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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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You Might Be White Trash If...

You used duct tape and cardboard to insulate the air conditioner in the very public front window of your apartment.

You wear spandex around your neighborhood when you haven't worked out in many months.

You have unexplained bruises all over your white legs, most likely acquired during drunken exploits you cannot remember.

You yelled at your husband so loudly you worried the neighbors might call police.

You decided against buying a New York Post because you didn't want to "break a dollar".

Ten minutes later you withdrew 20 dollars from the unemployment check you just deposited to buy Star, Us Weekly and In Touch.

You considered buying the Enquirer too.

Decided not to go for a jog because you didn't want to miss your 'stories' on television.

You swept enough dog hair off your apartment to keep J-Lo in fur coats for the next decade.

You found yourself involved in an episode of Judge Judy and was disappointed with her ruling.

You watched The Maury Povitch Show on Who's My Baby's Daddy after that.

You scissored open a tube of toothpaste then scraped your toothbrush inside to get that last bit of toothpaste.

You bought new toiletpaper only after running out of paper towels.

You were upset you missed the Britney Spears interview.

You were doubly pissed when you missed the interview rerun the next day because you were watching a Nick at Nite Roseanne marathon.

You wore a stained wifebeater without a bra for three days in a row with no sense of hipster irony.

You ate a package of Ramen Noodles and thought "this is pretty good".

You sliced carrots into the Ramen Noodles and felt fancy. Almost gourmet.

You didn't wash your hair for a week because it seemed like "too much trouble".

You considered bleaching your hair platinum with a box of Loreal from Duane Reeds

You had to pee and decided the dark parking lot was as good a place as any.

You yelled at your dog to "stop all that goddamn barking or I'll give you something to bark about!"

You got excited when the unemployment check came in the mail.

You knew all the words to Poison's UNSKINNY BOP. And sang along. Nodding your head to the beat. In front of people.

You asked your husband whether he thinks Britney should stay with K-Fed then argued about it for the next ten minutes.

You used a black magic marker to color in a scuff mark on your shoe.

You puked Slurpee in a gas station bathroom because you were sick with a hangover.

You broke your flip-flop then spent ten minutes super gluing it together.

You liked the smell of the super glue and sniffed it. A lot.

I have done or said each of these things within the past week. My name is Monica Bielanko. I am white trash.

On Smoking

Most smokers wish they didn't smoke. I am a non-smoker and I wish I did. It's a dirty habit, of course.. We've all seen the super hip ads starring irascible teens intent on sticking it to tobacco companies. Smoking blackens lungs, causes cancer, makes folks stink.. But most importantly it's oh-so-handy during a night at a bar.

I notice that brother-in-law Dave can inhale great quantities of cigarettes, all the while staring into space. While this smoking festival is underway he appears to be occupied with solving the riddles of the universe and, of course, he always looks super cool. C'mon. Smoking just plain looks cool. If you didn't know what it's doing to their insides it looks sexy.. anything involving lips, sucking and blowing is pretty hot, right? Blame it on James Dean or Katharine Hepburn and all the rest of those sexy smoke sucker stars from back in the day. Point is, Dave looks busy AND COOL.

Me, I try to stare into space whilst wiling away a night at the bar and a strange man will skooch over and say 'you look like you've got a lot on your mind' and attempt to buy me a drink. It's not the buying me a drink part I mind so much as the fact that now I have to make small talk with a strange man.

THEORY: If I had a cigarette clamped between my fingers one would never mistake my staring into space for me 'needing to talk' or being moody. I'd just be enjoying my cigarette, see? Similarly, if I happened to find myself being chatted up by an Undesirable (read: Close Talkers, Low Talkers, Strange Men, Never Shut Uppers etc..) I'd simply excuse myself for a smoke outside.

Smoking lends you the excuse to step away from a boring conversation, light up and ponder the night air. Under the generous guise of not wanting to blow smoke in the faces of others.. you can pull out that Virginia Slim and step away in an attempt to light up and voila! You've extricated yourself from a snoozer of a conversation.. Without that cigarette I'm just the creepy girl standing by herself outside the bar.

In short.. I wish I smoked... but seeing how it kills you.. I guess I'll stick to feeling awkward at bars when everyone heads outside for a smoke break in winter's deep freeze and I sit there twiddling my thumbs, trying to avoid catching the eye of the serial killer eyeballing me from two stools down.

MTV Killed The Radio Star

They say video killed the radio star, but MTV, I am holding you personally responsible for the deplorable state of the music industry. I loved you. When no one else would, you let Madonna writhe around on stage in a wedding dress, clutching her crotch, painted on mole an exclamation point to her antics. I watched her pant LIKE A VIRGIN into the microphone she gripped with fingerless lace gloves and I was enthralled. You showed me what that woman-child Cindy Lauper looked like, porcelain skin, fiery rainbow hair and all. You brought me the always colorful Boy George and his deliciously bouncy songs. Because of you, I tried to perform gymnastics on the hood of a car like Tawny Kitaen. Unfortunately my acrobatics ended not in a make-out with the wailing lion-haired David Coverdale but a scraped knee and a dented hood. I did the snake dance along with Axl Rose to SWEET CHILD O MINE and WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. I cried when CINDERELLA sang DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU GOT. I even swooned (this is worse than admitting I puked in the cupholders of my car) when the fellas from EXTREME crooned MORE THAN WORDS. You know the video, just a coupla sensitive ponytailed guys hangin' out in their studio whippin' up the obligatory rock ballad guaranteed to shoot straight to the top.

Point is, MTV, you brought the world of music into my living room in a way that radio never could. And I loved you like a toddler loves cotton candy. I loved Adam Curry and his perfectly highlighted and curled hair, I had a crush on Pauly Shore, was willing to overlook Downtown Julie Brown. I suffered through the SPRING BREAK reruns you aired nearly through Christmas. I watched Singled Out, the puerile game show that unfortunately gave birth to Jenny McCarthy's television career and still, like a fat lady to cake, I was drawn to you.

You helped blow the lid off the rap scene developing in The Bronx by inviting the greats (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, Kurtis Blow, Sugar Hill Gang, Funky 4 Plus One More, Run DMC and the Beastie Boys) onto the network, going so far as to feature them on a show created specifically for rap music.

YO MTV RAPS! played a major role in bringing the sounds, the fashion, the slang, the politics and the controversy to the suburbs of America. Would the Beastie Boys have been able to take over the world without the (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) video?

Now rap music has done gone and lost it's mind.. Fo' shizzle. Video budgets in the millions, glorifying gangsta life, bling, 'grills' and crime. Videos featuring women as party accessories, no better tha the Kristal they're dumping down their rock hard breasts as they shake it like a polaroid picture.

Still, I'm okay with that aspect. Some gal wanna shake her booty for the masses, that's her bizness, yo. So despite the bloated lifestyle revered in rap, it is after all, still music.. That's the key though... MUSIC. The M, does stand for MUSIC. Doesn't it? Or is it M for money?

Recently, I turned to you.. just to check in, you know.. see what The Kids are up to, make sure I can still be considered reasonably cool. I waited patiently through your ten minute commercial break and was rewarded not with a music video but The Hills. The Hills, your new "reality" show based on a bunch of snotty teens with silver spoons firmly entrenched up their asses. Speaking of silver spoons, one episode of The Hills had me pining for the good ol' days when that adorable Ricky Schroeder epitomized a rich kid. He may have had a train in his living room, but he didn't come close to the train wreck that is MTV.

So, just when I thought I might have to shoot my television Elvis-style if I watched another episode of the abomination that is My Super Sweet Sixteen , Money Television brings me The Hills. This small screen horror features teens grappling with highly scripted situations. The abject humiliation of Daddy buying one of the teens, like omigod, a Mustang instead of a Mercedes, like gross! Or the tragedy of being offered a full-time job when the tanned, fake-breasted, bleached blonde little gal just wants to live off Daddy's dime and like, party. And stuff.

After The Hills I was lucky enough to catch Cheyenne... another "reality" show based on yet ANOTHER (yawn) generic, blonde pop star. As if Jessica and Ashlee aren't enough. After Cheyenne you aired The Hills: Behind The Scenes and I was privileged to catch those same wealthy teens giving me a tour of the enormous condo they call home. Like, this is my closet and these are my shoes.. I have, like, two hundred, I think. And here is the hot tub and, like, this is my bathroom which I think is, like, totally cool because it has three sinks and a plasma T.V. and a sauna which is, like, TOTALLY awesome for unwinding after a stressful day of pretending for the cameras!!

When I returned from rinsing out the sick I accidentally threw up in my mouth, MTV you aired five hours of The Real World. FIVE HOURS! The 'Real' World has morphed from a somewhat interesting concept that was, let's admit it, never reality, (a giant rent-free apartment in the coolest cities in the world) into a platform for obscenely good looking young adults to drink, fuck, ultimately try for acting careers and eventually end up on The Surreal Life before checking into rehab, getting knocked up and moving back to their small town in Nebraska.

I went to bed disappointed but not broken. I got up early (well, 10am) in hopes of catching some legitimate music videos. Guess what? You're airing Ashlee Simpson (who, surprise, surprise, has her own "reality" show on your network) and a bunch of bands who all sound the same and are probably managed by a subsidiary of Viacom. Or Ashlee's dad. I powered through the Simpson disaster only to be rewarded with a Fall Out Boy video. This is the band whose guitarist just happened to co-host The MTV Movie Awards from the red carpet. I know this because I've been able to catch most of the show in bits and pieces as you've aired it roughly 800 times this week alone. I get it, Jessica Alba is the new 'It Girl' because you say so. She's probably got a reality television show in the works and is hammering out the final bit of her recording contract with Joe Simpson.

MTV, America's children are marionettes and you are lurking in the satellites above pulling their strings or more accurately, yanking their chain. The marionettes have become so tangled in your strings they will never know the joys of discovering the hundreds of genius musicians that span the decades. That is of course, unless Ashlee covers a Replacements tune or Puffy samples Marah.

The moral of this tale... MTV, I think we should see other people. You've changed. You aren't who you used to be and just watching you for ten minutes makes me feel like more of a tool than your silly 'VJays'. The celebrity ass-licking, telling me what's hot and what's not, shoving everything BUT good music down my throat... I don't need you, I've got In Touch and US Weekly and Star and People and Entertainment Tonight and The Insider and The NY Post and and and for that. I just wanted some good music. If you get your act together, maybe, just maybe we can start dating again.. But we'll have to take it slow. I just don't trust you anymore.

Suppose I Never Met You...

Suppose I never ever met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft
Suppose I never ever saw you
Suppose we never ever called
Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
Just to break my fall

-Regina Spektor

It's not easy being married, is it? When I was single it was so easy to daydream about The One without dirtying my hands in reality. Oh, I didn't think it was easy at the time. I dreaded dating in the same way I feared a root canal. Please God can we just get this over with? And crank up that novocaine, wouldja? Except on the date I'd substitute liquor for novocaine.. and then I'd go home and kill a bag of Doritos, watch Sixteen Candles and cry despite myself when Sam spots Jake Ryan waiting for her, leaning against the red Porsche outside the church. I thought I'd never meet my Jake..

And all of the sudden, I did...

And it was just like the movies, complete with a soundtack supplied by my lover's own musical endeavors. And we got married. And I promptly freaked. Wait! This is hard! This isn't like the movies. We fight. A lot. I married the wrong guy. I hate him. Then we made up. It was good. I fell in love all over again. Then we began to argue. Again. Bickering that slowly escalated.. each injured party repressing anger until-
"We just don't belong together!"
"Fine!" This bit was said with the dramatic removal and subsequent flinging of wedding ring..
But we rode that bucking bronco... hung on for dear life, grabbed hold of any place we could and held on through blistered palms, bruises and aching hearts. Finally.. the wild stallion subsided. And it was good. Then it was bad.
"We are way too different!"
"This isn't going to work!"
"Divorce!" uttered in a rage... and again, of course, dramatic removal and throwing of wedding ring... it always feels so right at the time. So... so.. Soap Opera!

From January to June, The Surge has been on the road. Just when I get used to his absence, he's home mucking up the works... When I finally reacquaint myself with having a housemate, adjust to his man smells and noises, his bed hogging - when I finally feel like a family again - he's gone. Although it's his job (it's how I met him for godsakes!) I secretly resent him for leaving me alone so much. I withdraw. And so the marital rollercoaster continues..

But this time around I've learned perhaps the most important lesson of all... There will always be something.. A fight, a disagreement - your union will never match the ideal you carried in your head throughout your teen years. And that's okay. It's okay to admit marital trouble.. I used to be ashamed, pretend everything was fantastic... even go so far as to commit ridiculous displays of public affection in front of friends - look what a happy couple we are! But the arguments are as much a part of marriage as the good times. Marriage is about riding out the storm. Battening down the hatches and hunkering down until the inclement weather passes. Love is like a river (pukey cliche!) Really. It ebbs and flows, is deep in some places, shallow in others.. One day your riding the rapids, the next your luxuriating on calm waters. Point is, ride that shit out! It isn't going to be any better with anybody else.. You'll trade one set of problems for another.

Despite the fact that the past two years have been the most emotionally treacherous of my life... they have also been the best. I have learned so much... about myself, about life.. about loyalty and commitment and really being there for someone, sometimes when you don't want to be.

I am deeply in love.. but that doesn't mean my marriage is a fucking romance movie. Don't look at that picture up there and think 'AWWWW - so great'... because that would be a misrepresentation of my reality. Many moments find me clinging to the boat in the midst of a raging marital storm... Only recently I've learned to reach down deep to where the love is stored. Toss everything overboard - the ugly words, perceived injustices, silly arguments, resentment - let everthing sink except for that simple, pure love.. That is the life preserver.

Cereal Killer

Thoughts of you pervade my brain throughout the day. Often, when darkness has cloaked the heavens in her violet mantle and stars are stitched throughout the night sky I lay in bed and think of you. Your satisfying crunch, your lovely toasted bits of goodness afloat in a sea of milk. Sometimes I can't hold back any longer and I must come to you. 3AM in the morning be damned! I MUST HAVE YOU. I love you in the morning, I love you in the afternoon and boy do I love you at night. You are the ideal entree, the perfect meal. You are everything. Cereal, will you marry me?

I just killed three bowls of cereal. In a row. One is never enough.. Two seems right.. but three? I blame it on the bowl. These fucking cereal bowls are never big enough. Portion, my ass. They're nearly as bad as the snack size cereal packages.. If I wanted a snack motherfucker, I woulda bought one. I want a bowl of CEREAL! You know the teeny, tiny packages of which I speak. Those mini-boxes Dad used to cart along on camping trips. I could kill four, maybe five of those boxes in one sitting. Cereal bowls are on par with the snack packages. Too damned small! Don't regulate my cereal consumption god dammit! I'm thinking of Ice Cubing it a la FRIDAY and just using a mixing bowl from here on out. Cereal, the other Super Bowl.

I'm told a serving of most sweetened breakfast cereals, is 30 grams. That comes out to about three-quarters of a cup, as listed on the label. So I figure I'm rocking maybe five servings per bowl. Which means, since I just housed three bowls, that I consumed 15 servings of cereal (oh snap! she can multiply!)

Obviously I've rediscovered my love for cereal. Oh, I never stopped loving my deliciously crunchy little buddies.. but we lost touch for awhile. I moved to New York, tried to branch out.. You know, attempting to be cosmopolitan and whatnot.. There was brunch.. and eatin' at exotic locales, cooking omelettes from gourmet books and such. Fuuuck that! I've recently concluded that when you're's either Ramen Noodles or cereal and I'm all about the Cheerios, baby.

When I was young I was strictly Lucky the Leprachaun's bitch... that paranoid motherfucker ("they're always after me Lucky Charms!") he must have been stoned and those marshmallows are totally the creation of someone suffering from a severe case of the munchies.

Of course, the main selling point for Lucky Charms has always been the marshmallows (or "marbits" as General Mills calls them - seriously!). I would suck those Lucky Charm marshmallows until they dissolved in a delicious puddle of sugar on my tongue. I lost my shit when purple horseshoes joined the roster of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers in '84. Good times.

Lucky Charms have come a long way since that fortuitous day. Since the horseshoes, the good people at General Mills have added red balloons, rainbows, pots of gold, leprechaun hats and shooting stars to the marshmallow line-up. If they're smart (or stoned) they'll slowly phase out the toasted bits and just go with marshmallows. Fucking magically delicious, they are..

Oh, Lucky and I weren't monogamous. There was a brief flirtation with the Trix rabbit and the year I turned 10 I took time off to set sail on Cap'n Crunch's milky sea. For much of '89 I was into orgies, falling victim to the siren song of those kinky bastards Snap, Crackle and Pop and their Rice Krispies. Cocoa Puffs hold a special place in my heart, of course. Whats not to love about a cereal that doubles as chocolate milk? It's bittersweet, finishing a bowl of Puffs.. On the one hand you're sad the Puffs are gone but you've got all that chocolate milk to glug.

Eventually I grew up. Since Trix are for kids and I'm nothing if not a cereal policy follower, I left the Rabbit to his pedophilia pursuits... There were the "healthy" years just after college before Dr. Atkins ruined my granola loving, bread snarfing existence. The food season in which granola, saltine crackers and bagels were considered healthy.

I'd eat the shit out of all the granola cereals with fat/carb/ content that would explode your fat cells (Clusters and 'Healthy' Choice Almond Crunch I'm looking at you..) But it's healthy, right? It's granola...RIGHT?

Now I'm wise to those granola pushers and their diabolical schemes ... Instead I just mainline Cheerios and Kix like they've been (God forbid) discontinued. These cereals are low in fat AND relatively low in carbs while maintaining their deliciousness.. Walking the fine line between Atkins and normalcy is fucking exhausting, isn't it? But if one is in love with cereal, one has to thumb one's nose at Atkins and his no carb obsession. And as MeatLoaf (ironically, an Atkins approved food) opines; I'd do anything for love... Er.. and food.