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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Life Is A Predicament Which Precedes Death 

That up there. Henry James said that shit. I wear Max's dog tag on a delicate, silver chain around my neck. Sometimes it clinks against my other necklaces and jangles the same tune it did when attached to his red collar. Red was his color. There was one hiatus in 11 years; we tried a black number with white bones that I used in lieu of a garter when I married Serge - but we eventually went back to red because it looked stupendous up against his black fur and he knew it, boy did he know it. Magnificent bastard. Always red and always that jangle of collar buckles kissing dog tags. The tinkle of metal on metal that announced his arrival, his signature sound, a happy melody indicating his presence. The jingle is no longer a happy one. It's bittersweet. And startling, because every time it happens I think he's there behind me, watching me make dinner, readjusting himself as we watch TV or burrowing deeper into the bedding we're tangled in together. Within seconds I realize it's just me. Alone. He's gone. Faint jingling, as if his ghost was here and gone and I instinctively reach for the tag nestled in the creamy valley just below my collar bones. It's a tough thing to fathom, never seeing him again, and it's fucking killing me. He really was my best friend.

Sometimes, when I contemplate the rest of my life, I feel like I do when I'm in my car and realize I'm not wearing my seatbelt; all loosey-goosey-like with a hint of danger. Nothing is settled or safe anymore. Being married felt like wearing a seatbelt in life. No matter what happened, there would be Us. There is safety and comfort in the knowledge of a lifemate, you know? Even if you don't get along, even if you hate each other most of the time, the safety is still there. Like the seatbelt. It's confining, sometimes uncomfortable, but the safety and peace of mind that accompanies its snug presence around your body is undeniable. Without the seatbelt I feel unsettled. What's going to happen if I crash? When I crash.

Henry talks a blue streak. Always. A narration of his thoughts, made up stories about his stuffed animal families, 3-year-old speculation about people and cars and animals and the sky and the sun and the stars and and and... He's so lyrical and his wonderment often makes perfect sense in deep and abiding ways. He cuts right to the heart of things, plucking an arrow from his quiver and sending it straight into my damaged heart: Mom, are you still Dad's girl? I'll always be Dad's girl because I'm your mama, muffin.

Up at 4AM again today to tend to a fussy baby. Fumbling in the dark kitchen to mix a bottle, banging my shoulder on a door frame in my rush to quiet him with the liquid gold that is formula. We sat together as the blackness slowly gave way to a steely winter morning, nighttime seemingly erasing all color while we slept, transforming the world into shades of gray; sky, clouds, snow, even the air seems as gray as my mood today. Charlie is teething. Two pearly nubbins peeping innocently through shiny pink gums which I wager are causing me a hell of a lot more pain than him. I would like to go somewhere. Alone. Just me. That thing again, the scene of the movie in my mind I star in where the world is scrambling past me. City street: chaotic, cabs honking, people hurrying, voices shouting, brakes screeching and I'm walking through the chaos in slow motion, feeling like I see all the things and feel all the things everyone else is too busy to notice. The Carolinas have been calling my name for about a year now. Hailing from the west I've not explored the east coast much. Not at all, really. Never been below the Jersey Shore. A solo road trip, maybe? South Carolina? I need to start doing stuff like that. Visiting NYC once a month and hitting up other places I've never been. I'd like that. A lot. Any ideas? Where should I go? Up for anything within driving reason.

From Our Dysfunctional Family To Yours: Happy Thanksgiving!


You Can't Divorce The Dog: A True Love Story

Max was The Dog for me. If you're lucky in life you get one of those; The Dog. The one who is your everything. Friend/lover/therapist/child/soulmate. The one you get when you're young enough and maybe it's just you and The Dog and you belong to each other and the relationship changes you and shapes who you become and, yeah, there will be other dogs you love but there will never be another like The Dog. The one that was there for all of it. The one you grew up with. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Forever grateful to Serge for writing about our guy because I can't right now.

Read You Can't Divorce The Dog: A True Love Story over on Babble.

Don't Know How To Live Without Him

Serge and I had the privilege of holding our Maxie boy in our arms this morning as he left this life. Sinatra played softly and the morning sun streamed through the window almost illuminating his body as he took his last breath. 11 years. Don't know how to live without him.

Kid Wranglin'