ODYSSEY TO OZ...A Preamble
As I've struggled to put into words the last month-or-so of my existence in the poker world--and in particular, my Aussie Millions Getaway--several things have been glaringly apparent. First off, I am more of a storyTELLER than a storyWRITER, and unfortunately that makes the whole writing process more cumbersome for me. Particularly when I start to ramble, drifting aimlessly away from my point...kinda like right there. Second, and perhaps more important--I loathe trip reports. To me, trip reports (or at least this one) had become synonymous with book reports. As a kid, I loved to read--still do as a matter of fact. I'd read 20-3o books a year for pure enjoyment. But ask me to tell you about that book in a manner that would make you care? Forget it. Books were a personal experience, and reports were like the receipt that proved you actually read them. Totally boring and lame.
This trip deserved better. So I asked myself, "how can I share this amazing story with people without cheapening it?" I soon realized that the story didn't just begin in Australia, it began some weeks before. But to truly appreciate it, you're going to have to know a little more about me and the kind of guy I am.
So here goes...
I am a family practice physician practicing in a very, very small town in southwestern Pennsylvania that my wife and I moved to about 3 years ago. We have one of most of the necessities in town--grocery, school, post office, library--and exactly 4 traffic lights (although technically 2 of them aren't actually IN the town). Most of the local townsfolk are or are descendants of mineworkers who have outlived the coal mines that brought them here in the first place. We don't have a lot of luxury, but most of us have electricity and indoor plumbing, and wife and kids and I are fortunate to live in a particularly nice neighborhood in town. On the whole, despite the inconvenience of having to travel 90 minutes round trip for hospital rounds or most shopping beyond milk and butter, its a very pleasant existence. The big bonuses are that I am almost never more than 1 mile from my kids at any time in the day AND I actually get to practice medicine in a manner that makes me feel as though I'm having a significant impact on peoples' lives.
My wife, L, is also a family doc but her office is about 20 minutes up the road in neighboring town. We have three wonderful and beautiful children--T (age 7), A (age 4) and J (age 2). Between our work schedules, cub scouts, dance class and any other obligations we may have--time is precious. Unfortunately, its a delicate balance that my wife and I have yet to master; so many days and nights are spent in "flying-by-the-seat-of-our pants" fashion as we strive to meet the demands of day-to-day life and still get the kids fed, bathed and in bed at a reasonable hour. As you probably can surmise, the slightest variation in the daily "routine"can really throw a wrench in the whole works.
So imagine, if you will, that you are me. Now imagine you have just won a trip to Australia that leaves sometime in the next 2 weeks. And oh yeah, you don't have a passport. And the Christmas you are not done shopping for is only about 5 days away. Feelin' that tension in the back of your neck yet?
This is exactly the boat I found myself on the morning of December 20, 2007. How the hell was I going to pick up and leave the country for 2 weeks with such little preparation? What about the kids? What about my patients?
And oh yeah, I still didn't have a passport.