This was my first Scrabble blog. Though I had already played in three previous tournaments, and though I had started blogging about my Starbucking adventures in 2002, it did not occur to me to blog about Scrabble until Lubbock. Actually, until after Lubbock. I did not go into the event thinking I would blog, and I took no notes. Actually, I couldn't have, because at the time I did not have a laptop. YES, IT'S TRUE--I WAS WITHOUT A LAPTOP!!! Mine had been stolen out of my car in Montreal in 2000, and because of my financial difficulties I had just been using the computers at work and at the house in Houston.
No title--hadn't occurred to me yet.
Overburdeningly tedious detail. In fact, Bruce Shuman e-mailed me afterwards and asked why. I'm not sure what I replied, but I do know that the style was simply a carryover from the way that I had being doing my Starbucks blogs, and that was to treat them as actual "logs", like a computer log, of every event that transpired.
"But having worked about 70 hours since the previous Friday..."
So glad I don't do that anymore.
"I managed to schedule a tentative appointment with a masseuse off I-20 just inside Ft. Worth."
This has to have been Hannah, based on the general location. But I can actually check this in my financial log...
Well, actually, it was someone named Barb, and I remember that appointment really well. However, as vivid as the memories of the actual massage are, I have no memory whatsoever that the appointment was the same day as my drive to Lubbock. But I trust my database over my memory.
"My StreetFinder ends at the airport, and my EasyFinder does not contain enough detail..."
Wow, that takes me back, to those laptopless days when I navigated with an actual atlas and maps printed from the Internet.
"... I now I had additional stress, DFW traffic stress, to add to my having-missed-Starbucks disappointment and my must-win-this-tournament anxiety."
No idea why I felt I needed to win that tournament.
"...I doubted I would arrive at Starbucks by 10:00 PM to meet any Scrabblers that might take me up on my offer of a few games."
CGP was, and still is, useful--too bad it's run by someone who doesn't respect freedom of expression.
"Specifically, no Burger King, which is my usual fast food choice when I'm on the road and in a hurry."
NASTY!!! This was before the Carl's Junior incident (search for "Nasty As It Wants to Be") that prompted my decision to abandon fast food burgers.
"I put in a to-go order for a burger and fries and a Coke (in a can!!!)"
Lots of anecdotes throughout my blogs about seeking canned sodas, but only when I don't have my supply of Tradewinds.
"I didn't tip. I don't tip for to-go orders..."
Feelings haven't changed.
"... the only town of note I passed was Anson, whose name reminds me of Ansion, the planet where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker..."
As my blogging progressed, I would tend towards not explaining my references, leaving them as puzzles for the reader.
"...so I could alternate between studying and reading Mrs. Dalloway for the next hour."
I didn't really enjoy the novel, but I plowed through it in anticipation of the film "The Hours".
"At midnight, one of the baristas uttered the overused "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here"..."
This is an old expression, but coming from a young person, it's probably a Semisonic reference.
"So I drove behind the build and parked behind a delivery truck belonging to some pizzeria next to the Kinko's."
Up until this blog, I don't think any of the Scrabblers realized that I slept in my car during tournaments, unless they had stumbled across my Starbucks blogs. During the event Bruce Shuman asked me where I was staying, and I just fudged the answer, "nearby" or something like that.
"I got a couple of hours sleep I think, but both times I got up to answer the call, as I was getting back in my car this guy in a white pickup would pull up to the back of the business next door and go inside."
This was before I realized I could stay in the car to kiwi by using a cup.
"I slept there most of the night, but later moved to the parking lot where the Starbucks was located. Not sure why."
My technique for finding safe places to park was much less refined back then.
"For the first time in my compitetive Scrabble lifetime, I had gotten enough sleep before a tournament. I got up around 8:00 feeling refreshed, ready to go, and for once, with plenty of time to spare. The DoubleShot helped."
I'm probably going to be displeased with much of my early prose, but I think I like this particular paragraph.
"I spotted one Lubbock Police Department car southbound, but I guess he wasn't worried about my 80 so early in the morning."
What a difference 7 years makes. Today I would not drive that fast on a highway I didn't know unless I was in a genuine hurry.
"I wanted to bring a couple back for office pets, but I didn't want to risk the fine."
I thought this didn't start until later, but I guess I must have realized right away that I wasn't going to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Maybe it started in my Starbucking blogs--not sure.
"Now comes the odd part. As I was talking my photos, some guy in an old beat-up car drove past the colony to the end of the dirt road and turn around, then parked right next to the colony, as if waiting for something. I figured he was just watching to make sure I didn't step over the wall. But when I went back to my car, another guy, in a bright red pickup this time, drove by me slowly and waved. Now why would there be two such "guards" on a Saturday morning. Hmmm. I started to wonder if this wasn't a local pick-up spot for homosexual activities. Then a golf ball came out of nowhere and bounced in front of me, and I noticed the practice range. I kept the golf ball. I left the park, and saw yet another creepy-looking guy sitting at a bench, and wondered what he was doing there. I guess I'll never know."
I still don't know.
"The biscuits were okay, but the home fries weren't the style I like, and the juice was... Minute Maid."
I'm surprised by this. I thought by 2003 I was well enough into my love for good orange juice that I had already started ordering most of my breakfasts to go so I could wash it down with decent juice (from a grocery store, usually).
"I went back to the Starbucks for another dose before heading to the tournament..."
Whoa--another coffee, after a DoubleShot? I thought I had already cut down on the coffee by then.
"Inside most of my Dallas peeps were already there--Mary, Bryan aka B-Dog..."
A reference to a photo of a special Scrabble tile arrangement I made for his birthday.
"I registered as ZXQKJ and had to explain to Dee that my name had been changed in the database, because she had an old ratings list."
I think it started out as XYZ.
"I found a spot across from Hugh and decline a game so I could resume studying. Wanted to cram every last possible work into my brain."
Early on, I was studying like a fiend.
"...I was disappointed that I did not see any of the younger cuties from the first two tournaments, one in particular whom I was hoping to put the moves on, even as I administered an ass-whupping as revenge for our game in Salado."
This might have been Becky Dyer.
"We began play maybe around 12:30."
Lame. I would never write a one-sentence paragraph like that today.
"My first game, against Robin Bowles..."
I have no memory of this person.
"My first game, against Robin Bowles, who turned out to be male, was a true squeaker. After losing a lot of ground while looking for a bingo, and losing even more ground when I challenged PRICY, I found myself over 100 points down. I abandoned my plans to bingo and just started playing for points, and amazingly enough caught up by the final turn. I ended up winning in part because Robin had miscalculated my score, giving me 20 fewer points. He thought he had a comfortable lead and didn't spend too much time trying to squeeze out every last point. So when we recalculated the scores, on my turn with me holding one tile, I could see his heart sink as the scores came out even, and he knew that my going out, which I did, would win me the game."
As I reread this, I realize that my descriptions of those early Div 3 and Div 2 games are going to sound ridiculous, because my opponents and myself did things that just seem stupid from an expert's perspective.
"...combined with a couple of successful challenges of 3s, which surprised me (DAX and ECO)"
As I said before.
"But this lady had some knowledge, playing words like EMIC and IXIA and BIOTA."
Oh, yeah, AWESOME word knowledge.
"...but I had to then rush across the parking lot to the Wally Mart..."
I don't think this is my first use of this nickname for Wal-Mart.
"... because I was thoroughly Savadged by Gertrude in game 6."
I assume most people figured out what Gertie's last name was, even in the days before cross-tables and tournament results online.
"I ran into Pat Sanchez out in the lobby checking into her room, and asked if the guys had dinner plans. Since I wasn't driving anywhere for the night like my last two tournaments, I actually had time to socialize. She told me where to find Bruce Shuman and Michael Chitwood, and I went up to their room to see what plans. Michael was planning to bring something back and watch the Mavericks, so I suggested to Bruce that I go to Kinko's and try to find some soul food, southern, or home style cooking, which sounded good to him."
Wow, it sounds so quaint that I was actually actively trying to hang out with people. And it sounds ridiculous that I didn't have a laptop.
"So I then suggested the County Line, which had the steak Pat wanted."
I'm still not sure if this County Line was affiliated with the well-known one in Austin.
"The food was good, and Melissa the waitress was rather lovely, and quite congenital..."
I learned this gag back in high school.
"... even though she wouldn't give me permission to take a peacock home."
Again, just writing whatever came to mind, regardless of it was strictly "true" in our "reality" (everything is true somewhere).
"Do peacocks coo soothingly?"
I still don't know.
"And he seemed genuinely interested in the Scrabble tournament."
I doubt this. I probably misread his expression, because nobody outside the Scrabble scene truly cares about Scrabble.
"Wallace Schultz is his name, though I dubbed him the Wally Champ, a reference to a member of the Wu-Tang Clan and the fact that he had only lost one game to that point."
For 7 years I've thought that I never explained this reference. However, I think this was back before YouTube was really popular, and that's probably why it didn't occur to me to include these links:
"I went back into the lobby to ask the concierge to call the County Line for my lost phone, but she pointed me towards a pay phone."
I'm surprised I didn't refer to her as a fucking bitch.
"Relieved, I went over to Jason's Deli for lunch, but I got screwed instead. I waited for 15-20 minutes for a turkey sandwich that was NOT dry, by which time I needed to get back to the Inn and thus had lost my chance for a good lunch. The cashier was going to make me wait for my refund until I gave him this look and told me I was going to be late, so he worked his magic and got me my money. I thought about grabbing the lemonade I had already opened and sipped from on the way out, but why compromise my integrity over a lemonade. Though they really owed me something for the time they cost me."
Wow. I'm really surprised I didn't include a litany of swear words and threaten to blow up the place. Was I really so mellow?
"I then realized Chick-fil-a was closed on Sunday."
I can't believe I didn't realize that immediately.
"And then I realized I had left my debit card at Kinko's."
I'm still just as retarded.
"I hate it when they give me the pickle."
This sounds dirty.
"Now came the fun part, trying to keep the beans and rice from spilling as I drove."
The first of many wacky stories about driving with food.
"On the way, I spotted a lady who didn't need a ride because she was waiting for her husband."
I never thought this made sense, because I didn't explain my rule about offering a ride to every single female I see. Sometimes it pays off.
"And I did something I desparately try to avoid, but the gas station toilet was all that was available, and it was a long way to the clean bathrooms at Starbucks."
Another piece of writing I hate.
"So I came to my senses and turned around and headed back to Dallas."
This was before Starbucks went crazy with the expansion. When that finally started, I would go to even greater lengths to visit stores during Scrabble trips.
"Except for the rush hour traffic which I caught in the morning."
No real conclusion to this blog, or cohesive narrative. That would change.