A Wise Piece of Perspective..

Have you gone somewhere and dealt with a lifestyle you thought you’d never deal with ever again? Forgive me for sounding like comedian Tom Papa but in this case, I have.

This weekend is Christmas in the Village in Saugerties and it’s been very relaxing for me walking the streets that are usually filled with cars, passing to and fro (aside from several Fire trucks decorated with Christmas lights, sirens and all, that was overwhelming for me, as it can be for many Spectrumites.)

Getting back to my story, I was having dinner at a Packed Mirabella’s, with people watching and cheering football games, which made me give pause to my former life. Full disclosure, I was a bartender’s son, so having noise like cheering and fights at times were a way of life for me.

Another aspect of this was listening to others problems, which is something that my brothers and I deal with as well. It can be well described as Adrian Monk said in the TV show Monk, “it’s a blessing and a curse” as people ask you to listen to all the problems they have feeling like you have the answers to them, even when you honestly don’t have them. It can honestly be a lot of pressure but it’s a cross I’ve learned to bear.

That said, the bar business brought communities together in times of celebration or woe. It was the epicenter of ideas in our communities, where people can talk and bounce ideas off each other. More than making people feel like you’re a part of a larger group, a bar can make you feel at home, like you were with family.

I bring this up to compare my former life to my current one. Even though I sometimes need to be alone and find out whom I am at times, my former life compels me to help others, I guess it’s just in my nature to do so.

Another thing to note about this is that Christmas in the Village is more than the lights, the sounds and the weather, it’s about a community coming together, be we families, friends or anywhere in between. The song “We Are Family” comes to mind when I think of my hometown, as I’m sure the same can be said for anyone anywhere. It’s important that we nuture and support each ithet’s talents so we can all help each other, either during the holidays or year round…

Shine On!!!

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Poetry Packed Out: a Weird One but a good one (or two)

I can consider myself truly blessed that I have a community that sincerely cares for each other, even in the face of all of what the world is going through right now.

Family is the first thing that comes to mind immediately, as without my family, I wouldn’t be who I am today, without the great teachers I’ve had in my life, those who challenged me to do better, yet understood my challenges and worked with me to cope with them.

Second on my list of people I’m thankful for are my friends, those people I feel like I can be myself around. Support from both my family and friends can help me deal with the uncertainty that life can sometimes bring.

I wrote the following cinquain to give recognition to two such friends, two whom I can honestly say have been with me the most during my adult journey in the Spectrum. These two friends, Autistic advocate and writer Jesse Saperstein and Jason Cohen, have always been there for me for support and friendship during the past decade or so, even during my darkest times, they’ve always shown support for me and I wrote this to thank them for all they do.

That said, I also offer this poem not only for them but for all my friends, Spectrumite or not, who know whom I am, the real authentic Autistic person that I am. So, without further ado, the cinquain in question:

Weird

-for Jason and Jesse-

Weird.

Unique, strange

Links, bonds, unites

Three martians together to brave the world.

Together.

It is my wish, my desire that Spectrumites realize that they aren’t alone in their troubles, those areas which we all struggle with, but that others reach out to them to show them that they really aren’t alone. My Mom has a saying, “Don’t tell me you love me, show me” so let’s show each other that we aren’t alone and help us all…

Shine On!!

Party Pooped…

What do babies shouting, people talking and unfamiliarity have in common?

They all can be found (in droves, at times) during social gatherings, those impromptu engagements that can confound Spectrumites and NTs alike. Even to this day, social situations, especially new places and people, are daunting, too much of which can be like an old school pinball machine going “tilt” because it gets rocked too much.

Small groups are all right for me; but huge gatherings can be tough for me to navigate through without familiar people there to support me. Such was the case with my sister in laws surprise birthday party.

It was a great party all around, all set up my older brother and my sister-in-laws family and it was a nice party overall if not for everyone talking, which was a bit overwhelming to me, causing me to overeat and not pay attention to others, my needing to recharge by going outside.

These coping mechanisms are things that are build in to me, just like coping mechanisms can be built in or learned by other Spectrumites. Social situations for Spectrumites can be tough with so many variables to us to discern, body language, tones, eye contact among others. It can be daunting for Spectrumites to figure out the right response to the appropriate situation, even impossible to feels at times.

When we need breaks from social situations, it’s not meant to be rude, but it can be overwhelming at those points. We don’t ask for pity, passes or excuses, but we only ask for patience and understanding so we can learn, get better, avoid misunderstandings and give us all a chance to…

Shine On!!

A Post (Or a poem) of Thanks!!!

I’m thankful for God, for always being there for me.

I’m thankful for my friends, who see more than I can see,

Of I am and who they know that I can be,

I’m thankful for them and also I’m thankful for family.

I’m thankful for the blessings that I’ve have in my life.

I’m also thankful for the times where I have seen strife.

I’m thankful for my mentors, to those that can teach

Knowing that, from deep inside, they’re never out of reach.

I know that may sound nothing short of vague

But, what I want what I’m sharing to spread like a plague

Thank you all so much for the support I lean upon

So, please share this to all you know to help us all shine on!!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Light in the Darkness

Speaking from personal experience, depression can be devastating, crippling and hard to combat, without the right support group to help you cope with it. Therapy can help, but having to cope with it can be hard to do, especially when you feel that you’re not worth the good things in your life, that you’re important, that your enough for others.

My friend Jonah (ShonenJonah on Youtube) describes his battles so well, which I highly recommend you check out. He describes it in his own way, explaining how the singer of Linkin Park, the late Chester Bennington, and Linkin Park changed his life by their music.

That’s how he deals with depression, poetry (as well as volunteering) are my ways of dealing with it, hence the reason for this recent diamanté. I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the efforts of countless teachers, counselors and friends, especially my friend Joe Defino, whom I’ve mentioned here before in my Hope Rocks post, both of the people were the inspiration for this diamanté, entitled Depression:

Depression

Depression.

Dark, cold

Worthless; rusted, unloved

An uphill battle only won when linked, United

Sharing, crying, shining

Light, hugs

Hope.

With the right support, which one can find anywhere if you know where to look, you can be that light, bring that light to others and help them, just like when you needed it, to…

Shine On!!

To B or not 2B, a very good question…but is it good enough?

It’s hard; difficult, even challenging for us Spectrumites to feel as you’re ever good enough, even when people call me a very strong person. Even when everything is going our way, it’s still hard for us to believe, really believe that we’re as good as we should feel that we are.

Low self esteem and low self confidence is definitely a Spectrumite thing, we really judge ourselves be our neurotypical counterparts, by how good we are compared to our peers because we want to prove that we are not only as good as others, but we’re better.

The question I wish to address is simply this: Why? Why compare us to everyone else?

Myself, I’ve struggled with low self esteem issues, I never really felt like I was worth anything special to anyone, myself included. It feels so much easier to be a doormat for others, like George McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy, specifically the first film. Oddily enough, that’s how I felt at times, asking myself: why? For a while, it seems like “Sorry” is a catchphrase I use to apologize for living, much like Maria from the Sound of Music.

Sometimes, I wish I was different, but such is not to say that I can’t change my bad habits and that today won’t be a different story; to say that I (and other Spectrumites like myself) matter, that our voices and opinions matter to us, our communities, our friends and family.

No matter what, being a Spectrumite can be a tough road, having to find out whom you are, but when one finally realizes that one matters, being humble both in your victories and defeats. It’s honestly something that I’m working on as well, but the good thing is that I’m working on my strengths, just as you can do, too. Together, we can all help each other find our own self worth and…

Shine On!!

A Tribute to a wonderful friend… a repost from last year

(Writer’s note: As of now, it’s been twelve years since my dear friend and late mentor passed away, but the feelings in this previous post rung just as true today as when they were written, so I share this again with all of you. Enjoy this repost and as always..

Shine On!!)

Eleven years have gone since you left us and life has never been the same without you…

To say that I miss you, my friend, would be a huge understatement.

But there is hope, even in sorrow and grief, but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the passing of my dear friend, the Late Larry Berk and in his life, he was called impresario, dynamic and someone who had great foresight, many times doing what was right for the Library, not what was popular.

For me, he was all that and more, but for someone on the Spectrum, he was kind, caring, compassionate and he was a dear friend, one who always believed that community college grads had as much of a shot of making it as the Ivy Leaguers.

Perhaps, though, I should start at the beginning…

Years ago, when I was just starting my college life, the social scene was a mystery to me, new people and places made it hard for me to make friends and find where I belonged. All that changed, however, when I saw something on the bulletin board letting people know that there was going to be a poetry club starting up and to go to the Library for more details. I thought that if I was going to make friends, that was as good a place as any to start.

That’s where I met Larry…

He was sitting inside his office, at first glance he was kind and welcoming; yet here I was, shy, modest and almost walking on eggshells, worried I’d make a bad impression on him. I introduced myself and sheepishly showed him my work and as time went on, I disclosed my autism to him, and to my surprise, he was happy for me, since he had two sons who, like me, are on the Spectrum, he saw them in me and saw what they could become. In time, he introduced me to his family and friends (both those who worked with him and some personal), reintroduced me to Dr. Temple Grandin and instilled in me hope and optimism about my poetry, which were crucial in a time where people thought my publishing my work was considered a pipe dream.

Most importantly, he helped me develop an appreciation for the arts, from paintings to dance, to both the written and spoken word, whatever appreciation I have to this day about the arts are all thanks to him. It makes what happened next so sad for me to write. Sometime later, he was involved in an accident with a driver and shortly thereafter, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I remember the day I met him in the hospital for the last time, how I’d written a poem for him and how I couldn’t help but cry as I recited it, though he couldn’t hear me.

Eleven years ago, at the Library he had worked at, his secretary told me the sad and tragic end for my friend. More than anything else, I remember how numb emotionally I was, how I cried because of it for several weeks after that. In time, I wanted to give back to my community, to pay it forward, as a friend who knew Larry phrased it, for all he had done for me, helping others like me learn to read. I figured that doing at least that would be a way to show others that you can do anything you put your mind to. I can only hope that I’m making him proud of me in a small way.

This is just a post to say thank you so much, Larry, for what you did for me, believing in me and by doing that, helping me help others to always…

Shine on!!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Treasured Tribute to a Fallen Poet

I’ve always been one to consider quality over quantity in my blog posts, wanting to focus on the details since it’s part of my Autistic tendencies. That said, in light of the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh, I thought that I might dedicate this edition of Poetry Packed Out not only to the victims and their families but also to a recently deceased local poetic treasure: the late Donald Lev, whose biography I’ll let the great people at AlbanyPoets.com explain: https://albanypoets.com/2018/10/donald-lev-1936-2018/.

I can only speak to my own experiences with Donald but I can say that there was an expression among the local poetry scene: “Don’t go after Donald Lev, he’s a genius” and after hearing his work, it’s not hard to understand why. He had such a quick wit, was always wanting to help other poets get published, most prominently in his Home Planet News, http://homeplanetnews.org/AOnLine.html.

Another thing he did was listen to all the poets, drinking in; absorbing every single word like it was fine wine. He was a cab driver for a while, which much like a bartenders son, might have something to do with his wisdom and his ability to listen to others. My only regret is that I didn’t know him as well as my poetic compatriots and I can only hope to be an equal in some way, which is where this brief haiku comes into play:

Treasure

-for the Memory of Donald Lev-

Bravery becomes

Us all, even as we age.

You were like fine wine.

Let’s treat each other like we deserve to be treated as a treasure that deserves to always….

Shine On!!