Behind the Mic with Angela Hermann

Angela Hermann handicapping the races at Canterbury Park

Angela Hermann handicapping the races at Canterbury Park

Our guest for Behind the Mic today is the television analyst for Canterbury Park in Suburban Minneapolis, Miss Angela Hermann!  Angela has also been the track analyst for Hawthorne Race Course in Chicago and made many appearances on TVG while there.

How did you get into Horse Racing?

I have been a horse lover for as long as I can remember, but I first started watching horse racing regularly when I was 11.  I had seen Canterbury races occasionally but the Kentucky Derby in 1998 was the hook for me.  I picked my first winner, Real Quiet.  From that point forward I recorded all nationally televised races, Canterbury replay shows, etc. and clipped the entries each day from the paper.  It was an odd path to this destination, but I have no family connections to horse racing.  My family have become fans through me but I started as a pure fanatic.

What was your first job in horse racing?

I started in Hospitality an usher in the Clubhouse.  My duties included seating guests, checking tickets and clearing dishes.  I’m fairly confident I was the only usher with betting tips at the time.

What are some of the key factors you look for when handicapping a race?

Pace handicapping works best for me.  The classes are not as far apart at Canterbury as at larger tracks so I am usually seeking lone speed.  Our grass also plays kindly to speed, so sometimes I’ll give a second look to a front runner if the price is right.  On a bigger scale I like to play horses-for-courses regardless of class.  Midnight Lute offspring tend to get handicapped through rose-colored glasses.

You’ve worked at Hawthorne and Canterbury, what are your favorite races from each track?

Hawthorne is easy, The Illinois Derby.  The day was chaotic but the feel was unlike any other I’d been around.  Departing is a horse I always quietly root for and he is all class.  Canterbury is a little different, there are too many to choose from!  I’d have to say it’s the 2008 Lady Canterbury.  I had just wrapped up my first summer working at (now defunct) Lincoln Race Course and I was back to work for the Press Box at Canterbury.  Claiming Crown day was big enough, then we added on the Lady Canterbury.  There was a big handicapping contest in the Press Box with TVG folks, DRF writers, local press and a couple young kids that worked upstairs.  I was the only one that had the 30-1 winner of the Lady C, #13 Quiet Queen.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on camera?

Another question with many possible answers….I passed out on camera during a different edition of the Lady Canterbury.  The heat index was pretty high that day and I didn’t go inside much.  The mic also got ripped out of my hand once at Columbus.  The guy was tanked.

As a public handicapper, you get criticized and praised.  What’s the nicest thing a fan has ever said to you?  What about the harshest?

Any time that a fan says they’ve had a good time because of a pick I gave them or a wager they found in the program I’ve done my job.  My goal is to get people to love what I love about horse racing, and I feel like I have one of the best possible positions to do that.  Of course we always hear about when we’re wrong but the worst thing I’ve heard was about me taking a horse that broke down.  Not only did I get blamed for it breaking down but there were allusions to me joining the horse next time.

Other than tracks you’ve worked at, what are your favorite tracks to follow and wager on?

Southern California, that’s about it.  I used to play more Delta but have moved away from it to focus on one or two tracks only.  My attention span only accommodates for so much.

What’s your best hit as a gambler?

A pick four at Hollywood Park in December of 2011.  It was one of only a few times I’ve seen the pick five not pay out, and there were only two winning pick four tickets.  A friend of mine and I split one.  I plead the 5th on the amount.

 In 2015 you get to handicap any race in the world on TV….which race would you choose?

The Mystic Lake Derby….check.  I’d be tickled to tackle the Arc……but I’d need a lot of time!

It’s the last race at Canterbury and I’m getting hungry.  Where are you gonna send me after the races for a great meal?

I get paid to say Turtles in Shakopee 🙂

Thanks Angela!

Help when we need it

I’ve been so blessed in my life with people who love and care about me.  One of the downsides of my anxiety has been at certain times I’ve withdrawn, not just from them, but from society at large.  Let me paint a picture for you.   December 22, 2013.  The last day of Hollywood Park running.  I had stopped taking my medication a few months before, had slowly stopped going out to dinners, social events, going to GA.  I was struggling massively with my anxiety, especially at work.  Calling races had become a chore.  Well this day, for some reason when I woke up I was extra anxious.  I remember standing in line at Subway before the races getting my sandwich and feeling like I was going to fall over my legs felt so weak.  At work that day I was struggling…bad.  Adrenaline and cortisol were pumping through my veins, and not in the fun way.  After the 7th race I called our Assistant Racing Secretary/Back Up announcer Jerry Kohls (maybe the nicest guy ever) and said “Jerry I’m really not feeling well and I need to go home.”   Jerry came and filled in an I went home and tried to calm down, but just never could.  I sat in the parking lot of Outback Steakhouse and waited for my curbside order, I’d gotten into this habit because even going into restaurants or the grocery store now equaled anxiety attack.  I watched Vic Stauffer’s tour de force race call of the last race from Hollywood on my telephone (Thanks .  I cried the entire time, but not because of being sad Hollywood Park was closing.  But from being sad that my life was closing.  My life had become staying in the house, on the computer, and only venturing out when I absolutely needed to.  Two days later, scared to leave my house and feeling sick from all the stress hormones, I called in “sick” to Christmas.  I spent Christmas alone in my apartment.  I had a microwave Chicken dinner for Christmas Dinner, while my family, who I love more than anything ate a delicious meal and my cousin Jenna brought some hippy organic dish.

I was crying everyday, the weight of depression coating me like a warm blanket.  My weight was out of control, my life was a shell of what it had been and could be.

So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I reached out for help.  I called Devora, my long time counselor and asked if she’d see me.  She said she would.  She also said “you have to find someone to help get you on a proper medication and level.  You need to see a trainer and a nutritionist. ”  Those were her “conditions” and they sounded like torture, especially the personal trainer.  Exercise to me is voluntarily giving yourself a panic attack.  Getting your heart rate up mimics the start of a panic attack in my warped mind.  So I went and saw the nutritionist and looked for a medication provider.  I found both.  I saw both.  I started taking medication again.  Why I ever stopped, I have no idea.  I guess I wanted to prove I could beat my anxiety all on my own.  I’ve always taken a low dose anti-depressant and never taken Benzos.  So this time, they gave me a much bigger anti-depressant dose and magically…I started to feel better.  I’ve been working with Annie Petrillo, who is a wonderful provider and she’s been so caring and understanding with my hesitations about medications and been a rock through the process of starting with taking literally a crumb to now taking a therapeutic dose that’s helped me feel light years better and be out and about doing lots of fun things again.  Annie rules!

So now came the personal training part.  7:30 Am.  Tuesdays.  Monday night before it started I was sick with fear.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to even go.  Alarm went off at 6:30am.  Yeah…I really don’t want to go to this.  But I put on my shorts anyways.  I drove to the gym.  I went in and sat down and watched this blonde woman named Laura McKeand intensely motivating her client on the treadmill and doing it loudly (did I mention intensely).  I was ready to walk out immediately.  The last thing I wanted was someone yelling at me to do something I already don’t want to do (Dad Flashbacks!!).  Laura knew Devora my counselor and Devora had warned her I believe that I was a “special case” and I warned Laura of the same.  She said “ok let’s get on the treadmill and walk 10 minutes for warm up.”  “Ok Laura…but just FYI, 10 minutes on the treadmill is usually my whole workout.”   So after that ten minute walk I sat down, trying to keep my anxiety in control but it was getting bad.  So then Laura says “Ok we’re going to do some squats.”  Squats?!?!  Are you fucking kidding me?  Squats?!?!  So ten squats later my legs were shaking like a leaf in the breeze, my panic is in full flight and I say “well that was fun Laura, I’m gonna step outside.”  I sat on the bench trying to compose myself as I started to cry.  Laura came outside and told me it was ok.  I stood up and said “nice to meet you, I’m leaving now,” and I ran to my car.  It sucked.  I went home and laid in bed the rest of the day.  Squats.  What an evil bitch!  Well I went back again the next week.  For that first month or so my “workouts” were slowwwwly getting better, eventually moving up to 15 minute walks and about 3 or 4 different exercises.  Then some 20 minute walks and 3 or 4 different exercises.  I would come in on Thursdays by myself and try to mimic my tuesday workouts with Laura, but I never pushed myself much when I was alone.  The first hint of anxiety I was out the door.  After three months of working together, we went on a 40 minute walk and did ten minutes worth of exercises.  The last couple weeks we’ve been doing 20 minute walk warm ups and a couple sets of 6 or 7 different exercises, working out the full 50 minutes.  Today, our last meeting together before I moved, Evil Laura hands me dumbbells and says “here now we’re gonna do two sets of 10 squats with you holding these and when you come up each time do a shoulder press with these dumbbells.”  Squats!?!?  with dumbell presses at the top?  Two sets?  You evil evil woman!  Evil Laura.

I’ll tell you about Evil Laura.  She’s got a heart bigger than her biceps.  She was an amazing confidant the last few months.  She pushed me gently and at a pace that allowed me to improve while not discouraging myself.  She took it in stride when I ran out of there in a panic and would even text me to say nice job in a moment when I was feeling as though I failed.  We got take walks and talk about our worlds.  Our families and friends.  15 Tuesdays ago I would have told you I hated Tuesdays and if you would have told me I was never gonna see Evil Laura again i would have said “thank god!”  Now, having seen her for the last workout this morning, I’m feeling sad that next Tuesday my alarm won’t go off early and make me go workout with her.  I always watch fitness shows and people gush over the trainers who help them.  As far as I’m concerned, I wasn’t paying Laura for training nearly as much as I was paying her to be an ally in bettering myself.  Which I suppose is training.  Anyways, she’s fucking amazing and I’m already sad I won’t get to call her an evil bitch again for when she makes me do squats.  Fucking squats.

Author Interview: Elgon Williams of Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce)

The cover of Elgon's book Fried Windows

The cover of Elgon’s book Fried Windows

I was pleased to be able to catch up with author Elgon Williams to talk about his recently released novel Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce).  I just finished reading the book last week so was excited to speak with him while the book was fresh in my mind.  It’s a wonderful book, a quick read and thought provoking and fun all at the same time.

Your novel Fried Windows came out just a few weeks ago, what has it been like having a novel out in the world?

It’s not my first trip around the bases but I’m more satisfied with the quality of the editing on this book than any of the others. Also I like the cover a lot, though IO think some people are confused by it, thinking it’s a children’s book when it’s not.

Has the fantasy genre been something you’ve always enjoyed writing or was this your first go at it?

I’ve always loved reading fantasy. A lot of my stuff is sci-fi but I have a ten book epic fantasy series called The Wolfcat Chronicles waiting in the wings. I like the freedom a fantasy story gives me as a writer. Anything really is possible, so you just turn your imagination loose and have some fun. I think that makes for an interesting read.

Your main character Brent, was he influenced at all by your own life or by someone else?

Brent is a lot like me in ways. There tends to be some of the writer in ever character, I think. It’s a lot like how your character Ryan in Southbound is enough like you to be uncomfortable at times. But Brent tends toward the extremes of behavior in directions I would never go. He appears in several of my books so he’s a character I know very well. There are parallels in his background to mine. I had him attend the same colleges and things like that. He was more of a jock in school than I ever was and when he was in the military he was an officer, which I wasn’t. You get some of that background in Fried Windows but in the sequel and prequels you will learn a lot more about Brent’s involvement with The Program and just what kinds of missions that organization assigned to him.

Brent enters the home of a woman with no windows and in that home is where he can explore his innermost thoughts and dreams of his childhood. Is that something you’ve always dreamed of being able to do?

I think we all would like to go back in time and fix some of our mistakes, or at least have a good try at it. There’s a girl I was madly in love with when I was twelve or so. The funny thing is she liked me as much as I liked her but both of us were too shy to admit it. My best friend liked her too and he was more aggressive than me, so she got the wrong idea about me, like I thought she was strange or something. I know all this because we reconnected a few years ago and text messaged a lot. 

It’s probably a good thing that we can’t go back and fix things, though. As much as I wonder what my life would have been like had I been braver when I was twelve, I have some pretty great kids and I have experienced a lot of things that I might have never done had I remained in my old hometown, married my childhood sweetheart and all that.

People tend to make bad things worse, don’t they? And you never really know how things are going to turn out several years after an event.

I found the most interesting part of the book to be the looking back and self-reflection through imagination and our dreams. You had to have spent a lot of time looking within yourself to write this?

I’ve always been an introspective sort of person. I’m weird like that. Also I have written a lot about myself in the past, thinking things through and figuring out why people did this or said that. When you do that you start to see there probably are not any coincidences or accidents in life. I take a lot of things seriously even if I don’t show it. I like to joke around and have fun, but it is a defense mechanism for how I deal with uncomfortable situations. I was painfully shy as a kid and just sort of gradually outgrew it forcing myself to be a radio DJ in college and taking all sorts of courses that required me to give speeches. After I went out into the world I’ve had to train large groups of people both in the military and in management. And I sold cars for a while. It’s hard to be shy when you sell cars.

What’s next for Elgon Williams the author?

While I was waiting for the edits on Fried Windows, I wrote a book titled Becoming Thuperman. I don’t know if it is the quickest I have ever written a book but it came along at a good clip, around 2000 to 2500 words a day. I was posting drafts on Fanstory to receive immediate feedback from other writers. So, I sort of knew I was writing something magical when everyone was saying how much he or she was looking forward to the next installment. That one will be out in the spring of next year. Other than that we’re looking into publishing my ten book epic fantasy I mentioned before. There are a lot of other manuscripts I have to submit. It will be a while before I run out of things. And, anyway, I’m still writing new stuff. There will be a sequel and a prequel to Fried Windows. Like I said there is a lot of material with Brent as a lead character. And there will be a sequel to Becoming Thuperman. And there is another project in the offing that is really strange about a guy who had temporal dyslexia – that’s where you’re 12 but your experience being 21. You know that one will be a lot of fun.

Mini Bio:

Born in Springfield, Ohio, Elgon Williams was given a first name hardly anyone knows how to pronounce. L-gun is the best phonetic rendering. He attended Purdue University and The University of Texas at Austin. He served in the USAF and is an advocate for veterans.

Williams has lived in Asia and speaks Chinese. Currently he lives in Orlando, aka American’s fantasyland, and stays in touch with his three adult children via text messages and the Internet.

Social Media Links:

Author Elgon Williams

Author Elgon Williams


Author interview with Chrissy Lessey

Author Chrissy Lessey of The Coven

Author Chrissy Lessey of The Coven

One of my favorite books I’ve read this year was The Coven by Chrissy Lessey.  I was fortunate to land an interview with her to talk about her book, her life, autism and more.

Your book is soaked with Carolina and the area around where you live. How important was location/geography to your writing process and the book itself?

CL: I find a lot of inspiration in the natural beauty of the Crystal Coast and that really helps my writing process. I don’t think The Coven could have been set anywhere else. The nearby barrier islands and Blackbeard’s history played a big role in the novel’s backstory. Most of the story is set in Beaufort, which somehow manages to be both historical and quirky – a perfect fit for the witches in The Coven.

Where did the idea of writing The Coven come from?

CL: No one is more surprised than I am that I wrote a fantasy novel. The idea came after my son, who has autism, had a particularly difficult day. I found myself wishing that there was a magical cure for his condition so that his life could be easier. That simple thought led me on an imaginative path of witches and autism that eventually became The Coven.

You work, are a mom and a wife, how difficult was it to find time to write and edit?

CL: It’s very hard to find time to write and edit. Like most moms, I tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own and it’s not unusual for me to miss an entire day (or week) of writing because there simply aren’t enough hours in a day. I’ve learned that I have to set a work schedule and protect it diligently.

You’ve been active with autism awareness in your personal life. Was writing the book therapeutic in some ways or difficult in some ways writing about something that’s so close to your heart?

CL: It was so difficult that I almost eliminated Charlie’s character altogether. Writing about his relationship with Stevie and her feelings about his diagnosis was painful for me. There was also tremendous pressure to get it right. We don’t see autism in a lot of commercial fiction, so I was determined to present a realistic and fully developed character with Charlie. The whole process was a tremendous challenge that turned out to be therapeutic by the end.

Now this book is part of the Crystal Coast series…what can we expect next?

CL: I’m working on the second book in the series now. With a modern day witch hunt at the heart of the story, it’s shaping up to be darker than the first one and the stakes are higher.

How much of your main character Stevie came from your experiences as a mother?

CL: Stevie’s life is infinitely more interesting than mine, but I’d say that my experiences made it easier to tap into her emotions. I think all mothers can relate to Stevie’s overwhelming drive to protect her son. Nothing transforms a woman faster or more thoroughly than a threat to her child’s safety.

Chrissy Lessey is an autism advocate, a coffee junkie, and an avid reader. She enjoys connecting with readers via social media and on her website,

Behind the Mic—Guest Jessica Paquette


Jessica with her horse What a Trippi

Jessica with her horse What a Trippi

Continuing with the Behind The Mic Series, we’re now shifting to folks who are not just behind the mic, but behind the camera at racetracks around the country.  Today we’re joined by my good pal Jessica Paquette who is the paddock host/handicapper as well as Senior Director of Communications for Suffolk Downs in Boston.

How did you first discover horse racing?

JP: I was a horse crazy little girl. Anything that had a horse on it, I was interested. My local corner store carried the Daily Racing Form and I started insisting my mother buy them for me. I had no idea what I was looking at at first, but I was hooked. The first race that sealed the deal was Silver Charm’s Kentucky Derby in 1997 – I was in for life after that.

What was your first job in racing?

JP: I worked as a groom at Rockingham Park when I was 17 and they had harness racing.

As a handicapper you’ve told me before you’re a pedigree nerd, what is it about pedigree that appeals to you?

JP: The history. Being a fan for as long as I have at this point, it is amazing to me that I can now remember horse’s grandparents and great grandparents from their racing days.

As a paddock host, what are things you’re looking for most in horses as they parade around the walking ring?

JP: I want to see positive, forward body language and good flesh and dapples. After awhile, you begin to learn what is “normal” for certain horses. I remember this one wonderful old warrior Christmas Away that would buck and play in the paddock when he was feeling really good and those would be the days he would win.

What’s your favorite race you’ve ever seen at Suffolk Downs?

JP: Skip Away winning the Massachusetts Handicap over Formal Gold in 1997.

Being in the public eye has it’s positives and negatives, What are the nicest and meanest things a racing fan has said to you?

JP: A couple of our hardened old rail birds have commented over the years that I really know my stuff. That means a lot coming from them. I dyed my hair back to my natural color, brunette, a couple of years ago. One cranky older gentleman told me I picked more winners when I was blonde. Not mean, really, just funny.

You adopted an Off the track Thoroughbred named What a Trippi.  How did you come across Trippi and what has that experience been like for you?

JP: I fell head over heels for him watching him in the paddock for his first race. In nearly 10 years working in racing, there has not been a horse before him or since him that I absolutely had to have. He has been an incredible adventure – he makes me a better rider and a more patient person overall. He has not been the easiest horse – he is a little quirky, very stubborn and has a ton of personality, but those things made him a great racehorse and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

In 2015, you can guest handicap any race in the world on television, which race would you pick and why?

JP: The Breeders’ Cup Turf. It is always one of my favorite races of the year and I am such a sucker for European turf horses.

If i’m at Suffolk, the races are just finishing up and I want to have a great Boston meal, where are you sending me?

JP: To the North Shore. Ceia, in Newburyport, has a Kobe burger that is unreal.

Thanks Jessica!


Some things my dad taught me

It’s Fathers Day morning, and I’m not gonna lie…I’m a little bummed out.  Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and I wasn’t really that bummed at all, but then this morning, waking up and seeing everyone on Facebook’s pictures with their dad, I got a little sad, a little angry, and a little sad again.  I think this is my 13th Father’s Day without a Father here.  The first 3 or 4 I went to the track with my great friend Chris and his dad Dan, who was definitely a second father type to me.  They always invited me and the gesture always meant a lot.  I find I usually distract myself on days like today.  Go do something fun or adventurous, get out of the house and off the computer.  But I was thinking about some lessons I learned from my dad and things he taught me.  With him, many of his lessons were what not to do.  Here are some of my favorites.

1. “Do you want to be a truck driver the rest of your fucking life, cause you will if you don’t get your grades up”

My fathers opining on academic success summed up in one sentence.  I don’t think he ever even knew what classes I took, but he always studied that report card when it came.  At some point in 7th grade, someone told us “Your grades don’t really count until 9th grade starts.”  Well this was some nice information.  So second semester of 8th grade I slacked.  I did nothing.  And my grades reflected that.  I was so scared to get that report card and I rushed to the mailbox to grab it.  I opened it.  5 C’s and a D.  A 1.8.  I sprinted in to my room and immediately thought of what to do.  I told mom first, because mom never got mad at me for anything. So she and I strategized that she’d tell him and show him and bring me out once he calmed down.  She was out there for about 5 seconds and showed him before the scream down the hall of “Ball (that’s me) get your ass out here!”  Oh fuck.  I walked out there, my still short, barely pubescent self and prepared for the worst.  I sat by mom as dad sat in his chair.  “Nice fucking effort Ball.  Nice fucking effort.”  I can still hear those words now.  “Do you want to be a truck driver the rest of your fucking life?  Do you want to come home from work fucking miserable and hating your job?  Cause that’s what’s gonna happen if you don’t get your grades up?”  I saw my dad come home from his truck driving job for 20 years, miserable and hating his job. I didn’t want to be like him. I got a 3.3 the next semester and never got below a 3.0 again in my life.

2.  Don’t lie to people

My dad was not a bullshitter.  He was pretty on the surface and would tell you the truth, good or bad.  I remember asking my mom once “what did you like about him when you met him?” and her first reply was “he wasn’t fake.  there was no bullshit with your dad.”  I wish this was a lesson I took more to heart, because when I started gambling and doing it very seriously, I became a liar.  I lied all the time and nobody knew about my problem.  And that lying carried over into my personal life and made me someone I didn’t want to be.  Learning to not bullshit people and be upfront and brutally honest has been one of the toughest parts of my recovery.

3.  0 and 1 Bollacker

My dad was a great baseball coach and he used to scream at our ace pitcher, my wonderful friend Chad Bollacker “0 and 1 Bollacker!  0 and 1!!”  It’s amazing how much easier it is to pitch when you get ahead in the count.

4.  If you play music you’re a hippy and if you get an earring you’re gay

These were literally his thoughts.  When I told him I was in a band in college he literally responded “Oh so you’re a hippy now?  You’re going to grow your hair long?”  And he was dead serious.  He was stuck in the 1950’s in some of his belief systems and he literally thought if you played music or were artistic in anyway…you were a hippy.  If he knew I wrote a novel, he’d think I was a total acid dropper.  I’ll also never forget when my cousin got an earring and my dad’s first response was “So does this mean you’re gay now?”  And once again…dead serious.  He thought if you wore an earring, that meant you were gay.  People ask me sometimes why I have no tattoos or piercings….how on earth could I get either one of those knowing that man’s voice would be haunting me forever after?

5.  “See that’s the dumb fuck light…and it’s supposed to tell the dumb fuck, that’s you, that something’s wrong”

My first car was a beautiful 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra…Brougham edition.  Classy.  Comfortable.  And ran like dog shit.  This thing would overheat if you drove more than 30 minutes straight.  But it was my car and I loved it.  Well the check engine light essentially was always on and nothing too bad ever happened so I never bothered with it.  I mean this was like 2 years nothing happened.  So one week, the battery light came on.  The car kept starting so I figured it must have been a faulty light.  So one friday night I went to the Golf Park to hit some balls.  When I was done I returned to my car….and it didn’t start.  Dead battery.  So I called Dad who came and picked me up and I told people at the driving range “Hey we’ll be back in the morning to jump it and we’ll leave.” So we come back in the morning and the car is gone.  They towed it.  Dad went in there all kinds of pissed off and yelled at the guy, who after 5 minutes of dealing with dad, offered to pay for the towing and gave us 5 free buckets of balls.  score!  On the drive to the towing place my dad was mentioning that this needed to be quick because he had a horse he really liked in the first at Emerald Downs.  Well it wasn’t quick.  The tow yard had to go back and forth with the Golf Park to see how to get payment, it took forever.  My dad gradually got more and more pissed.  At one point he finally asked “So just out of no where the car just didn’t start?”  I replied “yeah, i mean the check battery light has been on the last 5 or 6 days, but it kept starting so I figured nothing was wrong.”  My dad dropped his head straight back and went into lesson mode.  “Let me tell you something about those lights.  See that’s the dumb fuck light…and it’s supposed to let the dumb fuck…that’s you..know that something is wrong.”  Aw..thank you for that not only educating, but also self-esteem building lesson there Danny Tanner.  He didn’t make the 1st at Emerald and his horse lost anyways, so I saved him money.

6.  If someone doesn’t live in a trailer, don’t call them trailer

I had a friend….who I’m actually still great friends with…who when we were little kids, someone started calling him trailer.  It might have been me, but I can’t remember.  But I certainly joined in.  Now he didn’t live in a trailer.  I don’t think he ever did.  I think it was just a way for us to tease him as young shit head kids do.  Well one day we were all at my house and I called him trailer and my dad heard it.  My dad instantly didn’t like the name calling.  “You shouldn’t call him that.  Does he live in a trailer?” I replied “No, we just call him that.”  My dad retorted as only he could “Well does he call you fatass?  Cause that at least would be true.”  No he doesn’t.  “Then stop calling him fucking trailer!”  It was actually a great lesson and to this day I feel guilt about calling my then and still now great friend a hurtful name.

I could go on all day listing lessons I learned from my dad.  I miss him, even though I don’t miss some things about him.  He was very complicated and tough to live with and in many ways, he’s still tough to live with.  Even though he’s been dead for so long, his presence, good and bad, has always been with me.  He’s a daily reminder of things I want to be, and things I don’t want to be.  I idolized him though.  All I ever wanted to do was make him proud.  Nothing hurt worse than when he would put me down.  Especially about my weight.  He hated that I was fat.  He hated it.  I hated it.  I still hate it.  Part of me wonders if all the hate towards that part of my life needs to be transformed into love.  Just haven’t figured out how to do that one yet.  Anyways…happy father’s day dad.  I love you.

Saying Goodbye to Portland

A weird thing happened at some point in the last few years.  Portland became home.  I don’t know when it happened, I just remember at some point driving back up to Seattle felt more like vacation and coming back to Portland felt more like coming home.  I’ve been coming to Portland since I was a kid. Whether it was for little league tournaments or coming here with my dad to go to Portland Meadows for a weekend, I had many fond memories of this city before I moved here for the first time in 2006.  For years I thought Portland just consisted of Delta Park, the second exit once you’re into Oregon where Portland Meadows resides.  I was offered the announcing job at Portland Meadows in September of 2006 by Dwayne Yuzik, who subsequently not only became my boss…but became a friend, mentor and big supporter of mine, personally and professionally.  I still remember my first race as the full-time announcer at Portland Meadows.  Foxy Tejon and Jump Off Jerry Remer won it!  That started my time here in Portland as a resident.  It was October 8, 2006.

My first season here I just stayed at Motel 6 while I was down calling races and would go up to Seattle for the rest of the week and stay at my place there.  I went back to River Downs in April and in 2007 when I returned to Portland Meadows I rented a room at my pal Ben Root’s house.  Ben was my only real “friend” living in Portland when I moved here and he’s been an outstanding friend ever since then.

I went to River Downs in 2008 and when I left there, I was offered a full time position at Portland Meadows as not only announcer, but as the manager of guest services.  I had to find a place to actually live here.  After looking on Craigslist for a room to rent, I contacted a silver haired lady named Nancy about a room.  I moved in with Nancy and Mary that fall of 2008 and lived with them for almost two years.  Aside from Nancy’s drunken friends coming in at all hours of the night, they were awesome.  Two of the nicest, funniest and most caring ladies I’ve ever met.  Eventually though, when a drunk gay man was screaming at 3am about how his boyfriend broke up with him about 4 feet from my door, my need for silence became overwhelming.

I ended up renting a small apartment with a gal named Laura in SW Portland for the next few years.  It was so quiet.  I think her and I probably spoke 6 times in 2.5 years there.  It was perfect!  But Laura finished med school and moved to San Francisco so I went and got myself my own place.  I do like living alone.  Having to make the naked run across the hall from the bathroom to the bedroom and hoping a roommate wouldn’t see gets old after a while.

But for as many good times and memories as I have in Portland, some of my worst times have happened here.  My anxiety reached record levels here.  I spent months leaving the house only for work or food and then running back home.  I was hospitalized at one point because the anxiety and depression got so bad.  But Nancy and Mary, who I mentioned earlier?  Well they of vegetarianism brought me meat in the psych ward.  I mean, those are friends.  The anxiety is always there…it’s level of severity ebbs and flows, but it became the dominant force in my life at some point.  But I’m working on it.  I also struggled with my addiction to gambling, which really became an out of control problem while in Portland.  I bet tens and tens of thousands of dollars each year.  Some years winning…most losing.  I finally quit after making my last bet on 12/5/10.  Subsequently I’ve met some amazing people in recovery and have found the process extremely rewarding.

I’ve achieved some really great things in my time here.  I wrote a novel that got published.  I recorded some songs I love.  I started a graduate school program at Lewis and Clark.  I met some great friends.  I dated some amazing people.  I fell in love.  I had my heart broken.  I broke other’s hearts.  I called thousands of horse races.  I hosted hundreds of radio shows.  I ate wayyyyyy to much good food.  I discovered the Oregon of the most magical places on earth.

So why am I sharing all this information and why is this post called “Saying Goodbye to Portland?”  Well because as of last week I accepted a job with a great treatment facility in Central Oregon near Bend as a problem gambling mentor/counselor.  It’s a great opportunity and I’m so excited to enter the helping professions.  I’m also excited to try a new town and hopefully meet some great new people.  They say it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise…which is funny cause I’m a total indoorsman 🙂   But, life requires change sometimes…so here’s to making this change a great one.

I love you Portland.  I”ll be back soon enough.  Well actually I’m not even leaving for a few weeks.  So ignore this last mini paragraph.