Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
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Pas de Deux

Bad mood but actin' all smiles... hiding the pain.. all the pain of everyone on this subway car. Add it up. Add up the collective pain of all these strangers on the L train and it would fill the East River that we are rumbling under. We walk around, going about our business, all of us hiding something. Some kind of hurt that's bleeding on the inside. A contusion. Somebody just lost their job. Someone was raped last night. Sombody's mother just died. Someone's relationship is disintegrating like a sand castle at high tide. Somebody is half-heartedly contemplating killing themselves. Maybe whole-heartedly. Maybe it's the exhausted woman sitting next to me. Face like a rotting peach, frazzled hair, slight tremor in the arm that touches mine as we roar through darkness. The guy across from me. 400 pounds, easy. Maybe it's him. Tired of being a prisoner of his body. At least 40, no wedding ring. His eyes are already dead. Yet here we all are. Going somewhere. Reading the paper, listening to Ipods, staring into space. Maintaining. Practicing the Urban Eye Slide. Are you lookin' at me? I'm not looking at you. Well, yes, yes I am. But on the sly. I look away when you look at me then you look away when I look at you. Pas de deux. Good job everyone. Me included. Way to keep up pretenses.

Reader Comments (16)

I've been reading your blog for months now but this is my first post. I just had to say that I do this all the time. On the bus to work today I looked around at everyone and wondered what was going on in their lives. They say everyone has a story and I wonder what they're stories are. I see the same people every day yet we never speak. Great writing!
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLena
I like this photo and its subject matter. It reminds me of an independent film that came out a few years ago called "Just Another Girl on the IRT" ( ) Not a great film but a fine first time effort by it's director Leslie Harris.

Anyway...I like the photo.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbob
TGH: Had a similar feeling on Amtrak earlier this week... altho I spent my time looking outside the train. (Your pal The Bloggist Formerly Known As Wry Bri.)
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
new thing I found...check out
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterwhattha
That used to be me every morning on the metro. Now I walk to work and stare at the people in their cars and of course wonder what they're thinking.

This morning, stopped at the same corner that I was waiting at was a girl, on her cell phone looking stressed. I wonder what was wrong...?
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
If I ever see someone crying or upset in public I always want to comfort them. But that would be weird. A long time ago you wrote a blog about how you were at an internet cafe in London and a kid started freaking out and it turns out he had just got an email saying his mom had died. I really loved how you ran over to him and began hugging him even though you didn't know him. I was a regular reader of this blog since that post.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Talking about all of us hiding our pain...I was just complaining to my therapist/energy healer/friend the other day, how it truly sucks being overweight cos everybody can SEE I have problems. That it's a really unfair crutch to have, comfort eating, cos everybody KNOWS I have this excessive problem. Why the hell couldn't I be a shopaholic, chain smoker, heavy drinker, control freak, gambler, psycho, shoplifter, or something like that, which I could keep secret or is at least usually more socially acceptable than being a bit of a fatty?!! Yes, yes. I KNOW there are overweight people who are just large cos of their genes, bones or simply their enormous love of food but let's face it, most of us chubby ones are out of balance somehow, crying on the inside and eating too much to give us a sense of comfort and protection and because it's very addictive. I've been overweight 3 times in my life, always when there's been some big crisis going on and I HATE knowing that a lot of intelligent, on to it people can look at me and know I'm in pain and there's something wrong with me. Sucks. I want to pretend I'm perfect too.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen
Here is that blog I was talking about

Short and sweet. Niedlchen, my Mom is overweight and has been my whole life. I used to be embarrassed but in watching her weight battle I understand that it IS disease. It's the worst because people who drink or do drugs go to AA and they're counseled to avoid the thing they're addicted to. It's kind of hard to avoid food. It's a constant daily battle for her. Always weighing her food options, hating herself for eating too much and then giving up and eating way too much. I feel for you.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Thanks Aimee.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen
What is the alternative? Turning every commute into a group therapy session? Can you imagine what a nightmare that would be? Frankly, I enjoy the silence of my commute. It's where I get most of my reading done. Too bad it's been spoiled in recent years by the constant yakking on the cell phone.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike
I don't think this is necessarily an attempt to seek an alternative. More of a commentary on the way we all present a put together front and you never know what is lurking underneath someone's shiny, facade. I temp in an office and everyone's put together pretense often makes me want to scream. Sometimes on the subway I try to smile at people and very rarely do you share a nice moment. They look away and think you're creepy.
October 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
Move to the country.

Let your gift move at a more leisurely, peaceful pace.

Work can be had. They are looking for folk like you.

Smell the leaves and stoke the wood-stove. Pour a glass of wine and marvel at how quiet it always is.

Toss a satisfying cigarette onto the dirt road while your dog happily chases squirrels up trees.

Metropolis is a fun place to visit.

You'll appreciate going back to the country even more.

Myself; I like looking people in the eyes. I like it even more when they look back.

My opinion.

October 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Here's a thought. Maybe not everyone is miserable behind their facades. Maybe most are content, some even happy. Just a thought.
October 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
When I lived in the City. I Loved taking the Subway. To school during the week or to Central Park on the weekends. The was always something to look at. I looked at it like a show put on just for us New Yorkers..
Yes some where sad. The Man with no legs. But I saw him ever weekday on my way home from school(#2train )
The subway Preacher I got him at least 3 time a week ( #1 Train )
I don`t remeber feeing bad for anyone it was just part of riding the Subway in N.Y.C
October 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSailor Mike
I enjoy the subway as well. I wrote this on the subway during one particular moment where the disapointment in life seemed to hang heavy. Other times I exchange smiles, laugh and enjoy the spice of life. One hastily written paragraph doesn't necessarily reflect my entire world view etc.. It was a snap shot of the subway car I was riding in on that day.
October 22, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Love that photo and, I don't know if you were referencing the Tchaikovsky piece, but that's my favorite classical work ever.
October 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNotcarrie

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