dreams, part 10

I’m wearing nothing but tighty whiteys. And they’re blue.

I’m at the Angelo State University student center. Today is the day I’m supposed to fly on the space shuttle, making me the first copy editor to do so. This seems somewhat strange, given that the shuttle program is no longer in operation, and copy editors are not notorious for their writing skills. Does something need editing in space? Nonetheless, here I am.

I call my brother, Mike. He is my designated guest on the flight. He says we should leave for NASA at 7:15, which gives me about an hour to get to his place, where my space duds are. No, the dream does not indicate why NASA is in San Angelo. I do the calculation in my head, and I have exactly enough time.

Except I can’t find my clothes. And then I remember. They’re in a locker somewhere in the student center.

I’m in the only stall of the rest room on the far end of the building. I’m about to leave when Becca, my boss from the long-since defunct East Valley Tribune, walks in. I point out she’s in the men’s room. She just looks at me, her face blank, not acknowledging my existence. I have no time to talk.

T-minus something.

I run through the student center, trying to remember which locker it is. They all look the same. Besides, I don’t have a key. I have no idea how I would get into the locker even if I found it. Locker after locker after locker.

Do you have to have your driver’s license in space? Surely they will not ask me to drive, unless it’s a stick shift and nobody else knows how. Maybe Mike will do it. He’s right-handed. More lockers, various shapes and designs. None look familiar.

T-minus something else.

Finally, I’m at the last set of lockers. They’re in the snack bar on the far edge of the building. I don’t know what to do. The bored woman at the register looks up. “Lose your keys?” she asks. And there they are, along with my wallet, sitting next to the register. I realize I don’t really need my clothes anyhow. I begin a dash for the car. As they say: It’s not a marathon, it’s a sprint.

As I leave the building, people are staring across the lawn and pointing. “There’s a crazy guy attacking everyone,” someone says. I see him. A short man with a pitchfork, waving it menacingly. He’s wearing nothing but tighty whiteys, except they are white. At least now I realize how they got the name.

He pokes one person, then another, and another. I wonder if I should do something.

But I have a date with destiny, a flight to infinity and beyond dangling modifiers. If I speed (and come on, I’m an astronaut!), I have maybe just enough time to make it to Mike’s place, then NASA.

If I can find my car. I have no idea where I parked.

T-minus whatever.

Space beckons. I wonder what I’ll look like in my jaunty space suit. The only thing I remember about it is came with space sunglasses I might be able to use for running when I get back.

I hear screaming in the distance.

The clock’s ticking.

And then.

I wonder if the shuttle will be serving lunch.

Even though there is no time whatsoever, I run back to the student center snack bar to grab a burger to go. Just in case. Space is hard work.

I’m waiting for the burger in my blue tighty whiteys. I’m trying to write the first paragraph of the “copy editor in space” story in my head in advance. I’ve got nothing. Why, again, am I doing this?

T-minus oblivion.

And then I see him. The guy with the pitchfork is coming toward the student center.

I’m wondering whether I should get mustard or mayo, and how I will carry condiments, given that I have no pants. Pants is overrated. Yeah yeah.

I wake up.

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dreams, part 9

Now here’s a story of a guy
That was carryin’ a stick

that poked out his eye
Here’s a little somethin’
That we oughta talk about
— the prophet babb

I’m in line at a book signing. I have no idea who the author is. The wait is long; the crowd is annoying. I wait.

When I finally make it up to the author, she shrugs and says she just gave out her last book. But instead, she offers me a guitar and says she’ll sign it.

I agree to take the guitar but manage to whisk it away before she is able to autograph it. And that is that.


On the way out of the book signing, I see that Dead Hot Workshop, my all-time favorite band on the planet, is preparing to play a one-off reunion concert out front. They have been defunct forever; I haven’t seen them in a billion years. I am elated.


Brent Babb, the guitarist, singer and genius songwriter, doesn’t have a guitar. The band is frantic. They look at me. I look at them. I realize in an instant that sometimes life just works out.

I hand them the guitar, only then realizing that it’s almost a dead ringer for Brent’s trusty black Les Paul. They strap him in. He looks happy. Then he leaves the stage for a moment as the lights go down.

I wait. Dead Hot live. With my guitar. This will be something.

And then.

Brent comes back on stage. He has just hacked off the first three fingers on his left hand, leaving him only with a bloody stump except for one extraordinarily gifted pinky.

He’s crying, but not in a painful way. It’s more of an expression of a lost life, a dream unfulfilled. The pain of getting old, of having to do this one more time when the magic is gone. Also the fingers.

He hands me the guitar and walks away, back into the shadows of Mill Avenue.

Sometimes life doesn’t work out at all.

I wake up.

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i’ve been swimming in a sea of anarchy

Every day is a winding road
I get a little bit closer.
— the prophet sheryl suzanne crow

A day in chemotherapy is a lot like running a marathon.

There’s much anxiety leading up to it, the experience itself takes about 5 hours (ok, it’s like a really SLOW marathon) it’s a drudge in the middle and you just want it to be over, and your brain is fuzzy at the finish. Yes, I had a banana afterward. And just like at a marathon, they had run out of Lorna Doone cookies by the time I finished. dammit.

I’m always torn as to what to do after chemo. Feeling totally crappy, is it better to rest, or shake it up with a shakedown stroll? Normally i do the former, but today I went out to battle the SCC Gnats From Hell and get in a couple miles.

Sirprise! It felt great! Once you forget you’re supposed to feel lousy, you don’t. It’s easy to dump all the worries and drugs and negativity into the happy spot where your run lives. The burrowing owl on the back stretch reminds me not to dump. Nnever doubt owls. They are wise. And they have talons.

Besides, i have new orange shoes. Obinutuzumab is no match for orange shoes. Only 2 miles, but the last 2 miles of a marathon are 2 only miles. coincidence? (Bonus: I also get a nasty steroid that makes sleeping a pipe dream, and I have no pipe. Hellllllo, 3 a.m.!

Dr. Sheehan had the right idea: The real competition isn’t other runners. The real competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit.

So don’t.

Bottom line: less whining, more miles. and maybe not so many bugs. Where the hell’s my medal? And my Doones?

My brain is usually fuzzy anyhow, so it’s not too different. Miles is miles. I get a little bit closer.

The Chemo Marathon Training Plan. This could be a thing. See you again in two months, little chemo voice.

Every day is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer

to feeling fine

.yes, that’s a burrowing owl. do not mock the power of my mighty iphone camera
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which seidel are you on?

“If this whole running thing doesn’t work out,
think I could make it as a ’90s hiphop B boy?”
— the prophet molly seidel

The advantage of running in Flagstaff over South Scottsdale is that you get to have Beaver Street pizza and watch for Molly Seidel wandering the streets afterward. Also, you can smooch on the courthouse steps where you were married 7,227 days ago, give or take a leap year. And you get to run on the magical trail that’s home to world-class legends and everyday pedestrians alike.

Oh, and that 7,000 foot elevation thing.

But pace on the beloved buffalo loop was still the usual 14-minute parade, same as back home in the lowlands. Maybe the cooler weather offsets the thin air. Could be my fading heart is just set to autopilot at 14:10 pace no matter what. Or possibly i was keeping something in the tank in case Ms. Seidel flew by on the trail and I needed to lay down a few 5:30s to catch up with her. You never know.

I ran loops with the trail monkey, who didn’t mind slowing down for me as long as i held him up occasionally to share the vistas. And this joint has vistas to spare. The San Francisco Peaks on the horizon, cotton candy clouds providing a curtain for them, those things they call “trees,” which apparently are sort of like saguaros with no arms. Weird.

A glorious day, the perfect companion, a fine oatmeal stout. A too-brief respite from the insanity of the planet. Oxygen is for suckers.

It’s sad to watch Flagstaff change. The swarm of California license plates, the fence around the ghost of Barnes & Noble, the construction engulfing the open spaces around the edge of town. We once dreamed of living here. Funny how so many dreams are slipping away.

But we still have each other, and a damn fine pizza, and another four 14-minute miles in the bank. Everything else is just cake.

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i once owned a chevy that i never drove to the levy

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away.
— the prophet mclean

Longtime readers familiar with my readership of three will be startled to know I have an even LESS popular Instagram account. On it, I received a response to the Saguaro Selfie post yesterday from someone in Indonesia, where my writing is wildly popular, largely on the merits of my screenplay about two disenfranchased motorcyclists’ trek to discover the country, called “Indonesia Rider.”

This reply was worrisome, causing me to worry some. The google translation resulted in this message:

“Stop the cake.”


I wasn’t sure what it had to do with my post. but then again, i wasn’t sure what my post had to do with my post, so it seemed to fit in OK.

Still, it bothered me. We are a pro-cake household here. Mo loves a basic white cake; I lean toward German chocolate. We’re basically a Jackson-McCartney duet, without the chimp and bickering about whose name goes first in the songwriting credits.

Stop the cake? Could it be a movement? Don McLean wrote “American Pie” half a century ago, in which we said bye bye to that particular dessert and hello to 342 convoluted verses. After so many years, could pie be making its comeback, with Indonesia leading the way? Is Indonesia even a real place? Was this someone from Papua New Guinea in disguise, seeking revenge for my years of disparaging remarks?

Stop the cake? What does that even mean? What was he trying to tell me?

I woke from a fitful sleep still puzzled. I stared at the message again.

And then I realized.

I had a typographical error.

Using the little Barbie Keyboard on my iPhone, I had gotten a letter wrong. The message didn’t say “leren lah kek” at all. what it DID say was “KEREN lah kek.” Which translates to:

“The cake is cool.”

My faith in humanity was restored. I am greatly relieved, because I could never remember all the words to “American Pie,” and I always liked “Vincent” more anyhow. There’s just something about starry, starry nights.

The Cake Is Cool. This could be a movement, Arlo. Join in on the chorus.

p.s. in my version of “Indonesian Rider,” the movie ends with our two heroes back at the cafe, enjoying lovely slices of cake with the good ol’ boys from the pickup.

Never stop dreaming.

Preferably about cake.


And now, after my second cup of coffee, I’m looking at the message again. I had a SECOND typo (no, I’m not making this stuff up.)

The actual message was “keren lah KAK,” which translates to, “It’s cool, brother.”

Now, finally, it all makes sense. A lovely sentiment, lost in translation.

Thanks, brother. Someday if we meet, the cake’s on me.

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