Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In or Out?

Last night I went to league with my boyfriend so I could get out of the house.  Due to my Mom's passing, I don't like to be alone there, so I tagged along and was the Official Score Keeper for the night.

We went to a shady side of town, to a pool room I had never been to before.  It was really a very small bar with four coin tables.  It had a dozen regulars there and the two pool teams, and not much room for anything else.  When we pulled up, it was kinda in a strip mall, but I didn't see any other stores or businesses and some diesel trucks were using the parking for overnight stays.

I admit it was a scary atmosphere in and out of the bar.  I am sure everyone is always very nice but being a white female with blond hair, I do stand out in my slacks and blouse, lol.

Right before the first game, it dawned on me that my cue was in the car.


I asked my boyfriend, and his teammate overheard my question, "I left my cue in the car.  Should I go get it and bring it in so it doesn't get stolen?"

The both look at each other and laughed as they look around and said almost in unison, "heck, we could get robbed in here!"


Monday, August 29, 2011

My Momma

My beloved Mom who had been struggling with emphysema for the last four years passed away on August 19th.

Her breathing became much worse over the last three months and she was struggling every day to "catch her breath" as she would say.

On August 16th she slipped in our home in the kitchen and broke her hip.  That was a Tuesday.  On Wednesday she had successful hip replacement surgery.  On Thursday she had complications.  On Friday I had to put her in hospice and she passed away with me by her side that night at 9:45pm.

She told me I was the love of her life.  She was mine as well.

The last week and a half have been the hardest of my life.  But my friends and loved ones are keeping me going.  I am blessed to have so many friends who truly care for me, as it was only my Mom and I.  I cared for her the last 4 years and we were best friends.

I appreciate you all more than you know.  The kind, loving, and encouraging words I have received and keep receiving are the only reasons I have been able to endure this extremely tough time.  

I will miss her FOREVER.

I wanted to share a few things with you.

A blog entry I wrote on my personal blog about ensuring you know the wishes of your parents, and also the difference between being an only child or one with siblings during tough times:  http://personallymeonline.blogspot.com/2011/08/only-child-or-siblings.html

My friends held a Celebration of Life for my Mom and I on August 28th and I wrote a "speech" so I could share some wonderful memories about my Mom:   http://personallymeonline.blogspot.com/2011/08/speech-for-my-mom.html

And finally, I also wrote about a crappy experience with the funeral home you can read if you have time:  http://personallymeonline.blogspot.com/2011/08/funeral-home-blues.html

 Mom's obit

Toni J. Leach Bailey died peacefully in Fort Worth, Teas on August 19, 2011 after a long illness.  She is survived by her daughter, Melinda Gayle Bailey, the love of her life.  She will be cremated and her ashes scattered privately.

In lieu of flowers, you are welcome to pick one of Toni’s favorite causes to give to (http://www.savethemanatee.org/ and http://www.elephants.com).  Most of her life revolved around animals and a small donation from a friend would be her fondest desire.

We miss her more than we can say

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Change Please?

At the beginning of one of my recent straight pool matches, I needed change for a $20 so I could tip the waitress a dollar for my free water and also have a five dollar bill for my league dues. The new waitress pleasantly obliged.

I would find out later from one of the regular waitresses that my waitress thinks I'm mad at her.

What? Why?

OMG. Really?

I barely spoke to her and didn't order anything but a water so far. Yea, and I'm losing my straight pool match badly, but I didn't take it out on her. I didn't SPEAK to her.


Later on that night after dinner and a few drinks (yes, I was very pleasant to her), I gave my waitress a hundred dollar bill to pay my nights' tab. (Can you tell I just came from a casino over the weekend - I had no small bills!)

I didn't know what my total was, as I gave her the hundred before I saw my tab and simply told her "Can I pay my tab please?" She comes back over and lays down "the change" and says "Thanks, Melinda, hope your night gets better."

I sit there a few minutes jabbering with a couple of friends and decide to count my change. And the amount of money sitting in front of me is $100. Yep, change for $100. Four 20s, a 10, a 5 and five 1s.


I call the new waitress over, "um, I wanted to pay my bill with the hundred."

"You did," she replies back to me.

"But I have $100 in change here. "

She stands there, just looking at me.

So I count the money out for her so it makes more sense, "20, 40, 60, 80, 90, 95, 96, 97..."

"Oh, ok, I'm sorry! I'll be right back."

Of course my friends are watching this show down.

She comes back and tells me my bill was $41. So she puts my change down on the table and I pick it up to count it.

And now I'm $5 short. I'm confusing myself. Let's see, 100-41 is ? Yep, I only have $54 in front of me.

I call her back over, "Um, you still owe me $5."

You aren't going to beleive this, but I have to count the money again in front of her to prove I'm now $5 short, when I just helped her by not just taking the $100 "change."

She gives me the $5 and apologies yet again and adds, "this is my first mistake, I am so sorry."

Huh? Really?

I'm thinking to myself, "damn, you're a lucky woman then." Even tho it's obvious she made a few mistakes this night just with my change.

One of the guys sitting at my table tells me, "she's fortunate you are honest or that you didn't just put the "change" in your purse or else she'd be out $41."

I suppose so.

I'm picking on this new waitress with this blog and I'm sure she will be great in the long run but don't be nervous around me. I'm a good patron. We'll figure this out together.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Emotionally Spent

Although out of my element, I wanted to write this vulnerable post with you to show that bloggers don't always write about what really goes in in every day life.  I'm being very open below.

I had a tough straight pool match planned for last night (Monday, August 15th).  I tried to watch my friend Mike's instructional video on Friday but was distracted at work to really pay attention again. It's chalk-full of great advice and only about 30 minutes long (see below).  I wanted to prepare myself for my match with The Toughie so watching vids was perfect.

50/84 Instructional Video from Michael Grosso on Vimeo.

Then over the weekend I thought it was crucial I play in an 8ball tourney that was held at the pool room I would have my straight pool match.  But I didn't fair so well in the tourney Saturday night and didn't practice like I yearned to do.

Come Sunday, and as things in life sometimes happen, I had a hiccup in my current relationship.  That led to huge amount of hours laying awake Sunday night with endless worry.

By the time I arrived at work Monday morning and sat down in my chair, that's when it hit me just how physically exhausted I was.  Then throughout the day, I wondered and worried about my relationship.  Yes, this is what females do.

Since I was so physically exhausted, I decided I should try to take a cat nap at work, but how does one do that in a cubicle environment anyway?  So instead, I pulled up another GREAT video to watch to get prepared for my match with The Toughie.

14.1 Qualifier, Bob Cozzolino, IL vs Lou Figueroa, Commented by George Fells and Freddy the Beard.

This video runs a little long because it's a great match, but George Fells provides SO much wonderful advice and excellent instructional gems, I wanted to watch it again and also try to watch it til the end.  But was it smart to watch it RIGHT before my match?

And, I was SO tired.  So mentally and physically exhausted from lack of sleep and stress from numerous things the last few weeks.  I also received calls all day from my Mom who was having a bad day and was very depressed and not feeling well.

I had to meet up with my b/f right before my match b/c I had his cues and he had league.  I wasn't sure how it would go.  Hadn't talk to him all day, wasn't sure if we were "okay" or not.  On the 15 minute drive over there, my hands were sweating, my arm pits weren't doing any better, I had a rapid heart rate.  I was a mess and very nervous about the unknown of the almost near future ahead of me.

When I showed up, he immediately hugged me, told me to stop crying, and that we were okay.  The immediate outpouring of relief was very emotional and draining for me.  I can't begin to even describe it - I for some reason cried all the way to the pool room (yes, only minutes before my straight pool match).  

Because I have been going through so much stress lately with a lot of things (not just this hiccup), I should have canceled that match, but the guy had already moved some appts around to meet up with me.  So I felt obligated.

But, the build up of stress causes a lot of crazy things to happen to a person.  As Wiki tells us, this includes poor judgment, a general negative outlook, excessive worrying, moodiness, irritability, agitation, inability to relax, feeling lonely, isolated or depressed.  It can even cause physical symptoms of diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heartbeat.  And of course stress can cause the other "side effects:" eating too much or not enough, sleeping too much or not enough, social withdrawal, procrastination or neglect of responsibilities, increased alcohol, nicotine or drug consumption, and nervous habits such as pacing about, nail-biting, and neck pains.

I can pick out 75% of the above for just myself the last few weeks.

So, I had been emotionally overextended and exhausted with both physical fatigue and a sense of feeling psychologically and emotionally drained.  That was not a good combination to play The Toughie. 

And yep, I couldn't play.

Doesn't help The Toughie already plays well and shouldn't be in my division.

He made comments at the get-go: "we'll definitely need a clicker counter because of my opponent" (implying I would have high runs) and "I don't care if I win or lose"  (really?? then let me win so I can get the top shooter and that coveted trophy no one else cares about!!)

My high run was 5, twice.  He ran 10, 12, 11, 12, 8, etc.  He spanked me 37 to 100.

I tried to stay down, tried to have a smooth stroke, tried to take my time, but I couldn't.  I had no emotional energy, physical tact, or drive.  I was spent.

Even my league director asked me afterwards, "what happened tonight?"

But it's okay, it's just a game, he is suppose to win.

Plus, life experiences make me stronger.  :)  I'm a firm believer in that. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Ten PoolSynergy

The lovely Samm Vidal (previously known as Samm Diep) is this month's PoolSynergy host!  If I had to give her a title, it would be "THE nicest person in pool."  She's a talented, amazing woman and a good, true friend.  The only problem is her topic this month is tough!  Argh!

She wants us pool bloggers of Pool Synergy to list ten things related to pool, and those ten things have to relate to each other. For example, your 10 favorite ???, 10 reasons why you ???, 10 tips on ???, 10 random pool thoughts???, a list of 10 anything pool-related.

WTHeck, Samm!  Give us something easy next time.  Sheesh.

You think it's easy??  Try it.  I dare you.

I struggled with what ten, relate-able things to share.  Well, here it goes:

Top Ten things I Wish I Knew 10-15 Years Ago:

(in random order)

1.  Always think three balls ahead.  Always.  Every shot.  I learned this from my friend Shayla Neris who learned this from her coach.  I am SO glad she passed this on to me so many years ago!

2.  Look at the object ball last.  

3.  Play straight pool.  Your love of pool will go up exponentially.

4.  In order to do well in tournaments, you must play in as many as you can.  Please hear these words.  You cannot learn to handle pressure or learn mental toughness with only a few tournaments a year.  You need conditioning over and over in a tournament environment to give yourself the best chance to gain experience.

5.  It's okay to take lessons.  No one will judge you and your game will improve faster.  ;-)

6.  Follow through with a smooth stroke and keep your head still. I.e. Condition your pre shot routine!  Repeat after me:  Condition your pre shot routine.  Repeat after me again:  Condition your pre shot routine.

7.  You WILL get frustrated with this game.  You will want to quit numerous times.  You wont understand why you can practice so well but not compete in tournaments. It takes experience!

8.  Play in tough-a$$ tournaments when you can.  Advice from my friend Cristina Dela Garza, Get out of your comfort zone - playing against tougher players in different/bigger/tougher environments makes you tougher and gives you amazing experiences for when you play in your other regular tournaments or leagues.

9.  If you focus entirely on your pre shot routine, then that helps your brain from thinking about other things it shouldn't. Try it, you'll like it; I promise.  :)  This was the best mental advice I ever received for overcoming jitters, pressure, embarrassment, un-confidence, and thinking too much while at the table.  Author and friend Phil Capelle taught me this.

10.  Play Your Best.  If you play your best, you give your best effort, then you should not be upset at yourself if you lose.  I learned from Mental Toughness Training for Sports that if I played lazy or didn't give 100%, then I accepted I didn't play my best and this helped me from getting frustrated or depressed about my play. 

Well, I hope some of this helps you (or resonates with you), as it helped me all these years become a seasoned, overall good player. Good luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's Going On in Texas?

Texas is a big state.  Have you heard?  lol

But, that doesn't mean that a lot of tours don't step on each others toes.  Unfortunately.

Let's see what's going on.

Before I continue, let me state that these are my opinions and thoughts only.

The Lone Star Billiards Tour (LST) was formed 2-3 years ago and it held all its stops in Houston.  Led by the great Tournament Director and WPBA player, Kim White, the new tour was a smart move on her part - having a tour that held an event 1-2 times a month in the Houston-area drew lots of players, allowed her to make money from entry fees and a percentage of the calcutta, and provided tournament opportunities for the players.

Houston is HUGE and the number of pool players in that city can afford their own tour, to be honest.

Problem was, even though she tried, some of the events conflicted with the OB Cues Ladies Tour (OBCLT) AND the Fast Eddies Tour (FE Tour).  While that was a main issue in the beginning, it turned out that wasn't the problem.  The problem was, the number of events in Houston a month impacted the outcome of Out-of-Houston Tours.  The distance from Houston to other big cities ranged anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.  Why would the players in Houston go OUT of TOWN for another Tour if they had one in their own backyard several times a month?

And almost just as important as location, the FE tour and the OBCLT could not have a calcuttas.  The fact that the LST could hold calcuttas and the FE tour couldn't, almost automatically caused the LST to receive most of the players.  As I wrote about before, turns out calcuttas are very important to the players and the patrons.  More so than I ever thought.  The FE Tour actually declined so much in attendance, they had to end the Tour in 2010.

And with so many Houston players staying in Houston, both the OBCLT and the FE Tour had lowered attendances.

Further, the WPBA no longer has an incentive for female players to play in regional tours anymore (the OBCLT is a WPBA regional tour).   There are no qualifiers anymore and the Regional Tour Championship has turned into a joke.  Additionally, with the WPBA hardly having any stops, female players see no future to play on the pro tour right now.  If a female player did not want to play on the flailing WPBA, why would they attend the OBCLT stops out of town when there were so many choices IN town each month?  

To top if off,  ANOTHER tour was started in Houston - an Amateur Tour led by Brent Thomas (now called the Tiger Amateur Tour).  This obviously caused some ruffled feathers by the other tour in Houston, but Brent wanted to provide a more open-book tour and also an opportunity for the amateurs to win some money too (Houston has a lot of pros and Master players that dominated the top payouts of the Lone Star Tour).

So, now there's TWO new tours who impacted not just the FE Tour and the OBCLT, but the PLAYERS who play on those tours.

The FE Tour and the OBCLT held stops in Houston.  Well, they used to.  One of the main pool rooms that hosted the OBCLT was holding too many stops for the Lone Star Tour, so they had to stop having stops with the OBCLT.

And when the FE Tour would have a stop at Fast Eddies Billiards in Houston, hardly anyone would show up because they weren't allowed to have calcuttas or their stop was overlapped by one of the other tours with calcuttas.

The Amateur Tour has cut back from 2 stops a month to about one stop a month (so it seems), but it still draws a great turn out of course.  The Lone Star Tour has not only continued with more than one stop a month, Kim has branched out to Austin (and one time to Temple, Texas).  That definitely makes the non-Houston-ites happy to be able to play on a tour again. 

But with the economy so bad, the OBCLT is having a difficult time finding pool rooms to host an event.

And the male players in the big cities of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth can't drive to Houston so many times every month, so they look for smaller independent tournaments that happen to have a tourney every once in a while.

I am happy to see that the two new Houston Tours have gained new sponsors and offers more options to the Houston players.  That means they are working hard.

The two Tours may not realize it, yet, but their competition with each other brings out new ideas and better tours for the players.  The Lone Star Tour now has not only an open, and ladies events, but Kim has added a junior event and an amateur event to her stops.  She also has added a one pocket event, and has not just 9ball, but ten ball and eight ball events.  The Tiger Amateur Tour now has CSI as a sponsor, and they have qualifiers for CSI tournaments. 

The only unfortunate thing I think is going on is there seems there is a new amateur tour run by Kim, separate from the Lone Star Tour.  But I can't quite tell what it is.

Like I said, competition creates new ideas and a better tour, but one shouldn't shoot their own foot for spite, either.

Bottom line, there is no longer an Open Tour that travels throughout Texas.  The bad economy even prevents the two tours in Houston from branching out to other cities to where the TDs would make enough money to travel outside their money-bounds more often.  And why would they when so many pool rooms in Houston hold their events, anyway? 

The OBCLT is still traveling across Texas, but not all pool rooms can always afford the $2,000 guaranteed added money.  And with the WPBA's lack of involvement, what is the draw for the pool rooms?  The ones who host the OBCLT events are mostly the ones who simply love women's pool and want to support it, whether they make money or not.  I.E., the love of the game and women's pool.  However, the OBCLT has a lot going for them - they are well known and are the largest, longest-running women's tour in the country.  Even with two tours in Houston, they are still getting new local players all the time, which is awesome. 

But I admit I liked playing in the women's division on the FE Tour.  I admit I'd love to play in the women's division of the Lone Star Tour.

And what about the male pool players in Texas?  Without a "Texas" tour, there are still a few big tournaments a year in or near Texas, but not enough to satisfy the male players who used to travel all the time once a month or so to compete, test their skills, and try to make money.

Do I have a solution?  Do I have recommendations?  Sure.

I have ideas.  But ideas cost money, and also create a lot of work and time.  ;)

But, if you are thinking of moving to Texas for pool, choose Houston right now.  Even though Houston is the 7th most congested region in the country, you will be in pool competition paradise. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

McEnroe Versus Strickland

I had a chat the other day with my dear friend Mike L. Mike sees things half empty, I see them half full. He would say he see things as they are, not half empty. ;)

He loves picking on me, and I him. My favorite response to him is “WTFever.” LMAO. We have fun with each other.

This one day he says to me, “By the way if I paypal you 10 bucks will you stop using the McEnroe cliche' ?

Why can’t I use him?” I ask back.

Michael:  Because it's apple and oranges.

Me:  Why? Explain it to me, please.

Then I added, “if your explanation changes my mind, ie made sense, then I think I will share that on my blog. I can stand corrected, and have a different perspective, if it convinces me ;)”

Then Mike shares his thoughts on why I should stop saying “what is the big deal about Earls’ “antics”? They are just like John McEnroe’s, and McEnroe didn’t hurt tennis. So why are people complaining?”

Michael: At that time, tennis was one of the biggest sports going. Millions upon millions of people watching. Pool a hundred people watching.

McEnroe had classic “me against him” matches that people followed. Bjorn, Connors etc. Earl not really.

In the media and in promoted tennis, McEnroe had personality and was smart and promoted the game in general with kids and parents etc. Earl does none of that.

Earl attacks everyone in the house. The other player mostly. The fans. And lastly the ref. McEnroe went after the ref. Not the other players, not the fans.

McEnroe gave lots of money to charity. McEnroe gave thousands of corporate outings for the biggest companies in the world. He was sought after by everyone to come to their place to entertain. Earl not so much.

If McEnroe were to get thrown out of a match because of his antics with the ref, a hundred million dollars could be lost from advertisers and networks. If Earl gets tossed, nothing is lost.

In every way, McEnroe was way more important to tennis than Earl. And as a smart guy, he promoted the hell out of the sport. Earl, uh, no.

Me: I differ on one fact. Brad Gilbert talks about McEnroe giving players hell, tho.

Michael:Quite possibly. But you didn't see it on tv in every single match.

Me: True

Michael:Two entirely different situations. Pool is a street game that needs help with building it up. Tennis was accepted and one guy came along and was different and grew the sport all by himself.
McEnroe had charisma.

They both won U.S. Opens, though. And both were the best at what they did at their time. That's all I can see.

Me:  hmmm.

You are saying McEnroe grew the sport himself, even though it was already accepted?

Michael: I'm saying he grew the sport because he brought in a lot more people because of him and his personality and the rivalries that were created. Before him it wasn't as colorful as sport. More country club white clothes sort of thing. He changed tennis. Even if he was personally an a$$ on the court with refs and sometimes players, he overcame it by being smart and charismatic and by endlessly promoting the sport. Promoting the sport may be the biggest single thing pool culture doesn't get. For some unknown reason Pool Pros think they need to get paid to lift a finger to help the game they benefit from.

Me:  Doesn't Earl ask to be paid for his appearances? I know he gets paid for them.

Michael: Sure.

His appearances get a low turnout though. What do you suppose McEnroe would have drawn if he showed up at a regional tennis tournament? Even now?

People still pay good money to watch a 50 something McEnroe play a 50 something someone else. Don’t think you can compare the two.

McEnroe was one of top 10 most well known people in the world. You can’t find 10 people in your local league who even know who Earl Strickland is.

So compare Earl with someone from curling or something.

Me:  lol. WTFever.

Michael: End of rant. Really the bottom line is here: McEnroe draws thousands, Earl draws 10.

Me: But if pool was mainstream like tennis?

Michael: But it isn't. Pool is a game. People aren't interested. Pool people gotta get that out of their head. There is no demand for professional pool. And I know you don't believe it but it's worse because of people like Earl. Apples and oranges.

Me:  Apples. Oranges

Michael: You create popularity for a game by hard work. And the people who are going to benefit should be doing most of the promoting work. In this case they won't.

And then the people doing the work have to have great charisma. Then it has to be interesting for a spectrum of people to watch. Then people need to want to buy tickets. Sports like football, tennis etc have all passed that test. Pool, no. So it's not comparable.

Me:  That’s why Jeanette Lee is famous. She can work a crowd. Just like John Schmidt can work a crowd.

Michael: Pool has a bad case of not knowing what they don't know.

Me:  Apples. Oranges.  But Earl still is one of the greatest rotation players of all time. You can't take that away from him.  :)

Michael: Very True.

Mike makes a lot of good points, and now I understand why he doesn't think I should compare Earl's and McEnroe's "antics."   Hey Mike, I'll take that $10 via paypal now.  ;)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hand Made Glove

I always like going to the 24 hour pool room to watch my boyfriend gamble.  Last night he played for 10 hours straight.  We came up winner this time, which always feels good.  He played real good and was ahead right away but then it went back and forth before finally winning the final set ten hours later.

They played from 430pm to 130am.  When we first arrived at the pool room, only a few tables were taken by the afternoon delights who wanted to get out of the heat and spend some quality time with their friends.  Come 9pm to midnight, tho, the crowd certainly changed from the day weenies to the "let's go out and get drunk and let me show you I can play pool" crowd.

But, I don't mind the clientele at all and usually I find some photo opportunity for my blog.  ;)

Tonight was no exception.  The guys to the left of my boyfriends' table were kinda oblivious to the match next to them.  One of our friends tried to explain to them to be aware if they get in the way because they were gambling next to them.



"For Money?"


"Like how much?"

"A few hundred."

"No Way!"

"Yes... "

So, they tried to stay out of the way after that.  But then one guy caught my eye.  He was using a napkin in his bridge hand!

To some people they may laugh at the guy, but not I.  I was impressed!  Here is this weekend warrior that recognized the house cue was sticky and the cue would flow better through his hands if he used a napkin.

I grabbed my phone to snap a few photos to capture this smart guy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learning From APA

Yes, folks.  This die-hard-BCA-only league player has joined an APA league. I joke now, "I went to the dark side."  lol.

Actually, it's not so bad.  It's a Master APA League.  We play one person each Sunday evening on a team of three.

It's a weird race - whoever gets 7 wins first, wins.  You have your choice to play 8ball or 9ball.  But, there are only 5 games of 8ball and 7 games of 9ball.  So, most of the time you have to play both 9ball and 8ball to get the 7 total wins in.
So, what am I learning, you ask?  What am I learning from APA?

Well, to be fair, I'm not technically learning from the APA itself, but I AM learning something about myself and others by being on this APA Team.

My team captain has always been an acquaintance, not a friend per se, but now I feel like she is a friend.  We have spent just a few Sunday evenings together and already I know her better through great talks and sharing.

I have written about this woman before, but as a competitor.  I stated she was tough to play because she's intimidating and also vocal.  When she misses a shot or safe she talks out loud ("way to give it up") or to her opponent ("there ya go, all open").

I mentioned in a previous blog that I felt she turns up the heat so much, if she could squeeze your balls while she played against you, she would.  She's that's intimidating.

Turns out, tho, not only is she a great woman, she really IS that way.  She told me when she plays guys she turns up the competitive factor.  She even stated she figuratively thinks to herself she wants to rub her opponents d1ck in the dirt.  I kid you not.  She shared with me she once put something that looked like the male anatomy in a shoe box with dirt around it as "inspiration" for her teammates and to alarm their opponents one time ina big league tournament.  To hear her describe this "show and tell" was hysterical!

But, I have also seen another side to her.  Yes, she's aggressive and intimidating on the table, but she is also a mother, a great wife, and a good friend to a lot of people.  I can also tell she gets a tad bit embarrassed when she misses, stating out loud "big dummy, you hit that bad."  I recognize that most people do that as a defense mechanism, and even though she is intimidating, it doesn't mean she doesn't feel any different.

I've so much enjoyed being around her.  Getting to know about her kids, her great husband, and to see her kindness for her dear friends.

Although she can be tough to fade if she's not on your team (she cheers loudly for her teammates' good shots "nice shot!" or she can be kinda rough when she talks about an opponent "he wont get out") but otherwise, it's a completely different scenario for me to be around - a woman with a vocal killer instinct.

Being around someone with such a hard killer instinct is something in of itself.  I will continue to learn little tidbits from my new friend.  :)  Obviously it wont be as extreme as her thinking, but my soft side and too-nice attitude could use a little toughening up and in this APA league I may be the little grasshopper.  :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bantering at League

I went to a league match on Monday night to watch my b/f play in his new league.  I know most of the guys on his team, but one guy I just recently met (Big Billy) and two more I hadn't hung out with before.  Turns out they are a pretty lively group of guys.  So, even though I was kinda a newbie, they made me feel right at home by joking with me and being funny. 

Two of the five teammates are super quiet and the other three (including my b/f) are really funny.  I noticed right away they bantered with each other and they would playfully make fun of each other.  We laughed a lot!

I helped them out by taking score and sat there with a few beers and laughed for a couple of hours along side them.

At one point, the other team subbed a guy in, named Luiz.  He lived life to the fullest, smiling a lot, high-fiving and yelling out after great shots for not just his own teammates but his opponents, as well.  He made quite an impression on all of us.

Our team was winning 9-0 (it's a real strong team) and my b/f had to play Luiz.  Btw, Luiz has only one arm.  He also didn't have his own cue and used a house cue.

As my b/f is running out, one of the balls skids on him and Luiz gets to the table with a tough 4 ball out in front of him.

As Luiz is taking his time one shot at a time, one handed, one of the funny guys on our team (Big Billy) leans over and tells me, "If your b/f loses this game, I'm gonna give him a lot of $hit."

I giggled to myself, thinking my b/f would get a kick out of it because they all take $hit from each other. 

So Luiz continues his tough run and gets out.  After Luiz wins, he's yelling and shouting and high fiving my b/f (even gave him a hug, lol). 

And I'm sitting there ready for the banter!  I'm ready to hear Big Billy's funny remarks to my b/f!

Well, BB doesn't say any thing to him. 


So I piped up and get bold and say to him, "I can't believe you lost to a guy who plays with a house cue."

"Shut up" he says quickly to me as we both laugh.

I hoped that would allow BB to pipe up next.  But, he didn't!

Then I felt a little funny, bantering all alone, lol.

After a few games, BB sat next to me and I asked him, "um, I thought you were going to pick on him for losing?"

He quickly replies, "I can't do that yet.  I haven't played Luiz.  If I make fun of him now, and then I lose, he's going to give it back to me worse!"  LMAO.

Good point!


They are smart banterers!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Two Stroke, No Joke

I played in a scotch doubles tournament with my boyfriend two Saturdays ago.  Yep, we were suppose to win it.  Yep, we did.  :)

Race to two 8ball on bar tables is brutal, but we only had 2-3 hill hill matches. 

We played really, really well together again and we both played smart.  It's pretty cool to be able to talk about shots before and after without judgement or criticism.  He doesn't ever say anything rude - he words suggestions well.  It also helps that I am accepting to talk about run options, I admit.  :) 

After the scotch doubles finals, we were able to make it in time to play at our regular weekly Saturday night 8ball tourney.  I was playing well still but every once in a while I would miss a critical shot.

My boyfriend told me after a tough miss, "you just two stroked that shot."

"What?  Really?  I didn't think I had at all."

I was very surprised when two games later he said it again, "you two stroke that shot, too."

OMG!  I had no idea.  I hadn't even realized I was doing that!

So I started to take a few more strokes on my shots.  Obviously, I do not have a solid pre shot routine because sometimes I stroke several times and other times I two stroke it. 

Once I started to take my time on my shots, I of course made more balls.  I am now trying to do that more and it has been very helpful.

Also - allowing my body to be still while stroking the cueball feels amazing.  It truly is a euphoric feeling.  Have you felt that?  Have you felt how awesome it feels to NOT move anything but your arm until the ball drops in the pocket?  Have you felt the euphoric feeling, too? 

I hate to ask that, but I promise you I didn't feel that for the first time until about 3 years ago.  And I have been playing for 20 years. 

So, staying down, smooth stroke, taking my time, looking at the object last, is a very complicated process that (imo) is tough to repeat every shot.  But if you can muster it even half of the time, you WILL see results.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Surprising Straight Pool Match

I played my 4th straight pool match of the season on Saturday afternoon (July 30) at 3pm.

I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before (played poker late) and also had a lot on my mind, which kept me from going back to sleep when I woke up Saturday morning.  The mind is very selfish and is a rude conjurer.  So, sometimes I can't turn my brain off.  :(

I know in my heart I am playing well right now (which feels great, btw) but it doesn't mean I still show up every time I play pool.  But, I know after a few tough months (maybe I was in a rut?) that I am now CAPABLE of playing well.  But with lack of sleep and too much crap on my mind, how would I play?

I played a new guy and so I didn't know how to gauge him before hand, lol. 

He was a tall slender, older man, with white-ish hair.  For his age, he stood very tall and didn't slouch at all.  He moved around the table like a cat, too.  He was slick, calm, collected, and confident. 

He made some "funny" comments in the very beginning of the match that rubbed me the wrong way, but since I didn't know him I wasn't sure if it was dry humor or if he was really kinda rude.  I just dismissed the comments and didn't want to worry about them.

I lost the lag, scratched on the break, and was down -1 right off the bat.  He missed his first shot, but left the cueball in the stack.  I was so nervous he was going to respond rudely to me if I fouled, that I barely hit the cueball and barely touched the five ball I was trying to make.  I sat down and merrily and embarrassingly said, "At least I hit it."

But then he tells me "you didn't hit a rail."  I sat in my chair kinda confused, trying to rewind in my mind what just happened.  Indeed he was correct, and so I was down -2.  He then tells me, "I want you to go backwards."  He said it without smiling or laughing.  Again, was that dry humor or was he being rude? 

He then ran 15.  Ouch.  -2 to 15.

He played good though.  Got out well, shot well, made balls well. 

Then I made two balls and he ran another 9.  Down 0-24.

I was able to run 8 and now I'm only a 3rd down (because it's now 8 to 24). 

I then ran 6 and I'm only down ten (15 to 25).  Whew!  BUT.... he returned with a 20 ball run!  Twenty!  Major ouch!  I'm now down 15 to 45.  :(

Holy cow. 

I make 5; then 3; and miss.  It wasn't my first miss, but that one pissed me off.  I kept leaving shots for him and it frustrated me to no end because how can I catch up if I keep missing AND leave him a shot with wide open tables?  Ugh!  As I went to the bathroom to wash my hands (it was sticky in the pool room and I had to wash my hands several times) I pumped my fist in anger. I was mad.

When I came back, he ran 7.  Down 26 to 53. 

I don't know why I wasn't nervous or felt pressure to be down so much.

At this point I tell myself to just play well when I get a chance at the table.  I may not win, but I am going to fight (dang it!) and not give up.  I tell myself also to focus on staying down on my shots.  Take my time, like I had been in the past few weeks that helped me climb out of my rut.

He goes for a risky side pocket shot from the stack and misses and leaves a wide open table. I don't know why he risked that.  Not sure - I guess he thought for sure it would go, but such a risky shot no matter how far ahead is not good, imo.

I then run 16.  ME!  Not him.  Down only 42 to 65.  I feel a little relieved.  I'm not gonna lose badly, lol.

I look over at my boyfriend and smile real big and mouthed "sixteen" as he smiles back.

But my opponent makes another little run and goes up 45 to 75.  I can't believe it!  But, if I keep missing and also leaving shots, then it makes sense, right?

Then I make a few balls and also have a little run of 6 and I'm down only 53-78. 

At this point, I figure out how many racks he will need to win.  He needs 22 points, so that's at least two racks.  I tell myself to just try to keep picking away at balls to slow him down from reaching 100.  My goal now is strictly PREVENTION.  Try to prevent him as long as I can from reaching 100 by taking away enough balls in each rack to force another rack.

I then run 15.  Score 69 to 81.

Then I run 3, then 5, while he scratches a couple of times or only runs two balls at a time.  I play safe by hitting the side of the rack and I tell him, "That's a foul. I didn't hit a rail."

He was so immersed at the score sheet, he didn't reply to my comment.  Instead he tells me matter-of-factly while he puts down his pen, "well, now you are ahead.  I was winning by a lot, but now you are ahead by one."

Score 81 to 80.  Me. 


Really?  I'm ahead!?

I didn't show my excitement to him and instead I reminded him dryly, "I didn't hit a rail."

He replies, "I thought you did."

He walks to the table for his shot, and I look at the ball layout and *know* I didn't hit a rail.  I tell him, "I'm taking a point off, I didn't hit a rail."

He replies to me pretty perturbed, "whatever you want to do."

Really?  Well, I want to take the foul, buddy.

I again look over at my boyfriend and smile with HUGE excitement and mouthed "score tied" but of course he has no idea what I am trying to say, lol.  Still, I'm ECSTATIC!

My opponent plays safe.  I make two balls but then scratch.  He runs 6.  Dang it - he's getting closer to 100.  Down 80 to 86.

He plays safe but accidentally leaves me a shot and says out loud, "that wasn't very safe."  And, it wasn't - I got a shot and then run 11.

Eeeek!  I'm up 92 to 86.

He counters with a 7 ball run but misses a tricky shot right before the break out.  He has left a great break out ball for me (which would have been perfect for him, obviously).  I manage to make the break ball nicely (I swear I didn't feel nervous or pressure for some reason, and I only concentrated on making the ball) and I opened the stack and ran 8 to win 100-93.

OMG!  Really?  I was down 45 to 75 and somehow just won?  WOW!

I wash my hands and when I get back my boyfriend tells me, "He just told me he's mad, because he was ahead by so much and ended up losing."

I am very proud of myself for not letting my emotions completely ruin the match.  I got upset at times and frustrated with myself, but I also convinced myself to just play well when I got to the table.  I didn't play catch up or felt pressure at any time, which I don't know why but it felt good.  I think just accepting I might lose but to also remind myself to play well when I could get to the table, kept the pressure from building.  For some reason I remained calm and was never nervous or scared to lose.  Embarrassment never entered my body, either.

I am trying to explain what happened, but I'm not really sure I am doing a good job, lol.  But, in 2 of the last 4 matches, I had been down by 30 and came back and won with the same attitude - I cared about playing well, even tho I was down.  Trying TOO hard to overcome a deficit is a detriment to my game.  But that is difficult to control or remember in the midst of battle.  I admit I was lucky tho, I just wanted to FEEL my body playing well.  There is no better feeling than staying still while shooting balls in.  I yearned for that feeling so badly, I just started to concentrate on that instead of the score or how much I wanted to win. 

Damn I wish I would have done that my first match when I lost 100-97, then I'd be 4-0 right now in my stats instead of 3-1.  Ugh!