My family are a bunch of jerks, or so the conventional wisdom goes. We’re all a gaggle of self interested, self obsessed navel gazers who feel massively entitled and who overestimate not only our talent and intelligence, but also the value of our opinions. We are the kind of people who put other people down in order to feel better about ourselves and we do strut around stinking of moral certainty. In short, because we are best in small doses, we see ourselves as Saffron, the most sought after and expensive spice, when actually we are probably more like chili powder, stinging and acrid in large amounts.

I should just end the blog right here.

The truth has no similarity to the fantasy, though. It is true that the five of us kids have a certain identity that a lot of other family’s don’t. We definitely see ourselves as offspring from a single source in a way that almost none of my other friends do. Which is strange, considering we don’t share all the same biological parents, but we are definitely attached to each other. We are all in our thirties and forties, and yet we still try to spend Christmas morning opening presents in someone’s living room together.

Pathetic, really.

Now, here’s the truth…

Michelle is one of the most maternal and non-confrontational people I have ever known. She gathers people to her now in the same way she used to collect wounded souls even as a small child. She has actually given so much of herself during her life so often, that her reserves are starting to run out. It is physically impossible for her to stop caring about you, even if you’re a jerk, sometimes especially if you’re a jerk. If I were to go into a battle, Michelle, above any guy I know, is who I would take. And I mean an actual battle, a physical battle with guns and knives. Because I know Michelle would make the most humane decision at any moment, and I know she would never, never, never quit. She would die trying to carry me out of the jungle, she wouldn’t know it was time to cut her losses. She has stayed at jobs and with fellas that weren’t worth ten seconds of her time, but she did it because she cannot find a way to not care about the outcome.

Ian is best known for his constant womanizing, which is hilarious. Sure, he spent about ten years trying to get girls to like him, but that’s ignoring the first 22 years when he was so completely bent sideways by his responsibilities to the people around him that he couldn’t bring himself to even *kiss* a girl for fear of what it all might mean. Ian was a hopeless poet growing up, savaged by the ignorance and small mindedness of his grade school and junior high. It was Ian that told me, point blank, about how important it is to listen to people, to find common ground, and it was that lesson, more than anything else, that made me an actor. His life now is somewhat luxurious, but his casualness and so-called dilletantism has been earned with decades of loneliness and panic that he was keeping from everyone except whomever happened to share a bedroom with him in high school.

Steve has embraced his own curmudgeon-ness, doing his damnedest to try to reinforce the worst you might think of him. He *loves* being seen as the grouch. If I call him, he checks his caller ID, answers the phone without speaking, waits for me to say, “um, hello?” before saying, “you called me, whadyawant?” And he does this because he doesn’t want it widely broadcast that he is actually a manic crusader for the happiness of the people he cares about. When I was living a life of quiet desperation (who am I kidding, it was the loudest “quiet desperation” you’ve ever heard) it was Steve who would pay for stuff for me and ignore me when I thanked him. Our whole lives, it was always Steve who gave the best presents, who would remember Birthdays, who would listen to a problem and then find a solution and enact it without discussion. Steve has led the hardest life of anyone in my family, the most plagued by bad luck and circumstance, and he’s always responded with generosity and kindness that the world has yet to pay him back with.

Kent has always been a sort of gentle giant, but in order to understand fully his grace in this world, you have to look to his kids. He has two teenage sons, both of whom adore him and consider him a friend. I had a lot of friends growing up who thought their dads were their buddies, but these were always pushover jackass dads, the ones who would buy us pot. On the subway, Kent said to Sean Patrick, “Dude, get your fucking head out of your ass.” and Sean said, “that’s okay, I’ll stand.” and Kent chuckled. I just about died. It’s hard work, being a dad nowadays. I suppose it always has been, but right now it seems particularly tough, and if you met Sean Patrick and Lucas, you would think Kent was a genius. To me, he’s always been the guy I could be if I got really lucky, happily married, music coming out of my basement and an example of level headed spirituality and intelligent kindness for my kids.

But, other than that, we’re pretty much assholes. And, if you get on the wrong side of any one of us, you’ll have all five of us pricks giving you shit.