15 Random Facts About Me

Blogger Nancy Stordahl shared 15 Random Facts about herself on her breast cancer blog, and encouraged her readers to do the same. I love a good list—so satisfying to write one up, plus it’s been great to read what others have to share about themselves: the non-breast-cancer things that show that each of us is so much more than a breast cancer patient.

So here’s my list, 15 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I’m an only child and have always hated it, which is why I knew I’d have at Image 2least two kids when I grew up (with or without a partner because that’s how much I wanted kids, but I lucked out and got a great partner along with two great kids). Also, when each of my kids were born, I was so overjoyed that I forgot to check whether they were a boy or a girl. (I also lucked out there, since I wanted—and got—at least one of each.)
  1. I’m politically left of center. Way left. A socialist at heart who would give up my white middle class privilege if it would even the playing field. I come by it naturally: my parents gave me my middle name, Binh, after Madame Binh—a Vietcong leader in the war.
  1. When I was six, my mom gave me the closet in her office. I carried in pillows, a lamp, a small bookshelf, and I went there to write. I’ve been writing ever since, and I’m pretty certain writing is what saved me from my teens and twenties. In fact, I’m pretty sure writing is still saving me today.
  1. I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was a very little kid. As a teenager, I was somewhat convinced that if I could just get rid of those dark circles, I would be happier, more confident, more loved. Along with the dark circles, I’ve always thought I had fat knees and so (until very recently when a friend convinced me to embrace my legs, imperfections and all—thanks, Cory), I’ve avoided showing my legs. (Fat knees?! Ridiculous, I know, but there you have it.) As a mother, I am careful to never let my children (especially my daughter) hear such things come out of my mouth (except for the part about it being ridiculous that so many women decide we don’t like this or that about our physical appearances).
  1. I don’t wear earrings and a necklace at the same time; nor do I wear earrings or a necklace when I wear my glasses. Though it doesn’t bother me on other people, on me, it makes me feel like way too much is going on. (How’s that for a random fact?! I’m thinking it will make a great trait for one of the fictitious characters I hope to create someday in the young adult chapter book I hope to write someday.)
  1. When I was 19, I flew to Kenya for 3 months of solo travel in Africa and Europe. According to my mom, I said I had to go because I was afraid of being alone. I don’t remember this, but I like the way it sounds. I like thinking that at 19, I was that committed to taking on my fears. (Not surprisingly, my mom didn’t want me to go, tried to talk me out of going, and yet, didn’t stop me from going, even though she probably could have by refusing to help pay for the plane ticket—kuddos to you, mom. I hope I’ll be equally brave when Sophie wants to do something ridiculous like travel through Africa by herself at 19.)
  1. I hoard food in my freezer (often until it goes bad) and rarely leave home without a snack tucked into a pocket. Also, when I travel by car or plane, I bring enough food for a small army to subsist for days. One can never be too safe.
  1. I’ve always felt like an imposter. Straight A student, prestigious colleges, successful career, published author (though not the type of books I’d really love to write), and yet, I’ve spent my life anxiously waiting for people to realize my real strength is fooling the system.
  1. I love to read, but I’m not particularly well read (which adds to my feeling of being an imposter). Really, I love to read contemporary fiction. When it comes to the classics, pop culture, history, politics, I am more ignorant than I like to admit. (Okay, I have no problem admitting my ignorance about pop culture, but the rest is toward the top my list of shortcomings, way above the dark circles under my eyes and the “fat” knees.)
  1. I am totally overwhelmed by and somewhat terrified by social media. Overwhelmed by the endless rabbit holes of possibility; terrified about the whole Big Brother thing. (I mean, can you see me right now through the camera hole in my computer?? How about through the hole in my bedroom ceiling?) Plus, the bottom line is, I much prefer face-to-face contact or even a phone call in real time with a real voice and real person on the other end of the line. I wish I could be in the same room with the many awesome breast cancer bloggers I’ve stumbled across these past months, because I can’t seem to keep up on line but sure would love to sit around a room chatting with many of them.
  1. Despite my fear and overwhelm, I am starting a Twitter account! Today! Let’s see how I fare… Please be patient with me, since I have very little idea how it all works. (Will you follow me? And also share any tips you might have for managing this new, overwhelming, terrifying endeavor?) Maybe I’ll join Facebook next, but woa! One thing at a time here, people.
  1. I grew up in San Francisco in the Mission long before it was cool to live in the Mission; long before it became a hub for all those Google Silicon Valley folks who drove up the rents so that most people I grew up with can’t really afford to live in the Mission anymore.
  1. I spent my twenties in New York City (Manhattan then Brooklyn) where I partied hard and loved hard; where I worked as a cocktail waitress and a regular-ole food waitress before going back to school to study education and teach in public schools; where I met the love of my life and birthed my first child and carried my second until, at 7 months of pregnancy, I moved, joyfully, to my first small-town (with husband, son, in-utero baby, a truck load of stuff and big dreams for a calmer lifestyle in tow).
  1. I love to dance and am proud that I am often among the last ones standing IMG_1111come 3 a.m. (Dance party or not.) I actually was a dancer until I was 18, but now any opportunity to shake it on the dance floor, preferably to hip hop, gets me going. (And no, I don’t usually wear a wonder woman costume, but this was the only picture I could find of me on a dance floor. It must be 3 a.m. since I seem to be one of the only ones around.)
  1. Image 3Nothing brings me more joy than connecting (for real connecting) with another human being. That, and having a great time with my kids. And, top-of-the-joy-list #3, which really is also about connecting: knowing that something I’ve written has made a difference in someone’s day, life, head, heart. (Thank you, Sophie—my 7 year old love bug—for the attached artwork that, in my mind, pretty much sums up the most important stuff in my book.)

22 thoughts on “15 Random Facts About Me

  1. Jenny Binh Bender, how delightful this list of random facts!! I was very moved to read #2. I remember # 3 & 4 from your childhood, oldster that I am. I will testify to the truth of #6, and always was impressed that you’d go solo to confront your fear! Number 8 must be genetic, as your Mom has said the same thing many times (though honestly, most of us feel this, I think, in some way.) # 13 & 14 were ‘news to me’ (i had partial glimpses only) and #15 is obvious and I hope you never stop!!

    love from Minnesota,


    1. Glad you enjoyed reading! Honestly, it was hard to keep my list to 15! I think we should ALL take up the challenge– interesting to see what makes the list, and of course interesting to read what others have to share.


  2. Hi Jenny:

    I like Fact #3. I had a twin mattress in our master closet for years and it was a wonder retreat.
    I would go in with a book, close the door and take some space. It was lovely.

    Be sure to tell us what your name is on twitter. I just looked for you and there are several Jenny Bender’s there, but none seem to be you.



  3. Fat knees! My chiropractor just told me that I don’t have fat knees, I have so much more bone built up form all of that activity as a young kid and throughout my life. I love your blog! I find so much common ground with you! love you!


  4. Hi Jenny,
    I really enjoyed this challenge and reading everyone’s lists, including yours. I am totally with you on #2,4,9. Don’t show my legs for the same reason, plus another (unsightly veins, geez I’ve never admitted that online) as well. Did you ever find anything that helps those dark circles? If so, let me know. It’s really hard for me to concentrate on reading since cancer. I’m not sure if there’s a provable connection there, but I believe cancer/chemo caused or at least contributed to this. Thanks for participating in this challenge! And I think you will enjoy Twitter.


  5. Jenny, I am so enjoying your blog! I had been trying to log on and wasn’t able. Now that I’m with your Mom, it seems it’s working?! Keep up the informative, entertaining, thoughtful, sensitive writing.. I love it! xo, Aunt Rie


  6. You have an interesting list here!

    I love the story about you writing as a child, so sweet. I feel the same way about writing — it has saved me. I can also relate to #5. I often just wear earrings because anything else would be too overwhelming for me. I would have been scared to travel alone at 19, so kudos for you! I don’t do a lot of social media and I actually have a personal Facebook page because of my family who lives outside of the U.S. Please do let us know once you create a social media page for your blog — would love to follow you. As you know I want to leave NYC and guess which my fav. state is? California, yay!

    I like connecting with people I can relate to, especially those who have experienced cancer. And like you, I wish I can be in a room with all of them (including you). That would be fun and very emotional for me.

    I enjoyed reading your list. xoxo


  7. I prefer dancing to hip-hop too (I mean back in the day–I don’t go out dancing these days). And like Nancy, I don’t show my legs out in public much due to unsightly veins. And yes, social media is a rabbit hole! I start looking up something and wind up reading crazy stuff that has nothing to do with what I started looking for. I’m curious about everything so I get easily distracted. Of course our online activity is watched–and it is funny to watch the ads on gmail and FB try to keep up with my habit of chasing everything online, and they usually get it wrong wrong wrong!


      1. No tips–struggling myself. During the week I bookmark or save a bunch of things to read and then “try” to read them. I get behind with it, and with writing posts for my blog. I was addicted to Tumblr for awhile and that was a time suck. I’m on Twitter but I don’t check it much–I would find too many things to get lost in!


  8. Hi Jenny, thank you for sharing this information about you. Your family is beautiful. I also have covered up my legs — but now I do wear shorts; I figure what the hey? When I heard you lived in NYC, I had to smile. That’s where I’m from originally. Thank you for letting us into your world and getting to know you better.


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