Thursday, October 30, 2014

Late night musings on baseball, wanting things too much, and a little bit about myself



Things are going pretty well for me right now, personally and professionally. I made $16,000 today, which has pushed me over $100k for October. I just attended my sister's wedding last weekend and had a wonderful time. I couldn't be any happier for her. Tonight, I met some cool dudes at my work building (the best workspace, ever) for a poker game and some drinks and won 1st in the tournament. Good things are happening in my life and I am grateful for that.

And yet I feel really sad right now... catatonic, even.

Baseball... stupid baseball.
Because the nuclear scenario lurking in my deepest, darkest fears for the last 4 weeks has finally come true.



The Giants just won the World Series. Again.

As it approached closer and closer to becoming reality, I felt all this coiled-up anger and hate.

They get to win it three times and we (the Los Angeles Dodgers) have to flame out again?
They get to win it three times with such marginal talent that they finished well out of the playoffs in the two odd years with nearly the same roster?
They get to have all the variance, luck, timing on their side?
Their ace outperforms in the playoffs while our Cy-Young and perhaps MVP winner gives up home runs to stupid Matt  Carpenter?
They get to be happy for a third time and I have to endure this bullshit again?
THREE FUCKING TIMES?!?!!??! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!?!?



The very thought of it happening made me shudder in an ugly fit of rage and jealousy. I just want to see my team to win it all so badly (1988 one year before I was born) but instead I get to see these assholes win it three fucking times. I wanted to curse the sports gods forever and ever. I felt indignant. I felt wronged. 

Now that the day has finally arrived, I am no longer angry. Now I just accept it... because I don't know what else to do to get on with my life.

(deep breaths....)

I know, it's so irrational and stupid. If you just read all that and you aren't a hardcore sports fan, this is probably the along the lines of what you think about me.

"You're being silly, it's just a game." 

And that brings me to...

Passion
I'm incredibly passionate about my sports teams. That means my emotions will go through volatile fits and spurts over an outcome that's entirely out of my control. For anything I feel passionate about, there must be equal amounts pleasure and pain. I'm not one of those fans who can just stay positive and write off a big loss thinking "oh well, they'll get them next time". You know that guy at the bar glued to the TV who makes that loud thumping noise right after a crucial turnover and then you turn your head to stare at him thinking "Christ, that guy takes this shit a tad too seriously"? I'm that guy. I once stopped talking to a college buddy (who I'd later call my best friend) because he was rooting for the Celtics over the Lakers in the 2008 Finals (and he's not from the Boston area nor any had ties there, which made it all the more infuriating, as if it were his choice to betray me).

It's so deeply ingrained that even as I want to deescalate my attachment just for the sake of my own personal enjoyment of watching the game, I can't help but just react in the most base and primal way possible. Like they are the enemy and they *can't win*. They're not allowed to, damn it! (this is what I yelp out in vain to nobody in particular)

If you asked me what's so unlikable about the Giants to warrant such heated repulsion, the answer is because they are the Dodgers' rivals, so fuck them. That is it. I don't dislike any player in particular, nor the Bay Area in general. It's the idea of them getting to have something I want while I (my team) cannot. It's that sense of wanting I'm trying to describe here that's underlying to all the pent up rage. Wanting so much and caring too much.

I've reflected a few times to ask myself why I am like this.

This is about to get a bit personal but it starts with my childhood. Sports was the first thing I was most passionate about. My first experience watching sports was NBA basketball in the mid 90s. My dad had the Lakers on TV all the time. Later I would come to realize that he was more of a casual, low-key sports follower, not a guy who would know every little fact about the league/team and go crazy over each win and loss  -- this is unusual in the sense that most diehard fans usually become that way because they grow up around just-as-diehard family/friends/community members. My path there was a bit more isolated. I just got so hooked after watching Jordan and Bulls compete in the finals. My interest quickly spread to different sports -- baseball, football, basketball being the primary ones. I read everything, knew everything, watched everything and cared way too much.

I didn't even play any sports as a kid -- not a single one. The reason for this was because I had histiocytosis as a kid, which, in simplified terms, made my bone structure weaker. I was held out of P.E. at school often and rarely participated in physical activities. I would just watch other kids play from the sidelines. By the time this went away around 6th grade or so, I didn't feel a lot of confidence in myself as far as physical activity. I wanted to be good at things, not suck and be made fun of by all the other kids who had a head start. So I ended up channeling all my unused competitive rage into the teams I rooted for. I can't count how many times my parents told me to calm down over a Lakers game.

Nowadays, you take something like golf or pool, two things I do for recreation. I pour my heart and soul into it emotionally, for better or worse.

The passion to be a trader
So back to that "sense of wanting". It should go without saying I am every bit as passionate about trading and market as anything in the world. I want to be really good at it. I can't imagine how I'd look at myself in the mirror, if, after so much painstaking time and effort and commitment, I still wasn't very good at it. I don't think I could do any other job. That's how much it means to me. I foolishly positioned my self-esteem to be highly correlated with my trading success and I wish there was an easy way to change that. I wanted it way too much.

2012 was a year with a lot of worry and depression. It was my 2nd year in New York at my prop trading group. I didn't lose money as a trader but I wasn't making nearly enough to cover living expenses. Factor in profit split with my firm and taxes, and I was basically making chump change. It was a humbling experience for me since I held myself to the highest possible standards.

Why can't I do what they do?
Let me tell you a story of one particularly not-so-good trading day back in 2012 when I was with my prop firm. I'll preface it by saying I lost around $300 on this day. A paltry sum, even back then as a nickel-and-diming piker trader. It's not the PnL that matters. Not every story has to be about some massive loss, although we'll come to that one in time.

After a solid morning making several hundred bucks, I made eight consecutive losing trades to go back to even for the day. Nothing big, just getting cut up over and over by overtrading. It became a game of chasing the last loss. I was determined to get back and close green. I just needed to find some kind of opportunity.

Enter Wal-Mart (WMT). Yeah, not a volatile stock, I know. But it had breaking news in the afternoon and tanked and other traders on the desk started scalping it for 10-30c moves. 

There was this really good scalper on my desk, let's call him Nick. Nick had the ideal temperament for trader (whereas I have the opposite). Lightning fast reflexes to boot. Just kept his cool and executed. Made it look so easy buying dips and selling within 30 seconds for profit. Even flipping short the opposite direction was working for him -- basically what I call "playing the violin" on the stock.

So fittingly, it runs through my mind "I can do that too, watch me" For the next 30 minutes, I tried to do the same thing. I just kept trading 200-500 share lots trying to make 10-30c 5-10 times. I kept losing, just about every single time. And in real time, I'd hear Nick's commentary on his entries and I'd be a step slow or I'd take the wrong side. It became this personal hell where I thought God was personally telling me I was an awful trader and I should just stop embarrassing myself. Combine this with the bigger picture context of all the self-doubt accumulating in my mind as I wasn't making any significant money and...

I snapped. 


"FUCK THIS! THIS IS SUCH FUCKING BULLSHIT!"

A buddy of mine who sat next to me observed that I had this idiosyncratic frustration habit where, if my level of tilt reached a critical mass, I would pick up the keyboard from the edges, appearing as if I was contemplating perhaps obliterating it entirely, only to at the last second, show mercy and drop it lightly back onto the table surface. 

This time, I threw it down hard enough to jar half the keys loose and send them flying. The Pg-Up key flew into the next row and hit some poor guy's face.

One thought that kept running through my mind in the heat of frustration: "why does he get to be so good at this and I can't figure it out?! I try too fucking hard to not be able to do this!"

I stormed out of the room in full meltdown mode. Maybe in another post, I'll describe just how bad meltdown mode can really feel.

you're being silly, it 's just money...
Now I have to stop writing
Because I need to go to sleep.

Now you readers know how crazy I am. I'm still trying to figure myself out.

To the Giants fans...enjoy it while it lasts you lucky SOBs

5 comments:

  1. Great post, love the honesty Peter.

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  2. Hey Peter, thanks for commenting on my blog. I've had similar feelings sometimes when trying to imitate other traders..which is why I eventually gave up doing so (only to suffer big losses when I again tried to do so). Now I'm back to what I was doing...focusing on what I'm good at and enhancing and tweaking that

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  3. Wow that was odd. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters write here!

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