Sunday, December 13, 2015


Late Fall, 1995
Bogie, Ling, Kerry and Bosco

I no longer send Christmas cards and because of that, each year I receive less and less.  I used to take pictures with my 35 mm camera and frame them in a holiday motif.  Thanks to my iPhone,  I seldom reach for a real camera. Photos are shared not printed and stored on a driver or uploaded to the mysterious "cloud."

The center of these cards were my children, until they reached a certain age and then my camera focused on odd or unusual sightings. It didn't matter if it had anything to do with the holidays, it was just something that stuck in my head.

One year I attended a party that included body painting. I had a large golden sun painted on my pre-cancer chest, while another guest had two giant blue eyes painted on her ass - one on each cheek. I used her photo, along with the caption, "Eye's wish you a Merry ChristmASS" as my Christmas card that year. It was tacky but my primary target was my Pennsylvania relatives, most of whom had an off-color sense of humor that I found endearing.

Another year the Naked Cowboy was my theme. Back then he was new to Time Square and was a semi-toned and tanned novelty.  I took so many pictures of him that he grew annoyed. I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I used both.

I have always enjoyed receiving newsletters that highlight a year in the life of a functional family.

Mine, although less traditional, is always colorful and therefore deserving of its own rant. Here is my very first, holiday newsletter.


Greetings Family and Friends,

It has been an astounding year jam-packed with tears, fears and laughter.

It began with Mark fracturing his ankle somewhere between the stroke of the new year and the dawn of the first day. It took another 24 hours to talk him into seeing a doctor at which point we discovered that he would need surgery and screws would be implanted. Nine months later those screws would be removed when his wound refused to heal.

In addition to his ankle fracture, our marriage fell apart and we filed for divorce on April Fools'. Our divorce was granted on August 17th - what would have been our 13th wedding anniversary. It was an amicable divorce and thanks to Marks generosity, I continue to live in my condo tucked beside a waterfall and enjoy the luxury of health insurance.

As I patiently wait for my darling daughter Ling to sprout her fairy wings, she announced that she has a boyfriend, who miraculously, we all adore. In addition to waitressing she has begun massage therapy school. At the tender age of 25, and with several colleges and career choices behind her, we are almost certain this one will stick. Despite her fluttering, we appreciate her goodness and joy of life, and wish we would have taken our time before choosing a career path.

Jackson, now 14, is a freshman at the high school and is aclemating very well. With his head planted in the clouds we are amazed at his ability to excel at school and sports, and still find his way home each day.

Somehow, during the course of a year, this happened... 



I'm not happy about it, but Jackson sure is. 

Mary continues to balances work and parenting and occasionally, when she makes time for herself, I get to step in as the adult in charge. The beauty of her love is evident in Jackson for he is a respectful, polite, compassionate young man who adores his mother and values his education, religion and family.

Thanks to the foresight and good fortune of my father, I have managed to corral the most important people in my life into one structure - a two family house - that is less than 5 miles from my home and across the street from my office. The addition of Pete, Ling's boyfriend, adds a much appreciated adult male energy as well as a daily infusion of music, thanks to a collection of instruments that he plays.

Work is fun. Play is fun. I am good at having fun.

So are these two...

Sasha and Lucy

I am grateful for the guidance and unconditional love of my family - both chosen and through birth, two and four legged, here and beyond. 

I am living alone for the first time in my life. There are times when I celebrate my independence and cherish my solitude. There are also times where I grow restless and fear I will die alone.

Despite all that has happened, or maybe because of it, I am surrounded by the love of those I respect and admire.  I continue to enjoy and appreciate good health.

My hope is that we all open our hearts, cultivate an atmosphere that is inclusive and tolerant of others, and that we infuse kindness and compassion into our thoughts and into everything we do. 

Wishing you all great joy, peace, comfort, and most of all.... LOVE. 

XO, MonkeyMe 

Three Sisters 
Norie, Shannon (confused by shoes) and Colleen

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Earrings

I am standing at the jewelry counter at Saks Fifth Avenue, visiting a pair of earrings. This is my third trip to Saks. These earrings are haunting me. 

There is a tall, fit, distinguished looking man standing just beyond my reach. He wants to surprise his girlfriend with a necklace, or maybe a bracelet and matching earrings.

“Is this a special occasion?” asks the sales associate.

Maybe she’s dying, I think.

He wants to surprise her with a gift when he takes her on vacation next week.

 “Where are you going?” asks the sales associate.

“Don’t say Paris,” I whisper. 

“Paris,” he says.

I consider slamming my head against the counterinstead, I text a friend.

“He’s perfect,” I tell her. 

“I’m about to get a mammogram,” she replies. 

In solidarity, I lean forward and press my foobs against the sterile, glass countertop.

I leave them long enough to create two symmetrical, 425 cc oval shaped imprints.

“Is there a price limit?” asks the sales associate.
“Nooooo,” his voice echoes.

Swiftly, I shift left, straddling the view of my favorite Italian designers newest collection.

The sales associate shifts right, and with eyes fixated on mine, dips below the counter, unlocks the casement door that is directly in line with my crotch, and removes a tray of gracefully displayed precious stones set in luscious, hand engraved gold.

I cannot bare witness to what unfolds next. In defeat, I retreat to the sanctity and solitude of my home. 

It is Thursday, the day Dora cleans my house. I open the door and reflect on how fortunate I am to have someone clean for me. In addition to the standard service, every so often, when the mood strikes her, she changes and IRONS my bed sheets. Today is that day and this feels extra sweet.

I go to my closet and there, in my hamper of dirty clothes, on top of my dirty sheets, is a pair of men’s cotton briefs. 

It’s been six months and seventeen days since I’ve shared my hamper with a man.
It’s been six months and seventeen days since I’ve gained 50% more closet space.
It’s been six months and seventeen days since he left me behind.

From the beginning
I knew meeting could only
End in parting, yet
I ignored the coming dawn
And I gave myself to you.

                                                                             Japanese poet Fujiwara no Teika

I live in a river of change. I no longer resist change.

It was a crisp, early autumn evening when I accompanied George to Lincoln Center for a searing performance of New York City Ballet’s ‘Balanchine Black and White.’ 

There is newness to his touch, a freshness to his kiss. I awaken to the warmth of his body next to mine. But our hearts are not aligned.

I will buy my own jewelry.

I will vacation solo.

A woman who has never been wounded can never heal.

Now that I am broken, I can blossom.

xo, MonkeyME

Saturday, October 24, 2015

More About the Blindfold

A continuation of  Me as Mrs. Robinson

"I have scars," she said.
"Me too," he said.

And then he showed her his scar. A tiny, sliver of a scar just above his right eye.

"Dangerous spot," she said.
"I know," he said.

And then she showed him her scars--massive battle wounds across both breasts and her stomach, a chemo port scar, and numerous skin cancer scars across her forehead, neck, arms, and legs.

But before she showed him her scars, she blindfolded him. And then, just in case he peaked, she lowered the lights.

She placed a bottle of well-chilled, California chardonnay on her lips and sucked hard. And then she poured some down his throat. And then she turned up the funk.

Now... she was ready.

He was attentive. He was eager. And when she finally turned off her brain, she was present.

It was invigorating and it was powerful. But best of all, it was casual.

I am learning how to live on my own for the first time in my life.

I am learning how to have casual relationships with men, and sustainable relationships with women.

I kept his socks--black, ironman, crew length socks. I wear them sometimes when I'm feeling frisky. I like feeling frisky.

I only reached out to him once since our adventure and I was sober when I did it.

"Incase you're feeling weird about me being older, you should know I am the same age as Madonna," she said.

When I confessed this to my daughter she said he probably didn't feel weird about it until I brought it up. In hindsight, I'm certain she is right.

He showed me a picture of his post Burning Man haircut. Gone was his man bun. Gone were those wild, rockstar, playa dust, fussed dreads.

Gone was my wolf cub crush.

I am putting dating on hold while I focus on pleasing me. This is challenging for a women who craves male attention.

I still see George Clooney from time to time when he's not off doing whatever it is famous people do. He is attentive, and patient, and fun. He is casual.

A friend of mine is dying. After a 12 year battle with breast cancer, she is in the final days of her life. Her husband is by her side. She is letting go and he is clinging to her every breath. It is heartbreaking to witness and yet, I can't help but marvel at their love. It is a love that is complete, and pure, and so good. It is a love that will last beyond her death.

When I'm done with casual, I want that kind of love.

xo, MonkeyME

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison