Archive for family

Make My Mom’s Day

Hey friends!

My mom is a trooper.  She got done with chemo for Hodgkins Disease for the SECOND time only to fall and break her hip.  She’s now sequestered to a couch.  It’s the worst.  On top of that she’s taking a LOT of opiates and they make her really loopy.  She’s super bored.  She really hates relying on other people and not being able to go outside (she is my mom after all).  I don’t really know how to make this better other than to have my friends send her notes and postcards.  All you’d have to do is send a postcard or card that says you’re a friend of mine and you hope she gets better soon.  In fact YOU don’t even have to send and stamp a letter–you can do it online and sites will do it for you.  I suggest:

If you are interested in helping out by sending her a card, send me an email or comment here and I’ll send you her address.  I really appreciate it!

i hate today

Dad's Watch

Two years ago I came home from a trip to San Francisco.  I remember breaking down repeatedly on that trip because I was so crazy stressed out with totally not knowing what to do about my dad’s health situation, which was mostly a mystery to me.  I came home on my dad’s birthday.  I bought him a card at the airport.  And I never got to give it to him, because when I walked in the door from the airport, he demanded we go to the emergency room at a far hospital instead of him going to his usual doctors appointments.  I was not on board with this plan, but like most things, if a Benevento has a plan, you’re best served by getting out of the way.  Because we are big, and loud, and stubborn, and will argue with you until you relent.  I’ll assume it’s genetic.

So I said fine, and started basically 2 months of being in and out hospitals w/my dad.

I generally hate card giving, especially to my parents.  My parents are not traditional types and all those parent card sort of don’t fit them.  So I always dread looking for a card for my family members at the store.  I think cards are dumb because you should just tell people what you think instead of writing it down and handing it to someone.  And the card I purchased was blank.  And it still is.  And in retrospect, I really regret not arguing with my dad to stop and let me give him his birthday card.

And so, against my nature, I am hoping not to force my way all the time.  Because maybe someone’s waiting to give me the last birthday card and instead of receiving it, I am making them follow my shitty plan.

Happy 80th birthday, dad.


In case you didn’t believe my family’s Cheaters obsession, this is a message from my mom:

You know, when you went to college you realized every family was not like your family?  Perhaps this conversation will give you a peek into what that’s like in my family.  This is how my mom opened a conversation today:
Mom: You know that guy you liked? From the Czech Republic?
Me: Uh, Kafka?
Mom: Yes. Do you still like him?
Me: Uh, yeah.

What is the weird part of this conversation? That my mom thinks Kafka is some weird thing only I am obsessed with, or that when my mom asks about a Czech I like, I IMMEDIATELY know she means Kafka?

Holiday Mailbag

Today was the best mail day ever.  Before heading to the airport I got:

  • 2 netflix vids (Man on a Wire and a documentary about Latinos who love Morrissey)
  • 1 issue of Star Magazine
  • A really awesome homemade Christmas card
  • 1 box of Christmas cookies from my friend’s mother-in-law, whom I have never met

Amazing.  With the snow it has set me in a jolly mood, which will be necessary to navigate the extensive delays I expect to face at the airport.  Like before every trip there were a few things that slid off the to do list, but I am hoping the Spirit of Christmas will bail me out.  If you will be in Chicago for the holidays, please contact me!  My plans so far are only to go to Portillos with my family.

Have a great holiday.


Yesterday was my mom’s 69th birthday. Go mom!

Today she finds out if she has cancer or not.

You know, most birthday cards become extremely offensive when you are looking for a birthday card for someone who could get a huge mortality check the day after their birthday. It’s all cards like “haha! you’re so old! you’re gonna die!” It’s really horrible!

I opted for a card about drinking beer.

I am a world of knowledge

My sister: “Does skin flute mean gay?”

Me: “No, it means penis.”

MS: “I am so glad you are my sister.  You’re so knowledgeable about dirty things.”

Then she sang me a song about how I am a world of knowledge.

mom is thankful

mom: “I am glad you are not kidnapped by a Mexican.”

message from mom

“Hi Bento!  It’s Mommy Bento!”

This is infinitely better than my mom’s usual nickname for me, Poops.  This is not due to any bodily function, but a shortening of poopsie.  Explain this to my roommates, who have always enjoyed my mom calling me poops on our communal answering machines.

in a circle jerk you can’t have your hands straight out

My family can’t keep track of my friends.  They make fun of me that I have friends in every city. And a friend mentioned today that I travel a lot.  Except I was sad I was doing so little traveling this year.  Ha.  I take for granted never staying in one place, always having someone in the next port.

And I have been in a relative (to me) slump, and lots of people called, texted, emailed, or came by plane, train, or car to help me out.  Not because I asked, or not necessarily just to see me, but that’s how my friends are.  They’ll take a 4 hour bus trip to see me when I am in a town nearby.  And I will do the same.  And you might not think that’s weird, but I think most people do.  Because a lot of people won’t even pick you up at the airport 15 mins from their house.  And my friends will.  Because they are super, super awesome.

And I am not the easiest person to help.  As my friend Grace said, “You are the most independent person I know.”  I take that as an extreme compliment, but I am realizing it’s also a bad thing.  Or it can be.  My favorite movie is Showgirls, and though people ridicule it (as do I), there’s a scene where the main character (who runs out of every scene rather than deal with anything) is told:

“You got your arms straight out, saying, ‘Back off, motherfucker.'”
“Yeah, you got that down. BACK OFF, MOTHERFUCKER!”

It’s my nature to have my hands straight out yelling, “Back off, motherfucker.” (Hereafter referred to as BOMF). I don’t need your help, why won’t you just let me do it by myself?  It’s a hereditary stubbornness, combined with an upbringing where I could never do anything alone.  I am hardwired to do things for myself, by myself, and I am not comfortable with asking for help or even realizing when people are offering it.  Asking for help feels like conning a mark to me.  But my friends are awesome, because they help anyway.  They self-correct for my BOMFy tendencies.  And that’s good.  I know a few other BOMFy people and I think sometimes we just have to be sat down (literally or metaphorically) by our friends and told to accept help.

So, thanks everyone.  You rule.  Whether you force me to leave the house, listen to my late-night calls, take my ims, offer advice, realize when I am roundaboutly asking for help because you know it’s hard for me to ask directly, or get out of the way when I am yelling, “Back off, motherfucker!” you are helping.  And I am trying to put my hands down and shut up more often.

Everything you need to know you can learn from Showgirls, in my opinion.  In the future, all writing will prove that.

new catchphrase

My mom:

“You are not effing up your life, or I will kick your ass. I will. Do you feel guilty? You better not! Or I will kick your ass! I will!”

I think I need to sell merch with this new mom catchphrase, “I will kick your ass! I will!”

“There’s no such thing as a perfect man.  You should just stay single.  It’s very hard for two people to live together.  And then a baby comes and the men get crazy because they don’t get attention.”

may 21-27

I will be in Chicago May 21-27.  Sadly it is not for IML but for a parent health update.

So I will probably be doing little outside of the Belmont/Cumberland area, but I will be oppressively bored and unhappy!  So local bars are definitely a good option.  I will be back briefly in Sept. too.

Those of you in Central IL, and possibly KY and TN will get a jennyvisit in Sept.  Details to follow.

mom talk

From my mom, on the phone this morning:

“Why do gay men like Dolly Parton? Well she’s nice.  Gay men are nice people.  The women are usually bitches though, I think.  You know <insert one gay man I know here> and he’s nice, right?”

Sunday morning coming down

“I’m making a Cobb salad, which is bacon and chicken…(pause) and bacon.  and chicken.”

My mom knows the important part of salad.

This was followed by a discussion about how no one ever beats cancer, and she did so by drinking and smoking.
I often wish my mom had a medical program a la “Talk Sex with Sue.”  She would just diss on doctors and tell people to drink vinegar.  It would be great.

my brother’s skull

My brother is shaving his head for children’s cancer. Whether this will improve his haircut or not, I cannot say, but if you would like to donate click here.

deep dark secrets

Heidi did this seven odd facts about yourself. Mine are super Freudian, unintentionally!

1. My mom is an alcoholic. I have started to say this out loud more often, mostly in a “haha my alcoholic mom” jokey sort of way. But my mom’s really an alcoholic. Honestly I am not as upset about this as it seems like I should be when saying this. She’s pretty functional, and has always been an alcoholic, so it’s nothing new. I am sure this somehow affects me on some horrid deep level I am suppressing, but it is not really a source of negativity, and if I mention it people get weird and quiet and don’t know what to say. So I mainly don’t mention it.

2. My half-brother is autistic and I wasn’t allowed to have a relationship with him until I was 18, because of details of my parents’ divorce unknown (by choice) to me. Another statement which has a buzzkill effect to conversation but yet I am not upset about. Still it’s hard to forge a sibling relationship with that history and I am pretty bad at it.

3. My family generally knows little about my life. I think they think I am a dorky naive sheltered goody two shoes. Which is not to say I am smoking crack and killing hookers, but I kept everything a secret as a kid. Like, I hid my period from them for years. While I no longer actively attempt to cover anything up about my life (as I did in high school) they don’t ask and I don’t go out of my way to tell. Like for example, I have never admitted to dating anyone to my parents. Seeing as I am pretty open about my life to anyone who asks, this is somewhat demented but based on the bizarre overprotectiveness of my parents when I was a kid. But my first inclination is to lie to them when they ask me something. Laura Palmer was so a rational actor to me.

4. Though as a child I was right-handed, I did a lot of things in a left-handed way, which made my dad make fun of me. Later on, I had to get goofy hand eye coordination tests taken to make sure I didn’t have a tumor (I did not), and it was determined I am technically left handed. Like, incredibly better with my left hand. To the point where the doctor thought for a second that I was lying/crazy about saying I was right-handed. I have no idea what to do with that information. Do I switch over?

5. I have cheated on everyone I have ever dated. I am neither proud nor reticent about this really. But I have good intentions for this to be different. And to be fair, the last three were duly told beforehand that this would happen. And I am totally getting better at it.

6. I count and spell in my head all the time. Like, if I am going up or down stairs, I use a letter of a sentence for each stair, like, “I- -A-M- -S-O- -H-U-N-G-R-Y-.” Usually an apostrophe is four stairs, spaces or dashes are one, and periods are three, unless there’s a lot of stairs in which case I will spell the word apostrophe out. Sometimes I just go through letters, and sometimes, when I am in a wordy mood, I’ll just do a word a stair. I spell out whatever I am thinking at the moment. The only mention of this kind of counting is in OCD things, but I don’t do it in a compulsive way (like, I don’t have to redo it if I do it wrong, and I don’t have to do it.), I do it because I FIND WALKING UP STAIRS (or something else) BORING. Basically, more than 20 seconds of not reading or doing something mental bores me, and so this is the mind trick thing I have developed to cope. I remember doing it as a child on car rides with street lights. I also do it if I am walking home and have to pee, so I don’t have to think about how I have to pee. This admission makes me feel like there is some obvious psychological thing wrong with me. Is it shocking I am related to someone with Autism?

7. I frequently realize things I have always thought were totally normal are completely bizarre, and wonder why no one I know has mentioned it. Like only recently my sister pointed out that everyone doesn’t immediately take off their pants when they get home. Totally shocking to me. Has everyone I have lived with or dated thought, “Why the hell must Jenny get out of her pants immediately upon getting home?” Or peanut butter in the fridge–I was 22 before I learned that PB did not have to be refrigerated. Had I THOUGHT about it, I would have figured that out, but who thinks about peanut butter?

perplexing package

I recieved a package in the mail today from my mom.  I opened it and seven packs of Wrigley’s winterfresh gum came tumbling out.  No note or explanation.  My mom put four stamps on the package to send it, instead of going to the post office to have it weighed.  Which means she paid $1.84 to send me $1.75 worth of gum.

While I appreciate the package and thought behind this package, I sort of wish I knew what the thought was.


My mom said to me today, “I don’t mean to badmouth racists, buuuuuut…..”

Jaundicewatch 2001

Ah every Thanksgiving reminds me of my favorite Tgiving ever, Jaundicewatch 2001!

It was my first Tgiving after college, and I had recently gotten a job (read: insurance). I had also been having chronic horrific pain in my abdomen. Horrible pain. Pain that made me hurl and pass out. The pain that one without insurance is sure will cost a LOT of money. So shortly before Tgiving I went to the dr. with my horrid pain.

My gallbladder had rebelled! Not only did I have gallstones, but I had PASSED gallstones to my liver. For those of you unfamiliar with the gallbladder, you should not be passing any stones–it’s too small an opening.

So with the holiday and all, they said they’d take out the gallbladder AFTER Tgiving. Hey wait, I can live without it? Okedoke. All I had to do over Thanksgiving was not eat ANY FAT and also, make sure people watched me for jaundice. So my friends came over and watched me for jaundice and played boardgames and watched football. And you know how easy it is on Thanksgiving to not eat fat, right? And I didn’t get jaundice and I did get my gallbladder removed and they wouldn’t let me keep it. I thought women had rights over their body, didn’t you?
So for 5 years I have been missing my organ. But I don’t miss the HORRIFIC pain it caused me, which people still marvel at how I waited so long (about 6 months). In honor of my missing gallbladder I will now eat some cheese, the one thing I completely missed during the fatless period (milk is also really bad for GB issues). Other than that actually going back to food with fat in it was totally gross. If only I had become some health nut. No, I overcame it and will be happily fatting it up today!

Jaundicewatch showed me that my favorite Tgivings have been with friends and not necessarily turkeys. And it brought several offensive mantras into my life that I cannot think of without laughing hysterically. So I hope you are sharing this Thanksgiving with someone, whether new friends or old family. And please, eat something fatty for those of us who could not!


Please enjoy this audiobook version of “Dialogue between Franklin and the Gout,” which is very on topic.

mom advice

My mom’s advice to any of you looking for apartments with roommates in cities:

“Look around for pipes.  I don’t know what they look like, but I don’t want you getting wrapped up in the dope!”

Because surely, city life is a more dope-centric population than the liberal arts college in Oregon that rhymes with WEED.

Annoyance @ My Library

So I have been doing a fair bit of research on my mom’s condition. She officially has Hodgkin’s disease. I had mainly done online research, but I thought I would check out a real book about it.

My library has one. One from 1972. And 3 biographies and 2 fiction books. Yeehaw. Totally helpful.

Also, my library has an exemption from the city noise ordinance. They can begin construction at 5:45 AM. Considering part of the construction involves a lot of backing up service vehicles outside my bedroom window, I was less than ecstatic to find this out.

So while I generally love you, public library, today I am not finding much @ my library.

my mom

So I am trying to find the quickest way to let people know this.  And I know talking to you in person about this only makes the other person feel awkward and not know what to say, which I totally understand.  So for the both of us this is how I am going about this.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, maybe at stage 2.  We won’t know until she has a biopsy.  In case you don’t know (I didn’t until an hour of mainlining Medline), it’s a fairly slow acting cancer, relatively, and fairly treatable it seems.  There aren’t any known causes, although finding out that it correlates with hair dye usage gave me pause.  At this point we won’t know anything for a while, so it’s particularly unhelpful to worry.  This is not stopping me however.  Actually right now I am more angry since my mom has been experiencing classic symptoms for well over a year now, which I find terribly infuriating that this wasn’t caught earlier.  Everything I have read points to more symptoms=the worse it is, which is also freaking me out a bit although I know I should stop searching and just wait for a diagnosis.

You know, sometimes having excellent searching skills is sort of a curse!

My mom has been a smoker since a very young age and is particularly annoyed at having a cancer not caused by smoking.  She feels like if she did it to herself, she would at least feel like she had some control in the matter, I guess.  So, although she quit for 3 days, she is back to smoking.  This, in the particularly bizarre way of my family, is totally a good sign to me, since she can’t be so worried about it that she would stop smoking.  Weird, I know, but true.
Weirdest of all is that I had to talk to my dad about it, who has been in remission for over 10 years now.  My parents don’t talk at all, and I was just a kid when he had cancer, so I feel oddly unfair freaking out about my mom’s case, when I didn’t so much when my dad had cancer, mainly cuz he didn’t tell me anything about it (and I didn’t have an internet connection) and cuz at 13 no one thinks their parents are going to die.  Can you make a parent jealous by caring more about one’s cancer than the other’s?  I don’t think there’s an Emily Post manual on this.
And generally I feel like I should eat superfoods morning, noon, and night now.  sheesh.

No comments, b/c saying stuff isn’t terribly helpful at the moment, but in case I am out of it or incommunicado, this is why.