Houston Hold ‘Em!

Doing my aunty duties while kicking back some ice cold Pellegrino’s! They’re all smiles here because they’re winning but one of them ends up in tears more often than not!

We’re finishing dinner when Derek innocently cocks his head and shoots me a look of disappointment and confusion, demanding to know “Why have you not started writing your book?”  Sneak attack of guilt and accountability from a pint-sized tyrant.  Damn, he’s good.  I stammer a non-response, because I don’t have one.  Love, tough and otherwise, coming from my most likely chance to play grandmother(aunty).

I return the favor by teaching Brayden (7) and Derek (5) Texas Hold ‘Em played with HEB Buddy Bucks, another form of sanctioned gambling (slot machines) at perhaps, the best grocery chain EVER.  (When in Texas…play Hold ‘Em and shop at HEB!)  It’s time for them to learn the hard lessons in life through good ole card playing:

  • You win some, you lose some so have fun playing!
  • How to lose (and win) graciously (i.e., manage your emotions or people won’t enjoy being around you and adults will take away your dessert privileges)
  • How little control we have in life
  • Don’t bet more than you’re comfortable losing
  • How to bluff
  • How to call bluffs
  • When to hold ’em
  • When to fold ’em
  • Never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table
  • And every other lyric in the Gambler (thanks, Kenny Rogers!)

They are going to grow up to be major gamblers (fingers crossed…Vegas, here we come Rain Man-style!).  Last year, my dad taught them how to play Solitaire with the house paying out at 5 cents a card.  About the same age he taught me, and I turned out fine, right?  …Right?!

Just finished up another weeklong cameo as part-time soccer mom with my mom.  I remarked to her that our schedules seemed to be dominated by the little dictators and she happily agreed: “Yeah!  I come to Houston to serve the dictators!”  Ah, grandparent love!…what a beautiful selfless thing that I miss so much!

Even though I’m out of SF and in a (numbingly) calm environment now, I’ve been battling old symptoms of blurry vision, dizziness, and palpitations and their attendant fears of mortality, which probably compound their effects.  Last year, I got an MRI in Abu Dhabi and went to a slew of neurologists and ophthalmologists, who all admitted we understand so little of the brain and attributed the symptoms to anxiety.

What I realize is that even though things are calmer now, I’m likely dealing with some PTSD.  It’s often only after trauma passes (and we hit the “P’in PTSD) that we really start the healing process.  I might not understand or feel anxiety, but my body could be following a very different process and timeline than my emotions and thoughts.  It’s frustrating but it’s important for the various healing processes to run their courses: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual flows.

It’s been a lot of identity shifting in the last few months:

  • Queer lube wrestling producer / promoter in SF –>
  • Funemployed slacker in SF –>
  • Recovering islander in Hawaii –>
  • Preparing nomad in SF –>
  • Crazy Aunt Nic in Houston –>
  • Analog nomad, a role I played for 3 years and find myself in again.  I’m a little older, a little more weathered physically (and every other way).  As Britney Spears would say: “I’m not a spring chicken, not yet a summer chicken” (hopefully?).

I’m a little wary, because I’m planning physically demanding activities in Patagonia and have been struggling with various ailments (aforementioned symptoms, sprained wrist, and rotator cuff tendonitis).  I’m also nervous since it’s been awhile since I’ve taught yoga and dived with sharks.  And I regularly worry about my ability to find a decently paying job as I get older and have been out of the work force for so long.

So, yeah, I got some stress (on top of processing the best friendship fallout).  I’m grateful that these are first-world problems, but I don’t feel ashamed or guilty about my life decisions or the privileges I’ve been afforded through luck and hard work.  To paraphrase “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” we are wired to have problems, so it’s more a matter of choosing which problems to focus on, and these are pretty good.

So, I hope this leg of the no plan plan personal journey teaches me to…

Know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

Know when to fly away…



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