Moving Out; Moving On

For the past two years, I’ve slept in my room at my childhood home, with my parents and sibling only a few feet away. We were a family again, a team.

Recently, I joined a new team. I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend of nearly seven years. It’s strange because the last time we lived in the same zip code was eight years ago. We’ve gone from living most of our time together apart to sharing the same space and belongings.

My parents helped us move in, and we got most of our items in order fairly quickly. But that first night is when it hit me; just like the day they dropped me off at college. I was almost as sad as they were. Even though I knew I would see them that upcoming weekend, it felt strange not living with them.

And on that first night in our new place, I started shedding a few tears. His head was on my chest, and I quickly wiped them away. But, as the evening wore on, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my family was doing, and how, at this moment, I should be with them. So, more tears started falling, until I eventually couldn’t take it and ran into the bathroom, slammed the door, and sobbed.

My boyfriend, Matt, then opened the door and took a seat on the floor next to me. He tried to wipe away the tears and get me to confess what had made ounces of water stream down my face. I just can’t tell him, I thought, it’s so stupid. I miss my family? Seriously!? We’d been waiting for ages to be able to live together, and now that we’ve finally gotten the chance to, I miss my old living situation?

Instead of asking more questions, he took me into his chest and cradled me like a child. He told me jokes, and I looked up at his face and laughed at each one.

More than two months have gone by, and I’m happy to report that my first night in the apartment was the only night I thought about my family and cried. Thank goodness that didn’t stay consistent, and, neither has other aspects of our relationship.

We argue now more than we ever have in the past. I can’t stand it when clothes and other belongings are left lying around in the open, or when things like toothpaste and other bottles aren’t put back in their original cabinets, yet, these situations occur all the time. We go back-and-forth about what to do for dinner, what’s happening this weekend, upcoming vacations, friends, when we should see our families again; everything is a one, big discussion. Decisions used to be easy for us; maybe it was because we had a while to plan it out before we saw one another.

Sometimes, we come home and go our separate ways. This part is still weird for me because prior to living together, every moment we got to spend around each other was sacred. Now, we’ve become so used to seeing each other all the time that it’s as if we think, eh, we’ll hang out later. And, maybe because it’s summer, we seem to have our own schedules and activities on the weekends. Recently, I booked a dinner cruise for the two of us, just so that we could get the chance to reconnect. The cruise lasted two hours, but it felt like we barely got a, “how you doin?’” in there.

If I’m making it sound like everything has just been awful, it hasn’t! I feel more connected to Matt than I have in the last seven years. I like that we can start making bigger decisions together about bills, home décor, how we spend our time, and more. I also love the fact that I get to sleep next to him every night, even though we’re both bed hogs. And, yes, we can have sex every day if we feel like it! Our neighbor upstairs may not like it, but we can do it if we want!!

More than anything, I just love the fact that he’s here, and that I can feel his presence…even if we’re not in the same room together…like right now. Currently, he’s just a shout away, instead of a phone call and 45 minutes…ah, priceless.

Granny Smith – over and out

Advertisements

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

Luck to be a Lady

I open my eyes and I’m greeted with a stabbing pain. My head is throbbing, and I feel like someone is sitting on my belly button. I think my pelvis was shattered. They said I lost a lot of blood, but they’re doing what they can to make me comfortable: heating pads, chocolate, soft pillows. I’m an emotional wreck. Everything seems to be triggering some form of anger, sadness, and confused complication in my body. They tell me that this too shall pass…

Unfortunately, being a woman is not a phase, and I’ve struggled with it my entire life; the monthly gift (as described in the example above), weight gain, societal pressure, family pressure, unworthy pressure that I’ve put on myself, all of it. Today is International Women’s Day, and I can’t think of a better day to talk about what it’s like being one.

When you’re a girl, you see images of Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel, and you think to yourself, I want to be them, I want their life. I want to look like them, have their problems, and their happy endings. I remember being really little and standing on my bed, looking at the moon and dreaming of a life like Cinderella’s (the ending of course). I even dug around in my mother’s beauty drawer for a thick, black hair tie, just like the one Cinderella had, so that I could pull my hair back, just like she did in the movie.

As I grew, I wore dresses, painted my nails, applied makeup; I had a field day trying to look like a lady. But, still, when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a girl with pale skin, nasty zits, glasses, and frizzy hair who was gaining weight by the minute. Boys NEVER looked at me…especially when I was going through my ugly phase…which was from 2nd grade to about my sophomore year of high school. I noticed all the girls in classes around me finding guys in middle school, and I was looked at as an ugly freak. I thought, how can I change?

As time went on, like any other woman, I saw images of Hollywood celebrities, their hair, makeup, weight, and tried to imitate them. I bought their clothes, went and got my hair done, researched how to tone my muscles while sitting at my desk, and the best brands of makeup for my skin. Still, I never looked like those women in Hollywood. Hell, there are celebrity women in their 50s that look better and are healthier than I will ever be!

And, not only did I feel pressure in regards to my looks, but sex. As a woman, you’re expected to be this sweet and innocent girl in public, but once you lock your bedroom door, men want you to turn into this wild animal! I remember the first few times I had sex, I didn’t know what to do with my hands, what to say, anything. I thought that I was supposed to sit back and let him take control of my body. It’s his for the taking; right?

Looks, the bedroom, and even the work force seem to control society’s perception of women. I remember when I entered my first job and realized that I wasn’t making as much as the man (who was doing the same work and at the same level of experience) sitting next to me because I had a vagina. Really? But, I suppose women are an awful investment. If they’re not engaged to be married when they start working for your company, they probably will be in no time. So, if they get married and their husband wants to move away because of a promotion, poof, they’re gone. Then, if he wants to have children, of course, someone might have to stay home. But, how can he stay home? He just got that promotion? He’s top dog! And, companies hate maternity leave. You might as well ask to go part-time, or just save the company some time and never come back. Why invest in a woman, they’ll just leave! Ugh…

But, when you think about it, I don’t know if I’d want to be a man either. Society tells them that they can’t cry or show emotion when they feel it. They can’t be the runt of any sports team, otherwise they’ll get picked on. They have to be tall, have six pack abs, and watch ESPN. They have to make others feel like they’ve earned the penis God’s given them. And, if they want a female partner, they better make sure they’re able to provide. They’re the one who’s going to have to work long hours, make connections, and do everything in their power to make sure that at the end of the day he still has gas left in the tank to have sex with his wife. And, what about that wife? Is she pretty? Does she do meaningful work? How many women did he have sex with before he married her? How much action does he receive on a regular basis now that he’s married? It’s all important. It all counts toward their “manhood points.”

I don’t know if I’d want that specific pressure that comes with being a man. I couldn’t tell you what’s worse. But, what I can tell you, is that pressure to be anything other than who you truly are is awful. If you’re a woman, but like being a “tom boy,” who gives a shit? If you’re a man, but enjoy The Notebook, I’m not going to judge you. Shouldn’t the message we spread to one another be, “Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You,” Instead of, “be a man,” or “act like a lady”…?

Granny Smith – over and out

Losing My Religion

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

The Perfect Company Does Exist

Because I’ve worked for three different companies within the last year, I’ve really started thinking about what my likes and dislikes are in the workplace. I tend to ask myself, what would I do if I could have things my way? What would I do if I ran my own company or was in charge of a large department? I definitely have a few “must haves” and “must not haves.” Below are my top five. What are yours?

  1. Seriously, come in when you want: Some people prefer to start work early in the morning so they can get it done and over with. Other people function better later in the morning and would rather work into the evening (like myself). Saying that everyone has to show up at the exact same time is ludicrous. If I had it my way, I would offer a window. You can come in anytime between 7am-10am. I wish I could say that people could start work at 2pm, but, sometimes a little thing called “meetings” have to happen, or, you really need to get a hold of someone because there’s a crisis. What if there’s an emergency and they don’t come in until 2 and it’s 8am? What are you going to do? They could still be sleeping for all you know.
  2. Along with that, leave when you need to: Granted, I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone only decided to work three hours a day every day, but don’t feel that you have to stay the full eight hours if you’ve finished everything that you can possibly finish for the day in seven and a half. And, if you need to take time for a doctor’s appointment, fine, c ya! Don’t worry about “making up the two hours you’ve missed” unless you are up against a deadline and feel you have to. The bottom line is, if you’ve finished your work to the best of your ability, it’s done correctly, and you can turn it in on time with full confidence, go home!The second part of this deals with vacation and sick time. I don’t feel right telling someone that they are only allowed to have 10 days off per year. What happens if you take a big trip across the country in March and use up seven of your 10 vacation days and then a close relative passes away in May? You might need more time to cope. But, you only have three vacation days left. You better hurry up and dry those tears?!…I don’t think so. Same goes for sick days. Is it my place to tell someone that they can only be sick for 3 days out of the year? How awful. When it comes to this policy, you would obviously have to state how important it is not to abuse it. But, giving generously can have great rewards.
  3. No office gossip…ever: You’re here to work. One of my biggest pet peeves in the workplace is when coworkers openly talk about how much the dislike one of their other coworkers. You graduated high school years ago, stop acting like you’re still there. It’s petty, it’s annoying, and I’m starting to wonder what you say about me when I’m not around. Let’s get the job done so that we can go be with our friends and family…and THEN bitch.
  4. Sure, wear jeans. Just don’t look like you’re going to a rugby match: One of the last places I worked at had a very relaxed dress code. I would see plenty of women come to work in flip flops, leggings, and a sweatshirt. No, I don’t think that wearing jeans and a sweatshirt is offensive, go ahead! I don’t mind flip flops in the summer either. But, for the love of God, leggings are NOT pants! This isn’t your home; you’re still in an office. Same goes for tank tops or anything that shows cleavage. Guys, don’t wear your pants below your butt so that everyone can see your boxers. You don’t have to dress up for me, just cover yourself…and leave the tights and form fitting clothes at home.
  5. Be yourself: Sure, it’s hard to say exactly what you feel or be the truest form of yourself at the office. After all, there’s a little thing called “Human Resources” that can crack the whip if you get out of line. As long as you’re not sexually harassing anyone, seriously offending someone, or physically hurting them, calm down! Choose people to work for your organization who are most like you. You’re a lot more likely to have fun that way. Don’t be afraid to laugh, crack jokes, be sarcastic, etc. I think a lot of what holds people back is fear. They’re afraid to talk to their boss because they don’t want to offend, and they’re afraid to bring their idea up in a group discussion because they don’t want to look dumb. The list of fears could go on and on. I want to take the relaxed approach. I know what it’s like to be the “office idiot,” and I know what it’s like to have no one in the office understand your humor. So, hire those that do.

Granny Smith – over and out

I’m Poor

“I’m poor” is a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately from friends, especially when I’m trying to plan a nice evening for us outside of our apartments. Every time I hear that phrase, I cringe and hold my tongue. For many individuals my age, it can seem like we have no money. Student loans, renting our first apartment, car insurance, renters insurance, pets, cell phone bills; it all escalates quickly. But, are we really “poor?”

Different images can pop into our minds when we think of the word “poor” or “rich.” When I think of “poor,” I think about a homeless person sitting on the side of the street, or a single parent who only works a few hours a week and is about to lose his or her house…and possibly their child(ren). When I think of poor, I don’t think of people in their early-mid twenties. Sure, we don’t have a lot, and we haven’t even started thinking about saving for retirement, but most of us have an amazing support system, like friends or family, or other financial resources (financial counselors) that can help push us in the right direction.

When I think of poor, I think of individuals whose family members left them to fend for themselves, put them into foster care, went to jail, died without saving a single penny to give to their children (who are already homeless with nothing), the list goes on. When I think of rich, sure I think about individuals that have mansions in California, nice cars, wear Gucci, etc. However, I also think of people who have enough money to pay for their own car, provide food for themselves (and possibly another family member), have a pet or multiple, go out to eat with friends, but most importantly, I think about myself. When I thought I had nothing, whenever I’ve felt like the world is falling apart around me, I have my family, friends, significant other, and my dog. I have a plan B; I have a backup system. This helps me know that even if I don’t have much in the end, everything will work out.

I used to be the type of person who took on everything, who thought she could figure it out on her own, who was afraid to ask for help, and who was used to having other adults “taking care of” it for her when it was physically apparent that she was struggling. Now, I’ve learned to say “no.” I’ve learned to ask for help directly and from multiple resources. I ask for help because I am rich. I am rich because I have a strong support system. I have a strong support system because I’m attracted to people who know what it means to care. I am not poor. I am the opposite of poor.

Granny Smith – over and out

Can We Change The Subject?

Recently, I went over to my boyfriend’s parent’s house for dinner. I don’t normally spend time with them, but every now and again I’m subject to a visit and an awkward conversation. During the dinner, they asked me a simple question, “how’s work?” My heart froze. I didn’t want to answer. I would’ve given almost anything to talk about something else. Wouldn’t you rather ask me about my trip to the gynecologist? Can we talk about the last time your son and I engaged in sexual intercourse? Anything was better than talking about my job.

And, that’s when it hit me. Even though I’ve known it all along, when you’re an adult and enter the workforce, you’re immediately defined by your job. What do you do? That’s the first question we ask a stranger when we’re at a social gathering, right? If you’re a doctor, you must love helping people and have a high level of intelligence. If you’re a bartender, you must be an alcoholic or have breast implants.

For my job, I’m a board operator for a radio station. I barely work 15 hours a week, and I do the same thing just about every day. Nine times out of ten, I get paid to read a book and make sure nothing goes wrong. This position is really destined for someone in high school or college. Someone who wants to learn the ropes, get their experience, and get out. I lost my job almost a full year ago, and this plus an internship and a few volunteer opportunities has been all I can find. And, I know what you’re thinking. Why has it taken her a whole year? Why doesn’t she take the first thing she can find? Oh, so she’s living at home. Why is she mooching off her parents? Doesn’t she feel terrible? What could she possibly be doing all day? Why doesn’t she try harder?

I know some of you are asking these questions because these are the questions my own friends and family members have asked. Every time I see them, they ask me how the job hunt is going. And every time, I try to give them short, yet informed, answers. I don’t want them to keep asking me questions. Because, no matter how sympathetic their tone of voice is, their eyes tell me a different story. And please, it’s embarrassing enough that I was making $48,000 a year, full-time, full benefits, right out of school, and now I’m barely part-time, making $8 an hour, no benefits, nothing.

I know that this is not an uncommon situation. With the crazy economy the last couple of years, many people lost their jobs, took a job they didn’t like just to pay rent, got a pay cut, etc. But, the last thing we all want is to have the people that we love most in our life think of us unfavorably. There have been times when I’ve asked myself, do my boyfriend’s parents think little of me? Do they think I’m using their son? Do they think I’m good enough for their son? Do my aunts and uncles think I’m a spoiled brat? Are they embarrassed for me?

So, this holiday season, let’s cut everyone some slack. At the gatherings you have with your family and friends, how about we ask the question, “what’s new in your life” or “how are you?” instead of, “how’s the job/job search/the unemployed life?”

Granny Smith – over and out