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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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Wednesday
May172006

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

It's ba-ack. Like Arnold Schwarzeneggar's terminator, (you know, when he's like 'I'll be back" with the cool sunglasses at night and shit and the guy is like, what the fuck was that and stuff and then there's like, LOTS of explosions!) IT'S back..

The depression and the self-loathing that has dogged me throughout my life tracked me down and began incessantly knocking at my door Mormon missionary style a few weeks ago.. When I didn't answer, it broke in, sneaked up on me and tackled me... Pinned me like a lightweight footballer.
"I thought I lost you."
"Nope! Still here, SUCKA!"
"But... but--"
But it's too late.. Depression delivered several rapid karate chops (HIIII-YAAA!) to my kidneys and left me languishing in my bed, begging for mercy.

Soon I will be working overnights again. The Surge leaves for Spain in a few days. It's exhausting just thinking about it all. I try to be positive, try to exercise (endorphins my ass) but in the end I submit to auto-pilot. The White Noise will lunge for the wheel and I will relinquish control and lurch through life like a Dawn of the Dead zombie. I generally bare a striking resemblance as well.

The White Noise: it's really all bullshit. You can worry your brain to Cream of Wheat about money, your relationship, family, friends...life, death and it really makes no difference... Does it? I'd like to be a thoughtful person.. I'd like to think I consider people's feelings, I'd like to be the friendly light that draws other moths toward me but I have a sneaking suspicion I am selfish.. Overflowing with thoughts about myself, my life, me me me... Isn't this blog evidence of that?

Sometimes the effort to converse with people becomes so much I want to crawl into a thick comforter and shrink from the complexities of human contact for days. How do you do it? Tell me your secrets.

Small talk (how was your weekend? Wanna hear what I did last night? Not unless it involves sex, lies, or videotape) disgusts me yet it greases the way to the heavier stuff... the more interesting stuff... the stuff that doesn't leave me feeling as hollow as the tin man before his trip to Oz..

I am making herculean efforts to be content with myself in the quiet moments. But, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, it's a fucking magic trick, ain't it? So far I'm shit at it. My insides are Mexican jumping beans.. My brain whirls out of control and I can't concentrate. Life is just so much, isn't it?

As an exclamation point on the above... just as I was hitting publish on this entry I was summoned into the manager's office by the powersthatbe... My services are no longer needed.. Downsizing. Guess I won't have to worry about those overnight shifts.. Heh heh. Small consolation.

Excuse me while I have an anxiety attack.
Tuesday
May162006

Tampons For Sale!

There they were.. in all their blue box glory. An earnest blue. The color of the sky just before night takes over. A familiar bright streak of color splashed across each box indicating size. Purple for slim, yellow for "Regular", green for "Super-Absorbent" and orange for "your vagina is so big we are laughing our asses off after you purchase these".

I stopped scraping along the sidewalk in my uncomfortanble new shoes in order to take a longer gander at this unusual window display. Tampons? The window inhabits the entire first floor of the pharmacy on the corner. Usually I'm not looking in the window so much as at my reflection.

I suffer from the intense desire to check myself out in every mirror or window I shuffle past. You know.. does my butt look big in these? Does my hair still look the way it did when I left the house? Do I have something in my teeth? What do I look like when I walk? How is my posture? You know, the usual thoughts that engage my brain 80 percent of the time.

On this particular day I had bypassed the butt evaluation and was enjoying the way the hem of my jeans lovingly kissed the luscious tops of my beautiful new leather shoes. Then I looked through the glorious reflection of pant/shoe marriage.

Somone had carefully stacked boxes of Tampons into a crafty pyramid... and then, as a stylish exclamation point, had artfully sprinkled the actual tampons around the period pyramid. An artistic flourish that would perhaps lure me into the store in desperate search of the fantastic tampons arrayed in the window!

I stood, looking at the tampons in wonderment, trying to guess at the thought process that would prompt one to create a tampon display. Was it an ironic display? In an increasingly sarcastic society, where everything from human feces to carefully arranged garbage can and is called art I thought perhaps there was a deeper meaning to the tampon display that I was missing on first perusal.

But no. The display next to the tampons included a variety of vitamins and herbs for the health conscious. Now THAT, I can understand. Trying to inform the folks that you carry a particular item that not everyone stocks is a perfectly acceptible reason to display things. Or to create a display that appeals to the senses.. decadent chocolates, beautiful clothing, sparkling diamonds.. all of these are acceptible display items.. But TAMPONS? They need to put them in the window? As with toothpase and toiletpaper, is it not safe to assume a drug store or pharmacy would carry this particular item?

In my head, I articulated the sales pitch behind the tampon display.. Step right up! Come on inside ladies.. getcher tampons here! We've got slim, we've got regular, we've got a little something for the big gals! Tampons sold here!

So what's next? Douche?
"Can I help you miss?"
"Yes sir, I'd like the douche there in the window. The Summer's Eve so beautifully arranged there in the display. Yes, that's the one. I was walking by on my way to lunch when I saw the wonderful display and simply couldn't resist!"
Sunday
May142006

The Snow Shovel, The Firewood, The Mom And Her Daughter

I hate you."
"Not as much as I hate you."
Mom and I are in the garage of my childhood home. We are warily circling each other, faces flush with equal parts rage and fear as we edge around a pile of light colored clothing delicately marinating in a puddle of black motor oil. She's white knuckling a snow shovel, gripping it like a professional baseball player. I'm clutching a big chunk of firewood, adrenaline rocketing through my being along with terror at my challenge to the authority of motherhood.

I remember that. Still. Clear as crystal. The events that lead up to the garage stand-off are a bit clouded. The legions of battles with Mom throughout my life have, with a few notable exceptions, coalesced into a single protracted fight with variations on the same theme. I hate you. I hate this house. You're grounded. Bitch. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I was 17. I'd moved out of Mom's house and into an apartment building in Provo. I had proudly purchased my first car (16 year old girl buying a car on her own. Swindled!), a part-time job, and baby, that was my ticket to freedom. I was gone.

Of course, one still has to wash one's clothes. Laundromat? That's a hellish task people in big cities are forced to do. Why lug laundry and pinch pennies when mom had a perfectly functioning (would just as soon electrocute you as dry your clothes) dryer at home where free detergent (and food!) could be had in the bargain.

So I'd returned home to wash my clothes. The freshly laundered colors were nestled warmly in my laundry basket. The whites were tumbling in the dryer. What happened? I don't know. I made Mom mad. What did I do? I can't remember. Probably made some wise-ass remark that, in her sensitive state over her perceived failures at motherhood, affected her like a swift frying pan to the head instead of the subtle jab it was meant to be.

What I do remember clearly is her footsteps banging angrily down the stairs. I tried to ignore her, act cool, unaffected.. continued reading my book. I ain't afraid of you. I have my own apartment now. Whatdya gonna do, ground me? The dryer squealed open, more furious footsteps. The basement door leading into the garage was nearly yanked off it's hinges with a sticky WHUMP! Instantly I was on my feet, hurtling down the stairs. But it was too late.

There she stood, challenging me with wild eyes, panting heavily after tossing my whites into the big puddle of motor oil that regularly leaked from her car onto the smooth cement floor. All of the injustices of my childhood bitch slapped me in that moment and I grabbed the first thing that seemed threatening. Firewood.
"I am going to kill you. That's how bad I hate you." I hissed like a leaky tire.
She grasped a nearby snow shovel, defensively at first, but slowly maneuvering into a baseball player stance. And we circled each other, whispering words of hatred.

She was thrown headlong into motherhood.. or rather, motherhood was thrown headlong into her in the form of a pot smoking, beer guzzling, ladies loved him, rebel I know as Dad. Did she love him? I think so. Would she have married him had she not been pregnant? Probably not. But they managed cohabitation for nearly a decade.. A son, a daughter, two more sons and thousand of fights later they called it quits. And she was left alone, at an age younger than mine now, with four hungry mouths to feed.

Child support? That came in the form of the house payment. So while our mortage was paid, we had nothing else. And the house tied to the mortage was falling apart.. door by door, window by window.

Yet with the strategic placement of plants, lamps and candles, she always managed to transform a shabby room into a cozy haven.. She pumped so much cheer into the holidays that I believed in Santa Claus until the seventh grade and even then she nearly beat the shit out of a neighbor kid who took it upon himself to dispel me of my Santa Clausian illusions. She can cook a meal from nothing.... McGuyver style.. You look in a fridge, see an egg, a hunk of hard cheese, some tomato sauce and old hamburger. She sees a meal... and a tasty one at that. She rides motorcycles. Does your mom ride a motorcycle? I thought not. She likes rap music. And church hymns. Like me, her best friend is her dog. Before she got her college degree she held down every job under the sun to make ends meet. She gets it. You know, it. She gets it. If your reminiscence on your childhood in any way embroider her perceived failures as a mother, she cries. While she certainly lost control on numerous occasions she did the best she could with three boys who spent more time in jail than the library. Ironically, it was the daughter that she argued with the most. Although she stoically stood behind her boys throughout their various collisions with the law she remains riddled with guilt for many things in the past which were not in her control. She spends much of her time these days trying to make amends instead of just living her life.

Her children are grown-ups now and despite what some of them would have her believe, she no longer owes them. It is her time now.
Friday
May122006

Ready, Set, Go!

So I suppose I should write a charming little essay sprinkled with words like Italia was bellisima! and shit like that. But although Italy rocked, that kind of talk would make me throw up in my mouth a little bit..

Italy rocked and now I am home. Am not really suffering from the usual post vacation blues.. it was lovely to come home. Perhaps more traveling anecdotes will follow.. but right now, at 11:30 on a Friday night, they aren't coming.

I sent my friend Xmastime a text message today. We're great friends, but we never really engage in chats on our own...always with drunken groups at bars and such.. I thought it might be nice to up the friend ante and invite him for coffee.. just us. Apparently, the fact that I invited him.. just the two of us.. for a non alcoholic beverage struck him as so odd he sent the following text:
If this is my intervention you're too late.

If that's what my friends think when I invite them for plain old coffee I should really make an effort to meet up more often.. and probably stop drinking too..

Oh yeah, come with me to Italy:
Wednesday
May102006

Yo!

Am at a tiny internet cafe in Milan. Headed to the airport shortly.. Milan, Modena, Venice, Bologna, Florence and back to Milan. Am ready to come home.. I miss my Brooklyn buddies (Max!).. Drink tonight, anyone? I am nearly an alcoholic at this point. OH! I drink wine now too!

Venice was my favorite. Millions of photos|videos to come..

Monica.