Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Magical Miri

Remember those get-to-know-you games we played in elementary school, where everyone had to introduce themselves using an adjective that described them and started with the same letter as their first name? Well, guess what: "M" adjectives suck. My choices were pretty much "magical," "magnificent," and "marvelous," and don't get me wrong, I am all of those things--but as nicknames for a fourth grader go, they are crap.

So I got the short end of the stick in get-to-know-you games. I've also had my name mispronounced just about every way you can think of, for my entire life: Myree, Mira, Murry, Marie, Mary, and so on--I've even heard Mitzi, although that was just once and I suspect the substitute teacher responsible may have been partially blind. (For the record, my name is Miri, pronounced like Miriam without the -um. This method of explaining my name is the only one that has been consistently successful in getting people to hear the difference between Miri and Mary.) But I love my name, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I am named after my Italian grandmother (Miriam) and my Russian great-grandmother Kayla, and that has always been very special to me.

Besides my name, the first thing you should know about me is that I read all the time. It's very nearly the only thing I claim as a hobby, and pretty much all I did until I reached high school--I read at recess, at lunch, standing in line in the cafeteria, in the bathroom, on the bus, in class with my book hidden in my desk. When my parents wanted to punish me they took away my books, because being sent to my room wasn't a punishment at all as long as they were there.

Because I read so much I was really good at tuning out noise so I could read anywhere, which, let me tell you, was a feat to be proud of at my house. This is the second thing you should know about me: I have a big, LOUD family. There are eight people in my immediate family--I'm the oldest of six kids--and no matter where I went as a child there was always someone there. I have between 45 and 50 first cousins on my dad's side (no one seems to know the exact number anymore), sixteen aunts and uncles, and approximately 60 children-of-cousins... what are they, my second cousins? First cousins once removed? I will probably never know. Most of that family lives in Arizona, with branches in other places (like my family in Texas). My mom is from Israel, and I don't actually know how many cousins I have on her side; many of them still live in Israel, and I've never met them. I do have eight that I've met, and I'm going to guess five or six that I haven't. It's important for me to tell you this because family is hugely vital to my existence. I am so used to having tons of family around all the time that it's very difficult for me to be living near only five relatives right now. My siblings and I fought like crazy growing up--we are very close in age, six of us in seven and a half years, and that made for some complicated situations--but I still prefer noise and good-natured chaos to peace and quiet.

The last thing you need to know, for the purposes of this blog, is that what we are undertaking here is very personal to me. I have had intense social anxiety my whole life. There was a miraculous period in college where it mostly went away, for no reason I can fathom: for two years that I lived at Glenwood with Megan and Lindsey and other amazing girls, I was a crazy social butterfly, dated some, and was actually popular--now a fond but incomprehensible memory for me. For the rest of my life, ever since I can remember, I have struggled just to be in the most normal social situations (school, church, and jobs, for example). I have always been incredibly insecure, although my amazing junior year was a huge step forward in that department and I have made great progress since then. I am still working really hard to overcome this stuff, and that is why I jumped when Lindsey pitched the idea of this blog to us. I hope it will be as meaningful to you as it is to me.

9 comments:

Meg said...

Remember how I always have a hard time believing you about how shy you were because I didn't know you until the glory years? However, since I also felt/feel that way, I still get it and am with you. I also sympathize with the adjectives. They suck. I went with "musical" sometimes.
(ninja)

Lin said...

So here's a funny thing. You know those get-to-know-you games where everyone had to introduce themselves with an ACTION that started with the same letter as their first name? Yeah. Think of an action with "L." Leaping. That's it. Laughing was always used before it was my turn. Folks, I am not a leaper. I do not leap. I pretty much boycotted get-to-know-you games the second I was able to do so. You are right, Miri, they are crap.

I'm happy you are part of this blog, but that's kind of obvious since I asked you in the first place. *winkie face*

Lin said...

Also, (banana).

Miri said...

Haha! Oh Lindsey. Yours is so much worse. I don't know how I avoided the action game but I am grateful. What could I have used? Musing...? Munching? Yikes!

(milk)

fierygiraffe said...

Haha, my name starts with L as well and the pickins were pretty slim when it came to the name game for me. Miri--I love this! I actually remember your shy days, and can relate with your bout with social anxiety. Can't wait to read more of this!

Katherine said...

I submit that K is even worse when it comes to that game. I can't count the number of times someone else dubbed me "Kleptomaniac Katherine" because I couldn't think of another K word.

Miri said...

Poor Katherine. I actually remember kids having to use that word... maybe there was a Kevin in my class? Apparently the middle of the alphabet just stinks nickname-wise.

Lis said...

Are there any good letters for that game? Imagine me- my full name is Elisabeth, but everybody calls me Liz so they always think my initial is L, but I tell them it's E. E: excellent, enlightening, energetic (I'm not especially energetic). L: that's already been discussed, plus I don't think it counts as my initial like everyone else.

Nathalie Shorten said...

Ha-ah, I remember having to play a similar game once and all I could come up with was "Hi! I'm Nathalie and I like Nachos." Certainly better than neurotic, narcisstic, nasty, nimcompoop? But what? natural? normal? ninja!