Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

  • Followed
  • Follows you

Edit biography

I wrote this maybe 10 days ago.

I forget where I left off, but I was living full-time in NJ at my folks' place from 2/8 to 2/28*.  Most of that time I was away from Matt because he was working in Maryland, music directing a show.  It was a really hard three weeks.

(*which does not include the 5 then 6 days in January we were up there, too.)


One of those February weeks my dad was in the hospital, so with my Mom's routine disrupted she was extra spacey. Once Dad came home, things slowly returned to normal, but Dad was really struggling with the fact that for the first time he wasn't just *bing!* back to normal. He is not used to feeling weak and needing help.

Anyway, Dad had a bowel obstruction, and thankfully the surgical fix didn't require a bowel resection-- instead there was just a weird piece of string (made out of a strand of scar tissue) that strangulated his guts.

Didja ever cut a raw, boneless chicken breast and there's that weird white tendony-gristly thing that kinda goes through a 3rd of it?  It looked like that.  So the doc snipped it, and in one second my dad went from Guy In Agony Who Could Not Breathe And Wanted To Die to WHEW SWEET RELIEF.  They waited six days before they operated, hoping the obstruction would just kinda clear itself, but after Day 6 they realized they needed to get in there. Three teeny laparascopic incisions and a snip later, and he was fixed up. They watched him for 2 more days and then released him.  

(Side note to Jeremy Moskowitz  and Matt Lichtenwalner : Remember that time in either 2006 or 2009 (I can't remember) when we went for Indian food someplace on Kirkwood Highway and I had to go sit in the car in the middle of the meal, and when you came out I was inconsolably wailing and screaming bloody murder in the back of the car, and you guys took me to the hospital? That was a bowel obstruction. Dad had the same thing. We're built weird, I guess.)

Problem is that while Dad was in the hospital, they stuck a naso-gastric tube down into his gut and pumped his stomach for 6 solid days, to relieve the pressure building behind the obstruction in hopes it would clear itself. During this time he wasn't even allowed to have ice chips, let alone any food, broth, water,  nada.  After the surgery they continued to pump his stomach so he could heal up, so for a grand total of 8 days he didn't move, eat, or drink anything.  He was a withered shell of a guy.  We were afraid he'd never regain his strength or confidence after that.  Once they sent him home, it took him about two weeks of constant care by yours truly, but by February 28th he was back to about 87% strength, which was enough for him to tell me I could go home, so I could do a gig on the 29th.  (Gig was great. More on that later.)

Mom continues to be on Planet Mom. Her dementia is fascinating, honestly. If you talk to her, you would have no idea anything is wrong. She is funny, normal, on-task, quick-witted, well-spoken, patient, friendly, sweet, knows all of her stories and recipes, all that.  It's just that 5 minutes later she won't remember that you had that conversation.  So she'll go to a doctor and will sign in perfectly, will be friendly, will make eye contact, and will tell people things that sound totally reasonable... and 50% of the time she's right.  But while my dad was in the hospital I had to take her to a GI appointment, and she told her GI doctor that she was the one who was in the hospital for a week... and the GI doctor dutifully wrote it down in her chart, because it sounded totally convincing. I had to gently say, "Mom, you weren't in the hospital; Dad was."

"What now?"

"Dad was the one in the hospital, not you. He's still in there now with a bowel obstruction."

"What? Did I say I was in the hospital?

"Yep, just now."

"Was I in the hospital?"

"Nope. I mean, you visited Dad, but you weren't the one being treated."

"Oh. Hmm. ((chuckle)) Well, that's old age I guess."

The GI doc was puzzled listening to us have this exchange. On the way out I popped my head into his office and asked him to please make a note in her chart that she's got early-stage dementia, and to please make sure someone else is in the examination room with her, because otherwise we can't be sure if she'll be giving accurate information. And also, she won't remember any instructions you give her.

Fast forward three weeks later, where we had a follow-up appointment with the same GI doctor. He now sees in her chart the note he wrote-- "patient has early stage dementia."  I am in the examination room with her again.  As he prescribes her antibiotics for something, he looks at her and says loudly, "Now don't forget that you have to take these for 10 days. Don't forget, now!"

Right. Because those are the magic words that make dementia patients miraculously remember shit.  Fucking idiot.

(And no, that wasn't his way of making sure I was paying attention. Trust me on this one. He just doesn't get it.)

She's like a computer with a bad hard drive. If something was written to hard drive before 2017, she remembers it perfectly. Post 2017, it gets glitchy. Starting around Thanksgiving 2019, it's RAM only.  


Anyway. While I was up there, I did not think I would ever be able to come back to DE.  I had several private, epic, Oscar-worthy meltdowns... and in the twitchy aftermath of one of them, my brother picked up on the fact that I wasn't doing so well and he suggested that I go home to DE for one night, sleep in my own bed, attend a Sunday rehearsal that I didn't think I'd be able to attend, and then head back up to NJ afterwards, and he'd watch my folks for that time.  Those were a sweeeeeet 20 hours, I'm not gonna lie. It's amazing how much one can recharge in a short amount of time. Everyone at rehearsal was so, so, SO lovely and supportive, and genuinely asking not only how my folks were doing, but how I was doing. This was weird for me... I've never really been the one who needed a supportive hug; I'm the one who gives them. I didn't even know that many people even knew about my parental situation. I felt really loved and cared for, by people I didn't really think ever gave me much thought. 

While I was in NJ, I contacted 41 home health agencies to lend my folks a hand... and only TWO serve Warren County (the ass-end of cow-town NJ where they live). One agency had caregivers that live in Newark, which is about an hour away from my parents. Generally speaking, Newark folks don't understand country life, they don't understand deer and bears and how your nearest neighbor is a cow a few acres away. They also don't drive generally, so when we tried one caregiver we had to pay a $68 Uber ride each way for them. How would they be able to give my parents a hand if they can't even drive?  So they weren't a good fit.  But the other agency, Home Instead Senior Care, is based about 8 miles from my folks, and their caregivers live in the area. They understand the ways of the cows. After some shuffling and scheduling, we now officially have Wendy the caregiver spending 3 days a week with my mom for 4 hours at a clip. This basically frees up my Dad to turn his brain off so he can putter in the garage, go have lunch with the guys, snooze, pay bills, whatever. Wendy makes sure my mom is entertained, fed, takes her meds, helps with meal prep, can take her to get her nails/hair done, take her to doctor appointments, etc.  It's a huge relief.  Of course now with all of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I'm not sure how long this will last... but I'm comforted that at least for now there's an extra set of competent eyes making sure she (and Dad) aren't experiencing any symptoms. 


Now we're home. I'm writing this part on 3/15/20 now.

So anyway, I've been home since March, and I've mostly been hermiting. Like, pretty much staying in my PJs, leaving the house only when absolutely necessary. I've been doing a decent amount of voiceover work, and 

On Friday March 13th, Matt's Ramones band had (53rd & 3rd) a gig at Oddity Bar, which was comfortingly bleachy, and not very well-attended due in part to collective nerves, and the Delaware State of Emergency which didn't make ir clear if folks should stay home. We were all OK with the attendance, honestly. The 25-ish folks who did attend really wanted to be there, and we all amused ourselves coming up with silly, inventive ways to greet each other without shaking hands or elbow bumping. Everyone tipped the bar-staff very well, knowing they had it rough. Some of us even ate at the Chinese place next door and overtipped there, too. 

In other news, the stores have been busy but not nuts, and fairly well-stocked. They were out of bleach, hand sanitizer,  and rubbing alcohol, and low on bread, but nothing we couldn't work around. (Besides, we already had bleach and rubbing alcohol on hand Because Adult, and also Because Burning Man.)  We feel prepared for a week or two (or  of isolation if it comes to that.

I bleach-washed the bejeezus out of the kitchen floor and the entire master bathroom, so I feel like I've accomplished something. I'm hoping my burning lungs are from the bleach and not a symptom of COVID-19. 

Anyhoo, there's more to tell, but this is already hella long. 

As a reward for reading this long, blathery post, please enjoy this delightful thing by making with the clicky (fixed link!):

MORE
Everything is beautiful, isn’t it?
I can’t imagine your stress. I’m glad you’re back at your home.
Thanks, m'dear. Very glad to be back home... though the guilt is pretty overwhelming at times. Trying to just stay present and breathe, y'know? 💗

Love to you guys.
I can see Derren Brown, but was there a particular tweet you wanted to share?
Weird-- not sure why the link isn't working. When I edit the post it's fine, but once I post the post, it just takes you to Derren's profile and not the tweet.

Anyway, I think I was just able to fix it now.
BRILLIANT!
RIGHT?!
Super glad Dad's back on track and that Mom's got additional help so he can get some peaceful Dad time. Also, that Wendy knows the ways of the cows, because yeah.

Most importantly, I'm glad you've got your life back. When this pandemic is over, I'm very much looking forward to catching up.

Love you and love to the folks.
Glad your back and rebuilding your spoon inventory. Offer still stands, if needed. Don't be a martyr.
 

Here are some random links I have saved for things I found cool or interesting:

1) Sean Ono Lennon's band, GOASTT, and their song "Animals." The video is also mesmerizing. It is clear that he is the son of two brilliant artists. If anyone's gonna have an unlimited bankroll to create art, I'm happy it's him. (GOASTT stands for "Ghost of the Saber-toothed tiger.) NSFW (bewbs).

2) Lizzo's Tiny Desk Concert. She has an impressively filthy mouth, but she makes it so endearing. And holy craaaaap does she have chops! She is unfathomably cute and quick-witted, and so comfy being in the spotlight. NSFW (language).

3) If you don't have time for the Tiny Desk Concert above, enjoy Lizzo's hilarious 3-minute parody of Anchorman. She's such a star, and her comic timing is perfecto. (I love the idiots in the comments saying "Um, she's not playing the flute here." No, really? She's not actually playing the flute when it has flames shooting out of it? You think that might be lipsynced? Thanks, Mozart.)  NSFW (language).

4) The "Satisficing" subreddit, containing gifs and videos of cake and cookie icing and piping... so soothing, so magical. It's visual xanax. 

5) The New Voice Studio run by Lisa Paglin and Marianna Brilla. I would give a kidney to study there with them... good GAWD. They say everything I have felt over the years, and I wanna go there and learn every single thing in their heads. Oh lordy lordy lordy lordy. After I win the lottery or something. The YouTube video on their home page (ya gotta scroll a bit) speaks right to my soul.  (A zillion thanks to Michele Grant for indirectly turning me onto them via this article about Adele and other singers blowing their voices out only to have miraculous vocal surgery performed on them, only to have them blow it out again, because they never fixed their shitty technique.)


Parent Update

In other news, we just visited my folks and had a really great visit. Everyone was chipper, we genuinely all enjoyed the visit, we went out to eat, etc.

It's pretty clear that my mom is mentally slipping... her short-term memory is really going bye-bye. She forgets to play the bills, and gets lost driving pretty consistently now, so my dad now handles the finances and drives her everywhere now, which I guess is not the end of the world.  But other than occasional short-term forgetfulness (she watched me and Matt eat english muffins; about 20 seconds later she asked if we ate breakfast even though she was looking at our plates, and she even took a bite of one of our muffins), she is pleasant, fun, on-task, engaged in conversations, and overall pretty OK. My dad is terrified, OTOH, and exahusted, of course, because he has to stay on top of everything... so it was nice to give him a little break.  Her blood-sugar is also considerably more under control, which is awesome. She looks and feels better, and she says she has more energy.  Her diabetes doc (the one who was delaying approving her  much-needed knee surgery because her blood-sugar numbers were too high) now says he'll approve the surgery in 3 months if she keeps up the good numbers.  The sad irony is that in 3 months she'll be that much farther gone mentally, she won't be able to enjoy her new knee and the freedom it affords her due to her cognitive decline. Dad worries with a fixed knee she may even wander on foot. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

This all sounds grim, but I'm still strangely optimistic.


MORE
8/19 '19 6 Comments
I'm glad your mom is cheerful and pleasant. Lizzo makes me so stinking happy.
OMG I love this! Hahaha!
Thank you for the r/SatisfIcing link. I use videos of relaxing things like icing cakes and other soothing activities to fall asleep to and it is very much visual xanax for me! Here's a link in return: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xrlaJ8egzs&t=329s (SFW) I kill the sound, personally.

Glad your time with family was wholesome and less draining! Sometimes things just click with everyone, and it's a good day. XOXO
Karen Kuhl 8/21 '19
Haven’t checked out the links yet because I’m at one of my coffee shop stops, and I don’t want to be ‘that guy’. Will later.

Over the moon to hear that things are (at least generally) better with your Mom. Of course, I’m sorry that the mental state puts more on your Dad. Though, if someone there can handle it...

I’m also super hopeful for something that you didn’t mention, so perhaps I’m missing a detail. With increased physicality, her mental acuity may improve. Exercise is great for the mind, as my stagnant and lethargic lifestyle proves. (I no can brain these days.) So... hopeful(ish?)
I have been thinking about your mom a lot. I am glad she is doing so well, all things considered. My mom had wanted to visit her if we ever got back to NJ. I agree with Matt L. - if she can get a little more movement in, it could make a lot of difference. You may also want to play cards with her or do other activities that exercise the mind. Every little bit can help.
SFM 9/11 '19
 

Thinking a lot about D-Day today. The NY Times had a lot of really powerful, moving articles with gorgeous, haunting photos in it. 

I cannot understand how some assfaces can look at those photos and read the accounts and think either that the holocaust was fake, the photos are fake, that Hitler and/or Nazis were fine people, or any of that.  

Reading that there are only 3% of WWII veterans left (who are all over 90) makes me wonder how we can make this history feel real and urgent to younger generations who only think of WWII as some random they had to memorize for a history test once. 

You hear so many people say, "My dad fought in the war, but he never ever would talk about it." So any chance of hearing stories first-hand were probably scarce to begin with, and now are dwindling so rapidly. 

When I was in high school, I was one of those people who didn't care about history, but now it fascinates me. Matt's folks take tons of classes at Delaware's Center for Lifelong Learning, and in a few years I'll be old enough to attend (I believe you have to be 50, though it might be 55). Matt's dad has taken a few classes on WW1, The Great Depression, WWII, and beyond. He said he's learned so much from listening to these historians with a knack for public speaking/teaching. 

Anyway, here are links to some really interesting articles if you wanna check 'em out:

D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time. (The photos are unreal. There's this one shot of a bunch of bandaged guys waiting to be taken to the hospital, and I noticed one guy up front has impossibly great hair considering where he is and what he just went through that day. But then it occurred to me that his big, boofy hair that I consider "impossibly great hair" was WAY too long at that time. Matt's dad said you could tell how long someone had been fighting by how long their hair was.)

Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why. (This article is about how historians are able to piece together pretty detailed pictures and descriptions of a particular soldier's every day life during the war, thanks to meticulous recordkeeping. Some of those records were damaged in a fire, but what remains is still pretty impressive.)

‘Archaeology of D-Day’ Aims to Preserve What the Soldiers Left BehindThe title says it all. 


MORE
6/6 '19 2 Comments
Related: I also worry that the people with memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be gone soon. We're not going to get nuke deniers, exactly, but we could be in for a generation of leaders who just... need to try it for themselves. :-O As awful as Trump is, at least he dislikes war as a tool of statecraft. Unless it tweaks Obama.
 

I had to run out for a second, and Folkadelphia (it's a radio show) was on 88.5 WXPN. A song came on, and I listened to it on the short drive home and then couldn't leave the car until I found out what it was. 

It's a song called "You Missed My Heart," and it's performed by Phoebe Bridgers. It's a cover... but holy shit, the words, the performance, the arrangement just all took my breath away. 

Here's info about it. You can listen to the song there and also read the lyrics.

Just... wow.

The Christmas Plague

In other news, everyone around me has been sick with this two-week head cold of death. I've been feeling pretty cocky and invincible until yesterday when I woke up with a giant spike sticking into my throat from my inner ear.  

It wouldn't be Christmas without me having a friggin' cold.  Matt has it too... though I think he's a day sicker than I am.

We're supposed to be the in-studio on-air guests on WDEL's afternoon show this Friday to sing a few Christmas tunes and to plug our upcoming comedy show at Logan House on January 5th. Let's hope I have a voice that day.

Driveway Moment #2

Driveway Moment #2 just happened now. I am still in the car, now in a totally dark garage because the inside garage light timed out. 

I just watched Anne Mollo 's absolutely gorgeous story of Her Winter of Bill (as I call it).  I was absolutely enraptured. I got choked up. There were a few times I caught myself not breathing.  Thank you Annie-- really. Thank you. What a beautiful story. 

Watch it here-- she starts at the 37-minute mark. 


MORE
12/20 '17 2 Comments
I love those moments of discovery on the radio. I remember hearing Chris Smither (being broadcast live) for the first time just as I was leaving a supermarket parking lot. I had to put the transmission back in park and just sit and listen to the rest of the show; I was so enraptured I didn't even want to drive!
Anne Mollo 12/20 '17
I just ran across her debut album (the one that song appears on) a couple weeks ago and have really been digging it. There are a few weak pieces, but the first 3 tracks are aces.

I also love that the album title, A Stranger in the Alps, is a fairly "in" Big Lebowski in-joke.
CM Adams 12/21 '17
 

OK nerds, next time there's a thunderstorm, get your sexy arse over to the coolest damn site you've seen in a long time: lightningmaps.org.

Somehow this site displays real-time lightning strikes... and I do mean real time... as in, the lightning flashes, and by the time your eyeballs register the flash outside your window and then you look at your screen, a dot is on the website showing you where the lightning struck. As if that's not cool enough, if you click the "gear" icon and turn on the "thunder" option to one of the top two positions, you will also see a circle radiating from the lightning strike heading towards the dot that represents your position on the map. And the MOMENT the thunder-ring reaches your dot, HOLY JESUS you hear the thunder out your window. It is the coolest damn thing I have seen in years. 

As you adjust the various site settings, the URL changes a bit, so below is the custom URL for the settings I happen to like. Your mileage may vary, of course. 

https://www.lightningmaps.org/#y=39.8211;x=-75.4922;z=8;t=3;m=sat;r=0;s=201;o=3;b=21.07;n=0;d=8;dl=3;dc=0;ra=1;

Anyway, today (Thursday) is supposed to be thunderous for our region, so consider bookmarking the site. Works great on the Chrome browser on my phone.


(Originally posted at xtingu.dreamwidth.org)

MORE
4/6 '17 4 Comments
RIGHT?!? I can't stop staring at it and screaming in nerdgasmic joy when the thunder ring reaches us. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!
Not only did I enjoy this over lunch, but I scored brownie points with my boss, whose son is a weather nerd. :) WELL DONE JILL!
And there was great rejoicing in our office.