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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
You can also find Monica's writing here:
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Wednesday
Oct192005

Ghosts of Relationships Past

He bought me a cassette tape of The Bangles because 'Eternal Flame' was our song.

He wrote me a letter that said 'will you go with me? Yes? No? Maybe? Please check the box.

He held my hand in the back of the car as Lisa's big sister drove us home. It was the first time I'd ever held hands with a boy. I was so embarassed of my sweaty palms I kept finding excuses to let go and wipe the clammy paws on my jeans.

Exchanging looks across a crowded dance floor (also known as the school gymnasium) Girlfriends squealing over how cute he is. Me, remaining quiet because I was a goner for the blue eyes and dark hair. Stomach full of butterflies, hoping he notices me. Finally, on the last song, Alphaville's Forever Young, he approaches and my stomach drops. He asks me to dance. So nervous my arms are shaking as I lace them around his neck. Never before, had I been so aware of the proximity of another human being. Hand on my back, each finger pressing warmly into my Gap tee-shirt. Laser focus on the slightest movement of his hand. Shivers radiating down my spine when his finger nears the top of my Guess jeans.

He broke up with his girlfriend and asked me to be his girlfriend. Going to visit him for the first time, carefully applying make-up, strategically picking just the right outfit, styling my hair. And when I got there SHE was there. Laughing at me. I walked all the way home that night, humiliated and crying.

Sneaking out during a sleepover to go visit him at his house. Stealing a bike from the neighbor's lawn to get there faster. Tiptoeing down the stairs to his bedroom. Making out, down to our underwear, giving my first blow job through the slit in his boxers just to say I'd done it. I felt like a slut afterward and told no one.

Driving him home late one night in December. Cottonball snowflakes whirl through the air like a Christmas snow globe. Not falling so much as floating. Virgin white roads, clean snow, no scarring tire tracks. OMD's If You Leave playing on the stereo. I stomp the brake pedal and we laugh as the car spins, slow motion gliding, in the middle of the empty intersection.

Driving to the clinic in Colorado, watching him sleep as the sun rose behind the purple gray Utah mountains looming above the canyon rim.

He left me to make the most important decision of my young life. While he was getting a soda at a convenience store, I was deciding whether to keep it.

Driving home, toward knowing, judgmental eyes, sicker than I'd ever been. Bob Marley wailing "Everything's Gonna Be All Right". Laying in the backseat, staring up at the dirty fingerprints on the car ceiling, clinging to those words like a life raft. Pulling over to throw up, then crunching through an entire bag of Doritos.

He leads me into his backyard. Starry, starry night he says. Velvet night sky, stars like diamonds, lush green grass. I wrapped the blanket tighter around us.. His first time.

Driving across the sizzling hot California desert in his brand new Jaguar convertible. Wind whipping, eating a liberal portion of hair with our dripping popsicles.

Playing cards on the flight to Mexico for what seemed like seven straight hours and feeling content the entire time.

After three years of dating, discovering that he is still seeing his wife, who he claimed he was divorcing. Tracking them down at an NBA basketball game and walking past their seats so he knows that I see him, he knows I know he is a liar. Then drinking an entire bottle of Yagermeister in the parking lot.

Oral sex on the mountain, in full view of the hikers wandering innocently below us. Passing them later on the trail and grinning at each other conspiratorially

Eye fucking at the bar, witty conversation, word jousting until last call. At Maverick, I said I liked orange Certs and he immediately bought the whole box. We played Trivial Pursuit until morning. Then he put his heavy parka on me, carefully zipping me up then walked me to my car.

Watching him, stomach in knots as he skis down the face of a near vertical mountain. Bold, deliberate skiing, like his personality. I smile proudly as the crowd gathered around me gasps at his daring.

Sitting, horrified as he tells me I am not the girl for him.
Tuesday
Oct182005

To TV Or Not To TV

"You watch too much T.V." The Surge says.
"What are you talking about?" I respond after Breaking Bonaduce has gone to commercial.
He sighs.
"You watch A LOT of television."
"What're you, the T.V. police?" I don't like being told I watch too much T.V. Because it's true. Thing is, I'm not always watching when it's on. As we've already discussed in 'Instant Family', I like the background chatter. When I write, the television is on. When I read, the television is on. When I'm going to sleep, the television is on. I know, sounds excessive. Liken it, if you will, to a stereo playing softly in the background. To effectively concentrate, I need the noise. Without the T.V., the silence is deafening. Too much pressure to accomplish the task at hand. It's dark, crickets are chorusing outside your window. SLEEP! YOU MUST SLEEP! LIGHTS OUT! DARK! TIME FOR BED! That's what tickers through my mind without the T.V. on. Similar scenario occurs when I'm attempting to write. Silence. Perhaps the far off wail of a police siren, the rumble of a Mack truck or a dog barking in the distance. WRITE! YOU MUST WRITE! FOCUS NOW! EMPTY PAGE! TIME TO WRITE!

If the T.V. is on, and I'm writing, I can switch back and forth. Write like a mad woman until that particular thread unravels, then tune into the T.V. for a bit of scripted reality television, then back to writing. Less stressful, see? And before you send me to T.V. Watchers Anonymous, I do alternate the television with the radio. It ain't all T.V., all the time.

These haughty 'I don't watch T.V.' bastards irk me no end. Bullshit. We all have our guilty pleasure programming. I'll out he of the 'you watch to much T.V.' comments first: The Surge watches Ashlee Simpson AND American Idol! Me? I've seen every episode of Laguna Beach: The Real O.C.... Yes, it's true. I'm sorry to let you down, but I walked smack into that sticky cobweb from season one. And I'm ensared.

Recently my mom came for a visit, and instead of catching up on people we know, our conversation went something like this:
Mom: Kristen is such a slut. She hooks up with every guy! Jessica is my favorite.
Monica: Jessica! She's the girl you never want your daughter to be. A complete mess over some boy with whom her self-esteem is completely tangled. At least Kristen has it figured out. She's acting like every guy in high school does, yet you call her a slut. Double standard, I say!
Mom: Maybe.. But can you believe K.C. told Jason that Alex has bad hygiene?
As ridiculous as this conversations sounds, I enjoyed it. These folks who allegedly don't watch T.V. often claim they're currently reading Proust or some other such hard-to-read-but-fun-to-tell-others-you're- reading-book so they sound oh-so-literary. One of two things is going on there.. A) they really are reading Proust and don't watch T.V. in which case I'm gonna risk a venture and say they're boooring snobs! B) they aren't reading Proust but just want to lord their superiority all over your white trash T.V. watchin' ass. This is the same person who watches T.V. regularly but lies about it because they want to pretend like they're above it all.

And so.. I must leave you now, a rerun of Seinfeld is starting on TBS.
Monday
Oct172005

Walk of Shame

Bright sunlight slits into my eyes like a paper cut. I can feel my hair funking out at odd angles, phantom pains form the ponytail that once was. My breath is so rancid I can smell it. Tongue coated in a film of scum.

Gradually, nausea recedes a bit and my brain is available to focus on other, more important issues. Namely, where am I? While I consider this, a heavy weight pressing my legs into the mattress laps into my consiousness like ripples from skipping rocks. A leg. A hefty, hairy leg.

Like a slide show, last night pops into my head in flashes. Snapshots. At the bar. Drinking. Dancing. Drinking. Making out. Drinking. It's all coming back now. The mortification spurs me into action.

I stealthily slide my body from underneath the leg. The leg that belongs to... erm.. uh.. Jason! Yes, that's his name. A friend of Natalie's boyfriend. Eep! I cringe in shame, recalling my amorous acts of the night before. A snapshot of me in the midst of an impromptu stripper imitation developes, polaroid style in my brain. This memory, not one for the scrapbook I assure you, is interrupted by still another flashback of me doing tequila shots. Tequila? I don't drink tequila. Do I?

I worm to the edge of the strange bed, snake a hand out the side of the sheet, and claw hopefully, then desperately for my bra. No dice. My fingers do close around my jean mini skirt, which I promptly shimmy into, taking extra care not to wake my sleeping companion. I know Jason. Somewhat. We'd cross paths occasionally at Natalie's parties. Not an asshole, he's nice enough. He's a generic guy. The everyboy. Not loud and funny, not quiet and mysterious. Just there. Not much personality. Apparently he had enough for my drunken libido last night.

The urge to pee is painful and although I want to flee the scene of last nights crime, my small bladder trumps.. and triumphs. I bolt from the bed and grab my shirt which is crumpled onto his bookshelf (at least he reads) and tiptoe into the hallway where surely a bathroom can be found.

I hover above the toilet like I would a public loo. Bachelor boy bathroom, yeck! I run the water in the sink to disguise the unflattering sound of me peeing. After what seems like ten minutes I'm finished. I reach for the toiletpaper only to discover an empty cardboard roll mocking me from it's perch on top the counter. A quick scan under the sink confirms the absence of toiletpaper although I briefly consider wiping with the cover of one of the carefully stacked porno mags I spot. Drip dry. I wave my arse about then button up and move to the sink, all the while listening for movement in the rest of the unfamiliar house.

My reflection reveals the full extent of the previous night's debauchery. I look every inch a zombie bride. Blonde hair, once carefully styled into a sleek ponytail (so I could wear my dangly earrings of course!) has come to rest somewhere in between an updo and a rat's nest. A snapshot develops of me whipping my hair out of the ponytail in the middle of my imitation stripper dance. Oh GAWD! My carefully crafted eye make-up now hovers in clumps, raccoon like, in the vicinity of my eyes. And cheeks. And nearly my ears. I swish water around in my mouth, wipe around my eyes, terrified whomever lives with Jason will decide this is a great time to relieve themselves.

I inch open the door and peer into the hall. Coast clear, I tiptoe jog back to Jason's room where he is (thank god!) still sleeping. I spot my purse at the foot of the bed. A cursory search turns up my strappy shoes which I hang over my wrist like extra large charm bracelets.

Just when I'm about to leave the bra behind as a casualty of whore, I spot it peeping out form behind the nightstand.. or rather the black crate serving as nightstand. I jam the lingerie into my purse and flee the scene.

Success! Maybe Jason won't remember last night! But it wasn't meant to be. On my way out the front door I run smack into Jason's roommate Travis. Travis is actually another guy that's a friend of Natalie's boyfriend.. Except for I've always had a bit of a crush on Travis. I didn't know he lives with Jason. Way-ell, I can kiss that crush goodbye. A firefighter, Traivs is apparently returning from his overnight shift. He recoils in horror at my appearance, then recognizing a Walk of Shame when he sees one, a smirk develops.
"Heeeeey Monica!"
"Bye Travis." And with that I am off to nurse my wounds with coffee. At some point greasy food will be needed... and lots of sleep. Thank god it's Saturday!
Saturday
Oct152005

Food For Thought

Have you ever tasted something you've spent half your life declaring you hate? Something you absolutely refuse to eat, and it turns out you love said something? Maybe a tragic incident involving the particular item in question spurred the dislike. Maybe dad made you sit sullenly at the dinner table until you 'finish those goddamn peas'! Now you hate peas. Well, it happened to me today. Not a tragic incident. A food awakening.

If you know anything about me, you know I hate peaches. I was raised on welfare and canned peaches. Nothing against grandman's canning capabilities, (she makes a mean jam), but it got to the point where I'd rather go hungry than slurp down another slimey, brownish, peach like blob afloat in that clear, sticky liquid of unknown origin.

The Surge loves him some peaches. He was in the kitchen this very morning, slicing and dicing to make for a tasty cereal topping.
"Here, try this." Before this unsuspecting victim knows it, she's got a mouthful of peach.
"What the..." I garble around the flavorsome fruit. The Surge is standing there, smiling, eyebrows raised in knowing anticipation of my reaction.

AND... It's good. No, it's grrrreat! as Tony the Tiger would say about his breakfast of choice. Sweet, succulent, juicy. Not too mushy, not too hard. What'dya know? Peaches are good. I wonder which other foods I allegedly hate I'm missing out on.
Friday
Oct142005

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I trudge through torrential rain from the News Station Where I Work to the Lincoln Center subway stop this morning after yet another writing all nighter. It's a good thing I showed up at work today. Who else could have written the story about King Midas the sea turtle, finally returning to his New Orleans home post Katrina, with the same panache? Or the New Jersey millionaire who just splashed 20 million for a trip to space?

These are important stories that someone must tell! New Yorkers need to know that a buzzard was on the loose in a Miami news studio, so it's lucky for X NEWS that I'm on the job. No one writes that oh-so-clever anchor banter with more flair than I. Or the teases.. "If you can't take the heat, get outta the kitchen.. Coming up on X NEWS, the domestic diva tosses in the towel.. find out what's cookin with Martha Stewart when we come back!". Isn't that clever? Toss in a few gang bangs, hit & runs, and the usual 'body found' and that's my night kids!

After this futile exercise of my brain... no I meant fruitful exercise! I swear! Just got the letters mixed up. Really. Not really. I'm tired of the news. Most folks in the news business are over-achieving braggadocios who love to tell you what they do for a living.

I wish the fucking Food Network would answer my calls. Isn't that sooo the place for me? TV and food. Genius! The over-achieving, sharp suited exec who came up with this concept should be publicly lauded. Just kidding, I haven't called the Food Network. But I should, dammit! Unless they stick me with Rachael Ray and then I'd have to resign on general principle. No one is that chirpy all the time. Give me that silver-haired vixen Paula Dean and her high fat, home made stews, casseroles, pies and all manner of ooey gooey goodness any day. Paula's peppy, but in the right way. I'm certain she curses like a sailor the minute the cameras are off.

As I was saying, trudging to the subway... Rain pelts me from all angles. Waterworld. Wet hair, soggy shoes, sponges for socks. Umbrellas charge me. Owners unaware they are coming this close to impaling an eyeball, scraping a cheek. Herding onto the subway. Cattle call. The rustle of newspapers, squelch of wet shoes on tiled floor, winter coats awakened from hibernation, sniffling and coughing onto hands that grab for the nearest pole at the slightest bump.

I rest the back of my head against the wall of the wet train and scrutinize the early risers, packed sardine like around me.
"Next stop, 42nd street Times Square. Stand clear of the closing doors please."
I see The Sleepers. The Groggies. The Readers. The Stare into Spacers. The Homeless. The ipodders. I am a charter member of The Groggies. Eyelids drooping, snapping open each time the train screeches to a clamorous stop.

Is it worth it? We're all zombies. Staggering to and from work. Tired, circles under our eyes, smiles scarce. What is my point? I work, to pay the bills. Something needs to happen. I want something to happen. I will make something happen.