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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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She Said: Mom Dress Code


Recording the Tremors of a Mind on the Outs With Itself

Staccato coughing. The two words play together on repeat in my head while I'm staring blankly at six huge TV monitors mounted on the wall above my head. Breaking news another shooting a political talking head a weather forecaster a commercial another talking head. One, big media vomit of news/opinion/information/advertisement, it's all the same thing anymore.

I like the sound of the words staccato coughing smooshed up against each other like tired lovers on a late night subway home. Staccatocoughing. The actual sound of staccato coughing isn't nearly as pleasing. Someone is sick, poor thing. Sounds like she's on an upswing, though. A dry cough, I think they call it. Much less auditorily offensive than the sad sack who spent the bulk of last week murdering the genteel hum that is the norm on the operations floor of the building in which I work. Spackling his cubicle with bits of lung, sounded like, everyone within range cringing shoulders-to-ears each time he commenced to whooping it up, which was considerably often. Phlegm rattling/choking/gagging - the whole goddamn nine.

I stare at the TVs without seeing them, listen to the restrained throat clearing of today's politer cougher and wonder again if I've temporarily misplaced my self-respect or if it's just that I've finally been stripped of the delusion that I like myself. Didion said as much in an essay she wrote once about self-respect:

"Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor. I recall with embarrassing clarity the flavor of those particular ashes. It was a matter of misplaced self-respect."

Here I am, recording the tremors of a mind on the outs with itself. Although I disagree with Didion on one point; I don't think innocence is lost when you realize you no longer like yourself, I think it's discovering your parents might not like you. Parental apathy, more common than outright parental dislike, is pretty awful too. There's this man I know who pretends to be apathetic about his father's apathy. It's heartbreaking. Fuck that dad. He missed out on a beautiful human being. But yeah. Parental dislike or disinterest is the end of innocence, Didion, not run-of-the-mill self-dislike.

A record of tremors of a mind on the outs with itself. That's this entire website. I am filled with jealousy and mean and sad and guilt and selfish and self-pity and scared and confusion and horrible thoughts about people while experiencing uncomfortable pings of glad when negative things happen to those for whom I harbor ill will. I am an ill will harborer. A safe haven for ill will. No wonder my mind is in revolt.

New Ways To Fall Apart

Life is a series of rushes. A rush from home to daycare. From daycare to work. Work back to daycare. Daycare to home. Home to Serge's house to drop off/pick up kids. Serge's house back to mine. Holy shit, we're out of milk for the third time this week. Get in the car, kids.

I feel like I'm always late. I hate being late. Late is a moth flapping in my chest, a hand squeezing my esophagus, a roiling in my stomach, an eventual headache at the end of the day but just keep going, you. You've got dinner to make a house to clean a lawn to mow bills to pay shit to write work to do and recorded TV shows waiting in your DVR that you attempt to watch in some token effort to feel like a part of society before exhaustion wrestles you into bed.

I am overwhelmingly aware that these are the days with my children that I should be relishing. Especially now that divorce has halved my precious time with them. My sweet Charlie learning to walk and talk and play with his big brother and sister. The amazing Henry waxing poetic about love and life and the best superhero powers while casually winking "Hey, beautiful!" to me in a way that makes my heart pound harder than if he were Jake Gyllenhaal himself. Violet, telling stories and asking to snuggle and still calling me "Mama." Instead I am in survival mode. Their precious childhood moments ominously ticking away during a post-divorce haze I'm desperately trying to find my way through. WHEN THE FUCK WILL I FEEL BETTER? It feels like a slow-motion divorce while my kids are growing in fast-forward.

You know that scene in Boyhood? The scene that won Patricia Arquette the Oscar? It's how I feel all the time.

I started this blog more than ten years ago. It was the dawn of my marriage. Living in Brooklyn. Working as a producer at ABC, flush with ambition and hope. A decade later I'm facing another beginning. Not so young, not so fresh-faced, hope crushed by reality, not really even that ambitious anymore. I'm more interested in conquering myself now, not the world.

The writing isn't coming so easy as of late. I suppose I can guess why. I'm not interested in writing about my failed relationship, that horse done been beat to death. Not interested in chronicling new relationships as there are far too many feelings to consider. I've also experienced how detailing a relationship affects my own mentality. It tricks you. You can make yourself believe untruths. You begin performing and believing your own performance instead of focusing on what is actually taking place in the relationship. You blur where real you ends and Internet you begins. You become a character and you begin to believe your own bullshit. It happened to me and I am still watching it happen to others. You believe your Instagram photos. You believe Internet you.

I don't believe any blogs I read any more. None of them. I see the same symptoms in everyone who blogs. Is what you're writing reality or is it a performance? Do you even know anymore? Oh, I believe you're writing something based on an experience or emotion you've just had but once you mine those experiences for others you start to edit them, often reframing them and then you're reshaping your own memory and perception and then, well, you can convince yourself of just about anything, can't you? You can change your entire memory of an event just by writing about it in a certain way.

Blogging blurs reality and every single blogger you've read and loved knows this. And it's fine. It's a performance in the same way a book is a performance or the telling of a story becomes exaggerated and therefore a performance of sorts. It is what it is. But the act of becoming a persona based on a version of myself I inadvertently created seems unsavory to me now. Is there a way to write honestly? I don't know. I'm still figuring it out.

She Said: The Kindness Game During Divorce


She Said: Divorce and Social Media