Pod: This is my nickname in my sister’s household.
Kali: My sister, who is actually a friend from high school. She takes in strays, which is how she got me and the Dork-In-Law. She has three kids and is Mom to the world. She’s half Italian, half German, all New Yorker, and she’s the biggest badass I know. She’s also the singular most considerate person I have ever met.
Dork-In-Law, the: Kali’s husband and the father of her children. A good cook and a computer nerd, the Dork-In-Law is my sister’s strong right arm and the older brother I always wanted.
Gramma/Medium: Kali’s Mom. She’s not short, she’s concentrated people. Straight up ex-biker from New York. Spoils the kids rotten. Gives us all our damn nicknames.
Papa: Gramma’s husband and grandpa to the Brood. He has the patience of a saint, drinks Miller High Life, and rides dirt bikes. The kids love him and he’s terrified of breaking the baby because he’s a dude and that’s apparently a normal fear for dudes.
Dozer: My oldest Godchild at nine years. He’s small for his age, but really smart and takes his role as Older Brother very seriously. Wants to be an astronomer when he grows up.
Demonic: My middle Godchild at six, and the one who got me declared a Godparent (the boys have a few) after I dropped out of college to help out in the first months after he was born. Big for his age, and a self proclaimed “certified crazy person.” Wants to be a Robot Warrior when he grows up.
Chucky: The Baby and my only female Godchild. She likes my weird noises, hangs out on my shoulder, drools on my school clothes, and in general makes my life better in spite of the fact that we all wake up to her fussing over her first teeth. Her favorite music is folk metal. She’ll growl along with the singer.
Suzy Q: One of my dearest friends. An actress, a burlesque dancer, a mom, and one of the best damn cooks I ever met. She’s a mad genius, spends days on end in rambunctious creative mode, and hours on the phone with me gossiping about stuff like Star Trek and German Expressionism. She also puts up with an inordinate amount of my BS and I’m extremely fortunate to have her in my life.
Munckin, the: Suzy Q’s three-year-old daughter, the Princess of the Universe, who is the apple of her mother’s eye (and at least one of mine) and who refers to me as “Tante.” I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned her, but I will. Because she’s ADORABLE. Wants to be a ballerina princess when she grows up.
Popo: Suzy Q’s mom and the Munchkin’s grandma. Popo is straight-up Cantonese, and is one of the more terrifying people I’ve ever met. She’s also one of my favorite people. She has the thickest accent of anyone I’ve ever met, but after four years, I can understand in crystalline comprehension every word of every scold she throws at her daughter, as well as drawn-out diatribes against her boss at the local deli, and exactly what we are doing wrong in the kitchen. She feeds me, jokes with me, and has tolerated me sleeping on the floor in the upstairs den more times than I can count.
Koshka: Also one of my dearest friends. My most brilliant classmate, a snazzy dresser, and an anime nerd. We have similar (but not identical) tastes in men, and he’s turning me into a film geek. During my month of limbo, I stayed with him the most often. I think I probably owe him my life a couple times over, just because he’s so nice. Sometimes, I carry him around like a cat. I would do it all the time, but he doesn’t especially like it…
Uji: I’m still trying to figure out what the hell happened. One minute, I’m minding my own business being bored on a set with Buck and the gang, and the next, I’m having a notebook conversation with the nicest straight male I’ve ever met. And he asked me out, even after I professed my hatred for bowling, video games, and the New England Patriots. And for some reason, he’s decided he loves me. And for some reason, I’ve decided I love him. Lots of reasons, actually. I discover a new reason every day.
Mom, my: my Mom is a crazy cat lady who lives in a shithole town in Central Texas that’s just outside of Austin. She doesn’t own a TV, but she built a floor-to-ceiling bookcase to fit some of her extensive library, which ranges from books on herbal medicine to the origins of Christianity to “A Space Child’s Mother Goose.” The science fiction section is large enough to warrant its own bookcase and is a conglomeration of her books and her ex boyfriend’s, who apparently willed them to her. Not that he’s dead
or that I would mind if he was. If you ever wonder where I get my galloping case of crazy, my mom is responsible for at least half.
Grace: My only childhood friend, who lives in Austin and works for the city But not in the government. I think she’s in planning. One of the only people who tolerates my bullshit, but who will say, “I will slap you in the belly!” if I do stupid shit when I’m drunk. When we were kids, we’d play dress-up in her attic. Now that we’re grown-ups, we play dress-up on sixth street. Or seventh; there’s a better bar over there.