One Month with Tom (11 December) and an Afternoon with Chris and Verne (12 December)

Saturday was our one month together and we celebrated in the city. We walked around, took some photos and did some shopping after we had a pizza dinner at Snap Custom Pizza.

We stayed the night in Philadelphia. I decided to give him his Christmas gift early and I wrote him a card for our one month. Tom read the card first and was verklempt after he read it. He then opened the gifts, the first one was the layout I made him and framed. Tom was so excited about it and thought that was the best gift. I also bought him a pair of ice skates and we hoped to ice skate on Saturday, but it was 68 and rainy. Next weekend hopefully! Tom was shocked and he tried them on, they fit him perfectly. Tom hugged and kissed me.

It poured Saturday night; we cuddled up, watched Family Guy, and fell asleep in each other’s arms. Surprisingly, I slept 7 hours, 40 minutes. Usually I don’t sleep well when I stay in another home (even a friend’s).

On Sunday, we trekked to Media to have lunch with Chris and Verne. We waited for them at the Courthouse and we were surprised that the Delco Courthouse wasn’t decorated much. There was only a Menorah out. We did get a selfie, but I’m not sure if you could see the Menorah in the back. The temperature also dropped 30 degrees, it was windy, and we cuddled as we waited for Chris and Verne.

Chris and Verne picked up Tom and I, then we went to Walnut Apple Cafe. It was crowded and we had to wait 20 minutes, but it was worth the wait! Verne and I are Celiac, so they had delicious GF options for us. Tom and Chris aren’t, so they were able to have delicious meals too. One of the waitresses hit on Tom and when she asked me if we were related, she was mortified when I told her he was my boyfriend: “you should have said something sooner!” Tom was embarrassed and I didn’t want to make it worse. Chris, Verne, Tom and I could only laugh. There were lots of stories, photos, friendship and laughter throughout lunch at Walnut Apple Cafe.

After lunch, we went back to their house. I gave Chris and Verne the gift I made for them. A few months ago, Chris met up with two of her friends for lunch. They’ve been friends for 50 years and one of the friends was in town visiting. Chris posted the photos on Facebook, so I printed them. I remember the stories she told me, so I wrote them down. When Chris opened the gift, she cried tears of joy.

Kitty is one of her Black friends. They met while they were in college and Chris taught her how to swim. Black people never learned how to swim 60 years ago and Kitty needed to pass swimming to graduate from college. Chris and Eva, the other friend pictured, helped Kitty. Chris shared this story with Tom and I. Chris, Eva, and Kitty became the best of friends and they celebrated every life event together. Chris gave me such a big hug for the thoughtful gift.

Chris then led us to the basement: she crochets and gave us afghans. I picked out a pretty purple, violet, white, and tan blanket. Tom picked out a handsome blue blanket. She also let me pick out three scarves that I can’t wait to wear to work. I wore one today.

Chris made delicious gluten-free cookies and we sat down to have gluten-free and lactose free milk, while talking and giggling. Tom held my hand and I caught him staring at me a few times. Later last night, I said to Chris, “I saw him staring and admiring me a few times.” She typed, “”Yes. He did. He held your hand at our table, and smiled a lot.”

Before we left and while Tom was outside on the phone with his parents (to make sure I could come over), I asked Chris what she thought. She said, “I like him a lot and I can see that you’re both happy together! I am so happy for you, Jess! This was a long time coming, my dear!” She gave me a big hug.

Chris and Verne liked Tommy and we are welcome anytime.

Verne dropped us back off at Tommy’s house. His parents welcomed me. I watched TV with his dad for a bit, we both like Dr. Who. Tommy loved the gift I made him and he showed it off. His parents loved it too.

We played some video games and before his dad left, his dad wished me a great evening and wished me well. Before I left, his mom was crafting and since I’m a crafter too, she was showing me what she was making. We had fun discussing. Wished me safe travels and I’m welcomed anytime.

I feel so verklempt. I feel loved and I feel blessed. It’s a great feeling and I return the sentiment.

Hanukkah with Tom (3 and 4 December)

I had Tom over this weekend for the 6th and 7th nights of Hanukkah. For the 6th Night, we ordered out and lit the Menorah. We played Wii and Tom is a better Wii golfer than I am. We’re both good at Wii Bowling.

On the 7th Night of Hanukkah, I cooked dinner for Tom and we lit the Menorah together. I said the blessing, lit the first few candles and passed it on to him. This was his first-time celebrating Hanukkah.

I made chicken marsala and this was his first time having this dish. Tom thought it was delicious and told me, “babe, you’re such a good cook.” I blushed a little, okay, a lot. I enjoyed cooking for him.

Game of dreidel, which he won.

Before I made dinner, we played Left 4 Dead on his laptop, then listened to Russian music. We both have an affinity for Russian culture. We had no idea what these artists were singing about, but we laughed and enjoyed ourselves.

I decided to play şebnem ferah’s Yalniz, a Turkish power ballad, and Tom was shocked when it turned into Turkish metal. He did like the sound, however. It’s nice to have someone I can share foreign music with.

Tom has truly been a blessing.

We went to a local bar and saw Scattertrain. Mark, the lead singer, was so happy to see me since I haven’t seen them in 5 years. Mom and dad always went to see them, but I always had other things going on. So glad mom suggested that Tom and I see them. Tom also enjoyed Scattertrain.

We were laughing, having a good time, and I was singing to Tom. Tom sang to me too. I sang these songs to him:

He sang these songs to me:

We laughed when they played this song, and he sang it to me:

We laughed together, and we embraced, while giggling up a storm. Such a great evening.

Last night was the last night of Hanukkah and Hanukkah 2021 was the best yet! Next, Christmas.

Thankful Thursday 2 December 2021

Happy Thursday! Happy December! It’s hard to believe that there are only 29 more days left of 2021. I feel like 2020 and 2021 were a combined year and that 1-1-20 was yesterday. 1-1-2021 was just an extension of 2020.

I know I haven’t been blogging much this week. Hanukkah is this week and I’ve been busy celebrating. I’m also having Tom over tomorrow night and Saturday, he’s going to help me finish celebrating the last two days of Hanukkah. This will be his first Hanukkah – we agreed to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas together (he celebrates Christmas… I celebrate both anyway). I’ve been cleaning the house like crazy. I’ll be cooking for him on Saturday as well, and this will be his first time meeting my parents. We’ll be hanging out in the basement, and I threw away a lot of things. I only have my scrapbooking stuff now.

You can see the before in the video

Hanukkah is feeling a little bit more “normal” this year. Center City Kehililah had a Menorah lighting last night, but I didn’t go. I get done work at 4:15, it was at 5:15, I would have been late and it didn’t make sense to travel an hour to the city for a 45 minute program. I am glad they had it in person this year, however, albeit masked.

Instead, my job had a Menorah, Christmas Tree, and Kinara (Kwanzaa) lighting last night. I went to that instead and got to see all three of them get lit. I enjoyed the festivities, and I even met the commissioners. They let me hop in a few photos, which was awesome of them. Tuesday was my 3 month anniversary at my new job, it’s going very well, and this photo helped seal the deal.

I remember when dad was still working full-time, he told me one of his coworkers is in a metal band. I like metal (I like most music, regardless of genre) and last month, we were talking. He finally brought in one of his CDs. I can’t wait to get home, take out my walkman, and listen to this. Thankful Thursday indeed.

I’m thankful for Tom. Last Saturday we met up in Philadelphia and had a great date day and evening. I love exploring the city with him. I love going on adventures with him. It’s nice to have a partner in crime now. I want to share a few photos. Tom is teaching me how to skateboard, I’m teaching him how to ice skate, and we are just grateful for each other.

This Hanukkah brings a lot of light and joy. I am thankful for my friends, family, co-workers, Terry, and Paul. I’m thankful for everyone in my life.

What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursday 25 November 2021

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, but I am grateful every day of the year. I like counting my blessings and I have many to be thankful for.

Last weekend Tom told me that he loved me and I share the same feelings. I am comfortable and safe with him, and well, I love him. I sent him these two images today:

I made him all verklempt and he said, “I love you more, babe” and we had the “I love you more” contest until we laughed.

It’s really hard to put into words how I feel, but I am grateful to the core. It’s great when you find someone who is on the same page as you, respects, and honours you and you do the same for them. Trust issues were huge before him, and while they are still being worked on, I feel safe in learning to trust him.

Hanukkah and Christmas are coming. I celebrate both and I’m going to get Tom something. Last night I sent him a photo of the gift I’m going to send to one of my British friends and said, “Can’t wait to surprise you!” He said, “we’ll share!” My British friend loves to crochet and I bought her some crocheting things. He thought I was going to crochet him an Afghan. I have no idea how to crochet. Although, a good friend of mine (local) does crochet and she will give us an Afghan to share.

I’m going to make him a scrapbook layout and frame it so he can hang in his room. I’m also going to get him a gift card.

I love giving gifts and honestly, being with him is my gift. He understands me, he respects me, he honours me, and that is a gift enough. I just want to give him a little something and see him light up. I don’t need anything and I have everything I want with him.

Tom had Thanksgiving with his family and I had Thanksgiving with my parents. It was just mom, dad, and I today and it was a laid back Thanksgiving. I’m grateful that we were able to gather around a table, share some food, and have warmth surround us. That is indeed a blessing.

What are you thankful for today?

Only Light Can Drive Out Darkness…

I wasn’t quite sure what to title this post. The past few weeks have been on an upswing and the outlook is looking good for a while. November is usually a difficult month for me and while life has been on the upswing, there have been some dark days.

I’m overcoming trauma and I have a handsome boyfriend who is helping me. I am thankful for his patience, but sometimes I still get frustrated with myself.

“If I wasn’t raped, I would be a better girlfriend. I wouldn’t be so damaged and slow.”

“Is this fair to him? Am I being unfair by being so emotionally and psychologically damaged that he’s my first relationship in 12 years, and I was raped 8 years ago?”

“My PTSD is going to drive him away. I’m awful! I’m awful!”

Friday was such a dark day with thoughts, that I needed to listen to TED talks. I found this gem of a TED talk:

I could relate to this. I can’t change what happened to me. I had Phantom Life for so long, I had a habit of comparing my situation to a better one. The truth is, that was making me miserable. 2013 was a year of loss, first Nan, then rape, then being shamed by the detective, and him dropping the case despite some admitting on his part. I lived in negativity bias for so long.

Medicine and therapy helped me see the anchor that Lindsey Roy talked about. I learned that I tend to empathize and give grace to others, but can’t give it to myself. After my trauma, my “wow that puts it into perspective” trains didn’t arrive often either and didn’t take me to new places either.

I had to start asking myself the same questions as Lindsey began to ask herself. I asked myself on Friday, what five things could be worse now? What’s the advantage?

The truth is, I could have died on 7 November 2013, but I didn’t. I have the opportunity to wake up every blessed day and start fresh. I could be still stuck in fear, but I am not. I could hide who I am. I could hold it inside.

The truth is, I can’t compare myself to day 2 of my recovery. I can only compare day 2920 to day 2919. It doesn’t make sense to compare day 2 to day 2920 because I am at a different point. I’ve had therapy, I still have therapy. I am medicated for PTSD and depression. I told Tom the truth. He knows. He could have walked away, but instead he hugged me and told me we will work on my timeline. He checks in with me and asks if I’m okay, he respects my boundaries. I began to cry tears of joy. I wouldn’t have dreamed about this on day 2 of recovery; hell, I couldn’t even imagine this last year, at day 2555. It’s amazing what a year brought.

I had to watch another TED talk. I’ve watched this TED Talk before and I’ve always loved this one.

I can’t change what happened to me. I’m never going to be able to go back and change it. It’s not going to change and it’s part of my story. However, my pain has begat joy. By telling others my story and being able to help, it brings me so much joy.

My experiences make me empathic at my new full-time job. I can make victims feel at ease and I know how to work with them. I am so good at my job and I don’t know if I would be if what happened to me didn’t happen. Anyone who is nervous about things that happen to them, I can tape in with my empathy and help them work through it. I am to them what other case workers were to me when I needed help after my trauma.

I don’t live in spite of things anymore either. Of course I wish what happened to me didn’t happen to me, but it isn’t going away! Instead, I count my blessings to the people and places that have been connectors to joy.

And the boyfriend? I told him I was feeling self-conscious. His response? “I like you just the way you are.” I told him the same thing – I like him the way he is. I smiled. I am enough and I am worthy. I am so much more than what happened to me. My story isn’t only that one dark and painful moment, and other dark and painful moments. The darkness helps me see the light.

Hiking With Tom | 20 November 2021

On Saturday, I trekked to Delaware County and met up with Tom. He decided to take me on a hike around Darby Creek. The scene was something from a painting.

We sat at the cave for 20 minutes, talking and just taking in the autumn beauty. I’m glad there are still leaves on the trees and the colours have finally peaked.

Tom found a discarded bike and he was going to fix it for me. We decided to walk down the embankment to look at the bike, and as we walked, I saw the graffiti under the bridge. I love admiring graffiti. Tom looked at the bike, unfortunately it was too big for me and he couldn’t salvage it anyway.

We walked the trolley tracks and as we walked, it reminded me of a few scenes from Stephen King’s “Stand By Me.” I asked him if he ever watched that movie, but he hadn’t. I said, “some time I will have to show you!”

We crossed the tracks and went to the Swedish Cabin. That Swedish Cabin was neat.

Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, I’m going to write about gratitude this week. I am really grateful for Tom. I’m blessed.

And Then He Kissed Me | An Oldies Love Playlist

I’ll admit that I’ve been listening to sappy songs as of late. I decided to play this gem of a song this morning as I walked to the bus:

After Downtown ended, Amazon led me to a playlist of oldies love songs. I listened to the station for the next 25 minutes. These were the hits that filled my morning:

I posted this on Facebook this morning. Here’s a shout-out to my dear friend and fellow blogger, Shady!

I love listening to music and I can honestly say I listen to everything. I also love listening to modern covers of old songs.I follow this one blog and the writer has a series called “Jarring Juxtapositions” where he explores how music changed over the years. Sometimes he’ll talk about covers.I’ve always liked Leslie Gore and G Eazy, so when I found a cover of “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace and G Eazy, I had to give it a listen. I’ll post both songs.

I still have a CD burner on my laptop. I just have to figure out where I can purchase music or make a mixed CD. I really want to make a mixed CD now.