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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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A Taste Of Chinatown

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Pas de Deux

Bad mood but actin' all smiles... hiding the pain.. all the pain of everyone on this subway car. Add it up. Add up the collective pain of all these strangers on the L train and it would fill the East River that we are rumbling under. We walk around, going about our business, all of us hiding something. Some kind of hurt that's bleeding on the inside. A contusion. Somebody just lost their job. Someone was raped last night. Sombody's mother just died. Someone's relationship is disintegrating like a sand castle at high tide. Somebody is half-heartedly contemplating killing themselves. Maybe whole-heartedly. Maybe it's the exhausted woman sitting next to me. Face like a rotting peach, frazzled hair, slight tremor in the arm that touches mine as we roar through darkness. The guy across from me. 400 pounds, easy. Maybe it's him. Tired of being a prisoner of his body. At least 40, no wedding ring. His eyes are already dead. Yet here we all are. Going somewhere. Reading the paper, listening to Ipods, staring into space. Maintaining. Practicing the Urban Eye Slide. Are you lookin' at me? I'm not looking at you. Well, yes, yes I am. But on the sly. I look away when you look at me then you look away when I look at you. Pas de deux. Good job everyone. Me included. Way to keep up pretenses.

Dancing On The Lip Of A Volcano

I haven't left my bed yet. A sky the color of an old man's milky cataract has been leaking tears since I woke up. Depressing weather. I like it. The sun inspires guilt if I'm not taking advantage of the weather. Like I should be out and about accomplishing Productive Things! When it's raining - well, it's the perfect excuse to stay inside. In bed. Don't want to get wet, I justify, when really it's because I don't want to see people or do much of anything.

I recently bought bright red sheets. I love them. Not a violent, orange-y red, a deep red with purple undertones. My bedroom is very autumnal. I prefer the reds and browns. They're cozy, warm colors, like a lamplit coffee shop on a frigid winter evening. Blue or green would make for dreary pajama lounging on a gray day such as this.

Max occupies The Surge's usual spot on the bed. He is on his back snoring gently, hind legs tucked up to his chest where his front legs clutch them, fetal-like. I imagine this is how he spent most of his time in his mama's womb with his eight brothers and sisters. Every now and again I grasp an avacado sized paw and breathe in its' unusual scent. More often than not his paws smell like sweet country hay. It's a strange phenomenon both The Surge and I have noticed. I like to sniff his paws and kiss the bald spot on his tummy where his tender pink skins peek through black hairs. His belly looks just like the crown of a newborn baby's delicate head.

Speaking of heads - my life is conducted in my head. By that I mean to say that I spend so much time sorting through my relationships, perceptions and realities. I come to conclusions, make decisions, set goals - but rarely does that change my demeanor. I still behave like the Monica that everyone knows. It's why not many people know I suffer from social anxiety. I am able to maintain.. yet inside I am a volcano waiting to erupt with thoughts and fears and goals and gossip and tears and love and hate. But I maintain.

I suppose we all engage in a fair amount of maintaining. The champion maintainers among us are tough nuts to crack. Others are a bit softer. Bananas just waiting to be peeled. I don't know which edible best describes me in the food analogy arena.. Maybe I'm an onion. Peeling me is dirty work, makes you cry, sometimes you need to step away and take a breather. It is possible to peel me. Just not easy.

Man, I'm rambling. I pulled out my book today. Books, actually. I have two half finished books. The Girl Who and The Girl Who: Mormon To Married In Manhattan. I've stopped writing. Not sure why. Perhaps it seems a futile endeavor. I am tired of memoirs and boohooing about life. I do enough of that here. I'd like to write a juicy fiction book. Create instead of reflect. I had a conversation with my Mom - who doesn't remember many instances of my childhood the same way that I do. As with anyone, I have unpleasant memories of incidents that don't shed my parents in the best light. Things Mom insists never happened, were never said. But I remember them. If I grew up with these memories then they have shaped who I am.. whether they happened or not. They are my reality. For 29 years they have been a part of my reflection repertoire. Yet I can't write about them because she says they didn't happen. I s'pose I wouldn't write about them anyway - what gives me the right to write about the most intimate moments of others? It would be unsavory, unethical to do so. Writing may be my cheap therapy - but others opt for different prescriptions. Repression may be brother's medication of choice, intense guilt is Mom's coping mechanism and denial is Dads.

October 16, 2006

Strangely, I find myself with not much to say today. Usually I have something to say, a story to share and so I write it, post it. Today I feel wordless. Yet I'm glad I've kept this journal fairly consistent over the past year and so I'm going to write anyway. I kind of feel out of control with my health. I've been eating terribly and drinking too much. I guess I cycle through phases of health and sloth - too bad I ain't cycling through those phases on an exercise bike. Would make things a whole lot easier. I let myself go and eat/drink what I want and then I get back into a regimen. But the older I get the harder it will be to tone up. Junk food is a slippery slope. If you don't eat any it's easier to avoid the bad stuff. But if you indulge a couple times a week you start craving it all the time. I really want to start jogging regularly but somehow I can't seem to get it started.

Blah blah blah.. That's such a generic paragraph. That paragraph could have been written when I was 18, 23, 25. I'm eating too much. I want to exercise more. Whine, whine. Wine, wine. All talk, no action. I'm such a pussy with no willpower. I just typed that sentence then heated up a slice of last night's pizza. But it had broccoli and chicken toppings, so it's healthy, right?


So these past six months I've been as stressed as a 16-year-old Mormon girl who missed her period. I'm constantly in a state of near panic, wondering when a Good Thing is going to happen in the wake of losing my job and undergoing a quarter-life crisis. Where is the goddamn silver lining? Is New York going to chew me up and spit me out as she has with so many others? Am I destined to return to Utah with my tail between my legs, where I know I can get gainful employment and afford a place that's bigger than a Wheaties box. I love my apartment, I do. But it would be nice to have a bit more room. I guess the silver lining to a small apartment is that it's easy to clean. The silver lining to being unemployed is being able to spend time exploring the city and our relationship with The Surge.


The Surge leaves for Germany today. I'm really going to miss him. We're together all the time now. I miss him when he's at the gym. I know. Co-dependent! Cue the Tammy Wynette music.


She talks to her dog ALL the time. Like he understands her. And she refers to him in the third person while speaking to him. For example "Does he want his ball now?" or "Is he being a good boy?" That part isn't so bad. But she uses this voice. This horiffic blend of baby talk and creepy cartoon character. Yes, The Crazy Dog Lady Who Lives On Berry Street is me.


Yesterday, midnight found me standing on a stool speaking to a crowd trying to enjoy their pizza at Anna Maria's. I was in search of grease and melted cheese with some girlfriends visiting from Virginia. I was a little tipsy - okay I was ass-drunk - and was engaging in the running man (remember that AWESOME dance?) while we waited for our slices. So there I was, happily albeit drunkenly rockin' the running man when I noticed my friends seemed a little embarrassed.
"What?" I asked while still dancing. In answer they shuffled away.
"Oh. I see." I huffed. "You're embarrassed". They scooted farther away from me.
"Good God! This is New York City! People have conversations with the air, pee on street corners and masturbate on the subway. Nobody cares about a little running man in the pizza joint!" They didn't appear to believe me so I stood on a stool and clapped my hands.
"Everyone! Can I have your attention. My friends here are embarrassed that I'm dancing. But that's the beauty of the city, right? You all don't care about a little pizzeria dancing. In fact, you weren't even looking at me until now".

At this point, I notice my horrified husband, peering in the glass window of the pizza joint, wondering what his wife was doing standing on a stool speechifying to a crowd of strangers at midnight in the pizza place. I also realized I had the entire rooms' attention and nothing intelligent to say. Lucky for me our pizza came and we went. Oh the things alcohol does to me. I still don't think anyone in the joint gave my drunken idiocy a second thought and I heard a smattering of applause when I climbed down from the stool. Maybe the applause wasn't so much for the speech as for the fact that I was leaving. But I coulda took my top off and shimmied 'round the place and folks would pay me no mind. Now, if I picked my nose and tried to wipe it on someone - I believe I would get everyone's attention faster than I would waving a pistol around . Maybe I'll try the nose-picking approach next time I attempt drunken speeches at pizza joints. That or a little tampon flinging. That always seems to get everyone's attention.

Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft

For Mom-In-Law