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

Who Rescued Who?

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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

A Childless Mother’s Day

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For those of you who live under a rock, yesterday was the famously Hallmarked, “Mother’s Day.” I spent a wonderful day with my mom and the rest of my family doing yard work, watching television, and eating ice cream! I can only hope that you all had just as wonderful of a day with your mothers and/or children. So, because yesterday was all about celebrating moms, I thought I would compose a post about how out of this world I felt not being a mother on Mother’s Day…or, just every day in general.

Yes, it’s controversial, and yes it’s a topic that’s been brought up before. If you’ve read TIME magazine within the last couple of months, you know that they ran a report regarding childless couples. In the report, TIME states that, “the birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From 2007 to 2011, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.”

If you’re anything like me, you proudly raised your hand, and maybe even shouted, “That’s me!”when you heard the “1 in 5 American women statistic.” It’s no secret among my peers and family; I can’t stand kids. I’ve known since I was 12 years old that I didn’t want babies, and that I would do ANYTHING to make absolutely sure that a child never formed inside of me.  So, you might be asking, “Why 12? Why not before then?” In all honesty, I was on the fence. I knew deep down that I didn’t want children, but I had heard from older family members, the media, and my Barbie dolls how great having a family of your own was. And, I thought that maybe having one or two kids wouldn’t be so rough. I mean, it’s the American dream, right? Graduate from college, get a job, get married, start a family. I can’t tell you how many individuals I know from high school and college who are in their early 20’s and doing just that. In fact, I found out today that one of my married friends is pregnant, and another is engaged.

At this point, I feel the need to shrug my shoulders and sigh. Sometimes, I feel a bit awkward because I don’t want what everyone else seems to.  At the same time, many tell me that “I’ll change my mind.” But, I’ve felt this way for more than 10 years,  and every time I’m around a child (or anyone who is more than 5 years younger than me) I cringe and become very uncomfortable after about 15 minutes. Sure, babies and young kids are cute, but after a few moments, I’m more than ready to hand them back to their mother.

Also, let’s just say I can barely take care of myself. Do you really think I’d do well adding a helpless individual to the mix? No. I also have a short temper for ignorant idiots, I mean…kids. It’s not that I think all children are stupid, it’s just that I tend to get frustrated when kids can’t get on my level. We can’t have a conversation about the election? You don’t know the name of our Governor? Fine; get out of my face; I can’t handle you right now.

Needless to say, I’ve always wondered if a lot of us TRULY want to have children, or if we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that our lives take this natural progression and having children is all a part of it. 

When I was a senior in college, one of my favorite professors told us a quick story about when she was a new mom that, I think, a lot of new mothers can relate to. She stated that after her oldest was born, she was so sleep deprived, frustrated, emotional, you name it! This new experience really upset her because she obviously and quickly began to realize that motherhood was less than a bed of roses. One day, she went to her mother’s house said, “Mom! Why didn’t you tell me motherhood was going to be this difficult and crazy?” To which her mother replied, “No one told me. It’s something every woman needs to figure out for themselves.”

What a slap to the face! Can we pause for a moment while I get my tubes tied?

But, in all seriousness, at the end of the day, it’s our mother’s that brought us into this world and have helped us grow, learn, and become who we are. I know that I’d be a complete mess without mine! Almost every woman has the physical capabilities to become a mother, but not every woman can be a mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

Granny Smith – over and out

Missed Connections

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You’re probably thinking this post is going to be about a funny ad on Craigslist or a lovely dovey shoulda coulda woulda story, right? Wrong! Gotcha! This post is actually about losing the Internet connection in your house.

Long story short, last week there was a crazy storm in our neighborhood and my parent’s lost the Internet connection in their house. And, since my parents don’t believe in cable or smart phones, and don’t have AT&T or Charter, they’re left to rely on a dinky ma and pa computer place to supply their Internet. So, the next morning when we called the company to ask them what was wrong, we found out that lightening had apparently struck a service tower, and it was too windy outside for someone to safely climb up the tower to fix the problem….grrrreat.

Now, me being me, I’d like to think that the Internet doesn’t rule my life…at least not to the extent that it does some of my other friends. In fact, I’m really not a big technology person in general. Sure, I use the computer to surf the Internet and I work a bit with Word and Excel, but as a millennial, most people my age think there’s something seriously wrong with me because I don’t have a smart phone and I’ve never touched an Ipod. Do I resent technology? Not really, but I’ve seen what it can do to a person!

But, the Internet at my parent’s house was out for 3 WHOLE DAYS!! I had to resort to taking my laptop to the library to get work done, and when I came home, I tried to leave and find other activities to fill my time as soon as possible. But, even when I wasn’t in the house, I found myself thinking about how many new emails I had, or who had new updates for me on Facebook. I think that because I’m a job seeker, I’ve become more attached to my email and personal websites. I don’t want to miss a posting, and I certainly want to respond to a potential employer sooner rather than later!

Times like this make me think back to the 90s, before the Internet, instant messaging, and so on was really a big deal. It’s hard to imagine what I did during the day to fill my free time, but I think I need to start writing some ideas down in case a situation like this happens again!… Ok, even reading that last sentence made me cringe. Really? The Internet has become so important to me that I need to make a list of things to resort to in case I lose my connection? Ugh!

So, I guess one of my resolutions this year is to make certain that I pull myself away from the Internet more often every day, and not become so flustered if someone tries to get a hold of me and they can’t because I’ve lost my connection. I think that at this day and age, it’s important for all of us to leave the Internet alone when we have some free time and try to resort back to what we did pre-Internet days in order to help us all stay active. I mean, you can be connected without an Internet connection, right? It’s called talking to people!! Most of the best days that I’ve ever had in my life happened in the 90s and when I’ve been out and about doing things with people. Sure, Internet time can be a great way to wind down, but do we really need to be buried in it during our free time?

What’s your stance? How has the Internet changed your life? Am I crazy for wanting to disconnect more often?

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

If You Were Going to Die at Midnight…

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In light of the last post I wrote, “Wanna Play 20 Questions?…Sort of…” I’ve decided that I’m going to pick a few of those questions and answer them in future blog posts..like this one!

Today’s question, “If you were going to die at midnight, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m.?”

When thinking about this question, a million other ones came to mind…such as, “how far in advance do I know that I’m going to die at midnight on such and such a day?..24 hours? A week?” Because, if I knew far enough in advance, I’d be able to call people up, tell them how much they meant to me, and then plan the sickest farewell party EVER!!..But, what if I found out at 11 p.m. day of? You can’t exactly rally the troops together, go through your bucket list, or make a lot of phone calls.

But, if I had to decide what I would be doing at 11:45 p.m., regardless of how far in advance I knew I was going to be gone at midnight, I’d have to say that I’d keep it simple. I would want to be in my bedroom in my parent’s house. And, I’d want to be lying on my bed, because I LOVE my bed! Seated around me would be my parents, brother, and dog. In bed with me, holding on to me, would be my boyfriend. We would all be talking, reminiscing, and they would hopefully reassure me that the life I lived was a good one, and that everything was going to be ok.

Now, to be honest, I had to debate about this a bit. On one hand, I would want them there with me. But, on the other, would I really want them to see me die? Would I really want my boyfriend to be holding on to me as I took my last breath? That kind of stuff changes your LIFE. I’ve known many individuals that have seen a loved one on their last leg, and it’s not pretty. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be alone, and I wouldn’t want them to leave the room shortly beforehand knowing what I was going through on the other side of the door.

But, I guess what I’m really getting at is, there’s nothing sweeter in this world than family; and I have the absolute best. At the end of your life, it’s not going to be your possessions that you cling to, it’s going to be the people you love most. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of work, life, balance. Yes, you have to fill your time here with something. But, if that something constantly causes you to miss out on time with the one’s you love most…is it really worth it? Because, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do, and you’ll probably make a checklist, as in, “did I get to do this? Yes or No” and then move on. You’ll also probably wish that you were more vocal with your opinions, spent more time with family and friends, and that you didn’t work so hard.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve read different studies on what individuals greatest regrets were while they were on their deathbed. And the above are all of those are things the wished they could’ve clung on to while they were living. So, why wait? Apply what you want to do today, because as far as I’m concerned, there are no do-overs.

So, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m. if you knew you were going to die at midnight?

Granny Smith – over and out