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Life was Stormy but Brighter Things Are Coming.

I’m sure by now there are those who follow my blog wondering what the heck happened. Where am I? Did I stop writing? Did I maybe die? Did my Multiple Sclerosis decide it wanted to take some joy from my life? No to all of those as I can honestly say that none of those are true and really they are the furthest from the truth. I do need to edit this piece a bit as MS did decide to flare up and I’ll get to that in a bit.

I could go on a long babbling story about what really happened but I want to make this post somewhat short as really it is a re-introduction to what this blog is for. So let me hit the points now to explain how the end of 2016 was stressful and how 2017 is finally calming down.

The month of August saw me traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, not for myself but my mother. She had been dealing with some health problems for a while and just before she planned to take a trip away from her home her hairstylist, of all people, pointed out how she looked jaundice. This led her to get to a doctor and after much testing they told her she had developed cancer. This is what brought the trip to the Mayo Clinic for the first time in 2016 and it would not be the last time. After surgery to remove a spot from her lung, we went back so the doctors could remove the original tumor that was found. She actually had two surgeries on that last visit over a span of a week and being the family we are she was one of the unique ones to be fighting two cancers at one time. I have to say the good news the doctor shared after the primary surgery made being in a hotel over Christmas worth it for us.

As my mom was going thru this my younger brother was dealing with his own life/death situation. He is one of those who likes working outside, and he and his wife own several animals. They have horses, chickens, dogs, and I could go on but really you probably don’t want to read about their small “zoo”. Anyway somewhere between the work around his home and the work in community a horrible infection took hold and he’s been battling that for some time now. As it is his story I will not go on to much more on that except to say that he is doing better and using a strong faith to help him deal with things. This faith along with support from family and friends is helping so much.

As for me, I started reading again and was lining up some reviews. I even have a few I am about done writing and wanted to share but then mid/late February things got weird. My left eye sight started to get blurry in the vision. It reminded me of what my grandmother went thru when she started losing her sight. A look out the center of the eye resulted in blurry vision but my peripheral vision for the most part was fine. I figured with some fatigue and other issues I had going on this was an MS flair up.

I had a normal six month checkup with my neurologist and mentioned the issue to her when I had that visit. A MRI was ordered and after having that done on a Friday, after a day or two of phone tag I got the results. The person who read the MRI said that it was NOT MS related but did state they had found three new lesions in the brain. Okay not the news I wanted when it came to the lesions but that is the disease but I still thought this eye issue was MS related.

This lead to an eye doctor visit a week after the MRI and that is where things got moving, and moving fast. First I got to say I have an outstanding eye doctor as she went well above the normal to help me on that visit. At first there was talk of a fix being glasses but then the retinal exam took place. She was going on about how healthy the right eye looked and the left eye she stopped. She asked if a few other doctors where available and next I knew she was consulting with retina specialists and then on the phone with the on-call neurologist for where I go. It came back that, yep it was MS related and I had a few choices. I could wait till Monday or get into the Emergency Room and get started on steroids that night. As we dealing with my eyes I went in that evening and started a steroid therapy treatment plan. I got to say that after just a few days my eye is feeling a bit better.

I realize these are a lot of excuses and I do HATE making excuses. There were some positives over the end of last year and the start of this year as well. Mid-year in 2016 I got promoted to a Front Line Leader (Supervisor) in the department I work within at my employer. I know have a small team of people reporting to me. The interesting thing my team is spread around the company but I am enjoying the challenges and most of all my team. My wife and I were given a small inheritance from when my mother sold my father’s business. This has allowed us to take on some home projects that we had been putting off. So, it hasn’t been all bad. Of course there is the joy in seeing my wife get ready to go visit her father who lives out of state who she hasn’t seen in a few years.

I just wanted to make sure that those reading knew that although it has been a rough six or eight months it wasn’t all bad. Things are picking back up for the positive and as always I am one that is trying to get back to the things I love doing. This means I do plan on getting those reviews I started out there, and more importantly getting all those authors waiting on a review realizing I did not forget their works. So, get ready as I may have to blow up the zoom in my Microsoft Word right now to write, I will be writing.  This is why the photo I used is one that was taken of a rainbow after a rain as to me it shows that thru all the stormy weather that life can bring something beautiful is waiting just behind it.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Personal

 

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The Costume by Shawn Micallef

jack-olanternSome readers will remember my past two Halloween entries which featured a man with no fear, and a gluttonous candy loving computer geek. This year the little girl in the past two stories re-appears and she gets a title of, Dark Princess. She will be dealing with a very vain woman who is into the world of Cosplay. If you have not heard of Cosplay, well you are not alone. It wasn’t until somethings came up on my Facebook feed and a TV show on SyFy that I really understood what it was. To help the readers who are uninformed such as I am its where people dress as TV, movie, video game, Japanese Animation or other characters. They go to great lengths to get the perfect costume and is growing part of fan conventions. So with that stated lets get to the story.

 

The Costume

By Shawn Micallef

Mackenzie was not well liked around the cosplay circuit. She was one of those women that many disliked not because of her costume work but for her attitude. She was pretentious, rude and full of herself, and many labeled her a vain bitch. She would not take photos with others due to the fear of things like red eye, or a chance her costume would get messed up. There was one convention where she nearly got walked out of the building after someone took her picture, without her permission, so the lighting wasn’t perfect. Her outrage at the photographer came out clear through a tirade that was swear word filled. The photographer by the way was a 5 year old little girl who was actually taking a photo of woman to Mackenzie’s left.

Mackenzie was one of those women who made it clear what she thought of you, and how you should think of her. She was perfect and if she had her way humanity would be walking in front of her with a gold carpet as red was for the “little” people. Yes she was one of those people and one had to ask why she was so popular in the cosplay culture. It was simple; she had a great figure but more importantly her costumes where outstanding. If she chose to take a character on you’d be sure that she would nail every aspect of the costume.

Accompany that was her ability to manipulate her voice and do great impersonations. This helped so much more when it came to the character she was playing. It was thus no surprise that she was so popular on the circuit even if she was a very vain individual as people will overlook that when you are famous. I mean all you got to do is look at some of the so called “celebrity” families with reality shows, am I right?

It was then that to no surprise to Mackenzie that she would get invitations for all types of conventions. They would often offer to pay for her travel and hotel accommodations to have her attend. She was looking over invitations on three such conventions when a new one came, not by email but by postal mail. It was in written in a script she did not recognize, but read as follows:

Ms. Mackenzie,

Your presence is being requested at the upcoming inaugural Halloween Ball scheduled for October 31st of this year. The location of said event will be forwarded to you if you RSVP back stating your intention to attend the event.

All travel and hotel accommodations will be covered for you in the event you wish to attend along with an appearance award of Five Thousand Dollars if your likeness can be used in our press release.

We understand there is concern of other featured Cosplayers having the same costume as you and is why you are the only one being invited to the event.

The focus will be around all things Halloween from the History of the holiday to its modern day popularity.

Please use the enclosed pre-addressed stamped envelope to respond with your intentions on if you will be attending by July 31st.

 

It would be a lie to say she was not excited at getting such an invitation as this would be the first type of convention where she’d be the only featured cosplayer. She’d normally have to share the floor with other popular women, but to be the only one was hard to let go. Yes, it was true she wanted to know costumes in advance not to have two in the same. She knew she’d be the best but in no way wanted the other person to feel awkward wearing the same costume and being so bad in it. I did mention she is a very vain person, I hope.

The fact that there was also a five thousand dollar payout was just another sign to her that finally someone understood she could be the only feature needed. She automatically responded with a yes she will be attending and dropped the envelope in the mail that very same evening. It’s somewhat sad that she did not take time to check out the address as the fact it was going to a street address of 66 6th street may have given her some alarm. It was no matter to her as she was finally getting her place as the feature and went right to social media to share the news with her fans.

She didn’t respond or even read any of the comments as she was too busy searching for an inspiration for her next costume. She did only have a few months to decide what to construct for this convention. It was too bad she did not read some of the comments as many stated they had heard of such a convention. The things a person will miss when their focus on the one thing that is most important to them, and that being Mackenzie.

The internet had always been a great source for her inspiration but after a few hours she had not found something she could easily construct in those few months before Halloween. She had looked through thousands of Japanese Animation, TV and movie characters not finding anything she liked. It was only after 2am she decided to call it a night and went to bed, she did have a day job to get to the next day.

It was during those few fitful hours of sleep that saw her tossing and turning all night that it came to her. She dreamt of the twisted costume she would wear for Halloween. She imagined a darkened princess dress that was a bit frilly. A wig would be needed to give her large pony tails, and dark red, no bright red lipstick against a pale face. This meant no tanning for her prior to the event and she’d do all she could to avoid the sun to let her copper colored skin go pale. She would do all she had too to look perfect. The horns, oh yes horns would be needed on her head as well.

This was what she needed and after a few hours of sleep she awoke refreshed and ready for the day. It was like a fast forwarded movie the next few months for her. She would go to work, shop for costume items, and spend hours behind her sewing machine working on the costume. She took photos along the way showing her fans what she had purchased, how dye tests worked out and the progress in making the costume. Her fans gave her compliments on the work she was doing but many still asked what convention what are the details, where is it but she felt why read the comments. Their thoughts would not change her work as she knew what looked perfect and she’d be perfect as always. Even those questioning her changing skin tone from her beautiful copper toned, thank you tanning booths, to the pale white she had become went unnoticed. Those comments went just as unnoticed as the time that was flying buy. Her routine had become so mechanical she nearly did not realize it was now late October and there was no follow up letter on where she was to go for the convention.

It was just this way when on October 30th a letter did finally arrive and Mackenzie finally realized the date. The letter was simple and in the same odd script as the first and held just a few sentences.

Ms. Mackenzie,

The Halloween Ball is being held in your local town. A stretch limousine will be at your home at precisely 10pm on the 31st to pick you up and bring you to the event.

She read the simple note and finally realized what the date was, and instantly went to social media and posted the day was almost here. This lead to hundreds of instant likes, loves, and any other positive button that could be pressed for a posting. There again was the problem of comments that continued to ask where, what time, how much and other questions that went unanswered. She was ready and the small people that felt their life was better for following her did not matter. Mackenzie was all that mattered and she was going to make five thousand dollars and get a ride in a stretch limo. She was in heaven.

The thirty-first arrived and at precisely 6pm she began the long chore of putting her costume on, checking her hair, using the perfect red lipstick and using some glue to stick the horns on her head. She was thrilled how real the horns looked and the fact that online store was true in the advertisement of them and how easily they’d stick to the head with the right glue. It was 9:55pm and she was finally ready and at exactly 10pm as promised a stretch limo pulled up outside of her home.

She wasn’t sure if it was a man, or a woman, but someone came to her door and knocked. She stood there and let the person knock a second time before she answered the door. She was not going to let whomever it was think that she was waiting for them. She opened the door to find a person in a black suit, white shirt, black tie and a dark hood over their face and head. There was a light yellow showing through the hood at where the eyes would be and this caused a slight raise of the hair at the back of Mackenzie’s neck. She quickly throw the thought of slamming the door and saying “hell no” away and instead just asked why are we waiting here lets go.

The driver did not speak but instead gave a slight bow and crossed the right arm across their waist as in gesturing to say after you. She clip clacked, in her heels, all the way to the back door of the limo and waited for the silent driver to open the door. She looked inside and seeing no one else climbed in back of the limo and marveled how spacious it was. All this room for just her, yep she had finally gotten the admiration she had deserved.

She sat down showing off some leg to the driver hoping to see him do a second take but no luck as it just nodded and closed the door. She shrugged that off thinking to herself what did that matter that was just the driver. She knew she looked gorgeous in this costume and those at the convention would love the look. She had the perfect princess dress that when standing went just below the knees with a nice frill around the bottom.

The dress was dyed a dark black and had simple straps over the shoulder with an offset short sleeve that ran from top of shoulder to an inch above the elbow. The wig was perfect for the dark dual ponytails coming off just above her ears. The horns where placed perfectly at the top of the forehead just even with the outer edge of her eye brows. Yes, she knew it people would want to copy this look for next year. The red high heels where the perfect match to her bright red lipstick and she was lost in her small compact mirror when the car stopped.

The door opened and she thought they had arrived at their destination but no someone else was coming in. This got her a little upset till she saw the small red tennis shoe coming thru the door. They obviously belonged to little feet but that did not make her to angry, it was when the little girl sat across the limo from her that things, well, she’d yelled at children before.

“Who the hell do you think you are,” she questioned and after the only response being a small grin she continued raising her voice.

“DID YOUR MOMMY THINK IT WOULD BE FUNNY TO HAVE HER LITTLE GIRL DRESS LIKE THE GORGEOUS MACKENZIE, AND WHY ARE YOU IN MY… (She drew that word out) LIMO,” and before you could on further the little girl gave a toothy grin.

The problem was that this grin showed interlocked perfectly white fanged teeth between those red lips. There was a chill in Mackenzie as she’d never seen such teeth except in online photos of deadly creatures on the internet. This left her speechless for a moment and due to the situation she hadn’t noticed the black limo had not moved since the little girl got inside. It was only a small humming that got her to bring her back to the moment.

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU HUMMING” she screamed out the question not caring about the language.

The smile deepened to a frown and then what could only be called an angelic voice a response came from the little girl. As she spoke Mackenzie eyed the costume realizing it was a perfect, to perfect copy of what she was wearing and the only difference was that it was on a small girl.

“One, Two, Three it is you who look like me,” the girl sang.

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, THIS IS MY COSTUME IDEA!!”

“Four, Five, Six, it was in your dreams I fix.”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU LITTLE BITCH.”

“Seven, Eight, Nine, soon I shall dine.”

Hearing the word dine Mackenzie stopped herself at another loud outburst. She instead looked over and that little girl was again smiling all toothy again. She did not like where this could be going, so she sucked things in a bit and stopped yelling and decided to try something she had never tried, some tact.

“Ok, I get it so we have the same costume. We can call you the Mackenzie mini-me and I’m sure the fans will love this. As for dining I did not know they’d be feeding us so why don’t we sit here quietly and let the driver get me, I mean us to the event.”

She smiled at the little girl being sure not to show her own teeth as last thing she wanted to do was to make this little girl think she got to her. It was only then that another of her little songs filled the limo.

“One, Two, Three, someone should be praying for thee”

“Four, Five,….”

“WILL YOU STOP THAT STUPID SINGING!”

The gleeful smile and look on the little girls face disappeared within an instant. Mackenzie felt every hair on her body stand up as she felt a wave of anger fill the limo and knew she crossed a line. She went to apologize but the words never came from her mouth. The little girl just said a few words, “ten, you are at your end”.

There was a slight shake of the limo at that point and after standing near the back door the entire time the driver finally moved. His face still covered he opened the door and those little red shoes came out of the back seat and hit the pavement. She waved the driver off and he climbed back into the front seat, and little girl just skipped down the road away from the scene. If anyone had seen, or heard, her they would have heard humming.

The limo was found two days later at the side of a deserted road. There was no sign of a driver and the black paint had something reddish brown rubbed across the paint. The police officer finding the car then went to the back and knocked to see if anyone was in side. He heard no response so opened the back door. In a flash he was at the bumper of the car throwing up the donut and coffee had head for lunch.

The crime scene technicians flipped a coin to see who’d just take the evidence photos as no one wanted to go inside that limo. It was later determined the reddish brown color was dried blood that had been painted around the limo. The interior was unimaginable and the type of thing you’d only see in a horror film. There was no body but enough blood that no one could be alive after losing that much. Ever spot of the car was splattered with droplets, or pools, of the dried substance. The only sign that anyone had been in the vehicle was the only blank space that showed where someone had been seating. It was only after request for help went outline that fans of Mackenzie realized that it had to be her.

There was one final comment on Mackenzie’s social media page that drew attention from her hundreds of followers. It was simple and the name used was DarkPrincess6x3. It stated…..

“One, two, three I warned you of me,

Four, Five, Six, your heart no longer ticks,

Seven, Eight, Nine, you are now mine.”

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Short Stories

 

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Halloween Week Order 2015

The 2015 Open Call for Halloween Submissions saw some amazing submissions. There are the required short stories, but as well this year I received some poems. I thus read everything and think fans of horror, suspense and great reads will enjoy this week. So without further comment here is the listing of when things will appear.

I of course will be bringing a third story that features that mysterious little “girl” from the past two events. I am not really playing any favorites here is that listing.

 

  • Monday: Two Poems by Jo Ann Gilbert Stover
  • Tuesday: Rose Petal Haunt by Connie Chappell
  • Wednesday: The Costume by Shawn Micallef
  • Thursday: Behind the Painted Face by John Collings
  • Friday: Rituals by Mark Love
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Short Stories

 

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Windmaster’s Bane by Tom Deitz

Windmaster's BaneTom Deitz was one of the first authors I really ever connected with in large part due to dawning of the internet age, as I was able to exchange emails with him. He provided me with information about his David Sullivan books and even signed a few of his books for me over the years. I have to say he was a very gracious author who seemed to like, and cared about, his fans. This is one of the primary reasons I enjoyed his writing so much as he took time to correspond with his fans.

It was then no surprise to me that after a period, where I had a lack of yearning to do any reading, I picked up one of his books. I remembered at that moment why I loved to read and this why I am posting this review of the book Windmaster’s Bane.

The book takes the reader into the world of David Sullivan who lives in rural Georgia. David has a fascination for things for history and old lore. He may not be as interested in the world around him but his interest in Irish and Celtic folklore is one thing he cares about deeply. He even at one time went through a phase where he tried to turn himself, and his best friend Alec, into werewolves. This incident of course is mentioned in the book and offers some of the humor found within the pages. Then of course he had the perfect car, in my opinion, a Ford Mustang.

It is fortunate for David that this is the time in his life where he is reading about the Sidhe. Those Celtic fairies that became all too real one evening after an unfortunate fall. It seems that while David had chased his little brother he fell and happened to catch a local funeral procession while looking through his legs. One has to admit that had to be quite a scene as one ends upside down looking through his legs. It is then that a power within David is awoken and that evening he will discover that other world that comes so close to his own. What David suddenly develops is something called second sight and gives him the ability to see the fairy folk.  This new “power” will bring him a great gift, or potentially a dark curse.

The book just drew me in as a teen and did that again as an adult. I had read the story before but fell in love with it again as an adult. Reading how David, Alec and his friend Liz must face challenges together to survive. Family members will be brought into the eventual war between David and one of the Sidhe. The Windmaster, Ailill, who lost a contest of intelligence to young David and has even deeper thoughts on how to interact with the world of man. This chance meeting that David had with Sidhe, that first evening, with the sight will start the long journey within the pages.

The great thing about Windmaster’s Bane is it has some of the elements of great quest books that came before it, but is not a clone. The story will take the reader into history and what some may not realize is Deitz even used Native American lore as a fact check for this book. I can simply say that this is a book that helped reenergize my love of reading as a teen and has done it again as an adult. The characters are well developed and it was easy to picture myself as David. His love of reading about history and ancient cultures is something I still do to this day.  The friendships, and closeness of his family, are so well portrayed it is hard not to get drawn into the book.

If Mr. Deitz was with us today I would send him a thank you note from this reader but sadly he has passed on. However, he left thousands of reader’s minds full of wonderment reading his many books.  I for one am so glad I never parted with this book from the late 1980’s as it is a treasure in my collection. I hope others stumble across one of his many books he shared with the world. The man was a much underrated author that at least touched this person through his writing.

Thank you Tom Deitz and may your memory live on in your writing and the minds of those who find your books yet today.

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Reviews

 

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Bullying Will Never End (Opinion Piece)

Bullying Not StopI know this is a title many do not want to read. There are schools across the world working on stopping bullying but often have misguided policies. There have been documentaries, books, and TV shows that have addressed the subject. Yet, the fact is bullying is still happening and there will always be plenty of blame to pass around.

I’m going to take a moment and address some of that blame. The first is the easiest thing to look to. It’s something that has made this world so much smaller but also so much meaner. It’s the same thing I wrote a paper on in college in which I predicted just some of the phenomenon we have going on today. I cannot say I had a premonition of what was to come; it was all based on common sense.

I am talking about the internet, the World Wide Web and one of the greatest inventions to unite people and the world.

I wrote at the time how the internet would be a great tool allowing the exchange of ideas across the world. Business would be able to use it to reach customers and talk about new products. I had no idea of the impact of internet sales on the global world.

The other side of the coin is how easy it would be to hide behind a screenname, and not see a person in person. It would put a divide and change the way people interact as you no longer would hear the voice, see the face and the emotions of hateful speech. It would make it easier for people to hide who they are and be ruthless to each other. It would lead to hate.

This is such a true fact as people use social media to ridicule people with opposite ideas. You can be a member of a select group, felt held down for much of your life, and felt disrespected. They get their voice, acceptance and what do they do? They attack those who may still have the nerve to disagree with them. They cannot stand that group, those people, that thinking is still out there. They take to social media and attack, death threats, close the business, attack the family and forget they have just gone through all of the same hate in the past themselves. I’m being careful here as I do not want to point to any one group of people as not all are like this. I may be somewhat generalizing but please I am trying to be clear this happens to all.

The shear amount of people on the internet makes this destroy our enemy speech grow and grow. Before people know it it’s beyond the original intent and has gained its own momentum and cannot be stopped. The original comments may not have been based on fact but just a good rumor, a well told “fib” can get thousands involved not caring what the truth is. The scary thing much of this is done by adults.

The last statement brings me to the top reason why I believe bullying will NEVER END. One simple word explains it and that is adults.

Why adults? Aren’t you one of them?

Yes I am an adult and I have learned over life children will watch their parents, sports heroes, teachers and people they trust. They will watch and learn from the behavior they see as well as what they are taught. They mimic their parents in stores and you can see this as they walk with the parents. Yes, not all children may connect with their parents to the point they follow the same behaviors but it happens.

What’s wrong with a child being like their parent? Oh now that’s a good question and here is why.

When a child sees their parent yelling and screaming at another driver will the child not learn that is ok? If the parent is online cussing out someone, venting hate on how someone thinks, or just yelling at the idiot on TV the child gets the same lesson. All of this is ok and you are free to do as I do.

The children of today grow into the adults of tomorrow. Ask yourself how many of the things you see yourself doing today are things you saw your parents doing? Yes you may hate those things you see now but how much of those actions are you doing today is behavior that was learned as a child?

We expect children to behave and be good citizens and to be the generation to stop bullying. How is that going to happen when you turn on the news and see a business being destroyed, lives ruined just because people disagree with their way of thinking? The fact is we have become a society where opposing views are not welcome. It’s a world where you think our way or we will destroy you and who you are. This will be done by cyber bullying, hate filled phone calls, internet postings and any way they can. How dare they not accept my way of thinking they need to be stopped.

This more than ANYTHING needs to stop. If you don’t like someone’s policies you cannot force them to change their thinking. I mean haven’t we seen enough of this type of hatred hold groups back across history. Skin color, sexual orientation, religious belief and so much more has held people back. So as they get their voices and instead of practicing the tolerance they wanted they follow the examples of what had been done to them. They spill hate and will bully a people all in the name of tolerance, acceptance and justice to get their way. It’s just plain old bullying at its core and is what makes us adults the most hypocritical voice to stop bullying out there in the world.

The fact is until us adults remember that not everyone is going to agree with us will bullying really stop. Ok you don’t like that business then DON’T go there. You don’t like that person, block them on social media. You hate the hate, then IGNORE the hate and focus on what the world truly has to offer. This is what makes the internet so great that you can unite with others with the same thoughts and do something positive over spilling hate in the other direction. I mean does everything in life need a “pissing” match to determine who the winner is? We get enough of this during political elections must the free thinking people of the world follow their examples.

I will not say I am a perfectionist as I am only human. I know I may be guilty of some of the things I have written about in the past but the fact is I have learned from those mistakes and moved forward. There are places I won’t go due to the company and their decisions but at same time do not expect everyone to follow my example. They have free will and do not need to think my way. This shows where I have learned from all the hate and why I wish people would stop growing the hate and maybe just MAYBE bullying will get smaller. However, as long as adults force their wills on others there will ALWAYS be bullying.

Now I know this post could cause hate and in return if it hits a nerve. I expect to see the same type of respect I showed in writing this post by not pointing fingers at a group or a people. Disrespectful responses will NOT be tolerated as I’d rather start a conversation than a shouting match.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Personal

 

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Book Giveaway Contest

AnnouncementStatic fills his ears as the radio turns on and the he searches the stations trying to find a station to listen to hitting the scan button on his car radio. All he keeps finding is the same old Top 40 hit, country or classic rock song he’s heard hundreds of times and finally the scan stops when he catches on two words. “Free book”.

Announcer: That’s right you have an opportunity to drop one of three free books on that brand new E-Reader, I-pad, tablet, smart phone or digital device you got for Christmas. Black Rose Writing has offered up three of their books for you the listener to enjoy.

Listener: Yeah right, nothing in this world is Free.

Announcer: You are asking, “what’s the catch”,  as any sane person would when they see or hear the word Free.

Listener: Oh here it comes, probably got to pay some shipping and processing. (Laughs to self).

Announcer: The catch you fear is not difficult you just read the book reviews on Shawn “Knightmist” Micallef’s blog and make a comment on any of the reviews for these books from Black Rose Writing.

Your comment will automatically enter you into the contest to win a digital copy of one of the books.   (Announcer keeps talking repeating what he just said)

Listener: Read a blog, and comment, I guess I can give that a shot for a free book. I just hope the reviews are good and the books seem interesting.

Announcer: To enter go to knightmist.wordpress.com and check out the reviews.  Again go to KNIGHTMIST.WORDPRESS.COM that’s spelt K-N-I-G-H-T-M-I-S-T (dot) wordpress (dot) com

Listener: Well that guys voice was annoying but sounds like quite the thing as all I have to do is read and comment. I think I’ll give it a shot.

 

Announcer (in a fast voice): Contest is open to all residents with a valid email address. Email address should be left in the comment to allow notification and sending of appropriate book format. If do not feel comfortable leaving your email address an email to Knightmist72@gmail.com with Contest as subject, name, and email address inside.  Only one comment per book is allowed, but you may comment on multiple books. Contest will be open for 1 week with all entries due by February 28, 2015. Versions availble are Epub and Mobi.

I-Pad is a registered trademark of Apple Incorporated.

 

Listener:  I just love how they say so much with that legal disclosure and so fast, ok so what else is on the radio. (Hits the scan button on his car radio.)

 

Disclaimer: As stated all are welcome to enter the contest and last entry must be posted by 11:59pm (Central) on February 28, 2015. All entries will be given a number and a random number generator will be used to select the winner.  Individuals are only allowed to win a copy of one of the books. If you enter for multiple books please state which is your preferred book in the comment.

For questions please send email to Knightmist72@gmail.com with subject of Contest Questions. Good Luck and if this is a successful contest there be more.

Don’t be afraid that after you enter to put a tweet, share, past on Facebook and use hasthag #knightmist. Let’s see if I can get trending.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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In Darkness there is Light: Depression, MS, Suicide

DarknessI am ending the year of 2014 with what must be my most personal of posts I have ever written on the blog. This one will get into some deep corners of my mind as I feel in sharing some of that darkness I may be able to bring some light to those who finish this long post. I say that as I will endeavor to show a positive that comes from dealing with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and depression. I will warn that this is a lot of free flowing thoughts and grammar may be bad. The intent is in the message not the grammar and I just had to get this written and shared before I lost my nerve.

The thing about MS is that it impacts every person diagnosed with the disease differently.  There is a stigma that comes from a diagnosis. People will often see a diagnosis as a death sentence. Suffers may look normal but still need a handicap permit to shop due to the high fatigue. People will question and judge a person they see using one as they go, “What’s wrong with them”.  It’s not fair but who says life is fair as if it was to be perfect there never would have been an apple tree in the Garden of Eden.

There are others who get the disease far worse than I. They may lose all mobility and end up on disability. They must give up some of the joys they had in life and face new challenges. Things like how to afford medication care and why are loved ones leaving me. I am fortunate as my MS I get fatigue, muscle spasms and yes the mood issues that can come with the disease.

This brings me to the first part of this post. I am writing this early in the morning when my mind will not shut off. I took my normal medication earlier in the evening and this is a side effect that has happened to me on rare occasions. The shot may have helped the muscle spasms I had been dealing with much of the past day but at same time it’s like I received a shot of adrenaline. I just cannot find any position to get comfortable in to sleep. My mind will not shut off and there are some lingering spasms that make it just as difficult to rest.

This is where the deep recesses of my mind are awoken. The trauma from a solitary existence in high school, my choice, led to darkness in college. This is where my first battle with depression came in. I became overwhelmed, and had to small of a support network to go to for help. I’m a larger person and never felt comfortable making friends as I heard some of the whispers in high school. I did get picked on but used my own humor to deflate some of those comments. I also was never one to be in the “popular” kids group as I saw more to life than partying, drinking and just screwing around. I was a social butterfly and that was my choice in life. It may be why I do not have many peer connections from that period in life left.

So thus came college, and what had worked for me in the past was not working so well. I fell into a DEEP depression and at one point even contemplated suicide. This will be a shock to any family members who read this as it’s not something I share. I am not going further into the why but I did get help and thus I am here today writing this post. I will add this is why I am a private person and often keep to myself and own devices. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, but at the same time is it so hard for someone to ask how I am doing. This is not the time or place for that but it does bring feelings of guilt to the mind. What if I had made better attempts to communicate with people? I guess at this point I will take what I have in life and embrace what there is. Otherwise depression will try to come and claim me again.

The problem with MS is that for many of us depression is one of the side effects of the disease. It is in these dark periods of the night that thoughts come screaming to the front of the line. I have hundreds of questions racing in my mind. There are things I ask such as:

  • Why me? I tried to be a good person. I pray to God and my prayers are not answered in the way I prayed. I ask for a family member’s pain to stop, and they die. How is that helping? Why?
  • How is it there are people that are cruel to others doing so much better in life then me? Don’t I deserve some help? What have I done to be shunned? Is it fair?
  • Why can’t I get a Go Fund me page and get some help? I mean others get them why not me? Oh yeah people probably thing I’m not worth helping as I’m a fat loser.
  • Why must I go on living when all I want is peace and for the agony of life to stop?

 

The last of those questions is always the point I see a pinprick of light in that darkness. I see that light and I go racing towards it. I stop the angst and thoughts of shutting off from the world and scratch, crawl and fight my way toward that single point of light. The darkness will not take me. No I have not won the lottery. No I am not getting support from any government agency, or money falling from the sky. The problems of debt, self-doubt, self-loathing and pity have not gone from the mind. They instead are going back into that spot in my mind they need to be locked up within.

The muscle spasms of the night are still here. The unending feeling of energy keeping me from sleeping is still here. The one thing that is leaving is that darkness, that depression that fights to take control again. I am nowhere near a knife or anything that would allow me to do something stupid. I am too smart for that as I learned to overcome in college. I will not let those hard learned lessons from over twenty years ago be forgotten. I can scream in my mind about how God why have you shunned me. Why have you turned you back on one of your creations, but then I find peace. I realize there are so many of us on Earth that not all can be watched over at every moment in life.

If my faith is wrong and there is no higher power than it is up to us as humans to find our own way. It could be why each time I ask myself those questions, about God, that I realize that maybe exactly the plan for me. To find my own way in life like so many others have to do each day. It may not be what I want but it is the life I have and if I just stay positive good things will happen.

This is what happens as I reach that pinprick of light and start making it bigger. I take a sledgehammer and anything else I can find to make that light bigger. It’s like the morning sun crawling into the sky banishing the darkness to the corners of the word and brings warmth to all it touches. It’s how I see that light as positive energy that stops me from dwelling on the darkness. Instead I start to think what does this day have coming for me. How will I react to what comes my way and realize that each day I breathe is a new chance to start fresh and new again. It may not be the plan I have but I am here and it’s a new day.

If you made it this far you will see that although I am like so many others in life and those with MS, I have demons to battle. I am writing this to tell you…I will win! I will not let the depression and mood swings take me down as I am stronger than those. I have been on this Earth for over forty years now and want to go on being here longer. So bring on all that self-hatred and ridicule that may appear at night so that each morning it can be cleansed with the morning light. I may have tough choices ahead, my MS may get worse but I will not give into the darkness. I will find a way to scratch, crawl and fight my way to that pinprick of light. I will stay positive no matter what as everything has a reason we just have to find what that reason may be. As I say, “every cloud has a silver lining just sometimes you must rub through the tarnish to find it”.

 

I’m adding some late information as this was going to be posted during a lunch break today. This did not happen as unfortunately, after what I see as a big cluster F*$K this morning as work through a massive curve ball at me.  It added to the fun from the lack of sleep and muscle spasms but guess what happened. As I was ready to scream at the world and let someone have it later in the morning I looked outside. What did I see but a beautiful sky with the sun shining through the clouds. There it was again the light I will always search for to stay positive and out of the dark.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Multiple Sclerosis, Personal

 

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