The Fall of Man

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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

Losing My Religion

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I grew up with very Catholic grandparents and not so Catholic parents. When I was in elementary school, in an effort to make my grandparents happy, my parents sent me to Sunday school. There are only two memories I have of Sunday school. The first is that there was a lot of coloring, and you were given a piece of candy if you got a question about Jesus right. The second was the singing. At the end of every session, each grade would gather into the main hallway, and an old woman would sit in the middle with her guitar and make us sing songs about Jesus.

I didn’t understand anything that was happening, and I often asked my teachers for proof of the history of Jesus (artifacts, anything), so my parents promptly removed me from classes.

As I got older, my family and I started going to church less and less, and pretty soon, all I knew about being a Catholic was that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter and that his birthday is what we call, “Christmas.” As we were pulling away from God, I questioned everything spiritual more and more, year after year. Eventually, when I was nearing the end of high school and beginning college, I decided that I didn’t believe in the afterlife, heaven, hell, God, anything. I had no proof, therefore, it was not real.

I didn’t think about anything regarding religion until I watched an episode of “Long Island Medium” with Theresa Caputo. I had watched other mediums perform before like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and James Van Praagh, but they were always positioned in front of a large audience, and everything about it seemed so staged. Theresa, on the other hand, was stopping people in grocery stores, doing private readings, going on cruises and reading groups, and walking in to someone’s home and reading a group of 10 people. She did it all. Every situation she was put in, she came out with a victory. How could you not believe her? But, I still wondered, was it a sham? Were these cameras set up? So, when she came out with her book, There’s More to Life Than This, I bought and read it. Then, my life changed forever.

I started believing again when I watched Theresa on TV, but her book really won me over. She talked about experiences that people have in their everyday lives that are signs from spirit, instances that you can’t write or verbally explain to anyone else. It was as though someone had gotten into my head and described everything I’ve never been able to tell anyone else in perfectly strung sentences. I finally felt normal.

In fact, so normal that I recently began working at a Christian college. Everyone that I work with is obviously religious, and they have been their whole lives…Unfortunately, this is where I fall short. I know hardly anything about being a Christian, and I can safely say that I’m not one. At least, not the type of Christian I’ve come in contact with. Yes, I like everyone that I work with. But, I also believe in gay marriage, the fact that homosexuality is not a sin, that swearing is a part of human nature, and being edgy is what makes you real. I love Lady Gaga! Of course, all of these things are generally not celebrated in Christian faith, and that is why I can’t be a true follower.

Theresa Caputo has stated multiple times that all too often individuals use religion to pull themselves apart from others or as an excuse to “hate” someone. When, really, we should be using religion to spread love, kindness, and compassion. They use God as a symbol of fear, instead of a symbol of understanding. Like the GOP, once Christians can wake up and modernize, then maybe I’ll jump on their bandwagon to Bethlehem. I’m not trying to say that all Christians are bad people, most of them are the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met, but, it’s time to embrace the new world and remind ourselves that Jesus was friends with a prostitute. So, seriously, is being gay really that awful?

Granny Smith – over and out

You Love Who You Love

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Happy Birthday to the love of my life! Seeing as how this is the first birthday he’s had while I’ve maintained this blog, I felt extremely compelled to give him a shout out on his special day…and because I know his eyes will eventually see this post!

Originally, I thought about using this space to gush about how great he is and how much I love him, but then I remembered you guys probably won’t find that as fulfilling as I do, and then we’ll both have wasted our time. So, instead, I’ve decided to discuss how we came to be, a bit of what we’ve gone through as a couple, and the idea of “soul mates.”

First, let me quickly explain a bit more about who I am and “my type.” Ever since I can remember, I’ve been crazy, weird, obnoxious, creative, and just plain different from everyone else I’ve ever met. I was picked on like a lot in elementary school, but the real struggle for me was that my peers and I had similar hopes and dreams, so I didn’t think I was that different. I also had (and still have) helicopter parents who made sure that I got everything I ever wanted. Back in the day, life was easy for me.  And, because I was like any other young girl, I wanted a Disney prince as my boyfriend. But, I quickly discovered that because I had crazy high expectations coupled with a ridiculous personality, my chances of finding this person were slim to none…until I met my boyfriend (we’ll call him “Matt” for the sake of this post). Matt was and is a class A gentlemen. He not only opens the doors for you, but he pays for dinner, always knows exactly the right thing to say, holds your hand, kisses you goodnight, and let’s just say he does everything perfectly. Sometimes, I freak out because I’ll be thinking and hoping that he’ll do something for me, and he’ll just do it! Men like to say that they’re not mind readers, but Matt definitely is one. I swear he came right out of a romantic comedy and into my life.

In terms of our relationship, our story is just as off the wall as my personality, but it’s a great one! We first met briefly in 2005. Matt had just started dating one of my best friends (we’ll call her “Ann”) at the time, but I didn’t truly get to know him until about a year later. The funny thing is, I didn’t like him when I first met him. I thought he was really cocky and aloof. But, once I got to know him a bit better, my opinion changed. We started hanging out more, and then, a terrible thing happened. Just before my 17th birthday, Matt broke up with Ann, leaving me in a very uncomfortable situation. Ann and I had known each other for years, but the truth was, I had formed a better friendship with Matt and liked being around him a lot more. That same year, I had actually gone through not one…but two breakups and he was there for me through it all, not Ann.

And, that’s when things got realllllly complicated. I began supporting Matt more than Ann through their breakup process, and Ann began accusing me of screwing around with Matt behind her back! Of course I wouldn’t do that! I was so furious with Ann that I completely shut her off, and because I was solely hanging out with Matt, he opened up more and showed me a side of him I’d never seen. I couldn’t believe that he was letting me in. Friends that I had known for 10 years had never opened up to me in this way, and I had only been good friends with Matt for less than a year. It felt like a huge compliment.

Fast forward a bit and Matt and I are “secretly” dating. I wanted to wait until Ann’s jets cooled a bit before going public. Well, we didn’t go “public” for a good year or two…and by that time, we were off to separate colleges.

We lasted separately for about 2 years and then we broke up…for about a year and a half. The time that we were separated was one of the weirdest times of my life. Some days I’d miss him so much I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, and other days I was so busy being me and doing everything I wanted to do, I didn’t know how life could get any better.  Ultimately, I worked hard to get Matt back because I realized once he was gone how much we’d (but mostly I’d) messed up. We basically broke up because we got lazy. We got sick and tired of doing the same old things together, and we were too lazy to come up with new stuff, so we quit.

The saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” was never more apparent to me then when I lost Matt for that year and a half. I realized that I had made a huge mistake and that there truly are no other guys like him. He’s too special, he’s one of a kind, and he’s perfect for me. When I was down and out growing up, thinking that no one would ever love me because I was “too weird,” he was there. He never judged me. Actually, he found me to be quite funny and entertaining. And, it turns out, he’s just as funny and entertaining, if not more.

I knew I had to fight to get Matt back because no one was ever going to sync with me as well as he did, and I wanted to turn things around. Personally, I don’t believe in soul mates. I certainly did when I was younger and it was pushed by the media, but I can’t anymore. With everyone getting married multiple times, or committing themselves to a variety of different relationships in their lifetime, I don’t think that there is such a thing. You love who you love, and sometimes it’s more than one person during a lifetime. I don’t believe in soul mates as much as I do in just “mates.” Yes, Matt is the one person that I want to be with for the rest of my life, but what if I died tomorrow? He’d have to move on and find someone else. I obviously wouldn’t be his soul mate if he was able to pick himself up and find someone else that he was just as compatible with.

However, in my case, I’ve always had this weird feeling like my deceased grandmother helped orchestrate our relationship. Her birthday falls on the same day as Matt’s and she passed away when I was 12. Somehow, in some weird way, I feel like she pushed him towards me and the fact that they share the same birthday is her way of reminding me that this was her doing. Because she couldn’t be here with me today, she thought she’d give me one of her birthday gifts.

So, do you believe in soul mates? Do you and your partner have a crazy good love story? Tell me! I wanna hear all about it!

Granny Smith – over and out

Go Ahead, Celebrate!

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So, now that Valentine’s Day is long gone, I want to bring it back into the realm of conversation…I know, sorry! But, it’s not what you think! Give me a second to explain…

My birthday is August 14th, so Valentine’s Day is a big day for me because…it’s my half birthday. Check: If you’re not rolling on the floor laughing by now, what’s wrong with you? I can only imagine what all of you are thinking, who the hell celebrates their half birthday? Trust me friends, I didn’t come up with this; I was suckered into it by my mother when I was a little girl.

For as long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day, my mother would sneak into my room before I woke up and leave a few small gifts, candy, a card, and a balloon. And, at the end of the day, my family and I would gather around the kitchen table and enjoy some cake! I was always reminded on February 14th that not only was it a national holiday, but I was exactly 6 months away from my birthday. Now, why did my mother constantly remind me that Valentine’s Day was also my “half birthday?” I secretly think that my mom has always wanted to share her birthday with a holiday and when that dream obviously did not work out in her favor, she hoped and prayed that one of her children, hell, even one of  her pets, would have a birthday on a holiday. When that didn’t work out, she studied the calendar and thought of the next best thing. I mean, we don’t celebrate anyone else’s half birthday in our house ….lucky me!

The point of all of this is that when I told my boyfriend about my family’s crazy Valentine’s Day tradition…he didn’t even flinch. Sure, he thought it was weird. But each Valentine’s Day he makes sure that he treats it like my second birthday. I receive half a cake, half a birthday card (tehehe), flowers, my favorite food, and most importantly, love. The crazy part about all of this is I hate Valentine’s Day and so does he. But, the dumb Hallmark holiday has actually brought us closer together because of my mother’s interesting calendar observation. We don’t look at February 14th as another stupid holiday, but a funny reason to have something to celebrate. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I get to celebrate two birthdays a year instead of one… and I don’t age twice!

In the end, everyone should have the opportunity to feel like they’re the most important person on the planet! And it doesn’t have to be on Valentine’s Day or just your birthday. It’s important to find someone in your life that wants you to feel amazing about who you are, what you believe in, and everything in between. The fact that my boyfriend picked up this ridiculous tradition of mine and ran with it means wonders, and I don’t have to cringe every time Valentine’s Day rolls around!

But, the main reason why I brought this up is because I want to hear from you guys! Is there anything that you significant other, family members, friends do for you that makes you feel special? Are there any holidays in particular that you love more than the rest because of an awesome tradition you have?  Let me know and be well!

Granny Smith – over and out

Happy Birthday?

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I tried something new this past week..going to work on my birthday. I’ve been pretty fortunate with the fact that my birthday is in August, so I’ve never had to go to school on my special day. And, if I worked, I’ve always had the option of taking off. However, I recently started a new, grown-up position, and I only have so many PTO days before the year ends! So, I decided to go to work..yippie skippy..

But, the fact that I did recently celebrate a birthday really made me wonder, why do some people absolutely despise their birthday, and want no mention of it what so ever, and others, like myself, feel that their birthday is the one day of the year where they need to receive 100,000 compliments, too many presents to know what to do with, love and affection from their closest family and friends, or even strangers (I don’t know how other people roll), and their name screamed from the rooftops?..Too much? But you get what I’m saying, right?

So, what is it with these different feelings? Do we develop these feelings about our birthdays because of how our parents or guardians taught us to treat them?  Or, is it an age thing? I’m assuming that when I get older, I won’t want my birthday publicized nearly as often as I do now…but I can’t help the fact that when I was growing up, birthdays were a BIG DEAL!

So, usually, when a birthday comes up in the office, I don’t say, “happy birthday” unless the person brings in a treat, or sends out an email saying, “hey everyone, it’s my birthday”…which is what I did this year…of course. I guess I’m still in that “I just started working here, I want everyone to like me” phase, so I try not to get too obnoxious about other people’s birthdays. But, I can’t help it! I want them to feel as important as my friends and family make me feel on my birthday.

This year, I brought in a cheesecake, and my parents delivered balloons that I obnoxiously displayed on the top shelf in my cubicle, so that everyone walking past could see them towering over my work space. And, you can bet I left those balloons there for an extra day so that people who “forgot” my birthday could be reminded the following day (it’s ok, I accept late wishes).  And when I took those balloons home, you can bet I left at a time of day when I knew everyone would be crowding towards the elevators. It’s not that I’m completely in love with myself or crave attention, I’m actually more of an introvert, but it’s just the celebration part that gets to me. I mean, I love a good party!

What are your thoughts on birthdays? How do you approach the “issue” of a birthday with someone that you don’t really know, or a friend or family member that HATES their birthday?

I’d love to hear from you!

Granny Smith-over and out