“…lost in a daydream of blue and I feel so free…
a packet of honey
mmm fast sugar fix
will it ever end
I recently found out that I function best on eight (8) hours of sleep.
I remember a time when I worked two jobs, played three or four tournaments a week, managed to read books and watch a few TV shows, and slept on average four hours a day and did juuust fine.
Ah, for the dewy days of youth.
the most interesting man in the world
I am a huge fan of Bud Light’s insanely awesome “Real Men of Genius” advertisement campaign (to hear some of these commercials, click here for an online collection). My collection of 120 of these radio spots is a MUST on road trips.
Another beer-oriented advertisement campaign I’ve been chuckling at lately is the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign by Dos Equis. The most recent version of the commercial shows TMIMITW shooting a trick shot. I haven’t been able to find that one online yet, so here is the narrative and clip of one of the other commercials:
The police often question him just because they find him interesting. His beard, alone, has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body. His blood smells like cologne. He is — The Most Interesting Man In The World.
Addendum: I did manage to see the version of the commercial yesterday where TMIMITW starts off with a pool trick shot. The narrative for that one is:
He has been known to cure narcolepsy by simply walking into the room. His organ donation card also lists his beard. He is a lover, but also a fighter — so don’t get any crazy ideas. He is — The Most Interesting Man In The World.
as you may have guessed by now
I’m doing Blog-Lite these days while I enjoy my break from league pool.
I’ll go back to full-fat blogging after (and possibly during) the BCA National 8-Ball Championships. In the meantime, I’ll just toss a whole lot of random stuff on here, sometimes related to pool, sometimes not.
You’ll just have to check each week.
the blue dog
A few years ago, I was going regularly to Arizona for tournaments, since Southern California was tournament-dry in terms of women’s professional qualifier events. Some people have asked me how these trips are like, so, today, you’ll find out.
Let’s get something out of the way right quick before I start today’s little anecdote: I do not have a car, nor do I know how to drive.
(I shall pause while you gasp in disbelief/hilarity/wonderment.)
So, how do I get all over the country? Nowadays (thanks in part to a full-time job), I tend to fly if I have to go out of state. In the past, before gas prices became as redonkulous as they are now, it was cheaper to take Greyhound (as low as $65 back then) and public bus systems rather than fly. In addition, you could take any Greyhound bus as long as they had room — you weren’t restricted to the schedule shown on your ticket. Purchased Greyhound tickets were valid for a year after purchase. This was another reason Greyhound served my purposes well, as you never know how long a tournament can last and changing airplane tickets can be expensive.
It begins Thursday night when I shove everything I need (which isn’t much) into a backpack. I have toiletries, two changes of clothes, a book or two, and granola bars (modern-day pemmican/cost-effective road/tournament food). Friday afternoon after work, I go home and change into traveling clothes. I get my backpack and cue, and at 7:30 p.m., I set out for the bus stop up the street like modern-day hobo.
If I, and the #720, are both on time, I’ll be chugging along Wilshire Boulevard towards downtown Los Angeles by 8:00 p.m. Wilshire Boulevard is an interesting street. It cuts through a large portion of Los Angeles and passes through many neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic status. This one street can take you all the way from Beverly Hills to drive-bys and drug deals. Oh wait, those aren’t too far apart sometimes.
Eh, you get the idea.
By 9:30 p.m., I’m at 5th and Broadway in Downtown L.A. During the day, 5th and Broadway is a jaunty place filled with store with aluminum garage fronts carrying everything from knockoff purses to disco balls to replica gangsta bling to imitation Sanrio stickers. This is during the day when the sun is bright. After dark, the area is less-than-spectacular, fragranced by garbage in drains and people who treat the world as their urinal.
I have to be very alert when walking to 7th and Spring, where I will catch my next bus. I have seen drug deals, bum fights, drunken brawls, sober brawls, and one shooting that I was mercifully a block away from. (We all know guns most likely outrank knives in fights.) I have also seen a multi-person fight going full-tilt on a passing bus. That was awesome. It was like watching twenty-plus Siamese fighting fish going at it in a glass cup — on wheels. Un-farking-believable.
At 7th and Spring, I hang around and wait for the #60. It is a good idea not to make eye contact with anyone. Since I don’t have an iPod at this time, and it’s too dark to read, I have to rest my eyes on something non-confrontational. An army of rats busily mining the treasures of a garbage can provides me with this necessity. A few men try to talk to me, but I ignore them. Some of them ask me if I speak English. Or Spanish. Uh. No.
At around 10 p.m., the #60 comes along and the sardines packs themselves in. Now begins the 20-25 minute tour of Skid Row, one of this city’s finest districts. As you can imagine, I’ve seen a lot of things riding this bus on this short stretch and anything else I’ve seen at 5th and Broadway (with the lone exception of the Massive Fight On Wheels) doesn’t quite compare. Towards the end of this leg, the Greyhound sign glows in the darkness like a pair of pearly gates. I have to fight through a solid wall of people to get off the bus. There was a time when I might have been shy and full of “excuse me” and “pardon me”, but it sure as hell isn’t now. I pretty much use my cue case as a crowbar and pry myself a passageway to freedom.
The first thing I do is breathe. Because, goddammit, that bus smells like body odor, sewage, rotting vegetables, and formaldehyde all mixed together with a touch of marijuana. Of course, by this time, I smell the same. Oh well. At least everyone else in this area smells like me, too.
In the station, I wait in line to pick up my ticket and by the time I’m parked in front of Gate 5, it’s about 11:00 p.m. and I am happy because the bus is supposed to leave here at 11:40 p.m. and drop me and my delusions of grandeur off at the Phoenix station around 6:45 a.m.
Of course, if everything always worked according to plan, life would be too easy.
For this particular trip, the bus was late. As in three hours late. This, of course, meant that I’d be rolling into Phoenix three hours later than planned, at 9:45 a.m. instead of 6:45 a.m. That may seem like no big deal to you people with vehicular mobility at your disposal, but it makes a world of difference to me. You see, after I get off the Greyhound bus, I still needed to take two more buses (by Valley Metro, Phoenix’s public bus system) to get to the pool hall.
On a weekday, the buses run pretty often, but I would be catching the bus on the weekend when service was greatly diminished in frequency. Buses only came once an hour and I HAD to make it to the pool hall by 11:00 a.m. for sign-ups. The trip via Valley Metro to the pool hall would take longer than one-and-a-half hours, so I would be cutting it very, very close. I was slightly panicked, but there was nothing I could do — so I got on the bus and slept. That was another reason I liked to take the bu at a late hour — I could sleep on the ride and save one night of hotel.
Luckily, the busdriver had a penchant for speeding and punctuality so at around 9:00 a.m., the bus pulled into the Phoenix Greyhound station. Before the bus had even pulled into the station, I had a change of clothes out of my bag and I was ready to make a run for the restroom to change as soon as we were parked. The doors opened and I was the proverbial bat out of hell. I quickly changed into (slightly less smelly and slightly more fashionable) tournament clothes and shoes. The Red Line West stopped at 24th and Buckeye at 9:33 a.m., meaning I should be there at 9:23 or earlier. If I caught this bus, I could still make it to the tournament in time to sign up. I packed up everything and ran out into the station…
…where I was swiftly surrounded by four men in uniform. They weren’t dressed in blue or black, but I still noticed they had guns. I looked at the patch on one of the guys’ uniform and it read “Border Patrol”. This was strange. One of them, the leader, I take asked me very slowly, “Do… you… have… i-den-ti-fi-ca-tion…?”
“Yeah.” I handed over my California ID. The Leader scrutinized my card for a long, long minute. I shifted impatiently from foot to foot and I craned my neck to look out the window at the bus stop.
“Where… are… you… from…?” asked The Leader.
“Los Angeles,” I replied snippily. I looked out the window again. It was 9:15 and I was getting very antsy. “What is this about?”
The other agents seemed startled and looked at each other. I looked at each of them. Strange. They looked back to The Leader. The entire station had gone quiet and everyone was watching. No one moved. The Leader spoke again, “Where… were… you… born…?”
“In San Franf—ingcisco! What the hell is going on? I really, really need to catch a bus. It comes in few minutes, okay?! I HAVE to catch it or else I’m going to have to wait another hour!” The Leader actually seemed to blush at my mini-tirade and the other agents looked around nervously.
The Leader tried again, “You… were… born… where… in… San… Francisco…”
“Children’s Hospital, tenth floor, the side with an ocean view. Is that enough, sir? Are we done here?”
There was an awkward pause and in the stillness of the station, I heard a lone voice yell out, “Hey man! Can’t you guys tell?! She’s not Mexican!”
A huge wave of laughter took over the station and this seemed to convince The Leader that, for whatever it was he wanted, I was not the right person to ask. He handed back my ID with a “Sorry ’bout that, we thought you might have been an illegal.”
“An illegal immigrant?”
“Yeah. You took off pretty fast from the bus.”
“Dude, the bus is late and I have to catch another bus or I’ll be late for my pool tournament.”
“Pool tournament? You play pool? What were you doing on the bus?”
“Sorry man, I gotta go.” I ran out the door in my heels and I could see the bus coming down the street. I hate jaywalking, but I made an exception in this case and crossed the street ILLEGALLY (gah!) but I managed to catch the bus.
I made it to my tournament, and I even made it to the next day. I paid for one night in a roach motel, and ended up in 5th/6th. Bummer. C’est la vie.
Now, for the ride home.
For my return to sunny Southern California, I prefer to take one of two schedules leaving Phoenix in the evening, either the bus departing at 9:15 p.m. or the one departing at 11:55 p.m. Which bus I take is usually dependent on how well I did in the tournament.
I’ve taken quite a few trips on the 9:15 bus, which means I finished lower than 4th place. Mad suckage. However, there is a good side to the 9:15, which is that I roll into Los Angeles at around 4:00 a.m. There’s nothing like coming into Los Angeles when the stars are still in the sky and then waiting around in Skid Row for the #60 to take me back downtown. I do enjoy watching the sky turn light over the Greyhound station while reviewing my tournament play and doing my best to avoid getting shot — it is very meditative. By 5:00 a.m., if it’s a good day, I’m back at 5th and Grand, waiting for the early #720 to take me back to my side of town. Traffic is still tolerable this early on Wilshire Boulevard, so I can expect a quick one-hour ride back to my cracker box of an apartment.
Around 6:00 a.m., I’m back home.
I drop off my cue and backpack, take a quick shower, and then it is off to work.
In some cases, I have been lucky enough to take the 11:55 bus back to Los Angeles.
This bus pulls into the station at 6:30 a.m., and most of the time, because it is already light outside, it’s quite a bit safer to wait for the #60 next to the cardboard cities of the homeless and the occasional druggie passed out on the sidewalk. The downside to this bus is that I don’t have time to go home before I go to work. I take stock of my clothes at the Greyhound station and put on what smells the least offensive. I take the #60 back downtown, transfer to the #720, transfer to the #761, and go straight to work. I usually arrive at work just a tad earlier than usual, which gives me enough time to stow away my backpack and cue in an empty filing cabinet where they won’t attract any attention.
I’ll notice a few wrinkled noses throughout the day, and occasionally, someone will tactfully ask, “Do you have a new perfume on?”
“Why yes. It is ‘L’odeur de Victoire’.”