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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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So Aaaanyway...

"To send your message press 1, to listen to your message press 2, to erase and re-record your message press 3."
Fuck. Just hit 1 I tell myself. Now! Do it now!
I press 2 and cringe in horror as my overmodulated voice thrums down the line. As I listen to the Spoken Word that is my voicemail message I realize I said the word "anyway" at least as many times as Brangelina has graced the cover of US Weekly in the past year.

What I thought was a charming little message left for an old friend I haven't talked to in years is actually a sad festival of stuttering overmodulation giving the impression I suffer from a speech impediment and Close Talker syndrome. And what's with all the bandying about the word "anyway"?
'So... Anyway... just wanted to say hello and see what you're up to. Anyway... give me a call. I live in New York City now. Anyway. I'll talk to you soon." Jesus. You'd think I was auditioning for, like, head cheerleader on One Tree Hill.

"To send your message press 1, to listen to your message press 2, to erase and re-record your message press 3." The operator intones.
I press 3, clear my throat, hold the phone a tad away from my mouth, appropriate what I imagine to be a breezy tone and give it another go.
What with all the pressure of leaving a masterfully planned, 'spontanteous' message I got all nervous, flubbed my 'lines' then tried to cover with an adolescent giggle that would have prompted casting directors to give me the lead in Nickelodeons next big hit.
"To send your message press 1, to listen to your message press 2, to erase and re-record your message press 3."
I can do this. Here we go again...

I leave a casual little message, try to keep it on the short side and sign off. Don't listen to it! my mind screams. Just hit send! You're not recording an album here, it's a fucking phone message! God damn these choices. Why does it give me the option to listen to myself? I'm certain to find something I don't like in EVERY message!

I press 2 and listen to my message. Motherfucker! It sounds like I'm reading from a script. I sound more operator than the operator! I can't send that, I'll sound like an asshole. I press 3 to erase and re-record my message.
Keep it short! I tell myself. Short and sweet. Okay. Here goes:

"Hey! (Nice work.. cheerful but not TOO cheerful) It's me, Monica B!elank* (Shit, he doesn't know your new last name) Well, Butler...But it's B!elank* now, I got married (He doesn't need a fucking book on tape, just leave your number and say goodbye!) Anyway, I was just calling to see how you're doing, you know? (Okay leave your number and sign off. LEAVE YOUR NUMBER AND SIGN OFF!!) Was wondering how your life turned out... Anyway... give me a call back if you feel like it (If you feel like it? Duh!) So anyway, I got married a year ago.. well, almost two.. one and a half actually ( Oh. My. God. Stop talking!) I live in New York City now and.. well.. anyway (Stop talking now!) Just wanted to say hello and see what you're up to (You already said that!) Aaaaanyway, my phone number is probably on your cell phone so just give me a call..(Mayday! Mayday!) Well, in case the number didn't show up I'll just give it to you as well (Abort! Abort! Abort!) 347-403-****... So, anyway.. hope to talk to you soon.
"To send your message press 1, to listen to your message press 2, to erase and re-record your mesage press 3."

Out In Style...

Before I met him, The Surge made a music video for one of the songs off Marah's Float Away With The Friday Night Gods (2002).. I found it on the internet today and thought I'd post it here.. I love it. Makes me giggle... Plus he's naked at some points... and that's always a bonus.
Now Playing: Marah - Out In Style

Deary Diary...

Today ruled! I am on the cover of US Weekly in my underwear! And I look hot! And skinny! Not "All For You" skinny but close! It's about time. After they published all those fat photos of me I thought I would, like, totally die! Good thing my publicist came up with the idea of saying I gained the weight for a movie instead of from just sitting around eating waffles and chicken after the wardrobe 'malfunction' backlash. I fired the publicist that came up with that 'malfunction' idea ... Well, it was my idea.. who don't like naked titties is what I thought.... besides Michael, I mean. I still can't believe it backfired. But, in a stroke of brilliance, my new publicist is telling everyone I gained weight for a movie role and everybody knows the only women who win oscars either gain weight, wear ugly make-up or play hookers. The public are such suckers! (well, of course not the ones that bought Damita Jo, some people are very discerning) And it's not SUCH a lie.. I totally would have gained weight for a movie role if I'd been offered one. Music is my passion, I mean, I AM a part of the Rhythm Nation and all.. But acting, it's like totally my craft. Man, it's been a tough year. For a while I was so fat I considered moving to Bahrain with Michael so I could just wear a burka and eat chitlins all the time... but Michael straight creeps me out ever since the time I caught him in my underwear. He said it was for a 'video project' he was working on but the 'director' shooting the video seemed like a total amateur.. Very young! I tried to work off the weight, but damn! Did you know you have to like run all the time and stuff? Anyway, I was getting really fat and Daddy came over and yelled at me.. told me to get my fat ass to the gym. I cried and said jogging hurt my knees and he said 'girl you so fat I could jog around you for exercise' and then he slapped me. The last straw was when Tito's kids was over playin' and the neighbor kids yelled 'Yo aunt so fat when she got hit by a bus, she said, "Who threw that rock?"' So I went and had me a little nip/tuck here and there... Of course, that's not what we're telling the public.. As far as they're concerned it's hours of hard work with my personal trainer.. Either way all the publicity is totally cool because my new single drops later this month.
Fingers crossed!

Love always,

Janet Jackson

A Hard Day's Night/Hard Night's Day

8:02 AM - Woke up
8:03 AM - Started at ceiling
8:20 AM - Still staring at ceiling
8:36 AM - Contemplated peeing
8:38 AM - Decided peeing too much effort
8:45 AM - Went back to sleep
10:01 AM - Woke up again
10:05 AM - Pulled gun from mouth and put it back under pillow
10:06 AM - Enjoyed a bowl of Raisin Bran (two scoops! Mmmmm)
10:30 AM - Watched "Roseanne" on obscure cable channel
10:35 AM - Got to looking at roll of skin hanging over waistband of pajama bottoms
10:37 AM - Did three sit-ups
11:45 AM - Fell asleep on couch
12:30 PM - Woke up and cried for thirty minutes
1:01 PM - Texted The Surge kicky message about how good I'm doing. "Just walked Max and wrote new chapter in book!"
1:02 PM - Read old journal entries and cried for another twenty minutes then watched another episode of Roseanne on different cable channel
1:15 PM - Wondered if one o'clock too early for first glass of wine
1:30 PM - Yelled at Judge Judy
1:31 PM - Realized in horror that self is type of person who yells at television
1:50 PM - Looked at self in mirror and wondered if self has lazy eye
2:03 PM - Popped blackheads for half hour
2:30 PM - Plucked eyebrows for another half hour
2:45 PM - Contemplated showering, ultimately decided wasn't necessary
3:00 PM - Wondered if three o'clock too early for first glass of wine
3:14 PM - Texted The Surge another cheerful message pretending to be Max saying hello
3:20 PM - Studied teeth in mirror
3:30 PM - Looked out window and wished someone would call to say hello
3:31 PM - Ignored ringing phone when Sicksadworld called to say hello
3:41 PM - Checked email - Nothing
3:43 PM - Checked email - Nothing
3:44 PM - Checked email - Nothing
3:45 PM - Wondered if four o'clock too early for first glass of wine
3:46 PM - Checked email - Nothing
3:50 PM - Watched Max chew bone
4:00 PM - Looked at hair in mirror. Decided self with brown hair looks like creepy girl from The Ring
4:04 PM - Sent death rays in direction of London where The Surge's Ex lives
4:20 PM - Tried to watch Oprah but had to turn off as self realized how far Oprah's head is buried up ass
4:21 PM - Decided love Oprah anyway
4:40 PM - Wished Sicksadworld would call so we could make fun of The EX
4:41 PM - Told self am better than making fun of others
4:42 PM - Tried to call Sicksadworld to make fun of The Ex as always seems to make self feel better
4:45 PM - Looked at ass in two-way mirror on closet doors
4:50 PM - Took off clothes and looked at ass some more
4:55 PM - Tried on old swimsuit and looked at ass some more
5:00 PM - Put on old college jeans (wouldn't button) and looked at ass even more
5:03 PM - Checked email - One email!
5:04 PM - Deleted email notification from Cingular that haven't paid May phone bill
5:05 PM - Poured first glass of wine
5:11 PM - Made fun of local news and congratulated self on getting away from shitty job
5:15 PM - Cried that local news station fired me
5:30 PM - Poured second glass of wine and mocked local news programming again
6:00 PM - Painted toe nails fire engine red
6:28 PM - Looked out window, wondered why sky is blue
6:30 PM - Walked Max to dog park.. feeling buzzed off wine
6:35 PM - Giggled to self for no reason
6:36 PM - Stopped giggling when caught glimpse of self in spandex "work-out" pants in Sushi restaurant window
6:67 PM - Realize self is type that wears spandex "work-out" pants around neighborhood when work-out is not on the cards
6:40 PM - Tripped in front of Sushi restuarant diners then tried to cover by pretending self was starting to jog
6:40 PM - Stopped jogging, too tiring
6:45 PM - Gave strange leering man my best stink-eye
6:46 PM - Realized leering man was just squinting into sunlight and not looking at me at all
6:47 PM - Felt bad man wasn't leering at me after all
6:50 PM - Told self cramps were too painful and aborted dog park effort
7:00 PM - Home from dog park in time for The Insider (thank god! highlight of day is latest Brangelina news)
7:01 PM - Sent death rays at Lara Spencer
7:30 PM - Watched Entertainment Tonight
8:02 PM - Made nachos
8:05 PM - Drank more wine
8:45 PM - Passed out on couch
11:30 PM - Woke up to "Frasier" theme song blaring from television
11:31 PM - Watched Frasier
11:32 PM - Fixed bowl of cereal
12:01 AM - Pulled gun from mouth and put back under pillow
12:30 AM - Inspected ta-ta's in mirror and wondered about breast lift
12:31 AM - Pulled ta-ta's to 18 year old positioning and let drop
12:32 AM - Cried about sagging ta-ta's
12:45 AM - Watched six episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
1:07 AM - Cried when realized had run out of wine
2:00 AM - During commercial break shook fist furiously at ceiling sufficiently shaming noisy upstairs neighbors and their spectacular new surround sound system. Take that bitches!
2:30 AM - Ate another bowl of cereal
2:35 AM - Gave noisy neighbors the double-bird flip off. Take THAT motherfuckers!
2:36 AM - Hate self for non-confrontational passive nature
4:10 AM - Fell asleep

Recovering Mormon

Recovering from Mormonism, or any religion I suppose, is akin to finding out you were adopted. Who am I? Where do I belong? My entire childhood was a lie. Yes it was a lie that helped make me who I am.

But still.

It's strange to think that every trusted adult... my parents, every beloved teacher, friends' parents, respected co-workers all believe in a history, a religion I find is an ongoing fabrication of man. All religions are. For the rest of my life I will walk the fine line of expressing my feelings, my truth, whilst trying not to offend the truths of those I love. It's a line I don't feel like walking, mostly because I just don't have the balance and probably never will. Sometimes I'm angry, sometimes I understand and even appreciate the structure and sense of right and wrong that Mormonism created in my life. More often than not it all makes my head spin like the possessed girl from the Exorcist, but the last thing I need is a priest. Or bishop.

Do I respect their beliefs? Yes. But not for the belief itself, only because it's their belief. There is a hole in my heart where religion used to dwell. Was I happier as a believer? Yes. I felt safer, cared for at all times. My religion taught me that the Holy Ghost is always with me and all I need do is pray to feel the spirit. Although I still feel spiritual, it's in a totally different, loose way. I miss that feeling of assuredness that everything was a part of God's Plan. That He would see fit to make it all right. That I would reside in a kingdom with my family forever. To believe is to give myself the happy ending I so desperately want. But this is life, right? Happy endings are creations of those with vivid imaginations. You know, folks like Ron Howard, Patty Marshall, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard...

My Mormon beliefs provided more comfort to me than a puffy parka in the dead of winter. And now, more often than not, I feel lost. Members would say it's because I've renounced the spirit. I say it's because I'm not deceiving myself with lies that make living in this world a little easier.

Nothing's wrong with placing all your eggs in the religious basket, those eggs will feed your soul during desperate times. Will provide structure to your life, meaning. Religion is basically a life map. It tells you what to value, how to behave when you may have been confused otherwise. Pacification. And that can be nice... dumbing maybe, but nice.

I'll never be over it. Mormonism and the accompanying beliefs are a part of my fucking DNA. Even while writing this I feel the heavy weight of a thousand friends and family members' disapproval pressing onto me. You are SO going to hell. Oh, they won't say that, of course. But the chasm is always there and regardless of who says what, it lurks there, darkly. Conversation sometimes stumbles near the edge and we nearly fall. Sometimes we do fall and arguments are had, but mostly we steer clear. The act of consciously steering clear is as uncomfortable as the falling.

Most Mormons I know unconciously have self-righteousness pumping through their blood. They KNOW their church is the ONLY true church on the planet.
"I know my church is true."
It's a phrase I've heard thousands of times in church meetings. Kids start saying it when they learn to talk, myself included. That kind of immersion is tough to overcome. Mormon guilt lives in my gut, coiled like a venomous snake, ready to release it's poison. The Mormon self-righteousness causes them to blindly behave in ways that would otherwise be out of character for their personality. They say rude things to you because secretly, they believe they are doing God's work. Most won't share it with you, but secretly they pity you, or genuinely mourn the fact that you've "lost your way". Similarly, your "downfall" reinforces their righteousness and that they're headed for the Celestial Kingdom because they wear garments and don't drink.

When I was Mormon, members used to talk about how following the religion was hard work and that's why so many fell by the wayside. I find that not believing is a lot harder. It's difficult to expand your mind. To attempt to resolve your place on the planet on your own without falling back on someone else's plan to make sense of it all. It was easier to have faith that it would be all right in the end. I'd give up liquor, cursing, coffee and whatever other grevious sin I'm currently committing for the assuredness that everything's gonna be all right. But I know better now. Faith is just a religious catchphrase folks toss your way when you start to ask too many questions. "But if it comes from God, how come the church didn't allow African Americans to hold the priesthood for more than a century after it's conception? Wouldn't the church have been on the forefront of the Civil Rights movement? Why did the church allow polygamy? Why does the church hate gay people?"
"You've just got to have faith it's the right thing."

Back when I worked at the local news stations in Salt Lake City, new reporters who'd move there from around the country often expressed amazement at the way Mormons handled the death of loved ones.
"They're so peaceful. So calm. I've never seen anything like it."
It's true. Mormons are certain that life after death exists. They are positive they will spend time and all eternity with loved ones and therefore, death is all a part of God's Plan.

Now, without the religious lullaby, I fear death. Struggle with the concept of losing my loved ones. Will I see them again? Is there anything beyond this life?

Dear God, I hope so.