“If you drink your urine 7 times then on the seventh time, its toxic,” Martina said at the dinner table. We were eating pasta that I had cooked.
“How do they know that?” I said.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I just heard that.”
We were talking about surviving in the desert and you are dying of thirst. If you drink your urine, pee it out, drink it again, pee it out, etc then on the seventh time, its toxic.
“I’d probably stop on the fifth time,” I said. “Why take chances?” I mean, did they test this out at the FDA and on the 7th drink, everyone died?
My youngest asked Martina, “Could you beat Cody at basketball?” Cody was a friend of ours who had played basketball for the University of New Mexico. Martina was visiting for a few days.
“No,” she said, and we all felt deflated by this. Martina had let us down. We had spoken for weeks before her visit about how she could probably dust Cody on a basketball court. She was 6’6” and had played professional women’s basketball.
“Men are different,” she said, “I don’t know what it is, but they are just faster and stronger at basketball. Even a pro woman player would have trouble against a great high school male player.”
“What was it like to play in the Olympics?” I asked her.
“It was great,” she said, “ because Canada hadn’t placed in a long time. So in 1996 the US had automatically placed in so that gave our zone an extra spot. So Canada got in, but we didn’t do very well.”
“How did you go pro after that?”
“I had to get an agent,” she said, “but then the pay wasn’t very well anyway. Maybe $2000 a month. But hey, I was 22 years old, traveling around Europe and making enough money. It was fun.”
“But,” she said, “I didn’t have the passion for it like I have now for yoga.”
Martina is visiting my wife. They were spending their time doing yoga and talking about yoga and writing about yoga and talking about teaching yoga.
The only time I ever spent real time on basketball was when I was daytrading for hedge funds and I needed to get some physical exercise in before the day started.
Particularly on days after I lost a ton of money. The pain inside of me was so bad I thought I was going to die. I’d either have to play basketball or jump in the river and let the currents take me where they will. That’s because there was a basketball court right next to the river and train tracks.
I’d play “round the world” with myself. The train would every now and then pass by.
I’d feel sorry for the frying pan faces of the people staring out the window at 5 in the morning. They had a 90 minute commute. The city was going to eat them alive and whatever was left was going to take the 90 minute commute back later that night. A little piece of themselves gnashed off by the teeth of capitalism.
But even they had it better than me. Every day they knew they would come home with a little more money than they left with. For me, every day was up in the air. I could make money or I could lose money. Sometimes a lot. But you have to learn how to manage the stress. To keep going.
By 6am the local café would be opening. I had three books with me each day. One about chess, one about spirituality (a different book each day) and one about business or investing. Then I had a waiters pad and I’d start to take my notes for the day. I’d list who I would approach to invest in me, what other trading systems I could build, what other businesses I could start. I’d brainstorm after reading.
I’d stay there for at least an hour and a half, until I was sure that my kids were on their way to school. I wanted to return to an empty house. I wanted nothing to do with waking them up, dressing them, feeding them, transporting them. In 12 years of fatherhood I have never changed a diaper. Judge me if you want.
So if I was early I’d go to the Catholic church across the street and I’d just sit there. I was Jewish, had studied and practiced just about every other religion except for Catholicism. But my kids were Catholic because my ex was. “My kids are Catholic,” I would say to Jesus, “so please make my trades work out today.”
I was the only one at the church but one time I saw a priest peaking out at me. What troubles could this man be going through, he must have been thinking, to pray here by himself, on his knees like the most devoted worshipper of Christ our Lord and Savior.
But all I was praying for was a little bit of extra money that day. And that if God was truly Great he’d make the market move in the direction my computer programs were telling me they would go. I had a lot of people who depended on me and even though I wasn’t such a good person maybe one of them were and please god, think of them and not me when you determine the direction of the market today. Because they need the money and at least one of them has been good enough to you to deserve the money that I was going to make for them today.
Then I’d get home. At 9:30am I’d put the trade on. And there was those days where the trade would go instantly against me. And there’s no solace on those days. Every second I’d be losing money. And I’d feel it in my head and my stomach. Every tick down and I knew I was going to go broke. Again. And there was no more down I could go.
Where would I move now. I already moved here after going broke. Now where was I going to move? To the gutter? Would the rest of my family have to move in with in-laws?
And then one day the IRS wrote me a very stern letter about something that had happened years earlier. Now I even had more problems. And another day my dad had a stroke. And with my dad in a coma from the stroke, the IRS on my back, my biggest mentor firing me (even though I was up 100% for himi that year), and trades against me and two little girls getting bigger I’d pound my head against the keyboard when the trades were going against me. How would Stevie Cohen hire me now when I was such a loser?
I had no skills at all and I had no background. I was no longer an Internet guy. I wasn’t a finance guy. My entrepreneurship in the 90s I considered to be a matter of luck because of the 90s boom. I couldn’t write articles about stocks because what did I know? My trades that day were going against me and nothing else was important. Please tell me, google, is it really true that if I put 3 cigarettes in a glass of water over night and then took the cigarettes out in the morning that I could drink that water and have a fatal heart attack within sixty seconds? Is it true? Because I needed to know. But Google, supposedly the brain of the planet, never had an answer to that question.
Someone the other day asked me if I still daytrade? Are you crazy? I wrote back. I needed to live past the age of 40. Nobody should daytrade.
“Daddy, we’re home!” my girls would shout around 3PM. And if someone told me right then and there that I needed to drink my urine six times but NO MORE, I most certainly would’ve gone back to the well for the 8th.