9.7 – Track #13 Of The Great Trip Mix: Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”

For Reality Travel Training Graduation The Professor took all of us to TheMountains at the same spot where we learned to summon our Guardian Angels.  It was just for the Travelers who were Graduating, and no parents or relatives or friends were allowed to come.

At the edge of the windy canyon The Professor took a big stick and scraped a long line in the ground between us and him.

“This is The Line in The Sand,” he said.  “One side of it is for scared amateur Reality Travelers who are not ready to fully sacrifice themselves for their Calling.  The other side of it is for confident Trained Reality Travelers ready to face whatever hell or otherwise awaits them.  I want you to think long and hard about what The Line means, and when you are ready you may tell it who you are, say something awesome, and then cross over.”

Wolf was the first one to cross with a simple but deep howl.  The Professor waved smoking sage over him, said The Traveler Mantra, and then smiled.

Everyone took different amounts of time to think it over, and after everyone crossed there was only me on the other side still.  I kept thinking about what it would be like to be a Trained Traveler and how hard it would be and how you’d be expected to be good at it and not give up even if it was hell.  And then I thought about the Tom Petty song “I Won’t Back Down.”

Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” is a song about standing up. Sometimes you get in a situation in which The World tries to drag you down, but if you go too far down then you’re in The Underworld where you die, so if you want to live you have to keep standing your ground.

It made me think if Tom Petty can do it then I can do it.  And then I jumped with both legs over The Line in The Sand.

“I am The Bluebird,” I shouted, “a MusicMan Traveler who MeToos via The Great List of Old Songs, and you can stand me up at The Gates of Hell, but I won’t back down!”

Then The Professor waved his smoke all over me and said, “Be Brave Traveler and remember The Gods are on your side.”

And then I was an official Graduate of The Reality Travel Training School.

9.6 –Altamont, Illinois Gas Station

I made it all the way to Illinois before I started getting tired and my butt hurt.  Because I wasn’t a Reality Traveler anymore and didn’t hafta MeToo as many Realities as possible there was no rush, so I’d planned to rest whenever I needed to and maybe even get a hotel room.  But once I was on the Road I still anxious to get to Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains as soon as possible, so I could start My New Adult Life right away.

My Dr. Pepper was only so powerful, and I had no music to keep me pumped up, and I was thinking about taking a short Power Nap, when I remembered I still had the mysterious pill Scorpion gave me.  I dug it out of my pocket, and there it was all fat and black&white and shiny looking like a piece of candy.

“Hmm,” I said.

Then I shrugged and swallowed it and washed it down with Dr. Pepper.  It kicked in almost right away.  Suddenly I was wide awake, my butt felt great, and my eyes grew to twice their size and could see everything on The Road.  I didn’t even seem to get any jitters or twitches like Speed Perceptions usually give you.  I just pushed the pedal down and felt like I could keep driving until an ocean got in the way.

Wings needed more gasoline eventually tho, and I decided to pull off Road-70 at an exit that said Altamont, Illinois, cuz it reminded me of the concert at Altamont.

Altamont was a concert all about The End of The 1960’s Golden Age of Reality Travel.  It was supposta be just like Woodstock, The Peak of the 1960’s Golden Age, where every single RockNRoll band played and a huge crowd MeToo’d at once about Music, Perceptions, Peace, and mud.  But at Altamont not every single RockNRoll band played, and for some reason a huge crowd of MeNotzies went and ended up going to War, and four Realities got destroyed forever.  It gave everyone who was there Big Doubt, and they all realized The Golden Age was over, and then everyone started quitting Reality Travel to become Adults.

There was only one gas station off the exit, and it didn’t have any of the names I was familiar with.  It just said “IT’S A GAS GAS GAS” on the sign, and there was no one there except the Reality working inside.  I’d been in Alone Reality for hours and wanted to keep it that way, but I hadta go in to pre-pay again.

“Okay,” I said to myself, “all you have to do is go in there and pay.  You don’t have to MeToo them or anything.  You can even go to War if you have to.  When you start Your New Adult Life, they’ll give you a credit card, and you’ll never hafta do this again.”

Inside the girl behind the counter was wearing strange tattered gray robes even tho it was modern times and sunglasses even tho it was nighttime.  When I went up to her she didn’t say hello or even seem to realize I was there.

“I need gas,” I said and handed her money.

“In time,” she said confidently.

She didn’t take the money or even notice I was holding it out for her.  It seemed like maybe she was blind even tho she’d hafta have vision to be able to succeed at a gas station.

“Can you see?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said, “just not right in front of me.”

“Don’t you need good eyes to help me?”

“Don’t worry about that, Reality Traveler.”

“What?  Why would you call me that?”

“Because that’s what you are, Bluebird.”

“Who are you? Where did you hear that name?”

“I didn’t hear it.  I saw it, because I’m The Seer.”

I noticed her nametag said “THERESA S.”

“What do you mean?” I said, “like a psychic?”

“Yes,” she said.  “I can see thru nearly all time and space.  The past and the future.  This World and The Other World.

“Yeah, right.”

“Silence Big Doubter!  Serious things are happening right now in The Other World. The Gods are wise to your illegal Love affair, and The Goddess of Faith has been arrested.  Soon they will hold a Trial in The Underworld to determine both of your Fates, but there is still an opportunity to save her and yourself if you dare Travel to that dark and treacherous realm.”

“Look, I think I see what’s going on here.  I’m having some Side Effects from Scorpion’s Pill, and you’re just a normal gas station person, and I’m hallucinating all of this.”

“No, Scorpion’s Pill is making you see thru The Veil more easily.  Now you must listen to me and follow these instructions.  As you continue down this Road you will encounter The Guardian of The Gates of The Underworld.  If you can evade this powerful defender you will come to The Tollbooth, at which you must pay The Ferryman to take you to The Heart of The Underworld where the Trial is being held.  There they will listen to The Testimony of Witnesses, and if they are moved by your courage, they may allow you to Testify on behalf of yourself and The Goddess.  I cannot yet see the exact outcome of this, but I assure you it is the only way to avoid certain Elimination.”

“Nope, none of this is Real.  And if you can’t just do the pre-pay for me I’ll just go to another gas station, thanks.”

“Believe me or not, your journey inevitably leads to The Underworld.  It’s your choice whether you make a stand and possibly return or back down and get sent there forever.”

9.5 – My New Adult Life

When it was time to hit the Road again I tried to do it as Adult as possible, throwing all the trash out of Wings and vacuuming up the crumbs and dirt on the seats and floors.  Mom gave me a cooler with sandwiches and snacks and Dr. Pepper, and Dad helped me figure out a new route on Road-70 instead of Road-80 so it would be like a whole new trip.  The only thing missing was my Great Trip Mix, which was a casualty of the War at The Barracks, but I figured it would kinda just remind me of Reality Travel anyway, and maybe I wouldn’t even like it anymore.  I said goodbye to Mom&Dad, pulled out on the street, and immediately started to think about My New Adult Life.

First I would only go back to Colorado to get my stuff and tell The Pizza Boss in person that I wasn’t going to work there anymore.  I wouldn’t tell Wolf or any other “Reality Travelers” what I was doing, cuz they wouldn’t understand.

Then I would drive back to Ohio Industrial City (Rubber) Suburbs, move in with Mom&Dad, and pick up right where I left off before I met La Renarde.  I wouldn’t get a job in the Rubber or War industries cuz I didn’t want to see TheGeneral&TheAdmiral or La Renarde again, but I started to think it might be pretty nice to start working at The Bank as a Banker.

I’d been counting things my whole life, and it didn’t seem like it would kick my ass that much, even at the beginning when I was an Amateur.  I’d take it very seriously and work hard, and soon I’d be an Expert, and they’d give me promotions, and I would get more money.

Eventually I’d be making as much as Dad, and I’d buy the Bigger Nest back, or maybe even one bigger than that. The Nice-Banker-Who-Counted-My-Shoebox and I would fall in Love, and she’d live in The Nest with me, and we’d have kids, and we’d never hafta Travel anywhere.  The kids wouldn’t hafta learn to ride bikes, and they could just play Stuffed Animal War as much as they wanted, and the whole family would watch TV together at night.  No one would get their ass kicked ever, and it would be the most alright we’d ever felt.

9.4 – Track #8 of The Great Trip Mix: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”

To Graduate Reality Travel Training you hadta write a long paper, called The Thesis, on something no one had ever thought about Reality Travel before.  Wolf was doing his on how important Common Perception was, but I didn’t know at first what I wanted to do.  It seemed like everything about Reality Travel had already been thought about by the Great Travelers of the past.

Then one time I was delivering a pizza to the Colorado Future Adult Training School Dorms, and when I got there everyone was singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

“Don’t Stop Believin’” is a song about continuing to believe in something. Like how a Small Town Reality, a South Detroit Reality, and a singer Reality in a smoky room all believe they can find Emotion hiding somewhere in the night.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe in something like that, but if they stopped and didn’t hold onto that feeling, then they would for sure never find it.

I listened to that song all the time, cuz I always wanted to stop believin’in things.  After La Renarde I wanted to stop believin’ anyone would want to kiss me again. After Driver Training I wanted to stop believin’ I would ever be able to drive.  After the first night of Artsy Lawless I wanted to stop believin’ in going to school there.  After Kat I wanted to stop believin’ anyone would want to kiss me again.  After Chick Hunting with El Puma I wanted to stop believin’ anyone would want to kiss me again.  After The Dead Voice I wanted to stop believin’ I could sing ever again.  After the first day of Reality Travel Training I wanted to stop believin’ I could take my ass getting kicked.  After Marijuana Perception I wanted to stop believin’ I could take any more Adventures in Perceptionism. After my first day at CFATTY’s Pizza I wanted to stop believin’ that I could work any job. But every time I listened to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” I couldn’t help but keep believin’ in those things.

I wondered tho what all the Future Adults at CFATS didn’t want to stop believin’.  It seemed like becoming an Adult was the easiest thing in The World for most Realities, but maybe they had other things that were harder to believe in.  Maybe some were actually really Reality Travelers. Or maybe some just wanted to find a certain Emotion like in the song.

I started noticing “Don’t Stop Believin’” played around more than any other song.  Realities would always be playing it in their cars as they drove down street, or it would be on when you went inside a store or a restaurant.  Whenever I watched TV it was on there, and when a sports team won a championship they’d be singing the song, too.  Sometimes random Realities would just start humming in public in front of you, and one time it was playing at CFATTY’s Pizza, and The Pizza Maker who didn’t know any English started singing along word for word.  It started to seem like it might be The Most MeTooable Song on the whole Great List of Old Songs, and maybe the song itself had been Touched by The Goddess of Music with its own Gift to heal Realities.

I came up with a theory that if it could cure moments of Little Doubt about so many things for so many Realities, then maybe “Don’t Stop Believin’” could also be a cure for the Greatest Reality Traveler BoobyTrap of all, Big Doubt.  I hadn’t gotten it myself yet, and I didn’t know any other Traveler who’d had it, so there was no way to prove it for sure.  But I studied every fact about the band and the song and every major personal and Worldwide instance of it being played, and wrote the required 25 pages for The Thesis about how if there was one song high and powerful enough to beat Big Doubt this had to be it.  I turned it into The Professor, and he read it and said it was a good enough idea that I could Graduate Reality Travel Training.

9.3 – The Bank

Since I didn’t hafta be a Reality Traveler anymore, I didn’t worry about hitting the Road again right away.  I stayed at The Smaller Nest, sleeping and watching TV until my Hangover was gone.  Then when I was ready I asked my parents for some money to pay for the trip back.

“Don’t you have any money?” they asked me.

“No, pizza delivery pays me so little I couldn’t afford this entire trip even with the money you gave me before.  I’m going to get a new high-paying Adult job as soon as I can think of one tho.”

“That’s great,” they said, “but I think you still have The Shoebox in the basement somewhere.  Maybe there’s enough to tie you overfor now.”

“Oh yeah.”

I remembered when I was a kid I used to save every coin I found in The Shoebox.  I went down to The Basement, and it was still there.  I lifted the lid, and it was still full of pennies and nickels and dimes and quarters and even a couple of strange larger coins, which were worth even more.  I liked looking at the money and smelling its metal smell and hearing how it sounded when you shook the box.

“I’ll have to get as much of this as possible when I start my New Adult Life,” I said to myself.

I knew it would be hard to pay in coin form for all the gas and Dr. Pepper I needed for The Road, so I hadta go to The Bank so they could give me bills for it.  It was right next to The Mall, and it was the cleanest building I’d been in yet on The Great Trip.  Its walls were all glass with no streaks or smudges, and the furniture inside was all smooth and crisp and looked like no one had ever sat in them before.  The air smelled like absolutely nothing, and it made me realize how good that smell actually is.  Everyone who worked there smiled and seemed to be at complete It’s Alright, Baby peace even tho they’d never hugged an Angel before.

The Banker I got was a young woman Reality, who wore the typical rigid Adult jacket that made her shoulders look pointy and heavy makeup that made her eyes and lips stand out, but this time I had a new appreciation for the Uniform.  I could see how much time and effort it took to control your looks that much, and it seemed like a more amateur Reality wouldn’t be able to pull it off.

“How may I assist you, sir?!” she asked and smiled at me.

“I need to trade this for real money,” I said and handed her The Shoebox.

I thought maybe she’d think it wasn’t Adult enough to store your savings that way and have some big MeNotzie reaction about it, but instead she kept smiling.

“Oh my,” she said, “you’ve really saved a lot of coins.  Good for you!”

“Thank you,” I said, “I need it for a trip.”

“Oh my, where are you going?!”

“Colorado.”

“I hear that’s a beautiful state, sir!”

“It is.”

“I’ll just put this in our convenient money counter right away, so you can have the best trip possible!”

Then she went into a back room, and you could hear coins falling and the buzzing of some kind of machine.  She came back after a few minutes and told me how much was in it.

“Wow!” I said, “that’s way more than I thought and enough to pay for the trip a couple times over.”

“Those pennies really do add up!” she said.

Then she handed me all the things that wouldn’t go in the machine, like a paperclip, lint, a RISK Army piece, and a dead bug.

“I also found this silver dollar you might want to keep,” she said.  “They’re good luck!”

Then she handed it to me, and it was shiny gold and had Sacagewa on it.

Sacagewa is a Native American Reality about leading the explorers Lewis and Clark into the far off and exciting and mysterious lands of the AmericanWest, where they became the first non-Native American Realities to see Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Now, how would you like the rest of this, sir?” she asked.  “Twenty dollar bills?!”

“How about fifty dollar bills?!”

“Sounds great!”

Then she handed me the crisp new money, and it felt so much better than the crumpled up soft money I usually had on me.

“Is there any other business you’d like to take care of here today, sir?!”

“Not that I can think of,” I said.

“Well, it’s been a pleasure helping you today, sir.  Feel free to take a lollipop!”

Then I reach into a little basket in front of her station and found a Dr. Pepper flavored one.

“Thanks so much for everything!” I said.

“Once again, it was my pleasure, and I wish you a safe and wonderful journey!”

9.2 – The Professor’s Reality Travel Training Lesson: Big Doubt

“Beware of Big Doubt the most,” The Professor said. “There will be times when you get your ass kicked so badly from The Travels that you will stop believing Reality Travel is even real anymore.  I told you the first day how badly it would kick your ass, and how if you weren’t 100% willing to accept all the sacrifices of your Calling then you should leave The Training.  But no one ever listens.  They are too excited and think it won’t be hard for them, but as soon as they see how powerful The MeNotzies are, how hard The BoobyTraps are, how no one is grateful for the vitally important service you’re doing for The World, and how all those Realities who’ve never even heard of Reality Travel seem to be living such peaceful, prosperous, ass-protected lives, they just can’t take it.  Big Doubt can happen to any Reality Traveler, and it is the hardest BoobyTrap to escape.  Fellow Reality Travelers, including me, will not be able to convince you.  You summon your Guardian Angel for assistance during moments of Little Doubt, but once you’re in full blown Big Doubt they’ll only seem like a figment of your imagination. This is when a Traveler must Dig Down Deep, find a reason to believe, and try to save themselves.

9.1 – The Great List of What’s Not Real

When I woke up it wasn’t the next day, but the day after that.  I knew I was supposta be at CFATTY’s for work, and they were calling me, but I didn’t call back.  I was also still Hungover, and didn’t have any Whatever-You-Drank-Two-Nights-Ago to cure it, but in another way I felt kinduv alrightcuz I knew The Great List of What’s Not Real…

I’m not The Bluebird, I’m just Jonathan.

 I’m not a MusicMan who MeToos via The Great List of Songs.  I just get mad when people don’t like the same songs as me.

I’m not a Reality Traveler cuz Reality Travel isn’t real.  I made it up cuz I was an insecure kid who wanted to feel more important. 

Everyone else I called Reality Travelers were also just insecure people who wanted to feel more important.

Wolf’s name isn’t really Wolf.  He doesn’t even really look like a wolf.  I just like animals a lot.

The Professor isn’t real.  I made up all the concepts and terminology and lessons of Reality Travel.

Reality Travel Training isn’t real.  I really went just went to graduate school.

Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains is just a fancy way of saying Colorado.

The Crow repeatedly appearing inside places it shouldn’t have been was just a coincidence.

The Gods aren’t real.  Nothing created us and nothing cares if we’re destroyed. 

The OtherWorld isn’t real.  It’s just a hallucination caused by certain Perceptions, which are actually just drugs.

It’s impossible to TimeTravel.  You can only be in this present moment, which quickly vanishes forever.

The Goddess of Music isn’t real.  All songs from The Mix played during The Great Trip were just coincidences. I was not Touched and given The Gift, I was just naturally a good singer probably cuz of genetics.

The Goddess of Faith isn’t real.  She was just a fantasy of a woman who completely accepted me cuz no real woman ever has.

Because The Gods and The Goddess of Faith aren’t real, I will not get Eliminated for breaking God Rules and will continue to be alive.

Because Reality Travel isn’t real, I won’t even get The Malaise.

Because Reality Travel isn’t real, I didn’t break any Vow by going to War with The General&The Admiral, and they deserved to bleed.

The Professor would say The Great List of What’s Not Real is just a symptom of Big Doubt.  But like all other Reality Traveler BoobyTraps, Big Doubt is also not real.