Some years speed by faster than others. Some drag on interminably. The last year of any marriage drags on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. The last year of marriage pre-divorce feels like an eon. July was one year since they removed my pelvic tumor and when the life expectancy from your unicorn sarcoma is roughly two or three years, I am here to attest that the past fourteen months went by extremely fast. Light speed. All things considered, it has been a most excellent year.
Those close to me know that I had a very clear and concise plan on how I would spend years 58 to 108. First, one of my startups was going to provide several million in “(expletive deleted…rhymes with truck) you” dollars so that I could do whatever I wanted each and every day from 59 to 108. Then, I was going to get a third Master’s degree so that I could pompously say to those who pompously say to crowds “I have a Master’s degree “oh, you have one…I have three….” From 59 to 62 I was going to live in a 900 square foot condo in the Marina Towers (those round condos on the Chicago river in the galaxy’s finest city…Chicago) teach kindergarten by day and see live music each night at the House of Blues with my friend Eric Ottoson. Which is conveniently located ninety-seven feet from the Marina Towers. From 62 to 108 I was going to live on a large piece of land in Montana with seventeen dogs, three llamas and a house full of cats. This has been my plan since the mid 1990’s.
Knowing that 58 to 108 was being condensed into 53 to 55 explains why I went to Kanab for six weeks and I’ve spent three months in Montana, precisely where I wanted to retire. I was able to see a version of the sunrise below each and every morning out my front window, while the cats and I said “oooooh…..aaaaaaah.” The go-forward plan is to return to Kanab for the duration, spending most of my mornings at Best Friends, cleaning up cat poop or taking doggies for car rides and walks. Meaning that I have not only gotten ahead of my plan, I also exceeded the quota. I got to borrow thirty-seven dogs and one hundred fourteen cats in May and June and will have the same group November 2 to December 28. And I was able to spend months in Montana to see the sun rise over the mountains each morning a full nine years earlier than the plan. Parents in Chicago should thank whatever deity they pray to that I excised the middle part of the plan because their children will not be swearing like sailors at an early age.
The compressed retirement plan also explains why I have no desire to go anywhere outside of sixty miles from my Winnebago and why I have no desire to travel from state to state these days. I spent my entire adult life, from 22 to 53, traveling all over the world and the 50 U.S. states for business and for pleasure. I flew just under six million miles, stayed in hotel rooms 220 nights a year for 30 years…more nights than in my home. I have no intention of spending the remainder of my life traveling. Traveling is a pain. I like having nothing to do and no obligations on a daily basis…it has been quite blissful being misanthropic and utterly selfish.
Stranger’s obituaries are fascinating: I have read them since I was a child. I wrote mine last fall and it is utterly magnificent. Do not leave your obituary to chance. You are going to die. You are absolutely going to die and if you let someone else write your obituary with a time crunch, it is probably going to suck. Write your obituary this evening so that it does not suck. Write your own. Here is the first paragraph of mine. Go ahead and copy pieces and parts, if you like.
Daniel Charles Mulligan, (fill in date) of The Land of Cleve, Chicago and La Jolla, passed away at his home late (name of day) evening, (month/date/year) after battling raptors in the raptor apocalypse. He gave his life freely defeating all the raptors so that we may live in peace in a raptorless world. If you are walking around right now and see NO raptors? Not a single raptor? Now you know why there are no raptors and who to thank for your raptorless world. Born on July 13, 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the only son of the late Daniel C (senior). and Kathy Mulligan. And while you may think he milked that “only son” thing, he definitely chalked up more groundings, punishments, and court ordered probationary periods than any of his three sisters. all whom were angels in comparison. Dan, a nomad who lived in New England, Cincinnati, Chicago (the finest city in the galaxy) before finally settling down in La Jolla, CA, was a 1987 graduate of Miami University (the one in Ohio that was a university in 1809… long before Florida was a state) continuing on to earn an MBA from San Diego State and a Masters in Science in IT from the University of San Diego.
With this photo:
In reading obituaries through the years, I always wondered why they chose the places to donate. Some are obvious, some as obtuse as someone explaining why they “like” Ayn Rand books. They don’t. No one really likes Ayn Rand books…they are lying to you when they say they do. Most who claim to “like” Ayn Rand have read zero Ayn Rand books cover to cover. I digress.
As per the first year plan, I spent the fall and spring healing, then I sold the house, then I got used to living in a Winnebago. The next part of the plan, summer 2019 to whenever, was writing my own happy ending and marketing my “in lieu of” items. Plan your work. Work your plan.
Most people procreate and leave behind their children and grandchildren as their happy ending. I remain blissfully and selfishly childless, so my version of a happy ending involves pulling in others after I kick the bucket to help out the marginalized, disenfranchised and dispossessed. I’ve done all my giving quietly through the years: that giving involved helping out the disenfranchised and dispossessed. The sole item that bothers me about checking out earlier than expected is that I’ll be unable to continue helping the marginalized, be they animals or humans.
In advance, here are the three “in lieu of” things that will be at the end of my obituary. They will also live on in perpetuity here on the Mind of Mully in this piece and on the Wix web site that will pop up the day I shuffle off this mortal coil in this section shown below. That way, if someone wants to contribute to any of them in a year or two or five or ten, they’ll still know where to go for reference. When you click on the photo in the final web site, boom, the details pop up. Did I use a wedding format on Wix for the funeral? You bet……
Need to figure out how to change the color of the letters, though. See below. Fortunately, I have a bit of time and a useless Masters of Science in IT from University of San Diego. They discontinued the program four years after I matriculated so when people did a check on my resume they’d look at their shoes and say “ummmmm…..so, USD does not offer the MS you say you have…..” I digress. Again.
Because people like choices, the primary choices are animals or people. Feel free to do both, if you have trouble choosing. Then, the people part bifurcates into two more choices. If you are an individual contributor and have no one to hire, feel free to tell your company about The Last Mile. Or tell your friends and neighbors and your company. The Last Mile is growing rapidly and will need more and more spots for graduates over the next twenty years. Tell everyone you know about The Last Mile. And you don’t even have to wait for me to die to tell people about The Last Mile. You can tell people about The Last Mile this week and then text me and say “hey man, we just hired someone from The Last Mile!” and I will text you back “you rock….thanks for making that happen so fast! Let’s go have a celebratory cocktail.”
- (One) (Un)
The Best Friends thing is easy……if you feel like supporting animals and making the United States a no kill country by 2030, then feel free to contribute to Best Friends. One of the reasons I spent so much time at Best Friends in Kanab was to meet the people there and make sure they were not nut jobs like the folks at PETA. They are not like the nut jobs at PETA…everyone at Best Friends is amazing. Also, any proceeds from “You Walk Him and Pitch to the Rhino (a Misanthropes Guide to Sarcoma)” will be split between Best Friends and the last one here, “Stories From Brian”
If you are not familiar with Best Friends, the link below will take you to the sanctuary page. If you are looking for an amazing place to spend a weekend or a week or a day, details are there on how to get registered and scheduled.
And the name of the place is not hyperbole. Here is one of my best friends I made….Audrey the Pitty. She is wonderful.
- (Two) (Deux)
The Last Mile one is a little more involved. Several years back I attended a Ted talk where the founders of The Last Mile program (Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti) spoke. Since then I have wanted to hire a Last Mile graduate for an internship or full time job and have been unable to do so. I attended a Deal Day at San Quentin and met the men there on a different visit and I am a big believer in The Last Mile. And now the program is in five states with seventeen classrooms and is growing. This “in lieu of” is a long term one: I would very much like to see at least ten of my friends hire a Last Mile intern or FTE over the next three to five years. Or forty of my friends hire a Last Mile intern or FTE over the next ten years. Goals and metrics are important.
As discussed in May, I don’t have a bucket list…I lived a ridiculously lucky, awesome life thus far. However, as I thought through what was missing, my only regret was that I have wanted to hire at least one Last Mile graduate each year over the last seven and have not been able to complete that. If you can help me complete that sometime in the next five years, that would be great.
Here is the web site for The Last Mile:
And here is the Ted talk I attended that made me enamored of The Last Mile and what it does to help all 320,000,000 of us here in ‘Merica(!)
- (Three) (Trois)
“Stories from Brian”. This one started as “Skip a Date Night on Saturday, Stay Home and Watch Dateline to Hone Your Murder Skills and Mail the Money You Would Have Spent to Brian at PB Christian”, but that seemed a bit long when I put it down on the yellow legal pad. As discussed earlier, I have done 99% of my giving quietly, anonymously and privately through the years. One of the things I have done for ten years is leave envelopes of extra cash in the mailbox of Brian Daly, the one pastor at PB Christian. Then, when someone needed something (e.g. groceries, electricity kept on, etc) and they popped in to see Brian, he would hand them cash and help out someone who needed help. Anyone in need. Like, if an ex Jewish atheist walked in and they were unable to buy groceries for their family that week, they’d get cash. I love PB Christian because all are welcome. Literally, all. Not most everyone, except those peeps there. Everyone.
The best part of this exchange was that then Brian would invariably send me an awesome email explaining where that cash went. I would be having a long day where I took a red eye to the right coast and had meetings all day and my hotel bed only had two pillow and I’d be in a foul mood and BOOM, up would pop an email like this from Brian Daly:
Or this…in any event, you get the idea. It’s not like I have been dropping off millions at PB Christian, however, it would be nice if cash kept showing up over the years for Brian to hand out.
I’d like to keep the offense the same…really stupid simple…. on “Stories for Brian”, so the offense for #3 will be just mail Brian some spare cash. Send it in an envelope with a note like this here……then if he has a good story to tell about that cash, he will send you an email. Stupid simple: no extra work for Brian….we pretty much have two people working there. It’s a small church with one Sunday service and maybe two hundred peeps in the parish. Granted, there is no receipt, but it’s what I have done for ten years with no receipt and with the new tax plan, you’re getting hosed any way. So you may as well just send some extra cash to Brian for me with no receipt.
Maybe science and medicine is absolutely full of it and maybe I’ll still live to 108. As a lifelong believer, both personally and professionally, in medicine and science and an owner of lots of new lower lobe nodules in my lungs, I don’t think I’ll make that 108. Either way, there are the three “in lieu of” choices. People like choices.
That’s the happy ending. Feel free to be part of it………………
PS: Still here? There is one more item that will be off in the future…2021 or so. Eight weeks ago I purchased the web site for Not Today, Sarcoma. I’ve chosen to not define myself by a translocation of the 11th and 12th chromosome in some of my genes, so I don’t go around thinking about it all the time or wearing gear that disparages cancer. The one thing I have around me is a hand written note on the fridge that reads “not today, sarcoma” which I very obviously stole from “Game of Thrones” last year. If I feel like crap, I say “not today sarcoma” and go to the gym. Or put some bourbon in a travel cup and take a walk.
The biggest private funder of liposarcoma research is the annual Wendy Walk. Since Wendy died, they have raised just under four million dollars for liposarcoma research. My friends like to drink. And since the good people at the Wendy Walk already have their nonprofit built up, once a year “Not Today, Sarcoma” will have a pub crawl in twenty-five cities and send all the money to the Wendy Walk team. That will combine two of my favorite things: friends getting together to have cocktails and funding cancer research that is underfunded year after year. Deets on Wendy and The Wendy Walk are at the link below. Now, as of this writing, I still need to make sure the good folks at the Wendy Walk will take the Not Today, Sarcoma money raised……so, fingers crossed. However, if you have a Wendy Walk near you, make sure you do the walk. There is precious little research money dedicated to sarcoma…….
I have 14 cities covered currently for the pub crawl and would like to start with 25. If you want to be team lead for a city, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on the spreadsheet. My friends Chanda and Jessica will reach out to you as team lead when they do the first event. They run it…I just set it up. They’ll be in touch when the first pub crawl happens because I will be drinking beer from the beer volcano in the afterlife promised to all of us by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
If you want to make shirts, this is the one I made for me. I only wear it inside because I think those who flaunt their cancer did not get enough love from their mommy and daddy. It’s a Hanes beefy tee….super soft. Not one of those nasty godless, heathen Commie Chinese tees that feels like cardboard on your skin.