I feel like I’ve been cloistered away for the last few months. Basically I’d get up about 5:00 am, start a huge pot of coffee, feed the cats, and work on the book. At 8:20, I’d jump in the bathtub, throw some clothes on and head off to work. The book totally claimed the weekends. But I took breaks now and again to play an online poker tourney – either the PokerListings Run Good Challenge or Saturday with Pauly. And about once a month I’d sneak on Rounders Radio with Lou.

For the record, I did money in the Run Good II Grand Final. But it was a decidedly “meh” 5th place performance. Even my cat Java was rooting for Change100 – who put in a spectacular performance for second place. Kid Dynamite, playing his best maniacal luckbox game, took the title.

But the book is officially “at the publishers.” The whole time I was writing, I kept fantasizing what I would be doing once it was done. But instead of the new life I imagined for myself, I’ve spent the last week or so trying to reclaim my old life. I’ve wallowed in the small luxuries of the mundane…doing laundry, cleaning out my kitchen pantry, and dyeing my hair. I even got to go out. I gratefully spent Christmas eve-eve with Cathy and Lee and the B.D. Riley’s pub crowd – where I met blogger K-Nine from Dead Dog Walkin’ (specializing in women’s skin art – I suspect as a way to get laid). And I’ve allowed myself the pinball-like pleasure of bouncing from one blog to the next.

While I was in suspended book animation, it seems everyone else continued living their lives. Here’s what they’ve been up to:

– John and Jen brought a new poker player into the world. Apparently they registered her website before she was even conceived. Imagine the foresight. Welcome to the world, Cora.

Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo tied the knot in Vegas, in the company of a busload of hungover and degenerate poker bloggers. Ain’t nothin’ sweeter than that. Congrats kids.

– And of course the bloggers invaded Vegas. Hopefully this was a rare miss for me. It’s almost impossible to enjoy the weekend vicariously, as the bloggers are usually too hungover and exhausted to properly capture all the lunacy in writing. Thankfully Joe Speaker rose to the challenge – and his account had me smiling knowingly.

– How cursed are AP and UB that their new combined venture had a scandal out of the gate? Or better yet, how stupid do you have to be to launch a new software platform without actually fully testing it – after you’ve been associated with the biggest software scandals in online gaming? But it’s all fixed now guys, so no worries. Call me a sceptic, but I’m going to wait just a little bit longer before I put my money on the line.

– And for anyone who thought the 60 minutes coverage of the AP/UB scandals was damaging to online poker, those 12 minutes did nothing compared to what Party’s co-founder did. He recently upchucked $300 million and plead guilty to a count under the Wire Act. The DOJ has never been able to forge a case against online gambling – except for sports betting – under the Wire Act. Primarily because they can’t. But Dikshit (his real name) may have screwed the pooch for online poker, just so he could live in the U.S. hassle-free with his remaining $200 million.

– I see that while I’ve been reorganizing bulk spices in my pantry, the other half of the book’s writing staff has been downright prolific and reflective. The Poker Shrink has been posting musings about his favorite movies and about the all-too-common emotional drive-bys perpetrated by ex-significant others.

So I’m in the process of reclaiming my life. Today I may reorganize my sock drawer – tomorrow, the world.

Photo Confessions: The picture of Mike Matusow was taken right after he made the final table of the 2005 WSOP Championship at Binion’s. It was lovingly borrowed from CardPlayer and retouched by me. The picture of the Luxor is from AP photographer Darrin Bush, and slightly edited by me.

Few photographers can overcome the urge to screw with someone else’s a picture. It’s a little like AC repairmen – they only like their own ductwork.