Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Two Sisters

A Brevity prompted, 750 words or less, childhood memory

Two Sisters 
1899 - oil on canvas 
Bessie Macnicol

Clarabell was everyone's favorite. She was coined, early on, as the pretty one - the one with golden, carefree curls, apple green eyes, and a pleasant disposition. I, her nemesis, had unruly hair, too many freckles, and a weak chin.

"If you wrap a towel around their heads you can't tell them apart," Mom would say.
"Is that so," said most everyone else.

Clarabell was fifteen months older 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 Monkees. The Monkees 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 every Saturday morning, down the slippery staircase, through the pantry, to the trophy piece of our living-room - an Admiral, wood console, black and white TV.

I was convinced that, if it weren’t for her, I’d have everything I ever wanted. I’d have the sunny side of our bedroom. Davy’s picture would hang right above MY bed. Davy’s face would be the first thing I’d see every morning and the last thing I’d see before I turned out the lights.

And why does the yellow brick road have to dangle from MY side of the ceiling? A limp, long, caution strip of double-sided sticky tape, weighted in misguided flies. I can no longer lie on my bed, stretch my legs up high and point my toes or I’ll touch it. And I never sleep without my bedspread pulled way up, over my head, because I know, someday, one of those flies will come unstuck, and land right between my eyes.

If it weren’t for Clarabell I’d have her cool, baby blue sheets. I’d have the bigger pillow, the better blanket. And I’d have “Bummy,” her best friend, “Bummy.” Her NOT REAL, Easter basket, bunny rabbit that she refused to outgrow. But I wouldn’t have sucked his ears stiff grey. She hugged and tugged the pretty pink stuffing out of him, plucked the snowball tip from his tickly tail.

Everyone knew she loved Bummy more than me.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Spring

I can smell spring. The snow has melted. The birds are busy. Buds and bulbs are sprouting. I can smell spring! And I am happy.

In celebration of spring, I started cleaning out my blog site - deleting drafts of unpublished posts when I came across this one from over a year ago....

Last night my dreams included a giant, anaconda slithering around me, under me, above me. It never bit me but it showed its fangs. And it made the most horrible hissing sound. It's eyes were pink, its tongue was blood red.

I have a very wise friend who gives very good advise. Most of the time I listen. But not today. Today I'm not listening because there is anger looming around, under and above me. Sometimes is seeps inside me. It makes me feel ugly. 

I have no idea where I was going with this. I don't know who this "very wise friend" is, although most of my friends are wise. I don't know what could have pissed me off so much that I conjured up a monstrous, semiaquatic snake. 

This unpublished post was written before cancer. I used to divide my life into, "Before Kerry died" and "after Kerry died." Now I have a subsection, "Before cancer and after Kerry died," and "after cancer and my father died." Somewhere along the line, I learned not to hold onto anger. Not to let anger spoil an otherwise glorious day. 

Yesterday my anaconda was the lonely, ass-crack bearing maintenance man who insists my post-mastectomy blog post photo's are pornography and then prints them out and passed them out to people in my neighborhood.

Yesterday, the anaconda ass-crack man confronted me about my dog being off the leash, in the pouring rain, less than 8 feet from my property. He waited for almost 15 minutes, hidden behind a brick pillar and then pounced on me with his eyes a blaze, his belly bulging, his massive, belt-looped ring of keys jingle jangling.

I must confess that I had the best time repeating "Argo Fuck yourself" in various tones, over and over and over again. And then I walked into my day... happy.

Cancer taught me a thing or two. Today, I know not to let ass-crack man spoil more than a minute of my day. I visualize ass-crack man in a room full of other like bodied ass bearing men. And they are jolly. They are rejoicing in the fact that they are no longer lonely. And they go about their day spreading sunshine and rainbows and buttercups everywhere they go.

I tell you, I smell spring! And I am happy. 

Love and Happiness, MonkeyME 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Dogs ate my Blog Posts

To make up for time off, I'm rolling three posts into one. 


5 lb Lucy and 95 lb Sasha

Instead of writing, I spent my morning researching bloating in Bernese Mountain dogs. I've never had a large dog before and I'm afraid I'm going to accidentally kill her.

Sasha seems more like a dolphin than a dog. It's something about the eyes. And her size. Lucy, although tiny, seems more resilient.

Lucy is fearless and independent. Sasha is fearful and needy. I am a hopeless enabler.

I'm headed to New Orleans next month but I can't fly with a 95 lb dog. Boris, has agreed to babysit Sasha but stress can cause bloating and I can only imagine how stressed out she'll be staying with a kind but unusually tall man who wears baseball caps and grinds his coffee beans (just a few of the things that freak Sasha out). 

Yesterday I spent 3 hours researching pet friendly hotels from Connecticut to New Orleans should I decide to make the 3 day road trip.



Superbowl, Grammys, Oscars...this is how I mark the passing of a dull, dank winter. 

This year, thanks to Boris, we were invited to Alicia's Oscar Costume Party. You either LOVE costuming or you don't. I, being a crafty little monkey, love the creative process that snaps hold of me the minute someone mentions a costume theme. My husband, on the other hand, is NOT a fan. During our 15 years together, the closest he's come to wearing a costume is his version of Drunk Guy. Drunk Guy wears husbands favorite sports coat, sunglasses, a baseball cap, and holds a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other.

But this year was different.

Prior to the Oscars, 3 nominated films were available on HBO on demand prior to the big event and husband was inspired by what he saw.

And the 2013 nominated films available on HBO prior to Oscar night were: 

Argo - "Argo Fuck yourself!" 
Beast of the Southern Wild - I had the hardest time remembering the title 
Flight - Denzel Washington nominated for Best Actor

Thinking Denzel looked extra cool in his pilot suit, my husband elected to go as Whip Whitaker, the lead character in Flight. He then went online, all by himself, and ordered a pilots costume.

I elected to go as a six-year-old black child named Hushpuppy from Beast of the Southern Wild.

And Boris, who is also NOT a fan of costumes, picked Tom Hanks character in Castaway.

Did you know they sell the volleyball already painted with the red hand/face print on it?

Not that it was required or that anybody cared, but for weeks I practice my lines...

"Who's the man?" Daddy
"I'M DA MAN!!!" Hushpuppy

"My name is Hushpuppy and I live with my Daddy in the Bathtub"
"My name is Hushpuppy and I'm the King of the Bathtub!"

This was also a great excuse to get a spray tan. I needed color so I didn't look half dead wearing white in winter but not so dark that I was deemed inappropriate.

The concept of a spray tan was new to me. The only reference I had was an episode of Friends, when Ross gets a full frontal spray tan. So for moral support, I brought Miss Pegged along with me.

I expected to be alone in a booth, instead I was led to a closet sized area, created by curtains, and given a hair net, sticky sole-only slippers, and a paper thong. That's when I realized this was a personalized spray tan.  There I stood with my legs wide and arms out - showcasing my double mastectomy scars, bat wings, bulging belly and dimpled bottom. The technician, and owner, was friendly and professional but I still felt extremely vulnerable.

With my clothing back on, and in awe of my slow building tan, I left feeling confident and fearless. I was two feet out the door when I asked Miss Pegged if she wanted to go skydiving in the spring and to my surprise she said yes.

Hushpuppy Me
with my swimmies on and totting a bucket of cajan spiced shrimp

It was a fun night and since I was a child, I went braless. I love that wig and I've been wearing the rain boots around town. I wish I had the never to wear the wig around town.


Happy Anniversary To Me 

One Year Cancer Free

This week marked one year since my double mastectomy. It is a decision I have never regretted. That's not to say, in hindsight, I would have done things differently but I learned a great deal along the way. I didn't mind losing my breasts. It was a small price to pay for my health. 

I owe so many of you a great deal of thanks for sticking by me. Especially my husband, who was my main caregiver during the year.

If you read my CATSTIR posts from the beginning, you know it was a difficult start for us. But once he was able to accept that I was sick, and I was able to ask for help, we moved beyond our vulnerabilities. 


Mark took charge of my recovery. Here he is getting the supplies ready to care for my four drains. 

We were both overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received. I was especially moved by the cards and gifts sent by people I have never met. I strung many of the cards above my bed. They will stay put until my last surgery is complete (number 7 is scheduled for mid April).

These cards, along with so many other thoughtful gifts are proudly displayed around our home. I am convinced that all of them have major healing powers.

The blanket on my bed was handmade by a member of "The Secret Tea Party Society," which I am a proud member of. This is not a political statement. We gather around a table and sip tea, while indulging in fabulous food and spirited conversation. 

Monkey's were a major theme. Here are a just a few.

The barrel of monkeys, a gift from Juli and her son at Surviving Boys, are individually painted and named according to their unique personality. The handmade Green Monkey cards are from Sarah and Ben at Nice Old Spice.

So many of you went out of your way to comfort me...

Miss Pegged
Miss Claudia
My family; Miss Mary, Jackson and Lindsay
My Chosen Family; Pinky, Jesse, Julie, Jelly, Buttah, Da Bunniez, Monkey Gurl

My breast cancer sisters who showed me what it means to be strong.

Faithful bloggers, readers and followers - never underestimate the power of kind words.

Throughout the year, no matter how difficult the day was, 
I woke each morning knowing I was loved. 
And for this, I am grateful. 

Love and Gratitude, 


Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison