The Fall of Man

death

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

I’m Poor

poor

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

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

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

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

Granny Smith – over and out

A Different Kind of ‘I Miss You’

I miss you

This past week, my boyfriend Matt embarked on a journey to Hong Kong for business. I missed him A LOT, but I didn’t realize how the ‘art of missing someone’ can have many different layers.

In general, Matt and I live about 45 minutes from each other and see one another once or twice a week (depending on our schedules). When he’s not around during the week, I miss him and wonder how he’s doing and what he’s been up to. But, when he traveled to the other side of the world, I missed him in a different sense of the word.

When Matt’s 45 minutes away, we have email, text, phone calls, you name it, to help keep us connected. When he was overseas, his phone didn’t work and the only form of communication we had was with Facebook. And, seeing as how Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of our time zone, our communication consisted of shooting a message to each other every day for the other to read during their free time.

It was hard knowing that I couldn’t pick up the phone and text, “what are you up to?” and get an instant response, let alone any response. It was especially hard if I had a bad day or wanted some advice and realized I couldn’t reach out. I was lucky that he was able to use Facebook to connect. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear from him at all during the trip and was going to have to sit at home twiddling my thumbs until he made it home.

Needless to say when he came back, I felt a huge sense of relief. I felt a burden of worry lifted off of my shoulders, and I couldn’t wait to hear about his trip and wrap my arms around him. Knowing that he’s safe and home makes me feel amazing.

This instance also made me think about what family members of individuals in the army go through every year. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like waking up every morning knowing that your loved one is on the other side of the world facing potential danger and that you might not see them again. I give a lot of credit to those families and thank every member or our armed forces. I went a week without much contact with my significant other, I can’t imagine going for a year (or multiple years) and having the threat of danger weighing over the situation.

In what other ways have you missed someone?

Granny Smith – over and out

Love Runs 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

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

The Dreaded Ex

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Ah, yes, the ex. Most of us have at least one or more, and one of mine walked down the aisle last weekend. As I watched the pictures of his lovely day pop up on my Facebook page, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell did I ever see in that guy?  By the looks of the pictures, he’s gotten fatter and more obnoxious. All of this got me thinking about our relationship, and what a disaster it was!

As some of you may know, I’m writing a book about my past relationships and some specific situations I’ve been in where the outcomes were NOTHING like what I thought they were going to be. And, I would love nothing more than to share the story of myself and…(we’ll call him) John with you. Enjoy, and please comment with your own experiences!

 

Uck, John. Do I have to talk about him? Fine; here goes nothing…

 I met John in history class my freshman year of high school, and coincidently, we had three other classes together that year. I thought he was cool because he had on some dumb shirt about AC/DC and farts…I don’t remember how they were related, so I’m not even going to try and explain…Anyway, the two of us became close because I loved his charm and sense of humor and he loved my hair and how polite I was. But, not even a month had passed in the start of my new adventure called “high school” and I found out that not only did John not see me as a sex object, but he preferred my dork ass neighbor, Becky. Becky is probably one of the nicest girls you will ever meet, but she’s really into stupid shit like reality TV, snorting while she laughs, and wearing crocs and a tube top…not real cute.

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long, and after they broke up, I was looking forward to pouncing on that man meat! And, while John was taking his sweet time healing his broken heart, I was making sure that I was constantly on his mind, or at least in his line of vision. Like I said, we had half of our classes together that year, and our lockers were fairly close, so we were almost always in the same vicinity. Many months were spent comprised of constant flirtation and “buddy buddy” jokes. This period in my life was probably nauseating for some, and I get that, but what else was I supposed to do? I wanted him, so I had to play along!

On one particular day, I went to school and I was SURE that he was going to ask me out. We had been flirting for a long time and friends for what felt like eternity! As I was gathering my books for the beginning of the day, I noticed him standing in the hallway near my locker. As I looked up to make eye contact, I witnessed him cross the isle and lock lips with another girl from our class! THE FUCK! Really? Again? I’d been that bastard’s best friend! I responded to his cues correctly every time without missing a beat! Who is this bitch and how do I get him to realize that she is NOT the one for him? She’s not even PRETTY!….So much anger and confusion was all I felt for the next few days. I later learned that her name was Bethany and they had been in a class together all year. But, he’d never mentioned this “Bethany” girl to me before! I felt played, used, and once again, like I wasted my precious time and energy. I was done!…or so I thought.

Bethany and John dated for about 9 months, which in high school time is about 3 years. And, needless to say, their relationship came crashing down all because of me. One weekend right before school started, my family and I went to the high school to catch one of the first football games of the season. That summer, even though John was still with Bethany, I had tried to get his attention multiple times by visiting the park near his house and waiting for him to come outside…creepy, I know, but these we pre-Facebook days!! As my family stumbled into the stadium I kept thinking that the summer had been a complete loss because I never got his attention, and now we would probably have to start back at square one when we entered the upcoming school year. But, to my surprise, as I looked up into the stands I saw John and his best friend Chris enjoying the start of the game. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice him, but he caught on and came to visit me and my family.

As we started talking, John became extremely overbearing when discussing his plans for the upcoming school year. He talked about how he was going to play a lot of sports, take multiple AP classes, oh yeah, and he was going to take me to homecoming. I was in complete shock! “You’re still with Bethany,” I said. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about dumping her,” he said with no shame. “I’ll have to think about it,” I replied…and just like that, there was my cue. The game was over and my parents summoned me to the car. “THINK ABOUT IT!” he called after me, and I began running towards the exit.

About a week later, a new school year started and on one of the first days, John and Bethany broke up. When I asked him how everything went down, he told me bluntly, “I just told her that I was into you so I couldn’t date her anymore.” “YOU SAID WHAT?!” I shot back. And then, literally, every day for the remaining semester, Bethany would give me the stink eye every time I passed her in the hallway. To think that I had been the cause of someone’s breakup NEVER would have crossed my mind in a million years. Sure, I’d seen shit like this on TV, but I never thought that it would happen in MY life!

The next obstacle to tackle was homecoming. John would not let up! He asked me to go with him every day. “I don’t know,” I said. “Bethany is like REALLLLLYYYYYY pissed at me.” I feel like, if I go with you, she might attack me during the dance.” “Don’t worry about her,” he calmly mentioned, “I’ll deal with it.” Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

Eventually, since it had been my dream in the first place, and because I heard through the grape vine that he was going to take my best friend, Stacey if I said “NO” one more time, (in his words, “you have to keep your options open”) I went with John to the dance. The night started out great, and I made sure the steer clear from Bethany. Then, while hanging out in the back of the dance floor, John planted a kiss right on my lips. It was my first kiss, but I had no idea it was coming. I felt like I had lost that one moment that every girl dreams about because it was so quick and I had no idea what was happening. I finished the night a little pissed, but happy that we’d made an awesome memory in our relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to become even more pissed as time went on…

Every day since we started dating, John and I would eat lunch together with a bunch of our band friends. One day, a friend of a friend named Matt asked to eat lunch with us. Matt sat across from me, and we quickly hit it off. I met Matt a year earlier, but we never had gotten the chance to REALLY know each other. Every day at lunch, I would look forward to our conversations. Matt was hilarious and had a wonderfully positive perspective on life. Unfortunately, all of my conversing with Matt made John extremely jealous. “You’re supposed to be talking to me at lunch,” he said, “I’M your boyfriend.” “Jesus, sorry that I’m polite,” I yelled back, “I’m just trying to make peace with a stranger.” From that day forward, I tried to talk to John more and ignore Matt, but it was just so hard, Matt wasn’t “in” on “the plan” and you could tell that he didn’t understand why I chose to ignore him. So, eventually, I gave up and thought Tough shit, John will just have to deal with the fact that I have male friends.

Throughout the month that John and I were “together” we went through a lot of ups and downs (more ups and downs than I’ve had with friends that I’ve known for 15 plus years). The day before our high school band’s big trip, I decided that I was going to break up with John. I had never broken up with anyone before, but I knew it had to end. He was such a cocky asshole. The morning of my planned break up, I couldn’t find him at his locker, so I walked into the band room. “Ah, there you are,” he said, “I need to talk to you.” “Good, because I need to talk to you too,” I shot right back. We moseyed out into the hallway where he stated, “ladies first,” and gave me the floor. And, there it was, my shot to claim the end of our relationship, and I blew it. “No, you first,” I said. “Ok,” he exclaimed with a confused look. “I think we were better off as friends, and I think we need to break up,” he said. “I completely agree!!” I said…with almost too much enthusiasm. “Well…” he said. “Well, ok, see yeah,” I said, and walked back to my locker. The funny part was, I wasn’t even sad. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally go back to living my life. John had sawed the bars off of my jail cell and told me to “run like the wind.” I remember running into John’s friend Chris in the hallway after it all happened. “How you doin’,” he said. “Fine, why?” I shot back. “Well, I know that John broke up with you,” he stated. “What? How did you know that? It LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED!” “John told me on the way to school this morning that he was going to do it,” Chris said.

That son of a bitch.

As always, another failed relationship in my book means another life lesson, and with John, I learned multiple. First off, if someone is pressuring you to date them, there’s your first red flag. Obviously this person doesn’t fully care about your wants and needs (or you in general) if they’re applying any form of emotional pressure. And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date the jealous type. John made me feel awful for being friends with other guys and not devoting all of my attention to him when we were out and about…and seriously, that’s just bullshit, and it probably means that the person who is the “jealous type” is self conscious. And I’d have to say the biggest lesson of them all, be friends with the person before dating them. Yes, John and I were friends for a year before deciding to date, but we weren’t really friends. I mean, I hung out with him during the school day sometimes, and we had a lot of the same classes, but I never hung out with him outside of school or even during the summer. I never found out who he truly was…and that probably would’ve saved me a lot of time.

Update: Shortly after John and I broke up, I found out that not only was he a huge cocky asshole, but he was also a psychopathic liar. He ended up telling one of my guy friends that while he was dating Bethany, “I used to call him all the time and we would talk on the phone for hours.” He told my friend that it was like he was dating two women at once. Unfortunately, no matter how big John’s dreams get, that one was, nor will ever be, true.

John went on to date one of my worst enemies shortly after we broke up, and I’m happy to report that they’re newlyweds. John also went on to school to become a firefighter, and he currently lives with his (beautiful) bride far, far away from me.

As always, I wish them the best….sort of.