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

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

We Are Getting Back Together

I heard a quote once that said, “Getting back together with your ex is like taking a shower, getting out, and putting on yesterday’s dirty underwear.” Mind you, the first time I heard this, I had recently gotten back together with my ex, and I wasn’t sure we would survive the second round. My whole life, I had heard stories of individuals getting together, falling apart, and then coming back to one another and thought, how stupid. You obviously must have left this buffoon for a good reason. Why are you rehashing old wounds? Find someone who you actually want to stick with! But, like many other times in my life, my opinion came back to bite me in the ass, and I found myself involved in a situation that I had been judging others for. I loved my ex, and we didn’t break up because one person was physically or emotionally abusive. We broke up because we both needed to find out who we were without the other person around.  I spent a lot of time as a single lady figuring out what I was capable of and what I wanted. I had a lot more time on my hands and reconnected with old friends and past hobbies. I loved it, but I also hated it. I realized that life was more exciting and challenging (in a good way) with my ex. And, I realized that I was completely selfish. I didn’t want anyone else to be able to enjoy him. I wanted him back for myself. He was/is such a giving, caring, and funny person. I wanted those moments back. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with just anyone. I wanted him. That’s when I realized that being stubborn and sticking with your old ideas isn’t always the best policy. Of course, like with anything, it depends on the situation and circumstances. However, what we had was good. I just needed to fight harder to keep it going. There have been many instances in my life where I’ve started something (ice skating, learning a foreign language, etc.) and quit half-way through because I realized the amount of time I was putting into it wasn’t worth the investment. However, he is worth the investment. And, bringing him back was one of the hardest things I’ve ever worked for. It took me 18 months to get him to realize that we could do this. We could be together and make it work. And, that time invested was certainly well spent. So, next time you’re offered a second chance…think about it first, of course…but, more importantly, think about all of the positive things that could happen if you said “yes!” Granny Smith – over and out

Taking the ‘Thanks’ out of Thanksgiving

So, now that Thanksgiving has been out of our minds for two weeks and Christmas is two weeks away, let’s take a step back, shall we? Black Friday. It’s a topic that many of us think about every year during the Thanksgiving season, and it always sparks a great debate. Around this time, I’ll see posts from my Facebook friends about how “if you camp outside for a deal on a cell phone, it’s called being a good consumer. But, if you camp outside for your rights, you’re a dirty hippy.” I also see posts that say, “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving! Share if you won’t either!” These days, I see fewer and fewer people posting about their Black Friday shopping experience and more and more people in the opposition.

Personally, I hate Black Friday. Hell, I hate the fact that stores, restaurants, gas stations, ect. are open on Sundays! We don’t give people a break anymore. Years and years ago, everything was closed on Sundays to give people at least one day to catch up on life. Now, if you’re not open for at least 12 hours a day seven days a week, consumers start to bitch and they think there is something wrong with you. “Don’t they want to make money?” “Why are they closed when their competition is open?”

Our society has become more concerned with getting the next best thing and making more money than we know what to do with rather than spending time with our family members, reading a book, playing a card game, and taking things back to a “simpler time.”

However, in some ways, it makes sense. Take it from me; I was fired from my full-time job almost a full year ago. I was making $48,000 a year. I had health insurance, too many vacation days to know what to do with, dental, vision; everything I ever wanted! Fast forward to today and I work 15 hours a week (if I’m lucky) at a job where I make $8 an hour. I have no benefits, no vacation days, no insurance, nothing. For me, finding the best deals, and saving what money I make is essential. I had hopes and dreams before I lost my job of moving out of my parent’s house, getting my own place, adopting a dog, helping my significant other pay for every day expenses. Now, I look forward to that check so that I can pay for gas and a meal at a restaurant.

So, as consumers, in an economy where things might not be looking up just yet, is Black Friday really a bad idea? Is being open on Sundays to make more business essential? Can we ever go back to just saying what we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving instead of hitting the mall? Only time will tell.

Granny Smith – over and out

Who Rescued Who?

Growing up, I always wanted to be the girl who lived on a farm, or the one whose parents fostered animals, or the girl who was born into a family who already had dogs. It’s no secret that I love animals a lot more than I love people, but I love rescue animals most of all.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time working for a local dog rescue. This rescue brings dogs from high kill shelters in the south home to the north. Working with this rescue, I’ve heard a lot of stories in regards to the backgrounds of our dogs. Unfortunately, most of them make me roll my eyes towards the human race, others make me tear up.

Before joining this rescue, I didn’t realize how terribly dogs were treated in the south. I’m not saying that all dogs in northern United States are treated fairly, but this rescue works with multiple shelters in different states in southern United States where the euthanisation rate is through the roof and a lot of individuals down there don’t even know what spaying or neutering means.

For example, one dog that was recently brought to us was very large and fluffy. The owners of this dog lived in an apartment and decided to pack up and leave one day without warning and left their dog to fend for itself in the empty space. Did I mention that this was in the middle of summer? Without air conditioning, the apartment was 90 degrees.

In another instance, members of our rescue team went down to a new shelter in the south to save a few dogs. When they got there, they found out that multiple dogs were euthanized three hours before our team’s arrival because they were “cleaning up for the weekend.”

To me, animals are not just animals; they’re family. My dog has been with us for 13 years. We got him when we went to a pumpkin patch shortly after the September 11th attacks. My dog is hands down the best dog for our family. He’s relaxed but loves to go for walks and gets along with other dogs…most of the time. Over the last 13 years, we’ve had some great moments, but our dog has taken more of a liking to my mother. However, over the last year with me being around our house more with my unemployment, I’ve developed the deepest bond with him that I’ve ever had. Nowadays, he’ll take naps on my bed, follow me around the house, get very excited when I put my tennis shoes on (signaling a walk), or put him in the car with me (signaling a ride to the dog park or Pet Smart). He’s been my constant companion and best friend, and I’m so happy that we’ve gotten to spend so much time together recently. We’ve grown very close, and as I write this, he is sound asleep on the edge of my bed.

Goodnight my angel; and sleep tight to all of the dogs without a home. Don’t worry, we’ll come pick you up soon!

Granny Smith – over and out

Text, Call, FREAK OUT, Repeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny Smith – over and out

I Want to Win!

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Are any of you contest junkies? I’m really not. But, sometimes I see a contest sponsored by a company that I really like, etc. and I feel COMPELLED to enter it, even though I’m 99.999% positive that I have absolutely no chance of winning. 

Recently, I entered a contest to win a trip to Italy with the guys from the hit MTV series, “The Buried Life.” If you’ve never seen the show, it’s completely inspirational and I highly recommend it. But, a brief overview is that there are four guys (Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave) who created a bucket list of 100 things they want to do before they die. And, every time they check something off of their bucket list, the help a stranger accomplish something that they’ve always wanted to do. The series was popular when I was in college and has since gone off the air, but the guys still continue to make dreams come true and help people.

To enter the contest, you had to write the guys a letter explaining why you should be the individual who goes with them to Italy. I’ve included a copy of my letter below. Let me know what you think!

What’s the craziest contest you’ve ever entered? Did you win?

 

Dear Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave,

By now, you’ve probably heard hundreds of thousands of reasons as to why specific individuals should go to Italy with you. And, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are probably more deserving than I am to join you on your trip.

However, this letter is supposed to serve the purpose of convincing you all as to why I should be the lucky fifth member in your group. So, let’s get back on track. I could select to tell you that “I love you all so much and have seen every episode of The Buried Life,” or that “I’m a Catholic and I need to see the Pope.” While those reasons are both true, I feel the need to tag along for a different reason, a better reason…

My whole life, I’ve been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, try new things, and basically experience life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the easy way, or the safe way, out. When I wanted to move out to California for college and study theatre, my father suggested I stay at a state school and study communications so that “I’d have an actual chance at getting a job” post graduation. There are even a number of “normal” foods out there that I’ve never tried because I don’t feel like breaking away from the PB&J I eat every day.

After graduating from a local college, I took a job at a corporate office where the work was meaningless, but I got paid a lot! I quickly learned that many Americans take jobs that they’re not truly happy with because of bills, the location, etc. And, I quickly began to reflect on my own life and realized that I had been having the same experiences over and over again because I was comfortable with routine and security.

Needless to say, after seven months on the job, I was let go because my boss didn’t believe that I was “committed” to the position. Now, I’m back at square one, looking for my next opportunity. And this time, I don’t want to hold back.  This time, I’m looking for a crazy adventure. And this time, I want to go after what I want and be a part of something that I really want to do!

Would you like to be the first step in helping me start my crazy life journey?

Granny Smith – over and out