The Fall of Man

death

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?

rescue dog

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

Text, Call, FREAK OUT, Repeat

Image

I’m a worrier by nature. And every time I worry about something, I think of the worst case scenario, and then I start to believe that that’s actually going to happen.

For example, about a week ago, I made plans with my boyfriend, Matt, and a few friends to go to the beach. I told Matt the previous day (via text) that we were all going to meet up at the beach at 1, but that I would stop by his place first to drop off my stuff. That morning came, and I decided to call Matt at 10:30 to let him know when I would be leaving…no answer. At this point, I was fine, he’d probably call me back within an hour. An hour later, no call from Matt, so I called him back…no answer. Finally, it was 12:30. Still not having heard from him, I called again. Nothing! By this point, I was starting to freak out a little because he hadn’t responded the previous day when I texted him our plans…so, that meant I hadn’t heard anything in 24 hours. Who knows what could’ve happened in 24 hours time? My head was racing. Did he even make it home last night? What if someone high jacked his car? What if someone came into his place of work with a gun and everyone at his office was waiting for a hero?

I did the next logical thing and packed my bags and jumped in my car on a quest to find him. I couldn’t help it. Matt is usually really great a communicating with me, so I felt funky when he hadn’t even texted me back. I searched the area around his apartment and couldn’t find him or his car. So, he’s somewhere with his car or someone stole his car and he’s wandering hopelessly on the street, was my thought. Then, I checked the beach, thinking that maybe he’d lost his phone and was waiting for us there. There were so many cars and people as there happened to be multiple festivals going on near the lakefront that day…just my luck. After spending what seemed like years in traffic, I headed to one of his friend’s homes, nope, not there. Then, I texted a few of his other friends, no one had heard from him. I stopped at the mall, and lastly, his office. Nothing. It was almost 4pm.

I called my father and told him that I couldn’t find Matt. I stated that I was coming home and we were going to have to call the police, his parents, or form a search party…something, anything to make sure there wasn’t another wasted second that went by without having others know of his absence. As I drove home, I started crying my eyes out and I screamed at God, “Please let me find him!! He’s my everything! You might as well take me too! Where did you hide him? Why are you doing this? This isn’t ok.” Then, I began to think of what my life would become once he’d been pronounced dead, what I would say at his funeral; and I asked myself how I would feel if we never found the body. Would I be able to move on? No, probably never. Yes, I would take the oath to never date again and live the rest of my life as a spinster. Hell, my grandmother was a widow for 40 plus years before she died and she never dated, remarried, or showed interest in anyone after my grandfather passed away. If she could do it, so can I.

Then, the call came through. It was Matt’s face that showed up on my phone. But, I didn’t even rejoice at first. I thought, what if it’s the police calling to tell me they found him dead, or that he’s at the hospital and probably won’t make it? I picked up the phone and screamed, “HELLO?”

“Hi, what’s going on?” the other end answered back. It was Matt, he was alive…for now!

“WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? WHERE ARE YOU NOW? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?…” I went off. I’ve known Matt for almost 9 years now, and in all of those years I’ve NEVER, NOT ONCE, yelled at him. Unfortunately, that streak has been broken.

In the end, I went back to Matt’s apartment and we talked it over, but sweet Jesus did he scare me. It turns out that he was participating in one of his weekly activities, sailing down at the yacht club. He left his phone in one of the club’s lockers, thinking he would be back by noon. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case.

I spent the next few hours being as close to him as I could, hugging him, smelling him, cuddling with him. Good God, if you don’t know if you love someone, try thinking about what your life would be like without them, then you’ll know if you want them to stick around. It sounds stupid, but I realized that losing him would mean losing myself.

I also learned a few other things during that crazy day:
-Communication is so important, especially when you’re in a relationship: Terrible communication has got to be my number one pet peeve…and it’s probably why so many people piss me off! If you have plans and forget, that’s one thing, but if you deliberately ignore people because “you don’t feel like it,” then we can’t be friends anymore. I have a friend who gets invited to many things and just doesn’t respond. She figures, if she’s available that day, she’ll come, if she can’t, whatever. I’m sorry honey, but with that attitude, I can’t invite you to a big event… like my wedding. I understand if it’s just a bonfire where you don’t really need to RSVP, but if you NEVER respond to ANY event and you still won’t respond when people personally text you and ask, “hey, you comin?” Inappropriate. People have actually stopped inviting her to things because of her attitude. Be polite and at least give someone some sort of a response. Even if you don’t know right then, say it. Don’t make people assume! In the working world, shit like that doesn’t fly, and it shouldn’t in real life either.

-Worrying is interest paid on something that hasn’t happened: My dad literally says this to me all the time, but I don’t listen because it’s a part of my personality to freak out over just about everything. This is the part of me that I can’t stand. I work at a radio station part-time, and if you’ve ever worked in broadcast media, you know that those guys and gals are some of the calmest people on the planet. They have to be! There are hundreds of factors that can make everything NOT go as planned, and you have to have a plan B while being calm about it. You just need to take things one week at a time, one day at a time, and then one moment at a time. And just remember, if there is a lack of preparation on someone else’s behalf, then there should not be any case of urgency on yours. Try your best to live in the moment, sniff out danger, but it is OK to let some things fall by the wayside.

What about you? Are you a worrier? How do you deal with your worries?

Granny Smith – over and out

Mom..Dad..I’m Home!

After college, I did what 45% of college graduates do and moved back home with my parents.  Now, did I really NEED to move back home? No. But I did because they were more than willing to take me in, and, like millions of other college graduates, I have to pay back my student loans.

Moving back home has been an easier transition than I expected. When I was in college and would come home for a weekend or the holidays, my parents always wanted to know where I was, they bombarded me with questions, and felt the need to cling on to me every moment. I felt like I couldn’t get away from them…and of course, when I would leave to go back to school, my dad would shed a few tears.

But, now that I have a full-time job, I only see them for about four hours a day..and I guess that’s enough for the both of us. Moving back, I thought that my parents would purpose chores, curfews, etc., but they’ve actually backed away from those items. I certainly don’t feel like a guest in my own home, but I do feel like they’ve realized that I’m an adult with a grown up job who’s just trying to make it week-by-week.

However, I realize that my situation isn’t exactly the norm, and that many new college graduates, and even grown adults, struggle when they choose move back in with their parents. So, below, I’ve compiled a list that I’ve received from the lovely internet, with a few tips that should help you survive when you move back in with your parents.

1. Set reasonable expectations. True, you may have been able to come and go as you please, leave your room a disaster, and have a new guest over every night before, but this arrangement may not work for your folks. Set some reasonable expectations — for everyone involved — before you even step through the door.

2. Set some ground rules. Alright, you may have to have a curfew so your poor mother doesn’t think something terrible has happened to you if you’re not home by 4:00 in the morning — but your mom also needs to understand that she can’t just barge in to your room without any notice. Set some ground rules as soon as possible to make sure everyone is clear on how things will work.

3. Expect a combination of a roommate relationship and a parent/kid relationship. Yes, you’ve had roommates for the past several years, and you may view your parents similar to them. Your parents, however, will always view you as their child. Do your best to keep this in mind as you figure out how things will work once you move back in. Sure, it seems ridiculous for a roommate to want to know where you’re going every night. But your parents probably have a legitimate right to ask.

4. Set a time frame for how long you’re planning on living there. Do you just need someplace to crash between when you graduate from college and when you start graduate school in the fall? Or do you need somewhere to live until you can save enough money on your own to get your own place? Talk about how long you plan on staying — 3 months, 6 months, 1 year — and then check back in with your parents once that time frame is up.

5. Discuss money, no matter how awkward. No one really likes to talk about money. But addressing the topic with your parents — how much you’ll pay in rent, for food, to get back on their health insurance plan, or if the car you’ve been borrowing needs more gas — will help prevent a ton of problems later.

6. Have your own support networks ready to go. After living on your own, living with your parents can become very isolating. Do your best to have systems in place that provide you with an outlet and support network that is separate from your parents’.

7. Thing creatively about how the relationship is give and take — both ways. Yes, your parents are letting you stay at their place, and yes, you may pay rent to do so. But are there other ways you can help, especially if money is tight for everyone? Can you help around the house — with yard work, fix-it projects, or technical support for the computers they can never get to work right — in ways that will make your living relationship much more symbiotic?

8. Remember that the person who moves back in with your parents is not the same person who left. Your parents may have a very specific — and outdated — idea of “who” is moving back in with them. Take a deep breath and do your best to remind them that, while you left the house as an 18-year-old college freshman, you are now returning as a 22-year-old, college-educated adult.

9. Remember that time at your folks’ is still an opportunity to build your own life — not put it on pause. Just because you are at your parents’, waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

10. Enjoy yourself! This may seem completely unthinkable if moving back in with your folks was the last thing you wanted to do. However, living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally learn your mom’s secret fried chicken recipe and your dad’s amazing way with woodworking tools. Live it up and take in as much as you can.

Granny Smith – over and out

College Lies and Other Truths

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before in other blog posts…I’m new to this whole “being an adult” thing. And as I come across my four month anniversary in the working world…I’ve started to think about what I wish I would’ve know before entering the workforce. Now, there are many things. But, the number one thing that I wish I would’ve know is that there’s a very big difference between a “job” and a “career.” See below…

College lies to you, and internships lie to you. The real world isn’t anything like either one of them. When I was in college, I was told that maybe classes wouldn’t teach me about the real world, but that’s what internships were for. WRONG AGAIN! I had four internships while I was in college, and not one of them adequately prepared me for the shit storm called, “real life.” And let’s face it. When you’re an intern, companies don’t trust you. And that’s fair! You’re not an actual employee; you’re a temp; you’ll be gone within months. So, what do they do? They give all the “shit work” that they don’t have time to do on a regular basis.

When I had my internships, I thought I received extreme value from them. The companies that I worked for really let me “take the wheel” and provided great mentorship. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re an intern, you don’t have that “weight of the world on your shoulders” feeling like you do when you’re out in the workforce. As an intern, you step in for a bit, arrive early, do whatever they ask you to, and after a few months, you leave. So, if a problem comes up that you feel can’t be solved, you take it to your internship supervisor, and they deal with it.

And, of course, that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, the main reason your boss hired you is because they have a problem that they can’t fix, and they want YOU to solve it. So, if you’re constantly going to your boss saying “I don’t know…” they may let you go.

And that’s the unfortunate thing about internships, college students are never truly on the other side of the table. When I was at my internships, I remember thinking, Yeesh! I wouldn’t want my boss’s job. All I would ever do is worry.” I never actually experienced the kind of stress that any of them had to deal with on a regular basis.

I think that another part of the reason I never fully understood what it was like to have a “real job” before I actually got one, was because of the word, “job.”

In a lot of the career courses that you take in college, and even in regular courses, when you talk about the “job” that you’ll have after you graduate, that’s what it’s always referenced as, “a job.”  When I went to school, it was rarely referred to as a “career.” And when you hear the word “job,” what do you think of? For me, I thought: you work from 9-5, go home, eat dinner, exercise, watch some TV, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. And then the weekend would come, and you get to spend it however you wanted. You’re freer than a bird.

WRONG AGAIN! What they don’t tell you in college is that the definition that I just described is the definition of a “job.” And a job is probably a place that you won’t stay at for awhile. An example of a job is working as a cashier at a department store. When you graduate from college and start working at a “bachelor’s degree level”…you don’t have a job, you have a career. In a career, you wake up early, you arrive an hour before you’re supposed to, you work through lunch, you leave an hour after you should have, you take your work home with you, and on weekends, you’re checking your work email and working on work related projects..BIG DIFFERENCE.

When you have a career, you need to be devoted to the company that you’re working for. Kind of like when you’re in a relationship. You can’t just be in a relationship from 9-5, Monday-Friday. You’re in that relationship 24/7, 365. And this is for every higher level position that you have after college, even if you start out as an entry-level individual. You’re going to need to be there for your company like you would for your significant other.

So, after all this negative talk, what’s my advice for someone approaching their college graduation and looking for their first position?

DO NOT settle! Just don’t! Before I graduated, I was applying for anything and everything under the sun. I wanted to start working right after I finished school because I wanted money and at least some form of experience. WRONG! Don’t just take any job off of the street. So you’re unemployed for awhile, or you have to resort to picking up some hours at a department store. Take some time to really look through positions and make sure that you are going after what YOU WANT.

Take me for example. Now, I like my position, and I’m getting used to it more and more every day, but do I wish that I had calmed down after graduation and taken more time to look at other opportunities? I’ll admit it, yes. When I was interviewing for my current position, I had my final interview with my current supervisor and the head of HR. My supervisor made me feel like an idiot during the interview. Now, she was being harsh because she was testing me to make sure that I would be able to stand working in their type of environment, and under pressure; which is understandable. But after the interview was over, I ran to my car and balled like a baby. I felt like I just been slapped across the face and screamed at. And when they called me a week later and offered me the position, I was in shock. But, I accepted it anyway because all I saw were the dollar signs attached to the job description. I didn’t know what the company culture was like, and I didn’t know my benefits. All I knew was who my supervisor was going to be, a rough idea of what my duties were, and how much I was going to be making.

Looking back, I feel like a complete idiot, and since then there have been other opportunities that have popped up that I almost wish I could take advantage of. Although, on the brighter side, I am learning a whole lot, and the people that I work with are too good to be true! 

And, there are going to be ups and downs in every position. But before you accept an offer, ask about the company culture, even ask them to take you on a tour of the facilities and meet people that you’re directly going to be working with. Ask what a typical day looks like for someone in the position that you’re applying for, and ask the company what a successful candidate would look like and bring to the table. ASK TONS OF QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid of asking those questions. Because if it’s a good fit, you’ll wake up every morning satisfied and your “work” won’t feel so labor intensive.

So, to my college grads, happy job hunting!

Granny Smith- over and out