lisa marie corley | greenville, sc



Peek 1


(Why do I love to start posts with the word ‘so’? I’m on the verge of annoying myself. I’ll bet ‘real’ writers and professors and other smart people gather on their verandas to sip expensive wines and laugh heartily at dimwitted bloggers who aren’t capable of expressing themselves without using dull, ineloquent transitions. And I’m sure they badmouth the cretins who carelessly use apostrophes where there should be quotes. And start sentences with the word ‘and.’)

(Hrrrmpff. Damn wine-sippin’ fuckers.)


(Yeah, so there’s another unfortunate habit. Shut up, I don’t care what you think.)

I’m going to start a little creative project. Verrrrry frequently — my fear of commitment and general laziness won’t quite allow me to say ‘every day’ — I’m going to post a peek into my world. Maybe it’s a fleeting thought. Maybe it’s dialogue with a lunch bud. Perhaps a photo of a sparkly dogwood tree, a shockingly inappropriate drawing, or a page out of my non-virtual, actualrealworld journal. Let’s see what happens.

Kickin’ it off is something you will see stuck to my refrigerator should you be invited to visit my monkeylair. It lists five promises I made to myself around seven years ago. Five promises born of angst within situations and an environment that just wasn’t compatible with ME. I’d allowed myself to become too influenced by what other people wanted of me, and I was fed up. I crafted these promises based on my own inner voice as well as inspired writings by Joseph Campbell and Bucky Fuller. I hung copies everywhere, and did the best I could to live by them.

Within months, my life had hung some exciting and promising curves, just like my roadhugging Mini on those fun mountain roads. In the process of shifting my stuff around, these simple black-and-white promises ended up packed in a box…. where they languished until late last year.

(I’m pausing while you stare in amazement at the implication of that last sentence. Yes, I hear your brain working on the math. Go ahead. Let the notion carry you to its logical conclusion. It is true. Last year…..I was cleaning.)

I display those personal promises again, this time on that special place o’honor in homes across America. Nowadays it serves as a warm reminder that I do have power to affect change, and — more importantly — as a guide to stay the motherdamnfuck on course.


A lonnnng year of whaps

Geesh. I’ve started this post over at least five times now. Apparently my drunken pixie-muse has passed out again, abandoning me. He’s visited quite a bit in the last few weeks, but he never stays long, and he comes at inopportune times — like when I’m driving to work or spending a non-laptop weekend with family or being pleasure-serviced by my naked houseboyman Miguel. OK that last one was just a dream but I certainly didn’t want to leave it to type on a damn computer.

So I’m just going to string together a series of potentially unrelated paragraphs, mmkay?

The OCD chatterdevils in my head want me to write some sort of transition post. They tell me that, since I only posted six times in 2009 and an uberpathetic *one* time in 2010, I probably need to address the “WTF?” questions bouncing in your heads. I keep arguing with them that they are being waaaay too presumptuous to assume these questions — not to mention readers — actually exist. But you know how OCD chatterdevils are.

Oh. You don’t?


Anyway, they tell me I should write some sort of summary of the time that’s passed, and, of course, it is essential that I put a positive spin on it (please imagine these words spoken in a sarcastic, snobbish, old-Southern-money drawl). Like a list of reasons why 2010 didn’t suck stinkyass butt. Or a description of things for which I am grateful. Or a list of new and exciting perversions I’ve nurtured. The post should be a perfect balance of pensive reflection, humor, optimism, and OF COURSE irreverence.

Let’s see if that happens.

Winter and spring rockalong pretty well
2010 started out FABulously. I was training with old runbud friends, out there in my VERY favorite running weather. There’s nothing like a healthy, pumpin’ heart 10 minutes into a 35-degree joggytrot. Lovelovelove freakinlove it. The group experienced some unfortunate interpersonal strife, but we came together on race day and completed Greenville’s Reedy River 10K in early March. Invigorating!

Something else cool was that I dug deeper into my social media obsession. You know I’m not happy unless obsessed, right? Luckily, my interest coincided with some initiatives at work, so I raised my hand high and became able to integrate the fun into my workdays. Have been feeling the buzz ever since. And buzzing the feel. Which is way more satisfying than copping a feel, at least when comparing longterm benefits.

Nursed a small tinge in my foot for awhile, but I kept in shape enough to continue regular running with friends, and went on a hardcore hike or three. Nature really sets me ‘right.’ Some people sit in church. I take deep breaths of fresh air. Ran another 5K race in May, and right after that started training for a half marathon. I didn’t really think I’d do well with that longer distance, but I gave myself permission to walk as much of the 13+ miles as necessary. About this time I also started an intensive strength training regimen, and in mid May, I bought a bike! Soooo excited to have a new type of challenge.

Whap, whap, whap, whap
Whap #1. Here’s where the year started to s u u u c k. Only a few weeks after getting my new bike, I crashed it twice on the same day during a 26-mile ride up the Swamp Rabbit Trail & back. I’m considering changing my story to a 26-mile trail ride at Paris Mountain, though…that is soooo much more impressive than accidents on a flat paved trail, don’t you think?

Hmmm. Yeah.

I thought I just had a deep bruise or two in my left upper arm and shoulder, but as the weeks and weeks went by and the pain didn’t get better, I made an appointment with my superfave orthopaedist for late July.

Whap #2. Overlapping all the other midyear whaps was an ongoing bunch o’family stuff that I won’t discuss in great detail now. Maybe later. The “stuff” was basically two-fold — my mom’s move from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom apartment in an independent living facility… and my sister’s declining health. Planning, busywork, moving, and medical research and education blanketed nearly all of our free time during the summer.

Sadly, these were the last times the five of us would spend together.

Whap #3. Another ongoing annoyance was some weirdness in my own health. These topics are beyond dull — just a few getting-older issues which, while temporarily draining me of time and energy, I’ve since gotten under control. Mostly. I will warn you right now, though, that the constant ringing in my ears will — I repeat, WILL — drive me to insanity one day. Hoping to plan ahead so that I snap in some sort of interesting or entertaining way. I’m open to any ideas.

Whap #4. So. The evening before my scheduled orthopaedist appointment in July, my ankle mysteriously gave way during a run in the park. Something twisted and crunched and I went down, grinding my knees hard against asphalt and into lots of gravelly debris. Ouch. I limped pathetically to a nearby stump and sat there, blood streaming down my calves, while runbud-angel K rushed to get her car. Several bikers and runners stopped to check on me while I was waiting….I imagine I made a pretty distressing sight. :)

Diagnoses, healing, and settling in
The next day at the doctor’s office I made lots of jokes about old rickety women pretending they are still 25. They poked, prodded, and x-rayed all sorts of body parts and properly dressed my knee wounds. I left that day in a boot cast and with instructions to cease and desist physical activity until further notice. Within a couple weeks, I’d had an MRI, been diagnosed with a hard-to-heal tear in my shoulder, declined a recommendation to see a surgeon, and started what would turn out to be six months of physical therapy.

The sprained ankle healed relatively quickly, and the knees got OK eventually, but the shoulder….UGH. I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to do some common movements again, much less any serious upper body work. But I had an awesome therapist, and I refused to quit, bygollydammit. I started getting optimistic early-Octoberish, and nowadays I’m noticing gains in strength and flexibility almost every week. I’ve kept it up even since “graduating” from my therapist’s care last month.

My mom got somewhat settled into her new place, absolutely fawning over the staff and facilities. We got everything out of the old apartment, unpacked into her new apartment, and began to help her get organized and truly settled in. We decided to take a bit of a break, though, so that my mom and sister could get some extended rest. Finally, my sister began to take steps toward managing her own health, seeing various sorts of specialists for advice and minor procedures. She, her son, and husband went on a nearly 4-week vacation to Florida. She returned in early October, happy to have had the time away, but utterly exhausted.

Should I mention here a brief li’l relationship o’my own? I don’t really want to, but those damn chatterdevils won’t leave me alone. I guess it’s significant because for a couple months or so it created some blissful moments during a time when I really needed some respite. It also catalyzed an epiphany or two — which is always, always, always a good thing.

An email to family, October 21
“Hi there, I hope everyone’s doing well. I have some news about my sister — please forward so everyone can keep her in their prayers.

“Dianna’s husband Ray woke up about 3am Tuesday morning to find her unable to breathe well. She’d had chest pains (mild) on Mon evening and had been out of breath a lot for several days. They called EMS, who took her to Laurens County Hospital who very quickly sent her to Self Regional (Greenwood) for congestive heart failure. They slated her to go to the heart cath lab Wed morning for angioplasty at 7am, but on the way there she had a seizure. They gave her medicine to alleviate that, but then she threw up a significant amount of what they called “coffee grounds,” i.e., dried blood. At that point they abandoned treating her heart condition temporarily to investigate the other stuff.

“It has been a roller coaster since then. Today she’s had a constantly upset stomach, pain, dizziness, and three seizures since the first one this morning. The doc has ordered an EEG and a CT scan to try and determine the cause of the seizures. They are adjusting meds and doing everything they can to stabilize her enough to even get her downstairs to do the CT. Friday they hope to do another diagnostic stomach scope.

“The heart attack appears to be the result of one partial blockage in the left side of her heart. I am still a little unsure about the details of this. At first Ray was told that the heart muscle damage was only 2 percent, but this afternoon the doc had another chat with him (I was in town running an errand…just my luck) and implied more damage to the left side of her heart than had been originally communicated.

“Today Dianna has mostly been asleep, but has woken up now and then. Not feeling good at ALL. At one point she asked me ‘What’s going on? I feel like I’m dying.’ It occurred to me that maybe people had been talking around her rather than to her and she might be really scared. I reassured her, and hoped she understood. She fell asleep very quickly before I could tell her any details. She is sleeping an extraordinary amount even though they aren’t giving her anything to specifically make her sleep. Her nurse seems perplexed at that, but did say she’d received a lot of the seizure-relieving medicine. They are watching her very closely and I’ve been impressed with the staff’s diligence.

“Mom is of course antsy, worried, and frustrated that she can’t be at the hospital. But she is receiving a lot of support from the staff and residents at her new independent-living home. I’m going to do my best to visit with her this week and weekend, but she keeps telling me she’d rather me be with Dianna.

“Ray and Johnny are tough troupers, although the worry and stress really got to them both this afternoon. We all know Dianna is a rock of strength and stubborness, but it is very hard to see her like this…..sigh…..

“Dianna is in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit). They are not currently putting calls through to her room, though, and won’t until she is feeling well enough to receive them herself. I’m sure she’ll be there at least through the weekend….probably into next week. They haven’t even begun to treat the original heart problem yet.

“Thanks so much for forwarding to others in the family….as you know, Dianna believes in the power of prayer and I am sure she’ll feel everyone’s thoughts and well wishes around her.”

The next day
My sister died. We all knew she was very sick, but I’m at a loss to describe how completely shocked we were. I watched the doctor’s face closely as he told us, waiting for some sort of punch line or reassurance that “…she’ll have a tough recovery, but with time she’ll be herself again.” I couldn’t tear my gaze from his tired, sympathetic eyes as he did not speak these words. I wanted to urge him to go back in her hospital room and double check. I wanted to explain that he just doesn’t know how tenacious she is. It couldn’t be true.

I’m afraid I’ve dumped a whompin’ huge load o’bummer bricks on my naughty little monkeyblog, so I’m going to abandon the story there. For now, anyway. I considered not posting this self-centered chronology at all, but in the end I thought it might provide a better frame of reference for you devoted mm readers. (Ahhh, the presumptuous ego of my little chatterdevils surfaces again!)

You see, I’m not exactly the same person I was eight months ago. And I’m pretty eager to meet the person I’ll be eight months from now. 2011 is decidedly promising, full of good friends, family healing, healthy pursuits, and interesting insights.

Plus I have a brandnew, deep-redvelvet piece o’potential depravity in my fireplace room. Stay tuned.

Pondering and playing

Should I revive my li’l monkeyfriend? If so, should I bring him (or should she really be a ‘her’…) out of the closet? I attempted to do mm on Twitter, but I hated the feeling of separateness from, well, ME. My consternation? All my other social media identities have a connection with my job.

Hmmm. Thoughts, my magical followers? Are you even still there?

Whilst pondering, I am playing with design. I’m not in love with the design tweaks I made this morning, but I like the bordello-inspired flavor. What do you think?

It’s quite distressing….

….to see an ‘inactive’ message attached to magicalmonkey. Is it really over? Will this post make me active again?

Hoping this isn’t a permanent state of affairs

Hi guys! Yep, it’s been a sparse 2009 in magicalmonkey land. I hope inspiration will kick in again, but for now I’ve needed to let some things go in my life to make room for other things.

Neverdones: retired
No more, y’all! It was a great series and really spurred me to tackle new things in my life, but eventually my neverdones — or, rather, writing about my neverdones — became just another pressure. And trust me, additional pressure is something I don’t need. :)

Another 5K
Yesterday I ran the GHS Swamp Rabbit 5K, my first race since November 2008 in which I busted the 30-minute barrier. An injury in January and flareups of a couple biomechanical issues have hampered my training this year…..which was reflected in this weekend’s disappointing 34:19 time. I had to walk three times! Auuuuugh!! I must get hardcore on my own ass again.

Immediate future
MUST get work under control. NEED to spend more time with family. WANT to hang with friends more often. WILL kick up my workouts a notch. Those are the goals that are at the top of the list now — yay, focus! :) I’ve finally signed up for and have learned to appreciate Facebook, so hop over there and look for me. The short-and-sweet blips are much more conducive to my schedule than blogging.

Later, ppl! Check back now and then in case I’ve had the time or inspiration to post.

Magicalmonkey and you

Funny thing #1
A friend tells me that last week he stood in front of the mirror at home, pondering a semi-drastic plunge — shaving his entire head. He figured it wouldn’t really be THAT extreme, since his current closely-cropped haircut made him nearly bald, anyway. But he put away his razor, deciding to first contemplate the mechanics and maintenance.

The very next day, he logged on to mm and read the April 9th post. Decision made.

“You guys would never look at me the same way again,” he laughed. “And everyone I know does it. My lawyer does it. A lot of my friends do it. I just can’t. Not after reading your blog.”

Ha!! So mm is now affecting people’s actions in the real world? That’s funny stuff.

Funny thing #2
It’s also amusing — and flattering — to see mm references elsewhere in the world. I’ve noticed the obscure and not-so-obscure comments on your own blogs. A ‘superhero’ here, an ‘innuendo’ there….It’s fun, it’s cool!

Then there are the non-virtual references. Every time a co-worker says or does something a little insane, a mm reader invariably slips by me and asks, “blog post?” And frequently, those “in the know” refer to mm in conversation, all of us getting a giggle that it escapes the notice of others. One of my favorite allusions occurred while playing that gift-swap game at our office Christmas party. My boss pulls me aside and whispers, “See that red package with the big bow in the center? You need to get it….it’s PERFECT for you.” There was a hitch when someone chose the package before it was my turn. I laughed my head off when she opened it to reveal a crystal monkey. Of course I had to steal it from her.

Funny thing #3
You! I go for months with only occasional feedback about my blog, but the minute I share philosophical wonderings about its purpose and existence…..I get post comments, e-mails, voice mails, and people grabbing me next to the coffee machine at work. Ha!! No one wants me to change a thing. Not one person has said, “You know, Lisa, you might have a point about watching what you say.”

Instead, I get the distinct impression I am feeding your inner deviant. And you like it.

Not all comments have been posted on this blog. One friend e-mailed, “Like Popeye said, I yam what I yam. Jezel Pete, I am a m.monkey fan since day 1, even day -1 if that is possible….I cringe a bit sometimes when I read mm. But that’s the fun, isn’t it?!…..Being under a microscope always affects what you do, but that is no reason not to do it. Be yourself.”

My link-deleting bud — who loves and encourages mm, by the way, and is one of only a handful who has been a faithful reader since the beginning — e-mailed an intriguing, eloquent analysis which may inspire a future post or two, not only on mm but also her own blog. A small excerpt: “It’s not that we wish to censor our world; we wish to censor how the world sees us…..We get so tired of being told what we should and shouldn’t do, how we should think, what we should be, that most of us learn to fake it and go about our business without another thought. Harmless self defense or a sham that destructs our very civilization and destroys the truth of who we are?”

(Hmmmmm. I’d vote for sham, I think, but not such a destructive one. Maybe one that just tinkers with our individuality a bit.)

Rest easy…
I’ll continue to take magicalmonkey on journeys inspired by whatever is on my mind when I am struck with a mood to write. Luckily for you and that inner deviant of yours, aberrant topics seem to percolate in my brain quite often. But please don’t be too disappointed if, on some days, I discuss the importance of getting enough fiber in your diet. Or if I get a bit introspective and start quoting my favorite philosophers. Or I share a recipe for a yummilicious fat-free, no-mayo chicken salad.

Blogging dilemmas

Just a casual conversation
Back in February when a good friend launched her own blog, it was a pleasant, warmfuzzy surprise to find a link to magicalmonkey on her home page. She’d said something really sweet like “My friend Lisa is deranged, but that’s why I love her….her blog keeps me laughing.”

Awwwwww, see what I mean? I told you it was sweet.

Then over some yummy lunch sushi this week, she told me she’d removed the link. “Are you insane?” she laughed. “My whole family reads my blog. I can’t have them clicking on magicalmonkey and finding…that……”

She didn’t finish her sentence, but I know what she meant. And you know what she meant. We had a hearty giggle and went on to another topic. Later, I checked out her latest post (she finished a 10K…I am beside myself, I’m so impressed!) and these were the first two sentences I read: “Not long ago, my friend Lisa debated the merits of becoming a superhero. I was going to put in a link to her blog, but it is not remotely safe for work or general decency, so you’ll have to find it on your own.”

I laughed. But, my brain already abuzz with near-regrets about the blatant filth in my last post, I also started to ponder.

Have I crossed the line?
You know, I’m well aware of my own tendencies to push taboo-buttons. Among my favorites are chuckling at inappropriate humor, mentioning society’s unmentionables, and questioning general groupthink assumptions of the status quo. While I like this part of my personality and certainly make no apologies for it, I have no desire to truly, truly offend. I think people should be free to create any world they want for themselves — even a rose-colored one — and, as long as they don’t try to detrimentally impose their world on me or unwilling others, they should be allowed to live within it blissfully.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’d never good-naturedly share an idea or two for consideration. :) But to gratuitously offend someone? No. I’m not about that.

When magicalmonkey was born, I knew that some dicey topics would be in its future. So I promised myself a few things: I’d control who received the link, I’d balance the taboo with the not-so-taboo, and I’d take care not to “cross the line.” Well, it’s almost a year later, and of course not one of these has evolved as I’d planned.

I knew the link thing would be out of my hands to a degree, but I guess I just pictured only 4 or 5 of you out there, all people who know me well in the non-virtual universe. Even at my worst, you’d just be chuckling, “tsk-tsk-ing” to yourselves, shaking your heads, and muttering “there she goes again.” But lately I’ve begun to develop a picture in my head containing another category of people — those of you who, although we may have met, your main impression of me is magicalmonkey. That bothers me a little because I fear that the raunchy, edgy, nonconformist part of me — and it is only a part — has found a happy, inviting outlet in this blog. In fact, in the last month or so it’s almost completely taken over. There’s been no balance.

So now I find myself wondering all sorts of uncomfortable things. Should I go back and delete offending posts? Should I make — force, if necessary — an effort to achieve balance? Should I shorten the taboo-leash? Take the blog in another direction entirely? Start another blog? Retire this one? Throw caution to the wind and delve even deeper into my scary parts? Stop blogging altogether?


My gut
You know, I don’t really want to change magicalmonkey, despite my slight melancholy that it’s too inappropriate to be shared with the “respectable” crowd. And, believe me, I do understand — completely, I understand. My own family knows nothing of my blog, and I’ve sheltered some old friends from it, too. I hate that I still wear masks, but I can’t get rid of them. I guess no one can.

Ultimately, this is a space where my creativity roams, and I do not, not, not want boundaries on that. My quandary, I suppose, is whether my own personal journey-without-boundaries should be public.

My gut is also wondering if I’m getting WAY too philosophical about a tiny little inconsequential blog. It is wondering if I’m just subconsciously delaying the doing-my-taxes ordeal.

Dammit. I guess I better go.

Blogging as a way of being

What should I blog about when I don’t know what to blog about?

I’m trying to stay committed to this fun little creative experiment. Truly, I am. I know that creativity begets creativity. I know that it is a discipline as much as it is an intuition. I want it to be a way of life for me, a way of being in the universe.

That’s a bit lofty for a blog, huh? I meant creativity as a way of being. Not blogging. Although “Blogging as a way of being” sounds like a great post title. I think I’ll use it.

sigh …

Hoping I’d find some inspiration — or, at the very least, a little amusement — I googled “weird blog topics.” Right off the bat, I found a guy who goes into excruciating detail about what he eats each day and how the meals were prepared. Geesh. And I mean freakin’ geesh.

I almost stopped there in favor of browsing wistfully through unfound geocaches in my area, but I thought the search deserved more than just one shot, so I kept going……and actually found some interesting blogs.

Reality Banned
A dude named Mikster (“Nobody blogs you like I blog you”) posts every few days or so, and has written recently about things like showering, the time he was hit hardest in the balls, and things he would never, ever do in a million years. I haven’t read the entries in their entirety — he writes quite a LOT — but what I did read was pretty darn chuckles-inducing.

Vonnegut’s Asshole
This guy’s name is Eric, and he is a real, honest-to-goodness writer. Makes a living selling words that come out of his own head — he’s written entire books, and his articles have appeared in publications you would actually recognize. His most recent posts are inspired by visits with family over the holidays, and in a November post he talks about a publication he guest-edited called Monkeybicycle. His writing amuses me greatly (yet again, though, I just skimmed)…..but if I were to be completely honest, I’d admit that this blog made my list because of its name. Vonnegut’s Asshole! Ha!

Pretty Dumb Things
This is a chick named Chelsea who is also a professional writer — for the likes of Penthouse. Her site is not pornographic (although some of the ads along the sides are….um, interesting), but neither does she mince words. I like her. I totally (welllll, mostly) agree with her Jan 15th post about romance. I’m looking forward to reading more of her archives on a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon. Whilst sipping highend coffee, my cats slumbering contentedly at my side. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Ha! Another name which amuses me, and the logo is quite fabulously fabulous! You can also buy Kittenpants merchandise, including — of course — Kittenpants underpants. For a nanosecond I considered buying a poster or two for my office at work, but…..I think I should avoid the controversy. The writing on the site? Um, I didn’t actually read any of it, but it looks like it’d be good.

Offended Blogger
Chelle B’s latest post of Jan 15th talks about how her husband goes completely insane once a month, and has the insolent nerve to try and blame it on her. On Jan 6th, she shares concerns about “disturbing changes happening to the melanocytic naevus on [her husband’s] left ass cheek.” Ha! Laugh-out-loud funny stuff. But the post which most struck a chord with me was Jan 3rd… can scroll down to a grown-up picture of her cat, Mister Schmoopy Doopey — who looks just like my supersweet kitty Ozzy — who is peering angrily into the camera, saying “You are paying them to do what to my balls?!?”

Toward the end of my browsing adventures, I found a compilation site which I am definitely going to bookmark: Am hoping for future inspiration.

I’m feeling un-funny today

A: “You know, I’m going to stop visiting your blog.”
Me: “I know what you’re trying to do. It’s not going to work.”
A: “Yep, I’m trying to force you to post.”
Me: “It’s hard to come up with things that are post-worthy.”
A: “Oh, come on…I KNOW you think of at least one funny thing a day!”

Hmmm, I’m not so sure that’s true. It’s shortly after noon and I haven’t had one funny thought yet. In my defense, though, I only got out of bed about an hour ago, and am still working on my first cup of coffee. It’s a yummy blend of pumpkin-spice flavors I found at Bloom.

So far this morning I have regretted not letting my cats in the backyard yesterday because now it has rained and is too wet to take them out. Or….was it wet yesterday, too, and I just did not notice? That’s a possibility. I was consumed with getting-ready-for-Christmas indoor tasks and barely looked out the window.

This morning I have also wondered if I should revisit a project I’d abandoned — making my cats an elaborate play-tunnel. Many weeks ago, I’d read about a woman who had fashioned a tunnel for her cats out of grocery-store paper bags. I’d begun collecting bags of my own and had linked four of them together already, but there’s a major design flaw which I need to address. The tunnel won’t stand up by itself.

This morning I’ve also had an interesting……um…..scenario or two flicker through my head. They relate to a dream I had last night, which relates to a website I stumbled upon recently. An interesting sort of fellow was attempting to describe the S&M culture — and, most notably, practices — to the uninitiated. Fascinating stuff. I didn’t bookmark the link, though. Sorry. I could’ve shared it with you.

Well, I think that’s about all that has crossed my mind this morning, and, as I’m sure you agree, none of it can be classified as funny. Weird-catlady-ish, maybe. Inappropriate-for-middle-class-America, maybe.

But not funny.

‘Magicalmonkey’ explained

So. After introducing my blog to a handful of friends, someone asks, “How is it that monkeys are, ahem, ‘magical’?”

Ahhhhh, dear reader… see, not all monkeys ARE magical.

Travel with me, if you will, to an ancient time where myths are real, where simple animals have hopes and dreams, where magical powers are required to get through life’s adventures. Imagine a special rock in eastern Asia that, since the creation of the world, had been nurtured by “the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savours of Earth, the vigour of sunshine and the grace of moonlight, till at last it became magically pregnant.”

The rock gives birth to a living, breathing stone monkey, whose eyes reflect “a steely light” which “flashes as far as the Palace of the Pole Star. This shaft of light astonished the Jade Emperor as he sat in the Cloud Palace of the Golden Gates, in the Treasure Hall of the Holy Mists, surrounded by his fairy Ministers.”

So it becomes known by some pretty important god-types that this is quite a special monkey.

Well, he goes to live with the nearby normal monkeys. One day, “they decided to follow a stream to its source — a waterfall. The monkeys decided that whoever was brave enough to jump through the waterfall would become their king. The stone monkey went through the waterfall unscathed and discovered a huge cave behind the waterfall. From then onwards, the monkeys made their home in this Water Curtain Cave, and made the stone monkey their king.”

Three hundred years pass in blissful happiness, until one day the stone monkey leaves on a raft to search for a way to immortality. He floats across the sea to the Southern Continent, where he learns to speak and walk like a human. He crosses another ocean to the Western Continent, where he finally learns the way of immortality and gains a host of magical powers. He learns, for example, to “transform himself into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast of prey or a bug as small as a mosquito so as to sneak into an enemy’s belly to fight him or her inside out. Using clouds as a vehicle, he can travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault.”

Pretty damn cool, huh?

He goes back home to the monkeys he grew up with, where he gathers an army of 47,000 and begins to get a really big head. (Figuratively. I don’t mean his head started to outgrow his body. I suppose that sort of thing could happen in a myth, but it’s not happening here.) He claims to be king, and NOT just of the monkeys. This pisses off the Jade Emperor, and he sends his own army to find this impudent stone monkey.

However, the heavenly army cannot defeat the stone monkey’s magical powers. After many attempts, “the dove faction of the heavenly court persuaded the emperor to offer the monkey an official title to appease him. The monkey accepted the offer on a trial basis. However, he learned a few days later that he was cheated and being jeered all over the heavenly court: the position he held was nothing but a stable keeper. Enraged, he revolted.”

After a long war, and with the help of all the god warriors, the heavenly army finally did subdue the stone monkey. But all methods of execution failed. It was completely impossible to kill him. As a last resort, the emperor commanded he be burned in the furnace — but instead of killing him, the fire and smoke gave the monkey more powers. He fought his way back home again.

At last, the emperor asked Buddha himself for help. The Buddha moved a great mountain known as the Mount of Five Fingers to fall upon the stone monkey. The monkey still did not die, but this time he was imprisoned under this mountain in a stone box where he could not move. Everyone forgot about him, and for years and years, he was there alone, under guard.

This, my friends, is where the stone monkey king’s story REALLY begins. Everything I’ve written so far has just been backstory. You see, an ancient seeker named Kuan-yin was sent by The Buddha to recruit the monkey’s help with a mission. Her task was to fetch some sacred scriptures from India. The Buddha believed that, even though the sins of the monkey were great, he was ready “to learn his lesson and embrace the Faith and devote himself to the good.”

Thus continues “The Journey to the West,” a captivating, epic story known to Chinese people throughout the world. Even though Kuan-yin recruits a team of other helpers, the story focuses on the stone monkey king, Sun Wu Kong.

I’m actually thinking about reading this story, myself. Or, rather, downloading it and listening to it on my iPod.

Now. At this point, I know you’re anticipating the moment — that one paragraph, that enlightening sentence, the payoff — where I bring ancient Chinese mythology together with this ridiculously obscure blog authored by a twenty-first century, strange-thinking American.

Well, then. Here it is. Without further ado.

Sorry. No connection. I googled “magic monkey myth” this morning, and the story of the monkey king seemed to leap off my laptop screen. In truth, I tried probably 40 other names when setting up this blog, and everything was taken. I don’t even remember what my first attempts were, but eventually I turned to phrases incorporating the word “monkey.” Because, well, monkeys are fun! An alliteration theme gripped me, so I pulled up all the “M” words in my e-thesaurus.

Macabre? Nah. Macaroni? Macaroons? Those are dumb. Machiavellian? Interesting concept, but, no…too pretentious. Hey, madmonkey sounds like a good one…..but, no, that name is taken. I guess it sounds too angry, anyway.

You get the picture.

“Magical” was perfect….versatile, memorable, easy to spell, a bit weird and mysterious. Well, mysterious up until now, anyway.

If anyone asks, the name of my blog relates quite brilliantly to 16th-century Chinese mythology. You’ll say something like, “Lisa’s not Chinese, mind you, but the woman is SO incredibly well-read. We should all wish that we could possess even a fraction of her insight. Her blog entries are like rays of light from the heavens, bestowed upon us so that we might become better human beings.”

My retelling of the monkey king legend, as well as the quoted text, originates from these sites:

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