Mon singe

I have a monkey on my back. Un singe. See him? No, of course you can’t. He’s a private little fellow.

I’m no addict – he’s not that kind of monkey. But carrying him around all the time can be exhausting. He never shuts up.

There he goes again: What on earth are you writing about? No one is going to have a clue what you mean. A monkey? How ridiculous!

Monkey has his good points. Sometimes he makes me smile.  Il fait le singe, makes like a monkey. And he can be a creative little guy. Bitingly funny. Who would even think of half the stuff he comes up with? Too inappropriate, mostly, to share with anyone else. But in some ways he is my muse.

Most of the time he is an angry little dude who makes me impatient and short-tempered. A kill joy. He can be terrifying, with his dire predictions and irrational fears.

He is my inner critic, my slave driver, cracking his whip. Not good enough, he whispers. Who do you think you are? Often I believe him. Monkey see, monkey do.

Too often he exhausts me to the point where I just give up. No, I will not be good enough. While I’m at it, I won’t be good at all. May as well fool around instead of working. Waste time, kick back, have another glass of wine. I will forget about exercising or writing or doing whatever else I’d planned.

Now it’s time for a change. This year, I’ve decided to make friends with my monkey.

I can’t get rid of him completely. But I am thinking that perhaps I need to work with him. He is part of me after all. And in order to enjoy the good I need to manage the bad.

So I’ll tell him it’s okay not to be perfect. Sometimes good enough is just fine. And failure is okay if it means you really tried. In fact, it can be positive.

He will surely scoff.

And I’ll simply say: Monkey, be quiet. (Not ‘shut up’. Even monkeys deserve respect.) I’ll invite him to take a deep breath, admire the view. I’ll even give him half of my banana.

The rest I’m keeping for myself.

Happy new you!

Have you made any resolutions for 2019?


  1. francetaste · January 3, 2019

    When I first my husband, I thought it was so cute how he would say “singe!” when he was annoyed, the way people say “mince” or “mercredi” instead of “merde.” Only later did I learn that he was actually saying “saint dieu,” and was not trying to avoid swearing but was actually swearing.
    My resolution is to swear less. So that when I do it, it really counts.

    • MELewis · January 3, 2019

      I have always sworn with pride, especially in the creative use of the f-word and other salty vocabulary. But I have found lately that it becomes a bad habit that fans negativity. So I’m also trying to clean up my act a bit and save the curses for when they are truly justified. (Which, let’s face it, is still fairly frequently! 😏) Never heard anyone say ‘saint dieu’ but I do know what you mean about the cute substitute words. I can quite hear myself saying ‘proute’…will have to figure out a more palatable alternative.

      • francetaste · January 3, 2019

        I had a boss who swore like a sailor and I adored her for her bluntness and saltiness. I also had a friend who was the complete opposite, total lady, very proper, never raised her voice. One day at a meeting, a different boss made a very stupid suggestion and my friend, a smile politely plastered on her face, snapped her pencil in half under the table. I don’t think she intended for the loud crack, like a gunshot, making everybody jump. But it was better than any argument or swear word. The stupid proposal was shelved. That is power. But it must be used sparingly.

      • phildange · January 3, 2019

        I never heard nor ever read “Saint-Dieu” either . “Pardieu” sometimes, which in the south becomes “Pardi!”, but people who used to avoid swearing with the name of God said “Parbleu, sacrebleu or palsanbleu” (literally “par le sang de Dieu”) . One can read the last two in ancient literature . Thank you for your bats in the belfry, they can play with my pink elephants .

  2. phildange · January 3, 2019

    Happy Year Mel . You sure you have a monkey on your back ? Isn’it a spider in your ceiling rather ? (If you know what we mean by this here 😉)

    • MELewis · January 3, 2019

      Thanks Phil, for another new expression. Hopefully I have not got any bats in the belfry as we might say. A screw loose? Perhaps. 😜 A very happy new year to you too!

  3. Caffe · January 3, 2019

    It is beautiful metaphor!!:-)

    • MELewis · January 3, 2019

      Thanks, glad it spoke to you! Seems to be a helpful way of dealing with my demons…

  4. Yeah, Another Blogger · January 3, 2019


    Happy New Year!

    Neil Scheinin

    • MELewis · January 3, 2019

      Thank you. Bonne année to you!

  5. Garfield Hug · January 3, 2019

    I think we all have a monkey on our backs!! Good share MeL. Resolutions? 🤔I resolve not to make any resolutions haha!

    • MELewis · January 3, 2019

      At least that way you won’t be disappointed, lol! And I would say that some of us have several monkeys or nasty slave drivers. Could be worse, eh? 😅

  6. Suzanne et Pierre · January 3, 2019

    Thanks for this interesting piece; it is always interesting to read you so you can send your monkey to hell if you wish!
    Our best wishes for 2019 to you and your family… plentiful of good things and good experiences and adventures! (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · January 4, 2019

      Thanks, Suzanne, for your comments and kind new year’s wishes. Monkey says mine are never quite as good as the French manage to make them, but I’ll go ahead anyway and wish you and Pierre a wonderful new year of health and happy travels!

  7. Heide · January 3, 2019

    Apart from your cheeky humor, I love the wisdom you’ve shared here. An equally wise friend once said that humans basically have two choices: We can fight the way things are, or we can accept them. It took me a long time to realize that “acceptance” doesn’t mean “surrender.” As you’ve shown here, we can accept that Msr. le Singe is a permanent tenant — but that doesn’t mean we always have to play by his rules. Best wishes to you in the year ahead as you teach that old monkey some new tricks! And since you asked: I did indeed make a couple of resolutions (to exercise first thing in the morning, for starters) but I broke them both on the first day. Oh, well. Maybe next year. 😉

    • MELewis · January 4, 2019

      Ah, Heide, first days don’t count! 😂 You still have 361 days to fulfill your resolution…or indeed, let it go. As you say, acceptance isn’t surrender. Sometime we just have to work with the crap we have. I love to exercise (love=need to, especially as it calms the monkey…) but can’t do it first thing no matter how much I’d like to try. Breakfast first, a bit of writing time and then I move. Only problem is I have to get up by 5:30 to fit all that in before work! But I have learned that if I don’t schedule what matters first, it won’t happen. So pleased you enjoyed the post. Bonne année! x

  8. davidprosser · January 4, 2019

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda to you and monkey. I hope you reach your agreement with each other.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · January 4, 2019

      Lovely to hear from you, David. And if I ever learn to pronounce what you just wished me, I’ll say it right back to you! (Monkey is laughing at the thought of a French person speaking Welsh.) Wishing you much health and joy in every language!

  9. Susanne · January 8, 2019

    I resolve to do the same things I try to do every new year which is exercise more, eat better for me food, write more. Either I’m insane (the definition of insanity being doing the same things over and over and expecting different results) or I’m an incredible optimist.

    Your monkey is very cute and I’m sure she has friendly moments. It think you are wise to tame her intrusive and negative thoughts. Keep a good supply of bananas and you’ll be fine.

    • MELewis · January 10, 2019

      Ha, ha! Thanks for your insights and yes, the monkey is showing signs of taming (or at least the metaphor is helping me deal with it.) As for resolutions, I’m also an incredibly optimistic lunatic! Vive l’espoir! x

  10. roughwighting · January 10, 2019

    So, basically, the monkey is your muse. You choose what you want to take from that muse, and what you must discard. Unfortunately your muse is (too) hard on you. Explain this to your muse-monkey. Maybe he’ll be kinder, and yet keep you kick-started for 2019 writing. Happy New Year! 🙂

    • MELewis · January 10, 2019

      Bien vu! So far monkey muse and I are working together in relative harmony, and the creative juices are beginning to flow again. Happy new year to you, too! x

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