Thursday, March 2, 2017


Blogging Friends.... To quote Bruce Springsteen.... Is there anybody alive out there?! Have you, my dear Blogging Friends, ever wondered about me, about this little Blog, about where I've been all this time? Seriously.... Is there anybody alive out there?! I am now awaiting an eruption of thunderous cheering from all across the Internet.... Well.... It works for Bruce's fanatics at his shows, anyway!! Nah.... You, Blogging Friends, have probably no doubt forgotten all about me.... About my fictional stories.... And walked on, moving forward with your lives. Which is all my fault. Yes, yes, I have dropped off the face of the Internet planet, become a loner and I've gone into hiding. I also took an unplanned break from creating fictional stories.... For the most part. So.... Where have I been all this time? Well.... On January 16th, 2016, I went down to The River.... Yeah.... It was only going to be one day, one The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout {in an effort to avoid Self-Pity} not about ten months {in total}, not 89 The River Challenges {in total}!! Well.... On February 25th, 2017, I tackled my very last The River Challenge.... And.... Yesterday, I relived The River Challenge by tackling a Born In The USA/The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout!! Anyway.... This deeply personal, metaphor/analogy-filled emotionally autobiographical fictional story will explain everything.... It is The River Challenge 2016 'in a nutshell'!! Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive, Raelyn

Note Number One.... You know what? Comebacks can be a funny thing. Oh, 'Triumph'.... I have worked on, edited and 'tinkered' with this 'comeback story', like, ten thousand times.... Or more. It's not exaggerating in any way, shape or form to say that 'Triumph' is my most edited fictional story.... Ever!! This is actually my second completely different version of 'Triumph'!! Well.... Not counting my 'Blog version'!! You know.... Like Bruce has twain completely different recorded versions of 'The River', for example? And I've never done that before!! I have even since set 'Triumph' aside and I've since written four--going on five--fictional stories!! More to come!! Because, yes, I am creating fictional stories again!!

Note Number Two.... This story was completely unplanned.... Just like The River Challenge!! Actually.... I somehow managed to write it during The River Challenge last year. This is basically a true story.... Bruce did arrive in 'my hometown' for a show.... Then, on February 20th, 2016, after Reality hit--hard--that I could not attend his concert, I finally crashed and burned {emotionally, mentally, spiritually} and then I was suddenly in the mood for a Born To Run-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout!! Honestly? I cried, like, the entire time. Weirdest. Bruce. Springsteen. Workout. Ever. And that is saying a hell of a lot!! However. It was also one of my most healing--one of my most unforgettable--Bruce Springsteen Workouts ever!! And that is saying a hell of a lot, too!! I felt everything--each word, each verse, each song lyric--like I'd never, ever, done before. Lookin' back now? I absolutely realize that I was in the mood for Born To Run {yes, yes, on an impulsive whim} because I needed to escape, I needed to get away, I needed to hightail it out of here..... Emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Enjoy....

Note Number Three.... Yes, I know that 'Lucky Town' has absolutely nothing none whatsoever to do with 'The River'. However. On February 16th, 2016, I chose 'Lucky Town' as my closing song for that day's The River Challenge!! Little did I know? That 'Lucky Town' would be such a sentimental, symbolic, therapeutic and healing song!!

Note Number Four.... I just learned that today is #WorldBookDay!! It's actually trending on Twitter!! So here is a shout-out to Bruce, whose memoir, Born To Run--the biggest damn book that I ever read in my entire Life--officially made this self-proclaimed non-reader a reader!! Ah.... I think he would like to hear that!! Now will you excuse me.... I have some reading to do on #WorldBookDay!!


Lucky Town. I went down to that emotional, mental, psychological place {on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016} my one month anniversary of when I started this wild, crazy, insane, unplanned, adventure, journey, quest and time travel to 1980!! Let me explain. See, I had recently learned {on January 27th, 2016} that Bruce Springsteen was potentially adding 'my hometown'--also known as our beautiful, oft rainy, green Pacific Northwest--to his The River 2016 Tour dates. And it had officially been confirmed just four days ago {on February 12th, 2016} when concert tickets were being sold Online for $150.00 that I would be unable to afford any, amongst other obstacles. Sadly. Meanwhile, I have been hip swaying, dancing and cutting loose to epic, marathon, five hour-long The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workouts every single time when he performs a show.... Which in total lasted about ten months!!

This is always an intimidating, arduous, exciting 'mountain climb'!!

The River Challenge. That is what I affectingly call these Bruce Springsteen Workouts. But.... What is The River Challenge, exactly? Well.... It is my self-serving mission trip, because somewhere along this journey, God has taught me {through Bruce's beautiful, profound, poetic, brilliant, well-written songwriting} that I possess a heart of stone which definitely needs softened. Such as comparing myself to others, and, as resulted, feeling envious/jealous toward particular people. Yes, yes, I am a sinner with faults, with flaws, with character defects. But I also suffer from what I call 'mood swing-infused pity parties'. It will be an actual clinical diagnosis someday. Just wait. I can suffer from Self-Pity issues. I am sometimes a moody, irritable, agitated, brooding, edgy jerk.

For Bruce--based on my own observation--writes about characters who possess hearts of stones in his songs an awful lot!!

The River Challenge is.... Well.... Challenging.... In every single sense of the word!! Physically challenging? Check!! Mentally challenging? Check!! Emotionally challenging? Check!! Spiritually challenging? Check!! The River Challenge is my ultimate therapy session.... Which happen regularly. For, in an effort to avoid 'mood swing-infused pity parties' {as best as humanly possible} because I cannot attend even one The River Tour 2016 show {which will eventually all add up to seventy-five concerts!! Eighty-nine, if you include 2017!!} I dance!! Because, that much is within my control!!

For to quote Bruce from his song, 'Thundercrack'.... Dance with me, partner, dance with me, partner, dance with me, partner, all night; All night; All night; All night....

Lucky Town. It is not an actual, literal, real place. I can't find 'Lucky Town' on the map. No, it is not a city in New Jersey!! Or anywhere on the East coast, for that matter!! Because Lucky Town is a state of mind. In my own deeply personal experience? There is always forgiveness, there are always second chances, there is always redemption!! But I have to work on it. In Lucky Town, there are happy endings, new beginnings and lots of love!! But I have to work on it. Lucky Town is a place where I can find happiness and contentment.... Right here, right now, right where I am!! But I have to work on it. Lucky Town is eternally within my heart, within my soul, within my mind. It's beautiful, it's healing, it's welcoming!! Lucky Town is like a community {it's obviously an imaginary, creative place} where this learning disabled, misfit, different, freak, obsessed 'Bruce Springsteen lover'--I mean, fangirl--finally belongs!!

And I saw Lucky Town, because I traveled there!!

But then.... I crashed and burned my beautiful sky blue-painted motorcycle--I named her 'Triumph'--on 2-20. Yes, in Lucky Town. Saturday, February 20th, 2016 just so happens to be the date of when I crashed and burned 'Triumph'. Oh yeah.... 2-20 is also a dangerous, germ-infested, busy, litter-covered, noisy, graffiti-decorated, potholed, homeless people-residing, filthy highway. Yikes!! My sky blue-painted motorcycle crash left me severely, emotionally, and mentally injured, with psychological bruises, with an incredibly broken heart, with a bloodied soul. But I never fractured any bones. Why? Because I am impossible to break!! Therefore, I did not even bother driving toward emergency, urgent care or my doctor's office. Oh yeah....

I am also still alive--somehow--because I'm hard to kill!!
 "What happened?!" I thought aloud, "I do not know. It happened so fast, so sudden, so unexpectedly!!"

I had been riding on one long, cosmic The River Challenge high to another. It could be scheduled for two {or, quite often, three} days a week. Now, this can feel quite emotional, mental and psychological. Some in good, positive ways.... Others in bad, negative ways. I had been riding 'Triumph' at an extremely risky one hundred miles per hour. So it was completely inevitable that I would eventually crash and burn. Right? It was totally expected. Right? I probably should not have felt shocked, surprised or blindsided by it at all. Right?

But I did.

"What happened?!" I repeated, "I have no idea. I was handling being unable to afford attending Bruce's show in the Pacific Northwest--which would have been my very first time--so well!! Seriously?! I had even impressed myself!!"

I was uncharacteristically mature, I was uncharacteristically grown up, I was uncharacteristically rational.... None of which comes easily--or naturally--to this self-proclaimed Drama Queen!! I was doing so good!! And what shocked me the most? This hopeful optimist--this delusional daydreamer--was even uncharacteristically thinking, acting and being realistic!! Me!! Wait a minute. I went down to Lucky Town on February 16th, 2016.... But then I crashed and burned 'Triumph' just four days later?!

What on Earth happened?!

"I wish I knew...." I said, "I thought that in Lucky Town, there would always be warm sunshine, clear blue skies and beautiful multi-colored rainbows!! I guess I was wrong about this extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place...."

However. Beautiful, multi-colored rainbows do not happen without dark, gloomy clouds. Clear blue skies don't occur sans loud, incredible, somewhat frightening thunder and lightning shows. Warm sunshine doesn't happen without pouring rain or hailstorms. Not from where I was born and raised--the Pacific Northwest--anyway. And in order to be resilient--truly resilient--you have to fall first. I absolutely, wholeheartedly, one-hundred percent believe that!! For resilience doesn't come sans crashing and burning 'Triumph' first.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly, one-hundred percent believe that!!

For Life is a combination of both happiness and sorrow. This existence has its share of broken, shattered, unobtainable dreams. Life is a combination of good times and bad. This existence is filled to the maximum with disappointments, missed opportunities, chances. But it is how you deal with Life's dark, gloomy clouds.... This existence's thunder and lightning storms.... Life's rain. With courage, with strength, with resilience. It is how you handle Life's happiness and sorrow.... This existence's broken, shattered, unobtainable dreams.... Life's disappointments, missed opportunities, chances.

You triumph over them and move forward as best as humanly possible!!

"What happened?!" I said once more.

I gingerly lie poor, busted up 'Triumph' into the bed of my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck. I then drove her toward a mechanic shop so that she could--hopefully--be repaired. Yes, in Lucky Town. I gave the mechanics my cell-phone number--575-7575--to call me after they fixed 'Triumph'. I was frightened.... I felt completely confused.... I was all alone. So I hopped back into my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck and I left Lucky Town.

I completely abandoned that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place.

"I am busting out of here!!" I declared, as I rolled down the window and let the wind blow back my hair, "I'm breaking free!!"

"Wendy, let me in, I wanna be your friend, I wanna guard your dreams and visions; Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims and strap your hands 'cross my engines!!" I sang, {on the top of my vocal chords, my lungs, my heart, my soul} as I blasted Bruce's album, Born To Run in a portable CD player, "Whoo!! ....Tramps like us, baby we were born to run!!"
Then the uncontrollable, wet, hot tears freely streamed down my face. I tried very hard to stop them, but I couldn't. For I was emotionally and mentally injured, with psychological bruises, with an incredibly broken heart, with a bloodied soul because of my sky blue-painted motorcycle crash. Remember? Honestly, I was one hot mess, as 'mood swing-infused pity parties' knocked on my heart and soul's door. Which 'he' very well owns a key to. Who? My 'mood swing-infused pity parties'. How? Because I gave 'him' a key several years ago when I was either thirteen or fourteen years old. From 'Thunder Road' to 'Jungleland', I kept on driving--running aimlessly away from Lucky Town--in that 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck.

But I could not regain my composure.

"Where am I going....?" I asked myself, as wet, hot tears continued to freely fall and blur my vision, "I do not know.... I am going anywhere but Lucky Town.... I do not have a map.... I don't own an electronic GPS system.... I do not have a compass.... I don't know where I am.... I'm lost.... All I know for certain is.... I am never returning to Lucky Town ever again...."

Ring!! Ring!! Ring!! Ring!! Ring!!

It was my cell-phone. I jumped and, as a reaction, I screamed. Meanwhile, I had been maintaining radio silence in nothing but my head, with complex thoughts, with mixed-up feelings, with complex emotions. So obviously, that cell-phone's ringtone scared me!! I pulled my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck over and I answered it. A friendly, talkative, bubbly, swearword-speaking mechanic--named Shelton--was on the other telephone.

Yes, in Lucky Town.

"Damn, you sure did some major wreckage to your bike!!" Shelton said in a deep voice, "I mean, she was badly messed up!! Your bike lost some real important parts in that crash!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! Your bike was all twisted up, man!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! Your bike's scratched paint needed a major touch-up job!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! It ain't nothin' but a miracle that you survived that nasty crash with no broken bones or serious visible injuries!! Because, damn!! In my twenty years of workin' here as a motorcycle mechanic, I ain't never seen no one with his or her bike this badly messed up walk in here.... Alive!! And I mean no one. You sure as hell were lucky!! Anyway, she's all repaired now and ready for pick-up!!"

Shelton has never seen anybody with his or her motorcycle this busted up walk into his shop alive? I thought gloomily, I'm 'lucky', huh? Oh, if only he knew how emotionally and mentally injured I truly am....

I hung up my cell-phone. Wow. That was seemingly quick!! I thought for a second. How long have I been driving, forty-five minutes to an hour? I have no idea. For when I'm listening to Bruce, I lose complete track of time!! Honestly? I did not think that the mechanics in Lucky Town could possibly repair 'Triumph' so soon. For, like Shelton said, she was badly busted up!! Besides, in my own personal experience? Workers--such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians--are highly unreliable people. They will show up at your house several hours late. Workers--such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians--never call you back. That, or they do not come to your house at all. Now, I absolutely understand being busy and forgetful. I, myself, have premature short-term memory loss like Dory from Disney/Pixar's animated film, Finding Dory. But.... How do these workers--who were employed for so-called 'reputable' companies--ever keep themselves from getting fired?!

I cannot help but wonder.

"Great...." I sarcastically said after hanging up my cell-phone, "Now I must return to that dreaded place called 'Lucky' Town!! But I do want 'Triumph' back. Right? So what choice do I have?"

The tears had finally dried up. Born To Run was no longer blasting in my portable CD player. I looked out the windows. I read weathered, green-colored, reflective street signs, trying very, very hard to figure out where on Earth I was.

Shermann Road? No. Cane Street? No. Depaw Road? No.

"Where am I?" I said, "Let's see.... I am on Heartbreak Avenue.... Alright...."

I immediately turned my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck around. I then drove north, west, east and south. I knew that I obviously had to locate Lucky Town again, but since I was lost without any maps, an electronic GPS system or a compass as my guide, I had no idea how that would even be humanly possible. Oh well.... I am a self-proclaimed 'landmark person'!! Translation? I simply observed familiar-looking billboards, houses, apartment buildings, barns, stores. I read weathered, green-colored, reflective street signs. That served as my trusty map, electronic GPS system and compass all rolled into one!!

So I simply drove on.

"I just need to find Lucky Town," I thought aloud, "Then I'll pick up 'Triumph' from the mechanics shop, pay them some money, and as soon as I do, I'm out of there!!"

That was my plan. I would arrive in Lucky Town, pick up 'Triumph' and leave that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place as quickly as humanly possible. It made sense to me!! The problem? That was my one and only plan!! Because I had absolutely nowhere to go after I entered Lucky Town. Yes, I was lost, lost in this cosmic world. I still felt utterly alone. Then, suddenly--completely out of nowhere--this verse, these words, this lyric from Bruce's song, 'Better Days' resurfaced within my heart, within my soul, within my mind like an amazing lifeline!! It spoke a direct message to me, loud and clear!! Because this verse, these words, this line felt so very poetic!!

Every fool's got a reason to feelin' sorry for himself and turnin' his heart to stone; Tonight this fool's halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell and I feel like I'm comin' home....

I inhaled one long deep breath.

"Alright," I told myself, "I will drive to 'Lucky' Town.... Pick up 'Triumph' from the mechanic's shop.... Then I will hightail it out of there!! Stick to the plan!! Gabeesh?"

The only problem was that my heart and soul absolutely, positively disagreed with this plan. Because once I finally arrived in Lucky Town? There was so much more in that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, unpleasant place than just 'Triumph', Shelton, or the other motorcycle mechanics waiting for me!! So much more.... For Lucky Town feels like home!! And even if I leave, {I feel sorry for myself.... I suffer from yet another 'mood swing-infused pity party'.... I crash and burn 'Triumph'}, I can still come back home!! Always. Maybe Lucky Town truly is a good place!! Where there's always forgiveness, always second chances, always redemption, always happy endings, new beginnings and love!!

For Lucky Town has promise.... Lucky Town is definitely home!!

"I am on a soul-searchin', rock 'n roll healin', The River Challenge journey!!" I announced, with determination, happiness {and a triumph over this particular 'mood swing-infused pity party'} within my voice, within my heart, within my soul.

For to quote Bruce from his song, 'Open All Night'.... Hey ho rock 'n roll, deliver me from nowhere....