Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:

This Is London...

It's nearly midnight... am ensconced in a tiny internet cafe, blocks from Hyde Park. Tummy full of Indian curry (extra spicy!) and wine. Yes, my London travels have forced me into cheating on my liquid lover, Yagermeister. So. London. Mature, sophisticated, clever. She's well groomed and tidy in contrast with Manhattan's rough and tumble atmosphere. New York is chaos. London is organized and proper. Massive, yet quaint.

Arrived around 9am this morning to The Surge, grinning from ear to ear. Flight was fantastic. Lucked out, the seat next to me being vacant, I was curled into a comma for most of the smooth plane ride, giggling at old episodes of Friends. Then it was directly to the tube ("mind the gap") and my first glimpse of London. First impressions: Crisp, vivid, brilliant blue sky, not the gray I've been taught to envision. Bright sunlight filtered through cottonball clouds, but chilly, a bit of a bite in the air. And white, bright buildings everywhere. Clean streets, even the traffic seemed to purr delicately as opposed to the raucous roar of Manhattan's commuters. Although it's October, green abounds. Lush landscapes of lawn and trees are everywhere. Checked into our hotel, blocks from Hyde Park, ditched our luggage and set out for coffee.

Sitting on the sidewalk, I strained to hear snatches of British conversation. From very posh accents, to the working class Eliza Dolittle enunciation. An hour of people watching later, we headed back for a quick nap and shower then we were off to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to check out Diana's old digs. Rolling green grass, dogs roaming free, manicured lawns.. Hyde Park knocked my socks off.. like Central Park but calmer, more relaxed and spacious. I could visit every day for a year and discover a new favorite spot each time.

It's about six o'clock now.. The sun is beginning it's lazy descent, so we decided to stop for a bit of coffee (again!) and crisps at a small cafe on the banks of Serpentine Pond. Crisps. A salt junkie's dream. Flavor: Lobster & Firecracker. Like spicy barbeque lays, but zestier. Yum! We decided to pay our respects to her Majesty and stopped to peer through the gates of Buckingham Palace at the stiff faced, redcoats vigilantly standing guard. Took the requisite photos and made our way to Trafalgar Square via St. James Park.

Twilight is beginning to creep in.. Stopped for some photos at Admiralty Arch and then Trafalgar Square roars to life. Ahhh...This is the London of my imagination. Lights glowing in azure twilight, Fire engine red double decker buses clamor past on the "wrong" side of the road. Blood red phone booths. Buildings perfectly lit, like a movie set.. The only thing missing? Pigeons. Apparently some eejit Mayor made it illegal to feed the birds, so now the Square is devoid of bird life.

After a brief "snog" with The Surge, amid buzzing traffic and tourists, we struck out for Big Ben and Parliament. There was minor embarrassment when I attempted to hop a turnstyle to a public loo and got busted. Paying for loos? That's the price of Socialism, I suppose.

We stood 'neath Big Ben..a monolithic building that can be seen from just about anywhere in London. Beautifully lit, the ol' boy began to boom and chime the eight o'clock hour. High on life, on London, we pressed on, past the fortress that is Parliament and Westminster Abby, strangely dark, hulking in shadow in the blue black night.

We strolled along the Thames, crossed at Lambeth Bridge where we stopped midway, to perch atop the structure. We sat for a time, reflecting on the day, on London at night, the path we'd just made through arguably the finest city in Europe. We each made wishes, and tossed a pence into the inky, slow moving Thames and continued to the other side.
We strolled back up along the Thames, past the London Eye - that strange ferris wheel contraption that looms on the embankment.. As we were passing the Eye, headed toward the Golden Jubilee foot bridge a "busker" began to sing "I Will Survive".. Quite odd actually, it wasn't the women's lib anthem version.. it was a slow, mournful ballad that floated across the bridge with us, following us until the West End swallowed us whole and drown out all noise but it's own innate bedlam. Black night by this time.. served a beautiful backdrop for twinkling lights, London ablaze across the Thames..

The Golden Jubilee dropped into the frenzied fuss that is the West End. Throngs of tourists mingling with West Enders.. Leicester Square, seemingly the Times Square of London.. Bright lights, big city baby. Rushing locals, bumbling tourists.. On the outskirts, we stumbled onto Herman Melville's one time abode. We conducted a bit of window spying on the natives, folks cozily tucked in for the night.. Then continued on in search of The Borderline, the club where The Surge has played many a gig.

Sore feet finally began to make themselves known and so we gave up for the night and caught the Central Line tube back to our hotel neighborhood in search of curry.. Turned up our noses at various Indian restaurants, too cold, bad lighting, too empty and then..just right. Spicy popadums with chutney and mint sauce to start, and yes, I ordered a white whine, Sauvignon Blanc.. Hurray for me.. Sooo cosmopolitan.. Heady atmosphere, intoxicating.. Steaming platters of spicy lamb curry and chicken vindaloo. So hot I had to surrepticiously wipe my nose every few minutes.. The waiters were fantastic. Materialized for a refill then just as quickly, vanished. At the end we were handed piping hot, damp washcloths to wipe our sticky paws.. Mmmm.. luxurious to The Girl Who is accustomed to Thai Tai take out.

Then it was on to the pub. Brightly lit, mahogany, pictures of hounds, horses and old football teams adorned the walls. Rowdy footballers adorned the chairs, with just the right sprinkling of elderly gents.. The night wears on.. Drunken footballers begin shouting strange English slang curse words.. One Cider in and before I know it, we're being informed it's time to go. Last call. Huh? In Brooklyn, the party is just getting started. But The Surge informs me last call is early in London.

The walk home is downright chilly.. I can see my breath, spiraling gently into the night.. We stop to top off our calling card, get late night snacks like biscuits and Diet Coke (what's with the warm soda?) Then we crowd into a phone booth to call Donny Pizza Sauce, Max's adopted dad for the week. He informs us he arrived safely, is already watching the Eagles game and making noodles & gravy (Philly for spaghetti sauce). Max has apparently introduced Donny to every toy he owns in an attempt to coerce him into play - undoubtedly hoping he'd get a little tug-of-war action with the new guy.

And then it's time for bed. I've now toured the whole of Manhattan and much of London these past three days. I am in love. With my husband and London.

London Calling!

And Manhattan's lower half has been discovered. Union Square over to Greenwhich Village...Subway down to Battery Park, over to Ground Zero and a zig and a zag through Wall Street later I'm in Chinatown looking at all manner of exotic fruit and strange meats..Done! Manhattan, you've been a lady.

As The Surge didn't mind my posting his last email.. here's the one I received today.. man alive I luuuurve that rockboy! I leave for London tomorrow! As for tonight, my beautiful and talented friend Kate is hosting Hoochie Coo night.. dancing girlz, skimpy clothing, loud music, even louder friends - sounds like the purrrfect place for my Mormon mom and brother, right?.. I'm definitely taking pics of this that I will post!:

My Love.
Missed hearing your voice last night terribly. Called you from within a vast and eerily vacant Paddington Station on the late tip. Left you that voicemail just as young Paddington Bear himself walked slowly across the scummy floor towards some departing train or another. He was carrying a jar of marmalade, and so that's how I knew it was him and not some other English Bear.
Then I had an awful nightmare that I don't even wanna write about.
Then I slept for 13 hours. Yikes.
I cannot wait to see your face, baby. Can't wait for you to finally be in England, be seeing all the sights and hearing all the sounds that make London such a cool city. We are gonna have a blast. Also, I really need to make out with you a bit. For some reason, I am really jonesin for a good kissing session with your gorgeous mug. Spent about a half hour standing in the steamy bathroom this morning lookin at my photos of you and Maxman. Damn, it is strange to be away from you both; I keep wanting to "dig in" to your sore shoulder blades, I keep needing to feel the boy tugging me hard down 5th Street.
Last night we had dinner with our PR lady, Kas, who is very very cool, as well as our newer booking agaent Neil, who once upon a time was high on our shit-list, but who last night seemed to prove himself a bit worthy of a second chance. Funny thing was Neil took us to a American BarBQ joint in SoHo......kinda weird. Maybe he thought we needed a dose of US food? Still, he paid AND bought us 3 bottles of champagne, so he was given our full attention even if the ribs tasted like one of BlackSon's frozen bones.
Later, Kas took us to the very exclusive private club, SoHo House. YOu may have heard of it because there is also one in NYC which is always in US WEEKLY for some celeb shit. The one last night is the one where Jude Law's ex dropped an E pill on the floor during a night of partying, a pill which was promptly picked up and eaten by her and Jude's 3 yr old son! BUT MOSTLY: SoHo House interested me because one Kiera Knightly holds frequently used membership there. And I must say, I was lookin fine as wine last night. Remember we each have one free pass, right? Well, I am actually only somewhat disapointed to report that she mustn't have know I was gonna be in the hizz-ouse lat evening or she woulda come around. Needless to say, she was MIA.
ONE YEAR COMING UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy fuck! Do you wanna re-up? I been wondering if this week off of me might have left you thinking? OH well, at least we'll always have London, huh?
I love you girl. With Power. And With £40 in my pocket. So get yer sweet butt over here pronto.

Accidental Tourist

My feet are black. I've just finished exploring the whole of Manhattan in flip-flops. From Times Square to Lincoln Center.. Central Park via Lennon's Strawberry Fields over to da East Side for just a quick peek in Bloomingdales, for I could not love myself any longer if I spent more than 50 bucks on a purse ($2,000 dollars for a handbag, good god!) Down for a bit of prayer at St. Patricks Cathedral (actually got reprimanded by my mom for dropping the F bomb inside hallowed doors.. oops!) down to Empire State and up to the top. Now I sit, looking across the East River at the very building I was atop not an hour ago.. Worn out but pleased I squished so much into one day for my mom and bro.. Now we're off to drink our aching bones away at the Brooklyn Ale house. Will post pics and type more soon!

German Marah

Just got an email from The Surge... don't think he'll mind if I post a bit of it here.. gave me a chuckle:

"So, now we leave Berlin. Was a good stay, I think. Some important writers at show last night that seemed to dig us. One of them, whom I´m told is highly esteemed here, shouted out at the top of his lungs "PLAY ZE APATMINT" towards the end of the show. So we did. Was cool.
Also played acoustic DEMON, CITY OF DREAMS, and OUTTA TUNE for the first time. I do believe my banjo playin could use a few lucky charms, but aside from that was a fine, if surreal, way to kick everything off.
Then we were on this fellow´s radio show for about an hour and a half. He was very into Marah; played about 8 of our songs on air. AND translated long rambling answers of ours into German for his listeners. Talented!
Gorgeous morning here in Berlin. Sun is shining, sky is blue, coffee´s strong, and I miss you.
Hope you are ok and work isn´t too crazy. Give Max a treat for me. I love you."

Girl Crush

Have you had one of these? I'm talkin' girl on girl crush. Whoaaaa.. I don't mean girl on girl action, although I've been known to lip lock with the same sex a time or two.. I mean the kind of crush you get on fabulous females. The women you come across in the natural course of your life who amaze and inspire..

Like I said, I have three brothers. Wasn't close with my mom growing up. So women have always been a bit of a mystery. I know, I'm a woman. But I didn't really begin to explore womans full potential until recently. I've had great girlfriends. The best. But it's been the same group of girls since elementary school. So now, in this varied city, teaming with every kind of woman on the planet, from everywhere on the planet, I find myself observing, questioning, interested and drawn to these lovely ladies. It's a hard feeling to describe.

Most of the women I was acquainted with before I bolted from Brigham's Playground are Mormon. If not Mormon, they all fit into pretty much the same suburban mold. Fairly popular in high school.. Upon graduation they either, married right away and begin to procreate (like all good Mormon girls do) or they went to college, partied with stereotypical frat boys, majored in something appropriate, got a job that paid well, allowed them to buy their own place and stock it with all things Pottery Barn. And these are the most independant of my Utah crew. I'm not mocking. They are fun, fantastic, fearless females and I adore them all. But the women that roam the streets of New York City are another breed entirely.. These prowling, stalking, wild animals that know exactly what they want and aren't afraid to tell you all about it. They've been everywhere, are unafraid.. the very fact that they moved to New York tells me a lot about their character, adds to their allure.

From women like C.. a rock goddess who tours with a fairly well known musician to K...a creative, brainstorming, events organizing/actress/waitress/personal trainer/musician to S.. an entrepreneurial writer/photographer extraordinaire.. These kind of women are few and far between behind The Zion Curtain. And if they're on The Scene in Salt Lake City, I never met them.. and they aren't the real thing. They're mimicking the woman here in Manhattan. These girls, carbon copies of each other (including me!) stay in SLC, mourn the conservative environment, the iron fist of the Mormon church.. but they won't leave. Eventually they'll marry up, birth babies, and turn into their mothers.

And so I find myself fascinated with this new breed of woman.. Like a crush, I'm almost afraid to converse, I stand in their aura, listen to them speak, shyly offer up opinions then withdraw when I feel my lack of experience peeking through like antique wallpaper underneath the shiny red paint the new tenant splashed up in an attempt to update, keep up with trends.

I feel my New York self deep inside. An embryo, slowly growing, developing fingers, toes.. Now I'm flexing my fingers, as is evidenced by this blog.. and I'm stretching, maturing, exploring my full potential, and I don't care who's reading and what they think..