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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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Thursday
Apr272006

The Reluctant Suburbanite


I was on the phone last night with a friend of mine who lives in Happy Valley, (A.K.A Utah County) Utah.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Picking up my kids." He replies. "Come on kids!" He shouts to his three small children. Buckle in gang! If you're good we'll go to Wendy's maybe."
"You are SO suburban!" I shout.
"I most certainly am NOT!"
"Please..'buckle in and we'll go to Wendy's!' I mimic.. What kind of car are you driving? A Mercedes?"
"NO! NOT A Mercedes....." He pauses, "I SOLD THAT!"
"Well, what is it then?"
"Mmmsmmmsmm"
"Huh? What? What's that you say?"
"I said, A MAXIMA DAMMIT! But I'm not suburban. I'm tough and gritty." He giggles.
"Right. Well, at least it's not an S-U-V" I say. "Don't be ashamed. Suburban living can be nice. The word slides from my lips as if coated in tuna fish oil.
"Can we change the subject please, I am not all suburbaned out. Wait, hold on..." he tells me. "I'll have two Happy Meals with two Root Beers." He enunciates loudly into what is obviously a McDonalds intercom then returns to the phone. "I AM NOT SUBURBAN!"
I can only giggle. "Three kids? A Maxima? The Drive-Thru? Is that McDonalds in the parking lot of a strip mall or a WAL*MART lot??? Case closed."

Reader Comments (24)

Just found you through your comment on my blog. I enjoyed reading and I love the story of your wedding. My fiance and I met online 10 years ago. We met for real two years ago and have been together since. We're halfway through finishing up our degrees in different states before we can marry and be together. Hang in there... he'll be home soon!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlaura
your post is pretty obnoxious. living in new york for a year or two does not suddenly make you urbane.

the only reason you left Happyville was because a man came to your rescue. if it was so horrible why didn't you leave on your own?

you just sound like a city snob and you don't have the history to qualify as one.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrob
While I love NYC. It seems to me that someone hasn't spent enough time out of the city to know exactly what Monica is talking about.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Dammit! I knew I hadn't put in enough time to be a bonafide City Girl! The girl who told me there was a year requirement must not have been urbane either.

Incidentally, I glory in Target and Wal*Mart. Have you been? They have EVERYTHING! I'll bet you can even pick yourself up a sense of humor.

And the rescuing was mutual, friend.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
"Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

(Subdivisions)
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
(Subdivisions)
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights..."

April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
I'm so corny
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
Do people say "corny" anymore?
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
LOVED that. Not corny. (I just said corny)
April 27, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko
Ha! I had a very similar conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. She was on the highway, in her mom-mobile, and interrupted herself to ask if anyone had to go potty, because they were passing the last stop for an hour. Hilarious!
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside...

Can you say HICK? I knew you could...
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
aahh chrissy! good ole Rush. Haven't heard that song in awhile. I think I'm gonna go pull that cd out of my collection anf have a listen today.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
mama, I knew I liked you for a reason! (besides that you're a fellow nurse)
I still have that Rush album, too, but in album form...I never upgraded to CD.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
Monica is an equal opportunity mocker Rob. Sounds like you haven't been reading long enough to know her style. Anyway, welcome.

Ah, the conundrum. City life or country life? Actually, country life isn't really suburban life, is it? If I had to choose forever and ever I'd go with country life. Suburban is a crazy meld of city and country that dulls the senses and keeps you locked in your car instead of walking about, enjoying the scenery.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
Have that album....I think it's the last great Rush album. Mama you are wicked cool.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Gemma said "Suburban is a crazy meld of city and country that dulls the senses and keeps you locked in your car instead of walking about, enjoying the scenery."

When you've got three kids under 5, walking outside to enjoy the scenery gets you as far as the nearest mud puddle, ant hill, or glittery piece of cement. The suburbs do just fine in that regard -- plus you are often very close to the all-important 3 P's - pools, parks and playgrounds. Not to mention the super-convenient strip malls. If you've ever had to manuever anyone under 3 feet tall in and out of shops, subways, escalators or parking ramps you know what I mean.

We had a very cool apartment in the middle of the city (Washington DC) when we had our first kid. But the corner playground had rats, and our stroller was stolen off of our front porch. We moved to suburbia as soon as we could....



janet
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
You're right of course. The suburbs are the most kid friendly. Sometimes, I watch the women on the city subways hauling those strollers up and down the stairs in the crowds and wonder how they do it.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
I hear ya, Janet.
City life is exciting, but roaches and cramped apartments soon lose their appeal, esp. w/ children. Riding the subway with a screaming infant is no picnic, either. Unless you have big bucks, livin' in the city w/ small kids can be a major pain in the ass.
We moved out to northwestern NJ, a mix of suburbia and rural life (yes they have that in NJ). NYC is still close enough to go to shows & museums & zoos regularly. Out here there's mountains to hike and bike, farms and parks. A decent balance for us.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
When I was pregnant with Sofia I lived in the city of Richmond and up until she was about 6 months old.

It was nothing for me to walk everywhere. If I needed to get anywhere further I took the bus.

We lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor. I would park the cadillac of a stroller in the front of the apartment. It was fenced in the front of the apartment. Only 4 apartments in the building. I woke up one morning, got Sofia all bundled up to go for our normal little stroller walk to the coffee shop about 3 blocks away. The stroller was gone. Someone had taken it. I luckily had another stroller but it wasn't as good as the one that got stolen.

My intentions were to raise Sofia in the city but unfortunately we couldn't afford city living any more. I should say we couldn't find a 2 bedroom apartment to move to that we could afford. We moved to suburbia.

I miss the city though. While my daughter is better off going to a suburbia school because the Richmond City schools absolutely SUCK! I feel that my daughter would be more motivated, physically fit if we lived in the city. We would walk everywhere.

Oh well sometimes you have to give up something you love for something that is right.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
I do believe that I live in one of thee coolest places around. Across from a huge apple and peach orchard, up against the foothills of a huge snowcapped mountain that is beautifully green here on the foothills, I look down in the valley and see a huge sparkling lake where there are cities sprinkled throughout the valley and plenty of subdivisions intertwined. Wallmart and target are interspersed throughout the small cities. It's beautiful and my dog can run freely in the hills. When Monica has had it with the city life, this will all still be here. Chrissy, I still have my album, but I also upgraded to a cd. Nothing like the good days of Rush.
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
I've been in NYC eight months, but it could be 80 and I don't think I would be a New Yorker. I'm too polite. :)
April 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
My husband and I are both in the middle of grad school programs at the moment. We are, yet again, sweating buckets over how we're going to live, eat, pay rent over the summer when the teaching stipends and fellowships dry up. This gut-wrenching, soul-destroying, marriage-crippling situation is an ongoing fact of life. And before you ask, no, I did not know what I was getting into (long story) before I decided to do this. Right now a house with, like, working appliances, a functioning car, and some kids sound like a dream come true for us. Monica, I know you were just funnin' around but I guess it's a matter of perspective and I am just not in the frame of mind to be a snob about suburbia these days.
May 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPurr Meow
The post wasn't so much about my disdain over suburbia as it was giving my friend a ribbing about his denial that, yes in fact, he has turned into his father. Carrie Bradshaw I ain't. I don't prefer the city over suburbia or suburbia over the city. Each has it's merits. The post just before this one documented my disgust with the city. I am an equal opportunity mocker.. My negativity knows no bounds.
May 1, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko
Sure, I hear ya. See my earlier post for some serious negativity. I guess I am feeling the existential malaise these days and it's hell on the sense of humour. Sometimes I catch myself turning into my father. Right now, for instance, when I am about to have a tantrum because I can't find a friggin' pen anywhere in my house. And what's with these pseudo-pens that tease me but turn out to have no ink in them?
May 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPurr Meow

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