I confess for a list of reasons I won’t go into, I had said I would never visit the casino that was built in Toledo. I confess that Saturday my wife and I were sitting at a pizza joint eating lunch, and she said she wanted to drive up to Detroit to hit one of the casinos. I’m not crazy about essentially throwing $100 or more away, but such excursions can lead to other fun discoveries so I was game.
As time approached to leave the restaurant, she theorized that it didn’t make sense to drive an hour to Detroit in case we dropped whatever we were willing to gamble quickly. We should just go to the casino that was five minutes away and literally on the way home. Whatevs.
It was immediately clear that Ohio’s enforcing its non-smoking laws in the casino was a humongous advantage over the casinos in Michigan (which are exempt from Michigan’s non-smoking laws). Once you’re over that refreshing novelty, though, it’s just another casino.
So, like we always do when we hit a casino, we searched out the video poker and each plugged in a twenty. My credits were gone in literally less than five minutes. My wife didn’t fare much better. So we each threw in another twenty. We may as well have lit those on fire as well. On the third twenty (which hit our allotted gambling amount for the day) my wife, who was playing “Deuces Wild”, hit four deuces for 1,000 credits ($250). Look at that! Gambling IS fun!
My luck had remained unchanged, though, so with my budget blown I was just sitting and watching her try to hit another big hand. Now flush with cash, she announced her “cash out” point (the point at which she would cash out rather than go below this point) and gave me the last twenty we had brought. Not far in, I was dealt two aces and two fives.
Typically, I would hold both pairs and hope for the full house but this particular game’s odds paid very well for hitting four aces. Not only that, but having a pair of aces paid the same as two pair. Knowing this, I used my dabbling in game theory and probability to surmise I should hold just the aces. When I was dealt three fresh cards, two of them were aces. Four aces for 800 credits ($200). I swear to God I was more excited that my playing the odds properly paid off than I was about the money. The money was nice, though.
Now, here’s the reason I dragged you through that boring “I hit at the casino” story. The joy of hitting was incredibly fleeting. We hadn’t even cashed out and my wife pointed out a small list of things we needed or wanted that would absorb these winnings. This was a little deflating, but not as much as the realization that this list could easily grow to include any winnings we could reasonably expect. If we each hit for three or four more four of a kinds or whatever, home repairs, cars, student loans….all could rise up and make themselves known as the responsible way to spend our winnings.
I’m glad we hit for monetary reasons, but I’m also glad we hit because it had the paradoxical effect of showing me the pointlessness of gambling – even aside from the odds being so heavily against winning. Even when you do hit enough to walk away with more money, it’s always just money. There’s always places it needs to go and having unexpected amounts just highlights those obligations. If you ignore them, it’s just a new source of guilt. It’s possible I would’ve paid the amount we had budgeted for the day just to avoid the realization of what feels like a neverending queue of collectors making demands for our gains.
Not only does the house always win, but the house is everywhere.
[Continues from here.]
Reading The Tunnel is like excruciatingly slow masturbation; maybe the kind of masturbation you would apply when you’re miserable to the point of thinking ‘well, let’s at least try to masturbate one last time’. First it takes a long – with a long ‘o’ kind of as a long sigh – time to get it stiff. Then, from time to time, it feels like you might actually come so you jerk harder but you don’t come. You start to wonder whether you haven’t started something you can’t finish before something else finishes you.
And then you’re here:
“Ah, Martha, my ex-in-lax, I have my own hole now, your cunt is not the only cave. Even in death, the ceremony said, if need be. Even in death, the Führer’s followers proclaimed, if it came to that. And they knew death would be where he’d take them: that land that needs no promise. He gave them triumph, exultation, purpose, a sort of secular salvation.” (ibid., p. 462)
And doesn’t that sum it up? We educate people to want things beyond mere survival, beyond fucking out of reflex – Read more »
I confess I had a moment of weakness yesterday. My friend and I showed up at our yoga class a few minutes early, and it was just in time to see a class of about fifteen people walk up the stairs that lead only to our yoga classroom. My friend and I looked at each other like, “Why are they going to our classroom?” Knowing this group would be turned away by our teacher, we stayed at the bottom of the stairs so they would be able to come back down. This is exactly what happened, but as the disappointed and perplexed people walked back down the stairs they were all complaining about the kooky yoga instructor who was preparing for her weird class.
As this rejected group congregated in the common area, they milled about wondering what space they were going to use to do whatever it was they planned. I couldn’t hear their discussions but I noticed them mockingly going through different yoga poses as they no doubt explained the injustice of this situation. My friend, always a bit of an antagonist, pointed out to some of this group that our yoga class always meets at this time on this day so we weren’t sure where their confusion was coming from.
With the stairs now cleared, we made our way up to the classroom only to find the instructor of the disappointed group speaking to our yoga instructor. He was speaking in a very confrontational manner that raised the hackles of both my friend and I. To her credit, our yoga instructor refused to escalate the situation to meet his posture and tone. She calmly explained that she had the space reserved just as she had for the prior six months. She told him to go check with the owner. Read more »
[Continued from here.]
Dysfunctional, disaster, disabled, dyslexic, whether in its Greek or more modern version the sound ‘dis’ is a disturbing omen of what we don’t want. Except in one case: the case of being discovered. Some of us want that despite it being an omen all the same.
“Governali spent the fifties as a part of the chorus, but when that silly book of his – Character Crucified on the Cross of the Historical Chronicle – came out, and received raves from the reactionaries who wanted history turned back into biography, and biography backed into moralized little Aesopian fables of fate, fortune, and foolishness, edifying all git out, uplifting as a bra, rosy as the nipples in it, when the Times interviewed him, and public radio did a report; when his promotion came through without a hitch (we didn’t dare vote against it, revealing the envy we felt, the disappointment with our own vacant and weedy lot); Read more »
[Continues from here.]
I had sex this morning. Quite sure I was not the only one to have it. I can tell because of the noises I heard. Distant noises – coming from nearby, you know. Tongue in cheek, all that.
“So I hit upon honesty as the best revenge. I purchased a ladder to put up high principles.” (ibid. p. 361)
Get on with it, is what it means. Get on with it to get it over with. Get over it to get on with it. I like the it-bit. Add ‘t’ and all is fair for a while there is only that. I have just about the time to write crooked sentences and look down on them as if they are the material humanity is made of. I hate straight like I hate being taken for a ride. “It’s sincerely merrily hopeless”, Li said as if enjoying the rhythm of the sentences when somebody would quote him. Otherwise, Li was not a name to enjoy.
“Loss in life: that’s what I mourn for; that’s what we all mourn for, all of us who have been touched by the fascism of the heart. It’s not having held what was in our hands to hold; not having felt the feelings we were promised by our parents, friends, and lovers, not having got the simple goods we were assured we had honestly earned and rightfully had coming.” (ibid. p. 366)
I confess today I’m going to jump around a bit in my confessions, as I don’t really have one worthy of an entire post.
I confess I took my first yoga class on Wednesday. It’s intended for triathletes and I like to tell myself that was why it was grueling enough that I had to break down and rest in the middle of a couple of the poses. Despite the quivering muscles and sweaty brow, I loved it. I was especially a fan of the corpse pose at the end. I confess, however, in the middle of it I could not help but remember Josh K-sky recommending meditation after this post. I confess I don’t know if yoga can really be considered meditation, but it seemed to do the trick.
I confess I started up a baseball blog after taking the better part of a year off from baseball writing. Why is this a confession? Because as much as I hate to admit it, there is no topic I can write about as easily and with more knowledge than baseball. Seriously. That includes my profession that pays the bills. Anyway, I’m not overly proud of it and at the risk of sounding corny on a The Natural level, returning to baseball writing kind of feels like coming back home. Now if only I could monetize that! (Kidding. Sort of.)
I confess that I often find myself defending the Detroit and Toledo regions (my past and present homes) as not being as miserable and grim as I feel they are generally perceived by the….well, the rest of the world, really. But at this time of year when it’s still cold but there’s no snow on the ground and it seems like everything is either brown or gray, even I must admit that yes, it’s pretty grim.
I confess to having been cheered up in the past by seeing people – usually kids – add whimsical flourishes to mundane tasks. As a result of this discovery, I sometimes add a little pizzazz to tasks – like taking out the garbage or shoveling the sidewalk – just on the off chance that somebody sees them and is similarly cheered by my joie de vivre.
I now turn the confessional over to you, good reader. That is, if you can summon the will to complete the ritual despite the apathy that surely washes over you as the result of a voluntary papal vacancy.
I have to be deep in my tunnel. The only thing I hear is myself, digging what is probably just a hole for myself. A hole to put my needs and wants in and to emerge from differing from the other disappointed mid-lifers in just one thing: the idea that at least I have left a treasure and that somebody can read the map of my life to unearth it and provide me, posthumously, with the validation of my sincere belief in the world changing nature of my thoughts. That is why the idea of tones – clinging on to a version of the after-life which is pretty similar to the version of clothes ho’s wear in gangsta rap video’s.
When I joined this site it had 5 regular features, one for each working day. Since then it dwindled and it may well be me who started dwindling it (I can only hope I’m right in thinking correlation is not identical with causation). From hundreds and an occasional 1000+ visitor day to a stage where the plural can only be applied in tens. From multiple commentators to only the few who were still writing features and wanted to keep the hope up for their colleagues. Even that dried up, to the extent I fear even Matt has thrown in the towel leaving me to close the place without even ever having had the keys.
Dear Weblog lurkers, help is wanted!
But my tunnel will at any rate be dug. If there is one thing I promised myself it is to complete what I started and I will get to the other end. In this lifetime or the next ;-)
[Continued from here.]
I spent a week in Gotham. After a couple of days I found myself tuning into subway conversations of the young Gothamites. It sounded vaguely like English and it made me feel like the old bastard I am. It made me feel good; an old bastard I am.
“Why should another’s body be so beautiful its absence is as painful as the presence of your own?” (ibid., p. 297)
That’s it: people who like taking pictures are The Threat. They feel the pain when things get out of their frame. They feel old then. They want to conserve. They put salt and sour in every new wound – and make their hurt the principle focus of a world in which they no longer want to belong. The pictures, nice or not, will go stale, mate, but any draw is better than their loss.
“A book, I wrote, is like a deck of windows: each page is made of mind, and it is that same mind that perceives the world outside, and it is that same mind that stands translucently between perception and reflection, uniting and dividing, double dealing. Read more »
I once received a text from a number unknown to both my phone and me that said simply, “Dis Shelia”. I had no idea who this person was. I had no idea if her name was actually Sheila, as I’m not even sure how I’d pronounce Shelia. It didn’t matter, though, because I’ve never known anybody named Sheila or Shelia, so this was a wrong number text. I confess the first idea that popped into my head upon reading that text was to reply, “Dis not who you think it is”.
No sooner had the thought popped into my head, my brain started processing questions about it? Is that offensive? Is that poking fun at the text or the texter? Is there a difference? Is it racist for me to assume this is a black woman or is it just my brain doing probabilities? Wait, was that last question racist? The panicked questions of myself didn’t stop there.
I tried to think of whether there was some way I could tweak the text so it would have less chance to be offensive, but still make the same joke. You see, I get texts and emails intended for other people quite often. When it happens, I like to let them know they’re not reaching the person they intended but I also like to throw in a joke or playful wording so they know I’m not replying out of annoyance. Read more »
Twice in less than a day I’ve heard conversations about marriage proposals. This led me to this week’s confession, which is that I confess I have maybe the worst marriage proposal story of all time. Well, that’s not true. She said yes, so it’s clearly not the worst marriage proposal story. Worst successful marriage proposal, maybe?
My wife and I were sitting around our apartment chatting, and I asked if she ever wondered why neither of us ever mentioned marriage. She said that both of our parents were divorced and it’s probably a little scary. I conceded that was probably right, but then went on to say that it had always struck me as odd when couples say they’ve talked about marriage but remained un-engaged.
My point was that if both people were open to the idea of getting married and considered their current partner a possible spouse, how did that conversation stop short of an engagement? In my mind, it seemed like discussing the possibility of marriage with a person who you might marry was essentially an engagement. Whether it was official or not.
She agreed that kind of made sense, and that was when I asked if she’d like to get married. I feel this is a good time to point out that this was not me painting myself into a corner. This was my kind of convoluted way of timidly breaching a topic my wife had never really given her thoughts on (though I was pretty sure she’d say yes).
Bringing this back to present day, when marriage proposals come up in conversation (the two conversations I’ve heard in the last day being no exception), it’s almost always about how the man proposed. The stories are usually about whether he did it traditionally or made it into a game or how he surprised her. Each person involved gives their own version and if and when the conversation comes to me, I share some version of the story above and point out that I hadn’t even purchased a ring yet when I asked.
Multiple times, people have said they can’t believe my wife was okay with a proposal like that. The same people tend to express (perhaps feign?) envy that we invited just twenty people to our wedding and didn’t stress at all over music or flowers or a photographer or a church because our ceremony didn’t have any of those things. The more I have conversations like this, the more I think these rituals and ceremonies (even the private ones) are more about meeting expectations than actually doing things the way we want.