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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Tuesday
Sep272005

German Marah

Just got an email from The Surge... don't think he'll mind if I post a bit of it here.. gave me a chuckle:

"So, now we leave Berlin. Was a good stay, I think. Some important writers at show last night that seemed to dig us. One of them, whom I´m told is highly esteemed here, shouted out at the top of his lungs "PLAY ZE APATMINT" towards the end of the show. So we did. Was cool.
Also played acoustic DEMON, CITY OF DREAMS, and OUTTA TUNE for the first time. I do believe my banjo playin could use a few lucky charms, but aside from that was a fine, if surreal, way to kick everything off.
Then we were on this fellow´s radio show for about an hour and a half. He was very into Marah; played about 8 of our songs on air. AND translated long rambling answers of ours into German for his listeners. Talented!
Gorgeous morning here in Berlin. Sun is shining, sky is blue, coffee´s strong, and I miss you.
Hope you are ok and work isn´t too crazy. Give Max a treat for me. I love you."
Sunday
Sep252005

Girl Crush

Have you had one of these? I'm talkin' girl on girl crush. Whoaaaa.. I don't mean girl on girl action, although I've been known to lip lock with the same sex a time or two.. I mean the kind of crush you get on fabulous females. The women you come across in the natural course of your life who amaze and inspire..

Like I said, I have three brothers. Wasn't close with my mom growing up. So women have always been a bit of a mystery. I know, I'm a woman. But I didn't really begin to explore womans full potential until recently. I've had great girlfriends. The best. But it's been the same group of girls since elementary school. So now, in this varied city, teaming with every kind of woman on the planet, from everywhere on the planet, I find myself observing, questioning, interested and drawn to these lovely ladies. It's a hard feeling to describe.

Most of the women I was acquainted with before I bolted from Brigham's Playground are Mormon. If not Mormon, they all fit into pretty much the same suburban mold. Fairly popular in high school.. Upon graduation they either, married right away and begin to procreate (like all good Mormon girls do) or they went to college, partied with stereotypical frat boys, majored in something appropriate, got a job that paid well, allowed them to buy their own place and stock it with all things Pottery Barn. And these are the most independant of my Utah crew. I'm not mocking. They are fun, fantastic, fearless females and I adore them all. But the women that roam the streets of New York City are another breed entirely.. These prowling, stalking, wild animals that know exactly what they want and aren't afraid to tell you all about it. They've been everywhere, are unafraid.. the very fact that they moved to New York tells me a lot about their character, adds to their allure.

From women like C.. a rock goddess who tours with a fairly well known musician to K...a creative, brainstorming, events organizing/actress/waitress/personal trainer/musician to S.. an entrepreneurial writer/photographer extraordinaire.. These kind of women are few and far between behind The Zion Curtain. And if they're on The Scene in Salt Lake City, I never met them.. and they aren't the real thing. They're mimicking the woman here in Manhattan. These girls, carbon copies of each other (including me!) stay in SLC, mourn the conservative environment, the iron fist of the Mormon church.. but they won't leave. Eventually they'll marry up, birth babies, and turn into their mothers.

And so I find myself fascinated with this new breed of woman.. Like a crush, I'm almost afraid to converse, I stand in their aura, listen to them speak, shyly offer up opinions then withdraw when I feel my lack of experience peeking through like antique wallpaper underneath the shiny red paint the new tenant splashed up in an attempt to update, keep up with trends.

I feel my New York self deep inside. An embryo, slowly growing, developing fingers, toes.. Now I'm flexing my fingers, as is evidenced by this blog.. and I'm stretching, maturing, exploring my full potential, and I don't care who's reading and what they think..
Saturday
Sep242005

Alone Vs. Lonely

Alone isn't the same as lonely. Right now, however, I am both. The Surge is Berlin bound for the first of many tours this autumn and winter. So here we sit, Max and I. We live on the first floor, good for my wimpy thighs, bad for noise.. Every time Max hears keys jingling at the front of the apartment he runs to our front door, backside wiggling in anxious anticipation of his 'poppers'.. Yes, we are 'poppers' and 'mommers' and he knows what they mean. If I'm busy (a.k.a watching television) and Max is whimpering for a play pal, I can tell him "go see poppers!" and he clickety clacks, dog paws on hardwood floor, down our hallway of an apartment and leaps onto the bed where The Surge is reading some magazine or other. We call him 'Tiny Max', because, of course, he's anything but. He's gargantuan, yet thinks he's but a chihuahua.. so he's forever trodding on someones goodtimes, accidentally whipping unfortunate faces with his always wagging tail, dragging dripping bubble gum tongue over any exposed area of skin.

We could learn a lot from dogs.. Loyalty - there isn't a time I twist the key in the lock that Max isn't dog dancing, skittering across tiled floors to say hello, as if I've been gone for years.. This occurs whether I've been at work all day or just went to check the mail. Perseverance - he will sit, doggy drool dangling nearly to the floor, as we eat our dinner. Doesn't move a muscle, although he knows if he's lucky, he may only get a scrap or two, maybe a lick of the plate. Yet he sits, staring intently, patiently waiting.. Unconditional love - if I sleep late, he doesn't get annoyed, just sleeps until I decide to roll outta bed. If I yell at him, he comes in for a nuzzle to make it all better. So it's not all bad with The Surge out rockboying his way across Europe.. I still have my Maxer..

Last night The Surge and I got into it.. No, not sex silly, a fight. A Monica-tosses- $10-dollar-wedding-ring-across-the-room-and-says-I-want-a-divorce kind of fight. Always one for the dramatics, I let it all hang out last night. Thing is, not sure what started it. Actually, I know what started it.

I've got a good man, I do. It's only that, I'm not sure I'm good. Yeah, The Surge has a way with words, which, while certainly a boon for songwriting and wooing young mormon girls, can cause grave injury mid-argument. He uses the words, as his brother says 'like a sword'. And he can smite you with his weapon of choice if he's so inclined, leaving gaping wounds behind. They slowly scab over, rough scars that I scratch at next time we fight.. My war wounds I wave stupidly, proudly in his face to shame him. But he's all talk. Underneath he's a little boy in love. Any fool can see that, even this one. But I can't just take it at face value, and love back. I have to complicate the issue, second guess myself, wonder if I'm with the right person.

We got married two months after meeting. And it's not like we were dating every night. Met him in Utah - one night. Met up again in Texas - 3 nights. Met again in New York - one week. Then he flew to Utah and we got married. Add it up friends. Yes, we dated a grand total of a week and half before getting hitched. The kicker is, I think we were meant to be. Really I do. And it's taken me nearly a year to figure it out. 'It can't be that easy' I think to myself. 'After dating scores of Mr. Wrong, I can't finally have found my fella', I say to myself. But I did. And he's the most beautiful boy I've ever met.
Friday
Sep232005

Laundry Day

Laundry day is easily, the worst thing about living in New York City. Not the subway, not the dirt, the grime, not the horribly congested sidewalks that bring on a bout of sidewalk rage way more than I ever succumbed to road rage back home... it's doing laundry.

It's an all day ordeal. Bring a book, bring snacks, cuz you gonna be there for awhile girlfriend. Yeah, I know. You can pay people to do your laundry for you, you can even pay 'em to come pick it up right from your apartment. But I don't go in for that kind of thing. First, I've got better things to spend money on.. Second, I don't need a stranger pawing through my blood stained shorts, and various other blush inducing articles of clothing, with all manner of bodily fluid and nacho cheese dried in. So that just leaves me. Although The Surge has been known to get his laundry on.. I fairly force him into action by avoiding the whole mess until he must either turn his boxers inside out, or break down and laundry up.

As I tend to postpone, procrastinate, anything to avoid the agony, I always end up with a good three or four loads. Also, I haven't broken down and actually purchased a granny cart with which to lug my load, so I'm relegated to carrying the laundry bag, sherpa style on my back.
"Hey there, looks heavy."
"You should try doing laundry more." Yeah, yeah, yeah.. There are always a few comedians milling about on Bedford street, just waiting to toss out hilaaaarious one liners as I waddle by.

The ONLY thing I like about laundry day, aside from smoothing fresh, crackling, clean sheets on my bed is the smell of the laundromat. Mmmmm... Clean, soapy, baby powder, air.. It wafts around me, mingles with my hair, my clothes.. So instead of coming home with cigarette smells, from a night at the bar or one of The Surge's gigs, I return a summer goddess.. all lemon scented, mountain breeze, and oh so fresh.

So here I sit, trying to avoid the dryer's attempts to hypnotize me. Like staring into a roaring camp fire.. Reds, blues, there's my green dress! Christmas light colors flapping about in hot air. Tumbling in the rumbling of the dryer. And then I'm off to wallow in my clean, warm, aromatic sheets.
Thursday
Sep222005

Instant Family

When I was young, I was lulled gently to sleep by the battling banter of Sam & Diane. In High School, I made out on the downstairs couch with Cody and Josh (not at the same time, mind you, though that may have been nice) to the humorous hostility between Joe and Helen. In college I smoked pot and fell asleep chuckling at Kramer's crazy antics.. Soothing television tones. My other family. Living alone can be scary when you're just discovering yourself.. when you aren't entirely comfortable with yourself, when the silence can be deafening.

Eventually, tired of the endless commercial interruptions, insulting in their obvious attempts to woo or shame me into purchase, I took to recording episode after episode onto VHS.. That way, when I got a bad case of the lonelies, I'd simply slide in a tape and VOILA! Instant Family! Sure Alex, Mallory and Jen turned the Keaton house into a bed & breakfast when their parents went out of town, but it would all be okay in the end. Steven and Elise might bicker, but the fights were full to the brim with one-liners and laughter. They'd never get a divorce, like my real family. Sam & Diane might scream and shout, but it was only foreplay to the passionate embrace that would end the show.. I always hated when the sitcom would ruin a perfectly good half hour by attempting to take on the issue du jour.. Somebody gets addicted to drugs, somebody has anorexia.. blah blah .. I get enough of that in my real life.. Stick to the one-liners and the laugh track. Nobody wants to see a comedian cry.

So now, when I find myself in unfamiliar circumstances, I push a button in search of my instant family. Today I might be the Cosby's adopted white daughter courtesy of Nickelodeon. Maybe I'm another one of Roseanne's troublemakers, thank you Oxygen. Perhaps I'll hang out in my fantastic, oversized, underpriced, Greenwhich village apartment with my Friends on TBS. Most likely, I'll head back to high school with my buddies from Saved By the Bell, they always seem to be traipsing around somewhere, pulling sillly shenanigans on naive Mr. Belding.

Like my real family, my sitcom families fight, unlike my real family, their arguments are sprinkled with witty jokes, hilarious asides.. and the soundtrack of all sitcoms, the ever present laugh track. Fights in my real family can last days, weeks, months.. Fights in my sitcom family always get sorted in thirty minutes. All wrapped up in a tidy little bundle, beautiful bow on top, leaving me with a feeling of accomplishment. And all I did was sit on the couch and drool. So here I sit today, feeling lost, yet oddly comforted by my wise cracking mom "Roseanne".
***CUE LAUGHTER***