My Trip to Ireland

3 May

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During the week of April 18th, I traveled with my family to Ireland. I got to visit such places as Cliffs of Moher, Cork, The Blarney Stone, Ashford Castle, Kilkenny Castle, and Bunratty Castle. I also tried some of the pubs in the country and tasted different beers, such as Guinness, Bulmer’s Cider, and Smithwicks. Most importantly, I found the people in the Republic to be very friendly and accommodating.

I left Boston on the evening of April 18th and landed at Shannon Airport on the morning of the 19th. We stayed in the town of Adare for our first day in Ireland. That afternoon, we visited the nearby Cliffs of Moher on the coast. I first went inside the nearby museum, which gives a history of the Cliffs were formed and mentiones the fauna that exists in the region, including puffins, various fish, and seagulls. The Cliffs themselves were very breathtaking and reminded me of a peace of Heaven on Earth. I could see a small region of the Aran Islands from the view of the Cliffs on this bright and sunny day. We concluded the day by going to a pub called Pat Collins Pub, where I had a nice and warm Guinness with my meal.

The next two days, we went to Cork, further east in the Republic. We stayed at the luxurious River Lee Hotel in downtown Cork. On Monday, we checked out much of downtown Cork and the shopping centers, where I bought Ireland themed clothing to add to my collection. Later that night, my brothers Brian and Keith, Brian’s girlfriend Amanda and I went to check out Oliver Plunkett’s Pub in the city, where we saw a folk singer do a hilarious Irish themed rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and other songs.

On Tuesday, we visited the Blarney Castle, just outside of Cork. We entered the castle, which was built in the 13th Century. We all walked up the flight of the stairs with the help of the railing to see the Blarney Stone. I didn’t kiss the Stone, which I was told by others has been urinated on by visitors in the past. In order to kiss the stone, one has to bend over and hold onto a railing to get a kiss of this legendary site. After leaving the castle, we then took a look at the nearby gardens and rock formations, including Druid’s Castle, Witch’s Cave, the Wishing Steps, and the Poison Garden, which contains various poisonous plants. Next, we all to went to the local gift shop to buy more Irish souvenirs and had lunch at Muskerry Arms.

We left Cork the next morning to go to Kilkenny. Much of the day in Kilkenny was spent visiting the Kilkenny Castle. I got to learn about the history of the castle during the visit. The castle opened in 1213 and was owned by the Butler Dynasty for centuries. I also realized that there was a fourth wall to the castle as well, but it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell and his forces in the 17th Century. We finished off the night by enjoying a good dinner at Kyteler’s Inn, which was highlighted by Irish folk music.

The next day, we headed off to Ashford Castle on the County Galway-County Mayo border. The castle itself was very majestic and saw a great view of the lake called Lough Corrib and the beautiful fountain on the grounds. We a took a walk around the castle and got to see beautiful gardens with pretty flowers and also saw a tennis court and some locations that was used for the movie “The Quiet Man.” We had a nice lunch of sandwiches and scones served with tea after the long walk and had a great supper at the restaurant in the basement called Cullen’s, which is modeled after a medieval dungeon. It’s no wonder why Pierce Brosnan decided to have his wedding at this luxurious castle.

Friday, the 24th, was the final eventful day of the trip. That day, we stayed at a hotel near Bunratty Castle. The highlight of the day was participating in a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. To accurately reflect the feel of medieval Ireland, guests eat their food by hands and a dagger knife and drink mead and wine with the food. The foods consisted of ribs, potatoes, chicken and vegetables, and dessert. It was great to see the actors reenact the history of the castle and sing various important Irish songs during the banquet. One of the actors frequently stopped by our table and I realized that when he is not acting, he is an accountant, which delighted Brian, who is a certified public accountant. My family and I also bumped into my Aunt Sheila’s friend Kathy Pernock with her husband, Chris and her siblings during the visit to Bunratty Castle. The Ireland trip was a great adventure. I wish I could have visited Dublin, Dingle, the Ring of Kerry, the Aran Islands and Galway, but time was limited and had to leave for the States the next morning.

My speeches for Autism Awareness Day

4 Apr

Another State House photo

On Thursday, I did speeches to commemorate Autism Awareness Day. The first speech was at the State House on Thursday morning. I was there to comment on housing and transportation for people with autism, as well as read two of my poems. Later on in the day, I performed a speech at UMass Lowell for their annual “Disable the Label” event. For that event, I recited the same two poems that I shared earlier in the day.

I began the day of April 2 at the State House in Boston. I was there as one of the primary speakers for Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day, which focused on the theme of “Housing Options for Individuals with Autism.” The other speakers that day were Governor Charlie Baker, Deborah Flaschen (founder and president of 3LPlace, a residential home for people with developmental disabilities), Nat Batchelder, a young man with fairly severe autism and son of Brookline autism activist Susan Senator, and Senator Harriette Chandler, who accepted an award on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg, who was unable to attend the ceremony. The emcee of the event was Randy Price, an anchorman with WCVB 5 and veteran of the Boston journalism business.

I gave my speech at around 10:45 AM. I came on after Nat Batchelder, who is 25 years old and has fairly severe autism and gave his speech about housing with the help of his caregiver, John Excellent. I was introduced by Randy Price, who mentioned that I had graduated from college and have interests in dogs, music, reading, poetry, and several other areas. During my speech, I talked about how there is a lack of accessible transportation near my home in Billerica and that it makes difficult to see friends of mine. I also mentioned about the unsuccessful processes of submitting applications for the MBTA Ride program, the Lowell Transit Authority system, and the reduced fare program for the MBTA Charlie Card. Having the right transportation methods can be extremely beneficial for future employment opportunities and to gain more social connections.

I then began to comment on my current housing situation as a young adult with high-functioning autism. I reflected on how living with my parents during my lifetime has helped master many of the household chores that I do at home and how these skills could be very useful for when I do live independently someday with a friend. I admitted that I do not have as many social connections as I would like to have, but am continuing to work with my AANE LifeMap Coach Orlando Torres to help get more social connections and continue to look for more job opportunities in the area. I have tried to find the appropriate social group for me, but while many of the social groups that I have joined have been useful to me, I have been unable to determine which social group will be most beneficial in the long run. I concluded the event by reciting two of my poems, which were “Acceptance of Autism” and “Spring Awakening.” I told the audience that my poems have received positive reception from local Boston media personalities and several musicians.

I ended the day by giving another talk about Autism Acceptance Day at UMass Lowell called “Disable the Label”. I had been invited to be a speaker for this event by Professor Ashleigh Hillier, who teaches courses on autism and has been a friend of mine for 8 years. When I gave my speech, I was introduced by Dr. Hillier’s colleague, Professor Jody Goldstein, who I had communicated via email before the event and had met before the speeches of the event had started. My speech consisted of the two poems that I discussed at the State House event, “Acceptance of Autism” and “Spring Awakening.” The event ended with the UMass Lowell Choir singing the theme song for Autism Awareness Day named “Light It Up Blue,” as the building across us had lit up their facility with the color blue to symbolize Autism Awareness and Acceptance. It was a wonderful close for the day that celebrates the achievements of autistic people.

Spring Awakening poem

25 Feb

Here’s my new poem about the spring. It will help take your mind off the brutally cold weather.

Scott
Spring Awakening

Flowers blossoming, snow melting
It is time of the year of new beginnings
To forget our winter woes
And transition into spring clothes

Getting ready for daylights savings and Easter
March Madness and baseball as TV features
More birthday celebrations and weddings
Roasted chicken with asparagus and coffee cake as selections

Organizing ideas for spring and summer gardening
Planting new seeds and hoping for a bright and colorful morning
Smelling the first hint of green grass
And remembering the sweet scents of the springs of the past

Minds shifting to the seashore and the tides
Remember the rhythmic motion of the sea
Feeling the calm of watching the ocean waves
And hoping that’s where I’ll be

My San Diego Trip

29 Oct

Potato Chip Rock     La Jolla Cove

During the last week, I went with my brother Brian and his girlfriend Amanda to visit San Diego. There, we met with our cousin Chris, who is a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton and lives in nearby Carlsbad. We got to see various attractions in the city, such as The San Diego Zoo, Potato Chip Rock in the mountains of Poway, the beaches of Coronado, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla, and other sites. We also met with our cousin Chuck and his girlfriend Alice during the weekend in La Jolla, which is where we stayed during the course of the trip.

Brian, Amanda, and I arrived in San Diego on the morning of Friday, October 17. It was a beautiful day when we arrived at the airport, awaiting to be picked up by Chris at the front entrance. He then took us his apartment in Carlsbad, where he has two roommates Joe Deignan and Nick Oney, along with a pit bull mix named Tally and two cats named Atlas and Pippa. After being introduced to Chris’ place, we then checked a local burrito place called Senor Grubby’s, where I had a delicious burrito, which had chicken, vegetables, and french fries in the meal. We then went back to check in to our hotel in La Jolla, which is a rented house, with a nice deck with chairs and a hammock, a hot tub in the backyard, a pull-up couch, which converts to a bed, and a basement with a pool table and a flatscreen TV attached to the wall. We were then introduced to Camp Pendleton, which each of us performed a flight simulator test to demonstrate what it would to fly and pilot a helicopter. At the end of the day, we went out to Pizza Port in Carlsbad, where I made new friends such as Molly Boyne, Jaci Conrad, and Joe and Nick. It was a nice kickoff to the beginning of an exciting trip.

The next day was easily one of the highlights of the trip. Brian, Chris, Amanda, and I went for a hike to Potato Chip Rock in the mountains of Poway. The hike took us about 90 minutes to reach the rock at the top of the mountain. In order to take make to the cliff of Potato Chip Rock, you have to jump across a crevice to reach the peak. I bravely jumped the cliff with the aide of Brian, Chris, and Amanda and we ended getting a beautiful photo of us at the rock with some spectators in the background. Later on, we met up with Chuck and Alice for dinner at George’s at the Cove, a restaurant in La Jolla. We talked about life in San Diego and how are current careers have been going during the course of the meals at the restaurant. We ended the night with some dancing at the nearby Prospect Bar with some drinks to fit the atmosphere of the weekend.

On Sunday, Brian, Chris, Amanda, Molly, and I went to a shooting range near Camp Pendleton to practice using guns. I was a little bit nervous at first before doing the mock shootings since I had never used a gun before in my life, but get used to handling the weapons after some tutorials. I then fired a handgun and rifle at targets to conduct my skills at controlling the guns. Brian and Chris practiced shooting shotguns, but Amanda, Molly and I sat out during the shotgun demonstration. These practice shootings gave us new experiences on what it is like to use guns at a shooting range. At the end of the day, we went to the Zac Brown concert in Chula Vista, south of San Diego. Zac Brown played a mix of his original songs and covers of songs from the past four decades. It was my first time going to a concert in a state outside of my homeland.

Monday was another exciting day during the trip. That morning, Chris took Brian, Amanda, and I to Montgomery Field Airport, just north of downtown San Diego to learn how Chris pilots airplanes. We went on a small Cesna airplane piloted by Chris and his co-pilot for the day, Terry and flew over the downtown of the city with views of Chargers Stadium and the downtown below. It was an exhilarating adventure getting to fly on a plane piloted by my cousin and seeing the views of the city from the skies.  We closed the night by staying at a rented hotel on Camp Pendleton, where cooked steak and chicken dinners on an outdoor oven near the beach and had S’mores on the backyard of the hotel.

The next day, we went back to our hotel in La Jolla, as Chris had to work during the day. Brian, Amanda, and I checked nearby Windanesa Beach when the weather was so nice outside. We managed to get some rays and tans and walked along the sandy shores and water of the beach. The waves were bigger than any beach I had seen closer to my summer house of Marshfield. After checking out the beach, we took strolls alongside the streets of La Jolla and saw great views of various additional beaches in the community. We also got to indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine at Alfonso’s for Taco Tuesday and I had some nachos as appetizers and a Tijuana Taco with a Dos Esquis beer for my main course. We finished the day with great meals at Whisknladle in downtown La Jolla, where I had a great burger, which had cheese, a fried egg, and caramelized onions inside the burger.

Wednesday was also easily one of the highlights during the week long San Diego trip. Brian, Amanda, and I visited the San Diego Zoo for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised at huge the Zoo is in terms of area. At the Zoo, I got to witness various interesting animals, such as a polar bear, a rhinoceros, a hippopotamus, Tasmanian Devils, leopards and cheetahs, monkeys and orangutans, and many other members of the animal kingdom. We also went on a glider, similar to that of Epcot Center, which provided us views of the many zones at the Zoo and the skyline of San Diego. It was truly delightful to get to see many different kinds of animals in the different zones at the Zoo since back home in Massachusetts, many of the animals would not be able to adapt to the colder habitats of New England in the winter.

After leaving the Zoo, we then headed south to Coronado to check out the world famous hotel and beaches. I found out from the tour guide at the entrance that the famous Marilyn Monroe movie “Some It Like Hot” was filmed at the hotel in the 50s. Brian, Amanda, and ate at the local restaurant in the hotel and took a walk alongside the sandy beaches and saw some gorgeous hotels and condos near the beach. Later on, we met up again with Chris to celebrate his 29th birthday at Blue Ocean Robata and Sushi Bar in Carlsbad. The sushi was great and we talked about what we saw at the Zoo to Chris and wished Chris the happiest of birthdays. We then went to Chris’s place to watch a few classic episodes of “The Simpsons,” one of Chris’s favorite television series of all time.

Thursday marked a momentous farewell to the delightful week that we had in San Diego. We started the day by going to Pacific Beach, which is just south of La Jolla. Pacific Beach is a community that attracts a younger crowd, with some transplants from the Boston suburbs. The beaches were majestic and we walked along the nearby the pier to take photos with views of the nearby buildings and check out the views of the waves. We had lunch at Jordan’s Restaurant near the beach and even took a visit to the deck with a pool upstairs after finishing our meals. The trip to San Diego concluded with Chris, for one last time, taking us for supper at Island Prime/C Level, where we thanked Chris for being in our lives throughout much of the trip. We then bid an emotional farewell to him after being off at San Diego Airport awaiting our flight back home to Boston.

My 27th Birthday Celebrations

21 Aug

Me blowing out the cake 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend, I had multiple celebrations for my 27th birthday. The first celebration occurred on Friday night at my brother Brian’s girlfriend, Amanda Smith’s apartment in Southie with a surprise party arranged by her and Brian. The following day, Saturday, my family had a celebration for me at my cottage in Marshfield. Finally, on Monday, my actual birthday, I celebrated my birthday at Jimmy’s restaurant in Arlington with Mom, Dad, and Keith.

The 27th birthday celebrations all began on Friday evening as I arrived in Boston. I initially believed that I was to have the party at Brian’s apartment in the North End, but Brian and Amanda had a change of plans for the location. We then headed to Amanda’s apartment in Southie, where I went inside the dimly lit building. Once we turned on the lights, I was greeted with thunderous applauses of “Surprise!!” by friends including Meg Mahoney, Liv Fahey, Rich Kei, and even my cousin Matt. I then proceeded to greet all the guests and have snacks and a cake, as I patiently waited for the presents. The theme of the party was a dog themed party as I am a huge fan of dogs. The presents consisted of items including a hat with a golden retriever from Rich, a poster Amanda made with all various dogs I have known in my life, dog cards, including one from Laura Feloney, in which you pull the chin of the golden puppy who will then bark “Happy Birthday”, and Vineyard Vines gift cards from Brian. To close off the night, we then headed to the nearby bar Playwright, where we danced and talked about interesting events going on in our lives.

The next Saturday, I first headed over to Amanda’s parents’ house with a nice cup of Twix iced coffee from Marylou’s and was then approached by Summer Smith, Amanda’s blonde golden retriever and one of my favorite dogs. Summer is always happy to see me, Brian, and Amanda. Amanda’s parents wished me very much a happy 27th birthday. I then get to see Summer play with her best friend and neighbor Rascal, a reddish golden retriever, who reminds me of my cousin Kaylene’s late golden, Casey. Summer and Rascal love to run around and play with each other every weekend for all seasons. I even did photo ops with Summer and Rascal as part of my birthday celebrations. When we left to head to Marshfield, Summer felt sad since she does not like it when the guests have to head out for the day, since she enjoys the company of her friends.

We then arrived in Marshfield at the beach house, where Mom was preparing to get ready for the relatives to arrive. Various relatives of mine, including Nana, cousins Tim, Ryan, and Henry, my younger brother Keith and his girlfriend Malorie, and many others. Keith introduced Malorie to my aunts, uncles, and grandmother, who were all greatly impressed by both Malorie and Amanda. The main foods of the day consisted of burgers, salad, Chinese chicken fingers, bruschetta, vegetable pasta, and vegetable pie. When it was time to sing “Happy Birthday,” I was delighted to see both a Reese’s cake from Sweetcakes in Marshfield and a Dairy Queen cake. Both cakes were extremely delicious. I was finally greeted with more presents from the guests including more dog themed cards and gift cards to places like Starbucks and Texas Roadhouse. It was a wonderful time seeing my family members and seeing Amanda and Malorie and also seeing my cousin Tim’s chocolate lab mix Dublin.

Then Monday the 18th arrived a few days later. I was now entering the 27th year of my life. For supper, I chose the restaurant Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington because it had a favorite restaurant of mine growing up as a teenager and the fact that it is near my mother’s childhood home in Arlington. I had my favorite meal as the birthday dinner, chicken parm with fries and a side Caesar salad with blue cheese and additional sides like zucchini sticks and buffalo,chicken tenders. After the dinner, I then reflected on what a great birthday weekend with all of the friends and family members who had come out to visit me for this momentous occasion.

 

My Summer Aspirations poem

5 Aug

Here’s my new poem about summer. It is called “My Summer Aspirations.” I hope you love it!

Scott

My Summer Aspirations

Reaching out, making connections
Looking for friends and new directions
Exploring new places and meeting people
Moving forward and looking for life’s next sequel

Beautiful beach weather with waves crashing on the shore
Allows me to connect with nature
My senses feel alive to the core
And I relate to life’s basic force

Crowded beaches with people everywhere
Dogs of all shapes and sizes
Makes me feel like part of the affair
And I am happy and my spirit rises

Celebrating the vacation with family and friends
Seeing new and old acquaintances
Helps me reconnect and feel alive
And enables my mind to thrive

Summer is a great time of year
A bright new beginning in life is here
My plan is to make the most of this season
And let the meaning of my life deepen

My new poems about autism and fall

9 Dec

Here are my new poems that I wrote over the last month. Hope you enjoy them!

Scott

Acceptance of Autism

Wanting to be free
Wanting to be me
Trying to make people see
And accept the real me

Some people think my voice is too loud
And that my mannerisms strike them as being odd
This perception of me by others keeps me feeling blue
But there are plenty of struggles in life that I must get through

I am determined to show my critics my true personality
Hoping that people move away from their narrow-minded mentalities
I want them to know that I am a bright young man
Who is willing to take on as many challenges in life as I can

I want to make new friends and create a new start
I like to develop new relationships with an open heart
I hope to be accepted for the person that I am
So people can understand a true autistic man

Fall in New England
Fall is such a beautiful time of year
There are plenty of sites to see here
Leaves with bright colors orange, yellow, and red
Signaling a change that the year is near the end

But fall is also a time of new beginnings
It is a time to start to learn new things
A time to look at the world in a different way
A time to learn new strategies to handle each day

Let’s take this time of change
And focus on new ways to think
Let’s give individuals with challenges a new look and rearrange
And find a common link

Fall reminds us to turn over new leaves
To think about starting new goals to achieve
I call on the world to change perceptions
And give all of us a new reception

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