The Fall of Man

They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

Who Rescued Who?

Growing up, I always wanted to be the girl who lived on a farm, or the one whose parents fostered animals, or the girl who was born into a family who already had dogs. It’s no secret that I love animals a lot more than I love people, but I love rescue animals most of all.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time working for a local dog rescue. This rescue brings dogs from high kill shelters in the south home to the north. Working with this rescue, I’ve heard a lot of stories in regards to the backgrounds of our dogs. Unfortunately, most of them make me roll my eyes towards the human race, others make me tear up.

Before joining this rescue, I didn’t realize how terribly dogs were treated in the south. I’m not saying that all dogs in northern United States are treated fairly, but this rescue works with multiple shelters in different states in southern United States where the euthanisation rate is through the roof and a lot of individuals down there don’t even know what spaying or neutering means.

For example, one dog that was recently brought to us was very large and fluffy. The owners of this dog lived in an apartment and decided to pack up and leave one day without warning and left their dog to fend for itself in the empty space. Did I mention that this was in the middle of summer? Without air conditioning, the apartment was 90 degrees.

In another instance, members of our rescue team went down to a new shelter in the south to save a few dogs. When they got there, they found out that multiple dogs were euthanized three hours before our team’s arrival because they were “cleaning up for the weekend.”

To me, animals are not just animals; they’re family. My dog has been with us for 13 years. We got him when we went to a pumpkin patch shortly after the September 11th attacks. My dog is hands down the best dog for our family. He’s relaxed but loves to go for walks and gets along with other dogs…most of the time. Over the last 13 years, we’ve had some great moments, but our dog has taken more of a liking to my mother. However, over the last year with me being around our house more with my unemployment, I’ve developed the deepest bond with him that I’ve ever had. Nowadays, he’ll take naps on my bed, follow me around the house, get very excited when I put my tennis shoes on (signaling a walk), or put him in the car with me (signaling a ride to the dog park or Pet Smart). He’s been my constant companion and best friend, and I’m so happy that we’ve gotten to spend so much time together recently. We’ve grown very close, and as I write this, he is sound asleep on the edge of my bed.

Goodnight my angel; and sleep tight to all of the dogs without a home. Don’t worry, we’ll come pick you up soon!

Granny Smith – over and out

Passion vs. Paycheck

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Dear Followers,

I’m having another dilemma and could use all of your wonderful advice and experience to guide me through! As some of you may know, I’ve been unemployed for close to five months now and I’m constantly searching for another full time opportunity. Recently, I had an interview with a great organization that has a job title similar to what I’m looking for and the capabilities to train, support, and help me grow! However, the pay is terrible, the insurance benefits are non-existent, and it’s located in a place I’ve never been to (other than for the interview), and is 2.5 hours away from everyone I love and care about. With that being said, let me paint you a better picture….

I have a few strong passions in life: music, animals, writing, and the arts. Over the past couple of months, I’ve tried to figure out what I really want out of a career and what would make me happy. I’m a fairly eccentric person (as you all know), but when it comes to my life style, I’m very old fashioned and thrive on following a routine and have strong family values. But, since I was young, I’ve always wanted to be some sort of famous (hopefully for a good thing). And with my passion for entertaining and music, I thought being a radio DJ might be a great career. However, it’s an extremely difficult industry to get into and very cut-throat. Owners of stations are always changing and individuals are losing jobs left and right. Most of the time, you’re really not free with what you want to do, and have to follow a set format.

But, what a thrill it could be! Currently, I host a show on a college radio station every week and I enjoy it because I’m allowed to play and say whatever I want (as long as I don’t break FCC guidelines). This new opportunity would allow me to get my foot in the door and I would be a real DJ trained on real equipment!

However, current DJ’s and station owners that I’ve talked to have stated that the radio industry has definitely died down over the years and it’s 10 times more competitive.

So, it leaves me to wonder, if I’m offered this position, do I take it and leave everything I love for the chance to join an industry that I’m curious to be a part of, or, do I take/search for a position that involves one of my other passions (the arts, animals, etc) and provides better pay, and keep my show on a college radio station and grow that following and my skills there?

It’s never easy making a crazy life decision, but I know that my choice will impact more than just me (no matter what one I make). If I look at my core values, I realize that being with my family, having time for myself, and doing hobbies/activities that I love come first before any career that I could possibly dream of. But, it would be great if a passion/hobby of mine could turn into a career.

At this point, I just want to hide underneath the covers and continue binge watching Chrisley Knows Best…but at some point I need to really examine my options and think about what’s best for not only myself, but the people I love.

And, this is the part where you come in. Have you ever been faced with a situation where you were struggling to figure out if you should take a position that you were passionate about that provided some flaws or a position that you know you would do well in and receive benefits, but you might not be as thrilled about?

Please comment and share your stories regarding passion vs. paycheck! Thanks in advance!

Granny Smith – over and out