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Im No Hero

Lately Ive been feeling lazy. Why? Im not entirely sure. A sense of malaise has crept over me, infiltrating my optimism and disrupting my solitude. Getting my daily 1000 words down has been hard. I liken them to my daily handstand pushups, a type of mental calisthenics. My communication skills have never been better or so fluid. I make women laugh with sporadic conversational improvisation and find the solutions to problems at work manifesting before me as if by magic. I accredit this to the myriad of books Ive been reading. Several biographies have been slain in the past 2 weeks, the shortest reporting in at a little over 250 pages. Entries on the history of mathematics have satiated my appetite for the esoteric and inspiring. Ive gotten back into poker fairly seriously, both as a way to make extra money and to ward off solemnity and loneliness. My numerous hobbies have been reclaiming more and more facets of my attention with a vengance, and Id be lying if I said I didnt put up little to no resistance. Ive flirted with the idea of starting a business, only to be sobered with the reality that, while Ive read many books on the topic, as well as on finance, investing and entrepreneurship, I still have no credible idea to devote my spirits or capital to. So, Ill just keep writing for the 5 people that read this blog (HI MOM!!!), and padding my wallet with the hard earned money of the beneficiaries of San Diego's generous card rooms. Life is good, or as good as it can be whilst living like a ghost. I broke another heart a week prior when I explained that, no, I didnt want anything serious because I dont know where Ill be next year. Of course Im the bad guy, the Anti-Christ, Lucifer in the flesh. All because I run my life like a business and have been educated by reality harshly enough to know not to put too much emotion into a relationship destined by fate to end horribly. This same girl told me that if I was reincarnated as or transformed into an Avenger, Id be Captain America. Flattered as I was, I told the sweet little thing that, while her observation was both astute and appreciated, she was wrong. Im more like the Winter Soldier. Misunderstood, combatative, but genuinely heroic under it all. Her large, shining eyes squinted at me inquiringly, her uncertainty and befuddlement at my retort apparent. That question was answered by action. Now she knows.

It was 1040 at night. I was seated 2 chairs away from the dealer, my eyes trained on those of my opposition. Having indelibly carved my hole cards into my minds eye, an ability conferred upon me by way of fastiduous practice, I was ready for war. The flop doesnt matter at first. In live poker, youre searching for a reaction. A trained player knows what to scower a face for. A twitch in the corner of the mark's mouth as he struggles to mask a scowl or wrestle down an excited grin. A slight squint of the eyes, sharp exhalation of breath, or even flaring pupils can be the equivalent of leisurely perusing an in-depth textbook on the day of your final exam. These small, seemingly innocuous events stack up over time, and in the heat of the moment carry the force and transparency of an atomic bomb if captured. Of course the math, my specialty, matters just as much. Numbers are like my treasured words, and they mesh together wonderfully to craft vivid, lucid poetry. Numbers are even better in that sense, because they all rhyme. The specifics of the hand itself escape me, but I won. I remember happily and smugly the satisfaction I harbored as I raked in my chips. Ive been playing since I turned 9, fell in love with the game at 16, and never looked back. My affinity for math grew honed and sharpened, evolving into a piercing sixth sense centered exclusively around the art of poker. Time at the table granted me an above average hand reading ability that escalates in potency and danger as my tenure at the table grows more and more prolonged. I had doubled my buy in, and the money would go a long way towards fortifying me against the perils of poverty and a shallow bank account. The man next to me scoffed as I raked in my chips, angry that I had relieved him of his money. He lobbed a variety of poor, juvenile insults at me, launching into a pathetic tirade born of insecurity, anger and envy. Undeterred and a little tipsy, I nicknamed him ATM. This earned laughs from the table and enlivened his fury. Emboldened by the indignity I inflicted on him, he stood in his chair, assuming a hostile stance. I promptly shoved him back down, and prepared myself for a fight. Ive dealt with idiots like him for years, and Id be lying if I said I didnt enjoy the sight of a broken nose or bruised throat adorning the body of an overzealous loudmouth. Security descended and defused the situation, but I was aware that it was time to take my leave. Catching him eyeballing me contemptuously, I tossed him a $1 chip. "One for the road", I sneered, winking at him cockily. He sat, stammering and taken aback, as I walked off. I no doubt relit his fire, and I have the inclination to believe that he sat fuming, tilted and livid, throwing his money away, or rather donating it to the sharks left at $2-$3 No Limit. If so, I did my good deed. Am I the nice guy? Fuck no. Am I a good guy at heart? Yes. Do I always do good things? About 50/50. The fact is the majority of people, under the veneer of sociability and political correctness everyone seems to perpetuate these days simply because it's in vogue, will fuck you over for a fraction of the price it takes to be genuine and compassionate. Am I cynical? I prefer the term pragmatic. Am I a hero? You could say that, but Im no boy scout. Maybe you can all take a lesson from Gillian. Im flawed, human, and, yes, fractured. But Im strong in every sense of the word, and thats good enough.

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