33 Candles: Picture Yourself at Jessica’s Birthday Weekend with Tommy (2-5 July 2022)

Ah, last minute birthday weekend plans were a success. Last weekend, Tommy and I decided on Atlantic City, then plans changed a bit and by last Tuesday, we decided to stay in Philadelphia on Saturday night to be closer to the train that we took to Atlantic City. We booked the Budgetel Inn in Absecon, NJ (15 minutes away from Atlantic City) for July 3-5. We were excited and planned different things throughout the week last week. This was going to be his first time celebrating my birthday with me. (His birthday was April 11, and I made a bit of a big deal about his birthday since it was my first time celebrating his birthday with him – it seems like firsts are always big deals.)

On Saturday we met up, and headed to our accomodation in Hunting Park. On our way to Queen’s Hotel, a bed and breakfast of sorts, Tommy and I learned some Polish. He’s interested in learning it and installed Duo Lingo. I am too; I believe Polish is one language Daniel spoke and Ms. Irene at the library spoke it. I know a little. I had fun playing along and caught on quickly. Some of it is similar to German. Anyway,  Queen’s Hotel was okay; it was a place to rest our heads. We had a TV in our room that had a hookup for a video game console. Tommy brought his wii switch.  Tommy asked if I wanted my birthday gift at that moment and I told him, “no. I want to wait two more days.”

Saturday was a hot and humid day. We didn’t see the skateboarding competition like originally planned, especially since heavy rain was in the forecast. Instead, I wanted to pick up a sun hat at Philly AIDS; Tommy and I hopped onto the Broad Street Line at Hunting Park and headed to Lombard South since Philly AIDS is on South Street (5th). As soon as we made it to South Street, it started to pour. We hung out at CVS before continuing onto Philly AIDS.

Tommy loved Philly AIDS. I found my sun hat and a cute Halloween teddy bear. Tommy found a boogie board, Star Wars drone, and Logitech headphones. We did take some photos; I loved the Christmas snowman and Tommy loved the kayaks. 

Before we headed back to Hunting Park, we hung out near City Hall and Tommy flew his Star Wars drone. I wanted to try on my sunhat. We made it back to Hunting Park by 7:30, we wanted to be back before dark. Tommy hooked up his Wii switch and we had an evening of video games. I loved Cup Head, the game is reminiscent of a 30’s/40’s style game. We also played Minecraft and Rollercoaster Tycoon. 

I slept well, but Tommy did not. He felt uneasy about the area and instead of sleeping, he made sure I was okay. He’s my protector. 

We left at 7:45 am and headed to 30th Street. We made it to 30th Street at 8:15 am and Tommy treated me to Dunkin Donuts. I can only eat potato hash browns there (the only thing that is gluten free) and I told him to get me a pack of 8. He came back, and I can only laugh; typical Aspie, he ordered me 8 bags of hash browns. I was able to eat five of those bags, but had to get rid of the rest. Tommy and I caught the train to Atlantic City at 8:52. 

We made it to our room in Absecon at noon on July 3. Budgetel Inn was nice. Since Tommy didn’t sleep on Saturday night, I recommended taking a nap before going to the beach. I am normally not a napper, but I’ve sort of become one since dating him. We both fell asleep for two hours – even though I was able to sleep in Hunting Park, it wasn’t a restful sleep and Absecon was more restful.

Tommy and I caught the bus and made it to the beach at 3:30. On the way to the beach, Tommy found an abandoned tent. He grabbed it and set it up. It was a great tent to have drinks and listen to music after some swimming. The water was freezing cold. We braved the water for an hour, then chilled and listened to Kim Petras (and other rap songs) for an hour and a half. The sea breeze was lovely.

Had a nice dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, then walked the beach. The beach was misty and we were able to watch the sun set. It was high tide and Tommy made sure we made it off the beach by then. Steel Pier was next on our list and we spent the rest of the evening there. Tommy tried the weights twice and the first time, he made it with 1 second left. He let go. I think they should have given it to him.  Tommy was determined to do it again and that time, face the crowd. Big mistake. He’s not one for a lot of attention and that made him nervous. He did worse the second time around. He did better when he turned away from the audience. I’m proud of him and next time we go back, he will try again.

Steel Pier was crowded. We were able to ride the swings and the Ferris wheel. We are both afraid of heights, but the cars were closed and had a safety door. For $15/each, it was safe, and we felt okay. When we were at the top, we held one another and kissed. Much better; cuddling and kissing really does ease height anxiety.

July 4. My 33rd birthday. We went to bed at 1am and before we fell asleep, he said, “Happy 33rd birthday, my love.” We both slept better; Absecon was quiet and the inn was comfortable. We could both rest easy, so much so that we both woke up at 9:30 am. 

We stretched and Tommy walked over to his luggage, then handed me a hot pink gift bag. “Happy birthday, sweetie. Sorry if it’s a little smooshed.” 

Of course, I opened the card first. That made me verklempt. However, the gifts inside really surprised me. Verklempt! So beautiful and thoughtful.

I gave him a big hug and kiss; thanked him and told him that I really do appreciate everything he does for me. He keeps me safe, he loves me, and has just been awesome in general. Our relationship isn’t always easy, but it’s real, and we both love and respect one another.

One of my co-workers from the County, sent me a text message to wish me a happy birthday. She’s from Albania and I love her fashion sense. I sent her this photo and asked her what colour top would best go with the necklace. She recommended yellow. After the beach, Tommy and I agreed to go to the Hamilton Mall so I could go to Torrid to buy an outfit for my birthday, which went with the jewelry he gave me.

Beach day! Tommy left the tent at the beach the day before and I’m glad he did. We couldn’t carry it back. We set up the beach blanket, smothered on the sun screen and I went swimming. Tommy decided to learn more Polish since the water might have been too cold for him. I had my wet suit on, so the water wasn’t as cold for me. I swam for a half an hour, then went back to sit with Tommy. I learned some more Polish and we went swimming together. Well, Tommy didn’t, it was cold for him, but he did get waist deep, went crabbing, found some shells, and watched me splash around. Before we had enough of the water, I asked him, “would you like to take photos of your model girlfriend?” He once told me that I should be a model, and he’s honoured that he has a model girlfriend. It’s our little joke. He did take some photos.

I brought dad’s film camera and had some older beach goers take some photos of us. I can’t wait to get those developed and I will share them once they are. 

We headed back to the blanket and Tommy called his grandma. His grandma said that she told his grandpa that we were in town. He invited us to miniature golf in Brigantine. I was able to meet his grandpa and he gave us three free games. What a warm man, and we had fun golfing. We didn’t keep score, we just had fun and shared a lot of laughter. It was a great few hours.

After, we went to the mall and I found a lovely marigold shirt at Torrid. I also found a white dress, ripped jean shorts, and a Nirvana t-shirt. The mall was empty and a lot of stores were closing at 5, instead of 6.

When we made it back to Absecon, we went to an old style Pizza Hut. At one point they had gluten-free pizza, but they removed it from the menu a few weeks ago. I ordered 12 wings and fries, and Tommy ordered a hand tossed pizza. Spongebob was on and we had fun watching that until our food came out.

A family came in and the little girl and boy noticed our skateboards after I complimented the little girl’s shirt. I wish I took photos of the kids on the skateboard; I let them ride mine. They were awesome and had fun skating around Pizza Hut. The little girl asked me where we were from, so I told her that we were from Philadelphia and in town for my birthday. The little girl and boy both wished me a happy birthday, then the little girl screamed out to her mom, who was ordering, that it was my birthday. Their mother wished me a happy birthday. It was a really friendly experience.

Out of Pizza Hut by 9 pm and made our way to Atlantic City. We watched the fireworks on the beach, then walked around for a bit after. I was nervous about riding the skateboard on the boardwalk, so I practiced and held on. Tommy did ride, while I continued to practice. 

It was a wonderful birthday weekend and birthday. I am grateful for Tommy, I am beyond blessed. 

Thankful Thursday 30 June 2022

Today is the last Thursday in June and you know what else this is the last Thursday for?! This is my last Thursday being 32. Come Monday, I’ll be 33 years young!

Tommy and I are spending the weekend together and I’m really looking forward to it. I truly do have the best boyfriend in the world, or at least my little corner of the world. I have some plans and Tommy’s just as excited. We’re planning to see Lucy the Elephant and I want to do it later in the day, so that way we can see the sunset. I’ll have to map it better to see if it’s near a beach, if not, we’ll do it a bit earlier and head back to A.C. to watch the sunset on the beach (never mind, she closes at 5 on Sunday, so we’ll see her close to 4, then go back to A.C. for the sunset). I’ve always wanted to do this with a loved one. Neither of us have seen Lucy and it’ll be our first sunset together on the beach. So grateful for my travel partner!

I took down my Happiness Box display at the library today. Everyone was sad to see it go, but I promised that I would display scrapbooks next year! I will have plenty to showcase. I’m thankful that my display was well received.

I’m also thankful for my jobs, co-workers, friends, and family. What are you grateful for today?

Taking a Break from Happiness Box 2021’s Scrapbook

I’ll be honest, I haven’t felt motivated to scrapbook Happiness Box 2021, I’ve felt more motivated to scrapbook the different things Tommy and I have done together so far. I’ve decided to make separate albums for special events because in the past, my Happiness Box scrapbooks exploded.

While 2021 was a good year in the second half, there are some bittersweet moments from then. They’re nice to read, but right now I just don’t feel like scrapbooking them. I will in due time, and the pages will probably look bland. I don’t want to go all out with decorating, I want to save that for individual albums.

I’ve had a lot of wonderful moments with Tommy and right now scrapping those moments are my joy. Don’t worry, I’m still writing Happiness Box 2022, but the scrapping of Happiness Box 2021 is on the backburner for now.

Here’s one album I finished.

Before I finished this album, I compiled a Sn@p album of our first Valentine’s Day together. A Sn@p album is a combination between a scrapbook album and photo album. They’re fun.

Next up: a sn@p album about our Brigantine/Atlantic City weekend trip from 25 and 26 March 2022.

I still count these as Happiness scrapbooks! 🙂 Maybe it’s not a break at all.

Weekend with Tommy | 25-26 June 2022

Tommy surprised me on Saturday. I wasn’t planning to spend the night at Tommy’s since his parents were iffy about it in the past. Well, he called me up and told me it was okay to stay on Saturday.

Fortunately, I didn’t need to pack a lot. I just threw some clothes and pajamas into a duffle bag, along with toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, medicine, tattoo lotion, and popcorn. I was so excited to spend the night; and Tommy was just as excited.

I got there at 3pm, and we embraced. We planned birthday weekend and since Tommy is going to start a new job soon, he didn’t want to chance being away on my birthday. We were thinking about Boston, but it’ll be better in the fall, for both of us. I suggested staying in Atlantic City for 2-3 July and he loved that idea. We’ll spend birthday weekend together.

We went to Walmart, he bought more Hot Wheel tracks, and we went back to his house to race. We spent some time in the garage, greasing the track and talking about the outlawing of abortion. We’re both upset. As someone who struggles with period issues, this is scary. Could the progesterone only challenge I had to take in my 20s be outlawed? Can the birth control I take now be outlawed? I hope not.

As a rape survivor, while I’m glad at that time I was unable to get pregnant, I might have been given Plan B. I was given so many medications then, I couldn’t keep up with all that they gave me in the aftermath. As I told Tommy, “if I would have gotten pregnant and if Roe v. Wade wasn’t law, there could have been a possibility that Brandon could have fought for parental rights. Since he died, that could have raised other issues. It makes me scared to think of women who are raped in the post-Roe world and if they don’t go to a back alley, they may be forced to deal with their rapist in child custody battles. That’s double the trauma.” Tommy just said, “that’s fucked up.” It truly is. We, along with millions of Americans, are devastated. Not only abortion is at risk, but so is IVF – infertile women are screwed too. Women are chattel now.

That discussion worked up an appetite. We ordered Chick Fil-A, and had a delicious dinner. Tommy’s a picky eater, I’m gluten-free and Chick Fil-A is just easy for us. A lot of these types of restaurants are easy for us.

After dinner and a shower, we just relaxed. He told me, “this is the first time I’ve been allowed to have a girlfriend over and in my bed.” I smiled and said, “we’re doing a lot of firsts together.” He smiled too and I added, “I never felt this way about anyone before.” “Me neither, babe.”

Fuzz joined us and cuddled with us. He stayed next to my side for the evening. I love cats and I had to see his cat, Holly. Holly loved me, she cuddled up next to me and allowed me to give her some head kisses. Tommy joined me and Holly loved the attention. Fuzz got jealous.

Fuzz wasn’t really into selfies. Oh well.

We stayed up til 1am, eating popcorn, playing video games, then taking Fuzz outside. It felt great to cuddle up with Tommy outside as we watched Fuzz. It was a humid night and the stars shone brightly.

Once inside, we went to bed. We woke up at 11:45 am on Sunday and that had to be the best sleep I had in a while. His bed is comfortable and it always feels great sleeping cuddled next to him. He felt the same way – he had a few nightmares, which woke me up, and I held him tightly. He loved that.

When we woke up, we planned Atlantic City. We’re going to be staying in Pleasantville, which is a 14 minute Lyft ride to Atlantic City. It was cheaper staying in a hotel in Pleasantville since it’s further out. Honestly, I don’t care where we stay and what we do, I just love being with Tommy. Tommy and I talked about things we can do next weekend and we’re super excited. Lucy the Elephant, the beach, boardwalk games, maybe the casinos.

After planning, we made our way downstairs. Fuzz greeted me and cuddled next to me. Tommy’s dad said, “Fuzz seems to really like you. He loves the attention.” Tommy came downstairs and we had gluten-free cheerios for breakfast while watching YouTube videos.

Since yesterday was super hot, we spent most of the day inside, playing video games. I also introduced him to more KMFDM, which he really loved. He loved these two songs the most:

I also played Jack off Jill and Otep for him. He said, “Jack off Jill wasn’t appropriate for school.” I laughed and said, “that is why I listened to the CD on my walkman. No one could hear what I listened to through headphones.” He laughed. He thought Otep sounded like a guy and was surprised she was a girl. Otep is a Lesbian, but I guess she probably thought that if she wants to make it in metal, sounding like a guy was it? Or that could just be her style. Tommy seemed to like “Blood Pig,” and “Jonestown Tea” was a bit too intense for him. I told him, “yeah, she is a little intense. For a while in 2014, I couldn’t listen to ‘Jonestown Tea,’ it took me a few years to be comfortable with that song again.” Tommy liked listening to what I loved in middle and high schools, and still love.

I’m going to post “Jonestown Tea” to illustrate what I’m talking about. TRIGGER WARNING!

We played video games as we listened and that seemed to put me in the racing video game mindset. I guess metal tends to do that!

Also, we decided to not do anything for the snowboarding game. By doing nothing, we both won. How comical!

We stayed in our pajamas all day. It felt nice. All that headbanging, laughing, and racing made us hungry. We ordered gluten-free pizza and non gluten-free pepperoni pizza from Pica’s. Although it was 95 degrees outside, we decided to eat outside.

We played some more video games and Tommy decided to race. After about an hour, Tommy decided to try to teach me how to ride a bike. I’m trying. He had to guide me, to help with balance. I have a wonderful and patient teacher.

I didn’t want to go home, and Tommy didn’t want me to go home either. I left at 7:15 and I thanked his dad for letting me stay. He smiled and said, “you’re very welcome. See you next time!” As I waited for Lyft, I took a lovely selfie with Tommy in the living room.

We had a great weekend and I felt so comfortable in his home. I felt so at peace. His dog and cats love me, I’m welcomed, and it just felt so good being with the love of my life. I can’t wait for birthday weekend.

A Week with Tommy | Part 2 |13 – 15 June 2022

On Monday, I had to go to work. At around 10:30 am, Tommy texted me that he started a load of wash. I was so proud of him. At around noon, Tommy texted me again that he was going to visit his old high school to visit some teachers.

Unfortunately, the school would not let him in. He came back to Norristown, and skated around until I finished work at 4:15. Tommy uploaded his photos to my laptop and I want to share the picture he took while skateboarding. He borrowed my skateboard.

I cooked dinner. I tried out a recipe from the Jewish Exponent. I breaded flounder for myself and breaded cod for Tommy. It was delicious!

After Jeopardy, we decided to take a walk on the trail near my house. We walked barefoot and in our pajamas. I brought my film camera and took photos, but I also took some photos with my cellphone. This is what I captured.

Strawberry moon! I took Tuesday off for my Endo appointment, and some extra tests, plus spending more time with Tommy. We enjoyed the full moon.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to Walmart. Tommy bought a cruiser skateboard that we agreed to keep at my house. It would be easier for him to have one at my house so he doesn’t have to keep carrying a deck back and forth. I also bought a Razor scooter. We decided to have a tea party when we got home; I bought some tea party supplies at Walmart too.

When we arrived home, Tommy played with his skateboard and I prepared tea. A half an hour later, we had a late afternoon tea! Tommy enjoyed it.

After tea, Tommy and I decided to ride the trail. He taught me how to ride the scooter. I was a little irritable and I apologized – I was really hot and irritable from hyperthyroidism. He understood.

We made it to the end of the trail, at the train yard. Tommy and I decided to go to Screwballs, since that was on our way back. Once we arrived, we realized Screwballs was having a trivia night. Tommy and I decided to stay, we didn’t do badly, but we didn’t win. I also ordered us Irish Car Bombs and that was his first time having one. Tommy wasn’t a fan.

Got home and that is when I had the accident I talked about in my Thankful Thursday entry. After Tommy cleaned me up, he urged me to call out from work. Not only because of the diarrhea, but he could see how hyperthyroidism was wearing me down. I e-mailed the chief of staff, then we played with Hot Wheels until 12:30 am.

We slept until 9:30 AM and decided to take it easy. We ate breakfast and played with Hot Wheels until 11:30, when we decided to take a nap.

Tommy took care of me on Wednesday. We took it easy and he spent the entire day loving me. Heck, we spent the day loving each other and I cared for him too. We played with Snapchat filters and the Boy loved watching Tommy play with the Hot Wheels.

I’m deeply in love with Tommy. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before and he told me he felt the same way, which he never felt this way about anyone either.

I also had him add to our First Holiday Together scrapbook. I did some writing for him too:

Tommy went home on Thursday while I was at work. I’m grateful he spent the week with me. I appreciate him.

A Week with Tommy | Part I | 11 and 12 June 2022

Since mom and dad are on an Alaskan and Canadian cruise until the evening of 19 June 2022, they were delighted when Tommy said he would stay with me for five days. My parents like him and prefer him here when they’re away.

When Tommy and I arrived back to my house, we exchanged seven month anniversary gifts. I bought him Hot Wheel cars with a beautiful card that expresses our relationship well.

I think I am going to write something about dating and falling in love with someone on the spectrum.

I handed him his gift and then Tommy said he had a surprise for me too. He decided to buy me a little something for our 7 months and guess what he bought me?! Matchbox cars. We giggled and said, “great minds think a like.” He set up the tracks and we raced them.

After we exchanged gifts, I asked mom if she could take our photo in front of her beautiful garden. She agreed.

I wanted a photo in front of the trellis with the beautiful purple flowers. Unfortunately, a setting was off and it was all faded. The ISO was too high. Bernadine tried to fix it, but couldn’t. Ah, well, it still looks cool.

I changed into my pajamas after the photo shoot, and we ordered from Chick Fil-A. Tommy suggested eating outside on our back porch and I’m glad he suggested it. The evening was beautiful after the rain passed, there was a breeze, and we loved watching the birds at the birdfeeder as we ate our sandwiches. I didn’t take any photos.

As soon as the sun set, we went to the basement. Tommy found my electric guitar and tried to play it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if my amp still works. He loved the guitar strap I used at 19/20, the anarchy logo. I wanted to take a photo. His dad is a bassist and does play guitar; Tommy learned at one point, but forgot. Join the club! We’d both like to get back to playing again. Maybe Tommy and I could start a band!

Tommy and I watched MTV Classic and metal hour. I was shocked MTV Classic played a KMFDM music video, but they did. I told Tommy, “this is one of my favourite groups. I’ve been listening to them since middle school.”

He started to head bang and smile, “my baby is a metal head! How awesome,” how awesome done in a death metal voice. He made me giggle.

We went to bed at 10:30 PM and the almost full moon shone through the side of my shade. Tommy exclaimed, “you’re glowing!” When I told him it was the almost full moon lighting me up, he said I looked breathtaking and he kissed me. We fell asleep in each others’ arms.

Sunday morning was rainy. My parents left at 4AM, but Tommy and I slept through them leaving, which they were hoping we’d be doing. They didn’t want to disturb us and they didn’t. Tommy decided to sleep in and I baked a gluten-free whacky cake. It turned out deliciously and Tommy enjoyed it too.

After I took the cake out of the oven and Tommy woke up a little bit, he set up the Hot Wheels race track in the backyard. We had fun racing and it really worked outside, on our hilly backyard.

We went to the mall and to the Legos store. We had so much fun.

Aunt Kathy and Matt picked us up and we drove around for 15 minutes; this was Aunt Kathy and Matt’s first time meeting Tommy. I wanted to start small since he’s an Aspie and I’m glad Aunt Kathy and Matt picked us up. When she dropped us off at my house, Aunt Kathy told me, “you have a wonderful boyfriend, sweetie. He’s so kind and gentle!” She hugged me. I thanked her. Tommy thanked her too.

Tommy and I then went to my neighbour’s high school graduation party. I introduced him to the few neighbours that were there, and I’m glad Ben was there. Ben is a skater and they talked skateboarding for bit. Tommy and I spent the rest of the evening playing in their backyard.

Before Tommy and I left, we asked the neighbour’s grandma if she could take some photos of us. Meg’s yard is gorgeous and they made great photos.

What a great evening!

Thankful Thursday 16 June 2022

Thursday already!? Where did this week go? Tommy stayed with me for the past five days, while my parents are cruising Alaska and Canada, and today while I was at work he went home. I miss him already.

I really love him and he really loves me too. On Tuesday, I was officially diagnosed as hyperthyroid. Since I lost a lot of weight, it’s not uncommon for my thyroid meds to need adjustment. Hyper does suck more than hypo, though.

I had an accident on Tuesday night at home before I made it to the toilet. I started crying and Tommy heard me. He came rushing to the bathroom and saw the accident.

I said, “this has been my life for the past few months! This is so embarrassing!” “Babe, shit happens. Let’s get you cleaned up and let’s wash these clothes.” He washed me and put my clothes in the wash.

I continued crying in the bathroom and he said, “don’t be embarrassed. As you have said to me many times before when I was at my lowest, ‘we are a team and we are on this journey together.’ We are a team and we’re on this journey together. I wouldn’t want to do this journey with anyone else.”

I took another day off yesterday. I had the case of the runs and honestly, I didn’t think the stress of the County would help. We lazed around yesterday. He made sure I was hydrated and loved.

I went back to work today and the ladies in reception asked me how I was feeling. I told them everything, told them how Tommy responded. The ladies said, “that right there is a good man. He really does love you.” I am beyond grateful to have him in my life.

I’m also grateful for friends, and family. What are you grateful for today?

Drag Tea at the Sofitel Hotel | 11 June 2022

This will mostly be a picture and video entry. On Saturday, I ventured into Philly for the Drag Tea at the Sofitel Hotel. Proceeds went to the William Way Center, an organization that means so much to my heart. It’s nice when hotels can help non-profits.

I wanted to get photos at Rittenhouse Square park, but unfortunately, once I hopped off the bus, it began to rain. I took shelter in Starbucks, charged my phone, had a gluten-free snack, and waited an hour until I had to begin my trek to the Sofitel.

Fortunately, it was only a five minute walk. Once I arrived at the hotel, concierge directed me to the tea room. As I waited, many women commented on my outfit. They loved it!

Ms. Sharon let me borrow the crown I wore to tea. She was delighted to hear that it was a show-stopper twice! Brittany Lynn, the host, came over to my table twice and had to tell me how fabulous I looked.

After tea, I met Tommy, and we headed back to my house. I love the selfies we took on the P&W at 69th St.

Saturday was so much fun! I had a lot of laughs and made new precious memories.