Thursday, June 2, 2011

And this is a first draft!

I have been far too busy to write any blogs lately.  What have I been busy doing?  Umm... well, writing, to tell the truth.  I am going to school for a degree in Creative Writing, and last night I turned in my final portfolio in my creative writing class.  I had to turn in three poems, a piece of creative nonfiction, and a piece of fiction.  Yesterday I edited my nonfiction, wrote a poem and a half (they were sonnets), and then had two hours to whip out a piece of fiction.  It had to be at least five pages, and I literally typed the last word at the bottom of page five at 7:00pm, when class was starting. I had no time to read through it, let alone do any editing.  I printed it out, threw on some decent clothes, as I had been lounging around in pajamas for several days working on my portfolio, and was only half an hour late to class.  No big deal... five or six people came in after I did.

I just read my story, and I am more than impressed with it, so I decided to share it here and let people read it.  I honestly think I could turn it into something, or just leave it as it is.  I may even send it out for publication, depending on the feedback I get.  Please let me know what you think.  The good and the bad.  Here it is:

Too Much Of A Good Thing

     Nona could not wait to go to sleep. She knew that if she appeared too eager to go to bed, her mom would suspect that something was going on, but it was all she could think about. When she first discovered the secret, she pretended to be sick for a week so she could go to bed early, but that scheme had to end sometime. Next, she pretended to have a sudden desire to do nothing but re-read her favorite series of books, so that retreating to her room for the night at five o'clock in the evening seemed normal. This ruse lasted for several weeks before her mom became suspicious.
      “Honey, I know you love those books, but I'm starting to wonder if you're using them as an excuse to stay away from Hannah. You usually can't wait to go to her house after dinner, but you haven't been over there in weeks! Did you two have a fight?” Mrs Blakesley asked one morning at breakfast.
     Nona laughed at the thought of having a fight with Hannah that would keep them away from each other. “No, mom,” she said, her lengthy pause hanging in the air as she thought of something to say. “I think I'll go over there tonight, actually,” was all she could come up with.
      Hannah was the only person Nona had even thought about telling the secret to, but she wasn't sure if she really wanted to share it at all. Anyone would think she had gone crazy if she told them, and would only believe her if they could see it for themselves. She would have to bring them along to prove that she hadn't lost her mind. But bringing someone else might make it work differently, and she wanted everything to keep going exactly as she wished. She decided to keep it a secret for now, and try to keep finding reasons to go to bed early.
      That night after dinner, she went over to Hannah's, and for the first time in her thirteen years of life, she found it hard to stay until her mom called her home. Usually she begged to stay longer, and walked home as slowly as possible, but tonight she raced home, eager to get into her room for the night. She couldn't brush her teeth and say goodnight to her parents fast enough, and she got impatient with them when they started asking questions about her day and what she and Hannah had done that evening.
      “Nona, you can't talk to us like that. I don't know what has gotten into you lately, but this attitude has got to stop,” said Mr Blakesley.
      Nona looked at the floor in shame, “I'm sorry, Daddy. I just wanted to go to my room. I didn't mean to have an attitude.”
      “You've been spending too much time alone lately,” Mrs Blakesley added. “I think we're gonna set some new rules around here. You kids are gonna have to spend more time with us as a family. I can't have my kids turning into people who feel entitled to do everything they want and then get snippy when I want to talk to them for ten minutes.”
      “Yes, Mom. I'm sorry I was rude to you. I know that I can't do everything I want all the time,” Nona said. She talked to her parents about her evening, hugged them both, and went to her room.
      Glad to finally be alone and more than ready to get her evening going, she got into bed, carefully arranged her dolls under the covers to look like she was there, and rolled over to the space between her mattress and the wall. She let herself fall, and was suddenly gone from her room.
      She landed on her feet on a trampoline that had definitely not been there the first time she discovered this mysterious exit from the world she knew. In fact, nothing had been there at all the first time she came, and she had been quite scared. She had landed hard, sitting on the odd, hard ground for quite some time before rising to her feet. She could see nothing for miles around her, and the only thing she could hear was the beating of her heart, which sounded impossibly loud inside her chest.
      “Where am I?” she whispered to herself, with no one there to answer her. She closed her eyes tightly and opened them again, hoping that she would find herself in her room. But here she was, in this barren land, with no idea how she got there, and no possible way of knowing how to leave. She knew she wasn't dreaming, because she had been wide awake when she fell off her mattress toward the wall, but she began to doubt her memory.
      “Maybe I'm dreaming,” she said out loud, and pinched herself to wake up. When nothing happened, she sat down and started to cry. “How do I get home? I wish I was at home!” she sobbed. Suddenly, she heard music and opened her eyes to find that she was sitting on her bed. She looked around incredulously, her mouth open wide in wonder. Had she really just wished herself home? She looked at the space between her bed and the wall and saw nothing unusual, and she couldn't help but wonder if she could get back to that place. She rolled off the bed again, and, just like before, she landed with a thump.
      “I wish there was a trampoline there to cushion my landing,” before the words were even out of her mouth, a trampoline appeared under her. “No way!” she exclaimed with a squeal.
      “I wish there was grass on the ground.” Instant grass.
      “I wish there was an enormous tree with a treehouse that I could live in, with secret rooms and a working toilet and a refrigerator filled only with food that I like!” Each item she wished for popped out of nowhere, making her clap her hands and jump up and down.
      “I wish for a pet monkey!” she yelled, realizing that she could have anything here. She had been asking for a pet monkey since she was five, but her parents just laughed whenever she mentioned it. “And a parrot!” A brightly colored parrot flew down from the treehouse and landed on Nona's shoulder.
     The wishes kept on going until Nona had a big pile of stuff, and she realized that she needed to organize it and display it. The next month had been spent creating a land that suited her tastes, and by the day her parents confronted her about her attitude, she had everything she could possibly think of. In the regular world, whenever she got something nice, she liked to share with her family and friends, but this new land was different. What if she brought people there with her and their wishes were different and they ended up changing her land? She couldn't risk that, so she continued keeping it a secret and coming alone.
      The next day when Nona got home from school, her parents looked very grave. “We got your progress report today, Nona, and we're not very happy.”
      There was a sinking feeling in Nona's heart as her smile melted from her face. She had been neglecting her homework ever since she found her land, and hadn't studied for a single test. She had gone from straight A's to D's in a month, and was too preoccupied to even realize it was happening. A barely audible, “oh no,” escaped her mouth as she turned ghostly pale.
      “What is going on, young lady? This isn't like you at all!” Mr Blakesley exploded. “First you're avoiding your friends, then you get an attitude when we just want to talk to you, and now this? D's? This is unheard of! You are going to fail eighth grade! And worse than that, what kind of person are you turning into?”
     Nona couldn't utter a word, and just stood there as tears poured down her face.
     “You better answer your father,” Mrs Blakesley said calmly, “and then you will explain why there is a parrot in your room.”
     “A... A parrot?” squeaked Nona. How on earth had her parrot gotten out of her land?
      “Don't act like you're surprised,” Mrs. Blakesley stated flatly. “I'm almost not surprised, with all this other stuff you've been pulling lately.”
      Nona knew that she had no choice but to tell her parents the truth. Her land would be ruined, but she clearly couldn't keep hiding it. There were already daunting consequences, and she was afraid of how far out of control it could get.
      “If I told you, you would never believe me,” she said as she started to calm down. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath. “Follow me,” she muttered as she walked to her room.
      “I wish to go home,” squaked the parrot, flying to Nona and landing on her shoulder. Suddenly, she knew how the parrot had gotten there, and she began to laugh despite her misery.
      “Well, that explains the parrot,” she said, laughing harder at her parents' puzzled expressions.
      “What explains the parrot?” Mr. and Mrs. Blakesley asked in unison.
      “Still too hard to explain,” said Nona. “This may sound weird, but get on my bed, and let yourself fall between the mattress and the wall. Mom, you go first. When you land on the trampoline, get off right away because Dad is coming after you.”
      Neither of her parents moved. They just stared at her and blinked. They looked at each other with looks of utter confusion and then looked back at Nona.
      “Honey, I think we should go to the doctor,” said Mrs. Blakesley.
      “Mom, I know I sound crazy, but you just have to trust me. Just do it,” pleaded Nona.
      Mrs. Blakesley got on the bed and with one look at her husband, she rolled over and fell off the bed, disappearing and causing Mr. Blakesley to let out a high-pitched shriek.
      “Where did she go?” he yelled, rushing to inspect the space between the mattress and the wall where Mrs. Blakesley should have been.
      “Your turn, dad. You won't understand until you're there too,” Nona said.
      Mr. Blakesley hesitatingly got on the bed and rolled off toward the wall, disappearing as he did so. Nona waited a minute, allowing her parents to get off the trampoline, and joined them with her parrot in tow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finding Direction

Every child has an idea of what they want to be when they grow up: little boys envision growing into firemen, doctors, or astronauts, while girls dream of life as a ballerina, a princess, or an obstetrician in my cousin Gillian's case. I claimed I wanted to be a “ceaning 'ady”, which baffles me now as cleaning is often the last thing on my mind. That phase did not last long, however, and for most of my life I have simply wanted to find a husband, have lots of kids and be a homemaker.
When I was fourteen I went to the wedding of my twenty-five year old cousin and I remember thinking, “Twenty-five is so old! I will definitely already be married by the time I'm twenty-five!” My plan was to be married at twenty-two, have my first child at twenty-five, and live happily ever after. I set off to college fully expecting to find my husband and not finish school.
With my homemaking goals in mind I had no idea what I wanted to study, but chose Elementary Education because it made sense: I love kids, and have a knack for teaching. I started out well with a semester of general education classes at a community college, but after transferring to a private University with a good Elementary Education program I realized that teaching was not my passion. I went back to the community college and enrolled in all fun classes for the next several semesters simply to secure coverage under my dad's insurance, and assumed I would figure out another major to undertake before long. But I was lost. I truly did not know what I wanted to do if “Plan A” failed, and as soon as I had a job that paid for my insurance, I quit school. What was the point without direction? What would I do with a degree in a field in which I had no desire to work? At that time I was still optimistic about finding a husband at a young age and not needing “Plan B”.
As time wore on and my plans remained unrealized, I began thinking more about my future and my possibilities. Instead of having my first child at twenty-five, I was single and working a mindless and mundane office job, desperately in need of change. Without knowing what I wanted to do, I decided to go back to school to finish my Associate Degree in the hopes that I would figure something out in the process. I applied at the local community college and was ready to register when I got sidetracked by what I refer to as the crap storm: one event after another that derailed my life as I knew it and pushed all thoughts of school out of my mind.
Over the next few years as I sorted through the debris left by the crap storm, I did a lot of thinking and realized that I wanted to write. I have always loved writing and have several story ideas that I have been working on for years, but I never make time to sit down and get them done. While a degree is not necessary to publish a book, it certainly cannot hurt, and it will give me the needed push to make time for writing..
I have been thinking about going back to school for Creative Writing for several months now, but a few weeks ago I decided to go for it. I knew I was cutting it extremely close when I applied at Pierce College and filled out the FAFSA two weeks before classes started, but I was accepted and given financial aid. I talked to a counselor about the classes I would need to take in order to transer to CSUN and graduate with my AA simultaneously, and it looks like I will only need a few semesters at Pierce. Unfortunately, because I applied so late, all the classes I do need are full, so I made up a schedule of classes I would be crashing and trying to add, and during the first week of school I attended eight classes. I was only able to register for Geography, but I am happy to have been able to get any class at all! I am once again officially a student, but for the first time I am genuinely excited about college. Though it took twenty-nine years, I finally know what I want to do!

Friday, August 27, 2010

All The Names In My Life

How many nicknames does the average person have? Maybe one or two? I know many people who have none at all. The question in my case is more like: how many nicknames do I NOT have? That list would be shorter.

It started with my birth name. My parents didn't want to name me Katherine or Kathleen or some other such lengthy moniker which they never intended to use, so they named me Kate. Good old Kate Elizabeth. But no one called me Kate except my childhood friend Brandon. I grew up as Katie, or Katie Babe to my mom's parents, the fantastic Larry and Ginger Welte. Kakie Espess is what I called myself before I could pronounce it correctly, and my dad called me Duckie early on, which I always loved.

When I was about four or five, I was obsessed with the name Kimberly. I had imaginary friends named Kimberly and her boyfriend (that was his name: her boyfriend), and also one named Labebo, but that's another story. "My name is Kimberly" was my response when presented with, "You must be Katie!" by our new pastor and his wife, Joe and Maureen. They had no problem obliging the silliness of that little girl, and faithfully called me Kimberly until they moved on to another church. Joe passed away several years ago, but at my sister's wedding in 2007, Maureen was there and I was once again referred to as Kimberly.

Probably around the same time as my Kimberly shenanigans, I was in a group at church called Pioneers. There were only a few other kids my age, and one night I was the only one there. I said, "I guess I'm the group!" to my leader Paul, and ever since, he has called me Groupie.

Every night during my chilhood, my dad would spend hours reading to the family, and when I was about ten or so, he read what would become one of my favorite books of all time: Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransom. It's about two sets of siblings on summer vacation sailing around in boats, camping on an island and pretending to be pirates. I was entirely captivated by the character Nancy Blackett, and proceeded to take over her identity. I signed my school papers with her name for a long time. No explanation was necessary to the teacher, since I was home schooled. My mom just played along.

Homeschooling is a really great thing, if done correctly, and in my house, it was most certainly done correctly. The downside at the time was that homeschooling wasn't very common, and I didn't have nearly as many friends as I would have liked. We also didn't watch much television, so as a result, I developed quite the imagination. In the absence of friends, my poor little brother Brian was at my mercy, and when we were out riding bikes around the neighborhood, I would start in on the games. Suddenly I would yell, "WILD GOOSE CHASE" and take off so fast that he couldn't keep up. I would hide behind some wall (it was always the same one... I was amazed that he never figured out where I went.) and after a few minutes I would ride slowly and calmly toward him. He would say, "Katie, why do you always do that?" and I would reply, "I'm not Katie. I'm Constance. Constance A. Rakesfield. Do you live in this neighborhood? This is my house." And then I would point to a big blue two-story house. Of course he never bought it, but I would continue acting like this character and demand that he call me Constance. This lasted for years. Sometimes I still sign notes to him as Constance Rakesfield, with a middle initial corresponding with the first name of whatever boy I like at the time.

When I was thirteen, my dad's job moved my family to Tucson, Arizona. At that point in my life, I felt like I was too "grown up" to be called Katie anymore, and decided to use this move as a fresh start with my name. I introduced myself to everyone as Kate. It still took a while to catch on, because if my family introduced me to anyone, they would call me Katie. But before long, I was just Kate, as my birth certificate would have you believe. I went through eighth grade and high school as Kate, and most of the people who met me in that time period still call me Kate. But just like Brandon calling me Kate while growing up, there were a few people who were introduced to me as Kate but called me Katie. I didn't mind.

While I was in high school, the six Welte grandchildren (the grandchildren of the aforementioned Larry and Ginger Welte: Meredith, Amanda, Kate/Katie, Brian, Alex, and Gillian) came up with a group name. We are the Tonies. The girls are Tony #1-5 according to birth order (I'm Tony #3) and Brian is TonyAnn. We are also just T1-5. Rarely do we call each other Tony whatever-number, but we talk about Tony Days and Tony Outings and being Tonies.

Then there were the nicknames I got in school. My tenth grade Spanish class name was Katia, and in that class I had to make a comic strip. My character was a monkey, and I named her Katia el Mono, which my brother immediately started calling me. That same year in my chemistry class, I had two friends that I did all my work with. The class was pretty boring, so my official job was to keep us entertained, which I was happy to do. We did a lot of laughing in that class, and I am surprised we didn't get in trouble every day. One day I assigned nicknames to our group: Sir Talk-A-Lot and Sir Know-A-Lot loved their names and could not call me Sir Choc-A-Lot without cracking up.

Some of my high school nicknames had no reasons at all: one girl called me Adorable while someone else called me Fabio. My friend Courtney called me Kate the Great, which someone misheard over the phone as Kate the Grape. Then people started calling me Grape, and often added the title of Duchess that I had been given in the theater department to make me sound very grand: Duchess Kate the Grape. Two separate people named me KupKate, which spread like wildfire.

On a mission trip to Mexico with my church youth group, every time we heard sirens, my friend David and I would say that we had started a fire because we were so hot. Then we started calling each other Hottie and Hottia and the entire youth group picked up the names. I still get called Hottia now and then.

At some point while I was in high school, my mom started an email group called The Sisterhood of Weather, or The Hood for short. Each of us has a name, a title, and an alias. I am QOH: Queen of Hotness. I am the Hood Pirate, and my alias is Nancy Blackett. I had to jump on the opportunity to make my favorite name from earlier in life official, after all.

After I graduated from high school, I went to a Bible school called Bodenseehof in Germany. Before I went, my dad, who was stationed in Germany for two years when he was in the army, was telling me about his favorite places that he hoped I would see. There's a town called Bad Tolz somewhere in the Black Forrest that he really loved, but with the German accent he used to say the name, it sounded like he was saying "buttholes." I started joking around that I was going to Buttholes and then my siblings and I started calling each other Buttholes. This ended up being the source of my most embarrassing moment, but that is another story altogether. The point here is that I answer without flinching to the name Buttholes.

Before traveling to Germany (and no, I did not go to Bad Tolz), I came to the realization that Katie really fit my personality better than Kate did, so I used my stay in Germany to re-launch my reign as Katie. There were three other Katies at Bodenseehof, and the other Katie Elizabeth was my roommate, but this fact did not deter me. I wanted Katie back. I was not surprised to find a few who insisted on calling me Kate, and one who went with Katelyn. Besides Katelyn, I acquired four new nicknames in the six months at The Bode. My good friend Joy named me Mad Dog because of something involving me doing sit-ups on the floor and her turning the light off and walking by me and me grabbing and biting her leg. I was a crazy eighteen-year-old, what can I say?

Each semester we had new roommates, and my second term room was lovingly called the "Hoochie Room". None of us were actually hoochie-ish in any way, but one Sunday afternoon we were bored and started decorating. I think there was a fort of some sort (besides my bed, which was a bottom bunk and always had blankets hung around it so that I was sleeping in a fort.), and my umbrella ended up hanging upside-down from the ceiling. From each spoke we hung a bra. It was quite amusing, and as with many goofy things in my life, why leave it at something funny for a little while when it could live on in infamy in our memories? I made it into somewhat of a club: we were the Hoochie room, and we each had a Hoochie name. There was even a Hoochie pledge, which we later wrote on a sports bra and strung up in the middle of the "bra mobile". The Hoochie pledge goes as follows: “I pledge allegiance to the bras of Karissa, Katie, Erin and Moni, and to the republic of room 135: one nation of individual hoochies, with orange, white, and many other colored bras. Amen." We saluted the bras when reciting the pledge. I was, of course, Head Hoochie.

On another day in room 135, someone was reading a book where one of the characters played a trick on someone, so our conversation turned to and different tricks and variations. Karissa (Sister Hoochie) said something about potato-ing a yard. When I asked what that was, she explained that one spreads instant mashed potatoes around a front yard, and when the person living there waters their lawn, the instant mashed potatoes start to grow. Without thinking, I asked, "they grow? Into what, potato plants?" I don't have many "blonde" moments, but the ones I have are pretty good. They called me Spud for the rest of the semester. Karissa also called me Katie Butt. She still does, more than ten years later.

Bodenseehof is culturally diverse, with students from many different countries. I became particularly good friends with four girls from Slovakia, who adopted me and named me Katka. We had an International Cultural Evening with presentations from each country represented at the school, and I presented along with the Slovaks. They taught me the Slovak National Anthem and a traditional dance from their country.

A year after I got home from Germany, I was attending the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. On my Spring break, I drove to Virginia to visit Joy (the one who named me Mad Dog). I arrived pretty late at night, and most of Joy's family had gone to bed. As Joy's eleven year old brother Jimmy was going upstairs, he told Joy to tell "Katilya" hi for him. The next morning at breakfast, he was acting pretty shy, and we were trying to get him to repeat the name he had given me the night before, but he just wouldn't do it. I started calling him Victor because I knew he thought that name was funny, and before breakfast was over, he called me Katilya again. The name stuck, and Joy's family has called me Katilya ever since.

After just one semester in Sioux Falls, I moved back to Arizona. One night I was at Walmart in the middle of the night and ran into Kelli, an acquaintance from high school. We started hanging out, and were soon inseparable. On Kelli's twentieth birthday, our friend Rachel and we were at my house where I was making her birthday dinner and a cake. Rachel was videotaping us, and made a comment about the fact that I was wearing green and Kelli was wearing red. Using an accent like that of the Ladies' Man from Saturday Night Live, I said, "Uh... Yeth... We are Krithmith (Christmas). That ith our name: Krithmith." Later on that night, we watched the video and cracked up over our new name. Kelli was Krithmith Red, and I was Krithmith Green from then on, although we usually left out the red and green and just called each other Krithmith. Over time, Krithmith was shortened to Krimith, which has now become Krimi. We NEVER call each other by our first names. However, when Kelli refers to me when talking to other people, she calls me Katie. She met me as Kate, but after spending time with my family, it turned into Katie.

My friend Jane and I started calling each other Britney and Christina (like Spears and Aguilera) at some point as a joke and it has stuck. I'm Britney, because Jane is obsessed with Christina. Any time either of those two are in the tabloids, Jane and I will call each other up and talk in valley girl accents about all the trouble “we're” in.

When I was twenty-one, I started working for a preschool. One of the ladies working in the office was my high school small group leader Kristi, who knew me as Kate, so for the two years I worked there, I was once again called Kate. Kristi and I are very much alike, and one day we decided that people with our kind of personality are called Psycho Hose Beasts. Since Kristi is older than I am, she is PHB Number One, and I am PHB Number Two. One day in my work mail box, I found a name tag that said “Number Two”.

Some of the kids in my class could not say my name and called me Tate or Cake instead. To those kids, my friend Megan was "Bacon". Megan and I still call each other Bacon and Cake.

My ridiculous club-making tendencies lead me to form "Mother Country Mafia" at the preschool. My Russian accent is pretty fantastic. Each member of Mother Country Mafia has four elements to their name: the first name must start with the first letter of their real name, one of their middle names has to be either Natasha or Natalia, and the last name must sound Russian. I stole some of my Slovak friends' names and formed my Russian Mafia name, Katka Alena Natasha Povolna: leader of Mother Country Mafia. The mafia got pretty popular, and at one point we had eight members, which was a pretty substantial percentage of our thirty person staff. Kristi had MCM business cards made for each of us, and we never talked to each other without the Russian accents. I quit working at the preschool to move back to California, but MCM is still going strong. Every time I call and talk to any of my girls, the accents and names remain.

After moving back to California when I was twenty-three, I was staying with my sister Amanda one night while she was house sitting for our friend Michelle. We were going to sleep and I said, "Good night, Stephen."


"Yes, that is your name,"

"Okay, Roger." Stephen and Roger were very soon shortened to Stevie and Rojie. Amanda comes up with all sorts of variations of Rojie, the most common being Rojie Rojums and Rojtastic Bombastic, while just Rojums and Rojtastic are also frequently used. I even had Rojie embroidered on my pirate Mickey ears I bought at Disneyland. Before shortening my name to Rojie, Amanda had my name listed as Roger in her phone. She had just started dating the man she would end up marrying, when one day he came over to pick her up for a date and saw a text message on her phone from Roger. The phone was set to automatically show messages as they came in, so he saw that it said, “Did I make you laugh in class?” Not knowing that it was me, he got sort of jealous and asked who Roger was.

My first four and a half years back in California, I worked in an office where maintenance men came and went. When one of them had been there for a while, he asked me my name on a Thursday. The next day he called me Katie, but somehow over the course of the weekend, he changed my name to Stacey. The first time he called me Stacey, I thought he was talking to someone else so I didn't say anything. When I realized that I was Stacey, I didn't want to embarrass him by correcting him. I figured he'd be gone before too long, just like the other maintenance men, so it wouldn't matter if he called me Stacey for a few months. But he stayed. He called me Stacey for about a year and a half before I got laid off in April of 2009. I told all my friends that if they heard him call me Stacey to just go along with it. They did. One day, I wrote something about being called Stacey on my facebook status, and my friend Sarah commented about what people she interacted with over the phone thought her name was. The best one was Frank. I told her about answering the phone when people were calling for Dean, one of the only men in my office. They would ask, "Is this Dean?" I would say, "No, this is Katie. Let me see if I can get Dean for you," while in my head I was saying, "Does this SOUND like a Dean to you?" Sarah and I have called each other Frank and Dean ever since.

While working in that office, I met a girl named Norma, who wanted to call me Ken, which are my initials, and I've always hated when anyone tried to call me Ken. But Norma insisted, and I let her get away with Kenrusky and Kenboobs. But she's the only one allowed to use those names.  I met my friend Marques at that office as well. We say that we are twins, and combined our names: Karques.

My friend Rocio and I are obsessed with the musical Wicked. We saw it seven times together, and we call each other "Elphaba" and "Galinda". She's the green one, I'm the blonde one. The last time we saw the show was on Halloween, so I made costumes for us to wear. Several other people were dressed up too, but our costumes were the most elaborate. After every show, we would go to the back doors where the actors would exit so that we could take pictures with our favorite characters. It was fun to get pictures with Elphaba and Galinda while we were dressed like them, and they were very amused at our costumes.

My friend Erin named me Meatball a few years ago, which is fitting, as I have recently started a meatball club. Yes. A meatball club. I know I'm ridiculous.

Most of these nicknames were not just names that were used a few times and then dropped. On any given day, depending on where I am or who I talk to on the phone or online, I can easily be called by ten different names. A lot of them are silly or come from some crazy thing I said or did, but my favorite one is neither silly nor derived in jest. Aunt Katie was recently bestowed upon me at the birth of my cousin Gillian's baby boy, Eli, and then again a year later at the arrival of my sister Amanda's son, Jackson. I'm just waiting for it to come out of the mouths of those two precious boys.