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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Pity Party For One

"The lights In the harbor
Don't shine for me
I'm like a lost ship adrift on the sea
Sea of heartbreak
Lost love and loneliness...
...Come to my rescue
Come here to me
Take me and keep me
Away from the sea."

--Johnny Cash

How long am I allowed to drink too much? How long am I allowed to wallow in self pity? How long am I allowed to keep the blinds drawn? How long am I allowed to watch The Food Network All. Day. Long. How long am I allowed to sleep too much?

The Surge is gone again... Spain this time. So there is no one to regulate.. no one to monitor my pity party. No one for whom I must cheer up already.. or at least pretend to be full of cheer. Sometimes that's all it takes. Someone to pretend for.. and before you know it, you actually feel cheery.

No one to pretend for. Except you all. And you are at my mercy.. I control the information flow. I could make up a life and continue to post hilarious anecdotes from said life and you all wouldn't know the difference. Hmmm.... Maybe tomorrow I'll be posting about my book deal for one MILLLLLIOONNN dollars (said in Dr. Evil tones with pinky placed slyly near pursed lips).

Yeah, I know... silver lining and all that. I've sent out resumes.. I know the drill. It's just.. I don't know. The difference between being "let go" and being fired is really negligible, isn't it? Either way, they don't like you enough to keep you around. You are expendable.. right? So. I'm a bit numb. Not so numb I don't feel the weight of paying my bills smothering me like a stifling summer heat. The bills, they make me sweat more than a New York August. Great ball bearings of sweat that race down my back when my financial situation sucker punches me in the front. Dammit.. More Food Network! More wine! I can still feel!

I have not been unemployed since age 15.. There was this one time, when I was 21, when I worked for my much older, married boyfriend (shut up.. he was in the middle of a divorce). He paid me way more than he should have, kept urging me to get my real estate license.. A real estate license.. Jesus. So I could aspire to hand out glossy business cards with my glamour photo leering stiffly across the front.. "Monica wants to be your realtor!"

I'd jauntily sport a stiff tumbleweed of hair and wear ill fitting business suits from TJ Maxx in colors like pink! Mauve! Lavendar! I'd get my nails done (french manicure!) every month and my aging skin, tanned to burnt toast, would be the shade of my favorite pair of brown suede pumps from the shoe barn. I'd buy knock-off Gucci purses. I'd say words like FANTABULOUS! and carry my business cards everywhere, smilingly pressing them into the palms of those who thoughtlessly toss them into the trash seconds after my departure. I would drive a Toyota Corrolla (affordable! dependable! yet suburbanly stylish!)

Eventually, I quit working for older married boyfriend...cold turkey... no employment lined up. I figured "The Fear" of not having an income would force me to hustle for a gig in journalism, my real dream. It did. I did. And landed my first job at ABC in Salt Lake City. I feel now a bit like I did then. Scared. Hopeful. Prepared to lie my ass off to get a job. You have a college degree? Yup! (no!) You familiar with computer program X? Yup! (no!)... I'm a hustler baby...

Now... if only I could stop drinking all this wine.

I Am So Stoned

Faces smear across my eyeballs. Kaleidescopic heartbeats of color. Mouths open and close and I am vaguely aware that I am talking to people. I am having a conversation.
I think?
Pinpoints of light dance behind my eyelids... Velvety light that pulses with sexual innuendo. Light heartbeats. Lightbeats. You can touch the light. I lift my hand in an effort to cup the glossy illuminations in my palm.
Is that question directed at me? What did they ask me? They're looking at me expectantly, waiting for a sentence. Words hang in the air around me, from the conversation that was. I try to pluck them, like cherries and place them in my vocal basket for proper distribution. But I am busy. Busy thinking thoughts that have never been thought before. I am forging new territory here. My life has changed forever. I am seeing things more clearly than I ever have. It's all so easy. How come I didn't see this before?
Still waiting.
They still want me to answer the question. What was the question?
Wordswordswordswordswords... The word word is weird... isn't it. It doesn't seem like a word. Say it.... WOOOORRRRRD. Weird. Weird sounds like word... Say it.. WEEEEIIIIRRRD. Weird word weird word weird word.
What do they mean? I am backstroking through the most luxurious ocean of new thoughts and perspectives. I will be okay. It will be okay. I rocket back to my body and some semblance of propriety and realize I appear to be vaguely retarded to those I am conversing with. Here. In this bar.
Answer the question.
What was the question? Oh my god. Everyone is staring at me. Everyone knows I'm stoned. They all know. There's my mother-in-law. She's waiting for my response. But she knows I'm stoned. Everyone's watching. I open my mouth to prove them wrong, to formulate an intelligent response and continue the conversation that has apparently been on pause like a movie while I go to the bathroom. Like the characters in the movie, we all stand, motionless, while we wait for my mind to return from it's bathroom break and press PLAY.
Theyknowyouarehigh-Theyknowyouarehigh-Theyknowyouarehigh- They-know-you-are-high. They. Know. You. Are. High.
Again, I open my mouth to construct an intelligent response. I push hard... sweating like a woman in labor, trying to give birth to a competent sentence. But nothing comes.
"I am SO stoned!" I gush to my mother-in-law then proceed to giggle with the ferocity of a howling banshee.

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,, 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.

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!"

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.