Bart

Bart, that’s what my sister called her dad. His name is Brent. He and my mother got together when I was tiny, like two or something.
People used to tell us we looked so much a like and that I had his eyes. I thought that was funny, since we weren’t related by blood, but he has nice eyes and I didn’t argue.

Sometimes I’m not sure if my memories are real or not, no matter how clear they are so I check with my parents.
“Brent, it’s Jen, do you remember a day, when I was really small, we were walking together and I picked up a piece of gum, off the sidewalk and ate it?”

“The one time? “

“Was there more than one time?”

“You were notorious for it.”

Jennifer June

And the cervix of a 19 year old…

I’ve always looked young for my age. I’d be the only one left out of the bar, as my friends filed in giggling and giddy on rum and coke Slurpees, with their fake ID and shoveled on make-up. The bouncers would laugh at me and tell me to go home to my mommy.

I was still being carded at the beer store when I was 30.

My gynecologist told me, just a few years ago, that she would never of guessed that I had 3 children because I have the cervix of a 19 year old. It was a strange compliment and not the kind you can call all your friends to brag about really but I skipped home joyfully just the same.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly effected by the endless side effects of the Prednisone or possibly the Actonel that I am taking to help protect me from the side effects of the Prednisone…or the pills I’m taking to ward off the side effects of the Actonel… whatever.

I was feeling terrible and looking remarkably pregnant for a non-pregnant person so I went off to the grocery store in search of leafy greens, dried fruit and fiber. When I reached the cash, the owner started his usual chit chat which would normally bore me to tears but I’ve been starved of human contact lately so I entertained it. We were in mid mundane weather talk when he wondered rather abruptly,

“Are you married?”
“Pardon?”
“Married? Are you married? I never see you with a man, only your children.”

I haven’t been out of the house in a while, is he concerned or flirting?

“Oh, no…I’m not married. I have a boyfriend. I’m not married.”

“Do you live together?”

“No…no we don’t”

He smiles broadly and starts in about what I do for fun, how often do I see my boyfriend, do I like being a single mother and what am I planning to cook with the dried prunes etc…

Then he talks about how he would like kids and starts listing off the qualities he is looking for in a woman.

He is flirting! How fun! I think I can remember how to do this.

I smile back, toss my hair over my shoulder and make a few witty remarks, laughing contagiously and annoying the person waiting in line behind me to no end. Then the cashier comes right out with:

“I like older women.”

“Excuse me?”

He grins and gives me this you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-that’s-right-YOU look with a raise of the eyebrow and everything!

“I like older women, real women. I don’t like young girls. Older women have life experience, it’s very attractive.”

I refrained from letting my face fall immediately after the words left his lips. I refrained from clubbing him over the head with my bag of avocados. I refrained from screaming “I have the cervix of a 19 year old!!” in the grocery store.

I just took my box of bran and my produce, wished him a great day and good luck finding is dream woman and made my way gracefully out of the store and back home to take my 10 pills and a tablet of osteoporosis medication before getting cozy on the couch with a glace of prune juice and this month’s issue of O magazine, just in time for Dr. Oz.

Older women…pft!

Jennifer June

Dear Boyfriend, I think you might be Polish.

My boyfriend, is convinced that he is Spanish.

His father’s family is Acadian from New Brunswick and his mother was born in Montreal but adopted as an infant and apparently has no information about her cultural background. François has taken it upon himself to choose an ancestral background and has acquired the hellbent insistence that he is of Spanish lineage.

And why not? The food, the music, the dance, the hot men, the gorgeous women, what’s not to like?

“François in Spanish is Pedro”
“No babe, it’s really not.”
“It is so! My real name is Pedro”
“I’m guessing it’s probably Franco”
“Why don’t you believe in me?”
“Is this a real conversation?”

I’ll ignore the fact that he doesn’t speak a word of the language, has never been to the country and drowns in a pool of his own sweat whenever he eats anything remotely spicy. I’m even willing to overlook the fact that he is clearly as white as the driven snow.

There is just one thing…

Almost all the food François eats is as white as he is, contains potatoes and/or cream and his vegetable of choice is mushrooms.
Some of his specialties include:

Sausage sandwich on white bread
Pasta in cream sauce
Eggs, bacon and cheese on a waffle
Pork or poultry and potatoes
Creamy mushroom rice
Perogies
Cabbage Soup
Pickle Soup (Yes..that’s right, you read it correctly)
etc…

When I was in the hospital, he filled my entire refrigerator and freezer with assorted Tupperware containers all full to the brim with cream of Cauliflower soup, to help me heal faster. There is enough in there to fatten and clog the arteries of feed an army.

I am forced to deduct that my boyfriend is more likely Polish or pregnant than Spanish.

Do I bring it up, risk crushing his dreams but nipping this in the bud, before the stories start about how he is probably a direct relative of Joan Miró or Salvador Dalí?

Do I pretend to believe in his fantasy and his god given right to master the vihuela?

And more importantly, what do I do with the 30 gallons of cauliflower soup in my freezer?

Jennifer June

By possible mood swings you mean feeling increasingly stabby right?

I thought that I would come home with this amazingly serene feeling, post-hospital epiphany in tow. After all, my life flashed before my eyes and what have you.

When I was still in, I lay playing with the controls of my foldy bed, thinking long and hard about what would happen if I just died, right now. What if I never get the chance to do all of the things I wanted to do? What if that was it?

*insert Peggy Lee singing – Is that all there is*

I’m not complaining. OK, maybe I am, but only a little. I’m happy to be home. I’m thankful I’m on the road to recovery. It could have been so much worse. I appreciate life in a whole new way and all that great stuff too! It’s just that I’m a bit surprised and maybe a tiny little bit disappointed that I’m not more…excited, rejuvenated or inspired or something.

I was sure I would come home and write a 6 foot long bucket list but so far “never leave the house with dirty laundry in the hamper” is the only task that has made it on there.

I was sure I would come home and take life by the balls but I’m still too tired to take the salad bowl off the fridge and put it up in the cupboard.

I was sure I would come home full of love and tenderness for absolutely everyone on earth but instead I feel intolerant and bitchy and occasionally overcome by the urge to stab somebody in the eye with a plastic fork.

I blame these steroids they have me on. They keep me in this walking coma and are starting to make me seriously doubt my sanity.

Some of the possible side effects include mood swings,anxiety, irritability, frequent urination, blurred vision, increased appetite and insomnia.

So, basically picture me half blind, sleep deprived (averaging 3 hours of sleep at night), paranoid, anxious, short-fused and starving, with the constant feeling of urgency nagging at my bladder.

I’m SO fun to hang out with!!

So Zen.

So full of love and tenderness.

Jennifer June

Vegetarian fish loaf?

So… after 6 days of a fever of over 104, violent and uncontrollable shaking and an inability to get from one room to the other without sliding my body against the wall for support, my silly boyfriend decides that it’s time to haul me kicking and screaming (or dragging and whimpering rather) to the clinic.
The doctor takes one look at me and decided due to my canary yellow hue, that my liver has clearly aborted all obligation to me and and that I was to be rushed immediately to the hospital.

After about 2 billion blood tests, which were especially fun because I have no veins, it was determined that my liver is in great shape.

“So I can still drink?!?”

As are my kidneys.

The only thing is, that my over enthusiastic immune system has decided for no apparent reason, that my red blood cells are actually an evil virus and has formed anti-bodies that are rapidly killing them off. Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.

The next morning, I had my first of 12 blood transfusions. I was terrified. First they warn you of all the potential reactions you might have to the blood, then they reassure you that only 25% of recipients have a reaction.

“ONLY 25%? I may have chartreuse eyeballs, I may be in a fever induced semi-coma but I can do basic math. There are four people in this room things aren’t looking so good for somebody.”

Then they come look at you every 15 minutes to remind you that you might react.
“Are you feeling anything strange? Heart palpitations? Difficulty breathing? Itching?”

“No, no I’m fine” scratch scratch, wheeze, choke.

My room was #666 ( I kid you not).

My roommate was a loud groany man, who wasn’t as offensive as he was exhausting. I kept catching him heaving his body off the end of his bed, gown around his thick neck, his stark white ass in the air, letting out these long winding farts, tugging on his colostomy bag, muttering and swearing in Italian.

“Mr. Primiani, you’re not supposed to get out of bed by yourself.”
“I go see my wife!” He announces authoritatively.
I push the alert button.
The Preposé comes running and cram him back into place, threatening to restrain him and what have you.
Repeat every 30-40 minutes.
It was our thing.

After having some of my blood accidentally transfused into a bag of saline, the visiting hematologist requested that I be transferred to a hospital more equipped for my condition, like one with actual doctors for example.

The next hospital gave me a private room and reverse isolation. A calmer, quieter place to obsessively question my mortality and berate myself for having put off doing laundry all week, never having written a will or planned for the potential orphanage of my children.


It took several days before I could walk the four feet to the bathroom without help from Francois, who devotedly dragged my IV stand behind him back and forth, and refrained from showing any resentment towards me for having to use the toilet about every 15 minutes. He slept in the chair beside me, holding my hand and reassuring me that everything would be OK. I reassured him that I knew everything would be OK and silently prayed to god to let me live.


They have successfully suppressed my immune system enough to slow down the execution of my blood cells and now we watch and wait, as I get slowly weaned off the steroids, to see that the anti-bodies don’t kick in again. We’re not entirely in the clear, I’m still heavily medicated and having my blood tested every couple of days but I was discharged from the hospital yesterday, to come home to heal. The condition being that my mom is not allowed to go home for at least a week (sorry mom) and my kids promise to be angels. Hear that kids?

For real though, I’m happy to be home to listen to them bicker, to listen to the landlord renovate the apartment upstairs, so happy to not eat “vegetarian fish loaf” for supper, so happy to be home to sleep in my own bed, even if Bowtie/Boots/Duncan/Eli/Whose cat is that? only lets me sleep on a third of it. Thank you for the flowers, wishes, visits, prayers and piggy truffles. Thank you to my sweet boyfriend who insisted that I was beautiful even if I looked like Marge Simpson. Thank you most of all to everyone who came together and managed to miraculously stabilize my children’s lives through all of this. I can’t thank you enough, but thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jennifer June