Let’s Do This.

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.

Whoops.

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’!

Sigh.

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!

Right.

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.
Kwip

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:
https://www.nationalmssociety.org/pledge/index.asp

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.

I Take It All Back

Yeah, remember all that whining I did about the stresses of weddings? Where I talked about how, if you are planning on getting married, I suggested you give yourself a break and elope?

Screw that noise.

For those of you that have not figured this out yet from my past brilliant adventures, let me just clarify here: I’m an idiot. Why anyone would EVER listen to me is beyond me. But once again, God has seen fit to demonstrate how little I know.

This past Sunday was Kwipette’s bridal shower. Let me just explain the concept of a bridal shower for those bachelors out there (because, up until Sunday, I had no idea of these things either, and I feel the need to share my new-found knowledge).

Here’s how it works: you’re getting married. To the men, this usually means thinking about things you’d never consider (ie, floral arrangements, appropriate music and wearing underwear). To them women, this usually means the fulfillment of a life-long dream (taking control of a man to govern for the rest of his life). To celebrate this union, the bride’s girlfriends and female relatives throw her a party.

A party where they give her PRESENTS!

And that’s not all: not only are you expected to come with a present, but there is also present a “Wishing Well.” Into this wishing well, you’re expected to deposit at least one small kitchen utensil or other household item. So now we’ve got a billion chip clips – and personally, at the rate I open chip bags without finishing them, this is a lifesaver.

And the presents themselves – I’ve got this blender that’s so powerful I’m pretty certain could easily whip up a 1976 Ford Fairmont Station Wagon milkshake if I so choose. The thing has a digital readout and SUCTION CUPS. This thing will attach itself to your counter so firmly that nothing short of a nuclear blast will discharge it. I love it. And while we may have had a lot of pots and pans for Kwipette to slap me around with previously, now they are MATCHING pots and pans, for the fashionably aware husband beater. You don’t even want me to start about the towels, towel racks and mirrors. Let me just say that after this weekend, if you can find a bathroom that’s better color-coordinated than ours, you better be standing in Martha Stewart’s potty. Well, before they repo it, that is.

So, just to recap this: yes, the bride and groom will be getting married in a month. At that wedding, it will be expected that you bring a present. BUT – and this is the important part – if you’re a chick, you have to show up to this PRE-wedding party, and give ANOTHER present! So that means we’re getting like TWO presents from people – for ONE wedding!

I mean, imagine your birthday party. Now imagine if all your friends had to show up a month BEFORE your party and give you a present. And THEN they had to show up at the birthday party with ANOTHER present. Or, preferably, CASH.

Whoever thought of this wedding thing is a genius.

Here It Is…

 Oh, look, another year, another MS Walk, must be time for another tear-jerker story

Sigh. See, I don’t want these stories to be tear-jerkers. Honest. I want them to just be…I dunno, a little peek into our lives, what our hopes and dreams are, how MS has been affecting us – and more importantly, how it has NOT been affecting us. That’s the important bit, that is. MS is kinda…well, it’s not kinda shitty – it’s COMPLETELY shitty. But MS can be sort of…hrmmm. I don’t exactly know how to phrase it. A lot of people like to call it “insidious.” According to Websters, that means “Working or spreading harmfully in a subtle or stealthy manner.” I don’t care much for that definition. There is nothing stealthy about MS. It is in your face; a constant reminder that yes, there is ‘something wrong with you.’ But we try pretty damn hard to not let it ruin our days; we try and make the most out of every waking second we have together – and even several of the sleeping moments together. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kwipette aches every day. Her pain has gotten worse over the past year. It used to be sporadic. Now it’s a constant companion. Her shitty retail job doesn’t help much; she has to lift a lot of stuff and there’s a lot of stress involved. Unfortunately, until my company makes a million, our insurance won’t cover her. So she has to stay at that job, adding more and more stress every day, because we can’t afford to pay her medical bills without insurance. Ask me sometime how I feel about the Medical and Insurance fields. Just make sure I don’t have any sharp objects nearby.

Blah. This certainly started out on the completely wrong foot, didn’t it? Let’s try again: Last year, team NeenerNeener.net KICKED ASS. Our grand total came out to over TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. And over EIGHT THOUSAND of those dollars came from YOU! Proud of yourself? You damn well should be. I started out wanting to raise $100. I ended up getting, oh, EIGHTY TIMES that amount from you guys! Not too shabby, eh?

So now here we are again. Me trying to skirt around the issue, trying to write a story that will come close to touching you the way all of your contributions touched us last year. I still go back and read your messages, you know. Probably about three or four times a month. I can’t sleep; I get up quietly so as not to disturb Kwipette, and I sneak into the office and pull up those messages. Some are the ones you put when you sponsored me; some were just supporting emails apologizing because you couldn’t afford to pay anything (as if you need to feel guilty about that!), and some were just emails saying hi and telling me what my stories have meant to you or sharing your own pains with me. I guess maybe it’s a sign of my own little fragile ego. A shrink could probably have a heyday with all my neurosis. In truth, it does make me feel pretty damn good to hear the nice things you guys took the time to tell me. I guess that’s why I do all this; to get some words of encouragement. But also, I like to read those comments and stories because…well, I dunno how to explain it. Because for the time it takes me to read your stories, I know I’m not alone. I’m not forgotten. Somebody out there is hearing my desperate little cries for help; someone is getting those messages in the bottles I keep casting out to the ocean that is the ‘Net.

The past year has been…well, it’s been good. We’ve got a nice new apartment in an awesome little setting – ponds and ducks and swans (whom we feed our stale bread to), a gym and a pool and a jogging trail (which we merely like to mention, but never use), and a whopping HUGE bleach stain in the middle of the carpet thanks to the kitten from hell. Sigh.

Of course, some of it has not been so good. Kwipette’s MS has progressed. She has trouble typing, and is in constant pain, and has trouble walking long distances. It hurts to type that – as if by putting it down here, by writing it out – somehow that makes it more real. Before we could perhaps ignore it. But now we’ve admitted it. And I guess you can’t really take that back. But it’s the truth, and it scares the shit out of both of us very badly. Look, it could be much, much, MUCH worse. There are people who are WAAAAAAAY worse off then Kwipette. I know that. I’m not trying to state we are worse off than anyone else. We’re not; we’re young, very much in love, and have great lives.

But we’re also very scared. Every day. Kwipette told me once, in one of our late-night chats where we both held each other for all we worth and vented in the form of tears and blubbering, that she wakes up every morning wondering if she’s going to be able to walk that day.

Every morning. Wondering if today will be the day she will have to really use the wheelchair.

This week, for the first time, we used her handicapped parking placard. That was…ugh. Long walks through a parking lot just wear her out too much. Looking at her, you couldn’t tell that there’s anything wrong with her. You’d think we were just some snot-nosed asshole couple that manipulated their way into having a handicapped placard. You’d think she was just lazy, because you couldn’t see the pain she feels just getting out of the car. You’d think she was a sloppy dresser if you saw her wearing those loose pants because the injection sites where I give her the medicine every other day were inflamed. You’d think I was a sexist pig, making her push the shopping cart, because you couldn’t see that the cart helped her keep her balance as she walked and let her lean on it for support. You’d think she was drunk if you saw her swaying on her feet as she stood. You’d think she was mentally handicapped if she slurred her words when speaking with you or forgot what she was saying. You’d think it would be okay to make fun of her.

You’d think it was a damn shame, how far up your ass I managed to work my boot.

Sigh. I’ve been having some problems too, lately. I find that, day to day, the number of people I want to inflict bodily harm seems to be increasing by leaps and bounds. People can just be…well, they can just be such stupid goombahs. Last month, Kwipette went into her woman doctors office to get her woman bits checked up (I’m not really sure what that consists of – I think they just go in a back room and tell jokes about what a terrible lover I am). Anyway, she’s being ‘screened’ by one of the office staff girls. As is common when she’s dealing with things medical, Kwipette tells her that she has MS. The girl responds with, “Oh, I forget – does that kill you or just make you crippled?”

Does that kill you or just make you crippled.

Every fear we’ve faced in the past couple of years, right there. In her face. She came home that night and cried harder than she has in a while. When she told me what happened, she had to physically restrain me from going to commit murder.

Does that KILL you or just make you CRIPPLED.

See, a close friend of mine summarized it pretty nicely: “99.9% of the time, situations can be handled by just being cool, calm, collect, and talking your way through difficulties. But that 0.1% of the time, you’ve just got to start jumping up and down and screaming.”

Yeah.

DOES THAT KILL YOU OR JUST MAKE YOU CRIPPLED.

I wonder if that stupid bitch has any idea – the slightest of a clue – of two things: 1) how very horrific and painful her question was to Kwipette; and 2) how very, VERY close she came to getting the living shit kicked out of her.

I am such a wimp. I avoid confrontation like the plague. But I was very intent on driving over there, going into the office, asking to speak with the young lady in question, and then picking up whatever heavy object was handy and beating her with it until the candy came out.

Sigh. This idiot worked in a doctor’s office. Some of you may not believe it, but I swear, this story is true. This… this worthless, stupid, ignorant, insensitive, idiotic bitch actually said that. To the woman that means more to me than anything has ever meant to anyone in the world. And I bet that stupid feckless wonder probably has great health. Did I mention I carry around an awful lot of frustration? And it’s growing; every day, it seems, someone is volunteering for a throat punch.

And then there’s you guys. You people; most of whom I’ve never met, some of whom never heard of me until someone sent them to read the story I wrote last year – you people pledged over EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. On behalf of a stranger.

Ain’t human nature a bitch? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So here I am again. Jerking at your heart-strings; trying to convey a glimpse of our every-day life so that it will touch you to re-create the actions so many of you took last year. And to tell the truth, I’m scared out of my head. I’m terrified. And excited. And humbled. And so very, very hopeful.

I’m terrified that we’ll fall not just short, but downright DEAD this year. Last year, I was perhaps at the peak of my fame; I had tons of visitors to my site. This year, I’m less than a week of releasing a new version, and there hasn’t been a blip out of me in months, aside from some space the folks over at CoD were kind enough to give to me. And everyone at the National MS Society is hoping and expecting us to do at least as well this year as we did last year. Gulp.

I’m excited because I wrote to Microsoft. They weren’t able to come up with anything in time last year; but I’m so very excited that maybe, just maybe, this years letter will reach them in time, and they’ll pledge some whopping amount. And I’m excited because I’m trying to get some other companies on board this year: Mythic, for one. I’m hoping someone there will take notice and jump on board. Ben & Jerry’s – they are the source of all Good in the universe, after all (well, next to Gillian), and I’ve got something kinda crazy planned for the Walk involving them, so I’m hoping I can find someone there to talk to about sponsorship. And of course, Turbine. They have already helped out by donating some prizes (which I’ll get to in a bit), and I’m hoping I can weasel some more goodies from them. And besides, they let us party with them at the ACPL, so that’s pretty damn significant alone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Odds are, I won’t hear from any of those companies except for Turbine. They’ll help, I’m pretty sure; but the rest are pretty much a guessing game. But maybe – just maybe – someone there high enough on the ladder will catch wind of this in time to help out. And maybe, MAYBE, even more people will donate. And we’ll beat last year’s total, and I’ll get to be a hero yet again.

I’m humbled, because any of this greatness I achieve – it’s from you. You people that don’t really know me; most of you have never met me (which is probably a good thing, come to think of it), and most of you have never met Kwipette. But you reached out, and you gave. You gave money, you gave words of comfort, you gave story after story. Some inspirational, some touching, some sad – but all so significant. You took the time to share that little bit of your souls with us. You broke off chunks of your hard-earned pay, and you shared that with us and with everyone affected by MS. You gave your support, your comfort, your caring. You gave. And I know that I will never ever ever be able to thank each of you enough. To tell you how every little penny and every word you gave touched and helped us.

And I’m hopeful. I suppose it’s really sad – but I’m so hopeful. I see the amount of money that people all over the world raise, and I hope. I hope that this year there will be a staggering new breakthrough – some new branch of research that has struck paydirt. Some laboratory where a ten-thousand dollar grant from the National MS Society was just what they needed to purchase something or another that they needed.

And now they’ve found a cure. I hope; oh, Lord, how I hope.

Gah. Stop with the making of the tear jerking already! Good grief, see what happens when I try and write seriously? I think I better change the story to the time I caught my… er… self… in my zipper. That was not fun. But this – THIS is going to be fun! Yes!

Last year, I couldn’t think of a way to say thank you. This year, I’m afraid I haven’t done much better. But I’ve got something, at least. If you pledge to team NeenerNeener.net – for every ten dollars you pledge, you will be given a lottery ticket. After the last of the donations has been accepted, we will hold a kooky little raffle. Right now, I’m afraid to say we don’t have a lot of prizes. And even worse, some of them are vicious little joke prizes – but they should all be fun, one way or the other (we hope!). Here’s what we have so far:

  • 4 copies of the ORIGINAL Turbine/Microsoft Asheron’s Call; all in their boxes, and ALL autographed by the Turbies!
  • 1 hour of powerleveling, by Kwip, on Darktide (pity the poor bastich that wins THIS little gem!)
  • 1 copy of Asheron’s Call:Dark Majesty (not autographed – well, not yet, lemme get a weekend off and see if I can get past the guards at Turbine and we’ll see what we can do)
  • 1 copy of Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot
  • 2 Team NeenerNeener.net’s OFFICIAL MS Walk 2002 T-shirts, autographed by the team, and used to mop up the sweat from my brow – well, only on request if you’re fussy.
  • 1 $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Nobles
  • 1 spoon used by Kwip on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • 1 $20 gift certificate to www.angryyoungandpoor.com for all your punk music and clothing needs, of course.

That’s it for now; hopefully I’ll have some more ‘real’ prizes soon.

One more thing: thank you, everyone. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Those of you that can’t pledge, don’t feel guilty; spread the word as best you can, that’s helpful. Those of you that can’t do that, why not drop Kwipette an email and say hi? She’d love to hear from you. Tell her you’re thinking of her. Tell her you wish her well. Tell her not to marry me – woah, wait a sec, DON’T tell her that. Sheesh. If you can’t drop an email, think good thoughts about us and your well wishes will be appreciated. If you can do that, then smile at someone. If you can’t do THAT, then stop reading this page, Yellow Rat Bastard, and get your laundry together or something.

For now, I’m gonna climb into bed with the person I love and hold them tight as we drift off to sleep together.. I hope that everyone out there can do the same.

Take care of yourselves, friends.
Live. Love. Laugh.

Kwip

Pledge To Team NeenerNeener.net Here

Wait, WHAT Hormones Are You Guys Using?

It is a well-known fact that I love scientists. Especially those crazy ones that come up with far-flung ideas and really blaze trails. But recently, a new study has me a bit nervous:

=====================From Reuters==========
Researchers Near Human Trials of Multiple Sclerosis  Drug

SYDNEY (Reuters) Mar 12 – A hormone that prevents a  pregnant woman’s immune system from attacking the  foetus may hold the key to halting autoimmune diseases  such as multiple sclerosis, Australian researchers  said on Tuesday.

The researchers said they hoped to begin phase I  clinical trials of a drug based on the hormone in  about a year.

An offshoot of Sydney’s University of New South Wales  and biotech firm CBio Ltd on Tuesday signed a deal to  produce enough Early Pregnancy Factor (EPF)–a  modified version of the naturally occuring protein–to  begin the toxicity tests.

CBio managing director Wolf Hanisch told Reuters  commercial production of EPF, if the trials are  satisfactory, would be 5 to 7 years down the road.

“This agreement brings CBio Ltd a step closer to  commercialising a drug that can solve one of the  biggest challenges in medical research–finding a  successful treatment for the autoimmune diseases which  afflict millions of sufferers around the world,” he  said.

Hanisch stressed that EPF was not a cure. It halts the  effects of autoimmunity rather than by identifying and  countering its source.

So far, it has shown good results in animal models of  multiple sclerosis, but the researchers have not  investigated it as a therapy for other diseases.

The university’s commercial offshoot, ACYTE Biotech  Pty Ltd, will now develop a production line to  manufacture large quantities of EPF, said ACYTE  executive director Peter Gray.
==========================

Um…look, I think it’s fantastic that you guys have come up with this. Really.

But…PREGNANT hormones? Are you insane?

I’ve known a lot of pregnant women in my time. And they were ALL – every ONE of them – INSANE.

Sometimes it would manifest itself as rather harmless desires for odd foods. Other times, it would rear it’s head as mild fatigue. But then there were those times when their hormones would trigger some bio-chemical-physiological shift that would make them go on a tirade that would put Mr. Hyde to shame! After downing about five pints of Ben & Jerry’s, they’d hijack buses and go on twelve-state shopping rampages that would leave store clerks across the nation BADLY SHAKEN.

Here’s an army story for you – when I was stationed in Panama, a friend’s wife was badly pregnant. We’re talking serious condition here – she was about 5 feet tall, with heels on, and her belly was arriving in the room a full three hours before she would get there. She was VERY pregnant. While she was walking downtown in Panama city, some dipshit local hoodlum tried to steal her purse. SHE BROKE HIS ARM IN TWO PLACES. And she wasn’t even trying! Can you imagine what she’d do to someone that didn’t clean up his dishes after dinner? Or left his dirty clothes on the floor? Or – God forbid – ate the last of the Ben & Jerry’s?

Folks, I’m not making this stuff up – pregnant women are God’s punishment on us men for making them pregnant. They feel constantly bloated, achy, self-conscious, and pretty much miserable. AND THEY ALL KNOW IT’S OUR FAULT. Pregnant women are time-bombs, waiting for the opportunity to explode into devastating action that will leave us broken and bloody, and our freezers completely devoid of any sweets.

Sigh. Okay, okay, I’m over-reacting. This is a great thing, and a very promising announcement; Kwipette and I have been following the releases about this for some time now, and we’re eager to see the facts about it after it’s been through some clinical trials.

But researchers – if you’re looking at hormones, couldn’t you check the ones that make women…you know…randy? I mean, think about it – this medicine halts the debilitating effects of MS AND increases the “mood”? Holy jeebus! I couldn’t WAIT to get Kwipette signed up on that medicine! Never mind Love Potion Number 9; I want Beta-Seron Number 9! ๐Ÿ˜‰

NeenerNeener.net Recognized as Top Fund-Raisers (and dead sexy!)

Kwipette and I got free dinner! Yippee!
Well, tell them what for, mook! –Kwipette

Oh, yeah – the details. Well, check this out, froods: remember back in April when I asked for everyone’s help? Well, as I reported before, you guys came through and kicked some mega ass, and tonite we gots the plaques to prove it, baby!

The MS Society had an awards banquet to honor it’s teams from the MS Walk of 2001. I’m proud to report that Team NeenerNeener.net took home not one, not two, but THREE awards (and a ton of those little flavored crackers which then wound up smashed into a paste in my pocket).

Our team was the top Family and Friends fundraiser, the highest team-member average, and was one of the first to be inducted into the new “Five-Figure Club”.

For a small group that included a fat man in a cow suit, I have to say I’m pretty proud of how we did. None of it would have mattered a hill of beans without the help of everyone that pledged to us, mind you – so this is actually another desperate attempt to thank all you froods and beg you to pledge to us again this year!

But I’m kind of worried – last year I tried to come up with something rather outrageous I would do if we got a certain amount of money. If I had gotten 10k in pledges, I was going to jump out of a plan or go bungee-jumping or something equally guaranteed to have me shrieking like a girl and capturing it for the masses on video. (Un)fortunately, I only received something like 8.5k in pledges – which was still a hell of a lot, don’t get me wrong, but merely had me dressing up in a cow suit. A heavy cow suit, as it would turn out, not at all suited for the unseasonably warm (84 degrees!) day we had. That suxored big time – oh, it was fun and all, but I don’t think they’ll ever remove the Kwip stink from THAT particular cow suit ever again.

So now what am I going to do this year?

I’ve got to top last year; that’s all there is to it. I may not be wearing a cow suit, although I grew rather fond of it (that’s just ’cause they had to use paint thinner to get it off me after wearing that sucker for four miles). But I have to do something attention-drawing…hrmmm…any suggestions? The cow suit idea came from one of you fans last year, so I’m hoping there’s another creative person out there with an idear or two they’d be willing to share (and no, I’m not allowed to get roaring drunk before the walk either – I know, I know, rules rules rules. What can you do?).

Even better news this year is that the course is NOT going to be through the lovely broken-cement and cobblestone sidewalks of Lancaster that make pushing a wheelchair OH so much fun…grr… I’m trying to convince Kwipette to let us take scooters on the walk, but she won’t hear any of that. Hrmph. Run over ONE small child on your scooter, and you’re marked for life! Bleh.

Anywhoots, keep watch here; I’ll post more info about the walk as I learn more. One of the things I’m definately thinking about doing this year is making a raffle for all the sponsors – something like every 10 bucks you donate gets you one entry or something. I’ve still got some autographed boxes of AC that the Turbinites were froody enough to donate (I didn’t get them in time for the last walk, so we’re gonna use them this time). Plus, I’ve got a couple other goodies lying around (yeah, you just KNOW you want an official “Yellow Rat Bastard” dirty sock with authentic Stink-O-Rama Realistic OdorTM!

YRB and Kwip celebrate May Day at the laundry.

May Day!

What does that celebrate, you may ask? Hell, don’t ask me, I don’t have any idea. All I know is that people in England are rioting today. Over what, I have no idea. I think it has something to do with white officers killing an unarmed black suspect…er…no, wait, that’s here.

Anyway, it’s some holiday or another. A good excuse for Yellow Rat Bastard to do laundry. For me, it’s about the fact that Kwipette and I are running out of clothes. For YRB, it’s about…well, who the hell knows, cleanliness may be next to godliness, but it’s a far cry from Yellow Rat Bastardness…for all I know, he chose today just to drive me further insane (his justification for many, many of his decisions).

After a brisk day of work (Warlokk sent me a link to a Genesis simulator and all the ROMs you could ever want), I proceed over to the Bastard’s palatial quarters, where I knock at his door.

And wait.

And knock some more.

And wait some more.

And pound a LOT.

And wait some more.

And open the mail slot in the door and begin screaming obscenities through it.

Finally, there is a sign of life. Bastard staggers to the door, completely lost, trying to figure out where his coffee, cigarettes, and lighter could possibly be hiding.

“Huh?”
“Get the hell up, jerk-off, it’s time to do laundry.”
“What are you doing home so early?”
“It’s not early, it’s 6pm you lazy turd!”
“Ugh.”

And then I sit and wait while he finds his cigarettes, finds his lighter, microwaves a ‘fresh’ cup of coffee, and does his morning stretches (sits in the chair and squints against the light).

“Bleger blah blah” (or something to that effect; even wide-awake, he’s barely coherent).
“What?”
“Huh?”
“Oh, god, shut up and get your laundry together already!”

Of course, because we planned to go do laundry tonite immediately after I got off of work, he has absolutely nothing ready.

Half an hour later, he’s smoked a cigarette, drank a cup of coffee, smoked another cigarette, found his laundry, smoked another cigarette, and found the strength to face the day. While he’s doing this, I’ve played around on his computers, using his almighty DSL to find a wonderful porn site. And what’s the first thing I find? A hidden camera of two gorgeous lesbians having sex in the laundromat! Now THAT’s the sort of adventures I want to see when I go do my laundry! Is that too much to ask for?

Needless to say, we are now both ready to go to the laundromat, eager to face the gorgeous lesbians that we just KNOW are going to be waiting there for us.

We climb into the car. Bastard lights a cigarette. Which is a sure sign he’s about to start bitching.

“Don’t even start bitching.”
“What? I’m not gonna bitch.”
“Good.”
“I didn’t even say anything.”
“Keep it that way.”

Deep inhale of his cigarette.

“But if I was going to bitch, I’d bitch about why the hell we have to drive 800 miles to use a laundromat when there’s a perfectly serviceable one only one block away.”
“I told you not to start bitching!”
“Who’s bitching? I’m merely examining possibilities…like how I could possibly be bitching about us driving 800 miles to the laundromat when there’s a great one only one block away.”
“That is not a ‘great one.’ That friggin’ place is crowded as hell, and if someone is taking too long with one of the dryers, you start cursing them out loudly and embarrass the hell out of me acting like an asshole.”
“Hey man, she was an asshole! She deserved it, taking so long to fold her clothes!”
“You didn’t need to tell her she was an asshole!”
“Oh yes I did. How else would she have known she was being an asshole? I exist to correct the shortcomings in others. She was making me wait; now she will know the error of her ways and not take so long.”
“Oh, yeah, can’t make you wait, cause you have SO MUCH to do. What did you do after you finished your laundry that time, anyway? You went home and went to sleep, didn’t you?”
“Exactly! And I could have gotten at LEAST 15 more minutes of sleep in had she not taken so long!”
“Why are you still talking?”
“Why are we going THIS way? What, do we have to take EVERY back road between here and there?”
“Shut the hell up, hippy! You know why we’re going this way? Because I’M DRIVING. If you had a car, which you don’t, and were able to drive without flipping the car over five times, which you aren’t, I might consider letting you drive.”
“It was only three times.”
“Whatever. Point is, I’m driving, so shut the hell up.”
“Point is, this road goes on forever! Look at it! It stretches out to infinity!”
“Blah, blah, blah; stop with the melodramatics already, princess.”

Thankfully, we have finally arrived at the laundromat. As Bastard has so diligently pointed out, it is much further away than our local laundromat. However, the local laundry has 1.5 chairs, about 2 washers, and -1 dryer (negative because the ones they do have work so shitty that they have to count as a negative number). Worse, it is always crowded – and if there’s one thing I hate more than a shitty laundromat, it’s a shitty laundromat full of people. Especially when, as today, I have to put up with the Yellow Rat Bastard and I am without any explosives, firearms, or really pointy sticks.

“Can I use some detergent?”
“What? No! Get the hell away from me!” The Bastard has sidled up close and is watching me sort my clothes, the whole time eyeballing my detergent.
“Oooooh – Cheer! I bet that’s a good detergent! I bet it makes your clothes smell nice and fresh.”

It is by totally ignoring any bitching that I do, yet totally outraged if I don’t bow and kipper to every nuance of bitchdom that he does, that the Yellow Rat Bastard is working to drive me insane. Normal people would get the hint when you tell them things like “I barely have enough detergent for my laundry” or “I only brought so much” or “Why didn’t you bring your own?” or “If you ask me one more friggin’ time to borrow detergent, I’m going to kick your teeth in.” But the Bastard is completely unaffected by any sort of “norms” or “rules” or “polite behavior,” so he has already emptied half of my detergent bottle into his half-load of laundry while I’m still on mid-curse.

Do you see why I hate him?

The worse thing about this laundromat is the decided absence of hot lesbians making sweet love. I looked in all the dryers, washing machines, and the bathroom – all empty. No hot lesbians, no making sweet love, not even a hidden camera with which to observe future liaisons between any that do arrive. Overall, pretty depressing.

But it’s still precious, precious time to myself. The Bastard has sprung for TWO quarters for the dryer, so his clothes won’t actually be dripping wet when he stuffs them into his laundry bag this time. Now, however, the amusement of watching his neon-green shirt spin around in the dryer has faded, so he’s off to find more entertainment by falling asleep in the front seat of the car.

Enter the Screaming Ninnies.

I love kids. I really do. Especially when they’re cute, clean, and well-behaved. And let me state for the record that I am full and well aware that I have just cursed myself to have ugly, dirty, obnoxious little hellions. So. Into the Bastard’s and mine little night of quiet reflection and loathing at the laundry comes the Screaming Ninnies.

It is a couple and three children. There is a daughter, probably about three years old, and two twin boys, about four years old. The twins, whom I shall call Noise and Fury, enter the laundromat with this battle cry:

“Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

It is a screech whose levels of annoyance can only be reproduced by dropping a kitten on a slanted chalkboard.

You would think that the children would get tired, bored, have to inhale, or just be struck down by God for being insufferable little bastards. Then again, had God been so inclined to take such action on the basis of annoyance, we would no doubt never have propagated as a species. However, the children continue on and on, and now add a new twist: they’re running around and around and around and…

My last shred of sanity snaps quietly in the laundromat.

“Hey guys, want to see something cool?”

I have their undivided attention. The parents, completely oblivious to what is in store for their spawn, pay us no heed, as they’re completely involved in the important task of reading the “Car & Auto” some other worthless piece of shit was kind enough to leave behind.

“Have you guys ever heard of the Laundry Troll?”

They grin innocently up at me, one of them digging in his nostril for some unknown reward.

“The Laundry Troll is a ferocious monster! He is a dirty, smelly creature, and he comes to laundromats to look for children to gobble up!”

Now they look uncertain…Well, one of them does, the other’s still hard at work at the booger refinery.

“He comes into the laundromats, and he has a bunch of fabric softener sheets sticking to him to cover up his ugly warts and to try and make him smell like a person – but he’s a ferocious monster!”
“Nuh-uh, you’re making this up mister!”
“What? Children, you think I’m lying to you? You just wait and see! If you misbehave in here, the Laundry Troll’s going to come, fabric softener sheets and all, and gobble you up!”
“Nuh-uh!”

I spread my hands and adopt a sorrowful look on my face. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Noise and Fury run off to begin amusing themselves by pounding their heads into the sides of washing machines. I’ve had days like that myself.

My dryers finish their cycles, I take the time to neatly fold my clothes and pack them up in my laundry bags. Moving quietly, I sneak out to the car and softly open the doors. Being as silent and ninja-esque as I could, I took the fabric softeners that I had carefully collected, and rubbed them against my hair. This had the effect of building up a slight static cling charge, for those of you wondering what I was up to. Then I carefully draped them over the slumbering Bastard. Can you see what comes next?

Through the window, I see the demon children still running round and round the machines, and their vigilant observation of their children (the daughter was playing with a fork and an electrical outlet).

“Hey man, you left some clothes in the dryer.”
“Hrmpph blah blah.”
“No, I think I saw your favorite green shirt still sitting in there.”

As I’ve mentioned before, Bastard is never close to being up to speed when he first wakes up. So, as was destined, he struggles out of the car, covered in fabric softeners, and makes his way into the laundromat.

The children’s shrieks rend the air. I smile, start the car, and drive happily away.

I love the laundromat.

YRB and Kwip: An Introduction

If there was ever a reason to be happy, it’s that YOU’RE not the Yellow Rat Bastard. That friggin’ guy is such a miserable little shit, he makes Kurt Cobain look like . And yes, that’s AFTER he killed himself.

So why do I hang around him? Well, for starters, he makes me damn happy I’m not him. Nothing cheers you up like meeting someone more miserable than you. Second, he owns the gaming shop that I frequent. You may think that this would make him some sort of expert on games, but that would teach you to think, you smug bastard. The Yellow Rat Bastard HATES games; in fact, the only thing he hates more than games are GAMERS – the people that pay his salary.

I can’t say I blame him; I hate his customers, too. When it comes to the freaks and biazarros of the world, his shop is the friggin’ 8-million-watt bulb to the freakazoid moths of the world. Somewhere in the burning wastelands of Australia, there’s some complete schizoid maniac that none of the other bushpeople like (no, not , just a random schizo) who feels a burning urge to rush to America so he can sit in Yellow Rat Bastard’s shop and get abused.

You may think that Bastard attempts to hide his loathing and contempt for his customers – wrong again, sphincter baby! If you’ve been in his shop more than five minutes and he hasn’t made a comment about how annoying you are, it’s because he’s sleeping – which he does frequently throughout the day. Let’s face it: sitting, chain-smoking, and drinking coffee by the gallon is some exhausting work! You can thank your pansy ass that we have such hardcore studs like the Bastard around to do this work for us.

Bastard and I have spent many a long night, sitting at dive bars drinking coffee and discussing the problems in the world (the people), what the president should do to fix the world (kill all the people), and what we would do if we were president (kill all the people and our asshole predecessor). As you can tell, we are catalysts for change…

Sometimes Bastard and I embark on strange and mystical journeys to distant and wonderous places – like the coffee shop. And sometimes we suffer through each others’ company to do our grocery shopping together when Kwipette is working (Kwipette, sad to say, suffers the most – she writes out these long, carefully-worded shopping lists, and I return with 30 jars of yummy psuedo-cheese and 20 boxes of crackers). Invariably, wherever we go, we run into problems – the root of most of which lie in the fact that the Yellow Rat Bastard refuses to follow any sort of ‘norms’ or ‘rules’ or even, for that matter, ‘sanity.’

For example, shopping at a store recently, Bastard proceeds quite politely to the checkout with a gift certificate. The clerk rings up his total: $32.48.

Bastard hands him his gift card.

“Sir, that card only has $20 left on it.”

“Oh.” The Bastard looks down at the card, flips it over, and then hands it back to the clerk.

“Ummm….sir? That card – there’s only twenty dollars left on it. So you would owe more.”

“Oh, oh – right.” He takes the card back, looks at it, studies the register display ($32.48), and then goes to hand back the card to the clerk. “What about this?”

“Sir – the total is $32.48 (now he turns the entire cash register around so Bastard can view the print out for himself – like that will help), but that card only has $20 – twenty dollars (he tries to raise his voice a bit, as if the Bastard is hard of hearing instead of just being a difficult prick). You still owe me $12.48.”

“Huh?” Bastard is now wearing his “This-shit-is-too-difficult-for-me-to-figure-it-out-so-I’m-going-to-act-stupid-until-someone-goes-nuts-and-figures-it-out-for-me” look. A look I’ve come to know too well…

Normally, I’m all for public displays of stupidity by the Bastard, as this provides me with endless hours of fun to torment him with. However, in this case, I had something heavy in my arms, and he was in my way of setting it on the counter.

“Bastard you stupid prick, there’s only $20 left on that damn card! You need to pay more!”
“Huh?”

“MONEY! MOOLAH! FORK OVER THE FRIGGIN’ CREDIT CARD, YOU STUPID PRICK!”

At which point Bastard feels the need to make it painfully clear that he has merely been toying with our sanity all along:

“Oh. I thought this WAS my credit card.” And then he has the balls to act as if nothing is wrong and casually hand his credit card over, while the clerk is turned into a slobbering vegetable from going up against the logic of…the Yellow Rat Bastard.

Don’t Make Us Come Over There…

 So I’m cruising through MSNBC, looking for some porn. Err…I mean, some news, and I come across this little snippet (and yes, I stole it all from MSNBC – is that illegal or something?):


MSNBC STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
WASHINGTON, April 3 ย—  President Bush called on China to immediately release the American crew members of a damaged Navy spy plane, suggesting further delay could undermine U.S.-Chinese relations. In a carefully worded statement at the White House Tuesday, Bush said the United States had allowed time for China ย“to do the right thingย” and that it was now ย“time for our service men and women to come home. And it is time for the Chinese to return our plane.ย”

I don’t understand all this pussyfooting around…what, did we loose all of our nukes? What the hell’s the problem? No, no, no, sheesh, I’m just kidding! I don’t approve of any weapon of mass destruction. I think wars should be fought with Battlebots. Then again, with my luck, the USA would get stuck being represented by that pansy-ass “Buddy Lee Don’t Play in the Street” bot. I wish someone would make a bot named “Buddy Lee, eat this you little bastard!” and equip it with a flamethrower and a couple of rockets. That thing is the most pathetic, stupidest bot I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a LOT of bots, let me tell YOU! Have I told you about the bots disguised as Amish people around where I live? They’re watching me, I tell you! I think their horses are secret radio transmitters, too – they keep leaving these damn message capsules out in the damn street everywhere I go, so it’s obvious they’re following me…

Where the hell was I? Oh, yes, China horking one of our spyplanes. Look, I’ve eaten in MANY MANY Chinese restaurants, and I ALWAYS read my fortune cookies, so I figure I’m pretty damn qualified to give advice in this situation. Let’s study the case:

First up, for the defense, some more quotes (blatantly stolen from that article):

In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry quoted Chinese President Jiang Zemin as saying responsibility for the incident “fully lies with the American side.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao read the statement, adding that Beijing expects an apology because “China is the victim.”

Jiang said the U.S. plane violated international law and intruded into Chinese airspace by making its emergency landing without permission.

“It is the U.S. airplane that flew against the rules, made dangerous maneuvers, damaged our airplane,” Zhu quoted the Chinese president as saying.

Alright sparky, have a seat and let’s look at a few facts, shall we?

First off, “the U.S. plane violated international law and intruded into Chinese airspace by making its emergency landing without permission”? What the hell is up with that? That’s why it’s called an EMERGENCY landing, bucko! Is this the same mentality that sees a person on fire, grabs a fire extinguisher, and then checks to see if it was recently inspected while said person gets crispy crunchy?

Second, this is the US Spyplane:

Hrmm…where have I seen something like that before…oh, I know! It was the last time I was at the bus station! BECAUSE THAT THING’S A GIANT FRIGGIN’ AIR BUS! And outside of “Speed”, I haven’t seen too many damn buses pulling “dangerous maneuvers”! What the hell kind of double-speak crap is that? That’s like a dumb-ass elephant poacher claiming, “Ah, yes, well, you see, I was just firing my Magnum 8,000,000 rifle towards some trees and this mad elephant THREW itself into the way of my bullet!” Is anyone actually buying that crap?

Look, I’m all for spying and espionage. Let’s face it, without it, our movies, books and video games would be boring as hell. “Alright James, your mission today is to break into the Prime Minister’s privy and swipe me a roll of that super-cushiony toilet paper!”

But where the hell is the logic in this action? What, because we as a country gleefully looked on when that idiot Michael Fay got his ass beat in Singapore, China thought it was such a great idea that they’d smack the ass of an entire PLANE and see how we liked it? Is this some sort of kinky come-on? I mean hell, they’ve got enough spies in place now to steal any information that could’ve been on that plane anyway WITHOUT causing an international incident. Why risk it?

But if President Kwip was running things, I’d tell you what I’d do: I’d get on that super-slick Batphone they’ve got at the White House (you know the one, it’ll connect you with any world leader instantly over a video phone, and they’ll speak perfect english), and I’d wag my finger over a big red button on my desk – “Hi guys! Listen, here’s the dealio: either you give us back our plane and our troops, or I’m gonna press this here button and rain down hell upon your heads. You’ve got five seconds to agree. Five!”
“But President Kwip, you have no right to dictate demands to us!”
“Four!”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Three!”
“You don’t frighten us!”
“Two!”
“We will never surrender!”
“One!”
“All your spyplane are belong to us!”

WHAM!!!! And I’d pound that button for all I was worth! But I know what you’re thinking: “Wait – Kwip, you said you were against weapons of mass destruction!” And so I am! But what I didn’t tell you is what that button does! Upon pressing it, hundreds of our ICBMs are launched at major Chinese cities. When they get about a mile over the cities, they explode, and thousands upon thousands of little packages all with cute little parachutes rain down upon their cities. Inside each package? Lots of N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, and the Olsen Twins CDs!

Mwuah-ha-ha-ha!!!! Man, I can’t WAIT to be President! I bet I will raise a hella ton of money for the MS Walk then!

“Pledge to me or I nuke your ass!”

Hee hee hee…

A serious tale

So.

I’m sitting here, watching the cursor blink at me, waiting patiently for my input.

Blink, blink, blink.

The problem is, I’m not sure what to write. Oh, I know what I want to communicate to you – the message I want to say, the feelings I want to evoke. But how to say it; well, I just don’t know.

Over the years, I’ve had my share of creative writing teachers – both professional and amateur. I’d like to think some of that rubbed off. Judging by the fan mail I get, some people think I’ve got a bit of a knack. Then again, judging by the hate mail, I should be throwing myself off of a bridge right now, so who’s to say?

Whoops – sorry about that. I told myself that I would be serious when I write this article. The problem is, I’m very rarely serious in life. Hell, LIFE isn’t serious, so why on earth should I be?

Then again, sometimes it’s very, very serious… and that’s the root of my problem.

I’m facing a ‘serious’ problem now. One I can laugh about, make jokes about, tell humorous anecdotes about…but that won’t change. All the laughing in the world that I (and others) do won’t change it. Make it more bearable, sure – but it won’t change anything.

Sigh. Sure am beating around the bush, aren’t I?

Let me try again. Those of you who read this site on any regular basis know who Kwipette is. Those of you who have had the unpleasant experience to meet me in real life most likely know her, and know what she means to me. Anyone not knowing the lengths I go to for her, pop on over here and read the amount of insanity I pile upon this poor girl.

Kwipette is…well, she is everything. You know those sappy movies that come out that have the goofy hero that fights valiantly against overwhelming odds to save the woman he loves? Well, that’s who Kwipette is to me. There is no foe I wouldn’t face, no mountain I wouldn’t climb, no cheesy love song I wouldn’t quote from – all for her.

She is my everything. She’s the one that makes sure I wear my jacket when I go out on cold days, who makes sure I have tissues in my pocket, who balances our checkbook, who makes sure bills get paid on time, who makes sure I’m wearing pants when I leave the house…the list goes on and on. And I could too, but that wouldn’t really mean squat to you, because unless you have someone like that in your life, you won’t really understand. Even if you spend idle moments dreaming about a love like this, wishing for the perfect person to come in to your life, to be the inspiration behind every cheesy love song you’ve ever felt like dedicating to someone – until you’re actually face to face with that person, you just don’t realize. All of that and more. She’s the person that makes me willing to be disgustingly cutesy in front of my friends and not think the slightest thing of it.

Love. Bleh. I’m not one of those guys who claims he always said “I didn’t believe in love until…” But I am someone who didn’t know what love was going be like. It’s not some ridiculous feeling of bliss; it is not perpetual happiness to the exclusion of the rest of the world. If I had to sum up what I think this ‘Love’ is, I’d do it in one word: comfort. Kwipette is the first person I’ve ever felt truly comfortable with. All my hopes, dreams, fears (even the one about the squirrel driving the lawn mower) – I can share all of it with her. And what’s more, she understands. She not only listens, but actually talks to me about all of the things I tell her – tells me what she thinks of them, gives them all serious thought, asks questions…all of this and more. And she’s a robo-babe that doesn’t laugh when she sees me naked! Well, not much, anyway…

Sigh. I guess what I’m trying to do here is convey to you why I love her. Which is a pretty foolish concept, actually. I might as well try and tell you why Chubby Hubby is better than Chunky Monkey – my taste means nothing to you, nor is it the same. Which is a good thing; let’s face it, if Brad Pitt showed up at our door because he wanted Kwipette like I do, my ass would be booted out of here so fast my suitcase would have whiplash…

I know, you didn’t come here to read about how much I love Kwipette. And in truth, I didn’t intend to write about that. Well, not so much about that, at least. So what did I intend to write about? Well, normally writing is a way of venting for me – my confession, my catharsis – I pour all my anger/frustration/whatever out onto my pages, you come, read them, laugh at/with me, and I feel better. The issue is over, and I can let it go.

This isn’t really like that. Unfortunately. I won’t be shaking this demon now or any time soon, I suspect.

Kwipette, the love of my life, my angel, my goddess, my strength, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

A brief description of MS, from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s webpage:

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild such as numbness in the limbs or severe — paralysis or loss of vision.

That’s the short and sweet of it. But the longer version – well, I can’t do a good job of describing that. Check out the website for much better info than I can give you. The real pisser is that MS differs vastly from person to person – Kwipette can go the rest of her life never demonstrating severe symptoms, or she can be in a wheelchair next year. That’s the brutal, terrible truth. As much as I hate to admit it, as much as I hate to think about it, these are the discussions she and I have late at night, when we’re lying in bed, listening to the house settle.

I’m an optimist. You may not know it by the way I blather on in my rantings, but in truth, I believe in the best. I’m pretty arrogant, I suppose. I firmly believe that God digs me. He’s never let me down in the past, and I don’t believe he ever will in the future. Which is why this is so frustrating…

Had it been me diagnosed with the disease, well, I don’t how I would have felt. But it would have been a damn score better than I feel knowing that the most important person in the world has been diagnosed with it. That still makes me angry some nights.

Some nights when I’m lying in bed, unable to sleep, troubled by this that or the other – I think, “Why her?” I suppose everyone plays that game some time in their life. “Why did I have to get this ticket and not that asshole that’s been tailgating me for the past 8 miles?” “Why wasn’t I picked for that role?” “Why did my loved one have to be on that plane?” But it still just frustrates me. She is the kindest, most thoughtful person I’ve ever known… Mother Teresa seems like an uncaring slob next to her. Why her, dammit! Why not assholes like that stupid bitch who cut me off in traffic today, or that miserable bastard that holds up the grocery line arguing about the ten cent price difference in a can of tuna advertisement! Why HER, God? Why? Why not me?

And you hear about things like this. Misery and misfortune exists; I’ve never doubted that. But to suddenly be faced with it… Life becomes very, very different. Who here, among all of us, has not suffered? Who has not heard some tragic tale? Maybe some of you reading this even have MS or a loved one with it. Or worse – I have no doubt there are people much, much worse off.

But I’m me. This doesn’t happen in my life! I remember thinking that…so clearly, so solid in my conviction. It was unthinkable that tragedy – something this bad – would actually come this close to me. If it had been me diagnosed with the disease, that would be one thing – that would suck, too – but not as bad as this.

So now what? Every day, I read a little bit more about MS. Kwipette does, too. The days that are the worst are the days we go to bed and just hold each other, sniffling back tears. I remember the worst, most terrible shock to date for me was learning that JK Rowling’s mother died of MS – only ten years after being diagnosed (JK Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter books, for you unhip cats out there). That was a hard night. I lay awake for a long time that night, just listening to Kwipette breath next to me, stirring softly in her sleep. I lay there, pretending to sleep until she actually feel asleep, and just stroked her hair. And thought. Lordy, but do I think a lot before falling asleep lately.

Oh, I know it’s not the end of the world. I know there’s hope. There’s treatments, therapy, etc. Right now, Kwipette takes a drug called Beta Seron (at least, I think that’s how it’s spelled). Every other night, before bed, I usually prepare her injection and administer it. It’s not so bad – not a huge needle or a great deal of medicine. But the bruises that sometimes form around her injection spots…or when it hurts going in – sometimes the medicine really burns going in. When it does, she grits her teeth, screws her eyes shut, and I know this is a ‘bad one.’ She never admits it, of course. She knows that I know, but she won’t admit it. She hates ‘inconveniencing’ me. I live for her, but she hates making things difficult for me – as if she could.

Sometimes we talk about our fears. The worst case scenarios – I suppose those talks aren’t what shrinks would call ‘healthy,’ but we do anyway. She talks about her fear of not being able to walk up the aisle when we get married, or not being able to have children, or not being able to properly care for them – or, this is what she hates the most, the thought of being a ‘burden’ to me. How she could ever think that, I don’t know. I suppose if the situation were reversed, I would think the same thing. But I share her fears – and more. These are the worst things that could come to pass, and we don’t focus on them. But we do think about them, and talk about them, and hold each other, and cry about them. Not for very long, because it is difficult for me to be that serious for that long.

I’d lie if I said I didn’t fear taking care of her. But not that she’d ever be a ‘burden’ – I’m just terrified of someone having to actually, REALLY depend on me. It’s the same fear I have about children. It’s the same fear I have about being an adult, I suppose. Sometime, at some point – someone will be depending totally on me. And that scares me. It scares me very badly.

See, Kwipette takes care of me. I would be totally, utterly, blindly lost if not for her. I don’t know how the hell I made it out of bed every morning before I met her, but nowadays if she’s not there to remind me not to put the knife in the toaster, my ass would be charcoal. And she remembers things – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – anything important, she remembers it.

One of the ways that MS affects its victims is mentally. I’m already damn near brain-dead. I depend on her to remember things for me, to remind me of important things coming up (“Yes, dear, this IS Monday, and you DO have to get up for work.”). All of that, and so much more. She can go to the grocery store, without a list, and in one trip will have the house fully stocked. Whereas I will leave the house, and not only forget the shopping list, but I’ll forget to go to the damn store altogether and wind up coming home with a video, proud of myself. So the thought of her loosing her mental facilities scares me. Sometimes, now, it affects her. She forgets what she was talking about, or get confused, or is much more impatient trying to figure something out than she ever was. And it terrifies me that this might only be the beginning.

Sooooooo…pretty big sob story, huh? I’m not professing to be worse off than anyone. In fact, day to day, I’m pretty damn happy. I’ve got the love of a beautiful, wonderful woman, money in the bank, food on the table, and usually I remember to put my pants on before leaving the house.

But see, I’ve always wanted to be a hero. I’ve always wanted to be great at something. To date, I have yet to accomplish that. During the Invasion of Panama, my greatest accomplishment was loosing my helmet. And I didn’t get an award for that – can you believe that? I had to pay for it and everything… But I yearn to do something great. And that’s where you come in to play.

I’m not gonna beat around the bush: I want your money. Oh, I’d love to get it myself, but I’d just waste it on Ben & Jerry’s and video games. What I’d like you to do is to click here. That’ll take you to my pledge sheet for the upcoming MS Walk Kwipette and I will be partaking in (ooooh, and you even get to see my REAL name). Let’s face it: even if you donate 8 million dollars, there won’t be a cure for MS. I’m hopeful, but I’m not foolish.

But I want to make a difference. I want to raise as much money as I can – I want people to see that I did something to make a difference. Not much of one, I’ll admit. But I’ll feel good about it, and Kwipette will be proud of me. And you can feel good about yourself – hey, it may be only a few bucks to you, but those few dollars help me a lot. If I’ve ever made you laugh, if I’ve ever brought you a smile, I hope you will do this for me.

The truth is, Kwipette will be proud of me no matter what I do. That’s just the way love works, unfortunately for her. She’s pretty much stuck with my goofy butt for eternity. Thick or thin, good times or bad, Ben & Jerry’s or some cheap generic ice cream – she’s stuck with me for the lot of it. So I guess mostly I want this for myself. For my own greedy pride. I want to show up the day of the MS Walk, and know that I brought a hunka hunka burning change to the MS Society. I want people to understand that I love Kwipette this much – I may only have one small talent at making people laugh, but damn I’ll try as best I can to turn that into help for a worthy cause. The truth is, I could write a book about what we are going through right now, and maybe I will. But I only wanted to write enough here to make you understand where I’m coming from.

I don’t want your sympathy; neither does Kwipette. I didn’t write this to move you to tears so you’d give me all your money. I wrote this so you’d see maybe only a tiny fraction of how incredible and important to me Kwipette is, and be moved to help us and the other people that suffer from MS. And maybe, just maybe, to make you a bit more thankful for what you have (or more importantly, DON’T have). I don’t know what the future holds. Nobody does, I suppose. I know that it could be full of a lot of shit, though. But that doesn’t matter – because whatever the future holds, it will hold it for Kwipette and I together, and that will bring me more joy than woe. Tonite, she’ll come home, read this story, and we’ll hold each other and cry and talk for a while. Then I’ll make some joke about the fat woman in spandex I saw today, and the tension will break.

We’ll survive, we’ll make the most of every minute of every day. I hope you do the same.

Love and Laugh,
Kwip

I’m Growing OLD!

So.

Sunday, February 11th, is my birthday.

My THIRTIETH birthday.

I will be 30 years old.

My car was assembled by a team of 113 machinists, 4 large robots, and a big-ass conveyor belt in a state-of-the-art factory in Detroit. I was assembled by my parents. In a lumpy bed with a brass frame in a tiny, drafty house with holes in the roof and poor heating in Darien, New York. No engineering was involved. I’m pretty sure there was some vodka involved, but that’s another story…

My car’s transmission exploded four years after I brought it home.

On Sunday, I will have outlived my car by 26 years, with no major repairs or rebuilds.

The way I see it, the alarm clock will go off, I’ll roll over, look at the time, and my legs will fall off. If I’m lucky, it will just be my legs…

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think I’m getting old. I think that I’m getting grown up. When you’re thirty years old, you can’t just fall down on the floor and start crying when the clerk won’t give you another lollipop. Well, I mean, you can, but you tend to get taken away by nice young men in their clean white suits… Anyway, it’s not an option, trust me. When you’re 29, you can do that shit all day long, and then just blame it on a wild drinking binge and your friends will laugh about it for weeks…

When you’re 30 years old, you’re supposed to be responsible. You’re supposed to know what to do. I don’t know what the hell to do. Never. I once set my shirt on fire when trying to light a candle (long story). I was at a dinner table – there was a pitcher of water in front of me, a vase with flowers and water in the center of the table, a large, heavy cloth napkin in my lap, and a fire extinguisher on the wall behind me. What would you do? Well, any 30 year old can probably tell you how the quickly decided to attempt to douse the fire with the vase or the pitcher, or smother it with the napkin, or, in the worse case, use the fire extinguisher.

Wanna guess what I did?

Well, first thing I did was laugh and go “Hey, my shirts on fire!” just in case the large flames licking up the front of it didn’t clue people in. Then, in an amazing feat of dexterity, I leapt up from the table, ran around it three times (yes, exactly three times), and then I grabbed a knife from off the table – because I was going to cut the burning part off of my shirt.

Luckily for me (and the rest of the building, I imagine), Kwipette was present. She grabbed me by my belt buckle, threw me down onto the floor, and dumped the pitcher of water over me. Now, Kwipette is not thirty. She is several years younger than me, in fact. But she’s one of those people that just know what to do. I think it has something to do with being a woman. Not being a woman, I can only speculate. But she is perfect for me – she’s mature, responsible, sexy as a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and more fun than heavy machine guns in a suburb.

And what’s more, she’s grown up. Balance a checkbook? No problem. Remember a birthday? Got it. File your taxes? Done by February first.

This is the sort of stuff that leaves me wandering aimlessly through the streets, usually having forgotten my pants and frightening the small children. I don’t know how to be grown up. I always assumed growing up that there’d be some point, around mid- to late-twenties, where I’d get married, have a successful career, and just be happy and all-knowing. Like dad’s are supposed to be. I’d make terrible jokes at the dinner table, tell long, meandering stories to my children about what it was like when I was there age, embarrass them in front of all their friends, start projects in the basement that never got finished – well, you know, basically be like Homer Simpson, the great 20th Century role model for fathers everywhere.

But now 30 is staring me right in the face, and I am as clueless as ever. I think, if lives depended upon it and I was ordered by the President with promises of prestige and power, that I could change a diaper. I mean, hell, I’ve seen the commercials, I know the “special re-sealing tape” goes on the outside; how hard can it be? (Five years from now, when my children are walking around with napkins duct-taped to their bottoms, we’ll remember that foolish comment and laugh…)

Can I still play games as a thirty year old? Can I go out hunting the mean nasty PKs with the boys? I don’t think so. I think that I have to put the bow up. I think that if I try and go out and raid someplace, I’ll just fall down, shoot myself, and some little smart-ass kid will be standing over me going, “Let me help you up, grandpa. It’s really too late for you to be out here, you know.”

Come to think of it, that’s not very different from what hunting is like nowadays for me…hrmm….

I think this is what Peter Pan would’ve felt like if Captain Hook had killed and gutted all the Lost Boys, fired Tinkerbell out of a cannon, and then used his hook to give Peter a prostate exam…

I don’t wanna grow up. No, I’m not a Toys-R-Us kid… but I’m sure as hell not an ‘adult’. I don’t want people calling me ‘sir’ or little upstart bastards holding the door for me! I don’t want to carpool with Jerry and Tim and Susan and talk about how much my back hurts this morning or if I’ve noticed any new grey hairs in my head or stocks or politics or any of that grown-up crap! I want to be able to eat with my hands when I go out in public! I want to loose myself completely in movies, not think about ‘Oh, sure, I bet he could afford the insurance on THAT sports car! Hell, the mortgage payment alone would be killing him! And that’s SO not his hair!’ I don’t want my old friends I haven’t seen in a long time ask me if I’ve got any freakin’ children yet! I’m not old enough to have kids! I want to get carded when I go to bars! I want to ride in the cart when we go grocery shopping! I want to believe in magic! I want to believe that fairy tales DO come true and that it’s still possible for the good guy to win no matter what the odds are! I want my mommy to come tuck me in at night! I want her to tell me everything is ok! Dammit! I DON’T WANT TO GROW UP!!!!

Sigh…

Kwipette says, “Let’s eat Ben & Jerry’s BEFORE dinner! Woot! And after dinner we’ll light a fire in the fireplace and play X-files alien probe!”
You say, “Whoo-hoo! Slap my butt and call me Mulder!”

Okay… maybe being a grown up has SOME advantages…