Poetry Packed Out: When a Memory arrives….again!

It was 20 years ago this week when I graduated from the hallowed halls of Saugerties High School. In that time, I discovered my love for poetry, something I still have with me to this very day. I also learned some tough life lessons, made wonderful friends and had made memories, both good and bad.

To that end, I wanted to mark the occasion with something special, hence where this poem comes into play, I decided to use Semisonic’s song Closing Time because I felt it fitting to the time I was leaving high school and it seemed apt to use because of that. I was thinking of the journey that we, my classmates and I, had taken to get to this moment. I really wanted to highlight the hardship of what we dealt with, but also to give hope; to let my friends know that we weren’t alone, then as now. So, without further ado, my Graduation poem:

 

A New Beginning

 

-To all Graduates-

 

Every new beginning comes from some

Other beginning’s end.

-Semisonic, Closing Time

 

Graduation.

Clearly the end of an era

A double edged sword

Just thinking of it

Gives one mixed feelings

Excited for the adventure,

Yet scared of the unknown.

 

Countless questions arise which only time can tell

And time and life might throw a curve or two

But if you believe in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do

Whatever the case may be, no matter what,

Whenever you at the highest high

Or the lowest low

We, your friends and family

Will always be

With you.

 

The message that I wanted people to take away from this poem is that even though life is unpredictable; random and messy, that you are not alone, just know that you are loved and respected by your friends and family; believe in your power to change the world and never be afraid to let others, like you, always….

 

Shine On!! Congratulations once again!!!

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A Spectrum’s Bright Side

(Author’s note: A short blog post today, this was something I wrote in 2012, but I feel like the message still stands as true then as it does today, hope you all enjoy it and until next time…

Shine On!!)

Bright Side of the Spectrum

-written with thanks to Eric Dominick Rutlante for the inspiration for this note-

Recently, I was reading an article from a friend who has Lyme Disease that reminded me that, even though life comes with its challenges; its hardships, it’s also true to say that it’s also a blessing. It was a moving article, one that made me realize the the same can also be said for those of us who have autism as well. That being said, I wish to empower and inpsire those who have autism and your families: when you are having a bad day; I ask you to look on the bright side of what live has given you.

Even with all the challenges we go through in life, there’s also the good that we do, whatever or however that might be. Has anyone heard of the saying that to the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world? Well, that’s true for spectrumites as well. Our gifts; the talents we have are just that: ours to use; ours to change the world as we see fit. Look at Temple Grandin, she was able to use her talents to see things differently to change the way meat is processed. Another example is Jesse Saperstein, is able to use his wonderful talents not only to write an insightful novel, but maybe just as important, his voice to combat bullying in all of its heinous forms.

It also helps to know during times of great despair, the love from your family and the community at large can do great things to lift you up. I’d be lying if I said that I did everything on my own, without the support of my friends and family.  To say that they all mean so much to me would be a gross understatement; they have been the people who’ve inspired me to go above and beyond where I was before. It’s because of them and thier love, support and friendship that makes me the person I am today.  To them, I’d like to tak this time to thank them for all the support, you all show me, both in word and action, that through it all, the good and the bad, we’re not alone in life.

I’d be lying to say, though, that I wish that I was more successful than I am now. Yet, when some parents who have autistic children are impressed by my accomplishments, those people wishing similiar results for thier children, it makes me feel important; that success should doesn’t have to be measured by how much you make, but the impact, how much of a role model you are, makes all the difference in the world.

Another reason to look on the bright side of autism comes from a cartoon I watched for a time, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. One character fit me in the way in which she saw her world, she was one with whom I felt a connection to: Goo Goo Gaga. While it was clear that she didn’t fit what was considered, “normal” from her world’s point of view, one can also make a case that from a totally unique point of view. She, along with other characters from the show, showed that being different isn’t always a bad thing. That was the one thing that I liked about Foster’s, its unique ability to show how the world can be comforting and supporting even in the face of whatever people face.

In summation, it’s my hope that this note inspires and empowers you to help you and your families to face the sometimes cruel world we live in. I know from experience how hard it is to deal with the bad hands we get dealt with, but through it all, though, know you’re not; nor will you ever be alone in your struggles.

·

Taking Time out for You..

For someone on the Spectrum, being overwhelmed can be jarring, disarming and just chaotic, especially when people want so much from you in a short amount of time or when they ask you to hear about their problems.

Sometimes, I like to hear it but there are times where I just need to be alone. I’m sure the same can be said for all of us at one time in our lives. The most prominent example of someone (or in this case, somepony) whom I relate to so much is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic‘s Starlight Glimmer, especially in light of a recent incident.

(Warning for those who haven’t seen Season 9, spoilers ahead!)

In the recent episode “Student Counsel”, Starlight, in her role as Twilight Sparkle’s Friendship School, relishes her job as guidance counselor, but being so gung ho at her job divides her time between that and spending time with her friends, particularly the Great and Powerful Trixie.

This becomes evident as the Great and Powerful Duo (my name for Trixie and Starlight) prepare for a party hosted, not by Pinkie Pie, but her sister Maud and her boyfriend Mudbriar, two other ponies I can relate to, but more on that later.) Starlight, during a picnic with Trixie, explains that she enchanted a bracelet to go off when somepony knocks on her door.

It starts happening throughout the episode and the conundrum becomes evident when she misses time with Trixie to devote herself to her student’s problems. It’s this part where I relate to her the most, with people asking me all the time for advice , also known as the Bartenders Conundrum.

It’s never easy to be the person that people can unload all of thier problems on, but it’s something to be proud of. That said, neglecting friends, as Starlight did before (and she learned in this episode) can make one feel like they aren’t important enough.

It was the same for Starlight as it is for all of us, we need to find a balance between work and pleasure; to set boundaries when they are needed (or wanted) for ourselves if nothing else. Only then can we function, contribute in our communities and in the long term, really…

Shine On!!

Throwback Thursday: A Weird 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!!

Throwback Thursday: A Day to Return to Pride, Part II

I know I shared about pride earlier this year, but it’s something that I feel bears repeating to most of my fellow Spectrumites.

First, let me explain that the subjects I’ve shared so far are things that I go constantly in my own life. I struggle with self esteem issues, lapses of self confidence, speaking up when I need to just to name a few. I know how hard it can be to speak to others, let alone be yourself around Neurotypicals. I can only relate that experience to the movie Selena, which chronicles the late Tejano star’s life and career before her tragic end.

In one part of the movie, while contemplating going to Mexico during her music career, her father says that they need to be “more American than the Americans and more Mexican than the Mexicans.” The next line sums up the feeling we share when we mask whom we are, the bright, intelligent, quirky people we are: “It’s exhausting!”

With that being said, though, it’s time for us to be proud of the wonderful, the intelligent, the simply au-some people we are inside. The best thing we can do, Spectrumites and Neurotypicals alike, is talk to people that we can trust about our problems and our concerns. Who knows how many Temple Grandins, Albert Einsteins and Donna Williams can be discovered by disclosing who we are deep inside? Of course, that is a choice that I leave to you, my readers. That said, there are organizations (Autism-society.org and Grasp.org, just to name a few) that can support you and help you follow your dreams and help you….

Shine On!!

Let’s Talk about Pride!!

I want to wish my readers whom are LGBTQ a very happy Pride Month!! I know how progress has shaped the landscape to make us all better because of your impact and presence in all of our lives!!

I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned it before today, but I do have a legitimate reason for this, because today is Autistic Pride Day!!

The same Pride we all share in the wonderful people we are; the struggles we’ve faced to get to this point in our lives is something to celebrate, if not today then everyday of our lives.

But before we look to the future, maybe some perspective is in order..

50 years ago, (or maybe earlier than that) Spectrumites like us were kept in the shadows, branded as weirdos, lunatics by our peers where our hopes were at best dreams; at worst they were impossible.

We were locked away in institutions, or forced to mask the people we were inside. But we fought back, ourselves, our allies, our friends and families fought for us and alongside us in order for autistic people (as well as people with disabilities) the rights and representation we deserved.

I realize that I’m giving a “cliff notes” version of it, but I do so to make a point: that we all want for our lives to have meaning, a purpose and we want to be ourselves, to take our masks off and be comfortable in our own quirks. History has countless stories that prove this point, the founding of nations, societies, organizations and other things as well. But we all want the same thing: to make our mark in the world and make our world a better place, one where we can always be happy and…

Shine On!!

Poetry Packed Out: The Measure of a Father

Happy Fathers Day and all Mothers who play both roles!! I’ve had the honor of knowing men who put thier families and communities far above and beyond themselves, those men who struggle to put on brave faces even in the darkest times in thier lives.

These are men who aren’t afraid to be themselves and be there to support those who feel unworthy of embracing the people they are.  Such is the case with my first poem for a wonderful family, and in particular, a great friend whom I’ve spoken about in the past on the Superblog, Joe Defino, so without further ado:

D

 

-for the Defino Family and Donna Diamond-

 

D

shines

through

cold,

dark world

like glowing

shining

diamonds,

through it all

they show

all natural

beauty

in their wake.

 

D

greets all

with warm

welcome,

feels

everyone

brings

unique spice

in life’s table.

 

D

knows

deep down

others

presence

no matter

how small

they feel

inside

makes a

difference

to all

around them.

 

Regular readers of the Superblog may not be shocked to know that I’m a poet, but few would probably know that my poetic link goes a lot further that what one would believe. My late grandfather was also, from what I’ve heard of him, was as hard working as I and my Dad are, but he was also a poet in his own right. His most well known poem,Garryowen, which I hope to transcribe at one point, hangs at a bar in his home city of Limerick as it does in everyone of my aunt’s and uncle’s houses, including my Dad’s home as it hangs in a place of honor in my own home.

My Dad is known for his charm, his compassion and friendship towards others, but he is a loving father, kind when he needed to be, but strict when push came to shove.  That said, he, like me, could be stubborn, since he didn’t understand my autism until later in life, he didn’t see me any differently than anyone else, which must’ve frustrated him when things he said went wrong with me. It was like two completely different computers trying to understand each other, things got lost in translation.

But I did learn one thing (among others) that have stuck with me, the idea of being grateful for what you have, as he put it: “I thought I was bad off with no shoes, until I saw the man with no feet.” That pearl of wisdom has comforted me in my own darkest times, and I’m happy for my Dad, so much so that I wrote this poem for him:

Limerick

-for my Father, Kevin, Sr.-

 

Hard working

Irishman;

is stern,

but deep down

he loves;

cares

for all who

know him;

those who see

the real him.

 

His family

knows

it’s tough

to be him;

they see them

deal with

whatever

hand he’s dealt.

 

Timeless bonds;

courage,

strength

faith;

heart

sees him

through

every day,

inspiring

his sons

to be better

strive to be

stronger,

wiser

than he could.

May this Father’s Day bring you all closer, in spirit if nothing else and thier lessons, thier sacrifices, thier dreams for all of us, thier children and those whose paths we cross help us all…

Shine On!!

Ready to Press Your Luck….again!!!

As one could surmise by spending time with me, or reading my fascination with King James’ performance on Jeopardy!, I love game shows. I don’t know why that is, maybe it’s the knowledge I gain by watching them, the music, the set, the hosts, but the point remains that game shows are very enjoyable to me.

Growing up as a child in the 1980s, game shows were very much in season (how many sick days did you use as a kid to watch the legendary Bob Barker on The Price is Right?) The classics that we see now had thier rebirth, besides The Price is Right. Game shows like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Family FeudTic-Tac-Dough, Password and Pyramid among many others were on the air, in repeats granted, but still, there were a lot of programs to choose from. The best of the best, though, was the classic game show, in which players spun for high stakes and big bucks, all while avoiding the Whammy and playing the most exciting game of thier lives. That show was Press Your Luck, live from Television City in Hollywood  (also knows as CBS Television City, 7800 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, just to be specific)

Growing up in the 1980s, if you never heard of it, then after the exploits of the late Michael Larsen, whom I’m mentioned on the Super-blog during King James’ reign, you would know of Press Your Luck. Watching it now on Buzzr and seeing clips of its short-lived reboot on GSN (as Whammy!: The All New Press Your Luck) made me miss it and be nostaligic for a modern showing to a larger audience. Fast-forward to today and that day, today, is finally here.

As such, I decided to take a look at it and do my own review on Press Your Luck 2019 and how it holds up to the legacy it has. First off is the set, it has a modern feel to it, having a Millionaire vibe to it, but the design of it harkens back to the classic, especially the big board. The bucks have increased, which makes sense considering the time period, things cost a lot more now than it did in 1984.

The gameplay was tweaked a bit, with 3 questions for Round 1 and 4 questions for Round 2, even though the payoff in spins hasn’t changed, 3 spins for a buzz in answer, 1 spin for the rest. It streamlines gameplay but still is a welcome change, the rules of the board could’ve used some explination for first time watchers, but they remain the same throughout. The Bonus Round, which is a new feature for those who know the classic game, really isn’t that bad, as it takes the temptation of personalized prizes to give them a chance to go on for $1 Million. It feeds off the core game in general, as it tempts people with the basic strategy of risk vs. reward, it’s a change, but it’s a minor welcome change.

The host, Elizabeth Banks, isn’t a Peter Tomarken (God rest his Soul) or Todd Newton, but she brings her flavor into her role as host, but she’s exciting and as energetic and funny as well, much like Drew Carey had to not compare himself to the Legendary Bob Barker (though, honestly, whom really can?) Elizabeth must’ve taken notes on what she can do and shines because of this.

For me, the thing that feels flat are the Whammies, they tried to make them funny (and at times they succeeded.) That said, they dont feel as modern as the rest of the game does, relevant yes, but when you look at the graphics of the show and the detail they put in, the Whammies seem like an after thought, though they are still funny.

Overall, the new Press Your Luck is a wonderful, adrenaline rush that fits well with the present format, it’s a show worthy of the name and legacy. As long as they don’t bring in a Big Bank, that’s all well and good for me, I wish them all the luck in the world and hopes that they can change lives and help others…

Shine On!!

 

Throwback Thursday to A Hopeful Friend

Throughout my life, I’ve come across some great people, ones that enriches my life, believed; supported me, helped me learn things I wouldn’t know otherwise and someone I know that I can talk to and know that they hear and understand me. An elementary school teacher (and wonderful friend) Joe Defino Jr. has done all that and then some, not just to me but to the community that he serves, all with his heart and creativity.

At the time I first met him, I was going through my own perfect storm, my parents were going through a divorce, settling into a new school and puberty, all within one period in my life where I felt alone and unsure. Then, a relatively new teacher came into my life and made me realize that all the things I was feeling at the time were totally nuerotypical for anyone, Spectrumite or not and offered me a light, a beacon of hope and most importantly, his friendship, all while not asking for anything else in return. It’s something that I hold most dear to me and I’ll always thank him (and by extension, his whole family) for that.

Ever since, he’s been a go-to for me if I need a shoulder to cry on, someone to bounce ideas off of or just for support, he’s been there for me more times than I can count. He not only supports me but also does so for the entire community, as is evident in his most recent endeavor, Hope Rocks, a festival of hope and support that we need now more than ever with the epidemic of young people committing suicide and dying from drug overdoses. Throughout his teaching carrer, he’s been to 9 funerals, just in the past 3 years alone, over 27 in all that time! In a time where the world would want us to be callous, indifferent and uncaring, Joe is sharing his light to show to others what is evident to me, that hope is there for the asking, hope is present, hope shines and quite frankly, hope rocks!!

So, not only is this a blog post to highlight Joe as a person, but this is also me adding my voice to his, letting people know that it only takes one person to make a difference in lives so if you ever feel like you’re down and out, depressed, or even suicidal, DO NOT HESISTATE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW!! I can’t stress this enough and if you need any more prodding, come on down to Cantine Field in Saugerties on August 17-19 and I can bet you’ll find support, you’ll find kindness and perhaps you’ll find the answers you’re looking for. I close this blog post with a poem I wrote for Joe and for his mission to spread hope and compassion to those he meets:

Hope

By Brian Liston

For Joe Defino Jr, a true friend and beacon of hope-

Hope
Speaks, feels
In our tears, darkness, fears
That we are not alone to share our
Collective light.

Until next time, don’t forget to…

Shine on!!

A Matter of Risk vs Reward

In life, there will be times where a conversation will be hard to have, awkward at best and difficult at worst, times where you’ll put yourself out there for all the world to see, vulnerable to any attacks that may come as to reveal yourself.

I’ve always been honest on the Superblog when all of you, my readers. With this topic, though, I’ve struggled, mostly because I recently didn’t know how to deal with difficult conversations, especially when there was a lot to lose.

I guess the main reason I didn’t like those conversations was because I didn’t want to lose anyone. That’s mostly because I value and cherish my friends, especially those whom I consider close.

Well, while I’m lucky I didn’t lose one, I had to risk that recently due to a difficult conversation. But the thing that really bothers me in hindsight is that I took the easy way out and asked a friend to help me tell a friend some news.

Again, in hindsight, I realize that it was a bad call to make but at the time, it seemed like the right decision. But what I’ve learned in this experience is to just swallow your pride, take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to have the difficult conversation with those you care about, especially if the thing in question is something that’s bugging you.

A friend I knew committed suicide because of one misunderstanding that must have felt like the end of the world. Looking back at my conundrum, I can only say that fear was holding me back. How I handled was the right call at the time, but I now see that it was a cowardly move on my part. That’s the part that I’m ashamed of, most of all.

What I ask of you all to do if you’re in the same situation, my advice to you is to swallow your pride, be brave and let the chips fall where they may, maybe you’ll win, maybe you’ll lose, but either way, you’ll have an answer; as my brother would say, “Lesson learned.”

I know it’s a tough thing to say, but sometimes being tough is something that’s needed in life, but by being tough, having tough conversations and making your needs a priority will have a positive impact in the long run, since you can do what you need to do to…

Shine On!!