Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday Night Take-Out

It is 7:30 on a Saturday night. I walk to the local Asian restaurant wearing bedroom slippers and no makeup. I used to order take-out for two so that the host wouldn't know I was alone.

Nowadays, I don't care what the host thinks. Besides, he will probably gobble down his dinner while hunched over a sink stacked with half empty rice bowls and greasy woks.

As I reach for the front door, a couple exits. I recognize them immediately. Our daughters went to school together. Her name is Barbara and I never knew her tall, attentive, wildly successful, handsome husband's name.

They don't recognize me immediately. She calls me Nancy.
"No," I say, "it's Shannon."

I think about telling them that Nancy is the name of my daughter's, father's, first wife, and coincidentally, his girlfriend, but quickly realize how ridiculous the truth sounds.

I politely ask how they are doing and how their children are doing. I even ask how their dog, Buddy the beagle, is doing. Everyone is doing well. Very, very well.

I seem to remember everything about this happy family. Mainly, I remember that Barbara was the only mothers from my daughter's class who attended my son's funeral.

It is their turn to ask how I am doing but they say nothing. They just stand there smiling and I wonder if they are afraid to ask.

I think about blurting out, "I've had cancer, all sorts of horrible cancer. And I'm divorced, again."

Instead, I tell them how proud I am of my daughter. How happy she is and how, at this very moment, she is in Colorado with the man she loves, volunteering at a camp for autistic children.

I stop short of saying, "Last Saturday we had dinner together. I wasn't alone, like I am now."

"Name please?" asks the host.
"Shannon," I tell him.
He hands me a small, brown paper bag marked, SHAMOO. I think about telling him that my name is not Shamoo. Instead, I decide that the next time I order take-out I will say my name is Nancy.

I come home with my take-out for one and find a neighbor's party in full swing. She recently moved into the condo directly below me. She seems like a lovely woman. She keeps to herself. She is quiet, except for tonight.

My plan was to eat my sushi-for-one beside a roaring fire while listening to jazz trumpeter, Theo Crocker. But all I can hear is their gayety so I eat my sushi over the sink, with the water running to drown the sound of their laughter.

It is 9:00 by the time I crawl into bed with a cup of green tea, my knitting, and an audiobook.

In my stretch of singleness between marriage number 2 and 3, I would line up Saturday night dates  by Wednesday. I had a collection of suiters to choose from. It didn't really matter what I thought of them as long as they were wild about me. My self-worth was measured by male approval.

I remind myself that I am here, alone in my bed, by choice. I would have preferred to stay married to a man I loved if I could have controlled his actions. And I would have preferred to avoided multiple cancer diagnoses, and treatments, and scars and ongoing healing, if I had control over my genetics.

But I do have control over how I respond to life's disappointments. I have responded with courage and conviction. This is how I now measure my self-worth.

I awake Sunday morning feeling refreshed. After a leisurely walk in the park with the dogs, I retreat to the loft with a large mug of french pressed coffee. I savor my solitude. And I write.

xo, MonkeyME

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” 

― John O'DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Match

I spent most of the winter searching for a cabin in the Catskills. My main motivation is Sasha, my 95 lb Bernese Mountain dog. She is my faithful, loyal companion and she deserves to roam without the restraints of a leash, the confines of property lines, or the bustle of traffic.

I found a fabulous cabin. I knew from the moment I walked in that we were a perfect match. So I made an offer, it was accepted and then the cabin failed the inspection.

I am disappointed but I know eventually I will find my great escape. It will probably require some work to get it exactly the way I want it, and that is hard to do when you have limited funds and no repair skills other than knowing how to hang a picture. So I joined an online dating site in search of a tall, handsome, contractor.  

I joined ZOOSK under the name MonkeyIncognito.  I picked this site because, I see "ZOO" and "SK" (my initials). It MUST be a sign.

I posted a picture that reflected my personality.

And I answered their questions honestly. 

I am not perfect. I am not 26. I am fiercely independent. I am outspoken. I am competitive. I am a tad compulsive (passionate?). 

I like these things about me. 

Music is important to me. Expressing my creativity is important to me. Living a healthy, intuitive based, spiritual lifestyle is a top priority. 

I like wine and I don't care that my dog sheds. I have learned to tolerate cats.

I only exercise because I want to live longer. I like ranch dressing on salads. 

I am living alone for the first time in my life and I am enjoying it. But I'd love to find someone to do things with when I feel like doing something other than being alone.

I don't have a TV. I'm a good jumper. 

Once, while walking down Fifth Avenue at lunch hour, I dismissed a woman begging while breast feeding her 7-year-old son and then gave $5.00 to a homeless man with two obedient shihtzu's, two cats, and a bunny. I'm not proud of this. 

I think I'm funny, but I'll let you decide.

You should be able to post a picture of yourself other than a mirror self image. If you have eyes, please include them. If you have teeth, please smile. If you own a shirt, wear it. I can't see myself traveling to Jersey for a date nor can I imagine myself dating anyone over 60. If you are obese, broken, desperate, lazy, addicted to porn, drugs, alcohol, or gambling, then we are not compatible.

We agree to meet. You show up. I can recognize you from your online pictures. You chew with your mouth closed. You make me laugh.


So far only men over 60, from Jersey, have responded. Most are wearing sunglasses.

xo, MonkeyME

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Remember

Kerry Ryan Magann

In the moments immediately following his death, I remember how hard it was to breath. How blood curdling screams emptied my chest and how I sucked... air... in... so that I could scream again.

In the days following his death, I remember the slap of dawn and how I begged to hold on to the night.

In the weeks following his death, I remember how hard it was to eat, drink, bathe, and sleep. How impossible it was to function in a world that did not include him.

I remember how I drove to the beach on my birthday, waited for the tide to rise, and waded towards ripples of darkness. But I couldn't stay under long enough to make the pain go away.

In the months following his death, I remember how hard it was to talk about anything other than my son. I don't remember how I found my way to a grief counseling group but I remember I wore all black. There was one other person in the group - a mother who lost her only son. And I was no longer alone in my grief.

I remember how hard it was to listen. How I would twitch my feet, and shift anxiously in my seat, waiting for my turn to speak. I remember how much she loved her son. And how we cried and screamed and begged and pleaded.

I remember how we blindly stepped into traffic because we didn't want to walk in a world that did not include our sons.

I remember holding on to his scent, his ashes, his clothes, his notebooks. I remember holding on to every tear. And how I was convinced that these things, if held long and hard enough, would bring him back. Because life could not move on without him.

I remember confessing to the police that I killed him. And how they tried to convince me that I did not. I remember discovering his cold, gray, breathless body and how it haunted me for years (it haunts me still).  I remember worrying that as he was letting go, he was scared. And how his eyes, frozen open, pleaded for mercy.

I remember how cancer, and heartbreak, loneliness and fear, pale in comparison to learning how to breath without my son.

He challenges me still.

I remember the moment I decided to live because he could not.

I would watch his son grow. And I too would grow. And all who loved him would grow.

Today, on the 37th anniversary of his birth,  I remember his first breath. I remember how shocked I was that, like his father and my father, he did not have dark hair. I remember how wise and old and wrinkled he looked. I remember how my world changed the moment he was placed in my arms.

I remember so much about my beautiful son. Mostly, I remember how he loved and how deliberately he lived.

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