butter, bread, & knowing better | 2


butter, bread, & knowing better | 2

The Tour of Insanity was laid out like this:

1. Open 9-Ball
2. Open 9-Ball
3. Women’s 9-Ball, bar tables
4. Women’s 9-Ball
5. Open 9-Ball, bar tables
6. Women’s 9-Ball, bar tables, handicapped • or • Open 9-Ball
7. Women’s 9-Ball
8. Women’s 9-Ball
9. Open 10-Ball
10. Open 10-Ball • or • Women’s 9-Ball
11. Women’s 8-Ball, bar tables
12. Women’s 8-Ball, bar tables, teams

We left off after I bombed #4.

Today, we pick up at #5.


5. Open 9-Ball, bar tables

Due to my superior talent of NOT CASHING, I had to rejigger the schedule. I had decided for #10 that I would go to the Women’s 9-Ball event instead of the Open 10-Ball going on the same weekend. It was an out-of-state event and I would need a not inconsiderable amount money (for me) to attend that event.

I had wanted to play in #5 event for a long time. Last year, it filled up the day I mailed my money. This year, I paid my entry, in person, in cash, on site, in January — more than two months early.

I gave up this event in favor of using the entry fee ($200) and expense money (at least another $200) towards #10.



6. Women’s 9-Ball, bar tables, handicapped • or • Open 9-Ball

I chose the Women’s 9-Ball over the Open 9-Ball. After more than a month of absolute frustration being on the edge of glory and then not achieving it, I refused to travel with anyone. I turned down a ride and opted for Greyhound. I had my own hotel room. This was going to go down correctly.

Travel-wise, things worked out well. Everything else was a bit off-kilter. I had a horrific case of insomnia and I ended up going to practice at 6:00 a.m. in the hopes of tiring myself out and getting at least a few hours of sleep. It didn’t happen. I played poorly, though I did my best to stay in the tournament. I had to fade an inordinate amount of weirdness, including a spectator berating me for not tipping the waitress enough. She had brough two drinks, one for me and my friend, and I had given her a dollar for each drink. The spectator went into a long litany about how I was cheap and disrespectful. It was astounding. I tried to be good about it all. Even after I lost (and it broke my heart) I still tried to be good about it.

The next day, I showed up to wait until it was time for me to catch my bus home (also to collect the money owed from the refunded tournament). I was there early, courtesy of Fraulein Insomnia. While I was sitting quietly in my corner with my luggage, a lady went up to the tournament board nearby and looked at the brackets. When she saw that I had lost, she turned to me with her eyes wide and said my name in a very particular tone. It was the same tone a mother might use on a toddler after having caught said toddler muralizing walls with crayon art. Actually, the tone was closer to what you might use after you found your dog had peed on your new suede couch. It was disbelief, disappointment — really, it was scolding. She said she couldn’t believe I had lost. How could I let that happen?

I looked at her for a long moment.

Something twitched.

I got up.

I went outside.

I walked through two lanes of traffic to a boarded up strip mall across the street.

I sat alone in the parking lot of that strip mall for a very long time.


When I returned home, I knew what had to be done. While the traveling alone had been good, I had been too keyed up from all the previous weeks of craziness to play in the way I knew I could play. I could not play with any confidence or comfort. I was going insane. Perhaps I was insane already. My descent into the maelstrom had been in steps. Clawing my way out of it would also entail steps, maybe even baby steps.

I took my blog down for a little while. During that time, I had nothing to do with pool or my blog, and more importantly, I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH POOL PLAYERS. I stayed THE F#CK away from all of them. Instead, I did all the things I enjoyed doing but had missed out on, including reading, cooking (lots of that), and sitting around reveling in my unproductivity.

I also rescued a cat at the request of a friend of a friend. (Although she’s so cranky I wonder if she really needed rescuing in the first place. She could totally take down a coyote on her own. Release her into the streets and pretty soon we’ll be fighting to get LA back from her.)

Bitch I will cut you.

That’s right, Mom. I got a cat. I know you hate cats, but I like ’em and it’s my danged apartment. She’s way cheaper than an actual human therapist and way, way cheaper than a drinking habit. So there. She’s also eerily a cat-doppleganger of myself, with the same shade of hair and random white hairs sprinkled throughout. She’s also kind of bitchy and yet enjoys participating in occasional silliness involving hair accessories (just like me!):

She doesn’t like fish, which I find very suspicious, but whatever. As long as she likes steak. (She does.) And fried chicken. (That too.)


7. Women’s 9-Ball

I returned to competitive billiards by dumping myself into the deep end of the pool without my usual waterwings. I did not practice at all leading up to this tournament. I was actually determined to play it completely cold. It was my way of starting back up from the bottom. Sink, swim, or suck water and die.

Since I would be traveling to this tournament BY MY OWN GODDAM SELF, I slept early the night before knowing full well I would have to get up very early. I got up at 6:30 a.m. and this time, it was NOT a sh#tty feeling PRECISELY because I had gone to sleep at 10:00 p.m. the night before and NOT at 3-f#cking-30 the same morning.


I cannot even begin to tell you how nice that was.

I got on the bus a little after 8:00 a.m. and did the usual bus thing. It was bus, train, train, and bus. I enjoyed everything about my three-hour commute to the pool room. For the first time in a long time, I was at peace with everything. I wasn’t irritated (THANK GOD), but I wasn’t excited or happy, either (that was weird-ish). I just was.

I got to the pool room on time, and then proceeded to play some of the best pool I have in recent months, and mostly without headphones (a new concept I wanted to try).

After it was over, some friends offered me a ride home which I was very happy to accept. I paid them in McDonald’s foods. It was a good ride for all.


The next day, I returned and won one more match before losing twice. I had run out of steam toward the end, but that did not bother me. Even losing did not bother me all that much. I ended up third, which was excellent, considering the ridiculosity of the last couple of months and the complete meltdown of game and mental state. The prize money was a welcome transfusion and served as a nice tourniquet for my wallet.

After I was knocked out, I took the bus home, experienced some mild excitement during the commute, and went to sleep at a decent hour because — unlike many — I did not play well enough to make a living from this game and would have to go back to work early the next morning.


8. Women’s 9-Ball

I had previously agreed to travel up to this event with my fourth Road Partner, before I had realized I am one of those who Does Not Travel Well With Others. Understandably, I was wary. Honestly, I DID NOT WANT TO GO WITH ANYONE. But, she had already made her own plans to go based on the fact that I was traveling with her. Duty and honor required I see it through. RP4 was an up-and-coming player from my area, and had placed high in previous events. I told myself this was heartening. She was a Serious Player.

You don’t know someone until you live with them and a road trip is very much living with someone, even if only for a short time. You have to share (sometimes small) enclosed spaces, and everyone has their quirks. EVERYONE HAS THEIR GODDAM QUIRKS. (Including me. I also have goddam quirks, like the idea that a pool tournament should revolve around the playing of pool.)

I’m going to take a moment here to ponder what I shall write.




RP4 is a super-nice girl but some of her quirks just killed me. I won’t go into what they are, but I will say it was my own fault I was uncomfortable bordering on irritable because I had agreed to go on this trip. Although we both have an aggressive pool game, that was probably all we had in common.


I played terrible in my first match, slogged through two more on the winner’s side (all the while fading random bullsh#t from people), and then got into my third loser’s side match. I wasn’t playing bad. Not at all. But, I was tired and I could feel — it. I could feel that I was not happy playing, even playing well, and I was frustrated, yet again, at how things were going because I had willingly put myself in that situation. “It” was a tidal wave, surge upon surge of negative emotions, and I stopped it the only way I knew how, before it crashed on everyone else and caused mass destruction.

I forfeited in the middle of the match.

I went to the bar.

I drank a lot.

This was a disturbing pattern. I knew it. Sadly, being in altered state of mind was one of the only ways I could keep myself in check. Sadly, I had a very high tolerance for alcohol so it took a hell of a lot more than usual to get me to happy hour. Happily, many people obliged and I was kept in good spirits (har har) for the remainder of the day.

The next day, I did not go to the pool room at all and spent the day wandering about the city. That was nice. I saw kites, and a jackrabbit, and some pine trees with teeny tiny pinecones (I should have stole one! Tiny pinecone (tinecone?), not tree.)

I returned home with a cloud over my head and wondered how many more punches I could take from the Universe in the name of “being good about it”.




The Tour of Insanity, the Flying Dutchman of all planned pool schedules, now only had the following stops left:

9. Open 10-Ball
10. Open 10-Ball • or • Women’s 9-Ball
11. Women’s 8-Ball, bar tables
12. Women’s 8-Ball, bar tables, teams

Is my train-wreck of a pool life interesting enough to make you rubberneck some more?


Hell, yes?

Hell yes, because could it get any more wrecked? No, really — could it?

I don’t know! (Hee hee hee!)


Find out on Monday.

(I get the weekend off.)



6 Replies to “butter, bread, & knowing better | 2”

  1. Winston Churchill said “when you’re going through hell, keep going.”

    if i can remember that saying (or any thought in that spirit) while i’m enduring the type of struggle that you’re describing, it helps me to relax and just go. i am discovering that my mental turmoil during competition is largely (maybe entirely?) self inflicted…even if it seems externally triggered. i’m trying to learn better to go with the flow.

    i hope that helps (or is at least relevant)

  2. Our first cat was a fetcher. I would throw a red plastic golfball up the stairs and he would jump up to catch and then chase it down and would bring it back down the stairs. And only that red ball, not the yellow or blue one. We’d do that for about an hour each weekend morning. When a boarding kennel lost the red ball, it took me years to find a substitute. In the meantime he would sit at the top of the steps and caterwaul. It was heartbreaking because he wouldn’t accept anything I threw until I got that one fuzzy toy. He was one smart kitty and I suspect yours is, too. Basement cat, hmmmm…

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