Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

My First Haters

May 31, 2010

 

I’ve always been opinionated, and I’m not shy about expressing my opinions, whether in a real-life discussion or on my blog.  I suppose it was inevitable, therefore, that some of my posts would rub some people the wrong way.

That doesn’t bother me.  I’m all for spirited debate.  Except . . . I haven’t gotten any.

It seems some of the people who disliked my posts, in particular the one about men, or the one about celebrity divorce settlements, chose not to post comments on my blog.  They also chose not to debate me on Twitter or Facebook, where I usually post my newest blog posts.

What they did choose to do was make cowardly ad hominem attacks on Twitter.

I’ve gotten one or two “you’re divorced, right? figures” comments on this blog.  I haven’t thought much of them.  What exactly does it figure?  Figures that I, a divorced woman, would be interested in the subject of divorce? 

Or does it “figure” that I’m divorced because I’m a bitter, unlovable hag, as evidenced by my writing and my opinions?

Apparently I’m supposed to believe the latter.

Sorry, but no.  Anyone else who wants to believe that about me, believe away.  And feel free to believe, based on a few blog posts and tweets, that you know all you need to know about my marriage and my divorce.  As long as I write about divorce and custody issues, I guess it’s understandable that people would try to construct a story about my own divorce.  Until and unless I choose to publish my divorce story, good luck with that.

I’m just disappointed that the people in question chose to resort to personal attacks, instead of making rational counter-arguments to the positions with which they disagreed. 

In the end, though, I’m pleased that people are reading and reacting to what I write.  Thanks to everyone who visits my blog and read my posts.  Whether you agree or disagree, I appreciate your readership. 

I do not, however, tolerate personal attacks, on me or any of my commenters.  As long as you keep it respectful, debate away.

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Zen and the Art of Blackberry Poker

April 8, 2009

 

A couple of years ago, I attended a poker night for professional women – an educational, networking and team-building event sponsored by a friend’s law firm.  The event was based on the theory that poker teaches essential business skills that can be difficult for women to master – such as reading the competition, being aggressive and learning how to take risk at the appropriate time.  We were given poker lessons by a leading professional woman poker player, received a stack of chips, and played rounds of poker for fun.

 

As an attorney, I consider myself to be a tough negotiator who is good at reading a competitive situation. That night, I bet small, folded often, and lost all my chips fairly early in the evening.  I had neither the stamina nor the interest to keep playing round after round until there was a final winner.  But I refused to believe this was due to some innate deficiency I had as a woman.  I chalked it up to an abundance of good wine and good sushi, and a complete lack of knowledge about poker.

 

Still, the idea that most women are not naturally aggressive, calculated risk-takers stuck with me.  So when I saw that my new Blackberry came with a Texas Hold ‘Em game, I was determined to test out the theory and prove it wrong.

 

The first few games were meaningless – I lost money while I familiarized myself once again with the basic rules of poker, learning the hard way that a flush beats a straight, a high straight beats a low one.  Once I got that down, it wasn’t too hard to figure out, at the margins, when to hold and when to fold. 

 

When to bet and how much to bet, was a bigger challenge.  Frequently, I would find myself with great cards, but the courage to bet only a small amount.  I was constantly afraid of losing all my money, although it wasn’t real money.  Sometimes, my ego would trap me into staying in the game, even when I knew I had no chance of winning.

 

Unconsciously, I found myself replaying patterns that played themselves out in my life as well.  Lacking the courage to take bigger risks, staying in a bad situation because I was already in it. . . . I played round after round, losing it all over and over again, with increased frustration because I just couldn’t seem to figure it out.

 

My daughter showed no interest in my new poker fascination, but my son took to it instantly.  He watched me play a couple of hands and then offered some advice.

 

“Mom, what you should do, is bet a lot of money sometimes, to scare them off.”

 

My son is 7.  He had never played poker before seeing my Blackberry game. But his instincts was dead-on.  I was amazed that he seemed to have an intuitive sense of the game, and knew what I needed to do to prevail.

 

The gender theories were being proven right in front of me.  My son had suggested that I bluff, make aggressive moves and take risks as strategies to succeed.  I hadn’t even attempted to bluff.  I strictly played the cards, and lost hand after hand, round after round.  My son got bored watching me and went back to playing his Nintendo DS games, where he could be much more of a risk-taker than his Mom was willing to be.

 

I learned that the poker instructor really had been right – the cards were not the end point; they were the starting point to figuring out what you needed to do.  The cards merely informed your decision.  Each time, you had to take a chance that either your cards would either beat everyone else’s cards, or your betting would intimidate people with better cards into making unwise choices, like folding instead of holding.  Sometimes, a perfectly rational decision resulted in a loss; other times, a riskier decision resulted in a huge win. The subtleties of when to stay in the game and when to get out were a lot tougher to master than the broad strokes of understanding that three of a kind beats two pairs.

 

Finally, I had a breakthrough.  I was in a battle, with $14,000 to my virtual opponent’s $2,500.  I had a hand that I knew should be a winner, but I nearly convinced myself to fold.  I worried that I would be down by a substantial amount if I lost — despite the fact that I would still enjoy a huge advantage over my virtual opponent.  And yes, I actually worried about this – to the point I had to shut down the game and walk away from it for a couple of hours.

  

I told myself I was being ridiculous.  I kept reminding myself it wasn’t real money.  It was a stupid Blackberry game.  In real life, I would be no poorer either way (except for the time lost spent playing Blackberry poker). 

 

I had to close my eyes to place the bet.  When I opened them, I discovered I had won.  The game told me I needed to go to a higher stakes table.  I felt as if I had actually won nearly $20,000.

 

I am hardly a poker master now, but I am now sitting on a bankroll of $32,000 virtual dollars.  I draw it down in $500 increments, and I use the game to practice bluffing and taking calculated risks.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I take none of it personally. 

 

I don’t think I would be able to stomach playing poker with real money – I would wind up thinking of each pot lost in terms of my kids’ college fund.  But learning not to be afraid to take calculated risks, and to keep on trying if I lose, are important real-life lessons.  If a silly Blackberry game can improve my ability to do both, it will have been well worth my time.

 

A version of this post was originally published on NYC Moms Blog.

Make Me Laugh

March 28, 2009

A post on the blog White Hot Truth  made me start thinking about my own positively soul-sustaining must-haves — especially in my relationships with others, whether they’re friends, possible partners, or anything in between.  Number one for me is humor.  I love to laugh and to make other people laugh.  I sometimes think I have the soul of a 12-year-old boy, because I am a big fan of double entendres, and I can find sexual innuendo in almost anything.  Or maybe that means I was British in a past life. 

Throughout my life, my best friends have all been people who “got” my sense of humor.  My best relationships have also been with men who laughed at my jokes.  I have always been attracted to men I found funny, but I never used to demand that they find me funny in return.  I used to think it was enough for them to have a sense of humor, whether or not they thought I had one.  During my marriage, I discovered how wrong I was. 

My ex-husband remains one of the funniest men I’ve ever met.  (His late brother Charles was even funnier.)  His dry wit drew me in from the first moment we met.  I used to work overtime to try to make him laugh in return, with varying degrees of success.   At times, I’m sure I tried way too hard.  One of the most hurtful things he ever said to me was, “You have no sense of humor at all.”  It was hardly the cruelest thing he ever said to me, but it cut me deep.  I stopped trying to make him laugh.  And when I lost interest in that, I lost interest, period.  I recognize now that not only do I need for my partner to be funny, I need him to think I’m funny, too.

I think the value of humor in business is severely underrated.  In some of the most productive business meetings I’ve ever run, or participated in, humor was used to get the participants to relax.  Once relaxed, they were more willing to contribute their ideas and agree on action plans.  The same is true for negotiations.  Although most contract negotiations are tense and stressful, I’ve been most successful when one or both parties used humor to relieve some of that tension, which enabled us to discuss our differences in a principled manner and work hard to find a common basis for agreement.

Humor isn’t the only thing I need, but I can’t be happy or satisfied without it.

The Look

March 9, 2009

Last week, as I was walking to my office, I passed a woman on the street. She reminded me of myself – black woman, about my age, dressed for a professional, office-type job. As we passed each other, we exchanged smiles, and then she gave me The Look.

No, not the “who is this bitch?” look. That’s the look I used to get in my twenties and early thirties (and still get on occasion) – the look that inspired that song by Klymaxx, “The Men All Pause.” Klymaxx didn’t say it, but when you look good enough to make the men all pause, the women all pause, too, but they want to fill your heart with daggers and empty it of blood.

This Look is a new look, a different look. It’s a look of camaraderie, of kinship, of fellowship, of acknowledgement that you’re a worthy member of a certain club. I’m not sure what the “club” is. Sometimes, it seems to be the “women of a certain age” club. Other times, it seems to be the “women doing the damn thing” club. Whatever club it is that I’ve joined, our members know each other. And it’s not just a black thing. I’ve exchanged The Look with women of all races. The Look is a look of support, of friendship, of “you go girl” and “we’ve got your back.” And it is wonderful. (more…)