Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Art of Romance

Falling in Love again
1949 Colliers Magazine Illustration by Fred Irvin

As a child I was captivated by the heartwarming tale of Disney's, Lady and the Tramp. As a young girl I was perplexed by the turbulent passion between a manipulative southern bell and a scandalous adventurer in, Gone with the Wind. As an adolescent I studied the complexities of Audrey Hepburn's sexually sophisticated yet sweetly vulnerable character Holly, in, Breakfast at Tiffany's. I cried for months after witnessing the tragic, untimely death of Jenny and the devotion of grief-stricken Oliver in, Love Story.

In my late teens, convinced romance existed beyond the big screen, I left my small town in search of my very own leading man after watching and singing my way through Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson's, A Star is Born. As an adult I fed my incurable need for romance by devouring such romantic classics as Bridges of Madison County, Far and Away, Hope Floats, The Notebook, Jerry Maguire, and On Golden Pound, to name a few.

But by far, The Pink Tutu is my favorite of all love stories. This real life love story highlights one mans simple quest to make his wife smile during her chemotherapy treatments. His artistic endeavors have ballooned into The Tutu Project, the fund raising efforts of The Carey Foundation for women with breast cancer. Bob Carey's self-portraits, adorned in a fluffy pink tutu and frolicking in settings that stretch across the United States and Europe, ignite laughter and hope.

Bravo to leading men everywhere who love, comfort, support, embrace, and celebrate their heroines as they battle this relentless, senseless disease.

It is a love story I know I deserve, and I pray I will be given the time to find.

xo, MonkeyME

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Character Development

It is day four of 90 Days To Your Novel, a day-by-day plan for outlining and writing a book (or in my case a memoir). It was a gift from my soul sister, Mairead. If nothing else, it's a welcome distraction from the relentless churn of the chemo train.

I tend to do better with goals if I tell people about them. So here I am, confessing my intentions. I've signed a contract with myself and my completion date is  PI  (3.14), March 14th. This is also my husbands birthday. So instead of mourning the birth anniversary of a lost love, I'll celebrate the volatile chapters of my glorious life.

Todays lesson focuses on character development. Several questions were asked so that the reader could gain a sense of who the main character is. Since this is ME, it shouldn't be too tricky.

What do you want most in life?  LOVE

What was the most important thing to have ever happened to you?  The loss of LOVE, or what I initially perceived as the loss of love - the death of my son.

What is your middle name?  Elizabeth

Where do you work?  At a company that my father built and has rewarded me with a great sense of pride and independence.

What is the favorite thing about yourself?  Knowing that on any given day, chances are good that I will make you laugh.

How do you drink your coffee?  Starbucks breakfast blend, french pressed with six pinches of cinnamon. In a hearty, two fisted mug, goes a teaspoon of raw sugar and 3/4's of a cup of warmed and frothed, 1% organic milk. It's more complicated than it needs to be and I enjoy the process.

What is your favorite holiday?  I am the costume queen, so it's Halloween.

What kind of music might you listen too?  Tonight, I am paralyzed by Caleb's vocals in Wait for Me.

I saw the surprise
The look in your eyes
I gave it up
Gonna be who I am
Be who I am
And give it up...

What is the color of your bedroom?  French Blue

What age was your first kiss and what was his name?  I was seven. I gave two boys, Michael Pope and Jimmy Griffith, the key to my bicycle lock and watched them race each other down the hallway, up the stairs, and out the door to the bike rack in the back corner of the school yard. The first one to reach my bike got to unlock it and walk me, and my bike, back home. This went on for several months. Midway through spring, I declared them both winners and rewarded them each with a kiss.

What are your favorite childhood memories?  Getting lost in my imagination...hiding in the barn behind my house, riding in the backseat of my father's car, fairy hunting, skiing solo.

What scares you the most?  I'm in the thick of it - pain and suffering. The lingering sting of a pain that drugs can't numb.


The barn behind my house is the perfect place to hide. Confined in cobwebs and creepy crawlers, no one dare go inside. Tucked low against a musty wooden post beam, I sit with my knees pinned tightly against my chest. A cracked, weather-beaten window covered in faded yellow newspaper and caked with dust, keeps most the sun out. The barn door is two-tiered just like the one in Mr. Ed, my favorite television show.

No one remembers animals ever living in the barn but I can smell them.  I’ve scrubbed the cool concrete floor with Mom’s minty green Palmolive soap - sprayed it with water from the garden hose and watched streams the dingy grey suds flow around the troths and disappear into the muddy base drains. I bet it's old horse poop I smell, maybe some from cows and chickens too.

Dad says he’ll buy me a pony, any pony I want. Mom says NO but Dad doesn’t know that yet. I want a black pony with a white diamond on his forehead. His fur will be shiny and his eyes will be sweet. I'll feed him carrots, hay, and alfalfa, and let him wash it down with gallons of sweet tea. He won’t scare me because we’ll both start out small. He’ll grow up strong and so will I.  

xo, MonkeyME

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I am stuck in the CRASH of chemo - when your body comes off the steroid high. The steroids they give you to counteract the side effects of a drug that is intended to save your life but could also kill you.

I don't know how people do chemo for life. That is what stage 4 cancer patients face. I am in round 3 out of 8, and I am miserable.

If this doesn't work, and the cancer comes back, I will let it be. I'd rather the cancer kill me than the chemo. I'm okay with surgery, cut it away if you can. Radiate it, if you can. It's not pretty but it's doable. But this, the chemo juggle, seems futile.

Tuesday, after much resistance, they placed the port in me - a catheter that shoots the chemo into a large vein directly above my heart. I followed that up with my third oxaliplatin infusion.

I cried for four hours straight the day they put the port in. I cried for the loneliness and ridiculousness of my illness. I cried for the suffering I endured as a result of 7 breast cancer surgeries - 1 to remove my breasts and 6 to reconstruct them.

But mainly, I cried for my deceived, betrayed, abandoned, badly wounded heart.

A dear friend recently wrote, "You miss him because you are remembering the good. Remember the bad."


But for today, I am stuck in a Dave Matthews song - haunted by a cryptic sax, deafening drum and hypnotic strum, and crashing in waves of promises that no longer include me.

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