The Tale of the Flying Marlin

1958- The Flying Marlin was deep in the Atlantic Ocean, no one in history could quite say where- but it was deep in the swirling storms of the Atlantic. The beautiful Flying Marlin ship has begun to take on water and the crew wonders what to do next. What do you do when you’re working on the poop deck of a fishing boat and your Northern starboard begins to flood with water?

You speak with The Captain.

The Crew of the Flying Marlin raced to The Captain’s corridor and knocked hesitantly at the door.

“Sir. I uh, I mean Captain.” Said the First Mate; a bit quieter than he should have.

“What it is friends!?” The Captain replied with a jovial response.

You see, The Captain never liked a stern ship. He kept the Flying Marlin calm and efficient. The Crew took home a decent pay for fisherman in 1958 and risked their lives about once a month to a hairy situation. This was worse than hairy.

“The ship is sinking, Captain.” The First Mate formally informed The Captain.

The thick copper door swung open and the captain (not completely sober) addressed the crew.

“Alright men, the Flying Marlin is an ol’ gal but we better get her patched up soon or you’ll be delivering our latest bounty to the Devil at bottom of the Sea.

The Crew looked a little bit defeated already.

“Captain, it’s beyond repair. We need to take emergency precautions. I have a wife at home and I would like to see her and my son again.” The First Mate cried.

The Captain put his hand on the First Mate’s shoulder.

“Then let’s get you come, mate.”

The Captain ordered all of the crew to find the life rafts and take immediate (but efficient) choices in order to save the crew. When all of the rafts were set to be deployed one by one by a hoist, the crew got a bit happier and had some hope in their hearts.

The Captain had been looking upon his crew with joy as he smoked his pipe. The Captain wasn’t a big smoker, but he figured if there ever was a time to have a smoke-this was it.

The emergency life rafts were ready to go.

“All younger men first! Lets get these boys home to their family.” The First Mate shouted. Even though he was a young man himself, he knew he had obligations to The Captain.

The Crew followed orders and put the younger crew members on the life rafts. In Theory, this was a kind hearted gesture all thought up by The Captain. It wasn’t until the last life raft was out of site that everyone realized they had just saved their strongest men and The Flying Marlin was left with 16 old men.

These senior portions of The Crew were gentlemen who lived on the sea their whole life. They had been with The Flying Marlin since she first set sail and most of them lost some fingers in the process. Moral was low but no one was giving up.

The Last Minutes

Now, with a ship full of old men in galoshes aboard a vessel that is now taking on massive amounts of the salty sea… The Crew began to panic and the mood was sinking just as quickly as the ship. The Crew of the Flying Marlin began to fight the Atlantic with a bit of a chill down their spine.

“Captain! What now!?” Shouted the First mate from the Southern Side.

The Flying Marlin was in full Titanic Mode.

The Captain stopped puffing his pipe because by now it was raining and he found it annoying to light a match every 30 seconds, only to have it whiffed out by the surrounding elements.

The Captain responded just before the crew got anxious.

“We are going build our own life rafts, gentleman!” The captain informed everyone.

“Find whatever you can and make a life raft. We have some time and I know all of you are good with tools and creativity.”

 The Captain pointed to his First Mate.

“We used to install fencing around the old factory together.”

The Captain pointed to his Second Mate.

“We’ve known each other since Mrs. Goldman’s science class!”

The Captain pointed to his Third Mate.

“And we were on the same little league team!”

“Go Badgers!” They said in unison.

“Lets lay this bastard of a ship down and save our lives!” The Captain screamed. The Crew shouted with cheer and hope.

The Crew began to search for all the materials they could find in order to float and stay alive. The situation was the perfect blend of  every-man-for-himself- mixed with together-on-the-Flying-Marlin.

Doors. Furniture. Art Work.  The crew began using their best imagination and building their life rafts for the chance of surviving this daunting situation.

The Captain was happy and wished he was able to smoke his pipe again because he thought it would be the perfect time. But again, the surrounding conditions weren’t allowing it. The Captain crossed his arms and smiled.

You’d think with the very few skills that The Crew had, it would take some time to build a raft. You’d be surprised at how quick an Old Man can build a life raft when he is facing death at sea. A little over an hour, all of The Crew members had built their own rafts.

Some of them had individual rafts with beautiful nautical furnishings and some men decide to work together and build a group raft to save each other’s lives. The men completed their projects just in time because the ship was sinking fast now and they were awaiting orders from The Captain.

“Captain! We have completed your orders to build ourselves a raft. To our own surprise, it worked out pretty well!” The First mate shouted.

“When shall we set sail!?” Cried the Second Mate.

“We shall set sail immediately! This old girl of a ship is about to guzzle all the water she can handle and I don’t want to be on board when she takes her last breath!” Proclaimed The Captain.

The Crew all looked puzzled at The Captain. The Crew knew why, but the Captain looked puzzled back because he had no idea what was happening.

“What in the hell are you looking at men!? Lets move!” Their Captain ordered.

The First mate removed his hat and brought it to his chest as if he was about to deliver bad news.

“Captain, while we were building our life rafts, we figured you were building one too. Did you not?” The First Mate replied.

“Are you fucking serious!?”

The Captain rarely cursed but he figured now was the perfect time.

The Second Mate took off his hat. The Captain had just seen this move from the First Mate so he braced himself for more bad news.

“Captain, we honestly thought you were going down with the ship once we noticed you just watching us and smiling. I mean, The Flying Marlin is your vessel and when you didn’t move a muscle to make a life raft, we wanted to honor your solitude because we figured you were about to die.” The Second Mate reported.

“I’m not suicidal! I want off of this drafty old ship! Please! One of you must have room for me!” The Captain cried out.

The Crew looked around at each other’s life rafts. Even though they all looked pretty solid, and were all floating quite well by this time- they had no room for a portly, old Captain. And The Captain knew this now.

The Captain removed his hat and placed it to his chest. The crew knew bad news was coming because it’s not like this was an original move or anything.

“My Crew, friends, and family, I wish you the best and hope you get back to land safely. Just be aware that there are quite a few sharks in these waters and that we are probably headed towards a recession of some kind, so maybe find a new profession when you hit dry land.”

Some of The Crew began to cry. At this point, The Captain was on the very last few feet of his ship and the rest of his crew was safely on their rickety rafts.  The Captain gave his official hat to his First Mate and saluted him.

“May you all always remember what happened here on The Flying Marlin.”

The Captain whipped out his tobacco pipe and puffed away as he descended into the ocean with The Flying Marlin.

After the last bubble from The Captain’s breathe came to the surface, The Crew took a moment of silence and wiped their tears.

“Men! Lets get to safety!” The First Mate (now Captain) shouted.

The Men began to row their makeshift raft army to shore. It turns out they were not far at all from a rescue ship that was signaled by the first wave of young crew member that left the Flying Marlin earlier. When everyone was rescued, they all realized that they had been selfish not helping The Captain. But it was too late for that because the ugly sea took him under and his body was probably being eaten by the aforementioned sharks.

Years Gone By

Whenever The Crew (especially The First and Second Mate) thought of The Captain they smiled and were inspired by the courage The Captain had. They all told the tale about The Flying Marlin, especially when in the company of The Crew.

Fortunately, most of The Crew took The Captain’s advice and began new careers in carpentry. They realized the craftsmanship of their rafts and saw that they were actually pretty good with tools and wood, especially under pressure. They began a Carpenter’s Union and to this day, The Crew and their next generation of kin still operates out of Maine.

Recently, the local Historic Society holds a day in The Captain’s honor. The town builds tiny creative rafts and sets them all out to sea to sink. It’s terrible for the environment but brings a lot of joy to locals and tourists who heard the Tale of the Flying Marlin.

As far as The Captain? Some say that on a calm, warm summer night, if you salute the Atlantic Sea- you’ll smell the rich tobacco that The Captain puffed with his last breathe.

Advertisements

Distress Signal

The year is 1978 and the U.S.A has just launched a team of astronauts into space. The United States was happy to see the launch on their color T.Vs in that month of May.

The NASA Houston Port receives a distress signal and a mid-level employee picks up the call.

“This is Houston Port, we hear your loud and clear Astronaut Goldman.”

“Hey guys, this is Astronaut Jim Goldman On Space Shuttle 602.”

“Yes Astronaut Godlman, we are aware”

“Please, just call me Jim.”

“You got it Astronaut Jim. Please inform us of your reason for a radio distress signal.”

“Oh right, um, well I don’t know how else to tell you this but…I am..

Astronaut Jim gulps. You know, one of those gulps that seem comically enhanced. Except this time it was real, and Houston Port was tuning in.

..afraid Houston Port. I’m afraid.”

“Afraid of what Astro Jim? Your shuttle seems to be cruising along nicely and all of our readings are perfect”

“ Yes, that’s good. But I am afraid of this. All This. Being an Astronaut, going in space. This whole situation terrifies me and I am now just realizing it.”

“Astro Jim, you do realize that you’re about 113,000 mile outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, right?”

Astro Jim checks his dashboard and sees his mileage from Earth constantly going up and fidgets in his seat nervously.

“Yes Houston Port, I can see that on my radar.”

“Where has the rest of your crew gone? Why haven’t they tried to assist you?”

“Well Houston..

Astronaut Jim gulped again.

..they made fun of me.”

“Sorry could you repeat that? We believe we heard you say that they made fun of you.”

“That’s correct Houston Port. Those guys can be real jerks, but they have good hearts. So please don’t tell on me”

The mid-level employee looked around looking for assistance, his team all shrugged.

“Don’t worry, we will omit it from our recordings. Is that what you’re afraid of? Being bullied in space?”

“Sort of but not completely. I mean, what if we blow up, you know? That’s scary to think about.”

The Houston Port crew all looked around at each other as if they didn’t have the answer. One entry-level scientist from Houston Port grabbed her personal radio.

“We have done several thousand tests to ensure you that you will not blow up.”

Astro Jim leaned back in his chair a bit.

“Phew, I knew that was true its just great to hear you guys say it.”

The entry-level employee gave a thumbs up to her crew, they smiled.

“No problem. Are you comfortable enough for radio silence?”

“Um. Yeah. I think I am good. Thanks Houston Port.”

“It’s what we are here for. Now go make the USA proud.”

“Copy that Houston. Over and out.”

(12 Minutes Later)

The distress signal at the Houston Port begins to ring and buzz again. Both sounds are equally annoying. A senior staff member answers on his personal radio.

“Yes Astronaut Goldman, how can we assist your distress signal?

“Please, just call me Jim.”

The senior level employee shakes his head disapprovingly.

“How can we assist you, Jim?”

“Ok, so I’ve been thinking.”

The entire Houston Port looks at each other and begins to get comfortable in their seats. The senior staff member clears his throat and continues with protocol.

“What have you been thinking about, Jim?”

“Well, what if we encounter something unknown?”

A mid- level scientist chimes in on his radio.

Well, Astro Jim, that’s sort of the whole point to space exploration. To discover the unknown.”

The mid level employee smiles as if he always wanted to say that.

“Good point. But what if we discover something unknown that we really shouldn’t have discovered?”

The senior employee begins to reply but the mid level scientist stops him and puts his hand up like “I got this.” Which pisses off the senior employee but he realizes that it’s for the best because he doesn’t have an answer.

“Astro Jim, can you elaborate?”

“Well, say you’re in the woods and you discover a bear. I’ve never seen a bear in the woods but I know I shouldn’t get closer and poke it in the name of science. You follow me?”

Everyone at Houston Port begins to shake their heads and rub their temples, mostly because they saw all the senior employees do it and thought it was protocol. But everyone truly knows that this is the most action they have seen in a while so they all still listen in as the mid level scientist calms Astro Jim down.

“Yes, Astro Jim. We follow you. However, we sent you up there to explore the unknown and we wouldn’t have done it if you weren’t the best man for the job.”

“Thanks. I knew I was worrying too much.”

“Are you OK for radio silence? We have a lot of paperwork to do here down on Earth.”

“You got it, gang. Radio silence from here on out.”

The mid level scientist smiles and looks around for compliments but everyone seems to have started their paperwork.

(4 Hours Later)

Astro Jim clicks on a radio recorder from the dispatch control panel. The device was designed to record the last radio signal from Shuttle 602 in case of a deathly emergency.

“Ok, I know I am not supposed to use this device for any other reason other than certain death, I’m sorry.”

Astro Jim looks around the shuttle and crawls under the control panel so no one hears or sees him. Even though he is quite loud and bulging out from under the control panel.

Astro Jim clicks the red button he was trained to press.

“It’s just that I feel a little guilty out here. I am pretty sure I agreed to be an astronaut just because I went through all of the steps.

One day I am an upper level scientist working in the lab and I get the opportunity to be trained by NASA, what scientist wouldn’t want that?  I would be a dick to say no.

Only now I am afraid and isolated in space I am starting to realize that maybe someone else would enjoy this more.

I’m a steak and eggs, simple scientist from Tucson, Arizona. I don’t need the unknown to be amazed. I just need my wife Darlene and my son Junior. Heck, I’d even add that ol’ smelly Chihuahua of ours. I just hope I make them proud. That’s all I think anyone should ever do. Make their family proud.”

Just then, Astro Jim’s entire consol begins to light up. It’s a beautiful glow, not exactly blue but that’s the best way he can register it. The glow was growing bigger and more fantastic just outside his window.

Astro Jim looked at his monitors and sees the rest of the crew messing around in the kitchen making space burritos. He doesn’t feel the need to radio them.

Astro Jim stares at the Unknown Glow and feels that he shouldn’t be recording it. He got the feeling that if he recorded his findings, it wouldn’t be as unique. He felt that he should only be feeling it. Perhaps Astro Jim was the one who was supposed to experience The Unkown Glow on that entire Shuttle 602 all along?

After a few more seconds of heavenly glow, Astro Jim had to say something.

“I just want to say on record. That life itself is better than The Unkown It’s important to recognize what’s in front of you, rather than what’s out there.”

Astro Jim didn’t really know what that exact moment meant, he sort of felt like he was supposed to say something, anything. So that’s what he said. And just as he said it, the heavenly glow was gone. Nothing was left but Jim and the recorder.

Only he didn’t record the message into the control panel last-words device like he thought. No, Astro Jim recorded his sentiment to Houston Port radio. Had he known that all along? Fortunately a lower intern who was hired to work the night shift, wrote down Astro Jim’s words and put them in a desk because at this point, everyone had grown tired of Astro Jim’s voice.

(3 minutes later)

Shuttle 602 was blown to pieces by an unknown glow.

(30 Years Later)

NASA decided to clear the Houston Port unit for lack of funding and discovery. The desk was offered to the lead janitor on call and he gladly took it.

The lead janitor took it home and quickly realized it wouldn’t fit in his studio apartment. So he decided to list it on Ebay. It sold for a modest amount of money to an eager buyer.

The buyer was excited when his “Official NASA High Level Desk” arrived on the front porch. He knew exactly what it was when he saw it online. It took two deliverymen to take it out of the truck and drop it on the front steps of:

 “Junior Goldman 157 Echo Creek, Tucson AZ”

Junior Goldman set the desk up near the window where he could get proper sunlight and feng shui. Junior Goldman wasn’t an astronaut like his dad, but he enjoyed space.

Curiosity ran in the Goldman family, so Junior explored every crease to the desk to see if any etchings or info from his father’s time at Houston Port were still left in the over sized desk.

After kicking away some old pencils and a red NASA visitor’s button, Junior snagged a corner of something in the way back of the drawer, the area where things get lost and no one remembers, or cares if they find it.

Junior pulled out the crumpled piece of paper that was stuck between the drawers. It was his father’s last words scribbled down by an intern. It’s like Junior had known it was there the whole time. He framed the note and let it sit in the glow of the sun for years

NASA never figured out the Unknown Glow that took the life of Astro Jim and the crew. Mainly because after that phenomenon, may of the entry to mid-level employees quit their jobs to spend more time with their families. The case was quickly closed and never opened. Perhaps the exploration and words of one man- meant the world to another?

Life Cycle

As you may have noticed from scrolling through the pages of this here website, I don’t exactly have consistency with the type of content that I post. If I was still a “professional” blog writer, my editor and SEO marketing manager would tell me to fix that so I can maintain my minimum wage job status while struggling through cancer recovery..(breathe).

Sorry- did I get off on a tangent?

Anyway, happy to report that I no longer take orders from a blog manager, influencer, SEO commander, or whatever-the-hell they are calling themselves. Don’t get me wrong, there jobs aren’t easy, but that life isn’t for me. (He said while he continued to write his personal blog for free).

Look, I didn’t really plan on posting that much on here. But my ego got super boosted when I saw that a lot of people seemed to have been responding to what I post. So I did what any good American would do and decided to feed me ego and get ta writin’ sum more.

Side note: In my opinion, ego isn’t bad. It’s just the way you execute it…Kanye, A-Rod, and (probably) Leonardo DiCaprio would say it’s confidence and not ego that drives them. Personally, I think confidence is ego with Ray Ban sunglasses on. Neither are bad, but too much of the other will probably leave you crying in the shower…or as I call it “Tuesday.”

Man, did I get off topic. Bare with me, kinda free flowing all of this because I have been so backed up with words for so long…(ahem).

Life: what is it? why are we here? And what is better than a good turkey sandwich?

I ask these important questions because my good friends at Facebook like to have “memories” and that is what sparked this post..

I don’t have to tell you that life is weird and can’t be explained by anyone. If someone tells you they have the secret to life- ask them how much it costs and then report them to the Better Business Bureau.

Heres how Facebook wanted to let me know that life’s content isn’t consistent:

4 Years ago: I was in chemo therapy at Sloan Kettering receiving treatment and being delivered amazing banana bread (s/o to Sofiya Alexandra) totally fogged and detached. Although I think I did some writing..

8 years ago: I was working in Los Angeles and performing at iO West theatre (RIP). Our group “First World Problems” was on a long run of successful shows, depending on who you ask.

9 Years ago today, I got in my car and moved to Los Angeles. Slept on couches (s/o to Phil Tipping) until I landed in a sweet house in Eagle Rock, CA on an air mattress that had just sprung a leak…I then called my Mom to tell her how well I was doing.

10 years ago today: I boasted about making a great Turkey Sandwich.

Your biggest Influencer you follow on Instagram doesn’t need to tell you that life has ups and downs. I just told you that, so like, don’t read their post..just scroll past it; please keep reading this one though because I promise I am almost done.

(clears throat and straightens clip on tie)

I will never forget an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine when Detective Jake Perelta (Andy Samberg) misses out on a date with Lt. Amy Santiago ( Melissa Fumero) to a well respected and super-star colleague: Detective Dave Majors (Garret Dillahunt).

SPOILER ALERT!

The episode ends with Amy not having a great time with Dave on a date they had, mostly because she had eyes for someone else in the precinct… Jake runs into him and says “you must be pretty bummed you two didn’t hit it off.”

Dave simply replies with: “Not really, I can’t wait to see what happens to me next” and walks off.

THAT is the line that I always remember when the world is upside-down because to Dave Majors, there was no up or down..there just was- and he couldn’t wait to see what life is.

I’m going to post this on Facebook so I get a memory of memories that I shared because I want to remember how happy I am today. (S/O to my amazing wife Jade and our “sweet pea”).

 

*S/O to the writers of Season 2 Epsisode 21

 

Hello Again!

First off, I want to thank all of you who have said kind words over the past few years. I can happily say that I have recovered well and I am successfully cancer free.

What have I been up to, you ask in your head?

Well, a lot actually- but I won’t bore you with all the details and then try to wrap it up in some witty way. The point is. I am doing great. Oh! I will tell you that I have moved to NJ and have an absolutely, smart and beautiful daughter.

What’s her name, you ask in your head?

I can’t tell you. Why? (you say out loud because now you’re getting annoyed). Well, if you’ve noticed, Google has taken over the world and you can look up anything at anytime. Don’t believe me? Google any two words and you’ll find something helpful and also disgusting.

First two words that popped into my head: Mustard Party.

I don’t feel like Googling “Mustard Party” because, my point is- EVERYTHING IS ONLINE! I don’t want my daughter’s life out their on the cyber nets for eyeballs to read. She can’t even crawl yet and I don’t want her pictures or name online to haunt her later in life because we all have embarrassing child photos, even if our parents only meant the best. If she chooses to make a Youtube account (owned by Google) later in life then she can. As long as it’s age appropriate material.

So, you may be asking yourself internally- “Why the hell is Mark writing this.”

Well, for a few reasons. Since having a daughter and now having a family of my own. I have been getting like, super eager to create.

I mean..I created LIFE what else can I do! (is what I say to myself at night in my head).

So I just wanted to say “hello” and “thank you” to all of the followers and subscribers out there. In future, I will be posting casual content for easy reading, music that I have written or want to share, and maybe a doodle or two.

I hope you’re all doing well, safe, and happy. I look forward to growing with you all.

(He’s right, that wasn’t witty at all) you say in your head.

 

 

Recovery Road

July 22nd- 2015

The train made its way into the station, running right on time as always. The train on the Recovery Road makes its stops and picks up those who are ready to make their way to a better place. Before they can get there though they need to rest for a while and heal for the better part of the weeks ahead.

“Tickets please. Tickets!” the Conductor shouts.
“I’m sorry for yelling everyone. It’s just that some of you have hearing impairments and I need to have things running smoothly now. TICKETS! TICKETS PLEASE! Again, I am sorry for yelling. Just doing my job.”

Mark took his ticket to Recovery Road out of his back pocket where he keeps all of this paperwork for safe keeping, knowing full well that this is probably the worst place to keep something that he doesn’t want stolen.

“Ah, Mr. Alderson. We’ve been told of your arrival and want to thank you for making it to the trip to Recovery Road.” the Conductor winks and punches Mark’s ticket. It seemed a little creepy but it was probably because he was an older man and winking wasn’t always creepy when he was younger.

“It doesn’t exactly feel like recovery road. I threw up a few times already and my body is in a lot of pain.” Mark replied to the Conductor.

“But the cancer is gone, yes?”

“Well. Yeah. But I am pretty beat up and not that strong mentally.”

Mark tried lifting his baggage but was weak from surgery. The Conductor smiled and helped him with the heavy baggage.

“Beat up, A bit depressed, still nauseous, in pain, and weak. But cancer free, huh?”

“Yeah.”

The Conductor punched Mark’s ticket.

“Welcome to your trip towards Recovery Road, my friend.” The Conductor winked again and began walking down the aisle.
“TICKETS! HAVE YOU TICKETS READY! AGAIN- SORRY FOR YELLING!”

Mark settled into his seat. Normally he chooses a window seat to look at the landscape but the chemo therapy left his body weak and unable to calm his bladder for too long and he didn’t want to annoy anyone else in his row by having to pee every hour. The aisle seat wasn’t so bad. Plus they had episodes of “Friends” playing in standard definition on the TV screens and if you squinted just right, you could see the ridiculous faces they all would make. The 90’s TV show made Mark feel a bit nostalgic.

Nostalgia was an emotion that kept coming up in Mark’s limbic system lately and he couldn’t quite figure out why. Perhaps it was because he was depressed and wished for a better time. But he had a wife-to-be and a great family so why would he be nostalgic? And why the depression? Without coming up for an answer, Mark just realized that he was on Recovery Road and the feeling wouldn’t last forever. Beating cancer is tough. Mark didn’t know that recovery was just as tough.

“This seat taken, young man?” A middle aged mid-western man with a weathered face asked Mark.

Mark looked around and saw multiple seats available but didn’t want to be rude.

“Not at all.” Mark moved his iPad and put it in the overhead compartment. It was making him feel seasick anyway.

“Mighty kind of you to give up your seat like that. My name is George. But most people just call me Cowboy. Don’t really know why, maybe it’s because I talk with an accent. However, most of America talks with an accent and we don’t call them all Cowboy. I feel like it’s akin to calling my friend just “Mexican” because of his heritage. Funny, his name is George too, except he goes by Jorge. Either way, people have been calling me Cowboy most my life and it sort of grew on me”

“Oh, I’m Mark. Named after my great grandfather. I guess that’s all to my story.”

“Oh I’m sure that ain’t all there is to your story. You’re on the road to recovery. There must be something else to ya.”

Cowboy sat right next to him in the middle seat. Had Mark known that Cowboy was going to sit right next to him, perhaps he would have said that the seat was taken. But Mark doesn’t like to lie and clearly Cowboy would have found out.

“What are you in for?” Cowboy asked while he grabbed a handful of beef jerky from his pocket.

“Cancer. Second time. Feeling pretty beat up.”

“Ah. The big C. I remember my road to recovery from that nasty disease. Have you hit the point where you hate your doctors for making you feel disgusting but love them for saving your life?”

“Yeah. Sorta feeling that right now. I guess I feel swindled because they said all I had to do was relax during recovery but I can’t stop vomiting and feeling pain. And the depression has been really getting to me.”

“Yeah, I betcha thought you were going to be ready to run a marathon after surgery and chemo, huh?”

“Well. Yeah, I’ve been so down for months and I figured I would be able to go into high gear after chemo and surgery.”

“You ever drive a tractor, Mark?”

Mark actually thought about this question for a bit. He knew the answer but he felt like he should check his database to see if he had or not.

“No. I haven’t”

Cowboy swallowed his handful of jerky. He even made a slight gulping noise.

“If you take a tractor that’s been parked for so long and throw it into high gear, you’re gonna break down faster than a new ride at Disneyland. You gotta give your body time.”

Mark knew that Cowboy was right. Even the expert imagineers at Disneyland can’t seem to make a new ride work. Even after years of tests and millions of dollars spent, Disneyland still can’t make a new ride work in high gear! Just look at the Rocket Rods incident of 1998!

Mark mentally allowed himself to go into first gear and lean into the relaxing of Recovery Road.

“What are you in for, Cowboy?” Mark asked mimicking Cowboy’s accent. He didn’t mean to but it just came out that way.

“Well, I figure I should tell ya since we may be here a while.”

Cowboy rustled in his seat a bit and pulled out a picture from his wallet and showed Mark.

“That’s my boy. He passed away recently.”

Mark started thinking multiple thoughts. Wasn’t this the train for cancer patients? Was Cowboy sick too? How did his son pass away?

“I’m sorry to hear that. How are you doing?”

“Well. I’m on this train aint I? No one wants to be on the Recovery Road but it’s something we all have to go through.”

“So um, you don’t- have cancer?”

“Nope. Not anymore at least. I kicked the stuff about 12 years ago. Nah I’m on this train for my boy.”

Cowboy grabbed another handful of beef jerky and kindly offered some to Mark. A lot of food lately still made him nauseated but dehydrated meat with a stranger sounded pretty good right now. Mark stuck his hand in the bag and got a good piece of jerky.

“So, you’re telling me that this train isn’t just for cancer patients?” Mark said with his mouth full.

“No sir, a lot of people are on Recovery Road. In fact, most people you encounter are recovering from something. Some people get off the train before others and some are travelling for what seems like forever, but what is for sure is that one time or another- we all go for a ride.”

Cowboy gulped his jerky. Mark gulped his as well but realized he probably should have chewed it a bit longer because it was a little rough going down.

Mark heard the faint sound of a laugh track and was startled by Cowboy’s instant laugh.

“HAHAHA! Oh man, I love that Chandler Bing character. He’s always good for a laugh.” Cowboy said as he held his belly just above his belt buckle in the shape of an eagle.

“Yeah. He’s good. Hey, um, do you ever feel guilty about laughing during Recovery Road?” Mark asked in a whispered voice.

“Hell no. Absolutely not. Heck, if no one laughed during recovery, we’d all be fucked. Sorry for my language. I just wanted to get my point across.”
“What’s the point of not feeling laughter and joy? Why deprive yourself of something that makes you naturally feel good. Heck, I try to laugh from my gut at least three times a day.

Mark tried to remember the last time he laughed 3 times a day during his battle with cancer. Without coming up with a time, he made a mental note to make sure to laugh more. Usually he writes his notes down on his phone but the anesthesia was wearing off and he was getting sick again.

Mark excused himself and rushed to the small bathroom in the back.

Cowboy winked and looked out the window.

Mark wondered if he should start winking more because lately it seemed pretty charming. Before he could make up his mind he started dry heaving.

Mark rushed to the bathroom just as Phoebe Buffay said something quirky to ignite an uproarious laugh track. He heard Cowboy laughing loudly as he pushed the Conductor aside to make it to the bathroom in time.

________________________________________________________________________
The train had come to a stop just as Mark was cleaning himself up from seeing his beef jerky again and was able to make his way back to his seat.

“TICKETS! I NEED YOUR TICKETS! SORRY FOR YELLING BUT IT’S MY JOB!” the Conductor shouted just as Mark passed him on the way to his seat.

As Mark returned to his aisle he found an elderly woman sitting where Cowboy had been.

“Excuse me. Did you see a man sitting here before?” Mark asked the kind Old Woman.

“Yes… but he got off at the last stop.” the Old Woman said to Mark.

“He got off? I thought Recovery Road was a one-way trip?”

“Oh, only if you’re lucky dear. Your Cowboy friend got off where I got on. Grief Relief Station. It’s a necessary stop on the road to the Recovery Road if you’ve lost someone close to you.”

Mark sat down next to the old woman just as another episode of “Friends” began to start.

“Do you like taffy?” the Old Woman asked as she offered Mark a freshly wrapped piece of blue gelatinous candy.

“Sure.”

Without Mark asking his new senior friend the reason for her being on the Recovery Road he figured he would just settle in and make a new friend.

Recovery Road for Mark may be a few months. He had a lot of pain to deal with, multiple follow up tests, and some catching up on life to do but he couldn’t wait. He smiled and was happy to know that he made it on the train.

Mark popped the blue taffy into his mouth and had his first gut laughter of the day when he saw Joey get his head stuck in a turkey.

“This is my favorite episode. My husband, God rest his soul, always let me know when it was on.” The elderly woman said as she wiped a tear from her eye.

“He sounds great. Tell me all about him.”

The Elderly Woman smiled and began reminiscing about all the good times she had with her late husband. Mark learned that nostalgia wasn’t a bad thing as long as you were looking back with joy. Recovery Road is sometimes long, but at least he was lucky to share the journey with new friends and family was just a phone call away.

“ALLL ABOOOAAAARD!!” The Conductor shouted as the train left the station.

“So where are you getting off, son?” the Old Woman asked with blue taffy in her teeth.

Mark had is second laugh of the day at the site of the blue toothed elderly woman then smiled wide while thinking about his bride who was waiting for him at the end of Recovery Road.

“Wedding Way. That’s where I’m headed.” Mark said with a slight accent. He didn’t mean to but for some reason it felt natural.

“ohhh you’re a lucky man.”

“Yeah. I guess I am.”

Mark sat on the train for as long as he needed to before he could arrive at Wedding Way on October 3rd at 4pm where he would begin his new journey on the Happy Trails.

Mark made a note to remember his camera gulped the remains of the taffy.

Final Round

As I sit and write this, I have successfully begun my last and final round of chemo. I’m not even going to go into the fact that I need surgery and will have to recover for a short time. The important thing to focus on is I am almost done with this chemo junk.

It’s strange, when I was 19 and diagnosed with cancer for the first time, I kept thinking to myself “the fluids in those bags are healing me.” And it got me through some pretty tough times. Now, almost 10 years later, when I see my IV being prepped and cleaned I think, “This is hard. Very, very hard.”

I don’t know if thinking that messes me up mentally but this whole journey has been hard. Very, very, hard.

I haven’t been posting much lately because the third round really knocked me down Luckily I got back up. I feel like I should write something about that famous saying “it’s not about the amount of times you get knocked down, its how many times you get back up.” Well I feel like that saying doesn’t really apply because I got knocked down once and I got up once. If this were an actual sport, it would be very boring as a spectator. It’s equivalent to a guy noticing that his shoe is untied and fixing it, not exactly ESPN material.

I will not get knocked down again this round.

Today I finished my first day of the final round and all of the familiar aches and mental strains came rushing back. But this time I realized something:

This will be the last round of chemotherapy I ever have to do.

It has to be. I feel it. And if the Universe decides to hit me hard again in 10 years then I will say “Ouch, 2 knock downs. This is no fun.” But then I will get back up, making the fictional spectator sport even more boring because it will be equivalent to a cat landing on its feet when jumping off a coffee table, people will ask for their money back.

Cancer will never give me a full KO and I’m almost done knocking this disgusting disease out of my system for good.

I can’t wait to cross this finish line with all of my loved ones and family. You all have been incredibly supportive during this time. I wish I could hand out trophies and awards to everyone that has helped…but I can’t because those are expensive and I wouldn’t even know where to find a place that makes trophies for cancer.

“Yes I’d like to make about 18 trophies.” –Me in the trophy store.

“Well sure, is it for a t-ball team or something?” The kind and overweight man behind the counter asks me.

I look around the shop and realize that maybe I could ask for a discount by using the cancer card but I would rather support a local business.

“Oh no, no. It’s for cancer support.” – I grin and hope he doesn’t ask anything else.

He asks something else.

“Like the astrological sign?” – the counter man inquires.

I ask myself “How would he know about astrology but not know about the countless types of cancers there are and the people that support someone who have been diagnosed?”

“Yes, like the astrology sign of Cancer. “ I reply because I don’t feel like sharing my story with another stranger. Sometimes it’s a long story, especially on an empty on stomach.

“Thought so.” The muffin top counter man smiles and rings me up.

He looked so happy that I didn’t want to bum him out talking about cancer in his shop. Luckily he gave me a discount because he said his spirit guide told him that I would be I would be coming in today.

So to all of those that have supported Jade and I: please pick up your Cancer astrology support trophies when I finally cross the finish line in August after my recover from cancer.

I will be the guy smiling wide and looking forward to the future

But you remember what I look like, right?

Time to Heal

Ok, so I am starting to feel a little bit better after my second round of chemo. I am halfway home. Still not feeling 100 percent but who does feel 100 percent every day anyway? Maybe Taylor Swift does…

I noticed that looking at old pictures helps me get excited for the future, because right now all I feel is trapped in this distorted reality of chemo. The pictures help me realize that the chemo isn’t the only reality that I will be living in my whole life. It’s where I have to stay now, but I definitely have my bags packed for a future destination.

Chemo has been hard, but it has also been healing. My tumor markers are going down and I am winning the rounds, even though I have taken a few blows below the belt. Luckily my fiancée has been there to hit hard when cancer plays unfair. Cancer doesn’t stand a chance with Jade in my corner.

There are many websites, specials, books, and commercials that try to tell you how cancer feels and how you can fight it but I feel like nothing seems to work except time.

Yeah sure, you could paint a picture and feel pretty good for a bit, but nothing is going to take away the pain and confusion of chemo like time. Not even a book recommend by Oprah Winfrey that promises all the secrets.

I don’t want to be a downer at all, the last thing I want is someone else bummed out. I guess I am just trying to be OK with time lately because with time comes healing. And healing is what I ache for but I am an impatient person, especially during times of healing.

The hard reality about serious healing is that life doesn’t say “Hey buddy, you’re going through something awful, give it like 5 minutes and you’ll feel GREAT! Someone may even name a building after you for your struggles!”

No, usually it’s “Hey dude, take a number, we’ll get ya fixed up but ya gotta put some work in yourself before we can truly say you’re healed. Oh, and by the way, it’s gonna suck and you’re probably gonna cry. Most people cry here. But hey, Maybe you’ll learn something along the way? Either way we’re kinda backed up so it’ll be some time. Just take a number”

( The Healing Shop closes for the day and Mark is left confused, again. Mark reviews his healing ticket as he waits at the Reality Shift Station with his bags packed and hopes that the train is running on time.)