The other day I was in what has become a very typical position for me these days, sitting on the couch in the living room writing on my laptop. I have an office and do work there some, but more often than not I’ll be in the other room, preferring not to be squirreled away and alone but out where I can interact with Vera more readily.
Spotting me typing furiously, Vera jokingly began to deliver a kind of play-by-play commentary on what she saw, hyping up her description in a way that made it sound a little like a movie trailer.
“He’s typing so fast,” she began. “He wants to stop... but... he can’t!”
I started to grin. I did not, however, stop typing. She continued.
“His eyes are tired. His hands are starting to cramp. But if he stops... he.. will... die!”
At that I did stop. And no, I didn’t expire, but instead burst into laughter along with Vera.
Today marks the 2,000th post on Hard-Boiled Poker. When I first started the blog in April 2006, I obviously had little thought about even reaching a hundred posts. When in early November of that year I did look up to see I was writing Post No. 100, I proudly marked the occasion in a post titled “Milestones.”
By then I’d built up enough momentum to know for sure I’d be continuing for some time afterwards, although the prospect of reaching other milestones wasn’t really something I consciously considered. But I did recognize a kind of achievement in having stuck with something that long, something of which I’d already begun to realize had started to become important to me.
Taking the occasion to reflect on the blog -- an indulgence I’d already allowed myself more than once within those first 100 posts -- I wrote about how observing such milestones in a way helped define the whole activity:
Like record-keeping, the blog helps document certain stages in the life of a poker player. At times the blog even helps foster the sense that he might actually be getting somewhere and not simply “running in a circle.” Or endlessly pushing that stone up the mountain like Sisyphus, only to have it roll back down again. Albert Camus describes Sisyphus as one who has, despite evidence to the contrary, somehow managed to create meaning from his plight. Rather than believe the godless world is “sterile or futile,” he knows that “each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world.”
Camus goes so far as to conclude we “must imagine Sisyphus as happy.” I think he’s right. As grave as such milestones might make us feel, they also go a long way toward helping us with the old problem of “meaning-making.” And that makes us happy for a while. And encourages us to keep going.
And so I will.
I’d continue to observe such milestones going forward such as in “Two Hundred Posts Later
” (from May 2007) although with the next few milestones I was hit-or-miss with even catching them going by.
The 500th post happened while I was at the 2008 World Series of Poker (my first), and I only barely mentioned it. I did mark other milestones more thoroughly, including the moment when I’d arrived at “Post No. 1,000” (in February 2010).
Then I talked about how hard it was to sum up what the experience of writing the blog had meant to me at that point. “When you’ve written a thousand friggin’ posts, you’ve said and done a lot of things before,” I said, stating the obvious. I went on to mention how great it was to have become part of a larger community of writers and readers joined by a common interest in poker, then concluded by thanking all of those who’ve taken the time to stop by here over the years.
I mean, really, there’s no way I get this far along without help. You can’t play poker by yourself. Not really. And while you can write for yourself, the meaning of what you write grows with every reader.
A thousand thanks, everybody, for helping give all these words more meaning.
The journey through these last thousand posts has seemed much shorter than the one through the first thousand. It took a few months less, I suppose, but the time has seemed to have raced by much, more more quickly. As we all recognize as we get older, time has a way of appearing to speed up, and when we stop to look around and happen to notice how much has passed, there’s always a little bit of misgiving as we’re made to acknowledge we’re closer to the end than we were before.
While Vera was joking, there was certainly a small bit of truth tucked away inside of her play-by-play. I think knowing that made us laugh even longer. You know, that idea that as long as one continues to press forward, one continues to live.
Looking back through the older posts a couple of thoughts occur to me. One is to marvel at the energy on display early on, and really through most of the first few years of the blog. Posts are longer, and even paragraphs go on and on sometimes, the writer keyed up to tackle whatever it is he has chosen to write about in comprehensive fashion, with extra context and research coming in frequently to flesh out the point being made or topic being explored.
That energy still comes now and then, though I’ll admit after 2,000 posts it isn’t as frequent or consistent. I’m affected these days both by having written so much before -- thus leaving myself fewer and fewer untouched subjects -- and by other writing obligations having crowded the schedule as well as the jingle-brain of this scribbling sap.
When I look back I also realize how not every post reflects my current thinking about poker (or other aspects of our existence), and there are plenty of instances where I see myself as having been a little too raw or naive about whatever it is I’ve decided to address. But I don’t mind that so much, as seeing such provides me evidence that I’ve indeed changed. Or maybe... possibly... that I’ve even learned something.
There’s little about poker or the crazy, confused world surrounding the game that is without ambiguity. The detective-writer metaphor has always been especially apt, as mysteries abound. I think I’ve stumbled on some important clues here and there and even drawn some decent conclusions, but a lot of the investigations remain open, even if I might sound at times as though I’ve closed them.
In other words, the old problem of meaning-making remains.
Up top is a picture of my cat, Sweetie, that I took a couple of weeks ago, who can be more than a little mysterious, too, sometimes. And who can make me feel like Sisyphus every now and then, such as in that photo. Look closely, she’s there. (Click the pic to enlarge, if needed.)
Here’s another one of Sweetie which Vera took shortly after I returned from Las Vegas after that long summer. I’m there, too, in my usual spot, having finally stopped typing for a while. (You can click and make this one bigger as well.)
Do I have to keep writing? Do I want to? Yes and yes.
Meanwhile, I know you don’t have to read, and so thanks once again for wanting to do so.
Labels: *the rumble, blogging, Sweetie, Vera Valmore, writing