Here we are again.
Man, I’m sitting here, writing, erasing, writing again, deleting, RE-writing…blah. I should be able to copy and paste a story from last year or the year before that! I know, I know, I’m being lazy. But it’s not just lazy. I’m actually scared.
I’m very, very, VERY scared.
I worry a lot. A lot of people that don’t know me find that surprising. They see the jokes, the comics, the silly behavior, and they write me off as this Puck-ish character (uh, that’s from Shakespeare, not that idiot on that MTV show). And don’t get me wrong: I like being silly. I like making people laugh. If you’ve had a bad day, but coming to my site and reading about my frustrations with zombies makes you forget all about it and laugh – well, my work here is done.
I’ve never really been good at anything for most of my life. Oh, I can get by doing this and that – you know how it goes, Jack of All Trades, Master of None and all that. I can pretty much adapt to any situation I find myself in, especially if that situation involves needing things to be screwed up. But sometimes, when I get going with a really wild idea, sometimes I manage to grab the lightning. People still mention how much they liked the ninja story. I still feel an insane amount of pride when people ask if the great proposal caper was for real (it was, folks – Kwipette still wants to slap me every time we go into a movie theater!). Yes, sometimes I do things so right that all I can do is hold on as the story and laughter unfolds around me.
Falling in love with Kwipette was one of those things.
The very first night I met Kwipette, I showed her Asheron’s Call. Man. I still have to shake my head at that, and I’m a super geek. But it amazes me more that she actually stuck around afterwards! Not only that, but before long, I had her playing online with me – in fact, when we lived 45 minutes apart, we used to sign on together and run around hunting just to ‘keep in touch.’ Heh. Yeah, I knew she was special. The second night I knew her, I took her to Yellow Rat Bastard’s gaming shop to meet some of the gang. I don’t know what I was thinking – maybe it was some sort of self-hate mechanism, trying to show her the worst side of me to scare her off? Ugh. Apparently she’s just as insane as I am, though, ’cause she stuck with me.
We were married in October of 2002. For those of you that missed out on it, I wish you could’ve been there. It was a party that people will be talking about for YEARS afterwards (I know the hotel my cousins stayed at – 20 of them[that’s not even half of them] – will certainly not forget it…they still haven’t repaired all the smoke damage…).
Book-ending that happiest occasion of my life are two tragedies: my beloved aunt died of cancer right before the wedding, and my dear young cousin died just three months after my wedding, leaving behind a beautiful family. We’ve seen the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow, all in a pretty brief span of time.
And here we are. We’ve been up, we’ve been down – we’ve even been to New Jersey… and I’m scared.
I’m scared because I want something badly, and I don’t know how to express it to you. Me, the Jabberjaw of the new millennium, and I’m sitting here writing and re-writing so much my cursor is accruing frequent flier miles. I can make you laugh – maybe not everyone all the time, but I feel confident that most people that come here can at least share a chuckle or two with me over some bit of silliness I touched upon. But now – now I want to make you care. And I’m scared that if I can’t do that, then I’m going to do worse than I did last year, and this whole fund-raising thing is going to be written off as a fluke.
Let me back up a bit. Some of you are really wondering what the heck I’m talking about now. Well, in a nutshell, I’m talking about MS. Kwipette’s got it. Uh, that’s Multiple Sclerosis, not shares of Microsoft (although if anyone’s out there that wants to trade, please let us know!). Kwipette was diagnosed with MS on April 28th, 2000. For those of you that don’t know what MS really is, check out this link. I vividly remember the phone call. I was at work and she called in – she had just gotten the doctor’s results. Needless to say, she wasn’t exactly in the greatest frame of mind. Of course, being the eternal optimist I am and knowing very little about MS, I was certain it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was.
I can’t really explain what went through our minds. I remember reading this pamphlet that was titled “MS and You: An Introduction!” and it was chock full of bright colors and smiling people. I wanted to smash the author’s face in. It’s tough, because when something like this happens, you immediately focus on the worst – how can you not? – and we were no exception. We knew it wasn’t really a fatal disease – but when you read about someone like JK Rowling’s mother dying of MS, that tends to stick more in your mind than the thousands of people with near-normal life expectancies. We didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it. We tried to figure out how to tell our parents, but of course those things never work out as smoothly as you plan. It was pretty much a mess all around – confusion, fear, tears, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair – downright biblical, you might say. Kwipette had her first major episode when we were supposed to go out west for my step-sister’s wedding. I had to leave her in the hospital – yeah, lemme tell you how good THAT felt – and give my folks some lame story about her having to work at the last minute. I couldn’t dump that on their laps and ruin the wedding! After the big day (and man, if you thought our wedding was big, you shoulda seen this production! I’ve seen Broadway shows with less choreography than that wedding!), I pulled my mom and step-dad aside and broke the news to them. Mom had picked up on something wrong long before that, of course. Moms are good at that. So we hugged and cried and did all the fun stuff that families do at times like this.
Yeah, there’s a lot of those ‘revelation’ stories that stand out in my mind. That’s just the one big one I decided to dump on you. Kwipette’s got some more – a few real doozies, too. LOTS of fun to go around there, lemme tell ya.
So. We struggled with this ‘secret’ of ours, never sure who we should tell. It sounds dumb, but there’s almost a stigma that you feel about it – a guilt that goes along with it. Yeah, it’s dumb, but I’ll bet most people that have been in similar situations would understand. It’s a tough thing to cope with. Kwipette’s done pretty well with it the past few years. I’ve gotten better at giving her shots – she gets injections of Beta Seron every other day to help lessen the frequency and severity of MS attacks, reduce the accumulation of lesions (areas of damage) in the brain, and slow the progression of disability. Does it work? Not a clue. We do know that she’s been pretty lucky so far – one of the things she feared most was not being able to walk down the aisle of the church for our wedding, and she did fine. It was ME who tripped. Stupid shoes…
But lately – yeah, it’s been progressing. I’m a little scared to even write about it, to be honest with you. Maybe it’s some superstitious fear that I have that to name something is to call it into existence. But it’s there. She’s been having more trouble with numbness in her legs lately. Ever try walking when both of your legs are asleep? Yeah, it doesn’t really make you the most graceful of creatures. So she constantly worries about looking clumsy or drunk. Plus, there’s the fun that is bum knee! Wheee! Kwipette’s got a trick knee. After several rounds of surgery, that thing’s still acting like a jerk. ‘Cause, you know, MS isn’t really ENOUGH to deal with – if you’re gonna have woes, by golly, then you need to have WOES!
It’s weird. If you see Kwipette sitting someplace or walking a short distance, you probably would never pick up on it. But if she has to be on her feet for a while, or do something like climb steps or something, you can see a bit of a stumble to her step. And yeah, she might just look clumsy or dopey. And you might be tempted to laugh or make a joke. And I might be tempted to see if your head unscrews…
I think I’m the one having a harder time of this whole thing. She feels embarrassed when she has to do things like use a cane or a wheelchair. It’s rare that she needs it, so when she uses it (as we did a couple of days on our Honeymoon in Disney – that’s a LOT of walking to do!), she feels like she’s cheating or something. Me, I just get mad.
I get mad when people stare. I get mad when people give us funny looks if I go get the car for her. I get really mad when we park in handicap spots (yes, she has a placard) and people give us dirty looks. Ooooooooh, do I get mad. Logically, I understand they’re just trying to be ‘good citizens’ and look out for ‘cheaters’ using the handicapped parking spaces. But emotionally, I want to punch them in the throat while explaining to them that yes, just because someone can walk doesn’t mean that it’s painless or easy to walk. And when we go into the grocery store and she leans on the cart as we walk around, that’s not because she’s lazy or has poor posture. It’s because that walking tires her out and causes her pain. Really, I understand that you’re acting out of ignorance when you shoot her dirty looks if she stops in the aisle for a moment to grit her teeth in frustration because her feet aren’t doing what she’s telling them to do. I just hope that you understand when you snap something rude to her and I knock you down and stand on your throat, that I don’t really mean it, I’m just frustrated by the hand that Fate has seen fit to deal us.
Okay, I’m not really that bad. I’ve never hit anyone or even menaced anyone in the grocery store. Yet. But it’s hard to deal with parking in a handicap space, helping the woman you love more than anything in the world walk to the door, and looking back to see some jackoff getting out of his car to inspect the handicap placard on your car to see if it might be a fake just because he saw that there womanfolk walkin’!
Sooooo…I go on this long tirade to say this is/was my mindset in dealing with this whole thing. I was really, really nervous the first time I put ‘our story’ up on the web for everyone to see. Hey man, I watch the news – I know what gamers are like! How they’re all addicted, emotionally unbalanced, unstable crackpots just looking for excuses to abuse their fellow man!
The first night, after receiving the first three hundred dollars in pledges, Kwipette and I sat on the bed reading some of the emails I had printed out from people sending their thoughts, prayers, funny stories, tales of their loss, grief, or their own personal triumph against such things. We sat, passing the letters back and forth, alternately crying and hugging and laughing. These were our people. Could these be the same vile, juvenile, poor-social-skill having people that the media was describing as “gamers”? Those same people that the news would have us believe could snap at any time – could those possibly be the same people who were now writing to us from all over the world, pledging money to our MS Walk team?
Gamers are vile, childish, immature people that lurk in their parents’ basements and are completely socially underdeveloped. So says the media. But you know what? The first year we did the Walk, our local newspaper ran a wonderful piece on us, talking about how our fellow gamers from all over the world came together for this worthy cause, pitching in to help a friend that most of them had never met, barely knew – that only shared a joint love of games.
Wanna know how many national/international news agencies picked that story up? No, come on, I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. What’s that? Zero, you say? Why, good heavens Miss Moneypenny, you’re CORRECT! Nobody seemed very interested in a bunch of gamers doing something amazing for a great cause. Nope, not the television, not the newspaper, not the radio – zip. But if I went on a shooting spree, what do you want to bet they would’ve been slobbering at the muzzle to cover all these ‘violent’ games I play? Oh, and don’t forget demonic – we can’t overlook the e-vul influence of these games! The good will, kindness, charity, and amazing coolness of our fellow gamers is always overshadowed by a few mentally unstable people whose families are desperate to find a scapegoat to lay the blame upon and an over-zealous media that loves to expose the ‘dark side’ of gamers.
Well, not this time. This year, I want to ROCK PEOPLE’S FACES. And I want your help. See, you guys have always been there for us. After I wrote that first story, the outpouring of support was overwhelming. And last year, despite my screwing up the prizes I set up for people, we still got a good response. But it wasn’t as good as the first year, and that’s got me nervous this year. I’m afraid that I’m going to pour my heart into this, and there’s just not going to be the concern there once was. I’m afraid that the MS story is just going to be another internet ‘has-been,’ relegated to the same shelf as the groundhog page or the dancing baby. I know I can’t make people care, but I can sure as hell try.
I want you to care. Kwipette and I have a wonderful life, despite all the hardships I whine about. There is not a single day that goes by without me thanking God for giving me her. I usually go to bed after her at night, and sometimes I just watch her sleep, wondering if she really understands how much I love her and how incredible my life has been since I met her. And I wonder – could Shakespeare write something moving enough to convey the gift she is in my life? Probably not. But he would definitely do a better job than I of making you want to get involved – to inspire you to do what you can to help the thousands of people like Kwipette that suffer from this disease. But he’s not here, so I have to stumble through as best I can, and hope that as I reach out to the gaming community, some (if not all!) of you will reach back.
I’m not asking for your money to run this site. We get by fine on our own (although if Mr. Gates happens upon this, I’d like to say the site is entirely run on Microsoft products, and I’d be glad to move into your guest house, thanks). But don’t get me wrong – I am asking for your money, just not for us. Specifically, I’m asking for you to pledge for me here. It’s a little trickier than it has been before, but I’m hoping that it won’t be too much of a headache for anyone. If you can pledge, that is fantastic. If you work for a gaming or gaming-related company, please feel free to contact someone in your public relations department on my behalf to see if your company would be interested in helping to sponsor Team NeenerNeener.Net at the 2003 MS Walk. Or send me their name and information, and I’ll get in touch with them.
The Walk this year is May 4th. I’m starting early, because I’m going to work hard at this. I’m going to contact every media outlet I know of. I want to raise a lot of money as soon as I can, and I want to get media coverage showing people that these are gamers, coming together to help a damn good cause. If they want to talk about ‘negative impacts’ and ‘violent tendencies,’ well, let’s just give them something else to talk about, even if it’s only for a little while.
Right now, I’m going to show this story to Kwipette, the same as I’ve done two years past. She will read it, we’ll both hug each other and maybe cry a little, just as we’ve done before. Or maybe not. We’ve done our share of crying lately, and you know what? I’m pretty tired of it. I just can’t be that sad anymore. We have a wonderful life together, and I’m blessed for it. I know a lot of perfectly healthy people that can’t say the same thing. So who’s really afflicted here? Kwipette says I make her happy. I’m happy because I have the love of an amazing woman. And I’m happy because through this small talent of mine, I’ve hopefully gotten to touch all of your lives and maybe share with you some of the happiness I’ve experienced. A lot of you have paid me back in your own way, with your own tales, your own well-wishes to Kwipette, or with your thoughts and prayers. I hope I can count on you again. If you cannot help yourself, then help me spread the word – post to every message board you use, manage, or even know of. Don’t be obnoxious about it or anything – please don’t spam! – but just drop a line that if anyone would be willing to help us out, it would be greatly appreciated. Link some of the stories you like, give people a few laughs before you start hitting them up for money on our behalf. 😉
There’s a lot of bad things going on in the world right now. I can’t do anything about that. But what I can do – and what you can help me to do – is to draw the line right here and say, “This is the spot that we are standing. Here is where we are dedicated to making a difference.” I know which side of that line I’m standing on. I hope you come and join us.
Live, Love, Laugh.
PS – Just in case you missed it, here’s the pledge link: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/home/account_1.asp?m=e&pa=&pta_a=8549675&pta_n=1&pd=PAC0EWLK20030504LAN&pt=PACW642002
I’ve also been told that the above site’s not working for some people. Sigh. Nothing’s ever easy, is it? Blah. If you’re having trouble with the direct link, you can go here:
Search for Shawn Williams, team NeenerNeener.Net, and we’re doing the walk in Pennsylvania. That should be enough info to find me in there. For some reason, their secure server is slower than me getting out of bed, so please be patient as that thing loads.
Update – if the MS Website is broke, please keep trying, folks – please. I know it might be frustrating, but it really is worth it.