Autism Awareness Month

It’s Autism Awareness Month and this year is a bit different for me. Last November I started dating someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, a now outdated term for high-functioning autism. We fell in love. It’s been a journey and a half, with a lot of misunderstandings and breaks. I’ve learned to change plans last minute and since I’m an introvert, staying in or doing things with minimal stimulation isn’t a big deal to me (I’m also highly sensitive). While it can be frustrating at times, there are many, many joyful moments. He remembers things I love, he pays attention, he listens and we have a lot of the same interests, so doing things together is easy. I’ve let him teach me some of his obsessive interests (I’m learning how to skateboard and play Minecraft) and I’m teaching him some of my hobbies. I’m happy to be on this journey with him and I wouldn’t have this any other way.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Fairmount Park with Tommy | 9 April 2022

Tommy’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to celebrate his birthday early. I wasn’t sure if I was going to see him this weekend and on Friday I ended up shipping his gift. I don’t know why UPS charged me $68 for a gift bag with skate clothes, it only was a pound, when I sent books and scrapbooks it wasn’t that much! But, that is okay. He received it on his birthday and he was surprised. He loved his clothes and he can’t wait to wear matching shirts when we skateboard.

On Saturday we met up and he agreed to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival with me at Fairmount Park. He literally called when I was en route to Philadelphia and he caught up with me at 2:30. I had to take a few selfies in front of City Hall and the tulips as I waited. I also took some photos of the skaters.

He texted me at 2:30, “I’m here!”

I was going to text him back, “where?”

But he surprised me and skated up to me. He was dressed nicely; and he greeted me with a big hug and kiss. I had to get a selfie with my honey in front of the tulips and City Hall.

I treated him to a birthday lunch at Chili’s before we went to the festival. I was going to take him to Legoland, that was the original plan last week, but we decided to do more research. Everything I saw online seemed like we had to have a child present with us.

Plans change and that is okay. “The best laid plans of mice and men,” as the old saying goes. While the cherry blossom festival wasn’t Legoland, we enjoyed the scenery. The Japanese garden at Fairmount Park really was beautiful. I love this time of year, although my allergies hate it. The flowers and trees bursting into life and capturing that process makes up for the sneezing.

I love that the cherry blossom 🌸 festival corresponds with NaPoWriMo. I wrote a poem about the experience for Day #10. Tommy and I took the 38 to Fairmount Park and when we hopped off at the Please Touch Museum, he was telling me about the Carousel House. It sounded romantic. We kissed under one the cherry blossom trees and walked hand in hand to the festival.

A Collection of Haikus for Tommy and Jessica

The Carousel House

reflects our hopes, dreams, joy,

hand in hand, we walk

along the smooth path

covered with cherry blossoms

camera ready—

pink lines the gray sky,

we coo and run underneath

cherry flowers

cover our clothes,

he then sneaks in for a kiss;

love under the tree.

Let’s take our pictures,

cherry trees soak in our love

nothing but smiles

and sweet “I love you”

hand in hand, we walk the grove,

young love in the spring.

We stayed an hour and left as the temperature was beginning to drop. We went back to his house, cuddled and played video games. He’s been teaching me how to play Minecraft. We played for a bit, then switched to Hot Wheels and another racing game. I’m getting better with video games and I’m so lucky that Tommy is so patient with me.

We played until 10pm, then had a late dinner. We brought food back from Best Quality and while we ate, his mom joined us. I really loved chatting with Jen, his mom, and it was nice that the three of us sat together for an hour just chatting. I’m thankful that his family welcomes me.

I think what Tommy and I ended up doing was a better birthday gift than Legoland. It was simple and we bonded. That is honestly the best gift, time and love. Before I went home, Tommy surprised me with a gift. He gave me a video game controller that I could use with my laptop – “honey, this will make playing Minecraft easier when we play online.” He wasn’t kidding. I love Tommy.

Thankful Thursday 7 April 2022

I caught a cold last week; I took a sick day last Friday and spent last weekend sleeping. I’m feeling much better, although I am still resting. I’m grateful that I feel better and I’m thankful for those who have forgiven me for the things I said when I was sick. It was my first time being sick in two years, I was trying not to get acute bronchitis (like I had 3 times in 2019 and again in January 2020) and my anxiety was amped.

Life ebbs and flows. This week it’s at ebbtide. Tommy is having an Aspie moment, I feel a bit blah still, and his birthday is Monday. I probably won’t see him this weekend either, but his gift is available for when he’s ready and for when I’m ready. I said something mean last week to him when I was sick, I apologized, and he forgave me at the end of the weekend (last weekend). Something happened yesterday that I don’t really want to talk about here and we’re back to being on read. I get it and I need some time to forgive myself for some things. Right now I’m in self-hatred mode and I’m trying to move past that. I’m thankful for my friends who have listened to me cry this week. I’m thankful for some of my County and library co-workers for listening too. Some of them are (library) and some of them are becoming (County) family.

I’m thankful it’s National Poetry Writing Month and I’m grateful for discovering my muse these past few days. I’ll be focusing on NaPoWriMo this month and won’t be blogging as much.

I also have to work on Happiness Box 2021 some more. I haven’t been working on it as much because I’ve been working on albums of me and Tommy. I want most of my money going to those types of albums and I’m trying to keep Happiness Box 2021 on the cheap. Since it’s a massive project, in the past it got expensive. I have other things I’m working and budgeting on now. I’m halfway through March 2021. I’ll place the rest, then April, May, and June 2021. I’m displaying my project at the library in June 2022 and since I’m going to show two pages from each album, I don’t really have to be done 2021’s album. I’m going to display some moments of Tommy and I for 2021. I’ll also be displaying the Box and the original Jar that didn’t hold the whole year in 2016.

I started working on Tommy and Jessica’s First Holidays Together 2021 album and I’m thankful for the friends and co-worker Doug who complimented me on my work so far. They love what I do and think my work looks beautiful. I’m proud of how my Hebrew writing turned out. Labour of love: each page has taken me an hour to do. When I get to ice skating, Christmas, and New Year’s, I know it’ll still be a labour of love. Getting in touch with my creativity also helps me feel better, which I am grateful for.

I’m also thankful for family. What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursday 31 March 2022

Wow! End of March already?! April is tomorrow and tomorrow starts National Poetry Writing Month? Where is time going?

I’m keeping this short and sweet today since I shared a lot of gratitude these past few days. I also caught a cold – my first time in 2 years. I’m tired, and I want to rest. I’m thankful it’s not serious, and I’m even more thankful for that because it’s not bronchitis like before COVID-19. I’m thankful for friends, family, and a loving boyfriend.

What are you thankful for?

A Wonderful Surprise

On our trip, Tommy and I talked about the IELTS test and how I met some wonderful people during the test. Well, it seems like I spoke something into existence because Magd, a young woman from Lebanon hoping to move to Australia, reached out to me on Monday morning. She had this to say:

Hey!

Enter

Majd

How you’ve been ?

Enter

Majd

You came cross my mind today, I was fixing some paper and I found my IELTS when I did it in America

Enter

Majd

I though I will check on you

We conversed for a half an hour. She made it to Australia, is with family, and found a job. I told her about Tommy and how wonderful things are going. We were happy to hear each other speak about the joys of our lives.

This made my Monday!

Tommy and Jessica’s A.C. and Brigantine Weekend | Part II | 27 March 2022

We slept in on Sunday morning. The quilts were warm, the room was comfortable, and we were cuddled in each others’ arms. We woke up at 9:45 am, and ate Pop-tarts (well, my gluten-free ones were from a brand called Bobo’s) in our pajamas, in bed. I also bought orange Crush packets for water bottles, so we mixed the orange Crush and drank it with our Pop-tarts. That would be our breakfast.

The sun shone through the window and at 11, we walked to Brigantine beach and took more photos. Photos we were unable to get on the 26th. I am thankful that Tommy went along with my photoshoot ideas. He seemed to have fun.

After an hour and a half on Brigantine Beach, we decided to go back to the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

When we arrived to the Boardwalk, we saw some fat seagulls. There were also a lot more people walking on Sunday.

We went to the mall first and there was this area that was set up like a beach. We loved watching the ocean from inside the warmth of the mall.

After, we had lunch/dinner at Rain Forest Cafe. Tom’s birthday is in two weeks and I “surprised” him a little bit. He was embarrassed.

After, lunch and dinner, we went to the Arcade. We went go-kart riding and I was scared to death. I don’t like being behind the wheel and that is mostly why I don’t drive. I didn’t crash and die, however!

It started to snow too. While his uncle was driving us to the bus stop, it was snowing even more. It felt weird to be at the beach while it was snowing.

Tommy and his uncle were talking about some relatives and the subject of children’s books came up. Tommy asked, “babe, you’ve written a children’s book before, right?”

I replied, “I’ve never had one published. I started writing one, but never published it.”

His uncle asked me why and I replied, “I wrote it in Arabic and I need someone to proof it for me.”

Uncle Joe has a few Arab friends. He called up one of his friends and put me on the phone with him. We spoke a little Arabic, and he’s going to have his wife proof it for me. I have to find the manuscript. It’s been 10 years and I’ve gone through many computers since then. If not, I can rewrite it. I was so verklempt and grateful.

On our way back to Philadelphia, Tommy sent me the selfie I took with his phone. I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will post it today.

When we got back to his house, his mom surprised me with a gift from Ireland.

It was a good weekend.

Tommy and Jessica’s A.C. and Brigantine Weekend | Part I | 26 March 2022

On Tuesday, Tommy’s uncle invited us to Atlantic City/Brigantine for the weekend. We were thinking about visiting and I felt better about staying with someone in his family and not in Atlantic City itself. I was also excited to meet another one of his family members.

Tommy loves to sleep in; I was surprised he picked an early train for Saturday, 26 March: 8:20 am! I set my alarm for 5:45 am – the normal time I get up for work – and it felt odd getting up earlier on Saturday. Tommy and I agreed that I would arrive at his house at 7:30 am and we would go to 30th Street Station together to catch the train to Atlantic City.

The sky was beautiful as I was waiting for Lyft. I ordered a two rider: we’d pick up Tommy and head to 30th Street Station. I had to take a selfie before I set off on our first weekend trip away together.

It was a quiet ride to Tommy’s, as the Lyft driver only spoke Spanish. He did ask if I could speak it and I said, “No. German and Arabic.” He spoke a little German with me. Once we picked up Tommy, Tommy and I chatted the whole half an hour. We were chatter bugs talking about the upcoming spring, the blooming trees, the weird weather, travel, and our excitement about our first trip together.

We were 20 minutes early and we ordered some Dunkin. I could only order a Coolata and he ordered a breakfast sandwich. The coolata gave me a headache and he wasn’t hungry, so when it was time to board the train, we just threw it away.

New Jersey Transit is so nice! The train was fancy and it was wonderful window watching on our way to Atlantic City.

The train ride was the same length of time as the bus in the summer – 90 minutes. When we arrived in Atlantic City, of course I had to get a station selfie for the scrapbook.

Tommy’s Uncle Joe was waiting for us. We hopped into his car and he treated us to breakfast at a local bistro in Brigantine. I ordered oatmeal (as it’s gluten-free) with raisins and brown sugar with a cup of coffee. Tommy ordered French toast, eggs, and ham. We went back to his uncle’s house and had breakfast together. We also helped his uncle around the house for a little bit before Tommy and I settled down for a nap. The room was so comfortable and cozy. When we woke up, it was raining and we played a table console game until it stopped raining.

After the rain subsided, Tommy and I walked to Brigantine beach. The beach was only a three minute walk from his uncle’s. Tommy and I went beachcombing – we found tons of shells that I put into my backpack. We did take some photos before it started to rain.

I was also able to do a quick polar plunge. The waves were rough and I could see a storm in the distance. I went up to my chest, then ran out. It felt good to plunge! Tommy took the photos for me.

Once the sun came out a few hours later, we decided to go to Atlantic City. We would go to the beach and Tommy packed his binoculars. He brought them and I brought my camera. As we were waiting for Lyft, I had to snap this photo of Tommy looking at Brigantine through his binoculars.

at 4:30 PM, there was nothing but blue skies.

Once we arrived in Atlantic City, we went on the beach and walked the first half of the boardwalk. I wasn’t familiar with that part of the boardwalk, as I think it was further down from Tropicana, near where I hung out in the past. As we were walking up the boardwalk and onto the beach, Tommy was singing this song to me:

It was very windy, but we were able to go under the pier and look at the grafitti.

We were famished once we were done exploring. Tommy and I explored this part of the boardwalk, but there wasn’t many gluten-free options. At the last pizza place we stopped at, I saw this neat sculpture.

I suggested just going to the Hard Rock Cafe and Tommy thought that was a great idea. I knew the Hard Rock had gluten-free options and it was close. We could also hang out after dinner.

We had a thirty five minute wait and while we waited, we sat down at the bar, and admired the scenery. I reinstalled Snapchat, took a selfie with the “I love you” filter. After I snapped the selfie, a mother walked by and asked us if she wanted to take our photo. I handed her the phone and she snapped a lovely photo of Tommy and me with the “I love you” filter.

Dinner was delicious. I was able to get a gluten-free burger with fries, and Tommy ordered chicken fingers with fries. Dining win for picky eaters! I loved taking photos of the scenery and of course, Tommy wanted photos with the motorcycle.

We decided to stay at the Hard Rock and play in their casino. What an evening!

Tommy wanted to try his hand at poker. I wasn’t sure, so I took photos of him at the poker table. He didn’t win that round. We decided to play a few slot machines and I told him, “Nan used to play 21. She taught me how to play 21.”

Tommy responded, “babe, that is poker!” He explained the rules and I joined him at the poker table. I remember the 21 rules Nan taught me when I was a child, and I’m glad I remembered those rules because I won $75. Tommy did well too – he won $100.

After that game, we decided to dip out. I won $20 on the slots and he won some money too. We felt wealthy as checked out. However, our real wealth is our love and that we have each other.

We decided to walk the boardwalk some more and as we were heading to one of the stores, I met Fat Rusty, a stray cat. It was a homeless man’s cat and he said, “this is Fat Rusty.” I loved petting him and taking photos.

I wish I could have taken Fat Rusty home. We bonded and he seemed to like me.

When we got back to Tommy’s uncle’s house, he was still up. He told us the maid cleaned the shells we had found earlier. I felt so verklempt and grateful for that. We found a whole bunch of shells and of course, I had to take a photo.

After a shower, we tried playing Minecraft, but couldn’t because of being on data. We both took some melatonin, and we were both exhausted from a busy day. We kissed one another good night, cuddled up, and fell asleep. Rest before day #2…

Thankful Thursday 24 March 2022

Thank goodness it’s Thursday! It’s been a week, especially since the green eyed monster showed up. I don’t want to talk about it, a mistake was made because of a disability, I’m more angry at the person who scammed the person, I forgive the mistake, we talked, and we’re moving past it. Love is about forgiveness and given that I am a rape survivor, I am tapping into my empathy. Been there, done that, and it wouldn’t be fair of me to judge. I hated being judged in my time of need and I refuse to do that to a loved one. This loved one needs my love now more than ever.

I’m really thankful for Chris, Christine, Nicole, Tina, and everyone who listened to me this week during the green eyed monster’s visit this week. Thank you for letting me vent, for riding the waves of feelings with me, and also giving me perspective. You were all life savers this week!

Today when I arrived home, I received this lovely post-card from Krista, one of my Writing.com friends. It made me verklempt and added a silver-lining to the week.

You know what sent the green eyed monster away? My friends helped with it, but tapping into my self-worth and my self-love sent her packing. I am enough. I am loved. I am liked. I am a beautiful person, inside and outside. I try my best and while I make mistakes, we all do, and we are all enough.

What are you thankful for today?

Bowling with Tommy | 20 March 2022

Yesterday Tommy and I met up. There were a change of plans and we were able to meet up this weekend. We spent a few hours playing video games, then had dinner, and went to Sproul Lanes for bowling.

Tommy used to be in a league. He hasn’t been in a league for a few years, so he was rusty. I haven’t bowled in 9 years, the last time I went bowling was at Arnold’s in Oaks in September 2013. We used the gutter guards.

Tommy ended up teaching me, and while I ended up getting a few strikes and spares, I need a lot more practice.

We shared a lot of laughs and had a ball. The group sitting next to us was fun too. The one guy was wearing a Ravens hat and an Orioles shirt, so we talked about Baltimore sports. It was a great evening. I love spending time with Tommy.

Thankful Thursday, Indeed! St. Patrick’s Day with Tommy | 17 March 2022

On Tuesday when Tommy called the check up on me and to tell me that he loves me, he asked if I was free on Wednesday. I wasn’t, as I had the library after my full-time job, but I could take a half-day from my full-time job on Thursday. He agreed and we both agreed that we could celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together.

I left work at 12:15 and arrived at Tommy’s at 1:22 PM. I was so happy that the rain held too. When he welcomed me inside, he gave me a hug and kiss, and we both told each other that we missed one another. It felt so good to embrace.

We went upstairs and when we went into his room, I handed him his belated Valentine’s Day gift. I ordered a USB cassette tape. Basically it is a USB flash drive with a cassette attached. It came from the UK and was two weeks late. I had fun picking out 103 songs to put on “Tommy and Jessica’s Soundtrack.”

He was so surprised and couldn’t wait to listen. Tommy was really happy. We decided to cuddle first. As we cuddled, we caught up on our lives during our breaks. He missed me, but needed some time to think. He doesn’t want to wait three weeks again. We napped for a bit before taking Fuzz outside. As Fuzz ran around in the backyard, Tommy and I went into the garage and I watched him fix one of his skateboards. That was fun and it was fun listening to him chat about skateboarding.

After we went back inside, we were both hungry. We went to Mission BBQ and our St. Patrick’s Day dinner was turkey with French fries. It was delicious! Gluten-free and picky-eater approved! Also, we tried to bowl, but it was booked solid because of leagues. At least we got a cool selfie.

His dog also loves me, Tommy loved our Valentine Day album (not finished yet, but loved it so far), and we giggled while searching the dark web. I took two photos of my view while giggling. It was so warm and cozy. Best feeling in the world.

We talked about next weekend. I’ll ask him next Wednesday. It was so hard to say goodbye. We didn’t want to let go.

We’re thankful to have each other. We’ve made a difference to each other and we both agree: we’re happy we’re on this journey together. There’s no one else we’d rather be with.