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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
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Tuesday
Sep132005

A Day In The Life...

Woke up to the racket of a Mack truck rumbling past, rattling the windows of my first floor apartment in the heart of the trendiest neighborhood in the country, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Friends back home: you would not believe the people I pass on the streets on a daily basis.. Mary-Kate, with her bag lady clothes layered over her stick person figure, hiding behind gigantic sunglasses has nothing on these hipsters. Outfits contrived to look as if they've been sitting in dirty piles on the floors of bedrooms... In actuality, these hipsters probably spend a good hour, hour-and-a-half carefully piecing together their groovy ensembles.

Picture some barely there, vintage (would it be anything but?) smockish type item floating over a white tank top, extra-large beaded necklace resembling cherries strung together clanking against protruding collar bones, wide leather belt encircling the whole top, bare legs making a brief but skinny appearance before disappearing into the tops of brand spanking new cowboy boots (meant to look old like Sienna Miller's, of course).. and that's just the men!

No seriously though.. the men are even bigger dandies if you can imagine it. Super slim trust funders vaselined into tight Diesel jeans, hair strategically placed to appear unkept, strut down the streets with ipods attached to heads, most likely blaring Interpol, or some other such band that paid Viacom execs millions for a shot at TRL stardom.

I throw on my "sooo last season" flared jeans, flip-flops and my favorite black T-shirt and dodge past the throng of hipsters crowding the subway stairs. There I stand, on the hotter than hell subway platform, ball bearings of sweat slipping down my back and legs. The L train to Manhattan is the turtle of hares in the subway world. Sometimes I don't mind the wait, the people watching on the subway is generally better than a Spielberg summer blockbuster. An ash colored black man wearing headphones, shouts into his walkman, pretending it's a cell phone.
"Whatchoo goin' on about man?!? You know jesus lives! I be talkin' to him jes da other day."
His eyes slide right and left to see if any of us are paying him mind. I chuckle to myself. Not much different than the Mormon missionaries I'm used to.. He's just got his own style, that's all. The next person of interest is a pint sized girl in a sequined top and what appears to be no pants. Upon closer inspection I notice a pair of so-tight-they-look-painted-on jean cut-offs intermittenly peeking from the bottom of the sparkling blouse. Her bleached mohawk salutes me as she minces by. That's when I notice that SHE is actually a HE. I think. These are the fun ones. When I can't figure out the sex. I can pass at least five endless waiting-for-the-subway-minutes speculating, each new gesture of the person in question a clue to their hidden gender. This particular case leaves me stumped.

Just when my interest in my commuting companions begins to wane the subway intercom crackles to life and what sounds like a woman, but I can't be sure, proceeds to bleet into a microphone, like a cashier at a Mcdonalds drive-thru. I catch snippets of words.."signal problems"... "working on it".. I look at the sweat dappled faces around me to see if anyone has a better interpretation of the announcement. I see shrugged shoulders, hear a few groans, but everone seems determined to wait out the problem. Not me. Last time this happened I stood around in tropical temperatures, sweating through my clothing, only to be told a half hour later that the train wasn't coming. Feeling ever so savvy I cast a disparaging glance at the bedraggled commuter wannabes around me and importantly weave through the crowd for the stairs.

Once I'm back on the street I walk briskly toward the car service. My smug aren't-I-a-clever-New-Yorker melts right off my face as I see at least 15 people lining up for cabs into Manhattan. Well! I snatch my cell phone from my purse for a time check. 2:30. Exactly thirty minutes to get my late ass to Manhattan, over to the 1 train, and uptown.. Fuck!

I flip open the phone and call another car service I know around the block. I translate my location to the Egyptian man on the other end of the line, he barks "three minutes!" and hangs up. Satisfied, I cop a squat on the corner and proceed to wait. Proceed to wait. What a funny thing to do. Hurry up and wait!

Ten minutes later, my makeup has slid to my chin and I have giant underarm and underboob rings of sweat, but no cab. I ring the guy again and am promptly put on hold. Fuckity Fuck! Now I'm debating the merit of my decision to abandon the subway. Maybe I would have been dodging crowds in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn by now if I'd just been patient. Nah.. A glance at subway stairs spitting red faced commuters into the sunlight confirms the train is still down and more people are following my lead. Finally someone rescues me from hold hell.
"Metro cabs, where you at?" The sitar solo that had been assaulting my ears via cell phone is abruptly replaced by Egyptian shouts.
"I ordered a cab nearly 20 minutes ago, and you said three minutes!"
"One minute!" Again he bangs down the phone, leaving me wondering how he knew who I was and if a car would really be arriving in a minute.

To my great surprise, a twilight colored sedan screeches to a halt beside me and I jump in. Growing up driving my own vehicle, I still feel strange being chauffered around town.. I must admit, it gives me a small case of moviestar-itis. There I am, nestled in leather seats as the car speeds across the Williamsburg bridge, gazing out at the Manhattan skyline.. Granted, the leather is cracked and peeling, and ominous gray clouds all but obscure the skyline.. but still. I'm enjoying the breeze when the cab driver slams on the breaks. I find myself halfway in the front seat, my hair hangs in a tangled mess across my face.
"Close one.. Almost wreck". The Pakistani driver chuckles nervously and glances at me in the rearview mirror, revealing a row of small, yellow, corn kernal teeth.
I peer out the dirty windshield and to my horror see an endless parade of cars stretched out in front of me. Off in the distance, the winking lights of an ambulance or police car signal some kind of crash.

Fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck! Not on the bridge! Anywhere but the bridge! Caught in traffic on the bridge is tantamount to prison. You ain't goin' no place anytime soon. I try to focus on the radio station jabber to calm myself. It takes me more than a minute to realize it's in a different language. You ever done that? It happens to me a lot in New York. I'll be listening to something, or reading a sign, not comprehending.. it takes me more time than it should to realize it's in a foreign language.

I send out a few random text messages, hoping someone will bite. Texting while on line at the post office or the bank always seems to grease the minutes.. But nobody responds, leaving me to my own devices.

After nearly a half hour of the stomach churning, lurching stop-start of gridlock we ease past a seemingly minor fender bender. Dammit! I want to see some carnage for a damn near 45 minute wait! I want crumpled cars hanging dangerously off bridges as emergency crews hover anxiously nearby, strategizing the rescue effort.. But this, this fender bender! That does nothing to justify the wait. A dead body or two would at least remind me I'm lucky to be alive.

After some impressive maneuvering up 5th avenue and across 14th street the driver brakes near the 1 uptown train.
"15 dollars please."
Yes, that's right, you read correctly. Fifteen dollars! That's how much a car service from Brooklyn to Manhattan'll run you. I toss a twenty at him, ask for two dollars change and jump out of the car.
The heat hits me like a hairdryer, and only gets hotter as I descend into the bowels of the subway. A toe-tapping five minutes later the 1 train whooshes in.. and the air conditioned subway, an amenity that never ceases to surprise me, whisks me uptown to the building where I work.

Work was...well, work.. More Hurricane Katrina.. When I get home, Max had managed to shed another small dog on the living room floor. I sweep the black hairs into a pile that would indeed, bury Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell and dump the whole mess into the trash.

Thank God The Surge loves to cook. He's got his famous stir fry well underway, singing mournful, made-up country songs as his chicken pops and sizzles in a delightful, mouthwatering fashion.. I smile to myself as I crack open my tenth diet coke of the day and collapse onto the couch.
Monday
Sep122005

The Night I Met The Surge

The following is a journal entry I wrote three days after meeting The Surge.

August 15, 2005

Everything has changed. You go through life waiting for something to happen. At least when you are me, stuck, for the time being, in my job, living where I live, you go through the motions. Particularly this last year. Getting over Andy, realizing religion is so false, becoming the woman I am supposed to be. This past year has been the hardest of my life. But I feel as if I rose to the occasion, and reached a higher, more spiritual level of self awareness.

Anyway, back to the point. You go through the motions, then one day, out of the blue, everything changes. You wait for those moments, when the clouds part, and you see things so clearly.

On Wednesday, August 11th I got off work and was headed to a movie. By myself, it's the best. Anyway, I'm about to get off the exit for downtown when my friends from work Steve Worthing and Scott McKane call me. What's funny is Steve calls me all the time to do stuff, but I never answer. And on those rare occasions when I actually answer - I never do anything. But for some strange reason, this time I answered the phone and agreed to meet him in a parking lot next to this bar, to listen to a band.

We got gloriously stoned in the parking lot, then went to hear the band play. I planned on staying a half hour at most. Then the band began to play. Marah. That's the name of these cats from Philly. So, from the moment they begin, to the moment they end, I am transfixed. Amazing live performance. There were perhaps thirty people in the room but the band tore that stage up, as if thousands were watching. Good, straight up rock'n'roll, which I have been so thirsty for. First my CD's were stolen, then radio drivel left me with no option but a silent ride to work.

But this music lit a fire for me. And then there was the guitarist. Sure, give any guy a guitar, put him on stage and the chicks dig him. But this guy, he was in his own world, just playing the shit outta that guitar, harmonica and whatever else he could get his hands on. I couldn't take my eyes off him. And he couldn't be further from my usual attractions. Toward the end of the evening, after a few shots of Yagermeister, I talked myself out of the attraction, chalking it up to "sexy band guy syndrome". So the band stops - ending with my particular fellow writhing on the floor, making love to his guitar, as I climaxed with him. Then it was over.

So my work buddies wander over to get a T-shirt and other band merchandise. The keyboard guy? Not sure - but one of the band members sits next to me at the bar, and as I'm curious about the rock'n'roll lifestyle, I ask a few trite questions, the likes of which they hear, I'm sure, at every stop along the way.

Then the guitarist pulls up a stool and joins the discussion. Soon, the other guy disappears. Not physically, but as far as I was concerned, he no longer existed. The guitarist tells me his name, which I promptly forget and then I am lost. Lost in this man-boy's world.

I couldn't tell you what we talked about. I remember bits and pieces. But it all seems so fuzzy. The next thing I know, I'm driving him to his hotel and we are in my car talking and he is beautiful. It's been so long since anyone touched my heart, and intrigued me this way. But my tough girl routine is in fine form. Because I know how it goes. And we can't help it - we fuck in my car, twice I think. And to me it was beautiful. It felt real. Souls colliding.

But I reserve a part of myself. Because I don't know what it means to him. Don't know if it's his tour routine or if he was feeling what I was feeling. But he said such beautiful things to me, like no one ever has. I want so bad for him to mean what he said. Don't want them to be standard lines. Despite the legions of shallow assholes I come across, I still want to believe the best.

Serge, yes, that's his name, talks to me about books, music, travel - the three things that keep me sane. And then it's time to go. Suddenly it's morning and I have to say goodbye. At some point, he got my phone number, at some point, I gave him my email. And then he was gone. Off to the next city on his tour. I am left feeling empty, wondering if I dreamed the whole thing.

The last year has been like a desert for me. Then this beautiful boy comes along and pours ice water down my throat then leaves, taking his water with him. I have since logged online to read about his band and him. I've read interviews he's given to various music mags etc.. and I've fallen in love with his words. I bought his CD and it is almost too hard to listen to. I am fucked. He is gone. He text messaged me from Portland. But it was cryptic - don't know how to take it.

Did I matter? Was I a fling? On the one hand, I fully expect it - on the other; I can't bare it if that's the case. I emailed him. What do I have to lose? I don't think he's checked it yet. So here I sit, with a rock in my stomach, overjoyed to know that someone like him exists. Terrified that my heart will be trampled.

I take solace in the fact that he opened my eyes to a different world. One that neither I or anyone I associate with know anything about. If that's what he was meant to do then that's enough. He has changed me forever. His name is Serge Christopher Bielanko
Saturday
Sep102005

It Hurts To Blink

Am quite hungover this morning. Must keep this entry on the brief side as the Sahara that is my mouth is demanding an iced coffee.. My agenda for the day will involve iced coffee, greasy food, rented movies and keeping the shades drawn.

Last night The Surge had a listening party to showcase his new record... "If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry". He's done such a superb job this time around. Not that he hasn't before, but his previous four albums were mostly about other people, and places.. This record is really personal. It's about Serge, his inner demons and his relationships with those that are closest to him. He used to struggle really hard with life.. Was a lot angrier.. had trouble properly channeling it.. to see the changes in him this past year is inspiring to me because I need to get my shit together.

By all accounts, last night was a riot.. Although I've heard the record billions of times, I still love listening to it and it was great to see Marah's fans hear it.. and they seem to love it! I'm excited to hear them begin discussing which songs they like better.. which lyrics and so on.. The Shalitas were bartending in these adorable short shorts and T-shirts that said "I'm With The Band".. and the place was packed. I got absolutely wasted of course, so by the time the boys took the stage I was in my "I'm-the-greatest-dancer-in-the-world" stage.. Ah well. Whatdya gonna do? I have too damn much fun at Marah gigs and I don't understand how people can just sit along side, maybe tapping a toe. I gotta move! Tabatha helped me out on the dancing front.. Yay Tabatha! I brought Dave, my friend from work and another friend Alexis. I'll post pics when I get them developed. Got lots of good ones of The Shalitas, Marah and such..

In reflecting on the events of last night.. I think I flirted with a woman! Not in a dramatic way.. not in a way that's disrespectful to The Surge.. but there is this woman who is a bit older than me, not by much, and she's quite sexy. We ended up chatting outside.. I'm so silly. Such an idiot when I drink. At some point I wandered down the street and had a slice of pizza (heaven when you're drunk) ironically with Donny Pizza Sauce, a friend of The Surge's.. We all met up at our default bar on Bedford street and of course, I attempted my regular "drunken bonding with Dave" session. Dave Bielanko, that is.. not my friend from work. I think Dave intimidates me somewhat when I'm sober, so I try to bond with him when I have the liquid courage workin' for me. Not that he's intimidating, he's just.. hmmm... I don't know, the opposite of me, maybe. Not sure what it is. But we seem to have our best conversations when drunk, so I suppose in a way, it works.. Alas, a cold beverage is screaming my name.. maybe that's just the hangover screaming my name.. either way.. Must. Have. Cold. Beverage. More later!
Monday
Sep052005

It's Happening Again

It's happening again. The anxiety. My brain spins off its axis and whirls ahead of me. I sprint to catch up, grasping desperately for my runaway thoughts, but my legs turn to mush. They feel the way grandma's leftover jello looks hours after we've abandoned the Thanksgiving table. I'm left behind my frenzied brain as it pirouettes into the past, the present and future, alighting on whatever causes it the most agony. Life! Death! Good! Bad! Sincere! False! Real! Fake! Try! Quit! Succeed! Fail! Save Money! Pay The Bills! Am I a Good Person! Self Hate! Lazy! Talentless! No Willpower! Fat! Lose Weight! I've heard of these anxiety attacks, if that's what this is. The words bandied about in casual conversation, as common as ultra modern phrases like 'my therapist says' and 'anti-depression pills'. What's wrong with me? Everyone seems to live their lives, effortlessly gliding along, afloat on air mattresses of self esteem powered by reservoirs of raw talent. Yet here I flail, wildly dog paddling in my frantic efforts to keep my heavy head above water. Do others perceive me as I see them? Self assured, confidently striding through life, or do they see through my finely honed facade of fearlessness? Are others like me? Filled with self doubt. Haphazardly slapping together bricks of resolve mortared with false confidence to keep their swampy souls from flooding the neighborhoods the perfect people call home. You don't need to wear your pain like a badge, reveling in your suffering self. But let me peer into a crack in your armor every now and again. Invite me to a peep show where one of your flaws is the headliner. I need to know you're human too.
Thursday
Jul282005

Everybody Wants To Be Famous

If there's one thing reality TV has taught the masses, it's that everybody wants to be famous.  And today, more than ever before, just about anyone can get their name in print.  As this blog demonstrates, you can even create your own website.  Just about anybody can snap some snazzy pictures of themselves and pretend to be whoever and whatever they want on the internet.   

So. Am I one of these fools?  Creating this blog to see my name in print?  Maybe.  I don't really know.  All I do know is I love to write.  Am I a fantastic writer?  I don't  know because the only people that have ever read my stories are family and friends.  Of course they're going to say "Fantastic!  Great job!"  What else would they say?  The goal of this blog is to see what people think about my stuff.  It will open me up to criticism.  Call me talented or call me a hack, just so long as you call me.  

I just want to write about my life, and hopefully that will cross paths with your life.  The daily experiences that make me laugh, or have me locking myself in the restroom stall at work, trying to keep the girl next to me from hearing my sobs.   The trials of life, large and small, that all women deal with. 

Sure, I know it's been done.   But not in a way that made me do a little jig and shriek 'that is so true'.  Candace Bushnell and her Sex and The City was fun.  But ultimately I couldn't relate to those snotty bitches who care a little too much about the Manolo Blahnik wearing glitterati.  They are The Beautiful People and though I appreciate the frank discussions about the various types of sex and the depiction of single women kicking ass in the working world, Carrie Bradshaw's shallow struggle through the ocean of New York men left me shivering on the shore.  And give me a break with the wardrobe that often resembled a streetwalker from Times Square.  Who wears that shit?  Save it for the runway girlfriend.  So what about Bridget Jones?  She's one of us!  She battles the bottle and the bulge with her quaint little 'alcohol unit' tally and feeble attempts at exercise.  The problem with Bridget's story is it's fiction, and has a happy ending.  Bridget's just too cute, her quirky mistakes a bit too adorable.  A little too girly-girl for my taste.  And I'm not sure if happy endings exist yet.  If they do, don't I have to make it to the end to discover they do in fact exist?   If I'm still married to The Surge at 90 years old, sharing a joint on the porch of our lakeside log cabin, a few dogs wrestling around the backyard, then I might say that yes, happy endings do exist.  But I won't know for another 60 years.  So the struggle continues. 

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