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

Love Runs Out

My parents…lord love them. They’ve been married for almost 26 years and have been through a lot of shit. A disabled son, a crazy daughter, two houses, multiple cars, family members passing, you name it. My parents have always had a nurturing relationship, but lately, something has changed, and I don’t know what to think of it.

Within the last nine months, I’ve witnessed more fighting and just an overall lack of displeasure with one another. Almost every day they’ll get into a tiff, and almost every day, both of them come to me with their side of the story and indirectly ask me to play mediator. Part of me wishes I could shout, “take care of this shit yourselves; you’re adults!” But, I want to be there for the both of them because I know they have no other outside party to turn to but me.

Most nights, I hear my mother complaining on the phone about my “crabby father” to her sister or her mother. And, most days, you can find them mocking one another behind the other’s back. Usually, in situations like this, I don’t take sides. But, something tells me I have to go with my father. My mother tends to be fairly harsh on my father, getting irritated about his hearing, complaining to his face that’s he’s too angry or too particular, that he takes too long at the store, and the list could go on and on.

At dinner, she’s very short with him, but when he leaves for work in the evening, she always gives him a kiss. Unfortunately, that kiss in the evening is my only reminder that they still love each other. In times past, you could always find my mom laughing at whatever my dad said, curling up to him on the couch, you name it. Now, she prefers to not spend any time with him. Even on the weekends, the only time my dad is not providing for our family, she doesn’t seem to want to be around him.

My father, one of the silliest human beings on the planet, is one of my most favorite people. One day, many years ago when all of my mother’s siblings seemed to be getting divorced, he told me in all seriousness, “divorce is absolutely, positively out of the question. Unless your significant other is beating you, cheating on you, living a double life, or damaging you in any other physical or emotional way, put on your adult pants and work it out. I know that he would never leave my mother. He’s even told me over the past few months, when times have been rough, that no other woman “could ever love an asshole like him.”

Divorce is such a complicated, messy thing. I don’t know what I would do if my parents split up. I know there are plenty of other individuals out there who have experienced divorce themselves, or have had parents or close friends go through it. So, what do you think? Are my parents headed for splitsville?

Granny Smith – over and out

A Childless Mother’s Day

Image

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

I Do?

This past week at work, my boyfriend of 5 years was having a conversation with one of his coworkers about me and our relationship history. When his coworker found out how many years we’ve been together, she immediately asked him if he had plans to “put a ring on it” anytime soon. Thus, prompting me to dedicate this blog post to the topic of marriage.

Let’s back up for a moment to the day I graduated from college. After a beautiful day and a successful ceremony, I did what I usually do every night, and turned to facebook to wind down. Within that evening, and the days ahead, my newsfeed was flooded with relationship status updates. Were people breaking up? Of course not, my counterparts were getting engaged.

Now, because I can be a bit of a girly-girl, my initial reaction when I saw these changes were, awww, good for them! But, as I quickly looked over a few pictures of the happy couple, my thoughts turned to, wait! Stop! You’re making the biggest mistake of your life! And of course, we all know the statistics. They say that 50% of marriages nowadays end in divorce, and marriages are predicted to be even less successful when the two individuals getting married are younger than 27. So, why this sudden rush to the alter?

One of my biggest theories is societal and peer pressure. Think about it, when you’ve heard that someone has been together for more than three years, what’s your typical reaction? I know that I’m guilty of thinking, oh, they’re probably going to get married soon. And I’m sure that that’s the case for many other individuals. Another case in point, what if the individuals have been together for 8 years and STILL aren’t engaged; then what? I think many people’s first reaction is, jeeze, what are they waiting for?

But of course, there’s always the flip side. When you see those wedding pictures of individuals in their early 20’s on facebook, a lot of people’s first reaction is, what’s the need? Is she pregnant? They’re too young, they don’t know what they’re doing! This will end in divorce.

What I’ve come to notice, especially within the 20 something market, is that the topic of marriage releases a LOT of different emotions. For example, I bet that if I decided to change my facebook status from “in a relationship” to “engaged” tomorrow, my friends would post nothing but adoring comments like, “Congratulations!” or “Good for you,” or even, “Finally!” But, behind my back, I know they would say things like, “Why are they getting married now?” or, “Jeeze, not another engagement. Wasn’t there just three last week?” Why do I know this? Because it’s what my friends and I do too!

With 20 somethings, getting engaged is seen as more of a “trend” than an actual life milestone. It’s my personal opinion that a lot of millennials see marriage as something that you have to do if you’ve been together for a long time, or, just the “next step” after college. Personally, I don’t feel that people in their early 20s are ready for it. Yes, yes, I know that there are plenty of individuals out there who have gotten married in their early 20s, and they’re fine. But, it seems to me like there aren’t many people that fit that description anymore.

Basically, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. If you don’t, people are going to think that you’re just “afraid of commitment,” or some more religious individuals might argue, that you “enjoy living in sin.” And, if you do, there are going to be plenty of people that will think that you’re just “jumping on the bandwagon” or “making another reckless decision” because you’re young.

Personally, I don’t care if I never get married. Would it be nice? Sure. But, I don’t think that I need a wedding ring and a joint bank account to prove that I love my boyfriend. I think that showing that I love him in some way every day, sticking by his side through thick and thin, and remaining faithful is enough.

I get that the topic of marriage is completely personal, just like your religious beliefs and your politics. There are plenty of people out there who have been together for years and have never married and are completely at peace, and then there are many others who have been married for 20 plus years and wouldn’t have it any other way, and unfortunately, there are some individuals who are on their fourth marriage and crossing their fingers.

All I’m saying is, when it comes to marriage, make sure that you decide to make that commitment because it’s what YOU want, not what everyone else wants for you.

Granny Smith – over and out