MARCH 12, 2017It’s been a while since I wrote. I won’t lie, the schedule is kicking my ass. The previous, able-bodied Mark was able to power through tough times. Work, Blazers, life...no problem. The new post-trauma Mark is still trying to adapt to the new normal. First off, I just don’t know the status of my leg from day to day. As people with continuing challenges say, there are good days and there are bad days. I just don’t seem to have many good ones, and when I do I can’t string them together. I can’t see a pattern as to what sets up a good day or I’d duplicate it over and over and over. The healing of my leg seems to have stalled, or radically slowed down. Whatever progress I thought I felt was just over-optimism on my part and I deal with fighting disappointment every day. I look for bright spots -- I was just fitted for a new brace using a different technology which, I hope, will allow me to better simulate a normal walking gait. I need to maximize what muscle is left below my knee as best I can. Use it or lose it, right? This new orthotic is a little more conspicuous than the first one, but I like the feel of it so far. Despite my complaints, I am better able to tolerate the pain and discomfort with each month that passes. But it’s a constant presence. So this working 5-days-a-week stuff (many times 6, sometimes 7) -- hey, how do you guys do this? It’s not easy! LOL! That’s my “go-to” line when anyone asks how it feels to be back at work. I just have to build stamina. It’s a long road back. But here’s what makes it work: The people at KEX. I told you a big part of my decision was to be back with my (and Dave’s) friends. They haven’t let me down. Mike, my studio engineer (I have dubbed him “Liberal Mike” because he can’t get over the last election) and producer Cort (whom I call “Supreme Cort” because, well, most importantly, he’s my boss!) and Brad Ford, Paul Linnman -- I get to see them every day. And they support me in so many ways, not just in producing a radio show, but as friends in life. Even the people from the other stations in the building, Bruce, Janine, John, Travis, Chad, Scott, Paul, Matt, Jimmy, Lynn, Gayle, Anna, Chris -- I can’t name them all - and the sales staff, Kelli, Tracy, Rick, Laura, Janet, Ann, Marshall, Pete, Jerry, Chris, Jamie -- I can’t name them all, either, or this post would go on indefinitely. But they are there every day for me. I can feed of their enthusiasm. Hopefully they can feed off my joy of being back with them, even if it’s without Dave. But this immersional reacquaintance with my past at KEX brings with it something else, too. A mind-bending consciousness; a Twilight Zone type experience. You see, every day I walk in to KEX I happily see my same friends from 3 1/2 years ago. I then walk to the same studio and sit in the same chair -- configured the same way I had it for the first 18 years. I see Dave’s old chair and microphone just next to me, exactly as we left it. I place my briefcase in the same spot I have always placed it since, well, forever. My computer screens, email box and email address have not changed. My control board is precisely as I left it. I look out the window and see the same view I always knew. Straight ahead to the next booth sit my producers, the same people I have known almost my entire professional life in Portland. And to my right Brad Ford works in his news booth. Here’s the paradox: Every now and then I have this strange feeling that I never left, that I simply woke up one day and went to the same place I’ve always worked -- except Dave was suddenly and mysteriously erased from my life and I have this mangled leg. It’s as if the last 3 1/2 years happened only in my mind. Of course, the reality is it *did* happen, and I’ve got my leg to keep me based in reality. But strange, huh? I can’t explain it, but I thought I’d share. I’ve been loving my time at KEX. I appreciate the kind comments you have sent me through email. I am adapting, but I don’t think I’ve lost my sense of humor along the way - at least I hope I haven’t. Life is too precious to let a few potholes in the road completely consume you. I'm trying to make the most of it. It’s the one true thing that keeps me going.
UPDATED 1/19/17 I thought I would leave you a clue as to where The Mark Mason Show will next land, and I posted a touched up picture (removed the logo) to Facebook I thought you would not recognize and we’d have a little fun for a few days. You called me out on that one, you nailed it. Quickly, I might add. That picture was taken the last time I walked out of that beautiful studio over three years ago. Yes, I am heading back to KEX. It’s where it all started for me here in Portland.I am not sure people understand what went into this decision and I’m not sure you care but I’ll tell you anyway. I left some good friends behind at 860, people I love and respect and who helped Mark & Dave when they needed a home. But…if I have not mentioned this yet (and I probably don’t need to, really) Dave’s death and what happened to my leg had a profound impact on me. Everything that has happened since Dave’s diagnosis, and then my event, I’ve seen through a prism I feared would distort my perspective or my feelings when it came to a decision like this. In the end, it actually helped. Up until 2014 Dave and I pretty much controlled our own destiny. Yet, these past three years has taught us that greater forces can change all that, and no matter how hard you try – well, let’s just say Dave’s gone and my leg is permanently damaged. My takeaway: Some things you cannot change. It’s how you assimilate them that helps chart your destiny. To put it simply, you have to ride it out and see where life takes you. And when calmer waters prevail, and they always will, you set yourself a new course. And that is what happened to me. It has been such a tumultuous ride that when I found myself able to breathe again, I felt an overwhelming need to take control of my life…again. And my decision to go back to KEX was part of it.The people at KEX understood that. What you don’t see in that picture I posted are the people that make that studio run, the people that make a radio show and the station come together, all of whom were friends of mine before Dave and I left to stay together and keep the Mark & Dave Show going as long as we could. Some worked on the show our very first day together all those years ago. And we stayed friends over the years, even as competitors. So when the idea of going to KEX was proposed, the overwhelming sentiment from them – all the way to the top – was that “You need to come home.” It’s where my friends are. It’s where Dave’s friends are. But Dave is gone, and it’s just me now. His values and work ethic are forever ingrained in me. And it is time to move on. It’s time to take control again.