When I say home I mean Boston, not my actual home. I could never be homesick since I don’t exactly have the best ‘home’ memories what with all the fighting and drama that took place there almost daily. But I definitely miss Boston, the North End, Newbury Street, Trident Cafe with its perpetual breakfast, Steve’s Greek-American restaurant where I waitressed, Arnold Arboretum with its trees and pond and flowers and Jamaica Pond where my best friend Eleni and I would go for our weekly walks and analyze almost everything. I even miss Jamaica Plain with its Cuban Restaurants and rainbow flags. I miss Dedham, too. On Sundays, before the purchase of the pizza shop and the ‘new’ house, my dad would take my mom and me after church service was over to Dedham House of Pizza. He’d walk in first of course and say in his loudest voice “Hello Motherland” in Greek (it sounds less weird in Greek – trust me). Then we’d order whatever our heart desired and actually we’d order more than we really wanted just to show our support of the Greek-owned establishment. My dad had this thing of supporting Greek-owned businesses. It didn’t matter if they weren’t that good it would be a shame to go to a ‘kseno’ when there was a Greek family that could use our business. Then we’d get back in the Oldsmobile and head home but sometimes we’d go for dessert. Vouros Bakery in Roslindale. See I have good memories of my dad. I know my siblings don’t but I do. I mean I have not so good memories either, but I can’t stay mad at him when I think of the time he drove down from Norwood where he was working as a dishwasher and busboy to pick me up from school the day I fake-sicked and wanted to go home and he had chicken soup with him. Bad dads don’t do that. So yeah he wasn’t all that supportive and would tell us off every chance he got, but he was my dad and I miss him a lot. Fraser reruns on Alpha do this to me. They make me remember things about my childhood growing up in Boston. Every morning at 9:45 I put Beba down for her morning nap, take my cappuccino and watch Fraser. But I’m not really watching mostly ’cause I’ve seen these episodes countless times before. I’m remembering things. Some things are good, some things not so good. But I’ll just stick to the good for now. My sister Gianna was here over the weekend visiting and she often likes to bring up memories from the past. She remembers me as a little girl always wanting to read her college books (she’s 10 years older than me). She remembers me waiting up for her after her shift at Steve’s so I could count her dollar bills from her tips. She had so many!! She remembers me typing her English papers cause she had to go to work and instead of Richard the third I wrote Richard the Gere once. I was 10, ok? My brother Dimitri, who’s 13 years older than me, loved to take me shopping. He worked at Dolphin Seafood peeling potatoes during the day and at Norwood House of Pizza in the evenings. He’d often call me at home on Washington Street and ask me how to say something in English to a customer. I’m surprised he even got that job, his English was horrible. But I loved those phonecalls because I loved helping out my brother. To reward me he’d take me shopping and buy me anything I wanted. I loved Banana Republic and Gap. My brother Dimitri and my sister Gianna were my best friends growing up. I still feel close to them but sometimes I feel like they don’t feel close to me anymore. I think marriage and kids do that to relationships, all relationships. You’ll say something, they’ll say something, there will be misinterpretations. Just like in Fraser. This is why Fraser makes me homesick.
Well, had my third interview so far this month. All three have been for a range of positions from cashier, and now yesterday, as a Personal Assistant to the CEO of a medical group. The guy, he’s a well-renowned doctor, seemed nice enough. Studied in Boston which I guess would be a plus for me being that I grew up there. Had it not been for the three+ hour assessment I would be more certain that I got the position. That and of the fact that the other girl vying for the job completed the assignments in under 2 hours!! She was definitely from some secretarial school, fresh from graduation, I could tell. As I left his office I wished her good luck and I truly meant it. I don’t think I deserve the job just because I have kids and tons and tons of expenses due to Panayioti’s therapies. I truly think young kids fresh on the job market should get a break. It’s so tough right now here in Greece and competition is so stiff. It’s sad really, I’m almost embarassed to admit it, but we’re struggling. Last week I did something I never thought I would do. I actually took my pennies down to the super market for cash. Maybe in the States this would be nothing of significance really, but here in Greece it signifies poverty. So here I am with Beba handing over our pennies and got a whole 15 euros back!!! Which was gone just as quickly as the girl at the counter counted them up. We gotta eat right? So the assignments the kind doctor instructed us to complete were simple enough. As simple as translating from Greek into English an article on adrenal gland cancer! Yikes!! I was like “what the hell”?? Then came the other translation which I just summed up in my own words really cause there was no freaking point. Thyroid Nodules in Secondary Hyperparathyroidism. Right. I really hope that that was just a trick question. I did my best. I honestly think I did as good as anyone would’ve done given the fact that the last time I actually worked as a secretary I was 21 going on 22 (12 years ago!!)And that I am not a medical translation expert. I’m sure there are people out there that are experts on the topic. I’m just not one of them. Sometimes I feel like Will Smith in Road to Happyness. Ok, we’re not homeless and I’m not a single parent. But I’m sacrificing a lot just to get one job. For example, the cab fare to get to the interview yesterday. I honestly did not have the 5 euros it cost me to get there to spare. But I was running late so I had to take a cab. I’m hoping things will turn around soon. My sister here in Greece is actually in a worse predicament than I am. Well, not really but she is out of a job too ’cause she’s a public school teacher and they haven’t summoned her for work yet and they may not at all this year. I told my husband that if I got this job I would share a portion of my monthly pay with her. She would do the same for me I hope. So here we are, two sisters, degrees, studies, in our prime, and out of work. The story of Greece at the moment I’m afraid.
Last night we were invited to my friend Katharine’s Mulled Wine and Mince Pie Party (just a quick shout-out to my good friend Katharine who is an enthusiastic and dedicated reader of my blog – thank you!!) I must admit that initially I did think about leaving the little guy at my in-laws. Of course I felt guilty for thinking this but his behavior was so agreeable that whole day that I’m glad we all went, as a family. Just to get one thing straight: the very very few times we haven’t gone somewhere all together but have left Panayioti behind has been solely for his benefit. Like all of us, he has his good days and his bad days. I’m sure if he talked he’d voice his opinion of wanting to stay at home and just chill. Yesterday was a good day. At the party he didn’t exactly play with the other kiddos but he didn’t cover his ears either. He was aloof, but that’s quite alright by me. Except for the few times he climbed on the sofa and used some poor girl’s head to steady himself, he was on pretty good behavior. The yelling really only started towards the end when he was just really really tired from not having slept during the afternoon. As soon as we were back home and he got into bed he was fast asleep. This morning when he woke up with a smile and hugged me it just totally made my day!! This kid literally lights up my life, when he’s good. When he’s happy, I’m ecstatic. On the down side though, when he’s kinda weird and totally out of sorts I’m totally freaking out. But hey, I’m a mom with feelings not a robot, right? Well, it’s been a pretty good weekend. I mean it started out sloppy what with the missing shoe and all but because I’ve regulated my voice to sound calm no matter what and I’ve also been calm and smiling, I think it’s rubbed off on Panayioti. Sometimes I feel like we have no excuse to feel agitated and mad. By we, I mean parents of not so typical kids. No matter what’s going on in our lives, we owe it to our kids to always look calm and cool. It’s tough but who cares? It’s so worth it ’cause the whole family dynamic is just skyrocketing blissfully happy when Panayioti is just plain happy.
Well, here we are on the bus and my little guy has only one shoe on. It would be no shoe at all had it not been for the kind and brave woman who ran after us as we boarded the bus holding on to Panayioti’s one shoe and almost got run over by the bus driver. It seems that during our brief, and brisk, walk to the bus stop his shoes came off one by one and I took no notice of that at all and he didn’t seem to mind, didn’t make any warning noises that would make me suspicious of anything weird going on. In fact, the times I looked down at him while we were walking he was smiling. Converse shoes are known to be a bit on the big side, I just never imagined that shoes would just slip off your feet without even the slightest sign. So here I am carrying Panayioti, his one shoe, his snacks, his schoolbag . . . to the Metro Station, and finally HOME!! I think I’m just about autism-ed out!! There isn’t the least bit of energy left in me for anything now, no drawing, no play-doh, no puzzles . . . I keep thinking that if this had happened to a typical kid they’d yell “hey mom, wait, my shoe came off!!” Ugh!! I just have to stop thinking like this though. It’s not healthy. Comparing a typical child with my autistic child is the biggest threat to my sanity. Very, very unhealthy. Stuffing my face with snacks seems to be the cure of choice at the moment. It’s what I’m doing to deal with my stress and disappointment. It’s not the shoes. Which were expensive. It’s the fact that he didn’t mind at all. He was shoeless and happy. At least he was happy.
I have been feeling really strange lately. All I want to do is bake, cook, clean, and brew delicious mulled wine which instead of sipping and enjoying blissfully I just swallow the whole darn thing in one gulp! And boy did I cook this weekend! Lamb, bread, marinaded my own olives, made focaccia, the works!! Totally over-did it but still did not feel any sense of joy or accomplishment, and the leg of lamb was totally gorgeous, as my English friends say. I mean it could be Panayioti’s regressive attitude as of late (i.e. the spitting, the noises, the siren-y sounds, the running back and forth, the total lack of sense of danger as he climbs on the ledge of the balcony as soon as he sees the door ajar). I honestly thought that after two years of autism I would be used to this, but as I cleaned out my spice cabinet today, and all my kitchen drawers for that matter, I realized I’m not! I’m trying to let go of the anxiety I’ve been feeling by cleaning and cooking and just trying to keep myself busy any way I can. The only time I relaxed this weekend was when I took him, just the two of us, to the Mall to see the Gummy Bear Christmas movie. My little guy did not make any sounds, nor did he leave my side once! Part of the reason could be because he had this Taz hedgehog type of sensory toy with him which he continuously ran his fingers and palm over. That could very well be The reason. Thank you Taz!! We had a great time!! Except for the movie which was a total waste of time and money but I purposely chose it ’cause I figured it would have the least amount of people lest my little guy decide to try his vocal chords inside the movie theater. He was just really good company, he always is when he’s on his best behavior. He holds my hand, and just smiles the whole time, even gives me little kisses and hugs. So today I’m hoping my funk may be ending. In January it will be two years since the Autism diagnosis and we have yet to hear Panayioti speak words, only syllables some of the time. Because of this ‘anniversay’, I have a feeling that this funk, this angst, this whatever it’s called (depression even) may go away but it will be temporary. Bottom line: parents of non-verbal autistic kids are never truly 100% happy.