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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Tuesday
Sep272005

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."

Reader Comments (11)

Okay...I officially have a crush on both of you...but not individually...more like, as one entity.

This was the morning e-mail from my husband...don't be jealous now, y'hear!!!


B -

Don’t forget to:

-Call doctor about your asthma and ask about the inhaler while you're trying to get pregnant.

-Email Blake at northwestern about your parents life insurance.

-Think of me

Love you.


T.


Ahh....what romance is made of...asthma medication and life insurance! Actually, I tease...Toddly is quite a hubbo. We're buying our first REAL house (non-condo) next Thursday! OH GOD...and it's technically in a (gulp) 'burb...(cringe). Actually, it's a mere block and a half outside of the Atlanta border in an old established neighborhood. Coming up next...mini-van and soccer practice! Keep your eyes peeled!
September 27, 2005 | Registered Commentertallchickbarbara
Actually, that is a very sweet email... You should write or tell the story of how you met.. Quite unusual! On a side note - Where is my personal Goth photo dammit! I want to post sexy Barb pics!
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Alright...but remember...you asked for it...

Todd teases me about my final questions being the easiest. “Let’s see” he says….”What’s your middle name?”, “How many fingers am I holding up?” and “What color is your skirt?” The fact is (though I won’t ever admit it to him); I did get pretty easy questions:

-What was Mike Brady’s occupation on the Brady Bunch?
-Clara Barton Founded which Humanitarian Organization?
-In a standard deck of playing cards, how many total cards are there in each suit?

I was surprised that Todd opted to go first. I knew he was from Atlanta, and thought a “Southern Gentleman” would let a lady go first. But I’m grateful that for once (I’ve since learned that he really is a true Southern Gentleman) he forgot his manners. If I had gone first, then I would have lost. I would’ve gotten the dreaded “Wyoming” question that still haunts him to this day. We’ve put it on our list of places to visit for this reason.

We were instructed by NBC that we were not to speak to anyone else that was a possible contestant. On the morning of the taping we were to meet in the lobby at 8:00 AM. I got there promptly and saw a gathering of people who seemed to be waiting for a sign from the god that is Entertainment. I walked across the room and sat next to a man that I had seen on the plane the day before. We exchanged hellos (being the rebel that I am) and maintained small talk. As I listened to a story about his adventures the night before, I discreetly eyed my competition in the room. Sitting directly across from me was a handsome man, well dressed, reading a newspaper. Being the rule follower that he is, Todd was neither speaking, nor listening to any of his competition. My first thought of the man who would eventually be my husband? “He’s got great hair”.

The ride to NBC studios was interesting. There were eight of us in a big white van and despite the strict rules applied by NBC, most were engrossed in giddy conversation. I decided to take the back row to not be tempted. Todd decided on the back row for his own reasons. I was experiencing the ride to Burbank through my Gucci Sunglasses when I heard a deep voice from behind me ……….. “I’m Todd……… “Barbara” I responded and extended my hand. It was though we had made a silent agreement that neither of us was going to let our own excitement earn us a ticket back home without getting on the show. We understood one another from the beginning, and that was what kept us alive for the entire game.

In a windowless room under heavy surveillance, we were fed a continental breakfast overflowing with pastries and caffeine. Believe me, a human being with even the dullest personality could suddenly become Rip Taylor after eating that much sugar. We were like the rats that they tested Red Bull on. But the thing was we had to STAY “on”. Only six people got picked per show, and there were ten of us. To make a long story short (I know; too late) the producers picked their six and those six picked their positions. Ping pong balls numbered in black marker placed in a manila envelope. You’d think that will all of the money the studio makes they could at least afford plastic numbers and a paper hat. But off we went…..I picked “1” and Todd picked “2”. This was the position we were to stand in on stage. I think I felt my stomach go out for a burger.

As we were individually prepped, the others killed time by reading off Trivial Pursuit questions. I noticed that Todd knew quite a few of the answers…in fact…MOST of the answers…. “Damn” I thought, “this guy could be the death of me”. So I went to Todd (at the time I thought it was my greed that led me to approach him; Freud might disagree) and made him an offer. We had gotten along and shared anecdotes throughout the day, but that’s what we did with everyone in the room, so I’m not sure why I chose him to team up with. I felt confident and asked him if he wanted to make a deal. We were told that before the cameras started rolling, we were allowed to join forces with any contestant to vote off who we wanted to, but that once the cameras started rolling, all conspiracies were to come to a halt. So I started out by saying “I’ll make you a deal; I won’t vote for you if you don’t vote for me”, to which he looked me in the eye and extended his hand without pausing for a moment. “That sounds fair”. As they put our microphones on, I mentioned to Todd the name of someone that I was going to vote for because I didn’t like her attitude. He agreed and another unspoken agreement was made. This is how we survived. This is what got us to the end.

There we stood, in complete disbelief that we had both come this far. We weren’t allowed to say much, but I managed to turn to Todd and say the stupidest sentence I could think of: “This is the coolest thing I have ever done!” He, being eight years my senior (though he will insist seven and a half) looked at me like I was twelve years old. I realized how I sounded, and quickly added “I’m glad it’s you I’m up against”. He smiled at me and held out his hand for me to take. I did, gave it a squeeze, and let it go, never to be held again until the middle of the following year. See, I was already in a serious (but rocky) relationship and had no intentions of making friends out there in L.A. In my mind, my life was set.

The “Wyoming” question that I mentioned earlier was the winning (or as Todd would say, “losing”) question. He had answered his other two correctly, but he had to answer this one right, and I had to get my final question wrong in order for him to win. “Todd” George said, “What state west of the Mississippi was the first to allow woman to vote?” Did I mention that I loved Wyoming? Todd answered “California”, and I went on to answer my final question correctly.

The majority of us got back to the hotel, freshened up, then met up for a late dinner. There we laughed about the experience and felt like old pals. When it came time to call it a night, we knew that none of us would ever see one another again. We came from Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, and Charlotte, so there were many miles between us. As we said our goodbyes we exchanged business cards and e-mail addresses in the hope that maybe we would cross paths again. Todd walked around the table giving out his card, and made me his last stop. I have no idea why, but I felt a lump in my throat as he placed the card in my hand. I was in a seven year relationship already, so feelings weren’t an option, and I had only known him for a few hours so it wasn’t like he was a friend, but something inside me was burdened. It bothered me that it was over. I was truly very sad, and sorry to say goodbye.

Months passed and I had finally gotten word that the show was scheduled to air on January 9th. I hadn’t thought about the ensemble from that warm November day in ages. I had kept their business cards but stashed them away for another time. Finally I was getting my fifteen minutes of fame, bragging rights, and an “in your face” to all of the people that told me I could never win. Finally I got to live that day all over again. When the show was over, the calls came pouring in. Keeping the outcome secret for two months was like a living hell for me (I have a big mouth). But there was one call I needed to make. I got home and dug out a shoebox buried in my closet. I lifted up the bag of old ticket stubs and pulled out a coin envelope marked “WL”. Inside was a stack of business cards.

“Todd Prinkey, please”, “Tell him it’s the woman that beat him”. We chatted for a few minutes, and joked about the show’s highlights. I told him that I planned on sending a group e-mail out with the “class picture” that I took of us before we stepped on stage. As promised, I did, and for a few months, I would receive an occasional e-mail from him. Sometimes a joke, other times a “how’s life”, but that was the extent of it. At the time I was going through what had now turned into a pretty extreme break-up with my significant other. And when all was said and done, I found myself needing an outsider to talk to. Todd was there for me.

By June we were officially in an unexpected relationship. I found myself looking forward to receiving those weekly e-saver deals via the internet. We made it so that we were flying to see one another once a month. E-mail meant everything. Instant messaging was second nature. A video conference was our Friday night out. I never thought that a long distance relationship would work; I guess with today’s technology it can. But anyone that’s ever been in one will tell you “Sure it can….but only for so long”. We had to make a decision. When I told co-workers that I was considering moving to Atlanta, they’d say “What’s the matter, you can’t find any guys around here?” The fact was that I could….but I didn’t want to. If I had met a man that was perfect for me, why should I let a little thing like miles keep us apart? Todd’s career in Real Estate was solid, but I was just working to work. And hell….I had always wanted to live somewhere else at least once. I can always go back…right? So here I am in Atlanta, living a story suitable for daytime talk shows, loving my now husband, and counting the days until our next adventure.

Sometimes we look at one another in disbelief. Occasionally we’ll throw the tape in the VCR; we know the show like the back of our hands now. It is a fun story; two people looking for the chance to earn a couple of bucks and fifteen minutes of fame unexpectedly stumbled upon something much greater. Todd says that I may have won, but that he definitely did not lose. I tell him that’s he just trying to get out of admitting that he lost. Actually…it’s nice to hear him say that…

But I still won.
September 27, 2005 | Registered Commentertallchickbarbara
Awwwww!!! Looooove that story. You need to save that for your little 'uns to read someday. I didn't know you were in a seven year relationship before Todd! You also forgot to mention he's a sexy musician :)

Any more "How I Met Him" stories out there?
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
"FORMER" musician...the only thing he's been drumming on lately is my behi...uh...dashboard.

(blushy smiley)
September 27, 2005 | Registered Commentertallchickbarbara
That is SUCH a cool story, definitely one to tell the grandkids! Tell me though, which TV programme was it? I'm totally intruiged.
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAli
Thanks Ali...The Weakest Link (the America version though)...
September 27, 2005 | Registered Commentertallchickbarbara
That story is like something out of a modern day fairytale:) I'm a little jelouse I dare say ;)

I'm glad to see that true love still exists in the world..thanks to posts by you and Monica!

Thanks for your story!! :)
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulia
I've never heard the complete story, Barb! Very, very crazy cool story! :) I'd don't have a really cool meeting the husband story. I met him at an Al Anon meeting. I cringe when people ask me how we met. (Both of our exes were alcoholics. Mine was "recovering") I saw him walk down the hall and thought he had the perfect body type for me. Tall, big, lumbering. Always been attracted to that type. We got coffee after the thing and I asked him out....because, really sometimes I just can't keep my mouth shut. We went to the beach one night. Exciting stuff. But It gets better... ;) I had just graduated from cosmetology school and I was working at a dayspa like, way too many hours for a boss who ran almost a cult like working environment. Somehow, I got mononucluosis after that first date and had to call him and cancel the second. That night he came to see me, brought me icecream for my sore throat and got bit by the family dog :) He came over after work for what seemed like weeks while I was infected (though he never got it)bringing me flowers and falling asleep with me til 3 or 4 in the morning and then going home, showering and going back to work.

I'm not going to lie. Its not all been a joyride. There have been struggles, ups and downs especially as I have grown into my 30's. I think that kinda thing happens when a younger woman marries an older man as I did. He had done his exploring and growing. I had not. But, we persevere on. Marriage takes work. It's give and take.

When I look at what I have....when I look and see what really is there, I see someone who has always been there for me. Patient, kind, forgiving. Who loves me for me. That one person who can hug me and make everything seem better and make me feel safe. I love him. Even though he doesn't fold the fucking laundry. :)
September 27, 2005 | Registered CommenterTabatha
That IS a good one Tabby baby...Monica's is a great story too.

God are we a bunch of sappy ass mushy-mush's or what??
September 27, 2005 | Registered Commentertallchickbarbara
So sweet! I love you and the Surge!
September 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKiki

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