Back in 2013 during the middle of chemo, D and I went to see The Joy Formidable in concert and I got really sick. The venue had limited seating, so we were stuck standing, and I was so dizzy that I thought I was going to pass out. In fact, at one point I did faint in a bathroom stall. I was desperately trying to hold it together in order to not ruin the evening, as D was so excited to finally be seeing one of his fave bands. Right when I was about to cave and bail, a guy offered me his seat. I started feeling much better once I was able to sit and we were able to make it through the show. That guy saved our night, and I’ll always remember how kind he was. ❤️
I just adore lists like this. D and I were having a conversation regarding this topic sometime in the last couple of weeks (fuck my memory blows nowadays! did you know they say chemo brain can last up to five fucking years?! wtf.) so I decided to go ahead and list it out for future reference:
These are in no particular order btw.
- Ten (Pearl Jam)
- Core (STP)
- Under The Table and Dreaming (DMB)
- Tragic Kingdom (No Doubt)
- Sublime (Sublime)
- OK Computer (Radiohead)
- Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morissette)
- Pieces of Me (Jewel)
- Friction, Baby (Better Than Ezra)
- Live Though This (Hole)
I still listen to all of these, from beginning to end, quite often.
I was thinking about all kinds of random ass shit on the way to the office today (it’s a 45 minute drive from home) and I remembered this incident from when I was in the 6th grade. So there was this major douche named Larry (or some such shit) who sat behind me in my language arts class (why didn’t they just call it English tho?). Larry was a right prick who was always fucking with me. He would throw shit at the back of my head, pull my hair, kick me, spit on me, etc. Once he even put gum in my hair, which required cutting out a giant chunk. I tried ignoring it. I tried telling the teacher. I tried telling him to fuck off. Nothing worked.
One morning after a particularly rough evening at home where my dad terrorized us all night, I rolled into class and sat down. I was not in the fucking mood. Eventually Larry wandered in and said something snide to me. I ignored him. Then I felt him grab my hair. I quickly turned around, stabbed my pencil into his hand and said very calmly: Don’t touch me ever again. I had to deal with a real bully at home. I wasn’t about to deal with punk ass Larry at school. Fuck that noise.
His hand bled. I got sent to see the principal. I ended up getting weekly sessions with the school counselor and being enrolled in some program called RAPP which stood for Resolve All Problems Peacefully.
But you know what? Larry never fucked with me again. Worth it.
I was 19-years-old and working the night shift at a TGIFriday’s. By day, I worked doing data entry at a data storage facility. I didn’t have a car, so I had to bum rides to get to and from work. Usually my step-dad picked me up after a night shift, which I always dreaded. The car rides were long and silent. We had nothing in common. Nothing to say to each other; not that either of us were particularly talkative to begin with. We loved each other in a begrudging, obligatory type of way, but we typically tried to stay out of each other’s way whenever possible.
This particular night at work had been terrible. My customers were all a bunch of assholes who tipped like shit, which was partially on them, but somewhat on me because I was a terrible waitress if I’m being honest. I sat outside of the restaurant, and when my step-dad pulled up, I got in the car, bracing myself for the awkward, silent, fifteen minute ride home.
I slid into the passenger seat and we exchanged obligatory greetings, which sounded more like grunts. He reached over and turned up the radio. I turned to stare out the window, imagining I was somewhere (anywhere) else, which was my ultimate goal, and the reason I had dropped out of college to work two jobs.
Low by Cracker came on the stereo. I started to do a subtle dance in my seat. I continued to stare out the window and started to hum along with the song. The chorus started, and I suddenly heard my step-dad start singing, “To be with you, girl, like being low. Hey, hey, hey, like being stoned.” This was something so completely out of character for him, that I should have been shocked into silence. Instead, I started singing along. And we sang the song together until it ended.
We finished the drive in silence. I jumped out of the car the second we came to a stop and said, “Thanks for the ride.” I immediately locked myself in my bedroom and cried for the normal relationship with a father that I had just glimpsed, but would never actually have.
Regardless, it is the best memory I have of my step-father.
Fast forward thirteen years. I’d barely seen or spoken to him during that time. Just a month after the incident described above, we had a huge falling out that ended with his arrest. I left home and never looked back. In March 2012, my family called and said, “He’s dying. If you want to see him then you should come now.” I was conflicted. I didn’t want to go. There was a deep seated hatred in the core of my being that I didn’t know what to do with. I didn’t know that I wanted to rush to his death bed. I didn’t know that he deserved my forgiveness. But then I remembered the time we sang Low together in the car. And it was the powerful force of that memory that pushed me to do what I did next: rush to his side, grasp his hand and say, “I love you.” To which he replied, “I love you, too.”
And that was the last time I ever spoke to him. He died the next day.
to the first ever pic D posted of us on Facebook. People were still way grumpy back then about our relationship. Well…his people. My people were like omg it’s about fucking time you moved on. Only my friends “liked” the pic. Haha.
We look so different now. I remember that night vividly. D’s band was playing a show at Just John in The Grove. A bunch of my friends came out. It was a good time. We used to always go to Steak ‘n Shake after those shows, mostly because it was the only place open.
I miss my long hair. Fucking cancer. Grr.
It’s so crazy how much life can change in just four years.
Anyway…this pic makes me smile. Thanks, Facebook. You don’t always suck.
As we approach Thanksgiving, D and I have been talking about all the Thanksgivings we have spent together. It made me want to do a recap post.
This was our very first Thanksgiving together. Just the two of us. I was living in a townhouse in Ballwin. D came over with bottles of Bordeaux and Riesling, and made fun of me because I had a bottle of sweet red wine. Ha. I ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Maggiano’s, which was surprisingly delicious. We ate dinner and watched television. We ended up watching 28 Days Later, which D had never seen. We talked about divorce, and our kids, our fears for them, etc. There may have been some tears. Despite that, it was a really great night. I’ll always remember it.
We look like babies! OMG. This was just a matter of days before my bilateral mastectomy, so I was a bit of an emotional mess.
This year D had Freya, but I didn’t have Jackson. I came over to his place and helped him make dinner. It was slightly awkward because Freya was so shy and everything still felt very new and sort of strange. In fact, the morning started off a bit rough because when D’s ex dropped Freya off she (the ex) was crying. I felt so very sad for her that day. We rallied though and the three of us played Mario Kart. D and I made dinner.
Frey looks so young in this pic. I miss those little girl bangs. Sigh.
This year I had Jackson, and Freya was with her mom. I was living in an apartment in the city. D came over and spent the night. I ordered food from Maggiano’s again, upon D’s request. He got a big kick out of having a catered Thanksgiving dinner. I remember I didn’t have a phone, because I had broken mine and was waiting on a replacement. We ate food and lounged around watching movies. I think we watched Contact and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. D fell asleep on the couch.
My brother had just died the week before so I was still working through that. I remember I was quite sad, but also so thankful. Thankful to be alive. Thankful to be with my two favorite people. Thankful to have such a wonderful life.
I made arrangements with the ex to change our custody schedule so that D and I would have the kids on the same holidays as much as possible. So this was the first Thanksgiving where we had both of the kids. It was awesome! Jackson and I went over to D and Frey’s place. The kids played together (Minecraft!) while D and I made a big dinner. It was one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever. Everything felt very comfortable and normal.
This year it will be just the two of us again. We’re looking forward to making Thanksgiving dinner in our new home! We will miss the kids obviously, but we both agree that we are looking forward to it just being the two of us this year. There will be wine, yummy food, movies, and sex. I can’t wait.
Nov. 2: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?
To be brave is to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear. I have always had a difficult time seeing myself as brave. But when I think back on my life, I can think of several situations in which I was. That’s not to say that I wasn’t scared, because I was, but I put forth a facade of fearlessness and pushed forward.
This isn’t a recent example, but it is the one that comes to mind:
Back in 1999, I was 18-years-old, and staying at home with my parents for a while, trying to save up money to move to California. I was working two full-time jobs at the time. I was constantly exhausted and almost never home. The never being at home thing was actually a blessing, as the situation in the home was dangerous. I had two drug addicted parents, one of whom was physically abusive, and three younger siblings who were completely out of control. I stayed out of the way as much as I could. I was anxious to get out of there and start my own life.
One night I got home, and my step-dad was making the rounds, which is how I referred to his tendency to go from person to person in the house to berate and/or physically intimidate or abuse them. This was all completely normal, and typically I would ignore it. My previous attempts at intervention were never well met by any of the parties, even those whom I was attempting to help. So I typically just kept to myself when I was at home.
This particular evening I listened to him make the rounds. He started with my mom. I heard a loud thump and peeked out into the hallway where I saw him choking my mother and telling her that he would kill her. After a few seconds of this, he approached my little sister who was like 13 at the time, and started in on her. He told her she was a stupid, ugly, lazy piece of shit. He then went on to tell her, “You are the stupidest person I know.”
I don’t know what it was about this comment that pushed me over the edge, but it did. I totally lost my shit. I raced out into the kitchen and started going off. I screamed and raged at him. I told him that, in fact, he was the stupidest person I had ever known, and that he was also a bully, piece of shit, crack-addicted scum bag, among other things. He stepped right up to me and his nose was touching my nose. When he talked, he was spitting all over me. He said, “I should knock you out right now and teach you a lesson.” I said, “I wish you would because I’m not going to break. I will press charges against you and make sure you end up in jail where you belong.” We stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, but was probably only a few seconds. Eventually, he went back and sat down at the kitchen table. I simply said, “That’s what I thought,” and turned around and walked out.
The cops had been called. I’m still not sure who called them, whether it was the neighbor or one of my siblings. When Ferguson PD arrived they ascertained the situation, got all versions of the story, and eventually placed my step-dad under arrest for a number of outstanding warrants he had around the Saint Louis area. As they cuffed him, he looked at me and said, “You better not be here when I get back.” I replied, “Don’t worry, I’m leaving and I won’t be back. By the way, I hope you fucking drop dead.”
After he was carted off, my mother looked at me, crying, and said, “Jennifer, why do you always have to cause trouble?”
I packed my shit and I left that night. I moved to California two days later. I never went back to that house.
This isn’t the example most would use to illustrate my supposed bravery, as few people know this story. I suspect most people would say enduring breast cancer treatment. As most already know, I had a bilateral mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemo, and radiation back in late 2012, early 2013. I don’t see that as an act of bravery, however. Cancer treatment was simply something I was forced to endure if I wanted to survive. Is something still considered brave if you don’t have a choice? This is something I’ve spent some time contemplating, but I’m no closer to an answer.
Five years ago, Scott and I went to a used furniture store to buy stuff for our new office space. He insisted on getting a pic of me in this giant chair: