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

Analyzing Analyzing

I'm an analyzer... always have been.

Why do I do that? How come I act this way? What was his motive for saying that? Was it something he really feels or were they empty words dipped in poison, designed to hurt but with no real merit. What was my real motive for saying that? I'm shallow. I secretly enjoyed her setback. It made me feel better about myself. I'm hideous. Why am I so hard on myself? Do I have intimacy issues? Why am I afraid to show affection to those closest to me? Probably stems from childhood but man, that's such a fucking cliche.. Don't wanna go to a therapist and bitch about my fucked up childhood. Fucked up is the new norm. Who am I to complain? Why do I complain so much? Do I complain more than most people? I think I complain about my day to The Surge as a way of communicating. That's sad. Why can't I leave a shitty day behind and rejoice in life with my husband instead of making him aware of every annoying thing that happened during the course of my work day? Why can't I be more private with my negativity? How can I have intimacy issues yet talk about myself all the time? Maybe I talk about myself to avoid really talking about myself. Why do I have to analyze so much? If I'm viewing the world from behind laundry loads of analyzation stuck on spin cycle in my head then I'll never see life accurately. And I wonder why social anxiety kicks in sometimes. It's all the fucking analyzing. Was what I said there stupid? Do they think I'm stupid? Oh god small talk. Awkward moment. They must think I'm an idiot. Why is it so hard sometimes? Why can't I just be?

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.