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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Link Park

So. Another day. The Surge just left for Chicago. Then on to Nashville to record a soundtrack for an upcoming movie. The soundtrack is all Marah which will definitely be cool. I've heard some of the songs and they're amazing. Kind of a bluegrass, folky vibe.

Me? I'm just floating around. Still applying for jobs, exercising a lot (Did she type exercising? I know, it surprises me too!) I'm writing quite a bit. I decided I wasn't finished with The Girl Who. A very wise bestselling author as well as a lovely editor nudged me in a different direction. So I've decided to write about what I feared writing about. My childhood. Growing up Mormon. The scandal that rocked a small Mormon community:

"The church court sent Mom back into the lobby while they deliberated her fate. She sat there with Dad horrified by the speed at which her life had spiralled out of control. The minutes ticked by, the silence so loud it hurt her ears.
"Elaine. Craig. We've made a decision." My parents were called back before the court to hear the verdict.

My parent's divorce and what happened to my family afterward:
"Dad would call every now and again. But a telephone conversation with a child is like pulling teeth.
"How are you?"
"What did you learn in school today?"
"Are you being a good girl?"
"I guess so."
"Is your slut Mom still dating that asshole?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean, 'you don't know'?"
"I don't know."
"Where is she right now?"
"I don't know."
"Are you being smart with me?"
Dad sighs in exasperation. "Okay. I love you."
"I love you too." I replied automatically."

Unlocking secrets from my family's past:
"Dad, do you have life insurance?"
"Yep." He strokes his beard with the fingers of his right hand, a habit that has been with him for as long as I can remember.
"So we get lots of money when you die?"
"My life insurance policey is for 100,000 dollars. So split that three ways and that's what you get."
"Three ways? But you have four kids, Dad."
"I have three kids."
"What?" I am utterly bewildered.
"C'mon Monica. Quit being such an idiot. You know." My brother rolls his eyes from his throne, the passenger seat next to Dad.

But I really didn't know. Dad and Brandon, exchange looks. Two conspiring best buddies who apparently hold the keys to Pandora's Box. The box that contains all the bad secrets about my family. Things I didn't know about. Things I didn't want to hear."

And of course, what would a good Mormon memoir be without...Perverted bishops!:
"Soooo.." Bishop Johnson leans back in his office chair, adjusts his red and white striped tie, (like a candy cane, I think) and looks at me through lowered lids. "Your boyfriend stuck his finger in your vagina? How far did he stick his finger up?"
I'm startled by the directness of the question. The word 'vagina' slid easily out of his thin, sharp lips. But it didn't sound the same as when my health teacher said it in school. It sounded different. Bad. "Why do you need to know that?" I ask.
"Because I need to determine the gravity of your sin."

Anyway - so there's that.

On a side note - I have a set of blogs I read every day, websites I peruse etc.. I tend to come across some interesting stuff. So I've decided to add a links of the day page. Just funny, intruging bits I find on the web. If you have a favorite blog you've written or photo you've taken or you find an interesting blog/link/photo/news item feel free to email it to me. I may just throw it in the next set of "Link Park". Turn me onto new stuff, people! I'm unemployed! I got nothin' but time! Pimp your artistic endeavors! If I dig it, it'll go up.

I Just Gave Up My Womanhood

It began as a lovely family dogpile atop our marital bed. It ended with me giving up my womanhood in a most violent manner. It sounds melodramatic, but that's exactly what happened. A sound. A horrific noise that tore a hole in the very fabric of my marriage. I was comfortably paging through the latest In Touch mag. The Surge was reading. Max was snoring. And then it happened.

I generally claim not to have ever experienced this particular bodily function. Me, fart? NEVER. I am an exquisitely delicate cupcake of a broad. Sure I swear like a trucker.. But farting? It's simply not in my repertoire. Or so I've claimed. Until now.

I thought it would be silent. And not deadly. I thought it would enter the universe as gently as a butterfly emerges from a cocoon and silently flutter away. It didn't. Max startled from slumber and gallumped to his feet, enormous dog noggin swaying this way and that as if to say What the fuck was that? Are we under attack??

I chanced a look at my husband, afraid of what I might see looking back at me. He was staring in shock. Not so much because I was revealed to have bodily functions like the rest of the free world. That didn't bother him. It's because I have a very vocal dislike of farts that manifests itself every single time he unleashes his inner air on our household.

I have an extreme aversion to the farts of others. I can follow the stinky trail all the way back to my childhood when my older brother would regularly administer thrashings followed by his coup de grace - sitting on my head and farting.

We'd be watching television, me on one couch, my brother on the other. In the blink of an eye and at no provocation from me he would leap onto my couch, push my head to his crotch and let loose. AND HOLD MY HEAD THERE! How I loathed him and subsequently anyone I dated who seemingly farted on purpose. It's not that I'm a fart prude. Because they were used as a weapon in my youth, I don't take farts passively. They aren't just an involuntary bodily function. They are a very deliberate attack! An affront to my senses.

With The Surge, it's turned into a joke.. if I'm at one end of the house and he quietly releases on the other end I'll shout jokingly (with as deadly serious an undercurrent as the fart he just let fly) I heard that!. It's funny. Kind of. Eventually he told me to lay off the fart monitoring, it was a tad obsessive. When he inquired about my own farting history I'd reply demurely "a woman never farts" and she certainly never farts and tells.

So in that endless moment last night, after I dropped the bomb, before I looked my husband in the eye.. all of those fart monitoring incidents flashed before my eyes in a parade of shame.

The Surge? Didn't bat an eye. In response to the fart hyprocrisy I had loudly revealed, he accordianed his lips as if trying to repress laughter, languidly turned a page in his book and drawled, "Congratulations. You just gave up your womanhood in as violent a manner possible."

Some Kind Of Wonderful

I just finished watching Some Kind Of Wonderful. You know the flick. And if you don't, then we can't be friends. Seriously. There is something wrong with you. I've seen this movie at least a few hundred times. It gets me every time. EVERY time. John Hughes you devil you. How do you do it? Molly Ringwald isn't even in this one... and here I am bawling my eyes out after this timeless scene. And then I CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE by Lick The Tins swells as the couple stroll down the lamppost lined street.

No matter what I'm doing, where I have to be or what time it is.. if a John Hughes movie is airing on TNT.. I'm watching. No matter that it's interrupted every three minutes with commercials, no matter that the swear words (translation: the good parts) are edited out so sloppily that Andrew McCarthey looks like an actor in an old japanese kung fu movie, no matter that I have the DVD right there on my shelf.
I. Am. Watching.
I will cry. And I'm a tough chick dammit! I hate romantic comedies, really I do. Reese Withersoon and her Legally Blonde brigade are not for me. Nor was that leering jackolantern Julia Roberts and the ridiculously overrated Hugh Grant starring as, who else, Hugh Grant. Keep your Kate Hudsons and your Jennifer Garners to yourself.. I've just never been interested.

Ironically, I will never tire of Some Kind of Wonderful, Can't By Me Love, Pretty In Pink, Say Anything.. You know the ones. Any movie starring any variation of John Cusack, Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall. These movies are as much a part of my growing up experience as my own travails in junior high and high school.

Judd Nelson as Bender in The Breakfast Club instilled deep within me an immense admiration for the bad boys. He hooked me at "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?" He began reeling me in with his ingenious impersonation of his parental plight at home..
"Stupid worthless no good goddamn free loadin' son of a bitch retarded big mouth know it all asshole jerk! You forgot ugly lazy and disrespectful- Shut up bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie! What about you dad? Fuck you. No, dad, what about you? Fuck you. No dad what about you?! FUCK YOU"
He is angry! I am in love! From Bender to the man every girl is still looking for.. Jake Ryan, where are you?
From my journal: August 10, 2003 Why must I be so concerned with boys? I don't like girls that live for men, so why must I? I'm perfectly content on my own. You know, movies have dones the women of the world such an injustice. You see these perfectly wonderful relationships on the big screen, that it took 50 takes and 20 pounds of make-up to get right - and the rest of us bastards have to try to live up to that crap. It will never happen. I'm 26 years old and I'm still longing for Jake Ryan to pull up in his red porche while the Thompson Twins IF YOU WERE HERE swells in the background. Fuck. Fuckity Fuck! Is it true that I could find the guy of my dreams, my best friend who sees the best things about me, that can't imagine living without me or is it all a crock of bullshit?"

Apparently, that same entry exists within the pages of almost every American woman's journal. In his article "Real Men Can't Hold A Match To Jake Ryan" Hank Stuever says the movie Sixteen Candles offered the hope, before life dashed it. Stuever urges women to finally admit that Jake Ryan is not coming for us. "Not in the red Porsche 944, and not wearing that Fair Isle sweater vest. Not with his shiny black hair moussed gently heavenward, not with his gooey brown eyes and square Matt Dillonesque jaw. He will not be standing there with his hands in the pockets of his 501 button-fly jeans (while leaning against said Porsche), and he will not be shyly waving at you from across the street. ("Yeah, you," he mouths, just as in the movie, after you look behind you to see what girl he could possibly be interested in.)"

So he's not coming. Fuck you Stuever! Can't we have our dreams? Since y'all aren't capable of living up to Jake's impossibly high standard (seriously though, who would dump the blonde cheerleader that puts out for red-haired freckle-faced Molly Ringwald?) let us have Jake on our TNT reruns dammit! A girl can dream.

All of the glorious movies mentioned never stray far from the same theme on high school stereotypes. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Nerds. Burners. Freaks. Geeks. Neomaxizoomdweebies.. Whatever.. But we can all identify because all the stereotypes are represented properly. We can find ourselves in there somewhere..

High school to a certain degree defines our personalities. For life. For the most part high schoolers are empty vessels waiting to be filled with pop culture, what's allegedly cool and not cool. The NOT COOL moniker is a sticky motherfucker. You can say you don't care, but in a way, you spend the rest of your life trying to prove those high school fuckers wrong. Clothes, hair styles, who you eat lunch with.. all of it takes on a ridiculously intense level of importance. You go to school to get grades, yet every day you're graded by your peers. And it's so easy to fuck up.

For much too long after high school, many of us secretly continue to believe those labels.. It's tough to shake that mental image of yourself. Were you fat in high school? You might be the thinnest person in the room now, but you still feel fat, don't you? Were you beautiful in high school? That's even worse because you will spend the rest of your life trying to be the pretty girl and inevitibly, you'll grow old. And depressed. I say being the beautiful person is worse than being a freak. A freak can always turn into the hottest person at the reunion. Everyone is secretly checking out the former beauty, glorying in every wrinkle, every pound of weight gained..

You either hate who you were in high school, always trying to escape that persona.. or as in the case of the former beauty you'll never live up to who you perceived yourself to be in high school (D.G. Nielsen, the asshole jock quarterback that tried to screw me in the back of his truck then ignored me the next day after I refused, I'm looking in your direction) Thing is, despite his obvious assholeness, everyone loved D.G., the football star. Because in the end, you are identified by the sport you may play, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, how you wear your hair. That's why we all love John Hughes. Because as obvious as his stereotypes are.. one of them rings a bell deep within us all. And we remember, even though many of us want to forget.

"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you're crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

Domaine Des Cassagnoles

It's a type of wine. Some cheapo wine from the place down the street. This blog. It's a weird thing. Blogs are weird things. I don't want, like, attention. Or maybe I do. Really I just want to write. I want to write! And the blog seems to help that along. Sometimes I post these pictures where I think I look pretty. And then I hate myself for posting pictures where I think I look pretty. Like, I'm trying to get your attention. Look at me! And maybe that is the premise.. and maybe not. I don't know who you are. I don't know who I'm typing to. I have a list of folks I know regularly read the blog.. And it's like, maybe 20 people. Mom. Serge (sporadically Mr. too busy writing radio shows and soundtracks and new albums), Anna, Xmastime, Casey... Actually, that's really it. Those are the only people I know who read every entry. EDW and Chrissy too. I don't know if they read every entry, but they're around a lot. Which is nice. And then this woman, Niedchlen and Jen too. They seem to read a lot. So that's, what? Ten people tops? So... then.. What now? Blogs are fucked. They're weird. Look at me! Everyone please look at me! I am witty! I am hilaaaarious! Dammit LOOK AT ME!

I know this girl.. She used to date my husband. She simultaneously interests and repulses me. And she has a blog now. And she treats it like she's on a soap opera. Like we're all just dying to hear what she's up to now. What will ---- do next? What is ---- up to now? I don't want to be like that. But maybe I am. Maybe I'm just some sad, attention seeker. Look at me everyone! But I don't want this blog to be like that. I want it to be about how life really is. Life is a sad fucking rollercoaster. Ups and downs and sad, sad, sad, happy, sad, sad, sad, sad, happy. Do you think I need medication? Seriously. Don't type some fucked up comment because you're anonymous. I am a real person. I feel like an ass. I worry about what you think. Be nice internet fuckers. I don't want to pretend to be fabulous. I am tired of that. I had enough of that in high school and college and life. I want to be honest. I want this blog to be an unabashed look at life. How it REALLY is. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of trying to appear fabulous. FUCK THAT NOISE. I am me. I am the girl who feels like I never belong, who feels fat, who feels sad, who feels regret, who wants to go buy another bottle of wine because this one just ain't doin' the job. Let's all get drunk, eat cookie dough and talk about how fucked up it all is.

One Degree Of Separation

"What colleges are you applying to?"
"Where did you get accepted?"
"Where are you going to college?"
These questions were all the rage during the last half of my senior year of high school. Anyone not thinking about attending college was a loser headed for no place special.

College. It's a catchall term teens learn to employ to inform people "I'm going places. I have a bright future". Or to get parents and counselors off their backs. College. No matter that all you're learning is how to execute a proper keg stand or earning your Ph.D in GHB and no that does not count toward your chemistry requirement you date raping frat fuck.

When asked what their goals for the future are, high school students generally respond with what college they hope to attend. But what does that really mean? College simply extends the required education period except instead of being mandated by the government college is mandated by society.

But I went. Because it was ingrained in my brain that the only hope for a bright future was college. I did everything I was supposed to do in college and I was annoyed. Long lines, outrageous tuition, expensive books, irrelevant classes, busy work, boring professors who blended personal opinions with teaching material resulting in confusing lessons. Sure there were a couple high points (keg stands) but what did college really teach me about my chosen career? Or teach anyone, for that matter? I'm assuming you aren't a doctor or lawyer.. but even then, I'd prefer the doc operating on me to have several successful surgeries under his belt as opposed to the fella that aced every single written test.

More and more we're placing too much importance on "education" and too little importance on real world experience and accomplishment. In college, students are certainly educated in many areas but how much do they really learn that they can practically apply toward a career? And at what cost?

Ultimately, college wasn't for me and after two years of bullshit math classes (that I have yet to apply to my everyday life) left me tearing out my hair by the handfull I left. I wasn't interested in why A to the third power = B - C. I was jonesing to apply the tiny bit about journalism I was learning to the real world.

Up until I left, I was earning my degree in broadcast journalism while simultaneously working my way up the ranks of a local television station. Suffice it to say, working at the news station for one week taught me more about journalism than the college did the entire time I attended. Lucky for me, at 23 I was offered the job I would have never applied for until I had that diploma in a frame on my wall. Once I secured my dream job, what was the point of getting the journalism degree? I was making more than either of my parents and I was being infused daily with invaluable on the job training.

I have since come to the conclusion that a college degree is overrated, at best. Not that your degree is for shit.. I'm certain you're a lovely, intelligent individual and most likely, the more prestigious the college you attended the more likely I am to hear about it. I'm just saying that society, our parents, employers base so much importance on The Degree and if you did go to Harvard? Well you simply must be a genius. But a college degree doesn't gaurantee success in the workplace. Some people, myself included, do not belong in college and choose not to get a degree, instead seeking out real world experience. Of course, without that degree, our society downplays their skills and will underpay them or not offer them a job even though they are good independent self-motivated learners who found a better way than "the system" to learn.

After being offered a low-paying job at a local cable channel, after passing the writing test, the New York trivia test, after miraculously passing the drug test, after being told I start tomorrow I was informed this morning the station is rescinding their offer because they noticed on my application that I do not have a college degree. No matter that I've been in the business for nearly a decade. No matter that I spent the past year writing and producing in the top news market in the world, I'm not qualified. But the girl that graduated college a month ago? She is.