Hiding from Father Nick

It’s no secret that I am quite anti-social. In fact, my brother bought me a t-shirt for Christmas that reads, “You Read My Shirt. That’s Enough Social Interaction For One Day.” Sadly, it’s true. I have a fairly serious aversion to most everyday interactions. It’s mainly because I don’t like to waste time and I don’t like small talk. I really just don’t understand the point of interacting with people who aren’t a fairly permanent fixture in my life. I’ve tried to reform my anti-social ways, but I can’t stop myself from trying to disengage from a conversation with a stranger less than one minute after it began.

In all fairness, I come by my introversion honestly. You see, my father is also a classic introvert. This is probably why we get along so well. We are perfectly happy to spend days and weeks completely alone. In contrast, my mother (and brother) are textbook extroverts who love meeting and entertaining people.

With all of my mother’s social activities, there were a lot of people coming by the house on a regular basis. This did not bode well for my father and I when we were home alone. In fact, one of my funniest memories is the day that Father Nick, our priest, came by the house looking for my mother. That fateful day went down something like this.

Father Nick knocked on the door and, knowing that any visitors were naturally for my mother, my father and I ignored it. When he knocked again, we stealthily crept into the kitchen just in case Father Nick looked in the windows. As my dad and I waited patiently for him to leave, we were suddenly startled by the sound of someone turning the knob of the kitchen door. We looked at each other and took off at a sprint to the master bedroom closet where we fought mightily against a fit of giggles that was threatening to make noise and give us away.

Meanwhile, Father Nick left something on the kitchen table for my mom and let himself back out. As soon as the coast was clear, we slowly reemerged from the closet and continued with our anti-social day. To this day, I can’t help but chuckle at the ridiculousness of our flight. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t do the same thing today if we happened to be the only two in the house, but at least I can recognize my neurotic ways for what they are.

My First MRI

So for the last couple of months, I’ve been experiencing numbness around my spine when I sit down on firm surfaces, like tables and wood chairs. It’s between my shoulder blades and it feels like about 5 of my vertebrae are asleep. Well, I finally went to the doctor about it (after the marathon for fear that she would tell me not to run it) and she scheduled me for an MRI. For what it’s worth, she gave me a serious talking to for both (1) waiting to come in, and (2) for running with pneumonia a couple of months back. Apparently, when she first saw my lung x-rays and before she knew what she was looking at, she thought that they were the x-rays of someone with advanced lung cancer! I believe her exact words were, “you should have been hospitalized young lady.” Um, yeah, I was duly chastised.

Anyway, back to the current matter. For the last couple of days, people have been asking me, “are you nervous about your MRI?” I was really puzzled by this. I mean, it’s a non-invasive procedure, how bad can it be? My first indication that it was something to be feared was when I walked into the room with the machine and the technician handed me both a set of ear plugs as well as a panic button.

A panic button? Really? I was thinking that this was a little over the top, but I didn’t say anything as I settled down onto the machine’s gurney. At the last second, I popped out my ear plug and asked, “Hey, how long will this take?” I was thinking that I’d be in the tunnel thingy for 5 minutes tops until he said, “Between 45 minutes and an hour depending on how still you are.”

Um, what!?! I started to feel the first licks of mild panic, so I started doing deep breathing exercises mindful that the more I moved, the longer I’d be in there. As he pushed the button to move the gurney thing into the machine, I made the mistake of peeking and saw the the upper wall of the machine was no more than 3 inches or so above my face. Oh boy. Then, I felt the side walls brushing the sleeves of my hospital gown as I kept moving inward.

His voice came in over the speaker to tell me that the process would start in 30 seconds. When it started, I quickly saw the need for both the ear plugs and the padded cushions around my head. The machine was about 3 times louder than a vacuum cleaner even with the ear plugs in. It screamed a series of beeps and grunts as it did its thing. I couldn’t believe that this racket was going to go on for an hour!

It’s funny what you think about when you’re forcing yourself to lay completely still while not panicking. Here’s a sampling of my stream of consciousness.

“You’re lying on a beach. You’re completely relaxed. There’s a light wind blowing. You’re enjoying the soft touch of the sun. *Pause* But what if the machine breaks and starts to fry my insides!! Focus Cyn, just focus. You’re lying on the forest floor. There is an endless sky above you. You can see each individual star. You are very relaxed. *Pause* Have they forgotten about me? What if I’m stuck in here? I’m not sure that I can get out on my own. Crap!!! Damn it Cyn, this is no time for panicking. Do you want to be the wus who hits the panic button? No. No one is hurting you. All they’re asking you to do is lay completely still while they blast loud noises into your ears. You’re fine, now suck it up. You’re laying on a swaying hammock….”

Fortunately, I did not resort to the panic button because truly, there is nothing to fear but fear itself…and aliens. The procedure passed without further incident and while I have a lingering headache due to the noise (did I mention I don’t like loud, repetitive noises?), hopefully I’ll know what’s causing my numbness shortly.

Unidentifiable Objects

From time to time, Parker will walk up to me and put something random in my hand that he discovered lying around the living room. This item is almost always unidentifiable. ThisQ latest “gift” was slightly shriveled, soft and a brownish color. It was quite revolting. I generally spend about 60 seconds staring at it while trying to figure out what it is and then I do something that I didn’t think was in me. I smell it.

Say it with me, “GROSS!” Yes, it’s supremely gross. It’s mind blowingly gross…but, there is a very good reason for it. Parker still puts way too many things in his mouth that he probably shouldn’t and I’m generally better off knowing if there was something toxic that he could have possible sampled. Plus, I’m secretly morbidly curious about what possible foreign randomness is just hanging out around my house waiting for Curious Parker to discover it.

The latest bit of mystery turned out to be wilted lettuce. I have no idea where he found it or how it got there. It’s probably better this way.

Mrs. Smith

One of the things I remember the most about my childhood was that my mother had a lot of guests. These guests were all women and were gathered from all aspects of her life – church, work, school… Regardless of their origins, they were a fixture on our patio on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes they would bring their children with them (and I would hide in my room so I wouldn’t have to socialize), but mostly, they came by to chat, have some coffee and possibly knit (or whatever it is that women do when they congregate).

These women were my mother’s “village.” In Greece, the female social network is a very powerful thing. Everywhere you go, you’ll see mothers and grandmothers sitting on their balconies observing the comings and goings of all passerbys. Since South Florida isn’t quite built for this style of observation, my mom’s group of friends would visit each other on a regular basis for company and for the exchange of information (I would never dare call it gossip).

One of my mom’s friends, Mrs. Smith, was quite a bit older than my mom, but she was very cool. She drove a small Honda CRV and was quite progressive for her age as evidenced by her bohemian attire. When I was about 9, she came along with my parents to one of my dance recitals. The only reason I remember this is because after the recital was over and we came out for our curtain call, Mrs. Smith walked up and handed me a dozen roses. As I stood on that stage waving to my friends and family, I remember feeling like a prima ballerina at her big debut all because a friend of my mother’s thought to buy me flowers.

Mrs. Smith passed away about a while ago (it’s been over ten years at least), but in my mind, she still makes trips over to my mom’s house on the weekends. In fact, there have been a number of family friends who have passed over the years, but I keep on pretending that things are as they always were. It’s an easy thing to do since I only head down South a couple of times a year. (Did I mention that I had a problem with denial?)

As Parker heads towards the age when his permanent memories begin, I often wonder what impressions of his youth he’ll carry with him to adulthood. Then, I realize that I probably need to start having more visitors and friends or he’ll never get the ‘raised by a village’ experience that was so much a part of my early years.

Hazy Is Your Future

Well, after a couple of unexpected developments, I still don’t have absolute resolution on the faculty position in North Carolina. With that said, it appears that there is an 80% chance that I will get the position and that we’ll move. I should know for sure by the middle-ish of February.

In the meantime, this “lack of certainty” business is driving me crazy. I know that technically we wouldn’t be moving for 5 months and I know that there’s plenty of time to deal with the details of a move, but I hate that I don’t have a clearly identified plan of action. I’m not a ‘go with the flow’ kind of girl…at all. I bet you are all just shocked by this revelation.

So, instead of having one clearly delineated plan, I have two. There’s Plan A (for if/when we move) and Plan B (for if we stay). I must say, getting the details identified on two separate plans is kind of cumbersome. This is primarily because it’s not just about me – there’s the husband and the child that need to be accounted for as well and anyone who knows the Irishman knows that he isn’t having deep thoughts about when/if we need to kick it into high gear. Why should he when he has me. I’m such an enabler that way.

Anyway, Plan A consists of finding a place to live (we’re leaning towards renting for the first year), renting out our current house, getting Parker enrolled in school, sending the Irishman on a job search, packing our belongings, renting a U-haul…oh and planning a trip to Greece at some point this summer.

So far, the farthest along I’ve gotten on Plan B is to go ahead and have a second baby. I know that this seems completely opposite of the drive of Plan A, but here’s my thinking. I don’t want to have another child in my first year of a new position, so that automatically puts a 4-year gap between kids even if I get this job. I’m ok with that, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about a 5 or 6 year gap. So, if we didn’t move this year, then we’d go ahead and have another child (so they’d be 3 or so years apart) and I would skip going on the job market next year in favor of the fall of 2010. My current job runs until the summer of 2011 and I have the flexibility of being able to work from home, so it wouldn’t be difficult at all to accommodate baby #2.

Do you see why this is driving me nuts? I can’t stop my brain from trying to work out all of the tiny details of both plans, but they’re so fundamentally different that I’m constantly going back and forth. I think I need to take up meditation or get a prescription for Valium until this is decided.

Superbowl Bound

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There is one thing that the Irishman likes more than beer…the Pittsburgh Steelers (or “Stillers” as Pittsburgeans allegedly say). On Sunday night, they secured a place in the Superbowl and while the Irishman is elated about this, I’m pretty pleased as well. Now, you may be puzzled by this since I’m a Washington Redskins fan, but secretly (or not so secretly), I have a serious crush on this man.

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This, of course, is Troy Polamalu. Wait, you don’t recognize him? Maybe this will help.

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He’s a safety for the Steelers and if you know anything about him, you’d know why I want to trade in the Irishman for him. Don’t worry, I promised my current husband free Steelers tickets for life if it ever really happened and trust me, I think that’s a deal he would take. Now if I could just get past Mrs. Polamalu, I think everything would work out. Anyway, back to why I like him so much. Off of the field, he’s a serious and reserved person who loves his wife and God. On the field, he’s known as the beast. Need I say more?

Anyway, I’m hoping that the Irishman gets me a Polamalu jersey for the Superbowl… hopefully in enough time that I can run to the store and get a “Mrs.” stitched in front of his name. Yes, that sounds perfect!