closed my eyes and enjoyed a delicious shiver of excitement. This, was what I had come for. The game moved on with me not playing very many hands, my strategy was very simple now, I was going to wait for one good chance to trap someone in a big pot and double up. Then the Kid announced his raise to $250.


"It's $750 for you to call, Pittsburgh" said the dealer, using the name I was known by throughout the poker rooms of Atlantic City, mostly because of my habit of always wearing something that represented a sports team from Pennsylvania's second largest city. I swallowed hard and counted out seven black chips and then two greens. I piled them into one stack like a black pole with a green cap and then just before sliding them forward, announced "I'm All-in." "What did he say?" asked Gino, "Did he say All-In?" The dealer nodded yes, "How much more?" Gino asked. I quickly counted out my remaining chips, "$6275" said the dealer. Gino looked back at his hand and said "I call." "Call!" repeated the dealer, but before I could table my hand Gino asked me "Do you have pocket Aces?" I said "I just raised you sixty-two hundred dollars, what else would I have?" He nodded and glumly flipped over his two Kings. The Flop came Jack, Jack, Seven, all black with two Clubs, the Turn was the Seven of Spades. With one more card to be dealt I now had a 95% chance of winning the more than 15k in the middle of the table. The dealer burned a card and then turned the River Card, it was the King of Hearts! The whole table gasped, Gino had hit a miracle King on the River to beat my two Aces. The dealer turned to me and I tossed in my now useless Aces face up, he quickly buried them in the Muck pile and after scooping my stack, began pushing Gino the pot.


I could see the mouths of the other players moving, but couldn't hear them, almost as if I were under water. The Dealer turned to ask me if I wanted to rebuy, but I couldn't hear a single thing he said. I sat there as stunned as if someone had just told me that my mother was really a Chinese acrobat come from the future to save humanity from the tyranny of giant people eating termites. I thought about re-buying and trying to get my 5k back, but that was sheer insanity. I couldn't afford another five thousand pound hit to the jaw. I nodded no, then got up and somehow made my way back to my room. To this day I still don't know what transpired on that 12 minute walk back to the Borgata's hotel tower. It was like I was walking through a lake of water fifteen thousand feet deep and the casino patrons were large fish parting quickly around me. I got to my room, unlocked the door and collapsed across my disheveled King Size bed. I couldn't feel my arms or legs, I could see them and move them, but there was no sensation. I felt like someone had tipped over a humongous bookshelf and 15k books had fallen on my head. I peeled off my clothes like labels off an empty bottle and threw them at the chair next to the bed. I had to be the single most unlucky person in the entire fucking universe, I thought. I knew the math, I was a 19-1 favorite before the last card. How unlucky would you be if you had a choice from twenty cups of Kool Aid and chose the one that was poisoned? Not even the most melancholy melody ever mouthed by Sade could soothe me at that moment. I had found the perfect game, got the perfect hand, in the perfect situation and gotten fucked like a Toy Poodle by a Great Dane in heat.


I lay there in the solid darkness, misery swirling around me like smoke from a busted muffler. How could anyone be so unlucky, I wondered. I had to be the single most unlucky person to ever grace the face of the earth. In the history of the earth, no doubt. And then I thought about a six year old boy, who was right now at home in his bed snoring contentedly dreaming of the latest video games. And you know, maybe I was unlucky in that hand, but I was lucky enough to be the one guy that that little kid called Dad. And I thought of the time that I almost fell of the roof of our three story apartment building while trying to retrieve a baseball and just caught the edge of the gutter and it held. And that time I was about to run out into the street after a football and slipped on a wet spot and just missed getting hit by a car I never saw until it was swooshing past me. And another time, and another came out of the mists of my memory to remind me that I'd had my share of good fortune too. And what poker player hasn't taken his share of bad beats? Maybe it was just my turn to get flattened by the poker gods like an empty milk carton headed for the Recycle Bin. I rolled over and closed my eyes.


The sharp sliver of daylight coming between the curtains pried my eyes open like a knife in the hands of a fisherwoman shucking clams. I rolled away from the light, yawned and stretched and then got hit with the memory of previous night's events like fifteen thousand pigeons shitting on me at once. I shook my head and then lay back and looked at the ceiling. My five thousand dollars was gone, long gone. but there was action right now downstairs on the tables and that meant I had a chance to grind it back, the same way I had come by it the first time. I hopped out of bed and slipped on my pants, my shirt and then my black Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap. I glanced at the clock, there was just enough time for me to catch the Breakfast Buffet, then back up here for a quick shower and shave. Every person has a moment when they know they're doing the thing they were meant to do in life. I had just lost more money than I ever imagined in a single hand of poker, but I be damned if I was going to let that stop me from getting it in good again. I walked to the door and strode down the hall to the elevator, it might take me down, but it was going to bring me back up too.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

THE DOM PERIGNON IN YOU

Been playing with this in different versions, this is the latest. Not totally sold on it yet.



Noses it
like a perfumed neck,
then runs a thumb
along the hips
of a snifter.
The tongue glistens
with a half sip,
cautious as
a first kiss,
a swallow
drifting on
the warmth
of an updraft.
You know a single malt
builds its case
in the forecastle
of the mouth.
You know too,
what whirls
in this glass
is a pool
with no bottom.
So you dream instead
the moon's finger
on an ankle
thin as a crystal flute,
imagine the
dark dictionary
of her tongue
or what's held
in the parentheses
of her pout.
You plan a plant
that winds
up the mountain range
of her spine,
But awake
in a blooming garden,
looking skyward
towards the day
your tongue
is a green vine
curling around the
bare brown
of her
fence posts.


Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

bluer than I am




I'm trying to figure out what to do with this poem. It started out (and still is) a Quotilla, based on a Bill Withers tune. But it isn't quite working, I'm going to sit on it for a few, but may need to make it a B-Bop Solo


WHAT MAKES ME SEEM


Maybe because of
the soon sunlight, the
lateness of that last moon
of its lantern's smile
the wild light
hour joy lucent
makes (or could've made)
me almost
seem aquamarine
bluer than a cloudless noon
than an inner flame
I would burn like banished books
am yet not withered

Maybe a unicorn
the gray lair left
lateness of fences
of final leaps
the sweet and sour
hour of wrecking
makes melancholy rise
me a solitary eye
seem double visioned
bluer almost
than cyanese twins
I burn like a blueberry candle
am not quite pooled wax

Maybe maple syrup
the amber sorrow
lateness of the sap
of what drips, drains
the mouth of
hour not quite kiss
makes Bill bemoan
me like Mary, you
seem(ed) almost mine
bluer even
than green eggs, cracked
I now
am.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

STALKING THE LION





I'm headed out of the Taj Mahal poker room on my way to the gift shop to get some powdered mini donuts when I run into T and his girl A who are about to check out. T has been owing me almost $500 for a couple of months now, but he's been running bad and doesn't have it. T is a brown skinned cat who is 42, but looks 32 and has the frenetic energy of an eight year old. He's basically grown up in the casinos where his parents worked and he knows everyone and everyone knows him. They make an interesting couple, he's black and twenty years older than her and they fight constantly. In fact, I've never met a couple that argue more about things that matter less. She is also insanely jealous, to the point where she will stop the car in the middle of the street and accuse him of having an affair with a random girl on the corner who happens to look at him a little too long. Which probably wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that for the eight years I've known him, I've never known him to not be cheating on whomever he was with. He has a bright smile that reveals a chipped front tooth and a perpetual need to flirt with whatever woman who happens to wander into his view. Often with great success. Which sometimes leads to him trying to get me to cosign his lies bout where he was the night before while she was working. Which I never do, something that doesn't seem to stop him from asking. Despite the fact that he's a winning poker player, he stays broke, in part due to the Child Support he owes the three other women he has four kids with. His girl says hello and then looks straight down at the ground, so I know she must be broke too. Which is wild because she's one of the money making-est strippers in all of Atlantic City. She's a pretty South Jersey Italian chick who is so dark she could pass for Puerto Rican and is built like a Black woman; medium up top, thick from the waist down. She makes big cheese from all the guys, no matter their race, most nights she clears between $1200-$1800 in cash. Only problem is that when she gets off at 4am, she walks across the street to the casino and feeds the slots like they were a brood of starving piglets and she a milk swollen sow. She recently got evicted from her $1300 a month apartment despite the fact that she makes $200,000 in an average year. She's probably the second most degenerate gambler I've ever personally met, and although I believe in respecting women as equals, if you looked up the phrase 'dumb bitch' in the dictionary you'd find her picture there, in color. T doesn't have my money, but he does have a good tip. Word on the street is that The Lion will soon be back in town from Vegas and that he recently hit an internet poker tournament for 30k. That's good news since The Lion owes me money too, but the bad news is that he is the single most degenerate gambler I've ever known. If you were to walk into the Borgata or Taj Mahal poker rooms and tap any random regular on the shoulder, they'd probably have a crazy story starring the the Lion. But none as crazy as the ones I've personally witnessed.


Like the time back in the summer of 2005 when I'd just got back in town from a weekend in DC visiting my son and I was sliding down the escalator into the Borgata's old basement poker room and the Lion was going up the other way. His face lit up when he saw me and I knew right away he was broke and what he wanted. Which wasn't to borrow money, but rather have me stake him in a $1/2 No Limit Texas Hold'em game. The deal was simple I put up the $300 buy-in and in return got half the profits, (if he lost he'd need to recoup my investment before we could do business again.) I was always willing to stake the Lion because he was one of the most talented poker players in AC, capable of beating every form of poker, no matter the stakes. There are very few poker players who can win in both the small and big games, but the Lion could, in part because of his total disregard for the value of money. Despite his serious talent, he stayed broke because he always wanted to play in the highest game possible which violates the tenets of sound Bankroll Management which dictate that one should have at least ten buy-ins for whatever game they want to play regularly and more properly at least twenty buy-ins. The Lion would jump into games where he only had two or three buy-ins which meant as soon as he ran bad he got broke. It also didn't help that he only had one gear, which was super aggressive. One of the paradoxes of the Lion is that he doesn't care at all about his own money, but is very careful with the money of others. So he actually plays better when playing with someone else's money.



He hopped the escalator railing like a subway turnstile and was right behind me in no time. I asked him what was up and right away he started whining like a fine chardonnay about his bad luck. We cut to the chase and I put him in a 1/2 game for $300 and went to grind 2/5. About an hour later I strolled around to his table to check on him and Lo and behold he had grown our stake like a patch of mutant pumpkins from $300 to $1200. Most people would be ready to quit at this point, since they'd be due $450 from their share of the winnings ($1200 minus my original $300 leaves $900, which we split evenly), but the Lion aint most people and he pretty much will never leave a poker game unless it breaks or he's otherwise forced to. He said the game was still good, so I left him playing. One hour later I return and he's up to nearly $2000, I tell him it's about time to quit and he aint trying to hear it. You'd think that a guy who was flat broke a few hours ago would be trying to quit and put his $850 in his pocket, but nah. While I'm watching he loses a hand for $200 and that's it for me, I tell him to pick up right now. He tries to argue, but I give him my 'Daddy means business' face and he starts racking up the chips. When he finishes, I head to the Cashier's window, only he follows me and taps me on the shoulder. He wants to know if I'll take half of him in a 2/5 game for $500. I just won $750 with him and am pretty content, but he's insistent he's found a table he can crush. I figure even if he loses I'm still up $500, so I agree and he bounces off. Three hours later he's turned the Five Piece into $2700 and is raising everything that moves. I'm still near even in my game, but don't really care because he's doing so well. I give him the hook again and he resists again, but this time I'm deadly serious from Jump Street. We're both due $1100 in the 2/5 game and I'm trying to collect right now. He won't quit, so I push him aside and start racking up the chips, only the other players don't want to see the Action guy leave the game so they protest. Technically, I'm not even allowed to touch his chips (even though I put up the money) so I back off, but give him my Clint Eastwood glare. He racks up. I'm ready to go up to my room and watch some ESPN highlights, but now he wants to hit the $5/10 game (where the buy-in is $1000 max) and wants me to take half of him again. I say dude, you got $1850 of your own now, just take $300 and grind 1/2. But I might as well be speaking Mongolian. It's 5/10 or bust for him, I go check out the game and it looks decent, so I give him $500 and say I'm going to watch some TV. About once an hour I call down to check on his progress, which is minimal for four hours until he hits a big hand and triples up. I throw on my shoes and hat and head back down to the poker room because without me to yank him, he's never going to stop. I get there and he's psyched and doesn't want to hear anything about quitting, but he's got $2800 in front of him and half of it is mine and that half is rolling out right now whether he likes it or not. He's furious and accuses me of not trusting him, but I point out that one of us is always broke and the other one aint, because they know how and when to quit. His feelings are big-time hurt, but who cares? Give me my money. I get my $1400 and head to bed, while he pouts his way back to the 2/5 game. A few days go by and I don't see him on account of him playing at the Taj and me at the Borgata, but I hear he's tearing them up.



Saturday comes and the rumor is that the Lion has flipped that original $300 into more than 45k in the last few days, but I aint buying that because rumors are frequently wrong. I get paged in the poker room at Borgata and it's T, BG, and Mexican Carlos and they want me to come over to the Taj and talk to the Lion. There's a big 10k buy-in tournament on Monday at the Borg and they want the Lion to give me 10k to hold so he doesn't lose it before the tourney starts. I say OK and hop the Jitney to the Taj. The Jitney streaks through the streets of AC like it's running from the Klan, taking most corners on two wheels. I hang on and close my eyes like it's an amusement park ride. I get to the Taj and the Lion is sitting in front of a castle of black and purple chips playing the biggest game in the room, which is $300/600 Seven Card Stud, a game where a single hand could cost you 3k easy. I have a Rain Man like talent where I can eye a stack of chips and know how much there is and my brain is saying that he's got upwards of 35k in front of him. I ask him if it's true he's up to 45k and he shakes his head no, and pulls out a Nickel knot of hundreds ($5k) and two grey chips, which are also worth 5k a piece. Plus he says he knocked off about $3500 in debts, so all told he's sitting on more than 50k. I'm stunned. He's gone on runs of 15 or 20k before, but nothing like this. I ask him if he wants me to hold something and he nods, we decide to head back to the Borg and put the grey chips in my Safe Deposit box. Only he wants to eat first with the guys he's playing against. I say cool and even though I'm tired from playing all day I go play $1/2 to kill some time. One hour goes by and then two and still no Lion. I check the game, but the others aren't back either. Now I'm a nice guy and don't mind doing a friend a favor, but he can't just waste my time like this either. After about 15 more minutes I tell BG I'm out and they can catch me at the Borg in my room.


Well, I fall asleep watching the 3am Sportscenter and still haven't heard from the Lion. The next morning I get up and decide to run past the Taj real quick before hitting the Borgata Sunday Brunch Buffet and those scrumptious omelettes and biscuits. I hop a cab and get to the Taj around 9am and the sun is way too bright and the birds way too loud and the sky way too damn blue for me, but whatever. I enter near the poker room and look up and who do I see coming down the long hallway towards me, but BG and Mexican Carlos. They're walking as slow as pall bearers and not talking at all. And as soon as I read their body language, there's no need for words. They get halfway to me and it's clear, even though I don't want to believe it. I look at BG, then look at Mexican Carlos, but neither says a word and they both look like their grandmothers got run over and killed while trying to save their favorite dog, who then turned around and got hit by a bus that proceeded to crash while carrying their only cousin, who was thrown from the bus and died too. Or maybe even sadder. I say "No", but they just nod yes. I say how much and Mexican Carlos says "The whole bowl of guacamole." The whole 50k, I ask? They say yes. Say he never left the 300/600 game and ran bad and kept raising as his stack got lower and lower. Then he went out on the casino floor and donked off the last 10k playing Blackjack at $500 a hand, where he evidently never won a single hand. They say he's in the room with the lights out and curtains drawn and three pizzas from Room Service. And what else is there for me to do, but go back to the Borgata and dunk some buttered biscuits in real maple syrup and thank god for a little discipline.


Now, The Lion is headed back to AC after a few years in Vegas. I head to the poker room to check out the games and I hear "Phone call for Pittsburgh on line one". I pick up the House phone. If the Lion still has some of the 30k he just won, he'll be laughing and joking, but if not he'll be whining like a two week old puppy. I punch the first button, say Hello and get greeted with a sound like a two year old who just dropped his Sippy cup . . .



Things I say when I'm not saying I love you.

There is a Joker in the deck,
that's wild about our (pork-free) futures.

It has a mouth with the smile,
of a Gypsy Queen I once caught dragging.

She wore your rhyming royal dress
so tightly her tattoos bled through.

Why didn't my dumb thumbs oppose this?

I'm dealt two Hallmarked cards and lower them,
like a kind of light naked bulbs screw in.

We've lost both our hot hands,
but maybe now we'll grasp the gist of Hold'em.


And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon).

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Summer 2012 Senryu/Haiku

These days most of my
exercise comes from pushing
my luck.

July afternoon-
eating mango from the
bottom of her cup

She tried to play me
like my First Name was Spanish-
Last Name: Guitar


Harriet Tubman-
the original
Ride or Die chick.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Independence Day




The Van Gogh in You

Steeps your ear in starlight,
fills it with freed night,
bathes it in dopamine until dawn.
It knits your breath
from whispers it collects,
sitting like a sunflower in a corner.
Invisible by day and radiant by night,
it has a flame
that flamingoes in all seasons.
It scars like the rough
of old men's hands,
obscures like
the smoke of opinion,
a cloud of ash
floating from a jagged cone.
When you press your ear to your heart,
there is no note of any night.
And yet it calls you nightly,
the possible oracle of an impossible song.
But song is only the genes of genius.
Your ear gorges itself
on many frequencies.
Your fingers caressing
whatever key depresses.
The lungs drunk themselves
on variant verses.
The brain guzzles a Coda.
It ripples your sea
silent as a breeze
curling and peaking
into pike points.
Your ear tangos with tangents,
scales the sails of silence
and wonders the waves
until it finds
the secret languid of number,
the liquid of Sign.

On the First of July I saw a Tweet from the poet Bassey Ikpi about one of her upcoming projects called The Siwe Project which was declaring July Second "No Shame Day" to help reduce the stigma around mental illness in the global black community. I sent her a message and asked how I could help, she replied and asked me to say something, anything really that could help to get people to begin to reduce the stigma. I knew right away that there was one thing I could definitely do, which was continue what I started here a month ago with my "Making a List" post, only this time doing it on Facebook. Although it seems like a natural progression, outing myself as a sufferer of OCPD on Facebook is a much bigger deal than posting it here. I have 1,290 Friends on FB, there are only 18 followers of my blog. About 50 members of my family are Friends of mine on FB, maybe two or three read this blog or even know it exists. But in the end, it had to be done. I won't lie, it was easy to decide to do it and much harder to actually hit the 'Post' button after I had written the Status Update. As soon as I hit the button, I regretted it, but it was too late. Then a sense of relief came over me, no matter what the outcome, it was done. In some ways I felt like a Knight who had just climbed out of a suit of rusty armor. There was no more reason to hide. I sent a Tweet to Bassey that said "Whew. I just outed myself on FB. If you were here I'd kiss you through my tears. 30 years in the crazy closet. Free now". The truth is that although I have known for a long time that I had a 'Personality Disorder' I never thought of myself as being mentally ill. Because, you know, those folk are crazy and I aint crazy. Weird, quirky, idiosyncratic-Yes, yes and yes. But crazy? Hell Naw, not the kid. But the facts are the facts and 'Personality Disorders' are mental illnesses whether I liked it or not. Whether I liked the cut of the suit or not, the truth was that it fit me. Thus ended a two year journey that started with me trying to get better at communicating with a certain woman by trying to figure out why I have always had so much trouble communicating with people (mostly women) who are primarily indirect communicators. I always thought it was because I was bad at reading faces, but one night I took an online test that measures one's ability to read facial expressions. I stared and stared at the first face, almost completely bewildered, with no real clue. Then I decided to just click on the first thing that popped in my head. I did that for all the pictures and to my surprise I scored a 98%. I have always scored really high on tests of all types, but this result stunned me, so much in fact that I refused to believe it. I took the test again and to my relief it gave me a different set of faces to judge. But the end result was the same, 96% correct. So, if I was actually good at reading faces, why did I have so much trouble dealing with people who communicate using neutral language and relying on facial expressions and voice tone to make up the difference? The answer was simple, that form of communication felt less certain to me (given that it involves more interpretation) and in my quest for super accurate (perfect?) communication I relied on my superior use of language to communicate in a hyper-literal fashion. The need for perfection is a hallmark of OCPD, but could it be true that that was the problem? Searching for the answer to that question had gotten me started. By the time that I accepted that my OCPD was affecting my ability to communicate with her and others, I began to wonder what else it had affected and how pervasive it really was. The answer was tough to bear, my attitude that I had minimized my Personality Disorder was actually making things much, much worse, because it had blinded me to how pervasive my illness really was and in how many ways it affected me. It took me the better part of two years to come to these conclusions, but in my slow-ass walking manner I eventually got there.

I spent most of the Fourth of July outside in 99 degree heat working over a blazing hot grill. Chicken, salmon, ribeyes, mushrooms, green peppers, onions all sizzling in front of me. Hardwood smoke pouring out the top of the grill like a locomotive in a hurry to get where it already was. The grill was shaded by a tree, so I wasn't in the direct sunlight, but it was crazy humid as Julys in the DMV always are. I was surrounded by friends, my son was running around squirting other kids with a garden hose and I was (quietly) celebrating my freedom, doing one of the things I love most. There are two things that really irk me about Atlantic City; there's no bookstore in the city for me to hang out in; and there's nowhere for me to grill. I've asked friends, even offered to buy the food or even a Weber grill. But they don't get it, they're thinking hot dogs and burgers. All I need is one shot to convert them to the Cult of The Right Reverend Renegade, but that shot hasn't come yet. So, I go back to the DMV, where my friends know the good Gospel. And there I was, outside, sweat trickling down the back of my spine, happy as hell. Grilling and chilling. I'm sure the neighbors looked out their windows and thought "That dude must be crazy to be out there in all that heat, grilling." They were right too. But there I was for the first Fourth in a really long time, truly Free.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon).