Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kerry's Wallet

I keep Kerry's wallet in a ziplock bag. Seven years later, it still smells of worn leather and stale Marlboro Reds. I can't remember how I got it, but I have it. I think he left it in his unlocked car along with a duffel bag filled with notebooks, newspapers, and dirty clothes.

The first time I opened his billfold, he had $137.00 dollar tucked neatly inside. A one-hundred dollar bill, one ten, two fives, and the rest singles.  Days later, the hundred-dollar bill was gone.  Maybe somebody needed it more than Kerry.  Maybe Kerry owed them money. I don't know why someone took it. It bothered me a lot back then.  I'm sort of numb to it now.

Alongside his cash, are four photo's of his year-old son Jackson, dressed in red. In three of the photo's Jackson is smiling, a big, toothless grin.  In the other, he is peeking out from under a blanket, eyes wide and wonderful.

Kerry saved his ATM receipts. His last withdrawal of $20.00, posted on May 24th, left him a balance of $87.81. Two, double folded metro north train receipts show he and a guest rode from Greenwich to Grand Central - one way, off-peak.

He kept evidence of pensive purchases made in the weeks leading up to his death.  Cashier Marnie noted that it was "A Pleasure to Serve Him" and that cash refunds were with receipt only.

In the center of his top-grain, cowhide wallet, directly behind his driver's license, he kept a Detectives Endowment Association Card issued by the City of New York's Police Department, a Blockbuster rewards card, three bank cards, and a Chinese, "good luck" red envelope with his name written on it.

To the side he tucked a few business cards from notable people or places he had been, along with an original copy of his fiance's, second-trimester sonogram; a first glimpse at his son, in utero, sucking his thumb. 

A drug store receipt proves his intent to obtain over-the-counter sleeping pills.  On May 27th, 2002 - less than two hours before his recorded time of death, he spent $31.77 on two, 32-capsule packages of rapid-release Unisom, and one, 72-capsule package of quick-release Nytol.  

On March 26, 2002, Connecticut held a classic lotto drawing worth 6 million dollars.  Kerry purchased two, $5.00 quick picks - which tells me that, on this day, he had hope.


Please take the time to reach out to those who may be suffering. To listen, validate, comfort, and be present with them. Allow them to be vulnerable, honest, and awake; and engage them with hope.

In Honor and In Memory
Kerry Ryan Magann

You asked that we tell your son the good things about you.

I promise to tell the world. 


-->Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Into the Light - a Six Sentence Submission

I lie in fresh shade from tall, golden stocks of smooth flowing wheat, its sway quickened by the afternoon breeze, and inhale the tilled pasture that beds me and spreads between my fingers and toes. Above me, a lark weaves dollops of clouds into a searing blue sky and I rest until the distance brings the ring of my mothers cry, channeling me from my demise. Oh let me rest, let me wallow in this nest, but her call is heavy and though my eyes are shut I can see she sits in disbelief, cradled over my open urn. With heavy tears that spew from her cheek into my ash, she picks a chard of bone from my remains, and places it on her tongue.  She swallows hard and cries, “I need a piece of him inside.” She will not let me rest, will not let me wallow in this nest and so, I move, ever so softly, into the light.

Green Monkey Tales © 2007 Shannon E. Kennedy

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kerry's Gift

People often ask how I face a day without my son.  I tell them that just because he isn't here, doesn't mean he's gone.  I knew, almost immediately, that his soul lives on. It wasn't enough, but it was all I had, and I was determined never to let it go.

One day, in confirmation, and in glory of this, Kerry gave me flowers.

For me, Valentine’s Day represents the start of my labor. Kerry arrived two days later, on the 16th of February.

This particular Valentine’s Day, my husband Mark and I wander into a neighboring town to catch a matinee of MILK; a powerful movie that instantly motivates me to be more, contribute more, and grow more as a person.

My intention was to watch all the 'Best Picture' nominated films prior to the upcoming Academy Awards so that my opinion would be an educated one.

Before exiting the theater I stop at the bathroom, where the typical ladies room line has formed. In front of me, a stately woman blends free flowing tears with shallow gasps of air, as she rummages through an over sized purse in pursuit of tiny shreds of tissue. Behind me a woman soothingly strokes her tortoise shell glasses, cradled at her heart.  Her gaze is heavy and glazed in sentiment.

"Great movie, so powerful," we concur.
"Makes me want to do more," adds the woman.
"I haven't done enough," says the other.
"I have to write more," I announce.

I often wonder how Kerry would critique current movies. We shared praise for many of his favorites- Rushmore, Girl Interrupted, Almost Famous, among many others. He was a huge fan of Sean Penn; we watched Falcon and the Snowman together several times.  He was opinionated about politics and a supporter of gay rights.  I am quite certain he would push MILK into the top twenty-seven of his all time favorites. 

In lieu of joining hordes of couples crammed into low-lit, high priced restaurants -we opt instead to go to our local Whole Foods market and pick something up that we can  lovingly prepare.

Mark refers to Whole Foods as “the grocery store with no food.”  I, in contrast, shop here regularly.

Tonight Mark is right, nothing looks appealing. I pick up a package of pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower and toss it into the cart. Two loops later and still nothing but vegetables.

Halfway through the frozen food isle I recognized the women that stood ahead of me in the movie theaters bathroom line.

"Great movie," we gaily reconfirm.
"I have got to do more," she adds.
"I have to write more," I tell her.

I circle back to the front of the market where vibrant hues of cascading flowers are corralled. I am drawn to a bouquet of orange tulips and swiftly scoop them up. The site of this, coupled with my bundle of green and white vegetables, looks all so Irish and I smile at the memory of Kerry's leprechaun laughter, the blush of his Irish potato skin and the shade of his Galway Bay blue eyes.

"27.72" declares the cashier.

Awh, the flowers and vegetable florets...my Valentines Day gift from Kerry!

In life Kerry was fixated on the number 27.   In death it reminds me that he is near; and to see it coupled with 72  triggers my belief that life is a self-evolving circle, a continuously enlarging sphere of interconnected and interdependent fields. Ying/Yang, Sun/Moon, Light/Dark, Heaven/Earth- seemingly opposite forces that move in a tandem of synchronized dance.

My eyes swell with satisfaction as I mindfully swipe my debit card and affirm my purchase with my personalized code and valiant signature.

I clutch my gift at the center of my heart as Mark and I enter the neighboring Chinese restaurant. Together we look over the menu before placing our usual take-out order of one "Happy Family" and one "Perfect Match."

While waiting beside a fish tank of orange coral and clown fish, in comes another couple from the movie theater. They sat four rows in front of us and the women held the spot directly behind me in the bathroom line.

"Great movie," the woman and I state in unison.
"I have to do more," adds the woman
"I have to write more," I declare.

I continue to receive subtle messages from Kerry, especially on emotionally driven days and often, I write about them.  It’s easy for some to dispute my “signs” but none of that matters to me. 

As I push my limits of consciousness, Kerry reminders me that we are more than just physical beings, we are spiritual beings with limitless potential.

Kerry’s true gift, is the knowledge that a vast level of consciousness exist, and that it can be found in a simple act or otherwise mundane moment.  When we open our eyes to our surroundings, relating and interacting to ideas, situations and people with love and kindness we are creating mindful bonding.   These connections seed and nurture our spiritual growth and help roll the self-evolving circle forward.


The key to every man is his thought. Sturdy and defying though he look, he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own. The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outward to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul. For, it is the inert effort of each thought having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance, as, for instance, an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious rite, to heap itself on that ridge, and to solidify, and hem in the life. But if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides, and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind. But the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses, it already tends outward with a vast force, and to immense and innumerable expansions.


Friday, December 18, 2009

A Ride With My Father

We share the far left corner of the back row, tucked behind a succession of synchronized seventy-something seniors; a line of ladies with lustrously teased hair, forgiving waist bands, and festive holiday sweaters. Each takes a turn, twisting to catch a glimpse, then signals the next in line with a quick elbow jab to the gut, “Look at him go, he’s really something.”

I am to his right, just within reach; his cane is silenced in the lap of a plastic cushioned arm chair accompanied by a mound of down coats, crocheted scarves and unzipped handbags.

“Zumba!” shouts the instructor as she whips her top-knot ponytail counter clockwise, shimmies her well shaped shoulders and steps left. Her zealous performance is contagious and we do our best to keep up.

“Stretch your hands high, and move your hips, now shake, shake, shake to the right!”

Although he’s famous for having 2 left feet, his stooped Parkinson's posture, quick-step shuffle, and rocking horse tremors infuse with the sharp rhythm and strong Latin beat; he is a dancing machine.

Everything about this is new to us; the music, the movement, but mostly, the shared experience. I don’t have many memories of us doing things together, unless you count being in a car. As kids he took us skiing but I don’t remember actually skiing with him. He’d leave me at the top of a mountain and wait for me at the bottom. If I couldn’t find him I’d know to look in the bar.

“You did great Dad,” I assure him.

“I farted,” he admits.

“I thought you crapped your pants?"

“No, just farted,” he assures me.

“Good for you, way to hold back.”

This is NOT my favorite topic of conversation but discussing his bodily functions has become the norm.

I don’t expect him to master a soulful salsa or samba, but I am catching as many memories as I can. Every hardship holds a cryptic message. My father’s Parkinson’s has slowed him down just enough for us to get to know each other.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Animals

My parents divorced when I was two years old, I have no memory of them being together.

When I’d ask my mother “why,” she’d tell me that he had an explosive temper, that he was loud, impatient, and uncouth; and that us kids made him nervous.

Mom liked to invite her girlfriends over to play cards during the day. They’d drink beer, saving some to set their hair; and our pet parakeet would sip the foam from their glass, and pull the bobby pins from their fermented tresses.

She told us that my fathers erratic behavior made us kids nervous; and about the time he came home early, and angry, and how he embarrassed her in front of her friends; and how my sister Colleen climbed into the attic to escape his  fury, screaming that ants were crawling all over her when there were no ants in sight.

We left Greenwich in the dead of night.  Mom packed everything she wanted, including the parakeet and us two kids, into a 1960’s Studebaker she nicknamed Betsy; and headed to Dallas, a small community in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Surrounded in rural simplicity, we settling into an old country farmhouse on a dead end street that butted up to a wooded hillside we kids called "snake mountain."  Our yard included an overgrown apple orchard and a badly weathered barn with an attached, two-car garage.

A few blocks away lived Mom's aunt and uncle, both of her brothers, their happily married wives, and an eclectic click of cousins.   Their outpouring of hospitality added immediate calmness to our disjointed lives, but despite their efforts, it was obvious our brood was not intact and I, the only one with dark hair, stood out amongst them all as a constant reminder of my father.  

“If you wrap a towel around their head you can’t tell them apart,” my mother would say when asked which one of us kids was Colleen, and which was Shannon.  “They’re only 15 months apart - practically Irish twins."

The only other one with hair my shade was Aunt Pauline and Uncle Zibe’s forever roaming mutt; a scottish-rat terrier mix that folks called by his full name, Blacky Martin.  Blacky was infamous for breaking into people’s houses and impregnating their purebreds.  Every dog in the neighborhood looked a little like Blacky.  Their blood line no longer apparent,  they ended up just like me; with sleek dark hair, and a stubborn, fiercely independent, unruly temperament.

I remember passing Blacky as I wandered down the hill to an old Purina feed store in the center of town. In the back of the store was a large barn where they stored bundles of hay.  They would stack them one on top of the other, creating mounds of soft cushion, perfect for jumping.  I would leap from one bail to the next; sometimes I'd jump so high, I was convinced I could fly. Everything about this place made me happy.

Occasionally I would steel salt licks and wads of hay, things I would need for the pony I was destine to have. I even had a name for him, it was "Chester."

After a report card of all "S's," I dialed my father, stretched the kitchen phone cord to the far end of the pantry, cupped the receiver with both hands, and begged for my faithful foal.

I don't know much, but I know I am his favorite.  I'm his "Black Irish," and my pleading is hard to resist.  His YES is no sooner celebrated, than it is squished when mother gets word of the deal; but I was determined not to let her stand in the way of my fathers devotion and so, with my minds eye in full bloom, I envision a life with my imaginary horse Chester.

In my dreams, I sneak Chester down the serpentine trails of snake mountain, and, into our barn in the dead of night. I ride him across open fields, feed him apples, and, watch his long, scratchy tongue lap at the salt licks, as I brush his sleek, dark mane.  Chester was my favorite thing in the world, next to my Dad.

All was well until I started inviting people over to see Chester.

Camille was new to the neighborhood, having moved from Connecticut; the same state my Dad lived in. Her clothes were much cooler than mine and she lived in a new, split level house. I liked her and I wanted her to like me, so I invited her over for a ride on Chester.

"Do you want to come see my pony?" I asked

"Where did he go?" she questioned.

"He must be off gallivanting," I'd tell her.

"Gallivanting" was a term my mother used often when she spoke of my father, and to me it sounded like so much fun.

"Oh well, Chester's not here right now, but here is his stall, he sleeps here- and this is his hay, and these are his salt lick. He really likes his salt lick."

Sometimes, when I missed my Dad the most, I'd sneak out of my bedroom, down the slippery staircase, and, out the back door to the barn. There, I'd snuggle beside the ever growing mounds of hay, and drift off to sleep.


Being “Black Irish” only got you so far.  Colleen was clearly, everyone else's favorite.  She was coined, early on as, the pretty one.  The one with the golden curles, a beautiful smile and a sunny disposition.  She was the older one, and in her own words, “she was the boss of me.” She got to stay up 30 minutes later, she was the first to ride the big yellow school bus, and the one who got everything new.  And she got Davy, she always got Davy, and I got Micky. They were the best part of the Monkee’s. The Monkee’s were bigger than Elvis and better than Lassie.  And we were just sisters, and I was little and she was big. They were the reason we raced each other down our staircase, around the pantry corner, to our still black and white TV every Monday night at 7:00.

I was convinced that, if it weren’t for her, I’d have everything I ever wanted. I’d have her side of the room. Davy’s picture would hang right next to my bed. Davey’s face would be the first thing I’d see every morning and the last thing I’d see before mother made us turn out the lights.

If it weren’t for her I’d have those cool, baby blue sheets. I’d have the bigger pillow, the better blanket; and I’d have her “Bummy,” her best friend “Bummy,” her NOT REAL Easter basket bunny rabbit; but I wouldn’t have sucked him till he turned gray. She hugged the pretty pink stuffing out of him, pulled the tickle from his tail.

Everyone knew she loved Bummy more than me.

Why does the yellow brick road have to hang on my side of the room, from my part of the ceiling? That long, dangling, double-sided sticky tape weighted in misguided flies. I can no longer lie on my bed of mismatched sheets, stretch my legs up high and point my toes or I’ll touch it; and I'll never sleep without my blanket pulled way up over my head, because I know, some day, one of those flies will come unstuck, and land right between my eyes.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chapter 2 - The Fifty Year Itch

It is the first Friday of summer, the start of our 50th year.  I am winding down the work week on the office front porch.  My father sits in his sturdy, classic white, high-backed rocking chair - afraid to rock and I stand beside him too uncomfortable to sit.  The depth of our conversation is narrowing. 

He wants to talk shop and I want him to realize just how fortunate he is. How, at the age of 85,  his ailments are minuscule compared to his quick sinking circle of friends.

“I started this business the same year you were born,” he boasts.

“Yes you did,” I reply.

He founded Kennedy Investigation long before there was such a thing as ‘no fault divorce.’ With a cocked camera, pencil and pad by his side he spent years in the shadow of adulterers; trailing unsuspecting husbands and less than perfect wives.  

Primed in high school track and football star status, he carried his competitive nature with him.  He drank and ate more than his share, balancing it all with a plethora of women.

He ran with the best of them; affluent lawyers, doctors, politicians and businessmen. He was free spirited, gregarious and fun - a welcome relief from the stiff tailored shirts and tight noosed neck tie’s his white collar friends encountered on a regular basis. 

When they offered him a referral he took it.  When they opened a door he walked swiftly through it. When they spoke of change he listened, hard. 

Greenwich quickly catapulted from a quaint coastal, New England town into a city overflowing with opulence and opportunity.  To match the demographic change, he restructured the company into a full scale - private sector security agency specializing in uniformed guards services for high profile corporations, grand scaled events and lavish homes.

“Who’s going to work Joe’s shift?” He asks
“Don’t worry Dad, I’ve got it covered,” I reply.

"Scheduling, its like a puzzle," he’ll tell you. "You have to know who knows each guard post and if you can’t fill a shift, YOU have to do it." 

This annoys me. I am done pulling guard duty. I have filled more than my fair share and I have paid a dear price for that.  I was trapped in a shift when, unknowingly, my son laid unconscious, waiting for me to rescue him. 

“50 years… can’t believe how much this town has changed in 50 years,” he adds.

In 1977 he moved his understated office above a string of trendy shops on West Putnam Avenue into a house owned by the family of a close friend.  A local lawyer who went on to become the first selectman of Greenwich. The even side of the street was business zoned, allowing him to transform 58 East Elm Street's Colonial Revival into a comfortable work and living space. 

“The house used to be on Greenwich Avenue.  Right where the new Ralph Lauren store is going,” he reminds me.  “They picked it up and moved it here back in the 50’s.”  

Crazy as that sounds - its true.  Imagine people uplifting full scale homes, in one piece and replanting them two blocks further down the road. 

“Will you look at that,” he says as he points at the ornate black iron rail adorning the second tier balcony of our newly constructed neighbor.  A 5300 square foot, federalist-styled brick town house stuffed into a ¼ acre lot - it’s perimeter brick wall butts exactly 8 feet from our foundation, “ewww, that’s gaudy!” he adds.

It’s “urban sophistication,” I tell him.

Because we are two blocks away from the chic shopping of Greenwich Ave, 30 minutes outside of New York City, and within walking distance to the train and Long Island Sound, our address is in high demand. 

You’ll hear the locals complain a lot about how much the town has changed yet its upscale essence remains.  A community infused in wealth, culture, and charm - a population of 60,000 thrive here along with one hundred of Connecticut’s largest corporations.  Museums, a symphony, polo grounds, and marinas interlace with  8,000 acres of protected land - including 32 miles of coast, 20 parks, four beaches and a municipal golf course. 

"They should have NEVER made the Avenue one way," he reminds me, "and you can't get a decent hot dog, let alone a burger now that Finch's is out of business."

Dad wore many hats before he struck it big. One of his favorites was "soda jerk" at the food counter in Finch's Drug Store.  It's been 20 years since Mom and Pop stores ran the Ave, trampled by trendy trademarks such as, Kate Spade, Baccarat, Tumi, and Tiffany.  If its a $5,000 vase you're looking for I can easily point you in four different directions - but nowhere can you find a needle and thread. 

The average net worth per person is 430 thousand, the typical home costs an estimated 2.4 million, and the combined real estate value exceeds 50 billion. Dubbed the "Hedge-fund Capital of the World," its easy to see why the affluent flock here. 

 “You can work three jobs if you want,” he’ll tell you, “You’ll never go hungry here.” This is his attempt at keeps us grounded. 

He lives directly across from the office, on the odd side of East Elm Street.  A modest two-family home he bought back in the 80‘s with hope that the restrictions would bend enough to balance out the lopsided commercial zoning.

“It’s a shame we can’t move the business to 61 …no telling how long we’ll be able to stay here,”  he grumbles.

He worries about a lot of things and I am high on his list.  “We’ll be here as long as you’re alive Dad,”I tell him, "besides where would YOU live if we moved the office to 61?"

The house has been a haven to many.  Kerry grew up here.  We lived in the second floor apartment until I married Eddie - my daughters father, in 1989.  When I moved out, Terry - Kerry’s father moved in.  When Kerry moved on, Terry moved on.

Kerry moved back to 61 East Elm when he returned to help run the business.  Mary and Jackson followed, granting Jackson the privilege of growing up in the same bedroom as his father.

Located in the heart of down town Greenwich, you can walk everywhere.  "No need for a car," my father will tell you.   Work, school, library, church, grocery store, drug store, restaurants and boutiques; everything is in close range and with my father, the sentinel, parallel and poised - you were certain you were out of harms way.

But the sentinel was not on duty the night Kerry weakened.  The blanket lifted, he lie motionless on the living room sofa - in the center of our haven. 

I should have known.  Why else would I have changed the classic children's prayer back when he was a boy of eight.  I remember the moment well.  We were sitting at the kitchen table, having just ingested an unbalanced dinner of cereal and banana’s.  “I’m the luckiest kid around,” he said “I get to have cereal for dinner!”  Kerry didn’t mind what we had for dinner as long as there was milk.  He would drink a gallon a day if I’d let him, convinced dairy was the key to a statelier physique. 

Now I lay me down to sleep, 

I pray the lord my soul to keep;

If I should die before I wake....

The words gnawed at me.  So much so, that together, we re-scripted the prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep, 

I pray the lord my soul to keep;

Make my days, happy and bright, 

and all my dreams be sweet tonight.

When I wake tomorrow morn’, 

keep me healthy, safe and warm.  

God bless…

When I wake tomorrow morn’, when I wake, when I wake...  as though somehow, on some level, I knew.  I knew he would ingest a fist full of sleeping pills and slip into a permanent slumber.

Green Monkey Tales © 2007 Shannon E. Kennedy

to be continued...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is PORN a Four Letter Word?

From Wikipedia….

PORN: The depiction of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement.

What about porn is naughty, vulgar, or off color? 

We are all sexual beings.  If I describe a moment of pure, unadulterated excitement am I talking PORN?

The other day I caught my unsuspecting husband in the grocery store. I turned the corner and from the far end of the aisle saw a handsome, unassuming, calm, confident, man perusing the shelves in search of low calorie, carbonated beverages.  Even before I realized who he was, I was thoroughly aroused. 

Was I watching Porn? 
Am I describing Porn?
Not yet, what about now…

He grabbed a 2 liter bottle of diet Mountain Dew and held it firmly in his hands. It had his full attention, just as I did right before dawn, under the coolness of freshly washed satin sheets. 

Is this too graphic?  Is anyone offended?  Want more?……

He knows me well.  He knows my moans, my movements, the impatience of my breath.  He’s studied me for more than a decade and yet, his touch is neoteric and oh so erotic, and I am helpless.

Wow……this is fun!  The hell with you, now I want more…

He is tender.  He takes his time.  He wants to please me.  I stop thinking.  He whispers….I love you and I am his, forever.

OH Crap…too romantic..

His thrust is deliberate.  My tongue circles the sweat that drips from his brow and I pull him closer.  I fight to keep my eyes open.  I want to absorb every moment, see the pleasure of his stare.  I could live like this forever.

My hand caresses the firm line of his jaw, strokes his back, then rests on top of his well formed buttocks.  With both hands I force him closer.  I want more of him inside….

Wow……censor yourself Shannon!!! 

No, this is my blog and I’ll do as I damn well please!

Well….I’ll do as much as I can without checking the Adult Content box.

I consider gum smacking inappropriate behavior.  So does a dear friend of mine. I know this because she brought it to someones attention at a recent outing we were on. 

Four women in a car.  I am driving.  My dear friend is to my side. Two of her friends are in the back.  One is silent the other is smacking her gum.  Loudly

My dear friend warns her that it is offensive.  She apologizes.  The conversation continues.  I am in entertainment mode. 

It’s Sunday and we are out and about.  I’m happy to spend time with my dear friend but I’m missing my time at home.  After all, it is Sunday and everyone knows I watch porn at 4:00 on Sundays. 

I love the way it sounds.  Porn …..at Four….. on Sundays. 

It started off as a joke and then quickly evolved into fun. 

We watch all sorts of adult erotica.  Jenna Jameson is by far my favorite porn star.  I love that I have a favorite porn star.  I wonder if she's on facebook?

We watch old porn, French porn, Japanese porn. 

The Asian porn we’ve seen is really nothing like American porn.  There is no nudity or subtitles for that matter, only high pitched moaning as the camera focuses on a rapidly jerking shadow then climaxes to the soothing sound and sight of a gently flowing stream.

We watch educational porn, romantic porn, hardcore porn.  I’m even thinking I might start writing porn. 

And because I was in entertainment mode on that fateful Sunday evening, with my dear friend and her friends, I shared my excitement with them.

The following morning I received a call.  It was my dear friend.  She was offended by my conversation.  I had embarrassed her.  I felt terrible.  I felt utter sadness.  And then I wrote about it………

What’s wrong with Porn? 

And tell me, is Bird Porn off limits too?   You KNOW I love my Bird Porn!  Can't get enough of it.  And what about nudity in general?  or in the arts?  If I discuss nudity in public am I being inappropriate?  What is obscene?  What is off limits?  And what is this I hear about the lack of social intercourse in today's society?  Especially among our youth.

I’m embarrassed that I embarrassed my dear friend but I’m not embarrassed that I watch porn.   And if you are offended by my behavior or my comments please tell me so, in the moment, just as my dear friend told her friend who was “wildly” smacked her gum. 

The morning after, with the mist of her disgust still steaming,  I was asked if I ever censor myself.  The truth is, I’m trying really hard not to.

I have reached a point in my life where I want the world to see me exactly as I am, in full glory, bumps and all.  My days of keeping up appearances or impressing people are far behind me.  And I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

Hey, want to see my Bird Porn???

Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It was my first moment of clarity, a brief glimpse at the meaning of my life’s true purpose. In the height of my pain, I reached a point where things finally began to make sense. 


Driving down a two-lane never ending highway headed towards Black Rock City, I can see from my rearview mirror the last drops of civilization wither in the blistering sun. It will be a week before I see a gas station, restaurant, or grocery store.

Easements of piercing hot gravel alternating with quick sinking sand warns me not to rest as mounding formations of free standing boulders embellish the sparse vegetation and parched terrain that is indicative of the vast Nevada desert. The odometers escalading mileage calibrates with the rising temperature of the trade winds, and I gasp in fear that I will no longer be able to breathe effortlessly.

“Water, plenty of water, sunscreen, plenty of sunscreen” is my mantra and no matter how far I turn the dial, nothing tunes in. AM/FM, cell phones, satellite, cable, internet, nothing works. It’s as though we have entered the abyss. 120 miles north of Reno, it is a desolate world all on its own. The last speck of civilization, a 24 x 24 square foot mini mart and single pump gas station had a sign above the entrance reading “welcome to nowhere” and I believe them.

My traveling companion is oblivious of my fears as she beams with intense anticipation of an upcoming world that I know nothing about. A scene she discovered several years back during her days of living loose in LA.

“Oh My God Shannon, you have to go! It’s so you. You’ll love it!” coached Karen.

Yes, yes its true, I am adventurous, but her double life description of this altered ego, non conventional event is nothing I’d seriously considered doing. For one, there are no comforts of home and I have grown accustomed to many comforts. To me her description of the mania mimics cluster fucks of schizophrenia.

By the time we reach the hand painted plywood sign that welcomes us to Black Rock City I am overwhelmed by wasteland that spills in front of me.

Once a lakebed rich in life form, this ancient four hundred square mile landscape now embodies only dust, sand and sun. Windstorms whip the harsh elements of the playa, creating a constant changing tide; an evolving canvas dipped in muted shades of coral, amber and gray. But for one week out of the year, fifty thousand people from all over the world journey here to participate in an experimental community; a radical exploration that units creative expression and self-reliance. The result of this experiment is Burning Man

I cannot say for certain why I am here. I am aware of the physical challenges and yet I arrive reckless, my tank drained to the point of reserve. I have never been attracted to the austerity of the desert, preferring the soothing motion of the oceans sway; and it’s been quite sometime since I’ve craved laughter, instead cloaked in restless isolation. Truth be told, I’m not sure I signed up with the intention of achieving. Instead wondering if, exposed to such harshness, I would simply perish; dolefully dissolve into the barrenness of this region.

“Newbie’s keep to the left,” calls a Burning Man greeter.
The line of cars waiting to get into Black Rock City is stretched beyond my sight.
“That’s you Shannon. You’re a virgin. Pull the car into the left hand lane,” orders Karen.

Karen and I have long been partners in crime, and although I am 14 years her senior, our heightened sense of adventure combined with an uncanny craving to be the center of attention, is the common thread that strengthened our bond.

“I don’t want to pull over. Christ Karen, this is worse than rush hour traffic. How the hell are we going to set up our tent before sunset?” Neither of us has ever pitched a tent and I for one have not gone a day without a blow dryer, let alone indoor plumbing.

Sandwiched between thousands of happy campers, I am the only one not smiling.

“Name please” asks the greeter.
“Shannon Kennedy” I answer with rocket speed.
“Shannon Kennedy is your playa name?”
“I - ah, I have no playa name?”
“Newbie, Newbie!” cries the greeter.

Is my red face evidence of my embarrassment, or has my fair, Irish potato skin already begun to burn?

Against my will I am escorted to a large multi-colored, two tiered roulette wheel and told to give it a whirl. When the wheel comes to rest; bells ring, car horns beep and everyone cheers. It is official. I will now be known simply as Limp Fairy.

Silently I greet the outbreak of eccentricity that now surrounds me. Masquerading in creative attire, participants pedal festively decorated bike, or cruise by in elaborately adorned golf cars, scooters or art cars. The exchange of money is replaced by the bartering of gifts. We have each brought our own food, water, and shelter, for there are no vendors or plush accommodations here. At journeys end we will leave no trace. The world we built leaves with us, its existence imprinted forever in our soul.

Under a veil of sweltering dust, we begin our journey through the streets of Black Rock City. Hard work and creative minds transform self-pitched tents and you-hauled trailers into hedonistic theme caps brimming with gaiety. Fervent participants build sculptures and interactive art installations; alluring the masses to touch, climb, ride, spin, engage, and explore.

“Isn’t Burning Man amazing!,” Karen declares.
I can not answer. Trepidation traps my breath.

“Cum to Camp Jiffy Lube, feel the difference,” bellows a brawny man adorned in a skirt constructed of 1,000 plus sporks (part fork – part spoon), silver space boots, and massive cherub wings; his head crowned in twisted tiers of plastic baby doll arms. Emerging from a conventional New England town; I am naïve enough to think his invitation is directed at me. “Step aside sweetie, you’re blocking my view!” he orders, his attention captured by the sight of a stately looking man, sparingly dressed in a leopard skin loincloth.

It is clear that I am not the norm here. Chivalry is most certainly dead. It is the first time I remember feeling like a social outcast; my indifference flashing with the intensity of an emergency vehicles rooftop mounted strobe light, warning onlookers of my obvious nonconformity. Did Kerry feel this way, I wonder? In his writings he described himself as an ogre - trapped in a world ruled by insecurity, living with the never-ending fear that someone would discover the bruises buried deep inside.

“Confess your sins, salvation awaits the remorseful,” shouts a man outside Camp Almighty, the entrance a reproduction of a catholic confessional booth. “I have nothing to confess,” I sheepishly reply. If only he knew the severity of my sins, I thought. Although, I no longer tell people, “I killed my son” I am consumed with guilt.

Inside Camp Almighty sinners crowd around a glow in the dark alter, passing psychedelic mushrooms along with carafes of home made, dandelion wine. I am intentionally close to breaking the one law that governs Burning Man – that there are no spectators; yet despite my lack of involvement, my offense goes unnoticed, concealed by the gaiety that overrides all regulations.

By day two, I am ready to embark on a solo expedition. My flask full of water, my skin slathered in sunscreen, I jumped on my bike and head towards the farthest point of the playa. Wind pitched sand stings my skin and my mind races on. Faster and faster I peddle, envisioning what would happen if I never came back. Would the clean up crew simply donate my belongings, return the rented SUV and notify my family?

Twenty-foot tall pillars, balancing two lanterns each, line the mile long pathway that leads to the Temple of Honor. It is undoubtedly the most spectacular structure at Burning Man. Distinguished for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty; it stands as artist David Best’s proudest creation.

A massive fortress constructed of curving, gentle swelling domes, spears and cones, rested on a square wood casing, forming an image similar to that of the Taj Mahal. Intricate black and white mystical illustrations illuminated the temple, accentuating its grandeur and holiness. The culmination of the artist’s painstaking efforts along with a troop of twenty volunteers would end in a ritualistic blaze, signaling the closing of Burning Man.

Inside the temple, I slowly survey the array of commemorations loved ones left behind. Beside a portrait of Buddha dangles a green monkey tagged with a red heart. A shabby, child’s stuffed toy that, like the tales of the velveteen rabbit, looks as though he has been loved real. Above it a sticker reads, “Believe in the Power of Monkeys.”

The site of this spawns memories of my son’s childhood and I smile, recalling how our pet bird ate an exotic, prepackaged food labeled “Monkey Chow.” For whatever reason, these two words always made us laugh. Over and over again, Kerry and I would compete for the best rendition of "Monkey Chow."

I have since turned this into a game for Kerry’s young son Jackson, and it too makes him roar with laughter. It begins with a bulging eyed stare as I slowly declare, "I AM SO HUNGRY,” pausing to watch his wide-eyed reaction, “I'M GONNA GET ME SOME,” and in my deepest roar, “MMMONKEY CHHHOW!!!!!!!" And then I eat his belly. This belly eating business is quite ticklish and when you’re two years old, the sillier the better.

It is the first time since my son’s death that memories of him bring me a smile.

"Live and Burn" was one of Kerry's mottos. Attending Burning Man was one of his desires. The Temple of Honor would give me a place to grieve, a place to pray, and a place to honor my son. And so, below the green monkey tagged with the red heart, I create my memorial to Kerry.

First, I hang a T-shirt my sister Colleen has given me. A white, Fruit of the Loom T-shirt with a computer generated photo of Kerry; his face morphed by improper alignment. A rainbow stretches across the back panel along with a line from the song, Over the Rainbow, “Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind.” Simple as it might be, I love this shirt. I love the fact that my sister, Kerry’s Aunt, cared enough to create a tribute of admiration. My eyes pierce with tears as I added a letter I wrote about my beautiful son, and attached to it a photo of Kerry holding his son, Jackson. This becomes my place in the Temple of Honor.

Crouched beside me, a woman reveals a shrine for her son Chris. Our son's were the same age. We exchanged chronicles of a turbulent era, realizing the interchangeable pain and vulnerability of our son's lives. Her son's drug abused lifestyle and overdose bandaging his depression and my son's suicide completed by an overdose. An overdose of sleeping pills - over the counter sleeping pills, three packages, ninety pills, crushed, mixed with his ice tea and swallowed. No one seemed to questions the motives of a distraught young man as he entered the 24 hours CVS local pharmacy. No one wondered why he might want to purchase three packages of sleeping pills - his palms sweating as he handed cashier number 7, two twenty-dollar bills and said, “Keep the change.”

Each day I spend hours in the Temple of Honor. I sit in meditation; write in my journal and cry. Reflecting on the twenty-three years I had with my son and pleading for an ongoing connection. It is heavy, it is hard, it is healing. It is everything I need.

The first person to read my letter about Kerry is a man wearing only a baseball catchers
face mask, chest guard, shin guard, jock strap, cup and cleats. And despite his well-guarded, protective gear, he was vulnerable enough to shed a tear.

A man wearing a hat that says "FUTURE" on it reads my tarot cards and tells me there is a male guide beside me. Always near.

On my last night at Burning Man I rest, kneeling in the dessert sand and watch the temple burn. In the crust of the crowd I go unnoticed, eclipsed by the throngs of joviality. I scan the faces of the pack, knowing I am a stranger to them all. Above me, the bright full moon glows. It’s massive full-body dangles in front of me, just outside my reach. So close that I can see with great detail the scattering of mare that defines the face of the man trapped inside. It was a full moon the night you chose to end your life, I thought, wondering if its power had somehow driven him over the edge.

The intensity of the blaze unbolts my pores and my body glistens, reflecting the fury of the flame. Entranced by the towering smoke tunnels that spew from its core, their dance coils upwards towards the endless dark sky; my mind plays images of my final glimpse of Kerry’s impish laughter. His beautiful, symmetrically balanced face, highlighted by the intensity of his crisp blue eyes, knolling cheekbone smile, and tone of his blush; “Ma, don’t get mad,” he teased, “I’m a 23 year old guy - I don’t always get you,” the backwards tilt of his head timed perfectly with the roll of his belly-deep laughter. I was certain he was laughing at me.

My eyes widen, overfill with tears that rhythmically spill out one by one onto my cheeks; slowly rippling down the crevasses of my face, to a pool at the end of my chin and jump into the barrenness of my chest. I do not wipe my tears away. I am not ashamed to cry. I wear my pain proudly.

As much as I try to remember the way he lived, I am haunted by the sickening discovery of his sparsely clad body stretched across the living room sofa. Cold gray skin covers his stiff - unresponsive shell. His mouth slightly gaped, his eyes pointing upward, frozen in sorrow. I came to late. I did not understand his pain. And so, he traveled on without me.

I would spend the next year of my life desperately trying to understand. Collecting every thing I could find relating to his suicide and suicide in general. The autopsy found no food inside his stomach, only traces of dark brown liquid, which I determined to be the ice tea he so frequently drank despite my warnings that the sugar base would eventually rot his teeth. The police report said it was seventy-two degrees the day he died. The medical examiners office listed him as one of 72 suicides in the state of Connecticut that year. Suicide is the third largest cause of death in men ages 15 to 25. Men tend to be more successful then women at completing their suicides. Most send an unheard cry for help prior to taking their life.

Still, I do not understand.

David Best walks the line of spectators that surround the blaze. I watch as he randomly stops to welcome buoyant bystanders. As his image mirrors mine his hand stretches out to greet me and I can see through his sleep deprived, blood shot eyes that he understands my pain.

His message is simple.
“It’s not your fault” he tells me.
“But it IS my fault” I quickly reply.

Without warning, David’s grip pulls me to my feet. His tone is potent, intolerant of my ache, “Let it go. Let your guilt go. It’s not your fault.”

Between tears and shallow gasps of air, I tell him about my son, about his final explosion of rage, directed at me. I explain how we grew up together, how motherhood motivated me and about how I no longer know how to live my life now that he has ended his.

“Your son didn’t leave you. He’s right here beside you, guiding you ever step of the way” insists David.

“Then why have I never felt more alone?” I cry.

“We all sign up for this journey” continues David, “it’s just like you making the decision to come to Burning Man. The pain and pleasure you experience will help you discover your life’s true purpose. Once you find it, you can live your life deliberately.”

“Live Deliberately” was of the many a phrases Kerry had scribbled throughout his journals. The passage touched me deeply. It became even more profound when my husband engraved it in our wedding bands; the exchange celebrated just three months after Kerry’s passing. Was I so lost in the endless stream of superficial wedding details that I failed to recognize my son’s desperate cry for help?

“Look within yourself.” David continued. “You have everything you need.” And with that he said good-bye.

I watch as David’s image bleeds into the blaze. In patronage, I remain until the amber takes its final breath. The crowd now gone, the stars cloaked in a canopy of ash, unable to direct me home. From a distance I can hear the faint melody of Neil Young's signature song, Harvest. It was the first album I had ever bought. I was 14 years old and had earned the money to buy the album by completing a sewing task my over powering Aunt had given me. She was surrounded by children and like Cinderella’s evil stepmother, enjoyed torturing girls that were not, in her opinion, good enough to call her own. Somehow these childhood memories seemed bigger, closer - like the glory of the harvest moon that dangled before me. Just outside my grasp.

Slowly, I drift towards the echo of my childhood. Neil’s voice grows richer, deeper with each mindful step. In the expanse of emptiness, a camouflaged mesh tarp draped upon a geometric shaped, steel shaft dome stands alone. An elaborate sound system coupled with massive speakers’ border the interior walls. In the center, an oversized rainbow striped Brazilian hammock is suspended at the axis peak. Eagerly I climb upon it and sway to the sound of Neil's cry. There, cradled in hope, I rest till morning comes. And though I am by myself, I now know I am not alone. My son rests peacefully beside me, rootless in the gentle desert breeze.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who's Watching ME?

You've all seen it in action, one minute your  posting "YES" to a request to attend  New York City's annual  Santacon "convention" and the next minute there's a facebook ad for Santa suits on the right column of your wall.  Or perhaps your bio lists you as a single father of one who likes cats and is a nudest at heart then BAM your page is highlighted with photo's of big breasted blonds tantalize you with promises of a better life, or at the very least pictures of herself.

I get it, believe me I do.  The marketing masses that be are sucking up our social networking information.  Voyeurism = Commerce. But what if it isn't part of your bio, what if you haven't  released it onto your home page and STILL they know. Emails, search engines, youtube, flickr.  How much can they get from an IP address?

This past summer I attended Burning Man for the 7th year in a row.  If you know me, whether it be personally or cyberly, you are very much aware of this and some of you have grown tired of hearing about it.  I have posted a general synopsis of this years experience but I have yet to write about the details.

So how is it Fox channel 5 is onto me?  No, not Bill O'reilly or Fox news, but The Simpsons.  When I caught a fall episode of Homer and the gang transforming into human eating zombies I grew very suspicious.  Yes it was their Halloween "spooktackular" special and cannibalism certain is gory but why now? Why this year?  The same year we Burning Man tribe mates dive into a delusional discussion on the benefits of eating Mark "Cooked" (aka the other, other white meat) and then institute a new camp theme of "Munchers" - Burners who eat human flesh, with our motto being "We Eat Orphans"  (orphans being first time burners).  Sounds crazy I know but it must also sound humorous or why else would Fox jump on it?

Not convinced?  Okay, lets flip the channel to NBC....

Thursday nights episode of 30 Rock revolved around a new cast member.  In search of fresh talent they hire an unknown Canadian actor who, until then, was working as a silver street performer.  They called him Danny but all of us at Green Monkey Camp know he's playing the part of Jesse. Jesse, one half of the silver couple.  Jesse, who has also done his fare share of street performing.  The impostors physic was similar but he lacked the natural good looks, talent and charm of our Jesse.  Their dastardly deed of comically cloning Jesse is in poor taste and down right despicable!   "Hey NBC, get your own characters, Jesse is real and he's ours!"

Onto SNL...

Saturday afternoons  typically involve some trivial babble left over from my work week. This Saturday I checked my inbox and uncovered a bitch slapping email from a client named "Mr. Jones."  It infuriated me to the point where, in an effort to purge the poisonous venom from my system, I wrote a make believe response laced with a variety of obscenities.  Although I didn't send this to Mr. Jones, I did forward it to Miss Pegged, a partner in crime and coworker.

Later that evening, half way through a "big bottle" of chardonnay, SNL punishes me, laps up my hate tainted attitude and resurrects Mr. Jones.  He becomes the focus of a rude, crass, nonsensical Mr. Jones skit. With eyes glared all I could hear was "Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones."

To make matters worse, they end the skit with a rendition of Deep Purples,"Smoke on the Water."  I despise that song, always have.  For me hearing it is a lot like pouring salt in a wound, getting kicked in the ass, or stabbed in the heart.  It was the same song Lynn Wolff used at our High Schools head majorette tryouts.  The same song we twirlers listen to when forced to perform her monotonous routine over and over again. 

At any given moment, there are tens of millions of people in more than 130 countries actively engaging in internet activity so why are they tapping into MY groove?  Is my paranoia worsening or are online industries monitoring my wayward behavior and charting it to set social trends?   If so, how long will it take before twirling becomes an Olympic sport and green monkey accessories are all the rage?

Stay tuned ........

UPDATE... just off the press...
the same day that I sent my "is Porn a Four Letter Word" email, the big O had a shOw about woman and pOrn.  Jenna was a guest.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

 It was easy to stay in bed this morning. The air is undeniably cold. I hate the cold. The sound of the waterfall, calming during the heat of the summer, creates a cerebral dip in the temperature.

As I walk down the carpeted staircase, I can easily detect the countless creeks of both knees and I wonder how many more years I can get out of them.

Alone in the kitchen, I fill my well splattered copper kettle with fresh water, position it on the best possible burner, and wait for it to boil. The earth toned travertine tiles, soothing during the summer months, now heighten my chill as I alternate my pink furry sock stance – left foot, right foot, left foot, right.

To avoid staring at the kettle, I turn to my freshly charged blackberry and check incoming emails - Junk, junk, junk, junk, Jesse, Jeanie, Pandora Bee. I trash the junk and read each email, twice. The water boils. I turn toward the slender end cupboard that boarders the kitchen sink, remove 4 slate blue ceramic mugs and rest them on the cool black counter. I then glide back toward the refrigerator, swing open the door and retrieve the milk. A brisk wisp of air, welcomed during the height of the summer, sends a shiver down my spine and I clutch my pink tattered robe tightly around my waist.

And then, in the middle of my dance, I pause…. I have no idea how you like your coffee. And Jesse, I’m not even sure you drink coffee. This bothers me.

I turn to find the sugar bowl half full, turn back to the cupboard closest the refrigerator, reach high to remove the box of firmly packed raw sugar and fill the while porcelain bowl. I need to find a sugar bowl that suits my personality. This simply will not do.

I turn back around to find that you are not here. This sends a chill down my spine and sadness across my face.

I reach for my cell phone, clasp it closely and read your emails once again. A warmth rushes over me, just as it did in the heat of our summer. I am no longer cold.

Shocked, Dismayed and Chagrined

Shocked, dismayed and chagrined; three words our high school history teacher repeated again and again and again. I remember his delivery and his smile well.

“Miss Kennedy, I am shocked, dismayed and chagrined by your lack of appreciation for the events leading up to the civil war.”

“Miss Kennedy, I am shocked, dismayed and chagrined by your inability to arrive at class, on time.”

“Miss Kennedy, PLEASE stop talking!”

“I’m not talking, I’m listening...”

“Miss Kennedy, I am shocked, dismayed and chagrined by your illogical retort.”

Mark and I grew up less than a mile from each other. From Kindergarten to graduation, we shared the same schools, same school bus, same lunch line, same disdain for rural-underdeveloped country logic, and the same yearning to leave it all behind.

Separated by a long stretch of a two-lane highway, a feed mill, a candy shop, a killer hill and four bars, we managed to completely avoid each other until our 20th high school reunion.

We were both one of five children. His father and my step father were both semi functioning alcoholics. My step father died prematurely from cirrhosis of the liver and malnutrition. Mark's father died prematurely from liver cancer. Both smoked, both avoided their families, both had explosive tempers and erratic work habits. I often wonder how our mothers coped with no money, no man, and no way out - weighed down by children, wild rebellious children.

We were on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard when he wondered, out loud, whether or not I wanted to get married.

I didn’t, but I loved him so fiercely that I said yes.

The three years we’d been together had been volatile. We lived a disjointed, brutally co-dependent yin-yang lifestyle churned in fury followed by long stretches of uncomfortable silence. He would accuse me of being addicted to rage and I would accuse him of being emotionally inept.

So when he pulled a small, neatly wrapped box from his neatly pressed khakis and handed it to me- I had no idea what hide behind the glossy Persian blue wrapping and snappy white bow.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Open it,” he replied.

The unveiling revealed a black velvet box with a stunning Lucida square cut Tiffany diamond ring propped inside.

I was puzzled.

“what is it?” I asked.

“it’s a ring,” he replied.

“why?” I asked.

“Why is it a ring?” he asked.

“NO, why are you giving me a ring?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to get married,” he announced.

Now I was shocked, dismayed and chagrined. Marriage was the last thing on my mind and the last thing I ever expected him to suggest.

We had never discussed it, as other couples often do. He had never been married, never been engaged, and never lived with a woman other than his mother and I, for all the wrong reasons, married pretty much every man I had ever met.

Even more confusing was his Cheshire cat smile. He appeared quiet pleased with himself and I was convinced he was completely mad.

I wasn’t sure if we’d survive the rest of our vacation let alone the rest of our lives together, but even so, I said yes.

The following day we went to the infamous nude beach at Gayhead. I’ve always felt insecure about my physical attributes so the thought of me prancing freely on the crab littered clay beach sounded preposterous.

But now we were engaged and I thought "what the hell" let him see my slowly sagging almost 40 ass. Let's see if that wipes the smile off his smug little face.

It didn’t.

And then, something miraculous happened. The fury and uncomfortable silence was replaced with a disorienting contentment, a calm, gentle, intoned alignment of previously mismatched souls.

Where did it come from and how did he know we’d find it?

His trade mark silence was now eclipsed by the shimmer from his token of admiration and the unspoken pledge of his love, now, and forever.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Beauty of Bacon

Despite the bleak, east coast wintry weather, my 84 years old father is perched at his desk, in his pajamas, patiently waiting for bacon.

"Why am I wearing my pajamas?" he asks

"Because you want bacon," I tell him

"Okay," he says

Later, after a huge helping of bacon, pancakes and melon slices he adds, "That’s good bacon, I'm going to wear my pajamas again tomorrow!"

It is Wednesday afternoon, January 14, 2009. I am perched at my desk, in my pajamas impatiently glaring at the digitally displayed time that narrowly appears in the lower right hand corner of my desk top screen.

Today is ticket day, our first chance at securing a spot at Burning Man 2009. You know it will be a mess. There will surely be snags, crashes, and meltdowns and I imagine the staff's temperament mimics the inevitable computer glitches. The anticipation is invigorating even for my father, who taps his foot, smiles and softly sways to a "playa magic" Pretty Lights tune.

My west coast campmates have joined forces at a midpoint coffee house that shall, due to the distaste of branding, remain nameless. They share a cup of joe, poured into their playa christened mugs, and turkey bacon. Our wifi connection allows us to share a moment drenched in love and a longing to be home.

I can’t help but wallow in my good fortune; to be part of a nurturing, compassionate family both on and off the playa, to have the freedom to arrive at work, a company my father founded 50 years ago, dressed in pj’s, and to have the vision, passion, and funds necessary to make the yearly journey to this bountiful wasteland.

For me, its not the lower priced tickets that prompts my persistence. It’s the pleasure that comes from feeling connected. I do, of course realize, the demand and, as in the past, follow my self implied principle of gift one, keep one.

Minutes turn into hours, impatience is eclipsed by determination, as I watched my screen go from “TRY AGAIN” to “TIMED OUT”. Paypal, Visa, Mastercard…. Enter, reenter, reply… and still no sure fire sign of victory.

And then…….. the emails.

Email, upon email, upon email… a never ending trail of gratitude, acknowledging my order again, and again, and again.

My initial elation is short lived when my bank's urgent automated warnings begin to post. Overdraw after overdraw after overdraw. Notice of fines followed by a growing negative balance in first my main account, which flows into my overdraft account, and then crashes into my savings account.

A backpedaled parade of calls to my bank and credit cards, intertwines with emails to Paypal and the “Burning Man Powers that Be" swallow up the following 2 days, and in between it all and foremost in my mind is a gnawing fear that I have wiped out ALL of my purchases.

Despite the assurance from the bank, credit card company, paypal and Burning Man staff, I remain cautiously optimistic until a bulging gray cardboard envelope arrives weeks later. Inside it, 2 priceless tickets and one lemon, sourball candy.

And the pure joy of knowing I am on my way home.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


In the novel, each chapter begins with a section taken from one of the many writings tucked inside the trunk that doubles as Kerry’s coffee table.  The passage below is one of the last stories entered into Kerry’s black notebook.

It was Tuesday night and I was home alone.  It was too cold outside and too warm inside.  Charlie Parker was playing the saxophone and I was playing with the various forms of hair I could find on my body. 

I had dreadlocked the hair on my toes, a few patches on my legs, and my big pubic mop, and had begun focusing on my nipple hairs.  They stood coiled black, and obscenely proud, strewn across the death pale backdrop of my Irish potato skin.  It was an embarrassing scene.  I felt like reaching for a shirt though nobody was inside my apartment, and I thought about my days of cigarettes, and watching clocks, and T.V., and masturbating to early morning workout shows, and how I ever even managed to hold conversations with people, and how sad it all really was.  

And then I lit my nipple hair on fire.  I started on the right side lighting individually at the ends, watching them flam and fizzle out in an orderly fashion.  I was brushing the ash into my belly button, and everything was going fine until about midway through the left nipple when one hair got rebellious and decided to spread across the remaining forest.  That mother-fucker took a good chunk of my nipple (long pause) which made me fall backwards, hitting my head on the table behind me, which knocked me out and caused a loud sound which made my landlady call the police, who called the paramedics who, upon finding me on the floor, brought me here to this hospital, with doctors and nurses that proceeded to laugh uncontrollably, while calling every psychiatrist in the city down to see me.      

  By, Kerry Ryan Magann

self portrait by Kerry Ryan Magann

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison