Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Shannon,

I recently received a letter from a friend I have not heard from in 30 + years. In truth, it was an email but "letter" sounds so much more whimsical.

Dear Shannon, 
How the hell are you?

Now THAT is a loaded question!

I was excited to hear from my friend Pam, and wanted to reply in a timely manner. I also didn't want to drop too much information on her. That sort of thing makes peoples heads spin.

As I was reading her email all I could think of was, please don't ask me if I wrote my book. I've been talking about writing a book since I was 12. Don't make me confess that I have not accomplished my childhood dream.

Pam did not ask me if I wrote my book.

And please don't ask me my weight, or if I graduated from college, or how many children I have. Those sort of questions make me feel vulnerable.

Pam did not ask me that.

And please don't go on and on about how wonderful your life is. About how successful you are, or all the fabulous places you've been.

Pam did not boast or brag.

Pam managed to keep her email to less than 50 words. I was hoping to keep mine under 500. 

Dear Pam, 
I'm good (well, fine).  Thanks for asking.  Nice to hear from you.   
Best,  Shannon

That is wayyyyy too callous - sounds nothing like me.

So... how the hell do you answer how the hell are you?  
To me, how the hell are you sounds a lot like who the hell are you?  So I focused on that.

I tried my best to keep it simple, but this is difficult for someone as complicated and overly dramatic as me.

After all, it has been over 30 years...

Dear Pam, 
I made a shit load of mistakes. 
I also made some very good choices...

I have never had a problem acknowledging my mistakes. And besides, if I begin by admitting my shortcomings, maybe I won't sound pompous when I write about the good stuff.

I then told Pam about my X's - husbands and boyfriends.  And highlighted the ones that died.

(Twisted and morbid, right?)

I can't get far into the chapters of my life without mentioning that I gave birth to two children.  And that one died.

(More morbid facts)

Time for some fun facts... 

I went back to our 20th high school reunion and reconnected with our former classmate, Mark Cook. You may not remember him because he was a "C" and you were a "J" (in grade school, they segregated us by the first letter of our last name).

Why am I defining myself by the men IN and OUT of my life?
This is not who I am, but I suppose it is part of how I am.

I hate when people ask, "What do you do?" but since Pam didn't ask, I told her. 

I took over my fathers security company 15 years ago.  I did it because it made sense.  I don't love what I do.

Now that is as honest, and as simple as I can make it.

I then reminded her about my life's goal, to write a book, and berated myself for not completing the task.

Then I plugged my blog.

(Shameful, I know)

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I mentioned that I'm still quirky and that I teeter between entertaining and annoying.

And because it is impossible for me to define myself without mentioning it, I brought up Burning Man.

I signed my email as I typically do, "xoMonkeyMe" - fully aware that this would make absolutely NO sense. Unless of course, she reads my blog.

In the end, I still have no idea how to answer the question, "how the hell are you?"

And if I answer "I'm good thanks," what the hell does "good" (fine, well) mean?

So, Dear Readers, how the hell are YOU? 


This video is the perfect example of two girls doing good.  
Thank you for posting it Monkey Gurl.  


  1. So, are you witing your book? ;-p

  2. i'm still stuck on you haven't talked to her in 30 years and she said, "how the hell are you".

    And I am fine. Thanks so much for asking. :)

  3. It's so weird, back in the day we always had so much junk mail, and it was exciting to get an e-mail, now we have a bunch of junk e-mail and it's exciting to get regular mail.

  4. ponder, Ponder, PONDER......... did I just catch your first EVER spelling error, or did you do that on purpose and I'm not clever enough to figure it out!?!

    MIKE.....really interesting observation!

    Dazee, I love loaded questions (but you figured that out already, right?)

  5. How the hell am I? Well, I feel like I have so many things I want to do and yet I never finish anything. I've started so many projects, books, songs, the list goes on and yet I can't even think of one good thing I've finished recently off the top of my head.

  6. Opening an email with "How the hell are you," sounds like the start of a drinking game to me. I think my first response would have been, "You buy the first round and I'll tell you." Of course she is trying to figure out if she should drink with a monkey. :)

    Those birds were awesome!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  7. Wow! Thirty years, that's awesome. Hi Pam, if you're reading :-)

  8. How the hell are you? Well I'm nice and toasty, so I guess my Hell is pretty good..haha...30 years and that's it, geez.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison