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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Fatherhood....

Yep. The day has finally arrived. It's time for Squirrel and I to see just what we created after I got home from a disappointing WSOP last July. When I made that long drive home...I did a lot of soul searching. 

I might be biased...but I can't imagine a woman who is 9 1/2 months pregnant being any more beautiful than this. She has done a fantastic job with our daughter...way to go Squirrel! I love you!
As you all know by now, I have a tendency to open up to a lot of people on this blog. And by a lot...I don't know the exact number. I don't know how many 'super repeat' clickers I have...but when I see an average of 5500-6000 hits a month...I know that when I write personal stuff...that it might sometimes be getting viewed by those who (were I to know) I might not like thinking about having them in my personal business; or it being such a great thing. I keep re-reading that last sentence, and I think it sounds all screwy, but I can't think of a better way to re-write it...and I have a feeling you all (or most of you anyway) have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about. Ugh...moving on.

I can either be The Poker Monkey..and just talk about stuff that has to do with poker, or I can be the guy who really just likes writing in this blog because it allows me a place to express myself, to unload some pent up feelings. And occasionally I will have interactions with some of you will tell me stuff like "your blog really makes me feel not so screwed up" or "you know, I was about to kill myself, then I read your blog and thought 'wow, I really don't have it as bad as I thought I did." And ya know...if I can save just one person with my blog? Then hell...I guess it's worth it, huh?

Well, it is for reasons like those that I don't mind sitting down in this really uncomfortable chair/bed thing they think the husband is actually going to sleep on while laying here listening to my baby's heartbeat on this machine...and put what I'm feeling down on my blog/diary. I don't know how many haters I still have out there. I suspect the number has gone down somewhat as I've continued to mellow with age...kind of like a good bottle of wine, or fine aged cognac, or even a piece of petrified wood. I kind of think I have taken myself out of the 'firing line' the past couple years. But oh...I'm sure there are still some of you out there who wish I would spontaneously combust...and I guess that's okay. Pretty sure it's impossible to get EVERYONE to like you...well, unless of course you are my wife.

I feel myself getting sidetracked a lot. It happens. I think my mind has been racing 347 miles an hour for the last two days. I can't believe what is about to go down. Me...Will Souther...single til I was 42...without child for 45 years...a dog the one thing I've been responsible for all those years...am about to be a ...yikes...FATHER. Of what I can only HOPE TO GOD will be a gorgeous little girl with all her fingers and toes, arms and legs...two eyes and ears...and everything as normal as possible. I've read and listened to all the cliches the past nine months...about how much my life is going to change, about how she will be wrapped around my finger (or am I the one who will be wrapped around HER finger? That one confuses me) about how I have never really known love until I see my child for the first time...heard about how much I will cry in that first hour. Yep...I've heard it all. And for the past 24 hours...everyone keeps asking me "How do you feel? Are you scared? Nervous? Excited?

You know what I am? And it took me most of the day today to figure it out? I mean...I woke up today and all I wanted to do was errands...and fix stuff around the house. Cheryl was cleaning like a banshee...which she has been doing almost everyday now for a week. They say its the Mother going into her 'nesting phase.' Yeah...I'll say!!! Well...sometime around 5pm on Tuesday...it hit me. It's like that feeling you get right before you are about to step on the airplane and go skydiving for the first time. You are anxious. But a little scared. You are excited, but also a tad nervous. You know its something you can't wait to do. But at the same time you are doubting why you decided to do it. Right? You feel me?

But right now...as I lay here looking over there at Squirrel...deep asleep with the aid of the nurse's administered Ambien (hey! Where's mine!!!???)...and the gentle beating of Carley's heart beat in the background...all I can think about is what its going to feel like walking out of this hospital with this little girl in our arms. I will have created life! With the woman I have spent the last ten years with...who I met on that December day at the Beau Rivage...while playing blackjack..with my good buddy Jeff Giraldi from Atlanta. When those brown eyes looked at me, and that Southern accent asked me if I'd like anything to drink....wow! And now look at us. We are hours away from bringing a life into this world. It's amazing. And maybe its just NOW starting to really hit me. 

Driving home from Vegas last summer...with my friends Kai Landry, Allie Prescott, and Kyle Bowker...we made a lot of stops. It was good for me to travel in a group because I got to take my mind off how things ended up out there. But when I got home...it hit me. I knew I was depressed. I knew I was more or less sick of poker. And there are those times...and I have talked about it with other poker players...damn successful ones...where no amount of 'winning' every really changes your life. We tend to dwell on the losses...hard. I know I do. And when we do manage a win...it seems like we never get to fully enjoy it. Unless of course...its something over half a million. I think we can all find a way to enjoy a score like that! 

I think the key to enjoying anything is taking the time to actually enjoy it. When Kai, myself and Mark Rose chopped the Main Event at the Beau a few years ago...our family already had a week vacation planned that started right after that event. So that was literally the ONLY time I think I ever really, fully, enjoyed a win. Well...that and maybe the one on Halloween a few years ago at the IP because it marked the first time I ever flat out WON a tourney...a decent sized tourney...after a TON of 2nd place finishes. Yeah...that day felt good.

Anyway...not to once again get sidetracked...but this is actually going somewhere. So I get home...the depression really hit hard. That feeling of worthlessness set in. What am I? Who am I? What the hell contribution am I making to society? Some of you remember my little pilgrimages to North Mississippi and later to Tuscaloosa to help with the floods and the tornadoes. That was less about anything I could give to them...and more about what doing for them made me feel about myself. It's like...I needed that to make myself feel better about myself. And it worked. I know this might sound like bullshit...but believe me when I tell you this...were I ever to fall into more money than I knew what to do with? I would get the most amount of joy spending my last days on Earth looking...literally seeking out ways to bring joy and happiness to people who are suffering. I just don't really have that much use for large abundances of personal wealth. I don't. 

What would be nice? Would be just enough to assure yourself of never having to struggle. To never have to experience marital strife due to financial concerns. I mean...once you get a certain amount...what's the point? Now you're just keeping score with the others. Which is why the ultra rich make me sick. With the things they buy, how they choose to spend their money. It's offensive at times. There are a lot of rich people who I truly respect, who give lots of money to schools, and museums, to research facilities...those people are really my heroes. And I wish...I aspire...to be one of those people. It is literally my primary reason for living. To do something that after I die...people will be able to look at me and say "you know what? That guy right there....he really had a great life! He really did amazing things. The world is going to miss him. But at least he accomplished something while he was here."  Ask yourself: How many people can say that?

So yeah, I've once again gotten side tracked...and here we go...it's becoming another marathon blog...but you know what? This is my last night of being a 'kid.' Seriously. I've never 'felt' my age. When I was in my 20's I still felt like I did in High School. When I was in my 30's? Pfft...still felt 18! When I was 40? Hell, all my buddies were in their 20's...I sure didn't feel like the people my own age. But after tomorrow? Will a switch go off? Monkey! You are NOW a father! Grow up! Will I grow up? Do I really have to grow up? I mean...that much?

Let's get it back on course. So...yeah...last July, I was glum. Very, very glum. I didn't know what it was going to take to get me back to a place where I enjoyed waking up every morning. I mean...when your beautiful wife and your two dogs are the only thing bringing you ANY happiness whatsoever? You have got a problem. And I had a problem.

I used to coach little league for many years. And I was damn good at it. I have a weird ability to connect with kids. And that is so important when you are trying to coach them. I loved those times I had with those kids. And even now...no matter where I go...if I run into a kid under 12...its like they just gravitate to me like a magnet. We went to the beach on Sunday...and out of nowhere comes this little kid...named Julian, along with his adorable little friend Kaylen. They were both there with their moms...who were about 50 yards away. Well, they wanted me to play with them. So I did...and after missing every pitch I threw to him...I made a few adjustments to his stance and swing...and before I knew it, he was hitting bombs!


It was awesome! His Mom finally came over and pried him away from us...insisting that he was 'bothering' us. Then she saw that Squirrel was pregnant, and they talked about that of course. It was a nice moment, and one that reminded me how much I love coaching, and just spending time with kids. They are so innocent, you know? So unadulterated. Bottom line? They are cool. Society hasn't had a chance yet to completely fuck them up. No...that comes later on. And its really sad.

So...back to July (again!). Yeah. What can I do to get out of this funk?  I love my wife. I love kids. I'm 45. (44 then) What am I going to leave behind? What if I never win a big tourney? Am I just going to grind enough to keep playing for year after year after miserable year? How long before my wife leaves me and that terrible, frustrating life behind? And it hit me. I need a reason to live. I need a reason to wake up every day. I need something to drive me, to motivate and inspire me. And what could that possibly be?

A child. I wanted a child. I wanted something that would take the place of anything and everything that is considered 'important' in my boring, mundane life. And I knew it was time. Cheryl was almost 40. I couldn't possibly keep firing magic bullets forever, could I? Three years ago...we made the decision to try and start a family. I have literally TRIED only twice to get Cheryl pregnant in ten years. Both times...Yahtzee!  Well, three years ago...we succeeded, and were both SO excited, before tragedy took away our child on the day before the Super Bowl. That's one Super Bowl I will always remember in the worst way....Pittsburgh vs. Arizona. It took a lot of time to recover from that. Thirteen weeks of excitement, and well wishes...and just...well, you know the rest of that song and dance. And then it was just....gone. There was a big void in our life for a long time.

Then...I had a couple of really good years in poker. I wanted to buy us a house. And then try again to have a baby. So what happens? We get robbed. Yeah...all the money I had saved up, I had sitting in our house in a safe. Brilliant. And more or less, we got set up. And there went all of our plans...right down the tubes...all the way back to square one. Incidentally, I got a call from the new Assistant DA's office last Friday...at first I was nervous. You're always nervous when someone calls you from a courthouse.  Huh? OMG OMG...what did I do? Well, after 2 years and 4 months...they are finally bringing the two culprits to trial in Gulfport, in May. They wanted to know if my information was still the same...for the possible restitution hearing. Well, its nice that those scumbags are finally getting their day in court...but I know that any chance I have of getting any of that money back is slim to none. It really just kind of served as a reminder of how much they took away from us. But I guess we aren't supposed to dwell on that kind of shit, right?

So back in July, I decided it was time to 'drop the hammer' on Squirrel. I was never going to get her to agree to it. She is just too rational, and will always find a reason NOT to do something if the timing isn't right. Well...take a trip to Wal-Mart...then tell me the timing isn't right for having a child. Really? I'm sorry...but there is no such thing as bad timing to have a kid, as far as I'm concerned. So it was on. And a month or two later...she came into the kitchen holding one of those pregnancy sticks in her hand...and a caustic look on her face. It quickly turned to smiles, and tears...when she saw how genuinely elated I was. And the rest...as they say...is history! Well, I guess we are still in the process of making that history...but its been a whirlwind the last 8 months!

The amazing love and support we have gotten from our families, our friends, our co-workers and so many of you poker players out there...it just, I don't know...its just really shifted my whole way of looking at life the past three months. Yeah, I want to be successful in poker, sure. But its hit me just how truly unimportant poker is, and all the BS that goes on in and around poker. Hey...now? It's just a way for me to try to get in, get out...and make a fast buck. (or a million if things go right!) I try not to dwell so much over the bad beats and the long periods of 'run bad.' Why bother? It doesn't change anything. Oh sure, its fun to sit and rag on the donkeys and bemoan the amazing luck of the OMRG's at the table...take the occasional picture of someone for the pure entertainment value of it. Hell, I'm not COMPLETELY dead inside! I'm just saying that there are things way more important to me now than poker...and I would like to thank Squirrel and soon to be...Miss Carley Grace for opening my eyes to those things.

I think that is about all I have...if you made it this far...you are a real trooper! I appreciate all of you. I really do. Even you haters. Cuz if you care enough about me to read my blog...well, you might hate me, but at least you 'care' about me a little, don't you!?? When I write to you all again....knock on wood...I will write as a father. Wow...that sounds pretty cool.


Monkey

7 comments:

Rick Rybaczek said...

Monkey, you are now heads up on the best "poker" tournament you have ever played. The First and second place prize is worth more than millions of.dollars in the bank.

Missingflops said...

Congratulations to you and Miss Squirrel sir. Reading your post brought a smile to my face.

Jody A said...

As a father of three myself, I can say 100% that it's the most gratifying "win" you will ever heave when you see your child for the first time! They can make the most unsuccessful session on the felt go away in a heartbeat. Good Luck Will, and I know you will be a great father.

Jody
Memphis, TN

~Coach said...

Congratulations!

Poker Monkey said...

Thanks Jody!
Couldn't agree with you more!
I think you're right about it taking the sting
out of any bad poker session.
I hope I will be a great father. I think I will...but there are always doubts. I sure want to be.

Poker Monkey said...

Well thanks. I am glad I was able to make you smile! I've done nothing but smile for the past five days!!!

MOnk

Poker Monkey said...

Thanks Rick.
Pretty good analogy.
I just started my second life...
as far as I'm concerned.
Not sure how I can possibly screw this up!

Monk