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

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A Different Kind of ‘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

Special Treatment for Those with Special Needs?

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Now, before you think this post is going to be some hateful rant, calm yourself and read on. My brother was diagnosed in 1995 at the age of 3 with Autism, and I’ve been an advocate for the rights of special needs children ever since. However, about a week ago I found myself re-evaluating how I react to those with special needs.

Long story short, my brother has been participating in the Special Olympics for the past couple of years, and every year I try to attend his regional competition, which is located at one of our local high schools. This year, as my family and I sat down in the school’s cafeteria to relax before heading to the gym, a young, special needs athlete named Cole from one of the other teams walked up to our table, introduced himself, and started carrying on a conversation with me and my parents. Cole was hilarious, but at the same time he was very nosy and kept apologizing for asking questions. After awhile, he began to solely ask me personal questions, and it seemed he wanted to be friends (or something more) and know every detail of my life. I can’t lie, even though I spend a lot of my time around individuals with special needs, I was uncomfortable around Cole. Hell, I’m uncomfortable around all strangers! Finally, Cole’s dad realized that his son was talking our ears off and came over to our table to introduce himself and redirected his son to the gym.

The weird and sad part of all this was I felt a sense of relief and a burden lifted off my shoulders when he walked away. Phew, don’t have to deal with him again, I thought. But, I was actually wrong…Turns out, as luck would have it, Cole’s group ended up sitting next to my brothers, so I had to pass him on my way into the gym. Once Cole saw me, he immediately stood up and rushed to my side.

“How are you doing, ma’am?” he said as wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“Great!” I said, mustering up every ounce of pep I had.
“Would you mind if I sat with you for awhile?” he proceeded.
“Um, I think we’re supposed to sit with our teams,” I replied.
“Well, I don’t have to sit with mine, that’s the point I’m trying to make,” he shot back.

Thankfully, before the moment got any more awkward, one of Cole’s coaches called him over to sit with his team. And, of course, the fun didn’t stop there. After the opening ceremonies, I noticed Cole coming over to my brother’s team. To avoid another uncomfortable encounter, I used my brother’s larger build as a barricade and hid behind him until Cole was finished talking to my brother’s teammates. Seriously, this kid would not let up. He seemed to be doing everything to try and get my attention.

And, of course, once I thought I was free of him, it turned out he was competing against my brother under the same division…that meant I was going to have to run into him again at the awards ceremony after the competition.

Flash forward to the awards ceremony and my brother took first place (of course he did, we’re related). So, after all of the pictures are taken and everyone disappears, Cole came running up to my family, and that’s when I decided to make a break for it. I grabbed my things and briskly walked down the hall to hide in the women’s restroom. Cole saw that I was busting my ass to getaway and yelled after me, “DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME YOUNG LADY!” And then..he proceeded to ask my dad what my name was. Of course, my father thought this whole thing was hilarious and told Cole…who ended up screaming my name down the hallway until I disappeared.

Just at the point where I thought I had gotten rid of him, I realized that the exit door was at the other end of the building, which meant I would have to walk past the cafeteria where I last saw Cole. After a few minutes, I stuck my head out of the bathroom only to find him talking to someone right outside of the cafeteria. Well, eventually Cole’s new found friend decided to head back towards the gym and get some popcorn, which prompted Cole to follow him. I realized then and there that it was now or never. I swiped up my stuff and RAN towards the exit. FREEDOM! I thought as I reached the parking lot. And as my family and I drove away, all I could think was, I’m safe now

As I reflect back on the day that I had with Cole at regionals, of course I feel awful, but I’ve realized that even if he didn’t have special needs, I would have treated him the same way. With this situation, I’m reminded of the VERY FEW TIMES I’ve ever been “hit on” at bars while I was in college by guys that I had absolutely no interest in getting to know. And, what did I do in those situations? I politely blew them off, just like I did with Cole. I had no interest in hanging out with Cole that day. I was there to watch my brother kick ass and take names. And, I have a boyfriend. I’m not looking for any more male companions. And, did Cole suffer? Of course not! Being the friendly guy that he is, when I wasn’t around him he ended up talking to so many more people who were willing to engage in a bit of a conversation with him.

Personally, I think there’s this argument out there that we have to treat individuals with special needs as a “special case,” or be nicer to them than we would someone who doesn’t have special needs because they “unfortunately can’t be normal functioning adults in today’s society.” And most days, I think that’s a bunch of crap. With all of the special needs individuals that I’ve gotten to know through my years of volunteering and meeting my brother’s friends, people with special needs don’t want to be treated as “special cases,” they want to be seen and treated as though they don’t have a disability. They want to be treated how we want to be treated…like a human being. So, if you’re not interested in forming a connection with them, don’t! They rather have a genuine connection than put up with something that is forced….and wow, what does that sound like? Hmmmm, how about something that everyone wants, no matter age, race, gender, etc. So, at the end of the day I’m not advocating for everyone to go out there and treat individuals with special needs like shit. Of course not! Treat them as they are, human beings, and form a genuine connection that the both of you will benefit from.

Granny Smith – over and out