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

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

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

Puppy Love

If you read my previous post, you know that I love dogs and work with a local rescue. Well, last week, a group of dogs from the south came up to the north with my rescue to find a better life. My family and I are fostering one of them. He’s a puppy…

The last time my family had a puppy was 13 years ago. And, needless to say, I don’t remember it being as hard/crazy as it is right now. In the time it took me to write this post, I had to reprimand him 7 times!

When our new friend came into our lives, I was excited. And, when they handed him to me and we locked eyes, my heart melted. However, there have been many trials and tribulations over the last week that have tested my patience and given me even more sympathy for new parents and puppy parents.

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about raising our foster puppy is the fact that I’m ALWAYS thinking about him and wondering how he’s doing if I’m not around. When I’m at work, I’m almost happy that I get a break, but I worry that he’s getting into trouble, or that he’s sick, choking, something horrific! My mind never stops wandering with possibilities. At the same time, if I leave him with my parents, I feel a slight sense of guilt. I feel bad that I’m off at work or anywhere else but home…where I feel like I should be 24/7.

Another thing that I’ve noticed while having a puppy around is that I can be completely disappointed in him when he shits in his cage, whines from a lack of attention, or barks like crazy, yet, I’m still so in love with him. My mind knows that he’s making bad choices, and I know that I need to discipline him for that, but I also want to give him a big kiss and scoop him up in my arms.

The third item that’s come to my attention is that I feel the need to reprioritize my days…if not my life. Having him around makes me focus on what REALLY needs to get done and what can wait until later. At first, I was spending way too much time with him and blowing off emails, job searching, and more. Now, I’ve finally figured out a schedule so that I can effectively train him, yet get my work done! I’ve noticed that over the last week I’ve spent very little time on Facebook, and generally surfing the web, and more time focusing on what really matters. If anything, our new friend makes me realize how much time I’ve been wasting in a given week!

Another major item that’s come up while the puppy has been with us is paying attention to our other dog. My dog is 13 years old, and I feel like I’ve been neglecting him this past week. Yes, I’m still feeding him, taking him outside, and giving him attention at the end of the day. But, so much of my day is spent in the same room as the puppy, for training and development purposes, that I feel like I’ve just let my dog fend for himself. I can see that he’s upset and even a bit hurt when my family and I are playing with the puppy in another room and my dog just gets to sit and watch. Unfortunately, we had to separate them because my older dog almost bit the puppy the other day…yeah, not fun.

I believe the last thing that’s really struck a chord with me is that I’m going to be so happy when the puppy finally finds his forever home, but I’m going to be crushed when he leaves. He’s bonded so well with every member of my extended family, and he’s working so hard to please everyone. Once he’s gone, I know things will be able to go back to normal, and normal will seem like a vacation, but when someone or something is a huge part of your life for any amount of time, there’s a bit of sadness that comes with letting it go.

What are your stories with raising your dogs, cats, kids? Are they anything like mine?

Granny Smith – over and out

I Do What I Want

It’s no secret that I thrive when I have a routine. I also greatly resent my adulthood transition and often find myself missing the “don’t care, this is what I want to do today” mindset that I had when I was a child. However, I’m excited to announce that I’ve found a way to travel back in time!…If only for a few moments. But, you can do it every day if you put your mind to it!

Back in July, I got a bit bored with my job seeking routine and decided to take a break. I was still hunting, just not as strongly as I had been during previous months. I started putting items first on my “to-do” list that didn’t really need to be done any sooner than the others. For example, I was taking long bike rides in the morning before checking my email. As I continued this pattern, I couldn’t help but notice how free I felt. Even though I’m accustomed to a strict schedule, I felt like I had control over my own life and my own decisions instead of the economy.

And, as they say, all good things must come to an end. After about a month, I realized that I needed to get back into the game, but, I’ve certainly found a way to incorporate my newly discovered, free spirit into my daily life…but in smaller doses.

With children, significant others, fulltime jobs, etc. it may seem like we can never give ourselves the attention to our wants that we truly deserve. My challenge to you is even if it’s just once a week or once a month, complete the item you WANT to do before moving on to your traditional TO-DO list. I’m obviously not suggesting that you select to give yourself a pedicure instead of feeding your children. This challenge could be as simple as meditating for five minutes BEFORE taking out the trash.

Try it once. Put the things you love to do back on your “to-do” list.

Granny Smith – over and out

Passion vs. Paycheck

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Dear Followers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny Smith – over and out